For forward scatter observers the SNOTEL Meteor burst system can be a viable substitute of RF when the Canadian analog TV stations are phased out. Currently this phaseout is scheduled for sometime in 2011. The US stations have already made the jump form analog to digital.
SNOTEL, is an acronym for Snowpack Telemetry. It began operation in the 1970’s and is run by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). For complete description of the system visit the general information page at the home site at:
A quick search of the net will also bring up many hits on this system.
For our purpose we are not interested with the remote slave stations, rather we want to listen for the RF reflected from meteors from the two master stations transmitters. The stations are located near Boise, Idaho and Ogden, Utah and operate on a frequency of 40.530 MHz and run at a power of about 1,500 watts. Two types of encoding are used, a 90 degree FSK for the first ~ 10 seconds of each minute then a 30 degrees FSK for the rest of the minute.
Listen to SNOTEL signal recorded from West Kelowna during intense Es on 2009-06-23 1648 UT. During none sporadic periods expect to hear only brief pings from under dense echoes. Both SNOTEL stations put in strong echoes in southern British Columbia.
More details to come.