5 MHz Propagation Test April 2016
Thanks to all who participated in our April 14, 2016 HF Net propagation test. The aim of this test was to confirm if a Section wide net could be conducted on 60 meters. VOACAP Online predicts that both 60 meters and 75 meters are expected to support year-round NVIS propagation throughout our Sacramento Valley Section during our 0230 UTC Section net time. A 60 meter Section net frequency could offer the benefits of lower atmospheric noise (QRN), no adjacent channel interference, and more efficient antennas for those with space limitations.
A preliminary test on the evening April 12 on 5330.5 kHz yielded strong signals between W6KJ in Yuba City and myself. At the same time, signals on 75 meters were somewhat weaker with greater atmospheric noise.
My station in Citrus Heights is a Kenwood TS-450s running 100 watts output, an LDG Z-11 Pro tuner and a 140 foot square loop at 20 foot height. This antenna is a more efficient NVIS radiator and much quieter than my High Sierra vertical. Additionally, I listen to our frequency through W6DRZ's WEBSDR receiver near San Francisco on http://188.8.131.52:8901/ This is a useful online receiver to monitor Northern California signals via NVIS propagation.
Compared to Tuesday, HF propagation conditions were much deteriorated during the Section wide propagation test on Thursday April 14, with an unsettled geomagnetic field and severe atmospheric noise. On April 14 Dr. Tamitha Skov reported, "We are in the middle of some high speed solar wind, which is bathing Earth in aurora right now and this will intensify as three solar storms hit Earth over the next few days. The first of these is hitting Earth as of this posting and should cause the aurora to brighten. It will also cause the amateur radio bands to take a dive, especially on the nightside of Earth." 60 meter propagation seemed anomalous and I did hear a few Latin American stations in conversation on 5330.8 kHz USB shortly before 1900 PDT.At the scheduled 1930 local time I gave several calls on 5330.5 kHz USB with no response. Through the high noise level and QSB fading I could intermittently copy N6ICW, WW6L, N5JEF, W6KJ and K6TAZ.
At 1940 PDT, I called K6TAZ over the 146.085 MHz repeater and requested that he announce a frequency change to 3880 kHz. Once there, the atmospheric noise level continued very high, but we did establish contact with N5JEF in Loomis, W6KJ, WA1NER, and KC9EI in Yuba City, W6TEE in Sacramento, K6TAZ in Smartsville, and K6AWR near Mt. Shasta.
Here are some others comments submitted by e-mail:
I could tell that people were talking, but there was so much interference extending 3.5 kHz on both sides that I could not tell what was being said. Pretty quiet outside of that noisy section of the band. I'm located in the West end of Roseville. IC-706 MkIIg 6-80 meter vertical at 8m.
I did not get any copy in Trinity Center, Trinity County CA, on the Thursday night 60 m (5330.5 kHz) propagation test. The band was extremely noisy with S7 to S9 QRN.
We've had a solar flare, disturbed propagation all day, so that we were able to make any contact this evening is good news. On the 60m channel I heard a long band, people making normal qso in Texas and in Indiana (I think.) During the test I did not hear you on 60m, but could make you out quite well on 3880 kHz.
Ron Murdock, W6KJ
I was on freq Thursday night 5330.5. Too much noise but I did hear a voice could not copy call sign. Faded out quickly on my rig.
Kenneth Palmer, KO6JM, From Weed, CA.
I'm located about one mile southeast of the intersection of Antelope Road and I-80. My HF station is mostly old tube gear so I don't have any 60 meter transmit capability. Tonight I set up a Realistic DX-302 receiver fed by 15 feet of wire snaked around the kitchen at no more than six feet off the floor. There was probably little or no reception of incoming low angle radiation due to the chicken wire in the stucco on the exterior walls. I heard you at Q5/S4 on 5330.5 kHz on the crummy (uncalibrated) S meter in the DX-302. You were well above the noise level and completely copyable. Others heard: N6ICW: heard, but in the noise: no copy; WW6L: heard you state his call sign, but no detection here; WG6CFS: Q5/S1: not as strong as you, but completely copyable.
Maynard Wright, W6PAP, Citrus Heights, CA
60 Meter Shortened Antenna
I have been a big advocate locally of getting more hams set up for 60 meters, and I am happy to see that the Section is also interested in it too. I have tested 60 meters in the middle of the day, with a station in Redding, and found that it works very well. Please keep me informed of any 60 meter activities in the Sector.
One of the biggest issues I've found is a large number of those hams, that have a radio set up for 60 meters, don't have an antenna that's resonant on 60. I have plans (attached) for a 60 meter shortened dipole and I am making a few up now to give to hams who are willing to get up on the air for some testing.
Mike Kaliczak, N6NIX, Butte County Sheriff's Office, Captain, Communication Reserve, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.buttescr.org
Conclusion: Section-wide communication was established on 75 meters when anomalous adverse conditions disrupted 60 meters. 60 meters may still offer benefits for regional communications during usual propagation conditions. A future 60 meter net test during usual propagation conditions is warranted.
Thanks again to all who participated and contributed their feedback to this propagation test.
Carol Milazzo, KP4MD
ARRL Sacramento Valley Section Manager