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SCHEDULED ACTIVITY: CQ 474.5 kHz CW by 0020z through sunset

Best night ever? Top-five? Huge signals and major trans-Atlantic opening early in the evening in North America; WH2XXP -> VK6XT at 15375 km; JA ‘bonanza’ continues!

– Posted in: 630 Meter Daily Reports, 630 Meters

“Strongest 630m sigs I have ever seen at this QTH.” – Mark, WA9ETW / WI2XHJ, in Wisconsin

Best night ever or top-five – it doesn’t really matter.  The band was on fire with huge signals that started very early in the session.  Noise was extremely low and being the start to a holiday in the US probably helped bring out a lot more stations than we might typically see for middle of the week.  But more activity doesn’t mean better propagation and the band was very much open, starting with huge openings to Europe, certainly the biggest thus far this season.  Domestics CW signals and band stability were the best that I have ever observed on 630-meters and goes a long way to make up for a comparatively lackluster season in 2015.

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12-hour North American lightning summary

 

Geomagnetic conditions continuing to flirt with storm levels have thus far remained generally at elevated-quiet levels with a period of unsettled conditions reported during the session.  Amazingly, this period of unsettled conditions coincides with the major trans-Atlantic opening  and biggest domestic signals in North America observed during the evening.  The Bz is currently pointing to the South, more so than the previous session, down to -5 nT and solar wind velocities are down from yesterday, averaging 475 km/s, in the moderate category.  DST values suggest that a disturbance has occurred but as reported yesterday the trending behavior has been somewhat atypical and more consistent with what was observed in the previous storm that resulted in numerous enhancements on the band.

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Trans-Atlantic reports were numerous, as previously reported, with WD2XSH/17 reporting F1AFJ, F4DTL, G3KEV, G8HUH, and PA0A.  WH2XZO made it across, receiving a report from F1AFJ for what is believed to be the first time.  WG2XXM also received reports from F1AFJ.  WE2XGR reported G3KEV.  The big winner for the session was WG2XKA who was reported by DL-SWL, F1AFJ, F59706, G0LUJ-1, G3KEV, G3XKR, G4PMB, and G8HUH.  All trans-Atlantic report details are aggregated here.

John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, provided the following comments for the session:

“Lower noise levels finally allowed XKA to hear and spot many in the west and PNW, including both ways with WH2XCR.  The LNV was used all session for RX.  There was a good path to EU also, with spots from F59706, DL-SWL, F1AFJ, G3XKR, G0LUJ-1, G3KEV, G8HUH and new-one here G4PMB.  Tnx All!”

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WG2XKA session WSPR activity (courtesy WG2XKA)

 

Steve, VE7SL, reports nice band conditions for the three hours that he was QRV.  He decoded sixteen WSPR stations and was decoded  by 45 unique stations. including ZF1EJ and VK4YB.  Steve QRT’ed at 0550z due to gale force winds in British Columbia.

Toby, VE7CNF, operated JT9 for about 15 minutes starting at 0330z.  He reportedly returned to WSPR afterwards.  No word on whether he made a QSO or received a report.

Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported strong signals as he decoded fifteen WSPR stations and was decoded by 47 unique stations, both all-time records for Doug’s station.  He was also decoded by F1AFJ and K8GUN for the first time.

Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, reports that he had an abbreviated transmit session as he experienced a wind storm similar to Steve’s and decided it was best to just listen.  He had a good session, decoding eleven WSPR stations and being decoded by 41 unique stations.  Rick’s unique report details can be viewed here.

Mark, WA9ETW / WI2XHJ, was rewarded in a big way for leaving the receiving running overnight.  He submitted these comments:

“…It was quite a night!  I decoded 15 discrete 630m stations, which I believe to be my all-time best.  But what was genuinely remarkable was how strong, steady and geographically widespread the sigs were.  Many were at CW levels either all or a good part of the time, and a few (yourself included) were frequently well into positive SNR territory.  It was magical.

I rarely leave the RX station on overnight.  But I did last night, and was rewarded with a WH2XCR decode at 0922 UT.  I’d crow about that, but I see that many others did as well or better.  I hope we can enjoy many more evenings like this in the months to come! 73,  Mark — WA9ETW/WI2XHJ — EN52fs”

Ken, SWL-EN61, located in Indiana, submitted these comments and statistics for the session:

“…So much tx activity and good band conditions.  0412z … 8 decodes in one time slot. First time that happened here.

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I saw at least two 7 time-slot decodes, before I went to bed. Don’t really know what happened overnight on that subject.  Had 32 decodes of xcr overnight. That beat the last record set a few days ago of 26 decodes.  Guess it’s just getting better in the way of propagation.”

Trans-Pacific reports for this session are aggregated here.

Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported that he received reports from 64 unique stations, including VK4YB, and F1AFJ and first time reports from JA1NQI-2.

Roger, VK4YB, reported moderately high QRN but decoded WSPR from WH2XGP, ZL2BCG, and other VK’s and was heard by many DX stations, including JA1NQI-2, JA3TVF, JH1INM, VA7JX, VE7SL, VA7BBG, ZL2BCG, and ZL2IK to name a few.  Roger and other VK’s are handling the seasonal changes and challenges well and we all keep asking how long these big openings can continue.

Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 72 unique stations including seven JA’s and three VK’s, of which VK6XT is included, at a distance of 15375 km as tabulated by VK4YB.

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WH2XXP session WSPR activity (courtesy NI7J)

 

Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported a lot of activity and very good band conditions as he decoded seventeen WSPR stations using the omnidirectional receive antenna, including VK4YB, WE2XPQ, and many eastern stations.  Larry indicates that he was decoded by 66 unique stations including five JA’s, two VK’s, a ZL station, and ZF1EJ.  Larry believes that this may have been an all time high number of spotters for his station.

Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, reported that he received reports from 49 unique stations, including four JA’s and VK4YB.  Joe added, that “There was geomagnetic instability this morning with periods of -9.6 nT and huge phi angle shifts…Lots of BC carriers from Asia this morning. 594 kHz from JA booming in with +40 SNR…657 kHz 1500Kw from N Korea Q5 +50 db SNR.”

Mike, WA3TTS, reported good transcontinental openings and provides the following statistics and comments:

No T/A to the NE overnight but continued good propagation to the W and NW”

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Mike had these final comments as well as some very useful advice for would-be MF and LF operator as they evaluate their receive capabilities:

“I ran the split IF out of the LF/MF converter for 2200m and 630m WSPR2 reception. EWE antennas were pointed NE until about 0300 and then NW the remainder of the evening.. On 2200m there were 148 WH2XND decodes and 10 WD2XES decodes.

Chatting the N1BUG last night on the kHz ON4KST web chat page, Paul mentioned he was using the standard W8JI beverage transformer, which is 2T/5T on a BN73-202 core.  I was curious what the insertion loss was like on this single BN73-202 transformer at LF/MF, so I ran a back to back transformer test on the HP-3856c SLM which I picked up from Jay, W1VD a few years ago (what a great instrument).  Here’s the test details:   https://www.dropbox.com/s/nxybe5ir8gw34ud/W8JIBEVXT.jpg?dl=0

Turns out a single W8JI HF beverage transformer has about 2.5 dB loss on 137 kHz and about 0.49 dB loss on 475 kHz. On 160m I was seeing about 0.40dB insertion loss, so the standard HF beverage transformer was only off .1dB from 160m insertion loss performance.

(Note: I probably should have placed the transformers under test on a small block of wood or plastic to get them and the test cable clip leads away from the metal cart frame. That may be why the insertion loss numbers seem a bit high for the 160m test measurements. I think the 160m insertion loss should be closer to .3 or .25 dB per transformer.)
So trying a standard HF receiver antenna built for 160m may work reasonable well on 475 kHz  Something to consider for newcomers who already have beverage, EWE, or K9AY antennas for HF. (Likely one needs a different termination resistance to be optimal at MF, but that is easy enough to model on the free demo version of EZNEC )  73 Mike wa3tts.”

I started the session on CW which possibly coincided with a loss of sanity due to what happened during the CW session.  After calling for a bit as I got work done in the shack I heard “XIQ de XJM”   It was Eric but I had noticed earlier in the day that his grant was still going through the renewal process.  The renewal must have come through at some point during the day.  He was very loud but what didn’t make sense was the fact that his strongest signal was coming from about 100 degrees, 50 degrees too far South for the direct path to Pennsylvania.  His signal strength was uncharacteristically strong so it was my opinion that I was not hearing Eric but someone spoofing his call sign.  We have had pirates appear on the air in the past so it made sense.  I had not talked to Eric since the special event a couple of weeks back and he had been absent from the ON4KST chat for a few days so I was of the opinion that he was out of town or at the very least off air, prepping the farm for Winter or the Thanksgiving holiday.  I even sent this station that was calling me “I do not think you are really XJM”.  I made an inquiry in the chat to Mike, WA3TTS, but he was unaware of Eric’s disposition.  Also John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, in Vermont wasn’t hearing him which is irregular.   I sent Eric an email informing him of a station using his call sign.  The station signing XJM finally said he was going to come into the chat room to  confirm his identity and sure enough, thankfully,  it was Eric.  We returned to CW and chatted for fifteen minutes, having a good laugh about the misunderstanding.  It seems his grant had come through earlier in the day after I had checked the OET database.  The band was perfectly stable and there was no hint of QSB whatsoever.  Eric was so strong that it seemed impossible that he could be at his QTH and the weird bearing still doesn’t make sense  but unsettled conditions were ramping up and the band was very fluid so anything was possible. Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported that Eric was RST 579 and I was RST 559.  Al, WZ9B reported Eric at RST 579.  Jim, W5EST reported me at RST 599 with sidebands out +/- 7 Hz, which is remarkable as I don’t observe those sidebands on my remote grabber located one-mile away.  Something was clearly afoot with propagation.

I switched to  WSPR at 0100z and signals were strong and plentiful.  Easy CW levels were registered by many stations and WG2XJM reported me for extended periods at positive S/N values.  JT9 and phone would have been easy for many stations.  Steve, VE7SL, reported my signal at -3 dB S/N at 0250z and Steve had been heard here at or near CW levels several times during the evening.  Morning CW was generally uneventful and the band was very quiet.  My WSPR transmission reports can be viewed here and my WSPR reception reports can be viewed here.

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WG2XIQ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

WSPR activity was very high with 106 MF WSPR stations observed around 0300z.  K8GUN, KA7U and N3CO were observed as new receiving stations during this session.  Welcome aboard!

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 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Eden, ZF1EJ, reported VE7SL, WD2XSH/15, WG2XIQ, WG2XJM, WG2XXM, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WH2XXP, and WH2XZO.  Report details for these stations can be viewed here.

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ZF1EJ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, received reports from five JA’s, three VK’s and a ZL.  When was the last time that Laurence had three rows of call signs in his “heard-by” list before the last few days?  Simply remarkable.  Laurence did indicate moments ago that his local K-index was spiking, causing the path to JA to close.  We will monitor this path as the morning progresses.  Laurence’s JA, VK, L and KH6 report details can be viewed here.  UPDATE:  Laurence noted pre-dawn reports from JA returned and those report details can be viewed here.

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WE2XPQ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, is located at the crossroads for many 630-meter signals at his outpost in the remote Pacific.  The consequence is that many signals are heard at equally strong levels and that was certainly the case last night as a large number of bogus WSPR decodes were registered at Merv’s station.  Typically these result from many loud signals beating against one another and mixing in interesting ways in the decoder and “sound card” yielding hybrid call signs and data that makes them easy to spot.  Its also often indicative of very good band conditions and propagation.  In the map below I have covered up a number of these reports with the label showing the station roll call.  Merv had a strong night, with massive decodes across the US, into New England (two-way reports again at WG2XKA!) and along the eastern sea board.  I sent Merv a note to call me if the band peaked after my bedtime in hopes of snagging a CW QSO.  It looks like Merv had all the big signals he could handle overnight.  He received reports from six unique JA stations (seven if you count the second receiver at JA1PKG), two VK’s and one ZL, including two-way reports with VK4YB and ZL2BCG. Merv submitted the following comments about the session:

“Started “late”,  actually turned on at sunset and by then the first few decodes were unreal,  WA3TTS and east coast coming through at sunset. I checked at about 0430Z and you were CW level at -5 but you were not hearing me very well,  -25 think it was.. Did not check later on. Signals must have been quite strong as I see a number of false decodes,  and I have the attenuator on and gain to the sound  card cut way back.

Saw some guy write in to QST and said he was looking forward to 630 opening up that he thought maybe 200 miles would be DX and it would be exciting.  What a surprise he would have if he checked whats going on now…”

Merv’s JA, VK and ZL report details can be viewed here.

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WH2XCR 24-hour WSPR activity

 


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