Monthly Archives: May 2013

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…

Lots of doppler!

I monitored a meteor scatter schedule between Gordon, GW6TEO (IO71lp) and Peo, SM5EPO (JP80mc/1802km) this morning and conditions seemed quite reasonable. Their QSO was more-or-less completed when I received an unusual reflection from Peo: It lasted about seven seconds, but changed frequency by almost 1kHz in a fairly linear fashion over that time. I’ve heard bursts with lots of doppler quite often, although 1kHz is pretty large, but the normal burst characteristic is a very short period of doppler followed by a significantly longer period with none.

I checked with Peo that he hadn’t tuned his VFO at all (and neither did I). I also eliminated the possibility of a reflection from the International Space Station (ISS) because it was over the Middle East at that time. So, the reflection must have been from some other large space object crossing the path at a relatively (by meteor standards) low speed?

Here is the WSJT display of the burst, which appears at the start of the period, fades a little, then reappears stronger at about T+6 (note: the time displayed in the decoded messages in this image is accurate, other times are incorrect):

SM5EPO unusual doppler

SM5EPO unusual doppler

And here is the SpecJT display, which shows it in more detail (note: the times displayed in this image are incorrect, because it was generated after the event):

SM5EPO unusual doppler

SM5EPO unusual doppler

And here is a zoomed image of the burst:

Closer view of burst

The .wav file saved by WSJT can be downloaded from here (right click and “save link as”). This file can be opened directly in WSJT, or simply played as an audio file. I found I had to left-click on the burst to get a decent decode.

Not quite an average day on 2m…

The 18th of May turned out to be interesting, and reminds me why I’ve always found 144MHz to be so fascinating!

The day started with an early Es opening to Italy, resulting in the following QSOs:

18/05/2013 09:00 I2PY JN55NB 59 59 SSB ES 1609km
18/05/2013 09:01 IW4ARD JN64FD 59 59 SSB ES 1754km
18/05/2013 09:07 I2ARQ JN55NA 59 59 SSB ES 1612km
18/05/2013 09:19 IW2BNA JN45ON 59 59 SSB ES 1455km
18/05/2013 09:21 IZ4MAO JN54GQ 59 59 SSB ES 1597km
18/05/2013 09:23 IW2NNZ JN45SN 59 59 SSB ES 1476km
18/05/2013 09:27 I4TSB JN64DA 59 59 SSB ES 1752km
18/05/2013 09:30 IW4BET JN54PG 59 55 SSB ES 1672km

2m Es QSO Map 18/05/13

2m Es QSO Map 18/05/13

A bit later I was QRV for moonrise, and managed to work a new initial:

18/05/2013 13:43 JR3REX PM74LQ RO RO JT65 EME 9735km

After the Moon had risen too high for my fixed-elevation antenna, I tried a tropo test with Jerome, F8GGD, in IN95: Unfortunately this didn’t work, but as we were trying Dom, F6DRO, said he could hear me weakly. Dom and I then tried and we could both hear continuous signals right on the noise floor, in fact enough to complete a contact on CW with a bit of “brain averaging”. I was very surprised, because Dom is in JN03TJ and 1201km distant! It’s really too far for troposcatter, but I suspect there was some tropo enhancement (i.e. ducting) on the path.

Oh, and I also heard DK1FG’s (JN59op/1384km) complete QSO with M0BAA/P, which I suspect was via Es-enhanced meteor scatter, just to add another propagation mode into the mix 🙂

My first 144MHz Sporadic E opening of 2013

At around 13:15z a combination of LiveMUF showing some patches of high MUF and a couple of cluster spots of brief Es contacts on 2m alerted me to the possibility of an opening here: I put out a few calls on 144.300MHz and after a few minutes I was pleasantly surprised to be answered by I1DMP at 59! A few more calls also brought in IW1BCV and I1JTQ:

17/05/2013 13:25 I1DMP JN34XU 59 59 SSB 1425km
17/05/2013 13:26 IW1BCV JN44FS 59 59 SSB 1461km
17/05/2013 13:27 I1JTQ JN35UB 59 59 SSB 1395km


All signals were strong and definitely via Es, with the last signal heard about 15 minutes after the opening began. After working I1JTQ I also heard EA6SA for about 20 seconds on 144.300MHz, which could have been an Es “blip” or more likely a meteor scatter burst.

Unfortunately I was too rushed at the start to have the audio recorder running, but did capture a couple of signals towards the end of the opening:

NB. It must be Es season because, as you may notice on the recording, my local powerline noise bursts have started!

Poor EME conditions, but MS is ok

EME conditions have been poor for the last few days, and remain so. A quick look at F1EHN’s EME planner (part of his free EME System V7 software), shows why:



Todays data (13th May 2013) is on the very left of the graph. All the lines, except declination, are down in the darker area, indicating significant degradation of the ideal path loss. The next reasonable opportunity looks to be in a few day’s time.

I tried a few calls this morning at moonrise and just about made it onto LiveCQ, about 9dB worse than ideal. Unfortunately, I struggled to copy an answer from Sergej, RN6DJ, and we consequently failed to complete… Next time Serge!

Meteor Scatter remains good now that the summer showers have started to kick in. A try with Moma, YU1EV, was successfully completed at around 09z, at a very reasonable distance of 2246km (IO51vw-KN04cn). A later attempt with Peter, SM2CEW, failed – but some reflections were heard at a distance of 2293km, so there’s definitely a chance in the next major shower.

New QSL card

My new QSL cards have arrived from Cool QSL, who I have no hesitation recommending if you need good quality cards at a very reasonable price!


The front picture is one I photographed recently on Skellig Michael, over on the west coast of Ireland. OK, it’s not my actual QTH, but I chose it to show how beautiful much of Ireland is 🙂

I’ve started replying to cards I’ve received directly, then will move on to the bundles from the bureau. Hopefully it won’t take too long to catch up with everyone!


A new personal 2m MS ODX…. and then another!

In the run-up to the Eta Aquarids, I’d been looking for opportunities to extend my best meteor scatter distance on 144MHz. To this end, I’d been trying quite ambitious tests with Lasse, OH6KTL (KP02oj/2098km) and Nikola, YT3N (KN04lp/2291km) with limited results. Lasse and I had managed to get signals in both directions but not complete a QSO, whereas I had only heard Nikola two or three times over a period of some months and I don’t believe he had heard me at all!

Given that the late winter/early spring months are in the doldrums for meteor scatter, I was looking forward to trying these long distance tests in the first of the summer showers, during the Eta Aquarids peak. OH5IY’s MS software, MSSoft (which I run in DosBox on my Windows PC), predicted a good path efficiency towards OH at around 05z, gradually rotating around through east and south east later in the morning.

So, on the 5th May (before any meteor outburst had been noticed), I started with Lasse at 05:21z and fairly quickly received a burst with partial calls, that enabled me to send a report. The next burst I received was several periods later and it contained calls and “R26”, so things were looking good! After a few more periods of transmitting “RRR” to Lasse, and still receiving “R26” back a few times, Lasse finally managed to get my finals and the QSO was complete for my new MS ODX of 2098km. Below are a few of the periods where I received a signal from Lasse – can you can hear them?

Early on the 6th May, when it was obvious there was some unusual MS activity from the Eta Aquarids, Nikola asked for a test, so we got running at around 05:41z. After some periods of no signal, suddenly… WOW! Something like a 22s burst from Nikola, unbelievable! I immediately started sending the report, and some periods again later, I had a tiny 120/3 (120ms long, 3dB over noise) ping that didn’t decode properly but looked like it might contain at least a report. Then right at the very end of that over (29.8 seconds!) I got a 160/5 ping with “I3KD YT3N R26 R26” – fantastic! I instantly changed to send finals (which also meant turning Auto off and on again quickly in WSJT, to get the message to change) which was just as well because in the very same burst Nikola received my RRR. So, the QSO was complete, for my new MS ODX of 2291km. Here are some audios from Nikola:

I have to give my thanks to Lasse and Nikola for believing it was possible to make the QSOs, and for all the previous, failed, attempts!



The Eta Aquarids 2013 outburst

The peak for the Eta Aquarids meteor shower was due, according to the International Meteor Organization, at 01z on 6th May, 2013. This is a fairly dependable shower, associated with Halley’s comet, usually providing a zenith hourly rate (ZHR) of around 60. This year, the peak coincided with a Europe-wide contest on 144MHz over the weekend of 4th/5th May, so it provided an opportunity to receive long-distance signals via the ionisation left by meteors as they hit the Earth’s atmosphere. However, it became apparent during the 5th that something unusual was happening: The meteor shower was “outbursting”, i.e. it was producing a much higher rate than usual, and the quality of meteor bursts was exceptional. So exceptional, in fact, that many contacts were made and reported as Sporadic E!

To give some idea of how good conditions were, I’ve created a playlist of some of the signals I heard over the period 5th-7th May. These are all on 144MHz, and all via meteor-scatter. It’s a shame about the busted QSO with YT1S, who I think was a bit taken aback when called by an EI!

Included in the audio are: 9A2L@JN86hf/1905km, DL1MAJ/P@JN58vf/1480km, DM3W@JO62xe/1509km, F0FYP@JN37lo/1190km, F1AZJ/P@JN28ok/1029km, F1EYB@JN23kk/1357km, HB9FAP@JN47ph/1361km, I4BME@JN54ql/1667km, IW1RGS/1@JN44mj/1523km, IW4AJP/4@JN54qe/1683km, IZ5ZWU/6@JN63gn/1799km, DR2X@JO40ql/1232km, DG8NCO@JO50vh/1402km, OE8HSF@JN76gw/1727km, OK1KAD@JO60ki/1476km, OK1KCR@JN79vs/1693km, OK1KIR@JO70dh/1574km, OK1VDJ@JN79us/1688km, OK2KGB@JN79qj/1678km, OK7O@JN69ou/1514km, OM8A@JN87wv/1909km, S57O@JN86dt/1852km, SP6HED@JO80il/1739km, YT1S@JN94ro/2187km, YU1EV@KN04cn/2240km, along with a couple of unknowns and chaotic bursts with multiple stations!