After looking at the data from the limited number of stations that were on the air last night, my impression is that propagation was probably OK but storms in the central US made for some tough operating. I know that my station as well as WG2XXM in Oklahoma was QRT for this session as we move into week three of weird spring weather. I know other areas of the US are seeing similar behavior. Thanks to all for fighting through this difficult period.
Geomagnetic activity has been variable. While generally quiet, conditions could very easily fall into the unsettled category over one or more reporting periods. The Bz was pointing to the South for much of the session with some variability and is currently pointing North as of Wednesday morning in North America. Solar wind velocities persist above 430 km/s with a few isolated periods above 500 km/s.
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, was able to operate through the session from Vancouver, Washington and offers this report:
Douglas, PU3VRW/SWL, was listening once again from southern Brazil on 503.9 kHz. I was successful at finding another email address for him and sent a message to hopefully get him to transition to the new WSPR dial freq of 474.2 kHz. My fingers are crossed.
In the previous session, Joe, VO1NA, was reported by Stefan, DK7FC, using the remote forest receive site outside of Heidelberg. Stefan reports that a station in Italy was also QRV very close to Joe’s frequency but that a little offset made Joe’s weaker signal visible at times just below the Italian station. Roelof, PA0RDT, reports that the noise level was too high during that session.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reports that as a stop-gap measure while he evaluates the problem with his receive loop preamp he is using the K6SE flag which has been in storage since 2000. Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reports that this antenna works OK at 472 khz, yielding 30 dB of F/B.
The ON4KST chat was down during part of the evening last night. It was operational when I checked it at 0900z.
There was a significant amount of JT9 activity in Australia during this session. Roger, VK4YB, was decoded by Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, in Hawaii. Roger was also reported by Spiros, VK5FQ / VK5ZVS. Nice to see Roger’s station working as always.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
There were no reports from the trans-African path. UA0SNV was present during the session but no reports have been filed at this time.
In the Caribbean, Eden, ZF1EJ, reported WH2XZO in South Carolina:
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, continues to operate in receive-only capacity, reporting WH2XGP and WH2XCR in addition to a phantom that was showing up in Indonesia.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had a carbon copy session of those he has recently observed. The path to VK is very good and reports from the West coast of North America and Alaska persist. Prior to the weather related QRT for many stations further to the East, that path was beginning to open up again. I’m excited to see how the path behaves as we move into the Summer in the northern hemisphere. There seems like there is no stopping the reports.
Jim, W5EST, presents a timely topic as we move into the noisy part of the season in this discussion entitled, “RECEIVING QRSS ON 630M WITH ARGO”:
“Several modes–WSPR15 and very slow CW (QRSS) among others–can penetrate noise down to deep -30dB to -40dB SNR (2.5KHz noise bandwidth, QRSS60+). Late spring and early summer are good times to experiment with these modes on LF/MF. A narrow bandwidth allows more noise rejection, and slowing down the information rate give you narrower bandwidth ~ 1 Hertz or less.
Today, let’s highlight QRSS. Use ON4KST reflector or 600mrg reflector to find and work with a buddy LF/MF transmitting station who sends or will send you QRSS on 630m. The transmit station uses a local oscillator that’s rock-stable over minutes of call-sign transmission and hours of a session. A programmed microprocessor controls the transmitter to send QRSS at a selectable speed.
Beforehand, do some self-training and station setup at your end. See the endnote* links to web sites for more QRSS insights.
To set up for QRSS, I turn receiver AGC off and set RF gain and Audio Gain to hear the noise level. Either CW or USB mode is selected to receive QRSS as audio tones. View the ARGO screen starting with regular CW speed and then increase the QRSS# mode until you see the QRSS signal as lines and spaces.
To get some experience with ARGO, experiment with it on 30m first with CW around 10110KHz and then QRSS at 10140.0 KHz. If you don’t already have the free QRSS display software, download and install ARGO from http://www.sdradio.eu/weaksignals/argo/index.html A white-on-red Argo sailboat icon should appear on your PC desktop. Click the ARGO icon to run the program.
If its vertical waterfall or horizontal curtain display has not already started, click the Start/Stop button in the lower right corner of the ARGO screen. To transition from the horizontal curtain display to the vertical waterfall display, click the top-center box “Full Band View.” To transition back to the horizontal curtain display, mouse-click in the center of the ARGO screen.
In the ARGO “Setup” menu choose “Select Sound Card.” Then test ARGO on an HF band by tuning your receiver to a CW station and look for that CW station on the display. ARGO is audio display software that monitors the audio path of a PC soundcard. The HF or MF/LF band you pick is controlled by your receiver.
At ARGO toolbar top left, pull down the Mode menu and select the first menu item “CW (NDB)”. The horizontal curtain display shows the CW signal proceeding from left to right in real time. If the CW signal is audibly clear but looks noisy on the display, adjust ARGO’s Sensitivity bar or the audio gain of the RX.
At lower left, ARGO’s radio buttons for Visual Gain are labeled AGC, Lo, and Hi. Choose which button gives you the clearest display. Mouse-adjust the Sensitivity and Contrast bars to give a clear CW display.
Selecting Mode to be a QRSS mode will smear regular CW into extended lines on the display for the signal. In QRSS10 mode, ARGO’s display literally slows down relative to CW mode and QRSS3 mode. And for QRSS transmissions, the slow-down should be enough so that the QRSS lines and spaces will be visible.
Put the Argo menu Speed on Slow for better resolution (this is not a different QRSS speed). However, for fast CW, put Speed on Fast to space out the dits and dahs. Check to see if you should increase the Sensitivity bar at bottom of Argo screen as the QRSS mode is increased from 3 to 10 to 20, etc.
Use the Mode menu “User Specified Ticks” of Argo for 60 second or longer intervals at QRSS10 mode and slower modes, to visually space apart time legends and their vertical dotted lines.
On MF/LF you can test ARGO by observing WSPR signals using the QRSS10 mode. WSPR2 looks like a series of fuzzy rectangles each 5 Hertz high and 2 minutes long horizontally.
If your antenna and receiver with a display like ARGO can see WSPR stations on 630/2200m, you’re ready to experiment with QRSS on these bands. Compared to WSPR’s ‘wide’ 5 Hertz bandwidth, high QRSS modes can do better because QRSS lines from a stable transmitter are very narrow and more easily resolved in noise.
I’ll go deeper into QRSS and ARGO in another blog post. In the meantime, peruse some of the good information on QRSS on these web sites!”
*QRSS WEB SITES
http://www.ka7oei.com/qrss1.html Intro to QRSS and software.
http://members.shaw.ca/ve7sl/136.html Scroll 70% for LF QRSS, links at bottom.
http://www.qsl.net/dl4yhf/spectra1.html Spectrum Lab.
http://www.w0ch.net/qrss/qrss.htm Intro to QRSS.
http://www.qsl.net/on7yd/136narro.htm QRSS white paper. Screenshots.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com)!