Sunday the 16th of May 2021
The news headlines:
Add your voice to the amateur radio survey
The new YOTA contest begins next weekend
As part of a wider IARU workshop, the RSGB is running a short survey about amateur radio in the UK. Nearly 550 people have responded so far and given their views. The survey takes just a few minutes to complete. We’d love to have good representation from across the whole of the UK so make sure you take part and represent your area. Whether you’re licensed or just interested in amateur radio we’d welcome your views. You can find more information and the survey link on the RSGB website at rsgb.org/survey.
The Youngsters On The Air team has been working on a new YOTA Contest. The first of three sessions will be on the 22nd of May from 0800 to 1959UTC. There are eight different categories which also include special ones for youngsters under 25 years old. Covering the 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m bands, the competition will take place in CW and SSB modes. See ham-yota.com/contest for the full rules.
The latest issue of RadCom Plus will be available to RSGB Members on Wednesday. It will be followed later in the week by the newest RadCom Basics. RadCom Plus is the RSGB’s digital technical supplement and is edited by Peter, G3XJE. This issue includes driving relays over a network, an automation system for the WSPRLite, an article on Sporadic-E, a transceiver control system and a Wireless Temperature Sensor. You can subscribe to receive email alerts for future issues of RadCom Plus at rsgb.org/radcom-plus. RSGB Members can read previous editions of RadCom Basics by going to rsgb.org/radcom-basics. You can register to receive notification of subsequent issues as they become available at the same address.
The RSGB launched the Friendship on the Air Award last month as a new way of getting on the air, representing your club and having a proper chat with radio amateurs on the airwaves. There are monthly and annual awards for individuals, clubs and the highest-scoring club in each region. If you’ve taken part already, don’t forget to upload your logs. If you’d like to get involved for the first time this month, then visit rsgb.org/friendship-award.
Although the face-to-face Dayton Hamvention has been cancelled, online events will be taking place. There are virtual forums on Friday the 21st of May, and a QSO Party on Saturday the 22nd of May. The details are at hamvention.org.
Bletchley Park plans to re-open on Monday the 17th of May. Entry is only by pre-booked ticket, available via their website. The RSGB National Radio Centre remains closed for the time being. Please monitor the RSGB news feed and social media for any announcements regarding reopening.
The 50MHz beacon operated by VE2TKH in locator square FO60 has changed callsign to VE2CSI/B. It operates on 50.077MHz CW.
Don’t forget the next Tonight @ 8 live webinar this Monday, the 17th of May. Bob, G3ORY will help you to Discover more about Amateur Radio Direction Finding. This webinar will include contributions from Kim Taylor, who gives the perspective of a regular Club member being talked into trying ARDF. You will also hear from 14-year-old Flora Jolly who was persuaded to go out and try ARDF with her Dad, David. With Covid restrictions lifting this is a great time to get out and enjoy ARDF. For more information about this and other webinars, see rsgb.org/webinars.
The national society in New Zealand has announced that negotiations with the regulator have been successful in allowing all New Zealand amateurs to use the 5MHz band using the WRC-15 allocation. The maximum allowable power is 15W EIRP. Thanks are due to Bob, ZL2CA who was heavily involved in the negotiations. New Zealand amateurs are secondary users in this band.
Now the DX news
DD1GG will be operating as SV9/DD1GG from the island of Crete until the 24th of May. Activity will be holiday style on the 40 to 10m bands using SSB and FT8. QSL to his home call.
Ian, ZS6JSI is operating as TY5AB from Benin. Activity has been on the 20m band using FT8. QSL to his home call.
Now the Special Event news
North West Group ARC is commemorating the 89th anniversary of the first woman flying solo across the Atlantic on Friday the 21st of May. Using GB0AEL, they will be active on the 80m to 10m bands using CW, SSB, data modes and DMR. GB0AEL will be active from the 15th of May. See QRZ.com.
On the 22nd and 23rd of May, Worthing & District ARC will operate GB1SCW as part of SOS radio week. The station will be on HF, VHF and UHF bands using various modes. Details are on QRZ.com.
Now the contest news
With different parts of the UK having different lockdown restrictions, please make sure you follow the appropriate regulations. Several contests now accept portable entries, so please check the contest rules. Above all, please follow relevant national and local restrictions.
This weekend, the 144MHz May Contest ends its 24 hour run at 1400UTC today, the 16th. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number, locator and postcode.
Today, the 16th sees the First 144MHz Backpackers contest from 1100 to 1500UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number, locator and postcode.
Also today, the 16th, the UK Microwave Group Millimetre Wave Contest runs from 0900 to 1700UTC. Using all modes on the 24 to 76GHz bands, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Tuesday the 1.3GHz UK Activity Contest runs from 1900 to 2130UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
The data leg of the 80m Club Championships is on Wednesday from 1900 to 2030UTC. The exchange is signal report and serial number.
On Thursday the 70MHz UK Activity Contest runs from 1900 to 2130UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
Next Sunday, the 23rd, the third 70MHz Cumulative contest runs from 1400 to 1600UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
The UK Six Metre Group Summer Marathon runs until the 1st of August. Exchange your 4-character locator.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA & G4BAO on Friday the 14th of May.
Last week was a real roller coaster ride in terms of HF propagation. While the solar flux index remained in the 70s, we have had C-class solar flares and a coronal mass ejection that hit the Earth on the 12th of May. This ultimately pushed the Kp index to seven. It was largely as a result of the Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field going sharply South, meaning the solar matter more easily coupled with the Earth’s magnetic field.
F2-layer maximum useable frequencies were impacted with the MUF over a 3,000km path falling to just over 14MHz for a time and there were widespread reports of visible aurora.
The good news is that Sporadic-E has been this week’s saviour, bringing lots of openings on 10 metres. As well as openings to Scandinavia and Europe, plus short-skip to Scotland, there were reports of openings to the Caribbean as well. It is hard to say whether this was multi-hop Sporadic-E, or an enhancement brought about by the geomagnetic disturbance.
And it wasn’t all FT8 for a change. Gary, G0FWX reported working Puerto Rico, Canada, the USA, Paraguay, Western Sahara, Gibraltar, and Saudi Arabia on 10m SSB. This goes to show how 10 metres may be the band to be on this month.
Next week NOAA predicts the solar flux index will be in the range 70-84. Sunspot regions 2818 and 2821 will rotate into view next week, which may give the SFI a helping hand.
Geomagnetic conditions may be unsettled this weekend, with NOAA predicting a Kp index of five on the 16th. We may then have a few quieter days before it goes up again, due to coronal hole activity.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
We had some very welcome Sporadic-E last week and, after the high activity closer to the peak of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower and recent lull early this week, Wednesday was boosted by an aurora. Contacts were reported to GM and GD on 6m in the afternoon and widespread Sporadic-E later in the day.
The overall weather contribution seems to suggest a repeat of the showery theme through to the end of next week. So once again good for GHz bands rain scatter. An obvious result of the low pressure and showery weather is a lack of Tropo conditions with no significant areas of high pressure on the current runs of the models.
Sporadic-E becomes more commonplace as we go through May and the usual advice is to check regularly throughout the day, but if time is limited, go for mid-morning and late afternoon/early evening. The stronger events could reach 4m and perhaps even 2m, particularly for FT8, but it is worth checking the other modes from now onwards. Since the position of jet streams in the weather part of the atmosphere can be good indicators of where Sporadic-E might occur, the prospects are looking good with a strong Atlantic jet stream across Spain and southern Europe, which means beaming to the south or southeast for best results. For the bigger stations, it's also worth trying paths to the Caribbean and the north of South America on 6m in the evenings, since later in the summer the jet streams are not so well placed for this path.
With the Moon at peak declination this weekend, we’ll have long visibility windows and high peak Moon elevations. Path losses are falling as we are past apogee for the month.
No significant meteor showers this week so be active around dawn for the best random meteors.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.