Monday, May 28, 2012

WX9XRU 70MHz beacon now active

Dave, WW2R/5 reports that the WX9XRU 70MHz beacon in Virginia was activated on Saturday afternoon, 26th May. The beacon is beamed across the Atlantic, so hopefully there will be many reports from Europe this summer.

Dave heard the beacon, by Es off the back of its' beam on Sunday on his 70MHz dipole over a distance of 1626km.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A good 50/70MHz Es day

Although 50MHz in particular, has been noisy today with some local electrical interference, there's been some good Es propagation, particularly to the south. Around 1000z I noticed some loud Spanish stations on 50MHz, loud enough and short enough skip (EA1) that made me think that the MUF would be high enough for 70MHz. And so it was, with EA7HG coming through on 70MHz - we worked, although it wasn't the easiest of QSOs. CT1DIZ and EA7KB were also worked on the band before propagation faded.

I dropped back to 50MHz and the band was still good into Spain and I made some nice QSOs. I was very pleased to work EA8BWY in the Canaries - pretty sure this must have been double hop - first hop to Spain and second hop from there to the islands. There was a brief opening this evening, again to Spain when I worked EB4IC.

G6AVK is reporting the 6V7SIX beacon on TEP - nothing here!

First QSOs with the UV-5R

Although I've had the UV-5R around for several weeks and I've been using it to listen to various repeaters and stations, I hadn't actually had a QSO with it!

This afternoon, a glorious hot afternoon, with temperatures around 23C I went out for a walk to our neighbouring village, Hinton Waldrist to deliver some papers and some Sky at Night Magazines to a friend. I popped the UV-5R in my pocket.

First QSO was a bit unusual actually - through the 2m repeater GB3WH. I'm faintly suspicious in retrospect that the gentleman concerned, although he was sporting an M6 call may have actually been a CBer trying out a rig, with a made up call! I couldn't be certain of course, it might have just been a newcomer to the bands who'd spent time on CB before. As I've said before, I've no problem with that and most modify their operating style over time to reflect amateur, rather than CB, practice.

Second QSO was much easier, with Rob G4XUT on the 70cm repeater GB3TD. Rob was using a converted PMR rig which sounded good and was able to give me a good report on the UV-5R so that was very pleasing.

I also found that I could get into the GB3UK repeater up on the Cotswolds very reliably.

I've programmed the UV-5R now, with most of the local repeater frequencies as well as 145.800 in case of any ISS passes and some of the marine band frequencies used in the London area.

Monday, May 21, 2012

On why it's best not to perform a factory reset on an Anytone AT-5555 unless you have a programming lead!

I mentioned in a post over the weekend that a couple of channels on the Anytone 10m rig were showing a slight discrepancy between transmit and receive when no clarifier was switched in.

I thought perhaps a factory reset might do the trick.

This morning, as I had a few moments before the train arrived, I performed the reset after I had parked up in the station car park.

With a loud beep the display changed to 25.615MHz! Quite a reset then, and the segments that had been programmed were lost! Just the lower bit of 28MHz was accessible!

Happily, you may recall that some months ago, I purchased the programming lead for the AT-5555. And even more surprisingly, I had backed up the configuration of the rig onto my laptop.

So, this evening saw me out on the drive with the laptop, the rig open and the programming lead. It's all back as it should be (I think). Though I didn't check yet whether those two channels were fixed.

For a change, it was quite interesting to listen to the activity on 27.555 as I drove home.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

More fun with the 28MHz mobile

This morning we headed over to the village of Coleshill, where Julie wanted to take a look at a clothes sale. Having had a look around, I left Julie to it and popped back to the car.

Being the middle of the day, I thought I would check 28MHz SSB. First I heard a ZS6 who wasn't too loud. Although he could just hear me, my 10W to the whip wasn't enough for a contact. ZS3Y was a bit louder but he couldn't hear me. HZ1HN was contesting but I couldn't get him to hear me.

I was starting to think it was a receive only day, when I heard a loud station just finishing a CQ. I called and was pleased and surprised to get a report of 5/5. Even more pleased when I discovered the station was in Israel, 4X4FR. We had a really nice QSO. Just as I signed with Rafi and we were preparing to drive off, with Julie back from the sale, Phil G7GVV from Oxford called in - so we quickly exchanged reports.

Slightly oddly, I noticed that on two channels only, there is a small difference between the Anytone's TX and RX frequencies. And the clarifier seems to be set correctly. Odd! Happily it doesn't seem to matter. Maybe a reset will help!

Fun contacts from the mobile!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

70MHz transatlantic beacon WF9XRU

I spoke with Dave WW2R last night and he tells me that the 70MHz beacon from the US will be active again this year. Callsign will be WF9XRU.

I believe that all other details will be as before; frequency 70.005 from FM07.

Many thanks as ever, to Brian WA1ZMS for putting the beacon on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A good 70MHz day

Some nice 70MHz Es today - mostly to the south east. Around lunchtime I worked IK0SMG (JN61) and IK5YJY (JN53). Later on, just before 1600z I was listening to a weak signal on 70.200 - I think an I4 which I was struggling to copy. Mark, CT1FJC heard me and called me at great strength. Really delighted to work Mark on a new band! Following that, Mark faded out and I was able to work another two Italian stations IZ5EME (JN52) and I0DLP (JN61). Conditions when I worked I0DLP were just perfect - he was a huge signal and very easy to work.

Reading about QSOs at unfeasibly high frequencies

Having been off work today with a stupid cold, I'd been doing a little reading around. I was enthused reading Roger G3XBM's ever-interesting blog about the experiments that he is making at optical frequencies with 481THz experiments using LEDs. I remembered I'd had a QSO with Gordon G8PNN last year when he mentioned these experiments. Fascinating stuff!

What intrigued me is that these experiments have been going on for a while and that Australian amateurs have quite a history of experimentation in the field. I found and enjoyed 'Optical Communication for the Amateur' written by Chris Long in 1979 and later revised. Back in the UK, Eddie G0EHV has an interesting page on the optical experiments in the North East of England.

I wondered whether Dave WW2R/G4FRE had done any optical experiments. It turns out that he hasn't, but his website contains details of some fascinating 'First' UK QSOs on 134GHz and 142GHz which I think you will also find fascinating.

Oh and the picture? I took it off Dave's website (Dave, I hope you don't mind!). It shows a very youthful G4VXE in the middle (doing nothing, apparently), Kelvin GW4TTU to the left and Dave G4FRE on the right. We were on Mynydd Maen in South Wales preparing for a microwave contest. I'm guessing 1986 or 1987.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

D-STAR, APRS, 145MHz mobile and 50MHz - all in a weekend

It's been nice weather this weekend for the first time in ages. Yesterday as I was working around the house and in the garden, I put the DVAP on DCS005B and made some nice QSOs including Barry, G8SAU who was on Sheringham beach. I could easily hear the waves on the shore.

In the Win-DV setup - I noticed an APRS tab. I added my callsign, lat/lon and a comment and now when I start Win-DV, it shows the DVAP on the APRS map. Quite fun! I don't have the nice, but expensive, GPS microphone for the E-92.

This morning, I decided to go and see my Mum, in Cheltenham. I took with me one of the Kenwood APRS handhelds which I have on loan. Cheltenham is well served by a couple of great APRS digis so I wondered what would happen. Sure enough my position was digipeated which was fun to see. It was also interesting to see APRS packets from the Severn Beach rescue boat being digipeated.

On the way back home, I operated 145MHz simplex. It was interesting to hear some SOTA activity from the Long Mynd (2Q0YYY/P) as well was Walbury Hill (MQ6BQA/P - who I had a brief contact with). Also a nice QSO with 2E0ZVR between Evesham and Pershore as I climbed over the Cotswolds to Stow on the Wold.

Later on this afternoon, I thought I'd check 50MHz and was pleased to work LZ2DF at over 2180km. Pete, 2E0SQL heard an SV9 and I heard a YU in KN00 - so some good distances around today. Looks like there were some 70MHz contacts to be had too!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

UV-5R programming lead fun!

When I ordered my UV-5R, I didn't order a programming lead. As I have commented before, I recommend you do! Manual programming is rather arcane, especially for repeater/duplex frequencies.

I'd used a Wouxun lead that I'd borrowed to get the first few memories set up. Yesterday, the lead I had ordered from Hong Kong arrived. Installation of the driver didn't go quite as smoothly as I'd hoped! I tried running the executable but had no luck. In the end I followed some instructions I found to install the driver manually and it worked. The PC I was working on runs Vista. Perhaps that's why it was awkward.

Propagation always has a twist in the tail!

Rainy and a little bit windy. Not the sort of weather that you really associate with VHF/UHF tropo. But this evening, driving home, the Wells 144MHz repeater, GB3WR was around 40db up on normal as I drove up the A34 from Didcot. Quite stable and consistent until I was a little further north.

A weather front coming through perhaps?

It's great when propagation doesn't do what you expect. Always something new to learn.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Bank Holiday weekend at G4VXE

It's been a busy but good long weekend here. On Saturday, we had a visit from John, G3WGV. It was great to catch up with him. John flew to Abingdon airfield in the SportCruiser aircraft he had built himself.

John was kind enough to take me up for a flight in G-JONL. What a splendid craft it is! We flew west from Abingdon, just to the south of Longworth and then south across the Ridgeway, across the M4 to just south of Newbury where we turned around and headed back to Abingdon.

The picture below shows our village from the air.

On Sunday, John, Julie and I went to the Abingdon Air Show which we all enjoyed.

Today has been a busy day. I wrote the VHF column for Practical Wireless as well as a review of three handhelds which should be published in the magazine soon. That did require a little bit of portable operating with the handhelds from Windmill Hill, just south of Hinton Waldrist, our neighbouring village.

Just as I was pressing send on the VHF column, I caught a quick 50MHz Es opening to the south to Spain and Portugal. I was particularly pleased to work Mark CT1FJC who is a regular correspondent for the VHF column.

This evening I have been doing a little reading and particularly enjoyed Ross G6GVI's 1296MHz pages

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

First 70 MHz Es opening this year

I was working from home this afternoon and unfortunately, whilst I was on a call, there was a 70MHz opening to Finland! I managed to catch ES3RF on 50MHz after I finished the call.

I kept an eye on 70MHz though and a bit later, I heard my neighbour G4BRK calling something. Switched the 70MHz aerial onto the FT847 and I could hear some weak SSB on 70.200. It got louder and proved to be Ivan, S51DI! A few stations worked him in front of me, but in typical ES style, the signals built up to S9 and I was able to complete the QSO.

I've worked Ivan plenty of times on 70MHz of course, but it's always great to get the first Es QSO on the band for the year in the log.

Down in the beacon band on 70.059 I heard the HG1BVC beacon for the first time.


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