Category Archives: Amateur radio

Progress re 70 MHz

I have put my money where my mouth is as they say and have purchased a small vertical antenna for four metres, or 70 MHz if you prefer. I have also acquired a stand to put it on, with a short pole to which to clamp it. I just need some help to put it where I want it, so that is the next step.

Of course, a small vertical is quite modest as opposed to a yagi for 4, but with the Sporadic E season coming up I might work a little DX, especially as polarisation may not be critical over the long paths of Es propagation. I hope I will be on the air in time to find out, with my IC-7100, which is still in the box it came in. I shall see…

I also look forward to working stations in the UK too. I gather activity is not high, but there are apparently pockets of amateurs active in various localities. I certainly want to give 70 MHz a good go and will put on my thinking cap about 50 MHz too.

Explanations

My antennas

It is another fifteen months since my last post here. In all I was away from amateur radio for seven and a half months from November 2020 until mid-June 2021.

My interest has always been VHF, so I missed the first half of the 2020 Sporadic E season and did not catch much of the second half as it took me a while to get going. I did work an EA6 on 2 in June. I had some nice tropo QSO into Sweden on 70 cms in July, OZ on 2 and 70 in September and OK1GTH on 2 in November. All stations worked with SSB. That is about it as there has been little decent tropo over the whole period since June 2021.

Being currently not as able as I used to be, although I hope for some more improvement, I have some projects on the backburner. I would really like to put up a couple of antennas for four metres and maybe six metres (70 and 50 MHz) but need to enlist some help as the Sporadic E season is almost here again.

My absence

I have not posted recently as I have not been on the radio. I was taken very seriously ill last November and have been in hospital up to a couple of days ago, Friday 15th January. I am currently in a care home. I hope to make a full recovery but it will take time. I hope to be back on the radio and G4MCU.net soon.

September 2020 tropo

IC-9700

After a long time with no decent tropo it has been an interesting week with a good opening to Scandinavia and the Baltic. Conditions were first good on 17th September when I worked OZ on 23 cms, but on 2 metres it seemed initially that the good propagation was going over our heads on the East Coast, with the West, Wales and Northern Ireland being favoured into Scandinavia. I cannot complain too much. I did make some good QSOs as the days moved on, the highlights being on 2 metres SM4GGC at 1183 km and on 70 cms SP1MVG who called me when I was just finishing with OZ1BNN. Poland was a new country on 70 cms and obviously a new square.

I run 100 watts on 2 metres and 10 watts on 23 cms with my IC-9700, and 50 watts on 70 cms using my FT991.

Here is a summary of the most pleasing contacts, all SSB:

2 metres
17/09/20OZ1BEFJO46
18/09/20DK4EEJO41
DL2RZJO54
19/09/20GM4YXIIO87
GM0OQVIO85
20/09/20DG8LGJO44
DL0CXJO43
DL5BBFJO42
SM4GGCJO691183 km
OZ1BNNJO55
OZ6OLJO65
21/09/20SM7GVFJO77
OZ8ZYJO54
GM4JOJIO97
SM6VTZJO58
70 cms
17/09/20SM6VTZJO58
OZ9FWJO65
20/09/20DJ8MSJO54
DL4EECJO33
MM0CEZIO75
OZ1BNNJO55
SP1MVGJO74987 kmNew country on 70 cms
21/09/20SM7GVFJO77
OZ4VWJO45
23 cms
15/09/20OZ1FFJO45
20/09/20DB8WKJO33

23 centimetres with the IC-9700

Since February this year I have added 1296 MHz to my repertoire. I have the 10 watts from the 9700 and my old 23 element Tonna which I used back in Billericay thirty plus years ago when I lived with my parents. That was prior to going QRT for those three decades, but the antenna has been perfectly preserved in the garage.

I started by working at a distance of about 150 miles G8JVM in Shropshire having started on 2 metres. Since then I have managed to work a good few in the UKAC monthly Tuesday night contests and in addition PH0V at 307 km which is 192 miles when conditions were quite good. I also have worked since PG3T at 272 km, 170 miles. I added another country with F4HRD, although Jeff is only 70 miles away.

I have also worked PE1EWR at 202 km a couple of times and PE1JPD at 321 km.

There has not been a really good opening such as I remember from the Eighties, but overall, I am pleased with the progress so far.

Activity on 2 metres, calling CQ and QRZ.com

Conditions are often not exciting on 2 metres, but I try to maintain my SSB activity, working who I can hear and calling CQ daily. Often after calling CQ for a long time I get no response but notice frequently that my QRZ look-ups have increased by one or two while I have been calling.

So, I say to those looking me up, “why not call me rather than just checking my profile?”.

Sporadic E on 2 metres at G4MCU so far in 2020

Firstly, the good news. On 25th May I worked LZ1ZP in KN22 during the afternoon. On 29th May I worked IT9YLF in JM68 and 9H1TX in JM75 (worked before in 2019). After a couple of failures with stations I then worked IZ8DSX in JN71.

On 31st May I worked IK8EVE in JN71, whom I also worked in 2019.

The big disappointment was the big opening on 29th May when I heard many stations but did not complete with most. The problem was getting through the pile ups, given that I am in JO01 which is a densely populated square hence lots of stations were hearing and calling the same people as I was.  I heard UT3UX, UT9UR, UR5RQP, 9A2B and 9A2RD. Had I been logging as an SWL I would have been delighted. As it was, I ended up disappointed. Still, not working stuff I wanted is not the end of the world, is it?

The cost of new rigs including the IC-9700

20200226_163021In around 1977 when I had not been licenced long, I bought a Yaesu FT221R multimode 2 metre rig. It was very much state-of-the-art though I cannot remember if they used that expression back then. It was a cracking rig anyway of its day and as I still have it I really ought to get it going again.

The FT221R would have cost about £340 in 1977 (I have checked the adverts in an old Short Wave Magazine) although I might have paid a little more as I bought the external digital frequency display YC221 add-on.

Fairly recently I bought an Icom IC-9700. This is an all-mode three band transceiver covering 2 metres, 70 centimetres and 23 centimetres. Given that more than forty years have passed since the FT221R was manufactured the 9700 has a fantastic number of modern-day features, bells, whistles, digital modes including as they say a real-time spectrum scope and waterfall function. I really like the rig and have now got the machine going on 23.

As such rigs are sold in possibly only tens of thousands, not millions, during the period of manufacture, one cannot expect that the base price would be lowered to the degree that might be seen on a fine piece of kit like an android phone. Nevertheless, I have heard complaints on the air and off that the 9700 is expensive. Yes, it is a lot of money, around £1,800 including VAT here in the UK.

However, if one allows for inflation, the equivalent for the £340 for the FT221R in 1977 would be £2,100 today, and the 9700 does rather more than the FT221R could do.

So, are Icom really taking the proverbial by charging what they do? I see the 9700 might be had for $1,500 in the US. What do you think?

Tropo opening 28th to 30th December 2019

20200104_205110We had an interesting tropo event starting on 28th December and ending at my QTH on 30th. All QSOs were SSB. Conditions were very good to the East and North East, and good to the South and South West, but surprisingly from my QTH there was less propagation to the South East, so no HB9s etc. On 2 metres I used my newish IC9700 with 100 watts to my 7 element and on 70 cms my FT991 with 50 watts to a 13 element.

On 2 metres amongst others I worked on the 28th:

F5ICN    JN03    933km

F3EZJ     JN05

EA1MX  IN73   974km

F4CQA   JN17

F0FHU    JN06

On 29th:

SM7EQL   JO65  940km

OZ7UV      JO65

SM7NGR   JO65

DL2RZ        JO54

GU0UVH    IN89 not so far but I had never worked Alderney!

On 30th:

EB1AH    IN73 and he was running 5 watts to a 3-element antenna

On 70 cms amongst others and still all on SSB on 29th:

GJ8CEY   IN89  not so far but a new country and square on 70 coms

GU6EFB  IN89  new country 😊

DL1YAW  JO41

DJ8MS    JO54   793km

OZ9FW   JO65   883km

OZ1HDF   JO55   852km

OZ9GE      JO66   905km

OZ8ZS     JO55   851km

EI19RE    IO51  New country and square on 70 cms

Conditions were so good for a period that the OZs called me on the back of the beam as I was looking South West.

I know that others worked more DX than did I, but I enjoyed the event and am happy with the results.

Remembering Norman Fitch, G3FPK

Norman wrote the VHF column in Short Wave Magazine for many years and in 1989 took over from Ken Willis G8VR, the VHF column in RadCom, for which he wrote until 2010 when he became a Silent Key.

He was also on the RSGB’s VHF Committee for a number of years.

I first knew Norman in the late seventies when I was an avid VHF DX chaser. I used to talk to him quite often on 2 metres SSB and contributed information for use in his VHF column in Short Wave Magazine, which covered 4M to 23cm either over the air or in letters I used to send to him. This was of course prior to the advent of email.

Norman was a kind, helpful and knowledgeable enthusiast who taught me a lot about working DX on VHF, and he was a real gentleman as was evident on the couple of occasions I had the honour to meet him.

Norman is missed and remembered with great affection.