Monthly Archives: June 2013

9X0EME

Hermann, DL2NUD and René, PE1L have made it to Rwanda and are active on EME as 9X0EME. After moonrise last night I decided to listen/watch on their 2m frequency for a bit of fun and immediately saw about 12 stations calling in the opposite period.

Unfortunately the frequency the 9X0EME team were using, 144.112MHz, has a couple of noisy spurious carriers here within the JT65B passband. I could see the sync tone from them at around -26, but was failing to get decodes because of the QRM. It was obviously time to kick back and watch the action, rather than join the QRO pile…

The expedition’s signal faded after the Moon went above about 6 degrees elevation, as is usual at this QTH. I knew from past experience that signals normally reach a second peak at around 12 degrees elevation and also that, by then, the mutual doppler would bring 9X0EME’s signal to a better frequency relative to my QRM.

I wasn’t disappointed! True enough, from about 11 degrees up the signal started to appear again and when I saw that a previous QSO was coming to an end I started calling. From the previous traces I’d seen from other callers, I reckoned a lot were calling with their TX set more or less exactly on 144.112MHz, so I decided to set my TX with a shift of -300Hz to put my feeble signal in “clear air” 😉

This is the resulting sequence (9X0EME in bold, EI3KD in italics):

234400 1 -31 199 3 RRR
234500 Transmitting: JT65B 9X0EME EI3KD IO51
234600 2 -25 2.5 194 3 #
234800 2 -30 191 4 RRR
235000 1 -26 2.4 188 3 # EI3KD 9X0EME KI58 OOO 1 10 
235100 Transmitting: JT65B RO (Shorthand)
235200 0 -27 2.4 188 3
235400 0 -29 2.5 186 2
235600 0 -27 0.9 183 3
235800 3 -29 182 5 RRR

The first two “RRR” received were for the previous contact. Although I was struggling to get decodes through the QRM every period indicates a decent sync detection, as shown by the DT of 2.4 or 2.5 seconds (equating to how long it takes for the signal to get to the Moon and back) and the constant DF of around 188Hz.

There was some confusion at the end because the team were operating a policy of “two periods of report and if no reply move on”, which is very reasonable for a much sought-after expedition during the initial pile-up. At 23:58 a message appeared in the N0UK EME chat asking me to try again later because they hadn’t seen my reply – but at the same time I was receiving a clear “RRR”? It turned out that they’d typed the message and in the time it took to send to the chat had seen my “RO” – they had already started sending “RRR” which I then received straight away! So the QSO was completed by the skin of my teeth, for what is probably an EI-9X first on 2m (completed at 25/06/13 23:59z).

Thanks again to “The Team” for a brave and adventurous expedition – best of luck and safe journey home.

Tropo to south

With the Azores high pressure system (finally!) building, it wasn’t a complete surprise to get a little tropo to the south this morning: This had also been implied by the Hepburn and F5LEN forecasts (note, links will show current forecasts, not necessarily that of 24th June 2013).

A quick check showed ED1ZAG/B (IN53re, 973km) to be a solid 559. I could hear another beacon slightly off frequency, keying a little faster, and this turned out to be CS3BTM/B (IM12or, 2246km) on Madeira Island, also a good signal.

I made a short recording, starting in an SSB bandwidth with both beacons (ED1ZAG is the higher-pitched signal), and then switching to a 500Hz and finally a 100Hz CW filter with just CS3BTM:

This morning, CS3BTM’s keying frequency was exactly 966Hz lower than ED1ZAG’s. I reckon ED1ZAG’s carrier was very close to 144.403MHz, which would put CS3BTM very close to 144.402MHz. I think both beacons do drift a little, but it’s a useful reference.

A little later, I had a nice SSB contact with Agustin, EA1YV, at his home qth (IN52oc, 1094km) but that’s it as far as humans go, so far!

UPDATE:

Although conditions seemed to have gone down by 09:30z (CS3BTM had faded completely), I tried a test with Domingo, EA8TJ (IL18rj, 2707km) on JT65A, with the following result:

094800 3 -24 -0.7 -242 3 # EI3KD EA8TJ IL18 OOO 0 10
095000 10 -23 -238 2 RRR
095200 5 -28 -241 3 73

So thanks to Domingo for our first QSO of 2013!

2m Es again

Another nice opening today with good strong signals:

19/06/2013 15:36 HB3YAT/P JN47JM  1313km
19/06/201315:37 IV3CYT     JN65SW  1714km
19/06/201315:37 F5JNX       JN37PV  1194km
19/06/201315:37 IV3NDC     JN65RV  1711km
19/06/201315:38 S57TW     JN75EX  1767km
19/06/201315:38 IN3KLQ     JN56RG  1557km
19/06/201315:46 DF1CF     JN57FP  1417km
19/06/201315:48 S53BH      JN65UO  1744km
19/06/201315:52 OE8HOQ  JN76DO  1728km
19/06/201315:52 S51WX     JN75OS  1835km
19/06/201315:52 OE8TPK   JN76AM  1715km
19/06/201315:54 9A3UV      JN85ER  1915km
19/06/201315:55 9A4VM     JN85FS  1919km
19/06/201315:55 HB9EFK   JN47CG  1288km
19/06/201315:56 S54O       JN75NT  1827km
19/06/201315:57 9A2XW    JN75SM  1871km
19/06/201315:58 9A2TE    JN85KK  1965km

Some of the distances worked off this Es patch were quite short, indicating a very high MUF, but all were pretty much focused in the same direction.

2m Es QSO map 19/6/13

2m Es QSO map 19/6/13

There was another patch of Es slightly further south and east, and at about 15:36z I heard IW9ATU (JM67wv, 2323km) but couldn’t get him to hear me, other than some QRZs. This is the only QRM-free snippet I have (by the way, I wonder who is the “Delta Zulu”?):

Ethereal dx

On the 18th June at around 12:20z it looked like there might be some sea tropo across Biscay, so I tried a quick test with Dom, F6DRO (JN03tj, 1200km). In fact, there wasn’t any sort of ducting but, between a few meteor “pings”, there was a weak troposcatter signal. I didn’t manage to capture the best of it, but the scatter signal can just about be heard from about 30s into this recording until the end. Dom is sending RRR, and the QSO was completed quite easily:

It just goes to show that it’s always worth trying these things – thanks again Dom!

A rare event: more EIs than DX :)

A nice Es opening earlier but only one DX station: Franco, IS0HQJ (JM49kh/1923km) appeared at 59+ on 144.300MHz, at around 16:50z. The Irish outnumbered the DX by 200%, with Tom, EI4DQ also working Franco 🙂

Franco was 59+ for about nine minutes, and then a stable 51 for a further five or so, before fading. Here’s a short clip of his CQ on 144.300MHz:

UPDATE:

There was another opening later today, probably from the same patch of Es that had drifted west, down to CT. Again, it was pretty good with signals in for about 25 minutes, but only two stations heard and worked:

14/06/2013 18:48 CT1HZE IM57NH 59 59 SSB 1627km
14/06/2013 18:58 CT1DIZ IM58KP 59 59 SSB 1479km

Signal strengths were up and down over the 25 minutes period, but were very strong at times:

Unusual Band 2 signals

During the big Sporadic E opening on 12th June, I noticed some unusual signals on Band 2. This was only noticeable because I was running an SDR and is more a visual effect than anything else, but it’s not something I’ve ever seen before?

First of all, here is a screenshot of what I would consider to be normal Es signals:

Band 2 Es signals, from Spain

Band 2 Es signals, from Spain

Apart from the large red signal near the centre (RTE R1, at 88.2MHz), almost all the other signals are from Spain, via Es. The signals are fading in and out over time, but look quite ordinary. The VFO is tuned to a station on 88.6MHz with a PI code of E212, and a PS (seen earlier) of RNE-CLAS, i.e. “RNE Radio Clásica, Confrides/Aitana” in locator IM98.

A little earlier this is what the screen looked like, unfortunately slightly clipped by the screen grabber:

Unusual band 2 Es signals, from Spain

Unusual band 2 Es signals, from Spain

Note the strange wishy-washy fading effect, which appears to be extremely frequency-selective. Parts of the *same* radio transmission appear to be fading differently from others, giving a slanted look to the signals. I’m wondering what the propagation effect is that causes this: perhaps some multipathing?

Crazy, crazy day

Wow, what a crazy day of Sporadic E on 144MHz today!

Dave Edwards’ LiveMuf software had been showing the MUF building steadily through the morning, with a few good “hot-spots” of activity. At 12:57z the map, with the previous 30 minutes of data, looked like this:

LiveMuf 12/06/13 12:57z

LiveMuf 30 minute data, 12/06/13 12:57z. (c) Dave Edwards, G7RAU

It was obvious that my antenna needed to be more-or-less east, so I kept it there and put a few calls out on 144.300MHz. After a very short while a very nice opening started, resulting in the following QSOs:

12/06/2013 12:58 OK2PM JN99AO 59 59 SSB 1853km
12/06/2013 13:02 OK2PVF JN99GU 59 59 SSB 1879km
12/06/2013 13:07 SP6GZZ JO80FX 59 59 SSB 1704km
12/06/2013 13:08 OK2BRD JN99ET 59 59 SSB 1869km
12/06/2013 13:14 DM3ZF JO61WW 59 59 SSB 1508km
12/06/2013 13:15 SP3MCY JO71IR 59 59 SSB 1568km
12/06/2013 13:16 SP6CVB JO80VE 59 59 SSB 1817km
12/06/2013 13:17 DL5WG JO52XJ 59 59 SSB 1371km
12/06/2013 13:20 SQ7DQX JO91UT 59 59 SSB 1904km
12/06/2013 13:20 SP3YM JO91BS 59 59 SSB 1798km
12/06/2013 13:21 SP7AWG JO91LO 59 59 SSB 1858km
12/06/2013 13:22 DG0RG JO62JV 59 59 SSB 1423km
12/06/2013 13:24 SP2OFW JO82XU 59 59 SSB 1768km
12/06/2013 13:27 DK6AS JO52JJ 59 59 SSB 1293km
12/06/2013 13:27 SP3LD JO91BR 59 59 SSB 1799km
12/06/2013 13:28 DD3SP JO72EN 59 59 SSB 1532km
12/06/2013 13:32 DK3WG JO72GI 59 59 SSB 1546km
12/06/2013 13:34 SQ1FYB JO73MI 59 59 SSB 1569km
12/06/2013 13:49 SM7FMX JO65KN 59 59 SSB 1437km
12/06/2013 13:49 SP1MVG JO74JA 59 59 SSB 1550km
12/06/2013 13:52 SP2HPD JO94JC 59 58 SSB 1810km
12/06/2013 13:55 SP1YSZ JO73GK 59 59 SSB 1535km
12/06/2013 13:59 RA2FGG KO04GT 59 55 SSB 1919km
12/06/2013 14:06 SP1O JO73GK 59 59 SSB 1535km

A small selection of audio clips from this is here:

ES120613_OK2PVF_1

ES120613_SP6GZZ_1

ES120613_DM3ZF_1

ES120613_SP3YM_1

ES120613_DK6AS_1

ES120613_RA2FGG_1

ES120613_DK3WG_1

Very soon after the QSO with SP1O, I noticed that the signals in Band 2 (i.e. 87 to 106MHz) suddenly changed to what looked, on the SDR, like a completely different set of stations. LiveMuf started showing a more southerly patch, including a 2m QSO from CT to PA:

LiveMuf 12/06/13 14:23z, 30 minute data

LiveMuf 12/06/13 14:23z, 30 minute data. (c) Dave Edwards, G7RAU

With the antenna towards the southerly patch I made a couple more QSOs:

12/06/2013 14:24 EA3DBJ JN00IR 59 59 SSB 1419km
12/06/2013 14:24 EA3EVL JN00HR 59 59 SSB 1416km

Audio from the EA3s is here: 

A little later, an FM signal appeared on 144.250MHz from what appeared to be Spanish pirates, who seemed to be talking about Gigalos a lot 😀

The final QSO of the day for me was from Angel, EA5SR, who was a massive signal for about 5 minutes.

12/06/2013 15:14 EA5SR IM98GF 59 59 SSB 1612km

The easterly patch drifted too far away from me but developed nicely for those in range, resulting in a huge number of great QSOs. Special mention goes to Joe, CT1HZE, who managed to utilise both Es patches to make at least one chordal contact to Finland, with Lasse, OH6KTL – a distance of nearly 3500km. Amazing!

My 2m Es map for today:

2m Es QSOs 12/06/13

2m Es QSOs 12/06/13

 

The luck of the 1/4 Irish

My folks are over on holiday, so I took them to Gougane Barra for a day out. It’s a favourite beauty spot of ours, with St. Finbarr’s Oratory (see photo, below) and also the Gougane Barra Forest Park, which is a great place for a picnic.

St Finbarr's Oratory

St Finbarr’s Oratory, Gougane Barra.

Anyway, back to radio… Of course, as soon as I returned home the radio was straight on! A quick glance of Dave Edwards’ LiveMuf showed a good hot-spot of Es activity, along with some 2m QSOs already shown on the cluster. The main activity looked a little out of range from here, but I could hear TM77A on 144.300MHz via tropo, off the back of their antenna in IN77, so there was the possibility of some path extension.

Just a few minutes after tuning to 144.300MHz, I heard Raf, IH9YMC (JM56xt/2307km) call cq from Pantelleria Island (IOTA AF018) with a great signal, as clear as day! A quick call resulted in a good QSO at 18:23z and I think Raf was just as surprised as I – he said he was running QRP. I heard Raf again after our contact but the propagation can’t have lasted more than a few minutes, and nothing else was heard.

I was tired after five or more hours of driving and it all happened too quickly for me to get the audio recorder running, so no clip, sorry!

A tadeen of tropo and extraordinary Es

I’d been out all day, but came straight into the shack when I got home because I’d seen reports that Es had been up into 2m, on and off. The Es “cloud” wasn’t really in the right place to make QSOs from here, but I set my antenna to about 150 azimuth in case it drifted a little more into range. I could hear Domingo, EA1DDU (IN73em/955km) on tropo, making Es QSOs to the east:

A quick check of the beacon band showed nothing from ED1ZAG, but the new ED1YCA beacon was coming in well via tropo on 144.445MHz (note A1 keying, with a long zero-carrier period):

The Es was developing very rapidly with more and more 2m contacts being reported. Although the band remained quiet here, it looked like the reflection point was starting to move to a more favourable position for QSOs from EI. Then, at 17:39z I heard a signal pop up on 144.300MHz and things started to get interesting:

7X5QB, wow! I immediately called, and he came straight back for a fabulous QSO from JM25ce, at 2107km. The band then started opening up to EA5, although 7X5QB was a good signal on 144.300MHz (with a lot of other stations…) for a further ten minutes or so. I tried listening and calling several times on S20 (FM) without success, but on SSB I went on to work a few more EAs. There were effectively two openings, with a gap from about 18:16z to 18:40z:

09/06/2013 17:39 7X5QB JM25CE 59 59 SSB 2107km
09/06/2013 17:41 EA5SR IM98GF 59 59 SSB 1612km
09/06/2013 17:47 EB5HRX IM99TL 59 59 SSB 1510km
09/06/2013 17:47 EA5EF IM99SM 59 57 SSB 1503km
09/06/2013 17:48 EA5TT IM99SL 59 59 SSB 1508km
09/06/2013 17:53 EA6SA JM19IS 59 59 SSB 1591km
09/06/2013 17:54 EA6VQ JM19HN 59 59 SSB 1608km
09/06/2013 17:55 EA6XQ JM19LH 59 59 SSB 1646km
09/06/2013 17:56 EA6RF JM19KM 59 59 SSB 1622km
09/06/2013 18:02 EA3CBH/6 JM19HN 59 59 SSB 1608km
09/06/2013 18:05 EA6FB JM08PW 59 55 SSB 1621km
09/06/2013 18:40 EA6FB JM08PW 59 55 SSB 1621km
09/06/2013 18:44 EB5AL IN90WB 59 59 SSB 1458km
09/06/2013 18:52 EA5SR IM98GF 59 59 SSB 1612km
09/06/2013 18:57 EA2CSI IN83LH 59 59 SSB 1033km
09/06/2013 18:57 EA1HRR IN83JJ 59 59 SSB 1020km
09/06/2013 19:02 EA2RCA IN83MB 59 59 SSB 1062km
09/06/2013 19:10 EA5GLN IM98HF 59 59 SSB 1614km

Map of 2m Es QSOs made on 09/06/13

Map of 2m Es QSOs made on 09/06/13

The MUF must have been quite high around 19:00z +/-, with stations only just over 1000km distant coming in here. It was very confusing, with EA1DDU and EC1APL, both in IN73, coming in here on tropo (when their antennas were this way) at 59 too!

Heading south!

Today was spent with the antenna heading mostly to the south. After lunch I checked the beacons and heard ED1ZAG/B (IN53re/973km) at a stable 529, although there were no other signals on the band at that time. I spotted the beacon on the cluster and shortly after Pedro EA1FCH (IN63in/933km) appeared calling cq on cw on 144.300MHz, so we had a quick QSO. Pedro then moved to 144.186MHz and started calling using JT65B, and we had another quick contact to check everything was working ok: It seems Pedro has something like a +40Hz drift, strangely in two 20Hz jumps, during his JT65 tx period but WSJT’s AFC coped with it fairly well.

A little later, the ED1ZAG beacon had improved (audio with two complete keying cycles): 

At around that time I heard, quite weakly, the new Spanish beacon ED1YCA/B on 144.445MHz, which is in IN73al/955km: That looks like it’ll be another useful propagation indicator!

Because the tropo seemed to be reasonable, At 16:00z I asked Domingo, EA8TJ (IL18rj/2707km) if we could try a JT65B sked. We arranged to run on 144.186MHz, and he started transmitting straight away. I was still setting up the rig for digital when I heard this (audio starts T+30s into Domingo’s period, the four “blips” are me changing rig settings): 

Amazing! Clearly digital tones followed by Domingo’s CW ident “EA8TJ”, but what was the propagation mode? I doubt it was tropo because it didn’t persist, and I also doubt it was meteor scatter because there doesn’t appear to be any doppler. The most likely thing is a brief Sporadic E enhancement, especially considering the band was to open to the south just over an hour later, albeit on a much more easterly path? Anyway, there was no tropo detected over a period of about 15 minutes, although we both heard further pseudo-ms from each other.

I continued to monitor 144.300MHz and at 16:50z heard Jose, EB1DPB calling on ssb, very weakly. After a couple of calls I got his attention and we had a nice QSO, with the signal increasing all the time. By the end, it was quite good: 

To round off a fascinating afternoon there was a reasonable Sporadic E opening at around 17:10z, but the main geometry landed signals from EI on the north coast of Algeria (7X). Ever the optimist I tried many calls on 144.300MHz and 145.500MHz (FM), but to no avail 🙂 The only station heard, very briefly at 59, was Juan EA7AJ (IM87cs/1612km).