Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR)
WSPR (pronounced “whisper”) stands for “Weak Signal Propagation Reporter”. It is a computer program used for weak-signal radio communication between amateur radio operators… (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WSPR_(amateur_radio_software)
As HAM’s we are pretty spoiled by the internet and ability to collaborate these days.
Take WSPR for example. How cool is it that with an Android phone, WSPR Beacon App, Wolphi-link interface and Yeasu FT-817 operators can instantly receive feedback on how far and where their signals are being cast?
WSPR is an awesome tool for those in the General class operator group, and it’s companion Reverse Beacon Network allows even new HAMs in the Tech class to glean valuable information in the HF bands using CW signals, but what about when the grid is no longer there for us?
For an excellent tutorial on how to use these tools with minimal gear, I’ll refer you to OH8STN (Julian) at http://www.survivaltechnology.net/ and I highly recommend his Google+ Community for the most up-to-date information.
But, how does the radio operator determine the odds of his signal reaching his intended audience? How does he determine the propagation forecast without the resources of the internet?
This is the question I put to myself shortly after getting WSPR to work for me. Maybe it’s just me, but these days I always ask the question, “how will it work in grid down conditions?”
As far as the internet, it likely won’t work for you unless you have SAT comms and a way to keep them working.
Do you know what a band opening sounds like? I don’t!
Here is my challenge to myself and you… Stop looking at http://www.bandconditions.com (which ironically went down while writing this) before getting on the the air and start using it as a confirmation of your listening skills.
Tune up and down the freqs and “call it” then go confirm on http://www.bandconditions.com or your favorite propagation site, and see if you are correct in your assessment of the band conditions.
By learning like the old timers how to listen, we are enabling ourselves to walk without the crutch of the internet, but (for now) still have it to confirm our estimating and thus help in our learning the skill.
Like everything else about HAM radio… it requires you to get out and “Do it!” not just buy a transceiver and stick it in your preps locker.
When SHTF you won’t become a great marksman and you won’t have the resources (bullets, time, and security) to learn to be a “Rifleman” in times of trouble. Yet, how many “prepper’s” buy guns stick them in a safe and never become the RIfleman they should?
Same goes for becoming a HAM, you won’t know what you don’t know until it’s too late to learn it. Buying a radio and not know how to use it before you need it will make it pretty useless when you need it.
Get licensed and start practicing!