Since becoming licensed, I have spent some time evaluating the general state of HF band propagation conditions in mid-2017 through both pure scientific data and Twitter / Reddit anecdotes. Needless to say, the general consensus is grim!
The bands are dead.
That might be the most common quote I have read online. I have not had the luxury of transmitting during the peak of the solar cycle, so I have little to compare the current conditions to. None the less, I’m having a blast. I see weak band conditions as an opportunity to do the impossible – to chase the furthest DX with the absolute weakest power in the worst of conditions. I’m not sure what that says about my personality.
WSPR to The Rescue
I’ve discovered WSPR and have had a lot of fun with it. It’s pretty much completely hands off and fully automated, the type of thing I can do while multitasking. That’s right up my alley.
The featured image at the top of this post was achieved in a 20 minute period on the 20 meter band (14.095.60 to be specific) at 100 milliwatts with a piece of copper wire I hung up on the inside of the house on a window shade.
Sure, it’s no big time DX SSB phone contact, but in these times of dead bands I’m having a blast on weak signal digital modes. Get out there and WSPR!