Monday, July 11, 2011

What Sunspots?

When it comes to working the radio I seem to have got myself in to a daily routine. First thing in the morning around after making myself a strong cup of coffee I switch the rig on and generally have a listen on 30 meters just to see if there is anything interesting happening.

Sometimes I get lucky and hear a distant station but more than not it’s very quiet. Whether it’s me I don’t know but so far the present so called sunspot maximum seems to be a complete washout. Occasionally you will hear something interesting, for instance today I heard a station from Tennessee calling CQ unfortunately due to lack of time before departing for work and the fact that there were many stations trying to reply I didn’t bother having a go myself.

But it did make me wonder, during the last sunspot maximum Tennessee would have been a run of the mill station to contact. So far this year I have heard New Zealand and Australia but I can count the number of times on one hand and only on 20 meters. I remember back during the last maximum when living in town regularly having conversations with a chaps in ZL and VK with 5/9s both ways on 20, 17 and 21 MHz. The house that I lived in was in a built up area and about 50’ above sea level and I was using a standard G5RV.

Today I live at 900’ ASL out in the middle of nowhere with a clear take off area surrounding the house and without doubt far better antennas, but the contacts are not nearly the same as back in the nineties. I even got to the stage wondering whether my antennas were not working correctly, but after a thorough check I know everything is running as it should.

Reading up on the web I note that the present reports for sunspots are pretty weak and like everyone I am hoping that things will soon pick up. ............For the moment it seems long gone are they days you could fire up the rig switch over to 10 meters and get a taxi driver in New York on just a wet piece of string!

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