Tuning ‘Ten’

Courtesy: VK6YSF
I've always considered 10m to be the 'other magicband'. When it's good in the fall / winter DX season, it is incredible, but during the summer months can often sound so very different. When I first became interested in shortwave radio as a pre-teen, back in the late stages of monster Cycle 19, I recall listening to 10m signals from before dawn to after midnight on most winter days. Considering the poor receiver I was using, a Hallicrafters R-510A, it was amazing that I could hear anything at all with it on 28MHz. Having no RF stage, it was likely as deaf as a post...

....yet, S9 + AM signals bombarded the band, from one end to the other (all 1/4" of it) late into the night, demonstrating just how good the propagation really was. Heterodynes battled for domination everywhere as if the nearly 2MHz wide band was not fat enough to accommodate all of the frenzied action.

Even today, in the heat of a mid-summer morning, 'ten' continues to amaze me, but in different ways. Tuning across the band earlier this week yielded a bounty of beacons, all diligently doing as instructed and proclaiming 'ten' still open for business.


I've always wondered if these mid-summer signals are all sporadic-E, multi-hop Es or a mixture of Es and F2. My propagation-gut feeling supports the latter mode since so many of the South American signals are strong and with little QSB. I think in all likelihood, the SA beacons are arriving via an F2 link into an Es link back to VE7, but the absence of any first-hop Es signal between here and Florida makes me wonder if that is really the case. If this is all F2, save for the Californian, Alaskan and Manitoban signals, it is really astounding considering the time of year.

No matter what the season, tuning 10m is always a delight and a reminder of my initial fascination with the magic of radio and just how truly amazing the band can be when at its best. Hopefully, it looks as though we may enjoy at least one more good winter out of this cycle on my 'other magicband'.
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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