Last night is what it is all about and I had a front row seat for the festivities. I’m always amazed at the number of stations that take an interest in special events like this one. It doesn’t hurt that we literally have a three ring circus with participation from the Marine Radio Historical Society’s “KPH” station, Canadian amateurs making cross band QSO’s with amateurs in the US, and Part-5 experimental stations either beaconing or making QSO’s with other experimental stations – there really is a lot going on and a lot to take in.
In previous years I have called many of the QSO’s I completed the best that I have ever had on 630-meters. I think this year’s activity replaces those previous years in many respects. Before I get ahead of myself let me state the obvious: today’s summary is going to be very heavily weighted to the special event. That’s not to say that there won’t be WSPR content detailed but last night’s activity represents a significant moment in 630-meter lore. Next, I would like to thank everyone that made this event possible. Some of those that come to mind are Steve, VE7SL, for passionately working to market this event, spread the good news of 630-meters, and talk me in “off the ledge” on a few occasions; Of course all of the operators in VE that were active last night played a massive role in providing cross band QSO’s and many show up each night to listen for signals and make their signals available for others to hear. These include but are not limited to VA7MM, VE7BDQ, VE7CNF, VE7CA, VE3OT and VO1NA; Fritz Raab, W1FR, and Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, for making the ARRL publicity for the event work so well. I truly think that this year’s publicity and timing made the event better than ever by allowing more people to know what we were doing right as it was happening – no more “out of sight, out of mind”. I think all of the Part-5 operators that participated this year, whether beaconing or making QSO’s made for a fun event. For me its about communications so to make meaningful QSO’s with Mike, WD2XSH/12, and Eric, WD2XSH/46 (WG2XJM), is important to me. As you will see, Eric and I had some fun in the late evening with some of the traffic we were passing one another and I’m sure we confused anyone trying to listen and figure out what was going on. Last year Mike and I called our two-way QSO the best we had ever had on the band. I think this year’s QSO replaced that honor, at least for me. There is a partial recording of that QSO later in this summary. Finally, I think all of the operators that took an interest and followed the publicity, listened for stations, and made reports either by email or in the ON4KST chat should be commended. We live in a time when a lot of people want the easy way out and there is nothing easy about 630-meters, even when the band is in good shape like it was last night in the early evening. One has to “want it” to dig in the noise and listen for stations and that became apparent as the night progressed and band conditions deteriorated, making Canadian cross band QSO’s very difficult but guys hung in there and got it done in many instances. This was a very good night and thanks to all that made it so.
The band was very quiet in North America, at least starting off the evening. My noise floor was a true S-0 while listening on the transmit vertical until about 0600z when some type of propagated QRN was observed, likely from Central America:
Propagation started out very nicely with at least one trans-Atlantic two-way CW QSO on 630-meters (not cross band!). The geomagnetic field had been mostly elevated quiet but reached unsettled and persistent unsettled levels as the night progressed. The Bz did a nice job of holding firm for much of the early evening but was overcome later in the session by solar wind velocities in excess of 700 km/s. DST values showed significantly deteriorated conditions in Australia which was corroborated by VK4YB but the Kyoto DST appeared less dramatic (perhaps a result of scaling) and may account for the reprieve that many of us received through the evening. As a general rule, the further North you were, the more problems you probably experienced. Here in Texas, it was a very solid night.
I am going to do my best to detail what happened last night but I promise these details will be incomplete and it may take several days to clear the air and even then some anecdotes may be lost. One of the best accounts of the session, however, can be the transcript from the ON4KST chat from the evening and overnight session where many of the guys “in the trenches” relayed and coordinated their activities. Last night’s transcript can be viewed here (start at the bottom and work up). As a minute-by-minute breakdown here in this summary would lead to an end product that is far less than just a summary, I am going to focus on the bigger items, relying on a number of operators to tell their own stories on their own blogs, via email reports, or comments in the chat transcript. I will include links to all of those items.
Chapter one, verse one begins with Paul, N1BUG, in Maine, at 2237z reporting that WG2XKA in Vermont, who was running a CW beacon, was peaking at RST 599+. Paul also completed a cross band QSO with VO1NA at 2223z with RST 559. Paul also completed a two-way cross band QSO with VE3OT, who was a loud RST 579 at 0053z. He made many attempts with PE5T to completed a cross band QSO but it was early in North America and late in Europe and that may have had an impact. Paul details his activity in addition to including audio samples on his blog, which can be viewed here. Paul’s documentation really makes my life easier so I appreciate his efforts very much.
Another early evening highlight was the two-way non-cross band QSO between Kees, PE5T, and Joe, VO1NA. Kees reported that Joe was a solid RST 559 and was using a beverage antenna to listen and a 160-meter inverted L with loading coil and about 300-watts TPO for transmitting. Congrats to both on what may be one of only a handful of trans-Atlantic CW QSO’s completed thus far on 630-meters. Kees also reports that he completed a QSO with VO1HP at RST 559 on 472.5 kHz at 0038z but its unclear at this time whether that was a two-way direct QSO or cross band.
Others in Europe reported VO1NA’s calls as well. Geoff, G0LUJ indicates that he operated CW-Skimmer and captured a nice image that was strong enough for the software to decode. That’s remarkable! He provided the following comments:
“The Rig is an IC7100 and the antenna is a Wellbrook ALA100LN, with a loop of 20m circumference. For the rest of the month I’ll run CW Skimmer on 472.5 kHz (and up 3 kHz) in the hope of hearing others on CW (I’ll keep decoding WSPR as well).”
I hope others will take advantage of Geoff’s skimmer while it is on the air and try to “ring the bell”. Geoff provided reception details for VO1NA which can be viewed here.
Eberhard, DL3ZID, reported the following details and screen capture on the RSGB-LF reflector for VO1NA’s CW signal:
“my rx: FT817 , aktive antenna 10m up DL4YHF-Speclab QRSS3 – Window
watch 477.700 all other QRG are busy by NDB
2016-11-12 22:05 first T on 477.700 kHz
2016-11-13 02:40 best
2016-11-13 03:30 fade out
all time QSB down to nil”
Roloef, PA0RDT, reported aural copy on VO1NA and provided both a screen capture of the overnight plot of Joe’s signal from the Perseus SDR and a real-time visualization of the signal in 500-Hz bandwidth which can be viewed here.
Joe reported that he completed six QSO’s and that band conditions were not too bad. Joe’s location in eastern Canada provided a great opportunity to take advantage of the best propagation of the night.
Back in the “lower-48”, Matt, KA1R, reported that he had setup the receiver for 630-meters for the first time and only heard WG2XKA but posted a recording that can be heard here. A number of reports and cross band QSO’s were registered by a number of stations that showed up for the event, including but not limited to K2OS, N4DB, K3PA, W3LPL,VE3CIQ, W5EST, KU7Z, KG0VL and WZ9B to name a few. Details of their reports are in the chat transcript linked previously.
Fritz, W1FR, reports the following from the Midwest:
“Received here in central Iowa: WG2XIQ, WD2XSH/46, VE3OT, and WH2XXP (on WSPR w/CW ID). The first three are the usual suspects. XXP is new and was quite strong – 599 most of the evening.”
Garry, K3SIW, posted the following comments on the LOWFER reflector:
“Thanks for all the CW and WSPR-2 activity last night. Conditions weren’t the greatest here but copied VE3OT, WD2XSH/46, WG2XIQ, WD2XSH/31, and WH2XHA fine on CW. Also noted signals from VE7SL, VE7BDQ, and VE7CNF on ARGO, but too early to copy the audio and wasn’t listening as 0800Z neared (signals would probably have been stronger then). Stations decoded on wspr-2 were WG2XXM, WH2XXP, WH2XND, WD2XSH/17, VE3EFF, WG2XPJ, WD2XSH/15, WH2XGP, VE3CIQ, and WI2XJQ. 73, Garry, K3SIW, EN52ta, Elgin, IL”
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, received the following comments from K4JJW:
“Hi John: Copied you tonight on 472.05 Hz from 00:49 through 01:23Z. You started just at the noise level and built up to peaking S2 and good CW copy. 61 yrs on the air and this is my first VLF receiving experience. Listening on a ICOM 7700 and a 160’ inverted L tuned to 160m. According to my log you are on a 19 degree bearing from me and 606 miles. I could not hear you on my K9AY loop. Nice to hear you. 73 Dick Goodwin K4JJW New Bern, NC FM15”
John also received the following report from Carl, WA8ZTZ:
“Heard ur WG2XKA 630 meter 472 CW sigs hr early yesterday morning 13 NOV 16 @ 1000Z. Nice signal from VT hr in Rochester MI. LW propagation has been outstanding hr past several days, logged lots of NDBs.”
Ken, SWL-EN61, in Indiana sent the following short audio excerpt of my CQ:
At 0105z, Mike, AI8Z / WD2XSH/12, responded to one of my CQ’s and his signal strength just about caused me to fall out of the chair. It had been almost a year since out last QSO and he truly was the strongest and most consistent that I have ever heard him. In fact I kept “harping” on the fact that he sounded so good, it was almost distracting. I started the recorder shortly after our first “over” in the QSO and so the audio begins as he is sending my report. Now, the two caveats: the audio file is nearly 7 MB. I recommend downloading the audio (“save as”) from this link if you want to hear the QSO in its near entirety. It’s amazing just how consistent his signal is over the 20+ minute QSO. Second caveat and this one is big: Do NOT turn your audio up high, particularly with head phones or I will blow out your eardrums when I begin transmitting. Trust me on this. When I am sending, the receiver is hearing my CW as well as the driver signal which sounds like a constant tone. That constant tone is only heard here but it can be distracting and very loud if you are not expecting it.
A short time later, Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, operating as WD2XSH/46, and I started what would be the first of a number of on-air interactions during the evening which included the passing of message traffic on several occasions. In this next excerpt, Eric and I complete a QSO and Mike, WD2XSH/12, calls Eric after he and I sign off. They continue to QSO until they encounter a fade, with both transmitting at the same time. Both stations are strong the entire time as I note at the end of the recording. Both of the previously stated caveats apply to this audio. It is a 4MB file so please download it and play it locally using this link. Don’t forget about the audio levels!
A short time later, Eric called me back and we finally passed the first of several messages. In this excerpt Eric is sending a QSO report for the session up until that time, in NTS format:
As the evening wore on, our message content transitioned from serious business to Star Wars themes finally to themes on the 90’s TV program, Seinfeld. I’m pretty sure I spent my entire grad school career communicating with people in nothing but Seinfeld-isms and it was fun to send messages back and forth between characters from the program and variations on themes from the show. Eric got the references as well so clearly he was a fan also.
A number of email reports were submitted by hams and SWL’s in real time during the evening. N7DF, located in DM72 reported that at 0045z my CQ’s were RST 599+. Later in the evening he reported,
“Lot of QSB signals fade in and out sporadically Not hearing the VE stations here I am about 60 miles north of mexico border and usually don’t get much north south propagation until about 600Z”
This report supports what we already knew about how the band was changing and its good to know that it wasn’t just me!
I also heard from Dick, K4JJW, who submitted the following comments and report:
“Hi John: Heard you this evening on 474.5 Hz in QSO with WD2XSH starting at 01:21Z. Could not copy WD2XSH. You were just above the noise but good copy at about S1 on my ICOM 7700 and 160’ inverted L tuned to 160m. I couldn’t hear you on my K9AY loop. According to my log, you are at a bearing of 267 deg. from me and 1155 miles. Nice to hear you after 61 years on the air and my first VLF receiving experience. Have fun…. 73 Dick Goodwin K4JJW New Bern, NC FM15″
Fred, N4WI, provided a late report from Wilmington, NC:
“…I copied you last night, 11/12/2016 at about 8 pm local time on 474.7 CQ on a Icom IC-9100, antenna is a 80 meter Inverted Vee at 50 ft., I had the pre-amp in position 2, so the antenna was way too short and needed a lot of loading to bring it down to 474 Khz….”
Now lets transition to cross band activity between Canadian stations and amateur stations that were generally located in the US. As mentioned earlier, propagation started off really strong during the early evening but as time progressed absorption and noise began to increase and it got to be really tough for the calling stations and the callers, particularly since the Canadians are located at higher latitudes, often impacted by such geomagnetic events. While I am posting reports as I receive them here, check VE7SL’s blog for the most comprehensive details on the cross band activity with Canadian stations.
VE3OT was worked by several stations in North America who reported that he was very strong. My experience during this session was that he was weaker than past years but still workable. My calls on 40-meters went unanswered but as Steve, VE7SL, noted later, the band was busy. Mitch and I did not work during this years event as a result. Mitch posted the following comments on LOWFER and it seems he didn’t work anyone on 40-meters:
“…good night for QSOs with 21 contacts Saturday evening. Average to poor condx, and all QSOs on 80 meters – from Maine to Iowa and South to Alabama. No 40 meter contacts this time. I am sure everyone participating were pleased to see how 630 meters worked out. Good Introduction for all. 200 watts here and 340 foot loop lined up E-W. Receive antenna Amrad active at 20 ft.”
VE7 has been a hot bed of activity for some time now and there has been a tremendous amount of interest from stations in the western and Pacific Northwest region of the US to work those stations and provide reports. It was tough going for many in Canada and the US during the early evening as band conditions began to deteriorate. Numerous listening period at my station yielded weak or ESP signals from a number of those stations.
Still many stations in the western portions of the US found early success. Paul, K7CW, sent a report to Steve, VE7SL, which was made available to me and can be viewed here.
Steve also provided these details from Mark, VA7MM:
“QSX 160m: KB7N, W7AMD, K7CW, KG0VL
QSX 80m: VE7BDQ, VA7JX, VA7DXX, AH6EZ/W7, W7GKF, VE7PS, NO3M, VE7CNF, K6GZ, W0YSE
QSX 40m: none
Total contacts: 14
Most distant: NO3M at 3379 km, KG0VL at 2465 km, K6GZ at 1711 km. Band conditions were a struggle. Again thanks for organizing the event, it was fun. I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Steve provided comments and statistics about his activity during the event as well as an analysis of the propagation:
“160m: KG0VL (IA)
80m: VE7BGJ, VE7BDQ, VA7DXX, VA7MM, AH6EZ/W7, VA7JX, W7GKF (WA), VE7PS, NO3M, VE7CEK, W0YSE (WA), WA9ETW (WI), KB7N (WA), K6GZ (CA), W0LS (MN)
40m: K7CW, KB5NJD, VE7CNF
Total of 19.
Had a second QSO with Eric at 0600Z and received a ‘589’ report! Here’s my take on prop…the band started out very long, right from local sunset. I suspect that the skip zone was towards eastern Canada…Quebec or further east….maybe even out into the Atlantic regions where there is no activity. This is often the case on the BCB when condx go somewhat ‘TA’ from here. Further evidence of this was the early report from Steve Ratzlaff AA7U in AZ, experienced LW/BCB DXer reporting several LW signals from Africa early in the evening.
This also explains why there were simply no callers other than locals, for several hours, until the skip zone (later) suddenly receded and NO3M popped-up. As the zone shrunk even further to the west and to the central states, WI, MN and IA were easily worked and later CA. It was a strange night!”
The QSO between Steve, VE7SL, and Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM / WD2XSH/46, started what was to be an amazing ride. Eric and I had just finished what would be our final QSO for the evening and within moments he was reporting that he was working Steve who was operating on 473 kHz. Boom – it was done. That QSO opened a flood gate for a number of us that completed QSO’s with VE stations on cross band. There was a very narrow window that opened only briefly but for stations that hung around, the chances of being rewarded were increasing. Eric worked four VE stations via cross band and provide a synopsis and audio on his blog, which can be viewed here.
Mark, WA9ETW / WI2XHJ, had a fantastic night of cross band QSO’s and reports for other active stations. He offered this summary via email:
“Well, that was fun!Worked Mitch (VE3OT) crossband from 80m right out of the blocks (as I did last year). His sigs were no better than 529 at the time (0109 UT) but, later, inproved to as much as 589. Lots of variability on that path throughout the night.Mid-evening was spent with WSPR and listening to your reliably Q5 CW sigs, those of WG2XSH/46 (aka Eric, NO3M, who was unbelievably loud at this QTH) and a number of others who were beaconing.I had pretty much despaired of hearing anything from VE7 (as had most others, I guess). Steve (VE7SL) was reporting only “local” QSOs, and it was beginning to look like bedtime. But, good things come to those who wait. When Eric (NO3M) beganreporting good sigs from VE7-land, I hunkered down and listened harder. Sure enough, bits and pieces of VE7SLs CW sigs COULD be heard at 0.473. And, over an 8 – 10-minute period, more and more crept up out of the noise. Steve asked on-line if I could make a call on HF, which I did on 80m. Fortunately, path condx peaked here just at that point and, beginning at about 0527, we managed a very comfortable QSO (with his sigs a solid 529 throughout). Thereafter, things deteriorated quickly — it was a right time/right place kind of thing.Although I also heard scraps of VA7MM and VE7CNF, I was hampered by a local “birdie” on top of Mark and some QRM adjacent to Toby’s freq. Those Qs simply weren’t going to happen. Not last night, anyway.The station on this end was almost embarrassingly simple: a barefoot IC-7000 (630/80 split) into a 90′ EFW dangling through a tree and nowhere more than about 15′ off the ground. (An extended growing season here has kept my better antennas coiled up longer than usual.) I guess the lesson here is that, with a bit of patience and good luck, even modest equipment can deliver a lot of good fun below the BCB.Many thanks to all who made this event possible. It was a great evening!73, Mark — WA9ETW/WI2XHJ“
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, got in on the CW action and submitted this report and picture of his operation:
“John – whata fun -! The only spoiler was the lack of iono reflections for portions on the night which seems to have come in wafts of attenuation. We had a virtual blackout on MF with no skywave at all on 80 and 160m, just about an S6 “shhhhh” noise from the iono. The normal MF nets on 3933 snipers net were just stations within groundwave. The only partial reception I can see was from Neil XSV who picked up sections of the XPW CW message. My CW message included a section that KL7L was qrv on 80m, so wasn’t eliciting reports direct to XPQ – kind of gray, as its the same as saying qsl to KL7L…..as it was I didn’t have any takers. Was using the MixW auto keyer for the wheel but mostly a simple up down morse key that Ive had for 40 plus years and probably had its last outing 30 plus years ago on a commercial circuit; the Bencher was plugged into the 80m txcr. It looks like all the good iono was pushed South with a strong delineation line of increased attenuation. Cheers”
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, split his session, adding the “4th ring” to the already out of control circus by reporting WSPR stations as well:
“Here is some of the activity I experienced last evening from Vancouver, WA. WI2XBQ in CN70 was copied on CW (beacon) weak at first, and then Joe turned on the amp and jumped up to 589. I worked K6KPH on 3550 kHz around 0135z and heard VA7DXX and AH6EZ/W7 working cross-band with Mark, VA7MM.
My BC neighbors to the north were not being heard here until about 0515z when Steve/VE7SL copied my 80m cw at 339 at best. We completed a quick QSO before my signal faded. I forgot to write down my report to Steve (sorry).
My next X-band QSO was with Toby/VE7CNF. I tried calling him on 3558 kHz but could not connect. Then I called him on 1836 kHz and Toby got me at a 229. He was 539 on 630m.
Then I was beginning to see Laurence/WE2XPQ up in AK on the FLdigi waterfall. Occasionally I could pick out the letter “Q” from him. Finally I heard a “YSE” (which he confirmed on the ON4KST chat site) as well as a QSX of “35??”
Around 0635z I had a X-band QSO with Mark/VA7MM who was 339 on 475.0 kHz. Mark gave me a 599 on my 80m signal.
I heard John/VE7BDQ also, but I dont recall if we had a QSO. ( I need to take better notes !!! ) …and… later (overnight) on wspr, I was heard out east again (besides the usual ones N, S, and W).”
That is what I have to report for the special event as of right now. I recall seeing a few reports for KPH in passing but it is my hope that the MRHS will have a detailed report in the coming days for their activity. This night was a blast and I can only hope that the next special event (Midwinter QSO party?) will be as much fun and be so interesting and well attended. As I said when I started this summary today, all of this – everything that happened last night – is what its all about. What a great night of fellowship and fun as we did battle in the trenches.
Now, the world continued to rotate in spite of the special event and there was a significant amount of WSPR activity, including numerous trans-Atlantic reports, a path that was favored over trans-Pacific during this session.
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, received reports from F1AFJ and F59706. Ken indicates that he received reports from 57 unique stations during the evening. His trans-Atlantic report details can be viewed here.
Dave, AA1A / WD2XSH/17, who I was certain might be QRV in the special event, operated WSPR and was decoded by G0LUJ/1, PA0RDT, G3XKR, and G8HUH. These report details can be viewed here.
Brian, W1IR / WG2XPJ, received WSPR reports from G3XKR and G8HUH and those report details can be viewed here.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, indicates continued good band conditions, receiving reports from 36 unique stations and decoding the four active WSPR stations during the session. Rick’s unique report detail can be viewed here.
Ron, NI7J / WH2XND, received reports from 61 unique stations:
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 64 unique stations:
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, received reports from 61 unique stations:
Roger, VK4YB, reported “Horrid conditions, QRN wipe-out, I can only find one TP spot. That is from N6SKM -29 at 09:58.” This single, bizarre report from N6SKM can be viewed here.
John, VK2XGJ, reported for the previous session,
“Two very unusual things last night John. Inspite of the noise I managed to print WH2XCR twice but also VK6XT for the first time into VK6. I haven’t done any checking yet, printed VK6XT at 1516 z –23 dB.“
I am awaiting word on the verdict of the VK6XT report.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, operated two stations, receiving many of the active WSPR stations for the session:
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, reports lots of noise on VLF and warble on HF signals with periods of total blackout during the overnight session. As previously reported, he was active in the special event and had a good time. Laurence had a respectable night of WSPR under the circumstances with reports in the western portions of North America and two-way reports with WH2XCR which can be viewed here. UPDATE 11/14/16: Laurence indicates that he received VK4YB during this session but it seems that an upload problem prevented those reports from being detailed at the time of summary publication. Those additional reports can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, experienced a massive night with JA stations, sharing two-way reports with JA1PKG and receiving reports from JA1NQI-2, JA3TVF, JE1JDL, and JH3XCU. The path to VK was tough as Roger, VK4YB, reports intense QRN and it is certain that the geomagnetic activity did not help. Merv decode Roger, nevertheless. The VK and JA report details can be viewed here.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).