Topband: VK0EK, observations on prop

David Raymond daraymond at
Tue Mar 29 17:47:06 EDT 2016

Topbanders. . .

Here in Iowa I have been a bit challenged with hearing them on various bands from their current location.  They've never been strong on any band at any time but sometimes workable.  Aside from 160m, they've been weak here on 80, 40, modest signals on 30m and 20m, fleeting and weak signals above that.  They are 11,451 miles from my QTH.  With 43 minutes of common darkness there's not a big opportunity for a 160m QSO, but an opportunity nevertheless.  

Observing now for a few days at my SS (0035z today) some patterns have begun to emerge for 160m propagation.  First of all, the prop is very spotty and selective. . .much more so than, say, with an EU, Asian, or African station.  I was truly surprised (and confess a little frustrated) when Dennis, NT0V, worked them Sunday evening (bravo Dennis!) from his ND QTH with even less common darkness than I have here in Iowa.  I heard nothing from them Sunday night but was encouraged to see that a Q at least seemed possible.  Last evening (Monday) Alan, WD8PKF (106 miles north of me) worked them (bravo Alan!) at our SS while, again, I heard absolutely nothing.  Finally, around 0050z they gradually started coming up out of the noise.  I worked them at 0059.  Within five or seven minutes they had faded and were gone well before their SR.  They were never stronger than S1 or S2.  Incidentally, they were peaking east rather than southeast.  Several others have reported the same thing.  

The 160m prop at NA SS so far clearly seems to favor the northern part of NA over the southern.  The past few nights the guys in 1 land, some 2 land, VE3, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota have been hearing them and working them with  reasonably good signals.  Dropping further south the guys in OH, IN, IL, and me in IA have had much more difficult time hearing them and a much shorter time hearing them.  In the meantime the guys further south in 4 land and 5 land in particular seem to have had a near total drought.  Not sure if this pattern will continue but it has been prominent and consistent so far.  I'm sure the guys out west with a NA SR window have a whole different situation.  

Anyway, the same 160m game rules apply that always apply. . .you've just gotta be at the radio during the window and listening carefully.  The antennas here are full size ground mounted four square for TX and a Hi-Z 8 circle array for RX.  While the TX array hears well, I wouldn't have worked them last night without the help from the Hi-Z 8 circle.  Good luck!

73. . .Dave, W0FLS
in Iowa

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