As predicted in the Hepburn forecast, there happened an opening to the west tonight. No really breathtaking distances, but at least three new squares on 2 m (two of them I already worked on 23 cm 😉 ) IN86, IN87 and IN89.
On 23 cm I tried with Grant, G1SDX in IO80FL, first in FT8, but I could only copy him via aircraft scatter due to significant doppler, inhibiting decoding of his signals. He copied me via tropo up to -11 dB, but we had a difference in power of 13 dB (36 element yagi and 10 W vs. 3 m dish and 200 W). So we tried MSK144, where I could decode him via AS, but he had no decodes of me.
It´s a very interesting path, as half of it is over water. It should be an opportunity for combined sea ducting and aircraft scatter. I hope for a chance to try.
While refurbishing our irish home, I found some time in the mornings and the evenings to be active on 2 m. At least I worked 31 squares. Even on 23 cm I got 3 Calls to the log. The rig so far is an IC-9700 with a 7 element yagi and a linear amplifier with 200 W on 2 m and a 69 element yagi on 23 cm,
Now I have to close the station and take the antennas down. It has been a lot of fun and I hopefully will be back next year, if pandemic allows. Many ideas are in my mind now, how to improve the station over here.
Many thanks to Joe, EI3IX, his N adapter female-female allowed me, to run 2 m and 23 cm simultaneously 😉 .
As some work at our families house in Ireland has to be done, I am spending 3 weeks over here in IO53HN. I got my new IC-9700 with me and have antennas for 2 m and 23 cm. As I have to restrict my movements by government order, no portable activites are possible in the first two weeks. So I will try to work in the UHF/SHF Contest on 23 cm from the southern lake shore of Lough Mask. My favourite direction is to GI/GM. Maybe I can go to a better QTH later in the 23 cm UKAC. On 144 MHz I will focus on meteor scatter in the morning hours.
In a first test on 2 m I worked GI and GM in FT8. GM7PKT came back on my very first CQ. Later I tried meteor scatter with my german neighbour Mathias, DH4FAJ. As he has massive QRM, he couldn´t hear anything, but I copied him twice with +4 dB. So better to try in the morning again.
A nice inversion could be seen out of the window of my shack this morning, promising good conditions. In fact I have been a little too far south for the duct, but at least I had two QSOs to Belarus in FT8.
The stations worked and heard via tropo have been in distances up to 1300 km. Occasionally signals appeared from more distant stations, 1500 and more km away. These could be decoded in one or two periods, then disappeared. Some reappeared later in the same manner, so it´s very likely, it has been meteor scatter, as it happened in the early morning, when conditions are good for sporadic meteors.
The VHF/UHF/SHF contest on 2nd to 3rd of May was a good opportunity to spend a few hours trying the new AirScout version 126.96.36.199 released by Frank, DL2ALF. In principle it works like it´s predecessors, but is more stable in collecting the aircraft data. My favourite in this case is planefinder.net.
Most impressed I am by the new feature to monitor a number of paths to certain stations simultaneously! This provides more efficiency in arranging skeds, particularly in times like these, when there are a few planes only are available.
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:
On the annual service day of the DARC districts Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate I had the pleasure to hold a lecture about EME basics and how to get into. Afterwards I invited the audience to try a live moon bounce QSO on 432 MHz from the parking lot outside. I had prepared some standard equipment of the kind, many might have in their shacks:
Transceiver Yaesu FT-897
15-Element Yagi (YU7EF )
PA Gemini 70, ca. 200 W
LNA SHF-Elektronik, 0,8 dB NF
Unfortunately it was rainy outside, the moon close to the sun and a G2 solar storm in progress. When swithing on the transceiver, I noticed some quite massive local QRM. Nevertheless I contacted Bernd, DL7APV, who had agreed in a sked, by phone, to tell him about the noise and that we were ready to go.
As the noise level went up and down and Bernd is one of the big guns on 70 cm, we were able to decode most of his transmissions despite all adversities. Finally we completed the QSO. That was a great job, Bernd!
I enjoyed to be in Saarbrücken and would like to say thank you to Eugen, DK8VR and his team for organising DST 2019!