Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Range of the FT897 at 50W

On the J-Pole I was able to have a conversation into Powdersville and I was S3 on the receiving end - communicating Simplex without the repeater.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Evening Net on 80m

Got into an HF net with a bunch of Southern boys near the border. They are fit to be tied and mad as all hell about the cramming of Obama Care down the throats of people. There was discussion over the Minutemen having been dispatched to the border towns to potentially engage the drug cartels.

Three Way QSO

We had a three way QSO last night between Simpsonville (Matt) KQ4VY and Ohio (Don) W8UMH. Don was operating a TS2000 with a dedicated 80m dipole and Matt was operating a TS940 with a 40m loop antenna. I had both the TS830 boat anchor hybrid and the just received Yaesu FT897D on the air on the G5RV antenna. The TS830 had more punch. I tuned it at 120W on CW. The FT897 did not peak the power meter as strongly as the Kenwood. On the receiving end, Don commented that the Kenwood did have more punch. Another kudo for the 30 year old radio. Thanks to Matt by the way for the Cycle 24 website link

Cycle 24 Prediction

This is the prediction by Dr Hathaway - where the solar maximum is expected to occur around 2013. Like all predictions it can be wrong. It should be noted however, that there was a coronal mass ejection event in 1989 (which was not at a maximum) which knocked out power in all of the province of Quebec - see blog post below about the great storm of 1859. A co-worker told me of a similar event in 2003 which knocked out power in New York State.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Website for OnLine Monitoring of Amateur Radio Beacons

The Great Solar Storm of 1859

The Great Storm: Solar Tempest of 1859 Revealed
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 06:00 am ET
27 October 2003

A pair of strong solar storms that hit Earth late last week were squalls compared to the torrent of electrons that rained down in the "perfect space storm" of 1859. And sooner or later, experts warn, the Sun will again conspire again send earthlings a truly destructive bout of space weather.
If it happens anytime soon, we won't know exactly what to expect until it's over, and by then some modern communication systems could be like beachfront houses after a hurricane.
In early September in 1859, telegraph wires suddenly shorted out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires. Colorful aurora, normally visible only in polar regions, were seen as far south as Rome and Hawaii.
The event 144 years ago was three times more powerful than the strongest space storm in modern memory, one that cut power to an entire Canadian province in 1989. A new account of the 1859 event, from research led by Bruce Tsurutani of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, details the most powerful onslaught of solar energy in recorded history.
Solar conspiracy
Space storms are created when the Sun erupts, sending charged particles racing outward, an expanding bubble of hot gas called plasma.
In 1859, four crucial events conspired at one moment, Tsurutani told
"The plasma blob that was ejected from the Sun hit the Earth," he said. That's a relatively routine event. What preceded the strike was more unusual. "The blob came at exceptionally high speeds. It took only 17 hours and 40 minutes to go from the Sun to Earth." Solar storms typically take two to four days to traverse the 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).
"The magnetic fields in the blob, called a coronal mass ejection, were exceptionally intense," Tsurutani said. "And the fourth, most important, ingredient was that the magnetic fields of the blob were opposite in direction from the Earth's fields."
Earth's magnetic field normally protects the surface of the planet from a continual flow of charged particles, called the solar wind, and even does a pretty good job defending against some storms. When a storm swept past Earth last Friday, it met up with magnetic field pointed in such a way that it thwarted the storm's effects. That's not always the case.
In 1859, the planet's defenses were overwhelmed.
That was then
Society back then did not notice the storm the way it would today. The telegraph was 15 years old. There were no satellite TV feeds, no automated teller machines relying on orbiting relay stations, and no power grids.
Tsurutani said scientists can't yet accurately measure or predict what the strength or direction of Earth's magnetic field will be when a storm arrives. The storms themselves can be predicted. And Tsurutani says there will eventually be another one like 1859.
"It could very well be even more intense than what transpired in 1859," he says. "As for when, we simply do not know."
Bernhard Fleck, the European Space Agency's project scientist for the Sun-watching SOHO spacecraft, says the next super space storm will be detectable, but that's only half the story.
"A monster event of the magnitude described [by Tsurutani] we would easily recognize as something extraordinary with SOHO and other solar instruments," Fleck said in an e-mail interview. But, he added, "We certainly wouldn't know its full extent until arrival."
During the 1859 flare-up, solar observers logged almost an entire minute during which the amount of sunlight doubled at the region of the flare.
"Such a strong white-light flare has never been seen since," says Paal Brekke, SOHO deputy project scientist. "So if this type of flare happened, yes we would know right away." But he adds that the orientation of Earth's magnetic field would not be known. Future space-based observatories could address this blind spot in space weather forecasting.
Meanwhile, the blind spot became clear on Friday.
Forecasters at NOAA's Space Environment Center, relying on SOHO pictures and data, warned of an impending set of storms that could disrupt communications and might set off colorful aurora Friday and Saturday. The forecast, along with two Jupiter-sized sunspots at the roots of the storms, gained widespread media attention.
But the first and larger of the storms passed by with far less effect than one might have been led to expect. In fact, they were both comparative drops in the space weather bucket.
Extreme measures
To get an idea of the strength of the 1859 storm, you have to wade into nT's for a moment.
A space storm's impact is measured in nano-Teslas (nT), Brekke explained. The lower the figure, the more powerful the storm. A moderate storm can be around -100 nT; extreme and damaging storms have been logged at around -300 nT.
The 1989 coronal mass ejection that knocked out power to all of Quebec, Canada measured -589 nT, Brekke said. The 1859 perfect storm was estimated to have been -1,760 nT. Brekke used three exclamation points in his e-mail delivering that number.
People on the ground are generally safe even in the worst space weather. But technology could be in trouble when the next super storm hits.
"In 1859, the technology was quite low in comparison to today's technology," Tsurutani said. "However the technology that we rely on today is much more vulnerable."
A strong storm does its damage in part by inducing currents on power and communication lines, leading to potential overloads. Obviously, there are a lot more wires on Earth today, "so one might expect much worse problems if it occurred today."
The charged particles can also zap satellites, as has occurred with handful of storms in recent years -- events with far fewer charged particles than in 1859. A space storm also heats the upper level of Earth's atmosphere, causing it to expand. That's no good for satellites that can get caught up in air that didn't used to be there.
"This can lead to enhanced satellite drag and possible loss of these to the atmosphere," Tsurutani said.
Tsurutani and his colleagues -- Walter Gonzalez of the Brazilian National Space Institute and Gurbax Lakhina and Sobhana Alex of the India Institute of Geomagnetism -- reviewed known observations of the 1859 event's solar and aurora output, plus accounts from the ground. They also used recently rediscovered historic data on Earth's magnetic field from the Colaba Observatory in India.
The findings were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.
This article is part of's weekly Mystery Monday series.

Ham Radio In Disaster Preparedness

Check out this segment of coast to coast which discusses the solar mass ejection scenario

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First HF QSO

Now that the G5RV is up about 60 ft up in the air at the apex in an inverted V where the ends are about 20 ft above the ground - I was able to make my first set of contacts.

Radio: Kenwood TS830s
Power: 50 watts
QSO #1: Maritime Mobile Service Net on 20m at 14.300 MHz W8GEO George Shaffer operating portable out of Missouri picked me up on the relay. I was S8 on receive with good audio.

QSO #2: AA1KS - Rick Emmert from a lighthouse in Moose Island, Maine on 14.2775 MHz. WX in Maine is snowing. He will send me a QSL card to confirm contact.

QSO #3: W9OAW - Ralph from northern Wisconsin on a quarter wave groundplane vertical - with 500W on a linear amplifier.

QSO#4: WP5DB - Beryl Nelson operating from a sailboat 45 miles from Haiti on 14.300 MHz as a check-in to the Maritime Marine Mobile Service Net.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Todays Activity

Finally got the antenna hung. I used a slingshot to place the line over the tree and got it over on the first try. Installed a air choke balun - 11 turns of coax around a 4 inch PVC pipe at the ladder line fine feedpoint. Installed the shack ground - 6 gauge wire connected to the shack ground bus. The antenna - A G5RV was configured as an inverted V with the included angle about 130 degrees. The center point is about 50 feet above ground level. I hooked up the coax to the TS830 and found some French language broadcasts on 40m

My Shack

The diminutive FT817 is front and center. An Astron RS35M supplies all DC power. The big rig is the TS830S with the classic D104 microphone. The FT817 has a dedicated autotuner Z817 from LDG and the Kenwood has an MFJ-949 as a manual tuner.