Friday, 8 April 2016

Even more targets

Each year in April I review the year and see how much better I could have done.

Last year I set my self some targets.

I did not do very well against these targets.

Ten metre band.
Having set myself a target of working India, Pakistan and New Zealand, none of those came off. I could get fairly long distance QSOs (DU/K8SQ 10203km) ,and VK became a bit of a speciality e.g. VK3OHM as late as 8 February. But generally the decline in the Solar Flux (down to 82 recently) put paid to any hopes there. What might have been was VU2ABS on 16 November, but I lost him in the QSB. He was strong though.

On WSPR there has only been one day of two-way activity over the past 5 weeks (well only about 3 hours really). Since February HF propagation in general here has fallen off a cliff.

With the continuing decline in the sunspot activity there will be no targets for 10m next year. Anything which does turn up will be a bonus.

Six Metre Band
It has not been a good year, rounded off by the antenna coming to grief right at the end. I did do a bit of Meteor Scatter which kept things going through the Winter. The "Christmas" Es went pretty well for a couple of days. During the Summer best dx was TA1BM on JT65 at 2831km. No F layer dx was noted at all so of course I did not improve on my best distance worked.

Very disappointing and I doubt if things will get better next year.

Four Metre Band
This is the band I put my greatest efforts into. The target was 2 new countries and five new squares. In fact I managed four new countries - Lithuania, Greece, Malta and Guernsey, though two of these were "new arrivals" not operating on 4m before. And then there were 28 new squares. Meteor scatter helped with some of these, but most of them were just got through hard work. Changing over to the 5 element PowABeam has definitely helped.

I now have 34 countries and 168 squares worked on 4m since moving here seven years ago. I think that I will go for two more countries and five squares again next year. They are getting harder to find, but then again places like Jersey are not really far away. Madeira is still missing, as are Ceuta and Mellila, Crete and the Dodecanese.

Highlight of the year was probably a 4m/6m crossband contact with F6HTT. Wouldn't it be nice if France got access to 4m next year? Plus, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden please.  Actually, that was pretty much last year's wish list too.

Two Metre Band
Despite have the best antenna gain and the highest output power, 2m is not my favourite band. I seem to spend my time listening to white noise and giving away a few points in contests.

Best SSB dx was during the one 15 minute Es opening of the year. Three Italian stations were worked, with I2FAK being best dx at 1439km. Then there were Tropo openings in October and November when I did not work more than about 1200km - but lots of new squares were gained. Apart from that most dx was on meteor scatter where SM2CEW was best dx at 1702km.

2m has been pretty underwhelming. I need to knuckle down and get some serious targets made for next year otherwise I think I will just drift along. To do better I need to get my countries and square list up to date. No target, no success. Task for next year, start counting the results better.

So, with the declining sun spot activity I seem to be producing less of a target list and more of a "lack of progress" report.

I knew a couple of years ago that 10m was probably as good as it would get in this cycle, but still I had some hope that it might linger on a bit longer and get only gradually poorer. Maybe not. During this cycle 6m did almost nothing on F-layer dx.

We don't know. So I guess we shall just have to wait.

To cheer me up here are a couple of nice QSLs cards for 4m contacts in new squares. The birds are White-Tailed Sea Eagles (!).



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