Sunday, 24 November 2013

Blast from the past: TEP Research ZE2JV

I found this gem of an article in the QST archive:
Transequatorial Propagation of VHF Signals
By RG Cracknell ZE2JV
December 1959

This article dates back to the peak of solar cycle 19; it was the best solar cycle in recorded history.

Considering that this was written in 1959 one can surely assume that 6m equipment was a rarity and not too many radio amateurs would have been equipped with 6m gear. The equipment that existed most likely was insensitive and noisy not nearly as capable as the equipment at our disposal today.

Amongst other things the article shows the TEP footprint as show below. Today we have hundreds of keen 6m enthusiasts and we have great tools at our disposal including electronic logs which can be “mined” to extract data such as grid locators information from, which in turn can be plotted on maps.

Unfortunately we still don’t have many 6m enthusiasts in South Africa, but I believe that we do have sufficient experience to believe that the foot print appears to be accurate.

I will re-read the article carefully to see if there are any anomalies. The one thing I did notice is that what has become known as afternoon -TEP (a-TEP) is not accounted for. The article refers to openings occurring after 16:30 UTC, we often have openings starting as early as 12:00 UTC.

The research done in 1959 is simply awesome; it is a pity that the research seems to have stagnated.

6m TEP Footprint EU - ZS

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Magic band surprises yet again

Yesterday 17 November the 6m band opened yet again and many South African stations were able to work into Europe. There has not been a significant opening in months. In fact, the TEP season which should have peaked at around equinox 22 September (almost 2 months ago)  has been a huge disappointment.

All that changed yesterday. The band opened up with a vengeance and the opening we had lasted for several hours. At times the signals were remarkably strong with the odd reports received of S9+25 dB This seldom happens, most of the time we must be satisfied with working signals that are just above the noise floor and often distorted due to the typical multipath that the signals follow.

The image certainly suggests that this was a typical TEP opening, but who knows? The SFI has been climbing and is now sitting at 177. I sure hope this trend continues. It could make for a interesting CW-WW-CW contest this coming weekend.

I managed to work 141 stations from 45 grid squares during the opening.

No new DXCC entities were worked, seems like I am stuck at 55 countries worked/confirmed. I did work a few new grid squares (3 new grid squares already confirmed in LoTW) total now 156 VUCC grids confirmed on LoTW.

My HRD log shows 273 grids worked with 186 confirmed.

These 6m openings are great. For a few hours it feels as if you have the world at your feet, with dozens of callers begging to work you. Then "poof",  it's all over and back to being a tiny pistol and listening to white noise yet again……

6m 17 November 2013

ZS6A 6m grids worked 17 Nov 2013

Monday, 11 November 2013

Working the DX pileup: Operating guide

I found the following video clip to be most informative:

It might seem like a bit of a joke, but it is not. The advice given IMHO is on the money.

I was very surprised to see that some of the poor behaviour being placed with the expedition operators, but the author makes 100% sense.

There is very good advice given for both the DX expedition operators as well as the DX chasers.