It was apparently a noisy evening in North America with Atlantic storms impacted receive capabilities early at WI2XBV in Florida, snow static elevating noise at SWL/K9 in Indiana and WG2XJM in Pennsylvania, and VE7SL and VE7BDQ reporting lightning noise in the Pacific Northwest that made the band sound like summertime. Noise may have been slightly higher than normal here in Texas but aside from a few distant lightning crashes, the band sounded mostly quiet.
The band did not seem as chaotic as in previous sessions which had big openings on the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific paths, although deep QSB was reported by Steve, VE7SL, overnight while trying to make a CW QSO with Mitch, VE3OT, located on the other side of Canada. Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, recorded this audio of Steve’s calls. I experienced similar QSB while listening to Mitch’s signal overnight, which went from strong armchair copy to nothing at all and doing so in a matter of moments. These types of fades seem to impact slow modes like WSPR much less which may explain why WSPR reports overnight did not seem significantly degraded.
The geomagnetic field was more active and the forecast calls from storm levels in the next 24-hours. Protons were elevated with periods exceeding 123 p/cc at 0400z. The Bz was variable, but was generally reported from -2 nT to +2 nT. Solar wind was slightly elevated, near 360 km/s during the evening and at the time of this report development on Saturday, the average was near 415 km/s.
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, reported relatively low noise with a persistently open path to and from the Pacific Northwest and more than 1000 WSPR reports through the session while running 15% transmit cycle. John notes that the highlight of the session was two-way reports with WH2XCR at -27 dB S/N inbound and outbound.
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, reported a very strong session and noted that noise did not seem to be an issue for him.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, experienced a very strong session after resolving a time server problem that had been an issue for a few days. Larry has seen a return of the path to VK which has been missing for some time. Why has it come back now in the middle of the summer in Australia?
Phil, VE3CIQ, made his maiden voyage as a transmitting station on 630-meters last night and did very well. He is using the MF Solutions Transmit Converter and is currently running reduced power until he perfects his match. Welcome aboard!
WSPR activity was strong with 88 MF WSPR stations observed at 0300z on the WSPRnet activity page. Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
There were no trans-Atlantic or trans-African reports for this session. TF3HZ and UA0SNV were present but had no reports in the WSPR database.
Eden, ZF1EJ, and Roger, ZF1RC, provided numerous reports for North American stations. I was surprised that WH2XCR was not reported during this session in the Caribbean but Atlantic storms may have complicated reception.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, received reports from the West coast of North America and Hawaii plus WB0VAK in Minnesota. KL7L was designated as receive-only and Laurence was able to copy my signal in Texas.
In the Pacific, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, not only exchanged two-way reports with WG2XKA in Vermont, but also with VK3ELV. John, VK2XGJ, also reported Merv’s signal and sent a few screen captures from early in the session and later. The Japanese path appears to have been closed to Hawaii.
Phil, VK3ELV, had a few reports from Japan, some of which were from late in the the previous session.
Additional anecdotes, statistics, comments and information:
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, decoded 8 unique stations.
John, VE7BDQ, noted summer static levels with 22 unique stations reporting his signal only one hour after the start of his operation, including ZF1. He noted that he received five unique stations.
Jim, W5EST, provided the following, entitled “VIEWPOINT: 630M INSPIRATION FROM BIG SCIENCE”:
“The recently announced detection of gravitational waves (GWs) by the LIGO gravitational wave detectors is an exciting moment in physics not just because it culminates a decades-long quest to directly detect GWs. It inaugurates a new era of GW astronomy–peering at warped space-time objects and structures of our universe. Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington host the LIGO detectors operated by MIT and Caltech. https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/news/ligo20160211
In the GW project, success was far from certain. France Córdova, NSF director:
“In 1992, when LIGO’s initial funding was approved, it represented the biggest investment the NSF had ever made.” “It was a big risk….We support fundamental science and engineering at a point in the road to discovery where that path is anything but clear…”
LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) involves 1000+ scientists and 250 students in 15 countries from 90+ universities and institutes who develop detector technology and analyze data. USA, Germany, Italy, India and Japan either have or are planning GW observation sites.
Enthusiasm and persistence in the face of great odds figure just as importantly to success as the technology advances demanded. Detectors at both LIGO sites sensed a 100 millisecond GW altering their interferometer arm lengths less than 1/10,000 of a proton diameter.
For us who are involved some way in 630m experimentation, the language of such detection looks very familiar, while our problems look simple by comparison! Like our 630m antennas, the LIGO interferometers have very little directionality. GW SNR was +10 to +13dB (converted from non-dB multiples 13 to 20 in their FIG. 1). They used 50-300 Hz detectors in their systems. https://dcc.ligo.org/LIGO-P1500237/main/public
What inspiration can we gain in the MF/LF community? First of all, recognize that even though we face 630m physical limits in some way–given EIRP, antenna height, and data rate vs. SNR, not to mention small wallets and human power—those limits may not so obviously limit what we may accomplish in MF/LF communications.
In 10 or 20 or 30 years we will look back and say the 630/2200m recordbook was mostly blank as late as 2015. Some future ham commentator may in that future day say:
“Back then, reliable daily 630m daytime communications at -40 to -55dB SNR seemed quite beyond us. Frequency stability of the early 630m transmitters and receivers often exceeded +/-1 million microHertz per day. No 630m digital voice QSO had occurred coast-to-coast in North America yet. No 630m SSTV had made it coast-to-coast even one-way either. Thunderstorms and QRN from rain and snow impeded 630m paths. 630m amateurs had never imaged the ionosphere they use. 630m emcomm was unproven and indeed yet to be even fully thought through. DX paths yielded but a few one-way 630m decodes in a night and no QSOs at all. Equatorial propagation was unplumbed by them. 630m stations were huge by standards of 2030-2040. Modes and equipment that we take for granted in 2040 were unknown or unused in 2015. Nevertheless, we in 2040 still face 630m challenges. Although a 630m ham satellite is in construction, nothing is in orbit yet. Experimentation with a view to 630m EME is still about 20 dB away from success. And it is too soon to say whether interplanetary amateur radio will become a reality by the middle to end of this century.”
OK, return to the real us in 2015 now. Before long and occasionally in the months ahead I want to share some large thinking 630m people do. Please send us your thoughts. I’ll start soon with information I recently received from Joe WI2XBQ. In Joe’s work for the Very Long Baseline Interferometry, or VLBI, project, they have used radio telescopes all over the globe to measure continental drift and to get high resolution of radio objects.
Can 630m people smartly identify and adapt process and component types in VLBI, LIGO, and other big science projects to propel 630m experimentation? And what inspiration might 630m achievements offer in return? Stay tuned!”
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD <at> gmail dot (com)!