To state it simple, more or less we have understood that the propagation on amateur radio bands, especially those in the HF range, depends on the quantity of sun spots (Sn, Sunspots number): more the sunspots (higher Sn) means better propagation of electromagnetic waves and higher maximum usable frequency (MUF). The wise Old Men tell us that this sunspots number or, better, its daily and monthly mean, in the long term has a cyclic trend, that is it reaches a peak in a relatively short time, and then it has a long decay, which lasts several years, with a low sunspots number resulting in mediocre propagation.  Such a trend, is recurring roughly every eleven years as we observe in the following chart showing the monthly mean susnspots number in the latest five cycles.

Andamento della media mensile del numero di macchie solari negli ultimi cinque cicli solariPoor us, we are now living the long low sunspots tail of the 24th solar cycle - few sunspots, low propagation… cry What we all wonder is: when the sunspots number is going to grow again? In other words: When is the new solar cycle going to begin? And, even more interesting: When is the propagation going to improve so that we could finally have DXing from our normal QTHs, with affordable power and antennas? To answer those questions, we get some help from the predictions published by prestigious research institutes.

Here following, I report two graphs, made available by the Royal Observatory of Belgium - Brussels - that show:

Previsioni andamento del numero di macchie solari mensili. A sinistra: metodo standard; a destra metodo combinato. Fonte: SILSO data/image, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels

Above: predictions dated 2019 January 8; below predictions udatrd monthly. Credit: SILSO data/image, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels.

Numero di macchie solari: previsione con metodo standard e con metodo combinato
Numero di macchie solari: previsione con metodo standard e con metodo combinato, grafici aggiornati mensilmente

With great sadness I am reporting that, after a long fight against illness, on December 30th, 2018  Steve, G3TXQ passed away. Steve was, and still is a very popular radio amateur all over the world for various reasons. Here, I want to remind all of us his dramatic inprovement of hex beam antenna and his hard work about baluns.

His death is a tremendous loss to the world wide amateur radio community.

I offer my condolences to Steve's family.

Here following, the announcement appeared on Steve and his wife's website:

There we were. October 2009, operators in the radio shack Direzione Comando e Controllo, Guardia di Finanza.  Coppito (AQ). Greetings to my friends from Friuli Venezia Giulia (ARI Udine and Monfalcone, if I remember well) and to my friends from Piedmont, ARI Turin.

Gruppo ARI Emergenza Abruzzo 2009 - Coppito (AQ)

At best of my knowledge, starting on November 3rd, 2018, italian radio amateurs will be allowed to transmit on 60m band with maximum 15 W e.i.r.p., from 5351.5 kHz to 5366.5 kHz. Contacts made before November 3rd, 2018 should be neither legal nor recognizable as DXCC credits, records, awards, etc.

Italy is on 5 MHz band too!

August 13th, 2018

After so many years, I am now inspired by the DXCC. I really want to hang the DXCC award to a wall of my shack! Well, though I never minded about it, wanted or not, during all these years I've collected QSL cards coming from much more than the 100 countries needed to submit the application; thus, I've chosen 100 QSLs, I've filled in whatever is needed for the "Online DXCC application" (the most cost effective) and I'm ready to check out. Surprise! The bill is 57 (read FIFTYSEVEN) cute dollars! surprised You don't believe me, do you? Here you are the snapshot:

Logbook of the World The instructions about how to subscribe to Logbook of the World (LotW), by the US Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), are a little confusing and somehow contradictory, depending on where exactly you retrieve them. ARRL website says one thing, "Trusted QSL" (TQSL) software says another thing, on the several radio amateur web sites we can read interesting tails but, the most amazing stories could be found in the several hamradio forums and discussion groups. I subscribed to LotW in May 2018 as non-US radio amateur; I just downloaded TQSL and installed it. Then... is back! After a few years of QRT, ik1hge is on line again.

73's ik1hge