Monday 6 August 2012

Special Olympic call – GO0KYA

To celebrate Great Britain hosting the Olympic Games we are allowed to apply for a special notice of variation to our licence. This allows us to add the suffix “O” to our calls.

So until early September I can use GO0KYA. I tried it out the other day and within half an hour on 40m CW I had worked the Netherlands, France, Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium.

But today I had a great idea. To celebrate nearly two years, and sales of more than 2,000 copies, of my book “Stealth Antennas” I'm going to switch to my indoor parallel-fed dipoles or MFJ-1786 magnetic loop, turn the power down to 5W and work QRP with the call.

I'll try and operate around +/3 KHz of the CW QRP calling frequencies on 40, 20, 17, 20, 15 and 10m.

I plan to try and do this at least once or twice a week and I'll add the times/bands of operation to the top of this story each time.

This idea was inspired by John N8ZYA in Charleston West Virginia, who is featured in the book and works stations using Isotron antennas mounted indoors. And yes, he does work lots of DX!

Be good to work you.

Steve G0KYA 

Update 6/8/12
Well, great evening. Condx not too good and lots of noise/QSB but worked: RY7G, OH2NOS (10W his end), OM3CAZ, OM8RA, R6AF, HA5AEK, IT9BUA (QRP), EA8AGF (QRP), S51WO (17m) and the highlight - Taka JA0FVU (17m), otherwise all on 20m QRP 5W from an Icom 756 PRO 3. Using a new touch keyer so a few mistakes! Mostly used the outdoor 20m M0CVO Windom (OCF). One or two were with indoor dipole, but needed a little more oomph. Will be on the air again soon.

Update 16/8/12
Had another session with the Olympic call today and worked R10RLHA/1 (Russian Lighthouse), RN3DMU, UA4NE/P, R200V,HG20SD, CT3AS, 5N7M (Nigeria), EW8O and OM3KFF. A couple were on 5W, but the majority on 50W. I have put the Western HF10 dipole back up in place of the M0CVO Windom as I had to repair the 10m fishing pole support - works well on 20m. Not so sure about 15m though! Very pleased about Japan and Nigeria.

Thursday 2 August 2012

UK propagation charts for August 2012

It may be summer, and the Olympics are in full swing, but we can’t really expect to see record-breaking propagation on the HF bands in the Northern hemisphere.

This often puzzles new (and not so new) hams. After all, HF propagation relies on sunlight and we have that in abundance in the summer.

Unfortunately, life is not that simple. While increased UV in the summer is guaranteed, as the angle the sun makes with the ionosphere in the northern hemisphere is increased, you actually get less overall ionisation of the all-important F2 layer.

This is due to a chemical change in the composition of the F2 layer in the summer compared with the winter.

There is an increase in the molecular-to-atomic composition of this layer in the summer, which makes it harder to ionise. As a result the F2 critical frequencies in June can be half what it they are in January.

This effect is called the Winter Anomaly.

At the same time D-layer absorption is very high in the summer, especially around local noon, which gives us a double whammy – lots of absorption and low F2 critical frequencies.

The net effect is that the bands much above 18MHz can remain stubbornly closed, apart from Sporadic E (Es) openings, which by August are less prevalent. And the lower bands are also less useful during the day due to absorption.

For this reason stay away from 80m (3.5MHz) in the daytime – 40m will be better around the UK as long as the critical frequency stays up near 7MHz. Twenty metres (14MHz) will probably remain the most reliable DX band both during the day and night, although don’t write off 18MHz (17m).

Better HF conditions will start to reappear in September – sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) willing.

Don’t forget there is a free book about HF propagation available to download on the right.

Go to the August propagation charts from the UK