Sporadic E on 6m – 50 MHz SSB

Sporadic E in Australia and what can be done with a modest antenna. Interesting. Well done, Andrew.

Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

Tuesday 20 December 2016. Operating from my home QTH (QF44MP) 9 km south-west of Canberra GPO, I made several 6m Sporadic E QSOs today plus Matt VK1MA, currently on Norfolk Island 1908 km (1,185 miles) north-east in the South Pacific Ocean, reported hearing me call CQ on 50.110 at 01:15 UTC 🙂

Stations heard: ZL1TAP calling CQ DX on 50.110 and Frank VK5KV in Port Augusta, South Australia.

My equipment: Yaesu FT-857D @ 80 watts. Antenna is a homebrew omnidirectional 1/2 wave vertical mounted 500 mm above a flat corrugated iron garage roof. 🙂

VK1AD 6m QSOs, 20 December 2016:

Time UTC Frequency Callsign Name Report Grid/Location
1:05 50.120 VK4AML Greg S58 R59 QG62LP 963 km (598 miles)
1:18 50.165 VK4AMG George S59 R53 QG62LO 959 km (595 miles)
3:21 50.160 VK5XDX Oly S59 R59 Angle Vale, PF95HI 951 km (590 miles)

Post update @ 0900 UTC:

At 08:11 and…

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How did I get into amateur radio? Part 2

mi_amigo_kleine-copyright-credit-albertoke

Radio Caroline ship Mi Amigo. Photo credit Albertoke

I became a listener on Top Band AM with my Nineteen Set, which could be tuned down, the intended frequencies of use being 2 to 8 MHz. It was not difficult to get it working down to 1.8 MHz. I also found I could listen to the locals by turning some pots in a couple of transistor radios we had. I owned only one (the other was my Mum’s), which was a pocket -sized radio with the trade name of the local high street dealer. It was fiddly to tune, but I could listen in my bedroom and it worked. Remember the Nineteen Set was very heavy and dusty, so I had to use that in my den in the loft.

There was a local Top Band pirate who was very active. He boasted of a Codar AT5 transmitter. I do not now remember what his receiver was. No, I was never a Top Band pirate, or indeed any sort of pirate on the amateur radio bands.

In 1967 the then Government was trying to close down the offshore pirate radio stations. I was a Radio Caroline fan, and had listened late into the night (well, until about 11 o’clock) most evenings on the same pocket-sized radio. I was supposed to be asleep, having done my homework. My parents’ expectations were different to those of parents these days.

From August 15th 1967 the Marine Offences Act came into force, making it illegal to operate and service the pirate radio stations anchored off our shores, or operating from offshore forts as one or two did. At 3 o’clock on 14th August, Radio London (Wonderful Big L), Caroline’s neighbour off the Essex coast closed down.

Radio Caroline soldiered on, but there were many of us who believed in “Free Radio” and did not accept the Government’s premise that the BBC should have the monopoly on radio broadcasting in the UK. After all the pirates (commercial radio) had given everyone freedom of choice and had also given a chance to many pop, rock and other bands and solo artists. The pirates made a huge contribution to the cultural changes in the Swinging Sixties.

Some among us protested by putting out our own shows around 195 metres. That is about 1.54 MHz.  The Nineteen Set was well capable of that, with a quarter wave antenna (my parents had a large plot of land). I am not saying I participated, and after all, doing an hour’s pre-recorded show regularly would have been a lot of work, but I was a juvenile.

The antenna was very thin and hard to see, being wire off an old transformer carefully unwound. It was surprising it did not break more often than it did. A Post Office detector van did drive down our road once, but no one came to call.

I had a lot of fun with the Nineteen Set. It covered 80 metres as well and was a good old war horse, with the Variometer (ATU) very effective.

Of course, I had some growing up to do, and at the end of the decade I left school and went out to work. This was a culture shock for me, becoming responsible in part for my own welfare, and there were distractions from radio such as my first girlfriend. The radio story rests for a while, but more soon….

How did I get into amateur radio? Part 1

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Wireless Set No. 19

I won a scholarship to a posh school. I was very unhappy there, and one of the things which made me unhappy was that when we were around fifteen, we boys all had to join the cadet force. This was split into two main groups; RAF and Army. The RAF group got to play with gliders, so everyone wanted to do that. I was not one of the lucky ones chosen. I had to join the Army group.

Being in the cadet force meant that the school bullies usually got made sergeants, so that they actually had some authority as bullies.

The first year of the cadet force involved a lot of drilling and marching. Also, one stormy March evening we were dropped off in groups of about five all over the Essex countryside, and required to make our way in the dark to an army camp out in the marshes. We could have got lost, but by the middle of the night the clouds and blown away and the rain stopped, and one of our number could navigate by the stars. I could do that myself now, but I knew little of astronomy then. Incidentally, our navigator later became a radio amateur.

At the beginning of the second year in the Army cadet force, we could choose to specialise. Some sections still involved drilling, but the two “skive” sections were perceived as the Signals and the Bearer section, which involved First Aid and stretchers. I wanted to join Signals, but again was “unlucky”. I got Bearer Section. On the plus side, I learned CPR and how to bandage people’s wounds, and it was useful grounding with later refreshers at various work places. I might still be able to be useful if called upon, though I never have been required.

However, back to radio. I and a couple of other lads hung about the Signals hut. It was full of old Army radio equipment. I remember they mostly used a WS C12 to talk to other cadet force teachers and lads around the country. I was most impressed.

That is when I got the radio bug, and I and a couple of my friends each bought a Nineteen Set (Wireless Set No. 19). Mine cost £12 in around 1967. It was a fortune in pocket money.

So, I discovered Top Band AM. I had a huge amount of fun with my Nineteen Set, but more of that later.

Did you start in radio with gear from ancient times?

SOTA – Yaesu FT-857D configured for SSB

Useful info on a handy little rig.

Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

For Yaesu FT-857D owners, I have published a Quick Reference Guide on the configuration of the radio using a standard MH-31 microphone or the MH-59 AJ8 remote DTM microphone.  I prefer to use the MH-59 DTMF microphone with programmable P1 and P2 buttons for quick access to selected menus.  Watch out for the nifty VFO wheel on the upper right edge of the microphone just where your right thumb sits.  Yes I too have been caught out shifting the VFO in the middle of a SOTA contact!    🙂

See my new page  FT-857D Menu Settings

FT-857D deployed for a SOTA activation of Mt Little Joe VK3/VC-027 FT-857D deployed for a SOTA activation of Mt Little Joe VK3/VC-027. The Mic pictured is the standard MH-31

Purchased accessory MH-59 A8J DTMF Microphone

MH-59 DTMF Microphone MH-59 A8J DTMF Microphone. The VFO thumbwheel is pictured on the edge of the microphone.  P1 and P2 buttons are programmable to give you direct access to two selected menus.

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Shingleback or Stumpy-tailed Lizard 

Always keep your eyes open in the countryside. You might get a bonus like this.

Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

Walking at lunch today I passed this perfect specimen of the Shingleback. Length is about 350mm or 14 inches in the old scale. The shingleback lizard is native to Australia. The name ‘Stumpy’ is from the short tail.

Canberra is well-known as the bush capital.

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Excellent VK0EK Heard Island Video by Vadym, UT6UD

Noble but chilly expedition in the names of amateur radio and perhaps international understanding also

Please enjoy this excellent video made by Vadym, UT6UD who was one of the “dynamic duo” on Top Band (along with Dave, K3EL), and a major reason why VK0EK broke Top Band records from Heard Island:

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Prime Meridian – Greenwich Mean Time

Welcome, friend, to the home of GMT.

Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

In most cases, amateur radio operators record the time of a conversation (QSO) as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or also known as Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). Why? No matter where in the world the amateur radion station is located, GMT or UTC is the time refrence by which all amateur radio QSOs are logged, doing so eliminates potential errors or misunderstandings of individual station time zones. The same can be said for all emergency services radio communications and radio conversations between air traffic controllers and pilots of aircraft. The time reference for all essential service radio communications is Greenwich Meant Time (GMT). The prime meridian serves as the world’s standard time zone

Today my wife and I visited the Royal Greenwich Observatory the location of the Prime Meridian at Zero degrees Longtitude (0). Yep we are in London! The prime meridian divides the earth’s Eastern and Western Hemispheres. 15 degrees…

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