It was not even a major operating day. During the day I went for a hour's walk, watched an hour of coverage from the Tour de France and listened to another hour about the race "on the radio" - i.e. by streaming on my phone. I visited the local Community Recycling Centre (aka "the dump") with the car and trailer to dispose of scrap metal and garden waste, and I went to the post office to sent a QSL card to Vlad ER1SS who I had heard on 4m the day before.
However, the RSGB propagation predictions said that any Es was "looking a bit marginal". Sounds promising that. Every time the RSGB propagation predictions play down the chance of dx I find that things get better. And so it proved.
Not Es here for me, but tropo. However, I heard from Chris, GM4ZJI, a few days earlier to say that he had been heard in Italy in 2m FT8 (1600km). Could this be fleeting Es, and something we would never have noticed before we were all dragooned onto a single frequency?
On 24 July, as so often, was day when I worked ON4POO. I cannot find his name so he has acquired the nickname "Winnie". I have worked "Winnie" 22 times on 2m FT8 since February 2018. This is surprising as I had only managed to work Belgium on 2m from here in one session before that, during the opening of 5/6June 2016. This is the difference FT8 and a few improvements makes - going from one brief opening in 10 years with anyone in Belgium to 22 contacts in 6 months with just one specific station in Belgium. There are several other ON and PA stations who are now regulars on 2m FT8 from here.
I am really pleased to work ON4POO frequently as it proves that the path exists on a regular basis. Unlike many other operators who never reply after the first QSO, at least he gives a contact quite often.
So I can say, as I often find myself doing these days, I never would have expected that to happen.
716km contacts on 144MHz, routinely, seemingly at the drop of a hat.
Now this is the sort of image I like to see on the 70MHz band ...
|70MHz shown by DXMaps on 23 July 2018.|
The non-amateur spots on that map show what could be done if those regions had 4m amateur activity. If that sounds a bit fanciful, the past 20 years has produced a series of such changes.
I managed to work this little lot ...
|70MHz FT8 stations worked by GM4FVM on 23 July 2018.|
Worth mentioning too was a contact with Ivan, S51DI. Ivan was pretty much everybody's best dx when he came on from Slovenia 20 years ago and started the process of opening up the 4m band outside "these islands".
I was musing here at the start of July that I might be able to make 60 DXCC worked on 6m this year. At the time I was on 57. I was surprised to find that I had not worked Wales, Netherlands and Malta, so maybe this year I could do it. I still have not worked Wales or Netherlands (wait for the MS season) nor Malta.
The DXCCs which have pushed me over the 60 mark and now on to 62 were not those fairly nearby places but included Turks and Caicos Islands, Greenland, and Guadeloupe
Once again I have to say that I am really surprised as I did not expect these places to be turning up.
6m has a habit of surprising me. It had been two weeks since I worked Greenland and Turks and Caicos, so I thought the best might be over. I had done some CQ-ing lately, working all comers, but nothing very interesting came of that. Maybe they need my square though. Then on 21 July K4SO called me, and after that I worked two more US stations, which took me aback a bit.
As the RSGB site was being negative about the conditions I thought it was worth trying 6m FT8 again on 23 July. I managed to work WP4JCF, KP4EIT and FG8OJ. A station in Martinique was one which got away. Although I have worked WP4JCF a number of times over the years on JT65, KP4EIT was a new one and FG8OJ was a new country to bring me to 62 this year. And I still have Wales, Netherlands and Malta to hope for. Yippee!
|50MHz FT8 stations worked at GM4FVM on 23 July 2018|
It must be a bit wearing to hear me constantly saying that I never expected all this to happen. However, I didn't. I am really genuinely surprised by these results. Whether it is Belgium on 2m, Bulgaria on 4m or Guadeloupe on 6m, all of this really pulls me up and makes me think.
It was not as if 23 July was a day when, left to my own devices and with only Katy's food to worry about, I sit here unshaven in my underpants in splendid isolation with a slice of dry toast beside me and work the world (no, I do not do that). But there are certainly days when I am on my own and perhaps I let the domestic chores go a bit, in order to do a bit more radio. But no, yesterday I still managed to reach my weekly target of ten questions right on University Challenge on the television, and pull some pond weed out of the water feature in the garden.
Life comes before radio in my scale of importance. But I think 23 July went quite well in the circumstances, even in such limited time as I devoted to the radio on that day.