by EA6VQ-Gabriel and G7RAU-Dave
To download LIVE MUF, go to http://g7rau.demon.co.uk/soft/livemuf.asp
Overview: Live MUF uses an Internet connection to the DX Clusters to provide real-time VHF propagation reports, determines the MUF (for Es), shows a map of possible Es paths, and alerts you to Es and other forms of propagation, according to your settings.
Live MUF, in use in Europe for several years, has been modified to also be useful in North America - IF enough people will post their reports onto a DX Cluster (done through this program). Like PE1NWL's Es Alerting Service, it is worthless if people don't report!
This program takes a few minutes to get it on line (it uses a telenet connection to the DX Clusters) and get the options tailored for your particular needs. It is expected that there will be further modifications in the options to make it even more useful in North America, so check occasionally for upgrades. If you don't understand some of the terms and abbreviations, just play with it for awhile. As the program is changed to better alert the Western Hemisphere, watch also for an updated Help file more tailored to our needs.
Depending upon your settings, this program can alert you to Es (and other) VHF openings, can show the locations on a map, can plot the location of the probable center of the Es cloud, can give you a beam heading, can let you know what others are working (assuming that they will report), and a number of other things.
50 MHz ops - you may already be aware of this program. If not, it's also a good way to keep up with the F2 and other types of 50 MHz propagation.
Also go to the bottom of the page at http://g7rau.demon.co.uk/soft/default.asp and check out RAUMUF.ZIP. This is a very small program that will take two grid locators and figure the MUF, critical frequency, location of the Es cloud, etc, for Sporadic E openings. (Especially useful for those who use TV, FM BC, and other services to watch the rising MUF).
The idea behind this program was for calculating in real time the possible sporadic-E MUF on VHF during the Es season from spots received via a DXcluster. There are a number of MUF calculators available for downloading, but all of them require the manual input of the stations' grid locators to calculate the MUF. So this program was born! This is a collaboration between two stations with the same interest - DX on VHF! :-)
The program connects to a DXC (DX Cluster) via a telnet gateway link and processes the spots between 50 and 210 MHz. Then the program decides whether the spot is a valid sporadic Es spot and calculates MUF from the spot info, centre locator, and where you should be beaming to work DX. It also calculates frequency of traffic (FOT, which is the highest frequency that is possible for you towards the calculated destination). This is meant as a guide to where to beam to and on what frequency - but always remember that many hams don't spot all QSOs, so some of the QSOs that take place will show a higher MUF but are never spotted. Also remember that sometimes the MUF can be high, but due to low amateur activity there is no way to find out where the MUF is. In other words, you need to be watching the lower bands, DXCluster, etc, to guess what's happening!
Here are some notes to try to get you started.
Files needed are LIVE_MUF.EXE (the main program).
You might also need MDAC.ZIP (This is the Microsoft data engine needed by the program; if you have windows 2000 or higher or MS Office 2000 or higher then you should not need this).
On the bottom middle of the program window you will see a box with a label 'Home Locator'; put your home grid locator in here, don't leave as IO90IR!!
The telnet connection relies on an Internet connection; so for this to work you need to be connected to the Internet!
Import DXC: Clicking here will take you to the import DXCs from a csv file. There are >250DXC's in CSV file, so import this for a good choice of DXClusters!
Edit available DXCs: Clicking on this will bring up a form with a list of some of the most commonly used DXCs (you must import DXC first).
Usage: Click on a DXC in the list, add "username" and "password" if necessary and click "update". This means that this is now your default DXC. The other options are ADD; click this button and complete the DXC information in the boxes provided, once you are happy with the information. Remember to click the UPDATE button to save the settings and to set the DXC as your default DXC. If you want to change your default DXC then just click on your desired DXC from the list and it is set!
Auto Cluster: allow an auto login to happen for DXC, saves putting username / password then typing DXC.
Set Auto Reconnect DXC Timer: Clicking here will bring up an input box so you can type in at what time interval you want the program to reconnect you to your DXcluster (or WWC) if the connection drops due to intermittent connection or a timeout. This is useful if you have an ISP that automatically kicks you off after a few hours and you have your PC set to reconnect again. This means you can leave the program running sucking MUF data from the cluster automatically even when you are at work! Time is in minutes and set to 0 if you don't want to use this. The default is 0.
Connect: Clicking here will connect you to the DXcluster you set in the Edit Available DXCs window.
Import WWC: Clicking here will take you to the import WWCs from a CSV file. This enables you to bulk import WWCs from file.
Edit available WWCs: Clicking on this will bring up a form with a list of some of the most commonly used WWCs (you need to import WWC first).
Usage: Click on a WWC in the list, add username / password if necessary (note - cluster WWC links do not require username/password but only require your callsign in the connection string, i.e. lurpac) and change the connection string to include your call and click update. This means that this is now your default WWC. The other options are ADD; click this button and complete the WWC information in the boxes provided. Once you are happy with the information remember to click the UPDATE button to save the settings and to set the WWC as your default WWC. If you want to change your default WWC then just click on your desired WWC from the list and it is set! Note the connection string for the WWC, this is normally /n call channel. Make sure you set your callsign in the connection string - DON'T leave "yourcallsign" there!
Reconnect WWC with DXC?: This will allow you to automatically reconnect to the WWC when the DXC reconnects. For DXC this sends a carriage return to the cluster and on WWC this sends a /MSG your Callsign. If you use this then the best way is to time how long it takes the DXC/WWC to time you out then set the autoreconnect timer as needed. Only in very rare circumstances would you use 5 minutes. 30 minutes to 60 minutes is more like it
Start WWC With Program?: This will mean that the WWConverse will start when you start the program.
Connect: Clicking here will connect you to the WWC you set in the Edit Available WWC's window.
Disconnect: Clicking here will disconnect you to the WWC you set in the Edit Available WWC's window.
There are many more parameters to set once the program is running. See the "File - Help" Help File for more information.
And remember to not only watch for VHF DX, be sure to report openings!
To report DX heard or worked - go to the DXC tab. In the bottom small "DXC Commands" window, type your report in this format:
dx (your call) (frequency) (callsign) (remarks)
DX de W5SNX 144.200 K1JT LOUD on Es!
More information and commands for the DX Clusters can be found at http://www.dxcluster.org/main/usermanual_en.html
To learn more about sporadic E, here are several articles:
"Sporadic E - A Mystery Solved?", Dr. David Whitehead, QST, October and November 1997.
"144-MHz Sporadic E", Emil Pocock, W3EP, QST, July 1994.
"The World Above 50 MHz", QST, April 1998.
"The World Above 50 MHz", QST, September 1994.
N1BUG's summary page, with signals, at http://www.n1bug.net/prop/es.html
A Seven-Year Study, by Pat Dyer, August 1972 CQ, at http://home.swbell.net/pjdyer/cq/cq7208a.htm
Modeling and Maping Sporadic E with Backscatter Radar, at http://www.ips.gov.au/IPSHosted/STSP/aip/robert/paper.htm
Sporadic E Clouds Evolution Map, at http://www.vhfdx.net/esmaps.html
Dependence on Planetary Waves, at http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:5oI86wM3xmEJ:jro.igp.gob.pe/mst10/CD/ExtAbs/Session3/I3_010.pdf++%22sporadic+E%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
(A primary source is Smith, E. K. Jr, and Sadami Matsushita, eds., Ionospheric Sporadic E. London, Pergamon, 1962).
Europe's sporadic E season in 2003 produced opening after opening last summer!
See an overview of the FANTASTIC European Es season at http://www.vhfdx.de/es_summary_03_overview.htm.