I got up earlier again this Saturday and fired up the rig. I worked six POTA stations in less than an hour … pretty good mix of CW and SSB. I even worked AC8RG on 40 and 60 Meter CW. A quick check shows that that’s my first CW contact on the 60 Meter band … 5.405 MHz marks the spot!
Before that, I worked a bunch of stations on 80, 60, 40, 30, and 20 Meter FT4/8. Mostly USA and Canada, as you would expect on the lower bands, but an occasional European there too. There’s always contacts to be made on digital. Just throw your call out there and somebody will answer … almost guaranteed!
This past weekend was pretty rough, propagation-wise. Here at the QTH, noise levels were quite high, and the bands seemed to be sparsely populated.
I checked the POTA spotting page and there must have been ten or fifteen activators listed, and I literally could not hear a one! Either the noise covered their signals, or I just couldn’t even discern that there WAS a signal. I gather that there was some sort of solar storm, and I noted that the sunspot number was down to zero again.
No luck! Except for the digital modes, that is! It was easy to work loads of FT-mode stations, pretty much on demand. It seems that there’re always FT QSOs to be had.
Well, every day is a new day! If you don’t like the weather today (space or terrestrial), wait until tomorrow 😀 .
I got up this morning, logged into work from home, grabbed a cup of coffee, and turned on the radio to see what was brewing on FT4/8. Here’s a couple of interesting ones:
The Kazakhstan contact (UN7LZ) was an ATNO for me. KH6AP was a new one on 60 Meters.
The bands were in surprisingly good shape. I also saw Fiji and China represented, but they were pretty weak and couldn’t hear me. All in all, I worked about 10 stations on 20, 30, 40, and 60 Meters between 7 and 8 EDT before I reluctantly decided to do some real work at my real job 😀 .
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 🙂 .
Interesting evening … just when you’re sure that JT9 is dead and gone … killed by the FT-modes … you work a bunch of them!
Last night I saw K9ZIE spotted on a 40 meter JT9 POTA activation, so I popped on down and worked him easily. There was actually quite a bit of JT9 activity there, so I worked a few more successfully. Maybe I just haven’t been noticing, but I thought that JT9 was pretty rare nowadays … Guess not!
It’s been a pretty good week for POTA contacts. I’ve put about ten new parks in the log since Monday. Propagation has been pretty good … even a couple of Canadian parks.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’re putting our two repeater antennas on a 300-foot tower. We’ve had thunderstorms most afternoons this summer. Hopefully all goes well … out repeaters have been looking for a new home for far too long.