Keep The Faith, Having Fun With No Sunspots

I was motivated to write this today after looking at the solar flux number which sat at 67.  I don't know if I've ever seen the flux this low. I think I've seen 68 a lot, but not 67. Truly, things must be really bad.

As it would happen today, with the flux at 67,  I did my 258th SOTA activation on a summit near Santa Fe, NM that has no name, but goes by it's elevation, 8409. There are beautiful views in every direction, from the summit of 8409, and I enjoyed them immensely. With me, on my trek up the mountain, was my KX2, a 21ft. collapsible pole to support a 29 ft. piece of wire through an 81 to 1 transformer. I feed the antenna about a foot above the ground and run the wire up the pole in an inverted L configuration. The pole was propped up among the branches of a pine tree and I tied off the antenna to a close-by pine branch. I had the power set to 5 watts and tuned the wire with the KX2. I  operated CW using the Elecraft plug-in paddle and I logged with a golf pencil on a, write in the rain, index card. The temperature was a crisp 39 degrees, but the sun was shining and not wisp of a breeze. It was a good day to be on the mountain top.

I was on the air from 1642z - 1722z. I operated on 40, 30m, 20m and 17m and completed 40 QSO's in the 40 minutes that I was on the air from 8409. Also, with the flux at 67, I managed to work two EU stations, ON and EA. I heard a 9A calling me but we couldn't complete the contact. So, 40 QSO's, coast to coast in the US and 2 DX QSO's from EU was my catch for the day. Not bad for a short QRP/portable outing. Keep in mind that's with the flux at 67. I'm glad I didn't look at the numbers before I left or I might have been a bit discouraged and perhaps wouldn't have gone out at all. I would have missed the beautiful views, the warming sunshine and a QSO a minute QRP operation. I wouldn't have worked EU with 5 watts and a wire. I would have had to put off my 258th SOTA activation for another day.

The moral of this story is simple, don't look at the numbers. In fact I would recommend that you ignore them. There is plenty of fun to be had keying up your radio even when conditions, or at least the numbers, are this bad.

Keep the Faith. Go call CQ. I was glad I did.
Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “Keep The Faith, Having Fun With No Sunspots”

  • Nigel GJ7LJJ:

    As I have read, the solar flux index cannot, theoretically, go lower than 66, so this is about as bad as it gets!

  • Richard KWØU:

    Hope springs eternal. Yesterday with my attic dipole I worked a very strong H72DX, today a LZ1 was booming here into Minnesota. I do hope things turn around though, and that talk of another Maunder Minimum is very premature. Such contacts used to be routine. But you are right, if you are going to work HF all you can do is keep trying, and occasionally be pleasantly surprised. And along the way have fun, which we do.

  • John W2FV:

    Agree with others, just get on the air and keep active. I have been on the air for 5 decades (this week is my 50th anniversary. I was licensed as WN2EUO in March 1968). And through numerous cycles, one thing I have learned is keep active. Old sole and the bands always present mysteries and at times pleasant surprises. It is what was magical over a half century ago and continues to fascinate and please me to thisday.

  • mark booth W5PYN:

    Proud of you! Even with low numbers we can still make contacts and have fun. Best 73 from Santa Fe NM.
    W5PYN MB.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Great post Mike, I too try to do the same as you and not look at the solar conditions before I go out. If I do as I have done some times in the past I find it can give me an excuse to pack things in sooner. It’s nice to make the contacts and then head home and surprise yourself with the conditions report.

  • Shama Sunder. Vu2usa:

    Mike, I fully agree with you and others.
    Contests during weekends sometimes make you forget that we are in a solar low.
    Inspite of the poor band conditions and noise levels there is a lot of dx around.
    With the noise on the bands,this is a good time to sharpen ones listening skills.
    Good luck and good dx.
    73s Sam

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