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WG2XPN beacon on 4 m
Published on 9 May 2013 by Brian WA1ZMS
Good news, as of 23:30z on May 8, 2013 this year's North American 4 m Eskip propagation beacon on 70.005 MHz is now QRV. The FCC Experimental License for one-way transmissions only was granted the day before. So I did my best to get the system back on the air and is now operational. The technical specs are the same as they have been in years past. TX freq is 70.005 MHz and is GPS locked. Emission mode right now is CW. (There are plans to add JT65 later in June thanks to the 4 m OZ-land ops!)

To review: the new callsign is WG2XPN. ERP is 3 kW from a 3 ele yagi at 15 m AGL. QTH is FM07FM. Yagi is aimed at 60° true to the EU. This callsign is valid for a full 2 years and can be renewed which I plan to do when it is time to do so.

Please understand that if there are ANY reports of QRM to the US domestic TV service, the beacon must QRT. The site is also located inside the US National Radio Quiet Zone where much radio astronomy work takes place. They too have QRT authority over my operations. There have not been any QRM issues in years past and I wish to keep it that way. There is really no chance that a 4 m amateur band will exist in the US for as far as anyone can see into the future. So for the pure study of TA Eskip, this beacon exists. My personal goal is for 2 m TA, and this helps gauge the likelihood of a possible 2 m TA path. Much remains to be learned.

I again want to extend my thank you to the Society of Broadcast Engineers and the FCC's OET office for yet again letting such one-way beacon operations take place in the US.

North Americans with 4 m receivers
Published on 30 April 2013 by OZ2M
Emil W3EP writes: Several of you have asked about North American stations interested in 4 m to 6 m cross-band QSOs. I have polled an array of East Coast 6 m operators for several years and have compiled this list of stations with 4 m receivers in place ready to make cross-band QSOs (arranged north to south):

VE2DFO in FN25VJ
W1IPL in FN54FC
K1SIX* in FN43AD
W1JR in FN42EV
W1JJ* in FN41GP
W1XX in FN41EJ
W3EP* in FN31VP
WB4SLM in EM82DP
KE4WBO in EL96VW
* Have made 4 m - 6 m cross-band QSOs

It would be nice if there was more activity on this side, but so far active interest has yet to spread. Perhaps some of you can circulate this list North Americans a bit wider in Europe, No doubt the ON4KST Region 2 chat page will keep everyone informed. I will certainly be making SSB calls near 50.185 when conditions are favorable and will listen around 70.185 initially, CW preferred. 

Best wishes for the coming Es season!

New 4 m, and 6 m, transceiver
Published on 29 April 2013 by OZ2M
Noble Radio NR-6N4 is a new 4 m and 6 m dual band radio. It covers 50.0 MHz to 52.0 MHz and 69.9 MHz to 70.5 MHz. Modulation is CW and SSB. Power is up to 20 W PEP. Price range is around 800 USD. The news release does not say anything about availability date.



The key, but preliminary technical specification, are listed below but are also subject to change:

Receiver
  • Downconverting design
  • Dual Converesion: 1st IF: 10.7 MHz 2nd IF: 25 kHz
  • Sideband elimination using phasing techniques with digitally generated Quadrature carriers and Image
  • Reject mixers preceeded by 15 kHz crystal roofing filters
  • Ultimate receiver bandwidth set by adjustable SCAF filters (two 8th order filters used. One for High Cut and one for Low cut)
  • Sensitivity: MDS = -130 dBm
  • Dynamic Range Figures: blocking: 110 dB, IMD (3rd Order): 95 dB
  • Selectivity: 500 Hz to 4 kHz adjustable with the SCAF filters. Ultimate attenuation of filters are 55 dB or better
Transmitter
  • Power: 20 W PEP
  • SCAF Filters can be used to tailor SSB Transmit audio
General
  • Synthesizer: DDS/PLL synthesizer with 10 Hz minimum step size. Tuning rate is variable depending on the Tuning Knob speed (Variable Speed Tuning - VST)
  • The low level 10.7 MHz IF signal is also brought out to a rear connector so that it may be used for panadapter or SDR applications
  • Memories: 10 Memories per band
  • Supply voltage: 11.5 V to 14 V DC, approximately 3.6 A at full output power.
  • Dimensions: 203 mm (W) x 305 mm (D), including knob and heatsink, 95 mm (H), including feet
  • Weight: Approximately 1.8 kg

Macedonia get access to 70 MHz
Published on 14 March 2013 by Bo OZ2M
Todor, Z31RM, is proud to announce that the Radioamateur Society of Macedonia, RSM, is granted licence of seven callsigns on temporary basis for usage of 70 MHz for limited time. The premission began 1 January 2013 and will end 31 December 2013.

The frequency allocations are 70,075 MHz for CW operation and 70,275 MHz for SSB operation. Maximum power is 10 W. Beacon to be announced, if any.

List of assigned operators calls': Z35W, Z30A, Z34M, Z33A, Z33Z, Z31MA and Z31RM.

70 MHz Marathon Contest 2013
Published on 14 March 2013 by Bo OZ2M
Gabriele, IZ5HQB, writes that the ARI Section of Florence again in 2013 invites to the Marathon Contest on 50/70 MHz 2013. The contest takes place from 00.00 UTC of 1 May 2013 until 23.59 UTC of 31 Aug 2013. You can read more about the contest here.

Italy on 70 MHz status
Published on 14 March 2013 by Bo OZ2M
I have been informed that that someone had given me imprecise information on the 70 MHz licensing conditions.

It is not true that the Italian Ministry of Economic Development has "cancelled" its first 4 m permit (Jan 29) lasting until the end of 2013. The new authorization (Feb 8) is aimed at "integrating" (the text so exactly reads) the previous one,  stating that - due to certain bureaucratic reasons - an extra formal request has to be submitted for continuing to operate after 180 days, that is in period 5 August - 31 December 2013.

Moreover, in the second authorization they extended the list of neighbouring countries (that initially was France, Switzerland and Austria), including Slovenia and Croatia too. Probably that was just a mistake, due to the fact that they plainly copied the text of an old authorization, when Slovenia and Croatia amateurs were not allowed to operate on 4 meters.

Update on Italian 4 m special license
Published on 19 February 2013 by OZ2M
The Italian Ministry of Economic Development has cancelled the first 4 m permit lasting until the end of 2013 and issued a new one that is valid from 7 February 2013 and until 5 August 2013. Besides the change of dates also the geographical restrictions have been changed so that no operation must take place within 30 km from the boarder to France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.

IARU Region 1 matters for Vienna meeting in April
Published on 5 February 2013 by OZ2M
The proposals for the IARU Region 1 VHF Managers' meeting in Vienna 19-21 April have been released. Some of the proposals concern the 4 m band.

Page 3: RSGB – The band plan and the allocation for beacons and MS calling frequency 70,250 MHz.
Page 9: RSGB – Band plan modernization and updates
Page 36: UBA – Assign preferred frequencies for repeaters and gateways in the 4 m band
Page 40: UBA – A complete review of the footnotes concerning the bandplans

Editor’s notes: Indeed 90/100 kHz may seem a lot in comparison to the total narrow band segment. However, beacons are a vital part of detecting conditions and is in some case the only signal originating out of a country where no traffic allocation has been granted. Furthermore, has very little, if any, traffic taken place below 70,1 MHz before the latest expansion of the beacon band.
An alternative “long range band plan” may work better and should be what is aimed for.
MS operation often takes place from 70,270 MHz to 70,295 MHz as this segment covers most of the currently active countries.

Pages 23-25: NRRL – Coordinated National VHF+ Activity Contests
Pages 25-26: VERON - SSB/CW contest in the 70 MHz band

Editor’s note: 24 hours seems like a lot giving the potential number of stations to work. Perhaps an idea to exclude MS operation from the daytime part of the contest and perhaps possible to work a station more than ones provided a minimum time gap. As activity and number of participants increase these special conditions may be reduced and finally deleted.

Italy back on 4 m in 2013
Published on 30 January 2013 by OZ2M
Emilio, IK0OKY, told that the special 4 m permit for Italy is back from 1 February 2013 and until 31 December 2013. The permit conditions are the same as before except the power which has been increased to 50 W ERP.

OZ7IGY on Next Generation Beacons platform
Published on 26 January 2013 by Bo OZ2M

Today the 4 m OZ7IGY beacon has been migrated to the Next Generations Beacons platform http://www.rudius.net/oz2m/ngnb

The beacon is now frequency and time locked to GPS. The sequenced is timed to start at 00 second sending JT65C2 followed by a short pause then CW ID sending callsign and locator, then pause and carrier until next cycle. The nominal frequency remains the same, i.e. 70,021 MHz.

To decode JT65C2 tune your receiver 1270 Hz below the nominal frequency. On most radios this is a USB dial of 70,019730 MHz. The plan is to replace all the old beacons with the new platform as time permits.
Listeners reports and feed back are highly appreciated.

OZ7IGY status page: http://www.rudius.net/oz7igy