Sunday the 17th of January 2021
The news headlines:
RSGB publishes EMF Calculator
New AllStar Gateway in North Lancashire
Enter Construction Competitions!
As agreed with Ofcom last month, the RSGB’s EMC Committee has published its EMF calculator, which incorporates the Ofcom calculator but adds a front end specifically for radio amateurs. It is currently an evaluation version, so the EMCC welcomes feedback to help it move towards a final one. You can download the calculator from the EMF page at www.rsgb.org/emf.
Recently, the MB7IMB repeater came on the air in North Lancashire. It is a simplex AllStar gateway on 145.2375MHz narrow FM, with a CTCSS access tone of 110.9Hz. The North West AllStar Group has been formed, linking AllStar nodes and repeaters throughout north-west England. The group is encouraging the use of the repeater. All that’s needed is a standard 2m FM transceiver with CTCSS capabilities. If you have a node or gateway they welcome links to the system. The group has a Facebook page where you can find out more.
Have you entered the RSGB’s ‘Get on the air to care’ construction competition? The deadline is the 1st of February. Your project can be hardware, software or a system and may be based on a kit. If you made something during the autumn lockdowns, over the holiday season, or are in the middle of something during the current restrictions, you could win £100 if you enter the competition. Send a short description of your project to email@example.com and include a few photographs, a video if possible and any related circuit diagrams. Whether you’ve just got your licence or you’ve been a radio amateur for years, you’re encouraged to take part. If you enter this competition you can also resubmit the same project to the 2021 RSGB Annual Construction Competition.
Very low frequency enthusiast Joe, VO1NA reports that Stefan, DK7FC copied his 50-character EbNaut message transmitted from Newfoundland on 8.271kHz, with a radiated power of 10mW. We believe this is a new record for amateur transatlantic VLF. Joe’s tower supports a VLF rotated L, which is 10 metre average height and 100 metres long.
The RSGB is delighted that 4,000 people have taken amateur radio exams via remote invigilation. This number covers exams at all three licence levels. We know that all radio amateurs will be encouraging as people progress and enjoy the diversity of amateur radio.
Could you be the RSGB’s next President? Do you have the time and skills to serve on the Society’s Board of Directors? We’re into the final weeks of the nominations process for the RSGB elections, which will end at 2359UTC on the 31st of January. In addition to these two roles, there are three Regional Representative vacancies in Regions 2, 6 and 12. Each post-holder has indicated their willingness to stand for election but applications are also welcome from all RSGB Members living in these particular Regions. For more information visit www.rsgb.org/election. The results will be announced at the RSGB’s online AGM on Saturday the 24th of April.
The Dayton Hamvention will not take place for a second year. Sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, it was set to take place between the 21st and 23rd of May in Ohio. The committee said the show would return in 2022 and hinted at a QSO party for Hamvention weekend.
The 80m RSGB National Radio Centre net continues to run each weekday at 10.30 am on 3.727MHz. The NRC volunteers have run 260 of these nets since March 2020 to support radio amateurs. They are keen for people to call in during the current lockdown. Get on the air and have a chat – they’d love to hear from you!
South Dublin Radio Club hosted Michael O’Connell from the I87 Astroshot Observatory to the club’s first online live lecture of 2021, via Zoom. The lecture is titled Amateur Observations of Meteors and is now available to view on the club’s YouTube channel. Michael’s presentation covers Meteors, Meteor related radio phenomena and how radio techniques are used by amateurs to detect and track meteors.
Now the special event news
Hull and District Amateur Radio Society is celebrating 100 years of amateur radio clubs in the Hull area with a year-long special event station, callsign GB1OOH. The station will operate most days throughout 2021 on bands ranging from 160m to 70cm and using different modes. Further details about the station and QSL options can be found on QRZ.com.
During 2021, the British Railways ARS will be celebrating its 55th anniversary. They will be running the special event call GB0LMR, operated by BRARS member Mark, G1PIE from Preston in Lancashire. Bands of operation will be 40 to 10 metres using PSK-31, PSK-63 and SSB, plus VHF/UHF. Further information is on QRZ.com and www.brars.info.
Now the DX news
4L1PJ is the callsign issued to Peter, 4L/G4ENL. He expects to operate SSB on various HF bands for the next few years while on work assignment in Svaneti, Georgia. QSL via N4GNR.
Bo, OZ1DJJ will be active in his spare time as OX3LX from Tasiilaq Island, IOTA reference NA-151, until the 30th of January. QSL via Logbook of The World, Club Log’s OQRS or direct to OZ0J.
Garry, 2M1DHG is active as ZC4GR from the UK Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia for the next two and a half years. He operates SSB and digital modes on the 40, 20 and 10m bands, typically between 1700 and 1900UTC a few nights a week. QSL via EB7DX.
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.
On Tuesday the 1.3GHz UK Activity Contest runs from 2000 to 2230UTC. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
On Thursday it’s the all-mode 70MHz UK Activity Contest. Running between 2000 and 2230UTC, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
Next weekend the BARTG RTTY Sprint runs from 1200UTC on the 23rd to 1200UTC on the 24th. Using the 3.5 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is simply the serial number.
The UK EI Contest Club DX CW contest starts at 1200UTC on the 23rd and runs for 24 hours. Using the 3.5 to 28MHz contest bands, the exchange is signal report and District Code.
Don’t forget, the UK Six Metre Group Winter Marathon runs until the end of this month. Just exchange a signal report and locator.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA & G4BAO on Thursday the 14th of January.
Well, no one predicted last week’s geomagnetic disturbance. In case you missed it, the Kp index rose to four on Monday the 11th January. This was caused by the arrival of an interplanetary shock wave from a coronal mass ejection on the Sun, which occurred on Thursday the 7th. NOAA had been predicting a settled Sun, which shows just how unpredictable our nearest star can be.
The CME’s effects on the ionosphere were quite startling. The Chilton Digisonde data, as plotted at propquest.co.uk, shows that the predicted MUF over a 3,000km path dropped to below 14MHz by 1530UTC, although it did recover to more than 18MHz within an hour. That night there were widespread reports of visible aurora, but the ionosphere had recovered by Tuesday afternoon with the Kp index back to one by 1500UTC. Other than that element of ionospheric excitement there has been little to report, with the solar flux index down as low as 72 by Thursday the 14th with zero sunspots. The only other noteworthy event has been widespread winter Sporadic-E, which saw 12, 10 and six metres become wide open to Europe this the week.
Next week, NOAA predicts that the solar flux index will remain in the mid to high 70s. The STEREO spacecraft show a coronal hole is about to rotate into view around the Sun’s eastern limb. The high-speed solar wind from this, and other polar coronal holes, may cause the Kp index to rise to four by Sunday the 17th and we may not see a recovery back down to two until the 21st. So it looks like the latter half of the week may be best for HF DX.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
The current unsettled spell of weather should have taken a brief pause on Friday but may have returned this weekend, with an active front crossing the country, followed by a transient ridge in the second half of the weekend. These ridges are rarely good for widespread Tropo and the unsettled regime returns for the bulk of the coming week. Strangely enough, you can find temporary enhancements of Tropo conditions parallel to, and just ahead of, approaching weather fronts. It’s marginal but can make a difference to scores in the VHF/UHF UK Activity Contests. But GHz band rain scatter is probably a more reliable mode for the next week.
The unsettled story also implies some strong jet stream activity, so it’s still worth a look at the usual Sporadic-E bands of 10m and 6m for one more week, although this is probably our last chance before the mode returns in force in April.
Moon declination turns positive again on Tuesday, so we’ll have increasing Moon windows and peak Moon elevations this week. With apogee on Thursday though, path losses will be high. This trend of high declination and path loss only starts to reverse from May 2022, so get used to it! 144MHz sky noise is low.
There are no significant meteor showers this week so continue to check pre-dawn for the best random meteor contacts.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.