2019 NIST Budget Includes WWV/WWVH/WWVB Shutdown

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Alfredo_T 1 week, 4 days ago.

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  • #39484

    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    Next year’s proposed budget includes a shutdown of all the time and frequency radio stations operated by NIST. This includes WWVB at 60 kHz, which is commonly used to set “atomic” or “radio controlled” consumer clocks. See https://swling.com/blog/2018/08/information-from-the-nist-regarding-possible-closure-wwv-radio-stations/

    #39485

    lastday
    Participant

    #39495

    nosignalallnoise
    Participant

    That’ll come back to bite them hard in the ass.

    They could probably get by fine with shutting down 2.5 and 20 (I mean, really, who can even receive those well enough to be useful? waste of electricity, actually) and mmmmmaybe 10, leaving only 5 and 15 up.

    WWVB’s another monster entirely. Too much equipment and too many systems in place that rely on it and there’s not a redundant system in place. Not everything can get time from GPS or the local MTSO. MSF/NPL might hit the east coast on a good night but probably not out here.

    Either way, they’re pretty fucked.

    #39499

    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    In France, the opposite situation occurred with the France Inter longwave broadcasts on 162 kHz. That station once served a dual purpose. It broadcast an AM program for the general public and a time code via phase modulation. The time code was and still is used by devices in a variety of public facilities, such as railroads, electrical distribution, airports, etc. Some years ago, the decision was made to discontinue the AM broadcast for cost savings purposes. Thus, 162 kHz is still on the air, but to a normal consumer longwave radio, it sounds as though dead air is being transmitted.

    Of all the WWV frequencies, 10 MHz is my favorite, and 2.5 is my second favorite. I can receive 10 MHz most of the time, and I have a homebrew frequency counter with a 10 MHz timebase. It is very easy to zero-beat to WWV on 10 MHz. (Incidentally, 10 MHz is the standard reference frequency for commercial laboratory instruments, but in the corporate world, adjustments to such equipment is virtually always made at manufacturers’ service centers using their own traceable standards, not WWV’s carrier.) 2.5 MHz is covered by my Rycom selective level meter, so I can simply tune to that frequency to verify that the unit’s frequency counter frequency is accurate. I agree about 20 MHz; these days, it’s not very easy to receive, and even 15 MHz can be sporadic.

    The biggest shock to me was that 60 kHz would be eliminated because that is the frequency most used by consumer devices, by virtue of all the automatically-setting clocks that are out there. The HF broadcasts are mostly useful to radio/electronics hobbyists, amateur radio operators, and military radio operators.

    #40653

    nosignalallnoise
    Participant

    WWV/WWVH are still on the air. I don’t know if it’s because of enough public outcry that they struck the shutdown provision from the act or if they’re just living on borrowed time (heh) since nobody’s there to flip the switch because of the gummit shutdown.

    #40654

    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    I have been wondering, what the shutdown date for the NIST stations would be if they made the decision to turn them off this budget year.

    #40655

    mwdxer1
    Participant

    This is really unfortunate. I have two atomic clocks. I just do not think this will work. Too much complaints to say the least.

    #40664

    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    I liked the NIST stations, but I am not holding out too much hope. In France, there is an entire public infrastructure that depends on longwave broadcast of time codes. In the U.S., I am not aware of a similar system that uses WWVB. I don’t think that most of the owners of radio-controlled clocks understand that the signal that sets the time could be going off the air. When the clocks are unable to maintain accurate time, most users will probably think that they are broken.

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