Dxers Unlimited weekend edition for Sunday 23 December 2018

By Arnie Coro  radio amateur CO2KK

Hola amigos all around the world…. season’s greetings wishing you all a  very nice and prosperous year 2019, approching us in just a few days.. I am your host, Arnaldo, Arnie Coro, radio amateur CO2KK now ready to bring you about 10 minutes of all radio hobby related information… Including today a short form HF propagation forecast valid for the first three months of 2019…

Item one: “Solar minimum conditions are in effect,The Sun has been without sunspots for 211 days in 2018 — that is, 60 percent of the time. To find a similar stretch of blank Suns, you have to go back to 2009 when the Sun was experiencing the deepest solar minimum in a century.”

Now item two: Low power amateur radio enthusiasts have made significant contributions to the state of the art in short wave propagation research and in the design and construction of low cost transceivers that are able to compete with very expensive commercial radios… QRP operators have also created internet mailing lists aiming at making all recent experiences available and open up to very fruitful discussions and analysis. My good friends Jorge Delgado callsign CO2BG and Alberto Cruz callsign CO2AJ are examples of how to improve operating skills, train newcomers to the hobby, and make use of advanced communications software packages like FT8 and JT65…

Jorge CO2BG is currently helping a group of radio amateurs that live in the south part of Havana to build low power CW rigs, using currently available parts… I already advised him about the use as radio frequency power amplifiers stages of the NPN silicon transistors that provide the drive to the cathode ray color picture tubes… Each recycled color TV or computer monitor is a zero cost source of the power devices that work on frequencies up to the 20 meters band providing power outputs of around 10 Watts by each pair of push pull connected devices… making them ideal for QRP rigs final amplifier stages…

Amateur radio operators worldwide have the possibility of contacting with fellow hams that are part of the crew at the International Space Station… For a standard two way voice contact on the two meters band using narrow band FM voice mode, a simple antenna and even a handheld FM transceiver will make possible to talk to the astronauts on their parking spot frequency of 145 dot eight hundred megaHertz…. Again the frequency where the ISS operates on the two meters amateur band is one four five dot eight zero zero mega Hertz…

If you have a valid amateur radio license and install a simple ground plane vertical antenna connected to an FM two meters band radio transceiver , contacting the ISS is rather easy, because it will always be a line of sight two way communications link, of a path length of around 400 kilometers or so….

A successful cargo mission sent to the International Space Station included ham radio packet equipment that is awaiting unpacking by the spaceship crew.

The American Radio Relay League reports new Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) packet equipment awaits unpacking and installation on board the station after arriving in November as part of the cargo transported via a Russian 71P Progress resupply vehicle.

The new packet module for NA1SS will replace the current packet gear, which has been intermittent over the past year.

“With the arrival of Progress complete, the crew has to find free time to unpack Progress, uninstall the intermittent module, and then set up and test the replacement packet module,”

The ISS packet system was reported to have gone down in July 2017, although it unexpectedly came back to life the following summer. At the time of the failure, NASA ISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, said the revived system would fill the gap until the replacement packet module was launched and installed. The packet system operates on 145.825 MHz. ARISS hardware team members on the ground were able to locate a functional duplicate of the ISS packet module that has been in use on the ISS for 17 years. ARISS said the subsequent installation will depend on the crew’s busy schedule.

Yes amigos, si my friends…. communicating with a spaceship’s crew in Earth Orbit is one of the more than 91 ways that we radio hobby fans can enjoy the experience of talking to an astronaut and then receiving a digital QSL confirmation of the contact… Also , I can assure you that using my 5 Watts output FM handie talkie, connected to a easily built ground plane antenna it is possible to establish successful contacts with the international space station…. You only need to become familiar with how to know when the ISS will be flying overhead and program your radio for 145 dot eight hundred megaHertz simplex. Monitor the frequency with the squelch set for maximum sensitivity and as soon as the ISS is on the air you will pick them up…. Good luck amigos and welcome to the select group of radio amateurs capable of contacting spaceships !!!

Ask Arnie, the second most popular section of this show, and for your information , the HF plus low band VHF propagation updates is the most reported one … Ask Arnie today is answering a question sent by listeners Jeff and Richard from the US state of Florida… They want to know what we would do during 2019 to deal with the year of minimum solar activity, especially on some propagation paths that have proven to be very difficult when the number of monthly sunspots go below 10…

ANSWER: You are both right amigos, as we enter the deep minimum of solar cycle 24 all short wave propagation of signals above 14 to 15 megaHertz will become very difficult to provide reliable service. That is the reason why users of the HF frequency spectrum have moved down their operations for daytime services below 15 megaHertz, and at night the winter season makes it very difficult to provide services on frequencies even as low as six megaHertz….. So here is my advice — get ready to deal with the very low maximum usable frequencies by building a medium sized magnetic loop antenna of a diameter around two meters, or if you have lots of space available then your best option is to install a long wire end fed antenna , or an inverted L antenna …

And now amigos at the end of the program, here is an advanced report of what the solar activity will be during the first month of 2019… In very easy to understand plain language, solar activity will be very low, with the daily solar flux figure hovering at around 70 units, just barely a few units from baseline activity of a totally quiet Sun typical of the end of the 11 year average duration solar cycle.

Send your signal reports, comments about our programs and radio hobby related questions to inforhc at enet dot cu. And via air mail to Arnie Coro, Radio Havana Cuba, Havana , Cuba

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