Capella: Reloj en El Cielo

Distancia Lunar la Luna & Capella

El 23 de julio no pude dormir, algo me dijo que me levantara. Salí al balcón, el cielo estaba despejado y todas las luces de los apartamentos cercanos estaban apagadas.

La luna no estaba del todo llena, pero era absolutamente hermosa a unos 128 grados. Entonces, de repente, lo vi solo. Al principio pensé que era un planeta, pero al revisar la tabla de estrellas era Capella.

Pude medir la distancia angular entre Capella y la extremidad cercana de la Luna:

Distancia lunar observada = 75deg 8min

Corrección para SD e IE:

Distancia Lunar_app = 75deg 8min + 15min + 2min = 75deg 25min

Yo también medi la altitud de la Luna y la Capella antes y después de la distancia lunar. Luego interpolé por el tiempo LD.

Ha_moon = 31deg 11.3min

Ho_moon = 31deg 56.4min

Ref = 1.5min, PA = 46.6min

Ha_capella = 19deg 7.5min

Ho_capella = 19deg 4.8min

Ref = 2.7min

Usando la Fórmula Dunthorne, yo inserte el Ha, Ho para la Luna y la Capella y obtuve la Distancia Lunar Geocéntrica en el tiempo de medición.

LD_geo = 75.25597deg

Asume que el tiempo está en algún lugar entre 0700GMT y 0800GMT. Yo calculé el Lunar Distance_geo como la gran distancia del círculo entre MoonGP y CapellaGP en estos dos momentos.

LD_geo@0700hrs = 75.357039deg

LD_geo@0800hrs = 74.90875deg

LD_geo@07xyhrs = 75.25597deg

Usando interpolación lineal el tiempo es:

[(0.101069/.448289)*60min]+07:00:00 = 07:13:31.6sec

El tiempo de medición real fue:


Time Error = 6.6seconds



AIS Automatic Identification System for Ships is a traffic system that uses VHF transponders on vessels to periodically send out location information. It was developed by Swedish inventor Hakan Lans and is similar in concept to the ADS-B transponder system used on aircraft for position reporting.

AIS uses two VHF marine channels 87B (161.975 MHz) and 88B (162.025 MHz). Transmission is by 9.6Kbps GMFSK modulation using HDLC packet protocol. VHF channel access is by SOTDMA Self Organized Time Division Multiplexing. AIS uses navigational information from external on board GPS, Inertial Navigation and Ship Control systems. AIS has several different classes of equipment such as Class A, Class B, Base Station and Aids to Navigation. Depending on the Class, different types of information are transmitted when the ship is in port, or underway.


AIS can be decoded using very simple equipment. An RTL-SDR receiver as described in an earlier post can be used together with a simple vertical whip antenna installed outdoors with line of sight to the shipping of interest. Packet decoding can be done by programs like Multipsk, a popular amateur radio program developed by Patrick Lindecker F6CTE.

RTL-SDR Receiver
Multipsk AIS Decoder F6CTE
AIS MMSI 316030796
Marine VHF AIS Antenna


#1 – “Automatic Identification System”, Wikipedia

#2 – “All About AIS”, Created by IMO/IEC Experts

#3 – “RTL-SDR Receiver”, NooElec-NESDR

#4 – “MULTIPSK” Digital Mode Decoder by Patrick Lindecker F6CTE

Lunar Distance As Seen In Toronto

Lunar Distance Moon – Jupiter July 15th_2019_02:07:00GMT

Sunday July 14th was an excellent evening to measure a Lunar. The sky was perfectly clear and the Moon and Jupiter were clearly visible from my apartment balcony. This is generally not the case as there has been so much local construction in recent years.

The distance measured from the Moon_NearLimb to the centre of Jupiter = 16deg 1min

Sextant Index Error = 2min off

MoonHP = 55.7min

Calculation of Moon Semi Diameter at Earth’s Surface

Moon Semi Diameter + Augmentation = 15.3min

Lunar Distance_apparent = 16deg 1min + 2min (IE) + 15.3min (SDs) = 16deg 18.3min

MoonGP: GHA = 52deg 40.7min DEC = 21deg 57.6minS

JupiterGP: GHA = 69deg 55.4min DEC = 22deg 10.5minS

Calculation of Geo Centric Lunar Distance

Geo Centric Lunar Distance = 15deg 58.5min

Moon – Toronto/Hc/Az

Hc_moon = 19deg 54 min (Seen in Toronto)

Az_moon = 153deg 40.2min

Jupiter – Toronto/Hc/Az

Hc_jupiter = 23deg 32.6min (Seen in Toronto)

Az_jupiter = 170deg 25.5min

Ha_moon = Hc_moon + R – PA

Ha_moon = 19deg 54min + 2.7min – 52.6min = 19deg 4.1min

Ha_jupiter = Hc_jupiter + R = 23deg 32.6min + 2.2min = 23deg 34.8min

Lunar Distance_apparent

Lunar Distance_apparent_calculated = 16deg 14min

Lunar Distance_apparent_measured = 16deg 18.3min

Error = 4.3min

Intercept en la Playa del Condado Puerto Rico

Miré hacia el Caribe desde la playa del Condado, imaginé que Ponce de León estaba parado en el mismo lugar, midiendo el ángulo del sol con su astrolabio.

Ponce de León conocía su posición exacta porque le preguntó al Taíno Cacique Agueybaná dónde se encontraban exactamente en la galaxia. Así pudo calcular su intercepción.

Tomé una medida y los parámetros fueron:

El Tiempo = 16 de marzo de 2019 11:53:15GMT

Hs = 18grd 10.5′ ( Miem. Inf.)

Alt de Ojo = 2m

Error de Sextante = +4′

Ha = Hs +/-EdeS – Incl = 18grd 10.5′ + 4′ – 2.5′ = 18grd 12′

Ho = Ha – R + SD = 18grd 12′ – 2.9′ + 16.1′ = 18grd 25.2′

Intercept = Ho – Hc = 18grd 25.2′ – 18grd 23.4′ = 1.8′ = 1.8Nm

El Almanaque Náutico Sábado 16 de Marzo de 2019.

Playa del Condado de Tierra Google
Triángulo Náutico

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Recientemente visité el Castillo San Felipe en San Juan Puerto Rico. Nunca he visto una fortificación tan enorme e impenetrable como esta. Me imaginé que era un soldado español en el siglo XVI y que el pirata Drake apareció alrededor de la Punta Escabron. Tomé el rumbo de la brújula y disparé el cañón, ajustándome al rango.

San Juan
San Felipe – Punta Escabron
Brújula Global

Dirac Delta Function – δ(t)


The unit impulse or Dirac Delta function δ(t) is an essential building block of modern telecommunications, similar in importance to the FFT that was examined in the previous post. The function came about as a result of research done by the British Physicist Paul Dirac on the modelling of a point charge (Ref.1). It is actually a so called distribution or a generalized function, and its properties can be examined in the limiting sense (Ref.2 p45). These can be visualized very effectively using telecom software such as Scicos or GNU Radio.


The essential properties can be summarized by the following equations shown in Figure 1. The unit impulse is zero everywhere except at the origin where it has an infinite amplitude with an infinitely small duration such that the area remains 1. The Fourier Transform yields an infinite spectrum with unit value. In the real world this means that a very fast pulse, similar to a radar pulse, has a very wide flat spectrum.

Figure 1 Properties of Unit Impulse

Limiting Behaviour

The unit impulse or Dirac Delta function δ(t) can be modeled by considering the Fourier Series of a Rectangular Pulse Train as shown in Figure 2. The unit impulse is the pulse train with an amplitude A = [1/duration] so that the area = A x duration = 1 and with T —> infinity & duration —> zero.

Figure 2 Fourier Series Expansion of Rectangular Pulse Train

Scicos Model Rectangular Pulse Train

Figure 3 shows a Scicos model that can be used to examine the unit impulse. We start off with an RPT Rectangular Pulse Train waveform of duration = 10msec and period of 100msec. Since this is a periodic waveform, it has Fourier components that are spaced by 1/period = 10Hz and spectral nulls at 1/pulse_width = 1/10msec = 100Hz. This is shown in Figure 4. If we now decrease the pulse width to 5%, the null moves out to 200Hz, and the components are still spaced by 10Hz. This is shown in Figure 5. In Figure 6, we increase the period to 200msec. Now the components are only spaced by 5Hz. This is shown in Figure 6.

The Unit Impulse is the RPT where the period goes to infinity, thus making the spacing between components infinitely small or a continuous spectrum. The amplitude goes to infinity and the duration goes to zero keeping the area =1. Since the duration goes to zero, the spectral null moves out to infinity. Thus we have the Fourier transform in the limit.

Figure 3 Scicos Model of RPT Rectangular Pulse Train
Figure 4 RPT d=10%=10msec/T=100msec
Figure 5 RPT d=5%=5msec/T=100msec
Figure 6 RPT d=10%=20msec/T=200msec


#1 – “Dirac Delta Function”, Wikipedia

#2 – “Communication Systems: An Introduction to Signals and Noise in Electrical Communication”, A. Bruce Carlson, McGraw-Hill, 1968, Library of Congress 68-2276109955

FFT – A Telecommunications Revolution

The FFT or Fast Fourier Transform was described by Cooley & Tukey in their 1965 paper “An Algorithm For The Machine Calculation of Complex Fourier Series” (Ref.1). The method has earlier roots in the works of Carl Gauss and others (Ref.2). The purpose of the FFT is to reduce the calculation complexity of the DFT or Discrete Fourier Transform.

On a practical level, I remember my first exposure to a Spectrum Analyzer in 1976 was the venerable HP141T. This was an amazing instrument that had various plug-ins depending on the band of interest. Only experienced senior engineers were allowed to use it. It had two hefty handles on the front and had a special carrying case that weighed a ton when loaded. Fast forward to 2018 and I now use lightweight portable usb powered instruments that plug into my laptop. All of this is due to the digital revolution and in particular the FFT that makes all of this possible.

HP141T Spectrum Analyzer
USB Portable Spectrum Analyzers


#1. “An Algorithm For The Machine Calculation of Complex Fourier Series”, James W. Cooley, John W. Tukey, Journal Mathematics of Computation #19, 1965.

#2. “Fast Fourier Transform”, Wikipedia

Golden Globe Race 2018 – 50 Year Anniversary


The Golden Globe Race 2018 commemorates the original Sunday Times Golden Globe 1968, a non-stop, single handed round the world yacht race.  It was won by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in Suhaili. Nine contestants entered and only Knox-Johnston finished. Bernard Moitessier decided not to finish but go around the world for a second time! (Ref.1). Several fascinating movies were made about this race, one of them being “Deep Water” (Ref.2). This year’s Golden Globe celebrates the technology current around 1968. Contestants have to follow strict guidelines on boat design < 1988 and ensure all devices and instruments are of the 1968 period (Ref.3). Eighteen skippers started the race at Les Sables-d’Olonne in France on July 1st, and now eight remain, presently rounding New Zealand.

Celestial Navigation for Position Determination

In 1968 GPS was still on the drawing board. Electronic navigation systems were expensive and complicated. They consisted of using RDF radio direction finding or hyperbolic coastal navigation systems such as Decca and Loran. For most sailors, the sextant was an indispensable tool. According to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s book “A World of My Own” (Ref. 6) on November 18th: “At midday I set sail again to clear Solander Island, as we had drifted slowly down onto it during the morning”. Let’s work out the basics of what a meridian passage sextant sighting would have looked like for Sir Robin on this date. Figure 1 shows the location of Solander Island on the southern tip of New Zealand as seen from Google Earth.

Figure 1 Google Earth View of Solander Island on Southern Tip New Zealand

Reading off Google Earth or an appropriate chart, we determine the coordinates of the southern tip of Solander Island:

Latitude = 46deg 35′ South

Longitude = 166deg 54′ East

We can use modern software to regenerate the Nautical Almanac page for November 18th_1968 (Ref.4) which is shown in Figure 2. We can double check these values with the Nautical Almanac for The Year 1968 (Ref.5) which is available on line. Let’s figure out the sextant angle Hs measured for a meridian passage on this date and for this location. Knowing that the sun travels 15 degrees every hour, we can determine the time difference between Solander Island and Greenwich = 11hrs 7.6minutes [[166+(54/60)]/15 = 11.126667].

Figure 2 Regenerated Nautical Almanac Nov 18th_1968

From Figure 2 we can determine the GMT when the Sun GHA is directly on Suhaili’s meridian of 166deg 54’East or GHA = 360deg – 166deg 54′ = 193deg 6′. At 0hrs GMT the GHA is approx 184deg and at 0100hrs GMT the GHA is approximately 199deg. Interpolation for 193deg 6′ gives GMT = 0hrs 37minutes 33secs [[(9+23/60)/(14+59.8/60)]*60]. The Sun DEC at this time is 19deg 12′ S.

Figure 3 Oblique Spherical Triangle

Now we are in a position to calculate the sextant angle. Figure 3 shows the oblique spherical triangle formed by the position of the observer on Suhaili, the Sun GP and the North Pole at meridian passage. The Zenith Distance Zd = 90deg – Ho. The Zenith Distance is also equal to the arc distance between the Sun GP and the observer latitude since they are directly on the meridian.

Zd = 46deg 35′ – 19deg 12′ = 27deg 23′.

Ho = 90deg – 27deg 23′ = 62deg 37′.

Let’s assume Sir Robin took lower limb sightings, his height of eye above the water was 3m and his Plath sextant had no errors. We can convert our calculated Ho–>Ha–>Hs with the following equations:

Ho = Ha – R + PA +/- SD

Ha = Hs +/- Index Error – Dip

R = Refraction = 0.0167/tan(Ha+7.32/(Ha+4.32)) deg at 10degC/1010mb = 0.5′

Dip = 1.76xsqrt(Heye_m) = 1.76xsqrt(3) = 3′

SD = 16.2′ from Nautical Almanac page Nov 18th_1968

Ha = Ho + 0.5′ – 16.2′ = 62deg 37′ + 0.5′ – 16.2′ = 62deg 21.3′

Hs = Ha + Dip = 62deg 21.3′ + 3′ = 62deg 24.3′


#1 – “Sunday Times Golden Globe Race”

#2 – “Deep Water”

#3 – “GGR Golden Globe Race 1968 Website”

#4 – “The PyAlmanac”, Python Script to Write Nautical Almanac Using PyEphem, Python2.7, TeXLaTeX

#5 – “The Nautical Almanac for The Year 1968”, US Naval Observatory & UK HMSO, Google Digitized Books, University of California Library;view=1up;seq=1

#6 – “A World of My Own: The first ever non-stop solo round the world voyage”, Robin Knox-Johnston, ISBN: 978-0713668995

GNU Radio ATSC_8VSB Transmitter Simulation

Figure 1 CBLFT UHF CH25

In the previous post, I discussed using Splat! to predict the receive level of an RF signal. In particular I considered CBLFT UHF CH25 as received from the CN Tower as shown above in Figure 1. In order to study ATSC_8VSB which is the DTV standard used in North America, GNU Radio can be used to actually simulate a transmitter and receiver.

Figure 2 ATSC DTV Standard Signal Flow

Figure 2 shows the block diagram of ATSC_8VSB from Ref.1. Video information is compressed by an MPEG-2 video coder and audio is compressed by a Dolby AC-3 coder. These two streams are mixed with Auxiliary & Control data to form a MPEG-2 transport stream of packets. These packets undergo Channel Coding and 8VSB Modulation with modules as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 ATSC Channel Coding & Modulation Modules

Figure 4 shows a GNU Radio simulation of ATSC_8VSB transmission. An MPEG-2 video file is read into the simulation and processed by the channel coding blocks. The signal is then 8VSB modulated to UHF CH25 and the spectrum displayed.

Figure 4 UHF CH25 ATSC_8VSB Simulation with Video & Spectrum


#1 – “A/53 ATSC Digital Television Standard Parts 1 – 6, 2007

#2 – “GNU Radio 3.7.0 Documentation – gnuradio.atsc Signal Blocks”

Splat! RF Signal Propagation, Loss and Terrain Analysis Tool

About Splat!

Splat! is an RF Signal Propagation, Loss, And Terrain analysis tool for the electromagnetic spectrum between 20 MHz and 20 GHz. Splat! software is Copyright © 1997-2018 by John Magliacane KD2BD. Ref.1.

Splat! is free software. It may be redistributed and/or modified under the terms of the GNU General Public License Version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation.

*Terrestrial signal propagation & terrain analysis tool
*Frequency range 20MHz – 20GHz (VHF, UHF, Microwave)
*Antenna height determination
*Fresnel Zone clearance requirements
*Path Loss
*Received signal level
*Longley-Rice or ITM Irregular Terrain Model
*Signal level contour maps for coverage
*Originally developed for 1997 for College ATV repeater
*Longley Rice developed for TV propagation study


Propagation > 30MHz works by various mechanisms: Line of Sight LOS, diffraction over the horizon, atmospheric refraction and atmospheric scatter.

Linux Installation

Download and install Ubuntu 18.04.1 natively or on VMware Workstation Player 14 (Virtual Machine on Windows). Once Ubuntu is installed, ensure everything is updated. The Linux version of Splat is a command line interface Ref.1, documentation is available Ref.2.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install splat

Windows Installation

Download and install Splat with Windows GUI – Beta v1.1.2 from Austin Wright’s web site Ref.3. Don’t install in the C:/Program Files directory, install directly in C:/SPLAT. Note that the Windows version of Splat has a visual interface.

Elevation Data Format

Splat! requires DEM Digital Elevation Data in order to perform the various propagation calculations. The data must be in the form of SDF Splat Data Files .sdf. The digital elevation data may be in several formats depending on the source:

*GeoTIFF (.tif)
*USGS DEM (.dem)
*Floating Point Raster File (.flt)
*ASCII Grid (.txt)
*Comma Separated Values (.csv or .txt)
*SRTM (.hgt)

Splat! has several utilities to convert .dem and .hgt files to the native Splat! .sdf format. If the data is not in this format, there are several Open Source programs that can be used to convert the data to .dem/.hgt such as GDAL Ref.4 & QGIS Ref.5.

Canadian DEM Files

Figure 1

Canadian DEM files are available from Open Canada Data Ref.6. Figure 1 shows an index for Canadian DEM files. They are 1:250,000 scale in GeoTIFF format. They are based on NAD 83, resolution 0.75arc_sec in N-S, 0.75-3arc_sec in W-E.

US DEM Files

DEM files in the US are available from NED National Elevation Data Set Ref.7. The data set is a raster product with seamless matching. The following resolutions are possible:

*1/3arc_sec (10m) for US & Alaska
*1arc_sec (30m) for US, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico
*NAD83 and 1m elevation unit

Earlier DEM files with various formats are available from Earth Explorer Ref.8. Note that 1 minute of arc is defined as 1 Nautical Mile:

*1 minute arc = 1 Nautical Mile = 1852m
*1 second of arc = 1852/60 = 30.87m or approx. 31m

In order to download SRTM data from USGS, which is immediately useful for Splat!, you need to register and setup an account. Once you submit the details a confirmation email will be sent to you. Figure 2 shows Earth Explorer giving details of SRTM data around Toronto. A search box was created around the Toronto area and data type of digital elevation/srtm used.

Figure 2

Splat! Data Utilities

Splat! requires DEM data in the native Splat! Data Format .sdf. There are two utilities that can be used to convert SRTM .hgt format to the .sdf format.

srtm2sdf.exe         converts 3arc_sec .hgt files to .sdf
srtm2sdf-hd.exe   converts 1arc_sec .hgt files to .sdf

Newer SRTM data from Earth Explorer is now in GeoTIFF format, so another intermediate Utility GDAL is required to convert the GeoTIFF .tif to .hgt first.

Splat! QTH Files

In order to study the propagation between two locations in the VHF, UHF and Microwave frequency bands, we have to consider the influence of terrain between the transmitter and the receiver. To do this, we first need to know the location and height of the Tx/Rx antennas. In Splat! we do this by creating QTH files. Care must be taken entering Latitude and Longitude. Antenna height is specified in feet (default) or in meters if ‘meters’ is added. Note Longitude entry is opposite to Google Earth.

*Latitude    = + (0/90)deg for North Latitude
*Latitude    = – (0/90)deg for South Latitude
*Longitude = + (0/360)deg for West Latitude
*Longitude = – (0/360)deg for East Longitude

Figure 3

Figure 3 shows a QTH file for the CBLFT transmitter located in the CN Tower Toronto. A similar file is constructed for the receive location VE3PKC.

Figure 4

Figure 4 shows the path 7.56Km between the CBLFT UHF CH25 transmitter located in the CN Tower to the VE3PKC location. The figure shows the terrain immediately under the path, antenna heights and 100% 1st Fresnel zone clearance. The Fresnel Zone Ref.9 is an ellipsoid of revolution about the direct line joining the Tx/Rx antennas. For good signal strength, this regions should be at least 60% free of any obstacles. The nth Fresnel zone is defined as the locus of points in space such that the two segment path reflection off the surface is (n/2) x wavelength longer than the direct path. This results in wave cancellation when the two waves add.

Propagation Calculation CBLFT to VE3PKC

We can use the Friis formula Ref. 10 to estimate the receive signal level of CBC French TV station CBLFT transmitting from the CN Tower to the VE3PKC location. Figure 5 shows the results.

ERP = 106.2KW ERP (Tx Power + Tx Ant Gain)
Rx = Receive Signal Power in dBm
Tx = Transmit Power in dBm = +80.26dbm
Gtx, Grx = Antenna Gains in dBi = +2.2dB
Lrx = Receive transmission Line Loss dB = 2.6dB
FSPL = Free Space Path Loss = 32.44 + 20log10(d_Km) + 20log10(f_MHz) = 104.6dB
Rx = Tx + Gtx -FSPL -Lrx + Grx = -22.5dBm

Figure 5

Assuming an ERP of 106.2KW (EIRP = +2.2dB), the receive power at VE3PKC is -22.5dBm with a receive antenna gain of 2.2dBi & receiver feeder loss of 2.6dB (half wave dipole cut 536.6MHz). Figure 6 shows a 6MHz receive channel power of -35.8dBm. This corresponds to an extra 13.3dB of attenuation. Several factors have to be considered here. The full antenna EIRP may not be directed at the VE3PKC location and thirdly, although no objects are in the Fresnel zone under the path, we can see that the signal path goes through a tunnel of buildings either side of the path, which may be in the Fresnel zone(s).

Figure 6

Splat! Propagation Calculation CBLFT to VE3PKC

We can use Splat! to calculate the propagation loss also taking into account any Fresnel zone loses. In order to do this we need to create an .lrp file for the CN Tower transmitter location. Figure 7 shows the entry menu. The Splat! manual Ref.2/p3 can be used to help filling in these values. Transmitter power ERP is the last field.

Figure 7

The Splat! results are the same as the Friis calculations. Free space attenuation is 104.6dB and receive power is -22.1dBm before Rx antenna gain or feeder loss giving -22.5dBm at the receiver input after antenna/feeder.

Figure 8


#1 – Splat Home Page

#2 – Splat Documentation

#3 – Splat with Windows GUI Version – Beta 1.1.2, Austin Wright

#4 – GDAL Geospatial Data Abstraction Layer

#5 – QGIS Open Source Geographic Information System

#6 – Canadian Elevation Data

#7 – NED National Elevation Data Set

#8 – Earth Explorer

#9 – Fresnel Zone

#10 – Friis Transmission Equation

#11 – “Splat!: An RF Signal Propagation, Loss and Terrain Analysis Tool”, John A. Magliacane KD2BD, Bill Walker W5GFE, QEX Magazine, July/August 2009