More night, less daylight = Better HF conditions!

3.925 MHz on the IC-7200

3.925 MHz on the IC-7200

Here’s the good news about the autumn equinox here in the center of North America:  HF conditions are getting better quickly.

With the longer nights and shorter days we are beginning to see fewer thunderstorms with less QRN on bands like 75, 80 and 40 meters.  In fact, absorption is far less as well, and that means the 75/80 meter band is open more hours.  If you are interested in working all states, that’s your band.  You’ll have to start listening early in the morning before sunrise.  Here at WA0TDA, which is east of Minnesota’s capitol of St. Paul, it is easy to hear stations across the continent before sunrise.

Don’t forget to try CW.  The WA0TDA HF remote is CW-enabled.  You can use the RCForb Windows application or the RCForb Android app, which is under $10 in the Play Store.


Maintenance outage – Post-Field Day

Now that Field Day is behind us, the WA0TDA HF remote will be down for routine maintenance.

close-up of IC-7200 radioThis will allow me to do a complete antenna check and make improvements to both antenna systems.  I expect to have the station on the air sometime in July.  This is the best time to work on antennas, and it is also a traditionally low-usage time of year.

Bad HF Conditions Persist

Conditions on the HF bands seem to be pretty bad, then they get even worse! Noise abounds as oddball skip conditions make for some surprising HF paths on 80 and 40 meters.  Many days 20 is unusable except for digital on 14.070 MHz.

It’s not pretty.

Consider listening early in the morning and in the evening on 80/75 meters. This band is good throughout the solar cycle, but only if daytime absorption is not too bad.  That’s why you need to get on early in the morning or after dinner!  Give it a try and you’ll be surprised at what you can hear.

3.925 MHz on the IC-7200

3.925 MHz on the IC-7200

HF9V vertical now in use

The WA0TDA IC-7200 station is now using a Butternut HF9V vertical antenna, ground-mounted over a large radial field and fed underground with hard line. The antenna tunes 80 through 6 meters. Press the “Tune” button to activate the antenna tuner for best results.

HF9V vertical antenna in the winter

HF9V vertical antenna in the winter

Antenna update – inverted vee

The inverted vee Maypole antenna is in place at the WA0TDA HF remote station. The antenna tunes 80 through 6 meters, and will be the default antenna most days at the station. On occasion the Butternut HF9V will be used for lower angle performance, and I’ll try to remember to make sure that the station’s system text box greeting in the RCForb software mentions the antenna that is in use. For 20 meter DX the vertical often has quite an advantage.

Antenna change: HF9V vertical now in use

The inverted vee maypole system has been replaced with a Butternut HF9V vertical, ground-mounted with 12+ radials. This system functions better on the 20 meter band than the wire antenna, allowing for stronger signals with CW and digital modes. 160 meter transmit is no longer available since the antenna does not tune on that band.

Extra Class Pool goes into effect 1 July 2016

Cartoon numbers and book
Studying for your Extra? If you plan to test after June 30, 2016 you should use the latest question pool, which comes into effect on July 1, 2016.

Find all the latest Amateur Radio question pools on the NCVEC website.

The Handiham Program has a digital DAISY audio book version of the 2016 – 2020 Extra Class Question Pool for blind hams working on their Extra Class upgrade. Contact the Handiham Program.