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

Unsettled geomagnetic conditions don’t necessarily mean a poor session; DK7FC -> WE2XGR/3, WD2XSH/17; No obvious advantage for West coast on trans-Pacific path

– Posted in: 630 Meter Daily Reports, 630 Meters

After reviewing my overnight data, this session appears to have been down slightly from previous.  There were a number of very good, CW-level reports but wild QSB was observed and the band openings almost seemed to move like the tides.   QRN was low here as well but there was a very active storm in Wisconsin this morning which made listening more challenging while using the omni-receive antenna during my CW session.  So the variability of the band may have given the appearance that the band was not as good.  Andy, KU4XR, reported in the ON4KST chat/logger, “Remarkable sigs on sta’s that R normally weak .. VE3CIQ is audible here, VE3EFF showing much better SNr’s.. Hope it stay quiet, and goes long.. North to Alaska.”


11-hour North American lightning summary


However Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, points out, “…I fear Ill be in the doldrums for a day or so – residual hot stuff circling above :-)”

Recent elevated geomagnetic conditions resulted in band improvements, or that was the perception.  The geomagnetic field is only a part of the equation, albeit an important part, which may explain why this G1 storm / period of unsettled conditions has not yielded the big openings previously observed.  Amazingly, the trans-Atlantic path was open, which is a high latitude path, allowing DK7FC to be decoded by WD2XSH/17 and WE2XGR/3:


DK7FC, as reported by WD2XSH/17



DK7FC, as reported by WE2XGR/3


Geomagnetic conditions continue to see spikes into unsettled territory.  While storm levels have only been observed during a single reporting period, the Bz continues pointing to the South and solar wind velocities are averaging near 550 km/s.  The DST is generally back to nominal levels:







The trans-Pacific path was relatively balanced for this session, not yielding any clear advantage for the Pacific Northwest or the desert Southwest.  Reports are significantly diminished from the recent “highs”, however.

Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from VK5ABN, VK4YB, and VK2XGJ:


WH2XXP, as reported by VK5ABN



WH2XXP, as reported by VK2XGJ



WH2XXP, as reported by VK4YB


Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, shared two-way decodes with VK4YB and was also decoded by VK2XGJ and VK1SV, who provided reports for Larry for the first time.  Larry also listened for JT9 CQ’s from WE2XPQ, seeing only a few portions of the signal:


VK4YB, as reported by WH2XGP



WH2XGP, as reported by VK4YB



WH2XGP, as reported by VK1SV



WH2XGP, as reported by VK2XGJ


Larry also mentioned recently that WSJTx may be coming to a general release shortly.  Many of us have been using “alpha” releases of the software over the previous year which functions pretty well but still contains a number of bugs so this forthcoming release will be  welcome.  Luis, EA5DOM, posted this morning to the RSGB-LF reflector of a recent presentation about WSJTx given by Joe Taylor at an EME conference.  While this presentation is VHF/UHF and higher frequency focused, there is a lot of information about the software that may be useful for the MF and LF operator.  The presentation also suggests that a general release is forthcoming.  That presentation can be viewed / downloaded here.

John, VE7BDQ, reports that he decoded eleven WSPR stations including VK4YB this morning.  He was decoded by twenty unique stations from North America:


VK4YB, as reported by VE7BDQ


Roger, VK4YB, reported these statistics from his session:

“Rx: 9*WH2XGP (-23) 25*WH2XXP (-19) 29*WH2XCR (-17) Tx: 4*WH2XGP (-26) 2*VE7BDQ (-28) 6*WE2XPQ/1 (-26) 2*WE2XPQ (-28) 1*KL7L (-28) 4*WH2XCR (-21)”


Phil, VK3ELV, was reported by JH3XCU.  There are more decodes from later in the session that will be detailed tomorrow:


VK3ELV, as reported by JH3XCU


Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, submitted the following short report where WSPR decodes mostly encompassed the western portion of North America:



Neil also submitted the following JT9 receptions from his station.  He reports that he was at the operating position this morning a little late for a QSO with WE2XPQ on JT9:


Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported that he decoded eight WSPR stations including WH2XCR with a best of  -23 dB S/N.  He was decoded by 38 unique stations.

Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reports that the session might have been down a bit and indicates bogus decodes of  VE7BYO and VD9THM:



Toby, VE7CNF, reported that “WG2XIQ JT9 Received here 1003-1011 at -23 to -26 dB.”

Ken, SWL/EN61, in Indiana, had similar observations to me and submitted these comments:

“Well, last night’s session started out great… really had some low snr’s, then the noise hit before I went to bed. I never did look at the radar map to see where it came from, but it sure effectively shut down what was looking to be a great session.

Woke up this morn to find the usual stations at poor snr’s when the band closed for the morning. Saw your 5 unanswered calls on jt9 vary from -24 to -26.

Oh well. Next couple sessions will probably be noisy here again overnight. TS in the forecast for the midwest next few days.”

Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, recently posted on the RSGB-LF reflector about a noise experience in his shack that has come up from time to time so his experience is sage advice that is worth sharing:

“One interesting thing about clean up of radio shacks and moving equipment around is that you suddenly learn something is going on you really didn’t know about.

Aces high E probe (L400b)  has always had the best or concurrently equal performance of all the arrays here but for the past 24 hours it had been down a dB or two s/n wise

Thinking it was a decoupling issue I checked feeders, performance of amp, splitters etc – and it wasn’t till I realized I had put the die cast aluminum fully sealed box which houses the power injector and cap/transformer atop my computer that if I moved the box over the pressed steel lid of the computer we were getting induced magnetic noise coupled into the box causing a reduction of s/n.

I could actually hear the difference on the R75 as I slide the box over the top of the computer lid – the noise wasn’t coming in common mode on coax or via the power injector cables.

The box had to be laying flat atop the computer press steel cover to induce noise  – move it just 1 cm above and the coupling noise stopped.

So – lesson learned that Die Cast Aluminum boxes aren’t perfect at magnetically induced fields – its not  shielded Mu metal!

Keep any coupling box or perhaps not perfectly screened/matched cables (mine didn’t couple), away from sources of potential mag coupling noise generators –

…and don’t clean up the shack as your radio performance will likely suffer (just kidding!)

Laurence KL7L WE2XPQ”


Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:


North American 24-hour WSPR activity



European 24-hour WSPR activity



Japanese 24-hour WSPR activity



Australian / Tasmanian 24-hour WSPR activity


There were no reports from the trans-African path.  EB8ARZ from the Canary Islands was present but no reports have been filed at this time.  WSPRnet indicates that his software was reporting that he was actually listening on the old frequency of 503.9 kHz.  It unclear whether his receiver was, in fact, on the old frequency.

Eden, ZF1EJ, reported stations in the South on both stations during this session.  It is interesting to me that he did not decode my signal on the main station, however.  It may be the result of QRN from storms in Mexico:


ZF1EJ 24-hour WSPR activity



ZF1EJ/1 24-hour WSPR activity


Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, operated three instances of WSPR during this session.  WE2XPQ/1 was the transmitting instance using the Marconi-T.  For receive, this stations used the R75 with the “Aceshigh” probe  and the WSJTX decoder.  KL7L used the R75 with the AMRAD / W1VD probe and WSPR2.12.  WE2XPQ also utilized the R75 with the “Aceshigh” probe and WSPR2.12.


WE2XPQ/1 24-hour WSPR activity



VK4YB, as reported by WE2XPQ/1



WH2XCR, as reported by WE2XPQ/1



WE2XPQ 24-hour WSPR activity



VK4YB, as reported by WE2XPQ



WH2XCR, as reported by WE2XPQ



KL7L 24-hour WSPR activity



VK4YB, as reported by KL7L



WH2XCR, as reported by KL7L


Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, is the first station on the trans-Equatorial path to see a significant propagation rebound after the most recent unsettled and storm conditions.  Merv was decoded by six VK stations and decoded VK4YB with the receive antenna currently located on the ground:


WH2XCR 24-hour WSPR activity



VK4YB, as reported by WH2XCR



WH2XCR, as reported by VK4YB



WH2XCR, as reported by EJTSWL



WH2XCR, as reported by VK1SV



WH2XCR, as reported by VK2XGJ



WH2XCR, as reported by VK3ELV



WH2XCR, as reported by VK5YB



“Yesterday’s post shows web links where experienced operators have demonstrated many different magnetic loop solutions.  To put an RX loop in place at your QTH, you could simply pick the type that fits your QTH best and has good recommendations from 630m operators who may have used it.  But if you like experimenting with antennas, can we identify any basic principles to help deepen our insights and guide our own efforts?

Parts of an RX loop structure include 1) loop wire length/weight, 2) loop support to keep it approximately circular, 3) base support and/or skyhook to hold the whole loop vertical.  Today’s post confines the discussion to an aspect of just the first of these.

A nearly circular vertical loop minimizes loop wire length for a given amount of signal-capturing cross-sectional area.  What then should be the diameter of the loop? How many turns?  What spacing? Total wire weight physically loads the structure. What wire diameter and material best establish a favorable ratio of skin effect resistance to ohmic resistance with wire weight in mind?  Should one parallel two or more wires to constitute each turn?  How high up should one locate the loop?  You can already see complicated trade-offs between RF performance and structural/physical criteria looming. Let’s start with the first question today.

Unless you have some good reason otherwise, make the loop as large in diameter as space will allow.  For a given wire length, loop area is what picks up signal and area increases as square of circumference. But turns decrease with circumference, not its square. That means one loop turn at the largest diameter your QTH allows is more reception-effective than using the same length of wire to provide multiple turns at a smaller diameter.

If you have the wire and can tolerate the additional wire weight, then wind more turns around the maximum diameter that space allows at your QTH.  Turns come in whole numbers, of course.  Using a given loop circumference C, increasing the number of turns at constant diameter means increasing the wire length by length C with each additional turn.

Spiral or spider winding would be fine if you have a loop width limitation such as inside the back of a vintage radio set. However, that way sacrifices loop cross-sectional area of inner turns compared establishing winding all turns the same diameter.  If you have extra wire after the last turn but don’t have quite enough wire to make a full-diameter turn, then it’s fine to add a smaller diameter turn if the structure has places to support it.

I’ll continue discussing the loop turns and other questions in another post.  GL!”


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