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Saturday, June 8, 2019

More Es and Not


Early Wednesday morning at 6 AM EDT,  Mike, KA3JAW, in Easton, Pennsylvania, was hearing Alabama and Missouri stations on the citizen band. Then an unknown city in Wisconsin (minimum 663 miles) and Chicago (650 miles) at 6:30 AM.

Three hours later during the mid-9 AM hour, 6 meters opened up to Sheboygen, Wisconsin (674 miles).

At 10:07 AM, Es were plowing through the lower FM broadcast band on 88.3 with the first station identified as Cornerstone University, WCSG with RDS [5BCA] in Grand Rapids, Michigan (562 miles to the northwest).

Twenty minutes later, the second station rolled-in: The Faith Center, WFEN, "The Lighthouse" with RDS [6251] from Rockford, Illinois (727 miles to the west-northwest).

Not Es

Meanwhile, at WA1LOU, there were two additions to the log.

June 3 at 1826 UTC, WWF48 on 162.525 MHz, the NOAA weather on Mt. Greylock, Adams, Massachusetts, 70 miles to the north. Normally, 162.525 is dead quiet here. When propagation is good, I usually hear WNG575 on Pack Monadnock, Petersborough, New Hampshire, which is 30 miles more distant than Mt. Greylock, so go figure!

June 8 at 1205 UTC, WEER on 88.7 in Montauk, Long Island, New York, transmitting 1700 watts, 65 miles to the southeast. Normally, 88.7 is occupied by WNHU, the University of New Haven station, 23 miles to the south, but WEER was stronger than WNHU for awhile on Saturday morning. 

Equipment at WA1LOU: ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and ICOM AH-7000 discone antenna.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

E-Skip Season

Driving home from a family picnic last Saturday evening (May 25), I noticed that the FM radio band was in E-skip mode. Since I was driving, I couldn't do any serious DXing and by the time I arrived home, it was too late – the Es were gone.

A few days later, Mike, KA3JAW, in Easton, Pennsylvania, sent me the following report.
On Monday, May 27 from 2234 to 2310 UTC, a single analog video carrier showed up on the Airspy HF+ using SDR Console software on analog TV channel 5 (z) 77.250.710 MHz ranging in signal strength from -115 to -110 dBm via sporadic-E.
I suspect this is Cuban, Tele Rebelde network, callsign CMEA in Santa Clara with 60.3 kW at it true azimuth of 190 degrees. My antenna was aimed due south of 180 degrees. Distance would be 1294 air miles.
Since this signal is very weak, it is not strong enough to view the video and/or sound on a TV set for a true verification.
The accompanying image are signal measurements snips from Airspy-SDR Console.
In  a second email, Mike added...
On Saturday evening, there was Es from my QTH to GA, FL, AL around 2330 UTC until it decoupled from FL state and scaled back into TN at 0057 UTC on Sunday.
Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

TAPR's packetRADIO

After returning home from Hamvention 30 years ago, I wrote the following for ARRL's packet radio newsletter Gateway:
The Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR) booth at the Dayton Hamvention was buzzing with the unveiling of a number of new packet-radio products including prototypes of the TAPR "packetRADIO," a low-cost (approximately $250) two-stage VHF transceiver designed exclusively for packet-radio applications. TAPR's packetRADIO features 9600 baud FSK and 1200 baud AFSK 2-meter operation with 25 watts output, five crystal-controlled channels and a transmit-receive turnaround time of less than one millisecond (ms).  
The working prototypes displayed at the Hamvention were the result of a six-week crash project by TAPR. Beta-testing will begin soon with the radios expected to be available to the general public in approximately six months.
TAPR's packetRADIO generated a lot of excitement at Hamvention in 1989, but the project was never completed and was eventually cancelled to the disappointment of many packeteers including myself.

Fast-forward 30 years...

While cleaning out the TAPR warehouse, John Koster, W9DDD, found the packetRADIO prototype and brought it to the TAPR board meeting for show and tell. I ended up with it and brought it home to add to my collection of vintage packet radio TNCs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

AM Radio at Dawn on I-80

The second leg of my drive home from Hamvention began at 6 AM, about 5 minutes before sunrise on Monday morning in Hubbard, Ohio. Since nighttime propagation was still in effect, I was curious as to what the AM flamethrowers on the East Coast sounded like in the Midwest.

First, I tuned to 880 to listen for WCBS. My favorite news station was in and out vying with an unidentified religious station.

Next, I tuned to 1010 to listen for WINS, my other favorite news station. I was surprised to find 1010 completely dead.

I tuned up to 1080, the home of WTIC, my local flamethrower and it was loud and clear with no sign of another station on frequency. I was impressed.

1700 was my next target. Hoping to hear WJCC – not a flamethrower, but a 1 kW FLA station I heard mobile in Connecticut. Instead, I found the reborn WRCR with a weak, but solid signal.

I tuned back to 880 to see how WCBS's signal behaved as the sun rose. For nearly a half hour, WCBS hung in there. Most of the time, it was very weak, but occasionally, it was solid for a minute or two. It finally dropped out of sight at about 6:45. I did not hear WCBS again until I was in Eastern Pennsylvania four hours later.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

First Es at KA3JAW

WSMR RDS on KA3JAW's Sony HD XDR-S3HD Receiver Display

Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW, reported his first 2019 'in-season' FM-DX reception via Es.

On Friday, May 10, from 10:55 AM to 12:14 PM EDT, Mike heard and saw (RDS text) classical station WSMR on 89.1 FM in Sarasota, Florida, from 1,023 miles distance to Easton, Pennsylvania, via Sporadic-E.

Prior to the reception of WSMR, at 9:35 AM EDT, the MUF was 77 MHz over Maidenhead grid square FM07 (Lynchburg, Virginia) when he was hearing Alabama, Florida and Georgia on the Citizen Band Radio Service (27 MHz/11 meters).

At 11:30 AM EDT, 88.3 WPOZ in Orlando, Florida, also with RDS was received via Sporadic-E.

At 11:59 AM EDT, the MUF rose to 95 MHz above FM06 (Roxboro, North Carolina).

KA3JAW's antenna is an outdoor Antennacraft Y526 designed for VHF-low band TV that is only 114 inches (9.5 feet) off the ground, just 4 inches past the peak of his backyard shed roof, aimed south-southwest. This proves you do not need a high antenna on a tower to receive FM-DX via Es as the signal path is coming in on a low radiation angle.

Mike has posted a couple of videos on YouTube documenting Friday's DX, here and here.