Radio: it's not just a hobby, it's a way of life

Current Operating Frequency and Mode

OFF AIR for storms, probably for much of the week if the forecast holds

While HF is blacked out, 630-meters shows a number of enhancements prior to sunrise; X9.3 flare around 1200z; N6GN finally assigned WJ2XBZ, now awaits grant approval; W5EST presents: ”Scientists Report March 20, 2015, Ionosphere Under Solar Eclipse”

– Posted in: 630 Meter Daily Reports, 630 Meters

The details for September 6, 2016 can be viewed here.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Neither 630-meters nor 2200-meters are open to amateurs in the US yet. That includes stations using fake or pirated call signs. Please continue to be patient and let the FCC finish their processes. UPDATED: Click here to view the proposed “considerate operators” frequency usage guide for 630-meters under Part-97 rules that was developed with the input of active band users.

The cold front draped across North America brought quite a bit of noise to stations in the eastern two-thirds of the continent.  It was less noisy this morning here in Texas as a cold front has pushed off of the Atlantic coast.  Parts of the western US experienced evening monsoon storms ranging from northern California into the Desert Southwest.  Mexico and the Caribbean are quite active this morning in terms of lightning activity.

11-hour North American lightning summary


Geomagnetic conditions are complicated at the moment.  While the HF bands experienced strong enhancements during the day as sunspot numbers spiked to their highest levels in some time, X and M class flaring overnight (starting around 0900z) further destabilized the ionosphere in sunlit areas.  May 2015 was the last X-class flare.  Radio blackouts were the norm in Europe and many stations reported on the RSGB-LF reflector that they were only experiencing success on 2200-meter ground wave.  The Bz is currently pointing to the North but remaining very close to unity.  Solar wind velocities are only averaging near 450 km/s but G3 storm levels with Kp-indices in excess of 7 are expected in the next 24-hours as the first coronal mass ejection begins to impact the Earth’s magnetic field.  Its unclear at this time whether an additional CME was generated with the overnight M and X class flares.  Proton levels have remained high through this event, relaxing only a bit overnight but those levels are expected to spike again with the arrival of the next CME.  DST values are actually relatively normal at the moment, approaching the centerline and even surpassing at times to positive levels.  I expect the bottom will drop out again shortly.  Having said all of this, the band seems to be enhanced this morning but its anyone’s guess how long it will last before the band changes again. UPDATE:  an X9.3 was reported just before 1200z.





Some of the comments from the RSGB-LF reflector indicate that no pings were being reported at the Chilton ionosonde in England and the activity has been felt down as low as VLF.  Roelof, PA0RDT, reported that he has never seen a blackout like this one and submitted this wideband view of radio spectrum at his station using all three of his antennas, which seem to be working fine:

Dead spectrum at PA0RDT (courtesy PA0RDT)


Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported thunderstorms during the evening so he did not actually start operating until 5AM local time in South Carolina.  He decoded seven WSPR stations and was decoded by 24 unique stations including VE7SL and VE6XH.  Doug adds that band conditions were pretty good.

Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, provided reports for eight WSPR stations and he received reports from 26 unique stations.  Rick’s unique report details can be viewed here.

David, N1DAY / WI2XUF, reported that the band turned around late (or early, depending on your perspective):

“Last night was a good lesson in not giving up.  Western NC experienced a fairly extensive electrical storm last night that didn’t fully move through the area until 10pm, so I got a late start on 630M.  I noted from the wspr map that a lot of stations were listening, but few were hearing my signal.  By midnight I had been reported by only 8 stations (fewer than the night before when I shut everything down).  However, between midnight and this morning, things perked up quite a bit and  22 stations heard my signal while I heard 7 stations.  Things seem to be working well with recent changes to the coupling transformer (bigger toroid, thicker wire), so I am considering refocusing my attention on ways to increase the diameter of my vertical cage to further reduce ground losses.  Almost too many variables to play with!”

Al, K2BLA / WI2XBV, reported moderate noise in Florida ahead of hurricane Irma.  He provided reports for eight WSPR stations.

Ken, SWL/K9 (SWL/EN61), located in Indiana reported a “very noisy overnight session, 7 decodes of XGP best -18db.”

Dave, N4DB, indicates that overnight results were better than expected after looking at late reports.  Dave provided decodes for six WSPR stations.

Trans-Pacific report details, excluding KL7 and KH6, can be viewed here.

Hideo, JH3XCU, submitted this link detailing DX -> JA decode totals and DX -> JA S/N peaks for the session, as reported on the Japanese language 472 kHz website.

Roger, VK4YB, indicates that “TP is back to a more normal pattern. I note the NE beam has been in use for 1 year now. It used to be really quiet but is spoilt by transformer hash. That problem is no nearer  solution. There is no chance of serious DX work with it as it is. The Tx side is better than last year because TPO is 450w, up from 90 watts.”  Roger received reports from JA3TVF, KK6EEW, N6GN, VE6JY, VE6XH, VE7SL, W6SFH, W7IUV and WI2XBQ.

Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported that he decoded nine WSPR stations and he received reports from 48 unique stations  including VK2XGJ, ZL2AFP, ZF1EJ and seven Canadian stations.

Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, indicates that at his station, this was the “best night on 630 since last winter.”  He provided reports for seven WSPR stations and he received reports from 28 unique stations including ZL2AFP, VK2XGJ and “…WG2XJM 3647 Km. to the E. Also KU4XR, XIQ, and 2 way to XXM.”   He also shared two-way reports with VK4YB.

Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 57 unique stations including ZL2AFP, ZL1EE, VK4YB, VK2XGJ, VK3GJZ, VK3ALZ, and VK5AKK.

WH2XXP 24-hour WSPR activity (courtesy NI7J)


Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, provided reports for eight WSPR stations and he received reports from 35 unique stations.  As W7IUV, Larry provided reports for nine WSPR stations including VK4YB.

WH2XGP 24-hour WSPR activity (courtesy NI7J)


It was noisy during the evening and with active geomagnetic and solar conditions not resulting in many reports, I opted out of the evening portion of this session.  This morning was considerably better as QRN levels were much lower than the evening and my first WSPR transmission at 1012z  resulted in a multitude of reports.  The band was clearly enhanced and I’m only sorry that I did not start the morning session earlier.  The band continued to show signs of enhancement until 1118z when reports dropped off considerably, both on transmit and receive.  In hindsight, this was likely the result of the X9.3 that started around this time.   A sunrise enhancement at WG2XJM was also noted as my reports peaked nicely there at +3 dB S/N.  Stations in the Pacific Northwest began to increase in signal levels and decode frequency on approach to my sunrise at 1205z.  The coming days may provide interesting reports and activity on the band.  My transmission report details can be viewed here and my reception report details can be viewed here.

WG2XIQ 2-hour WSPR activity


Glenn, N6GN, has been assigned WJ2XBZ, after a very long wait.  The wait continues, however, as NTIA must now approve the application.

Paul, W0RW / WA2XRM, reports that he has “a Weston RF Thermo-Ammeter available for loan.  It is 1.5A Max.  You can borrow it for 1 week and sent it back to me when finished.”  Contact Paul at this email address.

Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:

North American 24-hour WSPR activity


European 24-hour WSPR activity


Asiatic Russian 24-hour WSPR activity


Japanese 24-hour WSPR activity


Oceania 24-hour WSPR activity


Eden, ZF1EJ, provided reports for four WSPR stations. He received reports from seventeen unique stations including VE7SL, VE6JY and VE6XH.

ZF1EJ 24-hour WSPR activity


Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, continues to be at ground zero for hostile geomagnetic conditions in Alaska.  In spite of listening overnight, no reports have been registered at his station.

Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, was again QRT through this session.


“It may seem remarkable to do a blog post on propagation and the UK/EU eclipse of 2½ years ago when we just had an eclipse over North America.   In scientific papers from Belgium and Germany that I’ll discuss over the next few days, it took scientists about a year to analyze and write up some research results, and then another several months or year-and-a-half for peer review and publication.  Then it took the recent solar eclipse to motivate me to dig into these ionospheric solar eclipse papers!

We can expect to similarly wait at least a year or two from now until the August 2017 eclipse science gets published too.  Meanwhile, these papers and their references can provide us eclipse information and background on prior efforts studying the ionosphere as solar eclipses affect it.

Scientists report and map total electron content (TEC) by using a TX and RX to take whole-path measurements of ionization. Deducing height profiles of electron concentration from TEC is not easy. A profiling method called LIEDR (Local Ionospheric Electron Density profile Reconstruction) estimates such height profiles from transmissions from navigation satellites like GPS and from ionosonde data, by a procedure summarized at http://ionosphere.meteo.be/ionosphere

Among other things, scientists are interested in the tilts and shapes of ionospheric contour surfaces from which RF signals may reflect and refract.  In our 630m work, that information can be useful to us too.

Today, I’ll quote report parts from a first paper that can bear on our 630m experimental and amateur work generally.  Square brackets enclose my brief insertions.

Please recognize that the 2015 solar eclipse shadowed higher latitudes than those across North America 2017.  Nonetheless, the mid-morning Aug. 21, 2017, early sun angle toward the Pacific Ocean was moderately low toward the horizon–as was the higher-latitude morning solar eclipse on equinox, March 20, 2015.

1st BELGIUM PAPER: Verhulst et al. * 2016, http://ionosphere.meteo.be/node/22 (4th listed paper, click “download” link).

“At lower altitudes (in the ionospheric D and E layers), the amount of ionization is governed by ion production and loss processes (photochemical equilibrium) while at higher altitudes, the drift (transport) processes take precedence.  …presence of (substantial) ionospheric tilt and plasma drifts… Partial solar eclipse was visible from Belgium …8:27 UT start…10:47 UT end… maximum eclipse of 81.5% recorded at 09:34 UT.” [p.2408, col. 1]  [Separately measured solar radio flux decreased about 8% and increased back to daytime level in a symmetric triangular graph for each of six frequencies from 328.6 MHz to 869.9 MHz.]

“[The Dourbes, Belgium, ionosonde was]… Simultaneously measuring…[for vertical or oblique incidence:] frequency, range, amplitude, phase, Doppler shift and spread, angle of arrival, and wave polarization. “ [p.2408, col. 2]. [TX antennas: NE-SW and NW-SE crossed delta antennas 40m high.]  [RX antennas]: “four crossed magnetic dipole receive antennas  in a triangular arrangement.”

“Since the E layer is a daytime phenomenon, maintained mostly by photoionization of neutral components of the atmosphere, it is expected to react promptly to the lack (or decrease) of solar irradiation. Indeed shortly after the start of the eclipse, foE started to decrease from its normal-day values of about 2.8 MHz at 08:30 UT down to 2.5 MHz about 15 minutes later. [Figure 4] Values remained low until about 10:45 UT when the frequency started to increase steadily up to their normal values reached shortly before the end of the eclipse.” [p.2411, col. 2]

“The E-layer peak height (hmE) is a very stable characteristic that remained unaffected by the eclipse and maintained its normal values around 100 km…”  [p.2410, col. 1]

“Fig. 11 shows the true height contours for twelve frequencies from 2.8 MHz to 5.0 MHz respectively for the day of the eclipse (panel A) and the reference (panel B) days.… In Fig. 11A the arrows indicate wave-like disturbances similar to the oscillations seen in the drift and tilt measurements (cf. Figs. 8-10).”  [p.2412, col. 2].

9. Discussion… In the lower ionosphere (E region), photochemistry is by far the dominant process governing the plasma density and distribution. Also, the frequency collision between, the ionized and neutral components in this region leads to a relatively short lifetime of the ion species, on average, about one minute. As a result, the E region is expected to react much faster to any change in solar radiation. Thus, this region is a perfect proxy for eclipse monitoring, as long as it is in the shadow of the Moon. The foE plot (Fig. 4) clearly shows that, except during the eclipse, the E layer is very similar from one day to the other, meaning that the lower ionosphere is not really affected in the period before the start of the eclipse… Since the E region is less affected by the magnetic field, if there were some plasma transport affects prior to the eclipse to be observed, there should undoubtedly be some markers in the E-region data to be seen, which is not the case.

Something else, however, was seen in the E region during the eclipse, which needed further investigation. The E-layer critical frequency started to decrease steadily as soon as the eclipse started and reached a bottom of 2.5 MHz, which remained unchanged for about 1.5 h between about 08:45 UT and 10:15 UT, including the time of the maximum eclipse…. The most probable explanation, in our interpretation of the data, is that the E layer was substantially depleted (almost nonexistent) at around the time of the eclipse maximum, thus resembling night-time conditions. This is supported by the substantial uplift in the true-height contours and the gap for frequencies above 4.2 MHz…  Note also that simultaneous gaps occur in the drift and tilt measurements … suggesting very large ionospheric tilt… and drift readings (which is a sign of disturbed conditions).” [p.2413, col. 2 to 2414, col. 2].

Jim W5EST closes by wishing you GL on 630m during the present radio storm conditions!”

* High-resolution ionospheric observations and modeling over Belgium during the solar eclipse of 20 March 2015 including first results of ionospheric tilt and plasma drift measurements. Adv. Space Res., 57(11), 2407–2419, (pub. online 11 March 2016).  DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2016.03.009 . http://ionosphere.meteo.be/node/22(4th listed paper, click “download” link).  Coauthors: Verhulst, T.G.W., D. Sapundjiev, and S.M. Stankov. Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI), Brussels, Belgium.

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