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472 GRABBER OFF LINE UNTIL MIDWEEK

Trans-Atlantic returns as DK7FC and PA3ABK/2 are heard at WD2XSH/17 and WG2XKA is reported at PA0RDT; DST shows a peak and begins to drop as protons increase; More T/R switching and QSK talk from W5EST

– Posted in: 630 Meter Daily Reports, 630 Meters

It was nice to be QRV again in spite of spotty showers.  QRN levels were low here and signals began early, in fact, WH2XND and WH2XXP were easily decoded on WSPR in the late afternoon.  Propagation was variable, however, as Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported during the evening that he had observed mostly North / South propagation but by 0500z he reported that the East / West paths were beginning to show some life.  He also indicated elevated absorption in spite of receiving CW level reports here at my station.  Other stations at higher latitudes reported more average conditions in spite of several “big” openings.  John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, reported that he felt like the band t his QTH in Vermont was better earlier in the evening.  John was hearing very well, consistently decoding my WSPR’s in the mid to upper teens.

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12-hour North American lightning summary

 

Oceania continues to experience high noise levels from storms and Roger, VK4YB, operating VI4SEA reported that he would continue to call CQ unless there was a storm overhead.

Geomagnetic conditions remained quiet this morning and while the Bz is pointing to the North and solar wind velocities remain in the low category, averaging 350 km/s, protons are elevated and DST values have show the characteristic peak followed by a decrease.  Whether this signature marks the beginning of the effects of Sunday’s CME remains to be seen.  Solarham is indicating that the CME may be late and could manifest this weekend, just in time for the special event.

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Trans-Atlantic opening returned as WD2XSH/17 in Massachusetts reported DK7FC and PA3ABK/2.  Those report details can be viewed here.  In addition to these reports, John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, was reported by Roelof, PA0RDT.  That report detail can be viewed here.

Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, indicates that he received WSPR reports from 44 unique stations, including 100 decodes from WH2XCR, best at -3 dB S/N, at a distance of 6007 km.

Dave, N4DB, reports that he was hearing intermittent CW during the early evening.  It was not me and given Dave’s location I doubt it was WD2XSH/46 (WG2XJM).  Dave also reported what sounded like SSB signals near 474 but its my suspicion that this was broadcast mixing products.  Dave indicated that the signal content was unintelligible.  I tend to observe similar signals in the Fall on the approach to December near sunset but I’ve never been able to identify the source.  Maybe someone was on actually SSB(?).

Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, received reports from both Alaska and Hawaii during this session.  He submitted the following statistics from his station:

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It was another very different night in the Pacific, with WH2XXP, WH2XND, and WH2XGP only receiving trans-Pacific reports from ZL2BCG.  Storms off of the eastern coast of Australia continue to make listening difficult there.

ZL2BCG report details for Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, can be viewed here.

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WH2XXP session WSPR activity (courtesy NI7J)

 

ZL2BCG report details for Ron, NI7J / WH2XND, can be viewed here.

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WH2XND session WSPR activity

 

ZL2BCG report details for Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, can be viewed here.  Note that Larry operated two receivers, two antennas and two decoders again as he did in the previous session.  As W7IUV, Larry produced twelve decodes for VI4SEA.  Those report details are included with VI4SEA’s data below.

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WH2XGP session WSPR activity (courtesy NI7J)

 

VI4SEA was active through very noisy conditions and received WSPR decodes from JA3TVF, W6XY, W7IUV, VE7SL, and VE6JY.  Those long-haul report details can be viewed here.

I thought it was a good session from my perspective.  I began prior to sunset in order to encourage the system to “dry out” after several days of torrential rain and was concurrently receiving WH2XXP, WH2XND, and WD2XSH/15 prior to sunset.  WD2XSH/46 (WG2XJM) reported me near CW levels before sunset as well.  I did not run CW during this session as we continued to experience a few small showers in the early evening but expect that I will be QRV on 474.5 CW tonight prior to sunset, baring unforeseen events.  WSPR transmission reports can be found here and WSPR reception reports can be found here.

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WG2XIQ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:

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North 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 / New Zealand 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Eden, ZF1EJ, reported those of us in the central US again, in addition to the more distant stations in the desert southwest, Washington state and Vermont:

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ZF1EJ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, continues to decode VI4SEA and share two-way reports with WH2XCR, which seems to have been a particularly healthy path with a large number of reports in both directions overnight.  Most of Laurence’s other reception reports were clustered in the Pacific Northwest.  His report details for WH2XCR and VI4SEA can be viewed here.

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WE2XPQ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, reports continued early reports from WH2XGP and WH2XXP, two hours before sunset in KH6.  Merv also reported another interesting observation and I am very much on board with his thinking.  He explains:

“We had 40 ft waves,  they are down some now 20 to 30 ft,  but suppose to be another batch in a couple days and another after that,  major storms off to
the north causing all the wave action.  On 630M the reception is affected by the huge waves,  as the signals are hitting  the wave tops,  it makes for a fluttering sound like signals passing over the pole in disturbed conditions,   and wave timing comes into play when the peaks are close to half wave apart you get enhanced signal propagation.  In VHF they call it picket fencing as you drive down the road,  so this must be wave top fencing?”

I would love to hear a loud signal experiencing this “picket fencing” that Merv is observing.  That is fascinating!

Merv decoded VI4SEA in addition to a number of stations in North America.  He was decoded by JA3TVF, JE1JDL, JH3XCU, and ZL2BCG as well as WD2XSH/46 (WG2XJM) in Pennsylvania:  Merv’s JA, VK, and ZL report details can be viewed here.

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WH2XCR 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Jim, W5EST, presents, “CONVERSATION ON 630M T/R RELAYING…AND FULL POWER 630M QSK?”:

“Jim W5EST: Among the convenience challenges of ham/Part 5 MF, some standouts are T/R, QSY, QSK, and 630/2200m band switching.  Lots of station-specific details!  Solutions that would be applicable to many very different kinds of stations could enhance the appeal of MF in those countries that permit MF transmissions by their operators.

John WG2XIQ:  Even with all of the station differences, the usual HF descriptions of T/R and QSK are based on some commonalities between these types of stations:

1)  A transceiver with probably internal pin diode switching is used and the sequencing is handled there.  2)  Keying of an amplifier often controls keying the exciter.  But sequencing may be poor, damaging amps and exciters. 3) With external RX antennas one might use a transistor circuit to suck RF from RX antenna line and switch in attenuation to protect the receiver from RF.  If a rig lacks this RX protection, you need a properly sequenced relay to open up.  Back-to-back diodes produce IMD problems, so avoid them.

Jim W5EST: Phil AD5X in Texas is probably thinking of HF, but might his web site help 630m to use his boat anchor QSK circuit designed for separate vintage 100-200w TX and RX? http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=0ahUKEwjvsJO__4fQAhVD5iYKHUUzAwcQFghEMAY&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ad5x.com%2Fimages%2FArticles%2FQSKBArevA.pdf&usg=AFQjCNEIjmc99hw1zuCurvlQgrSQ3ADaiQ&bvm=bv.137132246,d.eWE   In his website, two OMRON signal relays are associated with delay circuitry. Would they work for 630m T/R but have to be redesigned for 630m QSK?

John WG2XIQ: Every implementation is different.  Low band stations are vastly more complicated because of things like receive antenna, detuning transmit antennas, and amplifiers. Active RX arrays sometimes have their preamp power switched off between transmit cycles.  Rig receive antenna port protection may be solid state or mechanical…As you can imagine, the sequencing has to be right.

Am I using an active RX antenna array?  Does an RX antenna preamp need to be switched off between TX cycles?  If yes, sequencing is needed.

If I am using separate TX and RX antennas, I need to detune the TX antenna on receive to prevent noise coupling and pattern disruption. For QSK I will have to use a very fast relay at the antenna feed point to accomplish this switching of the detune circuit.  It has to be right 100% of the time or I am going to dump X watts into a mismatched load.  On 630m, my FET amp would fail immediately–no room for another chance. Big tube amps are more forgiving when running legal limit.

Not many low band CW ops run QSK because of the complications I mentioned.  A lot is required to get things right, and it has to be right 100% of time because there is a lot of money potentially at stake.  Some guys still do it and they make it look easy.  I’m not risk tolerant enough.

That first web site’s relay delay idea above is nice IF you are only trying to deal with an interface between a transmitter and a receiver.  If you have systems that have keying relays as state changes at the transceiver, that’s going to seriously cut into your keying time budget.  On 630-meters not many are are simply using a separate TX and RX and listening on their TX antenna where the relay system could work.

I use separate RX and TX on 630m CW but I have relays and contactors controlling one another along the RF chain.  I use a foot switch to get everything to line up.

Jim W5EST: I’m also interested in blogging an uncomplicated solid-state 630m QSK solution. Don Huff W6JL’s solution for a 550w station is based on four 1N4007 rectifier diodes. That’s the simplest PIN T/R circuit I see on the web so far. T/R isolates the always-on RX by -100dB on transmit. Scroll 30% for the photo and T/R schematic at p.10:  http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0ahUKEwjN9szOmojQAhUF8CYKHSUdA6YQFggjMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcbjohn.com%2Faa0zz%2FPPLLUsers%2FW6JL%2FW6JL.pdf&usg=AFQjCNGa7f4Jpm72uoAxtl5Bl1T-Zk8xJg&bvm=bv.137132246,d.eWE

John WG2XIQ: That solution is nice, and the time budget probably gets better with lower time to state change.  Just keep in mind 630m may need down-line switching on the RX antenna system and in the transmit chain and to TX antenna. So a T/R isolation solution gives you a piece of the puzzle, and you have more to do to control a whole 630m station.

Jim W5EST: Lastly, another web site tells about click/pop/TVI problems and QSK in message traffic-handling: http://qrqcwnet.ning.com/forum/topics/1993813:Topic:2221 .

John WG2XIQ:  The click problem is a BIG issue. Poor makes and breaks get really hard on amps and anything that can receive the signals like TVs, radios, anything…  Poorly switched vacuum relays will generate tons of harmonics.  A sequencing problem with a detune process can radiate up the band too.

So I guess if you have a simple system with minimal peripherals, you could make many options work.  Probably multiple pin diodes along the way can be switched quickly.  I’ve seen microwave pin diode switches in the lab change state 10,000 times a second. That speed is way superior to a mechanical relay. But there is overhead in making pin diode switches work.

If 630m QSK were easy, more guys would do it. Lots of pieces have to work all the time and can be difficult to troubleshoot.  Few 630m ops run QSK at full power. We need schematics of station successes at this.

Jim W5EST: Any closing remarks you’d like to give us?

John WG2XIQ:  I really love QSK CW but only run it on HF when I don’t need the amp.  I can’t run it on 160m if I am listening on RX antennas because of the detune requirement to prevent noise coupling. But it’s ok when listening on the TX antenna–if TX antenna is not useless due to noise and crud as at my QTH on 160m.

My backup MF Solutions board for 630m has the receive pass-through option.  So it’s solid state switching, and I have run it directly to the TX antenna using QSK.  It works fine but it’s only 25w TPO, better for talking around the area/ regionally.

We can aspire to 630m QSK so long as we recognize the challenges and deal with them intelligently and economically.  It’s state of the art to achieve 630m QSK at full power!

To our blog readers: Tell us your experiences and tips on these topics—T/R, MF band switching, QSY, QSK.  TU & GL!”


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