Sunday the 6th of December 2020
The news headlines:
Get on the Air to Care wins award
New IARU VHF handbook
RSGB mounts Christmas charity auction
We’re delighted that this year’s Amateur Radio Newsline’s ‘International Newsmaker of the Year Award’ has been presented to the ‘Get on the Air to Care’ project, operated jointly by the Radio Society of Great Britain and the UK's National Health Service. Conceived by Paul Devlin, G1SMP in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the campaign has decreased social isolation in the UK and around the world by encouraging amateurs to ‘Get on the air to care’. As well as enabling people to get involved in amateur radio for the first time and encouraging inactive amateurs to return, the campaign has accomplished something amateurs work so hard to achieve: placing amateur radio front and centre in mainstream media channels such as the BBC, ITV Wales and major newspapers. It has raised amateur radio's profile and attracted new licence-holders. Congratulations to Paul, the RSGB and the NHS. You can read more about the award on the Newsline website and can hear Paul Devlin chat to Newsline next week at www.arnewsline.org.
The new VHF Handbook, version 9.00, is available on the IARU Region 1 website. You can download it directly from https://tinyurl.com/gb2rs-vhfhandbook. It contains all decisions made during the last virtual General Conference.
The RSGB is running a charity auction as part of its 'Get on the air for Christmas' campaign with the NHS. Roy Bailey, G0VFS won the Lockdown Category in the RSGB's annual Construction Competition and has donated his beautifully-engineered VirusPerpleXed Bug CW Key to raise money for NHS Charities Together. The auction will run from 9-19 December, ending on the day that ‘Get on the air for Christmas’ begins. You will find further information, including how to take part, on the Society’s website at www.rsgb.org/gota4c.
Listen out for Youngsters On The Air stations around the world. GB20YOTA will be operating throughout December. G8IXK will operate the station today, the 6th; then M0WJE on Monday. Tuesday sees the callsign under G4DJX’s guidance with M0NCG taking over on Wednesday. M0MUX will be operating on Friday and then M0SDV takes over for the whole weekend. The calendar is shown on the GB20YOTA page on QRZ.com. To reserve an operating slot, contact Jamie, M0SDV via email to email@example.com.
HamSCI is looking for amateur radio operators around the world to help collect propagation data during the December 14 eclipse across South America. Data collection requires an HF radio connected to a computer. The main data recording will run from December 9-16, to ensure an abundance of control data. Details of the experiment may be found at www.hamsci.org.
As a result of the prevailing Covid-19 restrictions, the traditional Christmas Eve transmission from SAQ on 17.2kHz is cancelled. Information on this historic transmitter can be found at https://alexander.n.se/?lang=en.
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.
Having reported on the decommissioning of the Arecibo Observatory dish, the entire 900-ton instrument platform of the 305-metre radio telescope fell some 120 metres last Tuesday morning, crashing into the huge, already-damaged dish below. The platform collapsed due to the extra stress on the existing cables because of the main cable failure in November. The concrete cable support towers were also badly damaged. No injuries were reported.
Now the special event news
During the month of December, Welland Valley Amateur Radio Society will be running special callsigns GB1XMS, GB2XMS, GB5XMS and GB9XMS from the shacks of various members to celebrate Christmas and say farewell to 2020. QSL via eQSL and Logbook of The World.
Celebrating the Christmas holiday season, the Market Reef DX Association will be active on all bands and modes as OG1XMAS until the 26th of December. QSL via Logbook of The World and Club Log.
TM63SC, Santa Claus, will be operated by F8DZU until the 30th of December to celebrate this year's Christmas Holiday Season. QSL via home call, direct or bureau.
Celebrating Christmas and the New Year, TM20XMAS and TM21HNY will be active. QSL via eQSL.
Special callsigns PA20XMAS, PB20CLAUS and PD20SANTA will be active until the 31st of December. QSL cards will not be issued, but a certificate will be available for download, see QRZ.com for details.
Now the DX news
Lee, DS4NMJ was expected to reach the Jang Bogo Station in Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica around the 4th of December, and then King George Island, South Shetland, by mid-January 2021. Lee will be operating as DT8A through to the end of the year. QSL via DS5TOS. The log will be uploaded to Logbook of The World and Club Log.
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 contests, with no RSGB HF events at all.
This weekend, the ARRL 160m contest ends its 42-hour run at 1600UTC today, 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.
Today, the 6th of December, the 144MHz AFS contest runs from 1000 to 1600UTC. The exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Tuesday the 432MHz FM Activity Contest runs from 1900 to 2000UTC. It is followed by the all-mode 432MHz Activity Contest from 2000 to 2230UTC. The exchange is the same for both contests, 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 the Second Machine Generated Mode contest runs from 1400UTC on the 12th to 1400UTC on the 13th. Using any machine-generated mode on the 50 and 144MHz bands, the exchange is signal report and your 4-character locator.
Also next weekend is the ARRL 10m Contest. Running for 48 hours from 0000UTC on the 12th to 2359UTC on the 13th, the contest is CW and phone only. The exchange is signal report and serial number with US stations sending their State code and Canadians their Province code.
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 4th of December.
What a great week it was for HF propagation. We started it off with the CQ Worldwide CW HF contest, which saw some DX openings up to 28MHz and solid DX being worked on 21MHz. The only downside was an M-class solar flare, which was launched off the Sun on Sunday. It was a big one, but luckily it didn’t affect the UK. The eruption in the sunspot occurred when the sunspot was not pointed toward Earth. This does, however, serve as a warning that we can expect more solar flares over the coming years as Solar Cycle 25 progresses.
The rest of last week saw the Solar Flux Index decline slightly to 105 by Thursday. Nevertheless, daytime maximum useable frequencies were generally above 21MHz for a lot of the time, with occasional openings on 28MHz.
Next week NOAA predicts that the solar flux index will decline to the 90s and then the low 80s as the week progress. However, active region 2790 has rotated to be Earth-facing and this may keep the SFI higher than predicted – only time will tell. On Thursday another potential active region was also coming into view. If it develops, we could see the SFI in the high 90s or even topping 100 once again.
The good news is the Kp index is predicted to remain low, reflecting the more settled geomagnetic conditions. A large coronal hole will become Earth-centric by the 5th, which could result in an elevated Kp index at the end of the weekend – although this will be dependent on how the Bz field of any solar wind is oriented. A south-facing Bz field more easily couples with the Earth’s magnetic field, letting solar particles enter the ionosphere. Only time will tell.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
Not much terrestrial VHF propagation to look forward to this week, with things looking cold and unsettled. A slack low-pressure system will occupy the British Isles for much of the next 10 days, so I wouldn’t build up any Tropo hopes. The general unsettled nature of the weather pattern means that rain scatter could be the mode of interest for the GHz bands. You might also find some snow static raises noise levels a bit in some parts of the country.
December is a hot month for meteor scatter. The Puppid-Velids, with a Zenighal Hourly Rate of 10, peaks tomorrow, and the Monocerotids with a Zenithal Hourly Rate of three peaks on Wednesday. These are just an hors d’oeuvre for the Geminids shower, just over a week from now, on the 14th. With ZHR of a whopping 150, the Geminids is usually the best one of the year. Even now the meteor rates will be climbing so if you have reasonable power and a beam for 2, 4 or 6m, get looking for JT mode DX.
It’s a good week for EME too with Moon declination high but declining. We still have long visibility windows all week, with falling path losses until perigee next Sunday. 144MHz sky noise is low at the moment, not reaching 500 kelvin until next Sunday.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.