17 Dec 2009

Is WSPR a good thing?

There's a letter in Jan 2010 RadCom about the use of WSPR on 500kHz that advocates keeping the band just for CW. I understand the sentiment, but WSPR is a very narrow band mode taking just 6Hz bandwidth for a single transmission, which may be sent for as little as a few minutes in each hour. Surely there is space for both WSPR and CW? Incidentally I've had several attempts at CW QSOs with quite strong stations on the band and, with a few exceptions, it has been hard to get a contact with my low ERP.

Not so with WSPR as I can get reports (via the database) day and night in great detail - reporting station's callsign, S/N level, distance, QTH locator, direction. All data that confirms the signal has propagated to the distant receiver. It allows me to see in a few minutes the effect of a change of propagation, antenna, ground, power output etc.

Also, take another example (reported in an earlier blog entry) on 40m this week. Noise level here was running at S8-9 and it was a struggle to hear much on the band. I go on to WSPR (running 5W to my 5m long vertical) and get a report within a few minutes from VK4YEH who was 16451kms away. On CW I would never have heard him and I doubt he would have heard me. With WSPR I KNOW that my QRP signal reached Australia.

Like many, I enjoy CW especially with QRP, but there is definitely a place for WSPR on ALL bands as a real means of experimentation with propagation, antennas and rigs.

Views please?


goody said...

I think WSPR and any narrowband digital mode should be allowed. CW is a fine mode, but sometimes I think we support the use of CW for the sake of supporting CW. Other digital modes are more efficient and more robust than CW, so logically if bandwidth usage is a concern, modes like WSPR and PSK31 should be allowed and encouraged.

Paul - PC4T said...

Just because amateur radio is searching for new experiments and implementation of new technology, WSPR must be allowed on all radio amateur frequencies. 73 Paul

mvandewettering said...

Whenever I hear a complaint about WSPR, I can't help but think that the person complaining must be the worst kind of Luddite. CW simply can't be decoded at anywhere near the noise levels that WSPR can successfully be decoded at. To say that we shouldn't be allowed to use WSPR is just the same as saying we shouldn't be allowed to use efficient modulation techniques: it's entirely counterproductive, and against the spirit of the amateur service.

Toss in the added benefit of an extensive, world wide network of reporting stations, and it isn't even close.

Mark K6HX