Tuesday, 6 December 2011

UK propagation charts for December 2011


We are heading into the winter season now, but the conditions remain just as good. Don't be surprised if conditions to North America are not quite so hot on the higher bands in December - this is fairly normal as a comparison of the charts for October, November and December will show.

Propagation on 10m tends to close before the band has a chance to work west across the US.

The low bands (160m, 80m and 40m) come into their own with the longer hours of darkness so make sure you give them a look.

Go to December's UK short path propagation charts

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Podcast: HF Propagation Report, Autumn 2011


In this month's podcast I look at current solar conditions and how 10m is finally alive with signals - work the world with low power and simple antennas. If you don't do it now you could be missing out. Lasts about 6mins 30s.

Click on the headline to listen to the programme online or if you prefer to listen to it on your iPod search for G0KYA on iTunes.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Titanic 100th anniversary next year - new book available

Here's a good stocking filler.

Lawrence Beesley was a science teacher, journalist and author who was a survivor of the Titanic tragedy in 1912. In this dramatic real-life tale Beesley tells first hand what it was like to be on the Titanic as it plunged into the icy waters of the North Atlantic on that fateful night.

As well as describing the voyage, the collision with the iceberg and the subsequent sinking, Beesley documents what could have been done to save the 1,500 plus people who perished.

Cover of Titanic bookHis account, and others, resulted in many changes to maritime law and procedure in an effort to make sure that a disaster of Titanic’s proportions should never happen again. “The loss of the S.S. Titanic – its story and its lessons” was first published in 1912, shortly after the disaster.

Now republished by InfoTech Communications, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the accident, the 116-page paperback book is available via Lulu.com, delivered straight to your door wherever you live in the world.

Find out more

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

UK propagation charts for November 2011


The great conditions just keep on coming (bar any coronal mass ejections that is).

With sunspot numbers in the 120-130+ range, and autumnal conditions, there is plenty of DX to be had.

Keep on eye on 40m as Hawaii has been rolling in in the morning, often way past sunrise.

10m continues to be a great band, often open to the US and Caribbean in the afternoon. I especially like the KQ2H repeater in upstate New York on 29.620Mhz FM.

Go to November's UK short path propagation charts.

Monday, 10 October 2011

RSGB Convention updates

A few updates for people who were at the RSGB Convention this weekend.

  • I have now updated the "Propagation to T32C" presentation to include the actual results we are seeing as at 9th October. There is a good fit with the predictions. Go to the T32C page
  • You can also download the Ionospheric Sounders presentation given at the Contest University
  • Carl K9LA talked about greyline propagation and mentioned my earlier research on the subject - you can read more here.

Steve G0KYA, 10th October 2011

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

UK propagation charts for October 2011


This is what we have been waiting for. A high solar flux, autumnal conditions and DX rolling in. So get on the bands!

We have recently seen the solar flux index hit record highs for this cycle, but the sun has since calmed down a little. But with the SFI still being well over 100 we are seeing 10 metres open up to much of the world.

It is quite possible to work the USA this month on 10m, and at the same time you should be able to work the Far East, South America and even Australia (VK) at times. In fact, much of the world will be open to you when conditions are really hot.

There have also been some good openings to VK/ZL on 20m in the mornings too.

Don't forget to try and work the T32C Dxpedition to Kiribati in the Pacific. They are audible, but you'll need a good station or a good dose of luck and good propagation. Find out when and where to work them.

While this high solar activity is great, coronal mass ejections and solar flares will cause problems so keep an eye on the K index and GOES X-ray flux at www.solarham.com

Go to October's UK short path propagation charts.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Update: Working T32C


The T32C Christmas Island DXpedition is well under way. They have now worked more than 300 stations in the UK. If you have a beam and a linear you are in with a chance. If you have a lesser station you might struggle a little bit.

You can read my original posting here, but for a quick overview of when and where to work them from the UK see the chart above (right click and save it to view it full size). I'm giving a talk on propagation to T32C at the RSGB Convention at the weekend.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

New "CW only" ship's radio room clock


For some time I have had a reproduction ship's radio room clock (and other items) for sale on Cafepress.com. You can read the full story about them here.

I have had a few enquiries from die-hard former ship's radio operators asking if they could have a "CW only" version.

These only had the red sectors at 15 mins and 45 min mins past the hour, when you had to go QRT and listen to 500kHz for emergency calls.

Well, I've now reworked the artwork and you can order the "500kHz" clock at "The Radio Room" on cafepress.com.

Podcast: HF Propagation Report, September 2011


In this month's podcast I look at the effects of solar flares on the ionosphere - what they are, their effects, and how you can tell whether we have had one or not. Hint - the solar flux index and K index indicators won't help you! It lasts about 8mins.

Click on the headline to listen to the programme online or if you prefer to listen to it on your iPod search for G0KYA on iTunes.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The W5GI “Mystery Antenna”


W5GI's “Mystery Antenna” gets a lot of attention. Possibly because of its daft name.

It looks like a G5RV, but W5GI (now SK) used coax stubs to give what he called “a coaxial colinear array on 20m”. It consists of a half wave length (at 20m) of 300 Ohm ribbon that feeds a dipole centre.

Either side of the dipole centre are two pieces of wire 16ft 6in long.These are then each connected to the inner of a 16ft 6in piece of RG58 coax. The outer is left unconnected. The far end of this is then shorted and connected to a further 16ft 6in of wire, giving an antenna with a total span of 99ft.

I've now been using one for about three months, so find out what I think of it, is it really a "mystery" and is it worth making one!

Download the report.

Update: I have been doing some more modelling with the antenna as an inverted V and if mounted at about 10m with the ends at 3m you'll find that the lobes vanish and it becomes pretty omnidirectional at higher frequencies. On 20m you may find it radiates best broadside to the wire and less off the ends - this seems to match what I have found. Plots for 20m and 10m Inverted V have been added to the report.

Further update: I have now included the original CQ magazine constructional info in the PDF. I can also confirm that the 50 Ohm resistor method I suggested to determine the exact half-wave electrical wavelength on 20m works a treat as I have just built another one.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

UK propagation charts for September 2011


Good autumnal condtions are coming. This is a good time for working north-south paths, such as UK to South Africa.

Also, keep an eye on 21MHz and higher. With the solar flux index above 100 we are seeing some nice openings - have worked Nigeria, and heard Thailand, Japan, China and the US West Coast over the past few days on 15m.

There have also been some good early morning (6.00-7.00 UTC) openings to Hawaii, the Pacific and the US west coast on 20m. Listen out for KH6s.

Even 40m is looking good - if you don't mind getting up early. It has been open to the Caribbean and most of the US at 4am UTC - I have to get up early on Fridays anyway to get an early train!

Have even heard WWZN Boston on 1510kHz medium wave on a 100ft W5GI dipole

Anyway, good DX and 73.

Go to the propagation charts

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

10m Slim Jim antenna

For dimensions see PDF
I can't take much credit for this. The original 2m Slim Jim was designed by Fred Judd G2BCX, who lived in Norfolk before he became SK some years ago.

This 10m one, made from 450 Ohm slotted ribbon cable from Moonraker and secured on an 8m fishing pole, was inspired by Jim Bacon G3YLA (also a fellow Norfolk ham) who brought one along to our annual “Radio by the Seaside” event.

It worked so well (beating a Rybakov vertical by about 6 S points) that I thought it needed more attention.

The result is attached - it took a lot of fiddling to optimise the length, cut out and feedpoint, but now you don't need to!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Working T32C from the UK

Update: Presentation download now includes comparison of predictions v actual as at 9th October.

The Five Star DXers Association are off to Christmas Island (Kiritimati) T32C in late September. If you want to work T32C it will pay to do a little bit of planning. In terms of the propagation to that part of the world there are a few factors we need to take into account.

The first question is “where is it?”. Kiritimati, or Christmas Island, is a Pacific Ocean atoll in the northern Line Islands - it should not be confused with an island of the same name in the Indian Ocean (VK9/X)!

The island lies 144 miles north of the the Equator and 8,400 miles from the UK

This highlights the first propagation problem – Kiritimati lies on a beam heading of about 335 degrees from the UK which puts our signals slap bang through the auroral oval around the north pole. Conversely, the long path heading of 156 degrees (and 16,400 miles) goes through the south auroral oval.

I have written a feature on propagation to T32C from the UK, which will appear in RadCom. I am also giving a talk on the subject at the RSGB Convention in early October.

In the meantime feel free to download a copy of the presentation, complete with notes, to get a feel for how hard (or easy) it is going to be.

Download the presentation in PDF format (1.4Mb)


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Podcast: HF Propagation Report, August 2011


A look at the last 30 days' solar and geomagnetic conditions and the link between sunspots and solar flares. Why you should use the smoothed sunspot number for prediction programs and how the Sporadic E season is coming to an end.

Click on the headline to listen to the programme online or if you prefer to listen to it on your iPod search for G0KYA on iTunes.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

UK propagation charts for August 2011


Well, we are moving away from the summer solstice, but we are a long way from the better autumnal HF conditions that we should start to see in mid September.

The summer sporadic E season should also be diminishing too.

The last month or so has been characterised by big swings in the solar flux index and pretty poor conditions, although it doesn't pay to generalise. A chance glance at 17m a week or so ago showed a station from Los Angeles, calling CQ and with very few takers. He was about the only signal on the band!

These charts are based on a smoothed sunspot number of 45. The SSN is what is recommended by the originators of VOACAP and might seem a little low, but it is supposed to give better predictions.

Go to the propagation charts

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Wellbrook ALA330S active loop antenna


I have had one of the above to test. It is a 1m aluminium loop with a built-in preamplifier and covers 3MHz-30MHz with reduced performance on lower frequencies.

I was particularly interested in how it performed on LF and Medium Wave. Connecting it up in the shack (it has a BNC connector on the loop and a separate power supply that feeds 12v to the loop) I was initially disappointed as it seemed noisy.

But this is because my house is just buzzing with electrical noise. Putting it outside, even leaning against a tree, made a massive difference.

I was able to receive BBC Radio Wales from here in Norfolk on 882kHz at about S6-7 on my Icom 756 Pro 3. This was a perfect copy and far better than I can get it on any of my other antennas, including a W5GI 100ft dipole and a Western HF10 dipole outside and an array of dipoles in the loft.

It was also able to hear a lot of other weak AM stations that were in the noise on my other antennas.

I also had a listen for some NDBs (beacons) and heard loads – CWL (Cranwell) on 423kHz, WBA (Wolverhampton) on 357kHz, WCO (Westcott) on 335kHz and WHF (?)on 332kHz. The strongest was NWI (my local airport in Norwich on 343kHz). These were all in daytime.

Turning to HF the loop heard everything that I could hear on my outside larger antennas. Sometimes a little noisier - but it is tiny.

Its nulling capabilities were excellent and a rotator would obviously be helpful.

If your interest is in LF/MF you might be better off with Wellbrook's ALA 1530 which offers 6dB better performance at the low-end of the band.

If you are only interesting in listening, but don't want to put up lengthy wires I can recommend the Wellbrook. I might test it on transatlantic MW DX this winter.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

UK Propagation charts for July 2011


This month's predictions are based on a smoothed sunspot number of 43. Expect to see fair openings up to 20, 17 and possible 15m.

The Sporadic E season is well under way too. Look for short skip on 15 and 10m.

Note: have just redone the charts with the revised Smoothed Sunspot Number of 43 - probably makes little difference.

Go to the charts

Saturday, 25 June 2011

ARRL Field Day message via websdr.org


Been playing with websdr.org today. This gives you access to remote SDR receivers all over the world.

I started by testing my antennas by listening for my signals at OE4XLC in Austria on 14MHz – this proved that my dipole works best on that path from the UK by about 10-13dB.

Its weird to hear your own signals coming back over the internet. I then remembered that K6KPH just north of San Francisco was going to be transmitting an ARRL Field Day message at 14:30UTC.

So I tuned in to the KC7IGT remote base in Renton,WA USA and listened on 40m. Low and behold there was the K6KPH CW signal and I recorded it.

I then played it back this is what it said. There are a few mistakes where fading or internet dropout meant I lost the signal, but you get the idea. Isn't this a great way to blend CW and new technology?

Give websdr.org a go yourself.

QST QST QST de K6KPH K6KPH K6KPH

SPCLCWVFOLLOWS SPCLECWVFOLLOWS

QST

DE W1AW5RSPCLC VFROM ARRL HQ NEWINGTON CT

JUNE 14 2011

TO ALL RADIO AMATEURS

FIELD DAY MAGIC COMES FROM VARIOUS SOURCES.

DURING THE SEASON OF E SKIP AND SPORADIC E OPERATORS CAN QUICKLY DISCOVER WHY 6 METRES IS CALLED THE MAGIC BAND

PROPAGATION ENHANCEMENTS HELP MAY E ARRL FICD PRIME TIME TO LEARN AND EXPERIMENT ON THE VHF/UHF BANDS.

EXPERIENCE THE WORLD ABOUT 50MHZ FOR YOURSELF.

ALL FIELD DAY GROUPS OPERATING IN CLASS AND THOSE AT 2F MANY UTILIZE A FREE VHF/UHF STATION WGHOUN INCREASING THEIR OPERATING CATEGORY.

QST DE K6KPH.

WORD FROM NASA OFFICIALS IS THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THAT AT LEAST ONE, AND POSSIBLY BOTH, OF THE STATIONS ONBOARD THE ISS MAY BE PARTICIPATING IN FD THIS YEAR.

IT MAY TAKE EXTRA PLANNING AND BIT OF LUCK BY YOUR GROUP. BUT THERE IS NO GREATER BOOST OF ENTHUSIASM THAN TO COMPLETE A CONTACT WITH THE ISS.

LOOK TO THE HEAVENS AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

QST DE K6KPH 120C

THE QUALITY OF FIELD DAY IS DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE AMOUNT OF FUN EXPERIENCED BY THE PARTICIPANTS.

LIFE IS MORE THAN JUST 140 CHARACTERS OR SHARING ONLINE. WHETHER YOU ARE AGE 8 0R 92.

USE THIS WEEKEND TO BE PART OF THE AMATEUR RADIO MAGIC THAT ARRL FIELD DAY OFFERS.

GOOD LUCK AND 73

AR GL DE K6KPH

Friday, 3 June 2011

UK Propagation charts for June 2011

We’ve seen some massive swings in the solar flux index over the last few weeks, from around 80 up to 112. The authors of VOACAP (the basis for HamCap, which is used to produce the charts) always recommend that you use the smoothed or rolling average sunspot number for its predictions, which is what I always do. That’s why the charts are based on what can look like a low sunspot number when compared with reality.

The smoothed number is supposed to give the best overall result, although experience tells us that the actual conditions can vary dramatically from one day to another.

Conditions on 21MHz and higher will be dominated by Sporadic E (Es) events rather than F2 layer for the next couple of months, so expect to see short-skip openings on these bands (as well as 14MHz) even though the charts suggest that no propagation may be possible.

As always, keep an eye on solarcycle24.com to view the latest solar flux index (SFI) and K index, which may be a better short-term indicator of conditions as a raised K index will suggest CME and coronal hole activity that could adversely affect HF. Being logarithmic, a rise from a K index of one to four doesn’t sound like much, but certainly is.

As the K index is updated every three hours it is a good indicator. The non-logarithmic A index is an average of the last 24 hours so often doesn’t reflect events that have occurred in the last few hours.

Don't forget the free ebook on LF and HF propagation - see right.

Go to the UK HF propagation charts for June

Monday, 23 May 2011

10FM Repeaters in Europe


With the summer Sporadic-E (Es) season here I have been reviewing a new 10m monoband rig for the RSGB's RadCom. It is an SS6900 from the French company CRT (although it is made in the Far East).

It is fully programmable, runs CW, AM, FM and SSB and works quite well, especially on 10FM.

I noticed that the list of 10m FM European repeaters at the HB9HD web site seemed to be out of date.

After a lot of searching I found another site that seems to be better and lists all the 10FM repeaters in this region.

If you can find a better, more to date one, let me know:
http://www.g4nsj.co.uk/ten.shtml



Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Podcast: HF Propagation Report, May/June 2011


A look at the last 30 days' solar and geomagnetic conditions and where have all the sunspots gone? What you can work on HF these months with a focus on Sporadic E.

Click on the headline to listen to the programme online or if you prefer to listen to it on your iPod search for G0KYA on iTunes.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

UK Propagation charts for May 2011


This month's predictions are based on a smoothed sunspot number of 44. Expect to see good openings up to 20, 17 and possible 15m.

The Sporadic E season should be under way too from around 1st May. Look for short skip on 15 and 10m.

So good DX.

Anyway, here are the charts.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Video: GB0CMS, Caister Marconi Station


I have produced a short video of my club's activities for International Marconi Day (IMD).

The Norfolk Amateur Radio Club ran GB0CMS - Caister Marconi Station - on the Norfolk coast as part of the international event.

The video explains what IMD is, tells you the history of the Caister station and takes you on a tour of the Lifeboat Visitor Centre.

It also looks at the equipment the club used to make 165 contacts in 24 countries on Saturday 30 April 2011.

See http://www.youtube.com/user/norfolkamateurradio

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Podcast: HF Propagation Report, April 2011


A look at the last 30 days' solar and geomagnetic conditions and how Solar Cycle 24 is humming . What you can work on each HF band and how to get a free ebook.

Click on the headline to listen to the programme online or if you prefer to listen to it on your iPod search for G0KYA on iTunes.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Propagation predictions for International Marconi Day

Right: Peter (M0RYB) hard at work on the key at GB0CMS last year.

International Marconi Day will be held on Saturday 30 April 2011 this year. I help to run GB0CMS at Caister Lifeboat in Norfolk and thought it would be a good idea to have some idea of propagation conditions to the other IMD stations around the world.

I have therefore created some charts that show the reliability of paths to Italy, East Coast of USA, West Coast USA, Iceland, Newfoundland and Uruguay - the locations of the majority of the IMD stations. These should help you get your award.

See http://www.infotechcomms.net/IMD/

For info, they were created using HamCap (a VOACAP-based program) using a smoothed sunspot number of 41 and based on 100W CW to a dipole at 35ft. Scale your results accordingly.

Monday, 4 April 2011

UK Propagation charts for April 2011


This month's predictions are based on a smoothed sunspot number of 41. Expect to see good openings up to 15m, with 12m/10m making a good showing if the flux remains high. April is also good for North/South paths, such as UK<>South Africa/South America.

I would expect to see the Sporadic E season starting around 1st May too.

So good DX.

Anyway, here are the charts.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Podcast: HF Propagation Report, March 2011


A look at the last 30 days' solar and geomagnetic conditions and how Solar Cycle 24 is really humming now. What you can work on HF with the right conditions.

Click on the headline to listen to the programme online or if you prefer to listen to it on your iPod search for G0KYA on iTunes.

Monday, 28 February 2011

UK Propagation charts for March 2011


I said last month that conditions had been dire - and then the flux rose up to 125. Yippee!

Unfortunately, there was flare activity as well, so the bands were up and down with good F2 layer openings, but then aurora as well. I expect conditions to be similar in March with big swings in the solar index as spots rotate into view and then disappear.

This month's predictions are based on a smoothed sunspot number of 39. Expect to see openings up to 15m, perhaps even 12m/10m if conditions continue to improve. March is also good for North/South paths, such as Uk<>South Africa. So good DX.

Anyway, here are the charts.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Ionospheric Sounding and Digisondes


I recently gave a talk to my local club on ionospheric sounders (Digisondes). I will probably give the talk at the RSGB Convention in October 2011 as it seemed well received. While quite a complex subject, I have added some notes to the presentation to try and make it standalone.

The PDF explains what they are, what they show and how to use them. It also has links to free real-time digisonde plots from around the world and an historical database.

You can download the 4.1Mb PDF here.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Podcast: HF Propagation Report, February 2011


A look at the last 30 days' solar and geomagnetic conditions, NASA's new prediction for Solar Cycle 24, a band-by-band breakdown and a short look at NASA's STEREO spacecraft.

Click on the headline to listen to the programme online or if you prefer to listen to it on your iPod search for G0KYA on iTunes.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

UK Propagation charts for February 2011


I have now published my UK HF propagation charts for February 2011.

Regular readers will spot a small change - they are now colour coded. I never found the original charts very clear in terms of the reliability of the path, so I have now changed the software to show colour-coding for the reliability.

Don't get too excited as the colours go down to less than 25% reliability - if you are running a SteppIR at 120ft and a linear you might find paths like that opening up. For the rest of us look for reliability of 40-50% or more.

In case you hadn't noticed conditions have been dire for the last week or so - the solar flux is back down to 80-81 and openings on 21MHz and 28MHz are seemingly non-existent.

Or are they?

VP8ORK on South Orkney Island (take a look at map to see where it is - Falklands and head south) has been worked from the UK on both 21 and 28MHz so paths do open up, albeit weakly and not for very long.

Fingers crossed for some more sunspots. For a general overview of propagation conditions please refer to my posting for December/January. While we will move more towards equinox conditions later in the month I think what I said then still stands.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Scam warning

I am getting an increasing number of enquiries from people who are either buying or selling amateur equipment. Someone is using my name and callsign to scam people. It isn't just me - there are lots of examples of this now.

The scam is that the seller wants you to send money via Western Union, or will send a cheque (which subsequently bounces). Their English is usually quite poor and, strangely, I don't live in Nigeria!

If you are approached by someone purporting to be me please put a comment on this blog entry. I'm not selling/buying anything at this time.

Steve G0KYA