Friday, May 22, 2009

The Sound of Silence, Part II

After the recent surge in 10 meter contacts due to Sporadic E propagation I reported in my last post it seems that hams have again lost interest, yet meanwhile the 11 meter CB DX scene is still going strong. This echoes observations I've made in the past about the differences between what hams and CBers consider "good" propagation.

Here's what I observed... Around 1630 UTC (0930 PDT) on 22-May-2009 I was mobile near San Jose International Airport. Figuring that 10m Sporadic E might bless us again with another day of great propagation I was tuned to 28.400 MHz, but heard nothing on or near that frequency. I figured at first that the Es just weren't there, but then remembered that the CBers and Freebanders often congregate around 27.385-LSB as their "DX calling channel". I tuned down to 11 meters and man, what a ruckus! I was hearing stations from all over the western US, some on the pre-defined CB channels and some were VFO-tuned to whatever frequency they happened to be on.

So as I've asked before; why the dramatic difference in activity? Clearly there was Es propagation to support contacts in the 10 meter band. Yet 28.400 MHz sat there idle, while 27.385 was so crowded CBers were changing frequencies to continue their conversations. One explanation suggested to me was that since CBers have only 11 meters they're forced to make the best of what they have, while hams can easily say "10 meters isn't yet as solid as I'd like, I think I'll drop down to 20/17/15 meters and see who's around down there." Fair enough, I guess. It still seems to me a shame that we're not making better use of the spectrum we have available to us.

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