News

Bringing this subject right up to date, Steve Nichols looks at the new tools available like Predtest, Proppy and Propquest and how we can use these. He also covers how they assist in preparing the propagation reports in RadCom and in general.

Catch it on the live-streamed 'Tonight @ 8' presentation on the 1st March via the RSGB's Youtube channel. Should be a decent watch, and you'll be able to submit questions to Steve via the Youtube chat. Also available on the special RSGB Tonight @ 8 BATC channel.

The RSGB has released a draft syllabus today for an additional exam type, allowing unlicenced newcomers to attain a full amateur radio licence in a single exam sitting - that is ONE exam, not a combination of the three existing exams.

Known currently as 'Direct-to-Full' it will allow an additional pathway into the hobby for those individuals that perhaps already have plenty of RF engineering experience and want a fast-path to the highest level qualification. This is reminiscent of the old Radio Amateurs Exam (RAE) in the last few years of that regime.

 

Key bullet points

  • A single 75-question multiple-choice exam (2.5 hours)
  • Available online only, not via clubs
  • Theory-only, no practicals
  • Pass mark 50/75 (67%)
  • As per existing online exams, instant results at the end of the exam, and if passed, callsign typically within a week
  • This is in addition to the existing Foundation > Intermediate > Full route

 

The Consultation

The background to this consultation and a link to the proposed syllabus can be found on the RSGB website: www.rsgb.org/direct-to-full

As in previous years I present my analysis of the Club’s HF nets for your consideration. 2020 was a difficult year to say the least with HF conditions and other factors which I hope are now behind us affecting attendances. Nevertheless, numbers on both nets increased as you can see from the following.

 

The Sunday Morning 80M Net (From 8am clocktime on 3.740 Mhz.+/-)

13 MSARS members called In, one more that last year with Phil testing antennas from several portable locations as usual. 27 non members visited us including one or two who should have paid their subs but failed to do so and so are listed as non members. You know who you are!

We were glad to welcome the return of Terry, G0SWS after his hospitalisation and wish him a speedy recovery.

Bob, N4XAT tells me that he sometimes heard us via one or other of the SDR sites even at that time in the morning.

A newcomer this year was Alain, F4GHB from Burgundy who is by now a regular call in, thanks Alain for joining us.

There were a total of 40 attendees, 5 down on last year, not surprising due to the drop off in conditions during the year. Meantime Sean and I notched up 50 more contacts between us to bring our total to 1942 contacts since 1977.

 

The Weekday 20M Net at 1330 clocktime on 14.345 Mhz Monday-Friday.

The difficulties that we have all faced during 2020 forcing many of us to stay at home resulted in an upturn in the number of MSARS members joining the lunchtime nets. 15 members called in during the year up from 9 the previous year and 34 other non-member stations made a total of 49 participants.

Bob, N4XAT was regularly heard on CW sometimes directly from his magloop in New Jersey and his daily sitreps were a boon to those testing antennas. Thanks again Bob.

David, WB1EAD in Maine was again a regular showing how conditions on 20m are getting better as the new cycle starts to improve. Another newcomer was Barry SA7GDB an Englishman living in Sweden who gives me 5/9+20 sometimes and is another of our frequent visitors.

Some of us, including me have had trouble with our equipment and antennas during the year and these daily nets are an ideal place to look for help or components to solve our problems although at this time we are not allowed to visit one and another’s QTH to help with antennas.

The nets are a boon to those of us now living alone and this aspect of amateur radio cannot be overstated.

I hope that later in the year the restrictions can be relaxed and that face to face meetings can take place. In the meantime, take advantage of your licence, and keep in touch over the air as often as you can. You will be made very welcome. Keep the overs short but join in as often as you can.

73, Ken , G3WYN.

WSJT-X 2.4.0 will introduce Q65, a digital protocol designed for minimal two-way QSOs over especially difficult propagation paths. On paths with Doppler spread more than a few Hz, the weak-signal performance of Q65 is the best among all WSJT-X modes. Q65 is particularly effective for tropospheric scatter, ionospheric scatter, and EME on VHF and higher bands, as well as other types of fast-fading signals.

Q65 uses 65-tone frequency-shift keying and builds on the demonstrated weak-signal strengths of QRA64, a mode introduced to WSJT-X in 2016. Q65 differs from QRA64 in the following important ways:

• A new low-rate Q-ary Repeat Accumulate code for forward error correction
• User messages and sequencing identical to those in FT4, FT8, FST4, and MSK144
• A unique tone for time and frequency synchronization. As with JT65, this “sync tone” is readily visible on the waterfall spectral display. Unlike JT65, synchronization and decoding are effective even when meteor pings or other short signal enhancements are present.
• Optional submodes with T/R sequence lengths 15, 30, 60, 120, and 300 s.
• A new, highly reliable list-decoding technique for messages that contain previously copied message fragments.

Read the new Q65 Quick Start Guide at:

https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/Q65_Quick_Start.pdf

The latest RSGB 'Tonight @ 8' webinar (11th Jan 2021) was very good. Some of them have been quite clunky and awkward, but this one compresses an awful lot of interesting stuff in. The topic is 'Amateur Radio Construction' and was dual-presented by Steve Hartley G0FUW and Pete Juliano N6QW. I follow both of these guys and their knowledge spans most of 'modern' radio from the crystal receivers some of us made back in the day to the very latest SDR homebrew projects that are still in development. Pretty fast-paced in the second half (Pete doesn't like to leave any whitespace!) but you've got a pause button right there in front of you, so make use of it if needed - I know I did.

RSGB Tonight @ 8 - Amateur Radio Construction