I am an Extra Class License holder and been licensed as an amateur radio operator since 1979. I have been DX overseas in Guam, Diego Garcia and Saudi Arabia. I love building antennas and other things related to amateur radio. I have an extensive background in electronics from high school, then 13 years in the US Navy as an Electronics Technician and with electronics in college. Radar, communications, networking, NAVADS, and computers are what I specialize in.


Meteor Scatter on 50Mhz and above!


Meteor scatter is that aspect of amateur radio that uses the ionized trails of meteors as they burn up in the upper atmosphere and create ionized paths in the ionosphere to then communicate between two stations here on earth.


In times past this was done via CW or sometimes on single side band. But ionized trails only last a few seconds on 50Mhz, less on 144Mhz and even less on 432Mhz. 10 meters or 28Mhz can offer talk times long enough to complete a QSO.


Current technology today uses computers and sound cards to generate various audio tones that contain all the basic information to initiate then complete a QSO.


MSK144 uses 144 different tones and when listened to on a receiver sounds like a jackhammer over the air. This is actually repeating the information rapidly many times a second to take advantage of the brief opening the meteor offers for communications as it burns up. Amateurs that chase space rocks are called ping jockey’s because the burst can sound like a ping.


This mode of communications works best between 3 am and 9 am when the earth is sweeping into or plowing into any space rocks in front of it as it moves forward in its orbit and rotates on its axis.


The furthest you can communicate via meter scatter is about 1400 miles. The geometry of where these burn up in the atmosphere places that limit on this mode. The duration of the trail depends on how fast or how slow the little grains of sand hit the atmosphere as they burn up.


So next time you see a shooting star you might think of those amateur radio operators who might even then be trying to communicate via that burning trail you see in the sky.

Best 73’s



By Stephan W. Shemenski, AK8E

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