11 Apr 2010

Thoughts on VLF Earth-Mode and Induction DX

Earth-mode (through the ground conduction) and induction communication (mutually coupled coils) have an inverse cubed attenuation with distance. Think about this: I reached 0.3km with earth mode for an audible CW signal with around 4W RF and a simple 5m base receiver and 10m base transmitter. To double this range, all other things being equal, means increasing power by 18dB to 250W. To double range again means raising the power to kWs. Conversely, improving the detectable sensitivity threshold by 18dB (increasing the electrode spacings at each end, using WSPR or QRSS, etc) reduces in power needed for a given range dramatically: my 4W signal could be detected at 0.6kms or a just a 63mW signal could be detected by earth mode at 0.3km. In reality, especially in urban areas, water pipes and cabling may help "propagation" and achievable ranges may be greater. DX is relative, especially with conduction and induction at VLF.

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