I sound like a real “Debby Downer” with a title like that but it seems that weather was a big impact to a lot of stations, whether it be due to actual storms or the noise they generated. Ironically, I did not hear a single rumble of thunder or see any flashes of lightning as this storm system approached, bringing 60+ mph winds at 2am local time. If you have tall antennas, you know what kind of angst wind can bring. But the world moves on and there was, in fact, 630-meter activity last night. Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, indicated good conditions where experienced at his station, especially to the North and South. He reported nine stations and was reported by thirty one. Some of his highlights include VE2IQ, located 1275 km to the North, reporting WH2XZO at +6db S/N on WSPR2 and WD2XSH/17, located 1260 km to the North, reporting +5 db S/N. Doug recently increased his vertical antenna height to 82-feet but its unclear whether his improvements resulted in the higher numbers or whether he just experienced good propagation through the session. Time will clarify what is happening.
The geomagnetic field was quiet through the session with the Bz component, as reported by the Space Weather Prediction Center, remaining very near 0 nT with only slight variations southerly and northerly. The solar wind has now settled into the mid-400 km/s range, which continues to be high, but is an improvement.
The Kyoto DST was very stable and only slightly negative through the session.
The Australian DST for this session indicated significant positive and negative excursions, not observed on the Kyoto DST.
I could not find any references to any modes besides WSPR being operated on 630-meters through this session. WSPRnet reported 72 stations on the activity page during the evening in North America. Daytime activity was once again high with a number of stations finding success around North America during the 6-hour period centered on local noon.
The regional and continental WSPR breakdown follows:
There were no trans-Atlantic reports during this session.
EA8BVP continues to report DK7FC and EA5DOM:
The trans-African path from SV3DVO to Michel, FR5ZX, on Reunion Island was open:
In the Caribbean, Eden, ZF1EJ, reported nine stations, with Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, as his best DX. Roger, ZF1RC, appeared to be active, but receiving on another band with his reports being posted in the 630-meter database. I suspect this was a simple band selection error.
Al, K2BLA / WI2XBV, continues to do very well as he makes adjustments to his station. He is currently in transmit-only mode but should have switching and receiver protection in place shortly.
There is nothing new to report for Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, who was in receive-only mode through this session. Joe was working on his amplifier yesterday and suspect he will be transmitting again very shortly.
In Alaska, Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, appears to have returned to WSPR2 and had a typical session compared to others in the recent past. I suspect auroral activity is still elevated.
In the Pacific, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had a nice night with reports in the eastern US from Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM. An examination of the session data suggests that Eric best heard Merv near sunrise in Pennsylvania, which is no surprise but Merv’s best reports of Eric were limited to the 0800z hour. Signal levels were near what would be required for a JT9 QSO to occur. It would be great if these two could make that work out and hopefully propagation will permit such a QSO to occur. That is a very long haul!
Finally, WSPRnet is sick. There have been many recent reports of WSPR upload or processing problems. Some of these range from hours of slow or no connectivity to slow processing of a dataset such that it is no longer considered real time. This system behavior has been observed in previous Fall/Winter seasons but it is either worse this year or there are more stations than ever using WSPR to evaluate band conditions or antenna performance, which adds workload to the existing system. As far as 630-meters is concerned, WSPRnet is an extremely critical element. We have transitioned from a purely data gathering phase in preparation for FCC comments to a major marketing game for this band which will hopefully lead to populating 630-meters with many successful operators – the interest is certainly there. For several years now many operator have found their way to MF and LF because of WSPR and WSPRnet, in fact many of the Part-5 stations on the air today started out as amateurs making reports for active Part-5 WSPR stations. One can argue that other modes may provide better, deeper detection limits but for stations using WSPR to evaluate band conditions for potential 2-way QSO attempts, the 2-minute transmit cycle and a well-established pool of receive stations cannot be beaten.
Many WSPR users have made suggestions about a backup system, perhaps a mirror, to handle some of the load. Still others, including myself, have indicated a willingness to make a monetary donation in order to help support the maintenance and longevity of this system. Its my understanding that the system owner is very busy and WSPRnet being a “hobbyist” endeavour, priorities have to be considered. It would be my hope that some of the maintenance duties could be farmed-out to experienced volunteers, many of which have offered their services as reported on the WSPRnet blog. Imagine what the 630-meter landscape might be like without WSPRnet and the active community that uses it. As an active operator, WSPRnet’s absence would certainly change the way that I approach the band and not for the better. I am confident that we would not have had the success we have enjoyed without it.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page!