Saturday, October 22, 2011

Propagation Updated

Our Sun continues to be very active, with most days revealing more
sunspots. We saw one new sunspot group on October 9, another on
October 10
, then two more on October 11 and two more on October 12.
Then another on October 13, two more on October 15, two more on
October 17
, one more on October 19 and three more on October 20.
There have been 28 new sunspot groups making an appearance in the
last 30 days.

But the biggest news is the sunspot number yesterday, Thursday,
October 20
.  The daily sunspot number was 195, a level not equaled
or bettered since nearly eight years ago, on November 26, 2003, when
it was 209. The closest the daily sunspot number came to equaling
Thursday's value was on July 4, 2005 when it was 192.

Average daily sunspot number rose over 66% this week, or 63.2 points
(October 13-19) over last, to 158.6, and average daily solar flux
for the same period rose over 15% (or 19.1 points) to 144.2. With
the geomagnetic indices this week below the previous week, radio
amateurs have frequently been working stations on other continents
as late as midnight on ten meters. The bands are alive.

The latest forecast from USAF/NOAA shows solar flux at 160 from
October 21-22, 155 and 150 on October 23-24, 145 on October 25-27,
135 on October 28, then 130 on October 29 through November 3. Note
that for the next few days, this represents a substantial increase
over what was reported one day ago in the ARRL Letter. That was
based on Wednesday's prediction, which showed 145 on October 20,
when the actual value turned out to be 159.1.

Planetary A index is predicted at 5 on October 21-27, 8 on October
and 5 on October 31 through November 2, and 8 on November 3-5.

Geophysical Institute Prague shows quiet conditions October 21-13,
quiet to unsettled October 24, and quiet again October 25-27.

Mike Shaffer, KA3JAW in Tampa, Florida (EL87) reported his
observations of the Draconid meteor shower on October 8, 2011
between 1600-2100 UTC. He said there is no chance of seeing the
shower in North America because of a waxing gibbous moon.

Mike decided to use signals from Cuban analog television on channel
2, seeing if he could detect reflections off the meteor trails. At
1732 UTC he noticed elevated signal to noise ratio on the video
carrier frequency, 55.25 MHz. At 1900 UTC 2 meter meteor scatter was
occurring over Central Europe, with propagation from the UK to
Russia. The rate peaked at 2010 UTC, with stations from Sweden to
Israel joining in.

Mike wrote, "Meteor scatter signals were observed at the following
times: 1847, 1857, 1909 and 2000 UTC with a bright white video
raster scan flash observed on the TV screen and/or audio tics,
whistles, pings lasting anywhere between a quarter to one second in

"You don't need professional grade equipment to achieve results. In
my case it was done with a minimum amount of hardware, a pre-1995
13-inch color television set that does not have video mute circuits
(blue screen when no signal is present) with 25 feet of RG-6
low-loss satellite coax cable coupled to a non-amplified low-VHF
'cut-to-band' outdoor television antenna that is mounted 10 feet off
the ground.

"If you want to achieve more efficiency with increasing your meteor
detection rates, obtain a low noise, medium to high gain (10-20 dB)
antenna preamplifier placed near the antenna feed-point.

"Meteor scatter signals can be heard roughly from 300 to 1,000 km

Thanks, Mike!

Jon Jones, N0JK reported a peak rate of 660 meteors per hour
centered on 2010 UTC October 8.  He was QRV in EM28 on both 6 and 2
meters. Nothing heard on 2 meters, but he did see action on 6 meters
on 50.125 MHz.

Jon writes, "I worked W6OAL DM79 at 1958 UTC and K7TNT DN74 at 2013
UTC, both random on SSB.

"W6OAL was quite loud, K7TNT peaked to 5x9 but mostly not as strong.
He was in almost all the time on residuals, heard him work K0MVJ
EN35 MN and K9ZM EN50. The meteors seemed to peak between 1945-2030

"A sharp drop off after 2030 UTC, but interesting meteor scatter
conditions in the middle of the afternoon. The Draconids are a
'slow' shower as the meteors strike the ionosphere at 20 km/sec vs.
60 km/sec for the Perseids. Thus the ionization per meteor would be
lower. The peak time of visual observed meteors in Europe correlated
with radio reflections on 50 MHz."

Pat Dyer, WA5IYX of San Antonio, Texas reported on October 13:
"While the N-S 6m paths to South America from here continue to
improve as the cycle advances, the recent FK8CP (New Caledonia)
paths have come as a pleasant surprise here.

"The best so far was 2330z Oct 09 - 0020z Oct 10 where FK8CP reached
as high as a true S7 on the meter.  The US footprint was initially
limited to Central and East Texas along a narrow-latitude belt (it
did eventually extend as far east as the New Orleans area).  This is
in keeping with the F2F2 mode involving a critical set of angles in
the geometry.  Later that evening (US time) FK8CP was reported from
a wider range of states, NM, CO, et al.  (My last 6m FK QSOs were in
Cycle 22 back in 1989 and 1991.)

"24 hours later his signals here were fleeting, but he was worked in
Western and West Central Florida.  Again, the US footprint was only
about 2-deg wide in N-S latitude extent (though the Gulf of Mexico
may have well obscured a wider range there).

"As can be seen from Sherlock DX map plots, Florida is the favored
US QTH for these daily 6 meter South American paths.  The paths
often spread across to Mexico (to within 600-700 mi south of here),
often making one wish for an Es-linking event!

"The 47-48 MHz Chilean FM broadcast signals
( provide excellent high-power MUF
indicators for that region, but they will often show just how
sluggish things can be to move up the next 2-MHz into 6 meters
proper!  These are relatively-high ERP signals with probably good
transmitter locations vs. the other 2-way land-mobile signals in
many regions down there that used to serve as propagation clues
(they are also 24/7!)

"From here the best crossing angles of the geomagnetic equator have
their land endpoints in the CE0 islands.  For over four decades now
many have seen a strong need for some reliable 6 meter beacon(s) to
be established down there to confirm our suspicions of just how good
those paths are.  The few well-equipped and dedicated 6 meter
expeditions to those areas at the best time(s) of the year (and
Cycle) HAVE been very productive."

On October 14 we received this report from Ted Saba, KN5O of
Covington, Louisiana: "I worked Remi, FK8CP, on 6M on 10/9/2011 at
2341z on SSB with 5/1 signals both directions and on CW at 2346z
with 5/1-2/9 signals both directions.  I'm located in EM40xl.  This
was my longest DX QSO since working Japan.  I was hoping to snag
Fred, KH7Y, to complete my 6M WAS that same evening, but the
propagation never made it as far east as my QTH.

"Shortly after working Remi, I called my friend Dallas Ward, K1DW,
and he was also able to work him on CW. K1DW is also located in

Steve Moles, N5MX of Pawhuska, Oklahoma wrote: "I was able to work
FR/DJ7RJ (Willi) on 15 October 2011 at approximately 1832 UTC on 15m
SSB. It was my first FR contact. Today (16 October 2011) I heard and
worked FR4NT (Cyril, on Reunion Island) on 10m SSB at approximately
1625 UTC. I had Cyril 59 into my home in northern OK and he had me
59 into Reunion. Both QSOs are approximately 10421 miles (16771 km)
from my home. What a difference a few sunspots make! I remember not
too long ago having a SFI in the low 60s, today is only 138, but it
makes so much difference. It is so nice to hear the upper bands open

Thanks, Steve for sharing the excitement!

Peter Dougherty, W2IRT of West Caldwell, New Jersey wrote on October
18: "With today's SFI of 153, low Ap/Kp numbers and an SSN of 165 I
naturally expected 10 to be decent but I was not expecting this:
I've been chasing new WAZ Zones on 10 since things started to take
off last month but all the prediction software and even N6BT's own
awesomely-detailed charts in the ARRL Antenna Book were saying Zone
18 to Zone 5 on 10m just wasn't in the cards until the Flux hit
'very high' levels, i.e. over 200. Just after noon local (1600z)
UA0BA from Norilsk was a solid S9 into New Jersey. This is more than
six hours after his sunset at 69 degrees north latitude! I continued
to listen and even an hour and a half later he'd built up to S9+10dB
peaking 20-over (albeit with more arctic flutter). Just a few
minutes later RI1FJA from Franz Josef Land was blasting through on
10m SSB, also peaking over S9."

Thanks, Peter.  That's fantastic. We are also seeing 10 meters open
here worldwide on the West Coast as late as midnight!

Sylvain Faust, VE2FET of Sainte Anne Des Lacs, Quebec wrote: "I only
had a few countries on 10M before Saturday.  After 3 to 4 hours on
Saturday and an hour or 2 on Sunday, as you can see on the top of
the page (DXCC per Band) I now have 109 countries on 10M! Amazing!"

That is remarkable.  He also sent a link to his logs, at, and there is a photo gallery at You really should see him
at age 13 (in 1978) on television at Good chance to practice
Le Francais Quebecois.

Randy Crews, W7TJ of Spokane, Washington has achieved a state of
radio bliss: "The time we have all been waiting for has arrived.
Solar activity has advanced to the point where the high bands have
really come alive, Solid propagation on 15M throughout the day, and
world wide openings on 10 and 12 Meters - conditions not seen since
2003. Barring a major storm, the CQWW contest later this month
should be hot, in addition to the ARRL 10M contest in December. The
real 'breakout' occurred mid February of this year as the Sunspot
Count and Solar Flux clearly exceeded its 2 1/2 year doldrums lows
and ushered in what we are seeing today. It has been a long, long
dry spell for the higher bands, now 10 and 12 Meter DX Spots
dominate the Packet Clusters. There will be other dividends of the
higher solar activity: Long Path Propagation on 20M will be a
regular occurrence along with increased night time propagation on
40/30 and 80 Meters as the F layers residual ionization holds thru
the night and into the morning gray line. Good times especially for
us in the Northern Hemisphere, and for all."

Jeff, N8II wrote: "12 and 10M conditions have been outstanding most
days with JT logged on 12M around 24Z, BA/BD logged on both 12 and
10 from 23-0030Z. I had a drone of EU signals calling thanks to a
cluster spot on 10M around 1500Z on October 17, the loudest were
S9+20dB.  I also had a run of mostly UA3/RA3 area stations on 10M
Friday the 14th that lasted from 1315-1400Z including a call from
UN7; there were still loud Russians from around Moscow on 10 M past
15Z. Also, I was called by E21EJC in Thailand on 12M CW while
working 4L1MA around 1320Z on the 17th. VU2GSM was loud on 10M SSB
at around 1445Z on the 16th. We have reached the point where good EU
openings occur almost daily on 10 and JAs are loud as well about 70%
of the time, some JAs S9+20dB, extremely loud for this area."

Check this article on sunspot observations by Samuel Heinrich
Schwabe at,

If you would like to make a comment or have a tip for our readers,
email the author at,

For more information concerning radio propagation, see the ARRL
Technical Information Service web page at For an explanation of the
numbers used in this bulletin, see An archive of past
propagation bulletins is at Find more good
information and tutorials on propagation at

Monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and twelve
overseas locations are at

Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL
bulletins are at

Sunspot numbers for October 13 through 19 were 147, 157, 166, 158,
165, 155, and 162, with a mean of 158.6. 10.7 cm flux was 137.6,
136.1, 137.7, 151, 152.6, 146.8, and 147.3, with a mean of 144.2.
Estimated planetary A indices were 5, 2, 8, 7, 4, 5, and 7, with a
mean of 5.4. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 3, 1, 4, 7, 2, 5,
and 5 with a mean of 3.9.

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