Strong openings and quiet band conditions contribute to another big session in North America. While the previous session showed persistent life on the Atlantic coast and into New England, the band appears to have shifted westward with numerous reports by Japanese and Australian stations of WH2XCR and WE2XPQ as well as a first ever JT9 QSO between Alaska and the lower-48. WG2XXM and WG2XIQ were reported in Alaska once again as well and VE7SL reported a very early partially sunlit opening to WG2XXM. The path between Asiatic Russia and Western Europe also opened, yielding reports after several days of inactivity. We also have a new station in Eastern Canada finding lots of success at low power and using a short vertical. Its good to see a strong band during a time of year that has historically yielded volatile, disappointing conditions.
The geomagnetic field was quiet but active with a variable Bz that is pointing North during this reports development. Solar wind speed is elevated near 430 km/s.
The big news of the session is the first ever JT9 QSO between Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV in Vancouver, Washington and Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, in Wasilla, Alaska. While the path to Alaska from the Pacific Northwest is open most evenings, the high latitudes of Alaska and the location of the auroral oval can make the path challenging when trying to achieve persistent communications but Laurence and Neil were successful at exchanging reports with one another. Neil and Laurence both provided screen captures of their success:
Laurence added that this was his first QSO on 630-meters and as this was an impromptu event, he had to scramble to get the system on the air. He was driving the MF Solutions transmit downconverter with a Kenwood TS-850 and the output of the amplifier was about 280-watts TPO to the Marconi vertical. QSB was quite bad but they were able to exchange reports. Congrats to all involved and its great that John, VE7BDQ, was able to be present to witness this event in real time.
Bill, KC2LVQ, had the following report for WG2XSB that was posted on the 600-meter research group email reflector.
WSPR activity continues to be relatively high with 74 MF WSPR stations reported on the WSPRnet activity page at 0200z. No new stations were observed but KA1MDA was providing reports again after being away for some time. PU3VRW/SWL was also present for the session but was reporting the old frequency of 503.9 kHz once again. Its unclear whether his receiver is also set to this frequency. An email was sent yesterday. Subsequently there were no reports in the WSPR database from his station.
Mike, WA3TTS, experienced a solid session on the path to the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii:
Phil, VE3CIQ, once again experienced a strong session with reception reports as far South and West as my station. Its still amazing what one can do with low power and small antennas on this band.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
There were no reports from the trans-Atlantic or trans-African path.
Vasily, UA0SNV, provided a single reception report for PA0A on the all-land path between Western Europe and Asiatic Russia.
Eden, ZF1EJ, and Roger, ZF1RC, both provided reports for stations around the eastern and southern US with the added bonus that Roger also decoded John, VE7BDQ, and Toby, VE7CNF, in western Canada. Roger was experiencing noise problems that limited his success in late 2015 but it seems that he has gotten those problems under control. I hold out hope that he will decode Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, this season and perhaps there will be continued success on the early openings to North America where the path is partially or fully in daylight.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, enjoyed very good propagation that yielded his first ever QSO on 630-meters in addition to the first JT9 QSO from Alaska with Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV. Laurence also received reports from JA1NQI-2 and WH2XCR. He also decoded WG2XXM and WG2XIQ. KL7L was designated once again as receive-only.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, received reports from VK2XGJ, JA1NQI-2, JH1INM, and WE2XPQ in addition to WA3TTS and WG2XJM in the eastern US. Merv also reported Phil, VK3ELV.
Phil, VK3ELV, received late reports from the previous session from JH3XCU.
Additional anecdotes, statistics, comments and information:
Ken, K4ZW, posted the following upcoming webinar announcement on the topic of receive antennas to the Top band reflector. These webinars have historically been very good:
“The World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (www.wwrof.org) is pleased to
sponsor the following Webinar.
High Performance RX Antennas for a Small Lot
Jose Carlos (JC), N4IS, will look at basic concepts of RX antennas and share
his experiences with lowband RX antennas on a small lot, including the
Date & Time: March 3 – 9 PM EST (March 4 – 02:00 UTC)
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reports that he decoded nine unique stations while his signal was decoded by 44 unique stations including a +20 dB S/N from Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, in Western Pennsylvania.
Mark, WA9ETW, reported my signal (WG2XIQ) at RST559 and audible copy of my CW ID. Mark has not been able to post decodes yet as he is having some problems with the WSPR decoder while running a Mac.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reports that his antenna is “broken” again and will be off air until he can get it repaired. Its unclear if this problem is wind related or something else.
Tom, N7BYD, reported that he decoded John, VE7BDQ, using an 80-meter off center fed dipole and an Icom 7200. HF dipoles often work very well for receive antennas on 630-meters and with appropriate loading and ground systems they can also radiate quite well.
Jim, W5EST, provided the following commentary that is a continuation of a previous discussion on the topic of modes on 630-meters:
“EXTENDED MODE TABLE
In the Feb. 8 blog I tabulated approximate SNR threshold information for each mode. That information is extended here.
Please especially check the question marked items, and send me corrections you see needed anywhere to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Choosing the right mode and bandwidth matters. Your digital mode decoder can’t decode its digital mode if it’s below some characteristic SNR. Ditto for you and CW. http://hfradio.org.uk/html/digital_modes.html has screenshots of some digital modes. But choice of mode involves more than just its SNR threshold.
WSPR is a beaconing mode for propagation reporting. A pair of stations can each receive each other and the information goes to the WSPR database, even without operators in attendance. That matters on an all-night long-path band like 630m. That’s great, but a QSO–the way hams think of it–goes beyond beaconing. So the table “QSO” column tells whether a mode can support a QSO.
CW is the traditional mode for QSOs but CW generally has no client screen. So, other table columns speak to client screen and database. Likewise, CW traditionally lacks automatic upload to a central database, although logging software and QSL support tools do exist.
JT9 supports QSOs and has a client screen on which several different stations can see decodes for themselves and others. Moreover, that client screen feature makes a kind of poor man’s diversity reception possible, as I discussed in the Feb. 5 blog. On the downside, JT9 lacks a central record-keeping database, so saving JT9 client screens is at operator discretion. Also, a QSO mode entails both station operators attending their equipment, which can be difficult. But otherwise, JT9 becomes simply another beacon mode that WSPR2 may outperform.
The TABLE’s TX “Nonlinear ok?” column tells whether the mode accommodates nonlinear amplifier classes C, D, E, etc.
One considers more than the technical features of a mode. Compared to 160m and HF, 630m still has low usage and 2200m lower yet. For the time being, it’s important for most of us to experiment with the more frequently used modes so that we can all build up some useful experience with MF/LF. Accordingly, WSPR2, JT9, and CW will probably continue to be the most-used modes at least in the next couple of years.
That said, absorption-resilient modes like WSPR15 and QRSS30, 60, 120 do deserve experimentation, such as in daytime work and aurora latitudes.
SSTV arises at the high end of the bandwidth list. WG2XSV, VA7MM, and VE7CNF have already worked on delivery of recognizable images over short paths.”
# http://www.qsl.net/on7yd/136narro.htm#QRSS BW(Hz) = 5/6 WPM
^ http://www.pa3fwm.nl/technotes/tn09b.html ;
+ https://rosmodem.wordpress.com/ ;https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/O_P_E_R_A_/info
++ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_MFSK ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_MFSK
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD <at> gmail dot (com)!