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21 August Eclipse Offers Longwave Radio Opportunities
The total eclipse of the sun on 21 August offers coast-to-coast opportunities for radio experimenters to examine diurnal propagation variations on a shortened time scale...and perhaps anomalous variations that aren't analogous to the normal day/night changes. Effects can be expected from VLF through HF (probably even at ELF), so nearly every longwave enthusiast in the US and Canada should be able to observe and document signal variations during the eclipse with their current equipment.
This will be discussed further in the August issue of The LOWDOWN.
Meanwhile, to get a sense of the potential range of experiments possible, LWCA member Rick Ferranti W6NIR suggests these Web sites as an introduction: Whitham D Reeve and HamSci.org. Rick notes that the latter is a little vague on some of the organized activities, and more can be gleaned from an addition HamSci paper on the subject.
HamSci's own effort is strictly in the HF amateur bands and employs tools like the Reverse Beacon Network and WSPRnet, the latter of which will also be useful to monitors tuned to the WSPR segments of 2200 and 630 meters. But as previously noted, all longwave buffs can get in on the action. HiFER and LowFER signals, NDBs, Navy stations monitored on SID receivers, and whistler/natural radio receivers will also all provide unique opportunities to observe the transient effects on our ionosphere of the moon's shadow.
The LOWDOWN This Month In the July 2017 issue of the club publication:
"DX Downstairs" Kevin Carey presents members' LF and VLF loggings.
"On The Air" Experimenters operating on the 160-190kHz and lower bands... and...
"The Top End" MedFER and HiFER beacon lists... and ...
"The LF Notebook" Conducted by John Davis. News from, for and about LWCA members. The eclipse is coming!
"600 Meter Snapshot" Excerpts of the latest WD2XSH quarterly report by Fritz Raab; WD2XSH summary and news of other Part 5 licensees as well.
In Coming Issues... Soon: How a Loop Antenna Doesn't Work... Why You Don't Have An 'E-Field Probe'... and Revisiting the CD4017 as a Beacon Keyer. Interested in subscribing? Click here for address, rates, and remittance information (including PayPal).
LF-MF Ham Rules Published Effective date of operation still in hands of OMB.
The Federal Communications Commission rules for the 630 and 2200 meter ham bands, as outlined in the FCC's recent Report & Order, have now been published in the Federal Register as of June 12, but the new rules will not take effect after the usual 30 days. Details still have to be worked out on procedures for the required PLC frequency coordination with Utilities Telecom Council. Those plans will require approval from the Office of Management and Budget. The Commission will issue a formal Public Notice when an effective date for the rules has been established, but there is no definite timetable as yet.
In addition to these two new WRC bands, the Docket 15-99 proposals will relieve HiFER hobbyists of CODAR interference in a few years, elevate the status of amateur operation between 1800 and 2000 kHz, and impact experimentation below 9 kHz as well. (Radio spectrum is now formally allocated down to 8.3 kHz.)
New Oexner NDB Handbooks Available
The 2017 editions of Michael Oexner's popular European NDB Handbook & North American NDB Handbook and CDs are now available. The updated ENDBH contains the data of more than 7200 NDBs on 150+ spiral-bound pages in A4 format, and the NANDBH shows the data of more than 5000 NDBs on 130+ pages.
The CD versions of the handbooks contain an updated Google Earth waypoint file so that you can "visit" NDB locations around the globe. New pictures have been added to the NDB picture collection, and the NDB sound clip section has grown as well.
Click or tap this link for a PDF file containing information about the 2017 NDB Handbooks.
LW Resources & Additional Topics
Related Longwave Sites
William Hepburn's DX Information Centre has probably the best online list of aero and marine beacons based on official license information, plus lists of LW broadcasters and time signals, and numerous resources for other types of DXing as well.
The searchable RNA database of LF beacons...not compiled from official sources, but a digest of signal reports from experienced listeners in North and Central America. It's a great tool for identifying those unknown signals. It won't always be up-to-date regarding decommissioned beacons, of course. This might somewhat limit its usefulness in targeting specific beacons to listen for, but it's still helpful if you pay attention to the most recent reported date for a given beacon.
Radio Waves Below 22 kHz Renato Romero's eclectic collection of topics pertaining to both manmade and natural radio signals from near DC to the upper end of audibility. Includes the VLF Open Lab, and articles by many contributors...some fairly orthodox, and some not. Visit: www.vlf.it Not viewable online but a resource which can be ordered there...Michael Oexner's North American and European NDB Handbooks, now updated for 2017 (click link for info in PDF form).
QRSS and WOLF Software
Rik Strobbe's QRSS software (for transmitting extremely slow CW) and Rik's other useful software at the ON7YD download page.
Continuing Development of Argo. Alberto di Bene posts the latest version of Argo, a receiving tool for displaying slow CW, that performs FFT spectral analysis and displays it in ways optimized for QRSS. Many of the transoceanic LF amateur records were set using Argo at the receiving end. Argo has somewhat similar performance to Spectran, but interacts better with the user's soundcard and is customized for QRSS modes.
WOLF. Stewart Nelson devised this unique mode, a variant of BPSK. See his announcement of the MS-DOS version for more details. Now, a GUI-based version by Wolf Büscher continues to increase the mode's popularity. Find the new software at the DL4YHF site.
Spectrum Lab, at that same link, is another of Wolf's creations. In conjunction with your computer's sound card, not only is it an especially advanced spectrum analyzer, but it's also a filtering and sound processing tool, and can serve as the demodulator part of a software defined receiver.
Slow CW for Linux. Claudio Girardi (IN3OTD) has released Slow CW software for users of the Linux operating system, currently v 0.42. The program (called glfer) contains both transmit and receive capability, the latter including an FFT-based spectrum analyzer somewhat similar to those found in popular Windows Slow CW programs.
As with much open-source software in the X-world, you have to compile the C source code yourself. Users will also need additional code libraries. Links to those, plus downloadable source code, can be found at Claudio's glfer page.