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!
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 HK76mv! The 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.
A baby 70cm station is born, ready for action!
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
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:
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:
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:
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!
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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? 😀
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:
…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:
Finally, a zoomed-in map of my QSOs with mainland Portugal and northwest Spain, showing the distribution:
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:
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…
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…
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:
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…
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.
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.
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…