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Saturday, May 4th, 2013
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20 Meters During Simultaneous RTTY, CW and SSB Contests

Doesn't get too much busier than this. When a contest like this is running, those of us who prefer to talk to one another are basically driven off the bands. We can only listen helplessly to repeated instances of (more or less) "I hear you, what's your callsign, goodbye, next." The point of these contests is simply to make as many contacts as possible within a certain span of time, sometimes with variations like all contacts have to be in one state, or you have to try get all the counties in a state, etc., so all they do during these is exchange callsigns, locations and signal strengths. That sort of thing never tripped my trigger, I'm afraid. I got into amateur radio to talk about technical things with technical people, and I had this idea of talking to people in other countries (remember, no Internet back in the dark ages... ham radio was all we had.) Oh well. There's always snooping around the shortwave bands during these snooze-fests.

As received in Montana, USA, on a Pixel RF Pro-1B magnetic loop using SdrDx. Waterfall and spectrum are using a 32768 resolution FFT across 400 kHz; although we only see some of the resulting data (not that many pixels on screen!), it makes the display considerably sharper as the frequency bins are more precise — there's less display bleedover on CW and data signals, for instance.

We may be near, or even at, the sunspot peak for this solar cycle. It's not that exciting in radio terms, most solar cycles are far more active. The more sunspots there are, generally speaking, the more distance and the more hours a day this particular amateur band is open for communications. Within a year or two, solar activity will have dropped by half, and this band will become very quiet, only useful for shorter distance communications. The next solar peak may be some years away. It's going to be a long, cold winter for HF radio communications on the 20 meter band and above!

#swl #sdrdx #hamradio

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