The Wide Route Along the Equator Click here to go back to the home page

by Kurt Bindschedler, S79MX

During my four-week stay in March in the Seychelles, I made, despite tremendous efforts, only half as many contacts on six metres as last year in the same time period. It wasn't possible to get in touch with European stations north of 40 degrees. In brief, I made 152 contacts into 33 countries, of which eight countries were new ones for me. I'd like to report here a few highlights.

On March 21st (at the equinox) around 20 UTC, I heard for the very first time two strong PYØ stations. After we said goodbye, surprisingly no other station called one of us. The next day, at 19 UTC, I was able to work several stations in the Caracas area in Venezuela, both on CW and phone. After that I didn't hear any other stations, but later I spotted CW signals from HP2CWB in Colon, Panama. I'm proud to have his confirmation. The calculated distance is14,989 km.

Figure 1: A graph showing openings observed by S79MX v/s solar parameters. It is hard to see any correlation between traditionally 'good' numbers and band openings.

The following day, once more around 19 UTC, I heard two Spanish-speaking stations. Remembering a Spanish beginner's course, I attracted their attention. Immediately one came back saying: "Aqui es Colombia HK4CZE". We then started to chat with a Spanish/English mix. His companion, HK4SAN, was disappointed about the poor report I passed to him. There followed a discussion about the geographical position of the Seychelles. One was fortunate enough to have his antenna straight east, whereas the other had his to the north. Eventually both were S 8 on the meter. Other six-metre hams in the Medellin area were alerted but no additional contact was established.

I was glad to talk with the two fellows again the next day, although about three-quarters of an hour earlier. The alarm was given again by landline but I could not copy any other stations. I was furthermore surprised that there were no other stations calling.

In addition, I made a few more long distance contacts, with Trinidad, Antigua and El Salvador. P49MR didn't come back to my calls, although his signal was S 5.

My log shows 14 contacts above a distance of 10,000 km, in the period March 22nd to 25th. I think a quiet, undisturbed high density zone along the zero-dip equator, near equinox, is the explanation. Instead of the usual F2 multi-hop, I imagine a kind of tube in which the radio waves travel, with very small input and output footprints.

With reference to the solar flux and geomagnetic A-index etc figures, I can't make out a correlation with the occurrence of openings (see figure 1). There must be a delay factor, and only some areas of the globe benefit from `favourable' solar parameters. On March 12th, despite the fact that the flux was 158 and the A-index 5, I worked 46 stations located in the Far East, Africa and Southern Europe.

I hope to try it again next year.

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