For quite a while now I try to catch a signal of ISEE-3. Because of severe thunderstorms, there was no opportunity to check out yesterday. But today (July 30th, 2014) is the day to listen to this 36 year old bird.
The signal of the beacon on 2,270.414 MHz isn´t too strong, but clearly audible in the speaker. The actual distance is about 1.6 million km, the furthermost man made signal I ever received!
The downlink transponder A on 2.270.4 MHz uses an antenna array with a gain of 7 dBi, a beamwidth of 12° and circular polarisation. The nominal TX power is 5 W.
The equipment I am using, is just a FUNcube Dongle Pro with a 13 cm ATV converter (LO 916 MHz, IF 1,354 MHz) and a 13 cm LNA near the 23/13 cm dual band ringfeed at my 3 m dish.
Frequency calibration is performed on ordinary 13 cm beacons like DB0UX. The dish calibration is done by optimizing sun noise on 23 cm or the levels of SIRIUS satellites on 13 cm.
The rhythmical fading of the signal seems to be caused by the space probe´s spin of 19.76 revolutions per minute.
On July 24th, 2014 on 19:00 CEST I will talk about how to surmount the horizon on VHF and up at the local DARC Club in Bodenheim near Mainz.
After giving an overview over the classic propagation modes Es, Aurora, MS and Tropo, I will explain, how aircraft scatter and ISS bounce work. EME will be subjected too and the presentation will be completed by an introduction to “Visual Moonbounce” as performed by Daniela de Paulis.
Deutscher Amateur-Radio-Club e.V.
Haus der Vereine
Laubenheimer Str. 22
The admission is free, but please register via email to
DK2FQ wolfgang.beer (at) gmx.net or to me dj5ar (at) darc.de
German Funkamateur mgazine has published my article “Abenteuer Bakenbeobachtung von 144 MHz bis 10 GHz” in its recent issue July 2014. As many topics are related to posts on this website, some of them are compiled here. Links to certain other websites can be found in the link list to the right.
Last night I have been active in the Nordic and Italian Activity Contests on 13 cm. The conditions were awesome. Just four QSOs with IK2OFO (JN45), IZ4BEH (JN54, new #), DL0VV (JO64) and OZ3ZW (JO54) were written to the log, very weak Signals and rare airplane reflections most of the time. So it needed much patience and certain aircrafts to complete the QSOs as the audio record of my QSO with Roberto, IZ4BEH, shows.
It demonstrates my style of operation in aircraft scatter QSOs. I keep the transmissions short and listen in between. Only relevant information will be sent, because the duration of a reflection is typically very short. Fixed periods in aircraft scatter tests are not required at all. The first signals, received from Roberto, included the callsigns and fractions of a report. So I could be sure, that both calls were exchanged and only the report was needed. The locator was sent too, because IZ4BEH has been working in the Italian Activity Contest. It took quite a while, until a second airplane passed by near the midpoint of the path, giving us the chance to complete the QSO.
After my recent complainment about the challenge of the chat in March Contest, I got emails from Claus, OZ1FDH, and Kjeld, OZ1FF, with information about KST2ME, a tool to manage the ON4KST chat. I made use of it in the activity contests and it is a real improvement compared to the pure webclient. Thank you, Claus and Kjeld, for the feedback! KST2ME can be downloaded from Bo´s, OZ2M, homepage.
Many thanks to all enthusiasts on 23 and 13 cm, who spent up to 20 minutes to complete a QSO with me. Tropo conditions were not too good this time and especially 2320 MHz it seemed to have an additional attenuation on all signals. But never the less, quite a lot of QSOs filled the log. More stations than I could handle, requested skeds via the ON4KST chat. I have to apologize for all my replies like “pse qrx, meep u when free”, I forgot about. So, all I can say is:
Please excuse me for forgetting to meep you!
Indeed, this chat is a great tool, I don´t want to miss it. But in times of contest it can be a challenge, like the contest itself. I will not apply for to do without, it is rather a question, how to use it. The amount of information, flowing over the screen, is immense. On saturday afternoon or on sunday morning, relevant entries might disappear within less than a minute. So I have to think about optimizing my software tools.
QSOs on 1296 MHz
Skilled VHF Operators may smile, when I tell them, 58 QSOs on 23 cm and 19 QSOs on 13 cm are hard work. The sum of that is the number they work within the first hour of their contest section. But in fact, the world above 1 GHz is a different one. The beams of the antennas are much narrower compared to VHF and UHF. The dense of stations is much less, since it is not like plug and play to become QRV up there. The attenuation increases GHz by GHz and all that results in real work for most of the QSOs. There are only a few big guns on 23 cm to be heard from any antenna direction. So the band seems to be empty, even at contest time. But the chat is an oppotunity for all kind of stations to arrange skeds and to have QSOs over distances of several hundred kilometers. And, especially when using aircraft scatter, patience could be needed to complete.
The battle is over. I had my last QSO with Patrick, DH2PA on 70 cm just before the contest closed after seven days. There was a big regional activity on VHF, UHF and SHF, much more than last year. Finally I logged 414 QSOs on the four bands I have been active, compared to 266 in 2013. It is remarkable that there were many locals with improvised equipment on 23 cm. Just one new square on 2320 MHz could be worked during the activityweek: IK3GHY in JN65DM via aircraft scatter. But collecting new squares is getting harder and harder, the more are already worked. The tropo conditions remained normal during the seven days, so there was less DX than last year. This time I found four partners for 4-band-QSOs: DL7QY, DL8YG, DF5AY and DB6NT.
The top five of the most worked stations in this contest:
1. DL7QY 24 QSOs on 4 bands (2 m, 70 cm, 23 cm, 13 cm)
2. DC8WPA 18 QSOs on 3 bands (2 m, 70 cm, 23 cm)
DJ1FZ 18 QSOs on 3 bands (2 m, 70 cm, 23 cm)
DK0RLP 18 QSOs on 3 bands (2 m, 70 cm, 23 cm)
DK7UP 18 QSOs on 3 bands (2 m, 70 cm, 23 cm)
Thank you all for your support and your patience!
total District K DL ex K F,I,OK,OZ,SM Squares
BAND QSO Stn QSO Stn DOK QSO Stn QSO Stn total new
144 183 94 99 43 26 82 48 3 3 15
432 134 66 69 31 20 65 35 0 0 10
1296 79 37 36 14 12 34 16 9 7 16
2320 19 11 1 1 1 15 7 3 3 10 1
It is funny to check the beacons tonight. Most remarkable are two constellations, shown below:
While looking for DB0AAT in JN67HU, DB0VC in JO54IF could be received too. When beaming to Kiel, DB0VC can be heard even on 2320 MHz. It is beacon #9 on 13 cm.
DB0NCO beats Frankenstein
From my QTH DB0NCO has the same bearing as DB0FKS. The location of DB0FKS, the Frankenstein Castle, can be seen visually from here in a distance of 34 km. DB0NCO is 203 km away but tonight it is stronger than DB0FKS, when coming up in QSB.
While performing my daily beacon check, a strange constellation around 1296.850 MHz appeared on the display of my SDR. The dish was turned to 254° at that time, to look for F5XBK.
From left to right: F5XBK, F1ZBK, ON0NR, HB9EME
Combined with strong QRN and radar noise I could copy F5XBK in JN18JS quite normal via tropo but also F1ZBK in JN38BP, ON0NR in JO20KJ and HB9EME in JN37KB via a rain scatter point in JN39LP. Later DB0GP in JN48WQ and DB0AJA in JN59AS could be heard too.
Then I continued to have a look on 2320 MHz where DB0UX in JN48FX, DB0FGB in JO50WB and DB0MJ in JO31UB could be copied via a scatter point in JN39JR.
Beacons heard via rain scatter on 23 and 13 cm
The map shows the location of DJ5AR in Mainz (green marker) in relation to the scatterpoints (blue markers). The paths to the beacons on 1296 MHz are in light blue and on 2320 MHz in dark blue. For that time heavy thunderstorms with flooded roads and cellars were reported for the area of Hermeskeil in JN39.