Saturday, April 23, 2016

Propagation woes...

I have the full weekend off this weekend.  That might sound strange to some of you who always have the weekend off.  However, I work in an industry that only allows me one weekend off per month.  I hate using cliche's but here it comes -"one has to do what one has to do".

When I do have the weekend off and after doing the usual errands and "honey do's", I like to immerse myself in amateur radio and simultaneously offer up a sacrifice to the propagation princess hoping she doesn't have a tantrum and screw things up. After all, when running QRP, propagation is everything.  Or is it?

I have three  propagation sites I haunt while my rig(s) is warming up.   I'm sure you haunt them as well.  If you're new to the game, here are a few sites I think you'll find interesting.

 At around 1700Z here's what things looked like on Paul Herman, NB0NH's site.  Overall it's a "meh" for the daytime hours.

40 meters is my favorite band (day or night). 30 meters is my next favorite.  And today, I felt like working 30 meters.  30 meters can be a bit fussy at times.  It sometimes acts like 20 meters and sometimes acts like 40 meters. Sometimes the band opens and closes in the blink of an eye.  It's also a band that IMHO doesn't get paid a lot of attention by the ham community.  But that's another post for another time.

My next propagation stop was the site  "Band Conditions"   I usually leave this site up and running while I'm on the air because it's supposed to show "real time" propagation allowing one to see band openings as they occur.  So off I go.  Whoa. "Band Conditions" is telling me that within the last hour or so, 30 meters is hovering around a value of "13".  A value of 13 pretty much means, "Larry?  Pack up the tent and go home".

Ah...but then we come to my favorite propagation site, VOACAP.  I plug in my numbers and I'm greeted with a delightful transmit radius for my 5-watt qrp peanut whistle on 30 meters:

CQ CQ CQ de N2ICZ, N2ICZ, N2ICZ.  I'm soon answered by W90RW, Bob in Indiana.  We had a great rag chew for about 15 minutes.  He was running QRP as well on his KX3. I was on the trusty MFJ-9030.  Some sort of propagation and the universe had aligned. I was happy.

I tend to drive myself crazy with whether the propagation is cooperating or not.  In the end, I just need to sit back, relax, send CQ a few times and see who answers.  Someone usually will despite the conditions.  72/73 de N2ICZ.

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