It is often problematic to find a current list of DX clusters. Many lists exist on the Internet but few are updated. Also, lists in logging programs like Ham Radio Deluxe are often very old. I have found that it is best to go to the official DX cluster website and take a look at the current list.
Many amateur radio websites show the Solar Terrestrial Data “ticker” from N0NBH. However, many HF radio enthusiasts just look at the SN (solar spot number) and perhaps the K index. The truth is that the SN does not necessary say too much about the current radio conditions. So what should you look at to check the current conditions (more realtime information)? Here is the secret: I have personally found that the SFI and the 304A as well as the X-Ray values are very good realtime clues. One example is from 21.Oct.2012. This Saturday in October 2012, the 10 meter band was wide open from early morning even as far north as Oslo, Norway. The conditions on 12 and 15 meters was also fantastic. A screenshot of the N0BNH “ticker” shows SFI well above 120, 304A well above 140, K like zero and A like three as well as an X ray index of B9,9. Note that SN (sunspots) is not near abnormally high at around 112 (keep in mind we are closing in on sunspot maximum in cycle 24 so the SN will likely be around 100 all the time). One could expect average conditions by just looking at the SN. However the conditions was nothing like average. They were very very good. What was notable from that day is the following: SFI was well above 120 so there was a strong flux, K was zero so the mag field was still undisturbed, A was 3 so the mag field had been holding undisturbed for some time, X-Ray was B9,9 and this meant that there was quite strong X ray radiation coming in, 304A was 172,5 and this meant there was also quite strong UV radiation coming in, Aurora was 1 so there was practically no Aurora activity. The conditions was fantastic on this date on all bands above 7 Mhz. So again here is the secret: don’t just look at the SN for realtime information about the HF radio conditions.
Are You Ready to Fly to Azores for Free by Making Nine QSOs with CU stations?
Those of you willing to spend 24 hours or less on the radio are eligible to participate in an Azores lottery for two all-paid packages to the beautiful Azores Islands in the Atlantic, completely free of charge.
The project is organized by the Azores-Finland Friendship Consortium in partnership with the Amateur Radio Associations of the Azores Islands and supported by the Azores Promotion Agency (ATA) and Azorean Airlines (SATA). Just look at <www.visitazores.com> and make up your mind. Not many people know that the Azores consist of nine populated islands, stretching over a distance of 602 km (305mi) from East to West, next to USA and Europe. And it is not widely known that the Azores have their own airline (SATA) flying to each island, in addition to many destinations in Europe and North America. Each island has its own characteristics and its own blend and alone qualifies for your visit there. While these islands count for a single DXCC entity, they offer three (3) IOTA groupings.
With this unique AZORES 9 ISLANDS HUNT, an invited international group of amateur radio operators together with resident Azores amateurs will be activating the nine islands, offering an opportunity to the world to contact these islands all at once over one weekend.
Saturday, September 29, 1200 UTC to September 30, 1200 UTC (24 hours). These stations will be active starting Friday, September 28 as soon as they become operational.
CW: 7000-7015, 18080-18090 and 14050-14065 kHz
SSB: 7175-7195, 18120-18135 and 14250-14275 kHz
Nine Islands and their Stations
Santa Maria, CU1ARM; San Miguel, CU2ARA; Terceira, CU3URA; Graciosa, CU4ARG; Sao Jorge, CU5AM; Pico, CU6GRP; Faial, CU7CRA; Flores, CU8ARF; Corvo, CU9AC.
Operators and Island Hosts
Sergio, CU1AAD; Jose, CU2CE; Francisco, CU2DX; Guilherme, CU2IF; Domingois, CU3CS; Guilherme, CU4AB; Jose, CU5AM; Jorge, CU6AB; Manuel, CU7CA; Claudio, CU8AAE; Joao, CU9AC; Franz, DJ9ZB; Richard, DF9TF; Nigel, G3TXF; Michael, G7VJR; Diane, K2DO; Rich, KE3Q; Mike, KI1U; Marius, LB3HC; George, N2GA; Martti, OH2BH; Juha, OH8NC; Ghis, ON5NT; Carine, ON7LX; Claude, ON7TK; Alex, OZ7AM; Kenneth, OZ1IKY; Yuri, VE3DZ and Ed, VE3FWA.
Two Hunt Awards
Those making a QSO with at least 5 different islands will have a corresponding number of tickets placed into a lottery for a free trip to the Azores (e.g. if you have QSOs with 7 islands, you will get 7 lottery tickets). Additionally, the first 25 operators making QSOs with all 9 islands will be eligible for a second lottery. The free trips are from the closest airport served by SATA; including flight, accommodation and transfers..
During or immediately after the weekend, the logs will be posted on Club Log to display your band/mode slots. The lottery will be drawn on October 15, 2012.
All QSOs will be confirmed through the bureau network with special full-color cards. Direct QSL requests via Jose Melo, CU2CE.
The conditions lately have been very good on 20, 17, 15 and 12 meters. I have worked a lot of new stations on the HF bands above 40 lately. Finally the nice sound of a wide open high band that I remember from last time the SSN stayed above 100 is here again.
The SSN peaked above 100 between 12. and 13. April. The SFI also peaked around 14.-16. April. The K-index also stayed low and the auroral activity has been modest. Perfect settings for working DX!
Antenna: broadband vertical with computer controlled tuner. Large groundplane.
Rig: Yaesu FT-1000MP MKV