↑ HF Propagation Calculator Overview and References

By Doron Tal, 4X4XM

Overview

High Frequency (HF) propagation calculators are tools for estimating and forecasting radio wave propagation. Amateur radio operators, military communications, and organizations that rely on long-distance radio communication can all benefit from such calculators.

Here's how HF propagation calculators work and why they are important:
  1. Frequency Range: HF radio waves typically cover the frequency range from 3 MHz to 30 MHz. This range is known for its ability to travel long distances via skywave propagation, where the radio waves are refracted by the Earth's ionosphere and return to the Earth's surface at a distant location.
  2. Ionospheric Variability: The behavior of the ionosphere, which varies with factors like time of day, solar activity, and geographic location, greatly affects HF radio wave propagation. HF propagation calculators take these factors into account to predict whether radio signals will propagate effectively between two stations.
  3. Predicting Signal Strength: HF propagation calculators estimate the signal strength and reliability of communication between two HF radio stations based on various input parameters, including the frequency of transmission, transmitter power, receiver sensitivity, and distance between the stations.
  4. Path Prediction: Users can input their station's location coordinates and the coordinates of the station they want to communicate with. The calculator then predicts the best times and frequencies for communication, taking into consideration the current ionospheric conditions.
  5. Maximizing Reliability: These tools help operators maximize the reliability of their HF communications. By selecting the appropriate frequency and time of day, operators can enhance the chances of successful long-distance communication.
  6. Emergency Communication: HF propagation calculators are particularly valuable during emergency situations when other communication channels may be disrupted. They enable operators to establish communication links over long distances when needed.
  7. Amateur Radio: Amateur radio operators often use HF propagation calculators to determine optimal frequencies for contacting other hams around the world. It's an essential tool for ham radio enthusiasts interested in DX (long-distance) contacts.
  8. Military and Aviation: The military and aviation sectors also rely on HF propagation predictions for reliable long-range communication, especially in remote or hostile environments.

In conclusion, HF propagation calculators are essential tools for anyone who relies on long-distance radio communication in the HF frequency range. They assist in predicting and optimizing communication paths to ensure reliable and effective transmissions between two stations, particularly in situations where other communication methods may be limited or unavailable.


References:
  1. S/N HF Propagation Forecast Calculator for the current month DL0NOT
  2. Calculate The Refractive Index of The Ionosphere Calculator A to Z
  3. NVIS HF signal propagation in ionosphere using calculus of variations Geodesy and Geodynamics, Umut Sezen, Feza Arikan, Orhan Arikan
  4. Recent calculations of TEC - Total Electron Content
  5. What can we expect from a HF propagation model? Luxorion Dynamic processes relevant to HF radio propagation are simulated using mathematical models, and numerical procedures.
    Interactions between the Sun's surface and the Earth's surface are considered using sun, space weather, ionosphere,
    and atmosphere models, all of which can aid in the prediction of HF radio propagation.
  6. Evaluation of various models for HF propagation prediction SANSA Space Science
  7. Review of HF Propagation analysis & prediction programs Research Oriented Luxorion Some of these propagation programs are only accessible via the Internet via a web interface and provide graphical solutions.
    Amateurs have also created small applications that simulate various ionospheric effects.
    Using either near-real-time data or well-known functions, the majority of them achieve extremely high accuracy.
  8. Review of Propagation prediction programs - VOACAP-based Luxorion The VOACAP propagation prediction engine is the result of decades of US government-funded HF propagation research
    stretching back to the dawn of computing. While VOACAP's forecasting capability has been continuously improved
    as knowledge about HF propagation has increased, its software technology is firmly rooted in the 1980s.
  9. Predicting and Monitoring Propagation DXLab
    * Solar terminator display and prediction - shows greyline at any specified date and time
    * Propagation prediction - provides a graphical view of openings by frequency and time using your choice of the included
    VOACAP, ICEPAC, and IONCAP forecasting engines.
  10.  
  11. PropView DXLab Rated 8.27 by The DXZone PropView uses the included VOACAP, ICEPAC, and IONCAP propagation prediction engines to forecast
    the LUF and MUF between two locations over a specified 24 hour period.
    Results are rendered in an easy-to-understand color-graphic display.
    You can specify locations via direct latitude/longitude entry.
    Alternatively, PropView interoperates with DXView to allow location selection via DXCC prefix entry
    or by clicking on locations on a world map. It can:
    (1) build schedules for the IARU/HF beacon network and automatically QSY your transceiver to monitor each scheduled beacon.
    (2) monitor the NCDXF/IARU International Beacon Network to assess actual propagation and compare it with forecast propagation.
    Beacon schedules can be assembled by band, by location, or by bearing from your QTH.
    PropView interoperates with Commander and DXView to automatically QSY your transceiver
    to hear each beacon in your schedule, and to display the location of the current beacon.
  12. Propagation prediction software for ham radio DxZone A review RF prop, Radio Propagation & Diffraction Calculator, W6ELProp, PropView, HamCAP
  13. ITU-R Directory
  14. ITU-R P.533 model
    This is an ITU table links to Software, Data and Validation examples for ionospheric and tropospheric radio wave propagation and radio noise in a wide range of propagation conditions. The ITUR HF Prop experimental software, was written by G4FKH and HZ1JB, and is based on the ITU-R P.533 method.
    It uses a probabilistic approach to estimate radio coverage with algorithms that are supposed to be more accurate than other similar programs.
  15. Space Weather Modeling Framework (SWMF)
  16. Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements (GAIM) model
  17. Advanced D-layer Ionosphere Prediction System (ADIPS)
  18. IONCAP - Ionospheric Communications Analysis and Prediction HF transmission prediction program for US military and other applications since 1986.
    It was based on Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) Frequency Selection for a Ten-Node Australian High-Frequency Network.
    This program was clumsy, slow, and complicated, as it only allowed users with a sufficient background in ionospheric physics
    and computer data entry experience to use it. A new version was developed to fix these flaws while also improving capability
    to the point where it could be used by a layperson.
  19. ITUR HF Prop
    Prediction of HF circuits based on Recommendation ITU-R P.533 model - an improved (2017) point-to-point propagation prediction tool, based on an ITU engine, developed by Gwyn Williams, G4FKH.
  20. VOACAP (Voice of America Coverage Analysis Program)
    VOACAP forecats monthly average of the expected reliability with diurnal and seasonal variations,
    but it does not account for unpredicted ionospheric and magnetic disturbances or anomalies,
    i.e. what are the expected variations of A-index, K-index, and energy densities of solar proton / electron flux, etc.
  21. Application of Machine Learning Techniques to HF Propagation Prediction Richard Buckley, William N. Furman - Rochester, NY

Read more about Tools and Applications for analysing and forecasting HF propagation. See also an index for HF Radio Propagarion.
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The Understanding HF Propagation Project provides radio amateurs with a detailed overview and tutorials on several aspects of HF propagation.

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