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HamSCI Workshop Aims to Foster Collaboration between Hams and Space Science/Weather Researchers


HamSCI — the Amateur Radio citizen science initiative — has announced a 2-day workshop February 23-24 at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark. HamSCI’s Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, has posted a survey to gauge interest and potential attendance.

“We are inviting all hams and scientists interested in ham radio science,” Frissell said. “This aim of this workshop is to foster collaborations between the ham radio and the space science and space weather research communities through presentations, discussions, and demonstrations. This year’s meeting will focus on solar eclipse analysis, ham radio data sources and databases, and the development of a ‘personal space weather station.’”

Frissell, an NJIT research professor, invited presentations from within the Amateur Radio community.We will also accept submissions of abstracts and demonstrations of other topics that are of interest to ham radio and ionospheric science,” he said. “The solar eclipse topic is a follow-on to this summer’s total solar eclipse and the Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP). We hope to have presentations from both ham radio operators and professional scientists showing the data that they have collected and what they think it means. Presentations should be on any topic about how the ionosphere and/or radio propagation was affected by the eclipse.”

The tentative schedule calls for oral presentations on “Ham Radio Data Sources, Databases Analysis” and “Solar Eclipse Effects on the Ionosphere, including results from the Solar Eclipse QSO Party.” Phil Erickson, W1PJE, of MIT’s Haystack Observatory is scheduled to be the Friday evening banquet speaker. Tutorials on Saturday will include “Ham Radio for Space Scientists,” with Frank Donovan, W3LPL, and “Space Science for Ham Radio Operators” (speaker pending).

“The ham radio data sources and databases session addresses an ongoing HamSCI topic,” Frissell told ARRL. “We will have presentations and discussions about the current methods that we use to collect data in ham radio, how it is stored, and how we can make it more scientifically useful, and current analysis making use of these datasets.” Frissell said a huge amount of data is available right now, from such sources at the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), PSKReporter, and WSPRNet. “However, this data is really designed for Amateur Radio use, and new techniques need to be developed to make it useful scientifically,” he added.

The Personal Weather Station

Frissell said HamSCI would like to encourage development of the personal space weather station concept. “This is analogous to a personal weather station that people install at their homes to measure temperature, wind speed, rain fall, humidity, etc, reporting this data to groups like the NWS, NOAA, and Weather Underground,” Frissell said. “We want to create a similar package for space weather and have that data go to a single repository.”

An ideal personal space weather station would likely include instruments able to detect things such as traveling ionospheric disturbances, radio blackouts, propagation changes, lightning, and magnetospheric activity, Frissell said. It would probably include, at a minimum, a wideband software defined radio, a magnetometer, a timing source, and a computer.

“All of these devices are currently available technology, but they are not available in a single, integrated package that is easy to purchase and deploy,” he said. At the February workshop, HamSCI wants to better define the capabilities of a personal space weather station as well as how to implement the concept. “HamSCI will be teaming up with TAPR to do this,” Frissell said. “Scientists will talk about what science topics the device should be able to measure, and TAPR will discuss how to actually design and implement the device.”

Frissell said he hopes hams attending will come away more knowledgeable about ionospheric and space science, and scientists will gain a better understanding of Amateur Radio. He anticipates that workshop, admission fees, and registration details will be finalized by December. He noted that NJIT is a 20-minute train ride from Newark Airport and less than 30 minutes from Manhattan.



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