Monthly Archives: March 2014

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!

Aurora!

Who’d have thought, 11 (or even 22) years ago, that aurora would be so rare this time around? There have been hardly any openings this far south, but we’ve had a couple in recent times.

On February 23rd, I worked Clive, GM4VVX in IO78ta at 17:38z. For some reason Clive was hearing me a lot better than I could hear him – I do have a lot of band noise the nearer north I beam, but it still seemed non-reciprocal?

On February 27th we had a slightly better opening. I worked a couple of Gs and GMs, but best dx was to SM4IVE (JO79sd/1682km) and SM7GVF (JO77ga/1565km) – all QSOs at a heading of 035 degrees.

The signals from SM7GVF were quite strong at times:

sm7gvf 2m aurora 270214
"sm7gvf 2m aurora 270214" from Aurora by ei3kd. Released: 2014.

SM4IVE was weaker but still peaking around 54a. I haven’t found him on my recording yet (it may have been off at the time) – if I do I’ll add it to the playlist.

A small milestone…

Conditions have been poor and the weather has been terrible, but I reached a small milestone: I completed a moonbounce QSO with my 100th unique station (initial), and have since gone on to work a couple more. I’m happy with that, given my ridiculously small antenna and the fact that I’m limited to moon-rise only. The low height of the antenna above ground (approximately 6 or 7m) results in only two usable ground-gain peaks (around 2.5 and 12 degrees elevation), so my windows of opportunity for EME are indeed very limited!

I’m sure there are people with similar systems to mine that have never considered EME, perhaps thinking their antenna is too small. Please do give it a go! As an incentive, here’s a few statistics from my 102 unique EME stations:

  • Number of EME DXCC: 34 (15 are unique to EME)
  • Number of EME Squares: 88
  • Number of EME Fields: 22
  • EME best dx: ZL3TY, RE57OM, 18956km

I’ve also heard quite a lot more stations that I’ve not yet worked, including a better ODX, so there could be more to come…

I arbitrarily chose the 100th initial as a target to reach before making any changes to the system. Now that’s done I can think about what to do – current plans are to add 70cms, and perhaps add elevation and/or a second 2m antenna.