Monday, January 19, 2015

Propagation Studies

Hi Everyone,
If you wish to read my propagation studies using systems other than PropNET please visit my personal propagation studies page:
KA5DWI-Propagation Studies

At times I play with WSPR, WSJT, APRS (UI-View) and other digital modes and will write papers on events.

Several of my more extensive PropNET studies are also posted on my personal blog.
All new works that directly involve PropNET will always be posted on this blog (PropNET Studies).

Now that I am retired and hopefully settled in, I will start spending more times with other systems and more Ham bands.

73
Art Jackson KA5DWI/7

Thursday, December 25, 2014

North American 10 Meter Conditions for the Fall of 2014

The following charts are based upon 10-Meter PSK31 captures from North American participants using PropNET's proprietary software PNP.  Also worldwide PropNET participants that captured North American stations are also included.
If you want more information, visit the PropNET website at: www.propnet.org

Happy Holidays,
As I said in my prior post, where have you been the past 13 weeks?

All I can say is that the predictors of Solar Cycle 24 were dead wrong.
You can predict all you want to, but it is really about being ready when things happen.
Things happened this Fall.

The highest levels of Solar Flux for Cycle 24 occurred during this Fall.  The cycle was to have peaked early this year.  No signs of that occurring yet.

Solar Flux for This Season:

13 weeks of the Fall are charted for 2011 through 2014.
In consecutive years Solar Flux averaged 145, 120, 151, and 159. 
Last year Solar Flux flatten out during the Fall season.
This year it rose steadily for the most part. 
One of the confusing facts of this cycle is a severe lack of geomagnetic storms.
This chart shows the Planetary A-Index since the prior cycle. The lack of storms is blamed on the mistiming in the switch of the Sun's magnetic poles.
For 10 of the 13 weeks of  Fall, 2014 exceeded 2013 volumes.
There were 150,000 captures this Fall compared to just under 120,000 last year.
Captures By Hour:
Once the Sun rose, captures were much higher this year.
The greatest growth was in the afternoon hours.
 
This chart represents breaking down each year's volume equally by percent.
This shows that our afternoon captures were improved.
Recap:
My belief is that we are seeing the peak of the solar cycle now or that it still hasn't occurred. Most cycles are usually on the upswing 4 years, followed by 7 years of decline,
We are actually on a 6 year slow and progressive incline.  Let's hope it takes the same slow and gradual decline.

Make the time to enjoy what is left of this solar cycle.  It won't get much better than this.

From now on I will now only Blog for special events,
I do plan to begin analyzing Es propagation once we get into April.

73s and Happy New Years & DX
Art KA5DWI/7

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

10-Meter Activity November 23 - December 20, 2014

Happy Holidays to All,

So where have you been the past 4 weeks?
I hope you have been on the upper HF bands enjoying the excellent conditions that Ol' Sol has provided us.
I will provide more detail in the next Blog, but will illustrate the affects of a more active Sun.

For the past four weeks since my last report, Solar Flux continued to increase.
For 2013 between 11/23 and 12/20 solar flux averaged 147.
For 2014 between 11/23 and 12/20 solar flux averaged 167!!!
20 points doesn't seem a lot, but when it comes to the MUF it will raise it 2 MHz. It means full coverage to Europe on 10-Meters in the morning hours instead of a partial one.
Only during the ARRL 10- Meter Contest were 2014 Solar Flux levels below the same period in 2013.
I am always amazed how well you can hear on 10-Meters.  The following map is my 10-Meter PSK31 captures for December:
It is amazing what little it takes when Solar activity is high.
The captures mapped are my PSK31 captures for December minus 2 days using a RS HTX-10 and  a 10M WB4BUM Hamstick mounted to the house bracket for my tower.
The 2 days missing I was operating QRP CW during the ARRL 10-Meter Contest in which I leisurely completed 106 QSOs in 48 multipliers.

Total Activity Between 2013 & 2014
Compared to the same period in 2013, PropNet and non-PropNet captures increased 37% in 2014.
Each week during this period was better in 2014. 
The major difference was a significant increase in activity from mid-morning until mid-afternoon.
It was interesting how the rise in Solar Flux affected the volumes hour by hour. The trend shown in 2013 is typical in solar active years. This year was the first time to see a mid-morning peak followed by a steady decline into the evening hours.

Distance

Since the trends had changed and volume increased, I though it would be interesting to find out where the distances laid.

Hour to Hour in Ranges

Please note the each UTC hour charted is actually one less 
(1 UTC displayed is actually 0 UTC)
In the haste to complete these, 
I failed to set the x-axis starting at 0.
Colors on column are consecutive 4 weeks measured.

300 - 1,250 Kilometer Range

This was the only range in which 2014 volumes failed to exceed 2013 volumes.
The range is similar to what is experienced during the Spring/Summer Es season.
Typically, morning activity is assisted by higher solar flux levels, while late afternoon/evening activity ends to be pure Es propagation.
In 2013 activity at this range is common during years of higher Solar Flux.
The surprise this year has been the significant lack of activity.
We have seen the higher Solar activity affect Spring/Summer Es but not Winter. 
Addendum:
First good Winter Es event started about 01:30 UTC 12/24. About time.

1,250 - 2,500 Kilometer Range
For this range you begin to see the positive affects of higher Solar activity.
This range represents typical single hop F2 propagation at the higher HF range. The shorter distances would be Florida to New England and the longer would represent East Coast to the Rocky Mountain states.
In 2013, the trends are a reflection of the position of the Sun.  At 1800 UTC (19), the Sun is in the middle of  North America.
In higher solar flux levels, activity rises quickly then slowly declines as the sun moves westward.
2,500 - 3,750 Kilometer Range
For this range you see the positive affects of higher Solar activity on the morning hours.
This range represents more extended single hop F2 propagation or possibly some double hop at the higher HF range. The shorter distances would be the West Coast to the Mississippi Valley and the longer would represent East Coast to the West Coast.
The chart represents how the visibility of sun is the dominant force affecting propagation.  
Increase solar flux, the peak activity period sharply increases after sunup and is its highest when the sun is centered on the North American continent.
3,750 - 5,000 Kilometer Range
For this range you see the greatest positive affect of higher Solar activity.
This range represents double hop F2 propagation or possibly some chordal skip affects in the higher HF range. The shorter distances would represent diagonal East Coast to the West Coast (California to Quebec) and the longer are paths towards the Caribbean islands.
Once it becomes November, the opportunities for Trans-Equatorial lessens.
Most of the volume is diagonal (SW-NE, NW-SE) and TE.
Given higher solar activity, a visible sun provides much more opportunity.
This segment had the greatest growth. TE was copied from sunup to sundown.
5,000 - 6,250 Kilometer Range
For this range you see only a small positive affect of higher Solar activity.
This range represents multiple hop F2 propagation in the higher HF range. The distance range is predominately East Coast to Europe.
This segment is almost totally Trans-Atlantic.
Higher solar activity only had a minor improvement.
It was fairly automatic for the East Coast each day.  
6,250 plus Kilometer Range
For this range it was better results in the morning hours and less activity in the afternoon.
This range represents multiple hop F2 propagation in the higher HF range. The distance range is predominately Midwest, Mississippi Valley and East Coast into Europe, Trans-Equatorial and paths to Asia and Oceania. The farthest captures were from W5LA into Indonesia and N7YG into South Africa.
This range shows a distinctive dual diurnal peak, mornings to Europe and afternoons to the Far East and Oceania.

This year we saw moderate gains in the morning towards Europe, but less activity to the East. Possibly intercontinental propagation is affecting it. 
Recap
These 4 weeks show that it is all about the level of Solar Flux. For 21 of the 28 days measured this period Solar Flux was well above 150. In 2013 only half of the days were. Production was noticably better.

Cycle 24 continues to be productive.

73s
Art Jackson KA5DWI/7

Friday, December 12, 2014

Comparison Shopping for Propagation Information


Hello all,
On the eve of the ARRL 10-Meter Contest, I thought I would see what system would better report what was going on the bands in real-time.

Since I got my tower up last weekend I thought I would compare what system was doing a better analysis to what was open on 10-Meters today.

Here are my results this morning running 2 different real-time reporting applications on 10-Meters.

WSPR
Yaesu FT747-GX into a 3 Element Yagi @ 30 feet pointed East
Excellent coverage in North America and 2 Europeans
At 24 Hours
PropNET
Radio Shack HTX-10 into a WB4BUM Hamstick mobile vertical attached to the house mounting bracket of my tower.
Excellent coverage in North America, 1 Europe, 2 Africa and a few Latin America.
At 24 Hours


I will let you be the judge.
The Winner Is? 

73s
Art KA5DWI/7

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

11/22/14 Update - North American Propagation Conditions on 10-Meters

Note:
All information reviewed comes from the captures of PropNET participants worldwide. The data includes North American 10-Meter PSK31 captures and captures of North American stations from non-North American PropNET participants. Groundwave and self captures have been removed to the best of my ability and only DX has been charted. 
If you wish to know more about PropNET, visit the website www.propnet.org

Happy Thanksgiving to all.
I have not done an update since the first of November.  So I thought I would share with you all how propagation conditions on 10-Meters are doing. 

The experts and predictors are wrong. The Sun remains active and we continue to see very good conditions this Fall.

In 2013, Solar Flux averaged 156 and changed little these 3 weeks.
X-axis are days in November 
This year for the same period, Solar Flux steadily increased and averaged 148.
In 2013 high levels of Solar Flux resulted in excellent propagation towards Europe in the morning hours as well as good trans-continental and Asia/Oceania activity seen in the afternoon hours.
X-axis are UTC Hours 
This year activity towards Europe was not as strong until the last week surveyed. The totals between the years were basically equal.
This map represents my 10-Meter PropNET captures for a week ending 11/22.  As noted, conditions were excellent worldwide to my Arizona QTH.  The rig  used  was a Radio Shack HTX-10 and the antenna was a Cushcraft ATV-3 or a WB4BUM Hamstick.
2014 has seen approximately 19,000 more captures this year. The trends for both years are strikingly similar. The decline is expected because sunlight is shorter week to week. 
The increase in captures for 2014 is visible for the hourly breakdown, but once again the trends between each year is similar,

X-axis are UTC Hours
From year to year the hourly trend was similar for the same week. With high Solar Flux it strangely resembles the trends we see during the Spring/Summer Es season. 
Summary:
Solar Flux remains above 140. This results in outstanding conditions with great opportunities to Europe during the morning, trans-equatorial and trans-continental during the entire daylight hours and finally opportunities towards Asia and Oceania late in the afternoon.

Again, make use of these good opportunities as we should be heading towards the decline of this Solar Cycle.

73s
Art Jackson KA5DWI/7 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Finding Tropo Enhancement in a Place That Doesn't Have Tropo - 10/20 Update

Hello everyone,

When I retired last June I moved to the Highlands of Arizona, a community known as Prescott (pronounced "preskit" rhymes with "biscuit"), grid square DM34un. I was excited to start over again on 2-Meter VUCC (#237 4/1988), but understood that this one would be more challenging.

I set up an antenna to monitor the FM broadcast band to help me find potential 2-Meter Es and Meteor scatter paths in the future. To my surprise, on a few occasions I would pick up FM broadcast stations from Tuscon, 175 miles away. So something is enhancing it. I asked for volunteers and luckily Ron Herring, W7HD just north and west of Tuscon volunteered to operate 2-Meter PropNET and see if we could capture each other.

Ron is running 25 watts into a Diamond X50 vertical @ 50 feet and I am running 10-15 watts into a 4-Element F9FT Tonna Yagi @ 25 feet. On occasions I switched to a Cushcraft Ringo Ranger II without the radials (base at 18 feet).

Here are our results for the week-ending 10/18:
Weather was not very cooperative this week.
They were a few low pressure disturbances that passed through the area.

Tx Call
Tx Grid
Rx Call
Rx Grid
Distance (km)
Band
Path Score
Freq Δ
IMD
UTC Time
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-092
60%
2014-10-18 14:47:20
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
33%
-093
80%
2014-10-18 12:57:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
33%
-094
-07
2014-10-18 12:37:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
33%
-115
99%
2014-10-18 11:57:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-097
-08
2014-10-18 11:27:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
50%
-121
99%
2014-10-18 10:17:20
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
33%
-120
40%
2014-10-18 10:07:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
33%
-116
80%
2014-10-18 09:17:21
DM34UN
DM42JI
265
2 meters
17%
+296
60%
2014-10-18 08:55:29
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
67%
-119
40%
2014-10-18 08:27:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
67%
-119
50%
2014-10-18 08:07:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
50%
-119
60%
2014-10-18 07:57:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
33%
-122
80%
2014-10-18 07:37:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-122
-14
2014-10-18 07:17:21
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-103
80%
2014-10-17 12:37:22
DM34UN
DM42JI
265
2 meters
17%
+184
80%
2014-10-17 11:25:45
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-109
40%
2014-10-17 11:17:23
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-109
-14
2014-10-17 10:17:22
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-113
-04
2014-10-17 08:57:12
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-115
+00
2014-10-17 07:37:12
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
67%
-121
80%
2014-10-17 06:07:12
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
50%
-124
60%
2014-10-17 05:47:13
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
33%
-124
90%
2014-10-17 05:37:13
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-126
-03
2014-10-17 05:27:12
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-124
40%
2014-10-17 04:17:13
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
50%
-088
80%
2014-10-16 11:27:15
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
33%
-083
-06
2014-10-16 11:17:15
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-086
+00
2014-10-16 10:47:15
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-113
-16
2014-10-16 06:37:14
DM42JI
DM34UN
265
2 meters
17%
-069
80%
2014-10-14 06:17:19
DM34UN
DM42JI
265
2 meters
17%
-282
40%
2014-10-12 14:03:07

Several times I saw Ron's signal on the waterfall, but the software failed to sync with it. All captures this week was using the Yagi.

What Provides the Enhancement.
My Station
A Yaesu FT290R driving a THP 30 watt Amp, Janel QSA5 MosFET preamp into a rebuilt Tonna F9FT 4-Element Yagi.  All of the equipment is 32 years old!  Ron's W7HD signal is being captured in the pic.
Path 
I am located in Prescott Valley. Verde Valley and Black Canyon are to my Southeast. Phoenix is located in a valley and continues as San Tan Valley towards Tucson. 
There are very few obstructions between us.
The vertical line marks to the direction to W7HD from my QTH. As noted, it is straight down the valley. Only one mountain is in the downward view and it is low on my horizon. 
The view to my station (KA5DWI) from Ron's QTH is noted by the vertical line. He has no obstructions to my QTH
Weather Conditions Promoting an Opportunity

Week-Ending 10/11/14

First Captures
NWS Radar Mosaic Afternoon of 10/07/14.
Tropical Storm Simon was entering the Gulf of California. 
As it approached, the counter-clockwise wind from the low pushed warm air along the eastern border of the valleys. The false echoes (light blue) shows the inversion in the valleys. This provides the conditions for ducting of VHF signals.
Second Opportunity
The next opportunity was a surprise on 10/10.  The line of very strong thunderstorms formed in the northern Chino Valley. The storms produced hail and started to break up once the sun set.
Once the storms died out, the air cleared, the atmosphere stabilized, and winds were fairly light.
Upper air winds were also light. That is odd for Thunderstorm formation.  The storms had tremendous uplift as observed at my QTH. The result was hail. 
Upper-Air Soundings-Flagstaff AZ the following morning.
Line on left: Dewpoint
Line on right:Air Temperature
Vertical Axis: Height
An inversion occurs when both measurement lines go in opposite directions.
Inversion at: 3,100 m, 5,100 m, & 10,000 m.
No strong inversions over Tucson, but small ones at 1,500 m and 2,500 m.
Third Opportunity
Still wedged between two surface low pressure troughs, little to no wind on the surface. Notice the heat island temperature in Phoenix are 10-20 degrees warmer than the surrounding areas..
Upper level winds are light over Arizona.
High pressure is centered over Arizona at mid-levels.

There are three inversions over Flagstaff.
4,700 m, 6,700 m, & 10,000 m.
Over Tucson, there are well-defined inversions at 1,500 m and 4,700 m.
Week-Ending 10/18/14 Opportunity
The NWS Radar Mosiac show once again good temperature inversions in the valleys.
Arizona is located this day between 2 surface lines of low pressure (trough and warm front).
Very little to no surface winds provide good radiation cooling
In the Upper Air, Arizona is located on the backside (left) of high pressure centers. Winds again are light. 
 



At both Flagstaff and Tucson there are at least 2 levels of temperature inversions.
Air-Temperature increases, Dew Point rapidly decreases

Summary
Tropospheric enhancement and ducting of VHF signals are a matter of having temperature inversions at levels visible to your RF path. The opportunities are there more than you think. Once identified, it is a matter of having someone on the other end.

I hope this can guide you in experiencing the joys of working VHF/UHF weak signal.

73s
Art Jackson KA5DWI/7 DM34un