Like the Friday night session of the Midwinter 630-meter Activity Weekend, there was a lot of activity on the band for a Saturday night but band conditions seemed to be much weaker, at least early in the evening. JT9 attempts with Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, were unsuccessful, with only spotty transmit cycles reported from his station in Washington state here in Texas. Noise seemed to be a bit elevated here in Texas compared to Friday night, although Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, noted that his noise level in western Pennsylvania was very quiet, which will be evidenced later in the evening and this report.
Daytime reports seemed to be promising, with Mike, WA3TTS, reporting that John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, was operating “at 475.25 (by ear dial setting) CW 559 to 579, a good 40 minutes before local sunset….” Mike had his own excitement later in the evening which will be detailed later.
The geomagnetic field was quiet but elevated during the evening and Bz was pointing to the south, with elevated protons at moderate levels during several evening reporting periods. Solar wind was in excess of 400 km/s.
As in the previous session, I began transitioning my station from WSPR2 at 50% to CW on 474.5 kHz around 2330z. The plan was to be on the air as soon as possible but no later than 0000z. I hit my schedule and began CQing. And CQing. And CQing. I was spoiled by the previous night’s good fortune of being called before sunset by Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM. At 0030z I could hear a station calling me, even making a comment in the ON4KST chat/logger. Its not uncommon for me to hear phantom CW during the grey line period as weird broadcast mixing occurs giving the appearance of signals that might not really be there. But this was different. It was CW and it was directed at me. I switched receive antennas and fiddled with filters but nothing I could do would give me enough signal until a short peak revealed WD2XSH – maybe /12. The signal was at ESP-levels but I felt pretty confident it was /12, but who was /12? I posted a message on the 600-meter research group inquiring about who it might be after telling the station to call me later on the air. A bit later Mike, AI8Z / WD22XSH/12, emailed me saying that it was, in fact, him calling before his sunset. Mike and I have worked many times and as recently as the last activity weekend in November so I am going to have to blame getting older as why I couldn’t remember his designator. Mike noted that he would be out during the evening but would have a CW beacon running on 475 kHz and would look for me to make a QSO after 0400z.
Not too long after, I found Mike’s very loud beacon on 475 kHz hammering away and got this recording:
I continued to CQ during the evening, taking breaks and tuning around to look for Canadian cross band stations or trying to work JT9. I even put on a JT9 beacon during the evening at one point when I needed a dinner break and had a few reports, to be detailed later. At one point in the evening it was reported that Rudy, N6LF / WD2XSH/20, was also on 474.5 kHz calling CQ so I took this opportunity to tune around the band. Mark, VA7MM, got this nice recording of Rudy calling CQ on 474.5 kHz and Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP returning:
Rudy also worked Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, but noted that the signal was down from normal and this may have been what was observed with poor propagation early in the session.
Mark also provided this short sample of KSM on 426 kHz:
Later in the evening the band began to open a bit more to the West and Pacific Northwest and Steve, VE7SL, began to peak at 0222Z on 473 kHz. The peak was nice and I was able to record our entire QSO:
Note that if you listen carefully, you can hear the RFI from my CW on the recording. It will appear as very high-pitched clicks. I’m otherwise missing for this recording.
Shortly thereafter I returned to calling CQ on 474.5 kHz and got an almost immediate response from Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, with a nice, big signal. Eric had been participating in the North American CW Sprint in the earlier part of the evening so I filled him in on what I knew and had heard on the band so far. I had heard a couple of dits between exchanges with Eric and wondered if Mike, AI8Z / WD2XSH/12, might be standing by so Eric and I parted ways so he could listen for Steve, VE7SL, and almost immediately I had a call from Mike with a strong signal unlike anything that I have ever heard from him in the past. We chatted for about 20 minutes with little to no QSB and signed with the hopes that Eric might standing by, waiting to make a QSO. I was fortunate to start the recorder during one of the early exchanges in my QSO with Mike and got this:
Eric and Mike did make their QSO. Mark, AB0CW / WG2XNI, was also listening and noted how strong Eric was during the QSO. Eric reported that he was running nearly 1 KW TPO at the time to make the QSO. I also noted significant QSB on Mike during their QSO so it seems we timed the end of our chat just right.
I spent much of the remainder of the evening tuning around trying to hear Canadian stations but Steve, VE7SL, was the only one audible. Mitch, VE3OT, apparently had a very good night but I never heard him earlier in the evening, which is odd because his recent transmissions have been at arm-chair copy levels, including the Friday night session that yielded a cross band QSO for use.
Rudy, N6LF / WD2XSH/20, did show up here in Texas as a beacon on 472 kHz and I was able to record the following audio:
Similarly, Brian, WA1ZMS / WD2XSH/31, was quite audible in the late evening but not as loud as the previous session. I had intended to get another recording of him but it slipped my mind as I was pursuing Canadian stations at the time and I was pretty tired as it was late.
Around 0520z, Mark, VA7MM, mentioned that he usually hears me well on WSPR so we know a path exists some of the time between us. I joking comment that we should run some QRSS. So we did. Unfortunately, during the 10-15 minutes period of his QRSS3 transmissions, no signal was observed in the ARGO waterfall so it seems the path was not open at that time.
I spent the remainder of the evening listening around and “people watching” as some extraordinary operator prowess led to some unlikely transcontinental QSO’s. Those heroic stories will be detailed shortly.
I received a number of direct reports during this session so it was clear that there were a large number of stations actively seeking transmitting stations on 630-meters. One very nicely produced video report was provided by Larry, WD0AKX, in Minnesota. Larry caught me CQing and even recorder part of my sign off message for the evening. These guys in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas always seem to hear my signals well and I’m excited to be able to one day make QSO’s with them on this very good path!
I also received a nice report from James, KF5ZWS, who lives across town 35-40 miles away and had these comments:
Dwight, KW7T, sent these comments about my signal last night and he is even interested in getting his Part-5 grant!
The real drama started later in the evening as stations in the eastern US were waiting patiently for a path to open to the Pacific Northwest and to one of the Canadian cross band stations QRV there. Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, had been tuning all of the active transmit frequencies in use by Canadian stations and made a QSO with Steve, VE7SL, in the late evening. He has this recording posted on his website.
Mike, WA3TTS, was also another hero of the session, making the very long haul transcontinental path to VE7SL from near Pittsburgh. Mike sent the following comments and even made a video:
Another heroic effort was sent to me by Steve, VE7SL. He received this note from Paul, K7CW, detailing stations heard or called:
Steve, VE7SL, noted that the report of Joe, VO1NA was interesting because it had never been accomplished before by anyone in the West. The time of the report, however, is corroborated by reports made by Roelof, PA0RDT, who provided the following audio clip of VO1NA at 0204z, running aural CW not long before Paul’s report:
Steve followed up with these comments about the extraordinary opening:
Other comments and reports of the session follow in no particular order and are probably incomplete:
Toby, VE7CNF, reported cross band QSO’s with K7CW, N7BYD, W0YSE, and locals VE7SL and VA7MM. He also notes that he received KSM on 426 kHz at S9, and heard the WD2XSH/20 beacon on 472.0 kHz.
Steve, VE7SL, reported QSO’s with the following stations on Saturday night: K7CW (WA), VE7CNF, VA7JX, K7SF (OR), VE7BDQ, KB5NJD (TX), N7BYD (MT), W0YSE/7 (WA), NO3M (PA), AB0CW (CO), WA3TTS (PA) and VA7MM. Steve reported the following QSO’s on Friday night: VE7KW, KU7Z (UT), W6RKC (CA), VE7BGJ, KB5NJD (TX), NO3M (PA), KG0D/7 (WA), VA7MM, W0YSE/7 (WA), and WB2AWQ (NV).
Mike, AI8Z / WD2XSH/12, noted that he was “copying WD2XSH/20 beacon on 472 kHz with deep, slow QSB at 0515 Z” and “VE7SL on 473 kHz in QSB at 0526 Z.”
Garry, K3SIW, had the following comments and screen captures from the session that were posted on LOWFER:
John, W1TAG, reported that Frank, K3DZ / WH2XHA, was operating QRSS3 on 476.7 kHz at 0025z. Frank was easy CW copy at RST569 with a clean signal on ARGO. John also noted that VO1NA was RST549 477.700 kHz and VE3OT was RST579 on 477.0 kHz.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported that Toby, VE3CNF, was beaconing on JT9 at 0024z and was received at -11 dB S/N in Washington state.
Eden, ZF1EJ, reported my (WG2XIQ) CW signal on 474.5 kHz at RST539 at 0341z.
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, had the following report for Night 2 of the activity weekend:
Ralph, W0RPK, had the following reception reports from the session, as reported on the 600-meter research group email reflector. He was followed by a report from Fritz, W1FR:
The Marine Radio Historical Society also participated in this event with a number of stations making comments in the ON4KST chat/logger. Some of those reports follow:
2016-02-07 00:52:45Z W7IUV Larry 426 sig 549 up here, smokin away abt 30wpm
2016-02-07 00:49:33Z WI2XBQ Joseph MRHS 426 CW 599 100% copy
2016-02-07 01:17:01Z WG2XSV Neil KSM IS 599 into Vancouver WA
2016-02-07 01:08:31Z VE7BDQ John KSM running big QTC list on 426
2016-02-07 02:29:29Z K6KPH David KSM with high seas weather on 426kc
2016-02-07 02:56:19Z VE7CNF Toby KSM 426 is S6-S7 here, 599
2016-02-07 03:04:27Z K6KPH David KSM now with press on 426kc
2016-02-07 03:05:04Z WG2XSV Neil I just saw Larry’s call sign (xgp) on KSMs 426 freq.
2016-02-07 03:35:17Z WE2XPQ Laurence nil from KSM here in AK (yet!)
2016-02-07 03:42:14Z VA7MM Mark Same here, K6KSM solid here at S7, non resonant antenna.
2016-02-07 04:22:18Z AB0CW Mark ksm on 500 kc now
2016-02-07 06:20:27Z W0YSE Neil KSM on 426 coming in EXTREMELY strong right now
WSPR was also a big deal during this session as a lot of stations turned out for the activity weekend. In fact, John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, reported that the WSPRnet activity page was indicating 101 MF WSPR stations at 2349z. At 2300z I noted 100 stations and even got a screen capture to commemorate the event, which is one I had never before observed:
At 0600z there will still 92 active MF WSPR stations. That’s remarkable activity. And it was very good activity. The band “sounded” good and there were a large number of positive S/N reports through the session. Steve, W6SJP/BY, was also listening from Beijing. He reports that he is going to perform the MF mod to his IC-706.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
HamWSPR.com provided the following reports of North American WSPR activity:
Mike, WA3TTS, provided the following comments about WSPR, which included receptions of WH2XCR and WG2XSV:
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, also had an astonishing evening of WSPR. His PA is currently down so he is operating with 0 dBm from the TS-590 directly connected to the antenna and is getting reports! He had these comments for the session:
There were no trans-Atlantic or trans-African reports during this session.
EA8BVP, on the Canary Islands, reported EA5DOM and DK7FC:
Eden, ZF1EJ, was splitting duty, reporting stations on WSPR and providing reception reports for CW stations like me in the activity weekend event.
In Alaska, Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, reported a long duration opening to Japan, with reports from JA1NQI-2, and operated WSPR15 through the overnight period. KL7L was designated as receive-only.
Laurence also made some comments on the RSGB “blacksheep” reflector about his session, both WSPR and activity night related, which also included a long duration opening on 137 kHz WSPR-15:
In the Pacific, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had a very strong night on WSPR in spite of no CW QSO’s with mainland Part-5 stations or VE cross band stations. Merv was reported by VK2XGJ and had a two-way path to VK3ELV as well as reports from JA1NQI-2 and KL7L. He was also reported by W0RPK on the East coast of the mainland and this may represent the first reception for Ralph of Merv’s signal. Merv also notes 31 unique reception reports which may be a new record for him in a single session.
John, VK2XGJ, provided the following screen capture showing Merv’s signal just after VK3ELV’s transmission:
Other statistics, comments, anecdotes or information:
Wolf, DF2PY, reported that he was operating CW on 472.5 kHz during the evening in Europe. Pete, M0FMT, reported the following about those transmissions: “Wolf coming in here very well peaking 589 wid deep QSB to zero but mostly OK copied the G3XIZ qso. RX TS690s unturned inv L 38m long up 11m.”
Jim, W5EST, took a vacation day after a long series of days working on content to present in this section of the blog. He will be back tomorrow.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD <at> gmail dot (com)!