Sunday, June 9, 2013

Two nature parks on one day

Lousy propagation but nice results

This Saturday featured the GreenParty (organised by YOFF). I knew beforehand I would not be able to go out that day, so when the Friday became available (no work or family obligations) I decided to use the time to go /P.

Scanning the list of most wanted parks I selected two in the northern part of the Netherlands: PAFF-029 De Velden (Drenthe) and PAFF-001 Alde Feanen (Friesland). Both are about 1,5 hours drive from my home and about 1 hour drive distance from each other. A lot of driving, but with a full day available that was quite acceptable.

My plan would depend on the propagation conditions. If they were lousy, I planned to quit after one activity. If they were mediocre to good I would do two activities.

Checking the solar widget in the morning really brought disappointment: all band conditions were predicted to be "poor". With a high A and K and low SSN, I was in for a challenge.
Although I did not know if I would be able to use it, I brought my hexbeam plus alu mast just to be sure I would be able to work at least some stations.

De Velden (PAFF-029)
I started at De Velden (PAFF-029) on 20m with my end fed set up vertically. I did not bother to check the higher bands - my cluster app told me that the prediction was quite accurate: no activity above 20m.

Very sunny operating position @ PAFF-029
The first 90 minutes brought mainly EU contacts between 55-59 with a lot of stations around 57. I would guess most stations were about 2 s-units down from their usual strength. Only three stations outside of Europe came by in that period: UA9, UN and 7X.
Then Rick VO1SA came by, showing at least some opening towards NA (he was in the end the only NA station I copied - and quite close by with only 4100km between us). Surprisingly also FY came by a couple of minutes later. He set the record at PAFF-029.

After 2 hours of operating things started to slow down and I decided to set up my hexbeam - in hindsight probably only to give me the feeling I did not bring the antenna and the mast in vain. I still had some fixing to do after dropping the beam (for a second time...) last Wednesday. After about an hour of working in the hot sun I listened around to find that all bands were really dead. I did work one EA on 6m and I logged an E7FF operation by three OK operators on 20m - bringing the total amount of contacts to 144.

Then I took everything down again leaving just enough time to drive to Alde Feanen (PAFF-001). Results were good enough to try another park.

Alde Feanen (PAFF-001)
Here I found a place in the shadow - convenient as it was one of the first warm days. Being in the shadow does limit the usability of the hexbeam (not fond of trees), so I took my 20m end fed out again.

Operating in the shadow @ PAFF-001
Conditions seemed the same as in the morning, maybe just slightly better. I again logged mostly EU stations the first 90 minutes with the exception of one UA9, UK8 and Malkiel 4X4JU who boomed in with his new beam.

When 20m slowed down I decided to try 15m as the cluster showed at least some activity. In 20 minutes I only logged 7 contacts, bringing the total in this park to 128. There were however three DX stations amongst them: A4 (new band) and 2xYC (max. QRB for the day: 11.300km). I also spoke to a G0 station and found out later that he was the first G station I contacted on 15m. Evidently not a regular skip distance for this band.

Even though conditions were lousy I did log 272 calls and scored three "new band slots", for A4, G and ZB. That does not happen often - not even when conditions are great. So driving the long end home I was pleased with a day well spent.


  1. Mooi gedaan Lars. Een hele dag voor radio hobby heb ik niet vaak. Jij hebt er ook veel voor over om een nieuwe PAFF te activeren. Mooi aantal verbindingen ondanks de barre propagatie dezer dagen. 73, Bas

    1. Tnx Bas. Ja, als /P amateur moet je toch steeds weer een nieuw doel zien te vinden...
      73, Lars.

  2. Hallo Lars,

    Toen ik vrijdag j.l. je twitterbericht las en net daarvoor de propagaties had bekeken, had ik er een zwaar hoofd in.
    Toch vallen de resultaten niet tegen. Je ziet maar weer, wie doorzet die wint.
    Mijn complimenten!
    73 Hans, PE1BVQ