Friday, October 12, 2012

VOACAP at Contest University Finland, July 12, 2012

This summer, I was asked to give a basic lecture on Understanding HF Propagation at Contest University Finland (CTU). The venue was in Sappee, Central Finland, a very beautiful place with high hills and lots of forests. A superb QTH for DXing, for sure!

This is my Executive Summary for contesters:
  1. Learn the basics of propagation! The sun is a prerequisite for all contest QSOs. The sun’s activity creates the HF propagation conditions and also propagation disturbances.

    There are many good books on this subject. Three of my favorites are:

    1. The NEW Shortwave Propagation Handbook by George Jacobs W3ASK, Theodore J. Cohen N4XX and Robert B. Rose K6GKU
    2. Radio Amateurs Guide to the Ionosphere by Leo F. McNamara
    3. Signal-to-Noise Predictions Using VOACAP by George Lane. This is an extremely helpful book in learning the secrets of VOACAP.
  2. Make propagation predictions! Understanding HF propagation conditions and predictions are important for your contest strategy to maximize the points. Using prediction software is increasingly easier; there are web-based services & smartphone apps.

    Use VOACAP Online at (for point-to-point predictions) and (for coverage area maps).
  3. Study grayline maps! Propagation predictions on the lower bands are of less use, we will need to study grayline maps. 

    Use DX Atlas from Alex VE3NEA or GeoClock from Joe Ahlgren. They are both excellent software!
  4. Watch the weather! The importance of watching the real-time space weather and propagation has increased during the contests and in preparing for them.

    Use IonoProbe from Alex VE3NEA, this is one of my absolute favorites!
If you are interested in reading all my slides, download the PDF here: Understanding HF Propagation by OH6BG

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