Sunday the 20th of December 2020
The news headlines:
Only one more GB2RS this year
RadCom Plus out now
Short break for ETCC
Next Sunday, the 27th, will see the final GB2RS script for 2020. The deadline for news is 10 am on Tuesday the 22nd of December, instead of the usual Thursday. The news reading on the 27th is optional, as the RSGB appreciates that not all newsreaders will be available as normal, but the script will be on the RGSB website so all can see it. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the newsreaders who read the news on a variety of platforms for their service to their fellow amateurs throughout the year. We’d also like to remind amateurs that there has been a long-standing convention to keep 145.525MHz free of traffic at 10 am on Sundays, to allow the news reading to go ahead without interference. Thank you to all those who listen on Sunday mornings, and the other times that the news is read, to those who call in after to speak to the newsreaders, and to everyone who listens via various internet-based ways. There will be no script prepared for broadcast on Sunday the 3rd of January 2021 due to the RSGB HQ being closed. Newsreaders may, of course, choose to run a net at their normal transmission time, but under their own callsign only.
The newest edition of RadCom Plus is now available to RSGB Members for viewing or download. This edition contains over 40 pages of technical articles ranging from a Wide Dynamic Range Field Strength Meter to a Tracking Generator for the SA3000 homebrew spectrum analyser, which was itself described in an earlier issue. Go to www.rsgb.org/radcom-plus for more information. You can also sign up for an email alert when future editions of RadCom Plus are available at the same web address.
The RSGB’s Emerging Technology Coordination Committee will be having a break from processing and renewing repeater, gateway and beacon Notices of Variation from the 22nd of December to the 4th of January. It has had its busiest year ever, with three times the number of usual applications. The Committee would like to remind all NoV holders whose renewals fall due over the holiday period, to check the reminders that have been sent to them and get the renewals in straight away.
Throughout 2020 the IARU has been busily contributing to and participating in the work of CEPT Project Team SE40 concerning the 23cm band Galileo/GLONASS coexistence topic. The last SE40 meeting in 2020 was held from the 2nd to the 7th of December and the IARU Region 1 was represented by Barry Lewis, G4SJH who is the Region 1 SRLC chair. It can be expected that the technical studies will begin in earnest as we move forward into 2021. You can read more on the IARU Region 1 website, www.iaru-r1.org.
The RSGB Board has appointed Stephen Purser, GW4SHF to the role of Nominations Committee Chair. He will commence his duties immediately and plans, together with the rest of the Committee, to present two candidates to the AGM in April for endorsement as Nominated Directors. If you are interested in becoming an RSGB Board Director and feel you have the time, enthusiasm and skills for the role, contact Stephen via email to email@example.com.
Listen out for Youngsters On The Air stations around the world. GB20YOTA will be operating throughout December. Hilderstone Radio Society will operate part of today and tomorrow, Monday the 21st. On Wednesday, GM1DSK will supervise operator MM7DWK. M0NCG takes over on Thursday and GW0RVR has the call on Saturday, supervising 2W0PQU. The full calendar is shown on the GB20YOTA page on QRZ.com. The callsign EI0YOTA has been activated a number of times since the start of December. Between eight-year-old Ryan, EI8KW and eleven-year-old Siobhan, they have achieved over one thousand QSOs so far.
RSGB HQ will close for the Christmas and New Year period from 4.30 pm on the 23rd of December. It opens again at 8.30 am on the 4th of January. During that time, if you need information about amateur radio, exams or RadCom you’ll find lots of information on the RSGB website, www.rsgb.org. Last UK orders from the RSGB shop for delivery in time for Christmas is 10 am on Tuesday the 22nd of December.
The RSGB’s National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now the special event news
Members and supporters of Denby Dale ARS are running special event stations to welcome the New Year from the end of December. They will be using callsigns GB – number – HNY. For more details see the QRZ.com entry for GB9HNY.
Operators Ray, PA5DX and Wim, PD8DX will be activating three special event callsigns PA20XMAS, PD20SANTA and PD20ELF during the Christmas holiday season. There will be a special downloadable award for working at least two of the Christmas stations; see the QRZ.com entry for PA20XMAS.
Thurrock Acorns ARC members will be on the air as GB4XMS from the 20th of December to the 3rd of January.
During the month of December, Welland Valley ARS members will be running GB1XMS, GB2XMS, GB5XMS and GB9XMS from their home shacks. QSL via eQSL and Logbook of The World.
Now the DX news
Kenji, JA4GXS will be active as JA4GXS/4 from Otsu Island, IOTA reference AS-117, on the 25th and 26th of December. He will operate CW, SSB and FT8 on 40, 30 and 20m bands. QSL via home call.
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.
As per tradition, December is a quiet month for traditional contests, with no RSGB HF contests, but do look out for the RSGB Hope QSO Parties. There are two series, which run from 21 December to 14 January, with a short break over Christmas. You can find out details at https://tinyurl.com/RSGB-Christmas-Hope-QSO.
On Saturday, the 26th, the DARC Christmas Contest runs from 0830 to 1100UTC. Using CW and SSB on the 3.5 and 7MHz bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number. German stations will also exchange either DOK or NM.
The Christmas Cumulatives start at 1400UTC on the 26th and run until 1600UTC on the 29th. Using all modes in the 50 to 432MHz bands, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
The Worked All Britain Christmas party takes place between the 26th of December and the 6th of January. Using all modes on the amateur contest bands, the exchange is the WAB book number.
The Stew Perry Top Band Challenge runs from 1500UTC on the 26th to 1500UTC on the 27th. It’s CW only on 160m and the exchange is your 4-character locator square.
The UK Six Metre Group Winter Marathon runs until the end of January 2021. Just exchange a signal report and locator.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA & G4BAO on Friday the 18th of December.
We’ve had another week of lacklustre sunspot activity. The solar flux index has been pegged at around 82, caused by the two tiny sunspots in active region 2793. Having said that, a lack of coronal hole activity has meant that geomagnetic conditions have been settled, with a maximum Kp index of two, but more often than not it was actually at zero. This has meant that the daytime critical frequency over the UK has frequently been around 5.5MHz. This means a maximum usable frequency over a 3,000km path of around 21MHz, with very occasional openings on 28MHz.
Even 10m FT8 has been sounding quiet, with intra-UK signals being most prevalent. You can often see 10m FT8 ground-wave signals up to around 100 miles away being decoded.
We did have a C-class solar flare on Monday the 14th, but as it was in the afternoon with sunset only an hour or so away it didn’t do too much damage, with the ionosphere recovering very quickly.
Next week, NOAA predicts the SFI will be at 85 to 86. The effects of another coronal hole will likely be felt across this weekend, with the potential for the Kp index to rise to four. But after that subsides, geomagnetic conditions are likely to be more settled, with a maximum Kp index of two over the Christmas period.
Santa Claus is taking a rest this year at OF9X in Finland, but we do have some other Christmas DX for you to chase. The CQ Santa Net is held in the USA on 3.916MHz every day at 0115UTC. There is a chance you may hear it, depending upon who is operating, as December is generally a good month for transatlantic low-band propagation – just ask Guglielmo Marconi, who traversed the Atlantic on the 12th of December 1901!
Please note that amateurs in the UK cannot transmit on 3.916MHz as it is outside of the UK allocation, but you may be able to hear the net taking place.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
We continue through this first weekend with the unsettled theme to the weather giving wet and windy conditions at times so again it's a good period to test out some rain scatter paths on the GHz bands. A major change is shown in some models from midweek as high-pressure edges towards Ireland from the Atlantic and puts a colder northerly flow down across the British Isles from midweek. This will not be useful for Tropo, since the high remains well to the west, but it will allow some showers to affect many areas and it’s not totally out of the question that some could have a wintry flavour in the second half of the week.
At the end of next week the high moves in across the country, but it's still unlikely to be a strong Tropo player.
The Geminids meteor shower has peaked. Activity was high, with stations running just 50 watts and a small beam reporting good digimode meteor scatter QSOs. The Urisids shower peaks on Tuesday with a ZHR of 10 and there’s not long to wait until the next big one, the Quadrantids, in January. More about that shower in the next report.
Moon declination goes positive again on Tuesday so visibility windows are increasing all week. Losses are increasing as we move away from perigee, but 144MHz sky noise is low, not reaching 400 kelvin until next Sunday.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.