The 6 Meter beacon is
currently: ONLINE as of 9 July
The 2 Meter beacon is currently: ONLINE
The 70 cm beacon is currently: ONLINE
Note: If you hear the 6 meter beacon, please report it by clicking here -
Click here if you hear the 2 meter beacon -
The WA7X Beacons are operated in accordance with FCC Part §97.203. The 6 meter beacon operates on a nominal carrier frequency of 50.0700 MHz, the 2 meter beacon operates on 144.2990 MHz, and the 70cm beacon operates on 432.3990 MHz. The purpose of these beacons is to facilitate receiver and antenna system testing, propagation observation, and to discern band openings as they occur.
The 6 and 2 meter beacons and the 70cm beacon operates at the "100
watt power level only
during the following parts of the message:
About the beacon itself:
6 and 2 meter beacons:
The 2 and 6 meter beacons are based on GE Master Exec II VHF transceivers, each with a 110 watt P.A. The receivers were removed (as they were not needed in this project) and the transmitters were re-crystalled and retuned for their respective frequencies.
The transmitters were modified and extra circuitry was added to allow more precise and repeatable power control. Additionally, a microprocessor-based controller was added to select the beacons' output power and generate the CW message keying.
6 and 2 meter beacon antennas:
The 6 meter beacon uses a simple vertical J-pole while the 2 meter beacon is currently being tested with an experimental cycloid dipole. This antenna exhibits an omnidirectional pattern with Left-Hand Circular Polarization (LHCP). A 6 meter cycloid dipole is under construction - but it won't be until spring (at the earliest) before it can be installed.
In late May, 2011 the 6 meter beacon went offline. Upon
investigation, it was noted that two problems had occurred - but it's
unknown exactly which problem occurred first:
For more information on the antennas, transmitter, and beacon controller, go to the Beacon Technical Page .
A 70cm beacon:
As of 11/25/2006, the 70cm beacon was returned to the air using a
permanant transmitter configuration. After operating for quite a
using an Icom all-mode 70cm radio pressed into service as the beacon
transmitter, a UHF GE Mastr Exec II with a 75 watt final was obtained,
modified for beacon operation, and put into service.
The modifications made to the GE radio are very similar to those
done to the 6 and 2 meter beacon transmitters, in that a "Servo" power
control loop was installed to allow controlled power settings over a 20
dB range. Presently, the RF output power of the beacon is set to
5.5, and 0.55 watts for the "100," "10," and "1 watt" settings,
The beacon text format:
The text of the beacon message is as follows:
VVV VVV VVV WA7X WA7X WA7X DM49HO DM49HO EIRP 100W <5 sec. cxr at 100 watts> 10W <5 sec. cxr at 10 watts> 1W <5 sec. cxr at 1 watt> - GO TO WA7X.COM DE WA7X/B AR
Note the 5 second "test carriers" after the the power level announcements.
As mentioned above, only the "VVV" portion, the 100
and its test carrier, and the final identification is transmitted
the full 100 watts. The rest of the message (except for the 1
watt test carrier) is transmitted at 10 watts. The older "all 100
watt" mode may be remotely reinstated by request.
A few beacon bits:
These beacons are operated from Glen's cabin (go to Glen's Cabin Cam page for more info) which is located in the mountains above Fairview, Utah at an altitude of approximately 8500 feet (about 2600 meters) on a northwest-facing slope.
On (relatively) rare occasions, the beacons may be turned off for a few hours. This may happen when the cabin is occupied and Glen (or someone else present) is operating VHF/UHF.
Note: For the moment, the 2 meter beacon will usually be turned on as the performance of the cycloid dipole is being evaluated.
Why 100 watts
for a beacon?
The 100 watt EIRP power level is well above average for a beacon. Why so much power? To be sure, if the band is open, even a 1 watt signal will be audible. For detection of auroral activity, however, a fairly high ERP (Effective Radiated Power) is required due to path loss. Most beacons intended primarily for detection of auroral activity use directional gain antennas - this allows much lower transmitter power to be run to maintain a high ERP - but these antennas may reduce the likelihood of being heard in other directions.
While it is probably a good thing that most beacons don't run this
power, it was felt that with the beacons operating in such a remote
and in a sparsely-populated part of the USA, such an ERP was
This particular remote location allows the majority of the "locals"
of them being several mountain ranges and tens of miles away) to hear
beacons - but not have it be so strong that it disrupts reception of
beacons on nearby frequencies. Furthermore, the beacons are weak
enough in the nearby population centers (e.g. Salt Lake City) that they
may still be used for detection of auroral activity. The beacons'
location offers an unobstructed view to the north - the direction in
auroral activity occurs in this hemisphere.
All reception reports are greatly appreciated - and many
to those who have sent them.
Beacons can be useful when working meteor scatter propagation as well.
N6YM (grid CM88xf, northern California) has successfully used the WA7X 2 meter beacon to assist in such operation: By monitoring the beacon frequency he was able to tell when a path existed (when the beacon was audible) and make a call on the 2 meter calling frequency and snag a Colorado station.
N6YM recorded the 2 meter beacon during an unusually long meteor "burn" on 14 October, 2001 at approximately 1551 Z. That recording may be found here in this 52kB MP3 file. Note the slight doppler shift near the beginning and end of the recording.
KJ6KO has also used the beacon to "ambush" stations on Meteor scatter - and he describes his technique (and some of the results) here.
For the 6 meter beacon: Reports of the 6 meter beacon have been received from many western Canadian provinces, all "western" states, including Texas, as well as Florida, with reports from Alaska and Japan. Additionally, the beacon has been copied throughout much of the state of Utah via "groundwave."
For the 2 meter beacon: The 2 meter beacon has been reported with good signals in the Salt Lake City area - about 75 air miles to the north and west. The beacon has also been heard in California in CM98 and CM88 via Es/Tropo as well as Meteor Scatter on several occasions.
If you wish to contact WA7X - the operator of these beacons with a question or with a reception report you may send an email to WA7X .
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