ARRL

ARRL Propagation Bulletin ARLP005 (2014)

SB PROP @ ARL $ARLP005
ARLP005 Propagation de K7RA

ZCZC AP05
QST de W1AW  
Propagation Forecast Bulletin 5  ARLP005
From Tad Cook, K7RA
Seattle, WA  January 31, 2014
To all radio amateurs 

SB PROP ARL ARLP005
ARLP005 Propagation de K7RA

Another week of solar ambiguity, with sunspot numbers down, but
solar flux up. Average daily sunspot numbers declined from 113.3 to
101.4, but average daily solar flux moved from 133.4 to 142.9. Both
solar flux and sunspot number moved up from January 29-30, solar
flux from 156.4 to 160.5, and sunspot number from 96 to 112. It is
encouraging to see the X-ray background flux move from the B to the
C range over the past 4 days. You can see the daily background flux
values at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/latest/DSD.txt .

The latest prediction has solar flux at 165 and 170 on January 31
and February 1, 175 on February 2-3, 165 on February 4, 160 on
February 5-7, then 150, 140 and 135 on February 8-10, 125 on
February 11-15, 130 on February 16-20, then 135 and 145 on February
21-22, and 160 on February 23-24.

Predicted planetary A index is 5 on January 31 through February 6, 8
on February 7-8, 5 on February 9-16, 8 on February 17, 5 on February
18-23, then 10, 18 and 8 on February 24-26.

The latest prediction for solar flux and planetary A index is from
January 30, when it did something odd. Both forecasts reverted back
to exactly the same values as the January 26 forecast after a
revision that lasted several days, beginning January 27. You can see
the forecasts at
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpmenu/forecasts/45DF.html .

OK1HH predicts geomagnetic conditions as quiet on January 31, mostly
quiet February 1, quiet to unsettled February 2-3, mostly quiet
February 4-5, quiet February 6, mostly quiet February 7, quiet to
active February 8, mostly quiet February 9-10, quiet February 11,
mostly quiet February 12, quiet February 13-15, quiet to unsettled
February 16-18, quiet February 19-20, quiet to unsettled February
21, quiet February 22, there is no prediction for February 23, and
quiet to active conditions February 24-25.

We are only missing a single day's data for calculating the 3-month
moving average of sunspot numbers, but it looks like it will be
around the same value as last month's average, which was 123.7.
This figure was only higher way back in the 3-month period ending in
February 2003, which was 128.9.  All subsequent values over the past
11 years have been lower. The actual numbers will appear in next
week's bulletin.

John Jones, N0JK commented on the report from Scott Bidstrup,
TI3/W7RI in last week's Propagation Forecast Bulletin, mentioning at
"big F2 opening in December."

John says, "Scott was probably referring to the big F2 opening on 6
meters in November. No big F2 openings in December and so far in
January.  Pickings slim here in Kansas, too. Did have good meteor
scatter January 3 for the Quadrantids peak. I worked K5N EL08 on 6
meter SSB via meteors."

Chip Margelli, K7JA reports from Garden Grove, California: "I worked
FT5ZM on Sunday night, January 26 at about 6:25 PM local time (0225
UTC January 27) on 10 meters, beaming over Australia. From out here,
that is the short path to Amsterdam Island, and because there was no
competition from the usual hordes of eastern U.S. stations, it was
an easy QSO with 200 Watts and my 7-element OP-DES Yagi.  Their
signal peaked at S7 on my S-meter at times over the following two
hours.

"There used to be a 10-meter beacon on Amsterdam Island, and two
solar cycles ago I heard it often."

Jeff Hartley, N8II of Shepherdstown, West Virginia reports: "The
FT5ZM DXpedition on Amsterdam Island has been pounding the airwaves
since the January 26 and pile ups still seem somewhere between big
and enormous whenever they are audible here. My beam heading to
there is 94 degrees and distance is 11,113 miles making Amsterdam
the most distant DXCC country from here. Their sunrise is just about
2400Z and sunset is about 1420Z per QRZ.com.

"My first two QSOs with FT5ZM were on 20 meters short path and
relatively easy. Their signal was about S7-9 at 2200Z Sunday evening
and I tried for maybe 10 minutes on 20 CW with no luck. Then a
second listen at 0110Z was unbelievable with the CW station pounding
in at 15-25 dB over S9 on my 5 element Yagi. I can never remember a
signal near the same distance so loud, but the VKs are S9+20 dB at
times on 20 at a distance of about 10,500 miles to VK6.

"The 20 meter phone signal was down 10-15 dB from CW, but it was
pretty easy to get though the other bands have been tough. I finally
was able to log them on 40 through 10 meters. The morning of the
January 27 featured very good prop on 10 meters with their signal
about S7 here; around 1530Z, I gave up as their 10 meter CW station
had faded to below S5. Done for the day? No, a check at 1600 and the
signal was back up to peaking S9 and after a bit of a struggle I
made it through.

"Despite reasonable but weaker signals than on 10 meters, 12 and 15
meters were impossible for me. On the January 28 the K index was up
and propagation on 15 meters and higher was down here. However,
their 17 meter phone signal was S7 with some flutter on my simple
delta loop and I made it through thanks to the operator's call for
NA only.

"Their signal at first on 12 meter phone was inaudible but finally
came up to about S4 and thanks to their good operator and not too
big of a pile up (due to weak signal) I made it through. The
strangest propagation was Wednesday morning on 15 CW. About 1300Z,
their signal peaked about S6 beaming 30 degrees, nearly polar with
the direct path signal only about S2. Later, they were working NA
only on 15 CW at 1545Z peaking then about 50-60 degrees at S8, and I
finally made a QSO.

"Their low band signals have varied quite a bit from night to night
and I have never heard them above about S5-6. On 40 with the quad
loop they have been weak more often than expected. Finally on
Thursday evening I made it through on 40 and 30 meters with their
signal peaking S7-8 on both bands after their sunrise with the 40
meter contact about 75 minutes after their sunrise. There has been
some morning long path propagation on 30 and 20, but activity is
limited. It also seems that their best high band signals on 17
through 10 meters are after their sunset, but 15 opens around our
sunrise. As I write this note, they are S8 on 20 phone at 0200Z with
plenty of callers still.

"Also interesting to note was the very high QRN at summer levels on
the low bands the night of January 21 when the temp here was in the
teens! The storms of the Atlantic coast farther south caused the
racket.

"Propagation was very poor to EU early the first night of the CQWW
160M contest, but HD2A and CE1/K7CA were loud and easy to work with
100W around 0200Z. Family health problems prevented any activity on
Saturday evening. Quite a few locals worked over 25 DXCC countries
per their reports."

If you would like to make a comment or have a tip for our readers,
email the author at, k7ra@arrl.net.

For more information concerning radio propagation, see the ARRL
Technical Information Service web page 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 January 23 through 29 were 121, 150, 102, 109,
62, 70, and 96, with a mean of 101.4. 10.7 cm flux was 136.3, 135.5,
133.2, 137.9, 143.9, 157.2, and 156.4, with a mean of 142.9.
Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 5, 6, 6, 4, 5, and 7, with a
mean of 5.6. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 5, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3,
and 6, with a mean of 3.7.
NNNN
/EX