What’s Happening With the D Layer?

Some OVMRC readers, especially those who join the Pot Hole Net on Sunday mornings, will know that there’s been discussion on whether the 10 A.M. net start time is too late in the day considering that 80 metres starts to close up at around that time. The problem, it is thought, is that the D Layer, which is largely present as a result of solar UV radiation, is firmly established by the net start time so communication paths would be limited to ground wave only. Well, the discussion goes on, the net time has not changed, but after consistently seeing my TS-850 noise floor drop from S5 to S3 between 0900-1000 EDT, it led me to consider an experiment to find out just when the D Layer transitions from its day to night condition.

The setup was quite simple, just an SDR digitiser connected to my 80 metre dipole and running some software capable of snapping and storing the signal level on regular intervals. My setup had an SDRPlay RSP-2Pro digitiser and the complementary SDRUno software. The tricky part was to find a frequency slot somewhere in the 80 metre band that wouldn’t be disturbed too much by traffic or QRM, 3691.000 kHz. seemed to be ok, so I tuned there and let things run over one UTC day. Here’s the result:

Some supplementary information: RX mode = CW, Pre-detection BW = 500 Hz, equipment noise floor = -117 dBm. The three red diamond markers are: Ottawa Sunrise, Start of Pot Hole Net, Sunset.

The noise floor variation is rather obvious between day and night, as are the transition periods. There are a few rogue points during daylight hours which I attribute to the occasional QSO falling across the 500 Hz. test bandwidth. Even with occasional QRM, the trend is clear and there’s a few things to be learned from this:

– The D Layer doesn’t start building until about 60 minutes after sunrise,
– The D Layer starts to dissipate about 90 minutes before sunset,
– The larger variation in noise at night suggests more varied noise sources and lightning being “visible” from a much larger area due to F layer NVIS and skip,
– Best DX on 80 m. might be expected between 5 hours after sunset and sunrise the next day.

I think that doing this kind of experiment at this part of the 11 year solar cycle is convenient, particularly as the present null between Cycle 24-25 is quite deep with solar flux levels below 70 and there being no, or very few and small sunspots, so the solar UV level may be more consistent among measurement sessions.

At any rate, these are some results and observations for your pleasure. I think I’m going to continue taking measurements once a month until July 2020 to further characterise this effect.




2 Metre Net 2019-20

Well, hello everyone! Now that Autumn is fully in gear, it’s certainly time to introduce the new OVMRC Nets season and some changes that have occurred since last year.

Firstly, let me introduce myself as the new Chair of OVMRC Radio Ops – Hugo Kneve, VE3KTN. Many will know that Ken, VE3EKN, announced his retirement from leading Radio Ops as of June, after having held the position for several years. Ken led the Thursday night 2 metre net, making our Club a more interesting place to be and a great forum for exchanging ideas and news among Club members. Thank you, Ken, for the service you’ve given to the Club.

So, now what? For one thing, the Thursday evening 2 metre net continues, albeit with a few changes in format. Maybe I should apologise for springing a new order of doing things over the first couple of weeks into the new season without prior notice, but I think that things are smoothed out now and will continue to run well henceforth; even with live testing the new format, we continue to have a robust group of people checking in to the net. The new 2 metre net preamble and check-ins call order can be found on the “Club Info – Amateur Radio Info – OVMRC 2-Metre Net” page.

Regarding net controllers for the 2 metre net, Rob Haddow, VE3RXH, has come forward offering to run the net along with me – thank you Rob. At this point, I’m looking to alternate with Rob on a two weeks on – two weeks off schedule that would start in October. I still have to confirm this with Rob, hopefully to have him on for the last two weeks of October.

The 80 metre Pothole Net is under way as well, continuing under the leadership of Ernie Jury, VE3EJJ. Eighty metres has been a bit unpredictable over the summer and continues to be so. There have been days when propagation has been totally flat, both day and night, and others when propagation has been good enough to support some overseas DX. Through thick or thin, the Pothole Net carries on, please mark your calendars to check in each Sunday morning at 10:00 local time, 3760 kHz., LSB.

That’s it for now. Looking forward to good talk on the Thursday 2 metre net:

20:00 each Thursday evening on VE3TWO, 147.300/900 MHz. with a 100 Hz. tone.

2019 Amateur Radio Course

The Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club will again offer a Amateur Radio qualification course and examination sessions for candidates to obtain their Basic Level “Certificate of Proficiency in Amateur Radio” issued by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Registration and introduction for the 2019 fall session of the course will take place Monday, September 16, 7 pm at the Canada Science and Technology Museum 1867 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa. South side, using the outside Studio 6 entrance.

Course fees of $100 will be accepted in cash or cheque upon registration. Late registration will also be permitted after the course begins if there is room; we want to limit the class size to 40 students. The course will be conducted Monday evenings, 7 to 10 pm (not including the Thanksgiving holiday Monday) until December 16 when there will be a group examination session.

For those wanting to register for this course or for further information please email your intention or questions to Norm at: VE3LC@rac.ca