The E layer of the ionosphere is not the only layer that can reflect VHF television signals. Less frequently, the higher F2 layer can also propagate VHF signals several thousand miles beyond their intended area of reception.
Solar activity has a cycle of approximately 11 years. During this period, sunspot activity rises to a peak and gradually falls again to a low level. When sunspot activity increases, the reflecting capabilities of the F1 layer surrounding earth enable high frequency short-wave communications. The highest-reflecting layer, the F2 layer, which is approximately 200 miles (320 km) above earth, receives ultraviolet radiation from the sun, causing ionisation of the gases within this layer. During the daytime when sunspot activity is at a maximum, the F2 layer can become intensely ionized due to radiation from the sun. When solar activity is sufficiently high, the MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) rises, hence the ionisation density is sufficient to reflect signals well into the 30-60 MHz VHF spectrum. Since the MUF progressively increases, F2 reception on lower frequencies can indicate potential low band 45-55 MHz VHF TV as well as VHF amateur radio paths. A rising MUF will initially affect the 27 MHz CB band, and the amateur 28 MHz 10 meters band before reaching 45-55 MHz TV and the 6 meters amateur band. The F2 MUF generally increases at a slower rate compared to the Es MUF.
Since the height of the F2 layer is some 200 miles (320 km), it follows that single-hop F2 signals will be received at thousands rather than hundreds of miles. A single-hop F2 signal will usually be around 2,000 miles (3,200 km) minimum. A maximum F2 single-hop can reach up to approximately 3,000 miles (4,800 km). Multi-hop F2 propagation has enabled Band 1 VHF reception to over 11,000 miles (17,700 km).
Since F2 reception is directly related to radiation from the Sun on both a daily basis and in relation to the sunspot cycle, it follows that for optimum reception the centre of the signal path will be roughly at midday.
The F2 layer tends to predominantly propagate signals below 30 MHz (HF) during a solar minimum, which includes the 27 MHz CB radio, and 28 MHz 10-meter amateur radio band. During a solar maximum, television, amateur radio signals, private land mobile, and other services in the 30-60 MHz VHF spectrum are also propagated over considerable distances. In North America, F2 is most likely to only affect VHF TV channel 2, in Europe and middle east channel E2 and E3 (and the now deprecated channel itA) and in eastern Europe channel R1.
Television pictures propagated via F2 tend to suffer from characteristic ghosting and smearing. Picture degradation and signal strength attenuation increases with each subsequent F2 hop.
Notable F2 DX receptions
- In 1958, the FM broadcast radio DX record was set by DXer Gordon Simkin in southern California, United States, when he logged a 45 MHz commercial FM station from Korea via trans-Pacific F2 propagation at a distance of 5,000 miles (8,000 km).
- In October 1979, Anthony Mann (Perth, Western Australia) received 48.25 MHz audio and 51.75 MHz video from the Holme Moss BBC channel B2 television transmitter. This F2 reception is a world record for reception from a BBC 405-line channel B2 transmitter.
- During October to December 1979, United Kingdom DXers Roger Bunney (Hampshire), Hugh Cocks (Sussex), Mike Allmark (Leeds), and Ray Davies (Norwich) all received viewable television pictures from Australian channel TVQ 0 Brisbane (46.26 MHz) via multi-hop F2 propagation.
- On January 31, 1981, Todd Emslie, Sydney, Australia, received 41.5 MHz channel B1 television audio transmitted from Crystal Palace Transmitter by the BBC's television service, 10,560 miles (16,990 km) away. This BBC B1 reception was also recorded on to audio tape. He has also received Dubai's DCRTV 48.25 MHz video on November 23, 1991 in the same place.
- "DXing FAQ". Worldwide TV-FM DX Association. Retrieved April 25, 2005.
- "William Hepburn's VHF / UHF Tropospheric Ducting Forecast". William Hepburn's TV & Radio DX Information Centre. Retrieved June 12, 2006.
- "Bellevue, NE DX Photos". Matthew C. Sittel's DX Page. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2005.
- "Optical Echoes from the Moon". K3PGP.Experimenter's. Corner. Retrieved April 26, 2005.
- TV/FM Antenna Locator
- Worldwide TV/FM DX Association
- Worldwide TV/FM DX Association Forums
- Band 1 TVDX from Europe, North African and Middle East FMDX database
- British FM & TV Circle, Home of FM & TV DX in the UK
- Girard Westerberg's page, including a live DX webcam
- Mike's TV and FM DX Page since 1999
- Todd Emslie's TV FM DX Page
- Jeff Kadet's TV DX Page
- Matt Sittel's DX Page
- FM DX Italy The official FM & TV DX website in Italy
- fmdxITALY Home of FM & TV DX in Italy
- FMLIST is a non-commercial worldwide database of FM stations, including a bandscan and logbook tool (FMINFO/myFM)
- Mixture.fr AM/FM/DAB database for France
- MeteorComm Meteor Burst Technology used for Data Communication
- FMSCAN reception prediction of FM, TV, MW, SW stations (also use the expert options for better results)
- Herman Wijnants' FMDX pages
- TV/FM Skip Log
- qth.net Mailing Lists for Radio, Television, Amateur and other related information for Enthusiasts.
- North American TV Logo Gallery
- VHF DXing - From Fort Walton Beach, Florida
- Radio-info.com[permanent dead link] DX and Reception
- FM DX RDS LogBook Software