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This is one of the biggest solar flares in Sunspot Cycle 24! This flare had a maximum X-ray Flux of X9.3, peaking at 12:02 UTC, 2017-Sep-06.

The X-class flare was so powerful that SDO's capture of the event was affected by the burst of protons... that is what caused this fuzzy image. The other images were either right before, or a bit after, the peak of X9.3 magnitude.

This is a significant event!

More information, and movies, soon.

http://SunSpotWatch.com/swc

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PhotoPhotoPhotoPhotoPhoto
9/6/17
10 Photos - View album

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I never grow tired of this, either:

2160p60 4K UHD Movie of the Sun: Year 6 Review 171A SDO Video
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgP0e1VHBxc )

This ultra-high definition (3840x2160) video shows the sun in the 171-Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. It covers a time period of January 2, 2015, to January 28, 2016, at a cadence of one frame every hour, or 24 frames per day. This timelapse is repeated with narration by solar scientist Nicholeen Viall and contains close-ups and annotations. The 171-angstrom light highlights material around 600,000 Kelvin and shows features in the upper transition region and quiet corona of the sun.

The sun is always changing and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is always watching. Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO keeps a 24-hour eye on the entire disk of the sun, with a prime view of the graceful dance of solar material coursing through the sun's atmosphere, the corona. SDO's sixth year in orbit was no exception. This video shows that entire sixth year--from Jan. 1, 2015 to Jan. 28, 2016 as one time-lapse sequence. Each frame represents 1 hour.

SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin (about 1 million degrees F.) In this wavelength, it is easy to see the sun's 25-day rotation.

During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits Earth at 6,876 mph and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space. Moreover, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. built, operates, and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgP0e1VHBxc

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An Intimate Nuclear-Fusion View: Our Sun in 1440p (Quad-High Def)
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq4PlyNkm2Y )

The Sun is a main-sequence star and thus generates its energy by nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. In its core, the Sun fuses 620 million metric tons of hydrogen each second.

The sun is always changing and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is always watching. Launched on February 11, 2010, SDO keeps a 24-hour eye on the entire disk of the sun, with a prime view of the graceful dance of solar material coursing through the sun's atmosphere, the corona.

SDO captures images of the sun in 10 different wavelengths, each of which helps highlight a different temperature of solar material. Different temperatures can, in turn, show specific structures on the sun such as solar flares, which are gigantic explosions of light and x-rays, or coronal loops, which are streams of solar material traveling up and down looping magnetic field lines.

Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too. Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space. Moreover, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. built, operates, and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

It is widely believed that the Sun's magnetic field is generated by electrical currents acting as a magnetic dynamo inside the Sun. These electrical currents are generated by the flow of hot, ionized gases in the Sun's convection zone.

We know a lot about the Sun's magnetic dynamo. It has a 22-year cycle. During the first half of the cycle, the Sun's magnetic north pole is in the northern hemisphere while the magnetic south pole is in the southern hemisphere. Right around the peak of the sunspot cycle (solar maximum), the magnetic poles flip or exchange places so that magnetic north is now located in the southern hemisphere. This flip occurs about every 11 years at solar maximum.

The 22-year magnetic cycle greatly influences the most prominent manifestation of the dynamo, sunspots and active regions, which migrate towards the solar equator from high latitudes over the course of the solar 11-year "sunspot cycle". Sunspots and Active Regions are manifestations of the magnetic field generated in the Sun's interior poking through the visible region of the atmosphere. Active regions are responsible for the production of intense and violent energy burst, called flares, and events where very large amounts of hot gas, trapped by the magnetic field of the active region, are released from the Sun's atmosphere and into space, called coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

Watch the movie, now! Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq4PlyNkm2Y

Credit: The SDO Team, Genna Duberstein, and Scott Wiessinger, Producers

1st music:

The Big Decision by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) || Artist: http://audionautix.com/

Then:

Light Awash by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100175 || Artist: http://incompetech.com/

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq4PlyNkm2Y
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Check out this YouTube channel for insights into the nature of the sun you didn't learn in school:

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Ham Radio Deluxe can log your WSJT-X FT8, JT65A, and JT9 QSOs, via the JT-Alert software. This is a demonstration of my use of HRD and Logbook, during an FT8 QSO,today.

As some of you know, I have had some differences of opinion regarding the selection of frequencies chosen by the FT8 creators and advocates. Regardless, I do still use the mode. Here is proof:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqWAyX7uNuQ

Go ahead and share, if you would. And, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, as I will be creating many how-to videos in the near future.

Thanks and 73 ... de NW7US

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A short article from the BBC describing a European initiative to position a satellite to provide early warnings of solar activity and a sideways view of flares directed at Earth.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42922898

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Here is a demonstration of using FLDigi software to work with Olivia on HF. Toward the end of the video, I decode a signal.

On some playback platforms, the audio is such that my voice is masked by the radio audio. I apologize. Next time I will ensure that the audio level from the radio is much lower.

Comments are welcome.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejSNfXiT8FE

73 de NW7US

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A GREAT COMPROMISE: OLIVIA DIGITAL KEYBOARDING MODE ON SHORTWAVE HF

It is clear that we are approaching the end of current Sunspot Cycle 24, and are entering into the phase between cycles in which we may not see sunspots for great lengths of time (days, weeks, perhaps months). With this decrease in solar activity comes at least two changes: 1) the ionosphere dynamics change that includes lower maximum usable frequencies, shorter windows of "openings" over a given radio circuit's path, and, 2) the typical stability of a rarely-disturbed geomagnetic field. These and other factors significantly change the landscape of high-frequency (shortwave) radio-wave propagation.

In this challenging mix of real-world change, users of HF seek effective means of communications that rely on the ionosphere for long-distance (DX) radio-wave propagation. One digital mode is known as, Olivia.

Olivia is an MFSK–Multi-Frequency Shift Keying–radioteletype protocol designed to work in difficult conditions on shortwave bands. The Olivia digital mode is commonly used by amateur radio operators to reliably transmit ASCII characters over noisy channels using the high frequency (i.e., 3 MHz to 30 MHz; high-frequency, or HF; shortwave) spectrum. The typical Olivia signal is decoded when the amplitude of the noise is over three times that of the digital signal!

In 2005, SP9VRC, Pawel Jalocha, released to the world Olivia, a mode that he developed starting in 2003 to overcome difficult radio signal propagation conditions on the shortwave bands. By difficult, we are talking significant phase distortions, low signal-to-noise ratios (SNR), and multipath propagation effects. The Olivia-modulated radio signals are decoded even when it is ten to fourteen dB below the noise floor. That means that Olivia is decoded when the amplitude of the noise is slightly over three times that of the digital signal!

Read more, here: http://blog.nw7us.us/post/168515010062/olivia-digital-mode-great-compromise

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Some HF digital modes were designed for long-distance (DX) propagation (radio wave propagation) via the ionosphere. One such keyboard-to-keyboard digital mode is Olivia.

Friday evening, 8 December 2017, at 0200 UTC {9-DEC}, Larry, N7ZDR, called an Olivia-mode 80-Meter digital roundtable net. This is a snapshot of about 9 minutes...

No, it is not lightening-fast chatting, but it can get the job done. In this example, though, the 80-Meter band (center frequency is 3585 kHz) was really difficult to work with.

Thanks for spreading the Olivia love!

https://youtu.be/G7TlGEuStx4

73 de +NW7US

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Update: For those of you who have dived into the crowded but fun pool of FT8 operation--or one of the other Joe Taylor modes (such as JT65, FT8, or JT9)--and now are excited about digital modes, here's something you might enjoy exploring, as well. Unlike the JT/FT digital modes--modes that do an incredible job under marginal propagation conditions--there are other modes that offer keyboard-to-keyboard conversational QSO opportunities that can overcome rough shortwave radio propagation conditions.

(The meaning of QSO on Wikipedia: An amateur radio contact, more commonly referred to as simply a "contact", is an exchange of information between two amateur radio stations.)

While making quick work of getting DX stations into your logbook by exchanging callsigns, a signal report, and a grid square, the JT/FT modes (JT stands for Joe Taylor, the fellow that pioneered these modes) are limited. They cannot handle any additional communications beyond a callsign, a signal report, a gridsquare, and a very limited set of acknowledgements and sign-off messages.

When you desire to get to know people from other areas of the world, or if you need to establish networks around the world for passing information--perhaps an emergency net in support of the Red Cross--or if you are motivated by any other of a myriad reasons to establish a keyboard-to-keyboard conversation by way of the ionosphere, modes like Olivia are great candidates for your consideration. (Later in this article, typical and suggested frequencies and settings are listed for Olivia operation on HF)

For Your Consideration: Olivia

Olivia is an MFSK--Multi-Frequency Shift Keying--radioteletype protocol designed to work in difficult conditions on shortwave bands. The Olivia digital mode is commonly used by amateur radio operators to reliably transmit ASCII characters over noisy channels using the high frequency (i.e., 3 MHz to 30 MHz; HF; shortwave) spectrum. The typical Olivia signal is decoded when the amplitude of the noise is over ten times that of the digital signal!

In 2005, SP9VRC, Pawel Jalocha, released to the world a mode that he developed starting in 2003 to overcome difficult radio signal propagation conditions on the shortwave (high-frequency, or HF) bands. By difficult, we are talking significant phase distortions and low signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) plus multipath propagation effects. The Olivia-modulated radio signals are decoded even when it is ten to fourteen dB below the noise floor. That means that Olivia is decoded when the amplitude of the noise is slightly over three times that of the digital signal!

When the propagation of digital signals is sub-optimal, such as when the signal experiences low signal-to-noise ratio, and/or the path between the transmitting station and receiver experiences multipath propagation, many digital modes suffer the loss of data.

Olivia decodes well under other conditions that are a complex mix of atmospheric noise, signal fading (QSB), interference (QRM), polar flutter caused by a radio signal traversing a polar path. Olivia is even capable when the signal is affected by auroral conditions (including the Sporadic-E Auroral Mode, where signals are refracted off of the highly-energized E-region in which the Aurora is active).

Currently, the only other digital modes that match or exceed Olivia in their sensitivity are some of the modes designed by Joe Taylor as implemented in the WSJT programs, including FT8, JT65A, and JT65-HF--each of which are certainly limited in usage and definitely not able to provide true conversation capabilities. Olivia is useful for emergency communications, unlike JT65A or the newly popular FT8.

Olivia in Action

Here is a demonstration of a two-way transmission (a QSO) using the Olivia digital mode on shortwave. I am in QSO (conversation) with KA5TPJ. As you can see on the waterfall (the deeper blue area toward the bottom of the software's window), there are two other Olivia QSOs just below our QSOs frequency. Just above our QSO frequency is FT8 activity. Below the two other Olivia QSOs are PSK31 QSOs. The band is active!. One thing stands out: Olivia is not dead!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAIhkaJN15o

The standard Olivia formats (shown as the number of tones/bandwidth in Hz) are 8/250, 8/500, 16/500, 8/1000, 16/1000, and 32/1000. Some even use 16/2000 for series emergency communication. The most commonly-used formats are 16/500, 8/500, and 8/250. However, the 32/1000 and 16/1000 are popular in some areas of the world and on certain bands.

These different choices in bandwidth and tone settings can cause some confusion and problems with so many formats and so many other digital modes. After getting used to the sound and look of Olivia in the waterfall, though, it becomes easier to identify the format when you encounter it. To aid in your detection of what mode is being used, there is a feature of many digital-mode software implementation suites: the RSID. The video, below, is a demonstration on how to set the Reed-Solomon Identification (RSID) feature in Ham Radio Deluxe's Digital Master 780 module (HRD DM780).

I encourage ALL operators in any digital mode such as Olivia, set the RSID feature on as shown in this example. In Fldigi, the RSID is the TXID and RXID.

Please make sure you are using the RSID (Reed Solomon Identification - RSID or TXID, RXID) option in your software. RSID transmits a short burst at the start of your transmission which identifies the mode you are using. When it does that, those amateur radio operators also using RSID while listening will be alerted by their software that you are transmitting in the specific mode (Olivia, hopefully), the settings (like 8/250), and where on the waterfall your transmission is located. This might be a popup window and/or text on the receive text panel. When the operator clicks on that, the software moves the waterfall cursor right on top of the signal and changes the mode in the software. This will help you make more contacts!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBIacwD9nNM

+ NOTE 1: MixW doesn't have RSID features. Request it!

+ NOTE 2: A problem exists in the current paid version of HRD's DM780: the DM780 RSID popup box to click does not work. HRD support is aware of the problem. You can still use the textual version that you can select in the settings so that it appears in the receive text areas. If you click the RSID link that comes across the text area, DM780 will tune to the reported signal, and change to the correct settings.

Voluntary Olivia Channelization

Since Olivia signals can be decoded even when received signals are extremely weak, (signal to noise ratio of -14db), signals strong enough to be decoded are sometimes below the noise floor and therefore impossible to search for manually. As a result, amateur radio operators have voluntarily decided upon channelization for this mode. This channelization allows even imperceptibly weak signals to be properly tuned for reception and decoding. By common convention amateur stations initiate contacts utilizing 8/250, 16/500, or 32/1000 configuration of the Olivia mode. After negotiating the initial exchange, sometimes one of the operators will suggest switching to other configurations to continue the conversation at more reliable settings, or faster when conditions allow. The following table lists the common center frequencies used in the amateur radio bands.

Olivia (CENTER) Frequencies (kHz) for Calling, Initiating QSOs

It is often best to get on standard calling frequencies with this mode because you can miss a lot of weak signals if you don't. However, with Olivia activity on the rise AND all the other modes vying for space, a good deal of the time you can operate wherever you can find a clear spot--as close as you can to a standard calling frequency.

Note: some websites publish frequencies in this band, that are right on top of weak-signalJT65, JT9, and FT8 segments. DO NOT QRM weak-signal QSOs!

We (active Olivia community members) suggest 8/250 as the starting settings when calling CQ on the USB frequencies designated as “Calling Frequencies.” A Calling Frequency is a center frequency on which you initially call, “CQ... ” and then, with the agreement with the answering operator, move to a new nearby frequency, changing the number of tones and bandwidth at your discretion. Even though 8/250 is slow, the CQ call is short. But, it is narrow, to allow room for other QSOs nearby.

Current CENTER Frequencies With 8/250:

1.8269, 3.5729, 7.0729, 10.1429, 14.0729, 18.1029, 21.0729, 24.9229, 28.1229, and so on.
See the pattern? By the way: The current suggested CENTER frequency With 16/1000 or 32/1000 on 20 meters is 14.1059.

(Why the ...9 frequencies? Experts say that ending in a non-zero, odd number is easier to remember!)

Q: What's a 'CENTER' Frequency? Is That Where I Set My Radio's Dial?

For those new to waterfalls: the CENTER frequency is the CENTER of the cursor shown by common software. The cursor is what you use to set the transceiver’s frequency on the waterfall. If your software’s waterfall shows the frequency, then you simply place the cursor so that its center is right on the center frequency listed, above. If your software is set to show OFFSET, then you might, for example, set your radio’s dial frequency to 14.0714, and place the center of your waterfall cursor to 1500 (1500 Hz). That would translate to the 14.0729 CENTER frequency.

Another operating tip: Do not switch to other modes or settings without calling CQ for at least a five-minute window. It is horrid when people call CQ and change settings, modes, bandwidths, tones, every time they call CQ! If you want someone to answer your CQ, you need to stick with one setting for long enough for others to find your signal and get set up to answer.

ALWAYS TURN ON RSID! (TXID and RXID in FLdigi)
Common Windows of Olivia Operation on HF (this is still a work-in-progress; your input is welcome)

+ 160m: 1835 kHz - 1837.9 kHz
+ 80m: 3571 kHz - 3573.9 kHz
+ 40m: 7071 kHz - 7073.9 kHz (500, 250, or 125 Hz configurations mostly)
+ 30m: 10141 kHz - 10144 kHz (500, 250, or 125 Hz configurations mostly)
+ 20m: 14071 kHz - 14073.9 kHz (500, 250, or 125 Hz configurations mostly)
+ 20m: 14104.5 kHz - 14107.9 kHz (1000 or 2000 Hz wide configurations mostly)
+ 17m: 18102.65 kHz
+ 15m, 12m, 10m, 6m: Usually 500 Hz above PSK activity I.e., 21071.5 kHz, 24921.5 kHz, 28121.5 kHz
+ 6m: 50.291 MHz (?? still in debate)

Note: Make sure that your signal does not cross into other sub-bands where weak-signal modes are active. For instance, do not have any part of your signal at 14073.5 kHz or higher, as this is the sub-band for FT8, JT65A, JT9.

DO NOT QRM WEAK-SIGNAL MODES such as WSPR, JT65A, and JT9! BE AWARE OF THE BAND PLANS OF THOSE MODES!

Also, do not quickly switch to other modes without calling CQ for at least a five-minute window. It is really horrid when people call CQ and change settings, modes, bandwidths, tones, every time they call CQ during the same session!

Join the OLIVIA COMMUNITY Online!

There are several key resources that we in the Olivia community are developing, to make it easier for you to enter into the great world of Olivia. One is an active support e-mail group to which you can subscribe at https://groups.io/g/Olivia -- a group containing topical areas of interest which can be filtered so that you are not flooded by email containing topics of which you are not interested. It has a files section, as well, in which we will add helpful how-to instructions and so on.

Another resource is our Facebook group, at https://www.Facebook.com/groups/olivia.hf -- also with a files area containing help files. This group is a great resource for getting help from like-minded Olivia digital mode enthusiasts.

Some more eavesdropping on an Olivia QSO:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lv9dshac78

And, two more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUjiBVsXrzE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz7a--ePSNs

One last note: Olivia is NOT a weak-signal mode. There are no points won by barely making a contact. In the USA FCC regulations, you are directed to use only the power necessary to make the QSO. Typically, with poor propagation, using Olivia with an output power of 100w is the minimum to establish a reliable circuit. You just cannot go beyond your rig's duty cycle (don't burn out the finals in your radio!). You also must be sure that you do not overdrive the audio chain into your radio. Be sure that you do not have RF coming back into your audio chain. Yes, 100 watts is acceptable. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

Welcome to Olivia! See you on the waterfall.

73 de NW7US
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