Quick links to two useful VHF/UHF propagation aids

   The links are:   http://www.mountainlake.k12.mn.us/ham/aprs/path.cgi?map=na  and

   The first link is a map based on real-time APRS paths.  Someone probably knows a more elegant way to explain that, but I’m not the guy.  I know that it’s real-time and when it’s functioning properly, it’s very useful.

   What I do know is that this map has generally been unavailable or not updating properly for much of the past several months.  Today, it seems to be fixed and I’m grateful for that.  So are hundreds of VHF/UHF’ers, plus a strong community of broadcast band FM and TV Dx’ers. 

   What I look for with this map is colors above pale yellow.  When you start getting into an area of brighter orange, you’re likely to have enhanced propagation on VHF/UHF.  When the area starts expanding to cover a large region, that’s when you hear our bands come alive. 

   During especially good openings, the map will be very vivid, and you may work hundreds of miles, and get grid squares you normally can’t.   

   There’s no substitute for getting on the air and calling CQ, but both of these links will help you study propagation and become better at getting more out of the hobby. 

   The 2nd link is to a page that *forecasts* potential degrees of VHF/UHF tropospheric propagation conditions.  It’s been around a long time and William Hepburn diligently updates it every day.  He studies weather maps to make a prediction of what may happen.  I use this map to look into the future.  Like weather forecasts, it can end up being wrong.  But since it’s the only resource of its kind (that I know of), I’m grateful for Hepburn’s efforts.

   With the Hepburn tropo forecast maps,  you want to be aware of when the light blues turn into greens, yellows and orange.  Just like with weather radar, brighter colors are more intense. 

   With Hepburn’s page, make sure to hit refresh, so you get the latest forecast.  He updates every day about 12:45-1pm central time.

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