VHF/UHF - AN EXPANDING WORLD
Eric Jamieson VK5LP PO Box 169 Meningie South Australia 5264
Fax: 08 8575 1777
All times are UTC
One Metre days
This letter from George Adams VK2WEL arrived some time ago, but pressure
of space has prevented me from using it. It adds another saga to those
daunting one metre days. Thank you George. ... VK5LP.
I have read with great interest your recent articles in AR re the One Metre Band and does it sure bring back some great memories!
In the early 1950's I lived at Queanbeyan and in September 1955 I gained my "Z" call VK2ZBT, and set about building my first transmitter from the details of the 288 MHz design in "Radio & Hobbies". Each piece of gear was built on the chassis from an old broadcast receiver. The tubes were 7193s for the transmitters, and 955s for the Super-regenerative receivers, and folded dipoles for the antennas. I later built a 16 element beam.
I know how Marconi must have felt when he first had success, because when I completed my gear, I did not have anybody locally with One Metre gear with which to test it. I made a set of Lecher Lines to set the transmit frequency, and then fiddled with the receiver until the great moment arrived when I could transmit my voice from one end of my work bench to the other!
I made a second receiver and passed it to Bud Pounsett, then VK2AQJ, now VK4QY, who was the only other ham living in Queanbeyan at the time. Bud lived about a mile away, and it was sheer delight when he could hear me 5x8. This, my first real contact, was on 19/12/55.
With the National Field Day set for February 1956 some fellow members of the Canberra Radio Society (now the VK1 Division of the WIA), got to work and built One Metre gear. My log for the day shows Stan VK2ASB, Bud VK2AQJ, Ted VK2AOP, VK2AIL, VK2ZBS and Ron VK2PM as having been worked. VK2ASB was mobile. We did very well in the Field Day with the multiplier from the One Metre contacts. Note that these were all Canberra stations except for VK2AQJ and myself, as the VK1 call for Canberra had not been issued at that time.
This activity is perhaps brought into perspective when we realise that this was in the days before the launch of TV in Australia, and it was not until a year later that the first satellite Sputnik 1 was launched, and while watching it go over, little did I think that I would some day be using satellites for Ham Radio and making contacts through a manned Space Station, MIR.
Technology has certainly changed the hobby. I am presently playing with SSTV to receive pictures from MIR, but I do not believe I will ever have as great a thrill as listening to those first squeaky signals travelling the whole length of my work bench on the One Metre Band!
Thanks Eric for raising the topic and I trust the foregoing may fill in a bit more info into what were fun times with simple gear. I enjoy your column.
Another 47 GHz Record for the French
The RSGB Microwave Newsletter for February reported that F6BVA and F5CAU extended their 47 GHz world record to 268 km on 26/12/98. F6BVA operated from Tour de Batere (JN12gm) at 1400 meters elevation, while F5CAU set up on the 1500 meter Mt. Ventoux (JN14pd). The air temperature was just above freezing. ... W3EP and QST.
Class Licences on 70 cm
I draw readers attention to the WIA Federal Statement by Peter Naish VK2APN on page 5 of April AR, regarding Class Licence operations on the 70 cm band. There is also the ACA response to be found on the Victorian WIA Web site at <www.tbsa.com.au/~wiavic>.
All makes interesting reading. It certainly seems we will be sharing a portion of the narrow band segment of 70 cm with 20 mW ERP equipment used for the transmission of data, RF keylocks for vehicles, radio control devices for models and similar activities.
There have been many comments on the Macquarie Reflector for several weeks but little since the ACAs posting of their comments.
I don't propose adding anything in these columns other than to bring the matter to your attention. No doubt AR will carry such information in a separate form. For me to go into the matter fully will probably mean unnecessary duplication, but I am concerned that the use of LIPDs is more likely to escalate than reduce.
David Burger VK2CZ is currently working on equipment to operate on 24.192.1 GHz. He says: It is of DB6NT origin, but a more flexible design than he publishes in his catalog. Presently I have a 300 mm dish and that will grow to a 900 mm dish in a month. The overall performance is a receive NF of 1.6 dB (measured) and a power output of 85 mW CW (measured). Modes supported are FM/SSB/CW. This has been fully operational since 2/99. (Tests courtesy of ATI Microwave, Peter Choquenot).
I'm waiting for a couple of others here in Sydney to get up to speed, and the UK ham in Chatswood to bring his gear back to VK. The 24.192.1 GHz international calling frequency (!) appears not to be used in VK where 24.048.1GHz is favoured.
Walter Howse VK6KZ writes: I note David Burger's comments re the use of 24.192 GHz and am excited by his designation of an International calling frequency - oh, if it could be such from VK!
Up to the present, the narrowband activities on 24 GHz have been focused on 24.048 GHz. As one of the two pioneers of narrow-band (together with Neil Sandford VK6BHT - now VK2EI) we chose the 24.048 part of the spectrum as it is consistent with the Australian band plan and has the benefit of overlapping the satellite service. It is the likely future direction of the Europeans.
Currently stations with narrow-band gear on the 24.048 GHz portion of the spectrum include VK2EI, VK2ALU (under construction), VK3XPD, VK3ZQB, VK5NC, VK5KK, VK6ZAY and VK6KZ. It is highly likely that further stations planning activity in VK6, VK5 and VK3 will choose 24.048 GHz.
Of course the potential for long haul contacts interstate is limited but those contemplating building (or buying) gear for 24 GHz should think carefully about the choice of operating frequency. After all, most of those with 24.048 GHz gear have track records for travelling interstate for portable operations. (Got to get contacts somehow!)
Neville Mattick VK2QF posted the following autumn equinox Seasonal Summary from 01/02/1999 to 30/04/1999 on the Web site <http://www.winsoft.net.au/~vk2qf/summary.htm>.
QSO Total: 281
QSO Totals by DXCC:
Marshall Is 2
Ogasawara Is 1
Marcus Is 1
New Zealand 2
Caribbean Sea 2
CW = 259 (92%) SSB = 22 (8%)
The season reflects the early pre-peak stages of a solar cycle ascent. Classic of this at 32.75 degrees South are brief East-West longitudinal aligned pipes. An example of this would be W1LP/MM in the Caribbean Sea off the East Coast of Nicaragua and the regular reports of the Mexican beacons. Best DX on this mode was hearing traces of unworkable signals from WP4O > 15000km. Other contacts on the local F2 were infrequent, notably T3 and T8. As yet this mode of straight propagation (non "super F") did not extend much more than 15 degrees West of North so far this cycle.
Only two workable sporadic E events can be recalled, one to New Zealand and the second to North Queensland. The Sporadic E event on the evening (March 31 0800-1100z) unusually linked to Super F mode TEP with second departure from North Queensland. It was this opening that resulted in 5 countries (Japan-JR6 etc) worked in that period all in the difficult region 24 degrees North. Significant in that contacts from this location are uncommon to 32 degrees South along with a brief combination of modes and high levels of focussing leads to a narrow window of opportunity per contact.
Standard TEP modes I and II were quite predictable and especially the openings of 20/3, 21/3, 22/3, 10/4 and 11/4/1999. During these openings video signals from West China and Russia were common. In the classic window of 0700-1100z numerous transmitters were heard on many days from Malaysia, The Middle East and Europe (esp 48.239.6 JN39).
Simply an outstanding season for an average VK2 station and operator in a poor location, given the current point on the solar graph. Two new countries worked and a good spread of contacts from East to North. Activity levels especially on TEP to Japan were good and general operating decorum was high. A pro-active approach to DX was taken by trying to be available in most openings.
Mike ZL2TIC reports that Saturday 17/4 was an interesting period. A summary follows:
1930 35 MHz pagers 5/9+.
2230 Utility stations from North America/Mexico to over 40 MHz.
0010 Very strong Asian stations up to 40 MHz, including strong repeaters on 39.550,575,585 and 975; all sounded like some sort of taxi service. 35.200 to 35.270 broadband FM tone with very strong signals? Never heard this before.
0200 Asian signals 30-45 MHz strong and many of them.
0300 Strong Aurora beaming south 45.250,260; 55.240,250,260 all 5x9.
0330 ZL3SIX/B 50.040 5x9 via Au.
0400 49.750 with many weak offsets, with what sounded like meteor pings. 0430 48.240 5x5 with QSB.
0530 46.170 TV 5x8.
0730 49.750+/_ building up to 5x9, also 30 MHz to 47 MHz+ strong Asian Utility stations.
0800 Strong JA opening lasting half an hour, many worked.
John VK3ATQ advises that the morning six meter scheds are alive and well. He says: Just to remind you of the format, we usually start off at 7 am (2100) on all weekday mornings (no weekends). The frequency we start on is 50.130 MHz and the stations active are David VK3ANP (Wangaratta), Warren VK3BWT (Mallacoota), Eddie VK1VP (Canberra), Jack VK3AJK (Lakes Entrance), John VK3BQS (Sale), Joe VK7JG (Launceston), Andrew VK7XR (Devonport), Bob VK7JR (King Island) and David VK3XDR (Hallam). Steve VK3OT (Hamilton) comes on every couple of weeks to stretch to legs of the far eastern ops like Warren and John! The VK7 stations are usually to be found on 50.135 MHz from 2115 through to 2135.
The scheds are nessesarily short as most ops are off to work shortly after. Some of us hook up on 3.650 MHz after the six meter activity and compare notes.
It is interesting to see how our group members have slowly improved their stations over the past few years. David VK3ANP has built a W1JR designed 8 element yagi (35 foot boom) and his station capability has increased remarkably. Joe VK7JG has also made some antenna changes and his station has a big signal into Melbourne. Mike VK1KCK has aquired a new FT650 rig (which most use) and will be on air in the next month or so. We all now reliably work out to the 450-500 km range each morning. Comparisons with two meters seems to verify the theoretical path loss equations i.e six meters is 8 to 10 dB better unless some form of enhancement is present.
1999 SMIRK Contest
A long time friend of mine, Bill Tynan W3XO, Vice President of the Six Metre International Radio Klub (SMIRK), has asked me to advise you of the 1999 Contest. He also sends greetings to VHFers in Autralia.
As there are quite a number of members in VK and others may be interested, the details are as follows.
The SMIRK QSO Party, sponsored by the Six Meter International Radio Klub will be held from 0000Z June 19, 1999 through 2400Z June 20, 1999. Contacts must be on six meters only, voice and/or CW. No contacts involving another band for one side of the contact count.
One need not be a SMIRK member to take part. Logs must be postmarked no later than 1 August, 1999 and sent to Pat Rose W5OZI, PO Box 393, Junction, Texas 76849, USA.
No contacts between stations in the 48 contiguous U.S. states and lower tier Canada (VE1 through VE7) are allowed between 50.100 and 50.150. Only contacts with and between stations outside of these areas may take place in this band segment.
All contacts must be made by a single operator. There is no multi-operator category in this contest.
Exchange is callsign, SMIRK number if the station worked has one, and grid.
Partial contacts in which one of the above pieces of information are missing, do not count.
All contacts must be made via natural propagation. No contacts using repeaters, or any manmade device for relaying transmissions are allowed.
All participants must observe the rules governing Amateur Radio operation in the participant's country.
Scoring is as follows:
Count 1 point for each completed contact. If station worked provides a SMIRK number, multiply by 2. Final score is contact points times grids worked. New log forms are available from W5OZI at the above address, or on the SMIRK Web site at http://www.smirk.org/.
Certificates will be issued to the highest scoring participant submitting a valid log, in each ARRL Section, the Maritime Provinces and each of the remaining Canadian provinces and each other DXCC country. If different from the above, a certificate will also be awarded to the highest scoring SMIRK member from each of these areas submitting a valid log. To be valid, logs must include this above location information.
For the purpose of this contest, a SMIRK member is anyone who has ever been issued a SMIRK number, whether or not he or she has paid dues in recent years. Of course, all 6 meter operators are encouraged to join SMIRK or renew. Renewals may be obtained by sending $6 to the above address, noting the SMIRK number. Anyone not a member, may join by sending a list of six SMIRK members worked on 6 meters, along with $6 to the above address. An attempt will be made to issue a SMIRK number to each new member applying in time to fully participate in this year's SMIRK QSO Party.
SMIRK members as well as non-SMIRK members are invited to take part in this fun event. Why not give it a try?
Chas VK3BRZ says there still appears to be some uncertainty about the VK3RGL 2m beacon, so here are the definitive technical details:
Location: Mt. Anakie QF22DC, approx. 300m asl. Power: 15W divided equally between two antennas Frequency: Unkeyed carrier: 144.530MHz Keying: FSK, with mark freq. shifted up approx. 700Hz Antenna: Two 4-element horizontally polarised yagis (see below) Ident sequence: de VK3RGL VK3RGL QF22DC VK3RGL VK3RGL QF22DC followed by 20 seconds of unkeyed carrier. The entire sequence is sent within 60 seconds.
Antenna System Details:
The antennas are two 4-element yagis designed using "Yagi Analyzer". Forward gain of each is 8 dBd and the 3 dB beamwidth is 50 degrees. The 0 dB beamwidth is 84 degrees.
The "west" yagi is pointed on a bearing of ~293 degrees.
To visualise this, think of a line from Geelong to where the VK6 border crosses the south coast of Australia. The 3 dB extremities go through Port Augusta and a few hundred km south of Albany. Adelaide and Esperance are both just 2 dB down on the main lobe, or, to put it another way, 6 dB up on the old omni antenna. The 0 dB extremities pass through Darwin (I'm an optimist!) and somewhere in the southern ocean (Heard Is.!?).
The North-East antenna is on a bearing of ~35 degrees.
Its main lobe is directed at where the VK2-VK4 border reaches the coast. The 3 dB beamwidth lies towards Lord Howe Island and a little south of Mackay. The 0 dB points go through Cape Howe (Vic.) and Cooktown (QLD).
Modifications to FT-736R
Chris Hill VK6KCH sent the following which may interest users of the FT-736R on six metres.
Around 1988/89, I was using a Kenwood TS-680, which allowed me to listen for the various TV transmissions etc on 48 and 49 MHz, using these signals as an indicator of possible 6m openings into JA etc.
When I upgraded to a Yaesu FT-736R, the one major deficiency was that it wouldn't receive below 50.000 MHz. How frustrating!
I recently found some interesting information at <http://www.qsl.net/k70n/mods/yaesu/yaesu.htm#FT-736>.
Based on the information credited to G0HEG and G0TVL, here is how I can now receive from 49.3 MHz to 54MHz.
This sets the PMS frequency range to be 49.000 to 53.999 MHz. By pressing PMS, you can now freely tune across that range. My VCO falls out of lock below 49.3 MHz. I still use the normal VFO mode for general operations. It is also possible to save a 49 MHz frequency into a memory from PMS, using the VFO>M button.
The full procedure given on the above web site didn't work for me; it seeks to enable display of 00.000.0 to 999.999.9 MHz! Of course, the hardware of the radio won't match that!
I accept no responsibility for any possible side-effects, and people shouldn't transmit out of band. ... Chris VK6KCH.
David Vitek of Parkholme SA, sends further loggings, mainly from the spectrum just below 50 MHz.
David says that conditions have been quiet on six metres with the flux stuck! Ten metres if often available. Most days during April the Asian MUF sat around 39 to 41 MHz. Since then the evening/night TEP has disappeared.
The video around 48.240+ and 49.750+ was logged on 15 days. On 5 days there were no signals at all, not even 10 metres. Video signals were frequent around 0300 but also turned up around 0800-0900.
Some of the exotic 10 metre signals have included areas VU3, 9H1, SV3, ZD8, TX8, DF0,, 3B9, Z21, 9J2, JT2, ZS6, T70A, 4Z0, LU5, HK6, HR1, AP2, 5B4. It appears these signals can appear at any time of the day or evening.
I suppose the moral is - if you are disillusioned with six metres, have a look on ten metres - it will help to fill your day!
Since the equinox band conditions have certainly died on six metres. Mid winter may see the occasional Es opening, but I suggest we will need to wait at least until August before there will be much change. September and October will be worth watching for a return of F2, and November may even see the path open to Europe.
Closing with two thoughts for the month:
1. When all is said and done, its the politicians who say it, and the tax-payers who do it; and
2. Pretensions are a source of pain, and the happy time of life begins as soon as we give them up.
73 from The Voice by the Lake.