Sunday the 29th of November 2020
The news headlines:
Get on the air for Christmas
60th year for GB3VHF
TX Factor 27 out soon
The RSGB has announced its latest activity for the Get on the air for Christmas campaign with the NHS. The special construction competition has a prize of £100 and the winning entry will be featured on the Society’s website and in RadCom. If you’ve been making something during the autumn lockdowns or are preparing to be busy over the holiday season, why not plan to enter your project into this new competition. Projects can be hardware, software or a system and may be based on a kit. For further information see the Get on the air for Christmas at www.rsgb.org/gota4c.
The 2m beacon GB3VHF will start its 60th year of operation in December. Located at Fairseat on the North Downs in Kent, the beacon is on 144.430MHz at a height of 205m ASL. It provides a propagation monitoring source that can reach across several countries. Find out more at www.gb3vhf.co.uk.
Episode 27 TX Factor will soon be available. In this latest episode the RSGB’s General Manager Steve Thomas, M1ACB explains how the Society’s positive response to the spring and summer lockdown helped to boost awareness of amateur radio in the UK. Steve stresses the importance of the ongoing work needed to maintain the impetus. Bob, G0FGX and Mike, G1IAR get to grips with using an RF Shark openSPOT Hotspot for some mobile DMR action. Bob visits Don Field, G3XTT at his new QTH near Wells to see how the editor of Practical Wireless created some simple antennas to swiftly resume his on-air activities. TX Factor episode 27 is proudly sponsored by the Radio Society of Great Britain and can be viewed at www.txfactor.co.uk.
The RSGB is looking for an experienced volunteer to fill the role of Convention Chair for the Society’s 2021 event. You will need exceptional organisational skills, good interpersonal skills, wide awareness of all aspects of amateur radio and good knowledge of RSGB policies and procedures. For other information, including how to find out more and to apply, see the RSGB website: www.rsgb.org/volunteers.
Every year on 3rd of December the Information Programme for Disabled Radio Amateurs, which is part of the IARU, celebrates the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Some organisations put on special event stations with amateur radio activity, mostly with persons with disabilities participating using callsigns like HB9IPDA.
The next RSGB Tonight @ 8 webinar is on Monday the 7th of December and is called “What next?”. Jonathan Mitchener, G0DVJ will give a jargon-free, wide-ranging talk about where amateur radio can take you, whether you are new to the hobby or returning after a gap. For further information about this and previous webinars, see www.rsgb.org/webinars.
From the 1st of December, listen out for Youngsters On The Air stations around the world. Details on thirty-five of those stations can be found at https://events.ham-yota.com/. There are still some slots available to host the special callsign GB20YOTA during December if you have a youngster in your family or wider support bubble. You must be a Full licence holder and the calendar is shown on the GB20YOTA page on QRZ.com. To reserve an operating slot, contact Jamie, M0SDV via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now the special event news
Celebrating the Christmas Holiday Season, the Market Reef DX Association will be active on all bands and modes as OG1XMAS between the 29th of November and the 26th of December. QSL via Logbook of The World and Club Log.
Members of Club Radio Durnal are active as OP19MSF until the 13th of December "to put the spotlight on Médecins Sans Frontières for its active role during this period of the pandemic". QSL via the bureau or direct.
Now the DX news
Ali, EP3CQ will be active as 6O1OO from Somalia, until the 15th of January 2021.
Members of the Holy land DX Group will operate 4X7T from 0800UTC on the 25th and 1300UTC on the 26th of December. They will have three running stations on the 80 to 10m bands using CW, SSB and FT-8. The QSL Manager is Ros, 4Z5LA.
Now the contest news
Please remember to check before the contest for any new rules due to lockdown and social distancing, which may differ around the world. The RSGB strongly advises obeying your national and local government’s advice.
This weekend it’s the CQ World Wide DX CW contest. The 48 hours run ends at 2359UTC today, the 29th. Activity is on the 1.8 to 28MHz contest bands. The exchange is signal report and your CQ Zone; for the UK that is Zone 14.
As per tradition, December is a quiet month for contests, with no RSGB HF events at all.
On Tuesday the 144MHz FM Activity Contest runs from 1900 to 1955UTC. It is followed by the all-mode 144MHz UK Activity Contest from 2000 to 2230UTC. Both have the exchange of signal report, serial number and locator.
Next weekend, the ARRL 160m contest runs from 2200UTC on the 4th to 1600UTC on the 6th of December. It’s CW only and the exchange is signal report, with American and Canadian stations also sending their ARRL or RAC section abbreviation.
Next Sunday, the 6th of December, the 144MHz AFS contest runs from 1000 to 1600UTC. The exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
The UK Six Metre Group Winter Marathon starts its two month run on the 1st of December. Just exchange a signal report and locator.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA & G4BAO on Friday the 27th of November.
Last week represented a good example of how solar cycle 25 is progressing. We started the week on the 22nd with a solar flux index, SFI, of 88 and a sunspot number of 35. Just to recap, that doesn’t mean there were 35 sunspots, as we count each sunspot group as 10 and each spot as one. But, by Thursday, the SFI was up to 104 with a sunspot number of 40, and there were three large groups visible on the Sun. As well as pushing up the SFI, the spots have been very active on the solar flare front, with daily B- and C-class flares being emitted, although their effects on the ionosphere have been minimal luckily.
With the CW Worldwide CW contest occurring this weekend, this SFI does bode well for HF propagation. With zero coronal holes appearing, at least on Thursday, and the possibility that the SFI could rise even further in the coming days, this looks like a good combination for one of the best CQWWs we’ve seen for a few years. An SFI of more than 100 virtually guarantees some F2-layer propagation on 10 metres. These openings may be short-lived as the MUF drops a little, but it is definitely worth keeping an eye on 28MHz at times, especially near noon on North-South paths.
If you are planning to take part, it is a good idea to plan your activities using a tool like predtest.uk. Typically, on the higher bands, such as 20, 15 and perhaps 10 metres, you will work stations to the east of the UK in the morning. As noon approaches, propagation will swing south. And the afternoon will be optimum for contacts with the USA. For 40 and 80 metres, the opposite is generally true, where you should be looking for a night-time path between you and the station you wish to work.
Even if you hear this broadcast on Sunday it isn’t too late to take part, as the contest runs until midnight. Do get on as there is usually a lot of activity and it is a great opportunity to increase your country score.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
The background weather pattern is again looking like high pressure will predominate, with a good prospect for Tropo. It will be a typical spell of November quiet weather with frost and fog overnight, perhaps lasting through the day in a few places.
This prevalence for cool moist air near the surface makes for good Tropo since you will often find the high pressure has produced a layer of warmer and drier air above the inversion. It's the contrast that changes the refractive index of the air and can create ducts for VHF/UHF DX propagation. We should point out that some models allow the high to collapse in the second half of next week, so it's worth following the daily forecasts as we go through the week.
Just one minor meteor shower this week. The Phoenicids peaks on the 2nd with a variable zenith hourly rate, but its radiant is not visible from the UK.
The Moon reaches maximum declination on Wednesday, so we have long visibility windows all week with falling path losses. 144MHz sky noise is moderate to low all week, but rising up to 500 kelvin on Tuesday.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.