Notes on 20m propagation

I tried working FT8 this morning (between about 10-12:30) on 20m. The received signals have a much lower strength; I'm not sure if it's due to timezones (aka who's transmitting) but it was rare to see a signal above -10 dB. Compare that to yesterday afternoon where I saw a much higher average signal strength. This is subjective (I could calculate averages from my logs but ¯_(ツ)_/¯).

Now, this wouldn't be so problematic except that I have only 5W of transmitter power.

Also I made my first HF voice contact; I heard the conversation going on for a POTA (relatively close by at just under 40 miles I think). Receive quality was potato like - again, propagation conditions weren't really favourable and my antenna is pretty low to the ground.

Still no dice with JS8call, but I'll keep working it. I did manage to reach Russia tonight, but a lot of my replies to CQs go unanswered, probably because I have a QRP transmitter and a suboptimal antenna setup. I tried my radio with a longer (maybe 100', I don't know) RG8 run and my receive went to shit, so I probably need to grab a 50' or a 30' cable to run into my office so I don't have to work on the back table in full sunlight where my radio starts getting real hot.

I think relatively soon I'll be picking up some more RF gear: a Xiegu G90, a portable HF vertical, maybe some poles, and maybe a Kantronics KPC-3 TNC to do some digital things on HF. Along with that, a solar battery / generator setup for SOTA/POTA/field day stuff. More transmit power would be nice and probably would help with the unanswered messages.


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