This was a respectable session that was “middle of the road” compared to many recent sessions. It was not the best night we have seen but it was not awful either and noise was generally low to relatively low for the eastern half of North America with only one report of precipitation static from SWL/K9 located in Indiana. All bets are off in the western portions of North America were massive storms and very high winds are creating problems for everyone, radio operators or otherwise. I heard one report of 173-mph winds in Northern California, besting the previous record by over 60 mph! If you have large antennas, get them down or get them secured. This system is progressing to the East. It was my feeling that like the previous session, the noise floor was elevated during the evening but I had no lightning crashes whatsoever. Listening was very easy for signals that could exceed the S2 noise floor.
Geomagnetic conditions were generally at elevated-quiet to quiet levels after periods of unsettled conditions in the previous session. The Bz continues at or near unity and solar wind velocities are down significantly, averaging 565 km/s . Presumably the geoeffective coronal hole is less geoeffective now, rotating out of view. DST values actually look very good for a change, showing slight variability but generally tending to unity with high stability compared to what has been observed in recent sessions.
Paul, W0RW / WA2XRM, was apparently not active on 480.480 kHz CW during this session but submitted these additional reports for the previous session on the 600-meter research group email reflector:
“…W7KAM Dick MO, 579. Good copy.
KA8ABR (WH2XUR) no copy in Dayton, OH on his K3s.
Mike Tuggle in HI, No copy. Mike is on the NDB List.
Steve, AA7U, just relayed the message from HI….”
Paul adds that very high winds in his area have yet to damage his antenna.
WSPR activity was very high, with 116 MF WSPR stations observed at 0257z on the WSPRnet activity page. I noticed the following stations were receiving that were not familiar to me from previous sessions: K3JIM, K1ADR, and KH6ILT. Welcome aboard!
The trans-African path yielded good results for a second consecutive night as EA5DOM made the long haul across Africa to FR5ZX’s receiver. Report detail’s for this opening can be viewed here.
Trans-Atlantic openings were present for stations in New England with N1BUG decoding WSPR signals from G8HUH and EA5DOM. WG2XKA and WG2XPJ, both located in Vermont, were reported by F1AFJ/1. WD2XSH/17 from his seaside location in Massachusetts received reports from F1AFJ/1, F59706, G0LUJ, G3XKR, G8HUH, LA2XPA, and PA0RDT. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported low QRN and high S/N reports that were not quite as high as the previous session. He decoded ten WSPR stations and was decoded by 41 unique stations. Doug also noted big reports from Ernie, KC4SIT, about 37 km away. Ernie submitted the following waterfall screen capture showing Doug’s massive signal, which is normal for ground wave signals at these frequencies and one of the reasons that broadcasters prefer frequencies near the bottom of the AM band:
Ernie also submitted the following detailed report on the session:
“I use two antennas, for reception, at the KC4SIT QTH in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Both are inverted Ls but one has traps for 40/80. Both are approximately 60 ft in height and the horizontal portion of the non-trap L “points” east with the horizontal portion of the trap L “pointing” west. As modeled in 4nec2 both are, to a great extent, omni directional. They were erected in such a way as for one L to be parasitic to the other. In both horizontal portions of the Ls there is some slope toward the tie-off point, with the trap L having more slope than that of the non-trap L. The QTH sits on the eastern Continental Divide at approximately 2300 feet elevation, however on the side of the property where the trap L “points” there is a quick drop of 80 feet. I am using an Icom-7200 with WSJT-X software.
When I first started decoding the 630 meter band in mid-December I had only the non-trap L. I normally had 10-12 unique stations decoded each night; toward the end of December the second inverted L was erected and I started utilizing this trap inverted L for reception. My unique decodes dropped to 6-8 a night and I’m not sure why. Last night I went back to using the non trap inverted L (“pointing east”) and my unique decodes going back to 12 with a total of 686 spots during the 24 hour session (morning to morning, Jan 9-10). I created a spot logs in Excel with the WSPR info for each of the 12 unique stations decoded. Tonight I am going back to the trap L and will create the same Excel files so I might compare the days’ information.
Two final pieces…one the non-trap L I would always decode WH2XGP, in Washington state at a distance of 3353 km. When I moved to the trap L, WH2XGP would disappear from my decodes. Returning to the non trap L last night resulted in WH2XGP returning to my waterfall. Second, KMOX 1120 AM had a strong signal into Carolina last night on 480 AM with another station in the background.
73 Ernie KC4SIT with the WI2XQU application still pending.”
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, returned to similar conditions after spending a few days on another band. He submitted the following comments and statistics for the session and continues to do very well with just 2-watts EIRP:
“Hi John. I am back TXing on 630 this session after a week of experiments on 60m with my top loaded vertical. I had a JT65 QSO with Puerto Rico on 60m with this antenna, but it does not receive as well as my low (17ft) horizontal OCFD for our PNW emergency net (the FiveDotThree net). NVIS antennas are required for shorter, more reliable message exchanges.”
John, VE7BDQ, reported that he was transmitting WSPR three times each hour on the :20’s with JT9 in between (I think my interpretation of John’s description is accurate). Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, noted that John’s best JT9 report at his station was -2 dB S/N.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, indicates that this session was very similar to the previous, reporting ten WSPR stations and receiving reports from 25 unique stations. Rick’s report details can be viewed here.
Trans-Pacific report details for this session, excluding KL7 and KH6, are aggregated here.
Roger, VK4YB, reported an early peak for trans-Pacific openings which quickly disappeared. We have been living on “borrowed time” with this path but I suspect that whatever is happening is only temporary. Roger has not been QRV for a complete year yet so this is all new territory for us and we don’t really know what to expect. Roger received reports from 7L1RLL4, JA1NQI, JA1PKG, JA3TVF, JA8SCD, JH3XCU, TNUKJPM and WI2XBQ. Roger reported WH2XGP.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, received reports from 51 unique stations including VK4YB and VK2XGJ and provided reports to twelve WSPR stations. As W7IUV and using the western receive antenna, Larry provided reports for nine unique stations.
Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, reported very good band conditions during the evening, receiving decodes from thirty unique stations including first time reports from Doug, KB4OER, and KC5LT, both in Tennessee at a distance of 3643 km. Eight of the stations reporting Joe were located greater than 2500 km away, including ZF1EJ. Joe also provided reports for VK4YB.
This was another busy evening on 630-meters. By 0130z I had transitioned from WSPR to JT9 in hopes of either making another QSO or providing a receiving opportunity for active stations. I didn’t find another station to work but I did receive reports from SWL/K9, W5EST and WA9ETW, who indicated that I was good copy but still 10 dB down from my WSPR signal levels. That sounds about right.
At 0200z I transitioned to CW as Jim, W5EST, had some receiving tests he wanted to perform for a future blog. Basically I was running CW at nearly 1 word-per-minute which was quite visible and detectable using his SDR waterfall in spite of the fact that signal was inaudible. Jim will comment on this exercise further in a blog later this week. The bottom line is that the test was a success. After about fifteen minutes I transitioned to normal speed CW for another half hour. Mark, WA9ETW / WI2XHJ, indicated that I was RST 539 in Wisconsin with periods of QSB.
Near 0300z I transitioned back to WSPR for the overnight period. There were no surprises during this session, only consistent JT9 QSO-quality reports as well as a few CW-level reports. I feared that I would have to QRT due to high winds overnight but it seems there were no problems after the fact. In the future, however, I feel like I should follow my “gut” a little more closely. My WSPR transmission report details can be viewed here and my WSPR reception report details can be viewed here.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, presented reports for VE7BDQ, WD2XSH/15, WD2XSH/17, WG2XIQ, WG2XKA, WG2XPJ, WG2XXM, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WH2XNG, WH2XZO, WI2XBQ, and WI2XBV. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, was transmitting once again, receiving reports from JA1NQI and providing reports for VK4YB. Laurence also shared two-way reports with WH2XCR. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, reports that he has swapped FET’s in his amp and is making full power once again. His reach to the East was down a bit with reports only from ZF1EJ during this session but he was hearing well, with reports for WI2XBV and WH2XZO. Coverage in the central and western portions of North America was solid. Merv also received DX reports from 7L1RLL4, JA1NQI, JA1PKG, JA3TVF, JH3XCU VK2XGJ and two-way reports with VK4YB. Merv’s DX report details can be viewed here.
Jim, W5EST, presents, “NOT LIKE 630M? W1IR-SWL/K9 SKYWAVE 160M 3-sec. ECHO MODE RANDOMNESS”:
“Today’s illustration shows Brian W1IR’s 160m 1838KHz signal from Vermont as received 1189km away, by 3-second signal strength sampling using WSJT-X echo mode on Jan. 5 at Ken’s Indiana SWL/K9 RX.
In the upper graph, a one-hour representative sequence 0500-0600z shows a remarkable amount of randomness superimposed onto 160m signal RF that’s 10-20 dB above the noise level. Specifically the randomness imposes 5-10 dB spread on the signal while the noise has a spread of less than 5 dB. Because of the way noise power combines with signal power, a strong signal like Brian’s W1IR signal would not be expected to have this much randomness simply due to background noise. In previous blog posts regarding 630m echo mode reception with Ken’s same rooftop whip antenna, strength sequences from 630m stations have shown little of such randomness on their signals. Is 630m different from 160m in this respect, perhaps?
Ken SWL/K9 and I discussed the possibility that his SDR’s narrow bandpass filter setting might not have been centered on Brian’s signal. Ken has said it well this way:…assume you can’t get good data to draw conclusions from if a trace is clipped off because it’s somewhat outside of the bandpass.” After checking into the matter, he’s satisfied that the 160m signal was indeed properly centered on Jan. 5. Moreover, a 3-hour W1IR-swl/k9 reception run 1000-1300z on Jan. 8 showed the same amount of randomness. And earlier that night Jan 8, 0230-1000z, Ken used echo mode to monitor the AM carrier of WA0RCR on 1860 KHz, which likewise showed about 5 dB of randomness on the signal strength.
In case it becomes possible in the future to run a 160m/630m dual band simultaneous comparison test on one same path, I experimented with two methods of revealing signal strength curves on a 160m signal that shows randomness.
A 5-point median method takes the median SNR of every consecutive set of five echo mode strength values using the Excel command “=MEDIAN(M2:M6)” for instance. 630m has four times the wavelength of 160m, so the four spaces between five data points from 160m would afford a kind of comparison to 630m– as if a 630m signal were like a 160m signal expanded to four times the size. Someday maybe we’ll see!
A second method* converts dB to power and then averages power levels analogously and then converts the result back to dB. Both methods work reasonably well and the power averaging method so far is yielding somewhat the clearer results of the two.
*An Excel command for the 5-point signal power average converted to dB is:
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).