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WWV/H Scientific Modulation Working Group --- WW0WWV Report

Discussion in 'General Announcements' started by W0PV, Oct 9, 2021.

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  1. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    This information is for all radio amateurs interested in scientific work being performed by like minded hams who are also science career professionals, enhancing a traditional amateur radio (SWL) activity, the monitoring of NIST stations WWV/H as a propagation status and prediction tool.

    IMO it not only underlines the value of the Amateur Radio Service as a breeding ground of inspiration & innovation but as a practical tool in furthering research. Hope you find it informative.

    73, John, WØPV

    last updated September 21, 2021

    NIST and Amateur Radio discuss WWV / WWVH broadcast modifications

    The WWV/WWVH Scientific Modulation Working Group was announced this past Friday, 9/17/21, during the first day of the 40th TAPR DCC presentations.

    The working group is made up of representatives of NIST leadership, WWV/WWVH Station Staff, Geospace scientists, Engineers, HamSCI Grape1 development team, and the WWV Amateur Radio Club.

    A series of conversations and emails this spring (2021) led to a suggestion from NIST to consider changes to their modulation that could benefit HamSci research and the Personal Space Weather Station efforts.

    Phil Erickson, W1PJE, and Steve Cerwin, WA5FRF, presented current HamSCI and other ionospheric research efforts to the NIST Time and Frequency Division in a March 2021 meeting at the invitation of Dr. Elizabeth Donley, Chief of the division. The NIST team was quite interested and recommended moving forward with discussions.

    In May 2021, the working group formed and established the main goal: Develop recommendations for additions to WWV/WWVH modulation that can be used for scientific purpose, particularly through the Personal Space Weather Station and citizen science campaigns.

    Subsequent meetings throughout the summer 2021 lead to the development of a first “characterization signal” which will soon be test broadcast by WWV and WWVH; the time and date to be determined.

    Kristina Collins, KD8OXT, spokesperson and main point of contact for the group, outlined the goals, make-up, and primary motivations for the collaboration.

    In designing the Characterization Signal the team took several basic principles into consideration:
    • Primum non nocere: First, do no harm. Avoid disrupting existing WWV services and uses.
    • Do something useful for science and for NIST’s prime customers of time and frequency.
    • What science questions can we focus on by doing something more than we already have today?
    The Characterization Signal will consist of a 45 second WAV file on minute 8 for WWV and minute 48 for WWVH. Right now it is planned as a standard voice announcement, inserted into the broadcast chain as an audio file.

    One of the first observations will be to characterize the signal chain from the WAV file to the signal leaving the antenna as it goes through several filters and broadcast on different types of amplifiers. Also important are the signals at various receiving stations, and several of the KIWISDR network will be used for recording and the test broadcast may include a crowdsource campaign. The broadcast will provide an opportunity to prototype future receiving stations and potential processing applications and procedures.

    A full description of the Characterization Signal and audio files are available at

    Updates on the efforts will be posted here at WWV ARC and also at the HamSCI website:

    Kristina's presentation to TAPR from Friday is posted here as well. (see below)

    This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for collaboration between Amateur Radio and the federal government’s lead physical science laboratory, NIST, and harkens back 100 years to the Fading Experiments coordinated between the then NBS and an early ARRL.

    The working group is very interested in hearing from other interested scientists and engineers who may have additional insight that could capitalize from and contribute to this collaboration.

    Please contact Kristina Collins, @KD8OXT, for further information.

    WWV ARC will be adding to this story in the very near future as more details unfold about when the test Characterization Signal will be broadcast. Stay Tuned!

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2021
    AA5BK, N3RYB, KX4O and 1 other person like this.
  2. KF0FBK

    KF0FBK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can imagine a sleepy radio guy not paying attention, then hearing that wav file playing and falling out of their seat!
    N3RYB and W0PV like this.
  3. W5UAA

    W5UAA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm interested.

    But... what?

    "...that can be used for scientific purpose, particularly through the Personal Space Weather Station and citizen science campaigns." I'm still trying to figure out what this means.

    "Do something useful for science and for NIST’s prime customers of time and frequency." Do WHAT useful?

    "What science questions can we focus on by doing something more than we already have today?" Trying to figure out a question to ask? Is this what we're trying to do here?

    What's the "scientific objective" again? Is it to find a question to ask? Is that the objective?

    What are we supposed to be doing when we hear this "characterization signal?"

    Since the WWVB transmitter was upgraded, I can no longer hear it and all my WWVB clocks are drifting. As the batteries die, I throw the whole clock away. So, I transitioned to getting my accurate time/frequency from the USNO.

    If WWV/H is trying to become relevant again, I'd like to participate. But what the heck am I supposed to do with this annoying characterization signal when I hear it?
  4. AJ4GQ

    AJ4GQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It makes me wonder if these folks have too much time on their hands.
  5. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Lots more info on the HamSCI web page. I suggest drilling down specifically on the PROJECTS tab, Personal Space Weather Station link, and finally the presentation document "Science Questions for a Personal Space Weather Station" by Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF. Check out the other links too. Hope that can answer some questions.

    Ha :rolleyes: As our high-tech world progresses the potential risk for extreme space WX to cause serious trouble greatly increases. Many of "these folks" are researchers doing professional work in this field, as well as radio amateurs. They are creating a global data collection system and offering an opportunity for fellow amateur colleagues to help. Using WWV/H is a clever idea to leverage an already exiting well known public asset.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
    KD8OXT likes this.
  6. AJ4GQ

    AJ4GQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    First, I do appreciate your enthusiastic defense of this particular project but it appears my tongue in cheek comment may not have been understood by all. Second, it does appear to be a group of very talented people looking for a question or a problem as W5UAA has so eloquently opined. I re-read the material twice and couldn't come up with an answer to any of his questions. Can someone help with that?
  7. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK I will try again, but really, the links provided in the second post have the answers. Just a little more clicking is required. Distilling some redundancy out as worded, it seems there may be only two main questions posed.

    Q1: What's the "scientific objective" again? What "questions" or problems are being asked to be answered or solved.

    A1: See images below from the presentation linked in the previous post.


    Q2: What are we supposed to be doing when we hear this "characterization signal?"

    A2: Turn on and tune in your properly configured PSWS! Refer to the HamSCI web site to learn how to prepare to do that, which can be started right now.

    The recently proposed broadcast signals are apparently modulation wave-forms that are to be received and decoded by hopefully widespread Personal Space Weather Station SDR receivers, the elements of which are still a work in progress. The data gathered is then to be forwarded via internet into a database for further correlation and processing relevant to the science objectives and questions (see above).

    The first edition of this receiving system seems to be already released called "Grape 1". Not fully featured yet but that can be assembled today, with a parts list and a map showing over a dozen deployed around the USA, as can been seen on the map on this link (again from the PWS page). Also here are a couple of images from the presentation linked above describing a Generation 1 Grape PSWS.


    Hope that helps !!! :)
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
    AA5BK and N3RYB like this.
  8. W5UAA

    W5UAA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh my... Yes, that does help.

    Sorry. Pass. I do have a GPSDO, but I don't have a Grape 1 receiver or a raspberry pi and have no plans to purchase either to help the phd candidate.

    Good luck everyone who participates.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
    N3RYB likes this.
  9. AJ4GQ

    AJ4GQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't feel helped at all. "A2: Turn on and tune in your properly configured PSWS" Wow, ok, I'll turn the switch to the 'on' position and tune in. Something like this could lead one to believe the Luddites were right.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
  10. N3RYB

    N3RYB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You are the lab assistant in someone else's experiments. Your utility is providing an additional receiver at best. Sorry.

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