Sunday, June 13, 2010

Uranus to blame for poor propagation

A recently published paper suggests that the peaks of the next two solar cycles are likely to have greatly reduced sunspot activity similar to solar cycles 5 & 6 during the Dalton Minimum of 1790 to 1830. Solar records going back over 11,000 years have been correlated with planetary ephemeris and the results appear to show that solar cycles are affected by the position of the solar system's outer gas giants Uranus and Neptune.

However I'm not sure what is more depressing: the thought that I'm unlikely to see a solar maximum in which ten metres is wide open for worldwide propagation during my lifetime, or the reaction of some of our fellow amateurs to the news on "WHY CRY about it? Buy a BIGGER antenna & amp for the bands you enjoy & have FUN!" read one comment. "All the whiners about hams using kilowatt amps will be crying constantly. Life is too short for QRP." went another.

QRPers have been having fun throughout the extended solar minimum of the last few years and will no doubt continue to do so despite the dearth of sunspots. What is sadder, in my opinion, is the passing of an era when radio amateurs were all thoughtful, intelligent, articulate, considerate and gentlemanly individuals who treated their fellow enthusiasts, whatever their interests, with respect.


goody said...

Uranus may be to blame for bad propagation, but anuses are to blame for :-)


Bob VE3MPG said...

We colonials are still a gentlemanly bunch Julian.

I've worked lots of DX with 20 watts during the minimum. Seemed normal to me.


Paul Stam PAØK said...

Throughout the sunspot minimum I worked 76 DXCC countries with 5 watt. I see it as a challenge to see what is possible under poor conditions with QRP or low power. This encourage my feelings for radio experiments. 73 Paul

PE4BAS, Bas said...

Well, of course propagation is not as good as it used to be but still there were contacts between Europe and Australia/USA on 10m last year. Doesn't that count for worldwide? I agree with Paul, it's a big challenge with QRP and we will be greatly satisfied when we finally make a contact. That feels a lot better then making a contact on 10m with New Zealand within 5 minutes of switching on your radio. 73, Bas

QRP Station M6RDP said...

Morning Julian,

It is indeed sad that 24 years or more could pass without a decent solar maximum. I remember 2000 and it was great fun hearing all the aircraft come in from the Pacific and hearing WWVH time signal in Hawaii. All I can hear is the North Atlantic on aero now and it is boring. And I can't remember the last time I heard Radio Australia clearly on shortwave.

Then, as you say, to add insult to injury you get a whole lot of HAMS imploring you to turn up your power and saying that stupid "Life's too short for QRP" comment.

Gentlemanliness is indeed going out of the window. Why is this do you suppose? My Mum & Dad's values and polite habits are seen by most youngsters nowadays as simply old-fashioned and out-dated.

Bye for now, Adam

Jeff Davis, KE9V said...

Several years ago I postulated "what if" HF propagation doesn't return to what we'd consider healthy form until after we're all dead and was derided for making such a silly suggestion...

It seems to me that if we're in for really long-term lousy band conditions on HF, radio amateurs will simply evolve their operations and we're likely to see more experimentation/operation on VHF and UHF.

And, probably, like it or not, much more Internet linking in our future.

That may not be "better" but almost anything beats this interim period of waiting where every time a single sunspot appears, the ham blogs light up with, "now that the next solar cycle is underway" postings...

Seen a million of those and am still betting on a Maunder. :-)

73 de Jeff, KE9V

Theodore said...

This is an excerpt from the discussion and illustrates what I would like to say further:

" This is just a rehash of the hypothesis put forward by Theodore Landscheidt.
He suggested that due to the effect of the planets, especially the large outer ones, the sunspot activity would be affected.
The Sun does not rotate around its centre, but is offset due to this effect.
Landscheidt hypothesised that due to this and the changing planetary positions, there would be a deep solar minimum from 2000 onward, with increased cooling of the earth as a result.
Keep in mind he was born in 1927!
I personally think he is probably correct, as it makes sense that the mixing and turbulence caused by the centre of mass of the Sun having to heave around an offset centre would cause all sorts of effects.
Landscheidt was dismissed as an astrologist for his views of planetary influence on the Sun and indirectly the Earths weather.
But as happens so many times, take Wegener on continental drift and Lorenz of chaos theory fame for example, the "experts" eventually "discover" the same effects.
Does the fact that Jupiter has a 12 year period and the Sun has an approximately 11.8 year average sunspot cycle seem as just co-incidence.
Perhaps, but although correlation does not imply causation, it also does not exclude it.
I think I will build my station with a view to continued gray line propagation as my primary path and stock up on warm clothes - just in case. "

* End of excerpt *

Theodore Landscheidt (no relation) is one of those historical figures, who like many others before computers took the place of brains, used the greatest gift of humanity, a brain that can transcend logic.
The famous turing machine halting problem is one example where a computer can not determine if there is an end to certain problems until it executes all infinite possibilities.
The brain though, intuitively "knows" the answer.
When you compare the previous men of science who worked out the laws of physics with candles and wine glass telescopes, it makes you wonder if we do not rely on computers too much.

It is as ludicrous for some physicists to claim credit for something which was intuitively (and mathematically) determined long ago, by running some simulations.
Prior to this minimum, these simulations were also predicting cycle 24 would be massively huge.

I am no luddite and enjoy mathematics as a hobby but think the concept of simulation as reality is turning us into imbeciles.
There are merits in simulation, for example in the realm of chaotic attractors, simulations I read about in the eighties predicted that a bipolar superpower configuration was stable but a unipolar one was not.
This has been borne out in fact, but the nature of the instabilities are immutable.

As in peak oil which was predicted by M. King Hubbert in the U.S. many years before it happened (and was ridiculed until 1971 when his prediction for the U.S. peak came true), Landscheidt predicted what "modern science" is now starting to accept.

Theodore said...

On the subject of manners, I blame their decline in the rise of both population and secularism.
With more people comes an increase in competition for both the basics of life (housing, food, jobs) and social position. This entrenches a "dog eat dog" culture which gradually squeezes out genteel behaviour and manners.
Manners are nothing more than a social convention which is routinely adopted as basic education by the wealthy and aristorcratic classes to differentiate themselves from the "masses".
The acquisition of manners implies covertly that you have had the time and wealth to acquire basically useless attributes.
In times past this extended to having footmen and other servants who were dressed in such ornate livery that they are obviously not capable of much work.
This implied you were so wealthy as to be able to have even humans in your employ who were not productive.
The learning of useless "dead" languages such as Latin or ancient greek is another example of acquiring useless skills to show your wealth.
Nowdays, with mainly business men who have the wealth (and so must be always working) it is up to the wives to spend money recklessly to show their husbands wealth.

With the coming of industrialisation and the need for a workforce which does not attribute machine breakdown to demons or magic, it was necessary to steer people away from the supernatural and towards secularism.
This process has had the side effect of promoting relativism which implies the end justifies the means, and absolute limits are discarded in favour of "going with modern thinking".
This is illustrated in the book "momo" which although a childrens book shows what happens to a town when the "time is money" paradigm is allowed to rule.

So with the huge boost to food production made possible by the discovery and utilisation of oil, and the rise of secularism, manners are now restricted to small cliques.

One hundred years ago there were around 1 billion people, now it is close to 7 billion - this wont last as the oil is now declining - but in the interim, with regret, don't expect a return to a mannered society.

Unknown said...

Some good points here. I've always suspected that cycles such as this have a natural cause and am inclined to believe that the explanation for global warming has a similar basis.

As for how ham radio will adapt to this, I believe Jeff is right. On the one hand we have the prospect of dismal HF propagation, on the other ever rising noise levels from digital equipment that make the reception of weak short wave signals ever more difficult. The guys who brag about their towers, beams and linears may be able to overcome this, but what they forget is that they need the people like us running 100W to a piece of wet string in the attic to make up the numbers, otherwise those using the amateur HF bands become too few to justify the spectrum space.

Towers, beams and amps just aren't an option for most people, so there is really nowhere else for the rest of us to go except VHF.

Theodore said...

Yes Julian, you are so right.
It is becoming increasingly the case that I hear a station calling cq incessantly with many stations calling him and no reply.
Eventually we all give up.
I think this is probably the Kilowatt clause being enforced:
A man with a megaphone may be heard at 200 feet, but wont hear the answer from guys whispering!

mvandewettering said...

To those hams who claim that life is too short for QRP, I would reply that it is no virtue to do with more what can be done with less.