Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Another 2 metre band tropo opening

Chris, GM4ZJI, warned me about the possibility that a tropo opening might be on the way after looking at the Hepburn maps (link to the Hepburn site on the sidebar).

I had trouble getting the link to Hepburn's site working, it should be here now as well as on the side bar..

This was the Hepburn map for1 October.
I was a bit dismissive, because I have seen Hepburn overplay high pressure systems before, only to reduce the prediction as it gets nearer. Chris agreed, but we promised to keep it under observation.

In fact nothing much happened here on 1 November, all the activity was further South, between G stations and PA and OZs.

As it turned out it was the 3 November picture which delivered results.
Hardly very prepossessing. You can see a pattern to the East of Scotland and a link to a more developed system over Denmark.

Things got underway at about 10:40, and between then and 11:45 we worked 3 x OZ, 3 x DL and two SPs. I have been trying a new mapping system and here is what I got:-
As usual, click to enlarge if you need to.

This is still experimental mapping and so far I have not put lines in between me and the stations (they would not be "great circle" lines so not very accurate). Anyway, the pattern looked like the Hepburn map. This version of the map also missed a few stations out for technical reasons which need not detain us here.

I said "we" worked these stations as for a long period Chris, GM4ZJI, joined me. Anybody who worked us worked both, so that was two squares for them (IO85 and 86). We were comparing new antennas and generally both performed fairly well. Chris has a better antenna than me, but then we have two different sites. I bet he will do better on meteor scatter for instance.

I came back to work another OZ at 13:47. The Nordic activity contest started at 18:00, so I came on and worked 4 OZs and 2 SMs. I went QRT at 18:36. The RSGB UK Activity Contest started at 20:00, by which time most of the good propagation had ended, so I left it until 20:48 to come back on and give away some points to local stations.

In total the results outside the UK were like this:-
As you can see, the new mapping can also feature the stations as squares without callsigns, which is clearer in some ways. However, the squares are not "Maidenhead" locator squares, they are centred on the station by their 6-figure locator grid.

More work to do on the mapping, but it might have its uses. You can find it at It is free to test and costs $15 after the 30 day trial period.

Of the 14 stations worked outside the UK, all but one was over 700km. Only OZ3MC (JO46) was 694km. Best DX was SP1MWK in JO74 square - 1138km, not bad for VHF. It was all on 2m. I tried 4m several times but with no success.

I spoke the GM4GUF who went portable on the cliff tops at St Abb's Head, about 4 miles from here - he worked 1800 km into Russia and Belarus, but of course that was on CW. Do I regret my lack of CW ability? Not really.

I cannot say that tropo openings really thrill me. Yes, they are great for amassing squares and so forth, but they lack the excitement of short-duration openings. Something that lasts 10 hours does not grip me the way half an hour of sporadic E or aurora does. With the other modes you need to make the contacts quick and effective. After a short opening they are gone. With tropo you often have all day.

Anyway, there were auroral conditions about, as the coronal hole which caused the opening I posted about in early October has travelled round the Sun and is back facing us again.

If anything comes of that I will be back to talk about it. Otherwise it is another "might have been".



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