On properly operating a WSPR station…

Anyone who is subscribed to the QRP-L has likely been subjected to a long string of complaints against WSPR in the past week or so. This began with a generic complaint against a “consistent carrier” on 7.040. This rapidly decayed into a long series of rants against WSPR. Since I’m rather more fond of WSPR than the average QRP-L member, I chose to defend WSPR’s place in the ham radio universe.

But amidst the general complaints, there are a few points which they make which we should all take to heart. First of all, in the United States we are not allowed to operate automatic beacon transmitters below 10m. This means that you have to be in control of the station, and operate it in a manner consistent with Part 97 regulations. I’m not sure what that really means in the context of this mode, but I suspect that it means that running your beacon all night while you sleep isn’t actually legal, as fun (or useful, I would argue) as it might be to see those spots from New Zealand that occur at 4:30AM local time when you wake up and have your coffee. I believe that all hams should endeavor to operate their stations in accordance to regulations, so I think that we as WSPR operators should be at the control point of our stations when transmitting WSPR. I also think that this point of legality isn’t adequately emphasized in existing documentation, so new users of the mode may be unaware of this issue, so it would be great if we had a more prominent notice on WSJT’s site, and on wsprnet.org.

Beyond simple legality though, I’ve seen that the QRP-ers have some basis for being irritated beyond the mere legality of this operation. In the last 24 hours, I’ve logged one particular station who has operated at 100w output power, and for quite a while, was transmitting about 50% of all slots, including many back to back slots. This resulted in spots with a SNR of +5 over distances of 12000km. This isn’t a WSPR, it’s a rock concert. I think its good to keep WSPR at QRP levels or ideally QRPP levels. And let’s keep our transmit percentage down to 20% or less. As WSPR has become more popular (and it has become much more so even in the last few months, with dozens of stations on 40m and 30m) we’ll need to reduce the time we spend transmitting to mitigate collisions.

And let’s be especially careful around 40m, okay? 7.040Mhz isn’t the best choice of frequency, frankly. Lots of old time rock bound QRPers still claim it as their own, and while nobody owns a frequency, we should be courteous to all hams.

One thought on “On properly operating a WSPR station…”

  1. Hmm. That is a real shame. All I can say is selfish b…d’s! Its only 200 Hz of BW, out of 300000 Hz on 40 meters. We should have space for this, its very useful to know what the band is doing today, not some prediction guess.

    I see stations as strong as + 4 here near Chicagoland on occaision. Some claim 10 watts (W6YQ), and a few close in single E layer hoppers which claim 5 watts. I am seeing a WA7KGX as I type this claiming 100 watts, first time I noticed that level, but that station is not strong. Its about 4 th strongest of all the stations on my plot at this time at -17 . He is transmitting 30 percent, it looks like.

    I think a bigger issue is all the stations transmitting from the same Grid Square. FN20 has two going. EM62 as well on 40 meters right now. Maybe we should get these spread out to other bands (80?).

    I have been watching this for a couple weeks. Its quite interesting. Its the only ham radio mode I can still copy when the power line noise is raging. And when it cuts out in the middle of the night if the power lines quite down there have been some fantast spots. Like GU3Z in Antartica (OA64, I think it was). And the ship up in Hudson’s Bay one day. Today there is a G4 Maritime Mobile in the Gulf of Mexico.

    40 meters is the most active band I see for WSPR, and it would be a shame to loose it.

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