Monday, 26 March 2018

Dead bands

Well folks, it's rarely wise to generalise about band conditions, but we seem to have reached rock bottom these past few days.

Whilst the WPX contest provided an astoundingly high activity rate this weekend, conditions on 14MHz remain generally pretty poor.  That band takes a long time to wake up in the morning, there is precious little indication of long path propagation, and beyond 18MHz, there is not much reliable activity.

Reaching the bottom.  Image: Royal Observatory of Belgium.


The solar cycle is either at or very close to its minimum now, and predicted by the Royal Observatory of Belgium to begin rising as soon as late summer 2018.   Certainly, we can expect solar activity will remain very low until the end of 2018, at least.

I have to admit the lack of activity means I am not spending as much time on the radio as once was the case.  That 'slack' is being taken up with tidying up developments at the 'weekend shack', and the chaos of also trying to move house.

Global band activity at 10:30UT today.  Image: DX Heat.


Turning to something other than radio is not altogether a bad thing.  It can become, and is for many of us, a bit of an obsessive habit that is ever-present in the home.  Not that it's a bad habit, but it can become more like a lifestyle sometimes.

Still, summer is now sweeping in after the terrible winter that started with ex-Hurricane Ophelia, and ended with two brutally cold spells of weather following a sudden stratsopheric warming.  After all that, simply enjoying the great outdoors, with just a bit of 50MHz operating, will see us through the last breaths of this solar minimum.


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