During the past two years I have become ambivalent regarding Sunspots. They are way over rated. Sure they facilitate loads of DX and the higher bands open up. However, for me at least, the “Fun” quotient will go down with the return of higher SSN’s. Let me explain.
I have no idea why I become more “Radio Active” during sunspot minimum’s. It has happened that way for three cycles now and it has me perplexed. Sure, I am active when sunspot numbers increase, but more active when they are lower. I had never given this much thought until now. During past cycles I can recall being active on Ten Meters almost exclusively. At one point I can recall having a 50 foot tower with only a 5 element KLM monobander for 10 M on it. Those were some heady days for radio enthusiasts; working European stations by pointing southwest from Phoenix AZ or over the south pole to work Italy-at midnight local time! But by the very nature of how things work, episodes like I just mentioned are but fleeting examples of what could be only ever so rarely. Something a lot less thrilling is more the norm with radio propagation.
In economic terms, when something is plentiful, near chases dear. That which is close at hand moves out that which is not so close at hand. When we have a plentiful supply of sun spots we forget the lessons of economy that their absence taught us. But not having spots plentiful is more the norm. Plentiful I consider something over a SSN of 30 ish.
To make a somewhat longer story a bit shorter, I learned a whole lot more about propagation this minimum. I had to learn what worked with the sunspots we had or forget about a daily code practice session which I value so highly. QSO’s and friends made by having to really work at it seems to me to make the success just a little sweeter. DX worked by chance and with a little less of an advantage that high SSN’s afford are the contacts one remembers a long time after the spots fade away. At least that is my longer view, developed over my 4.5 active solar cycles. You see, I can almost tell you where in my life and geography I was by where we were are in a sunspot cycle.
I will not say that I am retiring Barnaby and his sunspot dancing lizards quite yet. He and his friends got me through last summer nicely. However, I will not be quite so anxious to wish away this minimum. It affords one with great opportunities to learn new things and develop new friends. Seize the moment. You only get a few cycles.
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W7MAP/5