[VHFcontesting] Meteor Scatter, Aircraft Scatter, or Short-Duration Tropo-scatter?

Les Rayburn les at highnoonfilm.com
Sat Jul 16 06:50:15 EDT 2016

I’d like to hear from experienced VHF operators on this one. Recently, I’ve devoted a lot of time to doing some DXing of the FM broadcast band when the amateur bands are not too active. 

I’m still very new at this, in only my 2nd season of FM DXing. But have a lot of experience at working meteor scatter on the 6 Meter and 2 Meter bands, along with more traditional modes like e-skip, and tropo. 

Just got my system optimized to the point that I can reliably pick up signals via meteor scatter on the handful of quiet or semi-quiet frequencies that remain here. So far, I’ve managed to log two stations, both via audio recordings. I use software called “Total Recorder”, then park my receiver on a frequency overnight and let the audio recorder run. In MP3 mode, the files are manageable, at around 500MB.  Nothing yet in terms of RDS decodes, but hope springs eternal. 

Last night, I had a period that lasted exactly 1:42 seconds, where meteor pings were happening one after another on 90.1 FM. No ID’s, unfortunately, but at least three stations were heard including a Spanish language station, a classical music station, and a religious (spoken word) station. Another station was identified from a promo that was being broadcast, it was WFYI in Indianapolis at a distance of just under 500 miles. 

The individual pings lasted only a few seconds each, with nothing but static in between—but these pings were nearly continuous during the 1:42 period—silence lasting only 4-5 seconds at a time, followed by another ping. 

During major showers, I’ve seen this type of activity, but we’re not in a major shower at the moment. I’ve also experienced so-called “Blue Whizzers” which are long duration burns—sometimes 8-12 seconds. But nothing like this. 

At 2:23 AM, it’s highly unlikely to be e-skip. And I’ve never heard of tropo going from noise floor to S-9 in seconds. Looking for other explanations, I started to wonder about reflections off an aircraft. 

Have any VHF operators experienced propagation like this? Any thoughts about what the mechanism could be? 


Les Rayburn, N1LF
121 Mayfair Park
Maylene, AL 35114

Member WTFDA, IRCA, NRC. Former CPC Chairman for NRC & IRCA. 

Elad FDM-S2 SDR, AirSpy SDR, Quantum Phaser, Wellbrook ALA1530 Loop, Wellbrook Flag, Clifton Labs Active Whip. 

More information about the VHFcontesting mailing list