Collegiate WSPR Network Collaboration with W8UM

Several college amateur radio stations have been working this semester to create a network of colleges with WSPR stations.

WSPR, the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter, is protocol written by Princeton physicist Joe Taylor to measure radio propagation via low power transmissions. WSPR stations are inexpensive and easy to set up with existing amateur radio equipment or kits made for the purpose. WSPR users can upload their data to WSPRnet, which makes the data publicly available for scientific use. WSPR is built in to WSJT-X, the popular software used for FT8.

Over the last several weeks, W8EDU has been working with the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club, W8UM to establish WSPR contact between the two schools. Just as they did in 1916, the two clubs set up and troubleshooted equipment and propagation conditions. The first WSPR contact between the two stations was made in mid November. W8UM’s efforts are being documented on their website.

December 1916 saw the Case Wireless Club (not yet W8EDU, or even W8URD) installing a new aerial antenna, and testing communications with the University of Michigan. We look forward to learning more about the historical predecessors of our two clubs, and including them alongside our findings from our WSPR experiments.

Future work for the Collegiate WPSR Network includes making contact with more schools and planning projects around the data collected. Consider giving WSPR a try yourself, and look for W8EDU, W8UM, and others on the air!


16 November 2019, 4:00 PM EST: W8EDU is working the November Sweepstakes, SSB.

This is the oldest contest in amateur radio and tests a station’s ability to get a formal written radiogram to all parts of the US and Canada within one day.  It’s a difficult contest in having a long exchange, based on the header of a radiogram, and permitting contacts with each station only once in the contest.  The summer Field Day contest has a simpler exchange and each station may be worked once per band per mode (radiotelephone, digital modes, and Morse code (CW)).

Join us!  Call the hamshack phone at 216-368-3579 to make sure we’re here but we likely will be…until Sunday 17 November, 10:00 PM EST.  It’s fun!  Remember that we said that…

The Frequency Measuring Test for Fall 2019: Results Are In!

Despite minimal preparation, our new Icom and Jim Berilla’s rubidium standard didn’t do half bad:


The Frequency Measuring Test is competition of an acquired taste.  The task is to measure, within two minutes, the frequency of an amateur radio signal being sent from K5CM, Connie Marshall’s home version of the NIST in Muskogee, OK.  This is why we like amateur radio so much, everybody has his, her, or their own version of it.  Some chat on walkie-talkies.  Some lovingly maintain caesium clocks. Connie does the clocks.

Measuring radio frequency is not by itself that difficult a problem.  Cleveland’s WCCR is 1260 kilohertz on your AM dial, right where WIXY-1260 once lived. My sister was a WIXY Pixy circa 1965, she could find it.  W8EDU’s measurement of K5CM differ in being over a long distance, and therefore affected by solar weather and the ever-changing state of the ionosphere–and that they are to 10 significant digits.  Competitors have reason to grin broadly and drink Chianti from paper cups if their measurements are within one Hertz (at 7 MHz).  Entries are considered very good if within 0.1 Hz.  W8EDU achieved one entered measurement off by 0.05 Hz, and another at 0.02 (the referee’s official measurements this trip were 3,599,172.15 and 7,064,240.62 Hz; W8EDU’s were 3,599,172.20 and 7,064,240.64. That put us in top quintile of 115 entries.

The contest requires well-calibrated receiving equipment and knowledge to operate it–along with quite a bit of advance preparation.  We used a transceiver compatible with our existing time standard; a computer analysis of the frequency and further computerized analysis of the results from the two minute run completed our entry.

What we didn’t do was spend a few hours before the competition characterizing the ionospheric Doppler shift, which might have given us a winning entry.  Next time!  For now, the Club members increased their skill in handling radio equipment and performing a statistical analysis of collected data.  This all feathers nicely with Nerdstock, the WWV centennial celebrations in Colorado.


We note that CARC Technical Advisor John Gibbons, N8OBJ, entered from his home station and was nearly as high up the ranks as we were.