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SARL News Bulletin Archive


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Good morning and welcome to the weekly news bulletin of the South African Radio League read by ................ [your name, call sign and QTH]

You may tune in to the South African Radio League news bulletin on Sunday mornings, at 08:15 Local Time in Afrikaans and at 08:30 Local Time in English, on HF as well as on many VHF and UHF repeaters around the country. Echolink listeners may connect to ZS0JPL for a relay.

This audio bulletin may be downloaded from the League website at whereyou will find this as well as previous bulletins in text format under the news link on the left-hand side of the web page. While you are there, you may sign up to receive future bulletins by e-mail.




**** Mike Bosch, ZS2FM reports that he received an email at 04:09 CAT on 5 October 2016 from Pieter Jacobs, V51PJ, informing us about a great amateur radio pioneering achievement. Pieter said that he and Marcos Turbo, PY1MHz, made the first two-way contact across the Atlantic on VHF 144,250 MHz digital using QRA64 software. Pieter's signal was received by Marcos at 20:38 at -37 dB, and the signal from Marcos was recorded at -36 dB at 00:28 CAT. Pieter in Rosh Pinah is equipped with 2 x 13 element stacked Yagi array and a kilowatt of power, whereas Marcos used a 43 element horizontal Yagi with peamp at his home in Rio de Janeiro. Many attempts have been made in the past to bridge the Atlantic Ocean on 144 MHz but no one has succeeded until now, including the establishment of a new Tropo distance world record on 144 MHz around 6000 km.

**** On Friday evening however we received the following from Dennis Green, ZS4BS.The reported transatlantic 2 meter contact between PY1MHZ in Brazil and V51PJ in Namibia turned out to be a false alarm, based on an incorrect interpretation of screen captures from the event - possibly the result of using an unreleased "development" version of the WSJT-X protocol's QRA64 mode. As initially reported, extremely weak signals using QRA64 were received and decoded on both the African and European ends of the path across the southern Atlantic. Screen captures of the protocol software were supplied to document the contact, but the software's lead developer, Joe Taylor, K1JT, noticed debugging information, indicating that a prototype version of the protocol was being used. On closer inspection, the indicator values showed that the decodes were probably based on call sign information being known in advance, as is common with scheduled contacts.

"There was no intention to deceive," Taylor told ARRL. "It was a perfectly honest mistake. It's unfortunate. Many of us wish the report of such a QSO could be true - but it's not."

Trying to complete a 2 meter contact over such distances is extremely challenging, and it remains to be accomplished. The Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) Brendan Awards, established to reward the first transatlantic contact in which one station is in Europe, are as yet unclaimed. Another false alarm occurred in 2015, when an apparent 2 meter contact between stations in Newfoundland and Ireland turned out to have been facilitated by reflections from the International Space Station, which was in low-Earth orbit above the midpoint of the signal path at the time.

The WSJT software suite includes several digital modes that are designed to work at extremely low signal-to-noise ratios - such as JT65, JT9, and WSPR. The QRA64 mode -developed by Nico Palermo, IV3NWV, in collaboration with Taylor - has been incorporated into the WSJT-X digital suite The protocol has several levels of decoding for which it can use previously available information such as call signs to confirm a match with information from the received signal. Decoding quality is most robust when no previously available information is required to make a successful decode.

This appears to simply be an honest error by both stations who deserve credit for an extraordinary effort and who have pledged to keep trying.

"V51PJ and PY1MHZ have put a big effort into seeing their dream of a transatlantic 2 meter QSO come true," Taylor said. "They deserve a lot of credit for what they have done."

Pieter Jacobs, V51PJ, said the effort to complete a contact is a work in progress. "Conditions are ever changing on this long stretch of water, so we are still trying," he told ARRL.

**** On 20 September ICASA published a discussion document on Equipment Type Approval Exemption and has invited written representation with the closing date of 2 December 2016. Type approval is a very important issue for the amateur radio fraternity and has been on the agenda of the SARL/ICASA liaison committee for the past few years. Some two years ago the SARL submitted a document to ICASA asking that all amateur radio equipment, including homebrew equipment, be excluded from the regulations promulgated on 26 August 2013 which required that all radio equipment had to be type approved. The SARL will review its original proposals in terms of the ICASA discussion document, published last week. The SARL will also have preliminary discussions at the next SARL - ICASA liaison meeting scheduled for 17 October 2016. The Government Gazette is available on Radio amateurs are invited to provide input for review by the SARL Regulatory Working Group. Please send your input
to by 31 October 2016.


Hannes Coetzee, ZS6BZP, reports that the solar activity is expected to remain at low levels. No major solar flaring is expected.

If you want to do your own frequency predictions, the expected effective sunspot number for the week will be around 25.

The 15 to 20m bands will provide lots of DX fun. There is a chance of 10m openings on north-south sunlit paths.

Please visit the website for further information.

Now for a look at some upcoming events:

6 October - SARL 80m QSO Party
Today 9 October - AWA Valve QSO Party
9 October - SARL Youth Net
14 - 16 October - Jamboree On The Air
15 October - CQ HouKoers
20 October Radio Amateur Exam
29 - 30 October - CQ WW DX SSB Contest
5 November - RaDAR Challenge

To end this mornings bulletin we recap our leading stories

After initial exitement over a two way trans atlantic contact the news broke on Friday that the attempt was flawed by some software bugs still to be sorted in the weak signal communication software QRA 64. Pieter Jacobs, V51PJ, and Marcos PY1MHZ originaly thought that they had succesfully made contact over approximately 6000km on 5 October 2016, however it would seem that some errors slipped in and the record is still not set. Both gentlemen however agree that it is only a matter of time before the transatlantic frontier will be bridged.

And that brings us to the end of this bulletin

** Clubs and individuals are invited to submit news items of interest to radio amateurs and shortwave listeners, if possible, in both English and Afrikaans, by following the news inbox link on the South African Radio League web page. News items for inclusion in the bulletin should reach the news team no later than the Thursday preceding the bulletin date.

You are welcome to join us every Sunday morning for the weekly amateur radio magazine programme 'Amateur Radio Today' at 10:00 Central African Time. The programme can be heard on VHF and UHF repeaters countrywide and on 7 082 kHz lower side-band and on 7 205 kHz and 17 760 kHz AM. There is also a podcast available from Dick Stratford, ZS6RO. A rebroadcast can be heard on Monday evenings at 18:30 Central African Time on 3 230 kHz AM.

We welcome your signal reports, comments and suggestions; please send these by e-mail to Sentech sponsors the radio transmissions on the non-amateur frequencies.

You have listened to a news bulletin compiled by Dawie Conradie, ZR6DHC, edited by Dick Stratford, ZS6RO, and read by ..............

From the news team, best wishes for the week ahead.

Copyright 1997- 2006  South African Radio League
Last modified: 14 April 2003