Little activity on UK 2M or 70CM UK repeaters heard

I drove down from Cumbria to Hampshire just over a week ago (and back again the next day) and noted very little activity on any 2M or 70CM repeaters during the middle of the day, despite me putting out frequent calls.

How times have changed. I heard one QSO the entire journey and that was about someone talking about the door of their wardrobe being faulty. Despite amateur radio license numbers in the UK apparently still in healthy figures, the number of operators on the Air definitely seems to have diminished on VHF/UHF FM.

Also the quality of the conversations and operating standards have gone downhill a lot since 1983, I seldom if ever hear anyone now talking about technical matters anymore, just silly things that never used to be prevalent in this hobby.

Not a good week.

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JT65 data mode activity within UK 5 MHz band

Having a keen interest in Amateur Radio data modes I have for over the past year been using Olivia 16-500 around 5.368 MHz for working other stations within the United Kingdom. I found this mode the most robust and popular, with some PSK31 activity around 5.363 MHz, but not a lot else.

I had worked the same stations over and over again (some in excess of 20 times) & was keen to find some 5 MHz DX data activity, but where?

Being very familiar with WSJT-X and JTAlert software for JT65/JT9 weak signal data communications on the other HF bands I was initially frustrated to find that the Internationally recommended 5 MHz frequencies for both modes were 5.357-5.359 MHz for JT65 and 5.359-5.361 MHz for JT9 signals, which looked at first glance to be outside our UK 5 MHz band segments.

However, on closer inspection I noticed that our 5.354-5.358 MHz UK band segment did overlap very slightly with the International one and with careful tuning it would be possible to just fit in some 200 Hz wide JT65 signals between 5.357-5.35780 MHz. See table below.


Using a combination of CQ calls and posts on the chat pages of Hamspots I was able within a few days to generate considerable activity in this area as word spread to other UK Radio Amateurs that they too could work DX here using JT65 mode, so long as they were very careful not to go higher than 5.35780 MHz. It was also a revelation for DX stations to find UK activity where they could work it.

Since 25th January 2014 I have worked 14 stations in the following Countries:

England (G), USA (K), Scotland (GM), Norway (LA), Italy (I), Canada (VE) & Slovakia (OM)

It has been interesting to observe when the 5 MHz band has been open to which DX Countries with a clear higher chance for catching US stations from around 22:30 UTC onwards, although they can be worked up to around 09:00 but that is the middle of the night for them.

If UK SSB speech users can be encouraged to use 5.354 MHz USB dial for their voice communications rather than 5.355 MHz USB then it avoids any conflict and allows simultaneous SSB voice and JT65 to co-exist harmoniously in the only small sliver of shared JT65 International spectrum.

The Cluster spots are full every day of International Amateur Radio JT65 data stations all in the range 5.357-5.359 MHz.

73 de Philip G0ISW

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50 MHz JT6M and Aircraft Scatter prediction

Today I was attempting again to work John GW4MBN in IO71PR square on 50.230 MHz using JT6M data mode and via random Meteor Scatter, but reflections were few and far between and of short duration.

The distance between us is 352 km over a difficult mountainous path.

I used the new version 1.0.0 of AirScout software by DL2ALF to see if there were any potential aircraft on our mutual path, but they were all too low.

Then I spotted flight KLM686 a Boeing 747-400 aircraft at 11,887 m altitude, 963 km/h speed (600 MPH), that would cross our mutual path just off the coast of Anglesey at 12:43.

This aircraft was travelling from Mexico to Holland.

At 12:43 GW4MBN received my final RRRR at 12dB signal level, so the QSO was completed very nicely by Aircraft Scatter with my signals being reflected off the large metal aircraft body.!

Really enjoying this software.

73 de Philip G0ISW

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Wellbrook ALA-1530 loop (modded) for 50 MHz MS

I have a 2013 manufactured Wellbrook ALA-1530 loop which was modded for me to allow operation on frequencies higher than 30 MHz and potentially up to 100 MHz, in a similar way to the no longer produced 1530+ loop.

Wellbrokk 1530 loop

In recent weeks I was experimenting to see if I could receive signals using my vertically polarised Wellbrook loop from the remaining Icelandic Band 1 TV stations on 62 MHz and then I left my receiver on 50.230 MHz monitoring the JT6M transmissions from amateurs using Meteor Scatter.
At the same time I had my other radio also on 50.230 MHz with a horizontal 50 MHz antenna so I could compare the two antennas. The results have been interesting in that the Wellbrook 1530 loop has often picked up reflected ‘pings’ that the horizontal antenna missed and vice versa.
Sometimes both antennas have picked up the same signal with almost identical signal strengths.  Such has been the performance of my Wellbrook loop that I now use it every time in conjunction with my regular Tx antenna when trying Meteor Scatter on 50 MHz so as to catch and decode more JT6M pings than a single antenna.
73 de Philip G0ISW
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WSJT-X CAT control settings for Kenwood TS-2000

I have seen some requests for help with the CAT settings for use with WSJT-X software and Kenwood TS-2000 transceivers.

This software is used for Amateur Radio data communication using both JT65 and JT9 modes.

Shown below is a screenshot of my own CAT/TS-2000 settings to assist. Please note though that your own computer PORT numbers may be different to mine, as well as the your Audio IN/OUT settings also which will be linked usually to an external sound interface.


73 de Philip G0ISW

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