Yaesu ATAS-120A problem fixed

My vehicle mounted Yaesu ATAS-120A antenna suddenly stopped working yesterday, the antenna lowered itself right down and then wouldn’t tune again or move.

I disassembled the antenna completely today suspecting either water damage from the horror stories shown online of water ingress or a failed solder joint, neither was correct the antenna looked like new inside.

Back on my vehicle the ATAS-120A still wouldn’t work, so I disconnected the power supply from my Yaesu FT-857D radio and reconnected it.

This time the antenna showed INIT on the radio display when I tried to tune and after about 30 seconds it worked perfectly again.

Wish I had done that first before I took it all apart!

73 de Philip G0ISW

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Julian G4ILO SK

Very sad news for me is the recent passing of Julian G4ILO who is now SK after his long battle with serious illness.

I never met Julian in person, but we shared almost exactly the same interests at the same time in amateur radio such as SOTA, QRP, Elecraft KX3, APRS, WSPR etc. and we communicated our enthusiasm and ideas to each other via the WWW.

Every day I use Julian’s amateur radio software, that he developed himself for the benefit of us all, such as VOAProp for assessing real-time HF conditions.

73 de Philip G0ISW

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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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