Category Archives: 50MHz

And yet more transatlantic aurora on 6m…

The 6m transatlantic path via aurora has been reported before by others and is certainly nothing new, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s more viable than many might think. We had another decent aurora on 31st December, most of which I missed due to the New Year’s Eve celebrations, but I decided to check westerly conditions when I returned home sometime after midnight.

Once again I was surprised to find the VE4ARM beacon (EN09at, 6011km) at a good strength at approximately 01:40z (Jan 1st) followed about ten minutes later by VY0SNO (FP53rs, 3653km). The opening was again quite short but there’s a possibility the path might have also existed earlier in the evening? After I had spotted the beacons on the dx cluster, VE4ARM was reported by Tim, G4FJK in IO80 at a great distance of 6346km, and the VY0 beacon was reported from PA and DL.

One fascinating little snippet: This time I managed to grab a decent recording of VY0SNO just before it faded. Listen very carefully to this clip, and you may be able to detect a sudden doppler shift of about +10Hz, 21.5 seconds in, coinciding exactly with a steep drop in the signal strength. I think that helps visualise the auroral-Es path dynamics rather nicely!

More transatlantic aurora

On the 17th December, shortly after 09z, there were two solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in rapid succession, both of which directed at least some of their ejecta towards the Earth. This was fair warning of the possibility of aurora due some time on the 19th, depending on exactly how fast the material was traveling. The strength of any aurora would also depend on the alignment of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field; for maximum effect we would need a strong southerly component.

As anticipated, the CMEs passed the ACE spacecraft at 13:05z on the 19th, hitting the Earth approximately one hour later. The good news, from our point of view, was that the IMF had a significant southerly component for much of the time, resulting in excellent coupling of the CMEs into the Earth’s magnetic field causing a nice strong aurora!

Continue reading

Transatlantic aurora on 50MHz, 17/03/2015

I spent most of the afternoon and early evening hours during the “St Patrick’s Day” aurora on 144MHz but when that started to fade I thought I’d follow the aurora westwards, listening on 50MHz where I had already heard a few very strongly auroral GMs, peaking at an azimuth of around 320/330˚.

At 21:02z I heard a weak and different-sounding signal, certainly auroral but more “Tone 5” than “Tone A”. After peaking the signal at an antenna azimuth of approximately 295˚,  it turned out to be K2PLF in FM19 at a distance of 5272km! Unfortunately my 100 Watts wasn’t enough to be heard by him but it was the start of a fascinating couple of hours, listening to many weak signals popping up as stations in the USA and Canada called and worked each other.

Continue reading

50MHz F2 propagation and QRPP EME!

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…


I thought I’d better post an update, having not posted anything for a while; the reason being that not a lot has been happening!

The Eta Aquariids meteor shower peaked on the 6th of May, producing some fine, long meteor bursts: The best I heard was one from DF1JC (JO31) on 2m that apparently lasted for over 130s at S9, and there were a number more from various people lasting 20/30s. The one downside of this shower was quite a low meteor rate, so we had to be patient especially over the longer distances. We’re actually at the bottom of a twelve-year cycle for this shower, so the rates should only get better over the next six years. I didn’t work anything sensational, but was very happy to complete with the Camb-Hams DxPedition, GS3PYE/P (IO68ul) for a new square.

The much-anticipated Sporadic E (Es) propagation has started in Europe, giving a few lucky people 6m links into TEP and F2 propagation further south. The only thing of interest heard here recently was the ZD8VHF (II22TB) beacon on 50.0325MHz at around 21z on 5th May, via an Es link into evening TEP, weak but audible:

East and Northern Europe have had the first Es opening of the year on 2m, on the 13th of May – one of the favourite dates each and every year!

On 2m EME I’ve worked a few new initials (now up to 114), including I3EVK (JN66) and IK7EZN (JN90) both in new squares for me. However, a highlight was a contact with the Team Athletico expedition to Senegal, 6W/PE1L (IK14jp):

6WPE1L qso EI3KD, 2m EME, JT65B

6W/PE1L qso EI3KD, 2m EME, JT65B

A lot of concentration and patience is required for this sort of EME contact, given I was trying to work a modest, albeit highly optimised, two-yagi station with my single short 11 element yagi: I missed a few opportunities at the start of the expedition because, for a few days, they had a local obstruction causing a minimum 7 degree horizon, which meant the moon was already above my ground-gain peaks by the time it “rose” for them. However, when I began to get common windows I concentrated on them at every opportunity. I heard/decoded the expedition quite a few times but was, unsurprisingly, unable to break their pileup during the very short times when my ground-gain was enough to see them – a maximum of two periods each about twenty minutes long after moonrise, with no possibility at moonset due to local noise. In the end the time spent paid off and after many failed calls and one or two near misses we finally made a fine contact. The team can’t be thanked enough for their unsurpassed dxpedition and operating skills – thanks once again guys!

Hopefully my next update will be reporting a massive 2m Es opening, or some extraordinary tropo – we live in hope!

A few new ones…

Today (04/04/14) brought some nice surprises…

On 2m I worked a couple of new ones on random EME at moonrise: YL2AJ (KO16) for a new initial, and ER5GB (KN45) for a new DXCC which I was very happy about!

On 6m we had some interesting F2 propagation into Africa with, once again, the 6V7SIX beacon paving the way. For a change, today there was another signal in the form of Fernando, TZ6BB (IK62). I was hearing Fernando hovering above the noise for some time, working into central and southern Europe before propagation finally shifted more in our direction. I finally worked him on CW with excellent 599+ signals (at 15:48z). A little later Fernando moved up to SSB, and at 16:!3z we had another nice contact.

By the way, TZ6BB uses a G5RV antenna on 6m! I was only using the FT857D barefoot (100 Watts), so it just goes to show how good the band can be when one is in the propagation zone – and it can be equally as frustrating when not… The 6V7 beacon was in for several hours until quite late, but nothing else was heard here.

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!

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:

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:

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!

A little bit of Virtual High Frequency

We had what was probably 2013’s first transatlantic opening on 50MHz from these latitudes today, with KP4EIT (FK68si/6251km) coming in from at least 14:30z at a good signal strength. Nothing else was heard here before I had to QRT at 15z, apart from whoever Jose was speaking to in Spanish every now and then! I believe the Caribbean opening did continue and became a little more extensive later on.

Here’s a little snippet from Jose. Note how strong the signals are from Scandinavia off the back of the antenna…