This was another one of those days when time in front of the radio was limited by family obligations and holiday preparations. One must remember that those things come first and this is “only a hobby!”
It was already 9 PM local time ( 0300 GMT the next day) when the lights of the R-75 came up.
I did my usual sweep of the higher bands first, working my way down and heard----NOTHING!
My first thought was that the wind of earlier in the day had torn the feedline off the antenna. That however did not seem right because my ever-present background power line noise was there. But there were no signals on 10 meters...not even any beacons. There was nothing on 12 or 15, nothing in the 16 meter shortwave broadcast band, very weak signals in the 19 meter band, nothing at all in the 20 meter CW band.
This was supposed to be the weekend for the Croatian DX contest and I had thought I would hear a few stations participating, but NOTHING.
I did my WWV sweep and found:
0300 WWV 20000 kHz Nothing. No WWVH either.0301 WWV 15000 kHz Nothing. No WWVH
0302 WWV 10000 kHz About S-4 No WWVH
0303 WWV 5000 kHz Whoa! S-9+30 db!
0304 WWV 2500 kHz S-9 +40 db!!
Well, well. Let's check 40 meter CW. Wow..band full of signals! Quick sweep up from the bottom and there is a very strong signal calling “ CQ Test”. 9A4M from Croatia ( they were out there!) He was coming in well, almost S-9 and steady almost like a one-hop signal. Listening for a moment, I heard a few stateside stations calling and working him. They were all weak and “watery” sounding, while he was strong and steady.
Going to the bottom of the band and coming up, I came across a strong signal obviously in a QSO with a stateside station that I could not hear. They were wrapping up on 7002.5 about 0317 GMT and he Id'ed as SM2EKM without the usual auroral zone flutter signals from Sweden usually have here on 40 meters that time of night. In quick order heard the following:
0320 UR7QC 7012 kHz RST 569 with QSB Ukraine0323 UA9NN 7017 kHz RST 549 with flutter QSB Asiatic Russia
0326 UA3RF 7018.8 kHz RST 559 Flutter QSB Russia
0328 9A6M 7021 kHz RST 589 Croatia
0329 9A28EU 7025.7 kHz RST 599 Croatia
0330 S54W 7027 kHz RST 579 QSB Slovenia
0331 OF9X 7030.4 kHz RST 599 with some flutter ( Santa Claus Station Lapland!)
0333 AA4MC 7030.55 kHz RST 539 Rapid QSB and echo
Obviously Southern Europe was doing well into the US, semi local stations were not doing too well and Northern European stations were somewhat mixed.
Lets check 80 meters just for fun. Lot of stations here.A quick tune found two calling “ CQ test” so I stopped to ID them.
0340 YT4A 3522.7 kHz RST 579 steady Serbia0341 YU3AAA 3524.58 kHz RST 589, very good signal, Serbia
Also looks like Southern Europe doing well on 80.
While there were other stations to pick out, it was just too much in the trend to not take a quick run down to 160 meters to find out if anything was happening there.
Whoa! For a non major contest weekend, there were a lot of signals in the CW portion. I stumbled across a strong station calling CQ on 1817 at 0347 GMT and just assumed it was a nearby station. It was XE1FAA and he was getting a few takers.
Working up the band, I found the following:
0348 XE2EJ 1820 kHz RST 579 Mexico0349 9A5W (!!) 1821.48 kHz RST 559 Croatia!!! on 160!!
0352 XE2S 1825 kHz RST 599+ calling CQ Mexico
0352 LU8DPM 1825 kHz RST 569 calling XE2S ( and working him) Argentina
Not bad for a few minutes of listening. Not having much time, I decided to make a quick tune through the medium wave broadcast band and see if there were any split channel European carriers coming through. On the way down I found XEARZ from Mexico City on 1650 strong enough to be heard through the splash of our local 1660 KRZI. The Caribbean Beacon on 1610 from Anguilla was S-9 plus 10 db and very steady. And XERF on 1570, always strong here, was even stronger, steady at S-9 plus 40 db with all preamps off.
I ran out of time at this point and did not do much of a scan for European split channels, but it might have been a good night for it. This session was done with the R-75 receiver with 250 Hz filters for CW connected to a 90 foot sloper with the high end up 45 feet.
I don't know for sure what was working in the band conditions this particular night. Perhaps the maximum usable frequency was just very low on what might have been the shortest night of the year in North America.
I always find it interesting to try to do some listening on the longest and shortest days and on the equinoxes. I don't know if there is anything magical about them, but its fun to think so!
73 and Good DX!