Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 4 – The sun wakes up for 2 hours of Europe on 10m SSB – and finally a tiny trickle of QSO’s into North America on 20m

Well it started pretty slow today. I checked into the ANZA net and had zero QSO’s and couldn’t raise much on 15m SSB after that so at 0600 UTC I tried 15m PSK31. I had fun for an hour working into JA and Europe and I figured with the solar forecast looking promising I’d jump on 10m. At 0730 UTC I put a spot on the cluster for 10m SSB and then spent the next 2 hours working 190 stations mainly from Europe with the odd JA and Middle Eastern in the mix. It felt like a CQWW contest weekend it was so busy. Loads of fun and everyone in Europe seemed pretty excited to see this band alive and kicking. So around 0700 UTC tonight I’ll jump on 10m SSB again.

After dinner I went to 20m SSB a little earlier at 1030 UTC and worked a steady stream of Asia and Europe, this time the pile ups weren’t really pile ups, just a couple of stations calling. This certainly gave the chance for some of the weaker stations to get through and people with barefoot dipoles even got in the log. The rate slowed down to zero by 1300 UTC. This also gave me the chance to quickly look at the 40m PSK31 window for any signs of life from North America, but there was QRM from an Asian station using SSB for much of the time.

So at 1300 UTC I jumped on 20m PSK31 and ended up working a constant stream of Europe, and W4PKU even managed to break the pile up at 1342 UTC. The band continued to provide action until 1645 UTC. The pile up rate for PSK31 ended up being only 30 per hour compared to up to 90 per hour for the SSB, so a lot less QSOs ended up in the log, but at least it gives the chance for the more modest antenna/power stations to get in the log, so its certainly worth it.

So I went to bed by 1700 UTC which is 3am local time, knowing I needed to be up in 3 hours to look for the America’s on 20m. My wife had to beat me with a stick to break my sleep deprivated coma at 2000 UTC (6am). I staggered to the radio to check the 14070 kHz waterfall at 2020 UTC and saw quite a few east coast USA stations. I called one but he didn’t respond, but then a trace close by was calling me, it was Jim N4ST in VA and I was excited to get him in the log, he spotted me on the DX cluster but after 10 minutes of calling cq cq no more US stations seemed to hear me – bugger!    In the period 2050 – 2230 UTC I spotted myself on the cluster ever 15 minutes or so around 14325 +/- for SSB and 14073 for PSK31 to be there for long path North America. My signal is clearly very weak but at least some stations did make it in the log - on PSK31 – N4ST (VA) and W4DKS (VA), then a few more on SSB – AB5EU (TX), AA2KD (NJ), K5MK (MS), W4DKS (VA) , W3TN (MD), N4AH (SC), VE2QRA (QC), WP4DP and OX3KQ. I know that’s not satisfying demand but it’s a start.

Judging by the PSK31 traces, there were a lot more at 2020 UTC when I staggered to the radio and they dropped off quite quickly, so maybe the long path is better to USA a little earlier. So over my final two mornings I’ll get up earlier and start spotting myself on PSK31 and SSB from 1930 UTC to 2200 UTC over the next two days which 5:30-8:00 am local time.

Again I’ll sit by the frequency during check ins at the ANZA net, at 0515 UTC on 14183, if I hear any USA stations checking in then I’ll jump in too, if not then I'll goto 15m. I might start spotting myself on the cluster and call on 14070 PSK31 during the 0400-0500 UTC period for west coast USA. Remember I can’t see the DX cluster at my radio shack, I walk up the path with the laptop to get wireless reception and then quickly go back to the cabin to call cq.

So on day 4 I made 488 QSO’s including 190 on 10m SSB which brings the logbook up to a total of 2448.

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