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Amateur Radio Frequency Propagation

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Presentation on theme: "Amateur Radio Frequency Propagation"— Presentation transcript:

1 Amateur Radio Frequency Propagation
Presented by Jerry VerDuft, ADØA

2 Let’s review the basics
The sun influences all radio communication beyond ground-wave or line of sight ranges Conditions vary with the time of day, season, and latitude/ longitude REFLECTION occurs at any boundary between materials with different dielectric constants Radio waves may be reflected by buildings, trees, vehicles, the ground, water, ionized layers in the outer atmosphere, or different air masses having different temperatures and moisture content

3 The Basics Continued Some radio energy will be absorbed by the medium it passes through, some passes on through the material REFRACTION is the bending of a wave as it passes through one medium into another Bending occurs because the wave is at a different speed in the new material Amount of bending increases at higher frequencies Speed of waves through the atmosphere change as the temperature, air density and levels of ionization are different Most HF bands depend upon refraction

4 Refraction If waves were not bent:

5 The Ionosphere Affects frequencies below 30 mhz
miles above the earth’s surface Contains free ions and electrons Ionization depends on ultraviolet radiation from the sun Skip distances depend upon frequency used, time of day, and density of the ionosphere Several layers of varying distances at various heights

6 Ionospheric Layers HF Communications: D, E, F1, F2 layers
D layer (45-55 miles): Acts as an RF sponge with maximum absorption during daylight hours thus dictates the LUF E layer (65-75 miles): Effective refraction only during daylight hours F layer ( miles: During daylight, there are two layers, F1 and F2 F1 is not an important propagation medium; the F2 region is the primary medium supporting HF communications (200 miles); F1 and F2 combine onto one layer at night


8 Types of Propagation Ionospheric waves (sky waves): Main portion of the radiation that leaves the antenna at angles above the horizon Tropospheric waves: Radiation kept close to the earth’s surface due to bending in the lower atmosphere (higher HF or lower VHF) Ground waves (surface waves): Radiation directly affected by the earth’s surface - Earth-guided surface wave - Vertically polarized and absorbtion increases with freq - Travels much further over water than over land

9 The Blessings of Sky Wave
The medium for most all amateur radio communication below 30 mhz The ionosphere refracts the radio wave and returns it to earth The maximum usable frequency (MUF) is a function of how highly ionized the F region is The lowest usable frequency (LUF) is a function of obsorbtion, signal-to-noise ratio, power and transmission mode; Correlates with movement of the sun and peaks at noon

10 The Main Inhibitor: Solar Cycles
Sunspot cycles average 10.7 years in length At solar maxima, the ionosphere is capable of refracting radio signals up to 40 mhz or higher At solar minimum, refraction is reduced and frequencies above 20 mhz become unreliable We are currently in the downward slope of cycle 23

11 100 Year Solar Cycles

12 Solar Radiation Electromagnetic: X-rays, Ultraviolet (UV), Extremely Ultraviolet (EUV) During solar flares, UV and X-ray emissions increase causing increased signal loss on HF X-ray flares: C (smallest), M (medium size), X (the largest) – in 1-8 Angstrom range


14 Solar Indices SOLAR FLUX is the basic indicator of solar radiation
- Solar Flux Units (SFU) is the amount of solar noise or flux that is emitted at 2800 mhz (10.7 cm) SFU equates to the level of ionization in the F2 layer thus is a good indication of conditions for HF com - SFU values run from about 50 to as high as 300 - Low values indicate low MUF; high values indicate good ionization to support long distance communications at higher than normal frequencies

15 Sunspot Numbers SMOOTHED SUNSPOT NUMBERS (SSN) reflect the level of sunspot activity Calculated using 6 month of data before and 6 months of data after the desired month + the desired month Vary from 0 to 200 with an average of 100 at max High SSNs are best for HF propagation Low SSNs are best for LF propagation


17 Coronal Mass Ejections
High particle emissions (protons and alpha particles) cause higher absorption in polar regions Low particle emissions cause magnetic field disturbances, auroras, and sporadic E Sporadic E propagates 50 and 144 mhz signals

18 Transequatorial Spread-F
Long distance VHF communication for stations equidistant from the geomagnetic equator Hypothesized to be a result of an intensified F2 layer during high sunspot activity Signals have a rough aurora-like note

19 Geomagnetic Activity Natural variations in the geomagnetic field are classified into quiet, unsettled, active, and geomagnetic storm levels K index (0-9) is a quasi-logarithmic local index of 3-hourly range in magnetic activity relative to an assumed quiet-day curve for a single geomagnetic observatory site A index (0-400) is a daily average of the K index values Generally, an A index at or below 15 and a K index at or below 3 is best for propagation


21 HF Band Prediction Characteristics
80 & 40 mtrs – good bands for distant communication especially during sunspot minimum 30 mtrs – allows greater distances than 40 mtrs at night 20 mtrs – most popular long haul band during all phases of the sunspot cycle but closes down at night during winter and sunspot minimum 15 mtrs – during sunspot minimum few stations heard day or night 10 mtrs – with low absorption allows good communication with relatively low power during daytime

22 Propagation Information Websites
ARRL propagation page: NOAA propagation report: QRZ Solar Report: Eham Propagation: DX Summit: Solar Terrestrial Activity Report:

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