I spoke too soon yesterday. Being the eternal optimist that I tend to be when it comes to this stuff, I found myself looking forward to a period of quieter, recovering conditions as we approach the longest night of the year on the 22nd. Unfortunately Mike, WA3TTS, brought the news to the ON4KST chat/logger shortly after I published yesterday’s report that magnetometers worldwide had been sent into orbit.
Fortunately for last night’s session in North America, the lower latitudes seemed to enjoy generally normal if not elevated conditions. Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, reports that high latitude East-West and North-South paths were attenuated as much as 10 db with conditions improving after 0800z. For example, the path from his station to WD2XSH/17 yielded +10 db S/N yesterday while the same path peaked at -5 db S/N during this session. Doug indicates there was no open path to the Pacific Northwest but that path to N3CXV / WH2XRR in Maryland resulted in a +16 db S/N report, which was the highest ever registered by WH2XZO. Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported that the session was good but not great, with the North-South path dominating and the East-West path being attenuated by the auroral zone.
Solar wind exceeded 530 km/s through the session. The Kyoto DST saw the largest decrease since last month.
The Australian DST, as expected, indicated severely disturbed geomagnetic conditions through the session.
In spite of difficulties with WSPRnet, WSPR dominated the session. During one of the periods that the activity page of the website was accessible, 72 MF WSPR stations were active during the North American evening. I suspect there were others that simply could not connect to the website. Note that because of the current website problems, this report may be incomplete. I will give some thoughts on this matter at the end of this report. Two new stations were identified: WT9S and VE3VCF. Its my belief that WT9S has reported in the past but I did not have him on my list.
Regional and continental WSPR activity breakdown follows:
There was a single trans-Atlantic report for DK7FC by WD2XSH/17:
EA8BVP continues to report EA5DOM and DK7FC:
Michel, FR5ZX, was not present through this session from Reunion Island so there is no data for the trans-African path.
In the Caribbean, Eden, ZF1EJ, almost provided a carbon copy of previous sessions, with reports for a majority of the active stations in this session.
In Alaska, Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, was severely impacted by the geomagnetic activity with the electron reservoir being topped off once again. Auroral activity appears to be extremely high. I am not certain that Laurence turned on the transmitter through this session.
In the Pacific, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had a fairly strong session, in spite of no further report from JA or VK. This is not surprising given the current geomagnetic conditions.
Merv had reception reports for Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, who only last night began operating at 50-watts TPO for 0.5-watts ERP.
Other comments, statistics and anecdotes from this session:
Jim, N0UR, in Minnesota, resolved his reception problems by switching to the FT-1000. This change netted nine stations in North America while listening on the 160-meter inverted-L. Well done, Jim!
Steve, G7KLJ, reported first time tests of his 630-meter transmitter on 472.2 kHz CW at 0014z. No word at this time of whether he completed a QSO.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, posted a link to useful propagation articles for MF and LF.
This morning’s CW session on 474.5 kHz at 1100z almost didn’t happen. I overslept by about 5 minutes and had computer problems, which meant that until I could access the server that operates WSPR, I could not start calling CQ on CW. At 1105z I began calling. No additional QSO’s were made but Steve, KK7UV / WH2XNV, in Missoula, Montana reported that my signal was RST 539 at 1149z but that his antenna tuning network was on the bench for maintenance.
Finally, WSPRnet problems: The natives are getting restless because of the recent upload and connection problems with WSPRnet. More and more public discussions are being held and we are all frustrated by this turn of events, particularly those of us on 630-meters where WSPR is the primary means of assessing band conditions for QSO attempts. My personal opinion is that at the moment the situation is totally out of our control. Even though WSPRnet has become a very useful, mainstream tool with a massive following, the site owner has no real responsibility or obligation to the amateur community. The site could be shut down tomorrow. As far as I know he is not being compensated for his efforts and server time and space as well as bandwidth are expensive. Offers have been made for donations. Perhaps these offers will be accepted in the future but until communication lines are established, we don’t know where the needs are. There are any number of circumstances that could contribute to the lack of communication by the owner, including health, family and work.
All of that said, we can do a couple of things:
- Turn it all off and go do something else. That doesn’t really help all that we have worked so hard to create. Many may remember what it was like in 2012 when 2 or 3 receive stations meant a good WSPR session.
- Develop our own system for warehousing and rendering data. This option is probably on the table but will takes time and coordination. Given that we are “in season” right now, this is not an immediate solution.
- Make the best of the situation and use a few strategies that will help us enjoy this band even under difficult circumstances.
Addressing the issue of up-to-the-minute band conditions which is the biggest problem due to upload and processing problems, most of us that are active on this band who are interested in making QSO’s can post reports for stations we might be interested in working on the ON4KST chat/logger . Decoded stations are reported on our WSPR consoles, so we know the signal levels we are dealing with and we know what levels are required to make QSO’s with a particular mode. It becomes a simple matter of communication with the other station and coordination, which we already do. Instead of looking at the website, look at your console and communicate.
The website data is useful and convenient when the features work. These reports are built each day using screen shots and data aggregated from WSPRnet. My aim with these reports is to provide a record of what was happening on 630-meters a month / 6-months / year from now. Too many important milestones have already been lost or forgotten. If WSPRnet were to disappear or stations were to stop using WSPR, it would not be the end of the world but it would make my job more difficult because reports would be based on word of mouth and there may not be datasets or nice graphics to illustrate “what went down”. Again, not a deal breaker but it means more work. In order to insure that WSPRnet has data that I can query and aggregate to build reports, every user can help by uploading a file each day located in their WSPR directory called “ALL_WSPR.txt” to the old WSPRnet database site. Note that this site has the same difficulties as the current WSPRnet site in terms of access and may go down for 45-seconds to a minute every 10-12 minutes but if you can get your file uploaded, the data will be there for me to use for documentation purposes.
These solutions are not perfect. What they give us is a possibility for useful data to be uploaded for future documentation. Furthermore, operators can use the data in real time by watching their WSPR consoles and communicating with other operators in real time using one of the tools we have available to us now. We gotta make lemonade out of the lemons we have. Otherwise its time to do something else. As I’ve said before, this is now a marketing game for this band. WSPR is an important part of the marketing strategy so its important that we press through these difficulties and find a way to make it work even if it sucks now. Some resolution, good or bad, will present itself shortly, that much is for certain.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page!