Tag Archives: VHF DX

Sporadic E and a tale of the unexpected

MOONRAKER 70MHz Base Vertical Antenna

An exciting couple of days after my previous post about working the Spanish station on 4 metres!

Yesterday things started to happen on 144 MHz and in just over 20 minutes from 1510z I worked IK0FTA, IK0SMG, IK0RMR, and IK0BZY all in JN61, all 59. I did not hear anything else in terms of DX on the band though some other stations did. I felt pretty pleased with this “haul.”

Then, much to my surprise (again) having gone back to 70 MHz for a look just after 1800z I worked 9A2SB (JN95) and 9A1Z (JN86). My 50 watts SSB and small Moonraker vertical are doing well, far better than I hoped. I think I rather like 4 metres. I certainly did not expect this sort of DX on 4 with the antenna I have, but this is terrific! I have worked just four squares and three of them are rather distant, and 9A2SB is nearly 1,500 km away.

One giant leap on 70 MHz

Moonraker vertical antenna SQBM412

As I mentioned last time, I purchased a small vertical antenna for four metres. It is the Moonraker SQBM412. A friend of mine, Mike, G8EFG kindly installed it on my garage roof a couple of weeks ago, and it is only less than four metres above ground, although my QTH is quite decent for VHF.

Activity is lower than I had hoped on 70 MHz and I had managed to find just one station which was an FM contact. Then last Friday, 3rd June I heard a station on SSB calling CQ at about 30 miles distant. He was very weak. I called him but he either did not hear me or he was looking for DX as there seemed a possibility of Sporadic E propagation for better appointed stations than mine.

Then tuning around I heard EA4CZV calling CQ DX and I called him more in hope than expectation. After some persistence on both sides we completed the SSB contact and I have IN80 as a new square and actually only my second one as the other is the guy down the road I worked on FM.

Of course, with a vertical and not a yagi I have little or no antenna gain but maybe the polarisation factor is less critical at this sort of distance, which was 1280 km, not to be sniffed at.

I am therefore very pleased with the antenna and have said so in my review. Maybe I can work some more DX with it on four metres. It is going to be fun trying!

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?

How did I get into amateur radio? Part 3

liner-2

Belcom Liner 2

What a sheltered life we led, back when I had just left school and gone out to work. All that discovering girls was a terrible distraction, plus actually having to go to work every day. Well, five days a week and hardly any holidays. I had no time for radio.

However, after nearly five years I started to think about amateur radio, still with top band in mind, and started back on broadcast DX listening. I bought a communications receiver, a Codar CR70A. People eulogise about that radio, but mine was not very good, and I have read about other amateurs / SWLs who were unlucky with their receiver.

I decided to get my RAE and be a thoroughly legal station on the radio. In 1974 I enrolled at Southend College for evening classes leading to the Radio Amateurs Examination, to be taken in May 1975. It was taken by G8GUO, Charlie. He was very good and I learned a lot from him. I have no idea what happened to him as he has disappeared, or changed his call sign, or something.

After a year of taking the train straight from work in London all the way to Southend Victoria, I took the RAE and passed. I have a copy of the May 1975 exam and am amazed how difficult it looks now. There was no multiple choice. We had to answer eight questions; two compulsory questions on licence conditions and six out of eight technical questions, the answers to be written with diagrams. The exam was three hours on the evening of Thursday 15th May 1975. And I passed!

I had thought I would take the Morse test, so waited for a while before applying for a licence. I did not make much progress in that direction, so in January 1976 I got the call sign G8LFJ. This was a Class B licence, two metres and up. I then got an FM rig for two metres with I think eight crystal channels, an IC21A. I put up a ten-element beam and after a while it dawned on me that I had the wrong polarisation for FM. I wanted to work more than eight channels too, so I bought a Belcom Liner 2 SSB VXO rig. This was in June 1977.

The first station I worked on 144 MHz SSB was SM7FJE. I thought this was fantastic. Of course, there was a tropo opening, I did have ten elements for my 10 watts out and (most significant) Bo, SM7FJE near Malmo had an EME array of multiple yagis. Just over an hour later I worked OZ5QF, and that is how I got the VHF DX bug.