July propagation was awful. Declining flux number in combination with seasonally low MUFs left 10 & 15 deserted, but it appears that day path propagation held up nicely on 17. Judging by the DX spots, the band stays open well past sunset for propagation back into daylight areas. This is the sort of day/night propagation we enjoy in spring on 15 when flux levels are higher. 17 Meters could prove to be an interesting band through the bottom of the sunspot cycle for daytime work, since propagation on higher bands will be in short supply. Daytime bands give us that morning path to Europe and the afternoon path to Asia. With fluxes declining to levels that will not open the northerly paths on either 10 or 15, we should look for these same openings at lower frequencies. 20 Meters is one alternative, but 17 may be the optimum choice. It's time to think about a new beam.
Due to our shortage of day path propagation, most DX activity has been across the night paths of 20 Meters. Band openings begin several hours before sunset into Europe, and continue for several hours after sunrise into Asia. Summer is also the peak season for morning long path to the Indian Ocean and southern Africa, and ZS8 has been active on the path to the northwest (no CW). Other long path circuits, such as VU/4S7, EU, Russia, NE Africa and the afternoon path to the Far East and VK are at their worst during the summer.
Expect slow and gradual improvement on 15 Meters during August, and slight improvement on 10 toward the end of the month. September is coming, and fall DX is a different story. The bands are starting their transition. Whereas springtime conditions on 15 bring out spectacular conditions across night and day paths, fall propagation on 15 is strictly daypath, like 10. The fall season on 15 should be pretty good, but 10 Meters does not hold much promise - especially from here in 5-land.
Propagation on 40 Meters never does drop out during the summer. There is little activity in the northern hemisphere because everyone has moved to 20. QRN levels are also high. Contacts into the southern hemisphere are easy to make, because nobody is watching the paths. In the winter, pileup frequencies are quickly overrun with lids. Tune this band for openings to Africa and Antarctica, and in the morning to the west. VK activity is common on 80 at our sunrise.