Weekly Propagation Summary – 2016 Jul 25 16:10 UTC

Weekly Propagation Summary (2016 Jul 25 16:10 UTC)

Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2016 Jul 25 0218 UTC.

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 18 – 24 July 2016

Solar activity was low on 18-20 and 22 July with multiple C-class flares from Regions 2565 (N04,L=175, class/area Dho/320 on 16 July) and 2567 (N05, L=166, class/area Dki/380 on 21 July). The largest flare during that period was a C4.6 from Region 2567 at 20/2215 UTC. Moderate solar levels were observed on 21 and 24 July with four M-class flares observed from Region 2567. The largest flare during that period was an M2.0 observed at 24/0620 UTC. Activity reached high levels on 23 July with three M-class flares from Region 2567. The first was an M5.0, which peaked at 23/0211 UTC. The second was an M7.6/2b flare with an associated 310 sfu Tenflare. The final was an M5.5/3b, which peaked 15 minutes later at 23/0531 UTC had accompanying Type II (729 km/s shock velocity) and Type IV radio emissions, as well as a 900 sfu Tenflare. Two CMEs were observed in coronagraph imagery lifting off the west limb at 23/0524 UTC and 23/0548 UTC. Both CMEs were determined to not have an Earth-directed component.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit. However, a slight enhancement to near 1 pfu was observed at 23/0725 UTC due to the flare activity from early on 23 July.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was at high levels on 18-19 July, normal levels from 20-23 July, and moderate levels on 24 July.

Geomagnetic field activity reached minor storm levels on 19-20 and 24 July due to the shock arrival of two CMEs. The first shock arrival was likely associated with flare activity on 16 July and was observed at the ACE spacecraft at 19/2310 UTC with a speed of approximately 450 km/s. The Bt component increased from near 5 nT to 17 nT and Bz reached a maximum southward deviation of -12 nT. Minor storm levels were observed from 19/2355 until 20/0600 UTC. The second shock enhancement was observed near 24/1450 UTC and likely associated with flare activity on 20 July. Wind speeds increased from near 400 km/s to 470 km/s accompanied by a Bt enhancement from 5 nT to 13 nT and southward deflection of Bz to -9 nT for nearly three hours. Minor storm conditions were observed with this event during the 24/1800-2100 UTC synoptic period. Geomagnetic field activity was quiet on 18, 21-23 July with a nominal solar wind.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 25 July – 20 August 2016

Solar activity is expected to be very low to low for the first half of the period with a chance for M-class flares from 05-19 August due to the return of old Region 2567.

No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to be at normal to moderate levels for the majority of the period with high levels from 05-15 August due to recurrent CH HSS events.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to reach active levels on 25-27 July due to lingering CME effects and the arrival of a positive polarity CH HSS. Active to minor storm levels are expected on 29 July, 03-05, 08, and 10 August due to recurrent CH HSS activity. Mostly quiet to unsettled conditions are expected for the remainder of the period.

Don’t forget to visit our live space weather and radio propagation web site, at: http://SunSpotWatch.com/

Live Aurora mapping is at http://aurora.sunspotwatch.com/

If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users: + https://Twitter.com/NW7US + https://Twitter.com/hfradiospacewx

Get the space weather and radio propagation self-study course, today. Visit http://nw7us.us/swc for the latest sale and for more information!

Check out the stunning view of our Sun in action, as seen during the last five years with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXN-MdoGM9g

We’re on Facebook: http://NW7US.us/swhfr


Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

Weak Signal Volume Levels

A recent posting on Yahoo's Perseus SDR Group inquired about the use of external or PC-based DSP manipulation of signals partially masked by noise to improve readability. The most interesting part of this short discussion was the result of one response indicating:


"BTW one of the best and most simple noise reductions is to lower the volume."

to which the original inquirer responded:

"BTW, lower the volume to reduce noise ... ?? That was a joke, right ??"

Other comments soon followed, including my own, initially:

"Actually, for whatever reason, this works...at least when copying very very weak CW signals. I think it is more of an ear-brain thing where the noise
gets more focus than the signal when listening at moderate levels but
cranking everything down to a very low level has always improved copy for
me....not sure why this works as well as it does."

From Roelof Bakker, PAØRDT:

"The ear brain system works much better at low volume as it is easily
overloaded by strong signals. Similar like too much direct light in 
your eyes will degrade contrast. I guess this is getting worse with
age, but I am not sure about that.

I have been watching many videos on YouTube which demonstrate ham
radio gear and most if not all use far to high volume settings,
which degrades readability. I believe it is a normal habit to raise
the volume for weak signals, but this is often contra productive.

When listening for weak signals at low volume settings, a quiet room
is mandatory. I have taken considerable effort in building a quiet
PC, that is aurally quiet.

What does wonders for copying weak signals with the PERSEUS is to
switch off the AGC."


"No it's not a joke and it's not the RF Gain. It's one of the capabilities of the human ear.

Of course qrm can be limited and reduced but noise is difficult. What you often see is that with all those noise reduction things is that the volume drops. Make an audio recording of a part with and without a (white) noise limiter switched on. Open it into an audio editor and you will see that the amplitude of the part where the noise reduction is on is lower. Now amplify that part to the same level as where the limiter is not active and play it back. You will be astonished how little the difference is.

It's probably also a thing that can differ from person to person but I've never seen tools that can make an unreadable signal readable. Most of the time they sound just different, not better."

Likely there is a ton of data showing how our ear / brain link deals with noise or tones buried in noise. With audio levels set to anything above bare minimum, I think it's very easy for your brain to react mainly to the noise and not to the tone. Reducing this level possibly puts the two back on even levels ... even though there really has been no change in signal-to-noise ratio.

When trying to copy very weak, difficult signals, I've always found that turning audio levels down to bare minimums helps me personally. As Roelof mentioned, the entire environment must be dead quiet as well so that there are no outside distractions. Even the sounds of the headphone cord, brushing against clothing or the table top, can make the difference between copy and no copy. Decades of copying very weak ndb CW idents buried in the noise as well as spending several years on 2m CW moonbounce, has taught me that my ear-brain connection works best when audio inputs are very, very low.

courtesy: http://justagwailo.com/

As an interesting aside, my years of copying weak CW tones, has shown itself in other ways as well. Before retirement as a high school tech ed teacher, staff were required to have their hearing checked annually, as part of the medical plan's requirement. Each year the mobile audio lab would roll-up for the tests. I would always make sure to sit perfectly still, with no headphone cord wires brushing against my clothing. The tones varied in frequency and intensity and were often extremely weak, not unlike the weak echoes I was used to copying from the lunar surface. The reaction from the examiner was always the same, every year ... complete astonishment when checking the results and usually a comment that I had the hearing of a teenager! Thankfully my hearing, which I've always been careful to protect, remains exceptionally good, for which I am truly grateful ... so often this is a genetic thing and there is little one can do about controlling hearing-loss as one ages.

I shudder anytime I see a young person with headphones or earbuds firmly in place and with the music volume cranked up to unbelievably high levels. Sadly, many of them will likely pay the price for this later in life as such hammering-away at the delicate auditory mechanism has a cumulative rather than a short-term effect.

So ... the next time you find yourself trying to copy that ultra-weak signal just riding along in the noise, try turning the audio way, way down. Take a deep breath and listen to the tone, not the noise. If you ask me, the best signal filter is still the one between our ears.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

Saved by something or other

Today I almost bought a new rig. I say almost because it has been the closest time I have ever got to buying a new rig. I had a week with a KX3 and found it wasn’t to my taste, not because it didn’t perform well but for some reason or another it just didn’t do it for me. So I looked at the new Icom IC7300 and was really taken aback by it. It looks like a great rig and I’m sure it’ll do a lot for those that buy it, one day I might get one. Today I almost did. My finger was hovering over the buy now….I put one in the basket and got the credit card out. My XYL pointed out I could afford it (This made me very suspicious). Then I realised I was sure I didn’t actually want it. Am I losing the fun of radio?

I don’t think so.

I bought a LNR Precision Mountain Topper last April and have used it a handful of times and enjoyed the portability of it all. The simplicity and the lack of domestic real estate needed to make it work for me. I put together a neat little pack for taking away with me and I think I’ll refine that a little. Some things might look familiar, others look like they’re missing, notably a ‘flight deck’ or ‘thing to put your radio on whilst you’re operating out and about’. I’m going to laser cut a bespoke one that will fit into the case (which by the way is an old Dremel carry case). More on that later

Portable pack

 

So I decided to save my money and think about a shack in the box that I really miss, a Yaesu FT817ND. I sold my 817 a couple of years ago and regretted it from the minute I sold it. I think I will get myself a decent second hand one of those with a few of the bells and whistles I didn’t have the first time around. At least that’s what I think I’ll do today.

Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll change my mind again.


Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

ICQ Podcast Episode 216 – DA0HQ Contest

In this episode, Martin M1MRB / W9ICQ is joined by Edmund Spicer M0MNG, Chris Howard M0TCH and Ed Durrant DD5LP to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief, and this episodes feature is an interview with the organisers of the DA0HQ Contest site.

  • Malaysian Amateur Radio Licences Changes
  • BBC Starts Roll-Out of International Radio App
  • US Ham’s Save Kids from Surrounded Campfire
  • Earthing and the Radio Amateur
  • Ofcom Proposes Ham Band for Wi-Fi
  • UK Amateurs Visit 10 Downing Street
  • AES Ham Radio Store Closing Down
  • New European Table of Frequency Allocations
  • Australian Radio Operator Fined and Off Air

Colin Butler, M6BOY, is the host of the ICQ Podcast, a weekly radio show about Amateur Radio. Contact him at [email protected].

Amateur Radio Weekly – Issue 121

Radiosport vs. Pokémon GO
It should come as no surprise that ham radio operators are drawing comparisons between Pokémon GO and Amateur Radiosport.
ARRL

Growing 6m JT65 activity
On several occasions this week, I have heard or worked dozens of others on JT mode while the bottom end of the band appears void of signals.
AmateurRadio.com

North Korea activates numbers station
A female announcer at the radio station read numbers for two minutes on 24 June and 14 minutes on Friday.
The Guardian

What’s In your rubber duck?
I often refer to the rubber duck as The World’s Most Convenient Crappy Antenna.
K0NR

Life as a blind radio Ham
Anyone can join in the conversation and sometimes you find yourself talking to a dozen or so people across the ends of the Earth.
Largs & Millport

Smartphone vibration motor as microphone
Two researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have devised a method for turning vibration motors, like the ones found in smartphones, into makeshift microphones, capable of recording the sound around them.
Southgate

How to: GPS spoofing (to hack Pokémon GO)
As satellite GPS signals are very weak while receiving on earth, transmitted signals with the HackRF will be very strong in comparison
Insinuator

A speaker mic NOT to buy
I’m guessing this one didn’t pass through quality control, if there is such a thing at the Baofeng factory.
Digital Mobile Radio

Receiving WSPR with RTL-SDR
Direct sampling mode allows you to receive HF signals on an RTL-SDR without the need for an upconverter
RTL-SDR.com


Amateur Radio Weekly is curated by Cale Mooth K4HCK. Sign up free to receive ham radio's most relevant news, projects, technology and events by e-mail each week at http://www.hamweekly.com.

Activating SOTA’s at Philmont Scout Ranch

Philmont Scout Ranch belongs to the Boy Scouts of America and is located near Cimarron, NM. Philmont consists of some 136,000 acres of rugged back country ideal for backpacking and any number of other outdoor activities. (www.philmontscoutranch.org) Philmont offers a variety of backpacking itineraries that cover 10 days of hiking ranging in distance from 56 miles to 106 miles.

I was fortunate to be able to do a 84 mile backpacking trek with my son, AB5EB, and my grandson, KF5GYD, at Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, NM. It was 25 years ago to the day, July 5th, 1991 that I started a  trek with my two sons, the second, KB5SKN, to July 5th, 2016 that I started this trek. Pretty cool from a grandfather perspective. Aside from the trek experience I had in mind to activate a couple of SOTA peaks, within the Philmont boundries, that we would climb on our trek. Neither had every been activated for SOTA.


Philmont rates their treks by the magnitude of difficulty from Challenging, Rugged, Strenuous and Super Strenuous. The trek I was on was in the Super Strenuous category, for those familiar with the system, our Trek was # 31. I have been training for this trek for over a year and would need all that accumulated fitness to make the trip. We had a crew of eight, two adults and six teenage boys. What you learn, or maybe remember, is that youth covers lots of physical ills, in other words, they recover quickly.

The first summit on our trek was Baldy Mountain, W5N/CM-002, 12,441 ft. ASL. We would summit the mountain on the 4thday of our trek. Trek #31  started at ~ 6,500 ASL, so we would spend 4 days climbing with 50 lb packs on our back toward the summit of Baldy Mountain. There were a multitude of other activities on the way, but the trail was always going up. The day of the final ascent, we arose and 3:30 am, was on the trail by 5:00 am and we climbed ~2,300 vertical feet over four miles of trail from 9,200 ASL to 11,500 ASL with full backpacks to the shoulder of Baldy and hiked the final 1,200 feet with day packs. It was a full day.

Baldy Mountain getting closer
The SOTA activation of Baldy was a bit chaotic. Baldy Mountain is the iconic destination for Philmont trekkers so there was a significant number of scouts on the summit and trying to keep them away from my EFHW was a distraction. I used the KX2, needing SSB capability from my grandson. We made a total of 16 QSO’s in tough conditions, using both my call, AD5A and KX5BSA, a club call that my son is the trustee of. I’ve had my eye on this summit for a while, but the only way to access it is to do a Philmont trek. The descent was satisfying, but when we go back to our packs, we had to saddle up and hike another 3 miles, this time downhill, to our camp for the night. It was a 15 mile day, 12 miles of which was with full packs.

Operating from Baldy Mountain
AD5A In The Middle and AB5EB On The Right
Fast forward six days, the last day of our trek, we camped at ~7,500 ASL, We would ascend almost 2,000 feet again to Schaeffer’s Peak, W5N/CM-016, at 9.413 feet, with full packs. The final 100 ft. or so was with day packs. We had a nice activation there with 23 QSO’s between AD5A and KX5BSA. On this activation, my son and grandson both had sufficient QSO’s to qualify for the points and the scouts gathered around to listen to CW and SSB as my grandson activated. A couple of the boys expressed interest in getting licensed so we will follow up on that.

Baldy Mountain From Scheaffers Peak
Yes, We Hiked That Distance
My Grandson, KF5GYD Operating
From Scheaffer's Peak


After the activation of Scheaffer's Peak, we had to put our packs back on and finish the last nine miles of the trek. Another long day, but at the end, what a sense of accomplishment. Hiking 84 miles in rugged back country and activating two new SOTA summits.

What a great hobby.




Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

630m – The Path To VK

Roger, VK4YB


I've been exchanging e-mails lately with Roger, VK4YB, in Queensland, Australia.

Roger is located about 30 miles from the ocean and has been the only VK signal that I have been able to hear on 630m WSPR mode. He seems to have the strongest signal out of Australia on 630m with his 90 watts and 120' tree supported wire vertical. John, VE7BDQ, has been heard twice down under with his modest station running at the allowable 5W EIRP limit, being reported in the fall of 2015 and again this spring. As well, John has heard Roger, the only signal from VK that either of us has copied.

I would like to be able to run some schedules with Roger in the fall, when transpacific paths should peak again. With that in mind, construction has begun on a new 630m transverter that will allow me to drive my present FET amplifier at full EIRP. Our schedules will utilize the JT9 weak signal mode, similar to JT65 but designed for the noisier LF and MF bands. It uses about 10% of the bandwidth that a JT65 signal requires, about 15Hz, and gains about 2db more sensitivity. A two-way QSO, under the best conditions, would take four minutes if all went well. A typical exchange of the required information, if initiated at my end, would look something like this:

                    VK4YB VE7SL
                    VE7SL VK4YB -20
                    R -18
                    RR 73
               73 73 (not really needed but indicates RR received)

The path from my end is difficult as I am on the east side of Mayne Island and in Roger's direction, about one mile from a 600' hill directly in line with VK. Any RF heading Roger's way will need to leave here at a fairly high angle, which is likely the case anyway considering the low and short (in terms of wavelength) inverted-L antenna.

The path profile from here to the open Pacific Ocean is shown below, with my end being on the right edge, just behind those two hills. The rest of the obstructions are on Saltspring Island and then Vancouver Island, before hitting open water.

VE7SL To VK4YB courtesy: Hey What's That Path Profiler
The most consistent west coast signal to reach own under is from Larry, W7IUV, in Washington state, operating experimentally as WH2XGP. Larry's path is a little more forgiving although his inland location certainly doesn't help. His first obstacle is about 10 miles away and about 2,000' higher. I would guess that his signal is well above that before reaching those mountains and the remaining higher Cascade peaks would not interfere.

W7IUV To VK4YB courtesy: Hey What's That Path Profiler

 To VK4YB courtesy: Hey What's That Path Profiler

The path from John, VE7BDQ, already heard in VK, is also easier than from here. Not far from the water, John has a pretty clear shot across Georgia Strait, giving his signal lots of time to gain altitude and clear those pesky Vancouver Island peaks.

VE7BDQ To VK4YB courtesy: Hey What's That Path Profiler
VE7CNF's (Toby) path profile is similar to mine in that he is confronted very early with a hill to clear. Once over that his signal should be well above the mountains.

VE7CNF To VK4YB courtesy: Hey What's That Path Profiler
VA7MM's (Mark) path profile looks a little better than Toby's as there is a little more distance for his signal to gain altitude before passing over Vancouver Island. Markus was also able to detect VK4YB's WSPR signal earlier this spring and is looking forward to the fall tests with Roger.

VA7MM To VK4YB courtesy: Hey What's That Path Profiler
VE7CA's (Markus) path profile is probably the best of all of us on the west coast as he is located high up on the hills to the north of Vancouver along with an open shot to the ocean.

VE7CA To VK4YB courtesy: Hey What's That Path Profiler
I think my only advantage here is my quiet receiving location as it's going to take some brute-force to get over those nearby peaks. Like many of those operating from the suburbs, higher noise levels really take their toll on weak-signal reception and that will be the biggest obstacle for those operators in the city. Twenty years ago, this would not have been nearly such a problem!

VK4YB Path To Pacific courtesy: Hey What's That Path Profiler
Shown above is Roger's path to the Pacific and illustrates one of the reasons why he has the best signal into North America on MF! Although 30 miles from the ocean, there are no obstructions, yet ... coming soon is a 120' cell tower, directly in line with North America and less than 1000' from his antenna. Hopefully it won't cause any problems other than being a dreadful eyesore.

As the solar activity slowly abates (but not this week!), propagation on 630m will slowly get better and better ... hopefully along with increased levels of Canadians transmitting on the band, and lots of stations in the USA. It is hoped that our enthusiastic neighbours to the south aren't too far away from getting the band fairly soon. Better get those soldering irons warmed-up so you are all ready to go!

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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