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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

SARL TODAY! 

The 2020 Secunda ARC Field Day. The Secunda Radio Club, ZS6SRC, will hold its annual Field Day week from 20 – 29 March 2020 (during the school holidays) at the Trichardtfontein Dam, just outside Secunda. This is a perfect opportunity to gain experience in a simulated DXpedition. ZS6SRC plan to operate on HF - 160, 80, 40, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 m and on VHF/UHF – 6 m and satellites (voice and digital) and QO-100 Satellite operation will also be available.

The Club is also in need of sponsors. Please contact Gert, ZS6GC if you know of anyone who can help sponsor the event. If you are planning to attend or can sponsor, contact Gert Botha, ZS6GC on mobile +27 82 771 0663 or e-mail gertb@cybersmart.co.za. More information in the February 2020 Radio ZS 


 AMSAT SA  NEW SPACE SYMOSIUM DATE - The annual AMSAT SA Space symposium   date has changed to Saturday 11 July 2020.  While the call for papers is ongoing till the end of February, AMSAT SA is pleased to announce that Burns Fisher WB1FJ, of AMSAT NA will delivery two papers  at the symposium:  Fox-in-a-box,  Fox telemetry reception using an inexpensive Raspberry Pi and a J-pole antenna including a discussion on the  optimal positioning for a J-pole antenna for satellite reception and an overview of what is in orbit currently and expected in the near future and their features. 

Prospective authors are invited to  propose other  papers by submitting a brief synopsis to admin@amsatsa.org.za before 28 February 2020.


SARL ON-THE-AIR BULLETINS AND AMATEUR RADIO TODAY PROGRAMME 19 January 2020

SARLNEWS in English with Rory Norton ZS2BL  here 

SARLNUUS in Afrikaans  met Jan Kramer ZS6JRK luister hier

AMATEUR RADIO TODAY,  SARL's weekly actuality programme about Amateur Radio and technology hosted by  Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV  Download/listen  here 

Amateur Radio Today on 80 metres on Mondays - On Mondays Amateur RadioToday is transmitted at 19:30 local time on 3620 kHz by Andy Cairns ZS6ADY. Reception reports are invited. Please send your report to artoday@sarl.org.za. Please give details of the signal strength antenna and location.


DOWNLOAD FROM THE SARL

The January 2020 Radio ZS is available for download, click here

The 2020 Contest manual is available for download from the here. Contest sponsors please check that the details of your specific contest are correct.

The 2020 Diary of Events and an A3 size Year at a Glance calendar is available for download from here  


2020/21 Amateur Radio License fee increase

ICASA has informed the SARL that the licence fee will be increased by ??% on 1 April 2020. The new fees will be 

1 Year   -  

2 Year   -  

3 Year   -  

4 Year   -  

5 Year   -     

ICASA will start the invoicing process for the 20209/2021 period from ?????????? 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 dkuhrau@icasa.org.za 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.  


THE BETHLEHEM 2 M BEACON IS ON THE AIR. The Bethlehem 2 m beacon that has previously been reported on, is now on the air. A dedicated group of VHF enthusiasts installed the two 8 element Yagi antennas, splitter and LMR-400 coax on the mast of the Free State Amateur Radio Club on Bird Cage Hill near Bethlehem on Saturday 7 December 2019. After connecting the cable in the repeater hut, the beacon in its box was powered up and within 30 seconds the first message was sent towards Johannesburg and Durban. Not long after that the reports started coming in, S3 to S5 in Pretoria and 3/1 in Edenvale. It is heard softly in Kimberley and Bloemfontein, which are on the back of the antennas. The beacon transmits on 144,425 MHz CW with 25 W into a pair of 8 element Yagi antennas. The message being transmitted to those who cannot read CW is "CQ CQ ZS0BET ZS0BET BEACON KG41DS." 

Well done to the team of Rickus, ZS4A; Charl, ZS4ATZ; Wallie, ZS4LD; Daniel, ZS4DA; Stephan, ZS4SDL and Carl, ZS6CBQ, who installed the beacon in Bethlehem. Listen to Amateur Radio Today for more information about the installation of the beacon. The VHF Work Group will now focus on a 2 m beacon for the Northern Karoo in the new year.


The SARL Novice Award - The Council has approved the SARL Novice Award. This award is available to holders of South African Novice Licence (ZU) and is designed to encourage activity across four designated bands for this licence class. Contacts may be made using CW, SSB or FM modes, as appropriate on 80 m, 40 m, 10 m and 2 m with a minimum of 10 contacts and maximum of 25 contacts per band. Multiple contacts with the same amateur and contacts via terrestrial repeaters do not count for the award. No QSL cards are needed. Get the information HERE 


2020 ARRL Handbook and Antenna book - Limited stock of the ARRL Antenna Book ( 4 volumes in a boxed set) and the ARRL Handbook (6 volumes shrinked wrapped)  are now available. Order while stocks last .


Order form with details can be downloaded here 


Note the address to send orders has changed. If you have sent an order in the past 2 weeks please resend. New address is admin@amateurradio.org.za. Sorry for the inconcenience, but we had to move to a new hosting company as Telkom could not resolve their software issues they have with .org.za addresses.


The 2020 SARL 95 National Convention - The Sandton and Hammies ARCs are hosting the 2020 SARL 95 National Convention over the weekend of 3 to 5 April 2020 at the Wanderers Club in Illovo, Johannesburg. The SARL Symposium will be run on Friday 3 April with the SARL AGM on Saturday morning 4 April. The SARL 95 Celebratory Dinner Dance will be held on Saturday evening with the LM Radio Band and Eddie Eksteen!

Why SARL 95? The SARL will be 95 years old in 2020 and application will be made for a special call sign.


Report interference and unauthorised use of amateur frequencies - If your transmission or repeater is interfered with by an unlicensed person (s), note as much detail as possible and report the case for investigation to the ICASA  regional office in your area. By policing the amateur bands and reporting transgressions by non-licensed persons we protect the future of the amateur radio spectrum. Send a copy of your email to artoday@sarl.org.za   to allow   the SARL to monitor how wide-spread the problem is.  For a  list of  ICASA Regional managers and contact details visit http://www.sarl.org.za/public/licences/licences.asp  or 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. Download while still available .


Guidelines for a non SARL member to use the SA-QSL system- Phone Kelley at NARC (011 675 2393) and check that your correct information is on the database – license number and e-mail address are important.

Click on SA-QSL system link (on the left-hand side of the web page) and then click on “Need to Register”. Follow the instructions on the screen. Your username and password will be e-mailed to you which you can use to logon in future.

SARL and not yet SARL Members are requested to check their Electronic QSLs on a regular basis.  

Two New Books and mike kit available from ARD Trust online bookshop - The books are RSGB Shortwave Defined Radio and  Get On The Air with Digital (includes FT8). Also new is a sunstep cordless microphone kit (ideal for kids). Get details here

If you are a newcomer to radio or would like to brush-up on your knowledge you may also like this one 

 

 Get details here

Get  your antennas ready for the SARL contests. Here is another handy ARRL book: Basic Antennas @ R740 per copy.


 

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


2020 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 artoday@sarl.org.za and for Radio ZS to Dennis, ZS4BS at radiozs@sarl.org.za

Advertising Rates (effective 1 January 2020)

Display (cameo) on home page and Radio ZS Strip advertisement (10 cm by 2 columns) - R600 pm - R3 000 for 6 months - R5 000 per annum

Commercial Hamad on home page - R100 pm - R400 for 6 months - R900 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. A design service is available at R400 per advertisement.

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 admin@sarl.org.za with a copy to artoday@sarl.org.za


HF Update with Dennis, ZS4BS - 17 January 2020 

Get your weekly copy of HF Happenings at www.sarl.org.za/hf_happenings.asp 

Daily frequency predications: https://spaceweather.sansa.org.za/products-and-services/frequency-predictions/daily-frequencies Bloemfontein - Cape Town; Cape Town – Durban; Cape Town – NVIS; Cape Town – Pretoria; Durban – Pretoria; Pietersburg – Pretoria; Pretoria - NVIS

7 day frequency predications https://spaceweather.sansa.org.za/products-and-services/frequency-predictions/public-service-information Hermanus – Antarctica; Durban - Cape Town; Port Elizabeth – Pretoria; Pretoria – Auckland; Pretoria - Cape Town; Pretoria – Durban; Pretoria – Frankfurt; Pretoria - New Delhi; Pretoria - New York; Pretoria - San Francisco 

Southern African Fauna and Flora https://zsfaunaandflora.wordpress.com/

Contacts with stations on the African continent count towards the SARL’s All Africa Award www.sarl.org.za/public/awards/awards.asp

Worldwide List of HF Beacons https://iaruhfbeacons.wordpress.com/ 


Tunisia, 3V. Tunisia issues personal licenses to operate. The IARU (International Amateur Radio Union) Web page reports on 7 January:

"The first three 'Authorizations to Operate' have been issued to 3 Tunisian amateurs. These are the first issued since 1956. 3V8HB, 3V8MN and 3V1MB will soon be on the air from their homes rather than being restricted to operating from a club station. Issuing individual authorizations to operate is a new pro- cess in Tunisia and involves a number of stages, including equipment conformity checks. This is great news for Tunisians that the process now exists so that radio amateurs can practice their hobby from homes in full compliance with the Tunisian Laws. The IARU Member Society ARAT extends its thanks to the National Agency of Frequencies, the Ministry of Tele- communications and all involved parties for making this happen."

https://iaru-r1.org/index.php/174-news/latest-news/1928-tunisia-issues-personal-licences-to-operate

Italian Africa, IG9. S50X, S51V, S52P, S54W, S56DX, S56N, S57DX, and S59A will be signing IG9/home calls from Lampedusa Island (IOTA AF-019) between 21 and 27 January. During the CQ WW 160 m CW Contest they will operate as IG9/S59A. QSL via home call.

Morocco, CN. Jean-Pierre, F6CTF, has been active as CN2JF since 10 December and continues until 28 February. Activity has been on 80, 40, 20 and 17 metres using SSB and FT8. QSL via EA5GL.

Somalia, T5. Ali, EP3CQ is active as 6O1OO from Mogadishu until 5 February. Activity is on 160 to 6 meters using CW, SSB and FT8. QSL via operator's instructions.

Madeira Islands, CR3. Henning, OZ2I/CT9ABR, will be using the special call sign CR3EE from Madeira (AF-014) during the ARRL DX CW Contest (15 and 16 February) as a Single-Op/All-Band/Low-Power entry. Outside of the contest (before and after), Henning will sign CT9ABR. QSL both callsigns via OZ2I.

Western Sahara, S0. Station S01WS has been active on 17 meters using CW around 16:00 UTC. QSL direct. WFWL – Work First, Worry Later!

The Gambia, C5. Russell, G5XW will be active holiday style as C5XW from The Gambia starting on 28 January for ten days. He will be active on 40 to 17 metres SSB and hopefully some slow CW. QSL via home call (bureau).

Ghana, 9G. Matteo, IZ4YGS will be active again as 9G5GS from Sanzule, Ghana between 1 and 26 February. In his spare time, he will operate SSB and FT8 on 160 to 20 metres. He also plans some USB activity on the QO-100 Geostationary satellite. QSL via LoTW, eQSL, or direct to home call; log search on Club Log. 

Germany, DL. The special event call sign DL35SDR (special DOK 35SDR) draws attention to the rapid development of SDR technology during the past 35 years. It also recognises the achievements of Prof. Ulrich L. Rohde (DJ2LR) in that field. QSL via bureau.

Colombia, HK. Lothar, DK8LRF announces that he extends his stay in Columbia until the end of April. He operates as HK3JCL from Finca Ligia (WW Loc. FJ34FG). QSL via DK8LRF (direct or via the bureau).

Sri Lanka, 4S. Peter, DC0KK, will once again be active as 4S7KKG from Moragalla, Sri Lanka (AS-003) until 30 March. He states that he preferably likes to be active on the Digital modes and CW. QSL via his home call sign, direct and by the Bureau. All QSOs will be uploaded to LoTW and ClubLog.

Nauru, C2. Kay, JH3AZC, Takio, JH3QFL, Hiroyuki, JR3GWZ, Taka, JA1PFP and Mamoru, JH3VAA will be active as C21MB (on 2 m EME), C21AA (on various HF bands, with focus on low-bands), C21GW (on various HF bands, with focus on low-bands), C21PF (mainly 40/20 m) and C21VA (various HF bands), respectively, from Nauru Island (OC-031) between 5 to 8 February. QSL via their home call signs, direct, by the Bureau or LoTW (except JH3AZC).

Norfolk Island, VK9N. Janusz, SP9FIH is active as VK9NK until 12 April. Activity is on 160 to 10 meters using SSB, RTTY and FT8. QSL to home call.

Chatham Islands, ZL7. Chris, ZL7DX is currently active on 20 and 6 meters using mostly digital modes. He plans to be active on other bands soon. QSL direct to home call.

Timor Leste 2020. The Lagunaria DX Group (http://lagunaria-dx-group.org) is organizing a large scale DXpedition (18 operators and up to 10 stations) to Timor Leste (4W) in October-November, including "serious participation" in the CQ WW DX SSB and CW contests. A website is under construction at http://timor-leste-dx.de/.

Brazil, PY. Celebrating the 86th anniversary of the Liga de Amadores Brasileiros de Radio Emissao (LABRE, Brazil's national IARU society), special call sign ZW86LABRE will be active between 1 February and 31 March. QSL via PY2KP.

Juan Fernandez, CE0Z. Nando, IT9YRE and Mike, K9AJ will be active as CB0Z from Alejandro Selkirk Island (SA-101, new one for IOTA) between 3 and 5 February. DXCC wise, this counts for Juan Fernandez. They will operate SSB and CW on 40, 30, 20, 17 and 15 metres, using vertical antennas and two stations (one running 500 watts). They might also give FT8 a try. QSL via Club Log's OQRS, or via IT9YRE. Updates will be posted to www.it9yre.it/cb0z/.

Aruba, P4. Lee, K3DMG will be active again as P4/K3DMG from Aruba (SA-036) from 17 January until the end of February. He will operate CW and digital modes. QSL via LoTW.

Curacao, PJ2. Jeff, K8ND will be active as PJ2ND from Curacao (SA-099) from 18 January to 3 February. QSL via LoTW, or via home call. From 22 to 28 January he will be joined by Jim, W8WTS, who will be active as PJ2/W8WTS (QSL via LoTW, or via home call). They will participate in the CQ WW 160-Meter CW Contest as PJ2T (QSL via LoTW or via W3HNK).

Mexico, XE. Celebrating the 15th anniversary of the DXXE Group, special call sign 4A15DXXE will be active on all bands and modes and from different locations in Mexico between 20 January and 31 December. QSL via LoTW only.

Ecuador, HC. Rick, NE8Z will be active again as HC1MD/2 from the lighthouse at Capay on Hill, in the Santa Elena province of Ecuador, from 25 January to 7 February. He will operate CW, SSB and FT8 on 40 to 10 metres. QSL via LoTW, or direct to K8LJG.


VHF+ UHF+ MICROWAVE NEWS - FOCUS ON VHF with ZS6YZ 12 January 2020 

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 31 October 2019. Updates to zssixnk@gmail.com


Focus on VHF and Above 12 January 2020

Audio version  

VHF news is a little scarce this week. It seems like most have returned to work after the holidays. There has however been some activity on the VHF and above bands. 

Band conditions inland have not been that great, but that has not stopped activity nor amateurs being active. Rickus ZS4A has been testing JS8Call on 2m using just 10w into a simple horizontal turnstile antenna.  Both Carl ZS6CBQ and Pierre ZS4PF have received the signals. Be on the lookout for them on 2m. 

 

 

On Saturday the West Coast amateurs had another fox hunt. Looking at the hype on the WhatsApp group this is going to be another fun event. We hope to have another report from Charles ZS1CF in the next week or two. 

Last Sunday the guys on the East Rand also had a fox hunt and the guys enjoyed it immensely. 

Contrary to popular belief in amateur circles this still seems to be an activity that is enjoyed by radio amateurs. In Europe, fox hunting or Radio Direction Finding as it is called is a very competitive radio sport. 

How many other clubs have a regular fox hunt? What about turning this into a local challenge amongst clubs. It can certainly be a way to get clubs to do activities together. 

Tropo conditions were also great along the West Coast on Friday and Charles ZS1CF and Cobus ZS3CVB had good FM signals between Langebaan and Port Noloth. 

ZS1CF_ZS3CVB.mp4 

The conditions across the Atlantic was also good and PY1MHZ has been  monitoring on horizontal from Brazil. 


 

The 6m band has also been experiencing some openings. On Friday Willie ZS2CC was reported by Paul ZS6NK to be up to S3 with Willie reporting Paul being S9. 

So listen out for those beacons and give the occasional call as well, as you never know when the bands will be open for those long distance VHF and above contacts. 

I have been busy getting interfaces and software up and running to be able to do Winlink point to point on 2m packet and other digital modes on the VHF bands specifically for emergency communications use. I have had some successes, but also some challenges, mainly with software. 

It is amazing how the time flies when you get that soldering iron warmed up and you toggle that keyboard trying to get software working. 

How about sharing with VHF News what are you playing with? Have you tried something new over the holidays? 

Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to vhfnews@sarl.org.za.

 Focus on VHF and above is compiled, edited and presented for Amateur Radio Today by Brian Jacobs ZS6YZ.


Focus on VHF and Above 5 January 2020

 Audio version

Last week we posted a link to a video of a recent EME expedition in Botswana A21EME. 

What is EME? EME stands for Earth-Moon-Earth and is sometimes referred to as moon bounce. It is fundamentally transmitting a high power signal through an antenna array pointing to the moon and then the reception of this very attenuated signal on the other end. It sounds simple doesn’t it. 

No, definitely not. EME is very specialised and if you want to do it properly then you need to be willing to spend a lot of time and effort and money to develop an EME station. 

We need to remember that the moon is approximately an average distance of 384,400 km away from the earth and it takes approximately 2.52 seconds for a signal to get sent to the moon and back. 

The moon also only reflects about 7% of the signal that is transmitted. 

There are various factors that effect EME propagation. 

To be able to make an EME contact, both stations need to see the moon. It does not matter whether it is a full moon or not or whether it is day or night. There are a number of software programs available that will predict the position of the moon and these programs also have the ability to control a rotator on both the azimuth (left and right) and elevation (up and down) so that the moon can be tracked and the antennas remain pointed to the moon as it moves across the sky. 

Whether the moon is in Apogee (furtherest point away from the earth) or Perigee (closest to the earth) also matters. Although there is only approximately a 2dB difference in the path loss, this can be the difference between a QSO or not. 

There is Faraday rotation which occurs when the signal passes through the ionosphere. The speed of rotation and polarity is unpredictable. 

There is also Spatial Polarity which also affects the polarization of the signal. So you need the ability to change the polarity of your antenna as well. 

There is also a phenomenon called Libration Fading which is caused by the uneven surface of the moon. 

Add to this Doppler Shift as a result of the relative movement of the moon to the earth.

There is a path loss of around 250 dB for a signal reflected off the surface of the moon. So one needs to firstly transmit as big a signal as possible, by making use of the best amplifiers that you can afford, having an array of high gain Yagi antennas or a dish depending on what frequency you will be working on. You need to make sure that you minimize every dB of loss getting your signal out of your antenna.  

Then again on the receive side you need to try and receive that very small signal that is returning from the moon and amplify via an antenna array and a very low noise amplifier and again minimizing the losses in your receive path. Even the type of connectors used can make a difference. This was a topic in one of our VHF Workshops last year that was presented by Pine ZS6OB.

Using WSJT software has made it a lot easier to complete an EME contact than in the past. 

EME operation is probably one of the ultimate challenges in amateur radio. Certainly not for the faint hearted or financially challenged. 

Here are some links to places where you can get more information: 

EME on a Budget by K4MSG 

Information about EME by PE0SAT

How to Use Amateur Radio Moonbounce, EME Propagation 

The other alternative is talk to amateurs who are involved in EME like Pine ZS6OB, John ZS6JON, Paul ZS6NK, Bernie ZS4TX and Rickus ZS4A to name a few. All of their contact information is on the SARL call book. 

Now for some other VHF news. 

Over the last week, there has been some remarkable conditions on the VHF bands allowing lots of DX contacts across Europe. 

Tropo conditions over the eastern part of the North Atlantic were exceptional over the weekend of 28 December 2019, allowing many stations in the UK and Ireland to make contacts with D41CV on the Cape Verde Islands on 144 MHz. 

Excellent contacts were made on 70cms as well. 

At 11:09 UTC on Saturday the 28th of December 2019, Ian White, GM3SEK in the south-west of Scotland managed to work D41CV on FT8 on 432 MHz extending the IARU Region-1 tropo record to an amazing 4,562 km.

It would seem as if this is not only a Region-1 record, but also a new world record for tropo on 70cm.

 GM3SEK was using 100 watts and a 23 element Yagi on 432 MHz for the contact which was mostly over a sea path.

 On the 1st of January 2020, the New Year was hardly a few hours old when Callum, GM0EWX on the Isle of Skye in the west of Scotland managed to work D41CV on FT8. This now extends the IARU Region-1 144 MHz tropo record to an amazing 4,776kms. For the contact, GM0EWX was using an IC7100 with 400 watts into two 15-element long Yagi's about 15 metres above ground level. 

Thanks to EI7GL for this information. 

Locally, it seems like the predictions for some tropoducting inland did not materialise this last week. 

Let us keep monitoring the beacons to see when conditions improve to allow those long distant VHF and UHF contacts. We never know when an opening may occur. 

Let us see what the next couple of weeks brings us. 

That is all for this week. 

Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

Focus on VHF and above is compiled, edited and presented for Amateur Radio Today by Brian Jacobs ZS6YZ.


Focus on VHF and Above 29 December 2019

Audio version

Carl ZS6CBQ alerted us to a fantastic video that has been placed on YouTube by Chris, PA2CHR who was one of the participants in the recent A21EME expedition that was hosted by ZS6JON outside Gaborone.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVrPtuB_nbU

 

You can find more information about this expedition at https://hb9q.ch/2018/?page_id=1659

 

We will look at doing an introduction to EME in the new year.

 

For those interested in SSTV, ARISS will be supporting SSTV transmissions worldwide in memory of cosmonauts Alexei Leonov, Valery Bykovsky and Sigmund Jaehn.

 

The transmissions are scheduled from December 28, 2019, starting at 11:00 UTC, until January 1, 2020 at 18:20 UTC when the system is scheduled for shutdown.

 

Transmissions will be on the standard frequency of 145.800 MHz and in the PD 120 format.

 

The Polish ARISS Team has prepared an award for participants to this SSTV experiment. More information can be found at https://ariss.pzk.org.pl/sstv/

 

Now on to Tropoducting.

 

Pascal F5LEN has a website where he also does tropospheric propagation predictions. Pascal is continuously updating his software and Carl ZS6CBQ reminded me again of this website on a WhatsApp post on the 46 VHF/UHF Long Distance Group. Pascal now includes some prediction over land masses as well. Take a look at his website at http://tropo.f5len.org/africa/

You will see the prediction for this evening at 21:00 UTC looks favourable for inland.

 

 

Likewise the prediction for Sunday 5 January 2020 at 00:00Z

 

FRZS192_5Jan2020.png

 

Looking ahead on Windy.com shows us that there could be temperature inversion inland starting on 30 December 2019 through to 2 January 2020 and the Hepburn Charts also shows similar information.

 

It would be interesting to see how these predictions correlate to what we see in practice. Keep your ears open for the ZS0BET beacon which seems to be a good indicator for openings inland.

 

Well that’s all for this week. Wishing everyone a Prosperous New Year and great activity on the VHF and above bands.

 

Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to vhfnews@sarl.org.za.

 

Focus on VHF and above is compiled, edited and presented for Amateur Radio Today by Brian Jacobs ZS6YZ


Focus on VHF and Above 15 December 2019

The installation of the Bethlehem beaon

 

Audio version click here  

The beacon was developed over a number of months and was a project that came about as a result of a VHF Workshop held almost a year ago. After that workshop a VHF Working Group was formed and the idea of developing a beacon in the Northern Karoo, halfway between Cape Town and Johannesburg was discussed. While hunting for suitable sites for the Karoo beacon, a site in Bethlehem became available and it was decided to build two beacons with the Bethlehem beacon being the test site with two antennas pointing in different directions for propagation testing. A Project plan was drafted and the SARL made funding available for the project. This allowed us to purchase two second hand Icom radios. Two Hygain Yagi antennas, a power supply and LMR400 cable and connectors were also purchased from Sam ZS6BRZ at a good price. 

The antennas were assembled and tuned by Carl ZS6CBQ and Dick ZS6BUN. Rickus ZS4A built the brackets to mount the antennas to the mast and Koos ZS6KSG built the box for the beacon to live in including three fans used to clear the warm air generated by the radio and power supply out of the box. 

The keyer was assembled by Brian ZS6YZ. The keyer is a simple ATTiny microprocessor with two outputs, one putting the radio into PTT mode to get the VCO running and stable before the second output switch switches the pre-amplifier to generate the CW signal. Well, that was the plan. 

The single biggest challenge turned out to be the ability to generate a good clean CW signal that can be decoded by monitoring software. Both Cor ZS6CR and myself had a radio and we tried various methods to generate a clean signal. At one stage it seemed that everything we tried just caused the radio to do it’s own thing and there was no way we could kill the VCO signal let alone switch the pre-amplifier on and off. Even pulling all buffer transistors to ground did not stop the radio from transmitting. We even had advice from a master beacon builder, Ivan Stauning OZ7IS who has been the beacon keeper for the OZ7IGY beacon since 1981. 

Eventually I found that switching the biasing on the power amplifier worked the best, but there were still two issues to get around. The first one was bleed through from the VCO and the second one was the noise or key clicks generated when switching the power amplifier on and off. The VCO bleed through was found not to be a problem as it was internal to the radio and with the covers on the radio, the bleed through was not picked up more that a couple of hundred metres away from the radio.

The key clicks became the problem and again everything I tried did not work. Not even the solutions discussed in the ARRL handbooks. Eventually while monitoring the bias voltage of the power amplifier and consulting the manufacturer’s data sheet for the power amplifier it dawned on me that the power amplifier only needs 5V to provide maximum output and that the bias voltage ramped up to over 6V when switching on before returning to 5V. The manufacturer of the radio has an elaborate power control circuit which was slow at responding. Well again not to slow for what the radio was designed for, being an analogue FM voice radio, but far to slow for the fast switching required to generate CW at around 12 words per minute. 

The solution turned out to be a simple 5.1V zener diode to clamp the bias voltage to 5.1V. No more key clicks! Radio sorted. 

We did some extensive testing and decided on an installation date of 7 December. Rickus told us that the installation date could not be before 21 November as that was the day his son Stephan ZS4SDL returned from the US. Rickus had decided that Stephan would be climbing the mast. 

Our plans were almost derailed when Brian ZS6YZ was requested to represent the IARU at the ATU African Telecoms / ICT Commemorative Workshop in Maputo from 5 to 7 December. Rickus ZS4A again had a plan and after consulting with Carl ZS6CBQ sprung the plan on me. He needed to deliver stuff to family in Heidelberg on 21 November and then collect Stephan from the airport. We arranged that I meet him in Heidelberg with all the beacon hardware and he would then take it back to Bethlehem along with Stephan. 

The installation team, all from Bethlehem were up early on Saturday 7 December at the high site in Bethlehem. Carl ZS6CBQ also joined them and they started just after 7:00 to get the brackets mounted on the mast, hoisting the antennas into position and by 10:30 the installation of the antennas on the mast along with the splitter cable and the coax to the repeater hut was complete. 

Bethlehem Installation Team

 

Antennas

 

 

Antennas mounted

 

 

 

 

The beacon was powered up and glowed in the dim light of the repeater hut. No, it was not the valves glowing in the dark or the radio glowing because of excessive heat generated. It was the blue LED’s on the fans.Bright enough to cause you to want to reach for the sunglasses! 

Beacon

 

 

The CW message was sent into the troposphere and shortly signal reports started appearing on the 46 Long Distance VHF/UHF WhatsApp Group.

 

ZS0BET was on the air and being well received in Gauteng. It was even received off the back of the antennas in Bloemfontein and Kimberley, although much weaker. 

Well done to all involved who put in the time and effort to get this beacon on the air. The VHF Working Group, Carl ZS6CBQ, Rickus ZS4A, Cor ZS6CR, Hans ZS6AKV, Nico ZS6QL, Dick ZS6BUN, Brian ZS6YZ, Nigel ZS6RN and Willem ZS6WIM. Koos ZS6KSG who built the beacon box, Danie ZR6AGB who helped with the testing and the guys that Rickus lined up in Bethlehem to assist with the installation Charl ZS4ATZ, Wallie ZS4LD, Daniel, ZS4DA and lastly the climber of the mast who did all the dangerous work, Stephan ZS4SDL. 

This was truly a team effort. Job well done!

 Early in the new year the VHF Working Group will regroup and get the ball rolling on finding a suitable site in the Northern Karoo for the next beacon.  

 

Please send your news snippets and information about activities on VHF and Above to vhfnews@sarl.org.za


CONTEST NEWS WITH ZS6C 10 January 2020 

The SARL QRP Contests

The QRP contests are intended to be fun activities to promote QRP operation between radio amateurs. Using homebuilt equipment or operating as a portable/field station and using temporary antennas is encouraged but is not a requirement.

The Summer QRP Contest will be run from 12:00 to 15:00 UTC on Saturday 25 January 2020 using SSB and CW with 5 watts (PEP) output or less. The first hour is limited to the 40 m band only, the remaining two hours the contesters are free to use any HF (non-WARC) band as they see fit.

The exchange is a RS or RST report and your and Grid locator. Please consider exchanging realistic RS(T) signal reports and give the full 6- character grid locator. e.g. KF15EU. Find all the information on page 42 of the 2020 SARL Contest Manual.

You can activate a summit (SOTA https://summits.sota.org.uk/association/ZS and https://summits.sota.org.uk/association/V5), a beach (BOTA www.beachesontheair.com/welcome-beaches-air-bota) or a park (POTA https://zsfaunaandflora.wordpress.com/) on Saturday 25 January and add to the fun. Get out of your shack and expose your radio to sunshine and fresh air.

 

 

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What is Amateur Radio ? 

Tell me more  about Amateur Radio

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.

Radio Hams have a full range or communication modes at their disposal. These include plain voice, Morse code, numerous digital computer modes and even graphical modes like television. As a licensed amateur radio operator you will be able to join in experiments using all these modes.

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Random Photo from the Call book.


 Abraham Danil Bosman, ZS6AVI


     



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The net operates 7 days a week.

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  • 06:35 UTC and 11:35 UTC on 7 120 kHz coastal net - the net lasts approximately 30 minutes .

 
   

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