After passing my Foundation Amateur Radio exam last year, (amongst others, congratulations to all), I've been learning rather more than I first thought I would.
I've experienced the joys of different bands and frequencies available to me as well as different modes of transmission. All good fun.
Now, there are some things that carry over from my old CB experiences as well as my SWL or shortwave listening days. For instance I know about the effect of 'greyline', the terminator between day and night, (dawn and dusk), on radio waves at certain frequencies as well as the difference between night and day. Most of us will also know the effects of seasons enjoying the summer 'skip' on our CB's and we can all agree how much we're looking forward to the next rise in the solar cycle. Those sunspots can perform wonders on our radio DX abilities!
I don't profess to know everything as of yet and I know that 'schooling' isn't up everyone's street preferring to get on with DX transmission rather than studying. It also takes a fair bit of reading to fully understand all those weird numbers on typical propagation prediction tools!
There are however times when all of that comes together nicely.
With my experiments with FT8 digital modes I've often left my receiver on decoding stations across the globe and can often see in real time the effects of propagation across the day. (See, FT8 does have it's other uses
) Along with the PSKReporter website you get the fascination of seeing stations light up and disappear on a map, some of that to do with propagation effects rather than just when the stations are on.
The nearest tool I have come across that aligns with what I've observed is available on the following website :-
Gwyn Williams, G4FKH has certainly provided a useful tool here. You can select the frequency of interest, (a 10m report will be akin to an 11m one), and see the current radio propagation. But, you can also scroll through the time and see how the propagation should pan out during the day!
If you want to be impressed you can also click the 'Animate' check box under the map and it will scroll through the day automatically. Select different bands and you'll see how the lower bands follow the effect of 'greyline' and the upper bands show the difference between night and day quite clearly.
You don't have to fully understand the numbers to use this tool, the visual representation makes things much easier. Much like a weather report you won't get predictions weeks or months ahead but you will see the daily differences as we progress towards the summer.
I know for some this may be old hat, but for me it was a fairly new thing and has better improved my understanding. I know there will be exceptions when you manage a DX and the map says you shouldn't be able to but it's pretty close.
If anything it can inform you of when the best time of day is to make a CQ call. That will at least save you some effort if anything.
For me it's been fun, always wanting to learn new things and hopefully it may help on one two of you as well.
All the best,
Oh, link to the PSKReporter site mentioned is as follows :-