Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Experimenting with Weak Signal Propagation Reporter

Last week, Phil KL8DX mentioned the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) network and the initial success he was having using 8 watts on the low bands from his high-noise location in Healy, near Denali National Park.  G4ILO has a really nice writeup on WSPR.  I couldn't resist the temptation to play myself, so on Friday I configured KL2R to transceive using the K1JT software and report results up to the network.  I changed bands aperiodically from 160/80/40/20 as well as changed antennas.  Here's a map showing spots to/from KL2R during a 16-hour period on 40m using 10 watts and a dipole at 100 feet.

I can see immediately the potential application for contesting to notify the user of possible band openings, particularly on 10 and 160m.  Information on all bands is useful, because propagation from our location to a particular area can be very, very short-lived.  I can also imagine a long-term study using the spot data to better understand conditions required for those openings.  We need more WSPR stations in KL7, since conditions can be highly variable with latitude. 

For the first time in a long time, I am really excited about some new radio technology.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Skywarn Recognition Day

Once again, Dan KL1JP and Tracy W7EIK did a fine job organizing operations for Skywarn Recognition Day at the local National Weather Service forecast office.  The station callsign is KL7FWX, and they run barefoot using a G5RV and ICOM IC-718 atop the International Arctic Research Center on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.  SSB, CW, and PSK31 contacts were accomplished in the 24-hour event.  Here's a video of Sam KL2TU making his first contacts:

A number of stations worked KL7FWX over the local IRLP node, too.  The down side of this mode is that the self-appointed "policeman" of Alaska IRLP rarely seems to miss an opportunity to belittle operators who may step outside his strict notion of protocol.  I witnessed this first-hand on Saturday afternoon.  We all know the type, and these people provide excellent examples of how NOT to behave on the air.