This session started out very poor. The Kp was 7, solar wind was in excess of 500 km/s, Bz was pointing south, DST was cratering, and protons were elevated. It looked like an RF apocalypse. John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, was reminded of the Zappa lyric, “And The Northern Lights Commenced To Glow.” That pretty much sums up the session. Fortunately it was not a total loss.
Local noise levels were already high and WSPR reports suggested that a scheduled CW-session I was planning was probably not going to yield much so I decided to ride out the event on WSPR. Apparently the band got better as the night proceeded, bringing significant, even baffling trans-Atlantic reports.
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, still found success during this session in spite of active aurora:
Neil, W0YSE / WG2XSV, also experienced a successful session in spite of his higher latitude location and active aurora.
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reports that he was decoded by fifty stations and decoded nine, including reported from DL4RAJ.
Ron, NI7J / WH2XND, reports that he decoded nine stations and was decoded by 58 stations, including DH5RAE and DJ0ABR. Ron notes that while his reports indicate 5-watts ERP, he expects that his ERP is probably closer to 20-watts ERP. Arrangements are underway to calibrate instrumentation for better operational metrics. Having more reliable data will be helpful in the report analysis process.
This interesting trans-Atlantic episode yielded some discussion of the statistics on the RSGB-LF reflector between Rik, OR7T, and Stefan, DK7FC:
Roelof, PA0RDT, reported that Joe, VO1NA, was visible during the evening. Its unclear to me what mode we are looking at. It may be CW but I suspect its a digital mode that has been tested recently on the trans-Atlantic path.
In spite of the perceived poor conditions early in the session, participation was high and three new or newer stations were observed receiving during this session: K6VZK, W5KLF, and ZS1JEN.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdown’s follow:
There were no reports on the trans-African path, although ZS1JEN was receiving for what is believed to be his first time on 630-meters. UA0SNV was present but no reports were found in the WSPRnet database.
Trans-Atlantic activity was high for March during a G2 geomagnetic storm:
EA8/DL9XJ in the Canary Islands continues to provide reports for stations in Europe.
In the Caribbean, Eden, ZF1EJ, and Roger, ZF1RC, provided a lot of reports to stations in North America in spite of the geomagnetic activity. Eden even reported WH2XCR in Hawaii.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, decided to save the electricity and not transmit during this session. He reported clouds but is pretty certain that there is visible aurora on the other side. Laurence did find success, briefly receiving WH2XGP and WH2XCR.
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, experienced an impacted path to VK and a JA path that remains closed off. None of this should be surprising and its nice to see that Merv got the reports that he did from ZF1, VK and KL7, in addition to the mainland US.
In Australia, Phil, VK3ELV, was not reported in Hawaii during this session but received a couple of reports from JH3XCU and TNUKJPM.
Additional anecdotes, statistics, comments and information:
The North American 630-meter operator list has been updated and can be viewed here. I am happy to make additions at any time, so please feel free to send me a note.
Al, WI2XBV / K2BLA, reports that he was hearing strong sidebands on a CW signals near 474.3 kHz before sunrise. It is presumed that this might have been VE3OT who has been beaconing on 474.5 kHz. Is anyone else detecting these sidebands which might indicate some type of problem with Mitch’s PA or antenna match?
Jim, W5EST, returns today to provide a discussion entitled, “THREE CATEGORIES OF PROPAGATION PREDICTORS”:
The Saturday March 5 blogpost embarked on a predictor of propagation from Pacific Northwest to Australia (PNW-VK). Let’s look at the big picture while I’m proceeding with its analysis.
Insightful propagation interpretations help answer the “Why” questions of 630m propagation. They help us focus on the real mysteries of 630m by explaining the non-mysteries first. When comparing frequency bands, good interpretations shed light why each band behaves the way it does. Interpretations should avoid explanations that are physically impossible unless there’s some reason to doubt the way one is using the physics itself. Cause-and-effect interpretations are likely to talk about space weather, ionospheric structures and compositions and physical properties, and how particles and energetic processes interact with them at various wavelengths.
Propagation predictions, ventured before the actual propagation happens, might use but do plainly go beyond mere after-the-fact propagation interpretation or explanation afterwards. 630m propagation prediction and interpretation challenge us either way. Effective prediction realistically sets our expectations of what’s possible and can guide station preparations and operation so our time is not wasted.
So far in this blog, the propagation predictors I’ve been talking about fall into three categories and combinations of them:
- A) Space weather, geomagnetic field indices and storm distributions. One may not be able to predict very far ahead with them, but they offer some physical basis for propagation and reception prediction. Any such predictor that can be proved effective allows the station operator to get the right information beforehand and know what to do with it on short notice.
- B) Calendar-based predictors involve seasons and calendar date intervals. Calendar-based predictors can provide useful predictions months ahead of time. Such predictors can encourage new stations to begin operations. Both new and existing stations can prepare antennas and equipment to enjoy 630m propagation opportunities based on such useful predictive information. Calendar-based predictors are based on planetary orientation toward the Sun and large-scale overall physical effects on the ionosphere. Consequently they are unlikely to provide effective day-to-day predictions once a calendar date interval commences. Moreover, it can take years to prove that a calendar-based predictor based on evidence from one year will actually work another year.
The Feb. 29 blog analyzed 630m daytime propagation predictors. There it showed useful results based on the last several months of daytime data. Two candidates got on deck: 1) a Nov. 1-Jan. 15 calendar-based predictor, and 2) a mixed predictor that went on to rule out from the period Nov. 1 to Jan. 15 those days with M1 or higher solar flare activity.
- C) Prediction of one path based on another path. This is the type of predictor this blog described in the March 5 workplan for PNW-VK propagation.
IF PNW-Hawaii decodes>= 4 w/ SNRs >= -11dB during 0830-1100z on date
THEN PNW to SE-VK PROP(Date)=TRUE.
This type of predictor, if it can be proved up, uses PNW-Hawaii information assembled the same night as the PNW-VK path being predicted. It assumes there exists some good reason to think that good conditions on PNW-Hawaii path accompany good conditions for PNW-VK. It bypasses the physics and uses radio data for propagation prediction. Suppose multi-hop is the basis for both PNW-Hawaii and PNW-VK. If so, one can tell as a matter of hop geometry at the outset that not all multi-hop modes PNW-VK may use will necessarily be available to PNW-Hawaii prop. In general, prediction of a longer path based on a shorter path on the same great circle is an uncertain but interesting project.
I hope that these general remarks can encourage your thinking about different types of 630m propagation predictors and their inherent best-case capabilities. If you can think of any other big categories of propagation predictors, drop us a line! In the meantime, I’m assembling information on PNW-Hawaii and PNW-VK from last fall to present in a future blog post.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page or directly to KB5NJD <at> gmail dot (com)!