80m - band of choice for winter?

Due to the postal strike (God bless em)- today presented an opportunity. My employer needed to deliver a package to Carlisle, but with no postal service, I "reluctantly" agreed to deliver it (thinking I could do an activation). Initially I thought Id do a GM/SS (Wisp Hill). however this is in a cluster of 3 hills which I may do in a single day sometime, so I diverted to G/SB-004 Peel Fell on the Scottish border.
Without the advantage of reading the routes first on sotawatch, I parked on the road to the SW of the summit & headed through the forest. After 30 mins I hit a dead end & had to re-trace my steps & start again. After fighting through the trees I emerged on the open fell & headed up a steep climb to the summit.
On the summit (marked by a small cairn) I set up 10m East of the cairn. Wx was about 9C and lovely blue sky with no clouds at all. I could have stayed there all day were it not for a 4 hour drive home.
In all 40 contacts were made. 80m was by far the best band providing many inter - uk contacts & into DL as far as South DM/BW (DJ5AV) - not bad for midday!
80m ssb - 22 qsos 60m ssb - 14 qsos
40m ssb - 4 qsos 20m ssb - no contacts, I was spotted & did about 20 x cqs.

On the strength of todays activity, I will devote more time to 80m over the winter months. Today on 3.666 - I had s0 noise level !!
Hope to be qrv on sunday - maybe in a tropo lift on 2m :-))

In reply to G1INK:

On the strength of todays activity, I will devote more time to 80m
over the winter months. Today on 3.666 - I had s0 noise level !!

I have also been concentrating on 80m for inter-G and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. I had 17 contacts in about 20 minutes from Allt y Main yesterday with 5w and no alert. Hopefully the solar flux will be rising early in 2008 and 5MHz should be reliable again. Another year or so and we might be using 7MHz for inter-G.

73 John GW4BVE

If the plan is to work intra-G and near EU then 80m is always likely to be a better band than 40m, at any time of year. As the nights draw in, the D-region becomes less active and absorption levels reduce considerably even during the day, especially up north, so longer distance QSOs will also be possible on all the LF bands. 60m would also be a good band for near EU, were there any activity. The skip on 40m often rules out G and near EU.

80m antennas are also more likely to have NVIS characteristics, particularly anything that you might erect for a SOTA expedition. This also enhances intra-G performance.

LF band propagation, at least at the level we are talking about here is not really affected by the solar cycle but it is greatly affected by the diurnal cycle because of the D-region. The LF bands are especially interesting around the equinoxes. At European latitudes the HF bands are not usually affected by D-region absorption but are significantly affected by solar activity levels. Hence, with the solar minimum around now, 20m and above are rather hard work at the moment, especially for QRP operations.

Interesting stuff, propagation!

In reply to G3WGV:

Of course the best frequency to use is the one just below (10% ?) the critical frequency, which is in effect the MUF for the very short paths we are using. This will give less D layer absorption and stronger signals. 5MHz and 7MHz ARE greatly affected by the solar cycle.

We should not give up on 5MHz. Over the late summer there as been some good sporadic E layer propagation, but unfortunately it is not reliable and reduces dramatically at this time of year. I suppose it is a practical thing. On a cold winter summit you just want to throw up an antenna and work the chasers. 5MHz was great for this but is much less reliable now. It will improve!!!

Hopefully the chasers will put a little bit of effort into reducing their 80m noise levels, which is the limiting factor for receiving QRP stations on summits. I refuse to carry heavy SLABS up big mountains at any time of the year.

73 John GW4BVE

I think maybe the statistics may not tell the whole truth. I worked Steve on 80m where he was over 5/9 but he was much stronger on 60m and pinning the stop at +60dB. He was still just workable on 40m but nothing was heard at all on 20m. I only actually worked him on 80m and not on the other bands as he said he didn’t have much time. I suspect others who could have worked 60 & 40m did not call once they had worked 80m either. I know a couple worked 60m because they arrived in the shack too later for the 80m pile up.

Many thanks to Steve for this one as it completed the Scottish Borders area for me. Only nine English summits on my list!

Here is hoping for that tropo.

Steve GW7AAV

In reply to GW7AAV:

hi all

yes same thing here steve ( AAV)

g1ink/p 80 mtrs 5 / 6 qsb
g1ink/p 60 mtrs 5 / 9 +

more on 80 mtrs yes but what if the EU stations were removed how many then on 80 mtrs .considering no EU is able to respond to a 60 mtrs CQ.

73s alistair gw0vmz

In reply to GW7AAV:

Agreed Steve. That will happen, but it is the reliability of 80m that gives it the advantage at the moment. Also the reduced D layer in the winter means that it is usable during the day with QRP. Nobody is saying that there won’t be occasions when other band work and sometimes give higher signal strengths.

Perhaps we should all form an ALE (not beer) net and let rig or computer choose the frequency.

73 John GW4BVE

In reply to G1INK:
Yes it look like good conditions on low bands , i heard you midday without any problem with 55 signal on mý 140 meter beverage loooking westward here in the eastern part of germany in JO61VC / Dresden . Some days before 40 meters was only good for contacts more than 800/900 km . Lets try with new antennas for 80 meters . The winter is coming early … 73 s and best wishes from Bernd DL2DXA . TNX for all our contact s!!