Meteor Scatter propagation is one of my favorites. It happens when a meteor trail bounces a radio signal back to earth, instead of going past the horizon and into space.
Generally, the "pings" of traffic are very short. I like using the WSJT modes FSK441 and JT6M/ISCAT for meteor scatter. High speed CW and SSB are often used during meteor showers. Keep in mind, there are always meteors coming into our atmosphere, not only during showers. Early mornings and late evenings seem to be the best times.
WSJT meteor scatter modes consist of FSK441, ISCAT and JT6M. It's basically data being sent at very high speed between 2 stations. When a meteor passes through the path, one of the stations will receive the data. Otherwise, the signal disappears into space. I'm not going to go into detailed explanations on this page because there are already some good WSJT tutorials on the web, but I will give some tips and pointers that work for me, and address some issues that I see with beginners
What You Need
I rig capable of 6m or 2m SSB
An interface between computer and rig
An antenna, directional yagi is best (remember, you want the most gain on horizon)
WSJT Software - download the latest WSJT version HERE . Be sure to read the wsjt manual!
A way to keep your pc clock on time to the second. Download Dimension 4 HERE
These tips are for after your rig, pc and program are functioning. You are able to transmit and receive via the WSJT program. If you are not ready to operate, go back to the manual and primer.
Main Screen Basics
Make sure other stations call and grid are in these boxes
Then click this box to fill in the TX boxes
Whoever is TXing first, checks this box
If you are sending shorthand messages or "SH" then ckeck this box
Check this box before starting any QSO unless you are CQing
When sked starts, click this and let it run
This tells you where to point antenna
WSJT Calling Frequencies For Random Contacts
Common WSJT Frequencies For Skeds
What message do you send and when?
Pressing F5 on your keyboard will tell you, but basically it's like this. During a sked, both stations start with Tx1. Then, whatever is received you hop to the next one in line, a "leapfrog". So, if you have started a sked and are running along and you suddenly receive Tx2, you would then click the Tx3 box because the other station received Tx1
Whatever you are sending, you are looking for the next one on receive
What you end up with, is both callsigns and reports copied at each station. The RRR acknowledges the second report
SpecJT Screen Basics
Bottom right shows the noise level. Make sure it is 0dB by sliding this bar.
If you can't get it to zero this way, you then have to go to options where there is a link to your pc soundcard
You can adjust brightness and contrast with these
These are what meteor "pings" from the other station look like. You can click your mouse all around them for instant decodes onto the main screen.
Low noise is VERY important. Not necessarily low noise into your rig, but low noise into the program. If you need to turn off preamps in your rig, please do so. This program doesn't need much on the S meter in rig, it just needs to hear it. If it's hearing a bunch of trash because you have too much receive, your decoding will suffer. Also, use your "IF shift" or similar to get even color across the waterfall. You don't want darkness at top or bottom because, as you can see, FSK uses all of it.
Who's on First?
I see alot of confusion about who sends first, who sends second and why. Let me try to explain...
The reason for coordinating this is to prevent QRM to stations near you. Imagine yourself calling CQ on 50260 second sequence and someone within your line of sight distance starts CQing on 1st sequence. Your receive is now shot and there is probably no chance of you hearing anything but him. But, what if there was synchronization? Great! everyone follows a basic rule and it goes like this.
If your antenna is anywhere EAST of Ø degrees and 18Ø degrees, you are FIRST.
If your antenna is anywhere WEST of Ø degrees and 18Ø degrees, you are SECOND.
Here is a little drawing to help you understand...
Indicator in this area. You should send 2nd
Indicator in this area. You should send 1st
Now, this doesn't solve all of our QRM problems, especially in the mid states, but it sure helps. Please try to use this method and keep everyone happy.
For skeds and other WSJT operators, visit Pingjockey. Just update your details and make some contacts.
A nice tool for checking conditions and status of meteor showers is Virgo-Meteor Sky View. Be sure to read the info/help page.
For a meteor shower calendar, check out the American Meteor Society page. Scroll down to see a nice calendar.