Web Extra by Tim Kirby GW4VXE
The World of VHF
For the September issue in PW, I ended up writing more about the history of VHF/UHF and there wasn’t any room for the band reports, so I’ve put together a very quick summary from people’s emails of what was happening on the bands. Back to normal for the October 2022 issue!
From Roger G3XBM (Cambridgeshire)
On 8m I have now got FT8 reports from 13 countries with my QRP. In the 70cm FT8 UKAC I worked the locals with QRP and the 2m big-wheel and, as always, seem to copy a very long way. EI, GI and PA are always copied despite my poor setup on 70cm. I am sure this is scatter, but not aircraft.
Hope this helps.
From Phil G0BVD (Great Torrington)
I missed the 6m openings but did give points away in the VHF contests. Like yourself, I worked EI9E/P on 2m/70cm and heard them also on 23cm but did not hear me sadly so got away. VHF/UHF has changed so much since the 70s/80s when I first got my B licence, there were many in Worcestershire 60ft Versatower’s in gardens, 4 bay of 2m/70 aerials and homemade 4CX250 liners being run plus with the B licence more people on those bands enjoying the DX it was great fun chasing and still is! Shame the new licence puts them straight to HF and they do miss out.
73 Phil G0BVD
From Steve G4AQB (Bolton)
Last week members of the Bolton Wireless Club had a day out at Smithills Hall in Bolton to set up various stations in the grounds of the medieval house. Before the pandemic this was an annual event for Museums on the Air, this was the first time members had had a chance for a barbeque and get-together.
As well as stations that were set up (mainly HF) Ross G6GVI brought his home-built Antenna Test Range which we used to test various antennas for 3.4Ghz, including my now infamous ‘Meat Pie’ Dish. We were able to make measurements and compare antennas. The Antenna Test Range consists of a signal source which was an RF Explorer, a receiver, which is a Simple Spectrum Analyser and a Rotatable Computer Controlled Mount, which is a Telescope Mount. (see photos) The equipment could be used on other bands as well, but we focused on the many 3.4Ghz antennas brought in by members.
A new one for me over the few weeks has been 50Mhz FM. In all my time I have never used 50Mhz FM before, although I seem to remember using AM when the band first became available. I managed to acquire an Alinco DR-M06 transceiver along with a vertical dipole and joined some other local stations G6GVI and G4NTY that come on during the weekends. Now looking out for some FM DX while conditions are good.
You mentioned VHF NFD and also PW 90th anniversary Tim.
I remember the good old days of VHF NFD when we used crystal-controlled transmitters, tuned ‘high to low’ and if you were really posh, tuned both ends in and centre out! We stayed up all night working stations with a Tilly Lamp heater that looked like a dish antenna heating the tent.
The photo shows VHF NFD with the Bury Radio Club in 1972 on Rooly Moor near Rochdale, with myself operating (G4AQB) along with Alban G8NVW and an SWL logging. This was the 4m tent and we are using a valve Pye PMR transmitter converted for 4m with a single crystal running AM. The receiver is an Eddystone S640 with a home-built converter and the antenna was a 4-element J Beam.
Hope you find this useful Tim.
Steve Macdonald G4AQB
From Roger G4RUW (Newbury)
Trust all is well at your end. Well, I have found the Es season poor this year with only one good opening on 2mtrs.
But 4mtrs has shown a bit more in the way of DX, On the 4,722, I worked EA1BFZ, IN81, the 9.7.22 ES4EQ, KO39, for new country on four. On the 11. 7 22, I worked 9A2SB JN95, HA1VHF JN87, OM5KM JN98, and OK2RO JN00.
So a bit of life around HI.
Best 73 Roger.
From Patrick WD9EWK (Phoenix)
Congratulations to Practical Wireless on 90 years!
The summer of 2022 has seen a lot of roving by satellite operators over
here. Some may be making up for little or no travel over the past two
years. We also saw a lot of activity by NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren
KO5MOS, operating as NA1SS on the ISS cross-band repeater starting in
mid-June, through the ARRL Field Day in late June and into early July.
Tyler WL7T made his planned trip to grid EL84, off the Florida Keys, in
late June. WL7T/P was heard on satellites and 6m, helping operators
who are seeking the ARRL's Fred Fish Memorial Award on 6m and AMSAT's
GridMaster award - working the same 488 grids covering the Continental
USA. Tyler's next stop is EL58, a grid at the mouth of the Mississippi
River in Louisiana, another rare grid for both 6m and satellite
I made a long day trip to northern Arizona on 9 July, up to Lake Powell
on the Arizona/Utah state line. Keith KB9STR, a satellite operator in
Indiana, needed grid DM46 to complete his quest for the 488 continental
USA grids. I hadn't been up there in over a year, and I agreed to make
the drive to get him that grid. We were successful, making a contact on
a busy AO-91 pass. I was on a hilltop overlooking Lake Powell, just
south of the Arizona/Utah border in grid DM46gx, a great location for
low satellite passes. It was, unfortunately, a good location to see the
low level of the lake, with the severe drought affecting western North
America. After the AO-91 contact, I worked KB9STR on JO-97 in SSB. I
worked a bunch of others from DM46 over a few hours, and also worked
one PO-101 pass from grid DM47 just inside Utah. I was parked in front
of the "Welcome to Utah" sign, north of the state line, for that pass.
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, licensed as KO5MOS, has been on the ISS
radio for the past few weeks as NA1SS. Unlike in the past when crews
would use the 2m frequency pairs to work stations, Kjell was using the
ISS cross-band repeater to work stations on the ground. All he had to
do was turn up the volume on the radio in the Columbus module, pick up
the microphone, and join in. Using the cross-band repeater, hams were
able to hear both sides of contacts - something that is impossible with
the past contacts on the 2m frequency pairs.
NA1SS was first heard on the ISS cross-band repeater on the weekend of
11-12 June 2022. I first heard NA1SS on the afternoon of 14 June, and
made a contact with Kjell on a late-afternoon pass. Right after I
worked NA1SS, Endaf N6UTC/MW1BQO made a contact from Orange County in
Southern California. There was more activity leading up to the ARRL
Field Day weekend on 25-26 June, and NA1SS participated in Field Day
for the first time since 2014.
Just before Field Day, Kjell Lindgren tweeted on his @astro_kjell
Twitter account a picture of the ham station in the ISS Columbus
module, along with a banner for ARRL Field Day:
(I attached this photo to my e-mail)
The TM-D710G radio can be seen, along with a clipboard with paper and
two mission patches - ISS Expedition 67, and SpaceX Crew-4 (the Crew-4
patch was designed by Kjell's daughter). The paper even shows the call
signs of stations Kjell worked as NA1SS on 24 June.
ARRL Field Day started at 1800 UTC on 25 June. There was an ISS pass
over the western USA within the first hour of Field Day, but NA1SS
wasn't heard then. On 26 June, NA1SS worked several passes over North
America, participating in Field Day. NA1SS even gave out a Field Day
exchange, when stations on the ground gave NA1SS their exchanges. I
made a contact with NA1SS during Field Day on 26 June, just before 1800
UTC. Other stations were heard making contacts, but not giving Field
Day exchanges. This pass was captured in a video at:
After Field Day, the passes over North America were not falling in good
times for the crews to use the radio - either around their lunch breaks
(approximately 1200-1400 UTC), or at the end of their workdays (usually
after 1900 or 1930 UTC). In early July, there was some activity over
western Europe and southeast Asia, giving hams away from the Americas a
chance for a NA1SS contact.
Kjell Lindgren arrived at the ISS on the SpaceX Crew-4 mission, which
is scheduled to return to Earth in late September. There could be more
opportunities for NA1SS activity on the ISS cross-band repeater before
From Tony G4NBS (Cambridge)
Spent June with GQ4NBS and most of my time was on lower bands. Not VHF but surprised myself with working DXCC in 10 days without searching any DX.
The power of modern modes and improving conditions despite the middle of the summer.
In terms of 6M June produced 94 Locators and 75 DXCC from 910 QSO, somehow managing to miss the best openings in the process!
250 SSB, 41 CW, 550 FT8 and 60 FT4
The majority of the following are FT8 and all times GMT.
Continuing from the last report 17th June was a lively day with HI3T, WP4G, and W4AS worked FT8 around 1400 (others seen but previously worked).
SO1WS FT8 at 1620. LA7HJA (JP50) FT8 at 1740 , TF1OL/P FT8, TF3JB & TF3SG on CW plus TF3JB again SSB – all HP94 between 1830/50.
Then a lull until states appeared at 2225 for an hour.14 FT8 QSO EL86/877/88/97/98
I managed to choose the wrong times to operate in the Trophy w/e but did work D4L on CW just before he faded out completely at 1720.
21st early afternoon was odd for me with good signals to HB9 on FT8 working 6 – normally next to impossible due to noise and too far for tropo, too close for ES.
22nd across the pond at 1850 FT8 3 QSO EM11/73/85
28th YV5IUA at 1904, VO1HP and 9Y4D last at 1927 – all FT8
5th July (back to G4) band opened at 2343 with WW2DX FN65, FP/KV1J GN17 – like you totally new DXCC any band.
VE9HF FN65, VE2DLC FN58, K1BZM FN51, K8PT FN64 and finally VO1SO GN37 at 0031 – All FT8 of course.
6th July similar late opening with K8FL EM79 at 2334 and some of the stations worked the previous night but then oddly opened to 9K2YD LL49 and 5B4AGB KM64 at 2340. Strong signals and 5B4 were in a long time.
8th July OX3LX GQ12 FT8 at 2200 opening to states again from 2240 for another hour. Another 13 QSO EL87/95, FN30/31/41/42/54/86, again FT8.
9th July AA1V FN42 at 2331 and VE1CHL FN85 at 2347
Is it my imagination? All these all seem pretty close to the sunset at their end but not sure I have seen so many “late” openings without the band doing something earlier in the evening.
Finally, on the 10th I was alerted to the opening to JA. As is often the case I was watching the West side of the country being in the right place with nothing here but just as I was about to give up JA9SSB PM86 appeared at 0900 followed by JA9NLE PM86 and JA3FYC PM85 – all gone in 5 minutes. I think I was alerted at 0630 but nothing was seen from Scandinavia until 0800 at which point I thought any chance of JA had gone. I closed at 1000 with 20 LA/SM and OH0CO in the log.
As to thoughts on how life has changed – This is my 50th year licensed. SOG time and from a “DX” point of view……
First QSOs with PYE Cambridge AM and happy to work a different town, maybe even out of the county…… Fixed crystal Tx tuning high to low etc but the move to VFO and SSB was already in progress.
Next rig the Liner 2 – now able to work from Thames Valley up to Yorkshire and even across the North sea if lucky – channelized but still with some form of “VFO”.
Then came the FT221, followed by the Mutek board and the ability to tune wherever you wanted for a QSO and be able to hear weak signals without any noise.
Now I am on 6M and blasé about the number of DXCC/Loc worked and more space in the shack is taken up by PC/Monitors than radio equipment!
It feels as if somewhere along the way we have almost reverted to channelized operation (and I am not talking FM as rarely use it). Obviously, FT8 channels but even on SSB stations seem now fixated on operating on “exact” QRG and seem to have lost the ability to tune around to see what is out there away from their sacred run QRG unless requested to QSY to an exact QRG via KST…. (Slightly) I was tongue in cheek, but I was told off on 6M because I wasn’t on an exact frequency – I have to choose my quiet spot in the band to avoid the worst noise and birdies(!).
The biggest change has come from technology – both radios and IT (and aerials). We made many QSOs on VHF/UHF without understanding how. Now we look at prediction charts and if they say no we don’t switch anything on. Yet FT8 is constantly revealing paths and times that aren’t predictable (yet). The skills we used then seem to have been lost in my 50 years, just like how to use RF/IF gains. Already alluded to VFO becoming fixed once again but also are we becoming way too dependent on PCs and their programs?
We used to have DX warning rings – these have been replaced by prediction software, some with automatic messaging ability. Fine when internet/phone signals work. In openings and contests stations were often taken from one band up to the next with the lower band being used as talkback/coordination – rarely happens now - replaced by overuse of KST perhaps? If the QSO was difficult we adopted timing techniques as used for MS procedures. Almost all my long-distance 23cm QSOs were achieved using it without realising we were waiting for an aircraft.
Now, although we have Airscout very few operators adopt a transmit sequence approach (other than automated data!)
Don’t get me wrong – programs like Airscout, KST, DXMaps, F5LEN forecaster are all good tools that make finding and working DX easier but have we become too reliant on them? As you know I have had issues losing both Airscout and KST at crucial times losing opportunities in the process that still would have worked if we all searched and listened on air more. My “worry” is a lot of these “essential” tools are written and supported by just one person, not a team – what will happen if they lose interest or if the inevitable happens? Can we ever go back to life without a phone/internet/PC to support our wireless hobby - doubt it!!
Keep up the good work Tim – enjoy writing the column
From Jef ON8NT (Aalter)
Here are some reports for June 2022:
FT8 on Android
I came across a very handy app "FT8 on Android", yes sending and receiving, still in beta development, but very interesting for SOTA & POTA.
Ultra-portable FT-8 Ops | (tr)uSDX + Android app + Audio Adapter = Awesomeness!
FT8 Radio for Android
APRSCALL for JS8CALL
JS8CALL is not much used on VHF/UHF/SHF... And that is a pity... It is FT8 + keyboard to keyboard and you can send APRS, e-mail, and SMS.
KN4MKB developed a little Python script which makes sending APRS, e-mail, SMS... much easier by generating the code, and then you have just to copy & paste it into the transmit panel. It works under Python on any platform and he made an EXE for Windows, which works under Wine emulating Windows 10 on my Linuxmint PC, It didn't work on my Windows 7 PC...
Using JS8Call with APRS to Send Email and SMS over HF Radio
See the notes under the video...
Denby Dale ARS digital net on XLX305D
TNX to Geoff, M0AUG, and the Oldham ARS, DDARS can now use XLX305D for its weekly net on Thursday at 19.30 BT, and for meeting each other during the week!!!
There was a clear need for this, as since DDARS is holding their Wednesday meetings & talks on Zoom at 19.30 BT, they got an international membership from different places in the UK and the world. Everyone who wants to join the net or the Zoom meetings is very welcome!
The calendar of activities of DDARS can be found at:
Getting onto Digital Voice for a club net:
50Mhz Icom IC-7300 (10W) + Diamond V2000 vertical tribander **** outside Europe or special call/station ***
02/06/22: FT8: oh0azx (kp00 eu-002)
03/06/22: FT8: ea8rs (il18), ea8bfk (il38), ea8jk (il18), ea8up (il18), kp4eit(fk68 na-099),
04/06/22: FT8: hi3t (fk49), wp4g (fk68), zq2gi (im76)
05/06/22: FT8: cn8li (im63), ea8dka (il18), ea8w (il38), cu2gi (hm77), ea8/df4ue (???), eb8ac (il28), ea9e (im75)
09/06/22: FT8: ea8aah (il18), ea8jk (il18), ve9hf (fn65), kg8p (en81),
12/06/22: FT8: w3lpl (fm19), k5vip (fm16), k2dh (fn13), kf8my (en84), tf1ein (hp94), n2tk (fn31), w2irt (fn20), ve3ds (fn03),
13/06/22: FT8: ea9acd (im75), ea8bfk (il38), ve1pz (fn85)
15/06/22: FT8: 9k2gr (ll49), ea8bfk (il38), ve2xk (fn07)
16/06/22: FT8: ea8jk (il18)
17/06/22: FT8: ea8up (il18)
23/06/22: FT8: 4z5tk (km72), ea8aah (il18)
26/06/22: FT8: 4x1uf (km72), cu3ac (hm68), hi3t fk49), oj0mr (jp90 eu-053)
70Mhz Icom IC-7300 (10W) + halo antenne
17/06/22: FT8: gq3yhm (io90), sv8pex (jm99), ea5r (im97), gq0org (jo02), ea1yv (in52), eb2fjn (in83), ea1hrr (in83), pa3ewp (jo21), ea1cq (in83), ea1ur (in53), ec1r (in72)
19/06/22: FT8: ea1yv (in52), g3sed (io90), ea1fk (in52), ea1nl (in52), pa3ewp (jo21), ea9ib (im85), ec7akv (im77), ea4ejr (im68),
21/06/22: FT8: lz1ag (???), ea4t (in70), yt1q (kn04), g4gfi (io91), pb2a (jo21), ea1iok (in62), gq0lff (io90), yo7lbk (kn15), g4kux (io94)
23/06/22: FT8: g4ccz (io91), g3sed (io90)
26/06/22: FT8: la/pe1itr (jp21), op7b (jo21), oh7rj (kp33), oh1mlz (kp23), oh8mck (kp23)
144Mhz ICOM IC-9700 (25W) + 5 el LPDA *** +400km & special stations ****
07/06/22 SSB: g8xvu/p (io93, 433km), mw1lcr/p (io81, 57km), g0ltg (io81, 418km)
432Mhz ICOM IC-9700 (25W) + 5 el LPDA
14/06/22 SSB: g3xdy (jo02), g3lrq (io91), g4cla (io92), gq4nbs (jo02)
1296Mhz ICOM IC-9700 (10W) + WIMO flat panel antenna
15/06/22 FT8: g7lrq (io91) CW: gb3mhz/b (jo02)
21/06/22: SSB: g3xdy (jo02) CW: g3meh (io91), gb3mhz/b (jo02)
ISS SSTV ICOM IC-9700 + 5 el LPDA or Diamond V2000 vertical
8 & 9/06/22
I received SSTV pictures from Russian cosmonauts on the ISS on 145.800 MHz FM using the SSTV mode PD-120.
Nothing was received on the 8th; the first pictures were received on the 9th at 12.30 UTC.