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'[EE]: WWVB outages'
2001\04\18@175529 by Sean H. Breheny

face picon face
Hi everyone,

I am building a WWVB receiver for my Applied Signal Processing class and
I'm having some trouble that I think some people here may be able to help
with. I had it working fine several days ago in northeast Pennsylvania(I
was getting a strong signal, at least 12dB S/N ratio and I could hear it
loud and clear). When I came back up to New York (Ithaca, central
southern-tier,only 100 miles away) I haven't been able to get it to work
(I've been trying since about 11pm last night and I get no signal at all,
just quiet static, as if the transmitter were off the air). I have checked
over the wiring and I don't think anything has changed. I am also able to
hear weak signals from computer monitors in nearby rooms and my own monitor
saturates the audio output so I think it is working.

First of all, can anyone who has a WWVB receiver or self-setting clock tell
me if you have received a WWVB signal in the last 12 hours(from 9:00 until
21:00 Wednesday 18 April UTC)? They have been doing antenna repairs lately
and have had some outages, so it is possible that they have been off the air.

Secondly, my understanding is that in most of the continental US, WWVB is
received through ground-wave propagation (it's at 60kHz) which should have
no problem entering a valley which is several miles wide, right?I know that
my area is well within the stated coverage area for at least a large part
of the time I have been listening.

Thanks,

Sean

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2001\04\18@180609 by James Paul

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Sean,

Is this station located in Colorado?   Have you tried receiving on
the shortwave frequencies?  (5, 10, 15, 20Khz?).  Or what about
WWVH (Hawaii). Of course this is doubtful.   Just a thought.

                                          Regards,

                                         Jim KA9QHR

On Wed, 18 April 2001, "Sean H. Breheny" wrote:

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2001\04\18@185632 by Lee Jones

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Hi Sean,

> I am building a WWVB receiver for [...] class
>
> First of all, can anyone who has a WWVB receiver or self-setting
> clock tell me if you have received a WWVB signal in the last 12
> hours (from 9:00 until 21:00 Wednesday 18 April UTC)? They have
> been doing antenna repairs lately and have had some outages, so
> it is possible that they have been off the air.

www.boulder.nist.gov/timefreq/stations/wwvboutages.htm
lists station outages.  Latest one listed was 4-14-1.  Don't
know how long it takes them to update that page after they have
an outage.

I personally don't know if they are currently on-air or not.

> Secondly, my understanding is that in most of the continental
> US, WWVB is received through ground-wave propagation (it's at
> 60kHz) which should have no problem entering a valley which is
> several miles wide, right?

I'd expect you'd be able to receive the signal.

Have you tried checking the signal by going to a local Radio
Shack store and forcing one of they WWVB based clocks into a
hunt for signal mode?  The one I own shows current signal
strength when forced (i.e. power cycled or toggled to auto-off
then to auto-on) for about 2 minutes as it's trying to acquire
signal.  Is there a RS in the valley with you?

                                               Lee

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2001\04\18@190934 by Sean H. Breheny

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Hi Lee,

Thanks for your quick reply:

At 03:57 PM 4/18/01 -0700, you wrote:
>www.boulder.nist.gov/timefreq/stations/wwvboutages.htm
>lists station outages.  Latest one listed was 4-14-1.  Don't
>know how long it takes them to update that page after they have
>an outage.

It seems as though it takes them about a day or two (I've been monitoring
that page over the last week), so that page doesn't really help me right now.

>I'd expect you'd be able to receive the signal.

That's what I would think, too.


>Have you tried checking the signal by going to a local Radio
>Shack store and forcing one of they WWVB based clocks into a
>hunt for signal mode?  The one I own shows current signal
>strength when forced (i.e. power cycled or toggled to auto-off
>then to auto-on) for about 2 minutes as it's trying to acquire
>signal.  Is there a RS in the valley with you?

That's a very good idea but my report on this is due tomorrow (so I don't
have time to go to RS now, they will be closing soon for the day anyway) so
I think I will just have to say that I had it working and that presently it
is receiving nothing but it may be due to WWVB itself.

Originally I was supposed to test out a decoder for it, too, in addition to
the receiver, but I will have to test that on a simulated signal if I don't
get anything in an hour or two.

It just bothers me that it isn't receiving anything so I just asked to see
if anyone had any clues or info on whether they are on the air. You said
that you own such a receiver. Would it be possible for you to check it to
see if you are getting anything?

Thanks,

Sean




>                                                 Lee
>
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2001\04\18@190943 by Sean H. Breheny

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Hi Jim,

Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, it's located in Colorado (and is also run by NIST), but this is a
separate station from WWV (which transmits on 5,10,15, and 20 MHz).  WWVB
is intended to provide a single frequency which can reliably be received
during at least part of every day in the whole continental US. That's why
they use such a low frequency, to make the dominant propagation mode ground
wave (although if you look at their coverage diagrams it does appear that
some skip occurs at the edges of the coverage area during some parts of the
day).

So, no, I haven't recently tried listening on the shortwave freqs, but even
if I did, it wouldn't really tell me anything about whether WWVB in on the
air or not.

Of course, it doesn't help that this project is due tomorrow (I did have a
longer time to do it but couldn't really start until about a week ago
because of other work) :-)

I have tried emailing the people who run WWVB to ask if there has been an
outage but I have not yet gotten a response.

Sean



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2001\04\19@120614 by Olin Lathrop

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> That's a very good idea but my report on this is due tomorrow (so I don't
> have time to go to RS now, they will be closing soon for the day anyway)
so
> I think I will just have to say that I had it working and that presently
it
> is receiving nothing but it may be due to WWVB itself.

Why not bring it to the top of a hill to see if that helps?  Also make sure
the antenna is oriented for reception from the west.  This can make a big
difference.  I have a clock that works on two parallel walls, but not the
other two that are perpendicular to those.  Of course I'm almost in the
worst location for receiving WWVB in the continental US, but you're only a
little closer than I am.


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(978) 742-9014, olinspamKILLspamembedinc.com, http://www.embedinc.com

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2001\04\19@120815 by Olin Lathrop
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> Have you tried checking the signal by going to a local Radio
> Shack store and forcing one of they WWVB based clocks into a
> hunt for signal mode?  The one I own shows current signal
> strength when forced (i.e. power cycled or toggled to auto-off
> then to auto-on) for about 2 minutes as it's trying to acquire
> signal.  Is there a RS in the valley with you?

I'm in Massachusetts, about 1,500 miles from the transmitter in Boulder.  I
know of several WWVB clocks around here that only receive the signal at
night when there is less interference.  The one in the conference room is a
good example.  If I put a new battery in it in the morning, it just sits
there all day long waiting for a signal, but by next morning its gotten a
signal and is showing the right time.


********************************************************************
Olin Lathrop, embedded systems consultant in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, .....olinKILLspamspam.....embedinc.com, http://www.embedinc.com

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2001\04\19@180748 by Sean H. Breheny

face picon face
Thanks to all who responded to my question. I turned in my project (even
though I am still not getting any signal from WWVB) and explained that the
problem could be due to WWVB itself. Scott Newell (who has a WWVB clock)
told me last night that his clock had not gotten a signal from WWVB in the
last 24 hours, either.

I would still appreciate it if anyone who has a WWVB receiver or clock
could tell me if they are getting any signal.

Actually, I am most of the way up one of the hills on the side of the
valley, so location shouldn't be an issue. I have tried rotating the
antenna around and still no signal from WWVB.

Your location shouldn't be that bad, Olin, because the coverage area
expands at night (presumably due to reduced ionization in the D layer of
the ionosphere, allowing some skip to occur off the E or F layers), and it
looks like it just barely includes Massachusetts during several hours of
the night. I don't think it has to do with reduced noise.

Thanks,

Sean

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2001\04\19@182141 by Dan Larson

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Just curious....

What kind of an antenna is used to broadcast 60Khz ?

That's a wavelength of almost 5 kilometers!, isn't it?

Dan

On Thu, 19 Apr 2001 18:07:58 -0400, Sean H. Breheny wrote:

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2001\04\19@185218 by Barry Gershenfeld

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At 05:17 PM 4/19/01 -0600, you wrote:
>Just curious....
>What kind of an antenna is used to broadcast 60Khz ?
>That's a wavelength of almost 5 kilometers!, isn't it?
>Dan

I went to Yahoo!, typed "WWVB" and clicked the first
thing that came up (NIST) and there I was looking at
a picture of the antennas.  Down below in the text
it describes them.

BTW I see in the notes that they are operating at
reduced power (only 37 kW :) but I guess that
would lose you guys in the fringe areas.

Barry

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2001\04\19@190456 by Sean H. Breheny

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Hi Dan,

Their antenna (which is quite large and consists of a radiating downlead
attached to a capacitive hat, all suspended by four non-radiating towers)
is much shorter than even a quarter wave, but they have a very complex
matching system which changes automatically to provide the optimum match
under varying conditions (essentially an automatic antenna tuner). Even so,
they only get about 50% efficiency (from transmitter to radiated power,
IIRC). They actually have two such antenna systems, one oriented to radiate
in two directions, the other in an orthogonal direction, so they overall
get an omnidirectional pattern.

My receiving antenna is only a 10cm long ferrite rod with 122 turns of wire
on it. I was pretty amazed to see that pick up a fairly strong signal from
Colorado (especially since, as an amateur radio operator, I'm used to
resonant dipole antennas).

Sean


At 05:17 PM 4/19/01 -0600, Dan Larson wrote:
>Just curious....
>
>What kind of an antenna is used to broadcast 60Khz ?
>
>That's a wavelength of almost 5 kilometers!, isn't it?
>
>Dan

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2001\04\19@190511 by Sean H. Breheny

face picon face
Hi Barry,

Yeah, but they have been operating at 37 kW for a while now, and I was able
to receive them in Pennsylvania a few days ago (getting a clear signal) and
now, only 100 miles away, I get nothing, so it may be something on my end,
but I doubt that it has to do with the reduced power.

Sean

At 03:45 PM 4/19/01 -0700, you wrote:
>BTW I see in the notes that they are operating at
>reduced power (only 37 kW :) but I guess that
>would lose you guys in the fringe areas.
>
>Barry
>
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2001\04\19@191541 by Barry Gershenfeld

picon face
>Hi Barry,
>
>Yeah, but they have been operating at 37 kW for a while now, and I was able
>to receive them in Pennsylvania a few days ago (getting a clear signal) and
>now, only 100 miles away, I get nothing, so it may be something on my end,
>but I doubt that it has to do with the reduced power.
>
>Sean

To that end I was wondering to what extent you can look at
the recieved signal (speaker, signal strength meter, oscilloscope)
since there might be a big 60 KHz signal sitting on that
frequency (being radiated from something in the house, for
example).

I also thought about building an oscillator (or finding it
on a signal generator somewhwere) to test the receiver.  I
said as much in another message but it somehow got put through
the sever's command interpreter and chewed to bits so it may
not show up on the list.

Barry

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2001\04\19@195342 by Sean H. Breheny

face picon face
Hi Barry,

I guess I didn't explain enough about my receiver. I just built it myself
(it is a bunch of components on a breadboard) and right now all it does is
give audio output, so I have it going to a speaker. All I hear is static
right now(with a few really weak steady carriers in the background,
presumably from monitors and computers in the surrounding area). Before, I
could hear about the same amount of static, but with a strong WWVB signal
on top of it (very distinctive since it is modulated at a 1Hz rate with PWM).

I don't really need to build an oscillator to test it because my computer
monitor is a nice source of 60kHz emissions :-) Just turning my monitor on
causes so much output from the receiver that the output stage clips (I get
a square wave out). I can also tell that the circuit works because the
noise in the output goes way down when the antenna is disconnected, and the
noise peaks as you tune the local oscillator past 60kHz.

The receiver consists of a ferrite rod type antenna with a capacitor in
parallel to create an LC tank circuit for 60kHz. The output of this goes
into an RF amp based on a PN2222 transistor (gives about a gain of 200),
and then into a very simple mixer (just another PN2222) driven by a 555
acting as a local oscillator (I also have a frequency counter hooked up to
allow me to tune it exactly). The mixer output goes to a sharp active
bandpass filter (gain of 100 and 50Hz bandwidth at 1.18kHz, meaning that I
receive 60kHz at either 58.82 kHz local oscillator or 61.18kHz LO), which
is then followed by just an audio gain stage (gain=150). This is then fed
into a pair of cheap computer speakers.

Originally, I was going to feed this into an ADC and then use a
microcontroller (AVR, shhhh! don't tell anyone ;-) to decode it and display
the time on an LCD, but since I haven't had a signal for a while, I
scrapped that idea and just implemented a simulation of the decoder in MATLAB.

Sean



At 04:08 PM 4/19/01 -0700, you wrote:
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2001\04\19@214226 by William Jacobs

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Sean,
   Last night I listened to WWVB on 60 Khz.  It was there, but week compared to
when they did not have the antenna problem.  I also have a clock, but it is still
working.  It may be "close " and not correcting it self however, it did do the
DST correction.

bill .

Sean H. Breheny wrote:

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2001\04\20@035323 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Just curious....
>
>What kind of an antenna is used to broadcast 60Khz ?
>
>That's a wavelength of almost 5 kilometers!, isn't it?
>
>Dan

I remember seeing an article on an antenna for working at 21kHz. It was
about 5 miles long, and they decided to lay it across the ice in Antarctica.
I cannot remember what it was being used for, it may have been research into
radio waves received from deep space or something similar, but I remember
thinking at the time that ice was probably as good an insulation material
they were going to find to support it without heaps of lamp post type poles
for miles.


There is also a time standard transmitter at Rugby in the UK. I am pretty
sure it also works at 60kHz. You can see an aerial farm when driving up the
M1 motorway (freeway to you Americans) that looks very similar to what has
already been described. I believe there is another similar transmitter in
Europe, I think Germany.

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2001\04\20@042037 by Peter L. Peres

picon face
> Their antenna (which is quite large and consists of a radiating
> downlead attached to a capacitive hat, all suspended by four
> non-radiating towers) is much shorter than even a quarter wave, but
> they have a very complex matching system which changes automatically
> to provide the optimum match

Why can't they use four 2.5km segments of power line in a cross ? The
voltage at the ends when resonating would be obscene but power lines are
built to 500kV and more.

Peter

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2001\04\20@042044 by Peter L. Peres

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>and it looks like it just barely includes Massachusetts during several
>hours of the night. I don't think it has to do with reduced noise.

Don't the Canadians have some sort of clock signal broadcast you could use
instead in Massachusetts ? I think someone had a HF broadcast clock source
at 5, 10, and 15MHz. This may be easier to receive than 60kHz.

Peter

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2001\04\20@090732 by Olin Lathrop

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> What kind of an antenna is used to broadcast 60Khz ?
>
> That's a wavelength of almost 5 kilometers!, isn't it?

5 megameters actually.

Does WWVB really use 60Hz?  I thought it was higher than that.  60Hz sounds
like asking for trouble because of the strong signal from the power grid.


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Olin Lathrop, embedded systems consultant in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, TakeThisOuTolinEraseMEspamspam_OUTembedinc.com, http://www.embedinc.com

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2001\04\20@091746 by Sean H. Breheny

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Hi Olin,

It's 60 kHz, not 60Hz.

I also just realized that I made an error in my description of the
antennas: they are both apparently omnidirectional, so I guess the purpose
of having two is for redundancy? I'm not sure and the web site doesn't
really explain other than to say that the combination of two antennas was
more efficient than just one. Perhaps, but for 65% instead of 50%
efficiency, considering the size of these antennas, I'm surprised it wasn't
more economical to just transmit more power.

Sean

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2001\04\20@091751 by Mg

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> Does WWVB really use 60Hz?  I thought it was higher than that.  60Hz
sounds
> like asking for trouble because of the strong signal from the power grid.

Carrier frequency used is 60kHz. From what I read from the webpage data is
sent at 1bit / sec.. Is this correct?

-Mg

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2001\04\20@093005 by Thomas C. Sefranek

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Olin Lathrop wrote:

> > What kind of an antenna is used to broadcast 60Khz ?
> >
> > That's a wavelength of almost 5 kilometers!, isn't it?
>
> 5 megameters actually.
>
> Does WWVB really use 60Hz?

KILLO Hertz, a feww orders of magnitude.

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2001\04\20@095258 by Olin Lathrop

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> Don't the Canadians have some sort of clock signal broadcast you could use
> instead in Massachusetts ? I think someone had a HF broadcast clock source
> at 5, 10, and 15MHz. This may be easier to receive than 60kHz.

The canadian station I know of is called CHU.  The shortwave CHU signal is a
bit stronger around here than the shortwave WWV signal.  I don't know if the
Canadians have an equivalent of the low frequency WWVB.

However, the automatic clock devices I've seen for sale and the ones I have
all use the WWVB signal.  The ones I have don't provide any choices, but
fortunately do seem to pick up the signal at night.


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2001\04\22@011903 by Chris Cox

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Have been watching these WWVB notes about the 60Khz freq. I believe the
Navy talks to subs with a much lower freq and are supposed to have a
cple antennas(east and west) that are buried in mountainsides. All
highly classified of course... We were talking about this back in the
70's and somebody joked that the frequency was so low they resonated the
Earth.

"Thomas C. Sefranek" wrote:
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