2021 Virginia QSO Party
Pre-Party Tidbits

On 19 March 2021, Larry emailed:

If today is representative of this coming weekend, then we can expect 40
meter NVIS sometime between
noon and 2 PM, possibly as late as 4 pm.  I am planning to start on 80
meters, listening on 6 and 2 CW as well,
for folks in the Shenandoah valley.


On 13 March, Gordon, NQ4K, writes:

The WA7BNM contest Calendar shows only a few other contests on the Virginia QSO Party weekend. 
The CLARA Chatter, BARTG HF RTTY and Russian DX contests.
This will keep the airways free for us.

73, Gordon, NQ4K

Larry, W8ANT, emailed on 12 March 2021

I have been keeping an eye on the Wallops Island ionosondes and the space weather,
and it seems possible that we'll see continued SFI numbers in the high 70s for the Virginia
QSO party coming up on the 20th.  As you know, one of my primary interests is QRP CW, and
operation on the low bands, 160, 80 and 40 meters.  It is worth noting that QRN drops by ~
2 or 3 S units on 80 meters when the D layer attenuation kicks in after sunrise.  Noise is lowest
around noontime or a bit after noon. This effect is more noticeable on 160 and less on

If space weather continues as it has the past few days then it is possible that 40 meters
may be useful for NVIS during daylight hours for the VAQP.  That would be useful for Virginia
stations trying to get the Worked all Virginia award that do not have 80 meter antennas, and for
close in stations (like mine!) trying to make QSOs with Virginia stations.  The past two years
I was able to work only a handful of Virginia stations on 40, only in the afternoon;  it is possible
that conditions may permit me to work more folks on that band this year. We shall see.

Based on recent trends as the ionosphere transitions from wintertime to springtime, I anticipate
the following for the Virginia QSO party:

- 160 meters will be open for NVIS 24/7.  D layer attenuation will be somewhat increased from last year,
but at least 20 watts SSB and 5 watts CW should provide readable daytime signal levels.  At night, 5 watts SSB or
CW will be readable from a low dipole or dipole array that is not picking up QRN; for long haul night-time operation
use of directional listening antennas will significantly increase S/N ratio.  For daytime operation,
the only constraint will be finding stations actively operating on that band- it will allow daytime contacts to and from
any location in the state 24/7.

- 80 meters will be open for NVIS from around 7 am ET until 8 pm ET at least, and maybe until 11 pm.
5 watts SSB and CW will be readable from any horizontally polarized antenna during daylight and at night
from a low dipole or dipole array that is not picking up low angle QRN.  Maximum distance during daylight
hours would be around 400-500 miles. For long haul night-time operation, especially later at night when more
of the noise from the southern US will be heard, use of directional listening antennas will significantly
increase S/N ratio.

-40 meters will be open during daylight for comms from 250 miles out to at least 1000 miles distance, possibly farther.
40 meter NVIS may be possible from around 11 am until 5 pm ET; best to check the Wallops Island ionosondes
if they are up.  In any case, the skip zone in early afternoon should be smaller;  stations 40 miles away may
not be readable but those 150 miles out may be.  Again, 5 watts SSB or CW should suffice day or night for
NVIS or longhaul communications.

-20 will continue to suffer at night for long haul contacts, but will probably open to the east between
8 am and 10 am;  20 to the west coast will probably open somewhere around noontime, give or take, and close
around sunset, give or take.

I have not spent much time on the upper HF bands for the past several years, but I expect that 15 and possibly 10
may open to South American and the west coast in the afternoon.

I hope to hear lots of Virginia stations on 160 and 80 meter CW this year!

73 Larry W8ANT