The details for March 27, 2016 can be viewed here.
It was another very noisy night with storms in the central US. Here in Texas we normally don’t see this level of hail and lightning-rich storms until April or May. Fortunately for me these storms split missed my station with only a little wind and lightning. New England was under threat of freezing rain which almost always increases precipitation static. It was also a noisy night in Oceania as Roger, VK4YB, reports that a cyclone is approaching the shore in Queensland about 700 miles North of his QTH. I suspect reports from down under will be impacted as the session progresses.
Geomagnetic conditions went from very quiet to storm levels during the evening. The Bz was variable, in many cases exhibiting rapidly changing extremes with values currently pointing to the South. Solar wind velocities are currently averaging 560 km/s. The bottom dropped out of DST reports during the evening and both indicators presented below show the textbook slight increase prior to the major decrease.
Trans-Atlantic openings were diminished, resulting in only one station receiving reports from European stations. No Europeans stations were reported in North American during this session. Report details can be viewed here.
WD2XSH/17 -> DH5RAE, DL4RAJ, F1AFJ, F59706, G0LUJ, G0MJI, G3XKR, LA2XPA/2, PA0O, PA0RDT, PA3ABK/2, PA7EY, SWUKSDR
Paul, N1BUG / WI2XTC, reported moderate QRN, decoding ten WSPR stations including WH2XGP on the transcontinental path from Maine.
Al, K2BLA / WI2XBV, reported high evening noise that was improved this morning but relatively poor listening conditions continued. He provided reports for nine WSPR stations and was decode by 26 unique stations including two-way reports with WH2XCR.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported that “There’ll be a few quiet nights before summer, but last night wasn’t one of them- 10 decoded and 30 decodees of XZO were the lowest numbers so far this spring.”
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, indicates that his reports favored the North and East during this session. He provided reports for nine WSPR stations and was reported by twenty unique stations. Rick’s unique report details can be viewed here.
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, noticed all of the missing stations from the central and southeastern US that were either down due to storms or unable to hear for the same reason. He provided the following comments and statistics:
“I was heard all the way east to WA3TTS (EN90), but nothing to the south east. Must have been problems for you guys from Texas to Florida to NC (in fact, that whole 1/4 of the country)….But XCR and XPQ are very consistently present, which is always nice to see.
WG2XSV Heard these 9: CF7MM, VA7JX, VE7CA, WE2XPQ, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WH2XXP, WI2XBQ, WI2XJQ
…and was Heard by these 20: CF7MM, K8PZ, KB0BRY, KK6EEW, N6RY, N6SKM, NI7J, NO1D, VA7JX, VE6XH, VE7BDQ, VE7CA, W7IUV, WA3TTS, WE2XPQ, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WI2XBQ, WI2XJQ, WW6D”
Dave, N4DB, reported that he decoded eleven WSPR stations using his 160-meter dipole. He added that WI2XBV was the second loudest stations he reported at -3 dB S/N.
Ernie, KC4SIT / WI2XQU, seems to have gotten a handle on some of his recent problems, even receiving reports on JT9 during the session. He submitted the following comments and statistics for the session:
“Back on the air transmitting; no real issues to report. Ran some mid to late afternoon tests with Doug WH2XZO on my output as impacted by power slider settings in the WSJT-X (ver1.17). We seemed to have found a “sweet spot” just above the “8” mark; anything above this seemed to have no impact on my transmitted signal. I am working on a seperate recieve antenna so, for now, I remain in transmitting only mode.
The 20 unique stations that spotted me did so 338 times during the session. Stations spotting me indicated decreased SNR. For example, Doug WH2XZO commonly reports +12 or +13; last night the best I got was +6 with -16 in the other direction. We are 38 km distance.
On a positive note I called CQ twice using JT9. Al Holt WD4AHB, 393 miles south of my station, had a successful decode of my signal. On my next call my partner David Day N1DAY easily decoded my CQ.”
Trans-Pacific report details, excluding KL7 and KH6, can be viewed here.
Roger, VK4YB, reported, “QRN increased and propagation came off the high. There was still a good haul of DX to the North East. VE6XH stats: 160m 3 spots, best -19, 630m 1 spot of -28.” Roger received reports from CF7MM, VE6XH, VE7BDQ, VE7CA, W7IUV, WI2XBQ, and WH2XGP. He provided reports for WH2XGP and WH2XXP.
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 47 WSPR stations including VK4YB, VK2XGJ, and ZL2AFP.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported “Higher noise here last few days, Noticeably less activity and poorer condx. Looks like “summer rules” going into effect early.” He provided reports for thirteen WSPR stations and he was reported by 39 unique stations including VK4YB. As W7IUV, Larry provided reports for ten unique stations including VK4YB.
Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, provided reports for eleven WSPR stations including VK4YB and was decoded by eighteen unique stations. Joe indicated in the late evening that openings to the East were “dead”, which corresponded to the time when the Kp was peaking at 5. He added this morning that the band was depressed with only one report greater than 2500 km away and only one stations to the East.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, provided reports for ten WSPR stations and he was decoded by eighteen WSPR stations. He shared two-way reports with WH2XCR.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, provided reports for VK4YB and shared two-way reports with WH2XCR. The path to JA was completely cut off and reports were limited in the West. Laurence is at ground zero for geomagnetic activity so given the current conditions this outcome is not surprising. He heard VK4YB which is remarkable any time. Report details can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, received reports from JA1NQI, JA1PKG, JH3XCU, VK2XGJ (includes late reports), and ZL2AFP. He provided reports for VK3ELV and shared two-way reports with WE2XPQ, VK4YB, and ZF1EJ. East coast reports suffered during this session due to high noise levels but WI2XBV shared two-way reports with Merv from Florida. The central US was missing completely due to bad weather but the West coast was quite healthy. DX report details can be viewed here.
Jim, W5EST, presents, “OPEN THE DOOR TO A WEIRD WORLD OF MICROFREQUENCIES”:
“When 630m QRSS is in play, we generally exercise modes in a range QRSS3, QRSS10, QRSS30– and for good reasons. These modes send information not unduly slowly, they probe SNRs near the WSPR threshold, and their frequency stability requirements are not too athletic for today’s amateur/experimenter TX and RX equipment to achieve.
Today, let’s preview a weird world of microfrequencies that may currently lie beyond our 630m capabilities but may appeal to some of us in the future. It’s a realm of frequency differences less than 0.10 Hertz, a world inhabited by highly stable, single frequency transmitters or their carriers, and/or QRSS modes like QRSS600.
As if for an athletic challenge I decided first to “get in shape”– by exercising my RX and ARGO on HF with 10 MHz WWV at wavelength 30m. WWV radiates considerable power, and HF propagation subjects WWV to small frequency variations* and possible multipath.
The first illustration shows midday reception of WWV here in middle-USA. ARGO slow mode QRSS60 offered me an HF “Goldilocks mode” because it expands the frequency scale more than QRSS30 while keeping the time scale usefully extended more than QRSS120 allows. My G33DDC SDR was warming up and drifting down about one Hertz per hour. As you look from left to right in the first illustration, you can see the signal lines that came from my trial and error setting the different QRSS modes and frequency scale positions.
Disregarding RX drift, the main WWV carrier signal wobbled less than 100 milliHertz (0.1 Hz). A weak, but visible, secondary signal return as much as +500 mHz higher from WWV lasted about a half hour in the early afternoon. After this WWV exercise, I felt the equipment was ready to tackle the harder search for interesting secondary frequency behavior at MF around 630m.
Would 630m be too low in frequency for any such secondary signal behavior to show up? WSPR2 has a ragged 5000mHz wide (5 Hz) frequency spectrum that’s useless for visualizing milliHertz frequency differences, so there’s no point in monitoring 630m WSPR stations. Knowing too little about this secondary frequency topic, I’m not ready to ask any 630m station operator to try truly deep QRSS600. Instead, I thoroughly warmed up the RX and ran it overnight after initially identifying a 540 KHz carrier (wavelength 556m) from some location.**
This time in the low AM broadcast band or BCB, the Goldilocks mode turned out to be QRSS600. Today’s second illustration shows the results from 2:30 to 8 a.m. Saturday morning 3/25. Three signal lines–I think from three different stations–are displaced +/-0.3Hz from the ropy middle signal line. I think three different stations’ signals were involved because all three signal lines had different rates of drift (from top; +16mHz/hr, ~0 mHz/hr, +20mHz/hr). Moreover, only the middle signal line executed cycles of variation in frequency (50mHz p-p with 15 minute repetition period). Furthermore, the timings of signal intensity variations due to QSB don’t match either. So I believe the three signal lines had different origins.
About an hour prior to sunrise here in Arkansas, the bottom signal line faded out as shown in the yellow oval. Meanwhile, in the orange circle, the middle signal line either faded out and was replaced by another station, or some sunrise-related transmitter adjustment was made at the same station. In that case, the frequency jumped +100mHz and then decreased in about a half hour to its steady average frequency. Whatever station was transmitting that wiggling middle signal line after sunrise, its QTH was most likely within ground wave range of central Arkansas.
I think the most dramatic feature of this 556m reception test is a pair of secondary frequency departures from the top main signal line (red ovals, -40mHz/ 20 minutes/2:30-2:50a.m.; -20mHz/ 5 minutes/3:10-3:15a.m.).*** The magnitude of frequency departure from 540 KHz is less than 1/10 the +500 millihertz observed with WWV at 10 MHz, so the scaling-down is plausible. However, I cannot say whether any cause(s) of the frequency departure may be the same at MF as at HF.
What indeed could cause this type of MF secondary frequency departure? I presume it involves sky wave prop since the main signal line was nighttime-strong and I don’t know why ground wave would do a frequency split. Because the main frequency top line itself is not shifted, I doubt if there’s Doppler as if from bulk motion of a main midpath reflecting feature in the ionosphere. As to frequency drift of the main signal line, that’s almost certainly due to TX or RX drift, and not due to Doppler which would require an accelerating ionospheric wind to deliver such frequency drift.
Is secondary frequency departure at MF caused by a multipath reflection? If so, why does the secondary frequency line exist and reach 40mHz away? Wouldn’t multipath just produce phasing QSB? Or is ARGO just displaying a frequency-based version of phasing QSB already blogged as strength over time ? See http://njdtechnologies.net/112816/ and http://njdtechnologies.net/010417/ . I doubt it’s just another version. ARGO plainly shows QSB intensity variations on the main signal line other times that night. Neither of the two circled instances of secondary frequency departure corresponds to any concurrent QSB intensity variation on the main signal top line.
Frequency is the rate of change of phase, and the observed secondary frequency is less than the main frequency. So, the multipath propagation would have to produce a continually decreasing phase shift amounting to 2.4 wavelengths a minute for several minutes (40mHz x 60sec/min). At wavelength 556m, the path length of a secondary path would need to steadily lengthen by 1333 meters per minute (80km/hr) for a few minutes to achieve that frequency departure. Could perhaps some kind of pulse or wave accomplish that, say, in the E-region of the ionosphere and somewhere else than the midpath?
If you have any comments or observations of your own about this topic, feel free to email us at this blog!”
* Received-frequency uncertainty over 24 hours for WWV is parts in 109, or tens of milliHertz at 10 MHz. See page 15 of M.A. Lombardi, NIST 2002. See material on stable oscillators elsewhere there, too.
** 540 kHz BCB stations are listed on the web. Your guess(es) about which BCB stations may have originated the observed signal lines would be as good as my guesses ditto. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/540_AM#In_the_United_States
***Although one can see blotches and a few thin tendrils on all the main signal lines of the second illustration, such features lie at or below the frequency resolution of QRSS600 which I regard as about 10 mHz. Only the two red-circled secondary frequency departures appear significant, and they lie much more than 10 mHz from their main signal line. ARGO contrast is set full-on and sensitivity is set very low to eliminate confusion with background noise and to sharpen up the signal lines for effective frequency resolution.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).