Category Archives: tropo

A near miss…

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…

Super EA8 tropo opening

During the past week on 2m I’ve been hearing the ED1ZAG beacon (IN53re/973km) almost continuously at decent strengths. The Madeira Island beacon, CS3BTM (IL12or/2246km) has also appeared, weakly, at times. Apart from a few JT65A QSOs with Domingo EA8TJ (IL18rj/2707km) at around the -25 level no other QSOs resulted until the band opened properly this afternoon and evening.

Firstly, CS3BTM appeared at a very good strength in the afternoon, around 15:30z:

The beacon message is: “V V V DE CS3BTM CS3BTM CS3BTM LOC IM12OR IM12OR PWR 1W ANT 3L HRZ QTF 30 ARRM MADEIRA K”

At this stage, Tim G4LOH was already getting very strong signals from EA8 into IO70jc, but there was really nothing much here. The propagation duct was surprisingly selective, i.e. there was no guarantee of being in the opening just because there is a sea path from here! However, during the evening signals started to improve from EA8 (whilst fading slightly to CS3) and eventually became quite strong. I don’t have a recording of everyone worked, but here’s a selection:

A nice selection of QSOs resulted:

01/07/2013 16:19 F9OE               IN78QG 481km
01/07/2013 16:45 EA8TX             IL18QI    2713km
01/07/2013 19:12 F5EJZ              IN98GO 606km
01/07/2013 19:14 F4ELJ              IN78RJ   472km
01/07/2013 19:17 F1SAH             IN88LT   505km
01/07/2013 19:27 EA8CQS          IL18AT   2694km
01/07/2013 19:29 EB8BRZ           IL28HA   2725km
01/07/2013 19:31 EA8CTK           IL18NI    2718km
01/07/2013 19:33 EA1YV             IN52OC  1094km
01/07/2013 19:39 EA8TJ              IL18RJ   2707km
01/07/2013 19:48 EA8AVI             IL28FC  2719km
01/07/2013 20:09 EA8/DL3GCS   IL17AT   2802km
01/07/2013 20:14 EA2AWD          IN93CI    1067km
01/07/2013 20:30 EA8YT              IL18SL   2696km

Map of 144MHz tropo QSOs on 01/07/13

144MHz tropo QSOs on 01/07/13

And finally, a joker heard by myself and several others at around 19:49z – This is definitely not Xara’s voice! The real D44TD is in HK86no and 4135km away from here, but you never know, one day the real station will appear…

 

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!

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 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).

 

Another day on 2m, or was it 20?

Today turned out to be quite busy on 2m…

It was a good start to work Jurgen, EA6/PE1LWT (JM08ox/1614km) via meteor scatter: Reflections were very good, especially considering Jurgen is using 100W to an 8el. He’s mostly operating on 144.358MHz for ms.

There were quite a few contest stations out for the weekend, so I had a quick look around on tropo. In fact, I couldn’t hear much except a couple of French stations, including F6KBF/P (JO10HE/781km) who was a pretty decent signal: 

Later in the afternoon I saw that the TM77A expedition was QRV, in IN77tw. Once they had their antenna this way it was an easy 59 SSB QSO, with the 522km path almost completely over sea.

The whole day had looked very promising for Sporadic E, and during the QSO with TM77A I noticed that Band 2 was completely full of stations, mostly from Italy. After a few calls from myself and my (very close!) neighbour Tom, EI4DQ, the first signal appeared on 2m at around 16:10z. I had just a few QSOs:

02/06/2013 16:10 I2PY JN55NB 59 59 SSB ES 1609km
02/06/2013 16:11 IW3HRT JN55TG 59 59 SSB ES 1628km
02/06/2013 16:16 F0FUT JN37JO 59 59 SSB ES 1177km
02/06/2013 16:17 I3LGP JN55VK 59 59 SSB ES 1629km
02/06/2013 16:18 HB9DFG JN37SM 55 57 SSB ES 1230km

(Also heard: HB3?, HB9MFM/JN37te)

Some audio from the later part of the opening is here: 

Towards the end of this opening I heard 9A3DSL (JN65th/1756km) call Tom, but didn’t hear him again: 

The cloud then moved to the north and east, at which time I think the MUF was still above 144MHz but propagation wasn’t possible from here because the reflection point was too close. However, at around 17:45z the band opened up again, to the east:

02/06/2013 17:48 SP2MKO JO93CB 59 59 SSB ES 1782km
02/06/2013 17:52 SP4MPB KO03HT 59 59 SSB ES 1932km
02/06/2013 17:54 DK1CO JO63SX 59 59 SSB ES 1468km

Not too many QSOs, but some big signals! I’ve included quite a long recording here (warning, it’s 12Mb), which is in “real-time” so you can have fun searching for the signals!

Thankfully the weather here is great at the moment and I managed to fit in some gardening time with my wonderful XYL between all the DX, phew!