Thursday, 27 May 2021

25 May 2021 - more Es, only better still

When I was attending the City of Belfast YMCA Radio Club, back in the early 1970s, learning my trade, there were some things I picked up from the old codgers with 2-letter calls who taught me what I needed to know. Everything was available on SSB with the KW-2000 and the magical new band of 15 metres. Actually, SSB and 15 metres had been around for a while, but it was amazing to them at the time.

But principally, in relation to my plan to earn a VHF licence I learned:-

1) VHF is a waste of time

2) The 2 meter band is not worth spending money on because there is no DX

3) The 4 metre band is even worse than 2m, but there is no money to spend there as everybody knows it is useless

4) This "Short Skip" thing gets in the way of DX working every year and only extends to France anyway.

This information rather flew in the face of scientific evidence, gathered during the World Geophysical Year in 1957/8 which showed the relationship between the E layer of the ionosphere, solar activity, and Sporadic E. This was what they called nuisance "Short Skip" down at the YMCA radio club.

I knew that I should listen to my "elders and betters", but I pretty soon came to realise that they were wrong in this case.

25 May followed the usual warning on Solarham. On 23 May a "minor to moderate" storm watch was put in place for 25 May. This followed a coronal mass ejection which only hit the Earth a glancing blow. As it turned out only the minor G1 level storm resulted, but that was enough for me.

23 May 2021 warning on Solarham

The result of this was a K number of 5 on 25 May and a very nice Sporadic E opening on 2 and 4 metres. Well, 6 metres too but I was not much involved in that one. 

Amongst other things, on 6m I worked UN3M in Kazakhstan at 22:41 local which rather gives a lie to the theory of Es as a daytime event but 6m is not what I am writing about today. I am not sure what the time difference to Kazakhstan is, but that was not a day time path. 

Enough about 6m.

Starting on 4 metres, at 06:43 I had a QSO with 9K2YM. I have been hoping to work Kuwait on 4m for some years and when it came I only received a -21dB report, but that will do nicely. I heard him working several G-stations but he was only workable here for a few minutes. Needless to say LL48 is a new square for me. It is definitely a best DX for me on 4m at 4974km.

Stations worked on 4m at GM4FVM on 25 May 2021

As usual, click to enlarge the images if necessary.

This was followed by a prolonged opening into the Balkan region. Over the next four hours I worked another 12 stations in seven more countries. Of the 10 additional squares, four were new.

On 2 metres the action did not start until 10:57. I had spent the previous 20 minutes calling several stations until eventually I managed to work YU7ON. Serbia is new country for me on 2m. In a little under an hour I had worked into 4 different countries.

Stations worked on 2m at GM4FVM on 25 May 2021

This proved that I was wrong two postings ago to say that my best Es DX on 2m was into Southern Spain. On 25 May I worked IT9GSF, who I had worked before. The distance then was 2333km. That must surely be my best DX on 2m Sporadic E. I was also heard on one of the small islands between Sicily and Tunisia but sadly no contact resulted. 

I had also worked YO7FWS before, but both his and IT9GSF's QSOs had been during late June. I was surprised to be doing this in May.

I will skip the map showing 2m stations worked in May to date. That included  42 QSOs to 10 countries. Interesting though that is, the 4m map is more surprising to me.

4m stations worked at GM4FVM, 1 to 26 May 2021

26 countries, 68 squares, 3 continents (Europe, Africa and Asia) in 104 QSOs. On the 4 metre band. In May. Back learning at the YMCA club I would have thought it unimaginable that this would be possible. I would have thought that because I was told that it was impossible. Back then it was the accepted truth that 4m was hardly worth the £10 it cost to buy my AM Pye Cambridge.

I have not done anything special here. I do not use any remarkable gear or even any of my many Super Powers. The special trick was done by the ionosphere. It has proved the doubters wrong. My only contribution was to ignore bogus "Sporadic E predictor" apps and stick by the basics of solar observation. I knew when to look. Joe Taylor and his WSJT-X suite has brought everybody into the same frame of mind and onto the same frequencies. It all helps, but the Sun rules the roost..

Wait, this only covers up to 26 May. Five more days to go! The possibilities are endless and we have not got to the happy times of late June or early July yet. 

I think it is all over for this month but Solarham is suggesting more possibilities for later on 27 May. My own feeling is that the glancing nature of the last CME suggests that we have had all we will get for now, but that is not clear. Predicting both the direction and magnetic polarity of such events remains uncertain.

We shall see.

Actually that is the best bit of it. 

We shall see.

What chance tropo on 2m to fill up the log? It is looking a bit empty.





  1. Very nice to read your enthousiastic post. Congrats on the new ones. I saw 9K2YM only once at 4m. Hopefully I will have another chance later this year. Propagation was great till very late in the evening. I worked YL21ICE Latvia very late in the evening for a new one on 4m (first new one 2021). 73, Bas

  2. Baz.
    YL is difficult one. LY even harder - I have not done LY from here for four years.
    Congratulations on a new one. Soon, there will be another new one. Trust me. Keep trying.