Thursday, 18 February 2016

Propagation reports on my Android, and update.

We VHF-ers do like to know what is going on. I suppose that other Hams need information too, but the fleeting openings up here on the roof of radio mean that we require to be fully informed. Plus I am paranoid, which only makes it worse.

Allard, PE1NWL helps a lot of with the e-mail "DX Robot" service he offers from Gouda. I have mentioned it before but I cannot find it in my earlier posts (I cannot be bothered to look through all those wafflings I made over the past year to put in a link). You can find DX Robot by clicking here. It really is great.

Basically you can sign up to e-mail warnings of VHF activity on Es and Aurora. These reports are culled from the internet via cluster reports. You can tailor the DX Robot's reports by band, depending on where you are, e.g. North America or Europe, and the aurora can be selected by latitude too. Or you can just get emails of cluster reports.

DX Robot is brilliant in that it communicates with your PC by e-mail. But now Allard has gone one stage further. He has produced an app for Android which gives updated reports on a mobile phone or tablet. It is called EsSense.
It is still in beta and it is currently free. You can find it in the Android app store or click the link here.

I have been trying EsSense for a few weeks.

Now,  I am not really a "geezer". I don't do much bling. I have the minimum mobile phone I think I can get away with. The main issue when buying one is - can I buy it for under £100, and - does it last for years? Apps, screen resolution, camera quality and those things do not rate highly for me. So I currently have a Motorola Moto G. Not the latest version either, the previous one. I cannot be a cool dude with a phone like that. On the other hand, I might not cry if someone stole it, or I dropped it into a pond like my Wouxun handheld.

Here is a man with a 8-core PC finely tuned for maximum performance and he cannot tell you what his phone can do. I just am NOT INTERESTED. But you can take it that if EsSense runs on Jim's Moto G it will probably run on any Android phone.

I have location and roaming switched off, so it might drop out a bit.

I keep location and roaming switched off because I do not like spending money on phone charges which could be spent on MORE RIGS, and I do not like "them" knowing where I am at any time. Just because you aren't paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you (and I am paranoid as well).

Does EsSense work on my mean phone with my mean connections? Yes it does. I tried to scan the phone screen in (!!!) which did not work and I ended up photographing the screen which did not really work either...
... but it does show up VHF activity rather well. It drops out when I go beyond my wi-fi zone, but I will try it with roaming turned on. The only snag I find with it... - EDIT - this is working now. Maybe something was wrong with my touch screen. No problems now at all.

Anyway, I like it. It gives all the info I need. It updates itself regularly. It even works on my junk phone. and it is another reason not to buy an iPhone and spend the £££ on antennas instead.

Thanks Allard. Nice one.

As for an update, I posted last week that I was "mildly interested" in the situation then. It turned out to be an variable week when I worked nothing surprising. A bit of F layer activity got me working JT9 on 10 metres, as far as the USA (Texas) and Uruguay. There were quite a few Es openings on 10m which I followed on WSPR. There was one pretty good Es opening on 6m which I missed as it only covered a triangle from Germany to Spain and the Midlands of England. I was about 300km too far North. Fun to watch on Dx Maps though.

The past couple of days have produced interesting conditions on VHF as there have been several solar weather storms but no result here. The K number has been as high a 6, with high wind speed, proton numbers and negative Bz, so you might have expected something to happen. It did, but not at this QTH. Nick, G4KUX, who is about 50km south of me, was working into Sweden on 2 metres but I heard nothing. Just the Northern Ireland beacon on 2 metres via weak aurora.

I have been standing by, but nothing reached me. You can often see an aurora coming in from the East. DX Maps shows stations working each other across the Baltic and then it spreads across the North Sea to reach me. We had this ...
... it looked promising and then ... nothing. Ah well.
As the numbers looked good, and Solarham.com was predicting aurora over Northern Europe, I wondered why nothing happened here (well not in Scotland generally). I have no answer to it, but while delving through the figures I discovered comparative magnetometer readings over the week which show the GOES satellite regularly over-predicting the events.

I won't bother you with the charts now as I need to think about what they mean. I have always found the Norwegian Stack Plot to be the best indicator, and it was right this week. I think that maybe I am getting over-reliant on the GOES predictions when what is happening on Earth may be more important. But something did happen, as that DX Maps shot shows. More thinking needed.

Maybe the next few days will bring the conditions I have been waiting for.

I am pondering another antenna re-working and there may be something on the rig front, so be ready for more nonsense soon.

73

Jim
GM4FVM

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