Category Archives: tropo

Tropo on the edge…

It’s been some months since we’ve seen any sort of decent tropo opening on VHF/UHF, in this part of Europe at least. However, there really was no excuse for being unaware of this one in advance because the forecasting websites (F5LEN and Hepburn) had been predicting something nice for the end of September for at least week prior. It turned out to be exceptional!

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Super Atlantic tropo!

I’d been keeping an eye on the F5LEN and Hepburn Atlantic tropo forecasts prior to the 20th of May because they looked promising for good propagation towards the south:

Hepburn North Atlantic forecast 06z May 20, 2015

Hepburn North Atlantic forecast 06z May 20, 2015

F5LEN Atlantic forecast 00z 21st May, 2015

F5LEN Atlantic forecast 00z 21st May, 2015

Lots of bright colours over much of the North Atlantic! There looked to be some possibility of a repeat of Dave, PJ4VHF’s incredible reception of the Cape Verde beacon, over a distance of some 4700km (and perhaps further?), as well as a north-south path touching on Ireland.

Up until lunchtime on the 20th there was nothing other than a slight enhancement on my AIS receiver (a useful propagation tool at 162MHz, online at MarineTraffic) showing ships slightly further south of Cork than usual – certainly nothing exceptional. I wasn’t even hearing the stalwart ED1ZAG beacon in IN53 but the forecast maps were marginal for that direction.

At approximately 14:35z, a weak cw-keyed signal appeared just very slightly above 144.436MHz, rapidly becoming strong enough to identify as D4C in HK76mvThe Monteverde Contest Team’s beacon is at a distance of some 4165km from EI3KD, with a tolerance of five kilometers or so, which probably makes it the furthest tropo distance yet heard from within IARU Region 1.

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Cloudy, with a chance of DX – super tropo.

A baby 70cm station is born, ready for action!

EI3KD antennas

2m (11el F9FT) and 70cm (19el F9FT) at EI3KD

Some months ago I added a 432MHz 19el F9FT antenna to the mast (approximately 4.5m a.g.l.), with the help of G4CLA – thanks Pete! My FT857D is capable of 20 Watts output on 70cm, but I did find an old sspa that, with a reduced drive from the rig, bumped it up to a massive 30 Watts! Every decibel counts, right? Anyway, the sspa’s built-in preamp was probably a small improvement over the rig’s front-end. Even with such a small set-up I’ve managed to give away a few points in the RSGB UKAC 70cm contests, and also had a few DX contacts during brief spells of enhancement. I also have a higher power sspa to modify for 432MHz, but that’s another story.

Since added the 70cm antenna I’ve been looking forward to a decent tropo opening, and early February wasn’t going to disappoint! Apologies for the length of the blog that follows, but it was an exceptional tropo opening…

Worked and heard maps 8-12 Feb 2015

144MHz worked and heard, 8-12 Feb 2015

144MHz worked and heard, 8-12 Feb 2015

432MHz worked and heard, 8-12 Feb 2015

432MHz worked and heard, 8-12 Feb 2015

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December tropo

I was chatting to Nick, G4KUX, on 2m at the end of last week and we were discussing the up-coming propagation forecast charts for early December, which looked quite promising:

Hepburn (c) tropo forecast for 02/12/13 06z

Hepburn (c) tropo forecast for 02/12/13 06z

Hepburn (c) tropo forecast for 03/12/13 06z

Hepburn (c) tropo forecast for 03/12/13 06z

Nick reminded me that we’ve had a few great openings during December in the past so this one was worth watching, even though it didn’t look like being one of the all-time greats. As it turned out, the forecasts from Hepburn and F5LEN were very accurate both in terms of coverage and intensity…

I noted a few beacons starting to come in from late on December 1st, gradually improving as time went by. I’ve taken a few of my cluster spots to show how things developed here:

144418.0 ON0VHF/B     IO51vw<TR>JO20hp 519 rising 2140 01 Dec
144415.0 PI7CIS/B     IO51vw<TR>JO22dc 539        0640 02 Dec
144418.0 ON0VHF/B     IO51vw<TR>JO20hp 529        0641 02 Dec
144490.0 DB0FAI/B     IO51vw<TR>JN58ic 529!       0653 02 Dec
144418.0 ON0VHF/B     IO51vw<TR>JO20hp nw 599     0737 02 Dec
144449.0 HB9HB/B      IO51vw<TR>JN37qf 419        0750 02 Dec
144449.0 HB9HB/B      IO51vw<TR>JN37qf 599        0913 02 Dec
144415.0 PI7CIS/B     IO51vw<TR>JO22dc 599        1115 02 Dec
144490.0 DB0FAI/B     IO51vw<TR>JN58ic nw 559     1133 02 Dec
144428.0 DB0JT/B      IO51vw<TR>JN67jt 519!       1146 02 Dec
144403.0 ED1ZAG/B     IO51vw<TR>IN53re 599        1746 02 Dec
144428.0 DB0JT/B      IO51vw<TR>JN67jt still 529  1912 02 Dec
144490.0 DB0FAI/B     IO51vw<TR>JN58ic still 549  1912 02 Dec

It’s very rare for me to hear the DB0JT beacon (JN67jt/1571km, 144.428MHz), but this time I got a nice recording to add to my collection:

db0jt/b jn67
"db0jt/b jn67" from 2m tropo by ei3kd. Released: 2013.

Activity was generally low, but gradually more people came on as conditions improved and/or they came home from work. There were very few signals at a true “S9” level and even those were subject to a large amount of very rapid and deep fading: Many signals were close to the noise level, requiring CW or JT65 to complete a successful QSO.

Here, the opening lasted throughout the 2nd of December, through to early afternoon on the 3rd, resulting in fifty contacts over 1000km. These are shown on the map below:

2m Tropo QSOs 2nd/3rd Dec 2013

2m Tropo QSOs 2nd/3rd Dec 2013

The best distance was to Franz, OE3FVU (JN78ve/1754km), which was predominantly a tropo QSO but with unavoidable assistance from abundant meteor scatter. All contacts over 1300km are listed below, and show that signals were mostly quite weak.

02/12/2013 17:13 OE3FVU          JN78VE  RO       RO       JT65 1754km
02/12/2013 23:15 SQ1FYB          JO73MI  RO       RO       JT65 1569km
02/12/2013 13:21 OE2UKL          JN68LA  529      559      CW   1568km
03/12/2013 12:09 SP1JNY          JO73GL  RO       RO       JT65 1535km
02/12/2013 19:53 DL8NP           JN58SC  RO       RO       JT65 1468km
02/12/2013 13:42 DL3WW           JO60FL  529      539      CW   1443km
02/12/2013 14:58 DL3MBJ          JN57IN  55       55       SSB  1438km
02/12/2013 22:18 SM7FMX          JO65KN  55       54       SSB  1437km
02/12/2013 13:52 OK1FD           JO60CF  539      519      CW   1433km
02/12/2013 19:42 DL7APV          JO62JR  R-12     R-16     JT65 1424km
02/12/2013 09:47 DF1NP           JN58OV  549      559      CW   1412km
02/12/2013 12:19 DL6NAA          JO50VF  569      559      CW   1405km
02/12/2013 22:10 OZ6OL           JO65DJ  559      569      CW   1398km
02/12/2013 14:47 DF0HF           JO50SF  599      599      CW   1388km
02/12/2013 22:05 DK5SO           JN58AV  RO       RO       JT65 1332km
02/12/2013 15:39 DL7QY           JN59BD  529      559      CW   1328km
02/12/2013 08:00 DL3YEE          JO50LX  419      419      CW   1328km

So that’s it, as I’m writing this conditions are back down to normal and nothing much is happening. However, we have the Geminids meteor shower to look forward to, predicted to peak on December 14th at around 05:45z. Unfortunately I won’t be QRV for that one, but good luck to everyone that manages to get on!

An exceptional tropo opening

There had been much anticipation of a decent tropo opening around the 23rd September with a large, stable area of high pressure forming over north west Europe. In the end it turned into something that people will remember for a long time, with some fabulous contacts made. I can’t wait to see reports from the likes of GI4SNA, OM2VL, S51ZO, and others, which I’m sure will be amazing!

Here’s my own story, with apologies for the length…

The Hepburn forecast map was looking good with a nice yellow/orange area predicting long-distance potential:

Hepburn 23/06/13

Hepburn’s tropo prediction for 06z on 23/09/13

On the morning of 22nd September things started to look promising, with a few reasonable contacts over 800km to the east and south – not huge signals, but it was something:

22/09/2013 06:30 DG0VOG          JO60QU  519      519      2 m.   1496km
22/09/2013 06:35 PA3GGI          JO21TV  539      529      2 m.    947km
22/09/2013 06:38 DL6YBF          JO31OX  59       59       2 m.   1054km
22/09/2013 06:42 F4EGA           JO10QK  54       51       2 m.    823km
22/09/2013 06:47 PA2CHR          JO32DB  59       59       2 m.    991km
22/09/2013 06:53 PA4VHF          JO32JE  57       55       2 m.   1024km
22/09/2013 07:05 ON4KHG          JO10XO  58       56       2 m.    858km
22/09/2013 07:11 ON4KBE          JO20BI  559      559      2 m.    877km
22/09/2013 07:49 DK3EE           JO41GU  54       41       2 m.   1146km
22/09/2013 08:12 PE9GG           JO33NA  59       59       2 m.   1043km
22/09/2013 08:19 PA5MS           JO21RQ  55       54       2 m.    938km
22/09/2013 08:31 DF0MU           JO32PC  529      519      2 m.   1058km
22/09/2013 08:34 PA1VW           JO22IN  549      559      2 m.    881km
22/09/2013 08:42 ON4BR           JO20SW  549      439      2 m.    958km
22/09/2013 08:47 PA2DW           JO22GD  55       55       2 m.    871km
22/09/2013 09:02 PD0HCV          JO31FW  57       57       2 m.   1003km
22/09/2013 09:17 DK1FG           JN59OP  519      319      2 m.   1384km
22/09/2013 10:42 EA1DHB/P        IN83FD  51       52       2 m.   1038km
22/09/2013 10:44 EA2TO/P         IN83FD  51       51       2 m.   1038km

Later that evening and into the morning of the 23rd September a few more signals appeared:

22/09/2013 22:32 DG0VOG          JO60QU  51       519      1496km
22/09/2013 22:46 DM7RM/P         JN48JC  51       519      1283km
23/09/2013 06:50 DL8MAI          JN57FV  519      529      1405km
23/09/2013 07:06 DF1CF           JN57FP  519      529      1417km
23/09/2013 08:05 HB3YAT          JN47JM  RO       RO       1313km
23/09/2013 09:18 DF1CF           JN57FP  57       52       1417km

Once again the signals were not too strong, but the distances were very good: This usually indicates there’s a good high-level (mid-tropospheric) duct somewhere along the path, but it is almost certainly extended at one or both ends by a local low-level inversion. There was certainly one at my end of the path, if the thick fog here was anything to go by.

After the QSO with DF1CF @09:18z things started to go downhill very rapidly as the local inversion lifted, to the point where the band seemed absolutely dead more-or-less everywhere. This was disappointing, because it showed that few, if any, people were able to directly access the mid-tropospheric duct at this time – probably because it was at too high an altitude (indications are it was then >1400m above sea level). Over time there was no doubt the high-level duct would descend, as it always does, but of course the high pressure system itself would also move. There was plenty of nail-biting at ‘3KD, hoping the duct would come directly into range at some point!

Luckily, this is where well-sited beacons show how useful they are: HB9HB (JN37qf/1226km) is located at 1395m asl and was a constant signal even when everything else had faded, confirming the duct was still present. Indeed it grew in strength, thus raising hopes…

Then, at around 12z, the first “properly ducted” signal suddenly appeared, from OE2XRM (JN67nt/1589km)! It took a few calls to attract his attention through the instant pile-up, but a nice QSO resulted. I didn’t have the audio recorder running at the time, but made this recording just a few minutes later:

OE2XRM JN67nt 1589km
\"OE2XRM JN67nt 1589km\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

Soon after, more and more signals started to appear from a similar direction, characterised by good signal strengths disturbed by very deep and rapid fading. The distances were great, varying from 800 to over 1500km:

23/09/2013 12:15 OE2XRM          JN67NT  55       559      1589km
23/09/2013 13:05 F0FYP           JN37LO  55       55       1188km
23/09/2013 13:30 F6DCD           JN38RQ  569      569      1167km
23/09/2013 13:35 DJ9EV           JN49SC  55       52       1290km
23/09/2013 13:50 DK1FG           JN59OP  58       58       1384km
23/09/2013 14:00 OK1ES           JO60RN  529      419      1510km
23/09/2013 14:09 HB9SLU          JN36MU  54       51       1236km
23/09/2013 14:42 DF9RJ           JN68GS  55       53       1508km
23/09/2013 14:48 DK3XT           JN49FE  559      559      1213km
23/09/2013 14:51 HB9BNI          JN37WB  559      559      1278km
23/09/2013 15:13 DL2GPS          JN48CD  54       41       1242km
23/09/2013 15:25 F5BLD           JN38WS  549      559      1191km
23/09/2013 15:33 DL2OM           JO30SN  599      559      1104km
23/09/2013 15:36 DL5MCG          JN58KH  53       58       1414km
23/09/2013 15:39 DL8NP           JN58SC  559      569      1468km
23/09/2013 15:44 DL0SA           JN58SC  549      539      1468km
23/09/2013 15:48 OE5RBO          JN68OB  559      559      1583km
23/09/2013 15:55 F5SE/P          JN19XH  59       59        905km
23/09/2013 16:02 F5SE/P          JN19XH  539      519       905km (70cm)
23/09/2013 16:07 F6IHC           JO10OQ  58       55        804km
23/09/2013 16:09 F5JNX           JN37PV  589      599      1194km
23/09/2013 16:11 F6ACU           JN38FC  599      599      1128km
23/09/2013 16:17 DJ3OS           JN49FL  51       57       1202km
23/09/2013 16:19 F1NPX/P         JN29DH  57       59        927km
23/09/2013 16:22 F5MFO           JN19IB  579      559       834km
23/09/2013 16:29 DF7RG           JN68HG  569      569      1534km
23/09/2013 16:30 OK2BY           JN69JJ  559      559      1501km
23/09/2013 16:34 DK1KW           JN58RE  529      559      1459km

I even had a QSO with F5SE/P (JN19xh/905km) on 432MHz – but more about my 70cm exploits later…

At 16:35z, I glimpsed a comment from Pista, HA1FV (JN87jj/1858km) in the ON4KST chat that he could hear me – but I already knew because, to my amazement, I could hear him calling! The signal was quite weak but an easy QSO resulted, most certainly via tropo from the duration and “sound” of the transmission – unfortunately I didn’t have the audio being recorded at the time, so no clip.

Some minutes later I was still getting over the shock of working Pista, and struggling to receive a French station who’d faded into the noise, when I heard “S51ZO S51ZO?” being sent on CW. I had half a mind that it was a wind-up, but went on to work Joze, S51ZO (JN86dr/1856km) very easily – I was amazed when he confirmed the QSO later in the KST chat! This time I remembered to turn the audio recorder on right at the end of the contact, so got a brief clip that indicates how good a signal it was:

S51ZO JN86DR 1856km
\"S51ZO JN86DR 1856km\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

Conditions were getting better all the time and I was very pleased, shortly after S51ZO, to work Frank OE3FVU (JN78ve/1754km). Signals were slightly down during our contact, although it was easy enough, but I made this recording of Frank very soon after:

OE3FVU JN73ve 1754km
\"OE3FVU JN73ve 1754km\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

More nice contacts followed, including many to the south of Germany and Austria:

23/09/2013 16:37 HA1FV           JN87JJ  519      529      1858km
23/09/2013 16:43 F5LEN           JN38BO  54       54       1081km
23/09/2013 16:45 F2GL            JN17ST  549      569       957km
23/09/2013 16:50 S51ZO           JN86DR  559      579      1856km
23/09/2013 16:53 DK2HZ           JN48RW  539      539      1291km
23/09/2013 16:55 DL2DN           JN48MX  599      599      1261km
23/09/2013 16:56 F6AFC           JN38CM  599      599      1091km
23/09/2013 17:00 OE3FVU          JN78VE  52       51       1754km
23/09/2013 17:01 DL8SCQ          JN48RV  59       59       1293km
23/09/2013 17:02 F6GYH           JN27TS  59       59       1092km
23/09/2013 17:04 DK2RY           JN59KN  59       57       1364km
23/09/2013 17:05 F5FIM           JN38IA  59       59       1149km
23/09/2013 17:06 F4ABV           JN39FD  59       56       1079km
23/09/2013 17:07 DL6SDH          JN48RW  56       56       1291km
23/09/2013 17:08 DL4NC           JN59KO  54       52       1362km
23/09/2013 17:09 F2LU            JN38UH  59       58       1201km
23/09/2013 17:46 DL8FL           JN48XS  579      579      1332km
23/09/2013 17:48 DL6YBF          JO31OX  559      559      1054km
23/09/2013 17:49 DL5FDP          JN49LP  539      539      1230km
23/09/2013 17:52 F6DZS           JN18EV  539      539       821km
23/09/2013 17:55 DL5MAE          JN58VF  59       59       1480km 5 watts!
23/09/2013 17:57 DL5MAE          JN58VF  579      559      1480km (70cm)
23/09/2013 18:12 DL6WU           JN49HT  599      559      1201km
23/09/2013 18:14 DL5GAC          JN47UT  599      599      1359km
23/09/2013 18:36 LX2LA           JN39CP  59       59       1043km
23/09/2013 18:46 OE5XBL          JN68PC  59       59       1587km
23/09/2013 18:48 OE5XBL          JN68PC  51       539      1587km (70cm)
23/09/2013 19:04 OE3DSB          JN78FA  52       55       1670km
23/09/2013 19:07 LX1DB           JN39CO  59       59       1044km
23/09/2013 19:13 DJ0QZ           JN49LM  59       59       1234km

Did you notice the two 70cms contacts in the log, with DL5MAE (JN58vf/1480km) and OE5XBL (JN68pc/1587km), and earlier with F5SE/P? The FT857d I use can run about 20 watts on 432MHz but I don’t have an antenna for 70cm. However, I know from past experience that 2m Tonna antennas, such as my 11el, are not too bad a match on 70cm – So these QSOs were made with the barefoot FT857d into the 11el 2m antenna! It’s a slightly complicated process to switch bands, because I have to disable the 2m masthead preamp and apply an offset to the antenna azimuth because the pattern is skewed on 70cm, but it worked 😀 Here’s the audio from the ‘MAE and ‘XBL QSOs with us QSYing from 2m up to 70cm:

DL5MAE JN58vf 1480km 2m/70cm
\"DL5MAE JN58vf 1480km 2m/70cm\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

OE5XBL JN68pc 1587km 2m/70cm
\"OE5XBL JN68pc 1587km 2m/70cm\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

At around 19:15z I was tuning around the band and came across a CW signal that sounded a bit “DX-ey”. I was astonished to hear, very clearly, “OM2VL OM2VL OM2VL”, but was so excited I a) immediately forget his call, and b) initially forgot to switch the rig from SSB to CW. It was a brilliant QSO with Laci, OM2VL (JN87wv/1909km), but the chaos is adequately heard in the following clip 😀 About ten minutes later I could hear Laci very clearly on SSB, and on telling him that in the KST chat he asked me to call again for a very nice SSB QSO:

OM2VL JN87wv 1909km (cw)
\"OM2VL JN87wv 1909km\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

OM2VL JN87wv 1909km (ssb)
\"OM2VL JN87wv 1909km\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

This was the peak of the opening for me and conditions very slowly started to drop off, although a number of great contacts followed for the rest of the evening through to the following morning, including a fantastic CW QSO with Zvonko, 9A1CAL (JN86dm/1867km).

I heard a little later from Moma, YU1EV (KN04cn/2246km), that he had heard me 539 during my QSO with 9A1CAL – it’s such a shame I didn’t hear him call!

The rest of the log is here:

23/09/2013 19:17 OM2VL           JN87WV  559      599      1909km
23/09/2013 19:20 OE5HSN          JN68PC  55       55       1587km
23/09/2013 19:28 OM2VL           JN87WV  55       59       1909km
23/09/2013 19:48 9A1CAL          JN86DM  519      519      1867km
23/09/2013 19:49 DL8MFL          JN58OA  599      599      1450km
23/09/2013 19:52 DH1VY           JN39KF  599      599      1104km
23/09/2013 20:01 DF6MU           JN58WF  599      599      1485km
23/09/2013 20:06 DD7PC           JN49AX  569      529      1156km
23/09/2013 20:07 DJ5NE           JN59LW  559      559      1357km
23/09/2013 20:09 DL4NAC          JN59SV  599      599      1398km
23/09/2013 20:11 DL2GWZ          JN49HQ  559      559      1206km
23/09/2013 20:15 DK3IK           JN39JF  549      559      1098km
23/09/2013 20:17 DM5TI           JN68FF  579      559      1525km
23/09/2013 20:20 F4JVG           JN16NL  529               1021km
23/09/2013 20:22 OK7GU           JN69QT  529      529      1526km
23/09/2013 20:24 OK1PGS          JN69JW  529      559      1482km
23/09/2013 20:28 DL1NBM          JN49MV  599      559      1227km
23/09/2013 20:56 DL1MAJ          JN68AH  599      599      1493km
23/09/2013 22:00 DK3EE           JO41GU  55       529      1146km
23/09/2013 22:47 HB9EOU          JN37JC  52       51       1205km
23/09/2013 23:09 OE9MON          JN47VM  57       57       1379km
24/09/2013 07:57 OK1TEH          JO70FD  RO       RO       1590km
24/09/2013 08:52 DL6NAA          JO50VF  55       55       1405km
24/09/2013 11:18 OE2JOM/2        JN67NT  58       51       1589km
24/09/2013 11:24 OE5XBL          JN68PC  55       55       1587km
24/09/2013 11:44 ON4PS/P         JO20KQ  559      559       918km
24/09/2013 11:46 DJ5BV           JO30KI  559      569      1064km
24/09/2013 12:00 DK2EA           JO50UF  419      539      1399km
24/09/2013 12:21 DL2AMD          JO50VV  559      559      1387km

Finally, my > 800km QSO map for the period 22->24/09/13:

Tropo 22-24/09/13

Tropo QSOs made from 22-24/09/13 by EI3KD > 800km

So that’s it, after 40-odd years of being a “2m addict”, the band is still capable of amazing and exciting things. Not many hobbies can do that, eh? 😀

Tropo goes out with a bang!

The southerly tropo went out in style this evening, with an exceptional opening down the entire length of mainland Portugal – certainly a rare event! There were also strong signals from the Canary Islands (EA8) and northern mainland Spain.

The propagation appeared to be caused by a combination of the Azores high probably producing a mid-tropospheric duct, assisted by a north-south aligned weather front approaching from the west at the northern end of the path. It was characterised by slow fading but, generally, signals improved as the evening progressed. The geometry of the path at the northern end meant there was no propagation from my QTH to CT3, although Tim, G4LOH, did work a very surprised CT3KJ, first on FM S22 and then on SSB. ‘3KJ was only using 10 watts and a 4 element yagi!

This is how the log looks from EI3KD:

22/08/2013 16:51 EB1LA IN63VN 943km
22/08/2013 17:22 EA8CCG IL18TM 2690km
22/08/2013 18:28 CT1BXT IM59PF 1413km
22/08/2013 18:28 CT1FJC IM57OC 1650km
22/08/2013 18:34 EA1NL/P IN52NL 1053km
22/08/2013 18:36 CT1ANO IN51RE 1195km
22/08/2013 18:59 CT1DIZ IM58KP 1479km
22/08/2013 19:16 EA1GA IN52QR 1024km
22/08/2013 19:17 CT1HBC IN51PE 1196km
22/08/2013 19:35 EA8BTQ IL18QJ 2709km
22/08/2013 20:30 CT1FFU IM59KK 1391km
22/08/2013 20:45 CT2HKN IN51OM 1159km
22/08/2013 20:55 EA8AQV IL28ED 2716km

I also often heard the regular EA8s (e.g. EA8TJ, EA8TX) and other EA1s with quite impressive signals at times. One “gotaway” was Peter, EA8BFK, who would have been a new locator for me in IL38: He could hear my cw throughout the evening but I was unable to hear his (160W) SSB… next time Peter!

Here’s a few audio clips, hopefully indicating how amazing 144.300MHz sounded at times! Note that any CW heard is usually Tony, CT1FFU:

ct1ano ct1ffu ea1imp
\"ct1ano ct1ffu ea1imp\" from 2m tr by ei3kd.

ct1diz
\"ct1diz\" from 2m tr by ei3kd.

ea1ga and ct1hbc
\"ea1ga and ct1hbc\" from 2m tr by ei3kd.

ct1hbc ea8s
\"ct1hbc ea8s\" from 2m tr by ei3kd.

…and to give an indication of just how strong signals were at times, here’s a clip of Tony, CT1FFU chatting with Pinto, CT1ANO (with the pip tone) on 144.300MHz SSB, with me breaking in to comment:

ct1ano and ct1ffu
\"ct1ano and ct1ffu\" from 2m tr by ei3kd.

Finally, a zoomed-in map of my QSOs with mainland Portugal and northwest Spain, showing the distribution:

2m Tropo QSOs 22/08/13

Map of 2m tropo QSOs made by EI3KD to Portugal (CT) on 22/08/13

 

Tropo continues

The tropo that started on the 19th August continued through yesterday (20th) to the south, gradually moving to the south east by this morning. Tony, CT1FFU (IM59kk/1391km), was again a good signal on the morning of the 20th, indicating the band had probably been open to him for more than 12 hours!

A nice catch for me was my first reception of the Canary Island beacon, ED8ZAA (IL18UM/2688km, as sent but note this beacon is listed as being in IL18SJ?), which has been very elusive here for some reason. It had very slow fading, going from noise level to 599 – during this recording I’d guess it was probably around 559:

ed8zaa
\"ed8zaa\" from 2m tr by ei3kd.

The Madeira Island beacon, CS3BTM (IM12or/2245km) was much more consistent, remaining at 599 for long periods, with the occasional fade. This is on the same heading as D4 so would normally generate some excitement, but it was apparent the tropo wasn’t very stable to the south of Madeira and the Canary Islands – certainly nothing further away was heard…

There were a few humans around too, but sadly I didn’t hear CT3BD despite seeing him spotted on the DX cluster from EA8 (I also tried accessing the CT3 repeater on 145.700/88.5, but no success). Anyway, here’s a few recordings for the archive…

ea8tj
\"ea8tj\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

ea8btq
\"ea8btq\" from 2m tropo by ei3kd.

ea8cqw
\"ea8cqw\" from 2m tr by ei3kd.

This morning (21st August), the Atlantic tropo to CT3/EA8 appears to have faded but propagation across Biscay has been good, with excellent signals from all along the Spanish and French coasts, inland as far as F5ICN (JN03bf/1151km). Possibly more to come over the next few days…

My first CT on 2m tropo

Both the Hepburn and F5LEN tropo prediction tools were showing some promise to the south this afternoon and, sure enough, the ED1ZAG beacon (IN53re/973km) was steadily improving. There were also traces every now and then from CS3BTM (IM12or/2246km), but nothing very substantial. Tim, G4LOH, had his usual private duct down to EA8 – so there was some hope of getting in to something down that way.

Later in the evening I could see that ED1ZAG was getting loud (e.g. 599), and there were still traces of the Madeira beacon, so I put a few speculative calls out on 144.300MHz, on CW. Luckily, a few of the tropo regulars (Agustin EA1YV, and Pedro EA8AVI) were kind enough to spot on the cluster that they could hear me, so I had some motivation to continue…

At around 20:20z I heard a CW signal replying to me, and was amazed to hear it was CT1FFU in IM59kk (1391km), a rare catch indeed. A very nice QSO resulted, and I was very happy to get my first tropo station from Portugal in the log. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to have the audio recorder running, but Tony was kind enough to come back for a second QSO so I could make a nice recording:

ct1ffu 2m tropo 19/08/13
\"ct1ffu\" from 2m tr by ei3kd.

Following the QSO with Tony, I also heard another station calling on SSB who was just too weak to understand. I later found out that was CT2HKN in IN51 – hopefully conditions will improve to allow a contact. The next 24 hours look promising, so watch this space…

Nice 2m tropo

Quite a surprise this morning, with not too much predicted by the usual tropo web sites: I could see a few cluster spots for Kjell, SM7GVF (JO77ga/1565km), on 144.345MHz, so I took a quick look and was amazed to hear a weak signal which was Kjell trying a test with Dom F6DRO! Very soon after, Kjell turned his antenna and the signal came up. We had a very nice CW QSO, followed by an SSB contact about 20 minutes later.

SM7GVF 144MHz CW
2m tropo QSO on CW with SM7GVF (JO77ga/1565km) @ 21/07/13 06:53

SM7GVF 144MHz SSB
2m tropo QSO on SSB with SM7GVF (JO77ga/1565km) @ 21/07/13 07:11

There were absolutely no other signals from Scandinavia so the propagation duct was very selective, although I could hear Kjell for at least an hour. I did have a few much weaker contacts into PA and DL at around 1000km, so the propagation was a little up in that direction too.

2m tropo QSOs 21/07/13

2m tropo QSOs 21/07/13

A near miss…

Tropo conditions were good all day today to the south, with both the ED1ZAG (IN53re/973km) and ED1YCA (IN73al/955km) beacons coming in at a constant 59. The Madeira Island beacon, CS3BTM (IM12or/2244km) was also a good signal, peaking around 56 in the early afternoon (as often seems to be the case), then fading at around 20z. Very soon after, several EA8s in IL18 came up to a good strength and remained so for the rest of the evening.

At around 21z Tony, CT1FFU reported that CT3KJ (IM12or, the same locator as the beacon) was hearing some Gs on 144.300MHz, and was calling there. Unfortunately the Madeira beacon had already faded here and I was disappointed not to hear anything from Antonio. However, Tim G4LOH and Terry M0VRL (both IO70) did hear him, and made good contacts. During Tim’s QSO with Antonio, Xara, D44TD (HK86no) reported that he could hear Tim, and another fabulous contact resulted! Xara also went on to work Terry, to prove that his existing Region 1 tropo record (4106km) wasn’t a fluke. Again, nothing from the far end was received here.

Of course, I was extremely disappointed not to hear Xara (or Antonio), especially when I suspect it would have been possible earlier in the day. However, it’s great to know that they are both active on 144MHz – One day conditions and activity will coincide and it will work!

Just to note, there’s a good chance there will be a dedicated tropo dxpedition to D44 during the first two weeks of August (HK75, possibly the D4B site in HK75xx?), so that will be one to watch for. Unfortunately I’ll only be able to be QRV towards the very end of that period, so it’ll be a bit of a nail-biter for me…