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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
South African COVID-19 Corona Virus Resource Portal: www.sacoronavirus.co.za

SARL TODAY! 

 

YOTA online – livestreams of session #1 TONIGHT at  8 PM

Are you ready for today's first YOTA online session ?  

It is tonight at 18:00 UTC, 20:00 local time in South Africa

 

WHAT? The Youth Working Group within the IARU Region 1 created a newly developed program called “YOTA online”. In these monthly gatherings we will try to bring the YOTA feeling towards the online community and spread the word that there is youth in ham radio. A YOTA team consisting of active youngsters will present different topics, while answering questions from the community. There will also be a section where different recent YOTA event hosts will be able to present the highlights, while also giving participants the opportunity to share stories. This will be followed by a Q&A session with the group presenting. At the end of the event we will also do a prize raffle amongst all participants.

 

WHY? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all planned YOTA events until September 2020 had unfortunately been cancelled or postponed. This included, for example, the Summer Camps in IARU Regions 1, 2 and 3, as well as Subregional Camps, Youth Contest Programs, and our presence at the HAMRADIO 2020 in Friedrichshafen. Taking this into account and the fact that lots of youngsters want to join YOTA activities each year gave us the idea to create an interactive format to gather youngsters online on a regular basis.

 

WHERE? The first YOTA online event will take place on 28th May 2020 from 1800 UTC as a livestream and will take around one hour. The complete session will be recorded and available online at any time. Of course, the participation is free and open to anyone who wants to take part worldwide. We will share the link to the livestream one day prior to the event on our homepage and social media channels.

 

Here are the links to our livestreams: Youtube - https://youtu.be/6xKnd2UN9z0 Twitch - https://www.twitch.tv/hamyota Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hamyota/live/ Instagram - Check the livestream within our story

 

If you have questions while the event takes place don't hesitate to ask them. Please keep in mind that we will be monitoring only the chats on Facebook, Youtube and Twitch while we are streaming live. All other comments will be answered afterwards for sure.

https://www.ham-yota.com/livestreams-yota-online/

 

We hope to welcome you later tonight on the show!


SARL ON-THE-AIR BULLETINS AND AMATEUR RADIO TODAY PROGRAMME 24 May 2020

SARLNEWS in English with Dennis Green   here  

SARLNUUS in Afrikaans  nie omtvang nie 

Note Amateur Radio Today will be on 145,725 MHz from Pretoria . Andy ZS6ADY will transmit on 145,750 MHz

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.

Text bulletins from 1 March 2020 can be found at https://sarlnewsbulletin.wordpress.com/Amateur Radio today as relevant as 95 years agoToday 20 May 2020, Amateur Radio is still as relevant as 95 years ago when the South African Radio League (SARL) was formed, just a month after the world’s radio amateurs met in Paris to form the world body, the International Amateur Radio Union.

“Amateur Radio has withstood the test of time because it is based on three major guiding principles: Communication between people, continuous technology development and self-education and training”, van Nico van Rensburg, President of the SARL said as the SARL is celebrating its 95th anniversary this week.

Amateur Radio’s history dates to the days of Marconi and other early radio experimenters who in the last years of the 19th century stunned the world that one could communicate wirelessly. In South Africa, the early radio experiments were carried out by a telephone technician, Alfred Jennings, in Port Elizabeth who demonstrated wireless communication in as early as 1899. Radio amateurs in various parts of South Africa had established wireless associations which were amalgamated in 1925 into one national body, the SARL.

 It was the experimenters in the amateur radio fraternity who, in the early days of radio, proved that shortwaves propagate around the world. In modern days they showed the world the worth of low earth orbiting satellites, today the backbone of GPS and soon the broadband satellite connectivity, once Elon Musk’s Starlink constellation is complete.

Since the beginning of the amateur radio service at the dawn of the previous century, radio amateurs have made significant contributions to radio technology and the understanding of radio science.  This work continues today, as the primary purpose of the amateur radio service is the “continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.” 

Recent advances in the fields of computing, software defined radio and signal processing provide unprecedented opportunities to meet this mandate. These opportunities are already beginning to be realised with the advent of systems such as the Reverse beacon Network (RBN), the Weak Signal Propagation Reporting Network (WSPRNet), and PSKReporter.  In addition to enabling radio amateurs to make and contribute legitimate scientific observations, it will expose amateur radio to a wider community of people around the world interested in science.

On the science front of Amateur Radio, the SARL is collecting data about the radio frequency noise floor. RF noise monitoring is part of an international campaign to quantify the increases in the RF noise floor because of the widespread use of devices that generate noise as an unintended consequence. The rapid increase in the radio frequency noise floor is of great concern as the reliance on radio is increasing at an exponential rate. Just think of cell phones, wireless internet connection and the whole world of IoT.

The South African Radio League developed a monitoring system powered by a raspberry Pi and a RF dongle. There are currently too few monitoring points, hence the SARL is planning to reach out to universities and technical high schools to join the project and set up monitoring receivers on their campuses. Currently only a few radio amateurs are participating in the project but once the lockdown is something of the past, it is hoped that more radio amateurs, universities and high school science clubs will become involved.

Radio Amateurs pioneered low earth orbit satellite communication, and recently gained access to the first amateur radio geostationary satellite providing 24 hour communication across Africa, Europe and the Near East. A South African group, AMSAT SA, is currently constructing a Software Defined Radio (SDR) powered CubeSat as part of its ongoing amateur radio satellite technology development.

One of the pillars of Amateur Radio is communication.  It has withstood all the challenges of the internet and the mobile phone.  Amateur Radio was in fact the world’s first social network decades before Twitter and Facebook. Talking to and making friends all over South Africa and the world is unchallenged and will always remain the reason why many remain involved and the younger generation show increasing interest. “It is the magic of the ether waves that draws people. One of the astronauts speaking from in the international space station to a young person via an amateur radio link said, “the magic of radio surpasses everything, even here in space!"


Call Books for 1926, 1927 and 1929 available inthe Call Book Archive.


SARL 95 BIRTHDAY CERTIFICATE

ZS95SARL will be on the air on Wednesday 20 May to celebrate the 95th birthday. Work ZS95SARL (and any other special call sign) on HF, VHF and UHF during the day and then submit a list of stations worked to secretary@sarl.org.za by 23:59 CAT on Sunday 24 May. Your PDF certificate will be e-mailed to you. The information required is your name, surname and call sign together with the time, call sign, name and frequency of the stations worked.

If you work FT12 (FT8 and FT4), please provide your computer's name! 


 


New Satellite Book now available - The new ARRL Amateur radio satellites for beginners is now available in South Africa. With the opening of e-commerce, Postnet is operating again and books can be sent to your nearest Postnet. You can make contacts through amateur radio satellites, and even with the International Space Station, using equipment you probably own right now! All it takes is the right information, which you will find in Amateur Radio Satellites for Beginners by Steve Ford

There are dozens of spacecraft in orbit just waiting for your signals, and more are being launched every year. This book is your guide to a whole new world of operating enjoyment.

Amateur Radio Satellites for Beginners will introduce you to new experiences that you may have thought were out of your reach. Start reading and discover how easy it can be! To order the book visit www.amateurradio.org.za. 115 pages plus index.


The 1820 British Settlers. The ZS1820S call sign celebrates the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the 1820 British Settlers in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa.

The call sign will be active during 2020 on various bands and modes. QSL is via the bureau to ZS2EC, also via LoTW, ClubLog and QRZ.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1820_Settlers



 Approval of Matters due to Postponement of the 2020 SARL Annual General Meeting

310 Members out of 1 622 Members cast their vote, 19,1%! 

Motion 1 - Approve un-audited interim accounts of income and expenditure and balance sheet as at 31st December

Agree: 293; Disagree: 7; Abstain: 10

Motion 2 - Approve proposed budget for the ensuing year - 2020-21 

Agree: 296; Disagree: 4; Abstain: 10

Motion 3 - Approve proposed subscriptions for the following year - 2020-21 (There is no change in the subscriptions from last year - a 0 % increase.)

Agree: 300; Disagree: 4; Abstain: 6 

Motion 4 - Approve election of auditor for the ensuing year 2020-21

Agree: 304; Disagree: 2; Abstain: 4


The May 2020 Radio ZS is available for download. Read on page 37 about the Backyard on the Air SOTA and POTA activity for 1 May 2020.


 RAE postponed to Saturday 27 June 2020

RAE Registration extended to 31 May 2020 

Thank you to everyone for all your efforts during this time for proceeding with the RAE. In order to give candidates more time and to facilitate HF assessments, it has been decided to move the examination date to Saturday 27 June 2020. Hopefully, this will give added time for revision and for the completion of the HF assessment process. A request is made to the radio amateur community to be on air to help the RAE candidates make the required number of contacts for the HF assessments – dates and times from the individual clubs will follow closer to the time. Together, we can make the RAE a resounding success.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further queries. Stay healthy. Noel Hammond, ZR6DX RAE Manager


Due date for the Renewal of Radio Frequency Spectrum Licences extended https://www.icasa.org.za/news/2020/due-date-for-the-renewal-of-radio-frequency-spectrum-licences-extended


Monitor VHF beacons and contribute to science- Monitoring beacons is an excellent way to determine how  VHF propagation conditions change over a period of time. While in the planning stage the SARL beacon group have not yet progressed to an automated beacon monitoring and reporting system.  “We are not quite there yet with the beacon reporting Bot on Telegram”, Focus on VHF and above presenter, Brian Jacobs said. “In the meantime you can assist us by listening for the beacons and sending your reports to vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

The beacons that the group  is interested in are:

ZS6JON on 144.440 MHz

ZS4AFV on 144.415 MHz

ZS0BET on 144.425 MHz 

Please record the following information: Beacon heard, your callsign, your grid location, local time and the signal report and local weather information available. This will help us to get a better idea of the propagation.


Official QO-100 International Emergency Frequency - In order to coordinate potential emergency communications during the actual or any other crisis, the following frequency will be assigned as international emergency frequency on QO-100 NB Transponder: 

Downlink: 10489.860 MHz

Uplink:       2400.360 MHz

SSB channel: max. 2.7kHz bandwidth . All users on QO-100 are encouraged to monitor this frequency, but keep it clear for emergency traffic!


 2020/21 Amateur Radio License fee increase

On Wednesday 5 February, ICASA informed the SARL that in accordance with the CPI document published by Stats SA on 22 January 2020, the average CPI for 2019 is 4.1% which will be the percentage increase of ICASA fees. Please note that these fees will only be implemented from 1 April 2020 and all licences issued in the remainder of the 2019/2020 licence year will be required to pay the pro rata fee calculated on the old fees. The radio frequency spectrum fees will therefore increase to the following:

Minimum fee or 1 year licence –  R 154.00.

The multi-year licences will increase as follows:

2 year licence –  R 294.00

3 year licence –  R 422.00

4 year licence -  R 537.00

5 year licence – R 642.00

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 e-mail to specrev@icasa.org.za and 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.  


 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.


 

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.


 

 

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 - 23 May 2020 

Canary Islands, EA8. The Radio Club Laurilsiva (EA8RKL) from Gran Canaria (AF-004) will be active again as EH8DDC between 24 and 31 May. QSL via eQSL and log search on Club Log. Celebrating the anniversary of the local autonomous Parliament's first session back in 1983, the Canary Islands Day (Dia de Canarias) is held annually on 30 May.

ZAMBIA, 9J.  Mario, IZ3KVD is QRV as 9J2MYT until the end of May. Activity has been on 20, 17, 15 and 10 meter SSB.  QSL via IZ3KVD direct only.

Malawi, 7Q7AO. Owing to the virus pandemic and travel restrictions, Pista, HA5AO has had to postpone until further notice his trip to Malawi, which was planned during the second half of September/early October.

TQSL: New Version. A new version (v2.5.4) of LoTW's Trusted QSL (TQSL) has been released: http://www.arrl.org/tqsl-download. This version has new features as well as corrections for defects found since TQSL 2.5.3 was released. This release also includes an update to the most recent TQSL configuration file. TQSL 2.5.4 can be installed to upgrade any older version. On all three supported platforms (Windows, MacOS and Linux), installing TQSL 2.5.4 will replace older versions of Trusted QSL while preserving your Callsign Certificates, Station Locations and preferences.

IOTA and LOTW QSO Matching. Islands on The Air (IOTA) Ltd has announced "the implementation of the ARRL application which allows the use of QSO matching via LoTW. This will allow IOTA chasers to obtain credits by matching their logs with those at LoTW in addition to those at Club Log. We have a lot of work ahead of us to identify the time windows of past IOTA operations and this will be phased in over the next few months. An initial list of operations arising from the link-up with LoTW has been added to the database and these will become available for QSO matching from 21 May. Further additions will be made on an ongoing basis". Instructions for LoTW QSO Matching are on https://iota-world.org/info/lotw_qso_matching-en.pdf, and notes on "Accepted Activations for QSO Matching" can be found on https://iota-world.org/info/accepted_activations-en.pdf.

Mongolia, JT. Special event station JU85UIA will be active through the end of the  year in celebration of the 85th anniversary of the University of Internal Affairs in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. QSL direct to JT1CH.

Cyprus, 5B. Amateur radio operators in Cyprus celebrate the 60th anniversary of their Cyprus Amateur Radio Society (CARS) during 2020 as prefix 5B60 (e.g. 5B4AIX turns into 5B60AIX). For QSL information see qrz.com.

Switzerland, HB9. HB40HTC and HB40HC are active for the Helvetia Telegraphy Club that is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020. QSL via bureau and LoTW. A special activity programme - the HB Open CW Activity (HB-OCWA) Award - will be in place throughout the year to mark the anniversary, help activate the special callsigns and also "inspire amateur radio operators in Switzerland and elsewhere to increase CW activity on the HF bands. The intent of the award is to encourage and reward them for conducting sustained CW conversations rather than short-duration CW signal reports". https://hb-ocwa.ch/

Serbia, YU. Look for YT50SCWC by the Serbian CW Club to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Operation during 2020. QSL via YU1MM, direct or bureau, LoTW, Club Log OQRS.


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/ 


VHF+ UHF+ MICROWAVE NEWS - FOCUS ON VHF with ZS6YZ 10 May 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 - Send your record claim to zssixnk@gmail.com


Focus on VHF and Above 10 May 2020

 Audio version

The later half of this week again saw exceptional tropoducting along the West Coast and the guys certainly had a field day. Here is a report filed by our West Coast correspondent, Charles ZS1CF. 

Charles says” Our guys living at the coast are blessed with a phenomena called tropoducting. Tropoducting is formed when mist is building up and catching warm air.  A temperature inversion occurs and it forms a "tunnel" in which a VHF signal can travel vast distances.

We always monitor William Hepburn's tropospheric ducting forecast.

This is how it looked on Friday 8 May 2020:-

 

Hepburn20205081800.jpg

 

We immediately knew that 2m contacts were possible, and Naz, ZS1NAZ contacted Gary ZD7GWM by telephone.  

At 15h00 local time Gary was on the air!!

The following stations made contact:-

1.         ZS1FC, Chris in Jacobsbaai

2.         ZS1NAZ, Naz in Goodwood Cape Town

3.         ZS3JPY, Koos in Kleinzee

4.         ZS1CF, Charles in Langebaan

5.         V51WC, Willie in Swakopmund

6.         ZS3CVB, Cobus in Port Nolloth

7.         V51HZ, Heinrich in Walvis Bay 

Listen to the exceptional quality of the QSOs

 

ZS1CF_ZD7GWM_FM.mp3
ZS3CVB_ZD7GWM_FM.mpeg
ZS1NAZ_ZD7GWM_SSB.mpeg

 

MapStHelena_Langebaan.jpg 

Is it not incredible!!!  FM simplex over a distance of 3 000km with S9 signal reports!! 

West Coast greetings, Charles” 

Charles, many thanks for the great report of the activities along the West Coast and well done to everyone who made contacts with St Helena. Charles regularly sends in reports to VHF News for me to broadcast. 

Inland the bands were also good. Ronald ZS6RWC reported the Bethlehem beacon ZS0BET 59 on Wednesday evening. On Thursday morning the Bethlehem beacon was reported S9+20 by Carl ZS6CBQ in Krugersdorp. Johan ZS6AWL also reported the ZS0BET beacon S2 in Klerksdorp.

Carl also reported hearing Marius ZS4MK S9+20. Neil ZS6NEB and Johan ZS6AWL, both from Klerksdorp, being reported 57 and 53 in Roodepoort by Koos ZS6KSG. 

Tell us about your long distance contacts on VHF and above at vhfnews@sarl.org.za 

For those VHF enthusiasts that play with SSTV, there is now new SSTV software called YONIQ. 

Eugenio Fernández EA1ADA reports that YONIQ, a modern version of the popular Slow Scan TV software MMSSTV, is now available. 

Eugenio says “we are excited to finally be able to offer the entire radio community the revamped MMSSTV with the nickname YONIQ also in English. 

Due to demand, we have prepared the YONIQ version in two languages, English and Spanish. It has been a laborious job but with surprising results” 

Some of the improvements that YONIQ offers include: 

• Both English and Spanish languages supported

• Equipment control through the Omni-Rig system

• Independent memory system

• Download data directly from QRZ.com

• Logbook compatibility with support for JTDX, WSJTX, etc

• Indication of the percentage of image sent and received

• Improved image reception settings

• Modern visual interface 

You can download YONIQ from the link  http://radiogalena.es/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/MMSSTV_YONIQ.zip 

Do you have a beacon on any of the VHF and above bands? 

We would like to request that all beacon owners send updated details of their beacons to Phillip ZS6PVT at zs6pvt@gmail.com. Phillip is the SARL Councillor responsible for Repeater Co-ordination and VHF/UHF Band Planning. 

There are two VHF beacons here on the Highveld that we need reception reports on. If you hear either of the following beacons, send us an email with the beacon heard, your callsign, your grid location, local time and the signal report to vhfnews@sarl.org.za

 ZS6JON on 144.440 MHz

ZS0BET on 144.425 MHz 

The Bethlehem beacon’s second antenna is currently pointing in the direction of Durban. We are looking for reports from KZN as well. 

Thank you Michael ZS4MJB from Kroonstad for your report on the ZS6JON beacon. Michael received the beacon 3/5 at 09:00 local tone on Saturday 8 May. 

Well that is all for this week. Let us know what interesting project you or your group are busy with at 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 3 May 2020 

Audio version  

Today, we report on a new station that has come on the air on VHF from Vryburg in the North West. 

Rudi ZS3DT had finished the installation of his 10 element Yagi on his tower on 28 April 2020. The next morning at 06:00 UTC he tuned into 144.300 MHz USB beaming East from his QTH at grid KG23IB and heard someone on the air.

After moving the antenna around a bit, he managed to receive Pierre ZS4PF from Welkom, Michael ZR4MF from Bloemfontein, Dick ZS6BUN from Nigel, Neil ZS6NEB from Klerksdorp and finally Ronald ZS6RVC from Northcliff at 08:42 UTC with a S7-8. Rudy says all the reports received were good. 

The next day, on 1 May at 06:41 UTC Rudi made contact with Carl ZS6CBQ from Krugersdorp, receiving Carl a good 5/6. At 09:02 UTC he made contact with Andre ZS3AG from Kimberley. Rudi says “It is clear from above that inland conditions are good for long distance contacts on VHF. Distances will be influenced by change in temperatures early morning” 

Carl ZS6CBQ, also sent me a report and calculated the distances that Rudi worked:

ZS4PF  Pierre in Welkom  - 233km

ZR4MF Michael in Bloemfontein – 278 km

ZS6RVC  Ronald Northcliff Roodepoort – 334 km

ZS6BUN Dick in Nigel – 383 km

ZS6CBQ Carl Krugersdorp – 318 km

ZS3AG Andre Kimberley - 199 km 

Carl says “This morning 1st May, I worked Rudi at about 08:30, the signals were not as good as yesterday. His report was good readability 5 Signal strength S1 and he gave me S 5-6 on a peak. Ronald ZS6RVC was monitoring and he reported that Rudi was just in and out of the noise at his side.” 

Carl goes on to say “Rudi activated a new grid square for us KG23IB this will help in the next VHF/UHF contest. Maybe we can start thinking of changing our group name to The 346 VHF /UHF Long Distance Group.” 

Rudi is using a ICOM IC-910 and a 10 element Yagi. 

 

Well done Rudi, this is a great achievement and it is nice to see more and more amateurs exploring the VHF and above bands.

 

We reported in Focus on VHF and Above 24 March 2019 that Rudi ZS3DT from Vryburg was on holiday in Port Nolloth and was listening to Garry ZD7GWM with a handheld radio and an AMSAT SA Yagi. I think the VHF bug bit him there.

 

ZS3DT on the Beach at Port Nolloth.jpeg

 

Carl ZS6CBQ has also posted a link on the 46 Long Distance VHF/UHF WhatsApp group where one can download an Azimuthal map centred on your QTH. Very useful to know where to point your Yagi. The link is  https://ns6t.net/azimuth/azimuth.html

 

AzimuthalMap.jpeg

 

Along the West Coast it looks like the conditions over this weekend was again good. Tom ZS1TA reported fog on the West Coast on Saturday morning.

 

WestCoastFog.jpeg

 

The Hepburn forecast agrees that conditions should be good.

HepburnChart202005020900UTC.png

 

Monday evening and Tuesday morning should also be good along the West and South Coast of the Cape.

 

HepburnChart202005041800UTC.png

 

HepburnChart202005050000UTC.png

 

Don’t forget to send your report on your long distance VHF and UHF contacts to vhfnews@sarl.org.za

 

Beacons are a great way to determine if the bands are open and that is one of the reasons that we develop and install beacons across the country.  A good beacon needs to be reliable. We do not always know whether beacons are running and in what direction their antennas are pointing. We simply think that if we do not hear a beacon that the conditions are bad, but it could be that the beacon is off air. We need to have a definitive list of beacons that are operational that needs to be actively managed. By this we mean that if your beacon is off the air then we need to know about as well.

 

We would like to request that all beacon owners send updated details of their beacons to Phillip ZS6PVT at zs6pvt@gmail.com. Phillip is the SARL Councillor responsible for Repeater Co-ordination and VHF/UHF Band Planning.

 

There are two VHF beacons here on the Highveld that we need reception reports on. If you hear either of the following beacons, send us an email with the beacon heard, your callsign, your grid location, local time and the signal report to vhfnews@sarl.org.za

 

ZS6JON on 144.440 MHz

ZS0BET on 144.425 MHz

 

The Bethlehem beacon’s second antenna is currently pointing in the direction of Durban. We are looking for reports from KZN as well. The VHF Work group who planned, built and installed the Bethlehem beacon are considering turning the antenna pointing to KZN towards the West where there seems to be more VHF activity. 

Well that is all for this week. Let us know what interesting project you or your group are busy with at 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 26 April 2020

Audio version

Today I would like to talk a little about my experience using JS8Call on 2m. 

You may recall a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that some of the guys from HAMNET Gauteng would be playing with JS8Call one evening to see how it works primarily for emergency communications on VHF. We were also all going to use vertical antennas as this is what we will need to use when mobile. 

Well it was a rather interesting exercise. I was on the air from my QTH on the northern side of the Magalieberg, Danie ZR6AGB was on the southern side on the Magaliesberg, approximately 4 km from me, and Awie ZS6AVI was in Weltevreden Park on the West Rand. Danie is reasonably high up against the slope of the Magaliesberg and has a great line of site to the South and East. Awie’s location is also high at around 1640 m, way higher than the Magaliesberg in our area, and all I can see to the South is the Magaliesberg. 

So onto the testing. Because of our proximity to each other Danie and I had no problems copying each other. Danie and Awie also had no problems copying each other. Our testing therefore primarily went around relaying messages back and forth via Danie’s station, however there were times when Awie decoded my transmissions at -20 dB on the West Rand, a distance of 54 km to the South South West from me. 

Simple short messages, like calling CQ, SNR queries and so forth decoded well between us. We did however notice at times that even though we could clearly see the transmission on the waterfall, we were unable to decode it. 

Moving on to sending longer messages we noticed at times that the message could not be fully decoded. Only every second burst of data was decoded and as a result the message came across garbled. 

We experimented for quite some time trying different settings and resending the same messages to try and see if we could improve the reception of the messages. 

Looking closer we realised that all three of us were seeing signals on the waterfall that appeared to have a kink in them. The frequency appeared to drift over a time. Mostly they started drifting in one direction and then changed direction and continued to drift for the duration of the transmission.

 JS8Call_Drift.jpg

 

All three of us were using different multi-mode radios as well. Testing on HF we found that there was no drift that could be seen on the waterfall. 

Was this drift in frequency the reason why we could not receive the full message or even periodically not able to receive a short message either?

 

This was very puzzling. Was it because our radios did not have TCX Options installed? A TCXO is a temperature controlled crystal oscillator. 

Looking at the specifications of my FT-857D the Frequency Stability Specification is ±4 ppm from 1 minute to 60 minutes after power on. At 25°C the specification is 1ppm/hour. With a TCXO the specification is ±0.5 ppm/1 hour @25 °C, after warmup. 

So what does this mean in plain language?

±4 ppm at 144.178 MHz is ±576.712 Hz, meaning the signal can drift 576 Hz up or down from 144.178 MHz.

±1 ppm at 144.178 MHz the drift is ±144.178 Hz.

If we use a TCXO with ±0.5 ppm then at 144.178 MHz the frequency drift is ±72.089 Hz. Even this may be problematic on the digital modes on VHF. 

At 7.078 MHz, which is the JS8Call frequency on the 40m band, a ±1 ppm frequency drift calculates to ±7.078 Hz and that is why the drift is barely noticeable on HF and is not a problem.

 You can find a ppm calculator on the Jitter Labs website that can help you with the calculations. 

Digging further for a solution, there seems to already be a solution for the JS8Call software to compensate for the frequency drift in your radio, but it is however undocumented at this stage. 

JS8Call_Freq_Calibration.png 

Jordan Sherer KN4CRD, the master mind behind JS8Call, says on the JS8Call website that JS8Call is heavily inspired by WSJT-X, Fldigi, and FSQCall and would not exist without the hard work and dedication of the many developers in the amateur radio community.

 So I went and looked at the WSJT-X software and low and behold there is a similar function built into WSJT-X. 

WSJTX_Freq_Calibration.png 

In the WSJT-X documentation found on your computer where you installed the WSJT-X software (C:/WSJT/wsjtx/share/doc/WSJT-X/wsjtx-main-2.1.0.html#_frequency_calibration), Joe Taylor K1JT provides more information about frequency calibration and refers to Frequency Measurement Tools (FMT Tools) which is built into the WSPR software. There is also a simplified document describing the process one needs to follow on the WSJT Google Group. 

I am sure that everyone who plays with JS8Call and most of the modes that are supported by WSJT-X on VHF will encounter this problem. 

I know that I have a lot of reading to do and there is still plenty more testing that needs to take place before I am happy that I can use JS8Call for emergency communications on VHF. 

The other lesson learnt through this exercise is that one really needs to get to know the tools that are at your disposal very well. Do not think you can just install the software, play around with it and then be able to use it effectively. 

There is no better time than now to gather some fellow amateurs who share the same interests and set up a net to test the software, understand how it works and iron out all the wrinkles. We will certainly be doing a lot more on the air testing before we are happy that we can use JS8Call effectively. 

The VHF and above bands have been fairly quiet this last week. Conditions do not look good either for the coming week. 

We need beacon reports. If you hear either of the following beacons, send us an email with the beacon heard, your callsign, your grid location, local time and the signal report to vhfnews@sarl.org.za : 

ZS6JON on 144.440 MHz

ZS0BET on 144.425 MHz 

The Bethlehem beacon’s second antenna is currently pointing in the direction of Durban. We are looking for reports from KZN. 

Well that is all for this week. Well that is all for this week. Let us know what interesting project you or your group are busy with at 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 20 April 2020

Audio version

Last week Sunday I received a report from Andre ZS2ZA who experienced good conditions along the South East Coast between Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay. 

Andre says” On Friday evening 10 April 2020 at 16:14 UTC I received a WhatsApp from Willie ZS2CC in George advising that the 145.600 Dana Bay repeater was skip to Port Elizabeth and that he had heard Johannes ZS2JO on the air.

 

ZS2ZAHepburn.png

I set up my radio, 50w with a Diamond X50 antenna and when a pause came up I called. At 16:22 UTC I had a QSO with ZS3EP/Div1 Eben from Stilbaai, ZS1TBP Thys from Mossel Bay & ZS6NEU/Div1 Marko from Mossel Bay. The signals were absolutely loud and clear, I was very surprised and totally excited! 

Eben suggested that we all QSY to 145.500 FM for a simplex contact. At 16:27 UTC I made a Contact with ZS3EP/Div1 Eben and we exchange 5/9 reports. Eben was also using a Diamond X50 antenna. Unfortunately I could not copy the other 2 stations. Eben then continued to engage ZS2CC Willie (whom I could not copy) from George at which time I fired up my satellite station and beamed a 4 element cross polarized Yagi at a 250 degree bearing towards Stilbaai and I made another contact with 10W using my ICOM 910H and the signal exchange was another 5/9! The conditions stayed open for another 10 minutes and it was fantastic to have a simplex contact of 391 Km on the East Coast which rarely sees great tropospheric ducting conditions.

 

What a wonderful way to start an Easter Weekend with such fantastic contacts, Eben and I exchanged words on the cell phone after the contact and we will be sure to monitor William Hepburn’s Tropospheric Ducting Forecast more regularly in search of that second simplex contact going forward.” 

Thanks for that report Andre, hopefully you will have many more great contacts along the Coast.

On Friday, I saw that the weather forecast for for Pretoria for Saturday was fog in the early morning and so I checked the Hepburn charts and the sounding forecasts on Windy.com but the forecasts there did not show any temperature inversion inland. I also noticed on Saturday morning that the forecast “fog” was low cloud and the weather service forecast had changed from fog to cloudy.

Looking ahead to the rest of the week it seems that the conditions will not be great inland. 

Along the coast it looks better for the weekend and seems like the conditions will peak on Sunday evening, stretching almost right around the whole coast of South Africa.  Windy.com also confirms temperature inversion along the coast for Sunday evening.
 

HepburnSunday19042320201800UTC.png

Anthony ZS6ARW has also installed a temporary antenna on the roof of his home pointing towards Bethlehem.

Anthony says “I installed a 5-element Yagi on my roof pointing 177deg, which is as close as I could measure the bearing of the ZS0BET beacon from my QTH. 

I have line of sight to JHB city but can’t see beyond that. My elevation is about 1470m so I might have line of sight all the way to Bethlehem. 


 

Anthony reports that he can hear the beacon fairly well. This is what it sounds like at his QTH. 

Beacon.mp3 

Thanks for that report Anthony. 

Another record Transatlantic contact has been made between the Cape Verde Islands and Puerto Rico, a distance of 4367 km on 70cm. 

 

D4VHF-WP3DN-11-apr-2020-432-MHz-map.jpg

You can read more about this recent opening across the Atlantic on the EI7GL blogspot 

Listen out for the beacons and if you hear either of the following beacons, send us an email with the beacon heard, your callsign, your grid location, local time and the signal report to vhfnews@sarl.org.za : 

ZS6JON on 144.440 MHz

ZS0BET on 144.425 MHz 

The Bethlehem beacon’s second antenna is currently point in the direction of Durban. We are looking for reports from KZN. 

Well that is all for this week. Let us know what interesting project you or your group are busy with at 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 12 April 2020

Audio version 

News is sparse this week so this insert is rather short. Hopefully it is because everyone is busy with those projects in the shack as well as all those other projects around the house that need attending to. 

On the technical side, I have been spending most of my time on a new HF antenna, but that has now also ground to a halt as I need coax and connectors and all the suppliers are closed. I am now down to a couple of lengths of RG58. 

Talking about coax, you need to check your feed lines on a regular basis with a VNA if you have one or at  least with a power meter and dummy load at the end of the coax. I have now again identified a faulty cable. The cable progressively gets worse and you do not even realise it, other than thinking that the bands are bad or that your radio may be becoming deaf. The faulty cable will attenuate the signals and even though you test the SWR it will look good because the reflected signals are also attenuated. You radio will also be quite happy with the cable and will keep pumping out the power, but very little actually leaves the antenna. 

Some really good news is that Koos ZS3JPY is back at home. Koos, we hope that you continue to get well and hope to hear you back on the air soon. 

There does not seem to have been much activity on the VHF and above bands that has been reported in the last week. I have seen inland that the guys are busy on 6m with some nice contacts between ZS6 and ZS2. 

On Wednesday this week there were also some good contacts on 70cm between ZS4A, ZS4MK and ZS6CBQ. 

On the West Coast, the guys are playing with HF. Maybe they are bored with the good tropo conditions! 

Next week Thursday evening the Hamnet Gauteng guys will be playing with JS8Call on VHF. All test will be done on vertical antennas as we need to see how well it works while operating from a vehicle. It will also be interesting to see what the coverage will be like. Jacques ZS6JV has already had a good JS8 contact with Awie ZS6AVI. A good 60km between Vereeniging and the Weltevreden Park on the West Rand. 

Keep your eyes on the Hepburn charts and inland, when you wake up to a misty morning here on the Highveld, then you need to check if the bands are open and give that call on VHF & UHF. 

Also listen out for the beacons and if you hear either of the following beacons, send us an email with the beacon heard, your callsign, your grid location, local time and the signal report to vhfnews@sarl.org.za : 

ZS6JON on 144.440 MHz

ZS0BET on 144.425 MHz 

The Bethlehem beacon’s second antenna is currently point in the direction of Durban. We are looking for reports from KZN. 

Well that is all for this week. Let us know what interesting project you or your group are busy with at vhfnews@sarl.org.za

The audio version as well as the text of Focus on VHF is available on the SARL web page shortly after the broadcast of Amateur Radio Today on a Sunday morning . 

 

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


Focus on VHF and above 5 April 2020

Audio version 

Last week I spoke about monitoring the beacons so that we can get an idea of propagation here inland on the highveld and I requested that beacon reports be sent to vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

Carl ZS6CBQ sent in the following information about the ZS4AFV beacon. 

Carl says “The ZS4AFV beacon is not running any more. It is due to continued power problems at the ZS9X site.” 

Last year on 1 November 2019, Carl only heard key clicks on 144.415 MHz and Bernie ZS4TX who looks after the beacon reported that 2 phases were off  and only 136V on the 3rd Phase resulting  in the battery charger not charging the batteries. Bernie then installed a power supply working on 100V and the beacon was back on the air on 6th November. 

Carl says “On 26 November Bernie informed me that the voltages on all phases were low and the temporary power supply also went faulty. Bernie said that he would only go back to the site once the AC power is properly restored. The beacon was off since then.” 

On 30 March 2020 Carl sent Bernie a WhatsApp and he replied that the we should remove the ZS4AFV beacon from the list because there is no purpose to carry on with this beacon when the AC power at the site is more off than on. Thanks Carl for that information. 

This beacon in Bloemfontein was an important beacon to us as it is further south and west that the Bethlehem beacon. 

Yes, this is a problem when we put up amateur equipment in good faith on third property and are reliant on resources from the third party. The VHF Work Group which deployed the Bethlehem beacon is currently working on a plan to deploy a beacon in the northern Karoo and we will now explore how we can rescue the Bloemfontein beacon and possibly move it to a more suitable site. We are also strongly exploring the feasibility of a totally self contained beacon for the Karoo that is totally independent of any external power as well the possibility of being mounted on it’s own stand alone tower. What has happened to the Bloemfontein beacon just makes our case so much stronger. 

 We are please that the ZS6JON beacon is still performing well and I would like to thank Anthony ZS6ARW for his report on the ZS6JON beacon. Anthony mentioned to me as well that he will put up a Yagi to monitor the ZS0BET beacon as well.

If you hear either of the following beacons, send us an email with the beacon heard, your callsign, your grid location, local time and the signal report to vhfnews@sarl.org.za: 

ZS6JON on 144.440 MHz

ZS0BET on 144.425 MHz 

The Bethlehem beacon’s second antenna is currently point in the direction of Durban. Hopefully the KZN guys can provide us some reports as well. 

Now something again for the more technically minded who are looking for a challenge while sitting at home. 

Most guys use a single Yagi antenna for VHF and Above work. At some or other stage you are going to decide that you need more gain and let’s face it building antennas are much cheaper than building low noise amplifiers for the VHF and above frequencies. You are left with two choices, build a longer Yagi with more elements to increase the gain of the antenna or build a second matching Yagi and stack the antennas either vertically or horizontally to achieve the desired gain.

A good source of information about stacking of antennas can be found at http://www.grantronics.com.au/docs/StkYagis.pdf 

But how do you feed the antennas and match the impedance of the antennas in parallel to your 50 Ohm feedline? 

One way to do it is with a coaxial cable. The ARRL handbooks are a good source for information on quarter wave matching devices using coaxial cable or you can use your favourite search engine on the web. One of the  challenges with building a matching device with coaxial cable is how do you weatherproof the coax. 

Another way to do it is to use a power divider.

 

Quarterwave_Power_Divider.gif

 

You can buy a power divider for around R3000 locally or you can build your own. Right now, building your own is the only option as the local suppliers are all closed. 

Take a look at the homebrew Hardline Coax RF Power Divider built by Derek on YouTube. Derek discusses how to do the calculations for the material that you may have on hand, to be able to build a RF Power Divider.

Yes, it can be a little challenging, but it is certainly doable. 

Danie ZR6AGB built one last year sometime that we tested and it worked really well when tested on the VNA that I have. 

What experiments are you going to be trying during this lockdown period? 

Take out that project in your bottom drawer and complete it. I’m thinking of a number of fellow Amateurs who have acquired everything to build a noise monitoring system, but have not progressed further with it. 

What about a digital interface for weak signal modes on VHF? The interfaces between your radio and computer is not difficult to build on a piece of Veroboard and you can use the same interface for HF as well. Why not build one set of interfaces for each radio that you have. By the way, if you do not have  a piece of PC board or Veroboard, why not try building the project using the dead bug or Manhattan method. 

While researching some of the material for this week’s program, I came across so many useful projects that one can do. Some of us have the excuse that we are not programmers, or cannot solder. Why not try your hand at it now while you have the time and learn a new skill. 

Don’t forget to tell us about it at vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

All the links mentioned are in the text version of Focus on VHF and Above that is available on the SARL home page as well as this audio file.

 

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


Focus on VHF and Above 29 March 2020

Audio file

On Friday morning 27 March 2020 there was again good VHF propagation inland and the 46 Group made good use of the opportunity. 

Dries ZS4AJ in Bloemfontein was heard by Carl ZS6CBQ S9 +10 in Krugersdorp. Carl was also hear S9+20 by Pierre ZS4PF in Welkom. 

ZS6CBQ_Recordedby_ZS4PF.jpeg

 

Similar reports were also given to Koos ZS6KSG by Pierre and Rickus ZS4A was reported 57 by Kobus ZS6BOS in Randfontein. 

The forecast for Pretoria for Saturday 28 March was fog and I had a look at the sounding forecasts on Windy.com for the area Pretoria to Hopetown and Kimberley to Secunda and it seems that the whole of the highveld was experiencing temperature inversion. The humidity at 500 hPA (5500 m/asl) was below 30% with the humidity increasing at lower levels to above 80%. The synoptic chart from the Weather Service showed a high pressure cell SE of the country with a low pressure cell to the NW over Namibia. 

 

 

Synoptic_Chart2020032800:00Z.gif

 

The Hepburn chart for Saturday morning 06:00 UTC looked good as well.

 

Hepburn_Chart_0600UTC.png

 

Possibly good conditions for Tropoducting? 

The conditions reported on the ground around 08:00 local time (06:00 UTC) showed weaker conditions than the previous day with Carl ZS6CBQ only giving Dries ZS4AJ a S5 report. 

This raises a number of questions, like:

What were the conditions like earlier in the morning? Looking at the Hepburn Charts the conditions look good early in the morning that then disappear later in the day. What about later in the day? Most of the radio amateurs are active in the early morning, but not too early, for a couple of hours. 

Was anyone monitoring the beacons, especially the ZS6JON beacon in Tarlton, the ZS4AFV in Bloemfontein and ZS0BET beacon in Bethlehem? 

Monitoring the beacons are an excellent way to be able determine how the conditions change over a period of time. 

We have not yet progressed to an automated beacon monitoring and reporting system, and we are still not quite there yet with the beacon reporting Bot on Telegram.

In the meantime you can assist us by listening out for the beacons and sending us your reports to vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

The beacons that we are interested in are:

ZS6JON on 144.440 MHz

ZS4AFV on 144.415 MHz

ZS0BET on 144.425 MHz 

We require the following information: Beacon heard, your callsign, your grid location, local time and the signal report. 

This will help us to get a better idea of the propagation, especially here on the highveld. 

Going further up in the bands. 

There is now an official QO-100 International Emergency Frequency.

In order to coordinate potential emergency communications, a frequency has been assigned as the international emergency frequency on the QO-100 geostationary satellite narrow band transponder

QO-100 International Emergency Frequency

Downlink: 10489.860 MHz

Uplink: 2400.360 MHz

SSB channel: max. 2.7kHz bandwidth

All users on QO-100 are encouraged to monitor this frequency, but keep it clear for emergency traffic! 

How many QO-100 ground stations are there in South Africa? Write to us at vhfnews@sarl.org.za and tell us a little about your QO-100 station setup. 

The UK Microwave Group has made available a PDF of their trifold printed leaflet 'Amateur Radio in the GHz Bands' which aims to inform the public who may ask what you are doing when outside with a portable microwave setup or for publicising amateur microwaves. You can find a copy of the leaflet at https://microwavers.org/files/UkuG_Leaflet.pdf. What activity is there in South Africa on the microwave bands? 

Again, write to us and let us know about your experiments in the microwave bands. 

This information is very important for us as we need to motivate and protect our bands. We may have made some gains or maintained the status quo at WRC-19, but there is a constant threat to our bands, especially the higher bands where we are secondary users. The more information we have available to us that proves that we are active on the bands the easier it is to fight to protect the bands that we have access to. 

Radio amateurs are always on the lookout for a freebie.

On 19 March, CQ Magazine announced that in view of the "stay at home and flatten the curve" recommendations from the health experts during this worldwide pandemic, CQ would like to give everyone the opportunity to escape the news alerts for a brief period and enjoy the hobby they love through the pages of CQ! View the March and April issues of CQ magazine at no charge! It's easy, simply send an E-mail to FreeIssues@cq-amateur-radio.com and we'll send you the March issue now and the April issue on April 1st! 

Take advantage of this opportunity to read CQ - free of charge - and keep connected with the latest trends and activities in amateur radio! 

Thank you CQ Magazine. 

Here are two items for the more technically minded amateurs. 

I found an article titled “Efficient 2 meter Disguise Antenna  Made From a TV Satellite Dish”. In the article John Portune W6NBC describes how he used a 2m satellite TV dish to make a horizontal slot antenna which is totally unobtrusive to the casual viewer. Ideal for putting up in your housing complex where only DSTV dishes are allowed and no other antennas. You can find the interesting article at https://w6nbc.com/articles/20xx-dishslot.pdf 

I previously mentioned an article where a fellow ham in Europe was experimenting with APRS on LoRa frequencies.

Here is another article, this time of an experiment in the US to use troposcatter to receive a LoRa signal bounced off the troposhere. You can read the article at https://inductivetwig.com/blogs/news/1500-watts-of-lora-on-the-440mhz-band 

What experiments are you going to be trying during this lockdown period?

Scratch in that bottom drawer where all the projects are lying which you plan to do later. Now is the ideal time to relieve that boredom by trying something new. Something different. Something out of the box, or that bottom drawer. 

Don’t forget to tell us about it at vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

All the links mentioned are in the text version of Focus on VHF and Above that is available on the SARL home page as well as this audio file. Focus on VHF and above is compiled, edited and presented for Amateur Radio Today by Brian Jacobs ZS6YZ.


 

Focus on VHF and Above8 March 2020

AUDIO VERSION 

 

Firstly some news about Koos ZS3JPY from Kleinzee.

Koos is still in hospital fighting infection in his leg. Earlier there was a report that they may need to again amputate a portion of Koos’ leg, but the good news passed on yesterday by Charles ZS1CF is that this has not been done and they are seriously trying to stop the spread of the infection. Charles says that Koos is experiencing pain, but remains positive. Koos and Michelle ZS3TO, you remain in our prayers and we pray for a speedy recovery. 

Have you recently experienced or are currently experiencing intruders and /or interference on the amateur bands, especially the 2m and 70cm bands?

 The flood of cheap Chinese two way radios that can easily be purchased in the local corner store that sells all sorts of electronic gadgets and so forth is a problem. Yes, the root of the problem is the uncontrolled import of these radios. This has been addressed with the relevant authorities and is primarily out of our hands as a radio amateur and spectrum user. If you know of these radios being sold in a shop near you then you can report this to the ICASA Regional Manager in your area who will take action. 

Further more we can also assist and report intruders on our bands to the local ICASA Regional Manager. In the case of interference, whether intruders or other forms of interference that prevents you from using a particular frequency, try and get as much information such as a recording of the interference, date, time and frequency as well as any other information that may be relevant. Some guys have been successful in applying their fox hunting skills and being able to identify an address from where the interference is coming from. Send all this information to the ICASA Regional Manager in your area and they will follow up. 

A complete list of ICASA Regional Managers can be found on the SARL website http://www.sarl.org.za/public/licences/licences.asp 

We request that you also copy artoday@sarl.org.za to allow the SARL to monitor how wide spread the problem is.  

There have been some recent successes in interference cases so if you experience interference, report it and help us protect the future of our amateur radio spectrum which is continuously under threat. 

The latest issue of the IARU VHF, UHF and Microwave Newsletter is available at https://www.iaru-r1.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Newsletter85.pdf 

Please take some time to read through it. 

Now something for the technology junkies amongst us. 

Have you heard about LoRa? What is LoRa? LoRa is a Wireless RF Technology. LoRa, which is short for Long Range, is a spread spectrum modulation technique derived from chirp spread spectrum technology. LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology is a long range, low power wireless platform that has become the de facto technology for Internet of Things (IoT) networks worldwide. LoRa works on the license free portion of 868 MHz. 

During the BACAR balloon flight held last year a LoRa payload was built by Henry ZS6IIX and the signal transmitted was heard over a very long range. 

Now here is an interesting article about mobile LoRa-APRS via QO-100. 

Andreas Malek, OE3DMB has been active on QO-100 since the satellite went live and has built up his own transverter.  Andreas says “Parallel to the development and construction of the transverter I was asking myself if it would be possible to do mobile operation via QO-100 with just 20 Watts of RF power. I was especially interested in the question, if it would be possible to use LoRa-APRS via satellite to get whole European coverage (and of course much more than that) in addition to the terrestrial LoRa-APRS network. “ 

In the article Andreas describes his experiment to transmit a mobile LoRa-APRS signal via the transponder on the QO-100 geostationary satellite. Andreas generated a 20 watt 125 kHz bandwidth LoRa signal on 2.4 GHz which was fed into a small omni-directional antenna mounted on the roof of a car.

 Read the article at http://aprs.org/LoRa_Documentation.pdf 

The curiosity and willingness to try something is what amateur radio is all about. What else can we radio amateurs use LoRa technology for? 

What interesting projects are you playing with? Why not tell us about it at vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

Just over a year after QO-100 has gone live, the custodians of the satellite have published updated band plans.The QO-100 Narrow Band transponder band plan can be found at

https://amsat-dl.org/en/p4-a-nb-transponder-bandplan-and-operating-guidelines/

and the Wide Band transponder band plan at

https://amsat-dl.org/en/p4-a-wb-transponder-bandplan-and-operating-guidelines/

The SARL National Convention will be taking place at the Wanderers Conference facility in Illovo, Johannesburg with the SARL Unlocking Amateur Radio Technology Symposium on Friday afternoon 3 April.

Be sure not to miss this afternoon of interesting topics that will get you thinking and who knows what new things you will discover in this exciting world of amateur radio. I hope to see you there. 

Well that’s all for this week. Don’t forget to send us details of your club or group’s activity on VHF and above or any other news snippets to vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

 

All the links mentioned are in the text version of Focus on VHF and Above that is available on the SARL home page as well as this audio file. Focus on VHF and above is compiled, edited and presented for Amateur Radio Today by Brian Jacobs ZS6YZ.


Focus on VHF and Above 9 February  2020 

Audio version 

You will recall during the build up to WRC-19 that one of the issues that was proposed to be put on the agenda for WRC-23 was interference caused to the Galileo GNSS constellation by activity on the 23cm band. 

Bob Atkins KA1GT has documented his recent observations of interference to 1296 EME from the Galileo navigation satellites' E6 mode.Go and take a look at Bob’s observations on his website https://bobatkins.com/radio/galileo-1296.html. 

Previously Peter Blair G3LTF also wrote an article about the potential interference to Galileo from 23cm band operations. Although the article was written in 2006, Peter explains the whole history of the Galileo project, what it is where it stemmed from as well as describing possible interference scenarios. Peter’s article can be found at http://www.southgatearc.org/articles/galileo.htm. Be sure to click on “Continued” link at the bottom of the page to go to the next page. 

After reading both these pieces of information, I now also have a better understanding what the potential issues are and why this item was on the agenda during WRC-19. 

Work will shortly begin with the first preparatory meetings for WRC-23 and we will again need to make sure that we are fully informed and take part in the various meetings and forums to ensure that the interests of the Amateur Service is protected. 

Now on to something more technical. 

I have previously spoken about hand held radios and their rubber duck antennas that are fundamentally dummy loads. I have a requirement next weekend where I will need to use my hand held radio while away from my vehicle when we are busy assisting with a cycle event on the East Rand. 

I have also previously spoken about a simple modification that you can build that will give you a significant improvement on the signal that you transmit from your hand held radio. I’m going to revisit this as I’m now in the process of building another antenna for 70cm as we will be working on 70cm for this event. 

You can go and look at a commercial product called a RatTail Antenna which basically adds a counterpoise to your existing rubber duck antenna. The problem with this design is that it inductively couples to your radio and while transmitting you need to determine where the best place is to attach the device to your radio. This device will set you back 32 USD plus shipping. 

A little research on the internet will bring you to the webpage of Mike KM4FMK. Mike has written an article titled "Tiger tails" - Are they really worth using? The Tiger tail is nothing other than a counterpoise that you add to the radio’s antenna. Based on the measurements that Mike has done on various radios and antennas you can see that there are definitely gains that can be achieved. We are talking in the region of 6db gain over the standard antenna. Of course the gains will vary depending on the radio and antenna that you have. 

There is another article on Hamuniverse.com titled HT Antenna Modification For Increased Performance! written by Edward Harris, KE4SKY. Again interesting reading and you will see the amount of attenuation provided by a rubber duck antenna which varies greatly depending whether the radio is in your hand level with your face or you have it clipped to your belt and use a speaker mic. 

On that same page there is another article written by Dale Kubichek N6JSX which gives a simple method of building a counterpoise and how to attach it to your handheld. There is also a link to a PDF document where Dale provides info on building a brass quarter wave whip antenna. 

This is what I have previously built for 2m, and the tests that I have done on my Icom IC-T70 hand held showed that the whip and counterpoise gave me a signal gain of 6dB over the standard rubber duck antenna. 

I hope to get good results from my new 70cm antenna on the hand held that will allow me to at least get better reception, never mind the significantly improved transmission which may even allow me to use my hand held outside of my vehicle without having to run back to the vehicle every time I am called on the radio. The length of the 70cm antenna will also be smaller and much easier to handle in and out of the vehicle. 

I also need to ensure that the radio is not clipped to my belt, but sitting high up on my body in some form of a harness to ensure that I actually get maximum signal out of the radio. 

Remember, being able to kerchunk the repeater with your hand held, does not mean that you are putting out a sufficiently good signal to be able to have a proper QSO or pass that urgent message that may save a person’s life.

Well that’s all for this week. Don’t forget to send us details of your club or group’s activity on VHF and above or any other news snippets to vhfnews@sarl.org.za.

 

 

Focus on VHF and Above 2 February  2020

Audio version   

This week, we again report on activity along the West Coast. 

Charles ZS1CF says “The West Coast Radio Group have their net on Mondays at 19h30 on 145.500 FM simplex. 

The Tropo ducting forecast for Monday 27 January looked fair again, but not as strong as it was the previous Monday.  Charles received Cobus, ZS3CVB with a S9+10dB signal compared to a full scale reception the previous Monday.

 

On Monday 27 January, a total of 9 stations called into the net and everyone  enjoyed it thoroughly. 

1.         Cobus ZS3CVB in Port Nolloth

2.         Michelle ZS3TO in Kleinzee

3.         Koos ZS3JPY in Kleinzee

4.         Marco ZS6NEU mobile in Saldanha Harbour

5.         Thys ZS1TBP mobile in Saldanha Harbour

6.         Chris ZS1FC in Jacobsbaai

7.         Tienie ZS1HO in Vredenburg

8.         Andre V51LZ in Oranjemund

9.         Charles ZS1CF in Langebaan 

The tropo ducting lasted well for about an hour, after which it faded quite rapidly 

Thank you to all for calling in and participating in the discussions!

West Coast greetings from Charles, ZS1CF in Langebaan. 

Charles thank you very much for this report. 

We encourage other clubs and groups to also send us information regarding their activities on VHF and above. 

The VHF Workgroup met again on 29 January 2020 for the first time since the installation of the Bethlehem beacon in early December 2019. 

The Bethlehem beacon is operating very well and reports continue to come in, some from unexpected areas such as Charl ZS3K reporting that he  heard the beacon at his QTH at grid KG10wa, which is in the Northern Karoo near Strydenburg. This is an interesting report as it appears that Charl heard the beacon off a side lobe as the antennas are pointing North and East. 

This report prompted Carl ZS6CBQ and Charl to do some tests on 2m CW and Charl could hear Carl’s beacon in and out of the noise. 

There is now a renewed enthusiasm to get the next beacon up and running in the Northern Karoo. 

The hunt is now on to find a suitable location for the beacon. There are also discussions around building a totally self contained beacon that does not require any third party tower or access to electricity to be able to operate. So the beacon will be solar powered with battery backup and on it’s own 6m tower. This idea will allow for a lot more possible sites upon which to locate the beacon. 

Carl ZS6CBQ and Rickus ZS4A have been experimenting with JS8Call on 2m and their findings prompted the question whether the next beacon should be a CW beacon or should the beacon be a digital beacon being able to send and receive a digital signal on 2m SSB. 

Unfortunately load shedding cut the meeting short, however, there are a lot of ideas that need to be explored before the next meeting. A draft budget also needs to be prepared so that funds can be acquired. 

The next meeting of the VHF workgroup will be on Skype at 20:00 on 27 February 2020. If you would like to join the VHF Workgroup, please send your Skype name to vhfnews@sarl.org.za. 

Two amateurs in Germany have achieved a new IARU R1 record on 134 GHz. Michael Kuhne DB6NT and Roland Becker DK4RC exchanged reports on both SSB and CW over a distance of 65 km on 29 December 2019. You can see some photos of Michael’s equipment on his website http://www.db6nt.de.  

Well that’s all for this week. Don’t forget to send us details of your club or group’s activity on VHF and above or any other news snippets to vhfnews@sarl.org.za


MORSE CODE NEWS WITH ZS6MWS 

Four CW Contacts per Day Certificates

 The ZS-CW group have started a new initiative to get more people active on CW on all bands, this will get you a certificate at the end of the year. Make four CW contacts per day and qualify for the following certificates: 200 to 250 days - Bronze certificate, 250 to 300 days - Silver Certificate and 300 plus days - Gold Certificate. Send proof of your contacts by Excel log submission to Mike, ZS6MSW (zs6msw@gmail.com) or Andy, ZS6ADY (andyzs6ady@vodamail.co.za).

 Switzerland, HB9. HB40HTC and HB40HC are active for the Helvetia Telegraphy Club that is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020. QSL via bureau and LoTW. A special activity programme - the HB Open CW Activity (HB-OCWA) Award - will be in place throughout the year to mark the anniversary, help activate the special callsigns and also "inspire amateur radio operators in Switzerland and elsewhere to increase CW activity on the HF bands. The intent of the award is to encourage and reward them for conducting sustained CW conversations rather than short-duration CW signal reports". https://hb-ocwa.ch/

Serbia, YU. Look for YT50SCWC by the Serbian CW Club to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Operation during 2020. QSL via YU1MM, direct or bureau, LoTW, Club Log OQRS.

SARL Forum Active Topics
Refurbishing Fibre Glass Pole  29/05/2020  05:51:46
by: ZS5WO
2020 Licenses from Icasa  29/05/2020  02:14:49
by: ZS6BV
Eskom  28/05/2020  16:56:45
by: ZS6DEZ
How many of you have experienced a REAL SHOCK ?.  28/05/2020  16:07:17
by: ZS6BV
ZS2EZ-3 DX CLUSTER : ADDRESS CHANGE  28/05/2020  16:02:46
by: ZS2EZ
6m band  28/05/2020  13:28:21
by: ZS6BUN
Homebrew Projects of Interest?  28/05/2020  11:56:43
by: ZS1I
CQ CQ CQ Tobacco  27/05/2020  18:05:02
by: ZS1AU
ZS1820S  27/05/2020  14:17:17
by: ZS2EC
Balloon Tracking  27/05/2020  13:37:33
by: ZS6BMN


Commercial Hamads 

ZS2BL's S.A. HAMSHACK

Direct importer of a wide selection of SWR meters, H.F., V.H.F. and U.H.F. base and mobile antennas. Amateur radio transceivers, antenna analyzers, etc. Affordable shipping costs for out of town customers and subsidized shipping to SARL members.Check out all my amateur radio goodies here. 0720268909. 


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Place your commercial hamads on the home page.  Book a six months space for R300 or 12 months at R500 prepaid with order   The advertisements will be  text only up to 60 words including address, telephone number and click through URL to advertisers' website and email address. Adverisement can be changed  Send your contact details to admin@sarl.org.za and we will contact you or call the NARC at 011 675 2393


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.

A
mateur radio can be enjoyed by young and old, male and female, even the most severely disabled can make friends around the world from their own home. This hobby knows no boundaries.


Random Photo from the Call book.


 Elsa Sutherland, ZR6KG


     



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Worked All ZS award
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The entry level for the WAZS award is 100 different call signs. The programme has recently been expanded to include higher level endorsements, such as WAZS-200, WAZS-300, etc. Endorsements may also be obtained for specific modes, eg: CW, SSB, etc.
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lboat034a.gif (1979 bytes)SA Maritime Net

The South African Maritime Mobile Net provides weather reports and maintains contact with sailing vessels from around the coast and high seas.
The net operates 7 days a week.

There are two regular schedule times as follows:

  • 06:30 UTC and 11:30 UTC on 14 316 kHz high seas net.
  • 06:35 UTC and 11:35 UTC on 7 120 kHz coastal net - the net lasts approximately 30 minutes .

 
   

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