Tuesday 16 June 2015 saw a big Sporadic E opening in the UK. I managed to work SV2RJO on 6m cw which was confirmed on LOTW – super fine business! He’s a distance of 2,154 km from me which is about the furthest I’ve worked on single hop Es. Last night we had some interesting short range Es and I worked F2DX in Sorges France which is a distance of 704 km – two 6m single hop extremes!
I’ve almost achieved my very modest goals for this season which was to get to 60 DXCC on 6m (achieved with Macedonia and Greece) and 225 locator squares (1 to go).
On Tuesday I checked for Italian STLs on Band I and found:
52.60 Radio Radar, Castel di Casio/Casola (bo)
54.37 Simply Radio (tivoli) (rm)
56.50 MEP Radio Organizzazione (P. Net), Rieti/Frazione Campoforogna (Monte Terminillo) (ri)
During the Whitsun week I tested the Perseus FM+ against the Elad FDM-S2 at the Carcassonne QTH. Now here’s the rub……..I identified a dodgy F female to BNC male adapter. And on testing the FM+/Elad/XDR I found they are all about the same sensitivity on 93.3 RNE Radio Nacional Cataluña from Rococorba – slight edge to the XDR. So I take it back (see previous post 21 April 2015) – the Elad is not deaf on Band II. Leaves me with some egg on my face but I’m happy that the discrepancy between receiving in London and Carcassonne has been resolved.
So why do some dxers find the Elad deaf? Dodgy connectors? Sample variations? Hmmmmm………….
I was at the Carcassonne QTH over Easter and I was wanting to do a test on Band II in between the Elad FDM-S2, Sony XDR (Konrad modded), E4000 generic dongle and an ezcap R820T2 dongle. The QTH is in a rural location and I can hear several Catalan stations over 100 km away through the gaps in the Pyrenees.
First I had to order and have delivered a 6m 3mm thick 50mm diameter alum pole to replace a 2mm thick one which had collapsed at the top bracket due to the high winds – the worst part of living in the area – no doubt. I reinstalled a couple of FM5s in H and V orientation. Feedlines come into shack and into a Maplin 2-way F switch. Then output from switch goes into a Maplin 4-way splitter (no pre-amp). So with one switch I can switch between H and V signals.
For the tests I beamed at 120 degrees on 102.2 Mhz – Catalunya Ràdio from Rocorba – 25kw and a distance from me of 139 km. (data from FMlist), and used H polarised twig.
Sony XDR was as usual superb – good signal on 102.2. Next came a generic E4000 dongle which gave up some audio in SDR# – not good though.The Elad and the R820T2 dongle had no audio on 102.2.
I was surprised the Elad was so poor – I can now see why pre-amps are required. I did not bring the Perseus FM+ but I will do next time.
I finally checked the powerful 103.6 Flaixbac outlet from Maçanet de Cabrenys at a distance of 103 km. FMlist says the power is 0.2 kw. I’m pretty sure it’s much higher than that. It’s audible in many locations in Aude and Pyrenees Orientales. At my QTH it powers in, and the XDR was rocking, both dongles were about the same while Elad had audio but trailed the dongles.
I was so surprised by how poor the Elad was that I by-passed the 4-way splitter on 102.2 – to no avail. I am very surprised that there has been no real outcry about high poor the Elad is out of the box on Band II. It certainly is not deaf on MF.
Well it’s been a while since the last post. DX activities have been neglected in favour of the excellent World Cup and this year’s cricket test match series which has seen the beleaguered English team actually deservedly win a couple of matches.
Sporadic E wise I have easily surpassed my season’s targets (200 squares and 50 DXCC) on 6m. At the time of writing I have 214 squares and 58 DXCC. Still got some supposedly easy ones to go as well such as Z3. I’m well pleased with this year’s season and feel set-up for next year to stretch and get beyond 225 squares and 65 DXCC.
We have had one or two excellent TV DX openings and OIRT as well. Here’s a couple of videos from 3 July 2014 and the mainly Belarus OIRT logs on the same date can be seen at:
I had a triple whammy identification process: audio was parallel to web stream at http://www.streamsolution.it/onair/RadioDelta.asx, RDS PI Code 5362 appeared on XDR GTK display and there was a clear jingle id!
FMLIST is a simply superb resource. It does get very slow at times and I wish the operators would accept donations or adopt a membership scheme – something like £20 or €25 per annum would be excellent value to take advantage of this resource. Something akin to the QRZ.com XML subscriptions for automated lookups which are around $30 per annum.
I have not bothered too much with Band II this season. It’s a zero-sum game in London with Ofcom’s abdication of its responsibilities for keeping the band clear. In any case my priorities were 6m and some Tv DXing before the latter becomes impossible due to the digital uhf take-over.
It’s mid-August and the NA MF season has started already! We’re still getting some LA DX as well with a good Peruvian opening on 5 August. More details on that one in the next update!
It’s the Sporadic E (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sporadic_E_propagation) season at the moment. The season in the northern hemisphere is generally accepted to start 1 May and finish 31 August. However it possible to hear Sp E in April and (more rarely) other months. However this four-month summer season is generally accepted to be “The” season.
This year in the UK it started quite slowly and you had the usual culprits on Skywaves bemoaning the awful season – some people just don’t understand the meaning of sporadic I guess. However that all changed the last couple of days with a sustained opening to Eastern Europe Monday 2 June and a smaller Scandinavian focused opening 3 June. The previous 3-4 years I have wasted too much time doing Band I Tv dxing. My urban location in the London ‘burbs mean that there’s an awful load of muck in the video passband and getting good video is practically impossible (i.e. I have a S9 baby monitor on 49.850 Mhz and various carriers, data signals etc).
So this year I decided to focus on getting my 6m scores up. I like to set targets in my dxing and this season I determined I should reach 50 DXCC on 6m and 200 locator squares. Thanks to this superb opening I am now at 54 DXCC and 199 squares – new countries worked on 6m include SV9 Crete, EA8 Canary islands and ZA Albania.
Given the complete lack of F2 propagation on 6m this sunspot cycle high (sic) I think a final target of 60 DXCC and 250 squares on 6m should be achievable with 3-4 years. For 6m I use my Icom 7600 into a Sandpiper 3 element up at about 10m on the Tennamast or the Diamond V2000 triband co-linear- the beam being far superior of course.
I could not quite resist doing a bit of TV and OIRT dxing. The morning of 3 June saw some very strong Band I TV carriers – I view the audio output from my AOR AR5000 into Spectrum Lab on the PC. So i fired up the separate PC I use for TX dxing – this has a flyvideo 3000 card inside with the saa7134 chip. I feed my HS Pubs VF1004 4 element (45-70 MHz) into a 4-way tv distribution amplifier from Maplin (brand NIKKAI). One output goes to the AR5000, another to the Sony XDR (see below), the third to my JVC 610 tv and the fourth to the HS Pubs D100 narrow bandwidth converter whose output is fed into the Flyvideo TV card. I then use dscaler and freerun to view on the PC. So this morning I was watching Ukrainian 1+1 TV on channel R1 on the JVC, 1+1 on channel R2 on the PC, listening to OIRT stations on the Sony XDR and monitoring TV carriers in Spectrum Lab.