A baby 70cm station is born, ready for action!
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
432MHz worked and heard, 8-12 Feb 2015
Lance, W7GJ, is well-known for his 50MHz EME exploits, both from his home location and abroad from many exotic locations expedition-style. Details of his activities along with a lot of useful information regarding 6m EME can be found on his website. When terrestrial propagation is poor, I sometimes set the 6m 6el antenna towards the setting Moon to “see” what is happening: On the 30th December 2014 I noticed that Lance was a very good and consistent signal via EME, at -19dB in JT65A. I decided, rather tongue-in-cheek, that I’d call him with the barefoot FT857D (i.e. certainly no more than 100W in the shack, and somewhat less into the antenna 150m away) – To my amazement, and thanks in no small part to Lance’s tenacity, we managed to complete a QSO! It took quite a while and required all of Lance’s skill to dig my signal out of the noise, but it just goes to show what’s possible as long as we try. I really recommend everyone to at least take a look for Lance’s EME signal and perhaps give it a go – not least because his QSL card is rather nice 😉
F2 propagation on 50MHz reached Irish latitudes on 2nd February, which can’t be a bad sign as we approach the Spring equinox. The opening could have been easily missed, were it not for the Senegal beacon 6V7SIX (50.013MHz): This was the only signal heard for a while (at a good 599), but widespread reporting on the packet cluster probably encouraged Francis, 6W7SK (aka F6BLP), to come on to the band. Francis was a good signal here, resulting in a nice contact using my barefoot FT857D to the 6el LFA2.
I made this recording shortly after our QSO, of Francis calling CQ on CW…