I’m chuffed to bits; I’ve just worked an amateur radio station in Japan on 30m using just 30 watts.
Whilst my transceiver is great (Yaesu FT-1000MP), the antenna leaves a little to be desired due to the really small garden. It’s a 32′ dog-legged long-wire, 14′ off the ground, connected to the transceiver using a un-un.
As the above image shows (courtesy of PSK Reporter), the Japanese station will have been on the grey line – this image was captured about 35 minutes after the contact took place. This is ‘line’ is in fact, according to the author of dx.qsl.net, that band of dusk, or dawn, around the earth that separates full daylight from full darkness (it can be seen on the above image as the semi-opaque grey band). Propagation along the grey line is very efficient because the D layer, way up in the ionosphere, normally absorbs HF radio signals during daylight. However, this layer disappears rapidly on the dark side of the grey line allowing signals to be refracted off the higher layers and for those signals to travel further.
Amateur radio operators can take advantage of grey line propagation and make some unusually long contacts, even when other factors (such as the equipment on one side of the contact) would not normally allow the the contact to be made.
So the secret is; get out of bed early (08:00’s not that early on a Sunday morning in the winter – what else you going to be doing?), monitor the grey line on PSK Reporter and make those rare contacts. I’m glad I did.
Now, the next goal is Australia.