Sunday the 27th of December 2020
The news headlines:
Thanks and seasonal greetings
Charity auction raises over £1000
New GB2RS News Manager appointed
This is the final GB2RS news reading for 2020 and we start with seasonal greetings to all newsreaders and listeners, both over the air and via the internet recordings, and not forgetting viewers of the ATV broadcast, which is available via several repeaters and kindly streamed via the BATC.TV website, as well as those that get this news via TX Factor or podcasts. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all those that read the news, in whatever format, for their tireless dedication to their fellow amateurs. There will be an abbreviated news reading available for the 3rd of January, although it’s voluntary as the RSGB realises not all newsreaders will be available. A full GB2RS service will resume on the 10th of January.
The RSGB is delighted that its charity auction for Get on the air for Christmas had a fantastic winning bid of £1,025.99. Ellie Orton, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together said, “Thank you so much, Roy Bailey, for choosing to raise funds for NHS Charities Together in such a unique way. In addition, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the RSGB for kindly match-funding the winning bid. These funds mean we can continue to help NHS charities to support NHS staff, volunteers and patients at the centre of this crisis.” Get on the air for Christmas continues until the 9th of January and there are still many activities you can take part in. Go to the Society’s website at www.rsgb.org/gota4c.
The RSGB Board has appointed Steve Richards, G4HPE as the new GB2RS Manager. A long-time GB2RS newsreader himself, Steve has had a lifelong career in broadcasting. He will start his new role in the New Year and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAYNET groups in several coastal areas have been on active standby in the last few days. In the South East in particular, groups have been ready to act alongside Local Resilience Forums to help with the lorry chaos caused by the temporary closure of the French border. In areas where there are large ports, groups have been preparing to offer assistance with difficulties envisaged with Brexit. These include working with other voluntary agencies conducting welfare checks on lorry drivers who may be in long queues, plus helping to ensure the distribution of vital supplies including Covid-19 vaccines. Several groups have activated wide-area communications systems, including one where the local authority has installed a new PMR system that some feel may not be adequate to cope with extreme call volumes.
On the 2nd of January, the RSGB National Radio Centre plans to host the special event station GB2DAY, to help promote the well-established KW activity weekend. The NRC hopes to operate on both the 80 and 40m bands using its KW2000D – an incredibly rare prototype model that never made it into mainstream production at the KW Factory. The event will be held within appropriate Covid restrictions.
An ARISS Slow Scan TV event is scheduled from the International Space Station for late December. This will be a special SSTV event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Amateur Radio on ISS. The event is scheduled to begin on the 24th of December and continue through until the 31st of December. Dates are subject to change due to ISS operational adjustments.
Listen out for Youngsters On The Air stations around the world. GB20YOTA will be operating until the end of December. The full calendar is shown on the GB20YOTA page on QRZ.com.
The latest ICQ Podcast contains an update on the RSGB’s Get on the air for Christmas campaign as well as a wider look at amateur radio construction. The chat with Board Director Stewart Bryant, G3YSX; Construction Competition Lockdown Category winner Roy Bailey, G0VFS; and RSGB Communications Manager Heather Parsons starts at 1:18:15 in the ICQ Podcast episode. See https://tinyurl.com/icq-gota4c-update.
RSGB HQ is closed for the Christmas and New Year until 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. The RSGB’s National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now the special event news
From the 1st to the 28th of January, GB4BLC will be operational from the QTH of G8GMU. Operation will take place on most bands and will include digital modes. This station is promoting the work of Lions Clubs International and amateur radio.
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.
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 Tuesday, the 29th, the 50MHz Machine Generated Modes Contest and the 144MHz Machine-generated Modes contest both run from 2000 to 2130UTC. The exchange for both is signal report, serial number and locator.
On the 1st of January, the IRTS 80m Daytime Counties contest runs from 1700 to 1800UTC. Using SSB and CW, the exchange is signal report and serial number, with EI and GI stations, also sending their County.
On Saturday the 2nd, the CW AFS contest runs from 1300 to 1700UTC. Using the 3.5 and 7MHz bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number.
The first session of the EUCW 160m CW Party is also on the 2nd from 2000 to 2300UTC, with the second session on the 3rd at 0400 to 0700UTC.
The ARRL RTTY Roundup runs from 1800UTC on the 2nd of January to 2359UTC on the 3rd. Using the 3.5 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number, with US stations sending their State and Canadians their Province too.
The Worked All Britain Christmas party runs until the 6th of January. Using all modes on the amateur contest bands, the exchange is the WAB book number.
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 Wednesday the 23rd of December.
HF conditions were not terribly good over the last week with maximum usable frequencies down in general. The best DX has been on 40m, especially around greyline times, although there has been a little winter Sporadic-E activity on 10 metres as well that has seen Italy and Spain appearing on FT8, as well as Brazil on 10m via the F2 layer. The lack of sunspots has seen the solar flux index move back down to the low 80s again.
Solar matter from a coronal hole pushed the Kp index up to four late on Monday evening as predicted and on Tuesday the Kp index was still pegged at three for most of the morning. NOAA predicts that the solar flux index will remain in the 80s for the Christmas period, with active region 2794 helping to push it towards 86 over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Unfortunately, NOAA also predicts that a high-speed solar wind stream from a coronal hole may impact Earth over the Christmas period, so we may expect the Kp index to rise again to four or even five just before Christmas with detrimental effects on maximum usable frequencies. Look out for possible pre-auroral enhancements, although these are hard to predict.
This should start to settle by the 27th, with the Kp index predicted to go back down to two. So DX conditions may improve after that time.
There is little other festive cheer, with the SFI remaining in the low 80s for the rest of the month and into the New Year. Let’s hope 2021 sees the return of the upward trend of Solar Cycle 25 with an increase in sunspots and HF DX.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
It’s looking like a predominantly unsettled period of weather over the Christmas holidays, with a ridge of high pressure to the west of Britain soon declining to allow low pressure to move in and reside over the UK for the bulk of next week. This has a chance of providing some good rain scatter conditions on the GHz bands.
Sporadic-E has a habit of appearing at this time of year. There is some work that relates the chances of Sporadic-E to disturbances in the stratosphere when the winter polar vortex breaks down in a feature called a sudden stratospheric warming, where temperatures can increase by tens of degrees Celsius over 24 hours.
This disturbance in the stratosphere can produce conditions where Sporadic-E is more likely because of the changed flow pattern. Check the usual Sporadic-E bands like 10m and 6m for signs of activity, especially during the first two weeks of January, but it is probably better to focus on the period 9 am to 3 pm rather than the summer pattern of mid-morning and late afternoon.
The Quadrantids meteor shower peaks between late-night on the 2nd of January until dawn on the 3rd with, a huge ZHR of 110. It is known for bright fireball meteors causing big over-dense radio meteor bursts. You have to be ready at the right time though, as the peak is very short, lasting just a few hours. This is because the shower is a thin stream of particles and the Earth crosses the stream at a perpendicular angle.
The Moon reaches maximum declination this Tuesday so visibility windows are long. Today we are at apogee so losses are high but 144MHz sky noise is low, not reaching 500 kelvin until Tuesday.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.