VHF/UHF - AN EXPANDING WORLD
Eric Jamieson VK5LP PO Box 169 Meningie South Australia 5264
Fax: 08 8575 1777
All times are UTC
Whether its the cold weather of winter, the change in weather patterns or for whatever reason, little activity has been reported from VK on any bands.
I know there is considerable construction activity taking place, especially for the microwave bands up to 24 GHz, in readiness for the forthcoming summer when, hopefully, conditions will allow the new equipment to be successfully used.
First VK5 to VK6 QSO on 144 MHz
In the light of this situation, I have delved into my history files and extracted details of the first two metre contact between VK5 and VK6, that of Clem Tilbrook VK5GL and Rolo Everingham VK6BO. This occurred on 30/12/1951 at 0712 UTC with signals 5x5. VK5GL used 15 watts and VK6RO 45 watts, both in the AM mode, propagation mode Es.
Clem wrote: My equipment was as follows - Transmitter: 6J6 crystal oscillator about 8 MHz (MCs in those days) doubling in the second part, plus another tube as trebler into a 6V6 about 48 MHz. This was driving an RK34 push-pull trebler to an 832 final at about 15 watts. (Clem says he still has the final unit!)
The modulator was a pair of 6V6s in push-pull using plate modulation via a Ferranti 1 to 1 output transformer as a modulation transformer.
The antenna was a four over four at 35 feet, fed with open wire line.
Clem said the receiver was featured in Amateur Radio magazine in early 1951 and he still has the converter.
It was called a 6 and 2 metre converter which used a 6SH7 as a crystal oscillator and 6J6 trebler when switched to the two metre position.
This particular unit had two front ends, one each for six and two metres, with a 6C4 cathode follower to tune into a receiver covering 3 to 7 MHz. By using a 9.400 MHz crystal, the fifth harmonic at 47 MHz was 3 MHz away giving 50 to 54 MHz coverage. By switching in a further trebler this gave 141 MHz and 144 to 148 MHz coverage by tuning from 3 to 7 MHz.
The two front ends were the same and consisted of a 6J6 push-pull neutralised RF amplifier to a 6J6 push-push mixer - all home brew.
The letter from Rolo said: Clem. You beaut! Transmitter: VT52 (EL32) oscillator at 8 MHz, VT52 tripler to 24 MHz, 6AQ5 doubler to 48 MHz, 832 tripler to 144 MHz, 815 PA at 144 MHz.
Receiver: Converter - a 6BO "Dagwood Sandwich" consisting of a 6J6 neutralised triode push-pull RF amplifier to an RL37 cascode, CV6 mixer, CV6 oscillator on 132.5 MHz, 6SH7 IF amplifier at 11.5 MHz, into a "little portable receiver!"
The little portable rig consisted of a 6J8GA mixer, 6G8G IF and AVC, 6H6 noise limiter, 6SN7GT cascade AF amplifier (yes, half the 6SN7GT to a five inch speaker), 6J5 BFO.
The antenna was a five over five with full-wave spacing of the bays. Wide spaced elements, folded dipole all made from 5/8 inch conduit! The top bay was 53 feet above ground and the height above sea level a further 35 feet. Tnx a lot. 73s, Rolo.
Rolo gave his latitude and longitude bearings and on my computer programme his grid locator at Bassendean is OF78xc.
At the time this contact was quite an achievement on two metres over a path distance of 2120 km. Since then, the number of stations to work Perth from Adelaide has risen but not to high numbers. It has never been an easy path to Perth and most contacts have been via Es. Recently however, a good opening saw the path bridged via tropospheric propagation. Nevertheless, such a contact remains elusive to many.
A plaintive call ...
Mike ZL3TIC issued the following plaintive cry on the Reflector recently: Wednesday 29 July 1998: Guys - the time is 0130 and the band is wide open to ZL1 and ZL2. I'm also hearing 45.240, 250, 260, 46.170, 240, 55.240, 260, 57.240 all 5x9+. I'm calling and calling ... no one home! Where is everybody?
I recently received a post card from his family which conveyed the simple message that Cliff Betson ZL1MQ, had passed away on 30 March 1998. Cliff was one of the pioneers of six metre operation in New Zealand, dating from the 1940s. He wrote the monthly "The VHF-UHF Scene" column for Break-In, the journal of the NZART. Cliff and I exchanged pre-publication versions of our columns for several years. I worked him from time to time on six metres, the first time in 1963. Cliff will be missed not only by readers of these columns but by his many radio friends.
Emil Pocock W3EP in World Above 50 MHz reported: That the first transatlantic sporadic-E propagation appeared on 50 MHz for this year on 4 June, when KP4EIT and WP4O worked CT1DNF around 1130. KP4EIT added OZ and G calls to his log later that morning. VE1PZ made it to CT1CAD at 1242 for the first transatlantic contact from mainland North America.
Europeans appeared in American logs on at least nine other days in June, as summarized in the table below. The table shows the extreme times for each identifiable opening, with participating call areas and country prefixes. Not all US and Canadian call areas shown necessarily worked all the European countries shown and vice-versa. In some cases, a call or a country appears because of a single contact.
Date Time Call areas and countries
4 1130- KP4, VE1-CT, OZ, GW
6 1150-1215 W1,2,3-EH
10 1800-1810 VE1IW-GB3MCB/b
14 ? W5KFT-CT3FT
19 1030 VO1ZA/b-GJ4ICD
19 1930-2315 VE1,9, W1,3-G, PA, OZ, SM, OH, DL, SP, OE, S5
22 1205-1320 W1,3-CT, EH, I
23 1130-1530 W1,2,3,8, VE3-CT, EH, I
1515-1610 W8,9, D8-DL, 9A, OK, SP
1830-2000 VE1,9, W1,8-CT, EH
24 1400-1515 W3,4,5-EH, G, ON
27 2100-2250 VE1,9, W1,4-CT, EH, EI, G, GW, GM, GD, PA, ON, DL
28 1545-2330 VE1, W1,8-EH, CT
29 1610-1700 W1-CT, EH
2100-2245 W1-CT, EH
Most of the openings in June were marginal affairs. Signals were often very weak and in and out of the noise. As a consequence, the majority of the transatlantic activity took place on CW. On several days, only a few of the best equipped and located US stations were responsible for the bulk of the contacts. As has been the case in past years, stations in the Maritime provinces and New England seemed to get the lion's share of Europeans.
June 23 was an exceptional day, because the usual Maritime and New England stations were not the stars of the show. They were laboriously pulling CT, EH, and other stray Europeans out of the noise, but the most spectacular contacts were made from the Midwest. George Dowell, K0FF (EM49) in Missouri, worked 9A8A (Croatia), OK1DDO (Czechoslovakia), SP6GZZ (Poland), and seven German stations in a single 55-minute CW run. The Europeans were 559 to 599 into Missouri, but East Coast stations could not even hear what George was working. Many were straining hard, as these were rare catches even for the most active DX hounds.
Europe was not the only source of countries available to US and Canadian DXers. Widely worked in June were FP5BU, KP4EIT, WP4O, and others from Puerto Rico.
Other parts of the world shared in 6-meter sporadic-E DXing. On June 28, Hatsuo Yoshida, JA1VOK (QM05), hooked up with JT1KAA (ON37) in Mongolia at about 3100 km and had QSOs with UA0CQ and UA0ZBK (PN78) in Russian Siberia.
Finally, the list of new and rare countries Europeans worked in June is just astonishing. Among the more interesting catches reported by Six News, the OH2BUA WebCluster, SM7AED, SM7FJE, G3UPS, and G3FPK, were these European counties: Jan Mayen (JX7DFA), Faeroe Island (OY3JE), Macedonia (Z32ZM), and Liechtenstein (HB D8LL). From Eastern Europe, there were many stations from Russia (UA-UI and RA), and the Ukraine (UR-UZ), Belarus (EW8DD and others), and Moldova (ER3R). Countries reported from the Caucuses and further east included Georgia (4L5O), Armenia (EK6AD), and Kazakhstan (UN3G), the latter on the Chinese border! From the Middle East, Europeans vied for several stations from Israel (4X and 4Z), Jordan (JY9QJ), Lebanon (OD5RAK), Turkey (TA7V), and Oman (A45ZN).
Japan to W5
A number of sources have mentioned contacts between W5 and Japan. On 20/7/98 at 0049 N5JHV worked JA1RJU, followed by JI1UHZ, JR2HCB and JA2EMQ until 0111. 0212 N5JHV worked JA4KFA and JA4DLP.
After a break of 17 years, JA and W5 have worked. At 0035 N5JHV began hearing two distinct carriers on 49.750. He called CQ DX on 50.110 until at 0049 he worked JA1RJU, followed by the others mentioned above. Distance to JA4KFA is about 10,260 km.
Alan 3C5I continues to appear in the overseas news. He reports: On 27/7 a great opening from 3C to Europe, very strong signals! Heard OZ5QF belting through 5x9+ at 1712 but could not break in. Worked SM7WDS, IW2AET, DL4IBD, DL6AMI, DF5LQ, SM7FJE, SM7AED, IK4FMT, ON7TN, PE1PZS, IZ4BEZ, OZ8RW, DJ4SO, IK3HHJ, OZ1LO, IK4GME, DL9USA, DL0KCT, DL3HRM, DL3DXX, EI7GL. The band dropped out at 1735. [It appears Alan is the right distance from Europe to be worked so consistently. ... VK5LP]
Sporadic E on 144 MHz
Two-meter sporadic E in Europe has also been spectacular, according to Norman Fitch G3FPK, and David Butler G4ASR, who write VHF columns for Radio Communications and Practical Wireless magazines in England. There were openings on June 3, 5, 6, 11, 12, and 18 across much of Europe.
The most spectacular session was on June 3, when stations in the south of England hooked up with SV1OH and SV7ADJ (Greece), SV9/DC9KZ (Crete), and 4Z5BS, 4X4MO and other Israelis on 2 meters. Others in the north of England made it to Bulgaria and Romania. The longest contacts were in the 3500 km range. On June 11, many northern Europeans worked North African stations CN8HB (Morocco), EA9MH (Cueta) and 7X2DS (Algeria), in addition to numerous Spanish and Portuguese.
Today's News reported that on 6/7 at 1315 G4CQM copied the Canadian beacon VE1SMU/H on 144.300 MHz. Distance about 4376 km. Perhaps the time is nearing when a transatlantic two metre contact will eventuate.
Southeast Asia is the world's hot spot for sporadic E, but even the 18 days of 144 MHz E-skip in Japan during May and June was unusual. JR4ENY reported over the European VHF reflector that there were a dozen distinct openings on May 1, 8, 15, 17, 19, 22, 23, and 24 averaging about an hour each. During the first three weeks of June, JR4ENY reported another dozen openings on June 1, 6, 7, 12, 13, 15, 16, 20, and 21.
At least five of the openings included contacts with adjacent Korea or Taiwan, which is within single-hop distance from much of Japan. Hatsuo Yoshida, JA1VOK, also reported an unusual 2-meter SSB contact with JA0SUQ/JD1 on May 24. Minami Torishima is an island 2000 km southeast of Japan in the Pacific Ocean and counts as a separate DXCC country. This may be a first on 2 meters between the two countries.
First QSO on 411 GHz
The German magazine DUBUS (II 1998) reports that DB6NT and DL1JIN completed a contact on 411 GHz on January 6 over a path of 50 meters. Yes, it is still radio, but at a wavelength of less than 1 mm - about the thickness of a piece of cardboard. Atmospheric absorption is severe at this frequency, so it will be interesting to discover just how far the distance can be pushed. The technical difficulties in building equipment for frequencies of 300 GHz and above are daunting.
The DB6NT transceiver begins with a stabilized 119 MHz crystal oscillator and a multiplier chain to produce a 20 mW signal at 45.6 GHz. This is fed into a waveguide with a Russian beam-lead Schottky diode fitted into its end, which serves as a 9x multiplier on transmit and a harmonic mixer during receive. The 150 mm (about 6 inches) dish antenna is fed by the waveguide to a Cassegrain subreflector.
The DL1IN design is slightly different. It uses a 54.1 GHz Gunn oscillator stabilized by a 80 MHz crystal oscillator and phase lock loop mixer. The 54.1 GHz signal then drives a Schottky diode on the end of a 4 wavelength probe. The radiation from the probe is reflected through a Fresnel lens with a 40 cm focus.
24 GHz in Queensland
It seems 24 GHz is beginning to move in Queensland. I note that Gerald VK4ZSG has been in touch with David VK5KK regarding availability of PCBs for that band.
Gerald added: I am more interested in construction, as an end in itself, than the pursuit of DX, the millimetric stuff attracts me as mountains attract fitter men than me. There are a couple other chaps up here interested in 24 GHz. I have two SHF 24 GHz gunn diode modules and 30 cm dishes and am making up the Vol III RSGB 10/24 GHz IF Rx/Tx modulators to get the hang of it. Des Clift VK5ZO, has come into the act, getting a couple of the same modules and redesigning some of his older phase-lock loop stuff following my questions on frequency stabilisation given attention by W4UCH in his "The Gunplexer Cookbook".
Ultimately I want to use SSB of course but to walk before I run. However past experience has demonstrated that getting parts sometimes takes many many months so one has to think ahead a bit.
Ron Cook VK3AFW made this comment on the Reflector: Did anyone make use of or even see the meteor shower earlier this week? [The first week of August]. There were reports of unprecedented numbers of meteors observed in Queensland and of one which lit up the whole of Sydney!
Unfortunately work commitments prevented me from being around at the right times. Random meteors appear to have been more common for the last two weeks on those occasions I checked.
Any comments? ... VK5LP.
AXM, Weather maps etc
Appropos my article last month re the possible loss of weather map information, I was interested to receive a reply from a former acquaintance, Brian Tidemann - now VK3BCZ ex VK5TN.
Here is the point of relevance: Please send your survey responses no later than 31 December 1998 marked for attention of SRRT, to the Bureau of Meteorology by either of the following methods:
Mail: SRRT, National Meteorological Operations Centre, Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 1298K, Melbourne Victoria 3001. Fax: +61396621223.
Please substitute Box 1289K for 1298K as written. He did say though that "its a pretty big box, however, so I guess the mail man would probably not be confused for too long!"
Those contemplating a submission please note the new box number.
Brian also went on to say he had fond memories of the one metre days of the 1950s where he cut his VHF teeth, the same as I did, so we do have a few things in common.
From the UK
Ted Collins G4UPS, in his monthly notes, continues to rack up countries. For the first six months of 1998 he has worked 58 and heard 66 countries. That kind of scoring is somewhat different from the experiences of VK amateurs. In that time I'm not sure whether anyone here has worked a completely new country on six metres.
Its little wonder so much two metre Es is being worked in the Northern Hemisphere when there has been so much short skip on six metres. Ted mentions a case on 3 June when he worked three stations in PA at distances between 676 and 734 km.
Ted mentions Tony A45ZN in Oman having a wide range of QSOs and these include BV2SR, DL9USA, EK6AD, G3HBR, JS6CDB, LZ1AG, OZ3K, SM5HJZ, SP6GZN, SV7BVZ, S57A, UR4LL, VR2XMT, V73AT, YO7AOT, YT1AU, Z22JE, 5B4/EU1AA and 9A8A. In there I notice four stations in the Asia/Pacific area, but so far he does not seem to have crossed the equator in this direction.
Its certainly a quiet period here in VK. Nothing really new or exciting to report. Conditions could pick up during the coming equinox but we may have to wait until March/April 1999 for something worthwhile to happen. In the meantime we keep listening to the regular signals between 45 and 50 MHz from the north, work the occasional JA - usually into VK4 or VK8, or look for tropo signals on 144 MHz and above.
Closing with two thoughts for the month.
1. An author retains the singular distinction of being the only person who can remain a bore long after he is dead, and
2. How pleasant life would be if people with money used it the way people who don't have it would use it if they had it.
73 from The Voice by the Lake.