This session yielded a curiously slow start here in North America. Unlike the previous session where the band was actively shifting, peaking and fading on a short time scale, conditions just seemed to be flat. Reports were plentiful from around North America in the early evening but S/N values were nothing special, in many cases yielding levels near the detection limit for JT9 and a long way from being heard at an appreciable distance on CW. None of this made sense to me given that the local noise level seemed pretty low and the lightning map was generally free of lightning producing storms around North America except for in the Gulf of Mexico where the cold front that had brought so much wind during the day had moved. Geomagnetic conditions were also very quiet and this seemed to be of significant benefit as the session continued.
The stability of the Kyoto DST through the session is unlike anything seen in recent times, remaining generally flat, at or near zero. The Bz component, as reported by the Space Weather Prediction Center also remained at or near 0 throughout the session.
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, in Vermont reported strong domestic conditions, with the path to the Pacific Northwest open in both directions, resulting in Rudy, N6LF / WD2XSH/20, being heard for the first time this season. John also indicated that receive conditions were very quiet with very strong signals from the southwest being reported on his untuned, preamplified loop that was oriented east and west.
John was also reported here in Texas starting at 2330z with signals at -28 db S/N. His signal was present through the evening and he first reported my signal at 0016z at -24 db S/N. This is quite early for any time of year.
Something very curious happened through the course of the early evening while observing a number of signals in the WSPR waterfall. In fact this might explain the perceived “flat” conditions.
Notice the 0016z receive frame. Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, located 200-miles north of me is always very strong as can be seen in previous cycles around 709 Hz. During the 0016z frame, however, Ken’s signal took a dip and John’s signal was seen for the first time at 723 Hz. It certainly seems as if the band went from being very short to very long. After this time frame, reports from around the North America began to improve and the signal from WG2XXM began to recover as well. But what mechanism was involved with the band finally stabilizing enough to open and improve? That continues to be a mystery.
The WSPRnet activity page showed 69 active MF stations at 0400z. Continental and regional activity follows:
There were no reports for trans-Atlantic, trans-Africa, Atlantic, or South America through the period.
In the Caribbean, Eden, ZF1EJ, had a very strong night with reports ranging as far as Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, in addition to stations across North America. The WSPR map indicates that Roger, ZF1RC, was active but no reports appear to have been uploaded for the period.
In Alaska, Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, had a very strong night, with reports throughout the Pacific Northwest including reception of Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, in Oklahoma.
In the Pacific, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, was reported by John,VK2XGJ, once again on a path that has come to be somewhat reliable. Interestingly enough, recent reports appear to be coming earlier in the evening in VK.
Additionally, Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, was reported by John, VK2XGJ.
John Simon, VK2XGJ, sent along the following screen shot of his receive console window:
In Australia, Phil, VK3ELV, was reported by JH3XCU/1 and TNUKJPM through the session.
Note that because of the dateline and the timing of when I gather these screen shots, it is possible and likely that I miss reports with JA and VK. If notable items are excluded, please let me know so I can take appropriate actions to correct. This situation is more likely to occur on the weekends in North America when I am operating on a slightly different schedule and might gather screen shots later in the day.
Toby, VE7CNF, reports that he was active using OPERA during part of the session, receiving reports from Andy, KU4XR.
VE3EAR reported on LOWFER that he once again heard VE7CNF, peaking at -23 db S/N at 0734z and added VE7BDQ for the session, peaking at -25 db S/N at 0750z.
John, VK2XGJ, reported on the 600-meter research group reflector that he would be watching JT9 concurrently with WSPR starting at 0800z. Hopefully this practice continues and a few guys are reporting CQing in VK.
UA0SNV was listening from Asiatic Russia, much further in-land from where RA0CEN was recently reporting. A message has been posted to the RSGB blacksheep reflector inquiring about his operation. The only response so far was from RD4HU who sent only a link to the UA0SNV 2200-meter grabber. There was no additional information. This may suggest that UA0SNV’s activity is limited to 2200-meter and his presence on 630-meters was in error. Perhaps more information will clarify. The hope would be that Merv on KH6 would have an opportunity to be reported in UA0 this season.
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reported hearing 11 unique stations and being decoded by 40 through the session.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, indicates that he was CQing with JT at 0233z. He reported no further QSO’s
Warren, K2ORS / WH2XIL, indicated that he was running a CW beacon in 481 kHz CW using his ground-based dipole. There were no reports posted during this operation but may have been sent in private emails.
A single report was posted on the 600-meter research group email reflector from NZ5L for WG2XSB, who was operating a CW beacon on 482 kHz. The report follows:
“your signals loud and clear at NZ5L, Beach Lake, PA FN21
“FARADAY CAGE WG2XSB FN42 STOW, MA”
Time: 0104 ZDate; (Z) 22 Nox 15
Sig RST: 599
Receiving equip’t; County Comm GP-5, w. BFO, 130′ long wire at 20′, inductive coupling to ferrite bar.
Norm / NZ5L”
I received a nice e-mail from Bob, W5EMC, near Austin, Texas, about 180-miles to the south of me saying that he had heard me on CW that morning. Bob indicates that he normally uses a shared apex array but it overloads from broadcast stations during the day. He also has a 3-foot diameter shielded loop made of six turns of Litz wire. Apparently his best 630-meter antenna is a ground probe consisting of 200-foot of #14 insulated wire that is grounded on each end with a one foot ground rod. He uses a 4:1 balun to interface with coax and is doing some experiments to see if this arrangement works in the day within ground wave range. Based on his recent reports I would say its working very well. Thanks Bob!
I had planned on calling CQ on 474.5 kHz CW at 0400z but had fallen asleep and aside from taking the MF census at 0400z I decided waking up further was not in my best interest. I did complete a late CW sked with Steve, KF5RYI / WG2XIQ/1, at 1330z, well after local sunrise and returned to WSPR for the daytime session at 1400z. While the next 7 days include an unfavorable weather forecast it is my hope to be QRV as much as possible, including morning CQ sessions on 474.5 kHz CW.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page!