The Solar Flux Index is in the 70s, and the Sunspot Number is up in the teens … quite an improvement over just a year ago. Some predictions say this cycle may be a barn-burner … only time will tell 🙂 .
I do notice that the general noise level seems to be a bit higher. So even though the signals are stronger, so is the background noise. Some of that is the season … summer is just naturally noisier than the rest of the year (mainly atmospheric noise from thunderstorms), but some is (I think) from a more “excited” atmosphere due to the rising solar cycle.
I’ve been adding a few POTA contacts most days. I’ve seen more and more CW activations and, with the noise levels on the lower bands, it’s copyable when you can barely hear the SSB signals. In lots of cases, the CW signals are effectively not even moving the S-meter, but still good copy.
Along with the increased noise levels, there’s some pretty nasty QSB, or fading. I can be hearing a station well enough to copy 100 percent one second … reply to them … and they come back multiple S-units down, sometimes inaudible. Hey, that’s the way it goes!
I’ve been keeping up my FT4/8 count, too. There’s always a few contacts to be had there. Those keep up the QSO count 🙂 .
73 de Dick N4BC