Sunday, October 8, 2017

Another Great Night of Listening to EME Signals

EME conditions on 2-M were not really optimum tonight.  The degradation was -2.6 dB which meant there was some room for improvement.  Still, it was the ARRL EME Contest weekend and I expected there would be a lot of activity, but the weather forecast called for rain and I felt that if I could not see the moon to align the antennas, it would not be worth the effort to get up in the middle of the night!

I woke up just after 0730 GMT and saw moonlight outside so I thought "Hey, I can visually aim the antennas!"  Therefore I got dressed, fired up the station, rotated the antennas to where they should be pointing at the moon, and went outside to see how far off the antennas were.  However, the clouds had rolled in and I could not see the moon!  Bummer!  So, I started listening to the moon anyway about 0750 GMT since everything was turned on and hoped I could get the antennas close.

At 0819 GMT I copied K9MRI at -24 dB (K9MRI runs EIGHT M2 XP28 yagis and a kW) calling RI1F on 144.108 MHz. 

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W
081900  4  -24  2.6 -253  3 *      RI1F K9MRI EN70           1   0

Then at 0824 GMT I copied KL7UW (-26 dB) running 1200-1400 watts to 4 M2 X-20 antennas calling CQ on 144.117 MHz. 

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
083800  1  -24  5.3-1025  2 *      CQ KL7UW BP40             1  10

Then I copied KG6NUB (at -24 dB) which is a contest call of the Stanford Club (W6YX/QRO/4X5WL Stanfordclub CA CM87wj) calling KL7UW:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
083900  2  -24  2.3 -961  3 *      KL7UW KG6NUB CM87         1   0

Back on 144.108 MHz I copied:
first, VE2PN at -22 dB calling RI1F (VE2PN/2X10H/600 Marc QC FN46jw):

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
091500  3  -22  2.7  186  3 *      RI1F VE2PN FN46           1   0

and then W4RBO at -23 dB calling RI1F (W4RBO/4X12H/K John FL EL99kf):

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
091900  2  -23  1.9 -213  3 *      RI1F W4RBO EL99           1   0

Just after that I copied NH6Y at -21 dB (NH6Y/4X9/1K5 Tom HI BL10ts) on 144.117 MHz:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
093800  3  -21  2.3   32  3 #      K2UYH NH6Y BL10     OOO   1   0

and shortly before that K2UYH (K2UYH 2 x XP28 + kW) reported on PingJockey that he was copying NH6Y at -22 dB:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
0928 -22  2.4 1295 #* CQ NH6Y BL10  ====== {K2UYH Team NJ FN20ll)

It seemed that I had a 1 dB better copy on the Hawaii station than K2UYH did with his pair of M2 XP28 yagis.  Cool!

After that I copied WØXG at -27 dB (W0XG/4M2XP20/K Eric MN EN34gx) calling K8DIO on 144.106 MHz:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
101200  0  -27  2.2 -511  4 *      K8DIO W0XG EN34           1   0

Later I copied WØXG even stronger at -25 dB:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
102200  3  -25  2.5 -519  1 *      CQ W0XG EN34              0  10

I then copied N1DPM at -24 dB (N1DPM/4X9/KW Fred MA FN32qb) calling CQ on 144.124 MHz.:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
103800  2  -24  2.9 -301  3 *      CQ N1DPM FN32             1   0

Then the JA window opened and I copied JJ3JHP at -23 dB (JJ3JHP/4X12 Hiro xx PM75xd) calling CQ on 144.129 MHz.

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
104700  4  -23  2.8  -24  1 *      CQ JJ3JHP PM75            1  10

Later I saw a report on PingJockey from N1DPM (N1DPM/4X9/KW Fred MA FN32qb) that he had copied JJ3JHP at -21 dB with his four 9-element yagis.

At 1115 GMT I again copied JJ3JHP (JJ3JHP/4X12 Hiro xx PM75xd) calling CQ at -28 dB:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
111500  2  -28  2.9  110  3 *      CQ JJ3JHP PM75            0  10

And right after that I saw on PingJockey this report:

111500  3  -25  1.5   -8  3 *      CQ JJ3JHP PM75            1  10 ====== (AC7FL/4X12H300W Stuart AZ)
which said with his four 12-element antennas, Stuart had a 3 dB better copy of JJ3JPH at the exact same time as I did with my two 13-element yagis.  Plus, I was experiencing a light but steady rain at that time.  That tells me that my system is performing on a par with other stations and that's good news to me.

Then at 1208 GMT I copied the Stanford station, KG6NUB, (W6YX/QRO/4X5WL Stanfordclub CA CM87wj) calling JHØBBE on 144.131 MHz:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
120800  5  -22  2.7 -210  3 *      JH0BBE KG6NUB CM87        1   0

During the night I saw a couple of false decodes like this:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
122600  0   -6  3.4  -89  3 *      W8TN FS5UQ FK88           0  10

It is curious because the DT parameter (4th from the left) of 3.4 seconds could be an EME sigal.  But, the -6 dB signal strength is just WAY too strong. 

At 1229 GMT I knew from PingJockey that NH6Y was calling CQ on 144.117 MHz.  I got a decent trace on several periods but only printed this:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
123200  1  -26  2.3 -170  3 *  
123400  2  -26  2.3 -172  3 * 
123600  3  -25  2.3 -172  3 * 

Finally I copied this:
FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
123800  7  -22  2.3 -175  3 *      CQ NH6Y BL10              1   0

Although I had earlier copied JJ3JHP as strong as -23 dB, and he announced on PingJockey at 1244 GMT that he was calling CQ on 144.105 MHz., I was not able to see even the slightest trace over 3 periods.  It sure looks like Faraday rotation changed the game!  However, on the 4th period, I did copy the following which has a DT that agrees with my earlier copy on JJ3JHP:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W
125300  0  -32  2.9 -552 41 *      

I did see on PingJockey that Art, N9BCA, worked NH6Y for his State No. 50.  Art said:
08 Oct 12:49 nh6y  THIS IS ONE OF MY HAPPIEST DAYS EVER TKS #50  73 ====== (N9BCA Art WI EN54ll)
Later I saw on the chat page that K2TW said he would call NH6Y on the next sequence on 144.117 MHz.  Shortly after that I saw TWO traces in the same period, one at -30 Hz and one at -192 Hz.  I decoded both and got this result:

FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
130000  6  -27      -192  2   RRR                                 
130000  2  -30       -30  4   RO          

Followed by:
FileID Sync dB   DT  DF   W  
130200  4  -29      -192  3   73  

I wonder if there was another station that thought NH6Y was calling them too at the same time?

I then saw this on PingJockey:
08 Oct 13:02 NH6Y Tom tnx first HI, bet you hear that a lot! 73 ====== {K2TW/4XP9/KW Tom NJ FN20ll)
So it looks like I "sort of" copied K2TW - at least on his "RRR" and "73" transmissions.  I'm gonna count it!

At 1308 GMT N9LHS was going to call NH6Y on 144.117 MHz so I kept listening on that frequency.  But, I did not hear anyone.  My EL was down to 13° so I don't know if it was too low at that point.  I continued to listen to stations who announced they were calling CQ like BX4AP (BX4AP/4X9H Jesse xx PL04if) and N4HB (N4HB/4X7H/750 Henry VA FM17uu) but I was never able to copy anyone.  Maybe the moon was too low at this point for me.

My best copy of the night was NH6Y from Hawaii at -21 dB.  Tom (NH6Y) was running four 9-element yagis and 1,500 watts.  The two smallest stations I copied tonight were running less than or essentially the same as what I am running:
VE2PN - two 10-element yagis and 600-watts
K2UYH - two XP28 yagis and a kW

All in all, this turned out to be a WONDERFUL night of playing EME even though all I could do was receive.  I was able to copy 10 different stations off the moon from the USA, Alaska, Canada, Hawaii and Japan.  Now that's pretty sweet!  I also learned that I can copy stations even during a rain storm and that my received signal seems to be pretty close to what others are reporting for the same station at the same time.  I am really glad that I did not go back to bed when I saw the clouds had obscured the moon.  It really paid off for me!  And, it REALLY makes me want to get the transmit part of the station operational!

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