The K7RA Solar Update
Solar activity continues to weaken, with average daily sunspot numbers dropping nearly 69 points to 72.3, and average daily solar flux down nearly 36 points to 98.8.
On Wednesday the predicted solar flux on Friday through Sunday, June 27-29 (Field Day weekend) was 105, 110 and 115, but on Thursday those numbers were revised downward to 100, 105 and 105. Predicted planetary A index for those dates is unchanged at 8, 12 and 8.
The predicted average solar flux for the next 7-day reporting period, June 26 through July 2 was reported as 111.4 in the propagation bulletin preview in the ARRL Letter, but that is now revised to 100.4, little above 98.8 from the last reporting period, June 19-25.
If we look at past bulletins for the 2014 calendar year, 98.8 is the lowest average flux value reported. The highest average was 201.6 in ARLP002, covering January 2-8, and the second was 180.4 in ARLP006, covering January 30 through February 5. ARLP007 reported 171.9 the following week. The weekly solar flux averages reported in bulletins 20 through 26, covering May 8 through June 25 were 157.5, 128.5, 110.3, 104.1, 146.4, 134.7 and 98.8.
How will this weekend compare with Field Day 2013? Average solar flux reported in ARLP026 for last year, which covered June 20-26, was 122, which is not much higher, but I would not expect F-layer propagation on ten meters this weekend. However, sporadic-E is likely.
The latest predicted solar flux for the near term is 100 on June 27, 105 on June 28-29, 100 on June 30 through July 3, 130 on July 4-5, 135, 140 and 135 on July 6-8, 130 on July 9-10, 125 on July 11, and 120 on July 12-13. Solar flux continues to drift downward reaching a short term minimum of 95 on July 21, then a high of 140 on August 3.
Predicted planetary A index is 8, 12 and 8 on June 27-29, 5 on June 30 through July 1, 8 on July 2-3, then 5 on July 4-10, 8 on July 11, 5 on July 12-13, then 8, 12, 8 and 8 on July 14-17, and 5 after that, returning to 8 on July 22-23.
OK1HH predicts quiet geomagnetic conditions on June 27, mostly quiet June 28, quiet to active on June 29, quiet on June 30, mostly quiet July 1-2, quiet to unsettled July 3-4, quiet to active July 5, active to disturbed July 6, mostly quiet July 7, quiet to unsettled July 8, quiet July 9, quiet to unsettled July 10, quiet on July 11, mostly quiet July 12, quiet to unsettled July 13, quiet to active July 14, active to disturbed July 15, quiet to unsettled July 16, mostly quiet July 17, quiet July 18-20, mostly quiet July 21, and quiet to unsettled July 22-23.
OK1HH also sees enhanced solar wind on July 5-7, again on July 9-12, and on July 14-17.
Tomas Hood, NW7US, propagation editor for CQ Magazine has a special video devoted to Field Day propagation. I have not seen it yet, but Tomas tells me it will be available today at http://nw7us.us/2014FDprop. He also has a Twitter feed at http://Twitter.com/NW7US. Also check out this interview with him at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph94GAOJeUQ and hear how he was mesmerized at a young impressionable age by the programming on WWV.
Space.com has a video about the solar telescope at California’s Big Bear Solar Observatory. See it at http://www.space.com/26343-largest-solar-telescope-sun-video.html.
Thanks to John Campbell, K4NFE, of Huntsville, Alabama for sending along an article and video about the current solar mini-max, as they call it. Read it at http://www.space.com/26287-sun-solar-cycle-mini-maximum-video.html.
Jeff Hartley, N8II, of Shepherdstown, West Virginia sent in this report about the All Asia CW Contest last weekend:
“The All Asia CW this year was quite a bit fun on 15 from here, but the Asian activity level could have been much higher. In particular, only a few Russian stations were worked. At the start of the contest, conditions were not very good, but each morning and evening was better than the one before as the contest progressed until Sunday conditions (after 1200Z) were extremely good especially for a SFI of only 98. The first night I was only able to work Japan and Sakhalin Is. despite hearing several Chinese stations and 9V1YC.
“Saturday morning I was able to log 9M2 and several HS prefixes along with UN8 and some western Asians. Japan was improving, but limited mainly to a few big guns before I had to QRT at 1400Z to get ready to attend the W3LPL open house, a really nice and enjoyable well attended event.
“Saturday evening was decent to JA, but was not able to run that many JA's. I finally broke through to several Chinese and more Thai stations as well as logging JT1. Around 0430Z, 15 was still open to big gun JAs, HS, and across to UA9C, pretty amazing with the low solar flux!
“From 1200Z onward the band probably never closed to Japan and all of East Asia was loud peaking to SE Asia around 1500Z. Two 9V1s were logged along with BV1, BX4, BH3, HL3, E29, XV9, XW3, BA4, VU3, and many new JA Q's and prefixes. If I could hear a station, I could log him pretty easily with 200 W to a 5 element Yagi.
“Sunday around 2000Z found JA signals about as loud as they can get at this QTH, but alas it was Monday morning in Japan, so they were mostly off to work.
“I QRTed for a dinner out and noticed what almost had to be out of local Es QRM on the FM broadcast band while driving. 6 meters was open very well to MO and southern IL and IN when I fired up at around 0030Z. The opening extended a bit farther south and as close as eastern TN and central KY before I signed off around 0200Z. The skip zone was quite short for 50 MHz allowing W4SOH to work me for state 49 and KA4MAY for his 48th state on 6 meters.”
Bob Foster, N9BGC of Waverly, Iowa offers some tips for modest stations operating Field Day:
“1. Try the “hunt and pounce” method.
“2. Tune slowly. Think of the Jodie Foster movie, Contact. Her ham father admonished her, ‘Small steps, Ellie, small steps.’
“3. Don’t try to bust into a pileup for very long. Move on and come back. The big gun will still be there.
“4. Stations are hungry for contacts as the event winds down. That’s when they often make an extra effort to work the little guys.
“The band doesn’t go dead just because Field Day ends. I often work some pretty cool QSOs, once the band clears of Field Day traffic.”
Also, remember in Field Day there are no rare sections, states or countries. Every unique contact on a band or mode counts the same. In fact, some casual operators don’t even log the exchange or the time, just the call sign on a dupe sheet, a separate sheet for each band/mode combination.
For more information concerning radio propagation, see the ARRL Technical Information Service at http://arrl.org/propagation-of-rf-signals. For an explanation of the numbers used in this bulletin, see http://arrl.org/the-sun-the-earth-the-ionosphere. An archive of past propagation bulletins is at http://arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive-propagation. More good information and tutorials on propagation are at http://k9la.us/.
Monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and twelve overseas locations are at http://arrl.org/propagation.
Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL bulletins are at http://arrl.org/bulletins.
Sunspot numbers for June 19 through 25 were 108, 75, 75, 95, 64, 37, and 52, with a mean of 72.3. 10.7 cm flux was 111.1, 102.2, 101.2, 94.2, 92.6, 93.5, and 97, with a mean of 98.8. Estimated planetary A indices were 8, 9, 6, 4, 5, 6, and 6, with a mean of 6.3. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 10, 10, 7, 7, 7, 7, and 8, with a mean of 8.