This report is going to be very long because I not only have worldwide WSPR activity to report but also the numerous highlights of the 2015 Berlin Treaty CW Special Event’s first night, which will absolutely comprise a large part of this report. Abandon all hope ye that continue on!
I am hearing a lot of guys comment that they didn’t think conditions were very good. My assessment is quite different in that it really depended on your location. Here in Texas in EM12 conditions were as quiet I have seen them all season with virtually zero storm noise, at least in the earlier part of the evening, and strong signals from stations that were calling me. That said, QSB was certainly wild at times but it made for interesting operating. What do they say about nothing worth doing is easy?
Through the session we saw a few Kp spikes but as I am writing this geomagnetic conditions have calmed down some and its unclear whether we are still due for the arrival of a glancing blow from a recent CME. Perhaps the spikes we saw early yesterday represent the only impacts that we will see.
The DST, which hit zero sometime yesterday, meandered just below zero through much of the session. Steve, VE7SL, reported last night that the Bz was pointing south and is a common impactor of conditions in that region.
There are a number of notable items from the WSPR session to report but I want to begin with the Berlin Treaty CW Special Event that was the main event through this session for many stations on 630-meters. As previously reported, there were a lot of different groups involved with this operation. Several Canadian stations were planning on operating on 630-meters while listening for US stations on 40 and 80-meters for crossband QSO’s. Those of us with Part 5 experimental grants in the US were going to beacon, call CQ, make QSO’s and pass formal message traffic. This coming session will add the Marine Radio Historical Society to the mix, operating on all bands with an emphasis on MF from the Port Reyes, California KSM / KPH receive site, including at least one maritime participant on the high seas. It really has been a three-ring circus but one that I think is enjoyable to the casual observer and participating operator alike.
From as near as I can tell, the CW session began with John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, running his JUMA CW beacon on 472.5 kHz at 58-watts. While daylight reports were slow, after dark John indicated that he received reports from VE2PEP, NW2K, WG2XJM, W1TAG, plus an SWL in New York.
Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, followed near dark by calling CQ at :00 and :30 past the hour on 474.5 kHz looking for traffic. Additionally Eric was running PSK on 471 kHz intermittently through the evening. Even before dark here in Texas, Eric’s signal began to build so it was obvious that I would be able to later send several piece of NTS-formatted traffic that were destined for his station. As I had traffic for other stations, I moved up to 475 kHz and began running a wheel. Later in the evening, Steve, AA5TB, some 30-miles away, provided an audio recording of my calls:
After several calls I could hear someone calling me. It was Mike, AI8Z / WD2XSH/12, in Nederland, Colorado and he had a very nice signal on the very quiet band but I could detect just a hint of instability. I had traffic for Mike but decided to wait a bit and allow the band to stabilize more so we parted ways and I started the CQ machine again.
I received a very nice report from Fritz Raab, W1FR, in Iowa indicating that I was RST 569 on his E-Probe. Fritz recently relocated to Iowa so his station was not yet set up to transmit. Hopefully next year and under Part-97 rules!
I called for Mike, WD2XSH/12, once again and signals were significantly better only 20 minutes later so I passed the greeting message to him and we parted ways. I decided it was time to check on WG2XJM on 474.5 kHz who was preparing to run his traffic list at the top of the hour. We made contact and I sent him two messages that were ridiculous, one with fantasy maritime content and the other with a Star Wars theme. Who knew that Princess Leia used CW on 630-meters to inform Obi Wan Kenobi that he had the task of delivering R2D2 to Alderon? 🙂 Eric followed by passing me a respectable message about who he had heard on the band which was to be delivered to the 600-meter research group e-mail reflector, which I delivered immediately.
Back on 475 kHz, I was called by Mike, WD2XSH/12, who this time had traffic for my station. I copied the message and we were on our way. Sadly, I can’t find the radiogram that it was copied on at the moment so I am sure it has fallen behind something and will turn up shortly.
I pass yet another message, this one serious, to WG2XJM intended for the 600-meter research group, which reported my traffic that had been passed by that time.
Returning to CQing, I was called by WG2XIQ/1 a few miles away who indicated that he was QRU and was shortly thereafter called by Rudy, N6LF / WD2XSH/20, through the rapidly changing band conditions. Rudy and I would start our QSO only to have QSB wipe both sides out. Ward, K7PO / WH2XXP, in Tonopah, Arizona, however, indicated that he was hearing Rudy at a stable RST 599. Signals were strong on the peaks but as Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, pointed out in the ON4KST chat/logger, the QSB was very reminiscent of what is seen on 160-meters at times.
Conditions were strong in the south and I think Eric and I must have worked 6 times through the night and Mike and I worked three times that I know of so it was a very enjoyable session for the special event. There was one “Easter egg” that was observed through the session. It seems that someone out there was testing a modulated CW transmitted on the band, responding and commenting to licensed experimental stations on the air through the event. This is not the first time for something like that to happen and it certainly won’t be the last. Whoever it was, however, had a nice, strong signal here in North Texas and I look forward to working them on CW once the band opens under Part-97 rules.
I received a number of other reports, including one from Robert, W9ESX, in Chicago, and a pair relayed by Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, from the ON4KST 160-meter low band chat, from stations around the West Gulf Division. Eden, ZF1EJ, sent me a report that my signal went from RST 459 during one call to RST 579 for the following pair. QSB must have been tremendous during the session for everyone.
Steve, KK7UV / WH2XNV, ran a CW beacon through the first night of the event and began to poke through the noise in the late evening, around the typical time that I might expect signals to begin to peak in the north west. Steve QRTed not too long after to begin searching for VE stations.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reported that “…peak sigs CW rcvd up to 10 PM local last night: WG2XJM 599, WD2XSH/31 599, WG2XIQ 579, WH2XHA 449.”
On the 600-meter research group email reflector, John Andrews, W1TAG, had the following to report: “While I was out for most of the evening, you (WG2XKA) had a nice signal early and late. The only other stations heard were XSH/31 and WG2XSB (482.0). But my limited listening time may explain the lack of other signals. Should be around tonight, though.”
I also heard Brian, WA1ZMS / WD2XSH/31, in Virginia, on 477.7 kHz with a QSO quality signal. Apparently Brian was working QSO’s in the early evening.
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, indicates that he was heard by four stations and made one QSO:
“K7CW, Paul, SW of the Bremerton and Seattle area. rst 519 on his S meter, but he said the signal was very easy copy, not weak at all.
va7mm, Mark, in Vancouver BC, gave me a 549 on peaks of the slow qsb
w7waa, Vern, about 20 miles N of me said, “nice clean signal altho low on the S meter
Then, a minute ago, I got an email from ve7cnf, Toby, who gave me a 339 from BC also.
Rudy and I had a nice qso. Both of Our signals went from strong to “in the noise” over a slow qsb cycle.“
Thanks for the info Neil! Sounds like you did very well. Good luck tonight! I bet W7WAA’s comment about low signal on the S-meter was due to a small, unmatched and/or non-resonant antenna used for receive.
In Canada, conditions were a little tougher. The recent geomagnetic activity appears to still have a strangle hold on higher-latitude paths. Steve,VE7SL, reported that even with the band conditions as they were, he still was able to work K7CW and K6LG cross band on 80-meters. He was also reported by Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, on KH6 at RST 339 with QSB. I expect we will see a complete report of Steve’s activities as well as other VE stations on his blog after the event is over.
Steve posted the following on the 600-meter research group this morning:
Steve also forwarded a report from Mike Tuggle that was posted to the NDB reflector of stations heard in Canada and the west through the session:
“Location: Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii, USA; 21.40873 deg. N, 157.82093 deg. W Receiver: 1-MOSFET regen. Antenna: 60-foot long inverted L, 38 feet high. Fairly quiet conditions, except for some 2-way radio hash. The following were heard. 73, -Mike-
WH2XCR 0611Z, 0617Z, still on 0830Z; loud ~2 minute tone, then ID.
WD2XSH/20 all through evening, still on 0830Z: VVV (x5) WD2XSH/20 (x3) LOCATION NEAR EUGENE OREGON CN83 K
VE7SL 0631Z: CQ (x3) VE7SL (x2); heard only once
VE7BDQ 0703Z heard only once
VE7CNF 0754Z, 0818Z: CQ (x3) VE7CNF (x3)”
Toby, VE7CNF, reported at 0457z that he had already worked KK7UV, VA7MM, and K6GZ, while copying WD2XSH/20’s CW beacon.
John, VE7BDQ, reported working VA7TA, K6LG, VA7MM, VE7KW, and K7HV
Here in Texas I never definitively heard a full call sign from Steve or other VE stations and most signals to the west and north west were weak compared to the signals in the east. A few quick WSPR cycles confirmed this fact, with numerous single-digit positive and negative S/N values reported by stations all over the east while the best report in the west was at WH2XGP, where I peaked at -24 db S/N, about 14 db away from a realistic CW QSO. I still don’t understand the mechanism at play as the west and north west are my best directions from this location. With the southerly-directed Bz, perhaps the low-hanging auroral oval was masking the signals trying to leave or enter the Pacific Northwest. We will see what happens tonight.
WSPR had its own excitement through the session. Activity was once again very high and the worldwide break-down went something like this:
There are no trans-Atlantic or trans-African reports through this session.
Daytime activity from Texas was good although its possible that the reports of WA3TTS/2 could have been under the influence of impending darkness due to when this screen shot was taken, which was later in the day than normal.
In the Atlantic, VP9GE, only reported Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM. As conditions seemed pretty good, I suspect there should have been many more reports but most of us were active in the special event.
In the Caribbean, Eden, ZF1EJ, was the only ZF station present during this session and he was pulling double duty, making reports of CW stations in the special event.
In Alaska, Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, continues to control the station remotely from Maui. Reports continue from the west and Pacific.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had some nice excitement through the session, hearing VK3ELV, but also being heard for this first time in Australia by VK2XGJ. That may not sound like a big deal but Merv continues to run QRPPP power levels as he awaits new FET’s to be delivered so he can repair his amp. He reports only 10-15 watts applied to the coax. Furthermore, noise and daylight are in high-supply in the southern hemisphere at the moment.
Merv is also working an arcing problem along his base insulator. Hopefully he can find a workable solution shortly that does not require too much effort or downtime.
In Australia, Phil, VK3ELV, was heard once again by SWL TNUKJPM.
Another very remarkable achievement was completed by Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, and Mike, WA3TTS. Doug’s amplifier is currently en route back to South Carolina after a repair following a mishap last weekend. Doug has been in receive-only mode through the week as he prepares for a research trip. Having completed his most recent reports associated with the receive antenna shoot out, Doug decided to make things interesting and run his TS-590’s transverter output directly to the antenna. That’s only 4 mW to the coax and microwatts of ERP. How did he do? I think the screen shots from Mike, WA3TTS, speak for themselves:
WG2XJM also reported Doug’s signal at a best -22 db S/N. Its really a remarkable achievement and a testament to just how quiet the band was through the session in the southern half of North America.
Mike, WA3TTS, posted the following on the LOWFER reflector this morning:
I absolutely concede that I have left out important details of this session. There was simply too much happening. Please send additions, corrections, clarifications, etc., to me on the Contact page. Thanks!