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OFF AIR - but back tonight after dark for more CW

More trans-Pacific propagation overnight as unsettled geomagnetic field returns; Storms impact many in North America; N4DB decodes WH2XCR for first time; EA5DOM daytime WSPR redux

– Posted in: 630 Meter Daily Reports, 630 Meters

It was apparently a pretty good session in spite of storms in the central US that kept several of us off air over night.  The QRN didn”t stop everyone, however, as Dave, N4DB, decoded WH2XCR for the first time for his best personal DX on 630-meters.  Dave reports that he was using a 160-meter OCF dipole and a K3S.

wh2xcr-n4db-110316

WH2XCR, as reported by N4DB

Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported that it was noisy in South Carolina early in the evening but he was hearing long wave broadcast carriers.  This storm system will move East through the day and out of my area but will still be a major QRN source tonight:

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11-hour North American lightning summary

 

The geomagnetic field returned to unsettled levels again during this session with the Bz pointing to the South and solar wind velocities averaging in the 390 km/s range.  DST values are trending downward:

planetary-k-index-110316

 

kyoto-dst-100316

 

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Luis, EA5DOM, reported to the RSGB-LF reflector that he was having daytime success on WSPR.  He submitted these comments:

I’m keeping Txing during daylight for test. Getting spots from DJ0ABR, DK7FC/P and sometimes G8HUH.  The path from SW to NE and the distance 1398 to 1556Km is what is working with reports at WSPR-2 limit but consistently.  Maybe be Allan have a good explain for this ;-)”

Ron, VK4AFW, reports success hearing VI4SEA with these comments:

“Copied VI4SEA calling CQ on CW at 569 by ear with some QSB from 1100 UTC on 472.500 kHz this evening.  I listened for your JT9 but did not get any decode.  Are you using LSB or USB?  Rx IC9100 and 80 m dipole.”

Roger, VK4YB, operating as VI4SEA, received reports from a number of stations.  Those not noted elsewhere in this report include VE7SL, JH1INM, and ZL2BCG.  Those report details can be viewed here.

Ron, NI7J / WH2XND, reports that he was decoded by ZL2BCG, VI4SEA, and VK2XGJ.  Those trans-Pacific reports can be viewed here.

wh2xnd-110316

WH2XND session WSPR activity

 

Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, reports that he was decoded by ZL2BCG, VI4SEA, VK3ELV and VK2XGJ.  Those trans-Pacific reports can be viewed here.

wh2xxp-110316

WH2XXP session WSPR activity (courtesy NI7J)

 

Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reports that he decoded nine WSPR stations including VI4SEA but no eastern stations. Larry was decoded by 36 unique stations including  ZL2BCG, VI4SEA, VK3ELV and VK2XGJ in addition to a few eastern stations.  He reports that conditions were poor overall but improved as sunrise approached.  His trans-Pacific reports can be viewed here.

wh2xgp-110316

WH2XGP session WSPR activity (courtesy NI7J)

 

Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, reports that he continued to receive reports from twelve stations in full daylight at 1437z.  Joe was also decoded by VK3ELV and VK2XGJ and shared two-way reports with VI2SEA.  Those trans-Pacific reports can be viewed here.

Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reports that he decoded eight WSPR stations and was decoded by twenty unique stations.  His unique decode report details can be viewed here.

Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reported that he was “receive only” during this session, decoding eight western stations.  His best DX was WH2XCR, WH2XND, and WH2XXP.

Referencing yesterday’s discussion about SWR bridges, Neil also reported that he had success with a Heathkit VHF SWR meter and provided these comments:

“I was reading the discussion in ur blog today about using HF SWR meters on 630m. I stumbled across a Heathkit HM 2102 VHF Wattmeter at a swap meet about 3 years ago that does an ok job on 630m as far as SWR goes. My 80-100 watts of RF into it produces slightly more than the required forward deflection for full scale. My reflected power, of course, is almost no deflection at resonance.

Maybe someone else with one of these HM 2102’s can let us know if there’s works similarly…”

A few years ago I purchased a couple of very inexpensive Heathkit HF SWR meters at the local hamfest with the intention of converting them according to work done by Pat, W5THT / WD2XSH/6, but never did and they continue to sit in my garage.  Perhaps one day I will do it if any of my scopes stop working.

Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, posed a question to Joe, K1JT, about maintaining settings in WSJTx when switching between WSPR and JT.  Many of us have experienced problems with transmit frequencies when switching between modes.  Joe offers this solution:

“1. Use the *Configurations* menu to create separate configurations for JT9 and WSPR.  See the User Guide picture at Section 10.1.3.  This will take several steps: you clone an existing Configuration, say “Default”; you rename the copy as desired; then you switch to the renamed copy.  Do these steps twice — you can name the two JT9 and WSPR, or whatever.

2. Thereafter, switch between modes by switching Configurations.  This way, all setup parameters are saved and restored separately for each mode, and I think you’ll get a “clean” start when you switch modes.”

Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:

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North American 24-hour WSPR activity

 

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South American 24-hour WSPR activity

 

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European 24-hour WSPR activity

 

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African 24-hour WSPR activity

 

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Central / Asiatic Russian 24-hour WSPR activity

 

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Japanese 24-hour WSPR activity

 

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Australian and New Zealand 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Ken, ZS6KN, continues to report that he is transmitting at 30% dty cycle at 20 dBm.  He is operating in an area of the WSPR passband that is typically very congested so please listen carefully for him.  It seems like it might be possible to hear him on one of the unsettled nights.

Eden, ZF1EJ, had “slim pickins’ during this session, either due to storms, QRN, or poor conditions at higher latitudes due to unsettled geomagnetic conditions:

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ZF1EJ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, reports that it was an “awful night, but not completely dead”.  At 1438z he reported strong pulsing aurora from the North just past zenith and he adds that it was like something out of the intro of Dr. Who!  Laurence’s two-way report details with WH2XCR can be viewed here.

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WE2XPQ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, was decoded in the eastern US at WA3TTS in Pennsylvania and N4DB in Virginia.  As previously reported, the decode at N4DB was a first for Dave.  Openings extended into the eastern portions of Australia as well as New Zealand and JF1LKS_3 provided Merv with his sole JA reports for the session.  The path to WE2XPQ was also open and numerous exchanges were reported by both stations.  Merv’s JA, VK, and ZL reports can be viewed here.

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WH2XCR 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Jim, W5EST, presents, “CHALLENGE OF 630M SIGNAL-TO-NOISE”:

“Jim W5EST says:  Thanks to Mark Connelly WA1ION* for contributing an article on 630m SNR and antennas for us to blog! I’ve added the endnotes.  Mark writes:

‘630m, just below the AM broadcast band, does present a signal-to-noise challenge at least at a location that is inherently RF quiet in terms of electrical noise sources.
A noisy site is a different sort of challenge since you may have to use some combination of antenna directivity and two (or more) antenna phasing.
Noisy site: front-to-back for cardioid pick-up antennas (e.g. Flag) or front-to-side for figure-of-8 pick-up antennas (ordinary loop) IS important.  You will need that null or nulls to reduce the local electrical noise.
Quiet site: it’s more about sensitivity since the noise level can sometimes be set by the receiver itself or by (allegedly) low-noise preamps in the antenna to receiver path.
Sensitivity at lower frequencies is typically a “size matters” situation.  For 630m, a single turn untuned loop or Flag having a dimension much less than 15m / 50 ft. on any side is going to need preamplification en route to the receiver.
The way to get by with a smaller antenna is to go narrowband: L-C tank circuit.  630m is not a particular wide range of frequencies so why wouldn’t you go that way?
A reasonably high Q tuned square (air-core) box loop of about 1.5m / 5 ft. per side with a pick-up (low impedance) link can deliver reasonable signal-to-noise performance even without a preamp except perhaps for the most demanding daytime-in-a-remote-region situations.
You can get that tuned loop size under 1.5m per side if you can amplify either with a high-Z in / low-Z out FET buffer amp across the whole loop inductance or with a 50 ohm in/out amp (e.g. RPA-1**) between the link coil output and receiver input.
Ferrite cores can also be used to reduce the size of a tuned loop antenna for a given amount of sensitivity.  The FSL (ferrite sleeve loop***) is a recent development packing a lot of pick-up in a fairly small package.
An antenna with a small footprint can sometimes beat a bigger one when it can be placed in the quietest part of the yard.  Sometimes keeping a big antenna away from all possible noise emitters can be quite challenging except in areas that are completely empty of buildings, utilities, and so on.
No one antenna solution covers all the bases.  Things that come into play include the size of your site as well as proximity to electrical utilities, strong local broadcast stations, and other antennas that could cross-couple.
Verticals are what you would prefer for transmitting but are apt to be “noise getters” on receive.
The importance of directivity on receive should not be overlooked.  Much lightning QRN comes in at night from the tropical regions almost independent of season.  If desired DX signals are not also coming from those areas, why not gain a bit of advantage by nulling out some of that static?
Beverages and larger broadband loops (whether bidirectional or terminated / cardioid) are great antennas for receiving but may be hard to fit in at some sites.
Narrowband (L/C tuned) antennas might be the only thing that works in small space situations.
In summation:
(1) Larger loops, whether bidirectional or terminated / cardioid, will produce signal levels above what would require a preamp.  Smaller loops force you to use amps that compromise S/N and could cause IMD / spurs.
(2) The importance of directivity on receive should be considered in the whole signal-to-noise or signal-to-interference equation.
(3) Some situations will force you to consider tuned rather than broadband receiving antennas.
(4) In an imperfect and quite variable world, there is no single solution that is best.  Having more than one good receiving antenna on site can be useful if the antennas excel in different ways.
Mark Connelly, WA1ION South Yarmouth, MA’

*Blogged by permission according to Mark’s instructions:  “All of the above comments may be shared freely as long as I am mentioned as the contributor.”

**Datasheet: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=rpa-1+preamp  ;  Note warning: “The unit can be damaged by direct application of transmitter power greater than 1 watt.”

Tests by amateurs:

1)     W8JI web page http://www.w8ji.com/pre-amplifiers.htm

2)      VA7OJ test report:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=0ahUKEwjSl6uE8ozQAhXHJiYKHSEuAbwQFgg9MAY&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ab4oj.com%2Ftest%2Fdocs%2Frpa1_report.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHKK30_ewiyAO1KgK50zMpSFObXbw

*** See these web pages on FSL, for example:

http://www.am-dx.com/antennas/FSL%20Antenna%20Design%20Optimization.htm
http://www.am-dx.com/antennas/Ferrite%20Sleeve%20Loop%20Antennas.htm

http://swling.com/blog/tag/ferrite-sleeve-loop/

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0ahUKEwiclIqX9ozQAhVBQyYKHU6bDnYQFgghMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thomasn.sverige.net%2F7_Inch_Affordable_FSL.pdf&usg=AFQjCNEFDj2kZ4BkkZQ0v4-uTwystTNsMQ

 


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