Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tropo goes out with a bang!

The southerly tropo went out in style this evening, with an exceptional opening down the entire length of mainland Portugal – certainly a rare event! There were also strong signals from the Canary Islands (EA8) and northern mainland Spain.

The propagation appeared to be caused by a combination of the Azores high probably producing a mid-tropospheric duct, assisted by a north-south aligned weather front approaching from the west at the northern end of the path. It was characterised by slow fading but, generally, signals improved as the evening progressed. The geometry of the path at the northern end meant there was no propagation from my QTH to CT3, although Tim, G4LOH, did work a very surprised CT3KJ, first on FM S22 and then on SSB. ‘3KJ was only using 10 watts and a 4 element yagi!

This is how the log looks from EI3KD:

22/08/2013 16:51 EB1LA IN63VN 943km
22/08/2013 17:22 EA8CCG IL18TM 2690km
22/08/2013 18:28 CT1BXT IM59PF 1413km
22/08/2013 18:28 CT1FJC IM57OC 1650km
22/08/2013 18:34 EA1NL/P IN52NL 1053km
22/08/2013 18:36 CT1ANO IN51RE 1195km
22/08/2013 18:59 CT1DIZ IM58KP 1479km
22/08/2013 19:16 EA1GA IN52QR 1024km
22/08/2013 19:17 CT1HBC IN51PE 1196km
22/08/2013 19:35 EA8BTQ IL18QJ 2709km
22/08/2013 20:30 CT1FFU IM59KK 1391km
22/08/2013 20:45 CT2HKN IN51OM 1159km
22/08/2013 20:55 EA8AQV IL28ED 2716km

I also often heard the regular EA8s (e.g. EA8TJ, EA8TX) and other EA1s with quite impressive signals at times. One “gotaway” was Peter, EA8BFK, who would have been a new locator for me in IL38: He could hear my cw throughout the evening but I was unable to hear his (160W) SSB… next time Peter!

Here’s a few audio clips, hopefully indicating how amazing 144.300MHz sounded at times! Note that any CW heard is usually Tony, CT1FFU:

…and to give an indication of just how strong signals were at times, here’s a clip of Tony, CT1FFU chatting with Pinto, CT1ANO (with the pip tone) on 144.300MHz SSB, with me breaking in to comment:

Finally, a zoomed-in map of my QSOs with mainland Portugal and northwest Spain, showing the distribution:

2m Tropo QSOs 22/08/13

Map of 2m tropo QSOs made by EI3KD to Portugal (CT) on 22/08/13


Tropo continues

The tropo that started on the 19th August continued through yesterday (20th) to the south, gradually moving to the south east by this morning. Tony, CT1FFU (IM59kk/1391km), was again a good signal on the morning of the 20th, indicating the band had probably been open to him for more than 12 hours!

A nice catch for me was my first reception of the Canary Island beacon, ED8ZAA (IL18UM/2688km, as sent but note this beacon is listed as being in IL18SJ?), which has been very elusive here for some reason. It had very slow fading, going from noise level to 599 – during this recording I’d guess it was probably around 559:

The Madeira Island beacon, CS3BTM (IM12or/2245km) was much more consistent, remaining at 599 for long periods, with the occasional fade. This is on the same heading as D4 so would normally generate some excitement, but it was apparent the tropo wasn’t very stable to the south of Madeira and the Canary Islands – certainly nothing further away was heard…

There were a few humans around too, but sadly I didn’t hear CT3BD despite seeing him spotted on the DX cluster from EA8 (I also tried accessing the CT3 repeater on 145.700/88.5, but no success). Anyway, here’s a few recordings for the archive…

This morning (21st August), the Atlantic tropo to CT3/EA8 appears to have faded but propagation across Biscay has been good, with excellent signals from all along the Spanish and French coasts, inland as far as F5ICN (JN03bf/1151km). Possibly more to come over the next few days…

My first CT on 2m tropo

Both the Hepburn and F5LEN tropo prediction tools were showing some promise to the south this afternoon and, sure enough, the ED1ZAG beacon (IN53re/973km) was steadily improving. There were also traces every now and then from CS3BTM (IM12or/2246km), but nothing very substantial. Tim, G4LOH, had his usual private duct down to EA8 – so there was some hope of getting in to something down that way.

Later in the evening I could see that ED1ZAG was getting loud (e.g. 599), and there were still traces of the Madeira beacon, so I put a few speculative calls out on 144.300MHz, on CW. Luckily, a few of the tropo regulars (Agustin EA1YV, and Pedro EA8AVI) were kind enough to spot on the cluster that they could hear me, so I had some motivation to continue…

At around 20:20z I heard a CW signal replying to me, and was amazed to hear it was CT1FFU in IM59kk (1391km), a rare catch indeed. A very nice QSO resulted, and I was very happy to get my first tropo station from Portugal in the log. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to have the audio recorder running, but Tony was kind enough to come back for a second QSO so I could make a nice recording:

Following the QSO with Tony, I also heard another station calling on SSB who was just too weak to understand. I later found out that was CT2HKN in IN51 – hopefully conditions will improve to allow a contact. The next 24 hours look promising, so watch this space…

Perseids 2013 report

I’m happy with my Perseids results this year, with sixteen new locators (easy to come by with my low total) and three new DXCC (OH0/DM2ECM, YL2AO, HV0A), but it didn’t seem like a great shower – certainly not one of the all-time greats. There was also a somewhat negative impact at this QTH from the Meteorscatter-Sprint Contest but more of that in another blog, coming soon…

According to the International Meteor Organisation, the Perseids peaked this year at around 17:00z on August 12th, two or three hours earlier than originally expected. Radio observations here would tend to indicate some sort of peak at that time but it seemed weaker than the diurnal effect, when local 6am is generally best due to the fact that the Earth is revolving into the path of oncoming meteors at that time (the Earth’s rotational speed is added to the direction of travel around the Sun at dawn, and subtracted at dusk), so the relative speed is highest. In fact, the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory’s real-time meteor radar (note: link is to current data, not from Perseids peak) showed a much higher radio rate at around 9z on each day from 11th to 13th August, than at 17z on the 12th.

The best way to describe the shower this year was “clumpy”, or “like trying to start an old car on a damp morning”, i.e. it never really got going. Every now and then there would be a series of good reflections, maybe of several seconds each, but often there would follow a period of silence for a considerable time, maybe tens of minutes. It would have been easy to describe these silent periods as “worse than random”, if that actually meant anything! If one was lucky enough to get the timing right a QSO could be completed quickly, otherwise patience was required. Unfortunately, the reflections never became sustained enough for a significant amount of SSB activity, which used to be one of the trademarks of the Perseids, but I did manage a couple of SSB QSOs for “old time’s sake”…

Looking at the log, a quick summary of QSOs measured by distance shows three over 2100km (ES3RF/KO29if/2194km, IC8TEM/JN70cn/2123km, SK2AT/KP03bu/2105km), six over 2000km and eleven over 1900km – not bad!

A blog from me wouldn’t be complete without at least a couple of audio clips 😀 Here are a few nice bursts from OH0/DM2ECM (JP90wg/1951km) sending me R26, including one that lasted an entire 30s period:

(.wav files for direct decode in WSJT: DM2ECM_130812_172200.wavDM2ECM_130812_173000.wavDM2ECM_130812_173100.wav – right click and “save as”)

… and this is a nice burst from UA2FT (KO04lt/1946km) who only runs 50 Watts, sending me 26:

(.wav file for direct decode in WSJT: UA2FT_130812_181400.wav – right click and “save as”)

Finally, below is a map of contacts made from this QTH around the 12th August, plus or minus a day or two:

Perseids 2013 QSOs

Contacts made by EI3KD around the peak of the 2013 Perseids

Possibly the last 144MHz Es of 2013?

It was a nice surprise, in amongst the Perseids meteor scatter activity, to get a good Sporadic E opening on 2m today. It’s quite late in the season but it’s happened before around the Perseids shower, perhaps adding to the evidence for at least a partial link between meteoric input and Es?

The opening started here at approximately 18:21z to EA3s in JN00 and JN01, slowly moving towards EA5s in IM98 and IM99. The last signal heard here was at 19:10z, so 2m was open for about fifty minutes. The same Es patch also provided a perpendicular path from (e.g.) ON/PA/DL to CT and then on to EA8 via a tropo extension – some very nice distances were worked!

My log was as follows:

13/08/2013 18:21 EA3DBJ JN00IR 1419km
13/08/2013 18:33 EA3HJT JN01NI 1373km
13/08/2013 18:37 EA3GP JN01SF 1401km
13/08/2013 18:39 EA3AXV JN01TJ 1389km
13/08/2013 18:42 EA3EVL JN00HR 1416km
13/08/2013 18:57 EA5GPC IM98WN 1613km
13/08/2013 19:00 EA5EF IM99SM 1503km

As usual, here’s a selection of signals heard during the opening:

…and the map of QSOs made:

2m Es QSOs from EI3KD 13/08/13

2m Es QSOs from EI3KD 13/08/13