Archive for January, 2012

2012 PARC ARES SKYWARN Storm Spotter Training

Krissy Scotten, Warning Coordination Meteorologist NWS AMA, will be presenting a SKYWARN certification class for the PARC ARES group on Tuesday March 13th 2012 at 19:30 at the AES Building located at 1900 Line Avenue in Amarillo, TX. This class will be open to the public. If you are unable to attend the SKYWARN Training scheduled for our ARES meeting, the 2012 Spotter Training Schedule is available here.

SKYWARN is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service’s (NWS) severe weather spotting program with nearly 290,000 trained volunteers nationwide. Since the late 1960s, trained SKYWARN spotters have helped support the NWS’ primary mission of protecting life and property through the issuance of severe weather warnings. These dedicated citizens help keep their local community safe by conveying severe weather reports to their local NWS Forecast Office. SKYWARN spotters are integral to the success of our Nation’s severe weather warning system.

Every year the NWS conducts SKYWARN spotter training sessions. The NWS currently has 122 Weather Forecast Offices across the nation, each with a Warning Coordination Meteorologist, who is responsible for administering the SKYWARN program in their local area. There is no charge and a typical class takes about 2 hours to conduct.

Storm Spotter certification is required every two years, but please consider attending this class even if your certification has not expired. If you are not currently a SKYWARN spotter and you are interested in joining our volunteer group you are welcome to attend this training as well.

SKYWARN® is a registered trademark of NOAA’s National Weather Service.  Rules for the usage of the SKYWARN name and logo are available here.

For more information about SKYWARN, please click here.

If you are interested in joining ARES, please click here.

If you are interested in Amateur Radio, please click here.

PARC ARES Training January 2012

In case you missed the training this month…

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Intro to NVIS

What is NVIS?

NVIS, or Near Vertical Incidence Skywave, refers to a radio propagation mode which involves the use of antennas with a very high radiation angle, approaching or reaching 90 degrees (straight up), along with selection of an appropriate frequency below the critical frequency, to establish reliable communications over a radius of 0-200 miles or so, give or take 100 miles. Although not all radio amateurs have heard the term NVIS, many have used that mode when making nearby contacts on 160 meters or 80 meters at night, or 80 meters or 40 meters during the day. They may have thought of these nearby contacts as necessarily involving the use of groundwave propagation, but many such contacts involve no groundwave signal at all, or, if the groundwave signal is involved, it may hinder, instead of help. Deliberate exploitation of NVIS is best achieved using antenna installations which achieve some balance between minimizing groundwave (low takeoff angle) radiation, and maximizing near vertical incidence skywave (very high takeoff angle) radiation.

As hams, we often faithfully follow the advice: get your antenna up as high as you can get it! We do this, and other things (like choosing antennas that have a low angle of radiation) in order to maximize the distance over which we can communicate. An antenna with a particularly high angle of radiation is often somewhat disparagingly referred to as a “cloudwarmer”, the implication being that if the signal isn’t radiated at a low enough angle, it’s being wasted. For NVIS, we ignore all this traditional advice, and select instead techniques which will maximize not our DX, but our ability to reliably communicate with other stations within a radius of 0-300 miles.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of NVIS?

Among the many advantages of NVIS are:

  • NVIS covers the area which is normally in the skip zone, that is, which is normally too far away to receive groundwave signals, but not yet far enough away to receive skywaves reflected from the ionosphere.NVIS requires no infrastructure such as repeaters or satellites.
  • Two stations employing NVIS techniques can establish reliable communications without the support of any third party.
  • Pure NVIS propagation is relatively free from fading.
  • Antennas optimized for NVIS are usually low. Simple dipoles work very well.
  • A good NVIS antenna can be erected easily, in a short amount of time, by a small team (or just one person).
  • Low areas and valleys are no problem for NVIS propagation.
  • The path to and from the ionosphere is short and direct, resulting in lower path losses due to factors such as absorption by the D layer.
  • NVIS techniques can dramatically reduce noise and interference, resulting in an improved signal/noise ratio.
  • With its improved signal/noise ratio and low path loss, NVIS works well with low power.

A complete and informational article on NVIS can be located HERE.

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