Saturday, September 16, 2006

Excellent VHF/UHF Conditions 9/10/11 September

Rather like remembering the long summers when you were younger, it seems to me that VHF conditions were better when I was first licenced. I used to listen to all these guys working DX on 2m that I really couldn't hear (living down at the bottom of an escarpment slope).

Of course, there's nothing to suggest that conditions are any different now, 20 years on. VHF activity has changed, certainly, though it's by no means as bad as some might suggest (more on that in a forthcoming item).

But last weekend, 9th and 10th September was a lovely little opening. No great volumes of stations to work, but...

Just before Julie and I were heading out for an evening meal at the local, I switched on 144.3 and had a listen. There was a French station calling CQ. He didn't peak up in the northern part of France, so I hopefully turned the beam to the south. Sure enough, he came up enough a little, enough for me to make out his callsign (F6BHI/P and his locatorJN15). Wow! I've never worked anything like that on tropo. I dropped a speculative call in and was able to work him. I think he was as pleased to work me as I was to work him, which is always a great feeling. It was nice to hear people like Don, G3JHM work him afterwards.

Later on, when we got back from the Blue Boar (a great pub, if you're ever in Longworth), I had a quick tune around and heard F8ALX working CW on 144.305. He was arranging to QSY to 432MHZ with an Italian station (who I couldn't hear!). I went up to 432 to listen and was pleased to hear F8ALX. I waited for the QSO to complete (which it did) and then called - JN06 was a new one on 432MHz for me.

Next morning, 10th September. I checked the bands early. I was pleased to work F6IFX/P in IN87 on 2m - always a difficult square to work. We tried on 432, without success, unfortunately.
Just a little later, I saw a DX spot from M5BFL for F5OAU/P in JN27 on the Swiss border. Not quite sure how I'd missed hearing him, during my tune around - he was loud! Worked him for a new one from here - and new on tropo anyway.

Great contacts.

By Monday, the band was still open, I think - the HB9HB beacon was readily audible - but that faded out during the early part of the week.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tuesday night's activity contest

I haven't been on 2m for the activity contest in a few months. This Tuesday I thought I'd pop on for a few minutes. As before every operating session, I checked the French and Dutch beacons but they weren't much different to normal. Worked a few stations around the UK including Hilton, MW0OPS/P who had a nice pileup going from the UK as well as Holland and Germany.

I tuned around a little more and to my surprise, I found the Swiss beacon, HB9HB at around 559 up and down in fading. Immediately losing interest in the activity contest I popped down to the bottom of the band and started calling CQ on CW. Not much doing, but I was pleased to work F6GNJ in JN08.

The Swiss beacon was audible the next morning too, but had faded by Wednesday evening. Good to hear it here for the first time! The frequency is now programmed into the rig and gets checked on every visit to the shack. It's one of those that I keep thinking I can just hear in the noise, so I must get one of the DSP programs to have a listen for it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

144MHz Contest this weekend

Well, having had the aerials sorted out last weekend, I'd been looking forward to the 2m contest this weekend. Not particularly to spend every last minute on the air, but just to have a good look around and see what could be heard in a major 2m contest from here.

Of course, for the most part, conditions were dreadful! Still, I managed some nice contacts - always good to work Allan, GM4ZUK/P near Aberdeen - which we managed twice, once in the contest and once before. I don't think I've ever heard so many French stations in flat conditions! This QTH is obviously good to France and I was able to work portables around Paris in the poorest of conditions.

Towards the end of the contest, conditions started to improve and I noticed about an hour before the end, all the French portables that I'd struggled to work were now S9! Disappointingly, the one French portable that I heard and couldn't work, TM1Y (in JN36) couldn't be found at that stage!

No Germans heard and in fact only one Dutch and Belgian station worked. I did hear one PI station up in JO33, but didn't manage the QSO at the time and inevitably, didn't hear him again.

All in all, I was pleased with what I'd worked with the simple setup. I think next year, I will gently start using the amplifier and run more than the FT847 barefoot - but it's a good start!


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