August 31st, 2023
At least the results of the IARU Region 1 HAMChallenge have been announced. So Mathias, DH4FAJ and I are happy to be the winner of Challenge#2 with our idea about SPB144, a Special Beacon Project on 144 MHz.
February 13th, 2022
Today Thomas,DC7YS, took me on a sight seeing tour to the Teufelsberg, a former US military facility and then straight through President electing Berlin to his beacon location in the east of Berlin.
Complainment about the need of having an elevated location and large antennas to become QRV on 23 cm with an IC-9700 inspired me to compare my regular equipment of:
with my IC-9700, usually in use for 2 m and 70 cm and a minimalistic antenna:
The dish in the upper right and the ringfeed to be seen in the lower left on the metal step, both beaming south. As signal source the beacon HB9BBD/B on 1296.050 MHz has been chosen, 323 km away, on the Rigi Scheidegg in Switzerland, 1670 m above sea level. It is transmitting 10 w into an array of 3 dipoles beaming north.
As the whole air space between Mainz, JN49CV, and Rigi Scheidegg, JN47GA26, is visible, a lot of reflections on airplanes can be expected.
The signal of HB9BBD/B is very strong in Mainz, 40 dB over the noise usually. The gain of the dish is estimated to 28 dBD. The gain of a ringfeed may be 2 dBD and as it has just been layed down on a metal step on my roof, I assume the difference to be more than 30 db.
As expected, the signal could be received with the IC-9700 as well. It is deep in the noise, but increasing, when airplanes cross the path, audible most of the time.
Wide Graph of WSJT-X is a nice tool to display weakest signals and I very often use it to monitor distant beacons. I recommend it to anyone, who want to start beacon monitoring.
Deep in the noise is the signal at the ringfeed and the IC-9700 at about the same time as on the screenshot before. But it is always there and many reflections can be seen, increasing the signal level. Interesting is that different reflections dominate in the two screenshots. That is caused by the different beam widths of the antennas.
The conclusion is, that there is no point of not to try on 23 cm with an IC-9700 and a small antenna. In this example the difference of the receiving systems is assumed to be more than 30 dB. When using a low loss cable, a LNA and a 3 m yagi along with the IC-9700 the difference will be not more than 10 dB, resulting in 20 dB stronger signals.
Aircraft scatter relativizes the disadvantages of locations in valleys and urban areas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After 10 seconds the noise becomes a kind of ‘musical’. Another 10 seconds later experienced ears can hear the tone.
This morning I had a look for DB0MFI, a new beacon on 1296.940 MHz in JN58HW. It is audible with 529 constantly via tropo and peaking 579 via aircraft scatter. The power is 5 W into a 4 times stacked big wheel antenna.
In the afternoon I went for it on 2320.940 MHz. Faint reflections on some airplanes were audible and traces could be seen in the waterfall of WSJT-X Wide Graph:
The other day I noticed some cluster spots about a new beacon DB0WML in JO31MU on 2320.910 MHz. So I had a look for it today. Nothing via tropo, but nice reflections on airplanes.
At least I was bearing to an A380 in a distance of about 30 km at a height of 12 km with 33° elevation, to record this clip.
The beacon is runnung 1.5 W into a 10 dB slot antenna according the information in beaconspot.eu
The beacon is operated by DARC local chapter N40, keeper is Rudolf, DK8QU.
The french beacon F5ZBM is on air again. I found it accidentally, when looking for other french beacons. It is at a new location in JN18MN near Paris transmitting on 1,296.8475 MHz. Nice to monitor it in Mainz via aircraft scatter over a distance of 406 km!
The keying is in F1 with a very narrow spacing. Power is 10 W ERP into a slot antenna, as can be seeen at BEACONSPOT.eu