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Old 28-01-2018, 18:36   #1
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Communication in Sunspot Cycle Minimum

Now that the sunspot cycle is approaching minimum for the next year or two, there will be a challenge getting weather information and email on high frequency radio.

How are cruisers getting their grib files and weather information when they are offshore?

Are there propagation windows when the high frequency bands will be open for email and weather by pactor?
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Old 28-01-2018, 19:58   #2
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Re: Communication in Sunspot Cycle Minimum

HF still works. Got gribs and filed position reports yesterday and tonight. Furthest station was about 1,000 miles on 40m. Also made good contacts on 80m at about 500 miles. These are in the evening. Haven't tried during the day. Don't know about further out. Using Icom 802 and Winmor. Pactor should be better.
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Old 28-01-2018, 23:26   #3
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Re: Communication in Sunspot Cycle Minimum

You can usually find a time, frequency, and shore station that will work. Tale a look at these websites to see the real-time propagation paths for some digital communications modes. These aren't Sailmail or Winlink stations, but show what can be done. At sea I use the Airmail propagation tool, making sure that the solar flux index is up to date.

https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html

Map | WSPRnet
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Old 30-01-2018, 06:07   #4
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Re: Communication in Sunspot Cycle Minimum

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Originally Posted by Pitchondesign View Post
HF still works. Got gribs and filed position reports yesterday and tonight. Furthest station was about 1,000 miles on 40m. Also made good contacts on 80m at about 500 miles. These are in the evening. Haven't tried during the day. Don't know about further out. Using Icom 802 and Winmor. Pactor should be better.
Thanks for the up to date signal report. When I tuned across the bands yesterday, I was surprised by how little traffic I could hear on 20 meters which used to be my go to band.
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Old 30-01-2018, 06:11   #5
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Re: Communication in Sunspot Cycle Minimum

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Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
You can usually find a time, frequency, and shore station that will work. Tale a look at these websites to see the real-time propagation paths for some digital communications modes. These aren't Sailmail or Winlink stations, but show what can be done. At sea I use the Airmail propagation tool, making sure that the solar flux index is up to date.

https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html

Map | WSPRnet
Thanks for the links. They will be helpful as I get my HF radio communications going once again.
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Old 30-01-2018, 09:28   #6
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Re: Communication in Sunspot Cycle Minimum

As an example of 20 meter propagation, these are the ham stations I received yesterday between noon and 5:00PM using the "FT8" digital mode (see attached image). This is from my house near San Francisco. FT8 is a very slow / sensitive digital mode, but many of these transmitters were running low power -- under 25W.

Later on last night I was monitoring 40 meters for a while, and was decoding stations over a similar range, although mostly north of the equator.

So it's going to be a matter of frequency, time, location, and luck, and making sure that you don't have a local noise problem. At my house there is a furnace that blanks out 20 meters with S-9 levels of noise when it is running. When that's going on I can only hear the very strong signals.
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Old 01-02-2018, 05:12   #7
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Re: Communication in Sunspot Cycle Minimum

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
As an example of 20 meter propagation, these are the ham stations I received yesterday between noon and 5:00PM using the "FT8" digital mode (see attached image). This is from my house near San Francisco. FT8 is a very slow / sensitive digital mode, but many of these transmitters were running low power -- under 25W.

Later on last night I was monitoring 40 meters for a while, and was decoding stations over a similar range, although mostly north of the equator.

So it's going to be a matter of frequency, time, location, and luck, and making sure that you don't have a local noise problem. At my house there is a furnace that blanks out 20 meters with S-9 levels of noise when it is running. When that's going on I can only hear the very strong signals.
Thanks for the 20 meter report. I have been listening across the bands with an RSP1A at night and things have been dead on 20 meters. That was different than what I was used to at more active times in the sunspot cycle. I am NP4I and I will have to get used to the propagation during sunspot minima.
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