The details for February, 11, 2016 can be viewed here.
I thought that this was a decent session where the noise floor was low and signals were strong through the evening. A number of transcontinental signals were reported as well as two-way reports with WH2XCR in Hawaii. The fact that Merv heard anyone last night was remarkable because he indicates extremely high noise levels as storms approach his QTH. It was nice and clear across North America, however.
Geomagnetic conditions were quiet but elevated through much of the session. The Bz ranged from unity to pointing slightly to the South and solar wind velocities have finally decreased below 400 km/s, currently averaging 385 km/s. DST values remain in negative territory but near the center line and exhibited variability through the session.
Trans-Atlantic openings continue to be lean but WI2XFI received DK7FC for what I believe to be his first trans-Atlantic reception. Trans-Atlantic report details can be viewed here.
DK7FC –> WI2XFI, K4RCG
WD2XSH/17 –> LA2XPA/2
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported that he felt like band conditions were down a bit, decoding ten WSPR stations and receiving reports from sixty unique stations.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported that his numbers were fairly good, with decodes of thirteen WSPR stations and reception reports of his signal by 44 unique stations. Doug indicates that he shared two-way reports with WH2XCR and had numerous VE7 reports.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reported improved conditions for this session although openings were slow to develop. Rick provided reports for nine WSPR stations and was decoded by 28 unique stations. His unique report details for this session can be viewed here.
Larry, W0OGH, reported in from DM52ba, located in Arizona. He provided reports for twelve WSPR stations for a total of 570 WSPR decodes between 0158Z and 1412Z. Larry is using a K3 and 80M dipole up at 35 ft. He provided the following detailed statistics for the session:
WG2XXM 0158Z -4 EM15
WH2XXP 0200Z +10 Dm33
WH2XZO 0202Z -26 EM85
WH2XGP 0204Z -15 DN07
WD2XSH/15 0204Z -24 EM34
WG2XIQ 0230Z -8 EM12
WG2XKA 0320Z -28 FN33, 8 decodes
VE7CNF 0420Z -24 CN90, 10 decodes
VE3CIQ 0440Z -23 FN15, 2 decodes
WI2XJQ 0450Z -22 CN87
WH2XCR 0556Z -28 BL11, 28 decodes, last at 1340Z
WI2XBV 1020Z -10 EL99, 5 decodes
Ken, SWL/K9 (SWL/EN61), located in Indiana, reported “a high mark” for his stations with thirty reports of WH2XCR. As previously reported, Merv is experiencing strong local storms on Molokai and has in the past attributed some of his observed propagation features to these frontal systems as they move through. It possible that this behavior is being observed in this case, giving Merv’s signal a mainline to Ken’s receiver.
Mike, WA3TTS, reported that, “The T/P and NW transcontinental paths finally returned last night, some 20 WH2XCR decodes, even though I had a local weak carrier line right on XCR’s WSPR2 frequency. All reception on my NW EWE antenna and 500 kHz LPF. Also the MF/LF converter output was split for 630m/2200m reception which gives up a few SNR dBs on both bands….”
Trans-Pacific openings were solid but reports suggest that high noise levels in Oceania were masking many of these signals. The path to North America was very good. Report details, excluding KL7 and KH6, can be viewed here.
Roger, VK4YB, reported that he was being heard by JR1IZM while using his North American “beam”, which is consistent with very good conditions. The signal should be about 6 dB down from the JA antenna. Roger was reported here at my station for only the second time ever, indicating that the band was in good shape on the trans-Pacific path. Typically Roger has transitioned to the JA antenna by the time that I was hearing him. Roger adds that QRN remains very high, with storms 1000 km to his South, otherwise a two-way JT9 QSO with Kiyo would be relatively easy. Signals from WH2XXP and WG2XXM were observed in the noise but not decoded at 1256z but WH2XGP was decoded at 1301z. He also finally received WH2XXP. Roger transitioned to the JA antenna again at 1306z but by 1406z, Kiyo reported that there was going to be no chance to complete a QSO during this session. Roger received reports from a number of stations: “1*WG2XIQ (-28), 7*VE6XH (-23), 16* WH2XGP (-18), 2* VE7CNF (-29), 5* VE7CNF (-29), 5 * VE7CA (-21) 2*VE7BDQ (-25), 26*VE6SL (-20), 4*VA7JX (-26), 6*W1CK (-25), 5*WE2XPQ (-26), 55*WH2XCR (-4), 2*JR1IZM (-29), 1*JH1INM (-28), 1*TNUKJPM (-29), 1*JH3XCU (-28), 2*JA3TVF (-27).” He provided reports for: “3* WH2XGP ( -21), 9*WH2XXP (-20), 23*WH2XCR (-17)”
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 66 unique stations, including VK4YB and VK2XGJ.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, provided reports for thirteen WSPR stations and was received by 49 unique stations including VK2XGJ and two-way reports with VK4YB.
It was obvious very early in the evening session that the band might be pretty good. The local noise level was very low and domestic reports began early, before darkness, although S/N reports were down. It is not uncommon that my signal “dip” prior to full darkness, only to return shortly after full darkness is achieved. This behavior is likely due to wave tilt and rapidly changing ionospheric conditions. My WSPR reception reports were up again and listening was quite easy as noise levels remained very low. VK4YB was transmitting late on the North American beam, allowing me to provide a late report of his signal, representing only the second time I have ever heard Roger here. This is exciting as to complete a two-way QSO (in the future), I have to be able to hear the DX station. Roger seems to be doing everything right. My transmissions were typical, covering domestic locales with relative ease. Signal levels were typical of what is necessary to support JT9 QSO’s and in many cases CW QSO’s would have been possible. In fact, I called CQ starting at 0130z with CW on 474.5 kHz and while I heard a few dits “here and there” it may have been someone playing and none of the signals were identified. At 0200z I transitioned to JT9, calling at 474.2 kHz plus about 1320 Hz. After a few rounds, Mike, NR5O / WH2XAR, reported that he was calling CQ at 473 kHz near 1200 Hz. Mike was using an alternate frequency due to the extremely strong WSPR signals that tend to mask signals. I suspect that a transition in JT9 frequency will be in order in the future depending on what happens with power levels used on the band.
I transitioned to 473 kHz as well and began listening. Mike noted that he is now operating at 1W ERP but aside from a couple of errant signals, I was unable to identify him. He also indicated that he was not hearing me, which was odd and make me wonder if I had setup my exciter properly, transmitting where I thought I was. I will investigate this further as the band seemed plenty open to support the path although a return to WSPR indicated that he was not hearing me there either during the same time frame.
Band activity was high again, with 124 MF WSPR stations observed at 0045Z on the WSPRnet activity page and 131 MF WSPR stations reported at 0145z.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, continues in a receive-only capacity, providing reports for three stations.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, was received through the Western portions of North America and central Alberta, Canada. He successfully reported VK4YB and shared two-way reports with WH2XCR. There were no JA reports during this session. DX report details can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, experienced a strong session into the eastern portions of North America after a few days of relatively few reports from the region. He shared two-way reports with WH2XZO and received WG2XKA in Vermont. As previously reported, WA3TTS, provided twenty reports to Merv, which is a path that has not been very robust over the previous sessions. The path to VK resulted in two-way reports with VK4YB and reception reports from VK2XGJ. This path remained open right up to sunrise in KH6. In JA, reported were received from JA1NQI, JH3XCU, and JR1IZM. Merv indicates that noise is very high as a cold front approaches his QTH, which may explain some of the signal enhancements. Merv has reported that his local weather conditions seem to have an impact on propagation and his location probably explains why similar extreme enhancements are not observed on the mainland as readily. JA, VK, KL7, and KH6 report details for this session can be viewed here.
Jim, W5EST, presented this rare treat, entitled, “630M IS DIFFERENT FROM HF!”
“We think in Hertz, not KiloHertz! Many of the operating modes are 10 Hz wide or less in bandwidth. Even if 630m is “only” 7 KHz wide, there’s lots of room for many stations! We may say a frequency like 475.710 KHz, but it’s the last few numerals that are holding our attention.
Radiated Power ≠ TX Output Power! Radiated power from a 630m antenna at many 630m stations may be 2%, 1%, or even less, compared to the power the transmitter and coupler deliver to the antenna. Most of the 630m RF transmit power output (TPO) gets burned up in ground loss and dissipative ohmic conductor losses. That means that 630m station operations resemble HF DXing, QRP operations, and HF digital mode work. But 630m transmitters often employ equipment that generates RF power like HF equipment does at medium power levels.
630m reception may operate much nearer the noise level or even down in the noise level. Some 630m signals cannot be heard by the human ear. That’s part of the fun! The 630m noise level is not nearly as high as some HF operators may assume. 630m trans-Atlantic DX between North America and Europe, trans-African DX from Europe to Reunion Island, and trans-Pacific DX between North America and Japan and between North America and Australia have all been demonstrated. Trans-Arctic DX to Scandinavia from W7/VE7/KL7 is only now being probed. We still are unsure how, when, and how well any of these types of 630m DX do occur and will occur.
Many 630m stations find it more practical to use a separate, different type of receiving antenna compared to their 630m transmitting antenna. Due to the long wavelengths, vertical polarization is the 630m/2200m norm for both RX and TX antennas. The 630m transmitting antenna is very often a coil-loaded vertical, although some stations do use a large transmitting loop. Yagi-Uda beams are unknown on these bands, and the directivity of 630m antennas is relatively low compared to what we take for granted on HF. A few advanced stations may have antenna systems with higher directivity than most others do, either because of a remarkable antenna system distributed across real estate or because of nearby terrain features that mask or enhance 630m performance in particular directions.
Because a coil loaded vertical transmitting antenna that’s within the capability of most experimenters and amateurs has very short electrical wavelength at 630m or 2200m, the antenna will have RF voltage in the kilovolt range and RF current that’s an ampere or a few amperes. 630m and 2200m operators are quite aware that RF voltage safety and lightning safety are priority one. There’s no shame in staying off the air until you’ve prepared a safe station, and even then folks QRT when thunderstorms approach the station locality.
Because EIRP limitations on equivalent isotropic radiated power may apply to many 630m and 2200m stations, there is not much incentive to set up highly directive TX antennas. Indeed, aspiring to even a very highly efficient TX antenna may not be a high priority, within limits. However, it’s not much exaggeration to say we crave 630m receiving antenna systems with directivity, high signal-to-noise ratio, and delivery of large numbers of decodable station signals per hour.
On HF, it’s generally easy to QSY (move your frequency) in a given band or even between bands. Not so, on 630m or 2200m. Here it usually takes some time and readjustments. QSK– full break-in–is not very common on 630m or 2200m, and operators may indeed not even consider it very important. BTW, we don’t have any pileups either, at least not yet!
630m is mostly a nighttime band, and it features some occasional daytime propagation opportunities too. 630m propagation is so far below the HF maximum usable frequency that MUF simply isn’t relevant concept here. We think that the ionospheric E-region reflects 630m sky waves on at least the short and medium paths. On some very long paths, it is possible the F-region may be involved sometimes or some places when such a nighttime path is open. Simple pictures of concentric spherical shell ionosphere layers don’t help too much on 630m– things are lots more interesting than that, up there in the sky. We are alert to space weather on 630m, and are quite willing to concede that our current methods of using space weather for interpretation and prediction are still in their infancy.
2200m is also mostly a nighttime band for medium to longer paths. However, daytime propagation on 2200m is more likely to occur than on 630m as far as we know. Possibly this is because the ionosphere’s D-region is more reflective to 2200m waves than to 630m waves, generally speaking.
Whether it’s homebrew fun, operating enjoyment, the challenge of DX, or the amateur science of propagation, come join the fun with like-minded 630m and 2200m folks whatever way you like!”
Be sure to use the link at the top of this report to see Jim’s submission from one year ago today!
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).