Much of the lightning QRN recently observed was absent during this session, at least at my station. What was curious was that the noise floor was elevated but completely smooth. I typically see S0-1 noise levels without the presence of signals but this session was a steady S2 and the level seemed to persist across the lower medium wave region. The lightning map was relatively clear except for parts of the Pacific Northwest and West coast which are getting pounded by torrential rain and storms which made listening and even operating difficult for some stations. Propagation was slow to develop in the evening and QSB was present on many signals, appearing to be slow on shorter paths and very fast on longer hops. This QSB had an impact on some of the operating during the evening.
Geomagnetic conditions reached unsettled levels for multiple reporting periods overnight in North America. The Bz has been variable but has generally remained very close to unity and excursions to the South likely account for the unsettled conditions reported during the evening and overnight. Currently the Bz is sitting very close to unity. Solar wind velocities continue near 700 km/s and DST values are mixed with the Australian measurement reporting a significant decrease at the same time as the reported unsettled conditions. The Kyoto DST experienced a slight decrease but was relatively stable, even approaching unity in the most recent reporting periods.
This session ushered in the return of significant JT9 activity, with four stations in the East calling CQ, some making QSO’s where allowed, and activity in the West later in the evening with WE2XPQ and VE7BDQ reporting activity. Al, K2BLA / WI2XBV, reported that he would be active in the evening on JT9 so I decided to get the process rolling, calling CQ near 1365 Hz (Thanks KA9CFD!). Phil, VE3CIQ, was reporting my signal but it was obvious that QSB was going to be a problem on the longer paths. I never heard Phil. John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, began answering my CQ but he was just beyond detection limit and only portions of his signal was visible in the waterfall and there simply was not enough for a decode in spite of me trying to get DSP set to eliminate WSPR bleed-over. Next, Al was calling in with a much stronger signal, suggesting that the East / West paths was better than North / South during this time period (WSPR reports seem to corroborate this thought). We completed our second QSO in so many days:
This QSO was easy but reports were down from the previous night on all stations providing reports, including Jay, KA9CFD, who the previous night had reported me at solid -2 dB S/N levels while this session yielded a slow increase in reported S/N as the session progressed, but starting near -9 dB S/N.
After my QSO with Al he continued calling CQ, working WG2XKA in Vermont and hearing VE3CIQ. Jay, KA9CFD, who was hearing all of the action very well, provided the following breakdown of JT9 activity as observed from his station in Illinois:
Also watching the action was Ken, SWL/K9, located in Indiana who submitted this transcript from his perspective:
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, operated JT9 starting at 0327z but no decodes or QSO’s have been reported. Laurence indicated to one station in the East that it would likely be 0500z before any reports would possibly be registered from his station in the lower-48. VE7BDQ was also reported operating JT9 from 0742z-1222z by Jay, KA9CFD.
After my JT9 activity I transitioned to CW to look for Paul, W0RW, who was operating a CW beacon as WA2XRM from Colorado on 480.480 kHz. Paul was not strong tonight, perhaps weaker than either of the two previous listening sessions where I reported him but due to the very stable noise floor (although elevated!), he was easy copy, reporting a series of V’s followed by WA2XRM and “COS” representing the airport designator for Colorado Springs. Paul submitted the following redux on the 600-meter research group email reflector:
“WA2XRM Reception Reports from 9 Jan. 2017, (Zulu Day), on 480.480 kHz. The snow has melted and now getting SWR than 1: 1.06. Revision A, Sorry the last email was sent by mistake. There were no reports from KA9CFD or K3SIW on 9 Jan. 17. Reports received so far:
1. AA7U, Steve, in the Desert of AZ (590 miles), coping my CW by ear at 0100z. He copied all night until 0555z. He also noticed the subtle changes i put into the CW message to see if he was really hearing me.
2. KB5NJD, John, Dallas TX, (615 miles), Receiving OK but weaker than yesterday. Read John’s Blog for all the day’s 600 meter activity, propagation data, WSPR operations and general LF technical information. See :<http://njdtechnologies.net/category/630-meters/>.
3. W4OP, Dale TN, (1219 miles), Band quiet but could not see on ARGO or copy by ear. He got HB9Q bouncing off the Moon yesterday.
4. W0AD, Paul WI, (719 miles). NIL on his 225 ft Beverage antenna.
5. Kj8o, Joe MI, (1162 miles). Weak but got part of call sign at 0500z. I worked him 5 years ago on 20 meter PSK Pedestrian Mobile.
6. KU4XR, Andy TN, (1161 miles). Copies better after 0500z because a birdy went QRT. He made an audio recording. Listening by ear to the recording, I have to give myself 55N, arm chair copy, no straining. You have a super receiving system Andy !
7. W7WKR, Dick WY, (WD2XSH/26), (377 miles), He has S9+ Noise. I think he is being jammed by local QRN.
Thanks for all the reports. It all depends on the propagation…. Better subscribe to CQ Magazine to get the next special QRP Issue in Feb. 2017, and more LF information.”
Andy, KU4XR, submitted the following screen capture from Spectran as well as a recording of Paul’s signal:
I would expect Paul to continue this activity. Check near 480 kHz nightly and take the challenge!
As always there was a large amount of WSPR activity filling in the holes between operating. For the first time in many sessions, perhaps the first time this year, FR5ZX decoded EA5DOM and G3KEV on the trans-African path. Report details for this great opening can be viewed here.
Trans-Atlantic openings were also plentiful again, although different from the previous session as all reports remained in the eastern US and New England. N1BUG decoded DH5RAE, DJ0ABR, EA5DOM, and G3KEV; WG2XKA was decoded by DH5RAE, DJ0ABR, F1AFJ/1, F59706, and G3XKR; WD2XSH/17 decoded DJ0ABR; F1AFJ, F1AFJ/1, G0LUJ, G3XKR, OR7T, and PA0RDT. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reports that quiet times are here again with very good signal-to-noise reports, especially on the North and South paths. Doug also notes that N1BUG and ZF1EJ were reporting WH2XZO at positive S/N levels. East and West paths were apparently good as well as Doug shared two-way positive S/N reports with my station here in Texas, although no VE7 stations made their way into his log. Doug decoded nine WSPR stations and was decoded by 41 unique stations. He added that “VE1YY was listening a short time and my NDB beacon hunting included all five eastern Canadian provinces last night. Activated W3UNO, FN20, which ran all night. Usually the remotes time out or have some sort of failure.”
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported that he was decoded by 64 unique stations including five decodes from WE2XPQ, best at -26 dB S/N and 96 decodes from WH2XCR, best at +7 dB S/N.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, was one of the stations in the middle of the noise in the Pacific Northwest. He reports that only the strongest stations made it through and the East / West paths continue to be very active. Rick received reports from thirty unique stations and decoded five WSPR stations. Unique reports details for Rick’s session can be viewed here.
Ernie, KC4SIT (pending- WI2XQU), reported a number of early stations followed by a slow early evening. He provided these comments and statistics for the session:
“While spots started earlier than usual in Flat Rock, QRN became the dominate force of the night on 630. 9 unique WSPR spots with no JT9 or CW spotted in the waterfall or heard in the ear…”
Trans-Pacific report details for this session, excluding KL7 and KH6, are aggregated here.
Roger, VK4YB, corroborated my feelings about the band being slow to open but once it did open, the session seemed relatively normal. Roger suggests this may be the new normal and I tend to agree. The North / South paths tended to dominate during this session on the longer haul paths. Roger received reports from JA1NQI, JA3TVF, TNUKJPM W7IUV and two-way reports with VE7BDQ. Roger also provided reports for WH2XGP.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, received reports from 53 unique stations including VK4YB and VK2XGJ and provided reports to seven WSPR stations. As W7IUV and using the western receive antenna, Larry provided reports for eight unique stations, including VK4YB.
John, VE7BDQ, shared two-way reports with VK4YB.
In addition to my JT9 activity previously reported, I received a nice report of my CW session from Paul, W0AD / WD2XSH/28, located in Minnesota. I called CQ from 0145z to 0233z as I was working in the shack. Paul indicates that he was hearing me “…with a Flex 6500 attached to a 5 square high impedance vertical array. ” He added that my “signal is so loud in Minneapolis that my CW Skimmer clearly copied your call and CW.” Paul has a very nice station and I look forward to him getting on the air. The North / South path has always been very robust from my station and I expect that Paul and I will have a virtual intercom link between our two stations. WSPR activity was typical with good coverage across North America. My receive reports were down from recent highs but have rebound after a few session where decreases were significant. My WSPR transmission report details can be viewed here and my WSPR reception report details can be viewed here.
Mark, WA9ETW / WI2XHJ, reminded us of a propagation discussion currently active on the top band reflector. In response to a report yesterday from Wolf, DF2PY, regarding good 160-meter conditions in spite of unsettled geomagnetic conditions, Carl, K9LA, weighed in on some of the possible mechanisms contributing to these openings. As behavior on 630-meters has been compared to 160-meterbehavior in some respects in the past, I am including Carl’s comments below:
“…our understanding of what makes 160m tick is lacking. In other words, “stuff happens”.
Having said that, there have been similar reports of good propagation on 160m at high latitudes when the K index spikes up. A process that could explain this is tied to changes in the E region and lower F region at elevated K indices. When geomagnetic field activity increases, the
atmosphere’s electric field (measured in terms of mV/meter) increases. When this happens, the electron density valley above the E region peak can become better developed (deeper and more vertical extent – which would eliminate transits through the absorbing region and eliminate ground reflections).
This process comes from a 1984 paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research. It is only a model – I’m not aware of any measurements to confirm that this happens. So “buyer beware”. All I can say is – it makes sense.”
It was another good night of high activity and new “faces” on the band as 103 MF WSPR stations were observed around 0300z on the WSPRnet activity page. New or recent additions to the 630-meter receiving corp include but are not limited to WB3FSR, N4TVC, W2XOR and KC2P, who was reporting the old frequency of 503.9 kHz and is possibly listening on the wrong frequency (if he is using CAT or direct dialing the wrong frequency). If anyone has contact with this station, please direct him to this blog post which has a description of the problem and how to resolve it when using the early version of WSPR 2.x. Welcome aboard!
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, operated a single receiver through this session and provided reports to VE3CIQ, VE3EFF, VE7BDQ, WD2XSH/15, WD2XSH/17, WG2XIQ, WG2XKA, WG2XXM, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WH2XZO, WI2XBV, and WI2XJQ. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, operated JT9 for a portion of the session as previously reported. I am not aware of any reports at this time. He appears to have been “receive only” on WSPR during this session, providing reports for WG2XXM and also netting VK4YB and WH2XCR. DX report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, reports that he was running lower power, perhaps down a dB or two, after replacing the FET in his amp with a different kind of FET. He indicates that he will be replacing this ill-fitting FET with the proper one some time today. Even at lower power he had a strong session. Merv’s hearing was good, as he provided reports to WG2XKA and WH2XZO and he received reports from WE2XPQ, ZF1EJ, JA1NQI, JH3XCU, VK4YB and ZL2BCG. Merv shared two-way reports with VK4YB. His report details can be viewed here.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).