Friday, November 3, 2017

Weekend Propagation Outlook

Propagation maps are looking bleak between Europe and North America. That said, actual results have been good between about 2200 and 0300+ (I'm not sure about the end time because I haven't seen loggings past this time).

I used the VOA propagation models at The images depicted here all come from that site. Feel free to go to the site and check propagation for your region. For transmission power and mode, I used 100 watts of SSB because that seems like a pretty standard baseline for North American pirates & for at least some of the European pirates who might want to be testing specifically to reach across continents.

For the first image, I used Harrisburg, PA, as the location because it's the closest one to my location and that way no one will feel like I'm giving away their location. Here is 100 watts into a dipole about 30 feet above the ground on 14.1 MHz (essentially the same for either 13900-13950 kHz or 15010-15090 kHz).

 As you can see, a station with these specs should do very well into the deep South, Spain, western North America, all of Canada, and (whether or not anyone is listening) Greenland, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, and northern South America.

Next up, the same specs, except at 2100 UTC:

Fairly similar, but a bigger 1st skip hole and a great shot at South Africa and maybe a weak signal into Japan, South Korean, etc. Of course, there's also a nice zone for Angola, Namibia, and the Sahara, but I've never seen any reports from those areas.

Now, I'll switch over to Europe. I picked Netherlands because it's the hotbed of activity in Europe. Here's 100 watts SSB into an antenna about 30 feet high at 0000 UTC:

I'm really encouraged by this because we've been hearing some stations from Europe the past week and although I'm sure that some of the variables are different (power, antenna height, mode, and location), overall this picture is bleak and it doesn't look like much anything would be audible in the U.S. or most of Canada. The fact that a few stations have been heard this week with better than average signals makes me think that actual propagation this weekend should be a bit better than what's shown here.

Now, to see what happens when the frequency drops. Here are the same variables but on 5.3 MHz (think just below 49 meters):

 The signal is surprisingly good, but we haven't heard any pirates using 57XX kHz or so lately, so we really don't have any real results to compare it to. Still, it looks like a Dutch station operating on these lower frequencies has the chance to have a great signal in all of Europe, parts of Asia, and still have a chance to be heard in northeastern North America. Something to keep an eye on.

For about the past two decades, the primetime tests for Dutch stations who want to be heard in North America are about 15030-15080 kHz between about 1500 and 1600 UTC. Here's the same test except with the transmitter on 14.1 MHz (roughly the same) at 1500 UTC:

Not so great results for the Northeast, but as you can see, this looks great for anyone in the western half of North America who doesn't typically expect to log Europirates! Also, this looks good for DXers in Australia and New Zealand.

Even though propagation looks challenging, it appears that propagation will allow plenty of opportunities to hear stations in different parts of the world.

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