The Maunder Minimum began roughly 30 years after William Shakspeare’s death. But, being climatic, its boundries had rough edges, ill defined – and probably overlapped decades before and after its claimed lifespan. If Young Billy had been a ham, not only would he have been a QRPer (his most popular character wasn’t named “Hamlet” by mere coincidence), he no doubt would have faced peculiarities of propagation during this time of minimal solar activity.
Sort of like we do now.
Taunting me (unbeknownst to him) from his North Carolina locale, Ed N4EMG spoketh of his recent QSOs with Laos and Mongolia. Not a fortnight later, I noted XW1B spotted by numerous other US ops. Alas, but not even a whisper here! How is that possible? Has my antenna fallen? Hath God cursed me with yet another lightning strike? The following night, the same results – numerous NA spots for the Laotian, but my headphones respondeth not to his dots and dashes.
The rest is Silence. Hamlet, Act 5, Scene II
Only a week or two ago I was on the same page as K8GU who commented on the difficulty of polar paths. And then, two nights ago, as dusk approacheth mine QTH, the dawn departeth that other side of Our Planet creating yon greyline. Not a single signal was to be heard on the 20-meter band. Except one – JT5DX, who peggeth mine S-meter and that of others around me. One call, two calls, thrice and in my log now…
Though this be madness, there is method in it! Hamlet Act 2, Scene II
And this Monday past…the sun hath set and taken with it all QRN from the 80-meter band. A twist of the VFO dial and my headphones do awaken to a loud signal calling a repeated CQ. Probably a neighbor, methinks, over in Carolina or California, perchance. But no – I do discern a foreign prefix and am plunged into unbound joy as I decipher his callsign of ZS1JX. A few taps of my paddles sends the letters AE5X ripping across the nighttime Atlantic and into the ears of their intended receiver who respondeth politely with a 599. And that is all.
Brevity is the soul of wit. Hamlet, Act 2, Scene II
JT5DX on 20 meters
ZS1JX on 80 meters
There are more things in the ionosphere, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your prediction programs. Hamlet, Act 1, Scene V – paraphrased ;-)