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Perseides shower was a lot weaker this year.
Team was just 7PS and myself, we didn't organized bigger team because on COVID 19 situation.
My log is not impressive at all this year. On August 12 I was mainly trying to work some far distance contacts from the hilltop location, but had not much success. Only RU4NG and RA3VGV worked out. >From EA2AGZ I received a 25s S9 burst over 2170 km distance, but that was it all (in SSB we might have succeeded). I had some challenges with the new Gemini 2-500 PA operated at 300 W in FSK/MSK due to over-temperature (it was 26 deg C outside and perhaps a few more in the car). On August 13 I worked from home to give a few points in the MS-Sprint Contest. Testing the PA again, the Gemini 2-500 PA worked flawlessly. Reflections seemed better on August 13 than on August 12. I received many good bursts from UA/UT stations beyond 1900 km, despite my mediocre take-off, but did not try to call those that were very far away. No new squares worked this time, as few expeditions were around (probably due to Corona). I felt the Perseids shower was not too good this year, but I may have picked the wrong operating times. Coordination with family imposed some restrictions for me …
Digimodes have become very popular and this has led to many more stations being active in 2 m MS. This is good but the entry into MS through digimode interest also has some unfortunate side effects. One of these is the confusion about period length, and some (but not many) people are now using 15 s periods for 2 m MS. I tried my best to convince a few locals to stick to 30 s but this issue is obviously confusing. Some of them mostly operate FT8 on 6 m and perhaps 2 m, and for FT8 it is always used 15 s period, so they apply it also to MSK for MS. With the advent of FSK, the 30 s period was established for MS on 2 m, however, the software now offers two alternatives. So it is very easy for newcomers to apply 15 s periods. I think we need more discussion on this subject and perhaps standardize again on one period length. I see that 15 s has the advantage of making better use of very long reflections and is good for FT8 used via Tropo, but the loss of efficiency due to switch-over (typically 1-2 s) is higher. If people have poor timing, the loss of efficiency easily gets worse, but we probably have to assume that people keep their PC clock well synchronized. I may be pissing in the holy grail, but I think it would be good if 15 s periods would be used for FT8, MSK and FSK as standard. It will not be easy to establish everybody using the same period length, unless people are forced by having the software gurus (K1JR, LZ2HV) remove the other option from their programs. Until this happens, I will happily continue to use only 30 s periods for MSK/FSK MS.
Another lack of standardization manifests itself in the use of two digital modes. The problem is that not everybody is “in the same room” anymore. There are two calling frequencies, 360 for MSK and (still) 370 for FSK. For judging activity I found it most useful to monitor 360 in MSK, since 370 in FSK is very quiet and everybody seems to be on 360 in MSK these days. Compared to last year, more stations are using the QSY technique (CQ QRG) in MSK, but many are still not. From a hilltop location, there are signals received during both periods via tropo and it is very difficult to actually work somebody on 360 due to QRM. In a big shower it is absolutely mandatory to move away from the calling frequency. Why does it take such a long time to apply a technique in MSK that has been well established in FSK? What would be a good concept for QSY away from the calling frequencies, MSK down and FSK up? There is no standard that I know of. MSK works fine if bursts are not too short, but it does not always decode. The preformatted message cannot be modified in MSK, as it is possible in FSK. When monitoring in MSK while away from shack, the screen may be full of calls but one cannot see how long the reflections actually have been. For skeds I therefore still favour FSK, because it gives the operator some judgement and makes better use of short reflections. I guess we probably have to live with two digital modes, and perhaps even more to come. More time will be spent on troubleshooting and less on air. Can the software gurus modify their programs such that decoding is done in multiple modes simultaneously? – that would help.
Thanks for all the good MS activity, and for the contacts to those I have worked.