Monday, August 27, 2018

Freak magnetic storm causes wretched band conditions

Your radio isn't busted.  A variety of events affecting the Earth's magnetic field have caused one of the longest geomagnetic storms in recent memory.  The K index has reached 7 on a number of occasions in the last three days, and this is expected to continue on and off.  K is back to 7 as of this writing. 

Surface events such as ground currents in Norway have taken place. We also saw some extreme southward Bz, including a sustained period of -17 nT yesterday.  Strong aurora has occurred in high geomagnetic latitudes. Geomagnetic storming has reached the G3 level at times.

A large coronal hole is the current cause of all this, but when it started it was due to some less common phenomena.  For various reasons, the resulting band conditions have been some of the year's worst, with extended periods of weak or missing signals.  We have not seen the sudden dropouts related to solar flares, since there haven't been any flares.  It's been just days of truly dreadful propagation.

The flow from the coronal hole is expected to persist for several more days.

While it has no relation to the geomagnetic activity, the appearance of a large sunspot pair with an opposite magnetic field is also getting attention.  If this group (AR 2720) was at a higher solar latitude, we would definitely have the first spots of Cycle 25. However, it is near the solar equator.

Even in quiet-sun conditions, our neighborhood star is good for surprises.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Concern Rising within Amateur Radio Community over WWV Shutdown Proposal

From ARRL Letter:

ARRL members and Amateur Radio clubs are expressing increased concern over the inclusion of WWV and WWVH on a list of proposed cuts in the White House's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Fiscal Year 2019 budget request. The proposed cuts, which only recently came to light, would also include the Atomic Clock signal from WWVB. Online petitions soliciting signatures include one established by Tom Kelly II, W7NSS, of Portland, Oregon, who would like to see funding for the stations maintained. The decision is up to Congress.
"It is important to note that no changes to NIST services have occurred, and if the proposal were to be implemented, public notice would be provided," NIST said this week.
ARRL is suggesting that members of the Amateur Radio community who value the stations for their precise time and frequency signals and other information sign the petition and/or contact their members of Congress promptly, explaining how the stations are important to them, beyond government and military use. WWV is among the oldest radio stations in the US and has broadcast the official time for nearly a century.
According to the NIST Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget request, the specific cut would come from the NIST Fundamental Measurement, Quantum Science, and Measurement Dissemination budget and would amount to $6.3 million.
"NIST has a long-standing history of providing time and frequency services through our radio stations and we appreciate that many people use these services," NIST said in a statement. "WWV is the longest continuously operating radio service in the US. At the same time, the proposed NIST budget for FY 2019 required difficult choices about budget priorities."
NIST said that it plans to eliminate "efforts that have been replaced by newer technologies, measurement science research that lies outside NIST's core mission space, and programs that can no longer be supported due to facility deterioration."
WWV and WWVH broadcast 24/7. Announcements include time announcements, standard time intervals, standard frequencies, UT1 time corrections, a BCD time code, geophysical alerts, and marine storm warnings. Transmissions are broadcast from separate transmitters on 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz. An experimental 25 MHz signal is also currently on the air. WWVB transmits standard Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) signals on 60 kHz to appropriately equipped devices. Read more.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Proposed NIST budget eliminates WWV/WWVH


That's all I can say.  This may be the first time anything to do with radio has made me ruin my vocabulary in public.

As our headline indicates, the proposed FY 2019 budget for the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology includes the elimination of WWV and WWVH:
-$6.3 million supporting fundamental measurement dissemination, including the shutdown of NIST radio stations in Colorado and Hawaii
It's time to flood NIST with letters.  This would be a fundamental loss to anyone using a radio in North America.  WWVB is great for clocks, but it's outside the coverage of most HF radios, and also its signal does not cover the entire hemisphere.

This comes from The SWLing Post, via the ARRL Letter.