Sunday, 5 June 2011

Using beacons in checking propagation conditions

For propagation condition checking, I have already mentioned PSKReporter, WSPRVOACAP and DX Cluster. There is another, a really interesting one: beacons: you get quite an exact report or your actual propagation status in a few minutes. There are a number of interoperating beacons on HF bands for checking the propagation conditions exactly on your site. The principle of the beacon system is explained at the IARU's beacon shedule site.

I tested a few simple beacon tools, and selected the BeaconMap by PA1ARE. A screenshot below:
BeaconMap 1.2 by PA1ARE.
The ZL6B beacon is blinking receiver said just sssshhhh this time at this beacon :) 
Not that your PC clock has to be in sync with the internet clock for this to work. The tool is really simple, since it does not integrate at all with the rig (as WSPR and PSKReporter does), but does just visualizes the beacons in a map. You have to listen to the beacons yourself in order to determine the conditions yourself :). The visualization makes really sense here: you see the location and you hear the conditions. Furthermore, this windows application is really 'light': The size of the executable is 814 kB.

Hint: Check the 10m band openings using the beacons.

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