I was working in the shack yesterday with the radio on but listening to a comatose 40 meter band. There was absolutely nothing to be seen or heard for hours on end. Then suddenly at 1900z the hills came alive with the sounds of CW. It was the CWT or CW Test which is apparently an hour long sprint conducted every Wednesday.

I’m rarely ever home on a Wednesday afternoon, and not being a member of CWops, I had no clue. I checked their site to figure out what was going on and saw that the exchange for non-members was name and SPC.

I waded in and reeled off five contacts in short order. Had I been better prepared, it would have been easy to work 20-30 as there was a lot of activity and signals on the “dead” band were surprisingly strong. But the event was nearly over by the time I figured out what was going on and the moment the CWT ended, the band “died” again.

I really figured that would conclude all radio activity for me yesterday but later in the evening, with absolutely nothing worth watching on television, I wandered back in the shack and this time fired up the KX3. Tuned across a fat CQ from a station in Arizona at 7.033 and was about to reply when someone beat me to it.

I stayed on frequency and listened to that QSO then tail-ended the Tucson station. Enjoyed a nice QSO with Alan, AC2K while burning just ten watts up the ladder line. And another propagation surprise, the band held up for our entire QSO.

I have yet to figure out the rules for life at the very bottom. One minute the band is devoid of signals, the next it’s jumping. Often when it does work the rapid fading makes for only brief contacts. Nearby stations normally worked can’t be heard while those thousands of miles away pound into the shack.

Fans of radio feast and famine are probably enjoying this journey thru the Modern Maunder…