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SlcDX
06-01-2009, 07:50 PM
Okay, so I did get the first Es of the season already here I think, and none since then (yesterday) but now I have another question or two.

First of all, can someone help me interpret this map:

http://www.ubstudios.com/dx/6109_430pmMST.jpg
Some of the lines go right through Salt Lake City. Should I be getting Es too, or not?

Second of all, if the MUF in my area is only 50 (as of this post) does that mean frequencies that skip will only be 50 Mhz or below. I'm so confused! :confused: Does it have to be above 87 to hear FM skipping?

Right now as I write this there is a huge opening in the midwest. The info on the bottom says MUF = 87 mhz. But its not even close to my area. So no skip for me? How does this work?

I apologize for asking so many questions, but since yesterday, I've been eagerly awaiting my next catch. Thanks for all the help :D

Jim Thomas
06-01-2009, 10:33 PM
Okay, so I did get the first Es of the season already here I think, and none since then (yesterday) but now I have another question or two.

First of all, can someone help me interpret this map:

http://www.ubstudios.com/dx/6109_430pmMST.jpg
Some of the lines go right through Salt Lake City. Should I be getting Es too, or not?

Second of all, if the MUF in my area is only 50 (as of this post) does that mean frequencies that skip will only be 50 Mhz or below. I'm so confused! :confused: Does it have to be above 87 to hear FM skipping?

Right now as I write this there is a huge opening in the midwest. The info on the bottom says MUF = 87 mhz. But its not even close to my area. So no skip for me? How does this work?

I apologize for asking so many questions, but since yesterday, I've been eagerly awaiting my next catch. Thanks for all the help :D


First Justin - I will say you might possibly get several comments here. There are several seasoned dxers in this sector (er, club), so you won't be steered wrong.

The lines are obviously two way communications (QSO's in ham-talk) for amateur radio operators, with a 'verie', or verifications of a contact - exchange of calls, etc. The MUF is just an estimation and not a guarantee that it is that high (or possibly it is higher than what you are reading at the time). There is a big debate about how they arrive at the MUF on the map for 6 meters, especially when they say the estimate shows it in the FM range.

When you see red lines coming through your area, there is a possibility that skip is into your area - BUT, again - the realtime MUF in your area may not be sufficient for skip into the FM band. IF there are no QSO's being reported in your near area (activity is another area of the US), all you can do is wait and see if something pops up or something starts moving. You have to think of the skip zone like a 'cloud' and that it can move. Many times it does. I've tracked skip 'clouds' that started with reception into Arizona, and over a few hours tracked north-easterly and into Canada before 'closing down'.

Do not apologize for asking questions. You have to remember its like being in school - ASK QUESTIONS or you won't learn very much.

K4NBF
06-01-2009, 10:56 PM
Don't worry too much about what DX Sherlock says the MUF is, there are several variables that could cause the MUF to be inaccurate. It is often in the ballpark, but I've had Es into FM with it showing an MUF of 60 MHz.

This is a good illustration of a typical Es opening: http://dxfm.com/images/Es_skip_zone.jpg, as Jim said, the DX Sherlock lines are paths between two ham radio operators who've made a contact. The paths themselves are not as important as the endpoints. If you are located near one of the endpoints, Es are likely affecting your area. Following the diagram above, if you are located anywhere along that narrow "circle" at a fixed radius from the Es cloud in the middle of the path, Es are also likely. However, this should all be taken very loosely, as Es clouds vary in size, intensity, tilt, etc., and the best way to check for Es is simply to tune around on the quietest frequencies you have.

SlcDX
06-02-2009, 01:37 AM
Another thing I've noticed with the Sony, I found by recording an open frequency for quite some time.

A very very (and likely semi-local or translator) weak signal sometimes faded in, but was barely eligible through the static.

I think I've said it before, but the audio also has little chirps. 88.1 is very close to 88.3, KCPW, which is barely 6 miles to the north, but not very high wattage. Other blank frequencies don't have the chirp, just steady static. I haven't heard any stations pop up through the static yet.

I guess I just have to be patient. This is only my third season dealing with Es/Tr etc. Maybe I'm wanting it to happen too much?

cd637299
06-02-2009, 02:29 AM
Hard to say.....I have been without Es for the last 3 days here, but I never know if or when something pops up.

Here's what I like to do, if no thunderstorms are forecast. For TV, I'll set my VCR to SLP mode to channel 3 & let it run for 6 hours while I am at work. You would not believe what I have caught while away at work. My best ch 3 Guatemala reception ever, was in 2000 doing just that. Being in SLC, just because analog shuts off in June, remember that Canada & Mexico still have 2 years of analog left. After June 12, you can set it to ch 2 (lowest TV Es ch)....you just might bag something.

All in all, Es takes patience.

cd

SlcDX
06-02-2009, 03:22 AM
Here is a typical recording of what a blank frequency here sounds like on the Sony. I'm not sure if its the radio, the antenna, or just how things go.

92.1 FM 11 Seconds (http://www.ubstudios.com/dx/10sec999.mp3)

92.1 has a station about 40 miles to the south of here, but the antenna wasn't aimed at the station during this recording. I wonder if its just the station trying to come in.

Edit - Again, not all blank frequencies sound like this, just a few.

Jim Thomas
06-02-2009, 11:20 AM
It almost sounds like IBOC noise from an adjacent channel. Do you have a nearby station on 91.9 or 92.3 thats broadcasting HD? Otherwise, that sounds like t-storm static. I have a few frequencies that have a similar sound that I attribute to HD (IBOC) artifacts from adjacent channel HD stations, because that sound is always there. You say the sound isn't on all of your open frequencies, so I would discount the Sony as being the culprit of the noise, or the antenna, for that matter.

I am going to venture out on a limb and say you are anxious as a 'newbie' to the hobby. Here is a suggestion you can do to 'fill in the gaps' while you're waiting for some real dx. Put together a list of potential target stations in your area that you haven't heard yet but are realistically possible (open frequencies, logical distance for TrS <up to 300 miles>, etc) and try working on them when you have dx time. It helps if your antenna is easily movable (rotator or 'armstrong' method) and you have something like the FM Atlas to tell you what stations are out there and where they are. You can then work on 'dxing' the stations on your list and add them to your logbook.

Jim Thomas
06-02-2009, 02:23 PM
I just looked up a picture of the antenna you are using and no offense Justin - but that antenna is not going to get you much on FM. You need to be shopping for an FM yagi, IF your space and budget will allow for it. Even a 6 element Radio Shack FM antenna will do much better (about $20).

w9wi
06-02-2009, 02:23 PM
First of all, can someone help me interpret this map:

http://www.ubstudios.com/dx/6109_430pmMST.jpg
Some of the lines go right through Salt Lake City. Should I be getting Es too, or not?


I don't see any endpoints in Utah, it looks like the skip is all overhead.



Second of all, if the MUF in my area is only 50 (as of this post) does that mean frequencies that skip will only be 50 Mhz or below. I'm so confused! :confused: Does it have to be above 87 to hear FM skipping?


It does, but this map may not accurately reflect the MUF.

It's based on ham radio reports. Thing is, to get a skip report over a given path on a given frequency, there have to be two hams operating on that frequency. (one transmitting and the other listening) If there's nobody listening in Cedar City, the band may be wide open but it won't show up on the map. Similarly, if the band is wide open to SLC with a MUF of 95MHz but the hams are only listening to 50 and 144MHz, they're going to report a MUF of 50MHz.

I would be VERY careful about taking online skip predictions too seriously. If they say the band *is* open at your location, it probably is -- but if they say it *isn't* open, don't assume they're right!