I got up quite early today and decided to check the beacons on 23 cm. When beaming to LA1UHG, there was a noticeable signal in F1 about 1 kHz above its frequency. It was easy to read it as DB0LB from the back of the dish. But it seemed, there was another faint signal right beside the spacing carrier. With the help of my SDR radio I could set very narrow filters and after a while of listening, I identified it as LA1UHG, JO59FB, 1028 km. Wow!
But the signal faded out more and more and at least it disappeared.
Later this morning, the dish still pointing north, I heard Kurt, OE5XBL, chatting in SSB with Rudi, OE5VRL/5, both with very strong signals on 23 cm. Expecting a huge signal, I turned the antenna to Kurt, but there was no significant increase in signal strength. I called in and the three of us were talking about the conditions and to meet for a beer at the GHz convention in Dorsten next February, when Kurt was called by Dave, G4RQI. I had tried with him earlier without any success, and so, to be honest, I was a little annoyed by this. Even, when turning the dish to the UK, I couldn´t copy anything of Dave’s transmissions, while he was working Kurt and Rudi. These were enough indications, that the inversion was at a too high altitude for me, to enter it. So I went for a long walk with my XYL in the nearby vineyards.
In the evening I performed another beacon check. It was funny to see beacons, the dish was pointing to, as well as others from the back of the dish
Turning the dish, confirmed the experience I had in the the morning: Pointing southeast I saw DB0VC, JO54IF, next to DB0AAT, JN67HU. Turning the dish towards Kiel in the north, the signal of DB0VC increased just a little. Maybe, it has been reflected by a mountain range about 50 km southeast of me.
By performing my daily beacon check, I noticed a weak keyed carrier in between the spacing of the F1 signal of DB0UX on 2320.900 MHz. I assumed to see F6DWG/B, which I monitored around the .900 before. But it didn´t take long to find out, that the real signal (mark) was the lower carrier and after a while I learned, it was F5ZNI using reverse F1 keying. Later in the evening the signal increased due to good tropo conditions, as can be seen in the pictures. F5ZNI is the 34th beacon I received in the 13 cm (S) Band
I am always happy about new beacons, but this case is an example, why beacon coordination and using standards is most important. First of all, reverse F1 keying is always bad, as you are used to listen to the upper carrier of the signal. In case there is an unkeyed carrier in between the text, you can easily identify the mark, where to listen. But if there is text keyed nearly all the time, as F5ZNI does, it is rather time consuming until the mark is identified.
The DB0UX signal was strong and the frequency is locked to a reference, while F5ZNI is drifting a little. So it was obvious, that there was a second signal in place. If the french beacon would have been locked to 2320.900 MHz too and would use the standard A1 or F1 keying, there would have been no chance for me to monitor or even to take notice of it.
An excerpt from BEACONSPOT.UK shows the situation on 2320.900 MHz:
When looking for EA2TZ/B during a beacon check a couple of days ago, I mentioned a signal with strong doppler shift about a khz below. As I like the challenge to identify new beacons, I started monitoring it. It became a kind of a nightmare, trying to to catch the beacons callsign. It seems to be very chatty, transmitting a whole bunch of unuseful text. despite the fact I got a lot of good quality fragments via aircraft scatter, it took me hours to identify it as F1ZBK. At least I am pretty sure it is, as there is a second callsign in the end of the text: F1DND, maybe it´s the keepers call.
The text decoded so far is: —— beacon f1zbk jn38bp nancy … 854 khz … 5 watt … f1dnd … orange KA … ——- Where the “…” represent gaps and KA is the prosign for “Attention” or “New Message” (not to be used at the end of a message, like AR).
There are many beacons running in bad modes like reversed F2A or keying the subcarrier of F2A, but transmitting such a lot of stuff is worse.
Jan, PA3FXB, of the CAMRAS team at the radio telescope in Dwingeloo was so kind, to send me some data about occultations of Longjiang-2 or DSLWP-B by the moon. So I monitored the beacon on 2275.22 MHz and saw the signal disappearing, as soon as the moon was covering the probe at 11:06:50 CET.
As OK0EA was audible this morning on 23 and 13 cm I had a look for other, more distant beacons in OK. After noticing a very short and weak signal on 2320.9085 MHz, I monitored the frequency over a couple of hours and saw many doppler shifted traces, typical for aircraft scatter. Very soon I copied “…9DP…”, when a B777 crossed the path and was sure to see OK0ER in JN99DP in the waterfall diagram. At least 4 Airbuses A380 crossed the path one after the other, giving nice reflections.
OK0ER transmits 1.5 W into a slot antenna in 675 m asl. The distance is 722 km.
As I digged a little deeper, I learned, the source of the signal on 2275,225 is not Queqiao, but it is it´s companion Longjiang-2 or DSLWP-B in an orbit around the moon.
August 23rd, 2018
Designed as a relay for the planned chinese Chang’e 4 misson to explore the far side of the Moon with a lander and a rover, the Queqiao probe has reached it´s final destination 60000 km behind the Moon. There it is in a halo orbit with a radius of 15000 km around the Langrangian L2 point of the Earth-Moon-system. So it won´t be covered by the Moon, seen from Earth.
Queqiao also carries a radio astronomy experiment for low frequency exploration in collaboration with dutch ASTRON. After the lainch in May 2018 two microsatellites Longjiang-1 (DSLWP-A) and Longjiang-2 (DSLWP-B) were released, to enter orbits around the moon. These satellites carry a radio astronomy experiment as well as amateur radio payloads. While Longjiang-1 went lost, Longjiang-2 is operating and can be monitored in the 70 cm band as well as in the S-Band.
The signal of the S-band beacon is audible at about 2275.225 MHz. The used equipment is HDSDR software with a RTL-SDR-Stick connected to a 13 cm ATV Converter (LO=916 MHz) and a 13 cm LNA (Kuhne) at a 23/13cm dualband ringfeed in my 3 m dish.
After I noticed some spots for SR1KOL in JO74SE on 1296.960 MHz, I monitored the frequency using WSJT-X Wide Graph. About 400 Hz below the nominal frequency traces of a F1 signal can be seen, when airplanes cross the path to the beacon. The signal is not audible, but I am pretty sure, it is SR1KOL.
Traces of SR1KOL in JO74SE, “1000” = 1296.960 MHz. The strong signal at the very left is a birdie.
Some information can be found on the website of Polski Klub UKF: It is located on a high rise building in Kołobrzeg, 40 m above ground. The power is 3 W into a slot antenna. Beacon keeper is Andrzej, SQ1GU.
The video shows an A380 crossing the path between DJ5AR and SR1KOL. At minute 2:00 the plane crosses the first time and at minute 4:00 after a turn it crosses a second time. Mind the traces at 580 Hz in the waterfall diagram. The 1000 Hz mark corresponds to 1296.960 MHz.
Irek, SP5MX, who was involved in building the beacon and who repaired it recently, told me, the beacons reference is an OCXO withtout any GPS-lock. So possibly the beacon may transmit 400 Hz lower than defined.
At least in the morning of July 31st audible reflections could be heard via an Airbus A330. This time the 1000 Hz mark correspondents to 1296.9596 MHz.
After 10 seconds the noise becomes a kind of ‘musical’. Another 10 seconds later experienced ears can hear the tone.
When switching to 13 cm after monitoring GB3MHZ on 23 cm, I heard typical PI4 sound followed by a callsign in CW. So I learned, former GB3MHS changed the callsign to GB3MHZ and is transmitting in PI4 now.