This session started off great with extremely low noise here in Texas in the afternoon. It was so quiet that Glen, K5FX / WH2XGZ, located 180-miles to my South and testing his new system, was audible here at -18 dB S/N as reported by WSPR. That happens some times when the noise level is extremely low but it is quite rare. Glen reports that he is operating during this maiden voyage at 10-watts from an MF Solutions transmit converter and a 160-meter end-fed wire at 35-foot.
As sunset approached it was obvious that storms along the gulf coast were going to make listening difficult in the Southeast. Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported S9+ noise at 0134z. The local noise did not impact propagation, however, and Doug, along with John, W1TAG / WE2XGR/3, were reported by Clemens, DL4RAJ, overnight, each with a single report.
Doug adds that “QRN detracted from good conditions here. Heard 11 and was heard by 21 including EU and west coast.”
I didn’t notice many problems with noise from the storms in New Mexico and Colorado. As the night progressed, however, noise levels dropped and it was a pleasant morning as I called CQ on 474.5 kHz CW prior to my daily sked.
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, also reported an odd signals at 474.2 kHz + 775 Hz near sunset. He indicates that it was a real RF carrier that simply vanished and whose source has not been identified. John went on to report “Improving condx here with PNW opening again – hrd 12, hrd by 23-plagued by wet foliage.”
Geomagnetic conditions were very quiet once again with a Bz that was pointing to the North and solar wind velocities that were below 300 km/s for much of the session and averaging 285 km/s at this time.
It was my impression that propagation was slightly better than the previous session on domestic paths but the trans-Pacific path seemed to be down for all but the highest power transmitting stations. The trans-Atlantic reports seem to coincide best with extremely quiet conditions while the trans-Pacific reports require a bit more spark in the form of more active conditions. Of course all of this might be wrong and it has nothing to do with geomagnetic conditions but on air experience suggests that geomagnetic activity is a key factor in long haul propagation. In the ON4KST chat/logger, Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, commented that “Low K index and A index usual marker for high open high latitude paths like TAs. Estimated planetary A-index 4. The estimated planetary K-index 1. We may be heading in to a grand solar minimum with many days, weeks, and months of low A and K indices.” I suspect we will see more discussion about these ideas in the coming days.
On the trans-Pacific path, WH2XXP and WH2XGP, were the only stations that were able to take advantage of the trans-Pacific opening during this session. In fact, Roger, VK4YB, issued a “code 3” for the path as he and Steve, VE7SL, have to put their pursuit of a JT9 QSO on hold due to propagation that may be sub-par compared to previous session. Still, you can’t argue with success for the two that “made it across”.
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, reports that he was decoded by 40 unique stations, five of which are located in VK:
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reports a decent transcontinental path while listening with the E-probe. He decoded thirteen WSPR stations including several stations in the East. No VK’s were decoded in Washington state, however. He was decoded by thirty unique stations including VK4YB and nine VE stations in addition to several stations in the East.
On the “other” Pacific path, Phil, VK3ELV, was decoded late in the session yesterday by JH3XCU:
The “other” Phil, VE3CIQ, reports “Much lower noise in the east after the cold front moved in. Decoded 11, and was decoded by 17.”
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reports that he was heard in the East for the first time in months. Neil also provided a JT9 transcript from the session:
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, provided the following reception statistics from the session:
New or recently returned receiving stations from the session include KK4WKE and VE3IQB. Welcome aboard!
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
There were no reports from the trans-African or Caribbean paths during this session.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, was decoded in the central US at W0JW and WG2XXM in addition to the West coast of North America and most of East and Southeastern Australia and Tasmania. Imagine how good it will be once Merv’s receive antenna is repaired in November!
Jim, W5EST, presents “630M CW ENHANCEMENT WITH STEREO DIVERSITY”:
“Theoretical patterns of different 630m antennas may not necessarily resemble their actual patterns, what with metal towers and/or neighboring metal structures in place and not to mention outdoor utility wires strung about. Repeatedly 630m ops tell that one 630m RX1 antenna occasionally or even frequently outperforms another 630m RX2 antenna that should theoretically offer better SNR on a particular path. E-probe here, rotatable loop there, TX vertical, flag, EWE, etc. So today, let’s forget about theory and just follow our instincts and dream a little as well.
Think about what stereo diversity could do for your CW operations on 630m. Listen with stereo speakers or headphones to this video that demonstrates stereo diversity for a completely different mode—SSB—and a completely different band—15 meters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb8OfiL3crE
The SSB clip follows NE1U operating 15m in the ARRL DX Contest, March 2, 2014. A 3-element beam to RX1 feeds audio to right stereo channel while his 160m NE-oriented Beverage couples to RX2 with audio output to left stereo channel. (Transmissions occupy audio blank intervals.) Around 0:40 on the clip, instances of receptions in one headphone and then the other become frequent.
Our ears and minds can ignore whichever is the low-SNR headphone and focus on the higher-SNR headphone, when the headphone SNRs significantly differ between them. Likewise, similar weak signals in both headphones offer their own stereo-induced “directionality” that helps us focus on each overall signal in the midst of noise.
OK, fine. Now let’s descend to lower frequencies and CW itself: 160m CW stereo diversity reception on NE1U’s K3 transceiver: http://n1eu.com/K3/diversity.htm (scroll 50%, click on link for “6 JA Topband…”) The audio clip lets us hear six JA 160m QSOs Nov. 6, 2008. The stereo diversity includes TX vertical to left channel, NW Beverage to right channel. It starts off with no surprises, NW Beverage wins, but then things get interesting after minute 1:15 of the clip. Why would a 160m TX vertical outperform the Beverage as this audio portrays at some intervals? Who cares…QSOs priority #1 !Inexpensive SDRs that process different RX1 and RX2 antennas can deliver 630m CW to stereo headphones. There, your full operating skills take over. Beyond that even, send the SDR audios to two instances of ARGO or Spectran running concurrently–you have partially-independent visualizations for CW and QRSS.
CW at the SNR equivalent of -13 dB WSPR SNR reaches an audibility limit of what the CW ears of most of us can copy. But like the 4-minute mile, limits are made to be surpassed.
How much diversity enhance (R)
can stereo 630m CW ?? (L)
Find out and you tell us! GL.”
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).