Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Position, position, position….

The last few days have clearly shown just how important the geomagnetic latitude is with 6m TEP. Yesterday the German amateurs that operated V551V during the CQ-WW-WPX contest from V5 had a field day on 6m. 

I see they worked a few EA8 Canary Is stations and a station KP4 in Puerto Rico including many southern European stations. Unfortunately I only managed to work 4 stations during this opening.

 The line from V5 to South America (LU) was not a QSO, it was due to someone abusing the DX cluster.

The Namibian station is in Omaruru - JG78xo. Amazing what a difference of 500 km north can do? Ok they are also 1200 km west of Johannesburg.

I will be in Cape Town on Thursday and Friday, I suspect we will have a massive opening during that time….

73, Pierre ZS6A

6m activity 26 March 2012

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tracking VUCC award in HRD Logbook

For some reason the very popular VUCC Award is not in the list of awards tracked by HRD. I re-discovered a method of enabling this tracking. Thanks to this add-on, managing and keeping track of VUCC is a breeze.

Download the “ARRL VUCC Award” Award definition Add-on file,  from the web site below..

Then in the HRD Logbook use: Award tracking / Definitions / Import (import the downloaded file)

Works like a charm.

Now how do I get to change all the worked grids to confirmed grids??

73, Pierre ZS6A

Friday, 23 March 2012

How effective is LoTW ?

I am very pleased to see that LoTW is starting to show very promising results.

The graphic below shows clearly that LoTW is being used by quite a few Europeans; I believe that in due course it will be adopted as the primary way to confirm QSOs.

LoTW is fast, effective and accurate. No more green stamps and lost QSLs due the corrupt and inefficient mail system.

6M DXCC status: 31 countries worked with 14 confirmed (all via LoTW)

73, Pierre ZS6A

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Magic band delivers

It is a known fact that during periods of sustained high solar flux levels and combined with the Equinox period that good Trans Equatorial Propagation (TEP) may occur.

Well I have been monitoring the conditions and activity very closely and I was starting to think that we just did not have sufficient solar activity on the sun to allow for TEP to occur. The SFI yesterday was 100, the A index was 4 and the K index was 1-2.

Well I was wrong, very wrong.

Yesterday the band opened up to Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East in a big way. The opening started at about 2 pm and the band closed at 9 pm local. There was a bit of a slump in activity after 4 pm for a short while.

I managed to make 123 QSOs, worked 71 Grids and 24 DXCC countries during this opening.

This event has been most memorable and I think it will be one of my personal highlights during my time as a Radio Amateur.

I sure hope that the conditions remain or even improve. I will be joining the Swaziland DX expedition 3DA0FC on the 6th of April and I plan to concentrate on 6 metres. I am pretty sure that 3DA0 is a fairly rare DXCC entity and it would be great if conditions would allow TEP / F2 openings into Europe during this time.

73, Pierre ZS6A

Grids worked during the 6M opening 21 March 2012

Monday, 19 March 2012

SARL VHF Contest March 2012

Just a few words regarding the VHF / UHF contest that took place last weekend.

I decided once again to be active on only 6m and concentrated mainly on long distance MS QSOs. IMHO conditions were not very favorable. The contest started at 12 Noon local time on Saturday and ended at 12 Noon on Sunday. The random meteors were virtually nonexistent on Saturday so I then tried working some weak signal tropo with mainly CW and was mostly unsuccessful, the pings were just to short to assemble the “bits and pieces” we require to complete a QSO. Sunday morning was much better and we all had great fun using the meteors as the main source of communication using mainly FSK441.

Now if only we could entice more of the outlying amateurs to join in on this fun event. I sure would be great if we could get some activity from our neighbouring countries. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique the stations in the center of South Africa in the Karoo would also be most welcome.

My best distance achieved was 1281 km.

The map below was generated by using the tool provided by K2DSL the program converts an ADIF file to KML format. This is a real handy method to visualize the propagation paths.

 73, Pierre ZS6A

Click on the map below for a more detailed view.
ZS6A 6M QSOs during SARL VHF contest March 2012

Thursday, 8 March 2012

My 1st 6m EME QSO

I am extremely pleased with myself for just having completed my 1st ever EME QSO. The QSO was with Lance W7GJ during my moonset.

The QSO was not easy, since I had terrible wideband pulsing hash noise in the direction of the setting moon. Fortunately with the patience and experience of Lance the QSO was completed. I cannot describe the joy and disbelief when seeing the 1st successful decode of the calls and later the much needed “RO” reply. Signals were pretty much hidden in the noise and were neither visible on the waterfall nor audible at any stage.

This WSJT JT65 is just amazing. Decoded Lance at -27 dB

To think my little signal traveled all the way to the moon was reflected and was copied by someone else some 730,000 km round trip. Simply amazing…..

73, Pierre ZS6A