The details for April 3, 2016, can be viewed here.
Domestic propagation in parts of the South was pretty good but much of it was spoiled with very high noise from storms. Transcontinental paths returned after a few days of mostly North and South propagation. Some stations continue to experience paths that are dominantly North and South. Strange things are afoot!
Geomagnetic conditions continue to show some improvements as Kp levels continue to decrease. The Bz is currently pointing to the South and solar wind velocities are averaging near 430 km/s. DST values have moved closer to positive levels so perhaps we can string together a few days of stable conditions. After quite some time with very quiet solar conditions, M-class flares were in the mix during the afternoon in North America, increasing D-layer attenuation. More could be on the horizon.
Trans-Atlantic openings continue to be depressed, but this time favored openings from North America to Europe. Report details can be viewed here.
WD2XSH/17 -> G3XKR, PA0O
Paul, N1BUG / WI2XTC, reported low QRN in Maine, decoding nine WSPR stations including WH2XGP on the high latitude transcontinental path.
Al, K2BLA / WI2XBV, reported S9+10 dB noise which resulted in him only decoding three WSPR station and receiving reports from nineteen unique stations including one that was located over 2000 km away.
Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, reported severely depressed conditions, providing reports for twelve WSPR stations. Joe’s best DX for the session was VE6XH at a distance of 1657 km. He also indicates that his QRN level was normal in northern California.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, provided reports for twelve WSPR stations and he was reported by 25 unique stations. Rick’s unique report details can be viewed here.
Roger, VE7VV, reported, “Yesterday I did some antenna work – raised support for the horizontal part of the Lazy L and saw better WSPR results including a new best DX decode this am by N6SKM at 1205 km. This with 1W output from the modified Softrock RXTX.” Roger also corrected a comment that I made a few days back regarding VA7BBG’s location. He indicates, “…Brian is 730 km further north of the Vancouver group, 830 km from me, a bit north of the southern end of the Alaska panhandle, well up into the auroral region.” Thanks Roger!
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reported a nice night while operating at 1W ERP for 12-hours of activity:
“Hearing 10: VE7BDQ, VE7CA, VE7SL, VE7VV, WG2XIQ, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WH2XXP, WI2XBQ, WI2XJQ
Heard by 23: KK6EEW, N3IZN/RX, N6RY, N6SKM, NI7J, NO1D, VA7BBG, VE6XH, VE7AB, VE7BDQ, VE7CA, VE7SL, VE7VV, W6ADZ, W7IUV, W7WKR, WE2XPQ, WH2XAR, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WI2XBQ, WI2XJQ, WW6D”
During the evening Neil and Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, operated a bit of RTTY followed by PSK31 with mixed results. This exercise was largely to evaluate software and determine what settings might be necessary. There is also not much PSK31 on MF because it requires a linear amplifier and many operators are using non-linear methods of power generation.
Neil also noted that this morning he received quite a few JT9 signals including a two-way QSO between VA7MM and VE7BDQ. Roger, VE7VV indicated in an email that VE7BDQ also completed a QSO with VA7BBG, which was John’s best JT9DX. The transcript for that activity can be viewed here.
Dave, N4DB, reported that his QRN subsided by morning. He decoded eight WSPR stations with WH2XXP and ZF1EJ as his best DX for the session.
Ernie, KC4SIT / WI2XQU, reports that he continues to experience frequency drift in his system and is investigating.
Trans-Pacific report details, excluding KL7 and KH6, can be viewed here.
Roger, VK4YB, reports “Low then moderate QRN. Plenty of TP activity. NA stations heard as far South as Tasmania. VK-JA path open again.” Roger’s experiment with VE6XH where they are comparing 160-meters and 630-meters is back on track and yielded these results overnight: 160m 5 spots, best -11dB S/N, 630m 12 spots, best -20 S/N. Roger received reports from JA3TVF, JR1IZM, TNUKJPM, VA7BBG, VE6XH, VE7SL, and W7IUV. He provided reports for WH2XGP, WH2XXP, and VE7CA.
Phil, VK3ELV, received late reports for TNUKJPM and JH3XCU from the previous session.
John, VK2XGJ, reported that he had nearly as many long-haul DX reports as he did of local stations by 1000z including early reports of WH2XCR.
Mark, VE7CA, provided reports for twelve WSPR stations and was reported by 24 unique stations including VK4YB.
John, VE7BDQ, reported that he “…let wspr run till about 1000z and see just one decode from ZL2AFP. At 0740z -21 First time I believe he has copied me.” John provided reports for eleven WSPR stations and was decoded by 22 unique stations. He also completed JT9 QSO’s previously reported in this report.
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 61 unique stations including VK4YB, VK2XGJ, ZL2AFP, and EJTSWL.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, provided reports for twelve WSPR stations and he was reported by 48 unique stations including VK4YB, VK2XGP, and ZL2AFP. As W7IUV, Larry provided reports for twelve WSPR stations including VK4YB.
Ron, NI7J / WH2XND, reported that Rig Expert has released the AA-55 analyzer which has a 1V signal output and might be of use to operators who live in high RF environments that might otherwise distort results. Ron has apparently had problems with measurements using his AIM 4170 due to a broadcast station three-miles away. I’m sure Ron will provide a report once his arrives.
It was nice to be QRV again after a night of storms but it was noisy! I had hopes of being able to participate in some of the RTTY activity with Larry and Neil that was previously reported bur noise went from bad to worse by late evening, even using the receive antennas to knock down QRN. My WSPR reception numbers were as poor as they have ever been and those details can be viewed here. My transmission reports were pretty good and can be viewed here but most of the reports were really not QSO quality, certainly not without significant trouble.
Finally, I was contacted by Tom Medlin, W5KUB, and will appear on his “TV” webcast tomorrow night at w5kub.com at 0100z. My segment, unless something changes, should be first and will last 30-45 minutes. The program is also simulcast on shortwave at WBCQ 5130 kHz. This will be an interview format and will highlight and overview MF and LF both from the standpoint of current activity and activity under Part-97 rules.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, was significantly impacted by high noise in the southern US. He provided reports for three WSPR stations and was decoded by ten unique stations including WH2XCR.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, found a means of mounting his E-probe while on assignment in Mexico so as to not create a foot hazard.
Noise and depressed propagation limited some of Laurence’s reports from Mexico:
At WE2XPQ back in Alaska, Laurence provided reports for VK4YB and shared two-way reports with WH2XCR. Reports from the “lower 48” and Canada were localized to the West. Report details can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, provided reports for ZF1EJ and he shared two-way reports with VK4YB, some of which occurred at or shortly after sunrise in KH6. Merv received reports from EJTSWL in Tasmania, as well as VK2EIK, VK2XGJ, and ZL2AFP. Most of the reports in North America were in the West as noise and propagation continue to behave erratically. Merv’s DX report details can be viewed here.
Jim, W5EST, presents, “SW-GW MICROFREQUENCY: ARTIFACTS OF BCB EQUIPMENT AND SDR RECEIVER INSTEAD?”:
“Thanks to Joe NU6O WI2XBQ for e-mailing about alternative possibilities to explain the microfrequency differences blogged March 27, 28 and 29. I’ve formatted this topic in dialog form.
Joe WI2XBQ: Jim, instrumental shortcomings need to be accounted for in any effects you are seeing. I do believe that multi-path, Doppler shift, and mixing are a real possibility especially during disturbed ionospheric conditions.
Jim W5EST: Yes, let’s scrutinize the equipment and other possibilities especially in this milliHertz domain of frequency differences. By way of background for readers, March 28-29 I posted screenshots of BCB station WREC 600KHz Memphis TN at 219 km distance using ARGO in QRSS600 mode 3/27-28. Today’s first illustration adds a screenshot taken around Memphis/Little Rock sunrises 1151z/1200z 3/29, again using QRSS600.
Joe WI2XBQ: I will play devil’s advocate and throw some uncertainties into your theory of ground wave / sky wave frequency differences. As a 40+ year broadcast engineer, using AM stations for any kind of frequency / phase beacon is a bad idea. Having worked on quite a few AM transmitters, frequency control is an afterthought. I have seen them that used a small watch size crystal, in a simple circuit, feeding a crappy PLL board. The FCC frequency tolerance is +- 20 Hz. Basically the oscillator has to be broken to exceed that limit.
Phase noise, forget it… the offsets you are seeing could easily be phase noise spurs, especially that close in. Crystal oscillators also have a stability issue where they suddenly snap to a different frequency, very slight but very noticeable when comparing them to an atomic reference. This is caused by a molecular level cracking of the crystal matrix. This effect is largely caused by temperature changes, and at best, AM transmitters use a vacuum crystal subject to environmental temperature changes. Multiple BCB stations occupy the same frequency.
Jim W5EST: RR. Also, I didn’t check the wider 600 KHz spectrum near that BCB carrier. So, today’s second illustration shows a 20 KHz wide QRSS20 screenshot taken in the morning 3/30 about 9 a.m. 1400z daytime 9-10 a.m., 1400-1500z to show various lines flanking the 600 KHz carrier and nearer-in than the AM audio sidebands. The reception system here is an 80m attic dipole to local noise canceller to G33DDC SDR to ARGO.
Joe WI2XBQ: If you’re not using an atomic reference, the small offsets you are chasing will be buried in the phase noise. If your receiver uses a PLL, then all bets are off unless you can prove that the phase noise / frequency stability / spurs is at least ten times the millihertz shifts you are looking for. Also, with an SDR, all sorts of aliasing, and digitally induced anomalies could show up. I have a HPSDR Mercury receiver and I see all kind of low level spurs when it’s hooked to an actual antenna.
Jim W5EST: Your caveat eloquently tells artifacts to which SDR owners like me need to be alert. In that regard, the third illustration captures screenshot detail nearer-in at 3 Hertz bandwidth using QRSS120 mode 9-10 a.m that morning 3/30. Close examination of that 600 KHz daytime carrier may help identify artifacts due to TX or RX or both. The phase noise and RX jitter on the carrier itself have to be closer in than whatever sky wave vs ground wave small frequency departure might be identifiable in the first illustration. Still other TX ancillary signals, nearby BCB carriers, and any remaining RX artifacts have to lie significantly farther out from the carrier under study than whatever sky wave SW vs ground wave GW frequency departure might be identifiable. That’s a real squeeze play confronting any search whether such SW-GW microfrequency departure exists!
Joe WI2XBQ: Also, do not forget the so called “Luxembourg effect”, the mixing of different signals in the ionosphere.
Jim W5EST: Yes, I suppose Luxembourg effect is a potential sunset/nighttime/sunrise effect even if not likely in daytime due to D-layer absorption. At night, I estimate 58 pairs of BCB frequencies each have 600 KHz difference in frequency. With multiple BCB stations on each same frequency, hundreds of pairs of stations might produce frequency-difference mixing products very close to 600 KHz subject to requirement of spatial coincidence of their sky wave reflections. If 1) Luxembourg effect delivered a frequency-difference mixing product from even one of those station pairs and 2) the frequency difference came within, say, 0.2 Hertz of the 600 KHz station being monitored, and 3) the difference product were strong enough to be visible on ARGO at its Visual Gain/Sensitivity/Contrast setting, then confusion could occur.
Joe WI2XBQ: When a wave enters the ionosphere it is split into two rays the ordinary, and the extraordinary…This is one …explanation … possibly for the frequency offset effects you are seeing. I think an interesting experiment would be to phase lock an experimental station to GPS, and have a receiver locked as well. Then a real controlled experiment could be conducted into the frequency splitting and Doppler effects.
Jim W5EST: It would be great to do a blog post on a search for microfrequency effects specifically on 630m by two well equipped stations. Who can say what we may learn in the future! Thanks, Joe, and GL all!”
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).