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SARL Today HF Update with ZS4BS Focus on VHF/UHF/Microwave Contest News with Geoff ZS6C SARL Forum current topics Commercial Hamads


ZS50MOON to celebrate moonlanding  - A number of radio amateurs in South Africa will be active on satellites from 20 July till 31 July using the special callsign ZS50MOON.Check out the @zs50moon twitter feed for updates on when the station will be active ( 



Sunday 7 July 2019

SARLNUUS with Jan Kramer ZS6JRK  luister/laai hier af 

SARLNEWS with Dave Reece ZS1DFR Listen/download here

AMATEUR RADIO TODAY, a weekly actuality programme about Amateur Radio and technology hosted by  Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV Download/Listen . 

More details about Today's programme here. Transmission times and frequency details click here

Amateur Radio Today on 80 metres on Mondays - On Mondays Amateur Radio Today is transmitted at 19:30 local time on 3620 kHz by Andy Cairns ZS6ADY. Reception reports are invited. Please send your report to Please give details of the signal strength antenna and location.  The SARL thanks Andy for coming forward to do the weekly relay. The SARL is inviting more amateurs to come forward to become relay stations. Send your details to

A Sunspot from the Next Solar Cycle Dr Tony Phillips reports that Solar Cycle 25 is coming to life. For the second time this month, a sunspot from the next solar cycle has emerged in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Numbered “AR2744”, it is inset in this magnetic map of the sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

How do we know this sunspot belongs to Solar Cycle 25? Its magnetic polarity tells us so. Southern sunspots from old Solar Cycle 24 have a -/+ polarity. This sunspot is the opposite: +/-. According to Hale’s Law, sunspots switch polarities from one solar cycle to the next. AR2744 is therefore a member of Solar Cycle 25. Solar cycles always mix together at their boundaries. Right now, we are experiencing the tail end of decaying Solar Cycle 24. AR2744 shows that we are simultaneously experiencing the first stirrings of Solar Cycle 25. The transition between Solar Cycle 24 and Solar Cycle 25 is underway. Short-lived “ephemeral sunspots” belonging to Solar Cycle 25 have already been reported on 20 December 2016; 8 April 2018; 17 November 2018; 28 May 2019 and 1 July 2019.  The sunspot spotted on 6 July is more important than those earlier examples because it has lasted long enough to receive a numerical designation: AR2744. Record-keepers will likely mark this as the first official sunspot of Solar Cycle 25.

his development does not mean Solar Minimum is finished. On the contrary, low solar activity will probably continue for at least another year as Solar Cycle 24 decays and Solar Cycle 25 slowly sputters to life. AR2744 is an important sign, however, that the next solar cycle is approaching.

Two New Books available from Trust online bookshop - The books are RSGB Shortwave Defined Radio and  Get in te air with digital (includes FT8). Also new is a sunstep cordless microphione kit (ideal for kids). Get details here

SARL position on French WRC 2023 proposal - The SARL have received several requests for clarification and more information regarding the recent French proposal for expansion of frequencies for aeronautical mobile services including the 2 m amateur band. The SARL responds as follows:

The sharing of the 1240-1300MHz band with the Galileo satellite navigation system and the proposal from France to study a range of frequencies, including the 144MHz amateur band, for future primary aeronautical applications were discussed at the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) Project Team A, one of the groups leading WRC-19 preparations.

The CEPT meeting considered views that the Galileo issue did not currently warrant a WRC23 agenda item and should be first investigated within CEPT. The proposal for new aeronautical frequencies including 144MHz was unfortunately not strongly opposed by other administrations and has been carried forward to the higher level CEPT- CPG meeting in August this year.

CEPT will make its final decisions during 26-30 August 2019 at the WRC19 Conference Planning Group Meeting for proposals that will then be put forward to ITU WRC-19 in October. If agreed, at WRC, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) would start work on them in November 2019 and that would continue during 2020-2023 for WRC-23.

The various amateur radio organisations in CEPT countries are working with their authorities to block the proposal from being put forward as an agenda item for WRC23. The IARU Region 1 raised its strong opposition at the CEPT Project Team A meeting and will continue to do so.

In South Africa ...

In South Africa, agenda items for WRC19 and proposal for WRC23 agenda items are discussed at the Department of Communications led National Preparatory Working Group for WRC-19 and South Africa’s position agreed on. South Africa’s positions are lobbied for support at SADC level and thereafter at the African Telecommunication Union for South Africa’s approach to be adopted as the African position. The SARL is a permanent member of the NPWC and participates in all the meetings and discussion groups.

The NPWC will meet in September to review the final agenda items and submit its position to   Cabinet for approval to become the final position and as a briefing document to delegates attending WRC19 in Egypt.

South Africa will host the ATU APM4 at the end of August where the African position for Agenda items are finalised. The SARL is representing the IARU at this meeting.

“It is understandable that people are concerned about these developments”, SARL president Nico van Rensburg ZS6QL, said. The SARL is fully in touch with the discussions and will lobby at the NPWC meeting for South Africa to vote against the French proposal if it is supported by CEPT and tabled for discussion to become an agenda item for WRC23 “.

It should also be noted that if the French proposal makes the WRC23 agenda, several study groups will be formed to look at the feasibility of the proposal. The SARL will lobby for South Africa authorities to have a member on the relevant study group and brief him or her accordingly.

Nico van Rensburg said he fully understands the concerns expressed in the various media but warns against unduly hype being created. “The SARL is fully on top of the situation. I urge radio amateurs to show how they value the frequency spectrum they have at their disposal by being active on the band.  The band under discussion by others, the 2-metre band, offers so many interesting challenges and activities. I urge you to take part in the various activities, talk around town, take part in long distant activity, operate satellite with the recently launched AMSAT SA  2m/70cm Yagi, attend the VHF workshop to be held on 20 July 2019 at the NARC.

Radio Frequencies are in demand 

“Radio Frequencies are in demand by many organisations and commercial interests. There are groups that monitor band occupancy on a continual basis and look for bands where there is low activity. My advice is don’t just listen, but be active. No activity creates opportunities for others to start making claims to satisfy their needs for spectrum. Be radioactive let your voice be heard on the bands.

The French proposal is a clear illustration, if ever there was one needed, for amateur radio on national and international level to speak with a unified voice, then it is now. A strong representative national society is most important to make that voice heard.  If you are not already a member of the SARL, join now and be part of a strong national voice to ensure a future for Amateur Radio. 

The SARL are working on both national and international levels to contribute to a positive outcome for the forthcoming World Radio Conference-19 items and WRC-23 Agenda proposals.


SARL/AMSAT SA VHF WORKSHOP -  Horizontal vs Vertical antenna polarisation – the debate - 20 Juy 2019   Dick Coates ZS6BUN has carried out extensive technical paper research and reviewed experiential data from world-wide resources and will present his findings and share his own experiences at the workshop. Jan "Pine" Pienaar ZS6OB will talk about Antennas, the most important link in VHF communication and discuss what is really important to look out for. 

Other discussions at the workshop include: Update on the Bethlehem and Karoo two metre beacon projects, the West Coast propagation phenomena, and three quick fire   10-minute sessions covering the Reverse beacon project, increasing levels of the HF noise floor a growing concern and why VHF and UHF have an important future in Amateur Radio.  

The workshop will be held at the SARL National Amateur Radio Centre from 08:30 and ends at 13:30.  Midmorning light refreshments will be served. The registration fee is R50 for SARL and AMSAT SA Members and R100 for non-members. To register get and download the programme click here

CHECK YOUR QSL’s ON THE SARL WEB - When last did you check on the SARL web if you received any electronic QSL’s ?  Click here  and follow the link. You may just be preventing an amateur form applying for awards because you have not acknowledged the QSL’s sent to you.

 AMSAT SA DUAL BAND YAGI NOW AVAILABLE FOR EXPORTFollowing requests from many amateurs outside South Africa AMSAT SA can offer the dual band yagi for export if ordered in a batch of 6. This is an ideal way for a club or group of amateurs to place one order and benefit from the sharing of the courier cost.  Details are available on Delivery is between 5 and 7  days. New stocks are arriving soon. In South Africa the yagi can be ordered in single or multiple units. Up to 4 yagis can be shipped in one parcel at the Postnet to Postnet rate of R120 inclusive of packaging.

NB! NB! Please ensure that the Office at the NARC has your correct e-mail address - Kelley at the NARC reports that she has received 429 e-mails over the weekend, BUT she also has about 100 e-mails that have come back undelivered. You may have changed your e-mail address without notifying the Office. Please help Kelley and keep your information up to date. 

The July 2019 Radio ZS is available for download - go to Publications on the menu on the left hand side and click on Radio ZS download.

June 2019 Radio ZS - 450 copies downloaded

May 2019 Radio ZS -.529 copies downloaded

AMSAT SA DUAL BAND YAGI NOW AVAILABLE FOR EXPORTFollowing requests from many amateurs outside South Africa AMSAT SA can offer the dual band yagi for export if ordered in a batch of 6. This is an ideal way for a club or group of amateurs to place one order and benefit from the sharing of the courier cost.  Details are available on Delivery is between 5 and 7  days. New stocks are arriving soon. In South Africa the yagi can be ordered in single or multiple units. Up to 4 yagis can be shipped in one parcel at the Postnet to Postnet rate of R120 inclusive of packaging.

Inspire young people to take up amateur radio

JOTA JOTI 2019 will be held on the weekend of the 18 to 20 October. This is the largest Scouting event of the year with around 2 million Cubs, Scouts and Guides taking part. Richard Hooper is looking for amateurs to assist with running stations for the events. A simple field station at your local Scout hall, or within a Scouting district is all that is required. Over the last 3 years, we have seen a 400% growth is stations; predominately in Division 6. 

No need to run the whole weekend either, as most of the activity is on the Saturday. If you are keen to get Youth involved in Amateur Radio and give back to your local Scouting community, please contact Richard and he will assist with getting a local troop in contact. Email Richard at


SARL on Facebook

Worldwide list of HF Beacons - Click here

Worldwide list of 6 Metre Beacons - Click here  

Unlocking Amateur Radio Technology - The SARL hosted a very sucessful synposium on 12 April 2019 in Stellenbosch.  It was attended by over 60 delegates. The symposium was supported by contributions from  RF Design, Comtest, F'Sati, Giga Technology and AMSAT SA. The powerpoint presentations are available for download here.

2019 RSGB Cricket World Cup Amateur Radio Marathon -The RSGB is pleased to invite all radio amateurs across the world to join us in celebrating the Cricket World Cup which is being held in England and Wales in 2019.  We are organising an International Amateur Radio Marathon for the duration of the competition.

2019/2020 Amateur Radio License fee increase

ICASA has informed the SARL that the licence fee will be increased by 4,7% on 1 April 2019. The new fees will be 

1 Year   -              R 148.00

2 Year   -              R 283.00

3 Year   -              R 406.00

4 Year   -              R 517.00

5 Year   -              R 617.00  

ICASA will start the invoicing process for the 2019/2020 period from 4 February 2019. Radio Amateurs are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure their license is up to date. If for some reason no invoice is received, check that ICASA has been informed of any address changes. 

Avoid the hassles of having to renew each year, opt for a multi-year licence. Simply, when renewing pay the appropriate amount. On the EFT state 5 Year licence and your callsign. Also send an email to with a copy of the EFT payment.

The correct account for your ICASA Licence Fee is NEDBANK Account number: 14 62 00 29 27, Branch Code: 146245 - Corporate Client Services – Pretoria and in the reference field type in your licence number and call sign. 

ICASA Licence Fees - DO NOT pay the ICASA licence fee into the SARL bank account, all moneys wrongfully paid into the SARL account will be refunded less the bank charges associated with these transactions. 

LOW SUNSPOTS TRY 16O M, you cannot be without this book - ON4UN's Low Band DXing -  Dozens of new propagation maps based on DX Atlas, as well as an in-depth analysis of the influence of sunspot cycles on 160-metre ducting. A new discussion of cutting edge technology including Software Defined Radio and the revolutionary LP-500 Digital Station Monitor. Chapters include 

  • Propagation
  • DXing on the Low Bands
  • Receiving and Transmitting Equipment
  • Antenna Design Software
  • Antennas: General, Terms, Definitions
  • The Feed Line and the Antenna
  • Receiving Antennas
  • The Dipole Antenna
  • Vertical Antennas
  • Large Loop Antennas
  • Phased Arrays
  • Other Arrays
  • Yagis and Quads
  • Low Band DXing from a Small Garden
  • From Low Band DXing to Contesting

CD-ROM included! The CD-ROM includes the entire book in a fully searchable PDF format as well as ON4UN’s software (Windows XP only), antenna modeling files, photographs and more. Now R950.  Delivery via Postnet R120. Special offer  for September and October 2019 free postnet delivery

2019 Advertising in Radio ZS and the SARL Web site

Radio ZS and the SARL web welcomes advertising. It is a source of information for readers. Send your advertisement for the League website to Hans, ZS6AKV at and for Radio ZS to Dennis, ZS4BS at

Advertising Rates (effective 1 February 2019)

Display (cameo) on home page and Radio ZS Strip advertisement (10 cm by 2 columns) - R550 pm - R2 750 for 6 months - R4 750 per annum

Commercial Hamad on home page - R70 pm - R350 for 6 months - R550 per annum

Terms and conditions

All contract advertisements content may be changed monthly on 5 working day notice

The rates are based on the complete supply of material in Jpeg unless otherwise negotiated. For artwork additional charges may apply as agreed

The content of the advertisements must comply with regulations and norms acceptable in South Africa

All advertisements are playable in advance by EFT to SA Radio League, ABSA, account no 4071 588 849 branch code 632 005

All correspondence and material must be sent to with a copy to

HF Update with Dennis, ZS4BS - 13 July 2019 

Get your weekly copy of HF Happenings at 

Southern African Fauna and Flora

South African SOTA 

Contacts with stations on the African continent count towards the SARL’s All Africa Award

Worldwide List of HF Beacons 

Ham Radio 2019 Lectures

The keynote lecture delivered at Ham Radio 2019 (Friedrichshafen) by Joe Taylor, K1JT - WSJT-X FT8 and Beyond is now available on DokuFunk (the Documentary Archive for the History of Radio Communication and Electronic Media), go to and click on Horsaal/Lecture room. Also available are reports from the KH1/KH7Z (Baker Island) and T31EU (Central Kiribati) DXpeditions.

Cape Verde, D4. Lukas, HB9EBT will be active again as D44TEG from Sao Tiago (AF-005), Cape Verde on between 22 and 29 July. He will operate CW on 40 to 10 metres. QSL via home call, direct or bureau.

Morocco, CN. Taking part in this year's Throne Day's celebrations, special call sign 5C1M will be active on 26 and 27 and 29 and 30 July. QSL via RW6HS. Throne Day is a public holiday in Morocco that commemorates the enthronement of the incumbent monarch. Since 1999, it has been celebrated on 30 July.

South Africa, ZS. The ZS9V team (ZS1AN, ZS1ANF, ZS1OIN, ZS1V, ZS1VDV and DL5EBE) will be active again from Robben Island (AF-064) between around 15.30 UTC on 15 August until around 05.00 UTC on 20 August, this includes the ILLW. They will operate CW, SSB and FT8 on 160 to 10 metres with three stations. QSL via M0OXO's OQRS (preferred); traditional requests go to M0OXO direct only. See for more information and updates.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta, 1A. A large multi-national team (EA1SA, EA5EL, EA5KA, EA5KM, EA5RM, EA7AJR, EA7KW, F8ATS, F9IE, IK5RUN, IN3ZNR, IW0DJB, IZ4AKS and LA7GIA) will be active again as 1A0C from the SMOM between 15 and 21 July. They will operate CW, SSB, RTTY and FT8 with at least three stations on 80 to 6 m. See for 1A0C's bandplan,
 QSLing policy, log search and Online QSL Request System. QSL direct via the OQRS (preferred), or direct to EA5RM.

Portugal, CT7. Special event station CS2Y will be active between 18 and 21 July for the 38th International Motorcycle Rally in Faro, Portugal. QSL via CT1EHX.

Greece, SV. The Thessaloniki Amateur Radio Group (SZ2T) will be active as SV94MIKIS, SV94THEO, SX94MIKIS and SX94THEO between 20 and 29 July. The special call signs celebrate the 94th birthday of Mikis Theodorakis (born 29 July 1925), the most famous Greek musician of contemporary times. See for more information.

Sardinia, IS0. Richard, OM2TW will be active holiday as IS0/OM2TW from the mainisland of Sardinia (EU-024) from 21 July to 3 August. He will operate CW, SSB, RTTY and possibly other digital modes on 80 to 10 metres and will participate in the IOTA Contest. QSL via OM2FY.

France, F. Gil, F4FET and Antoine, F5RAB will participate in the IOTA Contest as TM7P from Ile Petite (EU-107). They will be active for a few days before and after the contest, with two stations on 80-6 metres SSB, CW and RTTY. QSL via F4FET.

England, G - The Cray Valley Radio Society will be active from St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (EU-011) between 24 and 30 July, including an entry in the IOTA contest as M8C. Outside the contest the team (G0FDZ, G0VJG, G4FNL, GM0WED, M0MDR, M0TBS and M0TGV) will be active as G3RCV/p. QSLs via Club Log's OQRS (direct or bureau) and LoTW.

Brazil, PY. Renato, PY8WW will be active as PX8D from Mexiana Island (SA-042) between 26 and 29 July, including an entry in the IOTA Contest. He will operate SSB, CW and digital modes on the five traditional bands. QSL via Club Log's OQRS.


VHF, UHF and Microwave Record Table the latest table of records is available from the VHF SA Record page. Click here to get a copy. Compiled and updated by Paul, ZS6NK - latest version 10 June 2019. Updates to

Focus on VHF and Above 7 July 2019

Audio version 


This week, I want to talk a little about digital communications on VHF and above. Not the weak signal digital modes as used by the long distance VHF enthusiasts where the exchange is only callsigns and signal reports. 

Let me explain. 

Through my involvement in Hamnet we have certain challenges, on HF it is the current low sunspot activity causing not so great activity on the bands. Digital modes will however work great and I’ve already been testing JS8Call on HF. The other motivator to move to digital modes for disaster communications is that there are lots of times lists that need to be relayed, be it names of victims, search grids, logistic requirements and so forth. This can easily and more efficiently be sent via digital modes and programs like FLDigi and JS8Call has been written with this type of communication in mind. 

But now what about the shorter range communications? Those distances which are just too short for HF and well within the range of VHF. The guys that play with the longer distance VHF comms will agree that one can get pretty good range on simplex using FM and even better if you use SSB. 

One can always argue that NVIS on HF is the way to go. 

So, let us get back to the scenario where we need to send a list of names.

Not all radio amateurs have HF equipment set up to do digital modes in the field. Some of the Hamnet members only have VHF/UHF equipment and it is only FM and not SSB either. What now? 

Well it turns out that packet radio works very well on the VHF and UHF bands and at a higher baud rate of 1200 baud as opposed to 300 baud on HF.  Some of the more senior hams will remember the days of the packet radio systems and the bulletin boards of a bygone era. Well that was at the time how we used to send messages to each other, and it worked well. Packet radio uses a protocol AX.25 which is still used today for APRS and Winlink2000. We all know APRS, the tracking system that we use extensively in Hamnet so that the JOC can see where all their resources are. APRS is used to send and receive "tactical situation data". Most people use APRS to send GPS position reports from their cars, but it can also be used to send short person-to-person text messages, weather data, and all sorts of other things. Winlink 2000 is a way to send and receive short emails over HF, VHF, or UHF: just the thing to help the larger community when disaster strikes. Both APRS and Winlink 2000 over VHF/UHF are based on AX.25 packet radio, which means that you would need some sort of Terminal Node Controller (TNC). Hardware TNCs are expensive, but now days there are software TNCs that can be used like MixW, AGWPE and Dire Wolf to name a few. 

There are a number of resources available on the internet that can be reviewed. 

Take a look at the website of Joe Cupano NE2Z where he demonstrates  Amateur Radio Digital Modes with simple VHF/UHF Digital Stations


More information about sound card packet TNCs can be found on the website of David Stansbury KB3KAI 

Just think about the possibilities. You can now scan a list of names, grid coordinates or stores requirements into your laptop in the field, send the list via packet radio over your FM hand held radio to the local JOC which can then send it on via HF. 

So who is up to getting such a system operational to test the capabilities? 

Let us finish of with some news. 

The 144 MHz Trans-Atlantic path opened again on Saturday 29 June 2019.

On 16 June 2019, the Atlantic was spanned for the first time on 144 MHz when D41CV on Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa managed to work FG8OJ in Guadeloupe using the FT8 digital mode. Amazingly, that particular opening lasted for the best part of five days. On Saturday 29  June, FG8OJ in Guadaloupe managed to work D4Z in Cape Verde for the first time on SSB. 


According the the Hepburn Charts for this week, the conditions for the West Coast are looking good from around 00:00 UTC on 9 July. I’m sure the guys from Brazil will also be monitoring the 2m band for a possible contact. 


Conditions along the South East Coast will also be improving this coming week with good conditions around 00:00 UTC on 10 July.




Do not forget about the VHF workshop that will take place on 20 July 2019 at the National Amateur Radio Centre in Honeydew.

For registration and the agenda go to the SARL website


The next meeting of the VHF Work Group will be on 25 July at 20:00 on Skype. To participate in the work group, send your Skype name to


Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to

Focus on VHF and Above 30 June 2019

 Audio version

It was previously reported that France has proposed to CEPT that 144-146 MHz be allocated to the Aeronautical Mobile Service. Well it seems like there is now serious petitioning happening against this. There are at present two online petitions that you can add your name to. One or both of these campaigns are also on the local WhatsApp groups. 

I find it interesting that there is suddenly a lot of excitement around this topic. There are lots of opinions expressed on social media groups, forums and the like. The problem is that the information that is available is not the whole picture, but only part of it and there is also a lot of misinformation being circulated and the social media applications make it so easy to share this misinformation without first doing some basic research to see what the real story is. 

I also hear folk asking what is the SARL doing about such and such a problem as if the SARL is some higher organisation that is responsible to resolve issues. Well, I’ve news for you. We, you and I are the SARL. It is us and not them. I see and hear a lot of excuses why one cannot participate, but very few leave the comfort of their arm chairs and actually step forward and get involved. 

This problem is not only here, but occurs everywhere. Listen to what Onno VK6FLAB has to say.

 Foundations of Amateur Radio – The Regulator.mp3 

I can assure you that the South African Radio League is not sitting idle and there are folk constantly working in the background attending various meetings, lobbying the authorities and participating in industry and regulatory working groups. 

So what can we do and where do we start? Firstly, if you are not a member of the South African Radio League, become a member. Then make the effort to participate when input is requested from the members by the respective work groups that deal with the various issues at hand. If you can afford the time, then why not make yourself available to actively participate in a work group. You do not need to be in Pretoria or Johannesburg areas to participate and help make a difference. 

The past week the conditions along the South East Coast has not been good as reported by Peter ZS2ABF. 

Earlier yesterday there was a 6m opening between Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. 

Looking forward to the week ahead on the Hepburn Charts, the conditions predicted in the North Atlantic next week is excellent for more contacts between Cape Verde and the Caribbean Islands. 

North Atlantic 18:00 1 July 2019.jpg


In the South Atlantic and the West Coast the conditions are not good, but may be improving towards the later half of the week.


South Atlantic 12:00 4 July 2019.jpg


On the South East Coast conditions may be good this afternoon and evening for contacts up the coast. The rest of the week there seems to be no chance. 

East Coast 12:00 30 June 2019.jpg


Do not forget about the VHF workshop that will take place on 20 July 2019 at the National Amateur Radio Centre in Honeydew.

For registration and the agenda go to either the AMSAT SA website at or the SARL website 

The VHF Work Group met on Thursday 27 June on Skype. It was a short meeting as there is still work being done on the radio in order to generate a clean CW signal. Hopefully progress will be made this coming week and then an installation date can be determined for the beacon in Bethlehem. 

The next meeting of the VHF Work Group will be on 25 July at 20:00 on Skype. To participate in the work group, send your Skype name to


Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to


Focus on VHF and Above 23 June 2019

Audio version  

The highlight this week must be the historic contacts being made across the Atlantic between the Cape Verde Islands and the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe. 

The first contact was made on Sunday 16 June 2019 when the Atlantic was spanned for the first time when D41CV on Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa managed to work FG8OJ in Guadeloupe on 144.174 MHz using the FT8 digital mode.  A distance of 3,867 kilometres

Tropo prediction maps show a path right across the Atlantic and suggest that even more incredible contacts may be possible.

The operator was Mark EA8FF using the beacon antenna as the "Pinocchio Yagi" had to be taken down to be improved after severe bad wind. The beacon antenna is an array of 6 horizontal polarised dipoles with an omnidirectional pattern.


Since this contact there have been numerous contacts across the Atlantic from D41CV. See the post Historic Trans-Atlantic Contact made on 144 MHz from Cape Verde to Guadeloupe on the blog of John EI7GL from Ireland for more information. The URL for John’s blog is

Now the challenge is to cross the Southern Atlantic between the West Coasts of South Africa or Namibia and Brazil. 

Using AIS metadata to monitor propagation in the 2m band. Prognosis, monitoring and analysis of propagation conditions are a basis for kilometres and points in DX competition. As a new tool to monitor propagation in the 2m band, D4C has started receiving vessel AIS data.

AIS is a maritime NMEA standard, through which ships continuously transmit signals at approximately 12.5 Watts using a ground plane antenna. The evaluation of the AIS position data - which can, for example, be visualized by DXMaps under "AIS" - show when and how periods of enhanced propagation occur, in real time. Therefore, log data of successful radio connections are not used, but rather received signals on the 2 AIS channels at 162 MHz (+- 25KHz).

To receive AIS signals at D4C’s location (also D4Z and D41CV) on the Cape Verde Islands, the team concluded an antenna partnership with the company in Germany, through which they received their AIS receiver equipment free of charge.

While at the preparatory meeting for WRC19 that I recently attended, I had the opportunity to chat to the folk from the Maritime Safety Authority about AIS. There are various AIS systems that are deployed on vessels. Some of these AIS systems make use of RF while others are satellite based, so when one uses websites like then one needs to drill down to the vessel concerned to see which system the ship is using. Some of the long distances being reported could be from vessels using the satellite based systems. 

Please remember that here in South Africa, you need a license to receive signals outside of the amateur bands so it is better to view the data on the websites than to receive the AIS signals yourselves. 

While you are on the blog of John EI7GL, take a look at the post about Noctilucent Clouds. 

In this week there have been reports about these clouds in Space Weather News as well.  

The 2019 season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) has been remarkable, maybe the best ever, with NLCs appearing as far south as Los Angeles CA and Albuquerque NM. What's going on? NASA satellites have just found an important clue. An unusual wave of moisture is surging through the mesosphere, boosting water concentrations to their highest level in at least 12 years. Visit for the full story and look at the fantastic photos of the Noctilucent clouds. 

Hans ZS6AKV alerted me to this and I dug a little into it to find out more and whether there may be any chance of seeing these clouds locally and experiencing their effects on the VHF and above bands. 

The Mesosphere is a layer between the Stratosphere and the Thermosphere. The Stratosphere being above the Troposphere. The  Ionosphere also overlaps the Mesosphere. Looking at the numbers, the Troposphere is around 12 km thick. The Stratosphere extends to approximately 45 km, then the Mesosphere extends from 45 km to 85 km. Noctilucent clouds exist at a height of 76 km to 85 km. The D layer of the Ionosphere is from 60 km to 90 km and the E layer is 90 km to 150 km. 


The Mesosphere is the same layer where the meteors burn up in. We know that we get ionisation when the Meteors burn up that causes signal enhancement. We also know that the E layer of the Ionosphere is where Sporadic E propagation takes place.

Noctilucent clouds are known to exhibit high radar reflectivity in a frequency range of 50 MHz to 1.3 GHz. These radar echoes are called PMSE (polar mesosphere summer echoes). There are a lot of theories as to the cause of the radar echoes.

NASA has been studying these clouds through their AIM program since 2007.


AIM’s data has led to more than 200 papers on Earth’s upper atmosphere. Here are a handful of key scientific discoveries:

·       Overturning assumptions about the sun and noctilucent clouds: Observations from the 1980s and ’90s suggested that the appearance of noctilucent clouds is linked to the sun’s activity, which rises and falls in about 11-year patterns. But AIM’s data tell a different story: noctilucent clouds have been steadily increasing over the past decade, despite the sun’s regular changes in activity. The precise reason for this is still unknown.

·       Noctilucent cloud and greenhouse gases: Scientists suspected that increased sightings of noctilucent clouds could be related to increasing greenhouse gases. Combining AIM’s data with 36 years of measurements from satellite instruments showed a correlation between more frequent noctilucent clouds and increases in water vapor, a greenhouse gas, and decreasing upper-atmosphere temperatures — a side effect of warming near the surface. 

·       Meteors help create noctilucent clouds: The ice crystals that form noctilucent clouds must form on a foundation of some kind. AIM’s data showed that this base is actually smoke from meteors — tiny microparticles produced when meteors burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

·       Tracking meteoric smoke: Before AIM’s launch, scientists primarily watched meteoric smoke — the tiny particles created when meteors burn up in the atmosphere — from just a few viewpoints with sounding rockets. AIM’s measurements have given scientists a new tool to watch this meteoric smoke, revealing for the first time the dynamics of how meteoric smoke moves through the atmosphere.

·       Understanding the upper atmosphere: AIM helped scientists track how heat moves in the upper atmosphere, showing that heating in the mesosphere is more likely linked to circulation in the atmosphere rather than direct heating from the sun. 

·       Studying atmospheric waves caused by Earth’s rotation: AIM measures planetary waves, planet-scale waves caused by Earth’s rotation, that can influence weather across the globe. Over its 10-year mission, AIM has observed three of the four most extreme springtime planetary wave events seen since satellite observations began in 1978, raising questions about possible changes in the dynamics of the atmosphere.

·       Teleconnection between the poles: AIM’s data showed that conditions in the stratosphere near the North Pole influence conditions in the mesosphere near the South Pole days or weeks later — even going so far as to influence the transition between seasonal conditions.

·       How Earth’s weather affects the upper atmosphere: AIM’s measurements have also helped scientists track how air in the atmosphere moves vertically, as well as between the hemispheres. This helps scientists understand how events near Earth’s surface — like thunderstorms — might trigger changes in the upper atmosphere.

·       Understanding the atmosphere from bottom to top: This new understanding of vertical linkages in the atmosphere was integrated into the first weather model that describes the entire atmosphere from the surface all the way to the upper mesosphere.

·       The source of radar echoes: AIM solved the mystery of radar echoes in certain regions of the atmosphere during the summer. The same ice layer that produces noctilucent clouds is to blame for radar echoes, and the size of the ice crystals can even play a role.

Thanks for NASA for the information supplied.

Could we see these clouds in Southern Africa? Most likely not, but if they were to be seen it will probably be in the Southern Cape.

Could there be propagation enhancement from these clouds? Very possible, however there are very few amateurs at the latitudes where these clouds exist, so it could be more possible over the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere.

RF Noise just how bad is it? Recently large parts of South America were without electricity. When Argentina was plunged into darkness by a nationwide power cut Luciano Petruccelli LU3DX made a video showing just how much RF pollution is produced by electronic devices.
Watch his video showing how little interference there was during the power cut on June 16, 2019, followed by massive RF pollution when power was restored. At 42 seconds into the video clip you will see and hear a sudden increase in noise when the power was restored.


Do not forget about the VHF workshop that will take place on 20 July 2019 at the National Amateur Radio Centre in Honeydew.

For registration and the agenda go to either the AMSAT SA website at or the SARL website


Looking forward to seeing you there.


The next meeting of the VHF Work Group will be via Skype at 20:00 on 27 June 2019. If you want to join the VHF Work Group, send us your Skype name to and we will add you to the call.


Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to


Focus on VHF and Above 16 June 2019 

Audio Version 

Last week we listened to what typical Meteor Scatter signals sound like. You could clearly hear the bursts of ionisation caused by the meteors burning up in the atmosphere.

This week we are going to listen to a couple of other VHF propagation modes. 

Here in the inland areas of the country the long distance VHF communications are most likely Tropospheric Scatter. This type of propagation is also normally associated with changing weather such as a high pressure cell moving away and temperature inversions. 

This first recording is a typically weak but stable CW tropospheric scatter signal of a beacon. 

Tropospheric Scatter f5xal Beacon.mp3 

And here is a SSB tropo scatter signal 

Tropospheric Scatter 7x2ls SSB.mp3

Now along the coastal areas especially on the West Coast we get tropoducting taking place. Here is what tropoducting sounds like.

Tropoducting rw1zd.mp3

And another one recording locally the West Coast and St Helena Island.

Tropoducting ZS3JPY QSO ZD7GWM.mp3

Here in South Africa, Sporadic E season is usually late December and January. Sporadic E is strongest on the lower VHF bands. So what does Sporadic E propagation sound like over the radio? 

This recording is a very strong SSB signal. 

Sporadic E cn8st.mp3 

Here is another recording, this time of a CW signal 

Sporadic E yo6afp.mp3


While I have just said that usually Sporadic E openings occur in the summer months, this past week has seen Sporadic E openings between the northern provinces and Cape Town. 

Mike ZS1TAF reports that he worked Willem, ZS6WAB and Servaas, ZS6SER on 50.200 MHz SSB between 16H10 and 17H20 UCT on 7 June.

QSB on band but great contacts both ways.

ZS6TWB Beacon was also heard on 50.044 MHz CW with a report of 57. 

There were multiple ZS1 stations that worked both Willem and Servaas. 

On 11 June Mike only worked Carl, ZS6CBQ. There were however other ZS1 stations who worked Carl and a few other ZS6 stations as well.

The following beacons were also heard:

ZS6TWB Beacon on 50.044 MHz CW reported as 56

ZS6WAB Beacon on 50.025 MHz CW reported as 59

ZS6JON Beacon on 50.050 MHz CW reported as 54 

Mike says “This was a Sporadic E opening which is usually concentrated during the summer months.... Maybe this changes that Theory somewhat....” 

That was a great opening and congratulations to all the guys that managed to exploit the favourable conditions. 

We have previously reported that the frequency bands allocated to the Amateur Service are under attack. This threat has come to our attention. 

France proposes 144-146 MHz for Aeronautical Mobile Service 

The next meeting of the CEPT WRC-19 Conference Preparatory Group takes place June 17-21 in Prague 

France has submitted a paper with the subject Agenda Item 10 revised proposal for an agenda item for new non-safety aeronautical mobile applications. 

The paper says: 

"The list of bands that are proposed for study of possible new allocations to the aeronautical mobile service on a primary basis is revised by adding the band 144-146 MHz, the bands 5000-5010 MHz and 15.4-15.7 GHz being maintained." 

"The decisions of previous conferences have introduced some restrictions to the use and have imposed constraints on the development of aeronautical mobile applications within some existing mobile allocations traditionally used by the aeronautical mobile applications. 

At the same time, the number of manned and unmanned aircraft equipped with sensors has grown significantly in the past 20 years together with the need of bidirectional low to high data rate communications. 

Aeronautical applications like fire surveillance, border surveillance, air quality and environment monitoring, traffic monitoring, disaster monitoring, terrain modelling, imagery (visible, infrared, radar, meteo), video monitoring require non-safety communications between various types of aeronautical platforms. 

Consequently the need of non-safety data communications between various types of aeronautical platforms increases and so the need for new frequency bands." 

Remember, we are part of Region 1 and this is how it starts. It will now not be long and we will need to justify and defend our usage of the 2m band here as well. 

Do not forget about the VHF workshop that will take place on 20 July 2019 at the National Amateur Radio Centre in Honeydew.

For registration and the agenda go to either the AMSAT SA website at or the SARL website 

Looking forward to seeing you there. 

The next meeting of the VHF Work Group will be via Skype at 20:00 on 27 June 2019. If you want to join the VHF Work Group, send us your Skype name to and we will add you to the call. 

Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to

Focus on VHF and Above 9 June 2019

 Audio version

We have previously in tutorials spoken about the various propagation modes. 

Bernie ZS4TX sent VHF news an email this week with some great information which I’m going to use as an introduction to how do you identify what VHF mode of propagation you may be experiencing and what it sounds like on the radio. 

The ZS5KT beacon is being heard very well in Bloemfontein. Bernie says “I have been hearing the ZS5KT 144.420 CW beacon from grid KF50MF in grid KG30BX almost all the time during the few days I have been monitoring since I was alerted about the beacon being active.” The ZS5KT beacon has a 9 element Yagi with an output of 25W and Bernie has a 4 x 14 element Yagi array. The distance between KG30BX & KG50MF is 483.55 km. 

Bernie also attached two screen shots with an audio recording at about the time the screenshots were taken. You need listen carefully and sometimes it may be difficult to hear the changes in the signal, but it will get easier over time.



Bernie says “On the first recording you will hear a short meteor burst at the beginning followed by the normal troposcatter signal. 


Recording 1



On the second recording you will hear the signal enhancement for a few seconds as typically caused by aircraft scatter. The 2nd screenshot of the WSJT waterfall clearly shows the stronger signal and doppler shift caused by the aircraft scatter.


Recording 2 

In the first recording Bernie sent you probably did not recognise the meteor burst. So what do meteor scatter bursts sound like? 

Here is a recording of more pronounced meteor scatter pings recorded during the Leonids meteor shower in 2002. You will clearly hear the pings when the ionisation of the air takes place and then a burst of radio activity being reflected or scattered by the ionisation. 



Here is another recording of some meteor scatter bursts 



and lastly one of two short FSK441 meteor scatter reflections


If you now again carefully listen to the recording sent by Bernie, you will recognise the meteor burst.


Thank you Bernie for this information and thanks to EA6VQ for providing the other MS recordings.


The screenshots and recordings are available on the SARL web page.


Next week we will listen to another VHF and above propagation mode. 

Now for some VHF and above news.

For those of you who like to play with Slow Scan TV or SSTV, the Raspberry Pi magazine, MagPi has a very nice article that describes how to set up a Raspberry Pi and a RTL-SDR dongle to receive SSTV pictures from the International Space Station. Follow the link 

The ISS regularly transmits SSTV images on the downlink frequency of 145.800 MHz. To find out when the ISS will be making SSTV transmissions keep an eye on the Amateur Radio on International Space Station (ARISS) SSTV blog page at 

Talking about satellites, Lightsail-2 is scheduled for launch June 22 and will have a Beacon on 437.025 MHz 

LightSail is a citizen-funded project from The Planetary Society.

This cubesat will be propelled solely by sunlight, to Earth orbit. LightSail 2 is scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy on June 22, 2019, and they will attempt the first, controlled solar sail flight in Earth orbit. 

LightSail 2 will ride to space aboard the Department of Defense Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission which will send 24 spacecraft to 3 different orbits. LightSail 2 itself will be enclosed within Prox-1, a Georgia Tech-designed spacecraft originally built to demonstrate close-encounter operations with other spacecraft. Prox-1 will deploy LightSail 2 seven days after launch. 

After a few days of health and status checks, LightSail 2's four dual-sided solar panels will swing open. Roughly a day later, four metallic booms will unfurl four triangular Mylar sails from storage.

The sails, which have a combined area of 32 square meters [344 square feet], will turn towards the sun for half of each orbit, giving the spacecraft a tiny push no stronger than the weight of a paperclip.

For about a month after sail deployment, this continual thrust should raise LightSail 2's orbit by a measurable amount. 

LightSail 2 will fly in a 24-degree inclination, 720 km, circular orbit.

At latitudes of 42 degrees north it will reach a maximum elevation of 10 degrees above the horizon. 

Lightsail-2 has been issued an experimental radio license WM9XPA and transmit on 437.025 MHz. A morse beacon will transmit the callsign every 45 seconds. A packet beacon will transmit AX.25, FSK 9K6 bps data. 

Beacon information is available at:

Documentation of the downlink telemetry data structure is posted at: 

The VHF workshop will take place on 20 July 2019 at the National Amateur Radio Centre in Honeydew.

The main topic will be: Which is better, Vertical or Horizontal polarisation?

Come to the VHF workshop and listen to what Dick ZS6BUN has to say  about Vertical vs Horizontal propagation.

We are also privileged have a presentation by Jan Pienaar ZS6OB or "Pine" as we all know him, and he will talk about Antennas, the most important link in VHF communication and discuss what is really important to look out for.

There will also be feedback on the progress of the two new beacons, a discussion on the West Coast propagation phenomenon and some quick fire sessions on the Reverse Beacon Project, a growing concern regarding the HF noise levels and why VHF and UHF has an important future in Amateur Radio.

The registration fee is R50 for SARL and AMSAT SA Members and R100 for non-members. For registration and the agenda go to either the AMSAT SA website at or the SARL website 

Looking forward to seeing you there. 

The next meeting of the VHF Work Group will be via Skype at 20:00 on 27 June 2019. If you want to join the VHF Work Group, send us your Skype name to and we will add you to the call.  

Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to


 Check the 2019 SARL Blue Book
SARL Forum Active Topics
very wide transmission??  19/07/2019  00:04:59
by: ZS1OZ
Results QRP Contest 
 1  2
18/07/2019  22:41:18
by: ZS6C
WAZS certificates  18/07/2019  19:43:10
by: ZS6P
Why do we need AREDN Networks in South Africa?  18/07/2019  15:35:22
by: ZS1I
144.300 SSB Sked 
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18/07/2019  11:30:46
by: ZS2ABF
Club Newsletters Online 
 1  2  3
18/07/2019  11:14:54
by: ZS2BL
ZS50MOON  17/07/2019  21:05:07
by: ZR6TG
DXNL : DX news  17/07/2019  17:38:20
by: ZS1C
The road to Bouvet Island  17/07/2019  16:17:08
by: ZS1AN
What is the Reboot Amateur Radio Group?  17/07/2019  15:43:36
by: ZS1I

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Radio Amateurs, or "Hams" use two-way radio communication to make contact with other radio amateurs all over the world. They are even able to use satellites and on occasion speak with astronauts. Radio Hams can do this from home or while mobile in cars, boats or on foot.

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