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Author Topic: HF Propagation Indicators  (Read 7527 times)
KD6NRP
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Posts: 39




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« on: March 03, 2017, 05:12:57 PM »

Good Afternoon:

I recently compiled a list of HF stations that continually transmit and are audible from my QTH in southern California. Then I programmed them in frequency order into the memories of my TS-590.  Now I can get a general indication of current HF conditions by simply stepping through my radio's memory channels.

The frequencies I programmed into my radio are:

Memory  Receive  Freq.
Channel  Mode     (kHz)                             Description
-------    -------   --------  -----------------------------------------------------------------

00         AM       2,500.0   WWV Fort Collins, Colorado
01         AM       3,330.0   CHU Ottawa, Canada
02         CW       4,213.0   WLO Mobile, Alabama. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station
03         CW       4,214.0   XSG Shanghai, China. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station
04         AM       5,000.0   WWV Fort Collins, Colorado (also 4,996.0 KHz RWM Moscow, Russia)
05         CW       6,317.0   WLO Mobile, Alabama. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station     
06         CW       7,039.4   M, Magadan, Russia. Single letter repeating beacon
07         AM       7,850.0   CHU Ottawa, Canada
08         CW       8,420.9   WLO Mobile, Alabama. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station
09         CW       8,484.0   BLG, China. Maritime shore station
10         CW       8,636.0   HLW Seoul, South Korea. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station
11         AM      10,000.0   WWV Fort Collins, Colorado (also 9,996.0 KHz RWM Moscow, Russia)
12         CW      12,916.5   HLF Seoul, South Korea. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station
13         AM      14,670.0   CHU Ottawa, Canada
14         AM      15,000.0   WWV Fort Collins, Colorado (also 14,996.0 KHz RWM Moscow, Russia)
15         CW      16,809.0   WLO Mobile, Alabama. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station
16         CW      19,685.5   WLO Mobile, Alabama. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station
17         AM      20,000.0   WWV Fort Collins, Colorado
18         CW      22,383.5   WLO Mobile, Alabama. Continuous CW ID. Maritime shore station
19         AM      25,000.0   WWV Fort Collins, Colorado (also Espoo, Finland)

Please let me know if you have any corrections or additions for my list.

73

Brian, KD6NRP
Southern California
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N3HKN
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Posts: 151




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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2017, 11:09:00 AM »

Thanks for the list. Given the loss of HF propagation these are useful in gauging current conditions vs. frequency.
Dick   N3HKN
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KM4DYX
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2017, 02:03:59 PM »

Thanks for posting this list. This is the type of thing that can be very useful if one doesn't have access to the internet, such as when operating portable.
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2017, 09:25:45 PM »

The Northern California DX Foundation's International HF Beacon Network is also very useful for assessing propagation in real time.
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KC1GCG
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 10:33:19 AM »

Thanks for sharing Brian.
Couple thoughts that may impact the usefulness of this that came to mind as I starting spinning the dial. Perhaps I am off track here and can be "edjkated"  so consider this thinking out loud amongst friends.
1) Power output of the station would be helpful to know and could make it an apples to orange comparison trying to compare these stations to a 100W ham ? I could not find the power for the maritime mobiles but the Fort Collins ones bark out at 2500w or 10KW. So not sure that the fact that I can hear Fort Collins tells me much. Certainly if I cannot hear them then that tells me to go watch TV or try 80M perhaps:) hihi
2) Other thing would be that for most of  these frequencies they are not in the resonant range of my antennas and while that's not necessarily going to stop me from hearing them due to their power not sure how well any interpretations I make will apply to my Ham rig at 100w into a resonant antenna (or even 1000w).
Anyway cool ideas but wanted to share my thoughts.
Also as a side note I recently started playing with PSK and find pskreporter.info to be very interesting for looking at real time propagation of my own station. Even if someone does not have any real interest in digital modes it might be worthwhile to get a free program such as FLdigi and use us to see what pskreporter.info has to say about your propagation in real time.
Best regards
John K1JRF
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KM4DYX
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2017, 09:20:38 AM »

Thanks for sharing Brian.
Couple thoughts that may impact the usefulness of this that came to mind as I starting spinning the dial. Perhaps I am off track here and can be "edjkated"  so consider this thinking out loud amongst friends.
1) Power output of the station would be helpful to know and could make it an apples to orange comparison trying to compare these stations to a 100W ham ? I could not find the power for the maritime mobiles but the Fort Collins ones bark out at 2500w or 10KW. So not sure that the fact that I can hear Fort Collins tells me much. Certainly if I cannot hear them then that tells me to go watch TV or try 80M perhaps:) hihi
2) Other thing would be that for most of  these frequencies they are not in the resonant range of my antennas and while that's not necessarily going to stop me from hearing them due to their power not sure how well any interpretations I make will apply to my Ham rig at 100w into a resonant antenna (or even 1000w).
Anyway cool ideas but wanted to share my thoughts.
Also as a side note I recently started playing with PSK and find pskreporter.info to be very interesting for looking at real time propagation of my own station. Even if someone does not have any real interest in digital modes it might be worthwhile to get a free program such as FLdigi and use us to see what pskreporter.info has to say about your propagation in real time.
Best regards
John K1JRF

I would think that the trick would be to, by trial and error perhaps, find a correlation between the received signal strength of one of these beacons/time stations near the band of interest and your actual DX performance. You could even use pskreporter or wspr for this experiment.
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2017, 07:06:14 PM »

If you're a DXer, the questions you want to be able to answer are

1. Who can I likely contact now, and on what bands?

2. When and on what bands am I likely to be able to make a QSO with a station located in X?

DX spots and PSKReporter will tell you who nearby stations are working, but the absence of reports that stations in Y have been worked doesn't mean you can't work Y; a band could be wide open from your QTH to Y, but unless nearby stations are working stations in Y, you won't be informed.

"Known HF broadcasters", like the list that Brian KD6NRP posted, and the NXDXF HF Beacon network enable you to reliably determine whether or not there's currently an opening to a particular region on a particular band.The downside? You're limited to the regions in which these broadcasters and beacon stations are located.

Answering the second question takes more work. There's no practical way to simultaneously monitor all of the known HF broadcasters. VE3NEA's FAROS application can continuously monitor the NCDXF beacons, and thus identify openings from your QTH to the region in which each beacon is located. Analyzing DX spots collected over days and weeks can also identify openings, as can propagation prediction applications like VOACAP.


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KM4DYX
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2017, 10:10:15 AM »


Analyzing DX spots collected over days and weeks can also identify openings, as can propagation prediction applications like VOACAP.


Correct me if I am wrong but I think that VOACAP is a prediction based upon the SSN and does not reflect actual conditions in real time?

Another Ham turned me onto HAMCAP with IONOPROBE; I think that it provides a near real time snapshot of current conditions and a propagation prediction with those conditions factored in. I haven't played with it a lot, so I still have questions about it.

73,
Al
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2017, 12:14:30 PM »


Analyzing DX spots collected over days and weeks can also identify openings, as can propagation prediction applications like VOACAP.


Correct me if I am wrong but I think that VOACAP is a prediction based upon the SSN and does not reflect actual conditions in real time?

Correct. That's why VOACAP is referred to as a propagation prediction application. It does not take short-term disturbances into account. One can use realtime propagation indicators like beacon signal reports and DX spots to calibrate propagation forecasts.

Another Ham turned me onto HAMCAP with IONOPROBE; I think that it provides a near real time snapshot of current conditions and a propagation prediction with those conditions factored in. I haven't played with it a lot, so I still have questions about it.

It appears from this description that HAMCAP uses VOACAP as its propagation prediction engine. IONOPROBE isnt' a propagation prediction application. It "monitors the space weather parameters essential for HF radio. The list of parameters includes SSN/SFI, Ap/Kp, X-ray/Proton flux, and Auroral activity. IonoProbe downloads near-real time satellite and ground station data, stores information for future use and displays it in a user-friendly way."

For a discussion of the "smoothed sunspot number" recommended for use with VOACAP (and propagation prediction applications that employ VOACAP as their prediction engine), see Choosing the correct Sunspot Number.

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KM4DYX
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2017, 01:51:09 PM »



Another Ham turned me onto HAMCAP with IONOPROBE; I think that it provides a near real time snapshot of current conditions and a propagation prediction with those conditions factored in. I haven't played with it a lot, so I still have questions about it.

It appears from this description that HAMCAP uses VOACAP as its propagation prediction engine. IONOPROBE isnt' a propagation prediction application. It "monitors the space weather parameters essential for HF radio. The list of parameters includes SSN/SFI, Ap/Kp, X-ray/Proton flux, and Auroral activity. IonoProbe downloads near-real time satellite and ground station data, stores information for future use and displays it in a user-friendly way."

For a discussion of the "smoothed sunspot number" recommended for use with VOACAP (and propagation prediction applications that employ VOACAP as their prediction engine), see Choosing the correct Sunspot Number.


[/quote]

But if HamCAP integrates IONOPROBE, then shouldn't the resultant prediction be based upon current conditions? There is more to it than the SSN.
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2017, 02:00:50 PM »


Another Ham turned me onto HAMCAP with IONOPROBE; I think that it provides a near real time snapshot of current conditions and a propagation prediction with those conditions factored in. I haven't played with it a lot, so I still have questions about it.

Quote from: AA6YQ
It appears from this description that HAMCAP uses VOACAP as its propagation prediction engine. IONOPROBE isnt' a propagation prediction application. It "monitors the space weather parameters essential for HF radio. The list of parameters includes SSN/SFI, Ap/Kp, X-ray/Proton flux, and Auroral activity. IonoProbe downloads near-real time satellite and ground station data, stores information for future use and displays it in a user-friendly way."

For a discussion of the "smoothed sunspot number" recommended for use with VOACAP (and propagation prediction applications that employ VOACAP as their prediction engine), see Choosing the correct Sunspot Number.

But if HamCAP integrates IONOPROBE, then shouldn't the resultant prediction be based upon current conditions? There is more to it than the SSN.

If HAMCAP uses VOACAP as its propagation prediction engine, no. Generating a prediction engine based on "current conditions" would require either modifying VOACAP (in which case the HAMCAP instructions wouldn't include installing the standard VOACAP), or developing an independent propagation prediction engine (in which case why would VOACAP installation be required?) I suspect that HAMCAP uses IONOPROBE to obtain the current values of the SSN and K index. To be certain of this, check with HAMCAP author Alex VE3NEA.
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2017, 06:56:58 PM »

One can use realtime propagation indicators like beacon signal reports and DX spots to calibrate propagation forecasts.

Here's an example of calibration:

 - it's 0151Z, and Brian 9J2BO is QRV 7010 with an S7-S9 signal on my 2-element beam

 - VOACAP predicts the path between my QTH near Boston and Brian's in Lusaka to provide a signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio of 6db, with a 28% probability of an opening. VOACAP's predicted SNR rises to 12db a few hours from now.

Brian is working lots of stations on the US East Coast.

We can thus conclude that this would be a much more profitable time to patrol 40m for needed stations in southern Africa than VOACAP is forecasting.
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KM4DYX
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2017, 11:08:13 AM »

One can use realtime propagation indicators like beacon signal reports and DX spots to calibrate propagation forecasts.

Here's an example of calibration:

 - it's 0151Z, and Brian 9J2BO is QRV 7010 with an S7-S9 signal on my 2-element beam

 - VOACAP predicts the path between my QTH near Boston and Brian's in Lusaka to provide a signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio of 6db, with a 28% probability of an opening. VOACAP's predicted SNR rises to 12db a few hours from now.

Brian is working lots of stations on the US East Coast.

We can thus conclude that this would be a much more profitable time to patrol 40m for needed stations in southern Africa than VOACAP is forecasting.

I think that you have arrived at the heart of the matter. VOACAP, for all its many virtues, has little application for the ham who wants to sit down and chase DX at a given moment. A beacon monitoring program would be a better choice.

Don't get me wrong, I think VOACAP is a great planning tool.
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2017, 11:47:12 AM »

One can use realtime propagation indicators like beacon signal reports and DX spots to calibrate propagation forecasts.

Here's an example of calibration:

 - it's 0151Z, and Brian 9J2BO is QRV 7010 with an S7-S9 signal on my 2-element beam

 - VOACAP predicts the path between my QTH near Boston and Brian's in Lusaka to provide a signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio of 6db, with a 28% probability of an opening. VOACAP's predicted SNR rises to 12db a few hours from now.

Brian is working lots of stations on the US East Coast.

We can thus conclude that this would be a much more profitable time to patrol 40m for needed stations in southern Africa than VOACAP is forecasting.

I think that you have arrived at the heart of the matter. VOACAP, for all its many virtues, has little application for the ham who wants to sit down and chase DX at a given moment. A beacon monitoring program would be a better choice.

Don't get me wrong, I think VOACAP is a great planning tool.

There are only 18 beacons in the NCDXF network, so their geographic coverage is limited. If you're chasing Monk Apollo SV2ASP/A, for example, the closest NCDXF beacons are in Portugal, Finland, and Israel. 

~17 years ago, I began developing an application that connects to up to 6 online DX spot sources (including the Remote Beacon Network), and displays a list with one entry for each currently-active DX station that shows from where that station has been spotted, and a VOACAP propagation forecast from your QTH to that DX station for the current hour. I can can specify which awards I'm pursuing (DXCC, Leaderboard, Marathon, IOTA, VUCC, WAS, WAZ, WPX), so stations with whom I need a confirmed QSO are highlighted. With one mouse click, I can view "needed DX stations that are currently active, and have been spotted by at least one station with X miles of my QTH) where X can be specified on a band-by-band basis. This view can also be made conditional on the forecasted SNR or probability of opening, and (for low bands) on my QTH's current sunrise and sunset times. I can thus immediately see what's currently needed and possible, but I can also see what needed stations have been QRV over the past few days and weeks, and plan stakeouts of likely openings based on both actual and predicted propagation. This, application, which is free, is called DXLab.
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W1VT
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2017, 10:26:19 AM »

http://www.dxatlas.com/ionoprobe/
Time-critical parameters, such as X-ray flux, proton flux and auroral index, are updated every 15 minutes. An alarm can be set up to notify you of a storm within a few minutes after its start.

I believe it is up to the operator to decide how and when these updates will affect propagation.

Zack W1VT
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 10:34:59 AM by W1VT » Logged
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