With the ERIN (Eastern Regional Information Network) net getting ready to restart this week, I have been looking at a propagation predictor to plan the time and band of the net (s).
Bottom-line first. The sun plays a major role in an amateur radio enthusiasts life; Specifically, sun spots. To add to the challenge of TX (Transmitting) or RX (receiving) propagation is not unlike the ebbing and flooding of a tide. There is an approximate eleven-year cycle and the good news is, we are at the bottom or in the “quiet sun” phase now.
Looking back over the past 80-years here is a graph,
As has been explained in earlier articles, the different layers of the ionosphere play a key roll on distance and quality of each band. The more sun spots the better the bands become. A great article to read that explains all of this in laymen terms titled Propagation Primer 101 by Lee Jennings ZL2AL is well worth the 15-minutes of your time to read.
What I do to prepare a PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency) plan for a net is first go to my favorite propagation predictor called VOACAP For Ham Radio.
Now that you have brought up the app you need to enter some data. The first is enter the grid square or nearby city you will be TXing from to. For today we are going to pick the cities of Albany New York to Charlotte, North Carolina. Remember, you can use grid squares or latitude/longitude also.
Now we need to set the particulars. Since this will be a voice or phone QSO we will change the CW using the drop down menu to SSB (single side band), watts from 1500 to 100-watts, and antennas. I change the antenna settings to the lowest denominator in the bands so I will be using Dipole 10-meters (33ft high) for Rx and TX. The reasoning behind this is that most folks will be using a classic dipole, Off Center Fed, Windom, or end fed horizontal dipole antenna. Some folks will be using an inverted ‘V’ which applies to this application too.
The next to the last step is to set the date. Scroll down to you see the date icon in the lower left corner of the page. Click on the calendar for the date you want. In this case October 6, 2020.
The last step is to click the ‘chart prop’ setting underneath the Setting’s icon in the upper right corner of the screen and viola you have the best bands displayed by hour ZULU time.
Looking at the Circuit Reliability Graph…
…we see that if we wanted to do the net at 1600 hrs ET (2000 hrs ZULU) we see that 30-meters is at 98% CR (circuit reliability), 40-meters is at 96% CR, and 60-meters is at 90% CR. Knowing that most folks have antennas tuned to 20, 40, and 80-meters, I will set the primary to be in the 40-meters band.
With no alternate other than 30 & 60-meters which I do not want to use I will look ahead in time to see if there is a time, I could get a primary and alternate. It seems that 2300 hrs ZULU (1900 hrs ET) it looks like the Primary will be 40-meters (95% CR) and the alternate will be 80-meters (80% CR). Better yet at 0000 ZULU (2000 hrs ET) will be the best with 40-meters at 94% CR and 80-meters at 90% CR.
With that accomplished, I now need to find a frequency’s in 40 & 80-Meters October 6, 2020 at 2000 hrs ET for my Primary and Alternate. Contingency will probably be my site Unchainedpreppers in the radio board. The emergency will be via text that is if I have your cell phone number.
Using the VOACAP is a great tool to use to figure out in advance what band will be open for your QSO with other American Partisans.
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