The band definitely seemed out-of-balance last night in spite of a number of sporadic but strong reports in addition to extremely quiet conditions here in Texas during the evening. Apparently there was a “surprise” flare reported on Solarham that did release an off-center CME that may deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on November 11 or 12. If it has to happen, perhaps the timing can be such that we can get some enhancement for this weekend’s special event instead of increased absorption. Its really out of our hands at the moment.
Proton levels also spiked. This peak was near the time that I was inquiring about the state of the band in the ON4KST chat/logger.
Daytime propagation yielded a few pre-noon skywave reports but most of the reports from the sunlit session were limited to ground wave.
Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, indicates that the northern transcontinental path was very weak to non-existent and for the first time in quite some time had no east coast stations. Larry also reported that the path to KH6 appeared to be down. Even so, Larry reported 8 unique stations and was heard by 43 unique stations which was once again an all time high for his station.
Activity remains high on MF WSPR with 79 stations showing some type of 630-meter activity as of 0300z. This figure does not include other modes being operated on the band around the world. The regional/continental breakdown for this session goes something like this:
There were no trans-Atlantic or trans-African reports for this session.
The path to VP9GE appeared to struggle a bit once again last night. Storms along the eastern seaboard probably had the biggest impact through this session but Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, did manage to be heard on Bermuda.
Activity in the Caribbean was a little light as only Eden, ZF1EJ, was present through the session. There were plenty of reports from across the US, however, including reports for Mike, AI8Z / WD2XSH/12, who has recently returned for the season.
In Alaska, WE2XPQ, is running on remote control and had a slightly better night than the previous session. This is curious given the unsettled to storming geomagnetic field activity currently in progress. Perhaps the best explanation for the moment is that “its all stirred up”. It could also be that noise levels in the Pacific Northwest were lower than the previous session.
In the Pacific, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had a single report from JA1NQI-2 through the session and good performance, in general, with North American stations, being heard by 28 unique stations for a total of 915 spots. Merv reported 8 stations.
Additional anecdotes and statistics from the session follow:
Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, in western Pennsylvania reported that his signal was heard at or near sunset in KH6. Similarly, my signal was also reported slightly before sunset in KH6 again as it has been for the previous few sessions. Perhaps this phenomenon is spreading east and south as the season progresses. Perhaps Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, will be the next to join the early reports.
Laurence, KL7L/KH6, reported that he was hearing Merv’s signal at RST 579 sitting on a screened balcony at his accommodations on Maui. His receiver was a Tecsun PL600.
Receive conditions are improving here at WG2XIQ where Merv was reported 25 times through the session with many reports in the mid-to-upper teens. Merv reported XIQ 51 times, best at -7 db S/N, well into CW QSO territory and persistent for several transmit periods.
John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, reported that his conditions were fairly poor, with reports coming mostly from “local” stations where reports were down and noise was very high. The northern transcontinental path was also closed, as had also been reported by Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP. John also indicates that the southwest path towards Texas and Oklahoma was very poor. The path to ZF1 was open but there were no reports from VP9. It seems that a hopeful start to the band deteriorated as the evening went on.
Ken, K5DNL / WG2XXM, reports that he was heard by 48 unique stations while hearing 9 unique stations. VE7SL reported Ken’s signal 25 minutes before sunset in British Columbia, with the best report at -3 db S/N and was still reporting Ken 50 minutes after sunrise in Oklahoma.
Steve, VE7SL, and I have been observing an interesting phenomenon over the past few sessions since he joined the group on WSPR. John, VE7BDQ, who is only 10-miles away from Steve’s QTH appears to consistently hear my signal 6-10 db stronger than Steve. Adjustments have been made to my transmit frequency in case there was a persistent noise on or near the frequency, to no avail. Steve even used his large receive loop oriented toward Texas but reports were consistent with previously reported data. There does not appear to be an elevated noise floor at Steve’s QTH but perhaps John’s QTH is just that much quieter in that passband. The path to the west and north west is actually the clearest from my QTH here in Texas. I am approximately 1-mile from a significant decrease in elevation with very good natural ground conditions and a clear, unobstructed radio horizon on the order of 50-miles. This phenomenon will remain a mystery for the moment it seems.
Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM, reminded me about what appears to be the first DXpedition on 630-meters. Stefan, DK7FC, reported the following on the RSGB reflector:
Apparently Vinny, DL6II, and crew completed CW QSO’s with Mal, G3KEV and Tom, DK1IS. There are probably others but these were the only reports on the reflector. This activity could potentially open a whole new door for 630-meters.
Doug, K4LY / WH2XZO, performed a series of listening experiments through the session using his various antennas. Round one was between his 3-element HI-Z vertical array and his inverted-L with additional top loading. Doug reports that the inverted-L took the early lead until 10pm local time when QRN increased. Apparently both antennas switched off through the night for superiority, each reporting 10 stations. The HI-Z had more decodes while the inverted-L resulted in better signal reports up to 3000 km. The HI-Z showed more and stronger decodes of WH2XGP and WH2XCR. Because both antennas are somewhat directional, Doug has declared a draw for the moment.
My personal feelings on this is that any receive antenna is better than no receive antenna and at any given time, just about anything can be useful. Don’t count anything out, even the 80-meter dipole!
Neil, W0YSE/7 / WG2XSV, has also been performing some tests between his transmit vertical and E-probe. Neil had this initial analysis:
“So far this afternoon and evening I am seeing the following differences between the ”tuned” (40ft top loaded) vertical and the Eprobe:
For most long haul decodes (like Texas 😉 I am seeing about a 1 dB difference about half the time, and identical reports at other times. Sometimes one antenna will decode a different call than the other in the same time slot (i.e. each one missing one that the other picked up).
For shorter distances (like BC and central WA) the vertical is about 2 to 4 dB better, and even 6 dB better sometimes on Larry.
So, in short, it appears like the eprobe has a slight advantage on long haul over the vertical.
I will check back with you in the morning to see how things look for XCR on the two antennas.”
This morning Neil continued with these results:
“The vertical was able to get 2 decodes of XPQ at -29 and -30 in the 10z hour, but the eprobe did not see xpq at all.
Interesting to note that both Larry’s rx antenna and my vertical both decoded 8 uniques overnight, but he copied xjm and not xpq, while I copied xpq and not xjm. Ill bet Larry was using his Flag pointed east which would probably not see xpq’s direction.
The vertical was occasionally getting double decodes from Toby CNF several times in the same time slot, but on two diff freqs.
The vertical seemed to hear about 2 dB better most of the time, but since the vertical was ”tuned” it was sucking away 10+ dB from the eprobe (as discovered this past summer).
So, the results are still inconclusive I guess, but it restores my faith in the eprobe, especially when the vertical is in the ”untuned” mode, and when I can insert the ANC-4 noise canceller into the rx line of the eprobe.”
Great info Neil – thanks for letting me share it. I’ve been very surprised with the level of performance that I get with the E-probe compared to the vertical on a quiet night. For someone setting up a station on a residential lot, the E- probe might be a good option if they can find a quiet location in which to deploy.
Neil indicates that he will post more analysis on his website very soon as more data becomes available from his tests.
Finally, my 1100z CW session yielded no further QSO’s or reports other than my local CW sked. At 1200z I returned to WSPR2 for the daylight session.
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page!