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Survey Question
Do you consult radio beacons for propagation conditions?
  Posted: Apr 28, 2014   (1374 votes, 30 comments) by AI2IA

  Yes, often.
  Yes, sometimes.
  I know about them but I don't use them.
  I am not familiar with beacons.
    (1374 votes, 30 comments)

Survey Results
Yes, often. 12% (168)
Yes, sometimes. 28% (386)
I know about them but I don't use them. 52% (714)
I am not familiar with beacons. 8% (106)

Survey Comments
3 days to reach 2 mo.
Aye, it is indeed getting long in the tooth. If it squeaks by three more days it will have reached two months.
Of course I am biased, but I like to think that many more hams, new hams, and More Code learners may have more of an appreciation for those beacons out there.
A beacon is to ham radio much like a lighthouse is to a ship. It has a long history. It is dependable, and like Morse Code, will forever remain useful.
The survey results are also interesting.
Vy 73 to all,
de Ray, ai2ia
end of message

Posted by AI2IA on June 26, 2014

New Survey Please
This one is getting a little long in the tooth,
don't ya think?

Posted by K2CMH on June 26, 2014

So, what's the point?
So some operator tells you that you are interfering with the beacon. Was he the beacon operator? No mention of that. Who was there first, the beacon or the net activity? No mention of that. How far geographically were you from the beacon? No mention of that. Lids can be anywhere and say anything, but how does that affect the value of a beacon? It doesn't.

If a beacon is in operation, it is good practice to move away from the beacon by enough so that there is no cross interference.

Posted by AI2IA on June 26, 2014

What Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg...?
Years & years ago, our local club used to have a weekly
Sunday morning SSB on-the-air net & get-together near
the extreme bottom end of 10-meters---right near the
"beacon alley" of that band...

Anyway, this was during the sun spot doldrums, & we'd
get on, week after week, with nary an issue with QRM.
Well, one Sunday, the band is suddenly & surprisingly alive
with propagation, & there's a beacon station suddenly
VERY close to net frequency. We gamely pressed-on with
our net, but then some weisenheimer from somewhere
breaks into the proceedings, and complains, "Hey! You
guys are all interfering with the beacon...!"

Say what...?!

I thought that beacons were supposed to be an indicator
that the band might be open to propagation: doesn't our
very presence in your receiver passband give you even the
slightest clue that maybe---just maybe!---the band is,
indeed "open", and that you don't have to hear the beacon
anyway as a result...?!

What a brain trust---ANYTHING to QRM a net get-
together, I guess...

Posted by VE3CUI on June 26, 2014

The real stuff
Beacon operator KB2SEO could not have said it better! When you hear a beacon, you are hearing the real thing, the actual radio frequency transmission. You then know when you hear it that the path between it and you is open, and yes what better practice on Morse Code can you ask for! You can copy knowing that if you drop out certain letters the signal will repeat and this takes some of the tension out of copying for those very new to Morse code. Best of all, by using beacons, you are following in the footsteps of the radio pioneers, and that is a great feeling.

Right now it is 20:50 UTC. Do you know where a beacon is? Do you care?

Beacons are one of the treasures of ham radio.

It is my hope that this survey may encourage more hams to use beacons and get more enjoyment and skill out of their ham radio operations.

Posted by AI2IA on June 23, 2014

A Beacon owners 2 cents
I run a Beacon on 10 meters. I get numerous comments and Kudos on it, although some say "Whats the point" and other snarky comments, the POINT is if you need to work a certain area, a beacon in that area will tell you First hand if the band is open there. We enjoy providing the service, And its a great way for the Budding CW op to practice. 10,6 and 2 meter beacons are heard often when the propagation software, Clusters and such are saying not to bother turning the rig on. A beacon is not influenced by human opinion or attitude.

Posted by KB2SEO on June 23, 2014

Space Beacons, too!
Amateur Radio Payload Beacons Heard Following June 19 Launch
TAGS: Amateur Radio payloads, telemetry downlink

The FUNcube-3 payload has reached orbit, and its 145.815 MHz beacon signal has been copied. FUNcube-3 is a transponder-only payload on the QB50 precursor CubeSat, QB50P1, which launched on June 19 from Russia. FUNcube-3 carries an inverting 400 mW SSB/CW transponder, with an uplink passband of 435.035-435.065 MHz (LSB) and a downlink passband of 145.935-145.965 MHz (USB).

The QB50P1 and QB50P2 precursor CubeSats were among some 3 dozen satellites launched, about one-third of them carrying Amateur Radio payloads. The QB50p2 package carries a 435/145 MHz FM voice transponder as well as packet on 145.880 MHz, 1200bps BPSK and 145.840 MHz, 9600 bps FSK. The QB50 satellites will become active for radio amateurs after 6 months of testing.

The Dnepr launch vehicle blasted off from Russia’s Yasny site right on schedule at 1911 UTC on June 19. The launch briefly was threatened by a front of severe weather passing through the area. In the hours immediately after launch signals also were reported from POPSAT, QB50p1, QB50p2, UniSat-6, BugSat-1 — the first satellite to be deployed after launch — NanosatC-BR1, Duchifat-1, TabletSat-Aurora, and DTUsat-2. BugSat-1 contains an Amateur Radio digipeater, which will be activated after the satellite’s primary mission has been completed.

TabletSat-Aurora carries a D-STAR parrot (store-and-forward) repeater running 0.8 W (GMSK) on 437.050 MHz (±10 kHz). It can store a voice message of up to 8 seconds.

Two other transceivers on the satellite operate on 435.550 MHz and 436.100 MHz. Their power can be varied by ground-station command from between 0.8 and 2.0 W. They will be used for command and control and transmit GMSK telemetry data. Unofficial reports indicate that the D-STAR repeater could become operational in early July and that when the D-STAR repeater is active telemetry will be turned off.

The UniSat-6 microsatellite carried Tigrisat, Lemur 1, ANTELSat, and AeroCube 6 for deployment on June 20. ANTELSat is the first Uruguayan satellite. It carries a telemetry downlink and a command uplink (437.575 MHz 1200 bps AFSK) with a 2403.000 MHz 1 Mbit GFSK/MSK downlink for payload data, and a 437.280 MHz CW beacon. UniSat-6 carries 437.425 MHz 9600 bps GMSK.

CW beacon signals were heard by Andre Van Deventer, ZS2BK, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Brian Best, ZS5SB, and Leon Steenkamp, ZS1HD, also reported receiving signals. Richard Dailey, N8UX, in Kentucky, the Southampton University Wireless Society WebSDR to receive the QB50P2 beacon while the satellite was in range of the UK.

Posted by AI2IA on June 20, 2014

Beacons are useful.
Swiss 5MHz beacon goes on the air
rsgb | June 6, 2014

Although the 60m band has not been released for amateur radio in Switzerland, the Sursee Amateur Radio Club has obtained the necessary authorisations for a 5MHz experimental beacon project. HB9AW became operational on 5291kHz at 0000hrs on 1 June. The transmission commences with the callsign HB9AW in CW, followed by five 2-second dashes. The dashes are each accurately attenuated in the EIRP power sequence 10 watts, 5 watts, 1 watt, 100 milliwatts and then 10 milliwatts. It currently repeats every 5 minutes, commencing on the hour. Transmissions come from JN43BA on a half-wave dipole, configured for high-angle radiation as an NVIS ‘fountain’ type antenna. It is at a height above ground of 0.12 of a wavelength and a reflector is placed beneath the antenna. The aim of the system is to explore the propagation conditions on 5MHz in the hills and valleys of Switzerland in relation to its possible suitability as an emergency communications band. An online form on the Sursee Amateur Radio Club’s website accepts reception reports.

Posted by AI2IA on June 7, 2014

Adds to skill, get it?
See previous post entitled "Adds to skill."

Why learn to use a compass and a knife when you can read a novel?

Posted by AI2IA on June 5, 2014

beacons for propagation???
Can’t have a QSO with a Beacon.
What’s the point anyway?
Either I can hear the other guy or not… a
Beacon won’t help with that.

Posted by AF5DN on June 5, 2014

Adds to skill
Radio beacons are a good source of propagation information operating in the traditional radio signal way over the years. Tuning them in, listening to them, noting their locations and signal strengths is an old time reliable way of radio operating.

The more you use your radio and the less you use your computer, the more you operate in the ways of the skilled radio operators of old. There is a certain enjoyment and pride in this that you will not obtain from the ever popular, hackable, conventional computer.

Posted by AI2IA on June 3, 2014

Free Advert
W7GEM adds a nice plug for CQ Magazine, but what does that have to do with Beacon propagation opportunities?

Posted by AI2IA on May 24, 2014

CQ Magazine
I have five more years on my subscription and eagerly await and await and await each new issue. Love to read it but don't enjoy the upcoming event section about things that happen last month or prior. I thing CQ does much to promote ham radio and the articles seem to be much more related to my interest or needs. I just hope the good authors don't get tired and walk away.

Posted by W7GEM on May 15, 2014

Temporary Beacon
See the article:
Experimental 30 Meter Mobile Beacon:
from N0SAP on May 8, 2014
Add a comment about this article!

Starting on May 15th at 1400 GMT (8:00 CDST) the first 30 Meter Mobile Beacon will be on the air at 10.129 MHz on our way to the Dayton Hamvention. We are using a quarter wave trailing wire for the antenna that will be floating behind the vehicle. The beacon will be mounted on the passenger side dashboard and Al Gallo, W0ERE will be the Chief Operator of the Beacon providing up to date grid locations during our travel. “SAP” N0SAP/M, will monitor 18.113 MHz for any live reports heard from the beacon during our travel to and from the Dayton Hamvention. Our return date is May 20th.

We take Ham Radio in the true sense of being an experimental hobby. We are asking for signal reports by email and/or audio files sent to

Posted by AI2IA on May 9, 2014

WWV is primarily a freq. standard and time beacon. I use it for it's purpose but it only tells me a very powerful transmitter is getting out well enough on X freq. Ham beacons may be more useful because they are more like what you might be able to pump out as far as power levels. And it is true, the lazy mans 10/12/15M beacon is activity levels on "skipland" CB. But sometimes it is hoppin' neck deep and still hardly anyone/no one is on ten, anyway.

Posted by W8AAZ on May 8, 2014

A 10m "beacon"
Use the "Super Bowl" AKA channel 6 on 11m. If the high powered stations are booming in and present in large numbers, the 10m band is open. If they can barely be heard and only a few signals can be picked up the conditions are poor. If channel 6 is quiet, then 10m is gonna be a complete no go.

For a lower power environment checking of conditions on 10m, use 38 LSB on 11m.

Who says CB is useless...LOL!

WWV is my other "beacon".


Posted by WA7SGS on May 7, 2014

30m beacons, no thanks!
As AA4PB mentioned, the Reverse Beacon Network is worth a go (sorry for those who don't operate CW). It shows how stations are receiving your signal.

On the subject of beacons in general, there seems to be trend to operate beacons "just because I can" on the 30m band. What is wrong with these people who want to clutter an already narrow band? It serves no purpose and they would be much better off having real QSOs.

Posted by G4AON on May 7, 2014

Excellent Post
The previous post to this one, the one by K7NG, is an excellent contribution to ham information.
As hams, we all have so many opportunities right within easy reach if only we knew they were there! One reason why so many hams can improvise and make things out of ordinary material is that they have this gift of seeing the value and usefulness of everyday things that are at our finger tips.
So, simple as it sounds, not every signal has to be called a beacon in order to be used as a beacon, and why not use them to advantage!
Thanks K7NG for the comment!

Posted by AI2IA on May 5, 2014

Lots of signals you can use as 'beacons'! Certainly the NCDXF beacon system is a great tool, and the multitude of 10 and 6m beacons are part of my daily survey of the bands.

Outside the ham bands: Time signals, the HFDL ground stations, ALE soundings (if you know who they are when you decode them), even SWBC signals are beacons! How about the single-letter beacon clusters? Use them and get a good feel for where the bands are going.

Posted by K7NG on May 5, 2014

Beacon Info
Check out

Posted by AA4PB on May 3, 2014

DX Clusters
I have used beacons for 10 meters but like what
others have said, the Cluster gives a good
indication of all bands activity in close to
real time. If you a filter for your zone you
only see what is useful to your area. Use Eham
Spots > View More Spots and you can filter by
individual band.

Posted by K5NOK on April 30, 2014

There are all sorts of beacons, including WSPRnet, WWV, RBN and the N Cal DX Foundation network. The "cluster" is not really a beacon, but can give a quick indication of activity. The RBN (Reverse Beacon Network) is perhaps the fastest and most reliable way to check prop, including where you are being heard (if you call CQ in CW or RTTY modes). Many of the N California DX Foundation beacons are no longer functional. The RBN relies on individual stations to report their Skimmer findings, which means the world is not covered uniformly. Still, the RBN offers the greatest coverage of any system and is open to everyone with an internet connection.

Posted by VE6TL on April 30, 2014

beacons are nice
What can I say? I like them for a number of
reasons. Rather nice to hear when everything
is dead here at 3 in the morning. Old friends.
Wipe the bad dreams away. Even when no QSOs
possible. Don't use them for contact purposes,
but reassuring noise at 3AM. So thanks. And, I
mean it.

Posted by F8WBD on April 30, 2014

ok sri for my OT
beacons? yes i use them very often on ten and
also on 10 mhz , i have a couple around europe
on the 10 mhz band, and very often those on 6
meters; all them vy useful and each beacon
that i hearing is a cw qso from that area.

Posted by IT9AHH on April 30, 2014

Friendly Beacons
To me, beacons are like old, reliable friends. They are always there when you need them, and they will always help you without asking anything in return.

Sometimes being a ham just like being at work becomes a rush, rush occupation. Yet, it you take the time to familiarize yourself with these "guardians of propagation," they will reward you with good information that is right up to the minute, never stale. I hope that more and more new hams and not so new ones will take a cue and use them in the future.

Posted by AI2IA on April 29, 2014

NCDXF Beacon Network
The Northern California DX Foundation/IARU beacon network provides a worldwide network at 18 locations on 5 bands for checking propagation. Details are at:

The beacons can show that a "dead band" actually has good propagation -- just no stations on the air then from that location.

Posted by WA6NUT on April 29, 2014

On 10 meters!
A day doesn't go by that I (and my good friend
WB2VUO) don't tune through the beacon
subband on 10 to check conditions. Then, WWV
on 5/10/15...just as I've done since my Novice

Posted by KB2HSH on April 29, 2014

I Use WWV As A Beacon
I am a casual cw operator. When I turn on my rig the first
thing I do is listen for WWV on all of their freqs. If I Hear
their signal, then I know I am likely to get some QSOs.
That has been good enough for me. Quick and easy.

Posted by K7NSW on April 29, 2014

dx clusters
i use vy often clusters but too many use it as
a chat or to useless spots and you have to
filter spots, so soon well become useless.

Posted by IT9AHH on April 29, 2014

DX Clusters
I think most of us have found the DX Clusters to be a
pretty good way to monitor propagation. Of course,
using the beacons can give you an edge for catching a
rare station first or setting up a sked.

Posted by AL7GA on April 28, 2014

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