50MHz Transequatorial propagation (TEP)

March 4th showed a lot of promise for 6m, with the Total Electron Content (TEC) map (from NASA JPL) showing a very favourable “bubble”. Keith G4FUF reported that indicators were already strong with him by mid-morning, e.g. on 41,424MHz (probably from Iran, or perhaps Cyprus, and heard here at S9+) and the Iranian TV carrier on 48.251MHz. Indeed, sidebands from the Iranian TV carrier were rapidly approaching 50MHz.

The usual Eastern Mediterranean path opened to South Africa fairly early and, at approximately 11:55z, I heard ZS6A (KG43EU/9383km) on 50.110MHz CW for no more than a couple of minutes before he disappeared again, working SV, etc.

The band started to open here again at 12:33z, with a CW signal heard from ZS6RJ (KG44DD/9350km) – quite loud, but unfortunately off frequency and gone by the time I’d tuned. At the same time I heard a weak SSB signal from ZS6MAW (KG44CH/9329km) but was unable to attract his attention.

My first QSO was at 12:38z with ZS6AYE (KG54ML/9420km) who peaked nicely just as I called him, followed by ZS6A at 12:50z, ZS6NK (KG46RC/9192km) at 12:54z and ZS6WN (KG46SC/9195km) on CW at 13:03z. The last signal heard here was from ZS6NK at around 13:15z, after he had peaked 59 for five minutes or so.

Some audio clips from my QSOs are here:

All QSOs were made with the FT857D barefoot (100W, no preamp) into a 6el LFA2 at about 16m agl. At no point did I hear anything from the 9J2 expedition, nor did I hear any beacons.

As I write this conditions have retreated back to more southerly latitudes. Hopefully we’ll get another peak in 27 days (or, if we’re lucky, before) – or maybe some early Sporadic-E propagation to give us the first hop into the Mediterranean area!

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