Monday, June 22, 2009

Meteor scatter by stealth

Whilst receiving the GB3VHF and IT9X beacons using JT65B mode I sometimes noticed a curved trace on the spectrum display. I guess this was a reflection from a meteor trail. This put the idea into my head to see if I could receive some meteor scatter signals on 6m or 2m with my stealth attic antenna system.

It took some research to find out where to listen, and in what mode, as it seems that meteor scatter enthusiasts use different modes (FSK441, JT65M and fast CW) and different frequencies depending on which band you use and whether you are in Europe or the USA. I'm still not sure where to listen for activity on 2 metres, but on 6m it appears that there is a lot of activity using JT6M mode centered on 50.230MHz, so I tuned my K3 to that frequency, started WSJT going and went for my dinner.

On my return, I found that I had bagged CQ calls from two stations, S51YZ and IW1AYD. WSJT thoughtfully stores the received signals as WAV files, so I was able to play back the recordings for those 30-second periods to see and hear what it heard. The program display from IW1AYD's call is shown above. It's a nice example of overdensed meteors according to the examples on Hans Meyer OE1SMC's web page.

This is very exciting and I am interested now to see whether I can make an actual meteor scatter contact using my stealth amateur radio station and indoor dipole with 100W. Before I can do that I need to figure out the correct protocol, as well as how to get the WSJT software to transmit. I don't imagine that people will be queuing up to make skeds with my QRP station (I think 100W counts as QRP in MS terms) but the big Perseids meteor shower is only a few weeks away so I shall probably try to make some random contacts during that. In the meantime, any advice or tips from experts in the mode will be greatly appreciated.
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