An approaching storm system in West Texas made this session really tough for listening here in North Texas and reports suggest that the same system created problems for others in the East and Midwest. Ice in the central states has created noise and kept a number of stations off the air and while domestic band conditions were pretty good at my station, most of the highlights come from stations in the East and Northeastern US and Caribbean. While the last few days have not been a rain-out at my station, tonight is expected to be just that as the storms in West Texas form into a line and move East. The station will be secured and prepared for high winds and lightning just as soon as this report is published.
Geomagnetic conditions were consistently quiet with no real surprises overnight. The Bz is currently pointing slightly to the South but solar wind velocities are very low, averaging near 320 km/s. DST values are nominal and residing persistently in positive territory. Solarham reports that the next coronal hole will be geoeffective around the 18th.
The extremely long and difficult path from western Europe to rural Asiatic/Central Russia appeared overnight for the first time this year with G3KEV receiving a report from UA0SNV. No salt water here – this is pretty much all over land and that makes reports from this path so special and important. As other “capable” stations were QRV during this session, its interesting that Mal was the only station to be reported by Vasily. I believe this reinforces the spotlighting theory where interfaces are fickle and variable, even in localized areas. Report details for this opening can be viewed here.
Trans-Atlantic openings were very good again but just as with the path between western Europe and rural Russia, why are openings so fickle when they are so close together? Most notable for this session’s trans-Atlantic openings was ZF1EJ, who was reported by LA2XPA. It seems this path is all salt water and Eden is going remarkable things with his station even after only three nights on the air. Albert, PA0A, was heard at WD2XSH/17, whose station was in receive-only mode all night. N1BUG reported poor band conditions with very limited transcontinental openings but he reported G8HUH twelve times over night from Maine. WG2XPJ was reported by G0LUJ and G8HUH. I (WG2XIQ) received three reports from G8HUH near the detection limit for a second night in a row. The big winner was John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, located in Vermont, who “ran the table” with British stations, receiving reports from G0LUJ, G0MJI, G3KEV, G3XKR, and G8HUH, plus reports from PA0RDT. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Mike, WA3TTS, reported that he decoded WH2XGP very early at 0026z at -22 dB S/N. Mike adds that these type of early transcontinental openings are not very common for his station.
Jay, KA9CFD, reported in the early evening (0021z) that he was receiving eight WSPR stations. Unfortunately band conditions deteriorated pretty quickly as darkness reached the storms in West Texas, increasing his noise floor and complicating his and others ability to hear.
Roger, VK4YB, reported that storms surrounded his QTH but he was still able to provide reports for VK3HP and WH2XCR. Roger notes that there were “just enough gaps in the QRN to pull them through.” Roger was reported by JH3XCU, WI2XBQ, and VE7BDQ. Roger’s trans-Pacific report details can be viewed here.
One of the observations that I have made in the past about 630-meters is that when the band is open, it’s open, and power doesn’t necessarily matter too much. We have heard similar comments about 6- and 10-meters. Al, K2BLA / WI2XBV, echoed this sentiment overnight as he operated at reduced power levels (one-quarter the normal levels, in fact!) due to heavy fog and accompanying drizzle covering everything exposed. He was still heard and based on my experiences of running reduced power, the decrease to one-quarter normal power probably didn’t actually show up as a 6-dB decrease in S/N. In fact my experiences have shown that such deceases are only down 2-3 dB when talking about S/N. Your mileage may vary.
Steve, VE7SL, published this blog entry detailing the recent quarterly 630-meter ARRL report by Fritz Raab and also reminds us of the upcoming Midwinter 630-meter operating activity night on the evening of February 4th (Saturday night in North America, Sunday UTC). There will be Canadian crossband activity.
I received a nice note from John, W4II, located in Alabama who was recently encouraged to listen to 630-meters by old friend Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR. John and I have been conversing for a few emails and he finally took the plunge and listened to 630-meters after getting WSJTx working on HF (I highly recommend this approach!). John noted that he “…started on 80m, went to 160 and then finally to 630. For the first few minutes I was not seeing anything on the scope………….BUT, then at 0250z I copied WG2XIQ at -18db, using my 130′ center-fed with ladder line. I kept the tuner in by-pass. So, now I’m excited. :-)…. and imagine my surprise when I brought WG2XIQ up on QRZ.com !!” I am very pleased to see John’s success and often times this is how activity is grown – one operator at a time.
My receiving was down considerably during this session but I believe it was due to high noise level. Amazingly the number of stations received was average to above average, only the individual reports were down. I briefly operated JT9 around 0130z with the intention of calling CQ on CW for a bit afterward until I was listening to the North American CW QSO party on HF as I called CQ on JT9 and realized that few if any CW operators might be available for a QSO. With the noise level, it was for the best and I terminated my JT9 session rather quickly, returning to WSPR for the night. My WSPR transmission report details for this session can be viewed here and my WSPR reception report details can be viewed here.
It was another night of massive activity on the band in spite of the various impedances observed. 116 MF WSPR stations were observed at 2355Z on the WSPRnet activity page and remained consistent through the evening.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, experienced a great session with three amazing reports from Rolf, LA2XPA. That’s a great accomplishment for a station that has been on the air for many seasons and is even more remarkable for someone who has only be transmitting for three nights! A good location does not hurt! Eden once again showed that his antenna system may be exhibiting some directivity to the North although he did share two-way reports with WH2XCR. Eden received reports from 29 unique stations (28 displayed below) and provided reports for eleven WSPR stations.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, is in the middle of a ham shack reorganization project and did not report that he was on the air until 0510z. Laurence received a respectable number of reports from stations in the western US and Pacific Northwest as well as two-way reports with WH2XCR (details included with Merv’s report details).
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, experienced a propagation shift such that JA reports disappeared but VK reports returned in spite of the high noise level. Merv, shared two-way reports with VK4YB and was successfully received by VK2XGJ. Merv also shared two-way reports with ZF1EJ and WE2XPQ. Most of his reports were no further East than the central US and stations in the eastern US appear to have been completely missing. I suspect noise and operators participating in the North American CW QSO party had an impact here. Merv’s VK, ZF, and KL7 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).