Throughout our last several years of daily schedules to practice CW there have been almost no sunspots. This caused us to find a better means of predicting band conditions so that we didn’t waste time trying schedule times that did not work very well. Chuck, W1HIS happened across a new propagation forecasting site called Northwest Research. This facility produces a frequently updated derived sunspot number based on data from a galaxy of the worlds Ionosondes. The index I am referring to is called SSNe or effective sunspot number. It can be found here. Ionosonde data is compiled, along with actual real time sunspot data and an equivalent index is generated. This turns out to be a much more reliable predictor of actual band conditions than say just using solar indices alone.
Typically I run a freeware program called HamCap which employs the Voacap engine to make its predictions. Normally I just substitute SSNe for SSN and leave the K field blank. So far I am very close to matching Chuck’s predictions where he uses a finely tuned version of Voacap/Icepac to make his predictions and set up the schedules. There are some short comings in Ham Cap such as limited antenna choices and a whole plethora of path choices that are not available in the HamCap front end. However, for a quick and easy to use program without the complications of say Icepac or Voacap. I find it well worth its meager price. 🙂
Here is an example of the input page of HamCap using today’s SSNe for the input:
Following is one of two output predictions (Chart) completed with the more conservative SSNe vs SSN numbers.
To save file size I used a small capture data set in the jpeg “save file” format and so all the prediction boxes do not show in the above image.
Results using this combination have been gratifying to say the least. Have a good look around the Northwest Research Space Weather site as it contains a lot of great information.
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W5PG.