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AN EARLY ANALYSIS OF THE PEARS NATIONAL VHF/UHF CONTEST – Weather once again affected conditions along the east coast, with rain on Friday night and gale force winds at East London on Saturday afternoon, including power outages in some areas. Nevertheless conditions were reasonable in other divisions based on logs so far received. The Hilites appear to be the number of digital contacts made from Namibia to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and the Gauteng area on both 50 MHz and 144 MHz and the long distances covered. Another surprise was the first-ever Aircraft Scatter contact made in South Africa during a VHF contest between Ettienne ZS1AX and Pine ZS6OB on 50 MHz Digital. As the logs start coming in we will have a better idea about analogue long distance activity, and how the new divisional 144,400 MHz FM category fared. But it appears that a number of ROVER stations were also active.
What we did notice in Division 2 is that local activity was down with reference to last year mainly due to the absence of our star field stations Allan ZS2BO and Terence ZS2VDL who kept the bands alive. Terence informed us that due to commitments they had to miss the PEARS contest this year but will be back with a bang next year. Over the years it has been observed that field stations do have a tremendous effect on local participation. In the early days the SARL VHF contests blossomed because many Club stations participated.
Please make a sincere effort to submit your log sheet as long as it contains the date, time, station worked, signal report received and grid locator. We will sort it out and calculate the distance. Your log is also needed for us to analyze and assess the footprint of VHF activity in this country.
FIRST-EVER AIRCRAFT SCATTER CONTACT DURING A VHF/UHF CONTEST – History was made on Sunday when the first-ever Aircraft Scatter (AS) two-way digital QSO was made in South Africa during a VHF contest, and a WSJT screenshot depicted the event dated 2015 JAN 18 10:19:46. This feat was accomplished by Ettienne Vosloo, ZS1AX, at Cape Town and Jan “Pine” Pienaar, ZS6OB, at Pretoria with their FSK441 contact on 50,233 MHz over a distance of 1290 km. This is also a new SARL Aircraft Scatter record on 50 MHz. ZS1AX wish to express his thanks to ZS6OB for his guidance that made this contact possible. Congratulations to both of you
REPORT OF PEARS VHF/UHF CONTEST FROM CAPE TOWN – “Thank you to PEARS for organising this contest - it was a lot of fun getting "out and about", and a good opportunity to test out my homebrew portable Yagi antenna.
“I could unfortunately not operate from the same location for both sessions, and as such submit a log for 2 different locations - one for each session. Both stations were portable field stations - the first at a residential property, the 2nd on top of Tygerberg hill. My initial plan was to enter in category F as a mobile station, but with few stations on frequency, I abandoned that idea and QSY'd.
“Therefore not sure which category this now fits into? Maybe the limited mobile category if contact #4 is excluded? Whichever way, feel free to enter it in any category that you deem fit. Next time I'll be ready with a "real" radio. Thanks again! 73, Stéan ZS1SGS”.
EARLY TEP OPENING ON 50 MHz – Pierre van Deventer, ZS6A, recorded an unexpected and early opening into Europe on 50 MHz that lasted for almost 2 hours. He managed to work: 9A, CT, EA, EA6, F, HA, HB9, I, OE, OM, S5, SV, YT and YU (sadly, no EP6T).
VHF ACTIVITY TO CONTINUE AFTER THE PEARS VHF/UHF CONTEST – Ben ZS5QM at Hilton suggested that we must keep the VHF activity alive now that the PEARS VHF/UHF contest is over, and watch the Hepburn Forecasts. Mike ZS1TAF at Cape Town agrees and says he will be looking out for ZS6JPY (Div. 3), V51PJ, V51LZ and V51B. In Port Elizabeth Andre ZS2ACP and Ken ZS2OC are regularly on the air, but ZS2FM’s beam antennas are still down. Peter ZS2ABF, John ZS2AH and Hennie ZS2HC are active in East London while Dave ZS5DJ holds the fort in Ramsgate. Of course, there are many VHF-ers in Gauteng area.
NO RADIO SIGNALS FROM KEPLER 116454b PLANET – The planet is known as Kepler 116454b, and orbits an orange dwarf star in the constellation Pisces. It is 180 light-years away. Jon Richards, of the SETI Institute's Center for SETI Research, used the Allen Telescope Array to look for signals over the frequency range of 1000 – 2250 MHz. The planet orbits its home star in 9 days in an orbit three times smaller than Mercury's orbit around the Sun. Consequently, temperatures on this world – which is a so-called "super Earth" and larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune – are expected to be too hot for life as we know it. Nonetheless, and as centuries of experience have shown, observation sometimes trumps expectation, and that is why new exoplanets – whether they seem promising for life or not – are routinely observed by the SETI Institute with the Allen Telescope Array.