Saturday, July 14, 2012

Weather, Space Weather and IARU

HAARP Data during IARU Contest 2012
It has been nearly a month since my last post but summer is in full swing here. Our weather has been cool and damp on a regular basis and just a few mornings ago, I saw a local temp of 38 degrees. Highs have peaked (lately) in the 50's. We have received a nearly 6¼" of rain since I uncovered our rain gauge at the beginning of May. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining as I see the extreme temperatures those in the lower 48 are experiencing so I will take this weather any day over that heat!

The sun has been pretty active and I had intentions of giving a run in the IARU Contest. Normally, summer is a tough time to get on the air as we have so much going on and it's our busy season. With the geomagnetic activity of late, the bands were very poor here. There were times at the beginning of the contest that I could not hear a single station. Thankfully, 15 meters opened up a bit on Saturday afternoon allowing for me to make a few contacts. I did not spend lots of time in the shack as I had some home projects going on but I did manage a bit over 50 QSO's. Last year, I made well over 100 contacts but that was not going to happen this year. I just did some S&P (Search & Pounce) on 15 and 20 meters when I had a few minutes here and there. Lots of flutter on signals, especially those back east in Zone 8. I'm limited to low power yet but most everyone I called with my 100 watts heard me. Not bad considering the conditions.

The photo above shows the absorption increase as recorded at HAARP. Now, I'm not blaming the sun on my computer error but maybe my DELL is also effected by solar activity! For some reason, it wanted to tell Microsoft all about it! 

I recently dropped my 6 meter beam and removed my wind damaged 2/440 vertical from my second tower. All I need to do now is put my 6 meter beam on my high tower above my HF beam and get my Hex Beam up on the small tower. That would give me a beam on 12 & 17 meters! I'm looking forward to getting on those bands. I'm hoping I don't run out of time as I have in summers past. Winter normally arrives here in September so I have a few more months yet before we enter back into our hibernation season. Working a bit of CW today made me excited for the upcoming contest season. Until then, I plan on enjoying as much of this midnight sun as possible.  

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