The band appeared a bit depressed as noise levels were higher than recently observed, likely due to a group of storms in the Midwest of the US. The geomagnetic field was quiet and solar wind returned to the low category near 330 km/s. The Bz was only slightly south-pointing. Its possible that after all of the recent geomagnetic activity there was not enough spark for a truly strong session.
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, indicated that this session was just like the previous four where an East / West wall persists. He notes only 30 unique reporting stations with 700 spots in 12 hours, which is down significantly. Its possible that John is experiencing the doldrums often seen in February worse than the rest of us, at least for the moment.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, indicates that all paths suffered in South Carolina but he made some significant improvements in his receive situation. His comments follow:
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, was a victim of an apparent hoax during the session. It seems that Joe, DF2JP, had his call sign spoofed by someone else which resulted in bogus long-haul trans-Atlantic reports for WG2XSV and WH2XXP. While this behavior is disturbing, it is easily identified through simple communication with the other parties. There are sinister forces at work, even for something as innocuous as 630-meter WSPR. Patience will often yield the source of these types of problems.
Neil, along with John, VE7BDQ, and Toby, VE7CNF, operated MFSK during their evening with good success. Neil also reported that he operated JT9 during the late afternoon and evening.
WSPR activity was strong, with 75 MF WSPR stations observed at 0300z on the WSPRnet activity page. This was the ARRL DX CW contest weekend so a number of regular stations were missing. A number of new or returning stations were observed and reported for the session, including K7HR, WA6OUR, VE4BJZ, N5DGA, and VE3GEN. VE3GEN appears to have been reporting the old WSPR frequency of 503.9 kHz and while that does not necessarily mean that his receiver was on the wrong frequency, very often that is the case, particularly if the station is using CAT to control the receiver. This station had no reports in the WSPRnet database in spite of numerous strong nearby signals.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
There were no trans-Atlantic or trans-African reports for this session. UA0SNV was present but no reports were found in the WSPRnet database.
EA8/DL9XJ on the Canary Islands successfully received EA5DOM during the session.
Eden, ZF1EJ, and Roger, ZF1RC, provided reports from the Caribbean. After a long, patient wait and hard work in improving his noise environment, Roger reported Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, for the first time. Due to the previously described hoax perpetuated during the session, an email was sent to Roger to confirm the report, which he was able to do. Congrats on this fine achievement!
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, reports very bad weather in his area so he operated as receive only when he was able. WE2XPQ/1 was observed, being heard by WE2XPQ, but that may be a driver or very low level transmission which was not reported by anyone else.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, experienced a nice session, particularly on the path to Australia. Merv also did very well to the eastern portions of North America in addition to the previously noted first-time report by ZF1RC.
Phil, VK3ELV, had reports from multiple Japanese stations in addition to WH2XCR.
Additional statistics, anecdotes, comments and information:
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reports that he decoded ten unique stations and was decoded by forty.
Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, reports that his vertical is repaired after the fire of Feburary 8 and he hopes to begin testing again today.
Phil, VE3CIQ, reports that he increased his antenna height from 20-foot to 35-foot, which should roughly double his radiation resistance and ERP. Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, noted that his experience was that for every foot of vertical height increase, it was like five foot of horizontal top loading.
Jim, W5EST, brings us “PART 2: LF/MF PROPAGATION. PLEASE TELL YOUR WORDS OF WISDOM.”
“Yesterday I talked about a principle of least-mystery, and got as far as multi-hop great circle propagation. A lot of fun and awesomeness of LF/MF is precisely the mysterious behavior and surprising events. Beyond our own accomplishments this is, after all, our solar system and our planet “talking” to us. Let’s never lose the enjoyment and awe. When “least-mystery” comes up here, the idea is to drill down to the true mysteries and avoid being distracted by some non-mysteries.
Now let’s talk skew propagation, such as illustrated in my hypothetical map on Feb. 12. The ionosphere presents imperfectly reflective electron concentration contour surfaces that are probably horizontal on average. But these surfaces can become slightly tilted and support skew propagation. Take any copy of QST magazine in both hands. Look at the top edge-on, presenting page-edges like dozens of slightly wavy parallel lines. The electron concentration contour surfaces in a region of the real ionosphere resemble those wavy pages.
I suggested a speculative skew path Feb. 12 to explain the singleton WG2XKA-we2xpq -29dB decode 0656z 5161 km, NW gt. circle heading 320° from John XKA to Laurence XPQ. Based on least-mystery, the idea sketched a 2-hop path with the least amount of skew that could travel at lower latitudes and suffer somewhat less aurora absorption than a great circle path. Also, I assumed that whatever skew occurs lies in the geographic middle of a hop, up in the sky. That’s how that path map came up.
Space weather & GMF: Every day John WG2XIQ KB5NJD blogs space weather and geomagnetic field information that plays somehow into the various paths and general band conditions. As Doug WH2XZO K4LY said Feb. 4 in this blog, let’s “…study the 630M propagation and solar/magnetosphere data and suggest reasons why some 630m paths are relatively better than others.” Let’s work together and learn from each other to help specify and test our methods of propagation interpretation based on these types of information.
Other propagation modalities—like ducting, propagation of O and X waves, drastic skews–may exist and be significant on LF/MF. Consider the remarkable LF/MF achievements, especially between Australia and North America, between Arizona and Japan, and between EU and Reunion Island FR5, among other paths. These compel open-mindedness to every possible modality that might deliver the WSPR-decodable SNRs already demonstrated across these long paths. Especially for propagation across the equator, one needs to be careful about generalizing explanations that mostly rise from information we have about northern hemisphere LF/MF paths.
Take note that all my propagation talk so far is after-the-fact! Let’s put aside the rejoinder that it’s very difficult to give an explanation even after the fact why some LF/MF propagation does happen. For example, why are occasional 630m daytime propagation events happening sometimes with and sometimes without any solar flare to explain them? Why are the already mentioned nighttime one-watt/5-watt transcontinental achievements happening at all?
Putting the rejoinder aside, ok, isn’t all this propagation interpretation stuff still a bit like explaining afterwards why the economy went up or down –when what was needed was to predict it in advance? Isn’t LF/MF radio propagation interpretation just know-it-all talk when what station operators need is useful information that helps them? Like help to decide a day or two in advance where to point a receiving antenna? Or whether to QRT temporarily and upgrade the station for a day without blowing a trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific or trans-Africa opportunity?
I think such incisive questions mandate some effort towards answers and prediction techniques, or at least some testable and predictive rules of thumb. What words of wisdom can you tell us? Please email us so we can make your experience and knowledge available!”
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD <at> gmail dot (com)!