[CQ-Contest] Band changes and propagation forecasting

Pete Smith n4zr at contesting.com
Thu Jul 16 17:04:17 EDT 1998

There's an interesting article in the current NCJ comparing the results of
propagation forecasting and experienced operator intuition in planning band
changes during CQWW.
Of course, there are a lot of variables to be considered in making band
change choices other than monthly average propagation parameters, and the
profile of K1TO's day one choices shows when and how he deviated from the
predicted "best bands.  It would've really hurt to miss that 10-meter opening.

For those who are interested in doing similar predictions for key paths
during upcoming contests, this is just to advise that there is an excellent
freeware Windows package available from
http://elbert.its.bldrdoc.gov/pc_hf/win_voacap.html.  It incorporates the
Windows versions of several excellent IONCAP-derived programs to provide a
wide variety of propagation displays.  The software is much less buggy than
it was a couple of years ago, and while it is 16-bit software it runs very
well under Windows 95.

Of particular interest is the program ICEPAC, which provides a plot of
circuit reliability (defined as the percentage of the days during a given
month that the S/N ratio over that path will exceed a pre-selected value)
versus time of day, for any selected frequency.  Using this software, once
you set up the parameters (sunspot number, etc.) it's only a few minutes
work to generate excellent color graphs showing which bands are most likely
to be open to a given area at a given time throughout a 24-hour day.

Just FYI. 

73,  Pete Smith N4ZR
In wild, wonderful, fairly rare WEST Virginia

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