Eric Jamieson VK5LP PO Box 169 Meningie South Australia 5264
Fax: +61 8 8575 1777
All times are UTC
US 78 GHz Mark Set
Emil Pocock W3EP in QST World Above 50 MHz for May in reporting the newest additions to the US record book also includes the first-ever contacts in North America on the 78 GHz band. Lars Karlson, AA6IW, and Will Jensby, W0EOM, made their first attempts last November 28, according to an account that appeared in the January/February issue of Feed Point.
The pair made a two-way contact over a 4.6 km optical path in Stanford, California. Both stations used harmonic multipliers for both transmitting and receiving, a common solution to generating signals at such high frequencies. AA6IW was able to generate about 2 mW this way to an 18 inch reflector antenna, while W0EOM made do with considerably less than 1 mW to a 12 inch dish.
After their initial success, AA6IW and W0EOM made a CW contact at 12.7 km on December 11. Signals were 5 dB above the noise. In the absence of any other claimants, this becomes the new US distance record on the 4 mm band. Congratulations on a tremendous technical achievement! Will and Lars have plans to improve their stations and attempt to extend the distance. They have a worthy goal, as HB9MIO and DK4GD made a 114 km contact on 75 GHz nearly 3 years ago.
Other US records in the very high spectrum area are:
120 GHz 1.1 km; 142 GHz 3.8 km; 241 GHz none reported; 474 THz (Red Light) 192.6 km; 678 THz (Green Light) 248 km.
So now its over to the VK Microwave operators to increase those distances!
Extraordinary Pacific Ducting
The reliable eastern Pacific duct has supported contacts on 144 MHz through 5.6 GHz between Hawaii and the western US coast at distances of 3700 to 4330 km. There has been good reason to think that these distances could be extended, perhaps considerably (see the article in March 1996 QST, pages 41-46). This speculation has recently been given a huge boost by a report from Shel Remington, NI6E (BK29) on Hawaii.
Shel has been monitoring the FM broadcast band for several years for signs of stations from the mainland. On February 13, just after 0420, he began hearing a Spanish language station on 89.5 MHz, which he later concluded must be XHME from Jalisco, Mexico! Within an hour, he found XHPVA (90.3) also from Jalisco and XHMZO (92.9) from Manzanillo. These are Pacific coast cities about 5200 to 5300 km from Hawaii.
They are surely among the longest reports of tropospheric ducting anywhere in the world, and the implications of this report are obvious. Probably the next step is to encourage some dedicated VHF operators along the Mexican coast to take advantage of future occurrences of such ducting, as this is probably not a one-time event. Indeed Shel had heard another Mexican FM broadcast station over a three-day period in June 1995.
SMIRK Again Urges the Move to 50.2 MHz
The Six Meter International Radio Klub has re-iterated its strong support for moving the ordinary 6-meter calling frequency to 50.2 MHz and opening up 50.1 to 50.2 primarily for DX work. Bill Tynan, W3XO, reported the results of the SMIRK board of directors meeting on January 31. Also in attendance were well known 6-meter operators N5TX, K5ZMS, W5OZI, W6JKV, and KC5TX. Bill listed seven reasons in support of the plan, summarized here:
1. A DX window helps everyone, especially low power stations not able to move higher power stations out of the way.
2. A DX window helps DX stations, because they will not suffer strong QRM from stateside and lower-tier Canadian stations working across the continent.
3. Due to the tremendous increase in 6-meter activity as a result of the large number of new rigs now available, the current 25 KHz wide DX window will be woefully inadequate to support the DX and stateside activity that is certain to be present during this solar cycle.
4. In addition to being too narrow, the current 50.100 to 50.125 DX window is also inadequate because a substantial portion of it suffers QRM in the vicinity from TV sets, computers, and other electronic devices.
5. A calling frequency at 50.2 makes good sense. Most VHFers are accustomed to the 2-meter calling frequency of 144.2. Having a similar spot on 6 meters should help alleviate confusion, especially among newcomers.
6. Local, Es and F2 transcontinental QSOs will be just as viable above 50.2 as below. Weak signal F2 backscatter QSOs may actually be facilitated above 50.2, as they will suffer less QRM from DX stations and others trying to work DX.
7. Despite what some may contend, most equipment, including antennas, works just as well in the vicinity of 50.2 as around 50.125.
John VK4FNQ reports a good opening on 30/3. From 0240 to 0928 he worked V73AT, KH6VP, KH7R, KH7U and VK4AFL (by scatter). At 0928 V73AT went from 5x3 to 5x9. They tried 28.885 at 0950 when signals were 5x9 on six but nil heard. It appeared the signals were scattering up the coast from VK4DO 5x3 and VK4BRG 5x2.
Trevor Benton VK4AFL/ZL1AL/H44AL filed this report. A brief resume of six metre operations at Honiara on 27-29/3. A total of 17 contacts were made, 3 to JA, 1 to BV and the balance to VR, most signals were S9 except the JAs which were weak. All contacts were made between 1000 and 1200 on 28/3. H44AL was issued without any problems (after arrival) for the sum of $4A! I intend to renew it prior to expiration 31/12/98 for use in 1999.
Equipment comprised of an IC 706, Timewave DSP unit and a 4el yagi at 6 m. All was "installed" at the Honiara Hotel with no management problems at all. Lack of television at H44 was a decided advantage too! The hotel is located 61 m above sea level with a reasonable take-off in most directions, especially west through north east, though very poor to the south.
This is a very good DX location, especially for F2 and it will be interesting to see how the H40 expedition fares, though I think 1999 and beyond will realise the full potential of the area.
Ten metres was available on almost a 24 hours world wide basis.
Mike Farrell VK2FLR said that just for the record, the 30 March event produced only 49.75 video in Sydney plus one JH0 calling CQ on CW on 110. The only station who appeared to be aware of what was going on was VK2DN. Later this year, things should be different.
Roger VK5NY: On 5/4 I worked my first JA for the new cycle, JH6VXP 5x5 at 0949. Other JA contacts have taken place from VK5 during the past few weeks. My contact was very brief and at first I could not hear the JA being worked north of me by VK5ZBK about 40 km away. He faded out and turned up here so it was a very selective contact; another JA called at the end of the QSO but could not identify.
On 6/4 from 0616 I worked a good fill of JAs on 50.150, JA1,8,9 in a 25 minute window. Signals up to S9 but most were S2 with QSB. Could hear a JA working a VK4 on 50.120.
From Steve VK3SIX/KL7SIX: Use of 50.125 is proving to be a boon to six metre operating from the south of Australia as it helps to side-step the operators with a mind set that 50.110 is the only place to go.
Today 9/4, commenced about 0450 with the usual R1 TV at 559. Around 0600 the typical Asian indicators began to build including two new offsets on TV 49.751.6. Also some light 48.240/250 video was logged at 0700. At 0705 JS2TPM was worked followed by Yoshi JE2DWZ. The JA2IGY beacon was 539 and JR2HCB worked on two-way CW very weak.
The band then shifted to the west with JA6YBR in at 0718 and for at least two hours. At 0800 tones on 47.750/45.950/45.942/45.695 were logged.
At 0800 the VK8RAS beacon from Alice Springs PG66 was in weakly with QSB. At 0830 48.2604 Kotakinibalu appeared showing the path was shortening into SE Asia. At 0920 a string of JAs were worked including JJ6UAR, JA6LZG, JH3OWD and surprisingly, JR6GV 5x9 from PL36 Naha Okinawa.
JH4ISQ PM54, JH3IMR, JR2CQS, at 0945 JA3EA at 0947 and running up to 1000 JF2VNV, JE1KKV, JA6LPW PM53, JE2UAZ, JA4IFV, JM1LIK, JH4EHF, JH4RCD/1, JA4LKB. Last heard at 1030 VK4ABP beacon Longreach 539 52.345 and VK8RAS PG66 559 50.0475.
Shiro Sakai JH4PHW reports via the JA Cluster that JAs made many contacts during early April. A summary follows:
1/4: 0306-0647: 3D2TN, 9M TV, N7ET/DU7. 2/4: 0429-0500: FK1TK, V73AT. 3/4: 0713-0854: V73AT, ZL2TPY, VK6IP, VK6WD, VK6RPH/b, BV2PU, N7ET/DU7. 4/4: 0345-1201: VK TV, FK1TK, VK4GPS, VK4KK, VK3SIX, VK8RAS/b, 9M6CT, BV2SR.
5/4: 0325-1310: FK1TK, VK6RPH/b, VK8RAS/b, 9M2CT, 9M6CT, VK3SIX, VK5BC, VK4TL, 9M2NK.
6/4: 0335-1233: VK TV, VK8RAS/b, VK3SIX, VK4WTN, VK4BRG, VK5BC, VK4CRO, VK5NY, YJ8UU, V73AT, VK8PN.
7/4: 0644-1010: VK3DQJ, VK2PB, VK2MZ, VK2BA, VK4JSR, VK6JQ.
8/4: 0520-0535: V73AT, VK4RO, VK8RAS/b; 1235 VK6JQ.
9/4: 0501-0953: VK3CNX, VK3AMK, VK3XQ, VK3SIX, ZL2TPY.
10/4: 0253-1053: FK1TK, ZL2AGI, ZL2KT, N7ET/DU7, YJ8UU, VK6ACY, VK3XQ, VK1RX, VK3SIX, VK2QF, VK3DUQ, VK5DK, VK6JQ, VK8RAS/b, VK4FNQ, VK7RAE/b, A45ZN, S58J.
11/4: 0454-1050: VK8RAS/b, VK2DN, VK3SIX, VK4GPS, VK6TRC, VK6TRG, VK6YU, VK6BAJ, VK6RO, VK6YAG, VK6AOM, VK6JJ, VK6RPH/b, VK6KRC, VK6ZRY, VK4BLK, YJ8UU, BV2PU, 9M2NK, 9M2KT, P29KFS, BV2SR, V73AT, VK3AMK, VK2DN, VK4YK, VK4JSR, VK4JH, VK8VF/b, JR6YAG/b.
14/4: 0344-1152: V73AT-N7ET/DU7, P29KFS, 9M6CT; JI1WMI-9M6CT, V63AO; JA1RJU-V73AT; JA5GJN/4-9M6CT; VK3SIX-JH1DPJ, JH1LJU, JA1ETO, JR2HCB; FK1TK-JI1NJC; P29KFS-JF2HEV. Heard: VK8RAS/b, VK4RGG/b, JA7ZMA/b and UA TV.
Rod McNabb VK3DQJ (previously VK3YBC back in the 70s) reports that his QTH is now at Taycroft, on a small farm about 80 km north-west of Melbourne and far enough from the city to avoid the inevitable QRM. Elevation is approximately 600 m asl, a windy location prone to lightniny strikes! Also operates on 144 and 432 MHz.
During the equinox up to 14/4, JAs every day usually around 0400, but also from 0600 to 1000. Asian TV as well. On 7/4 a brief opening around 0400 and worked JA9IPF at 0414. Later at 0735 JAs again. It was like the openings back in the late 1980s. Wall to wall JAs, with signals well above the S9+ and little or no QSB. Signals finally started to drop just after 0800 and the band remained quiet until 0928, when it was on again! The last station worked was JR1EAX at 1010. Total - 57 JAs, all areas except 7 and 8.
8/4: A brief opening from 0930 to 1017 to JA6/7. Nothing on 9/4 and 10/4 due to work commitments. Small openings since. Rod said he was surprised to hear so much CW on six metres, much of it machine generated. After many years operating he is still entranced with six metres and is looking forward to Cycle 23. Thanks for writing Rod.
Steve VK3OT/SIX advises that: As KL7SIX I will be active from 21/9 at the equinox until 21/12 at the solstice. Gear will be some power and decent antenna from BP51 with a little help from KL7FZ. Beacon VK3SIX is being taken to KL7 and reprogrammed 20 watts and 4 el yagi on 50.0535 MHz. Suggest best time to work KL7 will be around early to middle December, maybe earlier. Liason on 28.885. Also QRV KL9/HL9 from 17/9 to 20/9 and JA from 12/1 to 19/1 1999.
Major sun flare
On Sunday 3 May a phone call from Steve VK3OT alerted me to a CME proton event occurring that afternoon. At 0330 six metres was blanketed with white noise which peaked to S9 with the antenna pointed at the sun. The rise and fall of the flare strength could be easily observed in the AM mode. The same noise was evident on 144, 432 and 1296 MHz, at diminishing strength as the frequency was raised, but still quite noticeable on 1296. The noise remained until sunset.
On 4/5 an e-mail to the VK-VHF Reflector by Mike ZL3TIC said that at 0400 a major Aurora was in progress with video on 45.240,250,260 5/9+, 46.240,170 5/5, ZL3SIX/b 5/9 via the Aurora path. This is about the strongest Aurora I have heard in a long time. Also major solar noise up to 40db over 9.
Trotting around the Pacific
By letter, Jack Haden VK2GJH provides information regarding his expeditions around the Pacific.
He plans to operate from Nauru as C21JH for two weeks from late August or early September and will be seeking six metre contacts. He says there may be a side trip to Tarawa where he will possibly spend one week as T30JH.
Equipment will be an IC-736 HF to 50 MHz with 100 watts on all bands. On six he will use a five element Cushcraft antenna. He says: If I cannot obtain an additional five element for Nauru (no antenna for six at present secured for Nauru), then the trip will operate in reverse as I will take my five element from Tarawa and carry it as passenger luggage to Nauru.
Does anyone wish to donate a five element for Nauru? If one can be secured it can be left with a resident Nauruan resident amateur for use following my departure; I think C21RK has six metres but lacks a decent antenna, maybe C21NJ also has six but I am not sure.
QSLing will be direct only through Jack's Sydney address (PO Box 299, Ryde, NSW 1680), and must include a SAE and return postage; in the case of VKs it will be a 45c stamp on the envelope.
We can only hope that propagation will permit signals to reach Australia. Distance from Nauru to VK5 is around 4000 km. Many JAs also need C21.
Two metres and above
The following brief message arrived from John VK3KWA too late for last month. He said that on the evening of 3/4 VK5VF/b and VK6RTW/b on two metres were audible in Melbourne for several hours.
On 4/4 late morning Wally VK6WG heard but not worked. Around 0200 VK5NY worked on 144, 432 and 1296 MHz. Enhanced conditions disappeared around 0400. Thanks John.
Roger VK5NY sent the following: On 4/4 at 1551 I worked VK6WG 1296 5x3, 432 5x9, 144 5x9. This started a long line of QSOs both to the west and also to the east.
I ran a keyer on 1296.400 with five watts to a bay of 4 loop yagis pointing to Wally VK6WG. We found strong signals on 1296 peaking to S7 and on occasions to S9 over the next 12 hours. A very steady signal with no QSB on 1296 would indicate a stable duct across the 1800 km path. No turbulence or air movement across the ocean for many hours.
At times, 144 and 432 were producing rock crushing signals. My last contact to Wally was at 0137 on 1296 for 5x7 to S9. It appears the peak was happening in this time slot. Following at 0202 I worked John VK3KWA 1296, the other direction to Melbourne at 600 km with marginal signals of 5x2 5x1.
The Esperance beacon VK6REP on 144.566 was not heard at 0137, although I had copied it to S7 at other times. The swing in diversity between Albany and Esperance beacons was many dBs. Comparing the weather maps of 30-12-94 3 pm and 4-4-98 9-30 am, it can be seen that two slow moving high pressure cells of 1029 and 1030 mB were centred close to the coast, virtually heading over Adelaide, both with very wide pressure gradients indicating calm air across the Bight.
Stations worked to the east on the 4/4 - 144 VKs 3AMH 3CAT 3TMP 3TBM 3FIQ 3AXH 3ZQB 3ZL 3KWA; 432 - 3KWA; 1296 - 3KWA. Beacons heard 144 3RTG Melbourne S2 (this a rare one for me), 5RMG near Mount Gambier S9+, 3RGL S5, 7RAE NW Tasmania S2; 432 - 5RMG S7 and 3RMB Ballarat S5 for many hours.
Stations worked on 5/5 (Sunday morning) - VKs 3XPD 3AFW 3ZLS 3AUU 3EFX 3CAT 3ZL 3DVY 3KLO 3BTM; 432 - 3BTM 4x2 strong QSB; beacons heard - 144 5RMG; 432 7RLE S2. Had to work via repeater 7RAE to work VK7ZMR to get a VK7 in the log. Conditions to the west for the morning - no Albany beacon, Esperance S2 as expected with the high moving east.
No meteor pings on the usual 144.200 morning aircraft skeds from VK1/2/3. I get a buzz when I hear such things as Z!! 2!!VK!!B!!ZAB from the band noise on those skeds some mornings.
David VK5KK reports: A late opening to Albany occurred on 3/4 when the VK6RTW beacon appeared around 0830. Apparently signals peaked at around 1500 with VK5NY working VK6WG on 1296 MHz with good signals. On 4/4 signals held up past mid-day (0230 UTC) on 144 and 432; VK6WG was still 5x8 on 144 and 432 MHz to VK5KK around 0215 with signals still being heard from VK6WG on 1296MHz, although not as strong as earlier. The beacon was heard through to about 2300 on 5/4, however conditions had slid well south by then.
On a separate note. Every now and then you will hear, on 50 and 144 MHz, poor sounding and distorted signals from stations running equipment that has a serious fault or simply isn't properly set up. In one case just recently, a station near Adelaide on 144 MHz could be heard +/- 50 KHz from his operating frequency even though his main signal wasn't strong! From observations it would seem that the driving transmitter was attached with a poorly matched input to an amplifier. This made it almost impossible for several others to work any weak DX stations, due to the splatter from rather long-winded overs!
True, it is a fact of life that some VHF transceivers output spectrums don't measure up to the same standards as their HF counterparts, however it is not difficult to correctly tune a commercial transceiver and/or amplifier combination, to obtain a clean signal with minimal test gear! Didn't part of the exam we all sat for, cover this? Speech processors need also to be correctly adjusted. At best high levels of compression will only help when signals range from nothing to weak, not 5x9+20 dB. Sorry, but after hearing a few bad ones I have concluded that a speech processor to some is about the same as giving a Porsche to a 5 year old!
A message on 30/3 from Rod VK4KZR said VK4RTT (Bunyas Mountains) on 144.4392 zero beat is now on air. It is A1 keyed. The Brisbane VHF Group is currently working on the hardware for the 432 and 1296 beacons. Also a decision has yet to be made on a permanent home for the beacons.
A letter from Bill Hosie VK6ACY advises: I recently travelled again to South Africa where I now spend about half the year. When there my callsign is ZS5ACY.
As you are aware, I have an interest in VHF 50 and 144 MHz in particular, with emphasis on exploring the Indian Ocean path between Western Australia and South Eastern Africa, ZS5 and FR5. I conveyed to Mike Bosch ZS2FM, VHF editor of Radio ZS, updated information relating to beacons and other activities in Western Australia.
Mike asked me to advise the Australian fraternity that the beacon ZS2SIX is now operational on 50.005 MHz at a power of 25 watts. Grid square is KF25ux. The antenna is a dipole which favours VK. Also, there is an increasing level of FM activity on 50.450 MHz in South Africa with horizontal directional antennas. Mike hopes that this activity will increase the number of potential operators with horizontal antenna for long haul contacts despite the mode being FM.
Finally, the other six metre operational beacon in South Africa is ZS6DN on 50.050, however, the yagi antenna for this beacon is pointing north, for this is the direction where most contacts are made from South Africa to the Mediterranean area.
Rod VK2TWR has suggested the following: I would appreciate your feedback on the idea of a contest to be held early to mid November for two metres and above, to be called the Ian Berwick Memorial VHF Contest, in memory of Ian's enormous contribution to amateur radio.
The contest would be designed to promote portable participation in particular and to take advantage of the very good conditions generally at that time of year. It is envisaged that the rules would be similar to those used in the 24 hour VHF Field Day in January.
Any comments or suggestions would be gratefully received. We have time to organise the first contest for this November if we have enough enthusiastic people behind the idea. Looking forward to hearing back from you all.
In regard to the above, I sent e-mails to about 20 operators in VK5 and VK6. Several have responded, generally supportive of the idea, but not all favour the naming. No disrespect intended for the late Ian Berwick, but with the thought that there are quite a few VHF/UHF operators who have contributed significantly to that particular amateur radio field. It seems a more neutral name may be better accepted, perhaps simply The November VHF/UHF Field Day Contest or similar. Over to you for comment.
The point has arrived where I must stop. I did have a number of other items for inclusion this month but there has already been considerable pruning of information to arrive at the present state.
Closing with two thoughts for the month:
1. It is not the employer who pays wages - he only handles the money. It is the product that pays wages, and
2. The chief deduction most people make from their income tax is that government costs too darned much.
73 from The Voice by the Lake.