Most of us are aware that HF propagation is heavily influenced by solar activity, and that we currently are near the bottom of a solar cycle that has been the lowest in the last few decades. This means that propagation is mostly pretty poor, but this is not always the case. For example, during the CQ WWW contest a few weeks ago, Europe suddenly opened up and I got lots of contacts in a few hours. And propagation to the Caribbean and to South America was good as well. However, while there are normally many Japanese stations on the air during contests, I only heard one and I could not work him.
That’s why I think of HF propagation as magic — you don’t know where you are going to be able to reach until you try!
I love HF. Each contact is different and unique. Using a non-SDR Kenwood radio, I need to search by ear, I need to ignore the snap-crackle-and-pop, and I need to persist. But when I’m successful with a QSO, I always feel excited.
I operate HF out of my car at the Esquimalt Lagoon. I am always amazed when we are only hearing and making contacts into Washington one minute and all of a sudden we can hear stations from all across the States. Its amazing how fast propagation changes.