WSPRnet.org – The Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network

wspr softwareCan I get out with just 5 watts or less? Is my antenna working, and if so, where is my signal being heard? Are the bands open right now, or am I wasting time?

These are some of the questions that can go through your mind when working with low power QRP communications and you can finally answer all of those questions right from your home computer with WSPRnet.org.

What is WSPRnet.org?

To quote the WSPRnet.org website, “The Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network is a group of amateur radio operators using K1JT’s MEPT_JT digital mode to probe radio frequency propagation conditions using very low power (QRP/QRPp) transmissions. The software is open source, and the data collected are available to the public through this site.”

So what does all that mean? Well, the amateur community has come together in an effort to collect and report weak signal propagation data through the use of the free WSPR (pronounced whisper) digital software provided by Joe Taylor K1JT and the WSPRnet.org website written and maintained by Bruce Walker W1BW where users can transmit and receive digital signals on specified frequencies. The data collected is automatically uploaded to the WSPRnet.org website where internet users can see the real time results of their low power transmissions with maps, stats, and databases.

How WSPR works…

WSPR uses digital signals on specified frequencies on amateur bands so that you can check the propagation on that band. Set up is easy, and you can be on the air and collecting data within minutes of downloading the software with nothing more than a SSB transceiver, sound card interface such as a RIGblaster or SignaLink USB, and a computer with a sound card. For system requirements, please see below.

While running the WSPR software, it will cycle through 2 minute transmit/receive modes that begin every even minute of the day such as 21:02 or 21:04 Zulu. When not transmitting, your software will automatically go into receive mode and decode the information that it receives. Normal operation will be to transmit for one 2 minute cycle, and receive 5 two minute cycles and you can customize this value to transmit either more or less, but it will always be in 2 minute intervals, whether in transmit or receive.

WSPR In Transmit Mode: The WSPR software uses a compressed data format to transmit your callsign, maidenhead grid locator, and power level for two minutes to receiving stations around the world. When your signal is received, the data is uploaded from the receiving station’s computer to the WSPRnet.org website where you can actually see each of the receiving stations’ call signs on a real time map.

WSPR In Receive Mode: During your 2 minute recieve cycles, call sign, grid, and power level data will be collected from other sending stations around the world and decoded so that your software can upload that data to the WSPRnet.org website for the other sending stations to see.

WSPRnet.org WSPR map results

My results after 2-two minute transmissions on 20 meters with 4 watts QRP. My signal was heard and reported by stations all around the US and Canada, many countries in Europe, Central America, South America and even Austrailia! This is valuable information about how well your station is performing and can be compared from day to day (or even hour to hour) to check band conditions and propagation in real time. According to this map, this would be a great time to be calling CQ on 20 meters QRP. Simply stop the software, move frequency and start calling!

System Requirements for WSPR:

  • SSB receiver or transceiver and antenna
  • Computer running the Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, or OS X operating system.
  • 1.5 GHz or faster CPU and at least 100 MB of available RAM
  • Monitor with at least 800 x 600 resolution
  • Sound card supported by your operating system and capable of 48 kHz sample rate
  • If you will transmit as well as receive, an interface using a serial port to key
  • your PTT line or a serial cable for CAT control. Linux and FreeBSD versions
  • can also use a parallel port for PTT. Alternatively, you can use VOX control.
  • Audio connection(s) between receiver/transceiver and sound card
  • A means for synchronizing your computer clock to UTC

Sounds like a lot, but if you’ve ever worked with any digital mode before such as PSK31 or similar, you probably have all the equipment you need for WSPR operation – it works the same way!

Video tutorial coming soon!

Weak Signal for Communications:

WSJT (“Weak Signal Communication, by K1JT”) offers specific digital protocols optimized for meteor scatter, ionospheric scatter, and EME (moonbounce) at VHF/UHF, as well as HF skywave propagation.  The program can decode fraction-of-a-second signals reflected from ionized meteor trails and steady signals 10 dB below the audible threshold.

For more about the WSPRnet and the WSPR software…

Get all the info about WSPR, view maps, create an account, post to the forum, find WSPRnet frequencies and more at the WSPRnet.org home page: http://wsprnet.org

WSJT Home Page by K1JT WSPR software downloads:
http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/index.html

Thanks for reading.. Please “like” and share this article so other amateurs around the world will become active in Weak Signal Propagation Reporting. The more stations reporting, the better the outcome for all amateurs.

73’s -Brian