We have been holding court of late on 14037.5 KHz. Our one hour code practice varies in hour of day, but comes off like clockwork each working day. Today was a banner date for propagation. Each of us was S-9 plus a little from time to time and at least S-7 throughout the hour. Easily our best ever day for propagation. Boston to Dallas at 1600 UTC this week. I wonder why? I checked Millstone and Dyess AFB ionosounders and both showed Sporadic E Layer present,but thin or patchy at best. I didn’t think of it at the time, and Chuck later pointed it out to me, that the F Layer was painting a solid layer on the plot while being illuminated through the E layer which would of course means it is allowing the sounder signals to pass through the normally blocking E Layer. Kewl! However, Barnaby knows better of course!
Barnaby is a Texas Anole (gecko) that I enlisted last summer while we had no sun spots to replace the long lost Palos Verdes Sun Dancers of Hugh Cassidy fame. I attribute today’s fine propagation to a long delayed dancer effect which finally caught up with solar events. Science beware-Barnaby is here.
I thought I could get a bit more mileage from Barnaby and his pals since things are picking up and perhaps you wouldn’t mind a bit of a replay. So for those that may have missed his antics here is just one chapter of his summertime sun dancing. Hope you all do not mind.
More on the adventures of Barnaby and our attempt to replace the Palos Verdes Sun Dancers.
When last we met I was appalled by the degree of lethargy that had befallen my troop of Sun Dancers. Baraby and company seemed to have turned a deaf ear towards my pleading and prodding for some superior dancing efforts. It seemed as though no amount of cajoling could move these slovenly creatures to action. I had to resort to the time honored method of child rearing-”Old age and cunning trump youth and energy every time”!
After almost 5 days of cunning, I have News! Good News! Wonderful News! But let me begin at the beginning.
Sunday saw me resort to playing W1AW code practice sessions to my battalion of twerps and layabouts. I snuck out to the yard and planted a 5 inch PM speaker within earshot of the sleeping, snoozing, lackluster bunch and blared 40 meter recordings of ARRL HQ radio at them. No! Not RTTY! A CW practice session! By Sunday evening I started to see some movement; albeit limited movement and at the cost of peace of mind for my neighbors that was bordering on S-9 TVI. They were not happy campers. I tried to reduce the volume and speed up the pitch. I tried to slow the recording which I thought would act like reverse psychology and rev the erstwhile gaggle into a frenzy. My early efforts at cunning were of limited success. Beginning on Monday morning I changed tactics. First, I attempted to measure the current activity level by counting thumps per minute. I did this by crawling out to the barracks bush on my belly. I really tried to be stealthy in my approach and was succeeding until, at about the halfway point, my sprinkler system snapped on in my very zone! The accompanying screech put the whole crowd down for a nap that lasted well into the afternoon. Heck! This wasn’t working. So much for stealth and age.
Enter “BOGEN”. Bogen is an artifact leftover from my Pops garage sale shopping days. It is a magnificent black bodied vacuum tube power amplifier with 100 watts output. Now we’re cookin! A whole new plan is beginning to take shape. I will put the amp to use in a way that my neighbors are appeased and my twerps get benefits, and hopefully, my results will perk up a bit. You see, BOGEN has a 70.7 volt output tap.
Early evening Monday found me inserting 4 copper ground rods into the soil around my Barrack Bush Bivouac. I separated the grounding rods by 8 or 9 feet and wired 2 rods in parallel such that I had 2 sets of 2 electrodes to connect to my amplifier. To the electrode pairs I wired my 70.7 volt taps from “The Bogen”. The inputs to Bogan could be driven by my prerecorded tapes made from W1AW, any prerecorded source like music, or (in a fit of creativity) by my Logikey K-5 keyer speaker! Thus began the silent but deadly dance training for my lazy Anoles. This is going to be amazing.
Beginning on late Monday evening, I again played W1AW code sessions to my band of Anole Sun Dancing Lizards. Only this time no one could hear the code practice. How kewl is that? You see I was pumping 100 watts at 70.7 volts into the earth through my electrode pairs! Results were immediate and very visible. Firstly, squads and platoons formed into parade formation. Slowly at first, and then more frenetic later, the battalion began a syncopated dance. The dance created little sensation to my ears but I could see it was having a positive effect on the fauna in my yard. Several nesting birds became alarmed and left their nests. Squirrels started running in circles. Its Working! After about an hour of this it slowly dawned on me that we had no Dust Devils. No earth shaking. No Sun Spots! We needed more moving mass with more syncopation and more ground effects.
Enter plan “B”.
Plan “B” is easy. The noise contained in my recordings of W1AW code practice is confusing the Anole Dancers and causing them to get out of step. Signals were weak as recorded and so the level of activity is more a confused rhythm versus a syncopated step. I needed more musical definition. More clarity in my musical presentations. Plan B called for attaching the Bogen to my Logikeyer. With that I eliminated the noise, and, I could change pitch and moderate speed all with one box. So began chapter 2 of the great experiment. I started slowly. 20 words per minute and 400 Hz sidetone. I also reduced power. No sense using so much power that I kill off my herd. I programmed my memory with “CQ Sun, CQ Sun, Grow me a spot, CQ Sun”. I placed a nested command into my keyer programming to repeat the message and I just sat back and watched. Slowly the Anoles again responded. Forming into ranks as if on a parade ground at some army base. Slowly stomping in synch with the Morse. At this point I needed a break, I have been at this all day and my grand kids are beginning to think I am nuts. I left the recorded message playing while we took a swim break.
My wife and I took the kids for a short swim in our pool, and like proud grand kids everywhere, they had to show off their swimming skills and numerous tricks they could do in the water. Like most fellas with projects left in a “running state” I tired quickly of swimming and returned to my shack and its ongoing experiments while the kids and “Grammie” kept on. Emboldened by my early success I pumped up the power a bit with the expected results. The Barrack Bush Bivouac started to shake. Small Dust Devils were shooting up from multiple spots. Other nesting Anole from neighboring yards snuck into my yard to see what was going on. Soon my moving mass of Sun Dancing Anole Lizards had doubled in numbers. This was really working! Then, in a fit of excitement, I cranked up the power from my Bogen Amplifier. The whole 100 watts was streaking into the ground. And then I backed off. The excitation receded to just a murmur. I needed to change my message. It had dawned on me that my message was the problem. Yes, I had succeed in making Dust Devils, bushes shake and geckos dance but I needed more ground thumping output. My message was too – well- unsyncopated. I programmed Memory 2 with “Best 73″ and appropriate commands to concatenate the 2 messages together and to repeat. Again I opened the taps on the power to the flock. The “Best 73″ beat did the trick. The whole bunch began to resemble a New York City collective break dance. Thousands of break dancing lizards doing their thing to the sounds of old Samuel F. B. Morse! Slowly my Barrack Bush Bivouac started to shimmy and I could feel the movement in my feet. I was 24 feet away from the action and now I could feel it in my feet! I again cranked up the power and this time I upped the frequency and speed. I was now playing my message at 30 words per minute with a pitch of 800 Hz. My Hackberry tree began to shake. The kids in the pool started to yell, “Whats happening Grammie”? And slowly at first, then stumblin, fumblin, tumblin across the fruited plain my battalion of dancing Anole began to march with enough syncopation to make waves on the pool. Slowly at first. Then ever more quickly. The wavelets became sloshes and then veritable breakers. The grand kids were screaming and my wife let me know in no uncertain terms I had better quit whatever I was doing…..so I shut down for the evening. But we have progress…..and tomorrow is another day. I have to go and refill my pool now. We need to check the sun spot numbers in the morning. What a days work! Was that a full regiment out there? More later. Whew!