Today’s report will likely be somewhat abridged once again as well as being “Field Day”-centric since this was ARRL Field Day weekend and many MF, LF, and VLF stations were QRV as weather conditions allowed for demonstration and outreach purposes. At the moment I have only a few reports from other participating operators about their experiences and I would expect that, like normal, those reports as well as QSL requests from receiving stations will flow in over the coming weeks and even months.
My experience was fantastic. This year I visited nine Field Day groups that chose to operate outdoors as Field Day was intended to be done, all located North and West of the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex and none of which that would fall into the category of being “prepper” or “emcomm” focused (You can still find hams that love radio for radio’s sake!). I easily could have visited many more groups in that area but tried to focus on groups that were close enough together that I wasn’t spending most of my time driving. Fortunately the weather was a bit overcast for the bulk of the daylight hours and this helped keep the temperature down.
While several of the sites knew that I was coming at some point during the day, I like to show up and not say anything. Instead I set up near my car and wait for someone to come over and ask what I am doing. Pretty soon several ops are crowded around listening. Curiosity killed the cat!
Even after several years of operating at 472, I am still amazed at the ground wave potential this band offers. From 120-miles away, my station’s signal was even loud and clear on the Sangean portable receiver with internal loop-stick antenna. The primary receiver was the Elecraft KX3 and Heathkit HD-1420 receive upconverter with an E-probe mounted about 12-foot above ground on tripod-supported fiberglass tent poles of the variety sold by Clint, W3ARS.
There were lots of interested individuals at every location and not just old timers. Its one thing to talk about the capabilities of this band with presentations at a hamfest but its even more effective to illustrate with an actual demonstration and I feel like this year’s effort here in North Texas was really fruitful. And once again every site had individuals that had no idea that anything even existed today below the AM broadcast band. Some of these individuals were old timers not just the smart phone-focused younglings.
One comment that I heard several times this year and have heard in the past: Operators do not favor the “busyness” of the report entry website. Many feel it is intimidating and that they are required to fill in all of the blanks. I did my best to explain that they could enter as little or as much information as they like. I think many in the future will send email reports to their respective operator, however.
The operation at WG2XIQ went relatively smoothly although I had one transmit period that failed to start on time due to a serial port glitch. It began about one minute late. Sometime between when I went to sleep and 0900z the FLDigi software, which was delivering my CW message and controlling the timing and the station, crashed. It was restarted in time for the 0915z transmission. I have a receiver on my nightstand next to the bed so I can listen as I sleep (lightly, I might add) but I was evidently too asleep this night. I have no idea how long the system was down.
Band conditions were great during the day. Noise levels were very low and Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported shortly after I started my operation around 1300z that I was S7 near Oklahoma City, about 200-miles to the North. As the session turned to evening, listening between transmit periods suggested that it was going to be a noisy night and a look at the lightning map confirmed this fact. Even so for the target audience, which for me was around W5, the band conditions were quite good and many reports have been received and will be aggregated at a later date.
Other participants also experienced success. Tom, N8TL, reported of VE3OT on LOWFER that “Copy at 00:28 UTC on 0.4773 MHz: Beacon QST QST DE VE3OT VE3OT 73 and good luck field day 2016 DE VE3OT AR”. Tom notes that “…Your signal here in NW Ohio was about 10db above the S9 + 10 noise. Receiving on Ten Tec RX320 controlled by Linux Mint 17 Computer. Antenna is W1VD modified E-Probe up 18 feet above back patio.” Mitch was using 200-watts to a 340-foot loop.
Mike, N8OOU, who was operating “WM” on 185.3 kHz reported very bad noise conditions as storms surrounded the Midwest. Garry, K3SIW, noted that his noise was also very high due to storms in Minnesota but that he did hear VE3OT for a brief period. Ron, NI7J / WH2XND also stepped into a brave, new world, “sparking up” his system on 75 kHz WSPR (that just sounds crazy!). Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, noted that he received Ron at -17 dB S/N on the 71 mile path. Ron was operating at close to .210-Watt ERP!
John, W1TAG / WE2XGR/3, reported that the CW beacon of John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, was easy ear copy and recommended a CW QSO in the future.
I look forward to more reports from participating stations or their experience if they presented hands-on demonstrations at their or other Field Day sites.
Many of the sites I visited noted that HF conditions were very poor which should not to come as a surprise given the lack of sunspots and solar flux below 80. For MF and lower, the geomagnetic field was quiet and the Bz was near unity or pointing to the North. Solar wind velocities were above 450 km/s for much of the session:
As you can imagine WSPR activity was very much down with stations that are normally transmitting WSPR over night operating in the Field Day demo and stations that would normally be receiving were operating Field Day instead. Phil, VE3CIQ, noted the limited activity with reports of decoding WG2XXM and being decoded by WG2XJM.
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reports that he only decoded one WSPR station and was decoded by nine unique stations including 25 decodes from WH2XCR, 84 decodes from ZF1EJ, best at -11 dB S/N, and a single report from Roger, VK4YB, seven minutes after sunrise in Oklahoma:
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reports poor conditions from the Pacific Northwest but he did decode WH2XND on 75 kHz overnight.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reports more improvements at his stations with 1-Amp of base current for a 380-milliwatt ERP culminating at 468-milliwatt ERP by the end of the evening. Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported that at 3AM local time, Rick was RST 439. John, VE7BDQ, reported Rick at RST 559 at 0515z. Rick also noted that he decoded Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, for the first time. Neil was part of the Field Day demonstration weekend.
Roger, VK4YB, reports that after two days of living by candle light, power has been restored and his antenna is once again in the air. Lets hope others in the region fared as well.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
There were no reports from the trans-Atlantic, trans-African, or trans-Equitorial paths. UA0SNV was present but no reports have been filed by Vasily at this time.
In the Caribbean, Eden, ZF1EJ, reported WG2XXM:
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, was participating in the Field Day demonstration and was not active on WSPR during this session. Laurence reports very heavy rain in his area.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR,
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com)!