50,0155 – 50,038 Mhz
Transmitters and equipments in the Beacon shelter
mhz VA2MGL/BCN page
mhz VA2MGL/B2 page
mhz VA2MGL/B3 page
purpose of the Propagation Beacons
good listening report
wave propagation for 6 and 10 meters band
The purpose of the Propagation Beacons
The purpose of the listening to and identifiyng of radio beacons is to
know the propagation quality of radio waves, and thus, to determine which
continent can be joined or favored at a given moment. There are radio beacons on
most hamradio wavebands and even on certain frequencies outside hamradio bands.
CW mode is recommended for being easier to copy
when signals are weak. The message passed on with beacons is generally
the callsign, QTH, as well as the power and the antenna used.
The prediction of wave
propagation is by way of the always vague being ionosphere being often
unreliable, the only way of making sure that a band is opened or adequate to
support radio contacts is by listening
to radio beacons. The six and ten meters bands are especially unpredictable,
being subject to several kinds of different propagations, and also often on the
edge of the MUF, or highest useful frequency.
On the band of ten meters (28 mhz), there are about 180 propagation
beacons in operation between 28.175 mhz and 28.300 mhz, while there are two
hundred more of them on the six meter band, mainly between 50.000 mhz and 50.100
mhz. These radio beacons are spread worldwide.
By the listening to these, one sometimes can deduct the distance and the
number of hop made by the wave, as well as the area of the ionosphere able to
reflect our transmissions. One will frequently be able to deduct even the kind
of propagation, according to the QTH of the station heard, the time and the
season. Wave propagation of this kind of transmission is made by reflection on
various layers of the ionosphere with a one-hop distance
which can reach 4400 kilometers in the best conditions, or at least some
hundred kilometers by tropospheric dispersal of the signal, or still more than
500 km by reflexion on sporadic E layer.
good listening report
listening reports are the only rewards of a beacon operator. Indeed, these reports tell the operator
which were the favorable periods of propagation from his QTH. This information
is highly interesting for the beacon operators. By these observations and
exchange with other people interested in propagation, they can contribute to a
better understanding of phenomena inherent to radio propagations.
minimal information of a listening reports should be:
universal time (UTC), and date at
which the signal was heard
n the QTH, or the location where the signal were copied
signal according to the code RST
mention if the signal underwent some
can complete with your conditions of operation, such as, what kind of antenna
and used receiver you use. Any other comment concerning the state of the
propagation, quality of the audio, or presence of interfering signals is always
welcome. The operator of a propagation beacon will always be pleased to receive
your comments and to answer your questions concerning propagation and his
wave propagation for 6 and 10 meters band
My interest towards the bands of 6
and 10 meter bands (50 and 28 mhz) rest mainly in the similarity of these two
bands, regarding waves propagation. Indeed, it is now more than 50 years ago
that 30 mhz was chosen as the separation point between HF and VHF. At this time,
the properties and characteristics of these ranges of radio frequencies radio
were not yet perfectly known. So, it is not so surprising to notice that even
separated by more than 20 mhz, these two bands are subject to several types of
identical waves propagation. The ten meter band
(28 mhz) is a HF frequency , but it behaves in several aspects like a VHF
Here are some kind of waves
propagation which make possible
The F layer propagation
The ionospheric F layer is
the highest in altitude, being situated between 150 and 500 kilometers, it is
the layer which gives the most distant contacts and one of best quality of
transmission. It’s possibilities will be especially appreciated in the daytime
during winter, with contacts exceeding
20 000 km. The ten meters band is the one that benefits most of this kind
of propagation, because good conditions will be more frequent and lasting on 10
meter than on 6 meter, even if low power is used. However the solar flux
has to reach a value of 110 in the solar flux intensity on ten meter for
the signal to be reflected, in about six of the eleven years of solar cycle,
this band can provide good propagation. As for the 6 meter band, will only when
the solar flux is at it’s maximum will contacts be possible by way of the F
layer. A minimum solar flux intensity of at least 200 will be generally be
necessary in winter period to make possible contacts by
way of F1 and F2 layers. Single hop distance should be of the order
of 3500 to 4400 kilometers.
The E layer propagation
Propagation by way of E
layer is very interesting because it is practically unpredictable. This ionized
layer is situated at about 105 km in altitude and it’s effects are felt mostly
in the daytime and more rarely at night .
E layer can support contacts on the HF bands and up to the 2 meter band
in VHF. As regards the frequencies of 28 and 50 mhz which are our main concern
here, they are probably the most favored by the reflection of the waves by E
In HF, when there is propagation by way of E layer, one says, short
skip propagation, because the stations contacted
can be distant from only some hundred kilometers. This phenomenon
indicates that the " MUF " or maximum usable frequency is superior to
the frequency used and that the
signal is reflected with an angle of incidence much higher than normal, which
reduce the skip distance . It is also presumable that communications can be
established on more higher frequencies.
The maximum single hop distance by way of E layer, independent of the
frequency is about 2200 kilometers. There can be more than one hop by way of E
layer, or another skip combination between E and F layers, so that
communications over distances of more than 6000 kilometers are possible.
The main peculiarity of E layer remains however made that it can produce
a strongly ionized limited area called E
cloud sporadic. This ionized area then allows contacts between well defined
regions, because these clouds ionized dimensions
are only between 80 and 160 kilometers in diameters and have a speed of movement
from 240 to 400 kilometers per hour, in a west or north-west heading. In these
ionized clouds of the E layer, MUF can increase from 28 to 50 mhz in a matter of
minutes. Due to all these factors, the length of time when contacts by way of
sporadic E layer are possible can be of very short duration, which
explains the frantic short exchanges between hamradio stations during these
openings on the 6 meter band.
These openings are less spectacular on the 10 meter band.. Indeed,
contacts can last much longer because at lower frequencies, the MUF frequency
will be able to support contacts over a longer period. It is mainly the distance
limited to about 2200 kilometers, the strong signals, and the fact that
contacted stations are from the same geographic area that will indicate to the
radio operator that these contacts are due to sporadic E layer propagation.
In the northern hemisphere, it is between May and August that sporadic
clouds in E layer happen. The most favorable hours are between 9 and 12
o’clock, and 17 and 20 o’clock local time. It is to note that there is still
no established correlation between solar activity and the frequency of openings
radio by way of sporadic E clouds.
Backscatter and sidescatter propagation
This kind of propagation occurs when the maximum usable frequency
Trans-equatorial propagation favors
regions located at most in about 2500 km on both side of the magnetic equator.
It is necessary however to keep in mind that magnetic equator is not the same as
the geographic equator which one
knows from maps, in the same way as the magnetic north is not located where the
geographic north is.
The northern half of the United
States, as well as Canada, is little subject to this kind of propagation, while
the most part of Europe is within 2500 km from the magnetic equator.
Trans-equatorial propagation appears from July till October in the maximum of
solar cycle activity and can also happen in September during the minimum of the
same cycle. It is after sunset, between 20 and 23 o'clock,
local time, that possibilities of contacts are best. It is a wrinkling in
the ionosphere above the magnetic equator and encircling it, which would bring
about a double deviation of the wave on both sides of this wrinkling over the
magnetic equator. Contacts from 14 mhz up to 430 mhz in the UHF, can take
advantage of this type of propagation. Stations communicating by
trans-equatorial propagation are located on each side of
the magnetic equator at similar distances from it. However stations can
be situated on very different meridians, such as
contacts connecting India and South America. Contacts from 2500 to 8000
km can be made.
Tropospheric scatter propagation
Generally, tropospheric scatter
appears during a temperature inversion, when propagation by dispersal
tropospheric finds the meteorological elements necessary for this phenomenon.
The troposphere is the space of air
included between the ground and 5 kilometers of altitude at the poles, and 18
kilometers of altitude at the equator. As for us, it is between the ground and
±10 kilometers in altitude that the air masses produce this type of
radio waves propagations.
During a temperature inversion there
is a superposing of a warmer and damper air mass over another colder and dryer
one. It is then between these two layers of air of different densities that
radio wave remains trapped and can
travel some hundred of kilometers. The VHF and UHF bands are generally favored
by this propagation mode. As for the effects of this kind of propagation on 28
mhz, there is little informations on the subject. Personally I believe that it
there may be certain positive effects and maybe also negative effects, caused by
tropospheric scatter. We may be able to observe this phenomenon during the next
Me teor scatter propagation
teor scatter propagation
This kind of propagation is highly
appreciated by numerous of radio amateurs operating the VHF band. Frequencies of
28 and 50 mhz are favored with propagation by way of reflections on ionized
tracks left by the entrance of micro-meteorites in the atmosphere.
Reflection or dispersal of waves
happen on air which was ionized by the passage of meteors. Indeed, by passing
through the atmosphere at high
speed, they reach a very high temperature and melt away, leaving a trail of
ionized air between 80 and 150 kilometers in altitude lasting a fewseconds.
These ionized trails can then reflect frequencies from 28 to 432 mhz.
When there is a significant shooting stars shower of plentiful and constantly
falling micro-meteorites, it is possible to make short contacts. The perseids of
August 12 which offers the best chances of contacts. When a radio signal
intercepts the ionized trail left by a micro-meteorite, it is possible to
experience a return of signal of the order of 40 db and a shift in frequency
(Doppler effect). Such a shift of up to 2 khz has been observed, due to the very
fast movement of the source of the reflexion. For these reasons, digital modes
passing informations quickly are best adapted.
During the most intense shooting
stars showers, a few watts and a simple directional antenna are sufficient to
make contacts on frequencies of the 28 and 50 mhz, stations distant from 200 to
2300 kilometers can be contacted.
For stations located in middle
latitudes, it is possible to make contacts by reflection on auroras borealis or
northern lights for the northern hemisphere, or auroras australis for the
southern hemisphere. Contacts will then
be limited to a zone circling each hemisphere and, at most, at 1100 kilometers
from the aurora. However, the more one is situated near the poles, the better
will be the opportunities to establish contacts by reflection on auroras.
Auroras are caused by particles
ejected from the sun which are captured by the earth`s magnetic field and
attracted towards the polar regions. These particles react with oxigen and
nitrogen atoms present in the atmosphere, by forming a sort of brilliant curtain
in movement, wich is the aurora. It is during magnetic disturbance when there is
an abundance of material thrown by the sun towards the earth that auroras occur
with an intensity sufficient to support
reflection of radio waves. For this
kind of communication, direct the antenna northward and
adjusts it for the strongest signal reception signal. One recognizes
easily a signal reflected by an aurora because of a jerky audio with a certain
tremor. The QSB or frequent fading in this type of contact is caused by the
irregular shape and constant movement of the
aurora. QSB results also from multiple reflections on the front of the aurora
causing a fast change in the phase of the signal. Due to the characteristics
stated above, cw is the prefered mode, even though phone contacts
are generally possible, with more or less ease, depending on the
intensity of the aurora. Radio signals reflected by auroras are generally of
weak to moderately strong levels, and these conditions can last from some
minutes to few hour. Contacts between 400 and 2000 kilometers can be
established, the wave can then be reflected then more or less towards the
transmitting station for backscatter,or aside for sidescatter.
It is in 1998 that I began project
for the installation of a beacon to
operate on the band of 10 meter. It is with help of my father Rosaire, Gilbert
Bergeron VE2FGE and encouragements of Marc Cimon AI7F, that this first beacon
(VA2MGL/BCN) begin transmitting in August 1999.
In winter 2001, the preparations for
the installation of a second beacon for the 6 meter band began. The transmitter
were built by Michel Lavallé VE2MJ, who in completed work begun by
Marc Cimon AI7F , now silent key. Once again I received the support of my
father Rosaire and Gilbert VE2FGE.
The VA2MGL/B2 began transmitting in January 2002.
Finally in autumn 2002, VA2MGL/B3
the third beacon operating on the 6 meter band
entered in operation. The
transmitter were built also by Michel VE2MJ.
Concerning the website project,, i
received the help of my mother Andrée, Dominique Gagnon as well as Michel VE2MJ
which gave me a help for the final French
and English revision of the web site.
Great thanks to all these persons
who allowed these projects to be born.
I would not miss
Guylaine VA2GGB, for supporting these projects, and those to come !
Thanks to all.
You can join me by E-mail at :
Or by mail at the following address :
Ruisseau des Frênes