This was an exciting session where quiet terrestrial weather and “optimal” geomagnetic conditions served up early trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific openings. It didn’t hurt that we had massive participation with 112 MF WSPR stations reported by WG2XXM at 0300z and again by VK2XGJ at 0600z. Rest assured that was significantly more activity than on 80 and 160-meters and probably closer to 30 and 40-meter activity levels. Who would have thought just a few years ago that MF could be this mainstream?
A comment about today’s presentation: Because of the number of report details that were uploaded during this session, I am going to try a different approach to presenting them in an effort to cut down on the number of individual files generated in given report. Doing so will make my web master and the web host happy and hopefully clear up some of the clutter. You only need to have a PDF viewer installed to view the details. Its also helpful to allow pop ups from this site as the PDF data will render in a new browser tab.
There were a few storms in the desert Southwest during the evening but by and large, North America was clear overnight. A few storms have developed this morning in the coastal Pacific Northwest region:
Geomagnetic conditions reached storm levels this morning after period of quiet to unsettled for much of the day yesterday. The Bz is pointing to the South and solar wind velocities are averaging near 650 km/s. DST values now suggest disturbed conditions:
Starting with trans-Atlantic reports, WD2XSH/17 began reporting DK7FC very early in the evening in Massachusetts. He went on to also decode WSPR signals , DH5RAE, IW4DXW, G3KEV, PA3ABK/2, G7NKS (First time TA!), F4DTL, F1AFJ, G8HUH. Details for those trans-Atlantic crossings can be viewed here.
John, W1TAG / WE2XGR/3, submitted the following comments: “Heard by: G3XKR(1x), G0LUJ/1(3x); Heard DK7FC(25x), PA3ABK/2(1x), F1AFJ(1x), G8HUH(3x)…Best cndx early, the later >4000km stuff from the west never showed up…Last night, DK7FC showed up 20 mins after my sunset.” Details for those trans-Atlantic crossings can be viewed here.
Jay, W1VD / WE2XGR(/2), decoded WSPR from DK7FC and G8HUH. Details for those trans-Atlantic crossings can be viewed here.
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, took advantage of good propagation, with WSPR decodes for DK7FC and he was decoded by G0LUJ/1 and G3XKR. Details for those trans-Atlantic crossings can be viewed here and John submitted the following comments:
“Regardless of the mid-latitude alert, this was one of the strongest sessions of the young season. I was initially discouraged by the early flurry of TA activity by stations south and east of me; however XKA was eventually spotted by G0LUJ/1 and G3XKR. A single spot of DK7FC was received here late. WH2XCR again completed an active evening with over 1000 total spots logged here. The PNW was far more difficult last night as the high latitude path struggled in both directions. I plan on activating the 12′ shielded RX loop tonight with hopes of copying additional Europeans.”
Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, reported that the massive 8-circle array was consistently 2-3 dB better than the beverage array when comparing trans-Atlantic reports. As WG2XJM, Eric decoded WSPR from DK7FC, F1AFJ, and IW4DXW and he received decodes from F1AFJ, F6CWA, G0LUJ/3. G0LUJ/1, and G3XKR. As NO3M, he decoded DK7FC and IW4DXW. Details of WG2XJM’s trans-Atlantic reports can be viewed here. Details of NO3M’s trans-Atlantic reports can be viewed here.
Andy, KU4XR, provided two WSPR reports to DK7FC. Those details can be viewed here. Andy also added the following comments about recent changes at his station and future plans for performance comparisons:
” I laid 6 radials in the NE direction ranging from 105 feet to 162 feet ( property accommodating ) tied to my ground rod at the window.. The radials are terminated with a perimeter wire too.. Time will tell if the radials help in any way.. I had the dipole terminated into the 4 pine trees last night which seems to enhance reception to the NE ( could just be in my mind – hi – hi ) I’m going to try the dipole unterminated for a few days for comparison”
Mike, WA3TTS, decoded WSPR from G8HUH and details for those trans-Atlantic crossings can be viewed here. Mike provided the following additional statistics and comments:
“From time to time I see what could be a wspr2 signal with 2 minute time sequencing just below and blending into the “racing stripe” interference signal around 474.633 ~ .640kHz. Since everyone in the Midwest and NE seems to hear this racing stripe interference signal, it would be best for the T/A and T/P DX stations to be aware of the situation and steer clear of it by a few extra Hz. The interfering signal is strong enough to prevent decodes in the mid -20s range or lower (-25 to -33 SNR)…73 Mike wa3tts”
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, decoded WSPR from DK7FC using the Super KAZ antenna oriented to the Northeast. He submitted the following comments:
“Decoded 16 unique stations including DK7FC 5 times who is seldom decoded although closer to me than regular WH2XCR. The VE7s were in again last night when I switched to the west super kaz antenna at 3 PM local. I was decoded by 36 despite spur problems, now corrected, that might have affected my power out.”
There was a significant amount of activity in Europe using a mode called “QRA64”. I believe that it is part of the WSJTx package and was originally designed for use at microwave frequencies. It seems the mode is used in the same frequency range that JT9 uses. There were a significant number of emails on the RSGB LF reflector between a large number of stations and the reports are a bit chaotic so until I can figure out a better way of documenting the activity I will simply report that G3KEV, SV8RV, G3EZY, IZ7SLZ, IW4DXW, GW0EZY, and LA3EQ (two-way QSO with G3KEV) were QRV on QRA64 overnight.
Joe, VO1NA, reported that he would be QRV again on CW at 477.7 kHz. Roelof, PA0RDT, posted the following screen capture and mp3 audio of VO1NA on the RSGB LF reflector:
Vinny, DL6II, reports that a series of MF QSO parties will be coming and offered the following details:
“With the increasing digi mode MF activity I thought it would be nice to generate some additional activity on a few weekends again. So come on and make some real QSOs instead of WSPRing 24/7 🙂
These are the dates:
• JT 9: October, Friday 28th & Saturday 29th
• QRSS: November, Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th
• CW December, Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th
Starting with the sunset about 17h UTC we’ll keep on QSOing until your eyes keep on closing HI.”
Trans-Pacific openings were equally robust. Starting with Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, he reports that he was decoded by 58 unique stations including VK2DDI, VK2XGJ, and VK4YB. He adds that he received 104 decodes from WH2XCR, best at -1 dB S/N. Details of Ken’s trans-Pacific reports can be found here.
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, was decoded by 70 unique stations including a “baker’s dozen” of trans-Pacific reports. Roger, VK4YB, indicated that Ward’s decodes from eight unique VK stations was more than he received and he lives in VK! John, VK2XGJ, reported that he began decoding Ward eleven minutes before local sunset. Details of Ward’s trans-Pacific reports can be found here.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported in the ON4KST chat:
“XGP heard 19 in last 24 Hrs including VK4YB and lots of east siders…XGP was heard last 24 hrs by 59 including 5 VK, ZF and many east siders…Lots of activity and decent condx, still no path to JA from here. Even 160 JA’s weak and watery…IUV heard 13 last 24 hrs on west antenna. Usual suspects. Will prbly terminate west antenna experiment today…Since I have 14+ hrs of darkness and getting more, I will be reporting 24 periods.” Details of Larry’s trans-Pacific reports for WH2XGP can be found here. His reports for W7IUV can be found here.
Ron, NI7J / WH2XND, received reports from VK2DDI, VK2EIK, VK2XGJ,VK3ELV, VK4YB, VK5ABN and JH3XCU. His details can be viewed here.
Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, sent this link to a BBC paper about cross-modulation and how this might relate to the intermod / phantom decode problem recently observed. Joe received WSPR decodes from VK2EIK, VK2XGJ, and VK4YB. His detail reports can be found here.
Roger, VK4YB, reported that “…Condx were similar to yesterday but faded somewhat towards midnight. Still very good session.” He submitted the following statistics generated since sunset for his activity. Previously unreported details can be found here.
“Rx 21*wg2xxm (-21) 26*wh2xgp (-17) 46*wh2xnd (-10) 45*wh2xxp (-8) 2*ve7cnf (-26) 1*ve7bdq (-27) 10*wi2xbq (-21) 46*wh2xcr (-15)
Tx 3*ve6jy (-23) 2*wh2xnv (-25) 1*w0ay (-32) 9*w7iuv (-17) 2*wh2xgp (-25) 2*ve7bdq (-26) 2*va7bbg (-28) 1*ww6d (-29) 11*we2xpq (-25) 42*wh2xcr (-9) 3*jh1inm (-25) 1*ja3tvf (-26)”
Phil, VK3ELV, received reports from JH3XCU and 7L1RLL. Those details can be seen here.
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, submitted the following report for his WSPR session and noted that VE6JY was decoding his JT9 at -21 dB S/N during the evening:
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reported another good session, decoding twelve WSPR stations , including one phantom station and being decoded by 22 unique stations. Rick’s details for the session can be viewed here.
It was a very quiet session here at my station in Texas. WSPR signals were strong and QRN was very low. Morning CW did not yield additional QSO’s however the morning CW sked was normal. I let the CQ machine run until 1210z before QRTing for the morning. With sunrise getting later it difficult to wait so late to start the day. My WSPR reception reports can be found here and my WSPR transmission reports can be found here.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
There were no reports from Africa or South America.
Eden, ZF1EJ, had a very strong session, with reports in the North East and Pacific Northwest as well as reports for WH2XCR on KH6. Eden’s reports of WH2XCR can be viewed here.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, reported earlier this morning that the band is “…poor now, better earlier – whole sky pulsing Strong active Aurora K=8 – tx on appx 14z.” Some of his DX details for this session can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, was mostly unaffected by the storm conditions, hearing well into New England and receiving what has almost become “easy reports” from Japan and Australia. Lets hope it continues for a long time to come. He had the following comments and statistics about early reports during this session:
“Early to pass the vapor barrier again today:
XXP – 0236Z
XND – 0248Z
XXM – 0304Z
VE7CNF – 0310Z
XIQ – 0310Z
You and Ve7 punching through same time and 50 mins before sunset, 0400Z sunset here, XXP 1 1/2 hours before. Quite interesting propagation even with power level. And this is with QRN crashs today 10 to 20 over 9 as the sun sets and conditions change into nite time.”
His DX details for the session can be viewed here.
Jim, W5EST, presents, “PART 2: CW READABILITY vs. QSB DEPTH & AVERAGE SIGNAL STRENGTH”:
“Yesterday, I suggested WSPR SNR values taken alone will lead you to optimistically predict CW readability when you use those values in QSB conditions. For an example, 630m QSB with 50% fade-up and 50% fade-down takes instantaneous SNR from -6 dB down to -20dB where your CW ear can’t copy. I estimated 110 second overall SNR at about -9dB, which is 4dB above a nominal -13dB CW threshold. Meanwhile the CW readability itself would be suffering considerable interruption by QSB.
Today, let’s consider a wavy variation of instantaneous SNR over 110 seconds as an example of QSB varying the received CW signal power. I’m adopting this proxy for CW readability: the fraction of time CW can be copied. A little mental reflection tells us that fraction increases with the time-averaged received signal power in QSB conditions assuming roughly constant band noise. Also, that fraction decreases with greater depth to which QSB dips may take instantaneous CW SNR because the duration of such dips becomes further extended in time at a SNR level below CW audibility.
If the received signal power never reaches the CW audibility threshold (about -13dB instantaneous SNR), then the CW is not readable at all. If the received signal power never dips below -13dB, then the CW is readable 100% of the time even if tedious to copy.
That’s all fine, and what does it mean for 630m WSPR stations ops who want to switch to CW as soon as there’s a good chance of readability at a distant station? Each operator can let the other operator know via the ON4KST reflector or by e-mail that the other’s WSPR is audible continually enough to copy, and when both concurrently have audibility they can switch to CW to communicate by the CW mode.
On paths that cross many time zones, however, one operator may be asleep while the other operator is still in the shack in waking hours. The awake operator can tell when the WSPR from the distant station is audible, while checking the WSPR SNR being decoded distantly.
Now, how can the awake operator know when to send an ON4KST reflector “meep-meep” wake-up alarm to wake up the distant operator who is asleep and who gave prior permission to be awakened as needed? How can the awake operator estimate the fraction of time the distant operator would actually able to copy CW during the two-minute interval represented by a favorable value of WSPR SNR?
Perhaps the awake operator could wait until WSPR SNR reaches a cushion of several dB above CW audibility threshold. Perhaps that operator could assess how much the WSPR SNR has been varying in the last ten minutes or more. Plainly, judgment calls have to be made and mistakes will unavoidably happen: The asleep operator will be awakened when the QSB is prohibitive. The asleep operator will be allowed to sleep when a CW QSO cold have been achieved.
Rock-solid predictable frequency settings and stability in the transmitters and receivers can help 630m operators on tough paths get set to achieve CW QSOs. CW speed can be intelligently chosen. On the ON4KST reflector yesterday, Steve VE7SL advised that 12 wpm CW** is about right for the VK4YB-VE7SL path, that higher speed is less preferable in the 630m band noise, and that with persistence a CW QSO over such distance should be achievable in a few 30-second fade-ups.
Notice various time scales at work. Noise that’s active in fractional-second intervals can poke pinholes in the dahs and dits and mush up the spaces between them, or obliterate single dits entirely. QSB that fades up and fades down over a few seconds to tens of seconds can admit whole strings of CW or suppress them outright. WSPR is decoding transmissions that vary every few seconds while estimating a single SNR value every 110 seconds. A whole night of these two-minute 630m WSPR time slots has its own personality.
Best wishes to all for a successful CW season testing many different paths. GL!
* 25 wpm in a fading circuit has a necessary bandwidth of 100Hz, so 12 wpm would call for a b.w. of about 50 Hertz. http://life.itu.int/radioclub/rr/ap01.htm (scroll halfway). Actual antennas, receivers and available filtering in one’s receiver would need to deliver sufficient SNR while avoiding ringing and other performance issues, so the CW bandwidth will vary. “
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).