It was a tough session but the band was, in fact, open to somewhere if you chose to wade through the noise, you were not too far north (North of 46 degrees latitude, apparently), and / or you had the patience to wait for page loads and time-outs on WSPRnet. Let me begin with a WSPRnet soapbox: I have historically been an apologist for the WSPRnet administration. Its a volunteer effort and I get what I pay for. However, WSPR and the rendering of WSPR data on WSPRnet, has become an important part of what we do on MF (and LF), being far more efficient and useful, in my honest opinion, than most of the other beacon modes. WSPRnet offers a fantastic rendering of data, both quantitatively and visually, and we have become dependent on the content. When it does not work time and time again, its a big deal! What’s funny (or sad?) about this dependence is that its not really even radio – its the Internet and all that it implies, but I digress. As operators, we could go back to the “old way” of beaconing but its my feeling that we would see a stagnation of growth in interest in these bands, even losing a large number of stations. We would lose the mainstream edge that we have worked so hard to attain, being relegated to the corner fringe of experimental radio. A few active MF operators have already commented that the current state of WSPRnet has taken all the fun out of operating. As I have stated elsewhere, many people have used WSPR and WSPRnet as a gateway to MF (and LF), with the website being the centerpiece. Many ops were not even looking for a new band, instead showing up on accident. Most if not all of the active independent Part-5 stations on the air in the US today got their start because of WSPR and WSPRnet and the fact that they stumbled onto MF because it was an option on the WSPRnet website. This season alone we have seen maybe thirty new operators that have tried out the band using whatever antenna and receiver that they have on hand. Most, very surprisingly to them, found success and many were hooked, coming back each night.
Many WSPR operators, on HF, MF, and LF alike, have offered resources including intellectual, hardware and monetary to correct the problems associated with outages on the WSPRnet site but to my knowledge these offers have neither been acknowledged nor accepted by the WSPRnet owner and administrator. I won’t speculate why that has happened – I don’t know. What I do know is that we all have a responsibility to protect the interests of the community that has been created on MF (and LF) including finding another solution until the problems with WSPRnet can be resolved. Currently in the works is an alternative data warehousing and rendering system that the son of Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ, is creating. This alternate system will run in parallel to WSPRnet, much like PSKreporter, but differs in that this system will feed data to WSPRnet and will thus not be subject to outages on the WSPRnet server as PSKreporter currently experiences. My hope is that this system will be ready for beta testing shortly so we can get on with the operation of good amateur radio. I am very appreciative of the efforts of everyone involved – the WSPRnet creator and administrators and their efforts over the years, the operators who are active each night, some on receive, some on transmit, and some doing both, and also to those working to find a solution for the future. This is not intended to be a criticism and there is no blame being levied. The system simply got bigger than anyone imagined. WE need a solution and we need it now because WSPR and WSPRnet have become important to the way we operate, right or wrong.
Until these problems are resolved and the situation stabilizes, please take the time to review your data each day within your WSPR console, noting any important activity on the ON4KST chat/logger or send me an email directly at KB5NJD <at> gmail <dot> com. The success of this documentation project relies on your data and input.
Now, on to the session report.
Note that due to the problems with uploading and rendering of data onto WSPRnet, this report will not be complete.
Geomagnetic activity was once again unsettled with high-speed solar wind varying from 450km/s to just under 600 km/s. The Bz was variable and the DST was very much affected.
Even with the odds stacked against many of the active operators during this session, there was propagation in spite of noisy conditions, at least at mid and lower latitudes. Larry, W7IUV / WH2XGP, reported mediocre conditions overall with a poor path to the east coast. Larry was successful in completing a JT9 QSO with Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, as was Joe, NU6O / WI2XBQ. More details later about those successes. On the other hand, John, WA3ETD / WG2XKA, reported average to below average conditions as the band was quite noisy. John noted that the high latitude transcontinental path was open to the Pacific Northwest but based on Larry’s comments it does not seem to like the path was as good as previous sessions. John provided the following screen capture of his session:
Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR successfully completed JT9 QSO’s with WH2XGP and WI2XBQ for QSO’s number 2 and 3 with KH6 from North America on 630-meters, respectively. Merv provided screen captures to document the activity but a technical problem resulted in only the capture for WI2XBQ being available at this time. Merv notes that after the QSO’s were completed both stations were at -5 dB S/N or better and good enough for a CW QSO’s but it was late and time got away from them so that will have to happen next time. Congrats guys! Who will be next?
There are no statistics for MF WSPR operators through the session and no new stations have been identified.
Regional and continental WSPR breakdowns follow:
There were no trans-Atlantic or trans-African reports for this session that I am aware of at this time.
EA8BVP provided reports for DK7FC and EA5DOM.
Eden, ZF1EJ, had moderate success through this session in spite of the high noise level. Eden operated two separate receivers and antennas. ZF1EJ used the InLogis loop while ZF1EJ/1 used a 160-meter unmatched wire yagi.
Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, experienced poor conditions through this session and its likely to persist even with a return of quiet geomagnetic conditions as the reservoirs are full of charged species just waiting to precipitate and increase attenuation for the foreseeable future. Even with poor conditions, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR provided a number of reports over a wide-range of S/N levels, including at least one that spanned 15 dB S/N between transmissions. KL7L was designated once again as receive-only.
In the Pacific, Merv, K9FD/KH6 / WH2XCR, had a banner night with four Japanese stations, including JA1NQI-1, JH3XCU, JH1INM, and SWL “TNUKJPM” who has not reported Merv in over a month. Laurence, KL7L / WE2XPQ, also had reports for Merv during this session. Our newest reporting station in Asia, Steve, W6SJP/BY, in Beijing is still working on his system to minimize overnight noise levels. Nights like last night might very well yield reports for Merv from Steve. The path to Asia was very good. LATE UPDATE: John, VK2XGJ, sent a late report tonight that did not update. The relevant portion of the screen capture is appended below.
Additional anecdotes, statistics, comments and information:
Jim, W5EST, offers the following content as a continuation of the yesterday’s profile of AA1A:
Additions, corrections, clarifications, etc? Send me a message on the Contact page!