Sunday, 30 September 2012

6M F2 ? opening

The following is a short summary of what transpired on the Magic Band on Sunday 30 September 2012.

At around 10:30 UTC I noticed we had already signs of TV carriers making their appearance this was about 3 hours earlier than normal. The same observation was agreed upon by Costas SV2DH. Costas has been actively studying 6m for decades.

I was hoping that this would lead to a interesting opening later in the day during the TEP window. This indeed happened. The band opened up at 11:37 UTC (about 2+ hours early) and I worked Max DK1MAX first signal to make its appearance. BTW: He has "devine" antennas....

During the first few hours I made many contacts with stations in Germany, Switzerland and others fairly far up north, much further north than what we normally experience during TEP. This makes me think it might have been a F2 opening. The History image below sure shows no signs of any Es being present, so it was not likely to be TEP-linked with Es.

 During the first 2 hours and 10 minutes I managed to make 120 QSOs.

Click on images for more detail.

ZS6A 6m F2 opening 30 Sep 2012

This was followed by 1 hour and 20 minutes of TEP. A further 72 QSOs

ZS6A 6m TEP 30 Sep 2012

The following image shows the 6m paths that were spotted during 30 Sep 2012.
As the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words.

It might be worth noting that during this time we as I tried to determine if we had propagation to FR4, V5, C5, 9J, TR, ZD7 and ZD8 and nothing at all was observed.

The final tally for the day was 196 DX QSOs. Was it due to F2 or TEP. Who knows? Was it fun? You bet !!

6m Spots for 30 Sep 2012

CW still reigns supreme…

Amateur radio is divided into two very distinct groups, those that love to work CW and those that cannot do CW, but secretly wish they had the skill (most often won’t admit to that fact).

The effectiveness of CW cannot be questioned. If I look at my own log and look at the amount of rare stations I have in my log and I know for a fact that many or most of them would not be there had it not been for the effectiveness of CW. I do not have big towers or large gain antennas. The only way I can make up this gain deficit is by using CW or digital modes. I do use digital, but it does not give me the same pleasure or sense of accomplishment as working CW. The time taken to complete a QSO with digital is also way to long for most of the activities that interest me.

Fortunately it seems to me that CW is still used by most European and Asian stations. If I look at the 6m TEP activity I think I can safely say that the majority of activity is on CW. The local not-yet-competent CW operators must be chomping at the bit?

Now, if only I could get my own skills polished to match that of the other operators. I still find it quite challenging to be at the wrong end of a pile-up. Hugely satisfying, but daunting all the same….

During the 6m TEP opening yesterday I worked 101 stations (mostly on CW), working only 1 new DXCC (HB9) in the process.

73, Pierre ZS6A

Click on image for greater detail.

ZS6A 6m TEP 29 Sep 2012

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Ticking Boxes….

I used the brilliant online tool provided by W7JG to plot all the squares worked and confirmed on 6m in Europe. The red squares are worked grid locators, but not yet confirmed and the green squares are the ones that have already been confirmed.

It is very obvious that the Mediterranean is fairly easy to work during the TEP openings from the northern part of South Africa. The countries north of the Med are much more difficult.

Hopefully this TEP season will provide some good openings and I will be able to work some new DXCC entities and VUCC grids.

Click on image below for a more detailed image.

73, Pierre ZS6A

6m Grids worked TEP ZS6A

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Widespread and long duration 6m opening

Widespread and long duration 6m opening

I now understand why the 6m band is sometimes referred to as the magic band. I have been monitoring 6m for almost 2 years now and I was lucky enough to exploit most of the openings in this time. The opening yesterday was quite different to all previous encountered openings.

I worked the first station at 1500Z and the worked the last station at 2000Z. This gave us a total of 5 hours of fun and excitement. Normally these openings (TEP?) only last for a few minutes to possibly as long as one hour, this was a very long opening by comparison.

Normally the TEP propagation works over a very small well defined area. Yesterday it was very different.  The one moment I was working Oman the next moment it was Portugal. I was very lucky and managed a few French and Dutch stations as well. I suppose that was due to an Es link. This can be seen on the ON4KST History image below.

During all this I saw Alain TR8CA was active, we arranged a quick sked and that resulted in a digital, SSB and CW QSO. I only noticed there was a TJ3AY from Cameroon active, but I missed out on working him. Many South Africans did work him.

The other interesting observation was to see how many locals were active and everyone was having fun, from Polokwane in the far north to Ben ZS5QM on the south coast.

Another strange phenomenon is that during all this we had exceptional back scatter during this time. With my beam pointing North West I worked ZS5QM, V51YJ, ZS6WN and ZS6AYE. Normally I would not hear a thing.

My 6m South African friends were working new DXCC entities all over the place. I noticed Azores, St Helena Island and Cameroon being worked I only managed 95 QSOs (mostly on CW) and I worked 3 new DXCCs: PA0RDY Netherland, TR8CA Gabon and A43XR Oman.

This makes it all worthwhile.

73, Pierre ZS6A

ZS6A 6m 22 September 2012

6m History 22 September 2012