There were not a lot of reports of QRN impeding operating during this session but the lightning map suggests elevated lightning QRN was likely. Its possible this was the result of a lack of operators actively engaging the band or also that stations have gotten so used to the QRN that they don’t mention it anymore. Noise has a tendency to be mind-numbing. During my evening operating, which started around 0130z, I did not notice many lightning crashes although numerous storms were present in East Texas and Louisiana. On the other hand, Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported persistent noise in South Carolina, feeling it resulted in mediocre reports for his session.
Domestic propagation was strong here in Texas although reports of limited transcontinental openings were also noted from others (Living in the central US can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to propagation). I suspect a few stations in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia are not currently active or their activity is limited which may contribute to the perception that the path is not doing well.
Geomagnetic conditions are even quieter than the previous session although the Bz continues to point slightly to the South with solar wind up from the previous session, averaging 310 km/s. Proton levels have experienced isolated periods of increase this morning. DST values continue in positive territory although all that may change shortly as a G1 storm is forecast to begin in the next 24-48 hours.
The elevated DST values appear to be signaling the return of high latitude or “polar” openings for the western US as WH2XGP received reports from LA2XPA again and for the first time in 2017. The last time those opening occurred, a number of days of elevated DST were reported and the openings continued daily, even expanding to many other stations, until the DST finally crashed with the onset of storm condition. There were numerous other trans-Atlantic reports during this session: F5WK was reported by N1BUG, K4RCG, WD2XSH/15 and WE2XGR. N1BUG also reported G3KEV. ZF1EJ received reports from LA2XPA for the third consecutive session. WG2XXM received reports from F1AFJ/1, G3XKR, G8HUH, and LA2XPA. WG2XPJ, provided reports for F5WK and G3KEV and received reports from F1AFJ/1, G0LUJ, G3XKR, G8HUH, LA2XPA, PA0RDT, PA3ANG, PE1RKT, and TF3HZ. Report details for these stations can be viewed here.
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported that he was decoded by 57 unique stations including WE2XPQ, WH2XCR, G8HUH, F1AFJ/1, LA2XPA, and G3XKR.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, received reports from 47 unique stations including LA2XPA and provided reports for fifteen WSPR stations. As W7IUV and using the western receive antenna, Larry provided reports to nine WSPR stations, including VK4YB. These reports represent the only trans-Pacific decodes from the North American mainland for this session (included in VK4YB’s report details).
Roger, VK4YB, reported, “Similar pattern QRN to last night. Weak traces from Ken and Larry visible but not decoded. I was lucky to get the single spot from Larry. Space Weather Services shows a large depressed area in the South Pacific on the T-index map. But I did note the path to JA was clear. I wasn’t going to give the JA beam a run tonight but seeing that I gave it a shot and JE1JDL responded. SWS website is a must see every night.” The SWS site containing the T-index map that Roger referenced in addition to other measurements can be viewed here. Roger received reports from W7IUV, JE1JDL, and JH3XCU. Those report details can be viewed here.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reported that the spotlight favored the Caribbean (ZF1EJ) and the Southeast (KU4XR), leaving New England and the East coast of North America high and dry. Rick received reports from 25 unique stations and provided reports for eight WSPR stations. Rick’s unique report details can be viewed here.
Mal, G3KEV, reported on the RSGB-LF reflector that in addition to reports from N1BUG and WG2XPJ, he also received reports from RN3AGC and points in between.
Paul, N1BUG, reported that he decoded thirteen WSPR stations, including G3KEV whose best report was -23 dB S/N and F5WK whose best report was -19 dB S/N. WH2XGP, located in Washington state, was the only transcontinental station reported at Paul’s station in Maine. Paul added, “First ZF1EJ decode of the night at 0224z.”
Jay, KA9CFD, lamented that he had no decodes from WE2XPQ in Alaska although he was successful at decoding WH2XCR in Hawaii. That high latitude path to KL7 is tough from the Midwest!
Mark, WA9ETW / WI2XHJ, reported that the band “Was shaping up for a really long-haul catch or two, or so I thought. But it turned out only good instead of great: 12 unique decodes, with ZF1EJ and XGP being the best DX.”
As previously mentioned, Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, experienced more QRN. He received reports from eleven WSPR stations and was decoded by 36 unique stations.
I started the session on WSPR in the mid-afternoon and immediately noticed a series of new signals in the WSJTx waterfall passband. It started out as multiple close-spaced carriers where each bundle was about 500 Hz apart. As I began to transmit the signals began to spread out until they disappeared completely. I can only guess that these signals were from an intelligent system that knew to relocate once signals were found on the band. Here is what I saw as the signals began to spread out, just prior to disappearing:
WSPR reports were typical for late afternoon and early evening and band conditions were very quiet. I called CQ on 474.5 kHz CW to no avail. I’ve hit a bit of a dry patch with CW QSO’s of late and it probably has a lot to do with my recent irregularity of activity. When I was operating on the same schedule everyday, beginning the day with pre-dawn CW and finishing the day with CW before transitioning to WSPR, it was easy because there was an almost 100% chance that if weather was good I was going to be on the air. Now I tend to show up out of the blue with little notice. I hope to get into a “groove” once again as my schedule begins to solidify later this week for the next few months.
Domestic WSPR conditions were good with plenty of easy CW-level reports, particularly in the Midwest, and many positive S/N reports. My reception seemed to be better during this session but it may simply be that more transmitting stations were active once again as weather conditions calm down in many areas. My WSPR transmission report details for the session can be viewed here and my WSPR reception report details for this session can be viewed here.
Activity was very high once again with 114 MF WSPR stations observed on the WSPRnet activity page at 0237z. W0AIR in Colorado was making nice reports through the evening for what my records suggest may be the first time on 630-meters. I believe that brief reports from KG5ABO in my local area are also a first for that station. Welcome aboard!
Regional and continental WSPR stations follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, experienced night number three of reports from LA2XPA. Eden also shared two-way reports with WH2XCR as this path has become very solid. I would expect that numerous other European openings are possible with a clear frequency on a very good night and perhaps first time reception reports in South America at PY2GN will be observed soon. Reports continue to be grouped primarily in the eastern portions of North America.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, reported that he was transmitting at 0146z using the operational formula for WSPR of hour + 45min for 32 minutes in order to accommodate his time sharing on 137 kHz. Laurence indicates that in spite of significant snow that is making travel difficult, antenna tuning is “OKish”. The bulk of his reports were in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia but WG2XXM managed to sneak in between Laurence’s 137 kHz transmissions as did WH2XCR, who shared two-way reports with Laurence (included with Merv’s report details).
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, experienced a nice night across North America although considering eastern US reports compared to previous sessions it is obvious that QRN must have been elevated due to one-way reports at WH2XZO after a session of two-way reports and a lack of reports at WA3TTS. ZF1EJ was in the clear, providing two-way reports with Merv. The same can be said for the path to and from Alaska – the path was open and in the clear. Merv received reports from JH3XCU for his only JA report and shared two-way reports with VK4YB. He also received reports from VK2XGJ. So far Merv’s signal has not experienced the major peak observed in previous seasons for this time of year. Weather conditions here in Texas are very different from this time last year and we are closer to the solar minimum which may be hindering propagation a bit since the sun does not often “go” quietly into solar minimum. These are all new observations and they are fascinating. Merv’s JA, VK, KL7, and ZF1, reports can be viewed here.
Jim, W5EST, presents the following discussion, entitled, “NDB QSB: YMW 820M 1030km QC, CLB 1390M 1154km NC”:
“Ken SWL/K9 selected YMW 366 KHz when I asked him to help me find a non-directional beacon (NDB) that might lie in possibly QSB-borderland wavelengths. I was thinking of a borderland between LF random walk QSB behavior and deterministic QSB multipath phasing QSB curves more typical of the 630m region. YMW reception at SWL/K9 occupied 8 hours, 0252-1045z, and 9500 3-second sampling points. (I continue to be interested in BCB borderland wavelengths perhaps around 1200KHz between phasing QSB behavior and 160m randomness.)
Regarding the YMW illustration upper part, Ken had
“…attempted to run echo on any station suitable in the 1200-1300khz range…looked at 1200 and 1210 khz, as those two channels were supposed to be clear. No such luck. That freq range is a very busy one with many regional stations on each channel….don’t think there will be any one station to echo from in that range….dropped down and selected YWM 366 khz in Maniwaki, Quebec. It seemed suitable… ran echo on it overnight with a 10hz bandwidth….until roughly 1044z dual logging 8 hours of data on YWM with the sdr software.”
I cannot tell positively if some other NDB was phase-interfering with YMW or whether the data is YMW only. Either way, even if two pure sine waves within a few millihertz of each other were reaching Ken’s RX, at LF I would expect entirely random walk behavior instead of phasing QSB.
However, the QSB sequence shows a mixture of YMW QSB behaviors – random walk at times and phasing behavior showing up quite prominently at other times! (circled in red) Lower part of YMW illustration analyzes a representative hour 0808-0910z in the wee hours of the deep nighttime. There at 3x magnification at bottom, time differencing of the upper graph reveals the substantial dB departures that distinguish phasing QSB behavior from more nearly random walk behavior. Consequently I interpret the YMW QSB to be telling us that 366 KHz is near, or in, a borderland range of frequencies that sometimes act like 630M’s phasing QSB and other times act like LF random walk QSB.
When phasing QSB behavior did arise, its content had a fundamental QSB frequency content roughly about 4-8 mHz, plus higher millihertz frequency wiggles as well. Because phasing QSB behavior would be more complicated to understand in the case of two NDB carriers arriving on quite different paths or headings, I asked Ken whether an NDB like under-50 watt EOK in Iowa could have attained enough strength to significantly phase-interfere with high-power category 50-2000 watt YMW Quebec at his Indiana RX station. http://www.dxinfocentre.com/ndb.htm
For good measure, Ken spent time at his receiver the following evening and told me:
“I listened in on 366 khz on and before 11:00pm last night, Jan. 12. The only beacon besides the desired one was EOK in Iowa. It was heard here very weakly despite the relatively close distance. When YMW was keying, nothing else could be heard. At all times, YMW was very dominant. That doesn’t settle the issue, but that’s all that can be said…It’s just the nature of the crowded situation of these bands of frequencies.”
On balance I tentatively conclude that, compared to YMW, the NDB EOK delivered insufficient signal strength to have phase-interfered enough to cause the occasional deep QSB seen on YMW during the Jan. 11 night. During five intervals distributed over that night, random walk behavior was briefly replaced by curves resembling 630m phasing QSB curves. In the YMW illustration this happened even though YMW peak signal strength was still high. Moreover, unlike 160m W1IR, YMW 820m signal strengths were not randomly jumbled up 5-10dB within seconds of each other.
Turning to today’s second illustration, I’ve compressed 8 hours of Ken’s reception of North Carolina’s CLB at 1390m wavelength. Although the CLB signal strength dynamics showed lots of QSB, time differencing (illustration bottom) revealed that the QSB behavior of CLB 1390m was almost entirely random walk. Just one major exception occurred, circled in red. It points to a half-hour of phasing-type QSB with 4-12 mHz content. This graph’s main message is predominant random walk at LF 216 KHz, in my opinion.
We have by now blogged QSB information* from several LF/MF stations and wavelengths– CLB 1390m, YMW 820m, XXP etc 630m, KOA 350m, W1IR 160m. Taken together, what is this QSB information suggesting to us? In another blog post, perhaps we can discuss some more ideas and interpretations. Stay tuned!”
* CLB 1390m http://njdtechnologies.net/011717
YMW 820m http://njdtechnologies.net/011717
XXP 630m http://njdtechnologies.net/010417
XSH/17 “ http://njdtechnologies.net/010317
KOA 350m http://njdtechnologies.net/011317
W1IR 160m http://njdtechnologies.net/011017
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).