WSPR Beacon in Antarctica is operational

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WSPR Beacon in Antarctica is operational

On January 15 in the afternoon hours, the multiband receiver of the new permanent WSPR beacon DPØGVN in Antarctica was put into operation. It is active from the German research station "Neumayer III" of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. The installation is part of a scientific project of the Technical University of Munich in cooperation with the University of Bremen and the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC).

The beacon is still under test and will be shut down occasionally for more configuration and optimization
of antennae and software before it can be mounted to the final installation site in a few eeks. Currently, there are three radio specialists at the research station, all beeing HAM operators and DARC members (Felix DL5XL, Matthias DH5CW, and Daniel, DL1SU).

The technology used consists of a WSPR multiband receiver based on a Red Pitaya mini computer, it can simultaneously monitor up to eight HAM bands from 160m to 6m and feed several hundred receive reports per hour into the WSPR-Net.
Meanwhile, the 5 Watt multiband transmitter has also been commissioned, working into a 5m Procom vertical antenna matched with a network.

The first operating results have positively surprised all project participants. After a few days in service, DPØGVN has received several tousand beacons spots already. This is due to an extremely quiet location, far from any human civilization and man-made noise sources. The beacon project in Antarctica was initiated by two professors, who are also radio amateurs. One is Prof. Dr. med. Ulrich Walter, DG1KIM, scientific astronaut of the ESA and professor of space technology at the Technical University of Munich. Also involved is the well-known SDR specialist Prof.Dr. Michael Hartje, DK5HH, from the University of Bremen, who takes care of the software solutions.

The DARC is closely involved in the project, as the worldwide community of radio amateurs allows a "swarm project" in order to generate the database for systematic scientific evaluation of the propagation paths in polar regions. The devices for this scientific project were buitl by a group of volunteer German radio amateurs.