Friday, 10 January 2020

Lift conditions - at last

Dear all

After complaining about the superb tropo openings of 29 December missing me entirely, things got a bit better over the next ten days.

I should not feel hard-done-by any more, but of course I still do. Perhaps now I have less justification for feeling like that, but it won't stop me. I was born and raised in a section of society that felt that the world was against them, and I cannot shake that off just because it was never true. 

High pressure conditions brought some tropo on 1 January.
Contacts at GM4FVM on 144MHZ on 1 and 2 January2020.
I was pretty pleased with this, having missed out on the better opening a few days before. UT1FG/MM is an interesting contact as he chuggs around the North Sea. I can only work out his position when he gives a locator square while calling CQ on FT8. Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't. This time it was JO36, a square I do not often contact, it being entirely in the North Sea

I was even more pleased with the 70cms outcome
Contacts at GM4FVM on 432MHz on 1 and 2 January 2020.
Great to work Charly DF5VAE again, this time on 70cms for our fourth band. In fact I worked him twice on successive days. I am impressed by this performance given that I do not run high power on 70cms, have only a modest antenna, and I often go without contacts for days on that band.

Even more surprising was to work UT1FG/MM on 70cms. At first I was not clear what his locator square was - he might have moved since the 2m contact. As it turned out it was still the wet square JO36: I knew because he called CQ straight afterwards. It was a difficult QSO to complete - I am not sure what power or antennas he uses. But anyway I got it on the log book eventually.

Nice also to work DL7APV in JO62 again, and he provided the ODX for this event on 70cms, 1027km. By comparison on 2m, ODX was to SO3Z in JO82. At 1297km that hardly seems as much further than I might have expected. Mind you, on 70cms DL7APV has very large antennas.

For the two days, 70cm yielded 13 QSOs, 11 squares and 4 DXCC, while 2m accounted for 19 QSOs, 16 squares and 7 DXCC.

Quite possibly I was doing less well on 2m than I might have hoped because my LinearAmp Gemini 2 amplifier has been giving trouble. It was back with the makers for attention so for a while I was spending more time on 70cms than 2m. The resistors in the SWR protection circuit have been replaced. It is working again fine now, and I guess that is the problem solved. I have been pondering the possibility of upgrading the 2m linear but basically there is nothing wrong with this one.

After the 2m opening on 1 and 2 January, I turned my attention to the Quadrantid meteor shower and 6m. On 3 and 4 January I worked quite a few on 6m using MSK144 ...
Contacts at GM4FVM on 3 and 4 January 2020 on 50MHz meteor scatter.
A very nice set of contacts which proves how easy 6m meteor scatter really is. The stats bear this out, just 7 QSOs brought 7 squares and 5 DXCC. ODX was OH6WD in KP23 at 1756km.

By 5 January though the meteor scatter activity was declining, I could see those tell-tale signs that Winter Sporadic E (i.e. apparently "Es", but in the Winter) was back on the scene. You can tell when stations on meteor scatter have much longer reception periods than the usual ping on meteor scatter. This was the start of several days of Es, and when I eventually produced the map the data was so dense there was no room to add the callsigns.
Contacts at GM4FVM on 5 to 9 January 2020 on 6m Sporadic E.
On 5 January made just one Es contact, OZ5NJ, but on 6 January I made 14, reaching onto Italy, Sardinia, Spain, Switzerland, France and Romania. On 7 January I worked one station again (DL5WP), but on 8 January I worked 21, adding Slovenia, Poland, Croatia, Belgium and Austria. 9 January brought 8 QSOs adding Sweden, Estonia and Finland.

With the addition of a couple of tropo contacts that amounted to 45 QSOs with 35 squares and 18 DXCC. ODX was YO2LEA in KN06 at 1960km.

That was quite a spell. In my last posting I said that Winter Es keeps you on your toes because you never know when it will happen. Well here is the proof. There was no particular new ground broken, just a fascinating spell of operating over four days.

I heard nothing of Winter Es on 70MHz or 144MHz during these openings.

I suspect that is the end of Winter Es for this season for this season. Nobody really knows what causes it, though I do wonder about the fact that it occurs at the same time as peak Es conditions in the Southern Hemisphere. However, there is no known mechanism for that to work in the Northern Hemisphere, and the whole thing is a bit of a mystery. Still, all good fun.

From now until April I expect things to be a lot quieter. There may be a tropo opening. There may even be an aurora, the first in years. There may be more developments on HF as the sunspot cycle gradually starts to lift off. I doubt it though. I have plenty of projects to be getting on with. It was good though to have a good week's operating to fill my memory banks with material to keep me working.



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