Posts Tagged ‘DXing’

Update: Propagation Forecasts for CQ WW (SSB and CW) DX Contest Weekends

Are you participating in this year’s CQ World-Wide DX Contest, either the SSB weekend (this coming weekend, October 28-29, 2017), or the CW weekend (November 25-26, 2017)?  The CQ WW is the largest Amateur Radio competition in the world. Over 35,000 participants take to the airwaves on the last weekend of October (SSB) and November (CW) with the goal of making as many contacts with as many different DXCC entities and CQ Zones as possible.

Space Weather and Radio Propagation

Space Weather and Radio Propagation

I have updated my forecast on the expected propagation conditions during both the SSB and CW weekends of the 2017 CQ World-Wide DX Contest.  I will publish a new update for the CW weekend, when we get closer to that November weekend.

The link to the latest update is: http://cqnewsroom.blogspot.com/2017/10/cqww-dx-contest-propagation-update.html

Good luck!

73 de NW7US dit dit

 

What is the big deal with amateur radio? What is it that you hear? (Part 1)

Shortwave Radio - spy vs spy
Shortwave radio has been a source for great sci-fi plots, spy intrigue novels, movies, and so on, since radio first became a “thing.” But, what is the big deal, really? What is it that amateur radio operators listen to?

In this video, I share some of the types of signals one might hear on the high frequencies (also known as shortwave or HF bands). This is the first video in an on-going series introducing amateur radio to the interested hobbyist, prepper, and informed citizen.

I often am asked by preppers, makers, and other hobbyists, who’ve not yet been introduced to the world of amateur radio and shortwave radio: “Just what do you amateur radio operators hear, on the amateur radio shortwave bands?

To begin answering that question, I’ve taken a few moments on video, to share from my perspective, a bit about this shortwave radio thing:

Link to video: https://youtu.be/pIVesUzNP2U — please share with your non-ham friends.

From my shortwave website:

Shortwave Radio Listening — listen to the World on a radio, wherever you might be. Shortwave Radio is similar to the local AM Broadcast Band on Mediumwave (MW) that you can hear on a regular “AM Radio” receiver, except that shortwave signals travel globally, depending on the time of day, time of year, and space weather conditions.

The International Shortwave Broadcasters transmit their signals in various bands of shortwave radio spectrum, found in the 2.3 MHz to 30.0 MHz range. You might think that you need expensive equipment to receive these international broadcasts, but you don’t! Unlike new Satellite services, Shortwave Radio (which has been around since the beginning of the radio era) can work anywhere with very affordable radio equipment. All that you need to hear these signals from around the World is a radio which can receive frequencies in the shortwave bands. Such radios can be very affordable. Of course, you get what you pay for; if you find that this hobby sparks your interest, you might consider more advanced radio equipment. But you would be surprised by how much you can hear with entry-level shortwave receivers. (You’ll see some of these radios on this page).

You do not need a special antenna, though the better the antenna used, the better you can hear weaker stations. You can use the telescopic antenna found on many of the portable shortwave radios now available. However, for reception of more exotic international broadcasts, you should attach a length of wire to your radio’s antenna or antenna jack.

Check out books on radio…

I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

My first 50-MHz QSOs with Japan from new Colorado QTH

I made contact with 19 Japanese stations yesterday afternoon (June 14, 2013) on the 50-MHz (6 meter) band between 2314 and 2356 UTC.  This was my first “JA opening” on 50-MHz in a LONG time; my last Japanese QSOs on 50-MHz were back in the ’90s when we lived in Tiffany, Colorado (grid square DM67), a bit south of our new home in Glade Park, Colorado (grid square DM59pa). During the years we lived in Vermont the furthest west I ever reached on 50-MHz was Guam, a bit short of Japan.

If I’m anywhere near my radio (and sometimes when I’m not – thank you, smartphone) I point a Web browser at the “ON4KST 50 MHz IARU Region 2″ chat page to read late breaking 50-MHz DX related news, spots, rumors and general chatter especially during during times of the year when 50 MHz propagation is known to be possible:

  • Around the spring and autumn equinoxes for Trans-Equatorial Propagation (TEP)
  • May through the first half of August for the northern hemisphere summer Sporadic-E (Es) season
  • A few weeks either side of New Year’s Day for the northern hemisphere winter Es season sometimes with propagation links to the southern hemisphere
  • And – if we had more sunspots than Cycle 24 has seen fit thus far to bequeath – the northern hemisphere autumn and winter for F2 propagation

(Of course 50-MHz can open at any time of day and year and much of what happens on “The Magic Band” is poorly understood.  But the periods above are the ‘prime time for six.’)

It all began yesterday afternoon at 2200 UTC (which was 4 pm Colorado time) when Han JE1BMJ, a noted 50-MHz enthusiast and propagation theorist, was reported on 50,090.5 kHz by Jay K0GU on the ‘KST chat which grabbed my attention.  Jay lives in Wellington, Colorado (grid square DN70mq) about 230 miles east of me and is a dedicated, experienced 50-MHz DXer.  Jay hears a lot of stations before any one else in the Rocky Mountain region and his ‘KST posts are always worth noting.  I turned my new 50-MHz antenna (thanks to K7JA for assistance in building and installing this last month and of course G0KSC for the design) towards Japan – 312 degrees azimuth – and started listening.  At 2226 UTC I started hearing Han’s CW (Morse Code) signal slowly fade and out.

Green Heron RT-20D controlling a Spid RAK rotator

Green Heron RT-20D controlling a Spid RAK rotator

When I first attempted to make contact with Han but he was unable to hear my complete callsign and was responding to me as “AA7X” (leaving off the final T, I am AA7XT).  I eventually stopped calling JE1BMJ – I didn’t want to ‘hog the DX’ as Han and other Japanese stations were being heard over much of the US.  For a two-way contact to be considered legitimate in ham radio circles each party must copy correctly the other parties callsign and preferably some other information such as a signal report.

DXMaps.com caught the action!

DXMaps.com caught the action!

At 2314 I noticed Han’s signal had gotten louder so I called him again and made a solid contact straight away.  Success!  I was amazed my ‘barefoot’ (no amplifier, only 80 Watts output) Elecraft K3 transceiver and InnovAntennas 8 element LFA Yagi (an awesome antenna but it was on a tower parked at only 3 meters [10 feet ]above ground due to recent high winds) were making the 9,000 kilometer journey!  At ten feet up towards Japan my antenna was looking into a hillside!  I listened to Han work other stations for a few few minutes and savored the moment.

InnovAntennas 8 element 50-MHz LFA Yagi

InnovAntennas 8 element 50-MHz LFA Yagi

Here’s a short YouTube video I made of JE1BMJ’s signal yesterday:

I would have likely made many more contacts if had started calling CQ earlier!  For a long time I was only hearing JE1BMJ so I didn’t bother calling CQ until around a full hour after opening started.  I had an ‘instant pileup’ after first my CQ call; clearly I should have started CQing much earlier – Doh!  I proceeded to work 18 more Japanese stations before the path closed:

UTC kHz MODE CALL KM GRID RST_RCVD RST_SENT
2356 50,093.0 CW JA0DET 9079.748 PM97jk 559 559
2355 50,093.0 CW JA7LGE 9355.597 PM85io 559 529
2350 50,093.0 CW JA0MVW 9011.677 PM97ox 559 559
2349 50,093.0 CW JA7DDK 8920.079 QM08dg 599 549
2348 50,093.0 CW JH1RFR 9063.668 PM96wr 559 559
2346 50,093.0 CW JN1JFC 9355.597 PM85io 559 549
2345 50,093.0 CW JQ1TIV 9355.597 PM85io 559 559
2344 50,093.0 CW JA1UAV 9133.899 PM96ta 559 559
2343 50,093.0 CW JR2UKF 9351.394 PM85km 559 559
2342 50,093.0 CW JF2WXS 9355.597 PM85io 559 559
2341 50,093.0 CW JA7KE 8843.041 QM08pk 559 569
2340 50,093.0 CW JH1MDJ 9355.597 PM85io 579 559
2339 50,093.0 CW JA0RUG 9066.984 PM97jo 599 599
2338 50,093.0 CW JH7FNM 8856.099 QM08ml 579 569
2337 50,093.0 CW JA7EVP 9355.597 PM85io 599 529
2334 50,093.0 CW JI1DMH 9150.703 PM96nf 559 549
2331 50,093.0 CW JH0INP 9155.598 PM96cw 559 559
2329 50,093.0 CW JA9SJI 9236.878 PM86pp 559 559
2314 50,094.5 CW JE1BMJ 9355.597 PM85io 559 559

 

Toshi ,JA0RUG, who I worked during this opening, sent me a MP3 recording of my signal as heard in Japan (click on link to listen to the audio):

2013June14-2340z-AA7XT-50.093MHz-CW

Here are the grids I worked during yesterday’s opening:

The WG7J Gridmapper is a great post opening analysis tool

The WG7J Gridmapper is a great post opening analysis tool

The first hop was certainly Es as I was hearing loud stations in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia at reasonable Es single distance, but how about the rest of the way?  Han, JE1BMJ, the first station I worked in this opening, has developed a theory on these openings – which cluster around the summer solstice – and he has dubbed the mechanism “Short-path Summer Solstice Propagation” aka SSSP.  Articles on SSSP by JE1BMJ, W3ZZ, WB2AMU and KH6/K6MIO have been published in Dubus, CQ VHF, Six News and elsewhere.  Here are a few links:

So far, SSSP, if it in fact exists (such mysteries make 50-MHz DXing a fascinating avocation!) seems to be unique to the 50-MHz band.  I look forward to learning more about SSSP as more and more DXers become aware of the mode and watch for it.  Ham Radio is the exception to the ‘watched pot never boils’ rule of thumb.  In DXing, an unwatched band never opens!  One interesting note is that propagation like SSSP frequently repeats itself the next day so you can be sure I will be at my radio this afternoon!

73 and CU on the Magic Band!

Bill AA7XT

 

PS:  Some interesting recordings of 50-MHz DX signals heard in Japan by JE1BMJ can be found here (including yours truly):

http://audioboo.fm/han01a


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