Saturday, May 8, 2010

63 Degrees of Loud Silence

Image from HAARP Riometer 05/08/2010 @ 2250z

Living in Alaska is awesome to say the least and it sure is a land of extremes. So many TV shows have attempted to capture life in Alaska. We have DSL and we have satellite TV but there are times when we have very little HF propagation. Thanks to HAARP these radio challenged days are easily identifiable when checking the HAARP Riometer. This alerts us hams to absorption of radio signals. We talk all over the globe when our signals bounce off of the ionosphere but when we experience lots of absorption, it makes for lots of quiet.

Since returning home from vacation the HF bands have been extremely poor. I looked at the last week of HAARP data (seen from the graph at the top left) which explains everything. This was one of the eye opening propagation experiences I had after moving up here from Ohio. In Ohio, it seemed I had propagation most all the time, to some part of the world anyhow. Up here, that's not always the case. When you factor in the Solar Flux Index along with the A&K indexes lately, it is a grim reminder that living so far north can be propagationally challenging. Thankfully, the midnight sun is returning so there are other things to keep a ham occupied up here. But what I tell everyone is, "When HAARP shows red, the bands are dead". And that they have.

I'm not totally heart broken because of the poor band conditions as I have plenty of other things to keep me busy. The snow is nearly gone and the lake ice is giving away to open water. The Robin's have returned and spring / summer is a sure thing now. I am working on getting our ATV's running for another summer of fun. Oh, and I can't forget about spring cleaning!

I just put the final touches on my next batch of 500 QSL cards as I change my card each and every order. I am also about to design my /QRP QSL card. This last drop from the bureau will use up the remaining batch of cards that I have on hand so it was time to put in a fresh order. I go through QSL cards pretty quickly here due to my level of activity and where I live. I have been itching to get out and do some /QRP portable operating but if I'm not hearing anything at home, I sure won't be hearing anything operating portable. So in the mean time, I'm keeping busy doing other things and working on some radio projects. Just because you are not hearing Alaska it doesn't mean that we have all packed up and left for vacation. As the weather can effect our plans, spaceweather can do the same for our radio time. It's great to see that the sun is waking up and the solar cycle is becoming more active. Let's just hope that all of these days of quiet bands will yield some super fun activity in the near future. If anyone is taking orders, I would gladly order up some 10 meter fun with a side of 6!

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