Working Gray Lines

We had a hail storm roll through my area early evening yesterday. That messed up my evening radio plans. My sleep pattern is off this week anyway, so I decided to stay up after midnight into the wee hours of the morning and see how the bands looked on FT8. DX was mostly quiet until about 1:30 a.m. and then interestingly, stations began popping up.

I used PSK Reporter to track the graylines and you could see which zones along the lines would begin to be actively heard. To the east where the sun was rising, stations’ signals along the coast of France and Africa began to be strong. I worked Canary Islands (EA8) on 80m even though I already had it, but the station’s signal was so strong, and I worked it on 45W. Early bird stations were active from 6-8 a.m. their time (roughly UTC). Fun!

To the west, where the sun was setting, I followed the line from Alaska, Hawaii, and Australia as it progressed further towards Asia. I picked up the Aleutian Islands (Alaska NL8) and New Caledonia (FK8). These I worked on 40m.

I would have loved to have stayed with it until Asian stations started to be heard–I only have Japan–but I was growing weary by 2:30 and called it night. I’ll have to try to pick them up some night when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep in that 3:00 to 5:00 am window.

It was an experience working both graylines. I would switch back between 80 and 40m and check the map to see which stations were starting to be in the gray zone, and sure enough they would show up like clockwork.

You can listen to this effect even if you don’t have an HF rig. Just go to websdr.org. Select North American and listen for hams talking on SSB. I like the Northern Utah sites. You may even hear some Arkansas stations! There’s probably a way to decode FT8 signals but I don’t know how using the web.

Fun to see how the world turns and hams communicate.

73

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