This session struggled to get started and once the band was open QRN was high from southeastern storms. I can’t speak for stations across North America but from here in Texas this was one of those nights that it seemed ok to “set it and forget it”, regrouping in the morning. Propagation was odd and there were virtually no daytime openings for my station. Once it was dark the band seemed very slow to develop openings. This was far beyond just a noise problem – the band really felt like we were already in early Summer when the band would normally not begin to show quality openinsg until about three hours after sunset. The QRN should abate shortly, just in time for another geomagnetic event. It’s too early to know whether it will help or hurt.
Geomagnetic conditions were at elevated-quiet levels, reaching unsettled levels in the most recent reporting period. The Kp has begun to increase and the Bz has changed directions numerous times over the course of the last several hours but always remaining near unity. Solar wind velocities have made a sharp increase, currently averaging 530 km/s. DST values have shown erratic behavior once again but its possible that a peak has been observed and a deep decrease is in progress. Reports suggest that this is a new event and not related to the previous which appeared to “fizzle” before reaching storm levels. Even so some enhancements were realized and the band was significantly different from the start of the event.
Trans-Atlantic openings continue for WD2XSH/17, who received reports from F1AFJ/1, F59706, G3XKR, G8HUH and LA2XPA/2. Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, also received reports from LA2XPA/2. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reports that he decoded eight WSPR stations and was decoded by 26 unique stations including both of ZF1EJ’s receivers. Unique report details for Rick can be viewed here.
Toby, VE7NCF, operating as CG7CNF, reported that in the last 24-hours he was decoded by thirty one unique stations while decoding eight WSPR stations.
Trans-Pacific report details for this session (excluding KL7 and KH6) are aggregated here.
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, received reports from 58 unique stations including VK4YB, the previous reported LA2XPA/2, WE2XPQ, and WH2XCR. Ken indicates that he received a -12 dB S/N report from WE2XPQ which is always a challenge to accomplish from the central US.
Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, reports that he was decoded by 23 unique stations, including two-way reports with WE2XPQ, WH2XCR, VK4YB, and WG2XIQ. Joe adds, “Signal from 4qr, 612 khz still strong, JA’s -20 from normal levels.”
John, VK2XGJ, had a real log-jam of stations at the bottom of the passband, with reports for WH2XCR and WH2XXP:
Roger, VK4YB, reported that “Low noise at sunset enabled all the usual suspects to be decoded in the first hour. Later Ward, WH2XXP hit -4 on a couple of occasions. QRN increased and the session became average.” One plus was that Roger experienced a return of JA reports after a lull during the previous session. He received reports from JA1NQI, JA1PKG, JA1PKG/5, JA3TVF, JH3XCU TNUKJPM, W7IUV, and two-way reports with WI2XBQ. Roger also provided reports for WG2XXM, WH2XXP, and WH2XGP.
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 64 unique stations including VK4YB, VK2XGJ, and ZL2BCG.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, received reports from 47 unique stations including VK4YB and VK2XGJ. Listening with the eastern receive antenna, Larry provided reports for eleven WSPR stations. As W7IUV and listening on the western receive antenna, Larry provided reports to ten WSPR stations including VK4YB.
As previously reported, it was a very noisy night here in Texas so I did not spend much time in the shack. Other stations were obviously hearing well as reports of my signal were normal but my reception reports were down considerably from the sessions prior to the recent storm system passage. The Pacific Northwest may have experienced the quietest band conditions as very good reports were registered at WH2XGP and other locales in that region plus reports from WE2XPQ in Alaska. Morning CW was also a mess and I opted out of calling CQ today as a result. That will probably be the new normal. Signals tend to be weak and digging in the noise is a feat that I save for the middle of the Summer. We will have quiet days again and I will be sure to be active on those days. My transmission report details can be viewed here and my reception report details can be viewed here.
A date for the next special event – the Midwinter 630-meter QSO party – is being sought for February. February is complicated because of a number of contests that will always impact someone through the month. A single night event seemed to work well for the last event in November so I suspect that will continue. February 11th (UTC) is the CQWW WPX RTTY contest and I believe that we decided last year that this contest would impact the fewest number of stations. Is that still the case? I would appreciate input as a request has been made by someone close to the ARRL.
Michael, AB1AW, who submitted an application for 630-meters quite some time back was finally assigned WI2XRE. Now we wait and see if his grant is issued at an accelerated rate due to delays.
I did not take a census during this session but in spite of seemingly weaker band conditions and propagation, there was a lot of activity. K3FHP and KJ6WSM were two new or newer stations that were observed during this session. Welcome aboard!
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, had a front row seat for QRN during this session and its remarkable that he decoded anyone at all. He provided reports for CG7CNF (VE7CNF), WD2XSH/15, WD2XSH/17, WG2XIQ, WG2XXM, WH2XGP, WH2XXP, and WI2XJQ. Report details for these stations can be viewed here. As ZF1EJ/1, Eden continues to use his new transmit antenna for receive and provided reports for WD2XSH/15, WD2XSH/17, WG2XIQ, WG2XXM, WH2XGP, WH2XXP, and WI2XJQ. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, experienced further improvements during this session, with JA1NQI providing reports and VK4YB reported in Alaska. I would not be surprised if Laurence is reported by VK4YB before dawn as happened very late in the previous session. Laurence also shared two-way reports with WH2XCR and decoded me and WG2XXM in the southcentral US. With the noise, I was unfortunately unable to reciprocate. DX report details for Laurence can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had a number of late reports with VK stations including VK4YB and VK2XGJ on the approach to sunrise. Openings to JA were also present, with reports from JA1NQI and JH3XCU in addition to previously reported two-way reports with WE2XPQ, which included five later reports of Laurence at Merv’s station. In the “lower-48” reception of Merv went no further than my station here in Texas but he did provide reports for WD2XSH/15. Typical stations in the East and Southeast were washed out with noise. Merv’s DX report details can be viewed here.
Jim, W5EST, returns after a short holiday hiatus and presents, “DEC. 16 WD2XSH/17-SWL/K9 ECHO MODE WSJT-X 1354km”:
“Rapid sampling of 630m signal strength at three second intervals can help amateurs and experimenters understand 630m QSB and propagation better.
Today, Ken SWL/K9 and I report his most ambitious 630 m receptions at this fast sampling rate over a 1354km East-to-West path from Dave WD2XSH/17 in Massachusetts to Ken in Indiana. Since this type of reception calls for relatively strong SNRs on a storm-free night, the data started about two hours after Indiana sundown and continued as long as the signal was strong for about 3½ hours until fadeout a little after 10pm local time. Dec. 16 was just a few days before winter solstice. Hats off to Dave and Ken for their station operations on this path!
The illustration shows an upper graph suggesting slow variation in peak signal strength—at less than one milliHertz over the 3½ hours. The lower three graphs split the upper graph into thirds and magnify their time scale to a little over an hour apiece. In spite of noise obscuring the signal somewhat, one can plainly see QSB variations as curves at roughly 4-6 milliHertz occasionally impressed with faster wiggles and occupying the 110 second WSPR transmission intervals. Constructive and destructive interference between 1-hop and 2-hop 630m propagation modes may explain this QSB.
Ken’s SWL/K9 receiver: Elad FDM-S2 16 bit SDR powered and interfaced with a Toshiba laptop operating under Windows 7 running the Elad S2 SDR software. RX bandwidth for Echo mode logging purposes: 10 Hertz. Antenna system: 4 foot whip mounted at 20 ft. level above ground on rooftop. Antenna uses a broadband auto-transformer toroid mounted at the base of the whip for a broadband match to 75 ohm output cable without pre-amplification. From there, it connects to the SDR through a common mode toroidal choke mounted at the SDR input. The whip antenna system is only, at worst case, -3db down from the main antenna system at SWL/K9, and is usually only -1 to -2db down, Ken tells me.
For readers interested in a refresher on Echo mode reception on 630m, see previous blog posts that discuss 3-second signal strength rapid sampling by WSJT-X Echo mode. Find the posts at dates 11/21-23,25, 28 and 12/13-14/16 in this blog. HNY & GL!”
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).