Sunday, July 15, 2012

Miles Above Me (Us)

Ovation Aurora Data
When I make my way into my shack and turn on my radio, my first glance is to my Spectrum Scope in my Icom 756PRO. When I see nothing on that scope, I check to make sure my remote antenna switch is on. If that is on, I double check that the antenna selected is the proper antenna for the band. If I don't hear or see anything, I can assume that something is going on miles above my home. Today is just one of those days (again). I have slowly tuned through all bands with not one single soul being heard. In checking some of our space weather technology websites, it does not take long to figure out how strong and for how long. The Ovation Aurora site shown above is one of my favorites. 

HAARP's Magnetometer
If you have read any of my previous posts, you will find I make reference to HAARP on a regular basis. Controversial to some, admired by those who follow the effects of solar wind and solar flares on propagation. HAARP is in our Alaskan backyard so it's a great resource to see what's going on miles overhead to the earth's magnetic field. To the right, you can see the arrival of the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that took place not long ago.  This was due to a solar flare from the active regions around sunspots 1520 & 1521. This was a disturbance I sure would of loved to see happen during the winter as I'm sure the Aurora would of been pretty spectacular. But, with our many hours of daylight here during the summer months, that is one event that tourists and locals alike won't be able to see.

HAARP's Riometer
HAARP's Riometer is another useful tool when propagation is nonexistent. To communicate around the world via radio waves, those waves need to bounce off of the Ionosphere. When they are absorbed rather than reflected, our HF radios become very quiet. The "E" and "F" layers are the ones you probably hear referenced the most in our hobby. Tomas, NW7US writes and posts many informative articles on the effects of solar activity (or lack of) on our wonderful hobby. 

When I first got into ham radio many years ago, these resources were not available as the World Wide Web and Internet were in its youth. I would have read about events like this days or weeks afterwards in publications. Now, all you need to do is log into these websites and see solar weather data as real time as local weather radar map data. All of these websites are a must for the avid DX enthusiast. These are just three of the many websites that I check while enjoying my morning cup of coffee. One thing I'm not sure science has solved is why lots of this activity happens on contest weekends? That, we many never know...


  1. We're lucky, because HAARP is so close to Fairbanks, and it does show a pretty accurate picture.

  2. Larry, so very true! You turned me onto that website and I've found it so instrumental in working DX or playing in contest weekends along with trying to understand our challenging propagation.