The DSES Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance Monitor (SID) detected in September several major solar eruptions – M and X Class Flares. Below are shown graphs of the data from four particular days.
The DSES SID instrument is located in Colorado Springs. It works by listening for a US Navy beacon station in North Dakota, call sign NML, transmitting on the Very Low Frequency (VLF) of 25 KHz. During the day, the D Layer of the ionosphere forms at lower altitudes and attenuates the VLF signal. But during solar flares, VLF signals can more easily pass through the D Layer, and they then get bounced back to the ground from the higher F Layer. The more the solar flare activity affecting our ionosphere, the better the VLF signal from NML propagates to us.
Strong solar flare events show a characteristic spike, and then a “shark tail” as the ionosphere recovers.
At night, the D Layer dissipates, and then the signal from NML usually easily reaches the receiver. At local sunrise, at about 1200 UTC, you can see the effect of the D Layer forming with the sudden drop in reception.
You can see evidence that the F Layer is influenced by the solar flares as well. Notice during the X 8.2 Flare on September 10 that the incoming signal becomes even stronger than during normal propagation at night.
The bottom axis of each graph is Greenwich (UTC) Time. The vertical axis shows the received energy. Individual flare events are identified and annotated in green. Some events occurred during local night.
Last November (2016) we tried participating in our first contest. This was the annualARRL Sweepstakes for CW (Morse Code).
The goal of this contest is to contact hams across the U.S. and Canada. As such, it is usually a sociably friendly event. Your points do get multiplied for each ARRL geographical Section you contact. Some Sections are whole states or provinces, like Colorado is its own Section. Some populous states though have a few Sections within them, for example California. If you contact all the Sections in one contest, that is called a “Clean Sweep”, hence the name of the contest. That is a lot of work. For many hams, though, this is just for fun, and a chance to make contacts with other folks in other places. I was looking forward to having some fun making contacts from our site, and bringing our club call sign K0PRTon to the air.
To our surprise we just received a certificate from the ARRL that we wonFirst Placein our category for Colorado! Our category was Muli-Operator (for two or more hams operating) Low Power (less than 150 watts).
We actually only made 8 contacts for the contest: 6 on 20 meters and 2 on 15 meters, to 7 states. Then at that point we discovered our CW signal had a chirp. We were operating on battery power from the site. And when we drew current as we pushed down the telegraph key, the voltage dropped too much. Later we added a regulated power supply to our ham station to solve that problem. But on that day we decided we should just stop, as our signal sounded awful.
And yet, what we did was enough in our category to still earn First Place!
Sometimes there are not many stations operating in a contest as multi-operator low power. I investigated into the contest records, and that was the case this time. That said, I am still proud of what we did. Bringing together a team to operate and have fun is not necessarily easy. And we did this at our remote site. Our category has its challenges. Congratulations to our Club! We earned a First Place certificate. We will have more opportunities.