Beacon monitoring

VOAProp can be used as a beacon monitor for the IARU beacons on the higher-frequency amateur bands. Listening to these beacons is a good way of seeing how actual propagation compares with the illustration provided by VOAProp.

To monitor beacons:

  • Right-click the map and ensure "Show IARU beacons" is selected.
  • Ensure that "Amateur bands" is selected.
  • Tune your receiver to the frequency shown in the status line.

If your computer clock is set accurately, then beacon icons will appear on the map at the same time as each beacon is supposed to be transmitting. If you are running Windows XP or later then it has a built in clock synchronization tool, which can be enabled from the Control Panel. However, if you require greater accuracy, disable this and use NTP for Windows. If you are using Windows 9x then neither of these options are available. There are many time synchronization programs available, but a reliable and simple one is NIST Time.

When the IARU beacon display is enabled and one of the 14 - 28MHz bands is selected, the program status bar will show you the details of the beacon that is currently transmitting, and the "S meter" at the right will give an indication of the expected signal strength from each beacon.

Beacons can go off the air sometimes. VOAProp only shows the beacons that are currently operating. Once a day, when VOAProp downloads the solar data from WWV, it also checks for updates to the file showing the current beacon activity status.

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