Friday, 1 September 2017

31 August Es and the end of the season wind down

Here, as I gaze over my estates from the lofty heights of the old stone tower at the end of the West Wing, I see the workers toiling in the fields to save the wheat crop ...
Harvesting the wheat as seen from GM4FVM's QTH on 27 August 2017
Actually, there does not seem to be too much toil involved sitting up there in the cab of the harvester watching the machinery doing its work.

If I really did have a West Wing with a stone tower on it, I would have attached another antenna to it long before now. Especially if it had lofty heights.

No, this week I have been watching the field behind the house being sucked clean of all its produce, then straw baling being completed. The straw bales have already been removed and no doubt ploughing and drilling will be complete within days. Who knows what crop will be pushing up next year?

When it comes to harvest time I start thinking of Autumn, and the end of the Es season. Time for me to review the Summer and then batten down the hatches for Winter.

This year I feel that I have overdone things over the Summer. I think that it is time for a break from operating and use the opportunity to spend a bit more time with my other projects.

Most of my amateur radio life has been marked by upsurges and downswings in activity. I am not an operator with just a rig and a bit of wire, but nor am I someone who invests all his time and money in this hobby. I move around the middle ground, sometimes getting too much involved and having to step back a bit. So this is time for a step back.

The Es season is over, the Christmas VHF Contests are over the horizon. Time for a measured reaction. The Autumn promises more Es, more aurora, more meteor scatter, and more tropo. So bring it on, as I am not going hunting for it.
 31 August produced a nice Es opening.

I knew it was coming towards the end of the week because the RSGB VHF propagation report said there wasn't going to be one then, but "at the head of the week" and it would "struggle" due to "weak Jet Streams".

So, of course with this promise I reckoned that if they say it will happen weakly at the beginning of the week I should start looking for a strong one at the end of the week. I find that is the best way of treating these reports, and it has always worked for me.

I am not saying that Jet Streams have nothing to do with Es (though that is what I think, but it is hard to prove a negative), but what I can say with fair certainty is that using them for prediction does not work. Relying on the predicted Jet Stream to base an Es prediction is always wrong here.

Jet Streams might be implicated in Es (I doubt it) but if this is the track record of making predictions based on them, what I have seen over the last year or so makes the predictions look laughable.
Es as reported by DXMaps at 21:18 on 31 August 2017.
I had a number of nice contacts, including I6FLD, IK4ISR, IZ8IBC, SP7QJF and SP8NR on 50MHz, and returning regulars DD3SP and OK2BRD on 70MHz.

Actually Sandro, DD3SP was an interesting one on 4m as I worked him first with meteor scatter on MSK144 at 13:16. I guessed that would be my last German station on 4m for this year, as their temporary authorisation ended on 31 August. But then I worked him again on SSB on Es at 20:32. I also worked Jiri, OK2BRD twice, both on Es. First by FT8 at  20:37, then again on SSB at 20:45.

It is notable that the last QSO was at 22:55 and I only stopped because I needed some sleep. This bout of Es was generated by a geomagnetic storm caused by a coronal hole. There was no widespread aurora, though I did hear the usual Northern Ireland beacons over the previous day or so. I often see this Es pattern repeat itself during positive polarity coronal hole disturbances. Perhaps today we will get some negative polarity material from the Sun too, and maybe an aurora.

10m Es was pretty good as well...
10m Es on WSPR, 31/8/17. Presumably Mauritius was F layer, but you never know!

A great day of Es to round off the season, so to speak. I will miss the German stations on 70MHz even though, due to conditions, they have not been as prevalent as previous years. I already miss Italian stations who we have not heard on 4m for several years.
It definitely has been a busy Summer and I am in need of a bit of a break. Never mind the radio, a brilliant Tour de France (Rigobero Uran was brilliant) was star of the season. Now the battling of Contador, Nibali and Aru are keeping me welded to the television and La Vuelta Ciclista a Espana. Not just cycling, but cricket has been superb too, plus of course Masterchef Australia. What a Summer.

I am not going QRT, just taking a bit easier. There is plenty more for this blog, or so I hope anyway.




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