March’s QRP EME Window

This past week provided the month's best moonrises for my location, when the moon's position traversed its most northerly declinations. The afternoon moonrises directly in front of the house and over the ocean, provided about 90 minutes of 'moontime' for several days in a row.

Lunar declination track for March courtesy: http://www.moontracks.com/moon-declinations.html

My minimal system (single 9el Yagi and 140w) makes it very easy to see the day to day changes in EME conditions due to various causes such as local geomagnetic conditions, Faraday rotation and libration fading ... or combinations of each! One of the days was particularly good, with numerous signals heard throughout the session while the next day was just the opposite, with only a few very weak signals and no contacts. On that particular day, I was being heard well by several European stations but was unable to hear any of them ... a true 'one-way' path and not uncommon on EME.

My small EME station. Note old microwave oven blower on the 'brick' amplifier.

Several smaller 4-Yagi stations were worked during the week, re-enforcing the benefits of having a moonrise over the ocean. As mentioned previously, the extra 6db of horizon gain allows my single 9el Yagi to perform more like a stack of four 9el Yagis. One of the fellows that I worked, DK5EW in Germany, asked if there was anything 'special' about my location that would make my very small station sound so strong at his end ... the ocean is clearly doing its job!

Altogether, 12 new stations were worked during March's window, bringing my total to 70 "initials". From the looks of the amount of activity, there are still many stations yet to work, that should be within range of my system.

Stations worked this week were:

I2FAK, UA3PTW, RZ3BA/1, SK5AA, PA2CHR, ES3RF, YO3JR, PA5Y, DK5EW, SM7GVF, EA4CYQ and W5ZN.

Three of these stations were using relatively compact antenna systems, consisting of 4x8el or 4x9el arrays, while the rest were larger. I have yet to tally up my DXCC or states total on 2m, but I know that W5ZN, in Arkansas, was a new state.

Up until this past week, the highest moon elevation that I have completed a QSO was with the moon at 18 degrees above the horizon. This week it was extended, at what is probably the limit of my fixed antenna, to 19.6 degrees when working ES3RF. At the other end of the scale, IK2FAK was worked with the moon at only .87 degrees high!

This month also provided my first glimpse of a 2m DX 'pileup', when J8/WW2DX in the Grenadine Islands showed up, calling CQ via the moon. My screen shot below shows at least 12 different stations calling him during his one-minute listening period ... some not yet 'warmed-up' as seen by their drifting oscillators.With several of the signals audible, it was an amazing thing to observe.

2m pile up on J8/WW2DX

The 4 x 8 el cross-polarized array of PA5Y

YO8JR sending his 'RR' followed by '73'
All in all, March's short sessions were very rewarding but as summer approaches, more of my well-placed moonrises will also be very close to the Sun and it's associated higher noise levels ... probably something my little system will not be able to handle so well.

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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