I’ve been at a bit of an impass on 40m lately. All of the states that it was easy for me to get I already have claimed towards Worked All States on that band, and while I can often hear a variety of juicy stations in the DX-Sphere, I just couldn’t hit most of them.
In the evenings, say around 7-9PM local time, my signal floats on the west, and southern ends of the United States and not much else.
The few stations that I can hear from other parts of the country I’m still trying to get confirmed seem to be the same ones night after night, and I’ve chased those stations fruitlessly over and over without making any gains.
So it’s been a little bit frustrating to get on and work several hours FT8 digital for a single needed contact. Or sometimes none!
But a sleepless night last evening had me getting up at 2am, and turning on the radio while I waited to get sleepy.
Holy Leaping Japanese Hams, Batman!!
The first signals decoded on FT8 at 2AM were a literal WALL of solid Japanese stations busily working digital from end to end of their tiny island country!
I really have never seen so many “J” prefix callsigns in one place, ever.
Even better, they could actually hear me.
I know Japan has a very high density of amateur radio operators for such a small country. I heard one estimate that there were a couple million hams in Japan, and that their antennas are quite close to one another.
But seeing the 2AM 40m band activity wall to wall standing room only with Japanese stations really drives that home.
I made four contacts to Japan, while I was up, in spite of the propagation fluctuations being fairly rowdy.
Entertainingly, when one Japanese station sees you making a contact with another Japanese station, they pile on you rapidly one after another. It was Glorious!
I also encountered stations from South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Venezuela, Columbia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asiatic Russia, Panama, Belize to name a few.
East Coast 40m Alive and Answering
As an added bonus, the half of the country that can’t hear me at a more civilized time of night was copying me loud and clear. I was able to grab THREE needed states in that short window before the approach of daylight on the east coast seemed to perturb the band till it fell off.
Temperature Fluctuations and Band Fading/Disruption
I have a theory that changes in the temperature of the atmosphere ahead of the approach of sunlight, or the ebbing of sunlight create significant churn in the ionosphere, that make the signals fluctuate wildly till a new equilibrium is reached and the layer is re-established and settled.
At least that’s what it looks like to me, as I see a margin of no signal reports on both side of the grayline which seems to move with the grayline. This has seemed more influential and obvious on 40m than other bands I’ve worked.
I went back to bed at 4am, happy, and having learned something new about 40m.
So if you’re having trouble making specific state or DX contacts at one time of day, try a different time slot. You might have to get up in the middle of the night a few times to do it, but for me at least, it was worth it.
Now I’m off for a nap 🙂
73, and see you on the air!