Sunday 5th February 2017
The news headlines:
Ofcom Licensing System update
Consultation on RSGB future
Online exams FAQ launched
Ofcom updated its Licensing System for radio amateurs on 30 January. Changes include the ability to request a Notice of Variation for standard Special Event Stations; a Verify My Details button, which prompts users to confirm or update their personal details annually after login; a display showing the date your personal details were last verified; and some accessibility improvements with larger system icons. It remains a licensing requirement to validate your details at least every five years.
Lots of people have views on what the RSGB should or should not do. Here is your chance to have your say. The RSGB Board has been working with strategy expert Chris Deacon, G4IFX, the Leadership Team and Headquarters Staff to develop a strategy for the next 5 years. That work has been boiled down into a one-page document with a narrative to explain the context and background. We would now like your views. The draft strategy and narrative are online at www.rsgb.org/strategyreview. There is also a link to an online survey where you can express your views. If you need a paper version of the questionnaire, please call the RSGB General Manager’s office on 01234 832 700.
Further to December's announcement regarding online Advanced exams, a new document, entitled Online Advanced Exams, has just been placed on the RSGB website. You will find it under the Examination Announcement tab, which is in the Training part of the website. The document includes more detail regarding timing of the pilot phase of the project and also includes an FAQ section that hopefully answers most of the questions that Exam Secretaries and Candidates are likely to raise. For more details contact the RSGB Examination Quality Assurance Manager Dave Wilson, M0OBW, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
To mark the 50th anniversary of the first France-to-US moonbounce contact, special callsigns TM8DO and TM1BF will be on the air until the 11th of February on 2m and 70cm EME using JT65. The original contact was between F8DO in France and W6DNG in California on the 27th of January 1967. TM8DO will be on 144.21MHz and 432.060MHz, and TM1BF will operate on 144.128 MHz. Stations will transmit in sequence. Real-time information and skeds may be arranged via the N0UK (A) and (B) or HB9Q chatrooms.
The RSGB Convention this year will be held on 13-15 October at Kents Hill Park Conference Centre, Milton Keynes. We are starting to identify speakers for the Convention and would particularly like to develop the HF and DXpedition content further. If you have suggestions for any topics or speakers you would like to hear, please email an outline suggestion to email@example.com
Plans for YOTA 2017 at Gilwell Park are progressing. The IARU YOTA team had a very difficult job in selecting the countries to be represented; they had more applications than can fit into the venue. To allow as many as possible to take part they decided to reduce the size of each Team to three, including a young Team Leader. This resulted in twenty seven Region 1 countries and Japan being offered places. It seems the Japanese team will be looking at how the YOTA camp works to see if the idea can be exported to Region 3. The IARU team also raised the minimum age for attendance at YOTA camps to fifteen and asked that all Team Leaders be under thirty years of age.
Paulo, PV8DX has released a video describing the new TubeSat Tancredo-1 and shows reception of the 437.200MHz downlink by Drew, KO4MA. Tancredo-1, mounted in a TuPOD Deployer, was ejected from the International Space Station on the 16th of January. The satellite is a STEM project built by middle school students in Brazil. The video is in Portuguese but try enabling the YouTube Closed Caption subtitles and use the Auto-translator to get English. See https://youtu.be/8tvSp0eNPww
On the 2nd of February, RSGB President Nick Henwood, G3RWF was interviewed about amateur radio on BBC Radio Northampton. Nick explained that amateur radio is not only alive and well, but flourishing among people of all ages. It was a prelude to the documentary on Frank Wright, a schoolmaster at Bugbrooke school, who more than 100 years ago taught boys and girls to send and receive Morse messages. This was at a time when rural children were expected to leave school barely literate. Business houses, shipping companies and the military were seeking out young people from Bugbrooke to staff their wireless cabins and run their communications. The documentary will be available on iPlayer after broadcasts on the 5th and 6th. Listen to Nick, G3RWF at about 44 minutes into the recording. See www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04p017c#play
QSL bureau sub manager for the G7 group, Chris Flanagan, G7NRO, changed his address some time ago. The Post Office divert on his mail has now expired. Some Members are still using his old address to send collection envelopes. The Post Office divert on his old address has expired, so unless you use the correct address he will not receive your mail. Whatever your callsign series, this is perhaps a timely reminder to check the details of your QSL sub manager. Details can be found under the ‘Operating’ drop down on the main RSGB website.
And now for the details of rallies and events for the coming week
Today, the 5th of February, the 32nd Canvey Radio and Electronics Rally will take place at The Paddocks Community Centre, Long Road, Canvey Island SS8 0JA. Public access is at 10.30am. There is free parking and the venue has disabled facilities including space outside the main doors for disabled visitors. There will be trade stands, special interest groups and an RSGB bookstall. Refreshments, including Mark’s famous bacon baguettes, will be available on site. Details from Vic Rogers, G6BHE, on 0795 746 1694.
The Ballymena Amateur Radio Club Rally takes place on Saturday the 11th of February at Ahoghill Community Centre, 80 Cullybackey Road, Ahoghill BT42 1LA. There is free parking on site. Doors open at 10.30am and admission is £3. There will be trade stands, Bring & Buy and a prize draw. Light refreshments will be available. Details from Hugh, GI0JEV on 0282 5871 481.
The Harwell ARS Radio and Electronics Rally takes place on the 12th of February at Didcot Leisure Centre, Mereland Road, Didcot, OX11 8AY. Talk-in will be available using G3PIA on 145.550MHz. There is free parking nearby, with disabled parking next to the Leisure Centre. Doors open at 10am. Admission is £3, with children under 12 free. There will be radio and electronics stalls, Special Interest Groups and an RSGB Bookstall. Refreshments will be available all day. Details for both traders and visitors from Ann, G8NVI by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any rally or event information you’d like to appear in future editions of GB2RS News, in RadCom and on the RSGB website, please email full details to email@example.com.
And now the DX news compiled from 425 DX News and other sources
A team of US operators will be meeting at Guantanamo Bay, IOTA reference NA-015, at various times between the 10th and 24th of February. Bill, KG4WV, Jim, KG4AW and Keith, KG4DY will start on the 10th. Keith will stay until the 17th. Don, KG4ZK will join the team on the 17th and will leave on the 24th with Bill and Jim. The team is there to do some antenna repairs as well as give exams for new hams and upgrades. When not working, activity will be on the 160 to 6m bands using CW, SSB, PSK and RTTY. QSL via the operator's home callsign, Logbook of the World or Club Log.
Harald, DF2WO will be in Kigali, Rwanda until the 11th of March. He will use the callsign 9X2AW. QSLs go via M0OXO.
A group of Italian operators will activate TL8TT from the Central African Republic until the 14th of February. Activity will be on all bands from 160 to 10m. Logs will be uploaded to Logbook of The World.
Paul, HB9ARY is operating as 3B8HC from Pointe aux Sables in Mauritius, AF-049, until the 15th of February 15. Activity is holiday style on 80 to 10 metres using CW and SSB. QSL via NI5DX.
Tim, N4UM, Mike, K4RUM and Bob, N4BP will be on the air as C6ARU, C6AUM and C6AKQ, respectively, from Abaco Island, NA-080, from the 7th to the 21st of February. Activity will be on 160 to 6 metres using CW and some RTTY. QSL via operators’ instructions.
Now the special event news
Members of the Paphos Radio Club are operating a special event station H2017PFO throughout 2017 for Europe's Capital of Culture in 2017. Activity is on the HF bands using all modes. QSL direct to 5B4AIE.
Members of the Bulgarian Radio Club Blagovestnik are operating as LZ235SIR during February for All Saints 2017. QSL via the bureau.
The 14th of February marks the 95th anniversary of the start of the UK's first ever regular, advertised broadcast radio station, 2MT, which came live from Writtle in Essex. A team from Chelmsford ARS will be making operating GB952MT from the 12th to the 14th to mark this occasion. Details are on QRZ.com.
Now the contest news
Today, the 5th of February, the 432MHz AFS contest runs from 0900 to 1300UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Tuesday the Low Power 144MHz FM contest runs from 1900 to 2000UTC. The exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
Following that at 2000 to 2230UTC the 144MHz UK Activity Contest takes place. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Thursday the 50MHz UK Activity Contest runs from 2000 to 2230UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
Next weekend, from 0000UTC on the 11th to 2350UTC on the 12th, the CQ WW WPX RTTY contest takes place on the 3.5 to 28MHz bands. The exchange is just the serial number.
The PACC contest takes place from 1200UTC on the 11th to 1200UTC on the 12th. Using CW and SSB on the 1.8 to 28MHz bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number. PA stations also send their Province.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA and G4BAO on Friday the 3rd of February 2017.
Last week’s prediction about geomagnetically-disturbed conditions turned out to be correct, with the K index soaring to five during the week. This resulted in visible aurora at high latitudes, as local midnight is often the time when aurorae and disturbed conditions hit their peak. There were three small sunspot groups visible on the solar surface on Thursday, but these only pushed the solar flux index to 76.
Next week, NOAA predicts similar solar parameters, with the solar flux index in the seventies. Sunday the fifth may be geomagnetically unsettled, but we should then get a better period of quiet conditions. This may allow the ionosphere to recover, with the possibility of better DX openings from the 6th. Expect daytime maximum usable frequencies over 3,000 kilometres to peak at around 15 metres at times, with 17 and 20 being more reliable.
Daytime critical frequencies may peak around 7MHz, although the 5MHz band will be more reliable for intra-UK contacts. Night-time critical frequencies may exceed 3.5MHz at times, offering the potential for DX on 80 and even 40 metres. A settled polar ionosphere can sometimes be a good indicator for the lower bands.
Bob, MD0CCE reported good Top Band openings to the USA on many occasions last month. The evening of the 24th of January also provided one of the best 160m openings to JA he had heard in two years. The high-latitude K index had been zero or one for each of that day’s three-hourly periods, which suggested a settled ionosphere for polar paths.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
It is looking like another week of unsettled weather with low pressure systems dominating the charts, bringing some wet and windy weather at times. There is unlikely to be much enhanced Tropo on offer, but there could be rain scatter opportunities on the GHz bands. Last week saw rain scatter on 3.4 and 10GHz with signals from beacons, but sadly no UK activity to go with it.
Even light rain can provide enhancement if you look carefully for it, so make a noise on the GHz bands.
On the positive side, there is a hint of a weak ridge of high pressure over south-eastern parts of Britain later in the week, but it is too far ahead to get excited about just yet. It does seems that the 2m UK activity contest on Tuesday evening is more likely to occur under a trough of low pressure.
With just a few very minor meteor showers this week, activity continues to be low but there are still opportunities for random meteor scatter contacts around dawn.
With perigee, or closest approach of the moon on Monday and maximum declination on Wednesday, it’s a good week for EME with low losses and long moon windows.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.