Archive for the ‘fieldday’ Category

Stunning Video of the Sun Over Five Years, by SDO

Watch this video on a large screen. (It is HD). Discuss. Share.

This video features stunning clips of the Sun, captured by SDO from each of the five years since SDO’s deployment in 2010. In this movie, watch giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the Sun’s surface.

April 21, 2015 marks the five-year anniversary of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) First Light press conference, where NASA revealed the first images taken by the spacecraft. Since then, SDO has captured amazingly stunning super-high-definition images in multiple wavelengths, revealing new science, and captivating views.

February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole Sun 24 hours a day. February 11, 2010, was the day on which NASA launched an unprecedented solar observatory into space. The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) flew up on an Atlas V rocket, carrying instruments that scientists hoped would revolutionize observations of the Sun.

Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the Sun grow and erupt. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

The imagery in this “highlight reel” provide us with examples of the kind of data that SDO provides to scientists. By watching the sun in different wavelengths (and therefore different temperatures, each “seen” at a particular wavelength that is invisible to the unaided eye) scientists can watch how material courses through the corona. SDO captures images of the Sun in 10 different wavelengths, each of which helps highlight a different temperature of solar material. Different temperatures can, in turn, show specific structures on the Sun such as solar flares or coronal loops, and help reveal what causes eruptions on the Sun, what heats the Sun’s atmosphere up to 1,000 times hotter than its surface, and why the Sun’s magnetic fields are constantly on the move.

Coronal loops are streams of solar material traveling up and down looping magnetic field lines). Solar flares are bursts of light, energy and X-rays. They can occur by themselves or can be accompanied by what’s called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, in which a giant cloud of solar material erupts off the Sun, achieves escape velocity and heads off into space.

This movie shows examples of x-ray flares, coronal mass ejections, prominence eruptions when masses of solar material leap off the Sun, much like CMEs. The movie also shows sunspot groups on the solar surface. One of these sunspot groups, a magnetically strong and complex region appearing in mid-January 2014, was one of the largest in nine years as well as a torrent of intense solar flares. In this case, the Sun produced only flares and no CMEs, which, while not unheard of, is somewhat unusual for flares of that size. Scientists are looking at that data now to see if they can determine what circumstances might have led to flares eruptions alone.

Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space as well as on Earth (disrupting shortwave communication, stressing power grids, and more). Additionally, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy.

Goddard built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program. The program’s goal is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.

A Solar flare, A CME, A Proton Storm: Magnitude M2.5 X-ray Flare

Watch this amazing explosion on the Sun. From sunspot complex 1226-1227 comes an X-ray Flare peaking at a magnitude of M2.5 at 0640 UTC on 7 June, 2011.


This X-ray flare hurled a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) toward the Earth. This not-squarely Earth-directed CME is moving at 1400 km/s according to NASA models. The CME did not deliver even a noticeable glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field late June 8th or June 9th.

What can be seen clearly in this movie is one of the most spectacular prominence eruptions ever observed. In fact, one could call it a “prominence explosion”. The prominence material expanded to a volume some 75 times as big across as the earth!

This X-ray flare also triggered an S1-level solar radiation storm, causing a long-lasting polar cap absorption (PCA) event. A polar cap absorption (PCA) event affects the propagation of a shortwave radio signal as it makes its way over the polar regions. In short, radio communications on lower shortwave radio frequencies become more difficult, as those radio signals are absorbed by the ionosphere (in the D-region) over the polar regions.

What does this mean in real-world communications? Trans-polar airline pilots may find it more difficult to communicate with regional air traffic control, shortwave radio listeners who want to hear a broadcast from a country by receiving a transmission from a country by way of a transmission beamed over the pole (like, from Europe into the USA via the North Pole), or other such communications, will find those signals all but gone. The stronger the PCA event, the higher the frequencies absorbed over the polar regions, with the greatest absorption occurring at the lower frequencies.

This movie spans the period of time from 0300 UTC through 1556 UTC, and is composed of the 171-Angstrom, 304-Angstrom, and 335-Angstrom wavelength views as captured by the filters of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA). In this movie, the AIA instruments capture the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet light and reveal a very large eruption of cool gas. It is somewhat unique because at many places in the eruption there seems to be even cooler material–at temperatures less than 80,000 K.

The following is a linked video that is part of this event:

Watch as we zoom out to see a total view of the June 7, 2011 moderately-powerful X-ray Flare and Prominence Eruption. This movie will give you a full perspective of the immense size of this prominence eruption as it spews out away from the Sun.

The X-ray Flare peaked at a moderate magnitude of M2.5 at 0640 UTC, but unleashed a huge prominence eruption. The massive cloud of plasma was ejected out into interplanetary space, but missed the Earth. This movie stars with a “close-up” view by the Solar Dynamics Observatory at a combined wavelength view at 94 and 304 Angstroms. Then, the movie views the event further back through the eyes of the COR1 spacecraft (with the SDO AIA 304 image superimposed in the middle). Next, we zoom out to the COR2 spacecraft and superimpose the COR1 and SDO views. Then, we zoom further back to the H1 view… and finally look again at the event close-up.

More info:

Google Plus:




Space Weather, HF Radio Propagation – The Interview on ‘Ham Radio Now’

Why would an amateur radio operator be interested in space weather?  Is it worth the time and resources to forecast propagation, in the daily operation of a typical ham radio station?

Gary, host of the popular ‘Ham Radio Now’ video podcast, talks with Tomas Hood (NW7US), propagation and space weather columnist for CQ Amateur Radio Magazine (and in the late ‘Popular Communications Magazine’ as well as ‘CQ VHF Quarterly Magazine’) and The Spectrum Monitor Magazine. Gary discusses with Tomas how scientists forecast space weather, and how the average ham radio operator can also make predictions, and what propagation forecasting can bring to the daily operations of an amateur radio enthusiast.

Watch on YouTube: ‘Ham Radio Now’ Episode 156: Propagation…


NW7US is the guest, on 'Ham Radio Now' 2014 06

Tomas, NW7US, talks about radio propagation on shortwave (HF) as well as space weather.

Radio propagation and space weather course

As the propagation columnist for several amateur radio magazines, I hear from a diverse group of interested people that find space weather and the propagation of radio waves fascinating. I admit: I am a space weather and radio propagation nut, and it is always good to correspond or meet with other interested folks. This is an aspect of our hobby that never grows old, as there is so much that we don’t yet know–we communicators are in a perfect space to make discovery and to make improvements to our understanding of this science.  Over the years, I’ve heard a lot from readers of my columns, expressing their fascination with the science of radio and solar phenomenon.

Are you interested in learning about the Sun and the Sun-Earth connection (space weather), including topics of sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and so on?  Do you want to delve deeper into topics including the ionosphere, the magnetosphere, and how radio waves propagate from transmitter to receiver?

foF2 Map for June 2014

The critical frequency (foF2) for mornings during June 2014.

You might consider a time-proven “course”–material that is very comprehensive–that you can self-study, to become well-versed in this information. The course (one that has been used in professional disciplines) is offered either stand-alone, or bundled with the ray-tracing PropLab PRO software. 

Some may say, “But, I like the magic of just getting on the air and trying my luck! If I learn all this stuff, then it becomes science, and not a hobby.” It is true that there’s a joy at being dazzled with the magic of radio; buy a super cool transceiver, and a factory-made antenna with coax already fitted with connectors, adding the necessary accessories to make it come alive, then begin exploring the shortwave frequencies. Magical, indeed! But, there are many in the hobby that wish to learn how all of that works. Some even begin learning how to build antennas, radio kits, and discover the joy of the “science” of radio. A few eventually take the step with gained “scientific” knowledge of electronics, and they design and build equipment for their hobby. The course is part of that mix: learning how the Sun affects getting a radio signal from point A to point B, and how to leverage their time and efforts, is a joy, indeed.

Interested?  Here’s the web page:


Ray Traced Radio Wave

PropLab PRO creates ray-traced radio wave analysis


If any disclosure is necessary, here you go: The proceeds from a purchase of this course go to the funds I use to keep,, and other resources at, plus up and running. There are monthly fees, yearly fees, and software licensing to cover, as well as the purchase of hardware from time to time. These operating and maintenance funds are mostly covered by me, Tomas, NW7US, out of my personal funds. Any donations and sales helps out. Haters and Hecklers can send their comments to the bit bucket.

73 de NW7US

Learning Morse code? Want to increase your skill?

Are you looking for some aids on learning Morse code, or to increase speed and skill? Let’s look at some great information and some software aimed at making your efforts successful.

(Note: I am not associated with any of the software. I just want to help you…)

I encourage you to look at the time-proven Koch method of learning Morse code. Below, we’ll look a little closer at this method of learning and honing your Morse code skill.  In the meantime, if you just wish to skip the details, here are some software links for learning tools using the Koch method:

+ For the PC, I prefer the G4FON Morse code ‘Koch Trainer. It is a slick program that is set up to help you learn and enhance your skills with Morse code: – and his web site is at:

G4FON Koch Trainer - Morse code learning on the PC

G4FON Koch Trainer – Morse code learning on the PC

+ For the iPad and iPhone: On these devices, I use the ‘Koch Trainer’ by Nick / N3WG, found in the store here:

+ For the Android: I use the same software as for the iPad and iPhone, the ‘Koch Trainer’ by Nick / N3WG, here: – however, note that it is not compatible on the S4.

+ Some other Android possibilities that I have not tried:

Again, I have not tried those last few.

Now, let’s talk about the Koch Method of Morse code training!

From my page on the Koch method (text was used by permission from the author):

Koch’s method is a simple, direct way of building reflexes. However, it requires either a computer and Morse software or a personal trainer. That’s why it was overlooked for so many years. Now that computers are commonplace, it should become the standard Morse training method. Here’s how it works:

You start out by setting up your computer (or a microprocessor-based code tutor machine) to send you Morse characters at 20 wpm and at an overall sending speed of at least 15 wpm. You then get out your paper and pencil and have the machine start sending — but only two characters. That’s right, for your first sessions, you’ll only have two choices. Copy on paper for five minutes, then stop the machine and compare what you copied with what the machine sent. Count characters and calculate your percentage of correct copy.

If your score is 90 percent or better — congratulations! You just learned your first two characters, and, importantly, you learned them at full speed. You’ll never have to learn them over again. If you didn’t make 90 percent, practice some more. As soon as you can copy the first two characters with 90 percent accuracy, add a third character to your practice. Your accuracy will drop as you work on assimilating the new character, but it will rise again to 90 percent or better. Then you add the fourth character, and so on.

This method does not allow you to build that lookup table in your brain. To copy at full speed, you must build the reflexes in order to achieve 90 percent accuracy. And that’s what you’re spending your time doing — building reflexes. Think of it as a parallel to perfecting a tennis swing or mastering a gymnastic routine; you’re practicing until you get it right. The Koch method of building code proficiency character-by-character is similar to standard methods of teaching touch typing, another skill that must be reflexive.

While the Koch method is the fastest method of Morse training, speed alone is not its principal advantage. Its principal advantage, and a major difference from other methods, is that it provides you with constant positive reinforcement. This begins with your realization, after mastering the first two characters, that you can copy code at 15 or 20 wpm, because you just did it. After that, each new character mastered is further proof of your progress. Contrast that to slowly trying to build speed up from 4 or 5 wpm, then hitting the plateau at 10 wpm and seeing no progress for a long time. With the Koch method, frustration is at a minimum.

Constant testing is necessary to ensure that you maximize the effectiveness of the Koch method. You must copy on paper, so you can grade yourself. Remember, if you score 90 percent accuracy or better, add another character. If you score any less than that, try again. By constantly testing yourself on continuous copying of at least five minutes, you know exactly how you’re doing and exactly when you should add another character. This results in the fastest progress possible.

As you proceed toward your goal, remember that some days are just going to be better than others and some characters will take longer to assimilate than others.

(Read the entire article: the Koch method).

Again, here’s the PC software link:

And, here’s a web-based way to learn Morse code.

Good luck! If you have questions, please share them – I’m @NW7US

Field Day on Holiday

Field Day 2012 with VY2CRS

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been on vacation in Prince Edward Island Canada.

This year, our vacation coincided with my favorite annual event, Field Day.
Sadly, I missed an opportunity to experience Field Day QRP-style with the NC-based QRP club, the Knightlites, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, along with my buddy, Vlado (N3CZ).

Ron Morris, VY2RM, working 20 meters

Before I left my trip up north, I contacted the Charlottetown, PEI, Amateur Radio Club (VY2CRS) and was glad to learn that they had planned a Field Day event on the farm of their club President, Andy Speelman (VA2AS). Better yet, the location was just forty minutes from the cabin where we were staying on PEI.

Perhaps one of the benefits we enjoy as amateur radio operators is that we’re all part of one enormous event, an all-inclusive fraternity of like-minded individuals. When I arrived on site at the Charlottetown Field Day location, I was greeted as if I was expected. The large sign at the end of Andy’s driveway was a great advertisement for the FD location.

(Left to Right) Chris Vessey VY2CRV, Richard Burke VY2RB and Andy Speelman VY2AS

They instantly put me to work…eating a hamburger. After all, you can’t work a radio rig without a little something in your fuel tank, right?

“Islander” hospitality is legendary, and frankly, reminds me of the way it was when I was growing up in rural North Carolina where “no one’s a stranger,” and you’re free to accept invitations (and meals) without hesitation. This local club went a step further, and from the moment I arrived, included me in their jokes, making sure to laugh not just at but with me. I felt utterly at home.

The club had a wide array of antennas up by the time I arrived. All of them had been constructed just prior to the beginning of the contest, and all were field-deployable. Andy’s farm is a wide-open space and with no limitations to big antlers, thus they even fit a 160M “V” doublet out in front of the barn where we operated.

My view as I worked station after station on 20 meters

Though I had only a few hours to play radio before heading back to my family at the cabin, they put me on the 20M almost immediately. In perhaps an hour, I chalked up 100+ contacts on that band. The guys got a kick out of hearing me call “CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day, this is VY2CSR” and then offering up our “3 Alpha Maritime” in my North Carolina accent.

Though not great for identifying dupes, paper logs will work even if the power goes out


It was also fun to get a quick word in with those NC stations I worked from the island, many of whom were set up only a few miles from my home QTH.

I made sure I saved plenty of time for chatting with the club members, too. After all, this Field Day event– like many others I’ve attended–was more about comraderie and fun rather than about raking in the scores and multipliers (not that taking it to a contest level is objectionable, of course).

Darin Gay VY2GAY (left) and Andy Speelman VY2AS (right)

Fellows in Charlottetown: if you’re reading this post, I surely thank you for including me in FD 2012, Charlottetown-style.

Readers, if you happen to be on vacation during Field Day, search for a local event. There’s sure to be one and you’ll most likely make some new friends and create some notable radio memories.

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: