Sunday, December 5, 2010

A 5-Year 10-Meter Es Propagation Study Using PropNET - Part 2

Computers, Equipment (Rigs) and Antennas:

Rig Transceiver – Yaesu FT-747GX
Auto ID transmissions were set normally at 6 times per hour. The BPSK31 Auto ID lasts for about 30 seconds (3 minutes an hour). 57 minutes per hour are spent listening for other PropNET stations.
It was operated in this mode normally from 07:00 to 23:00 local Central Daylight Time (-5 hours UTC) for the first 3 years.

Rig Lurker (monitor only) – Radio Shack HTX-10.
This rig was an outstanding performer for a receive-only operation. It was run during late night and early morning hours for 3 years. I also ran this mode while on any trip or vacation. Its good sensitivity and AGC was perfect for the reception of BPSK31 signals.

Antennas: Primary antenna was a 3-Element Yagi (30+ year old Hustler converted CB) at 30 feet high and usually pointed east-north-east (70 degrees azimuth). The secondary antenna was a Cushcraft ATV-3 vertical used when weather conditions were a concern, or when I was on a trip for a few days. I also used a 120-foot Inverted-V Doublet fed into a tuner as a “Lurker” antenna on a few occasions. A makeshift 4-radial ground plane using a Lakeview 10-Meter Hamstick was used in the last two years during periods of stormy weather. At least two-thirds of my operating was with the Yaesu FT-747GX into the Yagi.

Computers: Dell Dimension P3 1 GHz WinME, P4 1.8 GHz WinXP Home, and P4 3 GHz WinXP Pro desktop computers.
Software: PropNetPSK developed and maintained by N7YG Jeff Steinkamp

PropNET and PropNETPSK Program Operations:

1. The software is configured for the band operated, listening bandwidth, IMD channels, AFC parameters, and other miscellaneous program settings.
2. A “PHG Code” (used in APRS) for power output, antenna gain, auto-ids per hour, antenna height above terrain, height above sea level, and antenna direction is configured.
3. An example of the PropNET Auto-ID
“For Information, please visit
Call, Band (“hy” for 10-Meters), Grid Square, PHG code as configured, and 4 characters that validates the configured string.
4. The PropNetPSK software, via the sound card captures and logs the data string. If complete and correct, it is logged by call, grid square and designated as a “Capture”. If identified as a data string, but it is incomplete or not read correctly, it is designated as a “Partial/Fragment”. This data sting is available for future reports.
5. From the receiving station’s Internet connection, both Captures and Partial/Fragments were sent via LiveX to a Website (first years FindU, now direct to PropNET) to update propagation details and real-time maps.
6. Either by operator instruction, or automatically by the software, at 23:59:59 UTC a “Catch Report” is generated. The daily report is often sent to a Yahoo Group for archival. All data sent via LiveX is archived and can be extracted into a CSV data file.

A 07/16/09 10-Meter 24 hour map generated at from LiveX data.

Catch Report Excerpt Generated by PropNetPSK:

KA5DWI PropNET^31 - HY 06/29/2007 23:59:58 Z
| Catches per UTC hour |
Call Grid Azm Dist First 000000000011111111112222 Last Config
SQ (KM) Heard 012345678901234567890123 Heard PHGVRA
WB8ILI EN82PQ 49 1675 01:36 36 423 2 23:53 HY-PHG529765
WD4RBX EM84NN 81 1338 13:14 341 15:05 HY-PHG500066
K4RKM EM85VF 79 1405 14:52 21 3 23:50 HY-PHG703066
NZ9Z EN64BD 32 1492 12:33 45461171 1 23:50 HY-PHG339556
K8VGL EM69UT 51 1245 12:52 185 1 1 23:33 HY-PHG301066
KI0GU EN35HF 13 1413 23:26 2 23:26 HY-PHG7296A6
KC0EFC EM28OX 17 714 23:29 1 23:29 HY-PHG700066
KA5DWI EM12JU 0 0 00:05 656 366666666666 23:54 HY-PHG315365
KD5LWU DM57RI 295 1144 16:45 13 1 3 23:17 HY-PHGA16069
N7YG DM42NF 266 1282 16:15 2A983772 23:15 HY-PHG513067

Partial Catch List:
23:53:39 HY - ÷e2uk8vgVnhy:[em69ut]PHG301066/^CF16 1753Hz
23:50:14 HY - k4rkm>hy:mqFvf]PHG7030io tr hTete1A8A* 1537Hz
23:46:51 HY - wbõe i>hADooe 2xu]Per10661/^962B 1551Hz
23:43:38 HY - k8vge 5 •[ m69ut]PH13a 66/^CF16 1750Hz
23:39:58 HY - k4rkm>hy:[eoÁheO5vf]PHG70306ítwh e/^|A* 1533Hz
23:39:06 HY - i 'efc>hy:[em28ox]PHG700066/^BAE7 1541Hz
23:36:50 HY - wb4jfiehH-Eem92xu]PH3.sao aa t/^ie±iB 1554Hz
23:34:01 HY - lTpnanteel r t rNyeÌt rner e I t re 1402Hz
23:33:36 HY - k8vgl>hy:[em69ut]PHG301d66/t* 1755Hz
23:29:51 HY - n te.t wwwIPropNET e .tos eai e naekm>hy:[e5]PHG703066/^1A8A 1538Hz
23:23:36 HY - lem69ut]PHG301u66/^CF16 1754Hz
23:19:45 HY - k4rkm>hy:[em8"vfeHvd0p ee©oï1AÑ* 1534Hz
23:17:37 HY - kd5lwu>hy:[dm57ri]PHGA160O9/^83B8* 1431Hz
Created with PropNetPSK © Version

PropNET Participants:

The one statistically sound part that the PropNET Project provided was an excellent sample of participants. At any one time, no fewer than 7 North American Hams were active. During the daytime and evening hours at least 20 were active. Unfortunately, North America is not shaped like a circle. Although my QTH is located close to the middle of the United States, PropNET participants were not evenly distributed and using the same antennas, rigs and operating habits. The end result was that the volume of these captures was skewed towards specific areas of the country. Due to consistently excellent propagation and a cluster of PropNET participants, one-half of the total captures occurred towards the east (67.5° to 112.5° azimuth) from my North Texas QTH.

Although skewed towards the east, propagation to that direction was generally the best indication for a slow or highly active day. As the good conditions to the East started, for the rest of the day the other directions would follow. The population of active PropNET users results in good numbers from Southeast to North to West. Due to my location, numbers were much lower to my South and Southwest.

Operating and Background Information:

As noted, most of the participating stations in the five years were clearly located in the eastern half of the United States. The vast majority of those stations participating in the PropNET Project were captured at one time or another by my operation.

The Data:
After 5 years of collecting PropNET captures and partials, the final results were as follows:

Dates: April 25 to August 15, 2005-2009 Documented (Measurements taken from April 20 to August 31)
Captures and Identified Partials: 64,763 (Average 12,952 per season, 115 per day, 4.8 per hour and 11 per active hour)
Active Hours with Propagation: 5870 out of 13560 possible hours (43.29% = 10.4 hours/day)
Calls: 151
Grid Squares: 103
States - 37, includes Hawaii and 2 Canadian Provinces
DX: Puerto Rico and Venezuela

The Arduous Task of Compiling the Data:

I came from a financial background (Financial Institution operations) and have been working with statistical and financial data for over 30 years. I have worked with many word processing, spreadsheet, database, and file extract/data import software packages since the creation of the modern personal computer. Compiling this data was “second nature” to me. I could compile a season’s worth of statistical data within a few days.

The data used in this analysis was primarily derived from the PropNetPSK “Catch Reports” generated by KA5DWI. On several occasions, the data had to be extracted from the LiveX data sent and warehoused on the FindU or the PropNET website. At times this was due to the failure of the software to generate the report on my desktop computer. Although compiled manually, this procedure was highly accurate. During 2008, KF6XA, Dave Donnelly developed routines to convert partials into captures and the ability to extract this data into a CSV format. It made the job much easier when the PNP software and computer failed to generate a Catch Report. It worked so well that I used Dave’s LiveX database for all of the 2009 data. The capture data analysis only includes stations captured at the QTH of KA5DWI in grid-square EM12ju. It does not include stations that captured KA5DWI, nor any other PropNET participant station’s data. I used nearby participants within the same time zone on rare occurrences (primarily power failures) for probability statistical data only.

Each daily “Catch Report” was opened and then parsed into an Excel spreadsheet for each annual Es season. Proper accounting procedures were used to insure that totals were correct and verified throughout the entire process. Partial/Fragment data was loaded into separate Excel worksheets and with the use of the “Data-Filter” routine, were identified and assigned as catches by call, date, and time. These identified partials were added to the totals derived from the Catch Report detail.

The only inaccuracies that occurred in the compiling of data are due to multiple captures from another station’s single transmission. Whenever signals were strong, it was not uncommon for the two or three channels in the software to each capture the transmission. The software was not capable of eliminating duplicate entries. Strong BPSK31 signals that were over-modulated tended to do likewise. I was only able to remove duplicate partials. I am certain that in the best conditions, totals are inflated. These were not large enough to have skewed the overall results, but we will consider them weighted since excellent propagation conditions were the cause. Duplicate captures will have no bearing on probability statistics. No major changes to software settings were made during the season that would affect or change the controlled conditions. Therefore, inflated accumulated numbers occur evenly throughout each season.

Statistically the numbers compiled are sound. There was at any time during the five years gathered enough active stations to produce a statistically reliable sample of data. Of the 151 different stations captured, 13 were captured near or well above 1,000 times in 5 years. The analyzed captures and identified partials averaged almost 13,000 per year.

Solar Indices and First Charts

73s Art KA5DWI

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