Wednesday, August 5, 2009

10m and the Ionosphere

The 10-m band is well known for extreme variations in characteristics and variety of propagation modes. During solar maxima, long-distance F2 propagation is so efficient that very low power can produce strong signals halfway around the globe. DX is abundant with modest equipment. Under these conditions, the band is usually open from sunrise to a few hours past sunset. During periods of moderate solar activity, 10 m usually opens only to low and transequatorial latitudes around noon. During the solar minimum, there may be no F2 propagation at any time during the day or night. Sporadic E is fairly common on 10 m, especially May through August, although it may appear at any time. Short skip, as it is sometimes called on the HF bands, has little relation to the solar cycle and occurs regardless of F-layer conditions. It provides single-hop communication from 300 to 2300 km (190 to 1400 mi) and multiple-hop opportunities of 4500 km (2800 mi) and farther. Ten meters is a transitional band in that it also shares some of the propagation modes more characteristic of VHF. Meteor scatter, aurora, auroral E and transequatorial spread-F provide the means of making contacts out to 2300 km (1400 mi) and farther, but these modes often go unnoticed at 28 MHz. Techniques similar to those used at VHF can be very effective on 10 m, as signals are usually stronger and more persistent. These exotic modes can be more fully exploited, especially during the solar minimum when F2 DXing has waned.

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