Thursday, July 24, 2008

Love on the Rox

The most important factor for becoming a successful meteor scatter operator is summed up in one word, "patience". Contacts on 2 Meters typically run 15-20 minutes, and can take considerably longer. During major showers, such as the upcoming August 12th Perseids event, QSO's can be completed much more quickly, but during the average session, boredom can become a factor!

To increase my chances at success, and waste less precious operating time to unsuccessful attempts, I'm trying to educate myself on meteor burst communications. Thankfully, Uncle Sam provided me with a lot of it years ago when I worked at the "Special Communications" C-School at the US Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT.

At the time, we were using a state of the art "burst" communications system for submarines that relied upon exact synchronization of clocks, high power, and highly accurate receivers and transmitters. The system used meteor burst as it's propagation mode, and as such, we were required to learn quite a bit about how that mode worked.

I've refreshed some of that knowledge and learned much more by reading a great book called, "Beyond the Line of Sight", which is a compilation of articles from QST on the various V/U propagation modes. It has some great articles on Meteor Scatter. Though it addresses mostly CW and voice modes which were more commonly used at the time, almost 100% of the information applies directly to WSJT modes like FSK441 as well.

It's out of print, but you can pick up copies on I highly recommend that all VHF Men obtain a copy.

Another great resource is an e-mail list devoted to meteor observations called, While most of the discussions center around visual observations of shooting stars, there are also discussions about radio observation. In fact, several amateur radio operators also operate "observatories" to chart, and record the number of radio meteors observed at their location daily. This information is shared with professional groups and is very helpful to the scientific community.

You'll not only learn a lot about which angles and times of day will offer the best chance of success between two stations, but you'll also be more aware of minor showers. These are often not visually spectacular, but on the radio front can be pretty darn special.

Hope these resources can help others getting into MS mode! Hope to hear you on the rox soon!

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