Monday, October 1, 2012

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.

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