Idiots guide to 144Mhz WSPR

WSJT, MAP65, WSPR, and WSJT-X are open-source programs designed for weak-signal digital communication by amateur radio.  Normal usage requires a standard SSB transceiver and a personal computer with sound-card.

WSPR (pronounced “whisper”) stands for “Weak Signal Propagation Reporter.” This program is designed for sending and receiving low-power transmissions to test propagation paths on the MF and HF and VHF/UHF bands.  Users with internet access can watch results in real time at WSPRnet.

So, what do you need to make this work, a 144Mhz SSB radio, an antenna, a computer connected to that radio and the internet.

The most basic of wspr stations is a receive only station, if you also want to transmit, you need to ensure your radio is generally accurate on frequency and stable in its output, some radios (Icom 706’s as an example) wander when they get hot, lots of info available on how to make them more stable.

An antenna, most of the WSPR vhf people are using horizontal antennas, but that isn’t essential, you can have a very successful WSPR station with ANY antenna.. even my little vertical in the backyard gets 600km contacts regularly from this pathetic little antenna :D with WSPR, because it will work at/below the noise floor, you can decode what you can’t (often) hear.

wspr_app

Some form of connection from your radio to your computer. My radio an icom ic9100 has a USB Soundcard and CAT control out the back, however, using the WSPR software direct to the radio/usb had never been successful, mostly because the wspr software struggles with the radio CAT control, it worked fine for RX only. But wouldn’t TX. Some use Ham Radio deluxe to overcome this, I’ve tried it and wasn’t super impressed.

My local ham club recently (before the aus$ plummeted) had a group purchase of the signalink USB sound card. This device has been wonderful, it connects to my icoms (and my yaesu fm box) with a 6pin Din and USB soundcard, on my mac (or a windoze netbook) it works a treat. Its enabled me to easily and quickly use many digital modes and track those Ham Balloons

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And thats it, once the computer software can hear the radio audio, adjust the levels and listen to see what you can hear. One important factor for Transmitting, is to make sure you adjust you ALC so you don’t have any over driving, Search the web for more info!.

My simple little omni vertical in the backyard and wspr works a treat, below is a 2 week list of stations worked, with 600km contacts not uncommon. A number of people are using the information to help understand propagation and performance and using this mode can help confirm other observations (weather maps and the like).

wsprnet

Give it a go, you will be amazed!


Timestamp Call MHz SNR Drift Grid Pwr Reporter RGrid km az
 2013-07-10 12:20  VK3BQ 144.490438 -25 1  QF22nc 1  VK3JTM/O  QF12lr 203 289
 2013-07-10 09:22  VK3BQ 144.490507 -20 3  QF22nc 1  VK3HKH  QF23qn 164 8
 2013-07-10 08:56  VK3BQ 144.490482 -23 -1  QF22nc 1  VK5ACY  PF95sb 598 302
 2013-07-03 13:14  VK3SMC 144.490521 8 -2  QF22oc 10  VK3BQ  QF22nc 7 270
 2013-07-03 12:54  VK3BQ 144.490504 12 2  QF22nc 1  VK3DXE  QF22ld 15 288
 2013-07-03 12:48  VK3JTM 144.490474 -17 -2  QF12lr 100  VK3BQ  QF22nc 203 111
 2013-07-03 12:42  VK3BQ 144.490512 -25 2  QF22nc 1  VK2KRR  QF34mr 338 31
 2013-07-03 12:36  VK3YCQ 144.490539 0 3  QF21hv 5  VK3BQ  QF22nc 50 62
 2013-07-03 12:34  VK3BQ 144.490514 4 2  QF22nc 1  VK3YCQ  QF21hv 50 242
 2013-07-03 12:20  VK3BQ 144.490484 3 1  QF22nc 1  VK3SMC  QF22oc 7 90
 2013-07-03 10:16  VK3DXE 144.490492 13 -1  QF22ld 50  VK3BQ  QF22nc 15 108
 2013-07-02 15:02  VK3BQ 144.490508 -25 3  QF22nc 1  VK3JTM  QF12lr 203 289
 2013-07-02 09:16  VK3BQ 144.489482 -24 3  QF22nc 1  VK3NFI  QF31es 116 109
 2013-07-02 09:14  VK3NFI 144.490518 -24 0  QF31es 5  VK3BQ  QF22nc 116 288
 2013-07-02 08:52  VK3BQ 144.490478 -27 2  QF22nc 1  VK5LA  QF05gq 573 313
 2013-07-02 08:52  VK3BQ 144.49049 -25 2  QF22nc 1  VK3WRE  QF31gt 128 105
 2013-07-02 07:58  VK3AMZ 144.490526 5 0  QF22fe 100  VK3BQ  QF22nc 59 99
 2013-07-02 07:56  VK3BQ 144.490489 10 2  QF22nc 1  VK3XPT  QF22nd 5 0
 2013-07-02 07:48  VK3XPT 144.490518 -4 1  QF22nd 0.02  VK3BQ  QF22nc 5 180

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