Saturday, October 10, 2009

More DX during the solar minimum

Despite the poor propagation conditions occurring during the current solar minimum (which I, and practically every other ham has written about ad nauseam), I continue to make some good, and sometimes outstanding DX contacts. A couple of weeks ago, I had a CW contact with Richard, 9M2CNC in West Malaysia on 20m at around 8pm local time. While I'd worked West Malaysia before (in fact with Richard as well, then operating as 9M2/G4ZFE during an RTTY contest), that was the first CW contact that I had with that DXCC entity. I'm happy to say that the contact has been confirmed via Logbook of the World already.

Yesterday afternoon, I was working from home and took and saw a spot for Bill, E51NOU on 17m CW. The interesting thing was that it was the middle of the afternoon (not normally a good time for propagation to that part of the world), but I was easily able to make the contact.

Best of all, early this afternoon, I saw some spots for Wim, XU7TZG in Cambodia on 20m phone. The time was around 1PM local time, which means it was around midnight in Cambodia, late for this type of contact. I tuned to the frequency and was surprised to hear Wim working a (surprisingly small) pileup. I needed a contact with Cambodia as an "all-time new one" for DXCC purposes, so I figured that I might as well try to call him. Wim slowly worked the pile down (presumably getting the stronger stations out of the way), and after 30 minutes or so, I was very pleased him respond to my call, and the contact was completed.

All three of the contacts I've just discussed were made under fairly poor solar conditions. The solar conditions when I worked Wim in Cambodia were about as bad as you can get. The solar flux number was 69, which I believe is the minimum value possible (I'll have to go read up and see why it doesn't go to zero) and there were no sunspots at all. Both of those values indicate poor propagation. Fortunately, like the
urban legend (check out that link, it's a good explanation of that legend) that says that it's aerodynamically impossible for bees to fly, radio waves don't bother to listen to scientists nor do they study physics.

As I've said before: Stop complaining about how poor the conditions are. Turn on your radio. Listen around and if you don't hear anything, call CQ. You might be surprised at the kind of wonderful contacts you can make.


  1. Hi David, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have heard some others say it and I'll say it again. Who needs sunspots??
    I started on HF about 2002, and every contact I made was a new one, either DX or for WAS. I worked a bunch.
    Even in the doldrums of the sunspot cycle, the past 2 years I have probably worked just as many new ones, and then there are the band/mode fills.
    I hate to sound like a grump when I say that I feel sorry for those who constantly lament about the lack of DX. I disagree, there is still plenty out there. It may not be as easy, or as frequent, or 24 hours a day, but it can be done. I do all my HF radio with a wire antenna and 100W.
    I don't mean to detract from others who complain about the low sunspot #'s, but my intent is to encourage them to "shift gears", try something new. Maybe try the low bands or a different mode. If one thing isn't working well, try another...and most importantly...HAVE FUN!!!

  2. Anonymous7:27 PM

    More relevant details please, how many watts were you throwing out there, from a beam?

    1. To date, I have worked every DXCC entity with 100w into a G5RV at about 35 feet. I just worked #320, Mellish Reef this week, with the same power and antenna, though I replaced my Icom 756 Pro II last year (after the smoke leaked out) with a 7600.

      I've worked some new bands or modes from other stations, but at least so far, I've made at least my initial DXCC contact with each new entity from here.