Several weeks ago Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, indicated that he would be in Maui around the Autumnal equinox and would be taking a receiver and E-probe to listen for those of us using WSPR on the mainland. Laurence meticulously worked out his battery-powered system, running it during several overnight sessions from his car north-east of Wasilla, AK. Results were ok, hearing the usual suspects during the periods of recent solar activity. The arrangement looked like it was going to work.
Around the 20th of September Laurence travelled to Maui and set up a station in his hotel in what looks to be a resort area. Given a room on the top floor, he was able to arrange an E-probe some distance in the air through a skylight.
While a few serious noise generators were found in the WSPR passband, those were resolved, leaving a moderate noise floor. That’s really quite good considering he was located in the middle of tourist “ground zero” in KH6. The results proved very well for the guys in the Pacific Northwest. Rudy, N6LF/WD2XSH/20, Larry, W7IUV/WH2XGP, and John, VE7BDQ, seemed to make the trek across the ocean with plenty of headroom to spare. For those of us in the core of the mainland US, things were a little more difficult.
It just so happens that on the great circle path to most of North America stands the Haleakala volcano. This 10000 foot behemoth makes up 75% of Maui according to wikipedia with the peak residing on the eastern edge of the island – directly in line with the bulk of North America. Try as we could, signals like mine in the central US just could not summit the volcanic peak and since I was not prepared to make a sacrifice, who was I to argue?
As often happens, activity often breeds more activity and that could not be more true in this situation. Earlier in the summer, Merv, K9FD/KH6 filed for a Part 5 grant and in almost record time was granted WH2XCR. I had spoken to Merv originally in late winter 2012, however we lost touch until Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, contacted him to encourage him to file the application a year later in the late winter of 2013. Merv, a resident of Molokai, an island about 7.5 miles west of Maui, has a 40-acre compound in very quiet location on the cliffs above the Pacific ocean with a clean shot to the US mainland. One of the complications of rural, quiet locations is that often times land line communications are not so good and that was certainly the case here. Fortunately, Merv was able to find a stable internet solution using a Verizon wireless product and it seems to work.
Unfortunately for Merv, back problems and his remote location created complications for getting help to get his station and antennas up and running as quickly as he would have liked but it seemed that Laurence’s proof-of-concept operation nearby gave him enough motivation to fire up the K3 and transverter and see what he could hear. While his transmit antenna was not complete, Merv used his 80m dipole as a Marconi-T. He indicated in emails to me that he was hearing AIR-NAV beacons with ease so why not have a listen at 475 kHz. The results were alarming. While Merv had not yet worked out the internet data upload part of his process, he did copy and paste three pages of data from his receive window into a word document and sent it to me. He had not only heard Rudy and Larry in the Pacific Northwest but also me and Ken here in the central US and with signal levels that were very strong, often times QSO quality. It seems the location’s quiet nature and clear path had resulted in a very persistent path to the mainland resulting in 34 decodes of WG2XIQ in the 3-hour operating session that had been allotted. An analysis of the data performed by Jim, W5EST, suggested that at my 5w ERP level and reported signal of -15 db s/n as a best case for that session, station further east like Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, could have a real shot at that path while running 10-20w ERP. This news is very exciting. Imagine that: New England to KH6! John Molnar, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, are you listening to this????
During the second session, last night, Merv had solved his connectivity issues and data was easily uploaded to the WSPR database for review. Once again, the results did not disappoint!
Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
2014-09-24 07:24 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -29 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 07:16 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -31 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 07:04 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -30 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 07:00 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -27 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:56 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -29 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:52 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -28 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:48 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -23 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:44 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -22 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:40 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -21 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:36 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -26 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:28 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -26 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:24 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -25 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:16 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -31 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:12 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -25 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:08 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -21 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:04 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -22 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 06:00 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -27 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 05:48 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -28 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 05:44 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -25 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 05:40 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -30 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
2014-09-24 05:36 WG2XIQ 0.475619 -30 0 EM12mp 5 WH2XCR BL11jd 6032 274
21 decodes in a little under 2 hours, many of which were at reasonable levels suitable for digital QSO’s using modes like JT9 and WSQ. Lets hope that Merv’s signal makes it to the mainland as well!
So what’s next? Hopefully Merv will be able to get his own signal on the air shortly and QSO’s can commence. Talking the Laurence via email, it seems that this is the first time we have had amateurs operating under Part 5 privileges be received by other Part 5 operators in the Pacific Islands. It certainly makes one wonder just how far our signals are going and not being reported, maybe due simply to remoteness (literally water in this case), or a lack of qualified operators to put these locations on the air or at least activate receive outposts. Time will tell but the number of new operators that have found their way to 630-meters because of WSPR is swelling. That can only be a good thing.