Gray Line Notifier

I’ve always been kind of fascinated by gray-line propagation. The gray line is a band around the Earth where night is turning into day and day is turning into night. Theories differ as to why, but radio propagation along the gray line is often very efficient. NA5N has one explanation of the phenomenon.

This morning, while walking to our ham radio club breakfast get-together, I got to thinking about how I might be better able to take advantage of gray-line propagation.Because this phenomenon is so short-lived, it’s easy to miss the gray line. How cool, I thought, would it be if I could come up with a program that would inform me when my QTH was beginning its transit through the grayline.

I thought up several ways to get my computer to do this. Then, it occurred to me that I should be able to write a Web application that hams could sign up for that would either send them an e-mail or send them a Tweet when their QTH was about to enter the gray line. And, coincidentally, I might be able to sell some advertising to pay for this and maybe make a few bucks off it.

I’m tentatively calling this application the Gray Line Notifier. I talked up this idea a bit at our breakfast this morning, and the guys noted that there are already may gray line maps on the Web, but none of them can be programmed to send you notices. We chatted a bit more about this, and came up with a couple of features for this app, including:

  1. Will send either an e-mail or a Tweet, when a ham’s QTH is about to enter the gray line.
  2. Include information about other countries/grid squares that are also along the gray line.
  3. Perhaps interface with a DX spotter to see if there is good gray line propagation at the time.
  4. Beam headings to take advantage of gray line propagation.
What do you think? Would you sign up for this service? Can you think of any other features that I might include?

Auroral flutter an interesting phenomenon

Aurora

An aurora over Alaska. Source: NASA

Last night, it was reported that there was a coronal mass ejection (CME) that resulted in an aurora being seen as far south as Atlanta, GA. The aurora, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, are usually only visible as far south as the northern tier of the United States.

I knew something was up as soon as I turned on my rig last night. Nearly every signal had some auroral flutter on it. Auroral flutter is caused by radio waves bouncing off the ever-changing aurora or passing through it. When severe, auroral flutter can make a signal nearly unreadable.

Auroral flutter is usually limited to signals that pass over the North Pole. I first became aware of this phenomenon when I worked several stations in Northern Russia. Last night, though, even U.S. stations had this characteristic flutter. I was a little flummoxed by this. I’d never heard this on domestic QSOs.

I got to talking about this with Steve, N4LQ. He said that he was at first a little taken aback by the auroral flutter, because he had been fooling around with the receiver section of the HW-16 he was using and didn’t know if the odd sound he was hearing was the result of his experiments or band conditions. I assured him that it wasn’t the receiver. :)

If the ionosphere has D, E, and F layers, what happened to the A, B, and C layers?

On Google+, Bob, K0NR posted,

Interesting question from a 10-year-old student in the ham radio class today: Why do we always talk about the D, E and F layers of the ionosphere…are there A, B or C layers? I don’t know the answer to that one.

Now, I’d always heard that the reason the lowest layer is the D layer is because when scientists first started studying the ionosphere, they found these three layers and postulated that they would find three layers below them, i.e. the A, B, and C layers. They did not find them, but never went back and relabeled ones that they did find.

I posted this as a reply, and Bob asked if I had a reference. Well, I Googled all over for one, but came up empty. Do any of you know if this explanation is true, or if this is a ham radio urban legend?

Let the Sun Shine!

It looks as though solar activity is picking up, and with that propagation on the HF bands. The ARRL Letter reports:

Solar FlareTad “Somewhere the Sun is shining” Cook, K7RA, reports: Compared to the uneventful past few years, sunspot activity was truly remarkable this week. The daily sunspot number for September 16 was 173. We haven’t see numbers like this in more than six years, when the sunspot number was 181, way back on July 5, 2005 in Solar Cycle 23. The solar flux reached 150.1 on September 18. Just six months ago it was slightly higher, 153 on March 7 and 155 on March 8, but prior to that the only higher number was 157.3 on August 22, 2005, about 7 weeks after the sunspot number of 181. Currently, the solar flux and planetary A index forecast from USAF/NOAA calls for solar flux of 144 on September 22-23, 140 on September 24-25, 145 on September 26-28, 130 on September 29 through October 1, and 135 on October 2-5. The planetary A index is predicted at 5 on September 22-24, 8 on September 25, 5, 8, 5, 5, 15 and 8 on September 26 through October 1, and 5 on October 2-7. Look for more information on the ARRL website on Friday, September 23. For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service Propagation page.

On Tuesday, I worked a guy on 40m, and he reported that 10m was wide open all day. Time for some DX!

Space Weather Prediction Center to Continue Broadcasts on WWV and WWVH

From the June 30, 2011 ARRL Letter:

In April 2011, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) informed the public that as of September 6, 2011, it would no longer broadcast its geophysical alert message on WWV and WWVH. The ARRL has now learned that the SWPC has changed its mind and will keep broadcasting these messages that inform listeners of the solar flux, the mid-latitude A and K indices and space weather storms, both current and predicted. Due to listener feedback, the SWPC is considering updating the broadcast; in addition to providing the current daily solar flux at 2800 MHz, the SWPC is evaluating adding more frequent observations at 2695 MHz. According to the SWPC website, other improvements to the message content will also be evaluated.

 

Today in Ham Radio History: Moonbounce

From Frank via the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list:

Today in 1946, the United States Army Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey successfully conducted Project Diana, bouncing radio waves off the moon and receiving the reflected signals. 65 years later, ham radio operators all over the world conduct moon bounce or EME communications (Earth-Moon-Earth), with relatively inexpensive equipment.

No Sunspots for Decades?

Two solar scientists—Matthew Penn and William Livingston, with the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona—are predicting that by 2016 there may be no remaining sunspots, and the sun may stay spotless for several decades. They’re basing their prediction on the measurement of the magnetic field strength of 1,500 sunspots since 1990. What they have found is that the average strength of the magnetic fields is declining. When the magnetic field strength falls below a particular value, sunspots are unable to form.

The W8SRC Repeater Guide

“The W8SRC Repeater Guide” is a database of analog FM repeaters across SE Michigan, parts of NW Ohio, and parts of SW Ontario that is constantly updated based on my reception.

On a linked repeater system, “Activity” refers to the activity of that particular repeater being transmitted on.

PLs in parentheses mean that the repeater sometimes requires the given PL. If you want to key up a repeater on this database with a PL in parentheses, key up the repeater with carrier access first; if that fails, use the given PL.

At the bottom of the post you will see when this repeater database was last updated and the last 5 updates of the database.  Updates include additions, deletions, or any frequency, PL, VOIP node, or callsign change of a repeater, as well as if a repeater goes down or back up.

Repeaters in bold indicate any involvement in repeater programming that I have done.

For information on the nets that take place on some of these repeaters, check out the post, “Southeastern Michigan Area VHF/UHF Nets.”

Metropolitan area covered (County[ies] covered)

Frequency Input PL Callsign Activity Comments
Ann Arbor area (Washtenaw)
29.640 29.540 114.8 WD8DPA Down Linked to 444.975
51.740 51.240 88.5 W2PUT Down Linked to 927.9875 locally, and 444.100 and 927.4875 in Milan, IRLP node 4428
145.150 144.550 100.0 N8DUY Active Skywarn/ARPSC, courtesy tone introduced by W8SRC
145.230 144.630 100.0 W8UM Medium Echolink node 301138
146.740 146.140 (107.2) WB8UPM Inactive
146.920 146.320 (100.0) KT8TD Active  ARPSC Backup
146.960 146.360  (100.0) WB8TKL Active  Owned by W8PGW
147.420 147.420 (100.0) W8SRC Down Medium-coverage simplex repeater, at 100 watts ERP from 24 feet AGL
224.340 222.740 W8UHW Inactive
224.380 222.780  (100.0) W8PGW Inactive
443.050 448.050 107.2 N8LBV Inactive
443.500 448.500 (100.0) W8PGW Inactive
443.650 448.650 100.0 N8AMX Very inactive
444.075 449.075 82.5 WR8DAR Very inactive
444.975 449.975 107.2 WD8DPA Down Linked to 29.640
446.150 441.150 100.0 W8SRC Medium Wide-coverage repeater, at 72 watts ERP from 32 feet AGL, KC8LMI linked repeater system, HF/6m/2m/70cm remote base, AR Newsline, ARRL Audio News, NOAA weather receiver
927.9875 902.9875 131.8 (use D025) W2PUT Inactive Linked to 51.740 locally, and 444.100 and 927.4875 in Milan, IRLP node 4428
Chelsea area (Washtenaw)
145.450 144.850 100.0 WD8IEL Medium
146.980 146.380 100.0 WD8IEL Medium Programmed by W8SRC
224.160 222.560 100.0 WD8IEL Medium
443.575 448.575 100.0 WD8IEL Active CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236, programmed by W8SRC
Howell (Livingston)
145.410 144.810 162.2 K8JBA Very inactive
146.500 147.500 131.8 N8EOC Inactive ARPSC, Shared Non-Protected Repeater (SNPR)
146.680 146.080 (162.2) W8LRK Active Skywarn
444.525 449.525 100.0 W8LRK Inactive
442.675 447.675 141.3 W2GLD Medium Echolink node 636674, IRLP node 4615, Allstar node 27845, HF/6m/2m remote base, AR Newsline, ARRL Audio News, NOAA weather alerts
Jackson area (Jackson/Ingham)
51.620 51.120 100.0 KA8ZXX Active Wide-coverage repeater, backup repeater programmed by W8SRC
145.310 144.710 110.9 K8YQP Inactive Remote base, low coverage repeater, programmed by W8SRC
145.470 144.870 114.8 W8IRA Medium IRA linked repeater system (linked to Lansing)
146.880 146.280 100.0 W8JXN Medium Skywarn
147.360 147.960 100.0 KA8HDY Active KC8LMI linked repeater system, Echolink node 644275, remote base, mainly programmed by W8SRC
443.175 448.175 77.0 WD8EEQ Inactive
443.875 448.875 100.0 KC8LMI Very active KC8LMI linked repeater system, Echolink node 644275, wide-coverage repeater, remote base, programmed by W8SRC
444.175 449.175 100.0 KA8YRL Inactive IRLP node 4463
444.950 449.950 W8SRC Active Temporary low-coverage repeater, at 50 watts from 30 feet
927.0125 902.0125 131.8 N8URW Active KC8LMI linked repeater system, Echolink node 644275, remote base
Lansing area (Ingham/Eaton/Shiawassee/Clinton)
51.700 51.200 192.8 WB8RJY Very inactive Wide-coverage repeater
52.960 52.460 KD8PA Down
145.390 144.790 100.0 W8BCI Active
145.470 144.870 107.2/100.0 W8IRA Active IRA linked repeater system (linked to Jackson)
146.700 146.100 107.2 W8BCI Medium
146.940 146.340 100.0 W8BCI Active
147.020 147.620 100.0 N8DVH Inactive
147.080 147.680 103.5 K8CHR Inactive
147.280 147.880 100.0 KB8LCY Active CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
224.980 223.380 100.0 W8BCI Inactive
442.025 447.025  173.8 N8JI Inactive
442.050 447.050 100.0 N9UV Inactive
442.400 447.400 100.0 N8DVH Inactive
442.425 447.425 100.0 KD8PA Usually medium
442.900 447.900 77.0 W8MSU Very inactive
443.000 448.000 107.2 KD8IFI Inactive CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
443.525 448.525 100.0 W8CLI Inactive
443.625 448.625 100.0 N8HEE Medium
443.700 448.700 WB8RJY Medium Does not identify itself
444.000 449.000 173.8 N8TSK Inactive Identifies as N8TSK and KD8AGP
444.575 449.575 107.2 N8OBU Pretty active CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
444.850 449.850 141.3 WC8CLI Inactive
445.500 440.500 94.8 KD8AGP Very inactive Shared Non-Protected Repeater (SNPR)
910.250 439.250 N8OBU ??? ATV repeater (LSB input, AM output)
927.525 902.525 131.8 (use D073?) KB8FUN ???
Flint area (Gennessee/Shiawassee)
51.860 51.360 K8DAC ???
145.190 144.590 100.0 W8YUC ???
145.290 144.690 100.0 N8IES Medium
145.410 144.810 91.5 W8YUC Inactive CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236 (also used in West Branch, but still inactive, and not linked up)
146.780 146.180 151.4 W8CMN Medium
147.060 147.660 100.0 N8NJN Inactive Low-coverage repeater
147.100 147.700 100.0 KC8KGZ Active
147.260 147.860 100.0 KC8KGZ Very active Skywarn
147.340 147.940 100.0 W8ACW Medium
147.380 147.980 100.0 N8NE Inactive
224.060 222.460 100.0 N8NJN Inactive
224.180 222.580 88.5 KF8UI Medium
224.480 222.880 100.0 KC8KGZ Inactive
224.620 223.020 100.0 W8FSM Inactive
224.860 223.260 100.0 N8IES ???
224.960 223.360 W8YUC Down
442.250 447.250 100.0 KA8ZAU Inactive
442.300 447.300 91.5 W8YUC Inactive
442.350 447.350 107.2/88.5 W8FSM Active CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
442.625 447.625 100.0 N8IES Medium CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
443.200 448.200 151.4 KC8YGT Medium
443.975 448.975 67.0 KB8PGF Inactive
444.025 449.025 100.0 KB8SWR Medium CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
444.200 449.200 107.2 W8ACW Inactive
444.375 449.375 W8JDE Inactive
444.600 449.600 W8JDE Inactive
444.650 449.650 100.0 KC8KGZ Inactive
927.5375 902.5375 131.8 N8VDS Inactive CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
927.6875 902.6875 131.8 (use D025?) W8FSM ???
1253.250 439.250 KC8KGZ ??? ATV repeater, input on LSB mode, output on AM mode
South Lyon (Oakland)
147.040 147.640 110.9 K8VJ Active
White Lake (Oakland)
145.490 144.890 67.0 N8BIT Usually inactive
Clarkston (Oakland)
146.840 146.240 100.0 K8NWD Medium/active
Detroit area (Wayne/Oakland/Macomb/Essex, ON)
53.760 53.260 151.4 W8FSM ???
53.940 53.440 NE9Y ???
145.110 144.510 100.0 W8DET Inactive
145.170 144.570 100.0 KA8SPW Inactive Currently still identifies as K8RUR
145.270 144.670 100.0 K8UTT Medium Linked to 224.520
145.330 144.730 100.0 WR8DAR Very active  Skywarn
145.350 144.750 100.0 K8UNS Active
145.410 144.810 118.8 VE3EOW Medium
145.430 144.830 100.0 W8JIM Pretty inactive
145.470 144.870 118.8 VE3RRR Medium
146.640 146.040 100.0 W8HP Very active
146.760 146.160 100.0 KE8HR Very active  Skywarn
146.860 146.260 100.0 KK8GC Medium
146.900 146.300 100.0 W8OAK Very active  Skywarn
147.000 147.600 118.8 VE3WIN Active
147.060 147.660 118.8 VE3III Medium Canwarn
147.080 147.680 100.0 N8LC Active AR Newsline
147.140 147.740 (100.0) N8KD Medium
147.160 147.760 100.0 WR8DAR Active
147.180 147.780 100.0 K8UO Very active
147.200 147.800 100.0 WA8MAC Inactive
147.220 147.820 N8EDV Very inactive
147.240 147.840 WY8DOT Medium
147.330 147.930 151.4 KC8LTS Inactive APCO-P25 repeater, can key up with FM transceivers
224.360 222.760 103.5 KC8LTS Very inactive?
224.460 222.860 N8EDV ???
224.520 222.920 100.0 K8UTT Very inactive Linked to 145.270
224.700 223.100 100.0 K8PLW Medium
442.100 447.100 107.2 K8PLW Inactive
442.175 447.175 123.0 KC8LTS Very active CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
442.275 447.275 100.0 W8TX Very inactive
442.475 447.475 88.5 W8JIM Inactive
442.500 447.500 107.2 WB8NXP Active  IRLP node 4460
442.775 447.775 107.2 N8BK Very inactive Echolink node 331551
442.800 447.800 107.2 WR8DAR Medium
442.925 447.925 100.0 N8LC Inactive Low-coverage repeater, Echolink node 47081
443.075 448.075 123.0 WW8GM Medium/inactive
443.100 448.100 82.5 WR8DAR Medium
443.125 448.125 107.2 N8DJP Medium
443.225 448.225 107.2 W8HP Inactive/medium
443.475 448.475 88.5 WR8DAR Active
443.550 448.550 107.2 KA8WYN Inactive
443.625 448.625 151.4 KC8UMP Active
443.725 448.725 100.0 K8ZKJ Inactive
444.000 449.000 100.0 WB8CQP Inactive
444.225 449.225 107.2 N8XN Medium
444.300 449.300 118.8 VE3RRR Inactive
444.325 449.325 107.2 W8OAK Medium
444.350 449.350 82.5 K8UH Inactive
444.425 449.425 118.8 WR8DAR Very inactive Low-coverage repeater
444.600 449.600 118.8 VE3WIN Inactive?
444.750 449.750 K8PLW Very inactive
444.800 449.800 110.9 N8OVI Medium
444.875 449.875 123.0 K8UNS Inactive
927.125 902.125 131.8 (use D025?) WR8DAR ???
927.250 902.250 131.8 (use D025?) W8FSM ???
927.2625 902.2625 131.8 (use D025?) W8FSM Inactive CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236
927.4875 902.4875 131.8 (use D025?) KC8LTS Inactive? CMEN linked repeater system, Echolink node 41083, Allstar node 28236 (connected to links or not?)
927.5125 902.5125 131.8 (use D025?) N8NM ???
927.6875 902.6875 131.8? (use D025?) K8UH Medium Echolink node 71379
Monroe area (Monroe/Washtenaw/Lucas, OH)
29.680 29.580 W8HHF ???
52.780 52.280 K8OF ???
145.310 144.710 W8YZ Inactive?
146.610 146.010 103.5 K8ALB Medium
146.720 146.120 100.0 K8RPT Very active  Skywarn
146.940 146.340 103.5 W8RZM Inactive
147.120 147.720 103.5 K8ALB Inactive
147.270 147.870 103.5 W8HHF Very active Skywarn
147.345 147.945 103.5 WJ8E Medium
147.375 147.975 103.5 W8RZM Very active Skywarn
224.140 222.540 103.5 W8HHF Inactive
224.440 222.840 103.5 WJ8E Down?
224.540 222.940 103.5 WB8OET Inactive Low-coverage repeater
442.650 447.650 100.0 K8RPT Inactive?
442.825 447.825 100.0 K8RPT Medium
442.850 447.850 103.5 W8HHF Medium
442.950 447.950 103.5 WJ8E Medium Skywarn
443.300 449.300 103.5 N8UAS Medium
443.750 448.750 103.5 KI8CY Very inactive Low-coverage repeater
443.775 448.775 103.5 KC8GWH Inactive
444.025 449.025 103.5 W8MTU Down ARES
444.100 449.100 82.5 W2PUT Very active Linked to 927.4875 locally, and 51.740 and 927.9875 in Ann Arbor, IRLP node 4428
444.275 449.275 107.2 W8AK Inactive
444.550 449.550 100.0 N8OSC Inactive
444.850 449.850 103.5 N8EFJ Very active
444.925 449.925 103.5 W8MTU Inactive ARES
444.950 449.950 103.5 N8LPQ Active
927.4875 902.4875 131.8 (use D025) W2PUT Medium? Linked to 51.740 and 927.9875 in Ann Arbor, and 444.100 locally, IRLP node 4428
927.9125 902.9125 131.8 KD8KCF Medium KC8LMI linked repeater system, Echolink node 644275, remote base
1285.000 1273.000 WJ8E ???
1287.000 1275.000 WJ8E ???
Lapeer area (Lapeer)
146.620 146.020 100.0 W8LAP Very active Linked to 443.450, Skywarn
224.800 223.200 100.0 W8LAP Inactive
442.700 447.700 100.0 W8LAP Medium
443.450 448.450 100.0 KG8ID Medium Linked to 146.620
Hillsdale area (Hillsdale)
147.060 147.660 151.4/179.9 KC8QVX Medium
147.440 147.440 103.5 K8LRC Inactive Simplex repeater, programmed by W8SRC
444.825 449.825 107.2 KC8QVX Medium IRLP node 4812
Adrian area (Lenawee)
145.370 144.770 85.4 W8TQE Medium
443.375 448.375 107.2 K8ADM Inactive
444.675 449.675 123.0 W8TQE Inactive

Last updated:

07/05/2014

Last 5 updates:

Changed antenna height for the 446.150 W8SRC Dexter repeater from 24′ AGL (966′ ASL) to 32′ AGL (974′ ASL).

147.420 W8SRC Dexter simplex repeater is off-air.

Changed the W2GLD Pinckney repeater’s frequency from 445.500- to 442.675+.

Updated features for the 446.150 W8SRC Dexter and 443.875 KC8LMI Aurelius repeaters.

Changed the KD8KCF Toledo repeater’s frequency and PL tone from 927.225 PL 100.0 to 927.9125 PL 131.8.

Spaceweather.Com Wants You!

Brad, KG6IOE, spotted this recently on SpaceWeather.Com and posted it to the Glow Bugs mailing list:

*CALLING ALL HAMS:* No hobby is more sensitive to solar activity and space weather than ham radio. So here is a call to ham radio operators: Is spaceweather.com meeting your needs? We welcome your suggestions to improve our website. Submit ham-friendly ideas here: webmaster@spaceweather.com.

NASA Scientists Blame Dearth of Sunspots on Sluggish Jet Stream

According to a report on the Science@NASA website, researchers think they have discovered the reason behind the dearth of sunspots. At an American Astronomical Society press conference yesterday in Boulder, Colorado, the researchers announced that a jet stream deep inside the sun is migrating slower than usual through the star’s interior, giving rise to the current lack of sunspots.

The good news is that according to their measurements, the jet stream is now finally reaching the critical latitude of 22 degrees, meaning that conditions should return to normal. In other words, no Maunder Minimum, or prolonged period of low sunspot activity, this time around.

Another reason this is good news is that while all this blathering has made for good blog fodder, I’m getting tired of all the complaining. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Hams like to complain about the solar weather, but nobody does anything about it”!