Saturday, October 08, 2011

Sunspot Maximum

We are about to reach the peak of the 11 year sunspot cycle!

So what does it mean? Well, today I listened on the 10m band during the day to find the band open with lots of stations coming in from all over the world! America and Brazil coming in at 5-9 with little noise. Fantastic!

There is much more to come as the predicted maximum is between January and May 2013 with a steady build up of sunspot activity.

So what happens at Sunspot maximum? Basically, the 'F' layer of the ionosphere becomes more ionised and is able to reflect radio signals in the upper short wave bands that would normally have passed through into space. So Amateur bands like 28Mhz, 50Mhz and even 70Mhz will be affected causing long distance radio communication across the world. This will tend to happen more during the day and communication can be made even with low power.

I am looking forward to seeing what stations I can hear and work with my Yaesu FT817 and 5 watts. I still have my FT101E which will give me 150w if I need it!

I remember back in 1980 at the sunspot maximum when I had a converted Belcom Liner 2 in my car and a 27Mhz CB antenna. The stations that I worked with just 10 watts was amazing! I talked to America, Russia and even a guy on a ship in the Panama Canal while driving to work!

I also remember driving home from Yorkshire with Kathleen, my wife, who was pregnant at the time watching an amazing sunset with 3 or 4 large visible sunspots, that was in 1980.

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