Sunday the 21st of February 2021
The news headlines:
BBC reports Lincoln Short Wave Centenary
Tonight @ 8 looks at propagation tools
Film-maker seeks funding
Lincoln Short Wave Club celebrated its 100th birthday on Wednesday the 10th of February. Steve, G6TVP was interviewed on BBC Radio Lincoln’s Breakfast Show that morning and he chatted about the club and amateur radio. Go to rsgb.services/gb2rs/004 to find it. The interview begins at 1:17:49 and will be on the BBC website for a further 18 days.
The next RSGB Tonight @ 8 webinar takes place on Monday the 1st of March. RSGB Propagation Studies Committee Chair, Steve Nichols, G0KYA will look at “Using propagation prediction tools”. On the Society’s website, you can find out more about all the Tonight @ 8 webinars as well as links to further information, books and videos on the webinar topics at rsgb.org/webinars.
‘Through The Waves’ is looking to raise funding to film the untold story of Artie Moore. He was a young man from Pontllanfraith who, in 1912, received the distress call from the sinking Titanic. At over 3,000 miles, it was the furthest any radio signal in the world had been received. The filmmakers, directed by Ben Roberts, plan to tell the story in this 10-minute dramatisation. They’ve already signed BAFTA-Award Winning Jack Parry-Jones to play Arthur Moore, and Gareth John Bale to play Artie’s father, William Moore. The funding raised will go towards paying the professional crew and actors on board, and will allow the team to afford the authenticity involved in recreating his early 1900s attic. It’s from there Artie would often receive Morse Code messages from cargo ships off the coast of Newport. Go to indiegogo.com and search for Artie Moore Film, it’s the first entry.
The RSGB’s Examination Standards Committee has launched a consultation on a new, Direct to Full licence exam. It would run in parallel with the existing three-tier system. The Society is encouraging everyone to take part and give their views. The background to this consultation, as well as links to the proposed syllabus and the survey, are at rsgb.org/direct-to-full.
Spaceweather.com this week carried a report that amateur radio operators are hearing the transmissions coming from the spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet. Some were also hoping to detect NASA's Perseverance rover as it touched down earlier this week. Find out more at Spaceweather.com.
The first Full Licence course from the Bath-Based Distance Learning team is now closed for applications. Over 250 people have enquired about the training, including a number of amateurs from the USA, and one from France. The team received double the number of applications than the 100 planned spaces. They have expanded the numbers as far as they can but many will have to wait for the next course. The team are looking to rework their plans so they can run a second Full Licence course later in the year. An announcement will be made when that course is ready for any further applications. Please do not make enquiries before that announcement.
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, ‘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.
QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo will be held on March the 13th and 14th. You will have a choice of 80 plus speakers to listen to. Your ticket will allow you to visit the event for the following thirty days Just search for QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo for all the details.
The January 2021 issue of 425DX News magazine is now available for download, go to 425dxn.org.
Now the DX news
Mireille, 3A/F4FRL and Patrice, 3A/F5RBB will be active from Monaco between the 24th of February and the 2nd of March. They will operate SSB and digital modes on the 40 to 20m bands. QSL via Logbook of The World and eQSL.
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 set up and will be QRV mainly in the evenings after work.
Now the Special Event news
GB4VAX continues its public health message on FT8 only with members of Welland Valley ARS. See QRZ.com for details.
Coventry is The City of Culture in 2021. GB1COC is being operated until the 13th of March on behalf of Coventry ARS by Brian, G8GMU. He will be mainly on the 80m band using SSB, 2m FM and digital speech modes. 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. Details are on QRZ.com.
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 is the ARRL International DX Contest. It runs for 48 hours until 2359UTC today, 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.
On Tuesday the SHF UK Activity Contest runs from 1930UTC to 2230UTC, using all modes on the 2.3 to 10GHz bands. The exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Wednesday the UK EI Contest Club runs from 2000 to 2100UTC on the 80m band. Using CW only, the exchange is your 6-character locator.
On Thursday the 80m Club Championship runs from 2000UTC to 2130UTC. Using CW only, the exchange is a signal report and serial number.
Next weekend the CQ 160m DX contest runs from 2200UTC on Friday to 2200UTC on the 28th. Using SSB only, the exchange is signal report and CQ Zone. American stations also exchange their State and Canadians their Province.
Next weekend the REF Contest runs from 0600UTC on the 27th to 1800UTC on the 28th. Using SSB only on the 3.5 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report and serial number. French stations also exchange their Department number or overseas prefix.
Next Sunday, the 28th, the First 70MHz Cumulative Contest runs from 1000 to 1200UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA & G4BAO on Friday the 19th of February.
Well, we’ve had another week with zero sunspots, but we did have a geomagnetic disturbance. This was caused by the frozen-in Bz magnetic field of the high-speed solar wind stream going very negative. This means it can couple more easily with the Earth’s magnetic field allowing plasma to flood in. At its peak, the stream’s speed was more than 450 kilometres per second and this pushed the Kp index to four on Tuesday the 16th.
Otherwise, the highlight of the week was probably the CQWW RTTY contest last weekend. Chris, G0DWV reports that conditions were not brilliant, but he did manage more than 1300 QSOs from his well-equipped station. Highlights included Wesley, N7US in Arizona on 80m at midnight and Peter, VK4ZP in Queensland, Australia on 20 metres at 1230hrs.
Winter Sporadic-E seems to be in decline now. We’ve only spotted Spain on 10 metres twice this week. So until the main 2021 Sporadic-E season starts again, in late April or early May, it looks like it will be F2 layer DX only on the upper HF bands.
Next week NOAA predicts the solar flux index will be in the range 71-76, so nothing to get too excited about. A recurrent, coronal hole high-speed stream with negative polarity is forecast for the 20th or 21st of February. This is from a large solar coronal hole on the Sun’s equator.
As the solar wind is predicted to have a south-facing Bz component we may expect the Kp index to react strongly. NOAA predicts the Kp index could rise to at least four, although on the coronal hole’s last rotation the Kp peaked at five on the 25th of January.
Look out for any potential pre-auroral opening on the higher HF bands as the solar wind speed increases. Otherwise, expect the maximum usable frequency to decrease as a geomagnetic storm commences.
At the time of writing the data feed from the Chilton ionosonde is not available on Propquest.co.uk, but just click to select data from the RAF Fairford or Dourbes Digisonde, refresh and all will be well.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
This is probably a good week to increase your satellite square count as the weather charts suggest that the unsettled pattern will continue. There’s just the slightest hint of a developing high over southern Britain at the end of next week. Rain will produce the opportunity for GHz Bands rain scatter at times, and there will be some heavier showers in the mix. It's possible there may be some hail and thunder in the heavier ones, which gives better quality for the scatter users. The Tropo prospects aren’t great, but at least there is a possibility at the end of next week into the near continent from southern areas.
As we said earlier, we are now in the dormant period for Sporadic-E, so unless it's a rare digital mode QSO, things will probably remain quiet until we are into April for CW and SSB contacts.
Moon declination reaches a maximum on Monday, so we have long moon visibility windows with high peak Moon elevation. Apogee was last week, so path losses continue to fall.
There are no major meteor showers until mid-March, so pre-dawn continues to be the best time for random meteor scatter contacts.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.