Topics and links of the broadcast 15-08-2021 11:00 am (CEST)

Silent key PE1B (from PA3GJL and reported by PD0DXX)

At July 27th, Ruud Souren PE1B (before PE1LBK) died after a short illness at the age of 58. The cremation toke place in a private circle.

Ruud often signed on in the various rounds with always good tips and practical information.

We'll dearly miss him...

Smart meter registers supply to the grid without solar panels! (PD4Z)

An energy meter that indicates that energy is being generated, while there are no solar panels on the roof at all and in reality a small amount of energy is consumed. This can happen if a remote dimmer is used to control a household appliance. Depending on the position of the dimmer, the electricity meter does not indicate a deviating value, an excessive consumption or a negative consumption: hundreds of Watts of generated power, while in reality about 20 Watts are consumed. Researchers from the University of Twente will present this remarkable effect during a major online conference on electromagnetic compatibility, EMC Europe 2021.

Source: University of Twente (in dutch)

The story doesn't end there. From 2020 on, i am conducting measurements from and hunt for devices that only use a very tiny amount of power, while the energy meter reports a much higher usage, either in standby mode or when active. I am replacing those devices one by one. The meter reporting can either be to high or to low depending on the waveform of the consuming devices. I was declared a fool when i first reported this, but it seams my effords are winning ground now. Nevertheless, i brought my energy consumption (according to meter) back by ALOT as you can see in the resulting graph in the sidebar. And no, i have no devices that lower the energy registration, but the opposit did happen.

The sharp fall in the graph from Februari to March was due to changing my webserver and home automation for less powerhungry solutions.

In july 2021 I installed a PV installation after picking very carefully the right inverter for this setup. My meter was then replaced by the electric company with a much newer model when i opted for a 3 phase-solution while installing my PV installation........

I have all the logs from my own measurements which can confirm my findings back until 2018.

More to come soon ......

Bouvet Island DXpeditions Are in Planning Stages for 2021, 2022, and 2023 (from PC5D)

Parallel planning is under way by three entities for DXpeditions to Bouvet Island in 2021, 2022, and 2023. The remote volcanic, glacial sub-Antarctic island in the South Atlantic is the second-most-wanted DXCC entity, according to Club Log. In June, the Intrepid-DX Group canceled its 3Y0J DXpedition, planned for 2023, after the RV was put up for sale. Not long after, the Intrepid-DX Group revived its plans and was seeking a suitable vessel.

On August 8, a DXpedition using the 3Y0J call sign announced the signing of a contract with the expedition vessel Marama, a 101-foot sailing ketch with "a proven track record and experienced polar crew." Co-leaders for the November 2022 effort are Ken Opskar, LA7GIA; Rune Øye, LA7THA, and Erwann Merrien, LB1QI. Opskar, who holds the 3Y0J license, split from the Intrepid-DX Group DXpedition effort he headed with co-leader Paul Ewing, N6PSE.

In a brief announcement on August 3, Ewing had said that a Bouvet DXpedition team under "revised leadership" had found "a suitable/affordable vessel willing to take us to Bouvet," and was negotiating the terms of that charter contract. Ewing's co-leaders would be David Jorgensen, WD5COV, and Kevin Rowett, K6TD. The Intrepid-DX Group now must secure a new license and landing permission from the Norwegian Polar Institute. Read more here.

AMSAT Continues Efforts to Debug AO-109 (from PC5D)

In mid-July, AMSAT announced that AO-109 (RadFxSat-2/AMSAT Fox-1E) was being opened for amateur use. AMSAT advised operators to use efficient modes for making contacts, such as CW or FT4, because issues with the satellite make SSB voice contacts "challenging at best."

After soliciting telemetry reports from the satellite, the AMSAT Engineering and Operations team is continuing its efforts to "debug" AO-109. "First, the telemetry we have received confirms what we inferred from our earlier experiments," AMSAT announced over the weekend. It said antennas are open, AO-109 is in transponder mode, and the spacecraft "does receive commands successfully, especially from a strong command station." The team has also determined that the onboard telemetry is working, but the transmitter output is very low -- between 6 and 8 mW. "You can compare this to our pre-launch testing, which showed power output of somewhat over 100 mW, as designed," AMSAT said. It's hypothesizing that one of the dual-power amplifier chips has failed. Efforts to command higher output from the telemetry modulator into the mixer and power amplifier resulted in no change. "It may imply that 8 mW is the highest to expect from the transponder as well," AMSAT said. Read more here.

Amateurs help with forest fire comms (from PC5D)

Radio amateurs from ARA, the Algerian national society, are assisting their government in the response to forest fires, where 65 people have lost their lives already. An ARA team was dispatched to the scene of the incident, where communications networks were already weak, to communicate emergency needs between the mobile station in the area and the crisis unit in Tamda via the ARA HQ station.

Frequencies reported in use are 7110kHz, 3650kHz and 14300kHz. Please take care not to affect emergency operations on those frequencies. Read more here

Propagation (from PC5D)

We had another week with little to no sunspots, low solar flux, but calm geomagnetic conditions. As a result, DX was a little harder to find. HF conditions are a bit lackluster, with the maximum usable frequencies over a 3000km path, only having difficulty getting above 18MHz. Sporadic E has helped some, but that is also starting to diminish now that most of the season is behind us. At 6m there are still regular Es openings, but they are noticeably less.
The best DX can happen at night. For example to South America at 20m until around 2300 hours locally, in the night hours with SSB in the upper 10kHz at 80 meters, and loud signals at 40m from the eastern US once the band is open.

The lower solar flux index (SFI) means that the higher bands may not be open during the day, but the lower bands can come into their own after dark. As of Thursday, there were no coronal holes at the sun's equator, so we can expect good conditions to continue this weekend. NOAA predicts the solar flux index will remain around 72 next week, with mildly restless geomagnetic conditions expected.

The maximum usable frequency will vary between 10 MHz at the end of the night and 18 MHz during the day.

In the coming days, there may be some tropo DX towards the channel to be used. Last week's Perseid meteor shower likely provided some support for Sporadic-E. The next week will show that jet streams are still present, so keep an eye out for 10m and 6m. The Perseids cover a somewhat longer period so that scatter connections are still possible in the coming days, usually around sunrise. The smaller Kappa Cygniden will follow on the 18th.