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Arctic polar openings from North America continue as LA2XPA shows the value of quiet locations and big receive antennas; More trans-Atlantic / trans-Pacific openings but Oceania path is almost gone for the season

– Posted in: 630 Meter Daily Reports, 630 Meters

Very good propagation and band conditions continue in spite of reports of precipitation static in North America.  Astonishing openings continue on many of the major paths and we still have a few years before solar minimum.  The primary thunderstorm activity in North America along the gulf coast did not seem to appreciably increase QRN here during the evening.

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11-hour North American lightning summary

 

Geomagnetic conditions continue at quiet levels with a few periods of elevated activity compared to previous very quiet reporting periods.  The Bz has been pointing more to the South than in previous sessions and solar wind is averaging 310 km/s, up from the previous session.  Elevated proton levels have also been observed.  DST values continue at nominal levels.  Was it the isolated period of elevated geomagnetic activity overnight that contributed to polar openings?  It seems counterintuitive yet the times of reports tend to line up with the period following the peak activity.

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Trans-Atlantic openings resulted in WG2XKA receiving reports from G0LUJ and G0MJI.  Additionally F1AFJ and G8HUH were both reported at WD2XSH/17.  Report details for these trans-Atlantic decodes can be viewed here.

This session yielded more arctic polar openings between North America and Norway.  Rolf, LA2XPA, is reported to be located on a very remote island with no neighbors to make noise.  It also helps that he is using long beverage antennas between 500-meters and 700-meters long (Thanks to VE3CIQ for those details).  Last night Rolf decoded VE7BDQ, VE7SL, WE2XPQ, WG2XXM, WH2XGP, and WH2XXP.  For these types of openings to occur once is amazing but to happen two consecutive days is incredible.  Report details for these polar openings can be viewed here.

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Amazing polar path opening

 

Stefan, DK7FC, reported a number of daytime WSPR decodes during the session beyond typical ground wave distances on the RSGB-LF reflector and a discussion ensued regarding the mechanism involved in this propagation.  Whatever the mechanism, we observe the same behavior here in North America, often at very low power levels:

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The European MF CW QSO party finished up and there were a few stations that provided additional reports for the weekend.

Michael, DL4MAU, reports hearing the following stations during the weekend: DK7FC 559 +20db, G3KEV 559, DL6TY 559, IZ7SLZ 549, 9H1ES 545, SV8CS 449, F5OFK 559, EA5DOM 549, IK5QLO 449, G4GIR 589, DJ6CB 599, LA3EQ 549, SO5AS 449, DK8ND 343.  Michael’s receiver was an FT857 and a large dipole (2*155 m).  He adds that his amp will be ready for another QSO Party in January or February 2017.

Stefan, DK7FC, reported, “A few more QSOs were possible during the evening. Worked G3XIZ, DJ6CB, PA0LCE, F5OFK, DK6NI, DH2UN. So all in all there were 17 workable stations here.  DH2UN is a newcomer. He stays in JN49IJ, just the neighbour field, i.e. 5 km distance or so. He was 579 and used a Hagenuk transmitter connected to the rain water roof rail 🙂 Thats amateur radio on its best. He wants to improve the station..”

Andrew, GW3OQK, reported, “After two QSOs on Friday and one on Saturday I realized the background noise was QRM buzzing and I stood no chance of having a relaxing party. Thanks Chris and Mal. All is quiet in the day time so I suspect its my neighbour’s outdoor Christmas lights.”

Congrats to all that had a successful weekend in the QSO party.

Steve, VE7SL, reported very good propagation and band conditions overnight with big decodes of his signal on the Arctic polar path plus others:

“Last night can only be described as ‘spectacular’ when it came to the shy east-west path. Hopefully it is an indication of what lies ahead with the coming years of solar silence.

Here are the highlights for some of the furthest decodes, along with their best SNR values. I found many of the 53 unique spots from stations I had never heard from before!

LA2XPA  5 spots (-21) * first and likely only EU thanks to his quiet location and long beverage antennas
ZF1EJ  33 (-17)
WH2XCR  61 (+3)  KH6
N1BUG  49  (-13)
WE2XGR  54  (-10)
VE3IQB  67 (-4)
VE3CIQ  49 (-10)
WE2XPQ  59 (+13)  KL7
VE2PEP  35 (-21)
WD2XSH/17  19 (-21)
WG2XKA  53 (-9)
KU4XR  63 (-5)

…with 3 exceptions, given equal systems, all of these stations would be workable on CW! Unfortunately it looks like another disturbance is on its way, due to arrive in a couple of days.”

Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reported “XSV BEST EVER!”.  He explains:

“GM John. I was decoded by more unique stations in ONE night than ever before. N1BUG is new for me, and also VE3IQB, I believe. I had not seen XKA or XGR for awhile either !!!

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….and I spotted these 11 (1 bogus): VA7MM, VE7BDQ, (VE7RRY), VE7SL, WE2XPQ, WG2XXM, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, WH2XXP, WI2XBQ, WI2XJQ”

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Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported decodes from 59 unique stations including nine previously reported decodes from LA2XPA, best at -21 dB S/N.

Rick, W7RNB / WI2XJQ, provided reports for eight WSPR stations (plus five bogus hybrid call signs) and was received by 41 unique stations.  Rick’s unique report details can be viewed here.

Mark, WA9ETW / WI2XHJ, reported fifteen unique decodes, tying his previous session best.  He added, “Excellent condx to PNW last night, w/good CW levels from VE7SL at times.”

Trans-Pacific report details for this session are aggregated here.

Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, received reports from 70 unique stations including 7L1RLL4, JA1NQI-2, JA3TVF, JE1JDL, JH3XCU, ZL2BCG, and the previously reported decodes by LA2XPA.

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WH2XXP session WSPR activity

 

Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, received WSPR decodes from 59 unique stations including JA1NQI, LA2XPA (20 decodes, best -14 dB S/N), and ZF1EJ.  He adds that he decoded fifteen WSPR stations using the eastern BOG.

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WH2XGP session WSPR activity

 

Larry added that a new beta version of WSJTx is available.  The transcript containing download  and version details can be viewed here.

Michael, AB1AW, of Massachusetts, has filed an application this weekend for a Part-5 experimental license between 472 – 478 kHz for CW and FSK modes.

My evening CW session yielded a “good copy” report from N1BUG in Maine at 2338z and RST 559 from ZF1EJ at 0042z.  Shortly after transitioning to WSPR, the eight year old hard drive finally failed in the network machine used for 630-meters.  I am currently working to restore functionality and hope to return to air tonight in some capacity.

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 and New Zealand 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Eden, ZF1EJ, provided reports for VA7MM, VE3CIQ, VE3EFF, VE7BDQ, VE7SL, WD2XSH/15, WG2XIQ, WG2XKA, WG2XXM, WH2XCR, WH2XGP, and WH2XXP.  Report details for these stations can be viewed here.

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ZF1EJ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ,produced another night of astonishing results adding previously mentioned decodes by LA2XPA to his list of reporting stations in Japan, Hawaii, and the population centers in North America.  He also received a number of reports from JA stations late in the previous session on the approach to sunrise.  Laurence’s JA and KH6 report details can be viewed here.

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WE2XPQ 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Laurence also provided some additional information and comments about the the polar opening from his perspective:

“…Poor ground and close in mountains restricting incoming wave have to be close to 10 deg above horizon on this bearing (or close!) to clear the Talkeetnas, Ground permittivity is pretty awful here on glacial moraine, then Volcanics. Darn it, the Marconi is slam in the middle of the forest from hell.

Positives – it was close to -10F and clear so the trees were a little more forgiving cap loss wise. Tuning was good and Rtot was at its winter min setting.

It has to be very, and I mean very, stable and low loss iono for this path to open – its rare, and I can count the times in the past 14 years of LF/MF operations that the path has opened, and then only as an rx station – just look – we typically cross the Auroral oval twice for an Eu path – and typically timing makes it that the minimum attentuative portion isn’t midpoint and I hit something twice on the way. Ive postulated skew or under the oval, the sort of reversal of chordal hop, but last night I took bearings of DCF39 and HGA22 and they were dead on gt circle/Rhum close by on 137kHz but I didn’t have a friendly to look at in Eu in the MF section at the time.  Its not that far really – ok nearly 6KKms, but just shows you how much more Im effected by an unfriendly iono most of the time.

If we get another day of stable stuff we may see more extraordinary stuff going on…”

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Click to enlarge

 

 

Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR,experienced another nice session, with openings from Asian, Oceania, Alaska and New England.  Merv shared two-way reports with WG2XKA and was heard at KU4XR in Tennessee.  He also reported that he QRTed early to chase a DX station on 160-meters.  Merv’s DX report details can be viewed here.

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WH2XCR 24-hour WSPR activity

 

Jim, W5EST, presents, “REPRISE: NIGHTTIME 630M DX TIMES WITH SNR BULLSEYE DIAGRAM”:

“Last June 15’s bulls-eye diagram blog reads like it was intended for this week, see what you think.  http://njdtechnologies.net/061516/  There, a 24 hour clock has WSPR SNR bull’s-eye circles overlaid with DX pizza-wedge time windows and suggestive signal curves.

Please keep the bull’s-eye diagram in mind as I review Sunday’s long path 630m receptions in Norway yesterday. Recall the triadic geography of WH2XGP, WH2XXP, and VE3EFF making “the trip” to apex station LA2XPA. http://njdtechnologies.net/120416/  (scroll 10%)

Today’s illustration shows their propagation as if along straight great circle lines near and through the auroral oval in polar projection.  Many time zones separate the receiver from the three North American transmitters, rotating local sunrises and sunsets relative to each other as shown on the June15 bull’s-eye diagram.  Now we are in the December month of northern hemisphere winter solstice, when not only these paths opened but most of the Arctic Ocean region lay blanketed in near 24-hour darkness.

As you know, Larry WH2XGP was decoded Dec. 4 by Rolf LA2XPA in Kristiansund, Norway, at 63°N. He’s west of Trondheim and south of the 66.5° Arctic Circle. At Rolf’s QTH, the Sunday sunrise 0842z shortly followed three out of the four WSPR2 5w XGP decodes in Norway and succeeded that fourth decode by a couple of hours.

At nine time zones away, a great circle path– if XGP’s signal followed it – crossed the Arctic 6883km and reached about 70°N. latitude over central Greenland. In today’s illustration, NOAA’s Ovation site 8 hours later shows the auroral oval probability in the moderately low range ~25%, as it also was during those N. America – Norway successes.

LA2XPA enjoys an unobstructed low lying island location – with N. Atlantic salt water all the way to Greenland. Rolf was receiving 630m WSPR Dec. 3 and 4 out of the last two weeks. Suppose great circle 3E-hop mode mediated XGP propagation.  3E-hop mode at 2300km/hop implies a first reflection on the ground in Nunavut Territory, Canada, and the second reflection on central Greenland’s ice sheet well above the Arctic Circle. Among three hops, the second (middle) hop would be squarely in and aligned with a segment of the auroral oval, and the third hop would have been mostly within the auroral oval as well.

Turning to Ward WH2XXP on his RF way to LA2XPA, the XXP signal grazed the Arctic Circle 66.5° over south central Greenland to complete an 8061 km RF signal journey. With his higher power station, nominally 50W, Ward probed the post-SR propagation regime and showed -25 dB SNR 0942z an hour after Rolf’s sunrise. The trajectory of the sun was nearly horizontal since the QTH is close to the Arctic Circle and it’s only about two weeks until winter solstice.

The pre-SR regime gave Ward’s XXP signal three decodes – all within 20 minutes of Norway sunrise.  His SNR had peaked -18 dB hours earlier at 0442z. If great circle 4E-hop mode carried Ward’s signal, then the surface reflections touched earth in southern Manitoba, saltwater north of Hudson Bay, and the ice sheet in Greenland.

Jeff VE3EFF racked up four decodes at Rolf’s Norway receiver, all within 50 minutes before Norway sunrise, peaking -19 dB.  Jeff’s path distance was 5356 km and took a less northerly North Atlantic way across the southern tip of Greenland. That -19 dB peak SNR into Norway is quite a compliment to Jeff’s 1 watt power! Possibly 3E-hop mode carried him via saltwater reflection off the coast of Labrador and another saltwater reflection between Greenland and Iceland.

What interpretations can help us comprehend these achievements?  Sunrise enhancement? Opening(s) in Au oval?  Lateral skew avoided Au oval? Did long Arctic nights take E-layer critical frequency low enough to instead allow 2-Fhop XGP prop? Maybe F-hop prop dived under the Au oval.  Take your pick. If not multihop, what mechanism on that space weather-quiet night would set up ionospheric conditions for ducting or for chordal reflection?  Tell us your better wisdom!

The 630m mystery band merely smiles and says nothing. I ask WHY neither the 0604z XGP signal and none of the seven XXP successes 0330-0548z had any corresponding decodes in UK or NW Europe!  VE3EFF faced post-SR absorption since Munich sunrise had already happened at 0648z and London’s sunrise was 0750z. But what about XGP and XXP–why no decodes in UK or the continent?

Perhaps a fatal extra hop was needed for XGP to make 7680/8570 km to UK and Germany.  But XXP probably already required 4E-hop to make 8061 km to Norway and it’s hard to believe 4E-hop wouldn’t still suffice for his power to trek 8260 km to UK and 9180km to Germany. I checked for the possibility of extra intervening ground reflection on the way to UK or to the continent as compared the paths to Norway. No obvious differences distinguish such additional destinations in this way could I find.  A most excellent mystery!

Great season in progress.  Best wishes to all!”

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