An Exciting Communications Mode for Amateur Radio Operators

Simple steps for amateur radio meteor scatter communications:

What  you need:

Computer: most recent computers running Windows, Linux or OS X will work just fine.

Rig: an all mode radio, capable of stable operation on 6 meters, 2 meters or 222 MHz for even more fun. The vast majority of meteor scatter contacts occur on 6 or 2 meters.

Coax: use of high-quality, low-loss coax is always important in VHF weak-signal communications. Short lengths are best to help minimize loss as well.

Antenna: a directional antenna - at a minimum a 3 element yagi for 6 meters and a 7 element yagi for 2 meters work very well. More elements can be helpful for long-haul contacts. Likewise, height will be very advantageous for long-haul QSO's over 1000 miles. However, even modest antenna heights of approximately 20' are very capable of working out to around 1000 miles if the antenna has a clear shot and is not blocked.

LNA: the use of a low noise amplifier may be required if your radio lacks the sensitivity needed to detect the sometimes weak signals during meteor scatter. Many operators use the LNAs that are built into their solid-state brick power amplifiers. Mast mounted LNA's are not always needed.

Power: 50 watts is typically a minimum. The higher the power. the easier the QSO can be completed.

Sound card: (internal to the computer or external such as Signal Link, Rig Blasters, etc.) will work just fine. If you have operated RTTY or PSK etc. with your computer then you already have all the interfacing completed.

Software: WSJT is a free software package with many different digital modes including those required for meteor scatter. The most common mode for meteor scatter is FSK441.

Time synchronization software like Dimenstion 4, or Meinberg (with their monitor software) is advisable and both are available for free. One can even use WWV to manually synchronize the computer's clock by ear to within a second, which is more than adequate for meteor scatter communications.

All of the material on this site shall be considered to be in the public domain - use for non-commercial purposes is hereby granted.  Site by W4AS