Everyone has a different benchmark for success. I believe that if you get the contact/report/spot, that’s all that matters, even if the signal is barely detectable and even if its only heard once. Using a football analogy, no one remembers how ugly the game was 10 years from now, only that you won the game. Others are more interested in the details and how they fluctuated from previous days and of course, that can be useful information to have. I can also relate to this approach as someone that collects and reviews data from day to day. Regardless of what measuring stick and definition of success you use, last night was absolutely the best night of 2016! Was it the best night of this season? I dunno – you decide. I will warn you now that this is a very long report.
The geomagnetic field was generally quiet but continues to churn as solar wind was in excess of 500 km/s during the session. The Bz component, as reported by the Space Weather Prediction Center, continues to range from slightly positive to slightly negative. Its really been a weird session but one that is fun when reviewing data or looking for QSO’s.
Starting with the MF QSO Party that begins at 2000z on Friday, many Europeans have been very active with JT9 over the previous few sessions. I received a note from Hans, DC1RJJ, detailing “warm-up” activity during the Thursday night/Friday morning time frame in Europe. Hans reports that he was joined by F6CNI, I5EFO, DL6II, DF8UO, and YO2IS during this session. Many QSO’s were exchanged and signals were strong. What a great time to have an MF QSO party with such amazing propagation. As I write this report, we are still a few hours away from the start of the event. I wish everyone very good luck and propagation and please send reports and screen shots for use in a redux report after this event is over. Hans provided the following console screen capture and waterfall of the activity through the warm-up:
VE3OT was active once again on QRSS6 as “MP” with a blazing signal during the evening here in Texas:
In North America Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, operated a number of modes through the late evening session on the west coast, including PSK31, JT9, MFSK8, and Olivia with Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, John, VE7BDQ, and Toby, VE7CNF, all monitoring with varying degrees of success. I have reviewed the transcript from the ON4KST chat/logger for the session that Neil provided me and there is a lot of content that is difficult to summarize. The takeaway message should be that these guys were having a blast. By the way, I am a HUGE fan of the MFSK modes because they seem to work very well on MF, which is something that these guys observed last night.
WSPR activity was extremely high through the North American evening where 89 MF WSPR stations were observed after 0430z, as reported by the WSPRnet activity page. If you take a look at the regional and continental breakdowns you will see that over the previous 24-hours there were well over 100 active stations. What a great night to have so much activity.
Daytime activity seemed to be pretty good in North America although my station was only active for 3-hours during the normal daytime reporting period due to scheduling conflicts and bad weather. This daytime report is limited to the activity of WG2XXM and WG2XIQ.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
UA0SNV was reported as listening during the session but there were no reports for him in the WSPRnet database.
Trans-Atlantic reports included 15 spots of DK7FC by WD2XSH/17:
Michel, FR5ZX, provided support on the trans-African path, with nice reports for DK7FC and EA5DOM at really remarkable S/N levels:
The Canary Islands were well represented with numerous reports for continental European stations by EA8BVP and EA8/LA3JJ:
In the Atlantic, Ed, VP9GE, has a very good night of reports with station sin North America:
In the Caribbean, Roger, ZF1RC, and Eden, ZF1EJ, provided a number of reports. Roger reports that his antenna has been relocated to a location that is more in the clear and about 10-foot higher but during this session he did not get to listen for very long. Eden had a very strong night with the continued open path to WH2XCR.
In Alaska, Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, appears to be exercising the QRO amp, running 300-watts TPO. Laurence was reported here at WG2XIQ for the first time ever and did very well in spite of conditions that have generally been challenging for him. That’s life under the auroral oval! Laurence was “receive-only” through the session with KL7L. He also noted this morning a diffuse blue-green auroral arc to the north.
Like Laurence, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had a HUGE night with massive signals both received and transmitted. John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, indicates that he reported Merv for the first time during this session, a path that is 7945km distant! Merv reported my signal from WG2XIQ was at -5 db S/N before his local bedtime. As we are seeking a CW QSO, its a shame that I went to bed when I did! There will be other nights but at the moment this one was the “one that got away”. Merv was also reported by John, VK2XGJ, who sent console and waterfall captures of Merv’s signal (below), JA1NQI-1, KL7L, and most of mainland North America. This session also represents the first reports of WH2XCR from VE4. Merv notes that a weather front to his north was moving through during this session. There seems to be some evidence to suggest that terrestrial weather has an impact beyond simple QRN.
Other anecdotes, reports, comments, and statistics:
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reported a very early opening to Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, in Alaska and a very active WSPR waterfall through the evening, reporting eight WSPR station in a short timeframe:
Neil indicates that he was spotted by 22-unique stations through the session, all at 1-watt ERP, with nice reports from stations in the east, plus KH6:
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reports very good conditions in spite of some local QRN. He also reports first time spots of his signal by VE7BDQ and VA7MM. Doug notes the best WH2XXP/WH2XGP spot ratio of the year for the Northwest, with 72:22.
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, reports the best domestic conditions in a very long time with 43 unique station reporting his signal and a very strong East / West path that yielded season high two-way S/N numbers with VE7BDQ. His first time reception of Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, was noted earlier.
Ken, SWL/K9, in Indiana, reported WH2XCR eleven time and notes continued difficulties with the WSPRnet upload process. Fortunately, Ken saw the missing reports and manually uploaded the data. He also notes spots for Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV.
Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, notes very good conditions and similar coverage as what might be seen on 40-meters at .5-watt output.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, heard 12 stations through the session while being reported by 43 unique stations, which is only slightly better than average for him. Larry indicates his conditions were good but not outstanding. I’m just glad to hear Larry was able to remain QRV in spite of the freezing fog rolling in!
Toby, VE7CNF, reports that he heard 9 stations and was heard by 31, including WG2XKA, which he believes might be a first.
Jim, W5EST, has the follow session report profile for W6YQ:
“Mike, W6YQ, hails from Rapid City, South Dakota. His QTH is perfectly suited to receive sky wave stations overland from all compass headings and relative to the geomagnetic field. His reach covers the USA and could cover much of Canada, all at comparable 1-hop distances. Mike’s receive profile currently emphasizes decodes about one hour after his 2330z local sunset (SS) and about one hour before his 1427z local sunrise (SR). Notice how much north-south paths are favored over east-west paths at his location for antenna and/or propagation reasons.”
Jim also had the following general comments for the session:
“Propagation was so favorable that WE2XPQ-n6skm last spot 1528z even occurred after San Francisco sunrise 1525z. At n6skm, WE2XPQ easily outpaced his Jan. 7 -18dB among 39 decodes. Laurence’s 63 decodes Jan. 8 peaked single-digit: -9dB!
From WH2XCR, Merv put 9 spots into Mike’s wa3tts/2 receiver, peaking -17 0938z simultaneously with his 0938z singleton spot at wg2xka -27dB.
Stefan DK7FC enjoyed 15 transatlantic (TA) spots across 6 hours into WD2XSH/17 including a pre-sunrise enhancement -17dB 0636z. Heidelberg sunrise 0719z shortly followed Stefan’s last decode 0656z at WD2XSH/17.”
Mike, WA3TTS, sent the following report:
“John: Best night so far here for the number of XCR captures (9) and best SNR -17. Best XGP was a very audible -4 SNR. I had my EWE antenna to the NE up until 0500 or so and then switched to the NW for the overnight. Looks like I missed the late EU opening as XSH/17 had a gaggle of low SNR DK7FC captures from 0516 to 0656. I switched to the WSJT-X software after Merv suggested it to me the other day for the second pass / deep search feature. Somewhat surprised not to capture Neil’s XSV signal given the quantity of VE7 captures overnight and XGP’s audible SNRs, but dynamic range blocking from strong signals continues to be somewhat of an issue here…”
Finally, Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, sent a note and photo of an N-chassis connector from his 137 kHz system that had burned up at 1400 watts because the connector had not been torqued quite enough. This type of problem becomes more prevalent as you decrease in frequency and increase in power so be careful out there. No Decca transmitters were hurt in the burning up of this connector. Laurence commented this morning that he slept in the shack “for insurance purposes” after getting the system back on the air.
I’m certain I have left something out in this report given the sheer volume of content during this session. Please let me know so I can fix it!
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page!