I’d been keeping an eye on the F5LEN and Hepburn Atlantic tropo forecasts prior to the 20th of May because they looked promising for good propagation towards the south:
Hepburn North Atlantic forecast 06z May 20, 2015
F5LEN Atlantic forecast 00z 21st May, 2015
Lots of bright colours over much of the North Atlantic! There looked to be some possibility of a repeat of Dave, PJ4VHF’s incredible reception of the Cape Verde beacon, over a distance of some 4700km (and perhaps further?), as well as a north-south path touching on Ireland.
Up until lunchtime on the 20th there was nothing other than a slight enhancement on my AIS receiver (a useful propagation tool at 162MHz, online at MarineTraffic) showing ships slightly further south of Cork than usual – certainly nothing exceptional. I wasn’t even hearing the stalwart ED1ZAG beacon in IN53 but the forecast maps were marginal for that direction.
At approximately 14:35z, a weak cw-keyed signal appeared just very slightly above 144.436MHz, rapidly becoming strong enough to identify as D4C in HK76mv! The Monteverde Contest Team’s beacon is at a distance of some 4165km from EI3KD, with a tolerance of five kilometers or so, which probably makes it the furthest tropo distance yet heard from within IARU Region 1.
My main effort for the May UHF/SHF contest weekend this year was to activate IO51 on 3cm (10GHz). I had tried to do the same last year but discovered a problem with the transverter’s local oscillator (LO) producing too little power, meaning the activity had to be aborted. Since then, with the help of John EI2FG, I had fixed the LO and everything seemed to be working fine.
Unfortunately, I can only erect the 3cm station on a temporary basis and it is quite a lot of work but, if I’m going to try it at all, the SHF contest weekends are the time to do it! Luckily I had a few contacts which made it worthwhile – in fact I had more success on 3cm than on 70cm where (admittedly with very little time spent there) I worked the one station I heard all weekend…