Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Christmas and New Year DX

I find it hard to explain what happened over the holiday period.

1) A little bit of HF DX.
Conditions are always better during the holidays, which actually means that there are more stations about, rather than any special ionospheric propagation. On 24 December I did a bit of 10m work using the JT9 data mode. That netted W3OKU, PU8TAS, NS2X and N8TL between 15:17 and 15:57.

2) A little bit of VHF contest work
The RSGB "Xmas Cumulative Contests" over the holiday last for four days on four bands, with a 2.5 hour session on each day on and after 26 December. It was nice to get on there and give away a few points. The first day was dire due to high winds and poor conditions, and day 4 was cut short by domestic duties, but day 2 and 3 saw me best DX of the top scoring station or two.
It does make me wonder how I would do if I enter. Over the years I have always done well in this contest. I always seem to reach the "best DX" record for other people. However, if I start entering contests, where will it ever end?

3) A coronal mass ejection or two
With the solar wind raised there was a bit of a whopper opening on 6m. The K number shot up to 6 on 30 December, and I worked SM0DXG, SM5EPO, SC8OSM and SM0EUI on SSB thanks to a blast of Es. There was a high chance of an aurora, though not much happened. I heard a few CW stations on aurora, including LA9BM on 6m at 14:50. The auroral oval changed from its gentle green smudge to a huge nasty looking red blob:-

In general this means "stand by for imminent aurora" but nothing much resulted. It was, if anything, too big. I sat up into 1 January in the hope of Es after the aurora. I eventually heard the rather unusual sound of the Estonian 4m beacon (ES1VHF KO29 1633km) - pretty unusual during January. Finally I worked OZ1DJJ on 4m with a good 59 signal at 01:40.

The second CME was really huge but directed away from Earth. Still, like most events on the sun which are "side on" to us, it made a good picture.

It was associated with a big X-Ray and proton blast.

Now, there was an Es opening on 3 January. I am not suggesting that this opening was caused by the CMEs. It was not timed correctly. It was a bit late for that. Anyway, there is often Es in early January which may or may not be caused by some other phenomenon. I tried not to judge it, and I worked F1LII (JN03) and EA3CAZ (JN01) on JT65 on 6m on 3 January. This was, presumably, the "Secondary Peak" of Es, sometimes called "Christmas Es"..

 4) Quadrantid meteor shower and random contacts
The Quadrantids are supposed to be a very short shower, perhaps lasting only a few hours. Anyway, I had a huge problem with the PC, which Microsoft decided needed a new operating system. Then it decided to set all my preferences to default, and that took a bit of getting over.

Despite all that the Quadrantids proved fairly good when I could get on. I worked ES3RF (KO29 1638km), OH2BYT (KP10 1577) on 4m on 3 January, SP2JYR (JO92 1382) and OH6PA (KP02 1517) on 4m on 4 January and SM2CEW (KP15 1702) on 2m on 5 January.

I am sure I could have done a lot better on the Quadrantids if I had been able to operate for longer. I know that Chris, GM4ZJI, worked into Russia on 2m. I did hear the Russian station, but at that moment I was unable to transmit thanks to the PTT software being screwed up. The combination of the PC issue and the domestic duty situation prevented me doing much more.

On the random meteor front, since working OK2BRD on 4m on 22 December, I worked SM5EPO on 6m on 26 December (P.O. must be due an award for most modes), OZ1JXY on 4m on 26, 30 and 31 December, OE9ICI on 6m on 28 December and ON7EQ on 4m on 31 December.

Meteor scatter - I am beginning to think there is a contact to be made on this mode of propagation whenever I am in the shack. I always thought that was possible with huge antennas and high power, now I see it can be done with my pea-shooter set up. Also, it is really easy. I must read up more about it.

5) The daily grind of observations
Sometimes I wonder why I keep looking on 10m WSPR to find out what is happening. Sometimes, there seems to be only me and one other hardy soul on the band in the whole of Europe ...

Then I discover the next day and another band - 6m in the middle of winter:--

Who thought that the "secondary peak" of Es propagation was not worth exploring? Well, I have to admit that for some years I have tried and usually failed to find much to do at this time of year.

Perhaps I should try harder, and keep up the daily grind.

6) There is only so much time.
I have to live -
Sometimes I have to turn off and sleep - so -
Nothing to report on 40m lately.



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