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Well.. that was the (Es) season that was...

Posted: 04 Oct 2020 16:34
by Jim (Bournemouth)
Just realised I hadn't got round to this yet, but every year I like to post a personal reflection of the Sporadic E season.
Finished entering my logs for this year into a ham logging program, to enable me to track DXCC countries and grids logged on Band 2.

I also compare my gut feel about a season to the Es progress chart on the Make More Miles on VHF website, which while it reflects 2m openings, I find it usually gives a very good approximation of my own view of a season. The graph this year indicates that it was the best season since 2006, and the stats and bargraphs for "high MUF" also make interesting reading. These indicate that April was better than half the Mays in the last 10 years, and that May was better than half the Junes over the same period!

There is no doubt that 2020 was a real belter, (making up for 2019 being such a damp squib).. and remarkably one I never expected to be at home for in its entirety due to being furloughed from work. COVID19 has screwed up so much for so many people, this was probably its only redeeming feature......

I will add a qualification here, that I appreciate that there was quite a strong tapering-off of conditions for those to the north and west.

It was the best in my eight seasons on Band 2, and an absolute VINTAGE one for long haul 6m openings. I logged 113 countries on 6m on FT8 from the Far East to the West Coast of USA and a lot in between... in no previous season had I managed more than 98.
2m also produced some outstanding openings and the 29th May opening will go down in history as one of the best, if not THE best ever on that band. Certainly was like nothing I've ever experienced before in 36 years on 2m.

So to Band 2.
In terms of countries (DXCC) and grids logged here, it was the best ever, (with still some time for further autumnal tropo). 57 countries logged (5 were new: Faeroes, Ukraine at last, Crete, Kosovo, Palestine) and 289 grids. Both are personal bests. In total I now have 66 countries/413 grids. It was also pleasing to pick up 16 new grids this year when I would expect they would be much harder to get this year.
By comparison, the miserable 2014 gave me 38 countries and 163 grids.

In terms of ther "feel" of the season, given the MMMoVHF stats, it seems strange to say - but Band 2 could have been better. After the excellent last 10 days of May, there were a distinct lack of openings during the first half of June (after the 1st) at a time when ironically I'd have been home anyway. It seems that the action was persistently just a bit too far east during this period. But for furlough, I'd have felt rather cheated for the 2nd year in a row!
Things picked up during 2nd half of the month and July was pretty decent too. August was a bit disappointing (borne out by the graphs).

It was good to see some excellent openings on more northern paths; three separate openings to Iceland for example, normally lucky to get one.
I wasnt lucky enough to catch some of the longer paths (bar ISR/PSE) - Dave B got some great logs to the east to Georgia and Azerbaijan for example.

Lets hope for a similar season in 2021, bight be a bit too much to ask for!

Re: Well.. that was the (Es) season that was...

Posted: 04 Oct 2020 17:05
by daveB
Dave B got some great logs to the east to Georgia and Azerbaijan for example.
And it almost never happened! - but for a moments distraction I would have been recording 96.5-105.5 MHz and not 87.5 - 96.5 MHz - as I had meant to set up the frequency manager to change between bocks, but missed the time tick. Talk about 'right place, right time'. I got one station from Israel this year - a 10 second or so 'blob' that I decided to check.

My impression of the 2020 season is that in general the openings lacked duration and intensity, after the early promise of May - but I think this would have favoured DX as wipe-outs by Spanish or Italians stations was almost absent.

But at the same it was the best OIRT season I've had with many more days of openings than previous years - shame Band I TV is almost dead.

And until some decent tropo comes round I've got a huge pile of recordings to go through, and a new powerful computer to do the processing.

Re: Well.. that was the (Es) season that was...

Posted: 04 Oct 2020 20:41
by Nick Gilly
I can't complain here. Israel and Turkey were received on May 25th, there were three openings to CNR, two of which had stations other than the 'usual' RNE Radio Clásica on 87.7, several Libyans were logged, and I had my best ever openings to Scandinavia and Iceland. On May 29th the band was open until a little past 2 am local on the 30th. Having said that, the first half of the season was considerably better than the second half, and August went out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Overall, a very good season.

Re: Well.. that was the (Es) season that was...

Posted: 04 Oct 2020 21:13
by daveB
On May 29th the band was open until a little past 2 am local on the 30th.
I had completely forgotten about that late night/early morning opening. It was captured by my background scanning set-up (RTL-dongle+FM Suite plug-in for SDR#). The last station captured was Ondacero on 90.9 at 02:01:52 BST, 15 min before that Ondacero on 106.5 was logged. Over the 3 hr opening the scn log holds close on a hundred entris. These were mostly from Spain, with a smattering of Portuguese and N. African stations amongst them.

I really have got a lot of stuff to log over the off-season. Maybe another pleasant surprise is hiding in there somewhere