Last night, 22nd of October the Hepburn charts had a prediction of strong to very strong tropo ducting enhancement over Bass Strait. I promptly got in contact with Rod VK3BQJ and Geoff VK3KGR to attempt a contact from Mt.Wellington near Hobart.
Once I arrived after work (at approx 6pm) I could immediately hear the VK3RGI beacon on 2403.434 MHz, faint but there. Richard VK7ZBX joined me on site and we attempted a contact with Rod and Geoff. Neither could hear us and we even attempted digital to no avail. Convinced that the conditions were there and likely to improve as the sunset, we made a decision to try once more before packing up at 8pm.
Whilst we waited around for conditions to hopefully improve, we setup 3.4 GHz to monitor the VK3RGI beacon on 3398.434 MHz. With some tweaking and good ears we could at times hear the beacon in the speaker of the radio and could clearly see a trace on the waterfall.
Then around 7:30pm we got a call from Ralph VK3WRE who said he was intending to go portable to work us from Mt Tassie, 10km west of the 3RGI beacon site and higher. Richard and I decided to wait around and try a contact with Ralph who would take about 30 mins to get to his portable location. By this time the temperature was still 10 degrees, with an apparent temp of 1.4 degrees. Someone who shall remain nameless didn't think it through that wearing shorts would be a good idea! Whilst I put a jumper on, Ralph setup with Dean VK3NFI.
The beacon was exhibiting QSB fades over a few minutes, it would almost disappear then come back really strong. We attempted 2.4 GHz first and Ralph was a rock crushing signal 5/8. We exchanged details and decided to move to 3.4 GHz. We got the dish setup and roughly aligned (bearing in mind it is rather sharp). Well we didn't need Ralph to have the keyer on long, he was 5/8 again and arguably a better copy with no QSB. We didn't even have to peak the dish!!
We again exchanged details and decided to extend the national digital record on 3.4 GHz using FT8. I went to fire up the laptop - dead flat! We'd forgotten about it running all afternoon! I quickly said to Ralph I'd go and charge it up the road at the VK7RTC repeater site (lucky I had the keys). 15 minutes later of charge I returned. Ralph had been working several over VK3's on voice and digital.
Both Richard and I managed a FT8 contact with Ralph and the laptop promptly died 60 seconds after completing the contact!
This sets new records on 2.4 GHz for VK7 voice and 3.4 GHz digital nationally at just over 500km.
Thanks to all stations who made the time to participate.
An affordable 10 MHz GPSDO module? The BG7TBL is a popular GPS disciplined oscillator available on eBay. Many ham radio operators use this as their 10 MHz reference for frequency locking radios. They come in two versions, one that is sine wave, the other a square wave so choose according to your application. A handy GPSDO kit for the shack!
I also review and show the operation of the matching BG7TBL GPS 10 MHz Amplified Distribution system.
This morning I was randomly checking the 6 metre WSPR results for my station and I noticed the following:
Why is this interesting? Well let's show all the stations on a map.
Notice how the stations are evenly spread out. The red circles are estimated midpoints of the path. If this was Sporadic E (remember we are still only just into Spring here in VK) then there was potentially three clouds that had formed or, a really intense cloud somewhere over the north of Tasmania which was allowing 6 metre signals to be much shorter than normal. You'll notice the signals to VK3DXE and VK3II were in the + range at around 550km. Of note is that the above stations only received one spot from me at this time of 04:44 (2.45pm local).
Just another example of how WSPR finds potential openings that would otherwise remain undiscovered.
I got the opportunity to speak with Josh KI6NAZ (Ham Radio Crash Course) on how repeaters work. Check it out!