Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Amateur Radio for profit: QSL scammers

This is not a new topic, but it is one that cannot be ignored.  There seems to be an alarming number of amateurs causing untold frustration when it comes to replying to QSLs.

I have wasted enough time and money pursuing QSL cards from these individuals wich seemingly receive our cards with the included return postage (green stamps), but have no intention of sending their card in return.

There are a few warning signs and maybe we need to be aware that the chances of receiving a QSL card in return are slim:

  • Most of the guilty ones are resident in the country and not visitors on an expedition.
  • The do not use LoTW, but often have fancy profiles on
  • They do not use QSL managers.
  • Often, no email address is listed.
  • If they have email addresses, they do not reply to queries.
  • Googling these calls, often helps to reveal the frustrations of others.

I am pretty tired of being ripped off by these con artists.

Maybe the DX fraternity should unite: No LoTW no QSO ……..

Monday, 16 December 2013

DX Expeditions – The way forward

Recently I stumbled across something which I believe is totally unique and IMHO the best thing since ice cream with regards to trip reports and feedback from the DX expeditions.

Well it actually is not new at all, but for some strange reason it has not become popular yet.

I am referring to trip reports from the DX expeditions using e-books (e.g. Kindel) I have just downloaded the e-book "3B7C The Saint Brandon DXpedition 2007" from

The 3B7C trip report is now available on my iPad and that will be my bedtime reading material for the next few days.

This is right up my alley; plenty photos with short bits of anecdotal information. IMHO this is way better than any video. I believe this is possibly the best way to create a bit of revenue to pay some of the cost incurred and to fund future expeditions.

Best off all creating a e-book does not require one to be some fancy author with literary skills. This is well within the capabilities of the average radio amateur.

I certainly hope this idea/concept will become more popular in the future.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Special event call – ZS9 MADIBA

No doubt everyone is aware that one of South Africa’s icons has passed away.

ZS9MADIBA is the South African Radio League Special Event Station commemorating the life and recent passing of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, elder statesman and first democratically-elected President of the Republic of South Africa. Affectionately referred to as “Madiba”, he became one of the most recognised leaders in the world and was instrumental in the peaceful transition of South Africa from minority rule to a constitutional democracy. South Africans join the people of the world in mourning his passing and celebrating his legacy.

 Permission to run a special event with the call ZS9MADIBA was obtained and I was one of the lucky ones to use the call today on 10m CW.

The info on is incorrect, for some reason the person managing the call cannot edit the information. The call is legal and in use and will be for a while yet.

I managed to make 308 QSOs, I could have worked many more, but alas the DSP processor between my ears did not perform as needed. It had great difficulty distinguishing between the various callers. The QRM and poor behaviour did not help either.

I guess there is no point in moaning, it won’t change anything.

Sure is fun facing the pile-up, I recon it could become addictive?

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