Duct 24th to 26th Feb 2005

Big big tropo opening past few days down here in southern Australia. I hope there is more,
but going from notes of last year, this will probably be the biggest opening all year.
Maybe not the furthest distances or the highest frequencies, but certainly the strongest
2m conditions over the longest time frame.

Interesting to note that last year in February we had the monster duct opening from around
16th Feb to 21st Feb. This latest one has run from around the 22nd to the 26th, although
on there was not much noted here on the 23rd.

24th Feb - The Thursday evening I copied the Esperance beacon on Spectran for about 30
mins at around 11.30pm. This is 144.567.1 cw from 2313 Km to my west. Also worked on 144
MHz SSB with VK5NY 5/9, VK5PO 5/9, VK5UBC 5/7. Also VK5NY 432.100 was only 4/2.

25th Feb - Beginning 4am Friday morning I the Esperance beacon coming back in on Spectran
from 2313 Km. Cowell repeater was there at 961 Km only S2; Central North was S5 at 833 Km;
Port Pirie was also there as was Port Augusta at 913 Km.
Only sketchy notes here, but on 144 MHz I worked -

VK5AKK - 5/9
VK5PO - 5/9+10
VK5ZK - 5/9
VK3LY - 5/7
VK5UBC - 5/5
VK5USB - 5/5

Partially worked (I think) VK5KGP, VK5JL.

70cm has not been good.

I had been copying the Esperance beacon up to 5/3 during the morning.

Later, on air between 10 and 10.30am Eastern time (7am WST), Bill VK6AS in Esperance WA
gave 144 MHz a bit of a stir up. I missed Bill's initial calls as I was listening to the
beacon, but when I switched to 144.100 Bill was 5/9 signal here from in the area of 2315
Km. You should have heard the calling frequency 144.100, bit of rare DX brings them out.
Bill was creating a bit of a pile up, I could hear a number of stations all trying to call
at the same time. I just sat back and waited till he asked for stations to QRZ, then I
gave a call and he came back to me. I dont think he realised I was in VK2 initially then
when he went to put it back to me it clicked. I think Bill was pretty surprised when he
worked out where I was and was impressed with the good signal. I am not sure but would
guess I would be the first VK2 that Bill has worked on 144 MHz.
I did not hold the contact with Bill as I knew there were others calling him, so finished
up reasonably short. Straight after this, Bill worked Ed VK3BG near Cobram. He also worked
a few other VK3's.

I was pretty happy with being able to work Bill as I have copied the beacon a number of
time and never heard anyone, so it was great to have Bill come up on air, lets hope he is
able to come on air more often soon.

Late Friday night and Saturday morning I got 1296 MHz SSB running here for the first time.
I was able to work David VK3HZ in Melbourne at 333 Km. Also copied the 1296 beacons from
Melbourne, Mount Gambier and Adelaide. Sounds like a very interesting band. I'm running
10W to a 13 wavelength yagi at 81 Ft.

By the way, I could still copy the Esperance beacon to about 12 pm lunch time Friday. Also
the Adelaide beacon was there virtually all day at about 5/1.

26th Feb - Again I was able to copy the Esperance beacon 144.567.1 cw from around 1am my
time on Spectran. Around this time I worked 5 new repeaters in VK3 (listed on previous
email). As an indication of conditions Mt Macedon 2 & 70 were both 60dB+, Mt Tassie
repeater which I have only every heard about twice before to about S2, was S9 (east of
Melb), there was 3 repeaters coming in on 147.100 - Bright, Ararat and I think Bass Hill.
Four repeaters on 147.000 Adelaide, Broken Hill, Wodonga and Geelong all with antenna
pointing at Broken Hill.

Saturday morning around sunrise, I was not sure conditions were as good, that was until I
keyed 146.800 from Mildura and the S meter read 60dB+, same with the Mildura 70cm
repeater. Probably the strongest ever. VK3FI Noel was about +20dB on FM and VK3KYF was
60dB+ both from Mildura. Was able to copy VK3KYF on his hand held in his backyard on 2 &
70 FM simplex but only S1.

On Adelaide Crafers 147.000 repeater spoke to VK5ALS George, also Brian VK5UBC from Corny
Point and Barry VK5KBJ. I could hear Brian on reverse from 917 km.

Other simplex contacts I wrote down on SSB for Saturday  -

VK5UBC - 5/9+10 - 917 km
VK5ZK    - 5/9+20 - 754 km
VK5AKK - 5/9+40 - 763 km / 70cm - 5/9+10 / 23cm partial contact not complete
VK5KGP - 5/9       - 767 km
VK3XDP - 5/7       - 300 km 70cm only
VK3BG   - 5/9+20 - 240 km 70cm/ 23cm - 5/8
VK3BJM - 5/9+40 - 321 km / 70cm - 5/9+40
VK5PO   - 5/9+20 - 736 km
VK5USB - 5/9       - 770 km approx / 70cm - 5/5
VK5ATW - 5/6       - 740 km approx
VK5BJE  - 5/4       - 740 km approx
VK3MTV - 5/9+20 - 466 km FM Mildura
VK3NRJ  - 5/2       - 466 km FM Mildura
VK3JGL  - 5/9+20 - 300 km FM mobile Bendigo
VK3VSW - 5/9+20 - 404 km FM / 70cm FM - 5/8
VK3XDK  - 5/9       - 350 km approx / 70 - 5/9

Adelaide beacon peaked to about 5/9+40 on 144 MHz, only about 5/2 on 432 and audible 5/0
on 1296.

Esperance beacon was again present till around 12 midday. It rose to about 5/2 signal
during different times of the morning. VK6AS did not get on air as far as I am aware.

During these recent openings, 70 cm, especially to the west had been poor or non existant.
2m was certainly better by a long way in that direction.

Also worth noting is that with the path to Esperance open, the path to the Port Lincoln
repeaters on 2 and 70 were not heard at all. Yet Cowell, Port Augusta and Port Pirie were
all copied. During and just before the opening to the Boddington repeater in VK6 back on
Boxing Day 2003, Port Lincoln was noted as very strong on both 2 and 70.

Its now late Saturday night and conditions sound quiet.

Leigh VK2KRR