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OFF AIR but returning after dark on Saturday night

It was a tough one – 27 hours with a Kp > 5!; Depressed trans-Atlantic openings but several Trans-Pacific enhancements; More poor terrestrial weather conditions in the East means more noise; ‘Cellar Dwellers On the Go’ prepares for release in VK

– Posted in: 630 Meter Daily Reports, 630 Meters

The details for March 28, 2016 can be viewed here.

Storms continue to move East bringing moderate to high QRN to portions of North America.  The potential for a Winter weather hang over  continues in parts of New England which may increase precipitation static.  Unfortunately QRN was not the biggest problem during this session as another geoeffective coronal hole really created a problem for trans-Atlantic openings.  There were solid enhancements on trans-Pacific paths, however, on the approach to sunrise in North America.  Lower latitudes fared far better than stations further North.

11-hour North American lightning summary


Geomagnetic conditions were quite active as the geomagnetic field exceeded a Kp of 5 for 27 hours without a break.  The Bz was all over the place (both North and South pointing!) and solar wind velocities exceeded 700 km/s.  DST values suggest that the magnetic field is profoundly disturbed.




Trans-Atlantic openings were significantly depressed compared to the previous session which wasn’t very good either.  High latitude paths, like those to and from Europe and North America, can be very tough when auroral levels are high enough to be reported as far South as was possible during this session.  Report details can be viewed here.




Paul, N1BUG / WI2XTC, reported moderate QRN in the evening, decreasing to low levels by morning.  He decoded eleven WSPR stations including DH5RAE.

Dave, N4DB, reported that he decoded ten WSPR stations.  He indicated that his normal “best DX”, WH2XGP,  was missing from his log during this session.  WH2XXP was his next best DX followed by ZF1EJ whose signal was down from his normal levels.

Phil, VE3CIQ, reported that he decoded nine WSPR stations and was decoded by fifteen unique stations as well as two-way reports with ZF1EJ.

Al, K2BLA / WI2XBV, reported that his noise was down by morning after a noisy start.  He decoded eight WSPR stations and was decoded by 27 unique stations.  He shared two-way reports with WH2XCR.  Al noted that he was decoded by ZF1EJ at +10 dB S/N at a distance exceeding 1000 km.

Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, provided report for nine WSPR stations and was reported by twenty unique stations.  Rick’s unique report details can be viewed here.

Ernie, KC4SIT / WI2XQU, reported that he “….was spotted by 4 unique station and I spotted none. I had only an hour of operation, after dark set in, due to a sudden thunderstorm. By my records it was this QTH’s worse storm in 3 years. The cell seemed to be centered over the house for a period of time and the lightening lasted for over 5 hours. Rain most of the night.”

Mike, WA3TTS, reported, “A few XCR and XGP decodes despite all the t-storm QRN last  night…. best search by distance results…”

Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reported a weird night for him due to the geomagnetic conditions.  He explains:

“Kind of a weird night for results. Odd that I heard Florida with the poor conditions.



WG2XSV session WSPR activity


Neil added that this morning he switched to 100 mW ERP and continued to receive reports from WH2XCR:


Trans-Pacific openings were quite enhanced for many stations.  Report details, excluding KL7 and KH6, can be viewed here.

Hideo, JH3XCU, posted links to two tables showing NA/VK -> JA DX totals and NA/VK -> JA peak S/N for the session.

Roger, VK4YB, recently had an anniversary on 630-meters.  It’s amazing the difference a year makes!  Congrats Roger.  For this session, Roger reported that “Cyclone Debbie had been very quiet electrically until mid evening. She then decided to spark-up and that was the end of receiving for the session.  The big four made it through before the QRN set in. VE6XH stats continue: 160m 3 spots, best -25, 630m 1 spot at -25.”  He also added that, “There were over 50 exchanges with Larry, and Joseph WI2XBQ had a big haul also. I believe WA6OUR may be a new one for me.  The spotlight stayed very much in that area but it must be counted as a very good opening.”  Roger received reports from VE6XH, VE7BDQ, W7IUV, WA6OUR, WH2XGP, and WI2XBQ.  He provided reports for  WH2XGP and WH2XXP.

Phil, VK3ELV, received late reports from TNUKJPM from the previous session as well a report from this session.

Edgar, EJTSWL, provided reports for WH2XGP after a long dry spell on a very distant and probably noisy path:



Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, provided reports for ten WSPR stations and was decoded by 53 unique stations including VK4YB and previous reported DL4RAJ.  He also shared two-way reports with WH2XCR.

Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, provided reports for nine WSPR stations including VK4YB and received reports from 25 unique stations including ZL2AFP.

Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 57 unique stations including JA1NQI, VK2XGJ, VK4YB, and ZL2AFP.

Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported a “good opening to VK/ZL, so-so to everywhere else.”  He provided reports for ten WSPR stations including VK4YB and he was decoded by forty unique stations including EJTSWL, VK2EIK, VK2XGJ, VK4YB, and ZL2AFP.  As W7IUV, Larry provided reports for nine WSPR stations including VK4YB.

Doc, VK5BUG, reported yesterday that the sequel to last year’s book, “MF Down under” was at the printer and pre-orders were being taken.  The new book, “‘Cellar Dwellers’ On the Go!” focuses on portable operations on 2200-meters, 630-meters, and 160-meters.  Here are some details that Doc provided:

“I am pleased to advise you that its sequel and companion text is currently @ the printer & is scheduled for launch/release at the 2017 Wireless Institute of Australia AGM on 20 May in Hahndorf, South Australia.

The covers of both productions set the scene and together the books provide almost 600 pages (586) of LF-MF amateur radio material for interested enthusiasts.

This latest work embraces 242 x A4 pages, 15 chapters, 12 authors, has a travel weight of 700g (approx), lots & lots of resources, links, shared info, projects, hints, some VK commercial supplier information, Low Bands DX-peditions etc.

International pre-release orders are being taken, with the book costs being AUD$48 for the first volume & AUD$36.50 for the new release.

Interested parties may contact me, Doc/VK5BUG via d.wd@bigpond.com in the first instance.”

The forward of the new book can be viewed here.

Jim, WB5WPA / WH2XQC, sent this very interesting master’s thesis that is an analysis and data dump of part-5 grant activity through 2016.  I guess this guys has hopes of working for OET and an expert knowledge of the process is required.  There are several references to part-5 stations on MF and LF.

I got a late start on the session and opted for a little evening CW in light of the active geomagnetic conditions.  The band sounded “OK” although there were a number of wide-space lightning crashes and a low roar near the noise floor.  Stronger stations would have had no problems being heard.  I had an early start this morning so I skipped overnight WSPR during this session.

Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:

North American 24-hour WSPR activity


European 24-hour WSPR activity


African 24-hour WSPR activity


Asiatic Russian 24-hour WSPR activity


Japanese 24-hour WSPR activity


Oceania 24-hour WSPR activity


Eden, ZF1EJ, experienced a pretty good session from the Caribbean in spite of the active geomagnetic conditions.  He seems to have provided big reports for a number of stations to the North including nine WSPR stations.  He received reports from nineteen unique stations and shared two-way reports with WH2XCR.

ZF1EJ 24-hour WSPR activity


Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, reported that he was not transmitting for the first part of the night.  It was a tough night from his latitude and he indicates that it was a very poor night.  He shared two-way reports with WH2XCR and those reports are included with Merv’s report detail.

WE2XPQ 24-hour WSPR activity


Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, has a great location for these types of propagation scenarios, in fact his reports look very similar to any other day aside for a few other VK stations in the mix due to enhancements observed in the Pacific.  He received reports from JA1NQI, JA1PKG, JE1JDL, JH3XCU, VK2EIK, VK2XGJ, and ZL2AFP.  He shared two-way reports with VK3ELV, VK4YB, WE2XPQ, and ZF1EJ.  He provided reports for VK5FQ.  Merv also shared two-way reports with WG2XJM and WI2XBV, both in the eastern US and provided reports for WI2XBV while receiving reports from WA3TTS and W0JW.  Western coverage looks typical.  Reports were cut off prior to sunrise but openings to VK3ELV and VK2XGJ occurred after sunrise in KH6.  Merv’s DX report details can be viewed here.

WH2XCR 24-hour WSPR activity



“Monday’s blog illustrated how ARGO QRSS600 can reveal tiny differences in 540 KHz nighttime frequency less than 0.1 Hz.  Possibly multipath on the sky wave signal is responsible.  http://njdtechnologies.net/032117/  Last week’s blog featured Laurence WE2XPQ’s mobile narration of KGTL 620 KHz groundwave shadowing behind a mountain, http://njdtechnologies.net/032117/ .

Now, I have wanted an extensive afternoon-to-morning sky wave versus groundwave receiving run to show what, if anything, would happen to MF station frequency at the micro frequency level.

219km from my Little Rock location, WREC Memphis runs 5KW on 600KHz and delivers a daytime ground wave carrier SNR at about +20 dB (2.5 KHz bandwidth).*  I know that sunset and nighttime bring MF QSB, which varies amplitude.  Imaging software like ARGO or Spectran go further and display frequency versus time, while the trace intensity indicates the signal amplitude.

Today’s first illustration does show light QSB commencing 7 p.m. 0000z a few minutes before successive Memphis/Little Rock sundowns 0018z/0027z as March 27 UTC commenced.  Then, after sundown, a negative 50-150mHz frequency departure trace played out for 20 minutes from 0045-0105z.** A couple of departure blotches at negative 20mHz from the main carrier also appeared 0040z and 0025z.  (Please excuse the earlier trace break at 2230z when I was centering the signal on the display.)

This negative frequency departure suggests considerable physical activity was occurring in the ionosphere. It was associated with MF pre-sunset and post-sunset propagation regimes. Assuming a 90km E-layer altitude, WREC’s sky wave arrival angle at my RX attic antenna would be about 40° above the horizon, while ground wave would be at the horizon.

Frequency departure signifies how much faster or slower the signal phase of some RF signal energy is changing compared to the main signal line. In the range of negative 50mHz to negative 150mHz , or 0.050-0.150 cycles/second, such frequency departures represent increasing RF signal path length at the rate of 3-9 wavelengths per minute, or 1500m-4500m per minute at the 500m wavelength of WREC.

If changing altitude of reflection in the E-region caused the path length to change, then I estimate*** the E-region was rising as much as 1180m/minute to 3540m/minute or roughly 44-132 mph. If it averaged 2 km/min for 20 minutes, that’s 40km of rise in the midpath sky reflection point. (Seems more than I’d expect.)

In the second illustration, from mid-evening to about 3 a.m., WREC’s 600KHz signal suffers considerable QSB, with decreases in strength and even gaps. About 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. some frequency departures in both directions occurred, but for the most part the frequency was steady. The steady frequency doesn’t mean that the sky wave vanished, but instead that the path length was not varying much. Any wiggles and drift in the main signal I ascribe to the TX local oscillator and/or my RX. So, the sky wave and groundwave were simply phase-combining with each other at the same frequency. (Rain and thunderstorms were passing through the state at the time, but with 50 Hz CW filtering this carrier signal that was +20dB in the daytime, I’m not sure why storms would necessarily make a difference to signal strength.)

The third illustration around 5 a.m. 1000z shows an upward +50mHz faint trace and then at 6 a.m. 1100z a faint trace downward -50mHz.  Finally around sunrise a strong and sustained +50mHz to +20mHz ragged upward frequency departure line lasted for 15 minutes from 6:55-7:10 a.m. around Memphis/Little Rock sunrises 1152z/1201z.  That strong claw-like spur line suggests the sky wave path was shortening rapidly. E-region reflection height probably descended due to onset of solar radiation at the sunrise terminator.  Afterwards, the signal resumed its daytime ground wave signal strength as of about 8 a.m. 1300z.

Thanks for reading this much! GL on 630m!

*WREC 600 5KWday/nite Memphis ~219km 258°, SNR read 1:40pm, 1840z.  G33DDC Dial 599.999 preamp on, CW BW 50Hz Manual RF Gain 50dB, AF Gain 10dB & AF gain slider midway 15,  CW tone 1500 Hz, Argo Fast QRSS600, VisGain AGC 2, Contrast Full.  On RX LSB mode, AM audio was noise-free at pre-RX noise canceller null.  Lines at 599.996, 600.010 are out of Argo view but visible on G33DDC waterfall. LR SS/SR 0027/1201z, Memphis SS/SR 0018/1152z.
**I presume WREC is the source of the departure trace because other stations would have had carrier lines of their own. None were seen within +/-300mHz of the WREC carrier. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WREC 5KW day/nite
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WBOB_(AM)  Jacksonville 50KWday/9.7KW night
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WSJS Winston-Salem, 5KW day/nite.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/600_AM#In_the_United_States 23 stations on 600KHz. ~Ten US stations transmit 600 KHz nights at a few dozen watts.  Four  stations in Mexico run 500W at night, nearest at Monterrey.
***Sky Path length L in terms of 219km ground path distance D is L = 2 sqrt[(D/2)2 + hE2]
assuming E-reflection altitude hE~90km. Take chain rule time derivative:
dL/dt = 1500-4500m/min = 2 hE /sqrt[(D/2)2 + hE2] dhE/dt
Solve for rate dhE/dt at which E-reflection point rises in altitude from assumed hE=90km:
dhE/dt = (1500-4500m/min) sqrt[(D/2hE)2 +1] /2 = 0.787 (1500-4500m/min).
        dhE/dt =  1180-3540 meters/minute = 44 – 132 mph.




Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).