Sunday the 28th of June 2020
The news headlines:
Online remote invigilation expanding
Tonight @ 8: Antennas for small gardens
New Propagation Studies video released
The online remote invigilation of the UK Foundation amateur radio exam continues to be extremely popular, with over 800 successful candidates so far, and more than 650 already booked for future Foundation exams. The RSGB is now contacting candidates and Exam Secretaries who had previously booked for Intermediate exams before social distancing caused their postponement. Candidates will be offered online remote invigilation exam slots. It is hoped that bookings can also be opened to new Intermediate candidates in the near future, once existing bookings are cleared. Full exams will follow on in a similar manner in due course. The FAQ’s on the RSGB website, under the Training tab, will be updated shortly.
The next RSGB Tonight @ 8 webinar is on the 29th of June and is a presentation on Antennas for small gardens by Steve Nichols, G0KYA. You can watch the live stream and ask questions on either the RSGB YouTube channel or the special Tonight @ 8 channel on the BATC website, https://batc.org.uk/live/RSGB. You can find out more about all the webinars at www.rsgb.org/webinars and you can also watch previous talks in the series at the same site.
The RSGB has released a new VHF propagation video, created by the Society’s Propagation Studies Committee. You can watch this interesting presentation on the Society’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/theRSGB.
The annual transmission by the 17.2kHz VLF Alexanderson Alternator will take place, as usual, this year on Alexanderson Day, Sunday the 5th of July. As usual, it will use the callsign SAQ. Startup and tuning begins at 0830 and 1130UTC, with the transmission of a message at 0900 and 1200UTC. You can watch both events live on their YouTube channel and, of course, listen out if you have VLF capability.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, no RSGB awards information will be published between now and 22 July. If you have submitted your data for an award and have not yet received a reply, you will be contacted after that date. The Society would encourage you to keep working towards awards in the meantime – it is a great way to gain experience, especially if you’re new to amateur radio. You can find more details of the RSGB awards on the Society’s website, www.rsgb.org/awards.
We understand that Bletchley Park plans to re-open on 4 July and have further details on their website, bletchleypark.org.uk. The RSGB National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park will remain closed, for the time being, but this will continue to be regularly reviewed.
Due to uncertainty about large gatherings being allowed, and in recognition that many radio amateurs may not want to attend physical meetings for some time, the G-QRP Club took the unwelcome decision to cancel their Conventions for 2020. However, following a very successful survey of members, a meeting of the Standing Committee this week confirmed definitely that the G-QRP Convention for 2020 will take place as a virtual event, over the weekend of the 5th and 6th of September. There will be a series of webinars and possibly a virtual Buildathon. A small working group are now developing the detail and a number of key speakers have already volunteered. Full details will be shared as soon as they are known.
Apologies to Tony, VK5ZAI for the error in his callsign last week. Tony received the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday honours list for significant service to amateur radio, particularly to satellite and space communication.
The RSGB/NHS ‘Get on the air to care’ campaign continues to feature in the media across the world. Recently there were articles in the ARRL’s QST magazine and in the Emergency Services Times publication. You can see both on the Society’s media campaign web pages, www.rsgb.org/gota2c-media.
The latest Something for the Weekend video goes out today on YouTube. ML&S looks back at the 1970s and the beginning of Amateur Radio Exchange with Bernie, G4AOG. Fund raising for Alzheimer’s Disease is part of the video. Go to https://youtu.be/fICqJM_BIfw.
Now the special event news
Since the change of regulations applying to special event stations in the UK, many activations are now able to go ahead. UK amateurs would like to thank Ofcom for their help in making this happen.
Today, the 28th, is the Centenary of the Royal Corps of Signals. The Royal Signals Museum has a permanent special event callsign, GB100RSM, but due to the Covid-19 restrictions, they cannot run the station from the museum. The station will instead run from the home QTH of G3WZP in IO90BR. Activity will be until the end of June on the 40, 20 and 17m bands, using SSB and CW. Skeds are welcome.
Another Royal Corps of Signals centenary station is GB100RS Royal Signals, operating from Bishop Auckland. It will start operating today, the 28th. Full details of the centenary stations and their operations can be found at https://rsars.org.uk/rsars-corps-celebrations-2020/.
To commemorate their 3rd anniversary, special event stations will be on air during the FT8DMC Activity Days from the 1st to the 31st of July. All stations will bear the FTDMC or FTDM suffix, referring to the third anniversary of the FT8 Digital Mode Club. An FTDMC Anniversary Award can be earned by working the FTDMC and FTDM stations and collecting points applicable for various award classes. See www.ft8dmc.eu.
Durham and District Amateur Radio Society is participating as one of the bonus stations in the 13 Colonies Special Event. GB13COL will run from 1300UTC on 1 July to 0400UTC on 8 July. The primary focus of the event will be the HF bands using SSB, CW, FM and various digital modes, but VHF and UHF will also be in use. This year’s QSL cards for GB13COL has been kindly sponsored by Martin Lynch at ML&S.
Now the contest news
Please remember to check before the events for new rules due to lockdown and social distancing, which may differ around the world. RSGB strongly advises obeying your own government’s advice first and foremost.
The UK Microwave Group’s 5.7 and 10GHz bands contest runs from 0600 to 1800 today, the 28th. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report and serial number.
Also today, the 28th, the 50MHz CW contest runs from 0900 to 1200UTC. It’s CW only and the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
The 7MHz Cumulative contest runs from 1400 to 1600UTC today, the 28th. Using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.
The 3rd 144MHz Backpackers contest is cancelled and there is a different format contest to replace VHF NFD, for 2020 only, called ‘lockdown VHF NFD’. Only single operator fixed stations may enter this contest. The rules are available at www.rsgbcc.org/vhf/rules/2020/VHFNFD.shtml. The rules are loosely based around the UKAC and VHF AFS rules and include a team element.
The UK Six Metre Group’s Summer Marathon runs until the 2nd of August. Using all modes on the 50MHz band, the exchange is your 4-character locator.
Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G3YLA and G4BAO on Friday the 26th of June.
After the recent excitement of a new Solar Cycle 25 sunspot, it seems the Sun has decided to go back to sleep. We have had zero sunspots since the 16th of June and the STEREO spacecraft Ahead view shows just one small bright area on the Sun, which might result in a spot in due course. Luckily, geomagnetic conditions remained quiet throughout the week, with a maximum Kp index of two.
The bands were a little lacklustre, other than the continued Sporadic-E openings, which have brought almost daily fun on 28MHz.
There were F-layer openings to be found on 14MHz, but these were mainly enjoyed by well-equipped stations. Ed, WA6QDQ/KH6 in Hawaii was audible at 0652TUTC on Tuesday the 23rd at G3UML’s Hendon QTH. As was William, AL7KC in North Pole, Alaska, who had a big pile up on 14.224MHz.
Early morning does seem to be the best time to get on 14MHz, with Jim, E51JD on the South Cook Islands being reported again as well. But as the day goes on D-layer absorption grows and 14MHz doesn’t sound very lively at all. Fifteen metres was open to Brazil and Paraguay on Thursday afternoon, although this was mostly FT8. Otherwise, it was 10 metres and Sporadic-E contacts that continued to provide excitement, with one or two North American, South American and Caribbean openings occurring.
Next week NOAA predicts more of the same, with a solar flux index hovering around 68-70 and a maximum Kp index of two.
A weak solar wind stream flowing from a narrow coronal hole could reach Earth beginning on the 27th of June. A minor geomagnetic disturbance at higher latitudes may be expected.
And now the VHF and up propagation news.
The heatwave of midweek should be over by today, so any enhanced sea path Tropo will have weakened too. Coasts can be productive for ducts across the North Sea or the English Channel and Biscay in any quieter settled window during the week.
Overall, Tropo is probably not a mode to rely upon this week, since much of the time we will have low pressure either over the UK or very close by. This will bring periods of rain or showers, many of which could have a chance of thunder and hail. This implies large convective clouds and potentially good GHz bands rain scatter.
That leaves Sporadic-E, and we are still within the main part of the season, so keep up the usual procedure of checking mid-morning and late afternoon/early evening. Sporadic-E is a mode ideally suited for weak signals and digital modes can give good clues as to which directions may open later for CW and SSB as the opening develops. Make use of the good map-based clusters to see if you are close enough to where the paths cross. Ideally, the hot spot should be between about 600km and 1400km away from your station.
Moon declination goes negative today but as perigee is on Monday, path losses will be at their lowest of the lunar month. 144MHz sky temperatures are low today but increasing to a peak of 2700K around midnight next Saturday. Compare this to the usual 300K cold sky temperature at 144MHz, do the maths and, you’ll see that your low noise preamps are not going to help you at this sky temperature!
The June Bootids meteor shower peaked yesterday but continue looking for the best meteor scatter conditions around local dawn.
And that’s all from the propagation team this week.