The VE3TO Radio Propagation Beacon

VE3TO/B Project Status

The VE3TO/B beacon has been on the air since 11 September 2006.  On 03 March 2008, the transmitter output power was reduced from 5 watts to 1 watt. 

The VE3TO/B beacon has ended operations on the 30 m band.  Since beacon operations began in September 2006, 30 m band propagation conditions have improved considerably and Amateur Radio activity has increased greatly.  Band openings are now almost continuous with long periods of reliable propagation; thus, the beacon no longer serves a useful purpose.  Operations ended as of 00:08 UTC 31 March 2012.

Purpose of the Beacon

The purpose of the VE3TO beacon in the 30 metre band (10 MHz) is propagation studies.  For an experienced listener, the beacon would be an indicator of short- and long-range HF radio propagation, received signal strength, signal fading characteristics, and possibly other qualities as well.  Its most common usage might be to detect band openings or other special propagation conditions.

It seems especially appropriate to have a beacon in the 30 m band, which is not served by the NCDXF/IARU beacon network, during these low sunspot number years with their consequent low Maximum Usable Frequencies (MUFs).  It is hoped that such a beacon will provide a useful service to the Amateur Radio community and technically-inclined shortwave listeners.

Technical Summary of the VE3TO Beacon Operation

Frequency10132.0 kHz
EmissionA1A ("CW Morse")
OperationContinuous weekdays only, while attended, Monday 0000 to Friday 2400 UTC.
Transmission FormatMost transmissions will include a 5-second dash to facilitate observations of signal strength and fading, as well as measurement of the beacon frequency.
PowerNominally 1.0 watt.
TransmitterK1EL K-ID memory chip keying a T.M.C. GPE-1A crystal-controlled vacuum tube HF exciter driving the famous DL-QRP-PA solid-state power amplifier.  Some details of the transmitter are found here.
AntennasA λ/4 vertical (VERT) at ground level.  Other selectable antennas may be added later, such as a dipole, or a 270 foot (82 m) long-wire (LW) boresighted on southern Europe.

Potential Interference

Although the 30 m Amateur Radio band is not very wide and is shared with stations in the Fixed Service, the beacon is not expected to cause significant interference, at least in IARU Region 2 (North, Central and South America) where the band is not heavily used.  In order to minimize potential interference to Amateurs in IARU Region 1 (Europe and Africa), where 30 m beacons are officially discouraged, the beacon will operate only Monday through Friday, at least initially.  The radio frequency, 10.132 MHz, has been chosen to avoid interfering with any known station operating in the Fixed Service.  (It is noted that, under ITU rules, the Fixed Service has primary allocation in the 10.100 - 10.150 MHz band.)  The relatively low power (less than 10 W) will further help to minimize any interference.  If you experience harmful interference from the beacon, please contact me.

About the Callsign

My father, Robert "Bob" Potter, received his Radio Amateur Experimental licence in 1933 and was assigned the callsign VE3TO at that time.  Although there was an earlier Canadian Amateur who had been assigned the call 3TO during the days before international prefixes, my father was the first to be assigned VE3TO.  An active Radio Amateur all his adult life, he became a Silent Key in 1996.  This beacon is dedicated to him, in honour of his curiosity, his sense of wonder, his skepticism, his sense of humour, his striving to learn the truth of everything he could through rational empiricism and the scientific method, and his contribution to the lives of everyone around him.

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