S161 Potential Applications of Low Power Amateur Radio Digital Modes in Meteorology

Sunday, 7 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 5 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Lucero Marquez, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and Q. A. Lawton, T. M. Fenske, K. L. Squires, and D. T. Conlee

Recent advances in amateur radio digital modes enable long distance communications via high frequency (HF) radio with extremely low power (200 mW) and simple transmitters. The tradeoff for these modes is generally very low information throughput/bandwidth. There are low data rate applications in meteorology that may be able to take advantage of these capabilities. One mode in particular, the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) protocol offers a worldwide listening and internet uploading network that is already established. This mode only allows a few characters of information in addition to a coarse location to be transmitted. Other weak signal modes allow for more information, but require a dedicated listener that may not have a radio propagation path for reception. We test equipment necessary for using these modes, and explore possible applications. The primary application is a signal from storm chasers who find themselves in cell phone denied areas to report their status and position, adding an additional safety measure for our student-led Texas Aggie Storm Chasers organization. In light of recent hurricane-related devastation of power and communications grids in island locations, we examine possible applications for rapid reporting of status in the immediate aftermath of storm damage before more traditional amateur radio stations and antennas can be reestablished.
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