Propagation improvements spread significantly to the West after several days of strong trans-Atlantic reports in North America. QRN levels were low after the storms that brought high noise levels in the previous session dissipated as they moved eastward. There was virtually no noise here in Texas, in fact, the noise floor really was lower than the noise floor on 10-meters! High winds remained an issue at WH2XZO and Doug was forced to delay his evening start time as a result, getting underway two hours later than planned. Another feature of this session was extreme stability of signals over tens of minutes followed by slow fades often seen on lower frequencies. These slow fade were rarely very deep. I’ve not observed this level of stability in a few seasons and typical instabilities can make for perilous CW QSO’s at times if one seeks more than a signal report or short exchanges. Perhaps these stable band conditions are the new norm.
Going into this session my fear was that the geomagnetic field was ‘too quiet’ for good propagation. Recent discussions in propagation circles suggest that galactic cosmic rays are at an all time high as this solar cycle diminishes which may contribute to elevated absorption at times that one might not expect. We are in for interesting times and will be covering new ground in the coming years.
Geomagnetic conditions for this session were very quiet. The Bz continues to point very slightly to the South with low but slightly elevated solar wind velocities compared to the previous session, averaging near 350 km/s. DST values continue to show high stability above 0 nT.
Trans-Atlantic reports for this session were limited to WSPR decodes of G8HUH and PA0A by WD2XSH/17. Those report details can be viewed here.
Andy, KU4XR, reported strong early band openings at 0028z, decoding WH2XGP two hours before the normal time. He also reports that stations in the Northeast were also audible by this time.
Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reported that in spite of rain, he had a strong, decoding seven WSPR stations and receiving decodes from 34 unique stations including ZF1EJ/1. Rick’s unique report details can be viewed here.
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reports that he was operating in a “receive-only” capacity overnight, decoding nine WSPR stations with “Lots of decodes of each (even of XPQ and XZO).”
Earlier in the evening, Neil was on a mission to copy Paul, W0RW / WA2XRM, on QRSS3. Neil succeeded and provided a number of captures of Paul’s signal from Colorado in Vancouver, Washington:
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported that he was decoded by 52 unique stations including WE2XPQ.
Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, reported great East / West propagation as he continues in a transmit-only capacity while WSPRnet data problems persist that locate him in New Jersey any time he reports another WSPR station on 630-meter. It’s a mess. He was decoded by 29 unique stations.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, experienced a strong night and provided the following comments and statistics:
“Continued very good trans-continental conditions from South Carolina. Ten unique decoded stations and 45 who decoded WH2XZO including W6YQ, WW6D, and VE7KPB for maybe the first time this season.
I think Ward, WH2XXP, noted and did something important if we are to make any sense of the decodes we are trying to relate to propagation. He posted on the ON4KST chat page,” GE all, my WSPR power reort has changed to 50. Finally got the match in the weatherproof box and now have the RF ammeter in line… actual power (ERP) is 39W, but Hans won’t let me report that, so it’s 20 or 50. nothing has changed but the reported power…for the propagation gurus, please change all my operations since Sep this year to 39W ERP.”
I wish everyone would try and report their ERP or EIRP as accurately as possible so that we have a better chance of understanding propagation.”
All Trans-Pacific reports for this session have been aggregated here.
Roger, VK4YB, received reports from a large number of stations today, including VA7BBG, VE6JY, W1CK, ZL2BCG, ZL2IK, JA3TVF, and JH3XCU. He decoded WH2XXP and shared two-way WSPR reports with WH2XGP.
Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 69 unique stations including seven JA’s: 7L1RLL4, JA1NQI-2, JA1PKG, JA3TVF, JA8SCD5, JE1JDL, and JH3XCU. Ward additionally received reports from VK4YB, VK2XGJ, and ZL2BCG.
As Doug mentioned, Ward posted in the ON4KST chat that he now has good measurements of his system but the U3 wont allow him to report his 39-watt ERP so he will be reporting 50-watt ERP. Ward supplied the following picture of his 100-foot tall, top loaded vertical:
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reports that he worked HS0ZIA on 160-meters but had no JA’s on 630-meters. Larry received reports from 57 unique stations including VK4YB, VK2XGJ, ZL2BCG, and ZF1EJ. He decoded twelve WSPR stations on the omni receive antenna including WE2XPQ and VK4YB.
Mike, WA3TTS, reports another good night of transcontinental signals:
Mike also noted:
“I ran with the NW EWE antenna and a split converter output for wspr2 on both 630m/2200m. WH2XND captured overnight on 2200m with 170 decodes, best at -10…I had my head in a Collins 75A-4 rebuild project until 4AM….It’s working but not 100% yet. Prior owner installed one of those solid-state 5Y3 replacements and did not use the right dropping resistor so it was running 240V on the B+ vs +170 B+ spec. Just a heads-up when you see those solid state rectifier replacements in an old radio they can fry lots of bypass caps, cathode and anode resistors, tubes, etc…I’ve been doing some rebuilds on a pair of 1950 Sparton 141X AM/FM radios circa 1950. The radio hears great but after replacing every capacitor in the AVC line I still had almost no AVC action, which is a big problem with a 50KW station a few miles away. It turns out this radio uses a pair of 6BA6 tubes in the IF, which is a remote cutoff pentode. But the first edition schematic showed 6AU6 tubes instead of 6BA6 tubes. The 6AU6 is a sharp cutoff pentode, so it only needs a few volts of grid bias to achieve cutoff. I swapped in a pair of 6AU6 tubes and instantly had great AVC action in the Sparton radio. The AVC volts also doubled on the AVC line, from -3.5~ -4V range to -7 ~ -8 volts with the 6AU6 tubes in place. The 75A4 also uses a half dozen 6BA6 tubes in the IF and other places. So if you want more AGC action in the 75A4 the 6AU6 is an option to consider. There is also a 12SJ7 that is a pin compatible sharp cutoff pentode version of the 12SK7 which may also be worth investigating for other radio IF applications….
So you can learn a ton of stuff rebuilding old AA5 radios and apply that knowledge to the communication receivers of those eras….”
Al, K2BLA / WI2XBV, sent the following update. As they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…” Hang in there Al and let us know if we can help:
“I am hopeful that my modified/new vertical will be up and running in a week. My progress was slowed by the need to take business trips and then waiting for a fence adjacent to the tower to be replaced that was damaged from giant tree branches falling during hurricane Matthew. And, in the middle of all of this my XYL died. She succumbed to Alzheimer’s 6 years after it was diagnosed. I have two weeks at home before I am off again on a trip so I may be on the air for a while before I leave on that trip. I am anxious to get back on the air.”
Peter, ZL2IK, reported on the VK/ZL 600m email reflector that he is now listening for QRSS on 630-meters:
“I have just tuned up my Grabber on 630m, not sure which frequencies to look at but it’s centred on 475.400kHz + 100Hz. Just below the WSPR slot I’m also listening on WSPR centred on 475.600kHz (Dial Frequency 474.200 kHz). Using an SDRPlay, SDR Console V3, antenna is an 80/40 metres fan dipole fed via a braid breaker and a 500kHz low pass filter to the SDRPlay. My antenna is not ideal but I have had some success with it listening to NDB’s at night……My sunset tonight is 0715 UTC Dawn tomorrow is 1706 UTC.”
On WSPR thus far during this session Peter has decoded Roger, VK4YB, on WSPR.
Paul, W0RW / WA2XRM, reports that he will be QRV again tonight near 480-kHz. He posted the following announcement in the 600-meter research group e-mail reflector:
“WA2XRM will be sending QRSS30 (30) at 2300z, 20 Nov. 2016. I will be on 479.903 kHz all night. I am running about 100W to a 30 foot vertical with a top hat. The amplifier is an IRF540 FET made by John, KB5NJD/WG2XIQ. See <http://www.qrz.com/db/wa2xrm/
> Paul wa2xrm Colorado”
This session could have been a total disaster overnight and it would not have mattered because I had a very nice 25-minute rag chew with Mike, AI8Z / WD2XSH/12 during the early evening. Mike actually caught me off guard as I was winding down the evening CW session, preparing to transition to WSPR for the overnight, and planning on starting dinner. Equipped with wireless headphones, I headed to the kitchen as the CQ machine continued to call on the CW position while the WSPR exciter warmed up. As I was washing my hands at the sink I heard a CW signal calling. It was plenty strong but that location at the opposite end of the house always brought a little static on these 2.4 GHz Sennheisers. I immediately sprinted back to the shack, put on the good headphones, stopped the CQ, which had already started again and sent “XZO?” as I thought it might have been WH2XZO. No response. I sent “QRZ?” and then heard my call sign coming back to me. It was Mike, WD2XSH/12, in Denver. Mike was an easy RST 579 and he sent me the same and he peaked RST 599 as the QSO commenced. Mike, being the consummate CW man that he is, didn’t seem to mind as I let the speed creep up to true conversational levels. The band was good enough to do that. We carried on for several cycles and before I knew it, it was nearly a half hour later. Signals remained strong and I almost hated to cut it off but dinner and WSPR were calling. We signed and I transitioned to WSPR for the overnight. As I have stated before, the communication aspect and exchange of ideas via radio are what is important to me and so I value every two-way CW QSO that I have. It doesn’t matter what we talk about. Thanks Mike for the fun! We will definitely do it again.
As a transitional note, Fritz, W1FR, reported that he heard part of the QSO while looking for WA2XRM.
There was no sign of WA2XRM just South of 480 kHz in spite of the solid opening to Colorado. Even moving slightly off frequency is tough and listening briefly during this session did not yield desired results.
WSPR signals were strong and steady, much like Mike’s signal. Many CW QSO’s could have taken place overnight judging by the reports. I was happy to be heard by WE2XPQ, after a few day’s hiatus on that path. My WSPR transmission reports can be viewed here and my WSPR reception reports can be viewed here.
This morning’s CW session was uneventful although Eden, ZF1EJ, reported that I was RST 539 on Cayman.
Activity numbers were high for this session but I did not take a formal headcount during this session. K0ZDK was present as a new receiving station, however. Welcome aboard!
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
Eden, ZF1EJ, provided WSPR reports for VE3CIQ, WD2XSH/15, WG2XIQ, WG2XXM, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WH2XXP, WH2XZO, WI2XBQ, and WI2XJQ. That is very good continental coverage! Those report details can be viewed here.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, experienced his biggest night in a long time, decoding VK4YB and receiving decodes from 7L1RLL4, JA1NQI-2, JA3TVF, JH3XCU, ZL2BCG, VK2XGJ, and two-way reports with WH2XCR. Additional late reports arrived from JA1PKG and JE1JDL. He added that on the approach to sunrise, he would operate at 100% TX cycle. Way to go, Laurence! Laurence’s report details for these decodes can be viewed here.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, also had a very big night, with reports into the eastern US and Caribbean as well as JA, VK and ZL, including 7L1RLL (two-way reports), JA1NQI-2, JA1PKG, JA3TVF, JE1JDL, JH3XCU, VK2XGJ, VK4YB (two-way reports) and ZL2BCG. Just when you thought the Pacific DX might taper off… Merv’s DX report details for this session can be viewed here.
Merv also provided the following comments and noted continued JA reports after sunrise – I’m mopping all of that up right now:
“Wow who opened the JA door last nite, 8 JA decodes and one two way, also good mainland conditions. And still swapping report with XPQ after day light. Surprise every day when I come to the shack to check reports. VK path still holding, I have come to the conclusion that there is a VK path out here all year round. Unless it closes here shortly for a month or two will have had openings for a year. Did not check back to last winter to see if there were VK but seems like there was. VK4YB beams through about anything. 73 Merv”
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD gmail dot (com).