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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! 

Video: The future and growth of amateur radio. The presentation given by RSGB Director Kamal Singh, M0IOV to the 2019 RSGB Convention is now available on YouTube https://youtu.be/wnZY4vgThOA


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


The April 2020 Radio ZS is available for download for Members and non-members - click here. 


SARL ON-THE-AIR BULLETINS AND AMATEUR RADIO TODAY PROGRAMME  5 April 2020

SARLNEWS in English with Herman Erasmus here  

SARLNUUS in Afrikaans met  John Keulder ZS6BXL klik/luister 

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/


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!


The lock down, Amateur Radio and the SARL - update

From the President's Desk

Dear Members,

With everyone now in preparation for the 21 day national lockdown and disrupting our normal lives in a way that some of us have not seen before in our lifetimes, I would like to convey a few remarks that impacts on SARL services.

The office will be closed during the national lockdown. E-mails will be processed and answered.

No decision to postpone have been made regarding the RAE in May 2020. We will keep you informed.

Ensure to pay your amateur licence on time. Don't forget the Club licences!

On a positive note, this time is a good opportunity to keep growing our skills, become more active on the air, start or complete the project that you have in mind and keep the interest in supporting amateur radio's future.

Be assured that while we are unable to control this crisis ourselves, it is the reaction and responds to the situation that determines how every one of our life's will develop. Make sure to follow the rules and guidelines as issued by the authorities. Ensure that you focus on the wellbeing of yourself and loved ones including domestic priorities.

Keep informed, be safe and let us keep our frequencies active.

73, Nico van Rensburg, ZS6QL


 


 

 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.


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.


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 - 3 April 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/ 


Ghana, 9G. Matteo, IZ4YGS will be active again as 9G5GS from Sanzule, Ghana from 14 April to 15 May. In his spare time (typically 21:00 to 00:00 UTC and sometimes also 12:00 to 14:00 UTC) he will operate FT8 (Fox & Hound only on 3 567, 7 056, 10 131 and 14 090 kHz) and SSB on 160 to 10 metres. He also plans some USB activity on the QO-100 Geostationary satellite. QSL via Club Log's OQRS, LoTW, eQSL, or direct to home call.

Stay at Home. The Emirates Amateur Radio Society (EARS) has several "StayHome" stations active to raise awareness for social distancing and sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic:
 A60SH/1 operated by A61M QSL via A61BK
 A60SH/2 operated by A61Q QSL via EA7FTR
 A60SH/3 operated by A61NN QSL via A61NN
 A60SH/4 operated by A61BK QSL via A61BK
 A60SH/5 operated by A61DD QSL via A92AA
 A60SH/6 operated by A61QQ QSL via A61BK
 A60SH/7 operated by A61FJ QSL via LZ1YE
 A60SH/8 operated by A61K QSL via A61BK
 A60SH/9 operated by A61AY QSL via A61AY
 A60SH/10 operated by A61FK QSL via A61BK
Other "stayhome" special call signs include 8A1STAYHOME (Indonesia), 9K9STAYHOME (Kuwait), AX2020STAYHOME (Australia), HZ1STAYHOME (Saudi Arabia), TC1STAYHOME (Turkey), VC2STAYHOM and XM2STAYHOM (Canada, without the "E" at the end as the regulator only allows suffixes of up to seven letters). QSL via operators' instructions. Stay at home and get on the air!

Israel, 4X and Lithuania, LY. Special call signs 4Z0GAON from Israel (QSL via LY2QT) and LY300GAON from Lithuania (QSL via LY2QT) will be active between 1 and 30 April to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the birth of Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, known as the Vilna Gaon (1720 - 1797), one of the most influential figures in rabbinic study since the Middle Ages. A certificate will be available, see qrz.com for information.

Austria, OE. Austrian special event station OE20M will be active on 24 to 26 April to commemorate the anniversary of Guglielmo Marconi's birth (25 April 1874). QSL via OE1WHC (bureau) or direct to DokuFunk, OE20M, An den Steinfeldern 4A, 1230 Wien, Austria.

Poland, SP. SN0KURP is a special call sign for Radio Club Baza (SP5KVW) to promote the Polish ethnic region of Kurpie from 5 April to 31 May. QSL via the bureau.

Turkey, TA. The Turkey Radio Amateur Club's branch of Subesi (YM3KB) will be active as TC100KIDS between 1 and 30 April to mark the National Sovereignty and Children's Day (23 April).

Brazil, PY. PT2ADM will be active as ZW75FEB from 1 April to 31 May to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and as a tribute to the Forca Expedicionaria Brasileira, the Brazilian Expeditionary Force that fought alongside the Allied powers in Italy during the conflict. QSL via PT2ADM, direct or bureau.

New Zealand, ZL. The New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (NZART) has been granted approval by Radio Spectrum Management to treat the COVID-19 lockdown period as a "special event." This means that, for the duration of the lockdown, New Zealand amateur radio operators are allowed to replace their ZL prefix with ZM.


VHF+ UHF+ MICROWAVE NEWS - FOCUS ON VHF with ZS6YZ 2 February 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 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


CONTEST NEWS WITH ZS6C 14 February 2020 

 The SARL RTTY Contest takes place from 14:00 UTC to 17:00 UTC on Sunday 23 February 2020 with activity on 80, 40 and 20 metres. A station may be contacted on each band.  The exchange is an RSQ report and your grid square (first 4 digits) e.g. KG33. Contacts with stations in South Africa, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Marion Island, Reunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mayotte and the Comoros are worth 3 points. Contacts with stations in the rest of the world are worth 1 point. Logs in ADIF, Cabrillo or MS Excel format with a summary sheet and labelled “your call sign Digital Contest,” shall be submitted by 2 March 2020 by e-mail to contest@sarl.org.za.

The first leg of the SARL 95 40 m Club Sprint takes place from 12:00 to 13:00 UTC on Saturday 29 February with CW activity on 7 000 to 7 040 kHz and phone activity on 7 130 to 7 200 kHz. The exchange is a RS or RST report and 4 character grid square (e.g. KG30). You score 2 points for every QSO and 2 points for the first QSO with each grid square. Log sheets in MS Excel format ONLY shall be submitted by 23:59 CAT on Saturday 7 March by e-mail to zs4bfn@mweb.co.za. When submitting log sheets, it should be renamed by the participant to include his/her call sign. The name of the operators Club must be shown on the log sheet.

SARL Forum Active Topics
Pirate Alert 
 1  2
07/04/2020  18:17:35
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2 Metre Beacons.  07/04/2020  17:25:56
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FT8 Delay in transmission period  07/04/2020  16:27:48
by: ZS6UT
Microphone cable  07/04/2020  15:16:34
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Battery capacity prediction  07/04/2020  14:56:54
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ZS2BQ Silent Key  07/04/2020  14:24:13
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Echolink en nodes  07/04/2020  12:02:52
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Raspberry Pi and digital Comms  07/04/2020  10:01:23
by: ZS5GR
Lock-down: RF question for RAE passed warriors  06/04/2020  13:53:55
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RFI From solar system  06/04/2020  12:57:11
by: ZS1SSM


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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.

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.


  Vrystaat Amateur Radio Klub, ZS4B


     



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Worked All ZS award
An interesting operating goal

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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