Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dec 6-7, 2013 Observations

During the afternoon Friday Dec 6 before the 160 meter test began, while driving home from work I noticed the standard broadcast band was already showing signs of skip.  This was a harbinger of good conditions early in the contest.

As early as 2200 GMT ( 1600 local CST in Texas) already there was interference showing up on some of the local stations.  Already WLAC from Nashville was coming in over the semi local daytime only stations on 1510.  The 1530 from Cincinnati was coming in over the Austin area station and the 1500 from Minneapolis was even propping in. The 1540 from Waterloo, Iowa was audible in the background of the Ft Worth Spanish Language ESPN station and Havana was  audible behind WTAW on 1620 even though WTAW was still on 10 kw daytime power only 90 miles away.

I knew the first night of the test would have limited listening time because of a visiting grandson and my own fatigue from going in to work at 5 AM. ( I work in a television station newsroom and icy weather was forecast for today and the early time was necessary because of the rash of calls expected for school closings or late openings and event cancellations that would have to be posted).

As things turned out it was almost 0100 GMT before I even got to sit down in front of the receiver and even at that it was education time for the 5 year old on what was going on.  He seemed to enjoy putting on the headphones and hearing the signals from all around the country.  He even seemed interested in the CW concept and listened intently, at one point saying " that one is really, really fast!" Who knows,  maybe a budding DX-er here!

The WWV check showed the following:( R-75, 80 meter sloper)

Time(GMT)     Call                 Frequency            Signal Strength
0050               WWV                 2500 kHz              S-9+ 20 DB
0051               WWV                 5000 kHz              S-9+ 20 DB
0052               WWV               10000 kHz              S-9+30  DB
0053               WWV/WWVH 15000 kHz              S-8 ( WWVH Dominant)
0054               WWV/WWVH 20000 kHz              Neither audible

Early on at 0100 GMT, stations from the Midwest were all very strong, with stations from the Northeast solid, as well.  The first VE3 station was heard at 0101 with a 559 signal. A W1 from Maine was logged at 589 at 0105.

Interestingly, some of the stations from the Southeast were relatively weak, though the band was very full of signals. Even though it was still partially daylight on the West Coast, stations from California, Oregon and Washington were coming in and gaining in strength rapidly. Before 0130, more VE3's were logged along with VE1ZAC and VY2ZM from the Maritime district. C6AKQ from the Bahamas was logged a bit earlier at 0112. Though I heard stations working a Virgin Islands station about that time, it was inaudible at my location.

The real surprise of the evening was when I tuned across a bit of a pileup on 1820.35 with stations spread out about 200Hz above and below calling and calling. It took a few minutes of careful listening to realize that under the pile was OK2W from the Czech Republic.

After a short break getting the grandbaby in bed, back in front of the radio at 0240 saw the Northeast stations much, much stronger and many more West Coast stations coming in. Ever present contest station W0AIH was S-9 plus 10 db and many W6's and W7's were at or above S-9.  FM5CD  from Martinique was holding forth on 1822 working  a steady stream of stations with a good 589 signal into Central Texas.

By this time, the early morning start was beginning to pull my eyelids shut. It was going to be an early stop, and by 0300 it was getting  very hard to stay awake.  I remember in years gone by I could have just plowed on all night after an early start like this. ( Its a bear getting old!!) There was still enough wakefulness to copy VA5DX with a 589 signal.

There was one more prize of the night.  Another pileup appeared around 1831 kHz.  It took about 15 minutes of intense listening, but then the signal seemed to float up out of the background noise and there was S59A from Slovenia written down as a 549 signal.

There was just no getting up for  the pre sunrise Pacific opening this morning,  but tonight I will be more rested and will be able to dig later for the Europeans and Sunday morning local for the Pacific and hopefully Asian opening.  I noticed checking DX Summit that several stations reported hearing many, many JA's and at least one Korean station along with several Asiatic Russians.  Maybe I will get lucky even with the small antenna.

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