Category Archives: TEP

Update…

I thought I’d better post an update, having not posted anything for a while; the reason being that not a lot has been happening!

The Eta Aquariids meteor shower peaked on the 6th of May, producing some fine, long meteor bursts: The best I heard was one from DF1JC (JO31) on 2m that apparently lasted for over 130s at S9, and there were a number more from various people lasting 20/30s. The one downside of this shower was quite a low meteor rate, so we had to be patient especially over the longer distances. We’re actually at the bottom of a twelve-year cycle for this shower, so the rates should only get better over the next six years. I didn’t work anything sensational, but was very happy to complete with the Camb-Hams DxPedition, GS3PYE/P (IO68ul) for a new square.

The much-anticipated Sporadic E (Es) propagation has started in Europe, giving a few lucky people 6m links into TEP and F2 propagation further south. The only thing of interest heard here recently was the ZD8VHF (II22TB) beacon on 50.0325MHz at around 21z on 5th May, via an Es link into evening TEP, weak but audible:

zd8vhf 6m es+tep
ZD8VHF/B on 50.0325MHz heard at EI3KD on 5th May 2014 @ 21z

East and Northern Europe have had the first Es opening of the year on 2m, on the 13th of May – one of the favourite dates each and every year!

On 2m EME I’ve worked a few new initials (now up to 114), including I3EVK (JN66) and IK7EZN (JN90) both in new squares for me. However, a highlight was a contact with the Team Athletico expedition to Senegal, 6W/PE1L (IK14jp):

6WPE1L qso EI3KD, 2m EME, JT65B

6W/PE1L qso EI3KD, 2m EME, JT65B

A lot of concentration and patience is required for this sort of EME contact, given I was trying to work a modest, albeit highly optimised, two-yagi station with my single short 11 element yagi: I missed a few opportunities at the start of the expedition because, for a few days, they had a local obstruction causing a minimum 7 degree horizon, which meant the moon was already above my ground-gain peaks by the time it “rose” for them. However, when I began to get common windows I concentrated on them at every opportunity. I heard/decoded the expedition quite a few times but was, unsurprisingly, unable to break their pileup during the very short times when my ground-gain was enough to see them – a maximum of two periods each about twenty minutes long after moonrise, with no possibility at moonset due to local noise. In the end the time spent paid off and after many failed calls and one or two near misses we finally made a fine contact. The team can’t be thanked enough for their unsurpassed dxpedition and operating skills – thanks once again guys!

Hopefully my next update will be reporting a massive 2m Es opening, or some extraordinary tropo – we live in hope!

Unusual 50MHz TEP conditions today

The lunchtime TEP opening on 50MHz was a bit strange today, with South African stations reporting that Bulgarian beacons were the first signals heard. However, it was the usual story here, with almost complete white noise on the band. Having said that, I did hear Braam, ZS6AYE (KG54) a few times on 50.110MHz for about 10 or 20 seconds each time, via what I presume was meteor-scatter assisted TEP.

At around 14:13z I heard some very weak CW on 50.105MHz, which turned out to be Pierre, ZS6A. That was exciting, because Pierre is currently on expedition at Leokwe camp, in KG47. The opening to Pierre lasted about 9 minutes but, unfortunately, the signals never got strong enough for me to break his pile-up, even though he peaked at about 549. I was still pleased to hear him, and the clip below is almost the whole opening as seen from here – you can hear how far removed we are here from the wide-open paths in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean!

zs6a kg47
"zs6a kg47" from 6m tep by ei3kd. Released: 2014.

More 50MHz propagation

Six metres has been trying hard to open, but on most days the propagation stops in the Mediterranean and at these latitudes headphones are just full of white noise. However, I managed a couple more DX QSOs on 19th March around 13:50z with ZS6EZ (KG44) on cw, and ZS6NK (KG46) on ssb, with ZS6JON/B also making an appearance.

Thursday, 20th March, was quite an interesting day, albeit frustrating! The 6V7SIX (IK14) beacon was widely heard across Europe during mid/late afternoon, and put in a good signal here:

6V7SIX/B 15:11z 20/03/14
"6V7SIX/B 15:11z 20/03/14" from 6m F2 by ei3kd. Released: 2014.

There were also a lot of backscatter signals from a similar direction to the 6V7 beacon. For example, I heard IW0FFK, EA4TZ, EA6BB, F4EZJ, S59A and many others, all on a heading of around 200 degrees. I only had the barefoot rig available at the time and, as is usual for backscatter, its 100 Watts wasn’t enough to make any QSOs. However, the widespread scatter seemed to bode well for some South American propagation but, at that time at least, nothing materialised.

Meanwhile, the more southerly stations are having a field-day… I’m guessing that all of us in northern Europe are eagerly awaiting some early Es, to get us into that lucrative F2/TEP region before it’s too late 😀

50MHz Transequatorial propagation (TEP)

March 4th showed a lot of promise for 6m, with the Total Electron Content (TEC) map (from NASA JPL) showing a very favourable “bubble”. Keith G4FUF reported that indicators were already strong with him by mid-morning, e.g. on 41,424MHz (probably from Iran, or perhaps Cyprus, and heard here at S9+) and the Iranian TV carrier on 48.251MHz. Indeed, sidebands from the Iranian TV carrier were rapidly approaching 50MHz.

The usual Eastern Mediterranean path opened to South Africa fairly early and, at approximately 11:55z, I heard ZS6A (KG43EU/9383km) on 50.110MHz CW for no more than a couple of minutes before he disappeared again, working SV, etc.

The band started to open here again at 12:33z, with a CW signal heard from ZS6RJ (KG44DD/9350km) – quite loud, but unfortunately off frequency and gone by the time I’d tuned. At the same time I heard a weak SSB signal from ZS6MAW (KG44CH/9329km) but was unable to attract his attention.

My first QSO was at 12:38z with ZS6AYE (KG54ML/9420km) who peaked nicely just as I called him, followed by ZS6A at 12:50z, ZS6NK (KG46RC/9192km) at 12:54z and ZS6WN (KG46SC/9195km) on CW at 13:03z. The last signal heard here was from ZS6NK at around 13:15z, after he had peaked 59 for five minutes or so.

Some audio clips from my QSOs are here:

zs6aye tep 040314
"zs6aye tep 040314" from 6m tep by ei3kd. Released: 2014. Track 1.

zs6a tep 040314
"zs6a tep 040314" from 6m tep by ei3kd. Released: 2014. Track 1.

zs6nk tep 040314
"zs6nk tep 040314" from 6m tep by ei3kd. Released: 2014. Track 1.

zs6wn tep 040314
"zs6wn tep 040314" from 6m tep by ei3kd. Released: 2014. Track 1.

All QSOs were made with the FT857D barefoot (100W, no preamp) into a 6el LFA2 at about 16m agl. At no point did I hear anything from the 9J2 expedition, nor did I hear any beacons.

As I write this conditions have retreated back to more southerly latitudes. Hopefully we’ll get another peak in 27 days (or, if we’re lucky, before) – or maybe some early Sporadic-E propagation to give us the first hop into the Mediterranean area!