What an obnoxious session, at least from my perspective. There was just enough nagging QRN to make a difference, which was elevated over previous sessions by a fairly significant margin. Propagation seemed down from the start although my evening CW session saw the appearance of the “Phantom Ditter” who is probably local (in a regional sense). WSPR reports were less numerous than normal although there were a number of CW-level reports. Overall the session was all down compared to other nights. Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported severe high latitude absorption at 0500z with both 160- and 630-meters seemingly dead or weak at best. Then there was WSPRnet having intermittent outages. Aside from downtime in the 0300z hour, I think the website was mostly up and accepting data. A quick look at the WSPRnet chat page suggests that the administrator performed a reboot so that one of the decode statistics would begin updating again. No significant gaps were observed in my data after that time overnight. That said, overall receive and transmit report total were down. I would bet that the band was down for some reason and the excess QRN was not helping.
Geomagnetic activity was largely quiet through the day and early evening until overnight when a single reporting period at unsettled levels appeared. The Bz continues pointing to the South and solar wind velocities remain near 430 km/s. DST values were mixed. Kyoto seems less impacted than the Australian DST but the latter uses dynamic scaling of their graph data so looks can be deceiving:
Roger, VK4YB, reports some changes to the operating schedule of the VI4SEA special event:
“There is a great deal of interest in the VI4SEA 2200m operation. Thanks to all who had a listen. The first night of operation was hampered by very heavy QRN. Also the time was too early for stations in Victoria and Tasmania, where sunset was not complete.
The operation is being moved later. The new schedule is CQ CW on 136.5 kHz at 09:00 UTC and WSPR-2 on 137.425 kHz at 09:10 UTC daily. This means the VI4SEA 630m operation will also begin later. The new schedule is CQ CW on 472.5 kHz at 10:00 and 11:00 UTC, CQ JT9 on 475.300 kHz at 10:10 and 11:10 UTC, WSPR-2 on 475.625 kHz at 10:20 and 11:20 UTC daily.
Hopefully the QRN will be less in the coming days.
73 Roger, VK4YB”
Roger also submitted a note with pictures of the tuning and matching setup used for this special event and everyday operation at his station:
“The first pic shows my coil winding effort. It just consists of an old storage box with a couple of holes, a length of PVC pipe, two end caps and two PVC elbows for the handle. With my assistant, we took just 2 minutes to wind the 500 microHenry coil shown. The second pic shows the finished coil used in a tuned balun matching unit. Note the link winding is wound over the centre of the coil.The capacitor used is a 4x470pF variable. This alone tunes 630m. By adding a fixed 2.5nF capacitor it tunes 2200m. The original 630m tuned un-un is on the right.”
Additional European activity involved JT9 at F6CNI, where Andy was operating at 1 W ERP. He completed a two-way QSO with Eric, ON5TA.
Phil, VK3ELV, received reports from 7L1RLL4, JA3TVF, JF1LKS_3, and JH3XCU late in the previous session. Those report details can be viewed here.
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reports that he was decoded by 51 unique stations in 24-hours, including VI4SEA:
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reports that he decoded eight WSPR stations and was decoded by sixteen unique stations. He adds “nothing new, No jt9” for the session.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reports that conditions remain disturbed and QRN was up at his South Carolina QTH. He reports that he decoded ten WSPR stations and was decoded by 26 unique stations. He adds that he continues to transmit this morning and is being received by KU4XR on ground wave.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XZO, reports dismal band conditions, but even so he managed to share two-way reports with VI4SEA and receive reports from VK2XGJ, VK3ELV, VK4YB, and ZL2BCG. Larry’s report detail can be viewed here.
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from VI4SEA, VK4YB, VK2XGJ, and ZL2BCG. He also reported that WH2XCR was decoding him and WH2XND over an hour after sunrise in Arizona. Ward’s report detail can be viewed here.
Ron, NI7J / WH2XND, received reports from VI4SEA, VK4YB, VK2XGJ, and ZL2BCG. Ron’s report detail can be viewed here.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, summed it up with one word: “dismal”. Rick decoded eight WSPR stations and was decode by eighteen unique station. His report details of unique decodes can be viewed here.
Steve, VE7SL, asked the question in a couple of venues of whether operators have had success using HF SWR bridges at MF. He received a wide range of responses, from “yes, they work fine” to “they can work but you have to apply a scaling factor and none of them are consistent” to “no, they won’t work at all.” My personal experience was with tests of both an MFJ 949E and an MFJ 989C. Neither unit, regardless of load impedance (including a dummy load) produced usable results. In fact, both units registered 2:1 SWR across the spectrum, regardless of the source used. A keen observer might suggest that this was the result of harmonic content but that was not the case here. These signals were clean sine waves (as measured on a scope), each having passed through extensive low pass filtering circuits. While MFJ indicates that they will offer a “630-meter product line” once 15-99 is implemented, I find that the best real-time measurement method using power is the scope match. Others have used variations on this circuit, like Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, who uses the “Phasometer” or John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, who uses the same circuit with a meter, in lieu of a scope, for SWR measurement. Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported acceptable results from his Elecraft SWR meter and another station reported good results with a Daiwa meter.
Both morning and evening CW sessions were uneventful, aside from the brief appearance of the phantom ditter during the evening session. QRN was elevated at both times as storms in the Midwest and on the Texas coast blossomed. It is highly likely that I will be QRT this evening, overnight, and in the morning in advance of a cold front that will bring storms and probably cool temperatures for the foreseeable future. The WSPR session yielded mixed results. Transmit and receive totals were down for my station but the band appeared to be acceptably “open” for the most part and in many cases yielding numerous CW-level reports. My WSPR transmission reports can be viewed here and my WSPR reception reports can be viewed here.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Ken, ZS6KN, continues to show that he is transmitting at 30% duty cycle at 20 dBm. I hope propagation improves enough that a station in Europe has an opportunity to decode him soon. Keep up the good work Ken!
Eden, ZF1EJ, reported only southern US stations during this session, adding support to the idea that absorption was elevated at higher latitudes:
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, returned to transmitting again in spite of poor conditions, being heard by a few western stations and decoding the Arizona QRO stations, in addition to two-way reports with WH2XCR. Laurence was hearing Merv very late in this session and reports visual aurora through the clouds this morning. His report details for his exchanges with Merv can be found here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, was reported as far East as WA3TTS near Pittsburgh but transmitting stations reported by Merv stopped in the central US during this session. Merv experienced a typical night with stations in Oceania, decoding VI4SEA and VK3ELV as well as receiving reports from JA3TVF. This session was down a bit from previous and you can often get a real idea of what the band was like by looking at Merv’s data. Curiously, as previously reported, Merv decoded WH2XND and WH2XXP over an hour after sunrise in Arizona. Maybe the best way to characterize the band is not poor, down or dismal during this session, but very different. Merv’s VK and JA report details can be found here.
Jim, W5EST, presents, “WSPR15 TO REUNION ISLAND FR5?”:
“Let’s hope for reactivation of Reunion Island FR5 this season. FR5 is near-antipodal from N. America. For N. America paths, the common darkness time windows are short due to wide separation in longitude from FR5. Moreover, western US and western Canada transmissions would suffer an uncertain path through or near the auroral oval on the way to Reunion Island.
If any eastern N. America ops ever reach FR5, it may occur by WSPR15 transmitted from N. America. WSPR2 from Europe has already been demonstrated. FR5 reception of both WSPR15 and WSPR2 can be supported by opening decoder instances of both modes on an FR5 station computer.
Now consider today’s FR5 TABLE. “Kkm” is path length in thousands of kilometers. “Heading” states the FR5 antenna heading first, then the other station’s antenna heading.
The codes in the Land column state the estimated number of E hops coded along with reflections on land: yes/no and number. For instance “6y2” means 6 E hops (2500km or less), “yes” for land reflection, with two land reflections guesstimated.
Some 630m propagation mode other than pure E-multihop may instead be involved. Perhaps one or more F-hops occur near the equator. Perhaps 630m ducting happens over these long distances. For instance, EA5DOM delivered signal quite well over the African land mass into FR5ZX last season.
The Land column codes and Season entries are advisory only. I believe the Brazil PY entry mostly stays away from local storm season, for instance. Let’s say more about latitudes and hemispheric winters too.
Europe-FR5 decodes continued from October into January, 2016. Because of FR5’s nearer proximity to the equator than Europe, the winter season at the higher latitude European end probably tends to extend the seasonality from the equinoxes into hemispheric winter at the higher latitude. “Eqx” means equinox to equinox including winter.
“Season” means S Hemisphere path wintertime–or equinoxes as compromise between N/S hemispheres. Time Window is characterized in relative terms: Long/Medium/Short relative to duration in other world regions. GL and good DX!”
FR5 TABLE: PATHS TO REUNION ISLAND
Location Kkm Heading* Land** Season Time Window
W1/VE1 14.6 nw/ene 6y2 Eqx Medium
FL 15.6 wnw/e 7y2 Eqx Medium
IL 16.0 nw/ene 7y3 Eqx Short
TX 17.0 nw/ene 7y2 Eqx Short
AZ 18.1 nw/ne 7y4 Eqx Short
nCA 18.0 n/n 7y3 Eqx Short
sCA 18.4 nnw/nne 8y4 Eqx Short
WA 17.2 n/n 7y3 Eqx Short
EA 8.9 nw/se 4y2 Eqx Long
SV 7.4 nw/se 3y1 Eqx Long
DE 9.0 nnw/se 4y1 Eqx Long
G 9.8 nnw/se 4y2 Eqx Long
VK3 8.6 se/w 4n May-Aug Medium
VK4 9.6 ese/wsw 4y1 May-Aug Medium
VK6 6.1 se/w 3n May-Aug Medium
JA 10.8 ne/sw 6y2 Eqx Medium
ZS 14.6 nw/ene 6y2 May-Aug Long
PY 14.6 nw/ene 6y2 July-Sept. Medium
*Heading at FR5/ Heading at tx station.
**Number of E hops followed by reflections on land y/n & #.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).