Sunday the 27th of September 2020
The news headlines:
RSGB introducing Full exam remote invigilation
Solar Cycle 25 is officially here
Latest Online Convention news
Following on from the success of the remote invigilation exams for the Foundation and Intermediate licence, the RSGB is now expanding that to include Full licence exams. The automated booking system is now accepting exam bookings for all three licence levels. Please note that the earliest date available for exam bookings at any level is Wednesday the 21st of October. It is important to read the Candidate Instructions before booking an exam. You can find a link to these and the calendar to book your exam on the Society’s website at www.rsgb.org/exampay.
The Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, an international group of experts co-sponsored by NASA and NOAA, announced that the solar minimum occurred in December 2019, marking the start of a new solar cycle. Because our Sun is so variable, it can take months after the fact to declare this event. Scientists use sunspots to track solar cycle progress; the dark blotches on the Sun are associated with solar activity, often as the origins for giant explosions, such as solar flares or coronal mass ejections, which can spew light, energy, and solar material into space. This and more has been explained in a video on the NASA website. Go to https://tinyurl.com/gb2rs-nasa.
During the online RSGB Convention for 2020, you will be able to enjoy some excellent lectures. On Saturday the 10th of October, the RSGB will be presenting two online streams for everyone to enjoy. In An introduction to… we will have Getting Started on Low Earth Orbit Satellites by Peter Goodhall, 2M0SQL. He will look at using low earth orbit satellites, what they are, how to use them and what equipment is required both from low-cost system using a handheld and a Yagi to automated tracked systems. In the Learn more about… stream, Bruce Pea, N9WKE will explain how to Take your CW to the next level. Happily, a lot of people are learning the code, getting on the air, and having fun with CW. This presentation explores methods and options for improving your CW, head copy skills, and increasing your speed. Bruce is the founder and host of Dit Dit FM, the podcast celebrating Morse code, the CW operating mode and amateur radio. You can find out more about the whole day of lectures at www.rsgb.org.uk/convention.
Like the RSGB Convention, the AMSAT-UK Colloquium 2020 will also be online this year. Taking place on Sunday 11th of October, there will be a lecture stream from 11am to 4pm. Amongst the lectures on the day, Daniel Estévez, EA4GPZ will look at Decoding Mars spacecraft and explain the bit and pieces you can learn from spacecraft telemetry. Phil Ashby, M6IPX will talk about the FUNcube and creating an open platform in space. You can find out more at www.amsat-uk.org/colloquium. The registration URL is https://tinyurl.com/amsatukreg2020.
The RSGB’s next Tonight@8 webinar on Monday the 28th of September is a bumper edition! RSGB Convention Chair David Bondy, G4NRT will give a short pre-recorded interview about this year's online Convention. After that, Tim Kirby, GW4VXE will give a usual Tonight@8 live presentation on My world of VHF. You can watch and ask questions on the Society’s YouTube or BATC channels. For more details see our website at www.rsgb.org/webinars.
In the lead-up to this year’s online Convention, the RSGB has just published two more 2019 Convention presentations. In the first, Alwyn Seeds, G8DOH talks about Coax and connectors, the forgotten ingredient of high performance VHF/UHF stations. Whilst focused on VHF/UHF, this talk should be of interest to all radio amateurs. The second presentation features Chris Deacon, G4IFX talking about More on the polarisation of 50MHz signals via Sporadic-E. He looks at results from previous years and from newer experiments using more comprehensive measurement techniques, which are beginning to help answer key questions about the true nature of Sporadic-E propagation. Both can be found on the Society’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/theRSGB.
The RSGB’s Examinations Standards Committee has published its 2020 report that looks back on activities during 2019 – you can read it and previous reports on the RSGB website via tinyurl.com/esc-reports.
Now the special event news
Since the change of regulations applying to special event stations in the UK, many activations are now able to go ahead. UK amateurs would like to thank Ofcom for their help in making this happen.
PJ4TEN is a special event station that will be active during October 2020 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 10th of October 2010. On that date the former country of the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and Bonaire became a special municipality of the Netherlands. As a result, Bonaire became a new DXCC entity on that date. Bonaire's radio amateurs are organising a month-long operating event. The rules for the award can be found on the PJ4TEN QRZ.com page.
Hannes, OE1SGU will be active as OE1990SGU between the 1st and the 31st of October to celebrate his 30th anniversary in amateur radio. QSL via LoTW, eQSL, or via OE1SGU either direct or via the bureau.
K1A will be operated as a special event station for the Amateur Radio Software Award until the 4th of October. Look for activity on 20 and 40 metres SSB. QSL direct to Claus H Niesen, PO Box 126, Ames IA 50010, USA.
Now the DX news
David, M0VDL will be active from Lundy Island, IOTA reference EU-120, between the 26th of September and the 1st of October. He plans to operate SSB and FT8 on 20, 40 and maybe 80 metres, primarily in the local morning and evening hours.
Now the contest news
Please remember to check before the contest for new rules due to lockdown and social distancing, which may differ around the world. The RSGB strongly advises obeying your own national and local government’s advice first and foremost, especially in the instance of local lockdowns.
This weekend, the CQ World Wide DX RTTY contest ends its 48 hour run at 2359UTC today, the 27th. Using the 3.5 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report and Zone, which is 14 for the UK.
Today, the 27th, the UK Microwave group contest runs from 0600 to 1800UTC on the 5.7 and 10GHz bands. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
Also today, the 27th, the PW 70MHz contest runs from 1200 to 1600UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Monday, the seventh FT4 Series contest runs from 1900 to 2030UTC. Using the 80m band, the exchange is your 4-character locator.
On Tuesday the 50MHz Machine Generated Mode Activity Contest and the 144MHz MGM AC run from 1900 to 2130UTC. The exchange is the same for both contests, signal report, serial number and locator.
On Wednesday the UK EI Contest Club 80m contest runs from 2000 to 2100UTC. It’s CW only and the exchange is your 4-character locator.
Next weekend the IARU 432-245GHz contest runs for 24 hours from 1400UTC on the 3rd to 1400UTC on the 4th of October. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Saturday the 3rd of October, the 1.2GHz and 2.3GHz Trophy contests runs from 1400 to 2000UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is the same for both contests, signal report, serial number and locator.
The Oceania DX SSB contest runs for 24 hours next weekend from 0800UTC on the 3rd to 0800UTC on the 4th of October. Using the 1.8 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number.
The Worked All Britain DX Contest takes place on the 4th of October from 0500 to 2300UTC. Using SSB only on the 3.5 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report, serial number and WAB area.
The DX Contest takes place next Sunday from 0500 to 2300UTC on the 4th of October. Using CW and SSB on the 3.5 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number.
The Portable Operations Challenge a new kind of HF contest, which takes place on the 3rd and 4th of October. The aim of the challenge is to create a level playing field for small portable stations against the large contest stations by using handicapping algorithms similar to the one used in golf. Open to all, participants choose their own 8 hour contiguous time window within the 48 hour weekend. Operating portable, contact distance, power level and mode affect the final score. Details can be found at foxmikehotel.com/challenge.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA and G4BAO on Friday the 25th of September.
We finally broke our long-running record of zero sunspots last week thanks to active region 2773. This new solar cycle 25 spot appeared over the Sun’s limb and pushed the solar flux index to 73. The end of the week also saw unsettled conditions due to a high-speed stream from a coronal hole. The hole in the Sun’s North-Eastern quadrant pushed the Kp index to four on Wednesday evening and five by Thursday morning. A pre-auroral enhancement on Wednesday saw MUFs rise to nearly 21MHz over a 3,000km path, but by Thursday morning they were struggling to reach 14MHz.
As the month has moved on we have started to see an improvement in HF conditions generally. Laurie, G3UML reported working ZL4RMF in New Zealand on 40m SSB at 0645UTC on Tuesday and Andy, G3SVD worked FK8IK New Caledonia at 1006UTC on 20m CW. If you are looking for South Pacific contacts, Rob, F5VHN reports that Jim, E51JD on the South Cook Islands is often on around 14.225MHz SSB most mornings.
Next week NOAA predicts the solar flux index will be around 70 again. The week may start unsettled thanks to a coronal hole, but the Kp index should improve as the week goes on. We expect HF DX conditions to improve as we move towards October and hopefully, we can expect to see some more sunspots from the new Solar Cycle 25 as well.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
The weather patterns at this time of the year can be very fickle as the major driving jet streams can be seriously distorted by former-hurricanes from the USA side of the Atlantic. The predicted return of Tropo after midweek in the week just gone, was a bust for that reason. Other major distortions of the driving jet stream pattern are likely in the coming week, so the story is one of unsettled, changeable weather with periods of rain or heavy showers. That should mean another good week for rain scatter on the GHz bands, but tropo will not get much chance during this period.
Moon declination is rising this week, going positive late on Thursday night, so we’ll see longer Moon visibility windows as the week progresses, reaching a minimum on Thursday. Path losses are still increasing until we reach apogee on Saturday. 144MHz sky temperatures are low all week, but low peak Moon elevations early in the week won’t help.
The daytime Sextantids meteor shower peaked today but should still be active until the 9th of October. Continue to check around local dawn for the best random meteors, ie meteors that aren’t associated with any particular shower.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.