Monday, May 28, 2007

Sporadic E calculators

I was talking to Richard, G4MUF this morning about some of the programs and sites that I have used to work out what the MUF will be for Sporadic E and the direction that the opening may take.

This is an extract from a mail that I sent to Richard - perhaps others may find it of interest too. If you have anything later or greater - please let me know!

"Dave, G7RAU has done some really excellent work on this. Last time I used his app, it was a downloadable application to run on the PC, but I see he's built it into a webpage now. You can see it at - you'll have to create a login to use the site, but it takes seconds and it looks excellent.
There are some interesting bits of software on his software page - the manual MUF calculator is worth playing with too.

An older bit of software, one that I used in North America when I lived in Canada was SE-PROP - I think the maps are probably more focussed on North America, but you might like to play!"

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Congratulations G3TXF and G3SXW

Nigel, G3TXF and Roger, G3SXW were inducted into the CQ DX Hall of Fame at Dayton this year! Congratulations chaps - a worthy honour.

These chaps, over the years, have set the standard in CW DX operating from rare locations as well as an incredibly efficient and enthusiastic approach to QSLing.

I had the pleasure with working with the two of them on a non amateur radio related project a few years ago and it was probably the most enjoyable work assignment I've ever had.

Great people! Well done and well deserved.

Six metres Italy

My early morning tune around today didn't show up much on 144 and 432MHz. Tropo probably isn't terribly good on account of the lower pressure that's moved in in the last few hours.

I checked 50MHz and around 50.150 there were a few Italian SSB stations coming through. The band's really noisy here, which I think is a result of the WiFi hub. Anyway, they were strong enough to make it through the QRM. Perhaps pick of the bunch was IC8TO in JN60.

IC8TO turns out to be an expedition to Ischia (IOTA EU-031) for the weekend. A nice website here - with some excellent photos. Pleased to have worked them. JN60 isn't all that common on any VHF band. I'd worked it years ago from Cheltenham, but not more recently.

Friday, May 25, 2007

144Mhz Tropo

With the pressure falling away a little, I wondered what tropo conditions would be like. Just before bed last night, I tuned around the 2m beacons and - with the beam towards Holland, noticed that the French beacon near Lannion, FX3THF (IN88GS) was coming in.

This morning I turned the beam towards it, but the signal strength was lower - but certainly above average. Tried a few CQ calls in that direction, with no luck.

I did work F6BGR near Abbeville with good signals, but the impression was that the path to the east/south-east though improved - was not particularly good. Worth keeping an eye on, though, over the next 24 hours or so.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The DCF77 mystery

I've noticed DCF77 synching to the weather station a couple of times in the last two weeks, so it does look like propagation is responsible - rather than local noise as the signal isn't received on a regular pattern. Definitely worthy of investigation!

Six metres - starting to buzz!

I had an e-mail from an old friend, Martin, G0HDB earlier in the week and he said that he'd been trying out 50MHz and it had been interesting, including openings to the US and Carribean.

Last evening, when I was getting into the car to drive home, I thought I'd try 50MHz rather than my normal 145Mhz FM. Tuned around in the car park and heard GB3LER from the Shetlands coming in.

I tried a CQ call and worked Jeff, M0UHF up in Abingdon! But also, some Italian stations were audible on 50.150. Quite weak, so not workable with the FT817 on this occasion, but it will be interesting to see what's possible over the coming weeks.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

DCF77 - gone again!

My reception of the DCF77 timesignal last week does appear to have been a transitory effect. I was passing by the weather station last night and noticed that it was no longer receiving the timesignal.

Now, I didn't think (though I could be wrong) that VLF signals were subject to enhancements of that type. I'm wondering if a local noise source, which normally obscures the signals, was switched off over the weekend and restarted yesterday. I'll keep an eye for the reappearance of the signals.

I think my old TS940 receives well enough at VLF, so I may try receiving DCF77 using that - and seeing what sense I can make of propagation.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The G4VXE Interactive Map

Peering at the visitors to he G4VXE interactive map the other day, I was excited to see visitors from China and Saudi Arabia. If you see this post - thank you for visiting! I hope to see you on the air.

If you've not marked your place on the interactive map yet, please follow the link to the right of the page - it would be good to see you there...

Time to start thinking about the Es season

Early May - it's time to getting geared up for the Es season. Bands most likely to be affected are 28/29MHz, 50, 70 and 144MHz. The lower bands generally start to show some activity in early May with 144MHz usually getting in on the act in early June.

It seems that lower sunspot years are generally good Es years. Let's see how that is borne out this year.

A good place to check on ten metre activity is Tony's 10 metre page

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Good conditions at VHF too!

Last night when I was tuning around 2m, I heard Bryn, G4DEZ say that he was hearing Scandinavians on 2m and 70cms. Nothing over here, of course, but we're a long way from the North Sea.

GB3VHF DOES seem a good signal here this morning, perhaps an S-point or two better than normal.

The May UHF contest kicks off later in the day, so it will be worth checking 70cms, I'm sure.

Good conditions at VLF?

I was curious, when I came in the shack this morning, what had happened to the weather station. From 0300 onwards, it had shifted its time by 2 minutes for when it saves a data set. I peered at the console at noticed that the time had been synched to DCF77 (because it's a Swiss made device).

Either DCF77 has been off the air since I installed the weather station in April, or conditions have improved to allow reception. If you're active at VLF, it might be worth testing the good conditions theory!


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