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Hams In Paradise – FALL 2016

Hams In Paradise – FALL 2016

Welcome to Fall! Well, so far we’re at the peak of hurricane season (early September) and the tropics have been relatively quiet. Florida has experienced its first hurricane in 11-years, so there’s still potential activity in the Caribbean!

One possible explanation for the last several quiet years; dust from the Sahara desert. Saharan dust is a mixture of sand and dust from the Sahara, the vast desert area that covers most of North Africa.

How does it get to the Virgin Islands?

In the Sahara desert in northern Africa, wind blows strongly over deserts – whipping up dust and sand high into the sky. The wind in the upper part of the atmosphere then transports the dust in the direction in which it’s travelling, frequently toward the VI.

Once it is lifted from the ground by strong winds, clouds of dust can reach very high altitudes and be transported worldwide, covering thousands of miles. In order for the dust to get from up in the sky down to the ground, you need something to wash it out of the sky – rain.

When the raindrops fall, they collect particles of dust on the way down. Then when the raindrops land on something and eventually evaporate, they leave behind a layer of dust. The dust also reaches South America at times. In fact, a recent study by NASA scientists has found that the dust acts as a fertilizer for the Amazon rain forest.

Many have studies have indicated that the Sahara dust indeed squelches the formation of hurricanes, but the finer nuances aren’t totally understood. One theory suggests that the reflection of sunlight results in lower ocean surface temperatures, a key ingredient for hurricanes. For a detailed explanation, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineral_dust

PROPAGATION

Cycle 24 began in early 2008 and is on the downward side of the normal 11-year cycle. It is on track to have the lowest recorded sunspot activity since the mid-1700’s.

While this spells disappointment if you’re a high HF band aficionado (15, 10 & 6 meters), it generally means improved conditions on the lower bands, as well as additional use due to the high HF bands being closed nearly all the time.

The contesters are in the Summer doldrums and fixing their antenna systems im preparation for the Fall contest season right around the corner. Falling sunspot counts will mean they will have to work harder for DX and contacts.

NATIONAL PARKS ON THE AIR

There are 3 NPOTAs (parks) in STX.

* HP38 – Salt River
* NS10 – The Fort in C’sted
* MN08 – Buck Island (the STX Buck, not the STT Buck)

The first two NPOTAs have had well over 1,000 contacts in the form of several activiations by locals & visitors alike. Buck Island sits just over 100 contacts, so it’s in high demand. Photos from some of the STX activations can be viewed at http://vihamradio.org/photos/npota-operations.php

It is amazing what a simple vertical antenna near salt water will do. (Sale water = nature’s amplifier!) QSOs with the far reaches of the world (HS, ZL, 4X, UA9, UA0, etc.) have been had. Get your portable rig and join in the fun! More information available at http://www.arrl.org/npota

REPEATER UPDATES

147.25 MHz – NP2VI/r – East St. Croix – Thanks to Wess, K2AHU and Dan, NP2J, the repater has a new antenna which is working well! They also tightened up the squelch gate a bit.

147.11 MHz – NP2VI/r – West St. Croix – A club member has volunteered his new QTH high above Fredriksted (500+ feet!) for the permanent site of the 147.11 MHz repeater. The repeater will be permanently linked (through a cross-band link) with the 147.25 MHz machine.

146.81 MHz – KP2O – St. Thomas – The St. Thomas repeater is working well, but suffers from a lack of user traffic. Get on and say hello to fellow hams!

146.91 MHz – NP2OW – St. John – This repeater is located at the home QTH of Gilly, NP2OW. The duplexer has been retuned and the repeater seems to be working well. It too suffers from a lack of traffic.

146.76 MHz – VP2R – Tortola, BVI This repeater is located high on a mountain on the island of Tortola. It has not been heard on the air for quite some time. George, VP2VQ is the custodian of this machine.

Well, that’s all for now. Stay R A D I O A C T I V E ! !

73,
Fred, K9VV / NP2X

October 10, 20160 commentsRead More