Whispers in the wind – WSPR

Are you familiar with WSPR made by Joe Taylor (K1JT)? Well, I am and have been using it for some time now.

A WSPR overview from 07.11.2012
A WSPR overview from 07.11.2012

It’s very occasionally due to other uses for my antenna and radio. If I am home and have the time to do something else than occupying any gear, I will set up my FT-817 to transmit and receive WSPR. There’s no set pattern for which days I use on the bands, but I concentrate on 40, 30, 15 and 10 meters. It could be nice to let other hams know that 10 meters is open from northern Europe to Australia for example – and that’s what this tool is foor, seeing the current propagation.

WSPR is a mode designed to take up as little bandwidth as possible and is usually QRP. I have mine set up to transmit 0.5W, but will occasionally turn it down even further. You can’t have a normal QSO over this mode, as the transmitted data is only a short string consisting of callsign, locator and power. One transmission takes just about two minutes! With that being said, I have actually received QSL-cards using this mode, but I’m not keeping a log for this mode – it is somewhat complicated parsing the logs this program generates. If anyone know of a great tool to convert the logs into an ADIF-file, please drop me a line 🙂

How do I start with this? Well, you need a radio set up for soundcard digital modes. Download and install WSPR from http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/. You will also need to keep a perfectly synced system clock on your computer. Even one second drift can make your WSPR experience a waste of time (!). The built-in NTP service of Windows is poor (in my opinion), so please use something that can sync at least once an hour.

Where do my signals go? You can’t see that in the log from the program, but have a look at www.wsprnet.org and select map (a map with my signals is shown in the picture above).

For a better and more thorough introduction to WSPR, please see G4ILO’s article about it – it’s really good!