Eric Jamieson VK5LP PO Box 169 Meningie South Australia 5264
Fax: +61 8 8575 1777
All times are UTC
Andy Thomas on MIR
Many stations have now worked Andy VK5MIR on various passes of the MIR space station, including some mobile stations and those with low power. The VK5s and VK6s seem to have been particularly successful.
I worked him using my stacked vertical antenna at 0948 on 21/3 and his signals were S9+40dB during the contact on 145.985 MHz. I understand Andy runs about 10 watts of FM. With his signal so consistently strong, it emphasises the value of a VHF signal on a non-obstructed line-of-sight path over a few hundred km.
The E-mail VK-VHF Reflector
Andrew Davis VK1DA makes a few comments which are worth digesting. He writes: I am sorry to see personal comments being made on this list again. Ladies and Gentlemen: Please keep personal comments off this list. They are not constructive, it only demonstrates how easy it is to fire off something in the heat of the moment, but it stays in all list members' e-mail in-boxes forever. You will be remembered for the words you write here. You will equally be remembered for your restraint, which has been shown by hundreds of list subscribers on this issue.
I also recommend great caution when accusing people of personal faults when attacking them for their views. When I stated my logic in opposing a certain licence requirement, one reader accused me of finding the test too hard. It turned out that the test I passed (in 1964) was actually a more stringent one than the test passed by my accuser.
For more on this subject, read almost any of the Personal Usenet FAQs, they are probably still to be found at the amazingly descriptive address of <ftp.rtfm.mit.edu>. Soapbox mode off!
Thanks Andrew. Personally, it is my view that those operators prone to "sounding off" at a seemingly annoying comment, or action, would do well to delay any replies for at least 24 hours in order to cool off, giving time for a considered and reasoned comment/opinion, for the betterment of their own image and that of amateur radio in general. It is a well known fact that, in whatever direction mud is being flung, some will stick!
Personal derogatory comments will never appear in these columns. Those finding a need to be so involved would do better to send an e-mail to the person/s concerned and keep it off the Reflector. The majority of Reflector users don't want to hear about it or become involved.
The Eucla operation
I had expected to now have full news of the dx-pedition by amateurs of the Northern Corridor Radio Group to Eucla for the John Moyle Field Day on 20/21 March, but so far only sketchy reports.
Generally, for most areas band conditions over that weekend were atrocious, with high temperatures and little or no enhancement of signals. I worked VI6EWT, the expedition station, at 2220 on Sunday (20 March UTC) on 144.120 at 5x5. I could hear them at 5x3 on 432 but they could not hear me. By the time their signals had arrived at Meningie they were rapidly fading and did not reach Mount Gambier. They were quite strong in Adelaide with David VK5KK and Phil VK5AKK reporting contacts. From his usual mountain site, Phil apparently worked them on 50, 144 and 432 MHz.
Unfortunately for Alek VK6APK, who had been at the forefront of arrangements, he had to withdraw at the last moment from the expedition due to sudden illness. Despite his obvious disappointment, it was the wise thing to do, as Eucla is too isolated to go there in an unwell state.
By Packet, John VK3KWA has advised of new record claims as follows:
Lyle VK2ALU has claimed a new 1296 MHz EME record for a contact made by VK2AMW in 1985 - probably the longest ever delay between contact and record claim!
The record is now VK2AMW - G3LTF 02/03/1985 16978.5 km.
A claim from VK6KZ and VK6BHT for a new VK6 and National 24 GHz record on 10/01/98 142.7 km has been processed.
New mobile records for 1296 MHz: VK3XPD/m to VK5DK/p 10/03/98 380.4 km. VK5NC/m to VK3KWA 10/03/98 388.2 km.
John VK3KWA also supplies these further details of 1296 MHz activity on 10/3 when the above records were established.
Trevor VK5NC was up to S8 at 0945. He and Colin VK5DK then went to Blue Lake, Mount Gambier while Russell VK3ZQB went portable near Port Fairy, and Alan VK3XPD to Surrey Hills. VK5DK/p worked VK3KWA S8, VK3ZQB/p worked VK3KWA and VK3KLO with one watt. At 1138 VK3XPD/m worked VK5DK/p for a new mobile record of 380.4 km. At 1235 VK5NC/m worked VK3KWA for a mobile record of 388.2 km. VK3ZQB, VK3XPD, VK5DK, VK5NC also worked each other on 10 GHz.
John VK4FNQ says that the band has been quiet with some TEP. On 27/2 he heard HL1LTC at 0630, but faded soon after. On 3/3 between 0545 and 0641 John worked 30 JAs in districts 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7, with most signals 5x9.
From Scott VK4JSR: The JA DX Cluster reported that on 11/3 at 0348, Wally VK4DO worked KH7R (Kure Is.) at 5x9, for the first KH7 contact this cycle.
On 12/3 John VK4FNQ worked KH7R at 0410 3x1. John's antenna rotator is faulty so he used a vertical antenna. Also managed a 5x5 contact with KF4GMH at 0530. BYTV was in at 0345 very strong and making life difficult on 50 MHz. Also worked six JAs to 0555, so the path was there.
From Steve VK3SIX: On 12/3 from 0840 to 0901 T88IY on Palau Is. working JAs, also V73AT to JA5FFJ at 0753. 13/3: 0428 VK4APG to JH0BQX, 0520 VK4PU to JH6ETS, 1040 VK4KJL to JH0BQX. The JAs seem to be climbing over one another on 50.110 to work stations, but the above VK4s were well away from 50.110.
On 19/3 Steve VK3SIX reported the first JAs for the equinox into VK3. He worked JA1, 2 and 5 for five CW contacts between 0453 and 0640, with signals to 559. Northern TV observed from 0200 to 0700.
From JA Cluster 20/3: Stations worked/heard in JA between 0520 and 1724 included VT98LC, 9M2NK, YC0UVO, BV2SR, VR2IL, T88IY, VK8MS, VK8RAS/b, VK2FZ/4, VK4ABP/b, so there are a few active countries around.
Ron Graham VK4BRG said that on 22/3 at 0450 NH6YK in Hawaii was worked by VK4DO, VK4RO and VK4FNQ. Signals averaged about 5x5 for the duration. Both KH6 beacons (50.061 and 50.065) were audible at this time and for some 15 minutes after. Ted NH6YK left on 23/3 for Midway, where he says he will be active on six metres.
23/3: Via TEP from 0410 to 0509: VK3SIX to JA9SSB, JA9BHZ, JA2IGY/b, JH0OME, JA9SSB, JA9BHZ, JA1AUD, JH1WHS, JE1TGN, JS1KQN, JG1ZGW, JA7ZMA/b, JA7SWZ; VK3AMK and VK2QF to JH1WHS.
Gerry VK4HT reported hearing KH6HI/b 559 on 23/3 at 0640, and on 24/3 at 0800 both KH6 beacons were S1. No amateurs heard or worked.
Steve VK3SIX reported that the first true night-time TEP was observed in VK2/3/5 between 0840 and after 1100 on 25/3. Unfortunately, P29KFS remained on 50.110 from 1045, creating a huge JA dogpile and blocking out the weaker VK3 signals. Steve worked VK2QF, VK3ALM and VK5ZBK. There were strong ten metre SSB signals from Europe also.
He also reported a massive TEP opening from to 0425 to 1036. He worked JA1 to JA0 areas with more than 40 contacts, either CW or SSB, many at S9.
Included in his long list were these specials: V73AT worked many JAs as did the Hong Kong VR stations. 9M2 TV was there, plus numerous Asian TV off-sets around 49 MHz.
At 0420 Steve heard KL7/DARN 49.635 (BP51 Dual AU Radar UAA Anchorage AK 529 from 62 North) for 15 minutes. Deliberately called and worked on 50.125 but only got JA8s.
JAs were working NH2C, 9M2TO, N7ET/DU7, VR98LC. All JA beacons were audible. V73AT heard VK4RGG/b 50.058 at 0442. VK2QF, VK2XMQ, VK3AMK, many VK4s, VK5ZBK were working JAs.
At 1030 heard VK8RAS/b on backscatter. Worked Jeff VK8GF in Alice Springs by scatter mode until 1120. ZL4AAA worked JA1RJU at 0413 SSB. ZL TV at 0430. JA3EGE copied VK6RPH/b 50.065 at 0614. VK6IP, VK6ET and VK6ZPP worked JA3s.
Scott VK4JSR said that the HS1 station claimed to have been worked by some VK4s during the large opening, was in fact DS1, a prefix for Korea. He said that amongst the mle on 50.110 yesterday these countries were heard - JA, VR2, KF4, DS1, and FK1 (backscatter from TEP).
John VK4KK said his list consisted of KF4, KH7, KH6HI/b, V73, DS1, VR2 and JAs, all from 0300 UTC onwards.
Plans for Autumn.
Steve VK3SIX/KL7SIX is to return to Alaska on 21/9/98. He plans to concentrate on working Europe over the pole and down to Oceania in December. Station and antenna will reflect this pursuit. Will be either modifying HF amp or looking for a suitable (1kw) local amp. Antenna will be modified equipment already available locally. Would like some ideas and strageies as to how to do this and need e-mail addresses and telephone numbers from EU and VE stations. Steve Gregory - Postal: HC 33 Box 2966 Wasilla AK 99654-9720; Phone: 1 907 373 5435. 73 and feel free to pass this on as I will need the cooperation of all concerned to make this work, I just hope the Cycle is kind to us all.
Steve VK3OT provides the following list courtesy of Mike Greenway, and is the list of stations who worked P43AS during the opening on 26/3/89. QSL cards are available on production of log entry and two IRCs from Thomas Greenway K4PI, 4055 Kings Highway, Douglasville, GA 30135.
VK2ASZ, VK2BA, VK2FLI, VK2JSR, VK2MQ, VK2QF, VK2VC, VK2XJ, VK2ZXC, VK3AKK, VK3AMQ, VK3AMZ, VK3AUI, VK3AUU, VK3AZY, VK3CDI, VK3DU, VK3DUQ, VK3DUT, VK3KAQ, VK3LK, VK3NM, VK3OT, VK3TAF, VK3WN, VK3XQ, VK4BRG, VK4DDG, VK4DK, VK4DMI, VK4KJL, VK4NJO, VK4ZAZ, VK4ZNC, VK5AMK, VK5AYD, VK5KK, VK5LP, VK5NC, VK5ZDR, VK5ZK, VK8GF, VK8ZLX, ZL4KB.
Juan P43AS, is now a silent key and Tom has kindly offered to make up some cards for those who need them.
There were some contacts made with VK/ZL later in the weekend and he also worked a number of North and South Americans and Europeans, so here is your last chance to confirm this station if you haven't done so.
Two metres and above
Gordon VK2ZAB reported that propagation on two metres SSB was enhanced on 10-11/3 by the presence of an intense coastal duct. At 0740 on 10/3 signals were 5x9+ both ways between Warren VK3BWT at Mallacoota and VK2ZAB (outer Sydney) over the 450 km path. Warren could also hear the VK7 beacon but no contacts. VK2ZAB could not hear the VK7 beacon. Later in the evening Sydney stations VK2FLR and VK2DXE (2 watts) worked VK3BWT.
VK3BWT later worked Andrew VK7XR and was in contact with him the following morning, about 2100 10/3, when Jack VK2AAS/p at Molly Mook heard VK7XR. So far this is as far north as the VK7 signals have been heard. That evening about 0915 (11/3) VK3BWT worked Ray VK2BRG at Coffs Harbour with 5/5 signals over the approx 850 km path.
At about the same time VK3BWT also worked Ross VK2ZRU in Sydney with 5x9 signals both ways. However Guy VK2BBF at Springwood, 60 km north west from Sydney, could hear VK3BWT at S1 on the direct path. Turning his antenna from 193 to 105 degrees resulted in a 5x5 contact with VK3BWT.
This phenomenom was not evident to Keith VK2JY at Mt Riverview which is in the same general area as Springwood, although a few kilometres closer to Sydney and somewhat lower in altitude. Keith worked VK3BWT with signals rising to S9 shortly after the VK2BBF contact.
It appears that the duct was low and hugging the coast. Guy was unable to access it directly but achieved a nearly 90 degree bend in the propagation path by scattering (reflection) from a large object which was in the duct. Candidates for this would include the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Centre Point Tower, both on the 105 degree bearing.
At 1127 on 11/3, VK1ZQR was 5x8 in Sydney to VK2ZAB. Bob in Canberra is behind a hill in relation to Sydney and signals are usually close to the noise level. At 2100 on 11/3 VK3BWT was still 5x9 at the VK2ZAB location. He is normally S2-S3. There may be more to come.
From Wally Howse VK6KZ: Wally Green VK6WG reported that on 18/3 there were strong signals on 144 and 432 MHz during the day, evening and next morning (UTC) from Mt Gambier and western Victoria. He worked Col VK5DK in Mt Gambier and a number of VK3s. No sign of signals from Adelaide area in Albany. No signals on 144 MHz from VK3 or VK5 in Perth.
In conjunction with the east-west signals, good signals prevailed across Bass Strait on 18/3. According to Ron VK3AFW, on two metres, between 2110 and 2130, Andrew VK7XR was 5x9 as far north as Wedderburn to Des VK3CY. Six metre signals also strong. John VK3KWA intermittently copied VK7XR on 1296 MHz but no contact made.
Gordon VK2ZAB said that resulting from his last posting about ZL two metre beacons being heard in Sydney, the following contacts took place: 20/3: VK2BBF 1900 ZL2VAL, 1904 ZL2TAL; VK2ZAB 2101 ZL2TAL, 2120 ZL2VAL, 2127 ZL2TE and 2346 ZL1IU. Signals from S3 to S1.
This may be as late in the season as we have ever seen a duct across the Tasman. At least in VK2. However, on making this comment to Nick ZL1IU, he replied that it may be so but that on 9/4/94 he worked into VK4 via a duct.
Ron VK3AFW said a number of VK3 Field Day portable stations were out and about; 50.200 was busy with stations QSYing up. 144.100 and 432.150 also very busy with some QRM on both.
Several new grid squares were active, but no signals coming from the west. Ron said he worked the portable station at Eucla but (hush!) on 20 and 40 metres. Ron is off six metres temporarily - his antenna has blown down! What! Again Ron? ... VK5LP.
Norm VK2XCI, the Voice on The Edge of The Outback, at Mount Hope, comments on the John Moyle Field Day. A slightly more successful field day than last, but once again physical conditions were very tough. After four warm days, cool nights and calm weather, Sunday 22/3 was hot, windy and dusty! Started at 0600 local and by 0800 it was 28C with a strong gusty NW wind and much raised dust. I gave up at 0930 local ... 38C and 35 knots ... when the ute door blew shut and jammed my fingers. Enough already!
Never mind, it was worth it. Thanks to the VK1 mob who finally came good. I could hear the Nimitable two metre beacon all morning but no sign of VK2TWR. Where were you Rod?
So I now have just less than a year to build an air-conditioned wind/water/dust proof portable station with a self erecting mast, hot and cold running water, comfy bed and a well stocked fridge, all mounted on a 4WD with 240v gen set, GPS, Satphone and cable TV! There's work to be done.
Ross VK2DVZ said that the Taree and District AR Club Inc. participated in the 1998 John Moyle contest, in the 24 hour section. They used Blue Knob, a vantage point over 1000 metres ASL with a 360 degree view and takeoff. Three members made the trip.
At first they had problems with wildly fluctuating 240 volts AC from the alternator, in turn causing the 12 volt battery charger to demand a respite and certainly the solid state equipment didn't like it. Replacing a faulty 12 volt battery brought relief to all, equipment included. The alternator ran without fault for the full 24 hours.
We worked HF DX until the early morning, then after four hours sleep we were on air before dawn.
We watched the very visible inversion layer out over the coast, some 50 km to the east on both the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, but to no avail - no ZL signals to be heard at our prime location, despite all the reports from up and down the coast.
Interim results about 4200 points. HF: about 90 contacts; 144: 137 contacts - about 55% exceeded 150 km, therefore 30 point contacts; 70cm: 78 contacts - about 48.5% exceeded 150 km, 30 points each.
On VHF, our most distant contact was 702 km with Warren VK3BWT at Mallacoota, twice on two metres. We worked Rod VK2TWR on a few occasions on both 2m and 70cm at 654km. (One watt both ways on two metres for one of the contacts was still about S3 at my end, same at Rod's.)
We were very pleased to work VK2EU/p SE of Canberra, in the ranges beyond Captains Flat, and VK2LO/p at Murrembateman, together with (my first) VK2XCI/p near Mount Hope.
A G5RV antenna used on HF, a 12 element DL6WU design Yagi on SSB and a Slim Jim for FM on the 2m band, and on 70cm we used a 15 element DL6WU design yagi for SSB and a little 8 element Maspro yagi, vertically polarised, for FM. 80 watt solid state PAs on each of the 2m and 70cm bands.
The weather was very hot on the coastal plains, but very pleasant on Blue Knob. Out came the wind jackets and long pants for the night session, it blew all night - all the while it remained a hot night down below us on the low country.
We worked stations in an area bounded by Coffs Harbour to Mallacoota, Captains Flat, Canberra, Tottenham, Mount Hope and across to Gunnedah. I heard one VK4 very weakly in the noise, but not positively identified. Coffs Harbour was the cut-off point to the north this year.
The Western Australia journey
Alan Devlin VK3XPD sends details of his recent sojourn into Western Australia in the hope of exploiting the often enhanced signals during February.
To summarise - the event was a dismal failure for the effort expended. There was simply no microwave propagation across the Great Australian Bight during the four weeks I was in VK6. There were a couple of brief two metre openings, but the best that I personally achieved was an 1800 km contact on 23 cm from the QTH of Bill VK6AS in Esperence to Trevor VK5NC in Mount Gambier. Apart from that there were several other short range contacts in VK6 on 2,3,5 and 10 GHz. One amateur is Wally VK6WG who at 87 years has just completed his 5 GHz unit with a little help along the way. It was also great to meet up with those other amateurs in VK6 with similar interests - thanks to Wally VK6KZ for making the arrangements.
Aircraft enhancement net
Chris VK1DO sends the following information: Due to the astonishing level of activity out of VK3, VK1 operators believe we are congesting the 144.200 net, probably preventing more significant contacts of the 800 kilometre plus variety and generally slowing up weekend operation. The rapid fire nature of the relatively easy VK1 to VK3 contacts together with the veritable plethora of VK3s tends to result in the preclusion of Sydney to Melbourne attempts.
As of the weekend, Saturday 14/3, we will only operate on 144.200 to beam north and we will be looking for VK3s on 144.250. The fifty kilohertz separation ought to permit stations in the same metropolitan regions, within reason, to co-exist with contacts simultaneously on both nets.
I hope that by freeing up 144.200, many more contacts that might occur between Sydney/places north and Melbourne and surrounds might be facilitated. The variations in path over these longer distances are more complex and not only need more effort, but perhaps the acceptance of those on the net, of the more involved nature of establishing a contact.
Suffice to say, I hope this experiment can be supported by all operators in an aim to benefit everyone. Please remember to inform your fellow operators to ensure their efforts are appropriately directed and furthermore, they do not conclude from observing 144.200 that there are no VK1s and conversely, look more energetically/patiently for distant signals etc.
Apropos the above, Gordon VK2ZAB writes: The plan was put into effect on Saturday 14/3 so it has been in operation for two days at this writing. It calls for VK1 stations to use 144.25 MHz and for VK2 stations north of Canberra to use 144.2 MHz as usual.
It worked fine for me. Although I was not overwhelmed by a plethora of VK3s clamouring to work into Sydney, I did contact a few with somewhat more ease than had had been the case previously.
The potential to make more VK3 contacts is certainly there as the Mt Anakie beacon is frequently audible here for periods of many minutes at levels up to S3 from 8 am until after 9 am local time.
It may be that some people do not know that aircraft reflections do not peak for location A at the same time as they do for location B. Therefore the procedure is to point your beam at the location you wish to contact and, if you can't hear other stations, call, call, call. Frequent short CQ calls.
The aircraft will fly into the area of mutual radio visibility and contact will be made. Do not point your beam where you think the aircraft may be and do not rely on it being there at the same time as it was last week. Remember, if you can't hear anything, call.
Closing with two thoughts for the month:
1. Old age is when you know all the answers, but no one asks you the questions and,
2. Some people make it happen, some people watch it happen and some people say, "What happened?"
73 from The Voice by the Lake.