Introduction: Why measure RF Background noise at all times?
Whenever we turn on our shortwave transceiver the first thing we do is listen to noise. As we tune through the bands in SSB mode without squelch we assess the probability of possible openings by the hiss that comes out of the speaker. We get discouraged by S9+ interference, but we instinctively know when it is possible to reach Europe or Asia by the sound of the static we hear. Over the years we have also experienced that lower bands work better in the dark of winter and higher bands are a lot fun during the solar maximum. 6m openings and sporadic E are more likely to occur in the summer and are very unpredictable. We have learned that DX works best either at sunrise and sunset.
Now we have all this knowledge accumulated in our heads, but on the day we want to show off our station to an interested friend – NOTHING, not even faint CW station!
Everybody can attest to the fact that the great openings of a band always seem to happen when one has social engagements or a local interference creates unworkable conditions. Missing the one station in the Antarctic that you need to complete all continents!
The biggest problem with shortwave radio is the fact that someone needs to be almost listening 24/7 to the bands to determine if there are any workable openings! Wouldn’t it be great if we could just build a “Space Weather Station” that records local band conditions during the time we are at sleep, not home or otherwise socially engaged? This way we could better plan our listening times. The “Scanning RF-Seismograph” software even goes a step further and scans up to 6 bands at once!