Sunday, January 29, 2023

Long path opening on the 50 MHz band between Germany and New Zealand - 28th Jan 2023

In a previous post, I reported on how there was a short path opening on the 50 MHz band between Germany and New Zealand on the 25th of January 2023. What's better than a short path opening? A long path opening of course!

On the 28th of January 2023, there was an amazing long path opening between Europe and New Zealand on the 50 MHz band. More specifically, DK1MAX in Germany managed to complete a FT8 contact with ZL1SG in New Zealand.

DX-Cluster spots...
Spotter Freq. DX Time Info Country
ZL1RS 50323.0 DK1MAX 20:18 28 Jan RF64<>JN58 long path Fed. Rep. of Germany
ZL1SG-@ 50323.0 DK1MAX 20:10 28 Jan FT8 -9 Tnx Max great qso Fed. Rep. of Germany

On the PSK Reporter website, I found three European and two New Zealand stations that were involved in this long path opening. I have put in the approximate long path distances and I have recorded the signal reports that appeared on the site as well.

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC) Approx Signals
IV3KKW ZL1SG 6m FT8 ~22,000 km 20:23:11 -18dB
DK1MAX ZL1SG 6m FT8 ~22,100 km 20:20:41 -19dB
OE5OLL ZL1SG 6m FT8 ~22,200 km 19:40:41 -15dB

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
IV3KKW ZL1RS 6m FT8 22,000 km 20:27:13 -16dB
DK1MAX ZL1RS 6m FT8 22,100 km 20:03:43 -13dB

Analysis... Let's have a look at what happened. First of all the location of the stations which is important.

ZL1LG and ZL1RS have the same locator square and are located at the far north of New Zealand.

The three European stations are in roughly the same geographic location and are only about 200-300kms apart.

Opening... At the time of the long path opening, there was a path on 50 MHz between ZL1SG and South America.

At the same time, there was an opening from DK1MAX to South America.

It looks as if the two openings coupled into each other and allowed a long path at 50 MHz opening between the far north of New Zealand and a small area in Europe.

I need to stress that the location of the stations had a huge bearing on the opening. Because New Zealand is effectively on the other side of the planet from Europe, the beam heading changes drastically with a small change in location.

The geometry of the path from say the north of Germany is very different than the south of Germany. From the UK, the long path to New Zealand goes almost directly south and over the Antarctic which makes a 50 MHz path highly unlikely.

By contrast, stations to the south of DK1MAX have the possibility of long paths that are closer to the equator and more likely.

Mode of Propagation... The solar flux on the day was in the region of 150-160 but this was after coming down off a peak of around 230 about a week earlier. The path was almost certainly F2 with possibly some chordal hop involved. There may have been some TEP from Europe to South America.

In conclusion... The signals were weak for this long path opening as they were down around -13 to -19dB. If it wasn't for FT8, the opening would have gone unnoticed. It was an amazing opening and there are no doubt plenty more to come. 

1) I have put links to posts about previous long distance 6m openings up on my 50 MHz page.

Addendum: Max, DK1MAX reports... "That's a screenshot from and after the QSO with ZL1RS. We worked on 50323 as 313 was way too busy with strong EU transmitting 2nd period. Still very much excited. Thanks for the summary in the EI7GL blogspot."

Javier, LU5FF in Argentina reports paths on 50 MHz to the following stations in New Zealand...

Pipe, CE3SAD reports that during the same opening, CE6TK in Chile worked 16 ZL stations in New Zealand. In the CE3 zone of Chile, there was only one.

CE3SAD also recounts a previous long path opening way back on the 21st of April 2001. Operating as CE3SAD/2 from FF48 locator square, he managed to complete some long path contacts with VK4 stations in Australia while beaming towards Europe. The stations were located in the QH30 and QG39 locator squares and the long path distance was in the region of 27,000kms.

CE3SAD did try beaming the more direct short path to Australia but the stations disappeared. It's worth remembering that back in 2001, the dominant modes were SSB and CW and the signals had to be above or at the noise level. It's a huge difference from now when FT8 allows contacts to be made from signals that are buried in the noise.


G0VUH said...

I was monitoring the band and saw the opening from DK1MAX, called myself a few times but to no avail, it was the same time V51JH was coming into EU and UK with incredible signals but no contacts was he on a beacon only? G0VUH

DK8ZZ said...

Guessing V51 was in beacon mode. He was up to -10 here Worked PY2XB (FT8 and CW), heard several PYs.
Antenna is a modest 5 el LFA...
PS. 6m is not easy here in western part of DL (JO30ua)

Kerry G8VR said...

Excellent report - much appreciated reading.