“Solar Cycle 25 has begun. During a media event on Tuesday, experts from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed their analysis and predictions about the new solar cycle – and how the coming upswing in space weather will impact our lives and technology on Earth, as well as astronauts in space.” — NASA
While people might think of some negative impact or other, to Amateur Radio Operators it’s a good thing. The greater the number of sunspots, the better radio waves propagate in the High Frequency (HF) bands.
The sunspot maximum is predicted for July 2025, according to the Press Release.
It was during the minimum sunspot activity of Solar Cycle 21 that I was licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and given the call sign N6BVZ. While learning Morse Code for the exam, I built a low-power transceiver—a HeathKit HW-8. I set up a vertical antenna on top of my trailer. I listened a lot as I waited.
When my license came in the mail, I got on the air. I had no idea the bands were not suppose to be good, that it would be hard to make any contacts. I tuned around on a band that had some noise on it, indicating that some activity might be present.
Finally the moment came. A fellow in Texas was sending CQ (which is an invitation to anyone to answer and “talk.” Talk meant using Morse Code and a key to send dits and dots. My speed then was about 5+ words per minute.
I didn’t hesitate to send my call. I heard him reply with my call. He’d heard me. The signal was a bit off from where I was tuned, and I started to retune as I readied to reply. Calamity! I managed to slip and push the dial way off. I tried to get back to the spot, but couldn’t find him again.
After a bit I found another station calling CQ, answered, and we had a short QSO (conversation or contact). Despite my initial blunder, I got off to a pretty good start, making a lot of contacts over the next few years.
Eventually the Solar Cycle got really good, as it hit maximum. I made contacts in Europe and even Australia, as well as all over the United States.
Those first years were my best years in Ham Radio (a nickname for Amateur Radio).
L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .