Saturday, 12 September 2015

Solar Storm continues, CW and my paper logbook

Celtic people have a  bit of a reputation for being dour. Miserable would be another way to put it. Now, I am not saying that national stereotypes really work, but I do seem to have a thrifty, make do, determined streak.

Back in 1974, when I was an SWL just about to become G8JWG,  I trudged round to the RSGB HQ which was then in Doughty Street and bought two log books.

I am shocked to have to report that there are only two pages left blank. I have had to resort to buying two more. These two had better last 40 years too.

There was another logbook at some time, but I have lost it. And these days you do not HAVE to complete a log for every contact. I am selective and leave out every WSPR transmission and all those VHF FM ones with people down the street. Just as well, as I can clock up 1000 spots on WSPR overnight.

So I am still writing things out by hand. No automatic logging here. I have Software Defined Radios, 8 core processors and the like, but the log remains longhand.

I will try to scan this notable event in, but I am not sure how well it will show up here:-
YES, a CW contact! Just below what is a routine tropo SSB contact with GM0HTT in Orkney on 2m (IO89 367km), is a 4m aurora contact with G3LVP in far-away IO81 (440km). He gave me 57A and I gave him 59A.

CW! Every six months or so it happens. Old fashioned CW and a hand written log. The only thing I have never tried from that era is a spark transmitter.

I cannot knock CW for working well during an aurora. There is no tone, just a swooshing noise. Normal phone is often unreadable. So CW still has its uses.

I do not use CW often enough to get good at it, and honestly I cannot really be bothered. So it will no doubt remain a sort of twice-yearly surprise.

Believe me, if there was a data mode which worked in an aurora I would use it. But sadly for me, CW is the best bet. It would not matter except that I am not very good at CW.

The solar storming has continued and with the arrival of a new sunspot as well, the flux index has climbed to 96. With the aurora pulling HF conditions down, and the higher flux index pushing them back up, we are in the classic tussle with active solar activity being both good and bad at the same time. Showing the good side of it on 10 metres was a four hour opening this morning after 05:00, taking in Spain and Germany, down to about 200km distant. On 10 September this must be pure F layer DX, associated with the higher flux index:-

2015-09-10 06:58  GM4FVM  28.126112  -24  -3  IO85wu  +33  1.995  FR1GZ  LG79rc  10097  6274 
 2015-09-10 06:52  FR1GZ  28.126077  -24  -4  LG79rc  +37  5.012  GM4FVM  IO85wu  10097  6274 

10097km to the Indian Ocean in 10m in the middle of a geomagnetic storm. Interesting, as it is pretty well South of me, and no other DX was heard North, East or particularly West where the slightest opening brings in scores of Stateside stations.

It seems as if the auroral type conditions which create HF blackouts, affect Northern DX first. I guess the same thing would happen in reverse in the Southern Hemisphere, but there most land masses are further away from the pole.

So if I was only interested in working FR1GZ then I could almost think that a geomagnetic storm was not underway at all. But try to work anybody further North of the equator and it all goes quiet. Or so it seems.

As I write, the Solar Flux Index is 93. The solar wind speed is 587 which is pretty high. Unlike yesterday when the Bz was very minus but the wind speed was low, this time the wind speed is high and the Bz is -0.3. So now if the Bz (the magnetic polarity of the solar wind) turns a bit more negative, then I am in business.

So let us see what another day brings. More CW? I doubt it. But if I get the chance then you never know.



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