I first became aware of WSPR in an episode of KD0BIK’s wonderful show, The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast.

Now that I have a PC in the shack, I can run the WSPR program. I feel no need to get into the history of WSPR as that’s been written elsewhere in much more detail than I can muster. But basically, WSPR stands for “Weak Signal Propagation Reporter” and it’s a great tool to see how and where your signals are getting out, and whose signals you can potentially receive. WSPR and JT65 are related weak-signal modes, as they were developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT.

Currently, I’m only receiving WSPR stations. I’ve opted not to send WSPR reports until I have a decent audio interface for sending. It’s basically an automated process: Hook a mono audio cable to the audio-out on the rig and plug it into my laptop’s audio input, tune to a WSPR frequency (In my case tonight, 10138.7), check your input audio level and let the program run.  WSPR will analyze the received audio in search of frequency shift keying (FSK) tones that are generally buried down in the background noise, and compile a log of stations spotted. It can even upload that log to the WSPRnet.org website, where you can check a really nice propagation map that updates spots in near real-time.

This is by far one of the best tutorials I’ve seen on how to get WSPR running and what to expect.

Just tonight, with very poor band conditions and a dipole antenna that isn’t resonant on 30 meters, WSPR has decoded signals from Germany, Great Britain, Canada and California.

My computer and radio, WSPRing to one another.

While it’s not as thrilling as a SSB contact overseas, there is something very cool and meditative about the WSPR waterfall, and simply knowing that you are receiving very weak signals from across the pond or from the opposite coast is fascinating on many levels. Plus, it’s a nice relaxing way to participate in amateur radio while I listen to music and update this blog!

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