Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Conditions on 28 MHz...Tues 23rd Oct 2012

Another good day on the 10 metre band with the solar flux at 144. The photo above shows the 57 WSPR stations heard on 28 MHz between the time the band opened at 7:34 UTC and closed at 19:56 UTC.

Points to note....
1) Lots of spots from Australia including Tasmania :o)
2) I heard a station in Japan for the first time on WSPR on 10m! Note the Northerly path. Japan on 10m was pretty common at the peak of the last solar cycle back in 2001. Those northerly paths are still proving difficult at the moment with the flux at 144.
3) Absence of signals from Africa and South America has more to do with a lack of stations using WSPR rather than a lack of propagation.
4) The band opened to the NW coast of the US which again is a Northerly path and a good sign. It was open to the same area the previous day as well.
5) Backscatter.......every day now, I am hearing stations in the UK. A while back, I was wondering if the mode of propagation was tropo, aircraft scatter or Sporadic-E? Now I'd be almost certain that it's F2 backscatter. It seems to be remarkably consistent day after day. If the band is open then the backscatter is present. The thing is that WSPR is hearing signals that are normally buried in the noise.

These are the stations in the UK heard on the 23rd of Oct via backscatter. Most are using 5 watts. G4ILO had 2 watts into an attic dipole...

Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
 2012-10-23 16:24 G4HZW 28.126086 -25 0 IO83uh 2 EI7GL IO51tu 442 251 
 2012-10-23 13:32 G3JKF 28.126153 -23 1 JO00bs 5 EI7GL IO51tu 603 285 
 2012-10-23 11:12 G4ILO 28.126172 -23 0 IO84hp 2 EI7GL IO51tu 455 229 
 2012-10-23 10:32 G4FDD 28.126065 -20 0 IO93kx 5 EI7GL IO51tu 540 247 
 2012-10-23 10:32 M5DND 28.126142 -19 1 IO82ll 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 261 
 2012-10-23 10:30 MW0BYS 28.126099 -23 0 IO71mr 5 EI7GL IO51tu 235 275 
 2012-10-23 09:52 GW7PEO 28.126167 -18 0 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 246 
 2012-10-23 09:14 G8JNJ/A 28.126049 -20 0 IO90hx 5 EI7GL IO51tu 495 284 

Some of the WSPR stations heard using less than one watt...

Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
 2012-10-23 14:58 K9AN 28.126185  -20   0   EN50wc   0.5 EI7GL IO51tu 5982 49 
 2012-10-23 14:40 VE3EWW  28.126095   -9   0   FN03gv 0.2 EI7GL IO51tu 5160 54 
 2012-10-23 14:38 N4AU 28.126151  -9   0   EM62vp 0.05 EI7GL IO51tu 6420 46 
 2012-10-23 14:16 W8AC 28.126186   -14   0  EN91jm   0.05 EI7GL IO51tu 5434 52 
 2012-10-23 13:22 K3DCW   28.126110   -7   0   FM18qt 0.5 EI7GL IO51tu 5319 51 
 2012-10-23 10:36 OK2SAM   28.126145   -19   0 JN99du 0.5 EI7GL IO51tu 1874 287 
 2012-10-23 10:18 LB9YE 28.126055  -16   0   JP54pu 0.5 EI7GL IO51tu 1829 227 
 2012-10-23 08:34 VK2GEL   28.126146   -25   0 QF56oc 0.5 EI7GL IO51tu 17434 327 

50 MHz.......I also noted that there was an opening from the UK and Ireland to South Africa according to the DX cluster. No sign yet of any F2 East/West conditions.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mystery WSPR signal on 28 MHz....

Over the last week or so, I have at times seen an odd looking signal while using WSPR on 28 MHz. It starts off about 10 Hz too low in frequency and then drifts upwards for about 30 seconds and then stays reasonably steady for the remaining 90 seconds of the WSPR two minute time period.

When I first saw this signal, I wasn't getting any decodes but eventually, it came was GW7KNF in West Wales on backscatter. I have no idea as to why his signal drifts at the start but it is unique to his signal.

Normally, I think a signal needs to drift less than 4 Hz to be decoded. Considering that at least 20% of his signal exceeds this then perhaps you don't need to hear the full two minutes of the signal to decode it? Going on the above example, it looks about 90 seconds.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Zealand heard on 28 MHz...Sat 20th Oct 2012

Loads of signals on WSPR on 28 MHz today.....

While it's nice to see the stations coming through from Australia and the West coast of the US, the one that really caught my attention was ZL3PX from New Zealand. Considering that it is at the opposite end of the globe as viewed from Ireland, it's reasonably rare on 28 MHz.

Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift    Grid   Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
 2012-10-20 08:28 ZL3PX 28.126130  -20 1  RE66hm 5   EI7GL   IO51tu   19081
 2012-10-20 08:16 ZL3PX 28.126130  -20 1  RE66hm 5   EI7GL   IO51tu   19081
 2012-10-20 08:06 ZL3PX 28.126131  -21 0  RE66hm 5   EI7GL   IO51tu   19081
 2012-10-20 07:48 ZL3PX 28.126132  -20 1  RE66hm 5   EI7GL   IO51tu   19081
 2012-10-20 07:38 ZL3PX 28.126132  -23 0  RE66hm 5   EI7GL   IO51tu   19081

But how did the signal get from New Zealand to Ireland? Short path over the North Pole? I have my doubt's. Long path over the South Pole? Or skewed path?

Friday, October 19, 2012

New tower at EI7M...

I got an e-mail this morning with the link to new IRTS newsletter. Looking through some of the news items, I came across a link to this video showing the new tower for the East Cork Radio Club contest station, EI7M.

Some serious metal in the sky here....

Skewed path on 28 MHz???

This morning (~8:45 UTC), I heard NH7O in Hawaii on SSB on 28 MHz.

His signal was very weak, maybe 4/1 to 4/2 at best. He was working a pile up and it was obvious that he was getting into the UK and Ireland pretty well. I gave him a call towards the end......managed to get a EI7?? back but then he dived into the noise. I think it was probably just at the end of the opening.

But I was curious. How did the signal get from Hawaii to Ireland?

This is the short path shown above. It almost certainly wasn't short path as the band hadn't opened to the US and the North-West yet. What about long path? Did the signal travel over the South Pacific, over Antarctica and then over Africa???

Or was it a skewed path? From somewhere over the Indian Ocean? I have heard of this before whereby European stations work Japan on 50 MHz by beaming at the Indian Ocean. Not long after hearing NH7O, I could hear the Australian beacon VK8VF/B near Darwin. Earlier, I was hearing the Phillipines on WSPR so the band was certainly open to that part of the world.

Wonder what way people were beaming when they worked him? It's kind of hard for me to tell with my vertical ;o)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

WSPR on 28 MHz...Wed 17th Oct 2012

Some more good conditions on 28 MHz on the 17th again. Started off with WSPR station being heard in Australia and finished with ones near Los Angeles in California...

Two Australian stations were heard, VK5AKK near Adelaide and VK2FLR near Sydney.

VK5AKK was being heard or was hearing a lot of stations in Europe
In contrast, none of the stations in the UK were hearing VK2FLR.
His signal  went over the UK and landed in Ireland instead.
There was no shortage of backscatter? signals as well with lots of the stations in the UK being heard. GW7PEO and G4HZW were the most consistent.......
Signal to Noise of the UK stations heard on the 17th...
G4ILO.....-25dB (1 spot)
GW7PEO.....-22dB to -26dB (18 spots)
G4HZW......-20dB to -25dB (31 spots)
G4KPX.......-25dB (1 spot)
G4FRE........-23dB (1 spot)
GW3LEW......-25dB (1 spot)
G8JNJ/A.......-21dB to -26dB (5 spots)

All pretty weak signals buried in the noise. Typical of what might be expected for back scatter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WSPR on 28 MHz...Tues 16th Oct 2012

Over the last week or so, the solar flux had dropped down to around the 100 mark and there was a distinct lack of good East-West propagation. On the 16th, the flux was back up to 137 and the band really opened nicely to the USA...

There seems to have been some Sporadic-E signals from Europe as well. In fact, there seems to be plenty of weak Sp-E around most days.

Almost every day as well for the last week, I have heard WSPR signals from stations in the UK. The only pattern is that they seem to coincide with good Sp-E conditions to Europe or good F2 conditions. I would say at this stage that I am pretty sure that they are via back scatter rather than some other mode.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Back issues of 73 Magazine...

I came across this amazing resource recently. 73 magazine was an amateur radio publication that ran from October 1960 to September 2003. In total, there were 513 issues and they are all available now for free in PDF format.

Click HERE

No decode on WSPR spots...

One of the main reasons I have this blog is to act as a scratchpad for myself. If something happens that I want to make a note of, then it's a handy place to keep a record of it and if it helps someone else fix a problem that they are having then so much the better.

On the morning of the 11th of October, I was receiving a station as shown above but I was getting no decodes. Looking at the database on the WSPR website and the spots from other stations, it seemed as if the station was EA8FF, someone who I have heard and decoded over the last few days.

I switched the rig to 30m and left it listening to the WSPR signals there for about 10 minutes. No decodes. So obviously, WSPR had stopped working. turned out that the sound card in the PC seemed to have crashed or at least the micropart part of it. It was a simple case of rebooting the PC and everything worked fine again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wartime Radio : The Secret Listeners...

I came across this video clip recently from the BBC about the vital part that radio amateurs played in wartime Britain by listening in to coded German traffic on the short wave bands.
The programme was broadcast in 1979 which was 33 years ago, about the same amount of time from when the events happened in WW2.

The 29 minute video clip can be seen HERE

The LED is 60 years old this month

The Light Emitting Diode started life in October 1962, as a single red illumination in a General Electric research lab in New York state.

In this video clip, the LED inventor Prof Nick Holonyak Jr look back at how it all HERE

Saturday, October 6, 2012

WSPR on 28 MHz...4th and 5th of Oct 2012

I left the rig listening to WSPR signals on 10 metres over the last two days and both were reasonably similar.  These were the individual stations heard on the 4th of October.....

2012-10-04 19:32 CX2ABP 28.126071 -27 0 GF15wc 10 EI7GL IO51tu 10705 27 
2012-10-04 19:24 EA8FF 28.126110 -9 0 IL18pc 2 EI7GL IO51tu 2730 12 
2012-10-04 18:32 N6OIL 28.126066 -28 0 DM14fl 0.2 EI7GL IO51tu 8212 37 
2012-10-04 17:44 KK4XO 28.126006 -20 1 EL96uf 5 EI7GL IO51tu 6527 43 
2012-10-04 14:48 UA6AAK 28.126084 -13 0 KN96dq 5 EI7GL IO51tu 3374 297 
2012-10-04 14:48 W3PM 28.126123 -10 0 EM64or 0.5 EI7GL IO51tu 6298 46 
2012-10-04 14:44 KE7A 28.126077 -17 0 EM12kx 5 EI7GL IO51tu 7109 43 
2012-10-04 13:30 HS1ZKM 28.126114 -22 -1 OK03gr 5 EI7GL IO51tu 10058 324 
2012-10-04 13:06 AI4ZN 28.126125 -19 -3 FM02 2 EI7GL IO51tu 5949 46 
2012-10-04 13:02 SV1FXO 28.126027 +1 0 KM17ux 5 EI7GL IO51tu 2925 312 
2012-10-04 11:16 OZ7IT 28.126142 -26 0 JO65df 5 EI7GL IO51tu 1410 263 
2012-10-04 09:06 VK5AKJ 28.126045 -23 1 QF02id 5 EI7GL IO51tu 17156 313 

The 5th of October was a little better for Australia with four stations making it through between 7:18 to 9:58 UTC. According to an online calculator, sunset in Sydney was at 08:02 UTC.

WSPR signals heard on 28 MHz...Friday 5th Oct 2012
There were some Sporadic-E signals around Europe again. EA8FF who is one F2 hop to the south (2730 kms) was the most consistent signal again and the band opened to the USA again.

These were the individual stations heard on the 5th of October...

2012-10-05 20:08 K7UEB 28.126063 -19 0 DN06tb 5 EI7GL IO51tu 7248 40 
2012-10-05 18:54 EA8FF 28.126110 -2 0 IL18pc 2 EI7GL IO51tu 2730 12 
2012-10-05 18:02 KC4LE 28.126093 -20 1 EM63nh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 6412 46 
2012-10-05 17:58 W3PM 28.126115 -24 0 EM64or 0.01 EI7GL IO51tu 6298 46 
2012-10-05 17:38 KK4XO 28.126008 -6 1 EL96uf 5 EI7GL IO51tu 6527 43 
2012-10-05 16:40 W9HLY 28.126018 -17 0 EN70mt 1 EI7GL IO51tu 5727 50 
2012-10-05 16:38 K9AN 28.126168 -10 0 EN50wc 0.5 EI7GL IO51tu 5982 49 
2012-10-05 16:06 4X1RF 28.126169 -24 0 KM72ls 2 EI7GL IO51tu 4063 315 
2012-10-05 13:52 OZ1PIF 28.126132 -24 0 JO65an 5 EI7GL IO51tu 1400 261 
2012-10-05 13:50 DB0ZDF 28.126085 -17 -1 JN49cx 5 EI7GL IO51tu 1178 287 
2012-10-05 13:48 GW7PEO 28.126189 -20 -1 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 246 
2012-10-05 12:18 F6HCO 28.126107 -22 0 JN19bg 10 EI7GL IO51tu 794 295 
2012-10-05 10:30 SA6BSC 28.126121 -24 0 JO67ts 5 EI7GL IO51tu 1546 254 
2012-10-05 09:58 VK5AKJ 28.126092 -25 0 QF02id 2 EI7GL IO51tu 17156 313 
2012-10-05 09:34 VK2KRR 28.126133 -22 0 QF34mr 5 EI7GL IO51tu 17333 321 
2012-10-05 09:24 R3LW 28.126022 +10 0 KO54mq 5 EI7GL IO51tu 2605 279 
2012-10-05 07:20 VK2FLR 28.126074 +1 0 QF56od 10 EI7GL IO51tu 17430 327 
2012-10-05 07:18 VK2MEV 28.126152 -25 1 QF57ua 5 EI7GL IO51tu 17373 329 

Interesting enough, the last signal heard was K7UEB which is a club station at a university in Washington State in the north-east of the USA.

GW7PEO........The most unusual signal of the day is again, GW7PEO. I heard his signal three times on the 5th of October.

Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
 2012-10-05 13:48 GW7PEO 28.126189 -20 -1 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 246 
 2012-10-05 12:34 GW7PEO 28.126133 -23 -1 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 246 
 2012-10-05 10:46 GW7PEO 28.126137 -24 -3 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 246 
 2012-10-03 13:44 GW7PEO 28.126137 -21 -1 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 246 
 2012-10-02 14:52 GW7PEO 28.126146 -24 0 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 246 
 2012-10-02 14:30 GW7PEO 28.126146 -23 0 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370 246 

The question is how? I presume it is F2 backscatter as I often hear EA8FF at the same time (as can be seen from the bright trace in the WSPR display above) but why haven't I seen any other spots from other UK stations in the three days?

I sent Phil, GW7PEO an e-mail to enquire about his working conditions on 28 MHz and he very kindly replied. Power = 8 watts......which after compensating for coax losses gives about 5w at the antenna which is a multi-band vertical. Good low take off to the mountains to the south/south-west....i.e. in my direction.

If the signal was direct via tropo then I'd expect to have seen more spots. Backscatter via F2 is probably the most likely explanation. It got me thinking though if it was at all possible that it might be from aircraft scatter? GW7PEO is very close to the flight path for planes going from Dublin/Belfast to London.

The problem with the aircraft scatter theory is that there will be a certain amount of doppler shift on the signal, even at 28 MHz. The maximum amount of drift allowed on a WSPR signal is about 4 Hz. If I understood the figures correctly with an online calculator, the maximum amount of doppler at 28 MHz from an aircraft doing about 800 kph is about 19 Hz. Unless of course if the plane was going at right angles to the direct path between the two stations in which case, the doppler shift would be a lot less.

F2 backscatter? Aircraft scatter? Tropo? Hard to tell with just 6 spots.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

28 MHz...Wed 3rd Oct 2012

Another day with some good conditions on the 10 metre band. I left the radio on the WSPR frequency for most of the day........which is great as I don't have to be there! ;o)

I had a quick listen at various times as well and it was different from the previous days. No Australians heard this time but DU1MGA did make it through with one spot on WSPR...

2012-10-03 10:48 DU1MGA  28.126068  -28  1  PK04lc 5   EI7GL   IO51tu 11213 331

On SSB, I heard VU3RAZ in India and A4 and A6 stations in the Middle East. Also, lots of Russian and Ukraine stations at one F2 hop distance.

As the map shows above, there was some Sporadic-E as well with some of the closer European staions in Germany and Spain making it through. Later, it opened to the USA again, the first time really since last Sunday and the aurora on Sunday night. The one of interest here was N6OIL making it through from California...

 2012-10-03 18:08 N6OIL 28.126067 -28 0 DM14fl 0.2 EI7GL IO51tu 8212 37 
 2012-10-03 17:50 N6OIL 28.126068 -22 0 DM14fl 0.2 EI7GL IO51tu 8212 37

Another point of interest was GW7PEO made it through again, presumably on back scatter?...

 2012-10-03 13:52 DB0ZDF 28.126080 -24 -1 JN49cx 5 EI7GL IO51tu 1178 287 
 2012-10-03 13:44  GW7PEO 28.126137   -21  -1   IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370    246 
 2012-10-03 13:44 EA8FF 28.126107 -12 0 IL18pc 2 EI7GL IO51tu 2730 12 
 2012-10-03 13:44 DG2NBN 28.126031 -24 0 JN59nr 5 EI7GL IO51tu 1387 287 
 2012-10-03 13:40 CX2ABP 28.126066 -24 1 GF15wc 10 EI7GL IO51tu 10705 27 
 2012-10-03 13:38 EA8FF 28.126107 0 0 IL18pc 2 EI7GL IO51tu 2730 12 
 2012-10-03 13:38 DF6MK 28.126047 -24 0 JN68ik 5 EI7GL IO51tu 1544 292 
 2012-10-03 13:38 KK4XO 28.126004 -13 -1 EL96uf 5 EI7GL IO51tu 6527 43

Again, EA8FF was being heard at the same time with a reasonable signal indicating good conditions to the south. In reality, the back scatter could be from anywhere....south? south-west? south-east? Today, the spot from GW7TEO was at 13:44 UTC. The two spots from yesterday were at 14:30 and 14:52 UTC.

Overall.....some notes...
1) Over the last few days that I have been listening on the 10 metre band, the Solar Flux index has been around the 120-130 mark.
2) Lot's of multi-hop F2 conditions but very variable. Open to different areas on different days.
3) The most consistent signals as expected are the single hop F2 ones....East Mediterranean, Russia.
4) The most consistent beacons are those around the 3,250 to 3,750 km mark. e.g. 5B4CY/B in Cyrus, SV5TEN/B in Rhodes.
5) When conditions on 28 Mhz got very good, the skip distance shortened and the beacons around 2,400 kms were heard.
6) There is a fishing buoy on the WSPR frequency! It ID's itself as 'DJ' but seems a bit low in frequency so is not a issue.
7) Using WSPR to measure band conditions is somewhat limited by the number of people using it. For example, there is a lack of WSPR stations in the mid states of the USA. All you can use the WSPR map for is to gauge where the band is open to, not where it is not open to. The band can be wide open to southern Russia and there can be no WSPR spots.

Backscatter.........For anyone not familiar with the principles of back scatter, it works as follows....

A signal from a transmitter 'bounces' off the ionosphere and lands in a target area. A small percentage of that signal may be reflected back towards the TX due to mountains, waves on the oceans, etc. Received signals tend to be very weak.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

P29VR on 28 MHz...

Interesting conditions on the 10 metre band today. After starting off listing on WSPR for about two hours and then having a quick listen around the band, it was soon obvious that the conditions were better than the map on the WSPR website might suggest.

Came across P29FR in Papua New Guinea. He was weak but I could hear him giving 5/5 reports which was a sure sign he was working weak stations. So after a quick scramble in the drawer for the call....and P29FR was in the log! My first QSO since May 2011 ;o)

Conditions seemed to be pretty good around 11am with signals coming through from South-East Asia and Australia even though they were weak. I heard VK6APZ on the West Coast of Australia, HS0ZEX in Phuket Island in Thailand and later, I heard 9M2CQC in Malaysia on WSPR.

Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
2012-10-02 14:44  9M2CQC  28.126119   -16   0  OJ03tb  10   EI7GL  IO51tu  11089  324 

Signals heard on WSPR on 28 MHz...Tues 2nd Oct 2012. Red dots are some of DX stations heard.

I also heard 5Z4/LA9PF in Kenya as well as the ZD9UW expedition on Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic....just about audible but way too weak to work. There were also plenty of signals from Eastern Europe...Ukraine and Russia as well as some strong signals from Cyprus and the Canary Islands.

I was kind of expecting it to open later to the US but it never happened. I heard some weak beacons from Argentina and Brazil but that was about all. I was hearing EA8FF on WSPR up until 18:48 UTC, some 40 minutes after local sunset here.

GW7PEO.......Of the European signals heard on WSPR on 28 MHz, one struck me as strange...GW7PEO in North Wales.

Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
 2012-10-02 14:52 GW7PEO  28.126146  -24 0  IO83gh  5 EI7GL IO51tu 370  246 
 2012-10-02 14:30 GW7PEO  28.126146 -23 0  IO83gh   5  EI7GL IO51tu 370  246 

At 370 kms, it's an odd one. It's very close for Sporadic-E and I didn't seem to hear any of the other UK stations active at the time. It might have been via tropo?.......although I have my doubts. If he was on the west coast then I might think maybe but he is on the coast of North Wales with some high mountains to his south-west. Meteor scatter?.......although the requirement for a two minute burst and the lack of other UK stations tends to rule that one out. The only other possibility that I can think of was that it was via back scatter? F2 or Sp-E?

2012-10-02 14:52 GW7PEO  28.126146   -24 0 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370  246 
2012-10-02 14:50 EA8FF 28.126116 +9 0 IL18pc 2 EI7GL IO51tu 2730 12 
2012-10-02 14:40 EA8FF 28.126116 +8 0 IL18pc 2 EI7GL IO51tu 2730 12 
2012-10-02 14:36 EA5EHS 28.126164 -23 1 IM99wv 2 EI7GL IO51tu 1473 337 
2012-10-02 14:32 EA8FF 28.126116 +7 0 IL18pc 2 EI7GL IO51tu 2730 12 
2012-10-02 14:30 GW7PEO 28.126146 -23 0 IO83gh 5 EI7GL IO51tu 370  246 
2012-10-02 14:26 EA8FF 28.126116 +8 0 IL18pc 2 EI7GL IO51tu 2730 12 

Looking at the WSPR spots above, GW7PEO at -23dB is buried deep in the noise. At roughly the same time, EA8FF is flying in with +8dB......obviously good F2 conditions to the south. My guess is backscatter via F2 but it's impossible to be sure.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Conditions on 28 MHz...Sunday 30th Sept 2012

Following on from yesterday, I had a listen on 28 MHz again on Sunday. If anything, conditions were better.

Sunday 30th Sept 2012
28289.5 N1KXR/B      FN32PH                   1944 30 Sep   United States
28232.0 N2MH/B       FN20UT                   1836 30 Sep   United States
28249.4 KA3JOE/B     FN20                     1819 30 Sep   United States
28480.0 XE1YQQ      EK09MM                   1758 30 Sep   Mexico
28275.8 K4UKB/B     EM77NP                   1743 30 Sep   United States
28197.0 VE7MTY/B    CN89PF                   1725 30 Sep   Canada
28265.4 VE3WE/B    FN03 Looooong msg        1714 30 Sep   Canada
28249.5 K7EK/B     CN87TB                   1704 30 Sep   United States
28300.0 K6FRC/B    CM97HP                   1652 30 Sep   United States
28222.4 N4QDK/B     EM96                     1636 30 Sep   United States
28272.4 N1KON/B     EM79LT                   1632 30 Sep   United States
28274.0 PY4MAB/B  GG68RE                     1549 30 Sep   Brazil
28200.0 ZS6DN/B    KG44DC                     1538 30 Sep   South Africa
28193.2 VE4ARM/B    EN09                     1524 30 Sep   Canada
28214.1 N4PAL/B      EM70                     1521 30 Sep   United States
28246.4 KI4LEV/B     EM66                     1506 30 Sep   United States
28249.2 ER1TEN/B    KN47IB                   1501 30 Sep   Moldova
28286.5 W0ILO/B   EN16                     1451 30 Sep   United States
28286.9 K3XR/B     FN10                     1450 30 Sep   United States
28287.9 N8PUM/B    EN66                     1444 30 Sep   United States
28291.7 VA3VA/B    EN82                     1439 30 Sep   Canada
28291.7 N5MAV/B   EM04 TX                  1437 30 Sep   United States
28296.1 W3APL/B     FM19NE                   1420 30 Sep   United States
28202.9 K4MTP/B     FN21                     1321 30 Sep   United States
28202.9 KB1QZY/B    FN32QC                   1320 30 Sep   United States
28205.5 N3NIA/B     FN01PK                   1310 30 Sep   United States
28208.8 N8PVL/B    EN82GJ                   1306 30 Sep   United States
28236.1 W8YT/B     FM19AJ                   1253 30 Sep   United States
28240.7 W4RKC/B    FM09WE                   1247 30 Sep   United States
28250.1 K0HTF/B     EN31DO                   1239 30 Sep   United States
28267.4 OH9TEN/B     KP36OI                     1234 30 Sep   Finland
28275.5 KG4GVV/B   EM93                     1228 30 Sep  United States
28293.2 ND4Z/B      EM94JA                   1220 30 Sep   United States
28295.3 IZ0CWW/B   JN61VL                   1213 30 Sep   Italy
28298.1 K5TLL/B    EM51GG                   1208 30 Sep   United States
28299.9 KF4MS/B    EM70VM                   1205 30 Sep   United States
28182.1 VY0SNO/B    FP53RS                   1139 30 Sep   Canada
28260.2 VK5WI/B    PF95HG                   1126 30 Sep   Australia
28245.4 SV2AHT/B     KN10NO                   1123 30 Sep   Greece
28228.6 OH5SHF/B     KP30HV                     1116 30 Sep   Finland
28222.5 IZ0KBA/B    JN61KX                   1110 30 Sep   Italy
28203.2 PY2WFG/B   GG77FF                   1104 30 Sep   Brazil
28219.1 5B4CY/B      KM64PR                   1046 30 Sep   Cyprus
28193.2 LU2ERC/B    GF15AD                   1036 30 Sep   Argentina
28188.8 SV5TEN/B     KM46CK                   1032 30 Sep   Dodecanese
28271.0 SV2HQL/B    KM09UV                   0854 30 Sep   Greece
28261.8 RK3XWA/B    KO84DM                   0844 30 Sep   European Russia
28230.0 IQ8CZ/B     JM88HV                   0840 30 Sep   Italy
28224.9 IT9EJW/B     JM77NN                   0837 30 Sep   Sicily
28182.7 SV3AQR/B   KM07QS                   0832 30 Sep   Greece

After starting with the usual one hop F2 propogation, I heard VK5WI/B in Adelaide, S Australia at 11:26 UTC! It never ceases to amaze me when I hear Australia on 10 metres.

Beacons heard on 28 MHz on Sunday, the 30th of Sept (Outside of Europe and N.America)

The distance to VK5WI/B is roughly 16,800 kms. Considering it was an hour or two after sunset in Australia, the signal may well have been enhanced by a tilting in the ionosphere and the signal arrived by chordal hop rather than the usual multi-hop reflections using the ground.

Other non-European signals heard during the day were from South Africa, Argentina and Brazil....~9,400 to 10,800 kms. Nice distance but North-South propagation is nothing special on 10 metres.

North-America......A large number of beacons were received again from N.America although the pattern was slightly different. On Sunday, there were fewer beacons from the arc from Florida to the Great Lakes but there were more from the north-east area of the US.

CW Beacons received from N.America on 28 MHz on Sunday, 30th Sept.

This was possibly because conditions were better than Saturday....i.e. MUF higher.....i.e. skip distance shorter. Again, there was an opening to the west coast as well with the beacon on Baffin Island making an appearance again.

Later in the day, a station in Mexico City was heard as well as the person he was talking to in Newfoundland....single hop and double hop distances.

Other observations over the weekend......
1) Fishing Buoys........Those fishing buoys with the two letter cw id were heard again. Location? Could be anywhere.
2) OTHR..........On two occasions, I noticed a signal which I presume was OTHR....Over The Horizon Radar. It was 20 khz wide and was loud buzzing sound. It only seemed to last for a few minutes and it seemed to hop around as well. I heard it once on 28.290 MHz and also up around 28.320 MHz.
3) Aurora.........There was an aurora on Sunday night and that really seemed to kill the band. On Monday, it was very poor with only some Sporadic-E signals from Spain making it through.
4) GB3RAL.......I noticed the GB3RAL beacon is back working again. I heard several meteor bursts from it........'GB3R'......'AL IO'....and other fragments. All close to the early morning meteor scatter peak around 6am UTC. The signals are never very strong but considering the low power and the lack of gain on the transmit antenna there and the receive antenna here then it's not suprising.

Overall........some nice conditions on the 10 metre band over the weekend. Not exactly wide open but still good solid F2 East-West signals which is a good sign. The signals I heard were nearly all beacons. I'm sure there might have been other DX signals on the band but beacons are a very good way to gauge conditions. If it's like this now, I wonder what will it be like in November and February???

Conditions on 28 MHz...Sat 29th Sept 2012

After a long absence of over a year, I finally turned the radio back on again this weekend. My previous post is dated June 2011 so I guess I haven't listened in 15 months. It's hard to say exactly why I was off for so long? I guess it's perhaps that I lost the habit of turning on the radio and having a listen.

About a week ago, I started looking through some of the more recent issues of the IRTS Newsletter and some of the items there caught my interest. One in particular was the two part piece by EI5DD on WSPR and QRSS which was something I had spent a bit of time on in the past. This got me looking at some of the blogs that I 'follow'. One mentioned good conditions on 28 MHz and that was the trigger to turn on the rig last weekend.

Needless to say, some of the aerials are in a bad way after the year of neglect. I know I cut through some wire with the hedge clippers a few weeks back ;o) . Suprisingly enough, the 10m vertical still works fine! After all of the gales last Winter and Spring, it's still reasonably straight and the VSWR seems fine. There is perhaps a lot to be said for having a cheap half-wave CB antenna on a 4 metre pole as opposed to something better up at a greater height.

Solar Flux......The big difference in the last 15 months of course is the solar flux. In the Summer of 2011, the solar flux was down around the 100 mark whereas it is now up around 140. Looking at the graph for the current solar cycle, it is predicted to peak in mid 2013 so perhaps it's a good time to be back on the radio!

Conditions over the weekend......Sat 29th/Sun 30th Sept 2012.......I spent most of the time on the radio this weekend listening for the various beacons around 28.2 MHz. The best thing about the beacons is that they give a good snapshot of what conditions are like on the band which may not always be obvious when listening to SSB. I also have to admit that I have pretty much no interest in chasing DX or contests so I had no real interest in making loads of contacts.......a case of been there, done that.

The lists below are from the Saturday, the 29th of September. The items in bold are the ones of interest to me...

Saturday 29th Sept 2012
28193.2 VE4ARM/B    EN09at                     2031 29 Sep   Canada
28222.6 N4QDK/B     EM96                     2022 29 Sep   United States
28182.1 VY0SNO/B    FP53rs                   2015 29 Sep   Canada
28281.2 W8EH/B      EM79tm          2006 29 Sep   United States
28251.8 KX5TX/B    EM11hx                     1936 29 Sep   United States
28300.1 K6FRC/B     CM99                     1906 29 Sep   United States
28293.1 ND4Z        EM94ja                     1859 29 Sep   United States
28291.7 VA3VA/B     EN82                     1853 29 Sep   Canada
28287.9 N8PUM/B      EN66 warble              1847 29 Sep   United States
28224.9 IT9EJW/B    JM77nn                   1742 29 Sep   Sicily
28257.9 WY5I/B     EL97                     1725 29 Sep   United States
28230.0 IQ8CZ/B      JM88HV                   1719 29 Sep   Italy
28193.3 LU2ERC/B   GF15                     1715 29 Sep   Argentina
28193.2 VE4ARM/B    EN09at                     1700 29 Sep   Canada
28271.1 SV2HQL/B     KM09UV                   1608 29 Sep   Greece
28261.9 RK3XWA/B    KO84DM                   1603 29 Sep   European Russia
28245.2 SV2AHT/B    KN10NO                   1558 29 Sep   Greece
28239.0 VA7PL/B    DN09gv                     1552 29 Sep   Canada
28215.7 KD5CKP/B     EM54bx                     1537 29 Sep   United States
28208.0 W4CND/B    EM63                     1527 29 Sep   United States
28203.2 PY2WFG/B    GG77FF                   1518 29 Sep   Brazil
28182.1 VY0SNO/B    FP53rs                   1510 29 Sep   Canada
28300.1 K6FRC/B    CM99                     1500 29 Sep   United States
28299.9 KF4MS/B     EM70vm                     1456 29 Sep   United States
28298.1 K5TLL/B    EM51gg                   1451 29 Sep   United States
28297.1 NS9RC      EN62dc                   1448 29 Sep   United States
28291.7 K5TLJ/B   EM45 AZ                  1433 29 Sep   United States
28286.4 W0ILO/B     EN16ov                     1426 29 Sep   United States
28283.5 KC9GNK/B   EN53hc 319                 1421 29 Sep   United States
28281.1 W8EH/B    EM79tm                     1409 29 Sep   United States
28276.1 K4FUM/B    EM73wu                     1407 29 Sep   United States
28276.0 K4UKB/B     EM77np                   1404 29 Sep   United States
28275.4 KG4GVV/B    EM93wa                   1358 29 Sep   United States
28273.2 AC4DJ/B      EL98                     1354 29 Sep   United States
28269.4 W3HH/B       EL89                     1349 29 Sep   United States
28264.0 AB8Z/B       EN91dj       1333 29 Sep   United States
28250.1 K0HTF/B      EN31do      1325 29 Sep   United States
28246.4 KI4LEV/B     EM66io        1321 29 Sep   United States
28231.0 WA4FC/B      FM17fe        1313 29 Sep   United States
28224.7 YM7TEN/B     KN91                    1305 29 Sep   Asiatic Turkey
28222.5 N4QDK/B      EM96  Nice 559            1300 29 Sep   United States
28214.1 N4PAL/B      EM70vm       1256 29 Sep   United States
28212.5 KJ4QYB/B     EM63           1249 29 Sep   United States
28207.0 N3NIA/B      Beacon on .205 and .207            1216 29 Sep   United States
28205.1 N3NIA/B      FN01pk       1207 29 Sep   United States
28204.6 KE4TWI/B     EM66uc        1154 29 Sep   United States
28193.1 LU2ERC/B     GF15ad        1148 29 Sep   Argentina
28188.7 SV5TEN/B     KM46ck       1143 29 Sep   Dodecanese
28182.5 SV3AQR/B     KM07qs   1138 29 Sep   Greece

Sat 29th Sept......I switched on about 12 noon and the first beacons heard were from around Greece......around 3,000-3,500 kms which is one hop F2 signals so nothing special there. I was also hearing beacons in Brazil and Argentina which was obviously multi-hop but in general, North-South paths are nearly always the easiest on 28 MHz so still nothing special. Beacons around Florida were heard but again, that's the most southerly path to the USA and is nearly always the first part of the US to be heard. Even when the solar flux is much lower, it's not unusual to have openings to Florida.

What was interesting though were the beacons in the mid US. e.g. K0HTF/B in EN31 in Iowa (2.5w/GP) and W0ILO/B in EN16 in North Dakota. This is a more northerly path and means that conditions were good.

CW Beacons on 28 MHz heard from North America on Saturday, the 28th of September 2012

As you can see from the map above, most of the beacons heard were roughly in a broad arc going from Florida to the Great Lakes. This can be easily explained by the fact that it was most likely double hop F2 propagation.

For example, Florida is roughly 6,500 kms...too far for one F2 hop.....but perfect when you consider 2 x 3,250 km hops...a typical distance for signals on 28 MHz when the MUF is probably just up over 30 MHz. This also explains why nothing heard from the 1 or 2 call areas in the NE of the US....too far for one hop and too close for the second hop. In effect, the propagation footprint can be laid out like a series on concentric rings or doughnuts.

The only one hop signal heard to the west was VY0SNO/B in FR53rs in Baffin Island. This was also very close to half-way for double hop to the signals heard from California (2 x 4,000 kms = 8,000 kms). The fact that the 28 MHz signals went this far north is a sure sign of how good conditions were. There is something special about hearing the West coast of the US and Canada on 10 metres.

So was the band wide open on 28 MHz? When it's wide open, you hear all the US call areas and then maybe Alaska and Hawaii. Conditions still have a way to go before they reach those reached during the last solar cycle.