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The K7RA Solar Update


It was a perfect Field Day weekend from where I stood. The weather was warm, skies clear, the space weather was calm and there was enough propagation to make a domestic contest interesting. I had no plans, so on Saturday I went to the ARRL Field Day Station Locator to find a Field Day site. The one I landed at -- W7AUX -- listed a contact number, a cell phone at the site. I inquired if they needed a CW op, was told, "We could use any operators," so I drove up to the site north of Seattle. I had a lot of fun on 20 meter CW. Sporadic-E even helped out, and the 6 meter station made a number of contacts with other Field Day stations in the Western US.

You can get a taste of what happened at Field Day stations around the country via the Contest Soapbox. I noticed quite a few posts from Puerto Rico this year. For a remarkable story from Michigan about what happened when a 13-year-old non-ham showed up and wowed everyone by operating the GOTA station on 40 meter CW, see the narrative from KB6NU. A shorter version with a photo is on page one of the 2009 Field Day Soapbox. Just search for KB6NU.

Sunspot numbers for June 25-1 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 and 0 with a mean of 0. The 10.7 cm flux was 68, 66.8, 67, 67, 68.5, 68.2 and 67.5 with a mean of 67.6. The estimated planetary A indices were 7, 3, 3, 11, 10, 5 and 4 with a mean of 6.1. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 6, 2, 4, 8, 7, 5 and 3 with a mean of 5.

Last week's bulletin mentioned a problem reaching the FTP site for the Penticton Observatory, where we get our solar flux numbers. Flux values in our bulletin were expressed in whole numbers last week, not resolved to one-tenth as they usually are. If you use the WA4TTK Solar Data Plotting Utility to grab the numbers from our bulletin, or if you keep records in some other way, correct June 18 flux to 67.7, June 20 to 66.7, June 23 to 67.9 and June 24 to 66.8. Of course, this only matters if you care about resolving the data to one-tenth. The NOAA site just rounds them off to whole numbers.

The problem turned out to be at this end, due to a quirk in Internet Explorer 8. In the new browser, unless you have the "Enable FTP Folder View" option checked in the Browsing section under the Advanced tab in Internet Options, an address such as could be blocked. Another option is to delete the ftp:// characters in the Web address field, then hit "Enter" and it will resolve to an http:// URL.

With June over, we can now add to our 3-month moving average, using the April, May and June sunspot numbers to calculate a new average centered on May. The April number (the average of daily sunspot numbers for March, April and May) was 2 and the May number is 4.

Here are the three month averages of daily sunspot numbers since January 2007:
Jan 07 22.7
Feb 07 18.5
Mar 07 11.2
Apr 07 12.2
May 07 15.8
Jun 07 18.7
Jul 07 15.4
Aug 07 10.2
Sep 07 5.4
Oct 07 3.0
Nov 07 6.9
Dec 07 8.1
Jan 08 8.5
Feb 08 8.4
Mar 08 8.4
Apr 08 8.9
May 08 5.0
Jun 08 3.7
Jul 08 2.0
Aug 08 1.1
Sep 08 2.5
Oct 08 4.5
Nov 08 4.4
Dec 08 3.6
Jan 09 2.2
Feb 09 2.0
Mar 09 1.5
Apr 09 2.0
May 09 4.0

If you look at the Solar Update from June 5, 2009 -- the last time these numbers were presented -- you may notice that the averages centered on December 2008, while January and February 2009 have been revised slightly. This is due to a very small revision in my records of sunspots. But these numbers agree with the data presented at the end of each bulletin. The one month average for June was 6.6 -- a good sign because it is higher than the latest 3-month average of 4.

Steve Taylor, K5MR, of Gunter, Texas (north of Dallas), was at home last Saturday night during Field Day and checked 10 meters for sporadic-E skip. He pointed his 7-element beam straight north, and found stations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, California and Arizona. He said he was surprised at 0430 UTC when OH2MCN called him with a solid S7 signal and no flutter or auroral distortion.

Mike Treister, W9NY, of Dune Acres, Indiana, has more 10 meter sporadic-E news. On June 26 he wrote, "Well, it is no secret but for the past 8-10 days, 10 meter propagation has been remarkable. There is very widespread sporadic-E seemingly in every conceivable direction (Friday night tonight till 11:30 PM when I stopped), working stations on the East Coast, Canada, the South, the Midwest -- many with 5/9 plus reports, many stations using small antennas and low power like the good old days. I have also worked a number of Europeans, South Americans and Caribbean stations at various times on 10. Some Europeans have been coming in well over 5/9, so ionospheric skip has certainly been present. Oh, and worked quite a few stations on 12 meters, too. I have heard that 6 meters was open too, but didn't get up there. After calling CQ on 10 meters, I have generated huge pile-ups from Dune Acres, Indiana -- just like being at my occasional QTH in Nevis as V47NS!"

Back during the All Asia CW Contest on June 20-21, Neal Sulmeyer, K4EA, of Canton, Georgia has an E-skip report for 10 and 15 meters: "I, too, had great propagation into Japan Friday night during the AACW. I worked about 30 JAs, plus BY, BV, HL, 3 UA0s and VR2 on 15, and about 10 JAs and UA0 on 10 meters. I also heard 9M6XRO on 10, but as he is not in Asia I did not work him. On Saturday, I worked A45WG, A65BD and 4L6QC on a dead band!"

Larry Godek, W0OGH, in Gilbert, Arizona, reports good times on 6 meters with 2 W and a 5-element Yagi. He uses DX Sherlock to check for openings ( and notes that on Saturday, June 27 during Field Day, the eastern portion of the US was covered with a blob of red lines.

He wrote: "By 1601 UTC, signals started coming up out of the noise and things got hot. First off was AA4V in FM02, followed by EM-44, FM06, DN25, EM37 and a ton more. Man, was it a hoot. I only had 90 QSOs to log, but I worked Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and at least 20 more states -- grid squares I never thought I'd hear, much less work. The high spot was hearing JA7WSZ and JH0RNN on CW even though I couldn't get back to them. I tried, but kind of got overridden by some of the higher power guys. I didn't hear a single Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, North Dakota or Michigan station. Today, June 30, didn't start out very good; it looked fair on the East Coast, but nothing out west here. I picked up a couple of stations to the southeast, but around 1816 UTC, the Pacific Northwest started showing up. Looking at the DX Sherlock Web page, I saw lots of lines from the southwest here going to Alaska. Well, why not? So I slid down to 50.095 and heard KL2AX calling CQ. I jumped on that one right away and made a contact out of it -- Alaska with 2 W! When I finished that one, the frequency filled up with stations calling them. While there was a VE8 operating also, I didn't hear anything out of him. Two W of RF is fun, but 16 more dB of power will really help. Probably next step then will be to get a pair of 7-element Yagis and stack them -- that should really help the 100 W output". Larry also suggests that everyone check out ARRL's Logbook of The World (LoTW).

In other 6 meter news, Brian Smith, W9IND, reports that the W9VW beacon on 50.069 MHz from grid square EM69WT in Indianapolis was heard by F6FHP in France at 2010 UTC on June 26. The grid square at the other end was IN94 and the signal report was 529. The beacon runs 8 W.

Mike Schwieterman, K7MS, of Lake Tahoe (Incline Village, Nevada), reports a 160 meter opening recently using a dipole at 100 feet: "At 0320 UTC on June 25, I made contact with PY2BW (Brazil) on 1.821 CW -- RST was 549; PY2BW was also 549. I heard CP4BT in a QSO with PY2BW after our contact. I called CP4BT after the QSO ended, but no response. Both stations were very copyable for about 60 minutes." Mike notes that he heard W1AW around 1.8045 MHz with S5-S9 signals around the same time.

Earlier in the month, Bob Karpinski, WB8B, of Clinton Township, Michigan, had some QRP fun on June 11 and 17. With 1 watt CW on June 11, he worked N1BAA in Massachusetts at 2355 UTC on 10 meters. Also with 1 watt on 10 meters, he worked W1QS in Maine on June 17 at 2354 UTC. Again on June 17 -- with 5 W CW on 12 meters -- he worked VA2WDQ (Quebec) at 2336 UTC, AA4AK in Maine at 2342 UTC and at 2347 UTC, he worked CT1AOZ in Portugal.

Amateur solar observer Tad Cook, K7RA, of Seattle, Washington, provides this weekly report on solar conditions and propagation. This report also is available via W1AW every Friday, and an abbreviated version appears in The ARRL Letter. Check here for a detailed explanation of the numbers used in this bulletin. An archive of past propagation bulletins can be found here. You can find monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and 12 overseas locations here. Readers may contact the author via e-mail.



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