New GB3WGI 144MHz transatlantic beacon goes live with G2FKZ legacy funding

It was good to receive the following press release from John, G4BAO this morning – excellent news!

The GB3WGI Transatlantic 144MHz beacon went live at 1600 GMT on the 4th of June in time for the peak of the 2013 Sporadic E season. The beacon runs 100 Watts EIRP in CW and JT65b modes on 144.487MHz and is located in the West of Northern Ireland (IO64bl). The plan is to apply for an increase in EIRP in due course.

The beacon’s function is to provide an early warning of 144MHz Transatlantic propagation on the Europe to USA path as a complement to the existing 144MHz Transatlantic beacon network in the USA which provides alerts on the USA to Europe path. It also aims to encourage participation in the IRTS Brendan Trophy and to further study the propagation path using weak signal digital modes (WSJT) developed by Nobel Laureate Professor Joe Taylor K1JT. It is hoped that the project will benefit amateurs interested in 144MHz long distance weak signal working as well as those generally interested in digital modes, and could provide the first real evidence of transatlantic propagation from the US to North West Europe. Current 144MHz European transatlantic beacons are much further to the South and/or East in Cornwall, France and the Azores. GB3WGI has a clear sea takeoff to the eastern seaboard of the USA.

The beacon was supported by a number of amateur donations including The City of Belfast Radio Amateur Society, but the major donation of £500 was made by the RSGB Propagation Studies Committee from the legacy left by the late Charlie Newton G2FKZ. The bulk of this went on the beacon, the remainder to fund beacon driver development for future beacons. Charlie Newton, wrote the definitive book on radio auroras, and was acknowledged as one of the leading experts on the topic of VHF propagation. He was for many years a leading light in the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) Propagation Studies Committee. 

Acknowledgements also go to Brian WA1ZMS who inspired the concept of GB3WGI, Andy G4JNT who designed and built the driver, Powabeam Antennas and The DX Shop who supplied parts for the antenna system, to James G3RUH who provided a GPSDO reference, to Murray G6JYB for Ofcom liaison, to John GI4BWM and Dave GI4SNA and of course to beacon keeper and site manager Gordon Curry GI6ATZ who really drove the project through to completion.

John Worsnop G4BAO 7th June 2013

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

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