Friday, October 29, 2021

Ol' Sol is getting frisky!

 The K7RA Solar Update


Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sunspot activity was up this week, with the average daily sunspot number increasing by nearly five-fold from 11.3 to 54.9. Average daily solar flux rose from 78.6 to 95.7. Currently our sun is peppered with spots.

A new sunspot group appeared on October 22, another on October 24, two more on October 25, and another on October 26. The sunspot number peaked on Thursday, October 28, at 96, and daily solar flux peaked on the same day at 111.7.

Geomagnetic indicators were nice and quiet, but don’t expect that to last. Average daily planetary A index went from 8.4 to 4.4 and average daily middle latitude A index declined from 5.4 to 3.6.

Predicted solar flux looks quite promising, at 113 on October 29; 114 on October 30 – November 1; 110 and 105 on November 2 – 3; 100 on November 4 – 5; 86 on November 6 – 7; 85 on November 8 – 9; 83 on November 10; 82 on November 11 – 15; 85 on November 16 – 20; 94 on November 21; 95 on November 22 – 23; 96 on November 24; 95 on November 25 – 29; 92, 90, and, 88 on November 30 – December 2, and 86 on December 3 – 4.

Predicted planetary A index is 5 on October 29; 40, 35, and 12 on October 30 – November 1; 5 on November 2 – 5; 12, 10, and 8 on November 6 – 8; 5 on November 9 – 14; 10 and 8 on November 15 – 16; 5 on November 17 – 22; 8 on November 23 – 24; 10 on November 25 – 26; 5 on November 27 – 28; 8 on November 29; 5 on November 30 – December 2, and 12, 10, and 8 on December 3 – 5.

On Thursday, reported that a “strong G3-class geomagnetic storm is possible on October 30, when the CME from yesterday’s X-flare is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field.” This is why the predicted planetary A index on October 30-31 is 40 and 35.

At 0129 UTC on October 29, the Australian Space Forecast Centre issued this geomagnetic disturbance warning: “[Sunspot] AR2887 produced X1.0 flare on October 28 at 1535 UTC, which triggered a halo CME. The CME is expected to arrive at Earth in the first half of UTC day 30 October. As a result, the geomagnetic conditions are expected to reach major storm levels with a chance of severe storm periods. The global Kp index may reach 7 (G-3 level storms). On the local night of 30 October (and maybe 31 October), aurora may be visible from Tasmania and the southern mainland coastal areas. INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTION 30 – 31 OCTOBER 2021.”

This weekend is the CQ World Wide SSB DX Contest, which should be affected by the increased geomagnetic activity. The CW weekend is November 27 – 28. ARRL November CW Sweepstakes is next weekend, November 6 – 8.

Here’s the geomagnetic activity forecast for October 29 – November 23 from F.K. Janda, OK1HH. The geomagnetic field will be:

quiet on November 4 – 5, 18 – 19

quiet to unsettled on October 31, November 9, 12 – 13, 17, 20, 22

quiet to active on October 29, November 1 – 3, 10 – 11, 21, 23

unsettled to active on October 30, November 6 – 8, 14, 16

Active to disturbed November (15)

Solar wind will intensify on October 30 – 31, November 1, (8,)

9 – 10, (11,) 16 – 17

Remarks: Parentheses mean lower probability of activity enhancement.

Don’t miss the latest video from Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW.

Mike May, WB8VLC, in Salem, Oregon, reported his contacts on the high HF bands until October 27. He listed only the “interesting QSOs” as there were just too many others from 17 to 10 meters to include. One was an AM contact on 15 on October 24 at 1640 UTC with CT1EHI in Portugal. Signals were solid both ways, he reported.

Another was D4F [Cape Verde] on 10-meter SSB, “the first real strong African-region signal heard in a long time here on 10 meters.”

Others he reported included the HD8R DXpedition in the Galapagos, which he worked on 17 meters at 0129 UTC on October 27. He also worked HD8R on 10, 12, and 15 meters on October 26; E51JD in the South Cook Islands on October 24 on 10 meters (SSB), and VE8WD/m the same day on 15 meters (SSB). “A nice QSO with a ham in Yellowknife running 100 W mobile. He was over S-9 for 2 hours after our contact.”

Here is a Canadian view on solar risks to the power grid, and more on this week’s space weather.

In a message with the subject line, “Good propagation these days,” Angel Santana, WP3GW, reported from Puerto Rico on October 26:

“Yesterday at about 1730 UTC, heard M5JON on 28.505 MHz, which was a surprise since it has been a long time since I heard an English station on 10 meters.” He reported an S-7 report. “Today contacted HD8R on 24.950 MHz split (up 5) up at 1851 UTC. I suppose and hope that the CQ WW SSB this weekend is why I am hearing much activity on all bands.”

Here’s part of a message from Frank Donovan, W3LPL:

“Propagation crossing low and mid latitudes is likely to be normal until likely CME arrival early to mid-day Saturday, then mostly below normal at least until mid-day Sunday.

=“We are in the geomagnetically active autumn equinox season through late October with about twice as many geomagnetically active days compared to December, January, June, and July caused by the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) more frequently persisting in a southward orientation (–Bz).

“Geomagnetic disturbances caused by coronal hole high speed stream effects are likely to remain mostly brief, minor and somewhat less frequent through at least late 2021. The southward oriented (–Bz) component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) plays a crucial but unpredictable role in triggering all geomagnetic storms.

“Brief minor to moderate geomagnetic storms may be gradually triggered when the IMF persists in a southward orientation (–Bz) with enhanced IMF field strength for several hours coincident with the effects of an Earth directed coronal hole high speed stream.

“More frequent, longer duration, minor to severe geomagnetic storms may be triggered suddenly and unpredictably when the IMF persists in a southward orientation (–Bz) with enhanced IMF field strength for several hours or more coincident with the effects of an Earth directed fast CME.

“Mid-latitude northern hemisphere sunset is 56 minutes earlier and day length is 90 minutes shorter than it was on September 22. Daytime ionization and residual nighttime ionization in the far northern polar region is rapidly declining due to steadily increasing polar night effects.”

Sunspot numbers for October 21 – 27 were 11, 28, 32, 46, 81, 95, and 91, with a mean of 54.9. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 81.9, 86.9, 86.8, 93.2, 100.6, 109.3, and 110.9, with a mean of 95.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 4, 3, 4, 5, 5, and 3, with a mean of 4.4. Middle latitude A index was 9, 3, 2, 2, 4, 3, and 2, with a mean of 3.6.


Of course the MSM will report dire consequences to the power grid and the end-of-the-world, but we Hams know better ..... don't we?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very best!

Monday, October 18, 2021

On this date

Where would we be without transistors?  Definitely one of the major technical advances of our time.

No Hill Toppers, no Mountain Toppers, no LNRs. no KX's, no QCX's (just to name a few) and a whole lot more!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP _ When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Working POTA stations

 I did something this Sunday morning that I haven't done in a while ..... I got on the air!

I decided to go down to the basement to hunt some POTA stations. I ended up working five in a very short time amidst working on a hardware issue. More on that later. 

If you like working POTA stations but haven't downloaded the POTA Spotter app, you're doing yourself a great injustice. I have mine on my cell phone and was going from spot to spot to spot.

I tried working Tom K4SWL and John AE5X. I think Tom had gone QRT and I heard stations working John, but could not make out AE5X himself. But it was fun working the five that I did and the POTA Spotter made it easier than it would have been just twiddling the dial. To some purists, that might be "cheating", but I don't have the PX3 panadapter, so the POTA Spotter makes life just a bit easier.

Getting back to the hardware problem. It was solved by making up a new power cord for the KX3, because as I was working K8P, my KX3 shut itself off (or lost power) twice. Hoping that there was nothing wrong with the rig itself, I hurriedly hooked it up to my Field Day battery only to find that everything was OK. Whew!

The power supply was still powered on and putting out the proper voltage. I unhooked the power cable that runs from the power supply to the KXPA100 and stuck some VOM probes into the Anderson power poles. No volts!  I checked the inline fuses and they were OK, so the problem has to be at the power pole end. The wires seem to be attached fine, but since there's no voltage present, there has to be a loose connection, or something, at the power pole end.

I don't have any spare power poles on hand, or the crimping tool, but I did have a spare 3.5mm power connector. I took some heavy gauge speaker wire on hand and SOLDERED myself up a good old fashioned power cable. That solved that problem and I went on to work a couple more before going QRT myself.

I had forgotten how much fun POTA hunting is. I'll have to do lots more in the future!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Zombie Shuffle time!

 The return of a favorite! Here's the announcement from Paul NA5N:


Halloween is at the end of the month ... must be Zombie Shuffle time.

The ZOMBIE SHUFFLE will be held on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021 from 1600 through midnight, your local time.  Hopefully 15M and 20M will be open for a bit.

2021 RULES and SUMMARY sheet are here:

Pretty much the same pointless rules and scoring as always.

2020 Summary Sheets and soap box comments indicated the spooky and goofy names used by the bonus stations last year were a real hit and fun to copy on the air.  This year, EVERYONE is invited to choose some bogus, goofy name to send in their exchange for something different and fun.

If you'd like to be a bonus station this year, please email me. Bonus stations will send "2021" as their Zombie number.

The Zombie Shuffle is always a good excuse to get on the air for a couple hours or more, with a goofy exchange for a big score, and have some QRP fun regardless of your skill level.  Very informal with code speeds generally 20 wpm or less.  So if you're new to CW or a bit rusty, or a seasoned Zombie, this informal event is made to get you on the air and have some Zombie fun.

See you Oct. 29.

72, Paul NA5N

Thanks once again, Paul, for putting this together! It's always a lot of fun.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, October 10, 2021


 For those of you who have to live with less than ideal antenna conditions - I saw this post on QRP-L and the author, John N6HI granted me permission to publish it here.  It says a lot about how being stuck in a place that doesn't allow full blown antenna situations does NOT have to keep you from having fun - even if you're "just" a QRP operator.

His story:

Exactly one year ago today, I brought home my new IC-705. My QTH in Arizona is "life in the big city". I live in a HOA environment that allows no antennas. My ONLY station antenna is a 20-foot piece of wire with a rock tied on the end, thrown into a tree out my window. At its highest point, it's about 15 feet above ground. I use this 20 foot end-fed wire on all bands, 160 to 6 meters. The antenna is fed via an LDG tuner, and NO ground system is used. Most of my QSOs are at 1/2 Watt, my favorite power level. I never use more than 5 Watts.

Using only the 20 Foot wire, here are my first year statistics with the IC-705:

------ IC-705 1-Year, Running 5 Watts or less ------

Completed W.A.C. in first 17 days.

Contacts made on all bands: 160-80-60-40-30-20-17-15-12-10-6 meters.

Total hf QSOs:  3021

Countries worked:  58

------ IC-705 1-Year, Running 1/2 Watt ------

Contacts made on all bands: 160-80-60-40-30-20-17-15-12-10-6 meters.

Total hf QSOs:  2319

Countries worked:  20

85% of my IC-705-first-year QSOs were CW.  None were FT8 or similar enhanced modes. I have been a ham for 57 years, and 100% QRP for the last 20+ years. I enjoy rag-chewing, DXing, and contesting with QRP.

With QRP power and a short wire antenna, I certainly don't expect to make the DXCC Honor Roll any time soon ... but I love the challenge and rewards of operating QRP. I feel that results like this, during this last year of poor solar conditions, certainly proves what can be done with QRP power levels and simple wire antennas. I encourage you all to give QRP a try!

-73- John N6HI

Thanks, John - well stated and I think this could be a badly needed shot in the arm to those of our compatriots who are saddled with less than ideal operating conditions. You never have to go off the air!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Down the shore

 In New Jersey, it's "a thing". We don't go to the beach - we go down the shore. Once we're at the shore, we may or may not go to the beach. Like I said, it's a Jersey thing.

Last weekend, Marianne and I went down to the shore to spend our wedding anniversary weekend together. The weather was nice, and there were people on the beach. We sat on a bench on the boardwalk and soaked up the sun and did some people watching. We enjoyed the rare opportunity to do "not much".

I took this short video to capture the sight and the sounds. And I have to admit that ever since I became a Ham seeing the ocean has been a different experience for me, than probably for most "civilians". I look at the water and it seems endless. If you look it up, at sea level, the visual horizon is only about 3 miles away. That is mind boggling when you consider how vast the ocean actually is. It seems endless - and "endless" is only 3 miles away!  The water actually stretches for thousands of miles beyond that!

And what makes it even more amazing and magical, is that my 5 Watts of RF energy can easily hop right over that ocean and even further - at the speed of light! My radio signals, which can reach Europe, Asia or anywhere in the world for that matter, traverse the oceans as easily as I walk from my kitchen to my living room. It's truly mind boggling. How often do we take those QSOs for granted?  How many times does a QSO to a different country seem like "no big deal"? "Oh, it's only Spain." or "Oh, it's only" Germany or Italy, or England, or wherever.

Mass communication - radio, TV, satellites have seemingly shrunk the world. We take instant communication as a given. The Earth, our globe, our home, is tremendously huge! We forget how huge it is compared to us. The concept and magic of radio is so much a part of me; and yet I have to  admit that I fall into the trap of taking it for granted.  Taking in the ocean and contemplating the vastness of our planet, and how easily radio can conquer that makes it even more special and wonderful again.

Those QSOs ARE a big deal. A very big deal, each and every one! Don't ever become blasé about them!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!