Sunday the 14th of February 2021
The news headlines:
Construction Competition winners
Next YOTA talk details
RSGB Election News
The RSGB’s ‘Get on the air to care’ construction competition has been judged. It was for projects made during the Autumn 2020 lockdown, the Christmas and New Year holiday period or the early 2021 lockdown. The Society was delighted to receive 27 entries from 15 entrants and the standard was very high. To reflect this, the judges awarded four prizes, rather than choose one winner as originally planned. The RSGB congratulates each of those four radio amateurs. You can read about their winning entries on the RSGB website at www.rsgb.services/gb2rs/002.
The next Youngsters On The Air talk will take place on the 25th of February at 1900UTC. In this newest episode, the team will present the main topic on Gone exploring! They plan to discuss activities like Islands on the Air, Summits on the Air and World Wide Flora and Fauna in Amateur Radio. It will be followed by a Q&A session with the presenters. They will be streaming live again on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch channels. For YouTube go to youtube.com/hamyota.
The RSGB elections nomination period closed on the 31st of January. You can find the names of those standing for election as RSGB President, Elected Board Director and Nominated Board Director at www.rsgb.services/gb2rs/003. Voting opens on the 17th of March and the results will be announced at the AGM on the 24th of April. Details about how to vote, together with the candidates’ CVs and personal statements, will be in the April RadCom and on the RSGB website from the 17th of March.
The IARU Region 1 has an interesting article by Tom, DF5JL on its website at iaru-r1.org. It is called How far you can turn the dial when transmitting in SSB voice mode? It’s only short but gives really clear advice.
The RSGB’s Planning Advisory Committee assists RSGB Members with planning applications, enforcement notices and planning appeals. Recently it appointed Leandro, M0XPO and Colin, GW1KGW to its Planning Panel. The general information on the Committee’s web pages has been updated and a new short video has been added to help explain the Committee’s services, see rsgb.org/pac.
Congratulations to South Kesteven ARS as they celebrate the club’s 10th anniversary in February. Club members will put the club callsign, M0SKR, on the air throughout the month on different bands and modes.
The Finnish Amateur Radio League, SRAL, was founded one hundred years ago in 1921 and today caters for around three and a half thousand members. It is the IARU affiliated society for Finland. To mark the 100th anniversary they are running the 100 Years Award. To qualify, you must work and confirm, either by QSL card or Logbook of the World, one hundred different stations from Finland during 2021. A special anniversary call sign OH100SRAL will be on the air throughout the year. See sral.fi for all the details.
Now the DX news
Gareth, M0MOL will be active as MM0MOL/P from the main island of Shetland, IOTA reference EU-012, in February and March. He will operate with what he refers to as a typical portable QRP setup and will be QRV mainly in the evenings after work.
3W9FAR is the callsign that Sebastian, SP5FAR will be using from Vietnam. He will be there until the 21st of March. In his spare time, he will operate SSB and digital on the 40, 20, 15 and 10m bands. QSL via eQSL.
Alain, F6BFH has moved permanently to Oleron Island, EU-032. IOTA chasers should be looking for him on Saturdays at 0900 and 1700UTC on 14.040MHz CW. On Sundays, at the same times, it’s 14.260MHz SSB.
Now the Special Event news
Coventry is The City of Culture in 2021. GB1COC is being operated on behalf of Coventry ARS by Brian, G8GMU. He will be mainly on the 80m band using SSB, 2m FM and digital speech modes. The operation will be between the 14th of February and the 13th of March. The club plans to renew the NoV throughout the year. See qrz.com.
Hull & District ARS is continuing to celebrate 100 years of amateur radio clubs in the Hull area with its year-long special event station, GB1OOH. The station operates most days on bands ranging from 160m to 70cm using different modes. Further details about the operation can be found on QRZ.com.
Girl Guides from Australia will be operating the ALARA Echolink conference station, node 286905, from 2200UTC to 2359UTC on Saturday the 20th of February for their International Thinking Day activities. Contacts from Girl Guides and Leaders would be appreciated.
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 the CQ World Wide WPX RTTY contest ends its 48 hour run at 2359UTC today, the 14th. Using the 3.5 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number.
Also this weekend, but running for 24 hours, is the PACC Contest. It ends at 1200UTC today, the 14th. Using CW and SSB on the 1.8 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number. Note that PA stations also send their Province code.
On Monday, the first of the FT4 series of contests run from 2000 to 2130UTC. Using the 3.5MHz band only, the exchange is your 4-character locator.
On Tuesday it’s the 1.3GHz UK Activity Contest from 2000 to 2230UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Thursday the 70MHz UK Activity Contest runs from 2000 to 2230UTC. All modes are allowed and the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
Next weekend is the ARRL International DX Contest. It runs for 48 hours from 0000UTC on the 20th to 2359 on the 21st. It’s CW only on the 1.8 to 28MHz contest bands. The exchange is signal report and transmitter power, with US stations sending their State and Canadians their Province.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA & G4BAO on Friday the 12th of February.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, last week’s HF propagation was characterised by zero sunspots and the geomagnetic effects of a coronal hole. The lack of sunspots is now getting a bit worrying, especially when you consider that traditionally the new cycle normally ramps up quite quickly. At least one joker has said that perhaps we had sunspot maximum for Solar Cycle 25 back in December 2020!
A high-speed stream from a pair of Earth-facing coronal holes pushed the Kp index up to five in the early hours of Sunday 7th February. This was back down to one by Monday, but conditions remained subdued for a time. With the solar flux now back at 74 and the Australian Space Weather Services T index at six, it doesn’t bode well for HF propagation right now. The T index is the sunspot number equivalent that best matches the observations made by ionosondes.
Next week, NOAA predicts the solar flux index will remain around 73. It also predicts the Kp index will be two. However, a large polar-connected coronal hole became Earth-facing on Thursday, which suggests we may get an elevated Kp index some time across the weekend. So look for a pre-auroral enhancement as the solar wind speed increases and check out 10 metres for any potential openings.
Daytime Maximum Usable Frequencies over a 3,000km path are currently exceeding 18MHz and often more than 21MHz at times. There is still evidence of mid-winter short-skip Sporadic-E paths occurring, with Scottish stations coming into England on 18MHz on Thursday.
The F2 region critical frequency, or f0F2, is still falling quite quickly after sunset. Eighty metres is largely closing to inter-UK near-vertical incidence sky-wave contacts by about 2000hrs, as contestants in last week’s 80m Club Championship found out. The only good news is that spring is coming and with it hopefully an upturn in HF propagation.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
Intense cold over a snowfield is again a theme for a while and although there is a slow trend for a gradual warm-up from the west, the high pressure over the North Sea and northern Europe will probably take a lot of shifting. This means that there continues to be a possibility of limited temperature inversions due to the high itself and over the snowy ground in eastern Britain and thus Tropo is a limited possibility. Weather fronts encroaching into western Britain may introduce limited precipitation scattering options.
The big question is whether the milder air actually gets in properly since highs like these are very stubborn and may hold fronts to the west of the UK. The models are suggesting that this time the colder air to the east may well be the winner here and might not give way or, if it does, should reassert itself next week. So keep your Tropo options open, especially over eastern areas.
Moon declination goes positive again on Monday so visibility windows and peak Moon elevations will increase. Apogee is on Thursday so path losses are at their highest. 144MHz sky noise is low but increasing to 500K next Sunday.
There are no significant meteor showers until mid-March, so stick to the pre-dawn period for the best random meteor scatter conditions.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.