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Surfin’: Hamming by Pinging

08/06/2010

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ suggests scattering signals during the Perseids meteor shower.

Meteor burst communications -- also referred to as meteor scatter communications -- is a radio propagation mode that exploits the ionized trails of meteors during atmospheric entry to establish brief communications paths between radio stations up to 1400 miles apart.

The next meteor shower is the Perseids on the night of August 12. During the peak of Perseids, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour. Perseids is often the best meteor show of the year, which means (to hams) that it affords a lot of opportunities for successful meteor scatter propagation.

Personally, I had successful meteor scatter contacts on 144 MHz using about 100 W into a small beam, so you don’t need a behemoth of an amplifier and huge aluminum array to work the meteors; however, if you are not that well equipped, just listening for pings is an interesting and fun endeavor. 

Steven Wamback, KK2W, describes the basics of how to bounce radio signals off meteors at eHow.com. For beyond the basics, visit the Radio Meteor Echo Page of Sam Barricklow, K5KJ.

Other sources for this installment of Surfin’ include StarDate Online and two articles on Wikipedia (Wikipedia [1] and [2]).

Until next time, keep on surfin’.

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, has high hopes for the 2010 installment of the Perseids meteor shower. To contact Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog.



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