Review of HF propagation analysis & prediction programs
programs at a glance
programs running under DOS were developed for amateurs just after the first IBM
personal computers appear on the market. Indeed, it is in 1982 that ARRL "QST Magazine" released the first line of codes of a small program named
MINIMUF that delighted the first computer enthusiastics, not very numerous at that
Compared to our current standards, all these precursor programs look of course
well outmoded, some displaying only one parameter, MUF in text mode.
in less than ten years these programs improved much and were able to simulate
the signal and noise models up to request all parameters of a communication
circuit and to output as many parameters. If most still displayed their results
in tabular forms, some timid attempts were made to take advantage of the first
graphic EGA cards to display directly their prediction in line charts or on a
colored world map.
most lacked still of accuracy or displayed their results in low resolution; many
used for example very few functions to calculate the F-layer properties or
approximate models of critical plasma frequencies. With time the most complete
of them were converted to run on the first Windows 95 platforms and some were
even translated in Delphi 2005 with a new kernel and user interface. But time
running, some authors gave up all support or left us. So, today several programs
listed below are no more available. You will be lucky if you find a copy (all
are freeware but DXAID).
Do not hesitate to give me your feedback
with any additional information.
Programs - Non-VOACAP
monitors - Web
& Research oriented
- CAPMAN - GWPROP
- Propagation Predictor - IONSOUND HDX
HAMFTZ - PP -
MINIFTZ4 - MACROMUF - MICROMUF
in 1996 by Peter Oldfield, and updated in 2002, DXAID is today at
version 5.02. This is one among a handful propagation prediction programs using a
down-sized set of the IRI model. Its
forecasts are statistical, and like all applications based on foF2
data, they are
monthly median values.
Help file explains how to use the application and what to expect
from its predictions.
Input parameters are both home and
target location (manually entered or read from external data files),
date and time, coefficients to use (Oslo or URSI), solar (SSN) and planetary
indices (A, K), QRM level at target location, emitting power,
transmit and receive antenna gains. Circuit parameters
are automatically saved in CFG files. You can also customize
databases listing transmit and receive locations. The format is
explained in the help file. DXAID supports also the mouse.
Predictions can be displayed in various maps
("Maps" menu, in equi-distant, cylindrical or polar
projection) showing on request and in
real-time or using a faster delay (15x or 60x) the gray line, the
sun position, the auroral oval, the short or long path, and clicking
the mouse of the map the distance and beam heading. The update rate
can be set between 5, 30 and 60 seconds.
the auroral oval, note that this event is rarely displayed in
amateur programs, and if the NOAA auroral map is given in terms of
auroral activity, DXAID uses K-index for the corresponding levels of
magnetic activity. At last, a routine called LOPROP
checks out areas of the globe that are open to long distance multihop
top band propagation, as a function of time.
The arrow keys permit to go back and forwards in time. The current map can also be saved in
640x480 16 color PCX format
(Alt-S) and recall later.
Several tables are also provided. First an astronomical table
("Solar" menu) displays hours of sunrise, sunset, dusk and dawn (astronomical, civil and
nautical), the equation of time and sun declination. Then several
prediction tables ("Forecast" menu)
are calculated for either major broadcast bands (SWBC) between 4.9
and 25.9 MHz or ham bands in spot check mode (selecting a target on
the world map) or for the
concerned circuit. A bar-graph shows field and signal strengths (in
dBm) and S/N at the target location as well as the transmit and
takeoff angle and bearing. These tables can be printed on several
printer models connected to the LPT port. In Addition, a tool
permits to run a calendar, a calculator and to export or import data
as text file.
results are among the most accurate available. It was considered as one of the best
amateur HF propagation program for years. Unfortunately,
at the time of MiniProp Plus and CAPMAN, DXAID runs in DOS protected
mode and uses the EGA Hicolor resolution with all constraints of this
environment. For example, a runtime error 207 ejects you from the
system if you don't validate the current conditions before to run
the forecast ("Forecast" menu, Set Current conditions).
But it is as much a programmation error not handled by the system as
an user error who wants to go faster than the system in
"cutting corners" of the validation process, Hi !
DXAID is available in two DOS versions, one supported by Windows
9x, the other by Windows 2000/XP/ME. It can be purchased by emailing the
author in Canada
(as of Sept 2004).
new Windows version is under development.
MacKeand is the author of the propagation book "The
Friendly Ionosphere". To support the book with
practical exercices, in 1996 he wrote this short
program, updated in 2001. Short, it is less than 300 KB with
all data, it is however one of the seldom application to predit
propagation conditions in a spectrum from 1.5 to 45 MHz. But
it is still more original that this.
SNAPMax takes into account an approximate MF algorithm
and gyro-frequency for the top band propagation. In addition, terrestrial reflection points
are checked to take correct account of reflection from lands
and oceans for ground-wave coverage calculations, and E-layer
paths are assessed too. A- or K-index is used to determine
polar path auroral losses, as well as MUF depression during
storm events. At last MUF is determined using Fricker's
algorithms, losses being determined by George and Bradley's
method using an internal world-wide vertical absorption map.
asks you to characterize the entire communication circuit : the transmitter
and receiver locations can be entered either by call prefix or
by latitude/longitude. The other parameters are the
power, antenna design (isotropic, dipole or beam) and gain,
heigth above ground, takeoff angle, mode including digital
modulation bandwidth, noise level at target location,
multipath delay, almost like a VOACAP model. With all these
features included in a so small application SNAPMax deserves
well two stars compared to many others, but unfortunately it
remains a DOS application displaying its results in text
are displayed in two simple text charts showing the MUF, LUF,
FOT, and noise level across HF bands from 1.5 to 45 MHz (signal
strength in S-unit or dBm, S/N in S-unit or dB, and the
circuit quality). Noise data for most major countries are also
provided. An expanded low frequency scale (2-12 MHz) improves
low band displays for NVIS, etc. Path loss is analyzed,
antipodean enhancement, chordal hop, short and long paths, giving
a graphic breakdown of all noise sources.
program running on all Windows 32-bit platforms.
provided as a shareware (version 3) it is now a freeware
is the first product running under DOS or Windows 95 sold by this
company in 1995. This is a propagation prediction and system
analysis program using the IONCAP model.
input it requests data of a near-complete circuit and output results in
several high resolution graphs. However it heritated of the same
inaccuracy as its mentor and its forecasts cannot compete against its
main competitors DXAID and SNAPMax (see above), excepting by its improved
spite of its medium accuracy, showing
a GUI more user-friendly than IONCAP and its competitors, it became rapidly the interface
of choice for many amateurs.
years of good and loyal services, this program was replaced by WinCAP
program running on all Windows 32-bit platforms.
in 1995 by Pr Geoff West from Curtin University of Technology in
Australia, this is an amazing propagation prediction program for DOS
establishing forecasts between 1.6 and 30 MHz. Its is based on a
report and program developed by ITS in 1969 titled "Predicting Long-Term Operational Parameters
of High-Frequency Sky-Wave Telecommunication Systems", the
grandfather of IONCAP, hence the quality that comes to light in all
input and output screens.
data of a complete circuit, including solar and geomagnetic
conditions and data (e.g. locations) extracted from external data
files, GWPROP provides a large choice of outputs from the MUF to
detailed tables of the system performance along the concerned paths.
Even the absorption factor, excess system loss and the electron gyro-frequency
are listed in addition to the usual critical frequencies.
Outputs can be displayed in tabular or in graphical
form, this latter using the EGA Hicolor mode with all constraints of
this mode. Printouts
are also supported on various line printers as well as on the
generic Laserjet. GWPROP uses the arithmetic coprocessor if present.
program running on all Windows platforms but denies sometimes
to run under XP (but succeeds after some retries).
by David Ribbins, KY1H in 1989 and updated in 1996, "MOF/LOF
Contest Propagation tool" as he prefers to call his program is
derived from MINIMUF
for the high bands, and a VOA absorption style predictor for the low
bands. The author also adjusted parameters from real contest data
collected from various locations since 1990. The latest version 2.2
uses A and K indices to take into account disturbed conditions.
can be displayed in rectangular, polar or equi-distant projections
at three resolutions up to EGA and in seven color.
a couple of dates the program generates several global propagation
maps showing the MOFor LOF. The map can also be overlayed with great
circle paths and sun rise position. When used with the MMPRINT
utility provided by the author for the CT Contest Logging software,
MOF/LOF can be used to display the geographical and frequency band
distribution of contacts from actual contest data. At last there is
a multiple file comparaison routine for which the help of the author
is welcome (and suggested) as this function requires specific
settings to run under the Windows protected environment.
program running on all Windows platforms.
program created for DOS in text mode (version HDX) or Windows 95/98
(version TURBO). Qualified by the publisher of "very
sophisticated ionospheric propagation prediction program", it
uses however elementary functions and displays all predictions in tabular forms,
austere and hard to digest. It takes into account the antenna radiation
pattern but without to give accurate results.
program running on all Windows platforms.
1 was released in 1985, for CP/M computers and came as a set of 9
files. It combined the prediction of signal levels, F-layer MUF with
corrections over MINIMUF 3.5 for the midnight sun and polar night
the same time, improved ionospheric propagation models were acquired
from several sources. In
particular, a superior
F-layer model based
on the F-region method used by Raymond Fricker in IONPRED. The original
product was improved and evolved to MINIPROP Plus and version 2. It
included then the
E-layer cutoff frequency, a gray-line map and an approximate auroral oval. A version was
developed for Windows, W6ELProp.
Here, the idea is
to work up a number of successful modes and then find the one with
the greatest signal strength.
CP/M, Fortran, RPN, then Pascal, this DOS
program runs on all Windows plateorms.
released as a shareware ($25) it became a freeware.
in 1994 by Cedric Baechleris, this program is based on MINIFTZ 4.3.
and uses thus the same inputs (SSN, the time reliability, the antenna
gain and power) to calculate the MUF, FOT, LUF and signal strength between two points. It
creates two tables, the signal strength in S-unit and modes and takeoff angles.
in C, HAMFTZ is in a beta program and provides no interface for the
input and output ! You'll need an editor to enter the datas needed by the program
using the next syntax : "HAMFTZ inputfile
outputfile". The output will be written in an ASCII
file that you can later read or print.
in C language, HAMFTZ is compiled with Turbo C++
v3.0 and uses the arithmetic coprocessor if present. DOS
program running on all Windows platforms.
stands for Propagation Prediction. Written in 1991 by Bernhard
BŁttner, DL6RAI, member of the Bavarian Contest Club, major fixed
were added in 1992 and updated in 2000. This is one of the seldom
program predicting propagation conditions between 2 and 50 MHz.
Written for IBM PC and compatible with CGA or VGA screen, this is a
DOS program based on MINIFTZ (see below) and calling the data file
FTZMUF2.DAT to predict the MUF thanks to a grid point method. Unfortunately it works only in text mode.
Ouput can be saved in a text file
(PP.OUT) for later printing. The input and output screens are
displayed in German (default) or English. Most settings are saved in
text files like PP.CFG (user inputs) what overload the input
the fundamental data of a circuit, date, home and target location,
power, antenna gain, takeoff angle, path (long/short), and
reliability (10%, 50%, 90%), PP provides several screens function of
the time and frequency (MUF, LUF, FOT, signal and field strength
expressed in various units including S-unit).
Moving the cursor on curves the field strength can be displayed.
written in Basic and converted in Pascal. It uses the arithmetic coprocessor if present.
runs on all Windows platforms. Manual available in German or English.
german FTZ Darmstadt club creates the first MINIFTZ in 1987. It used
tables from the CCIR atlas of ionospheric characteristics to
generate a field strength prediction for a specified circuit. In
1989 it was improved to count 336 lines
of code and call another german program, FTZMUF2.DAT to
predict the MUF. As its predecessor, MINIMUF, it uses a grid point method to
obtain critical frequencies from the CCIR noise database and uses
interpolation to obtain the spatial and temporal data for making
predictions. It gives a better representation of the CCIR-Atlas data
for 3000 km MUFs than did MINIMUF as it takes into account the SSN,
the time reliability, the antenna gain and power.
Written in GWBasic (needs QBasic on 32-bit
OS) then converted in Pascal, it runs on all Windows platforms.
at the same time as MicroMUF by Raymond Fricker from BBC External
Service, this small program takes
into account the role of the geomagnetic field and put in radiation
angles as well to calculate the MUF. This modification permit the
user to compare MUF predictions for more than just the
lowest mode. Mathematical functions are
used to simulate the CCIR database, now in the IRI model. Then the
functions calculate foF2 at the midpoints of the first and last hops,
as in the control point method.
Written in GWBasic (needs QBasic
on 32-bit OS), it runs on all Windows platforms.
more copy seems available.
a small program of 158 lines of code written in 1984 Raymond Fricker
from BBC External Service. MicroMUF calculates the MUF and LUF from
the SSN. The Basic version was also converted in Pascal. It was
improved in version 2+ by Hans Bakhuizen, Technical Policy Adviser
of Radio Netherlands.
Contrarily to MINIPROP, in
MicroMUF v2 the E-cutoff is associated to the LUF, although the LUF is definitely a D-region matter. It uses Fricker's "mini F-region" algorithm constituted of 13 mathematical functions (instead of only
one in MINIMUF) to simulate the database for the critical frequency foF from vertical sounding and L.M. Muggleton's formula for foE
GWBasic (needs QBasic
on 32-bit OS), it runs on all Windows
version developed by Pete Costello for Unix is also availablet.
2010, Tom Lackamp published the source code and a demonstration
shell program of his translation of the original MicroMUF.BAS
listing into Delphi 2005. Here is the link to this new MicroMUF
shell, and a link to his new program NewLog.
is the very first amateur ionospheric model released in the December
1982 issue of QST vol.66 for the first IBM PC computers. The program
came then in the hands of NOAA until version MINIMUF 3.5. This a short
program of 242
lines of code with not the least remark that predicts only one
parameter, the MUF for HF propagation paths for a specified
band, time and day of the year taking into account the SFI or SSN.
However there is not correction for the midnight sun and polar night
includes a F-layer model that relies on only one function and adjusted
to represent the results of a limited set of oblique soundings. E-layer
cutoff calculations were added to the original code.
calculation method uses M-factors, numbers between 3 and 4, for
division of the frequency to obtain the equivalent vertical
incidence frequency for comparison with critical frequencies at
about 2000 km from the ends of the path. It achieves this using a
database founded on oblique ionospheric sounding.
does not take into account the signal strength or the noise. It
works thus best on the highest HF frequency with a very high sun
activity and gives misleading or disappointing results in other
can also fault the source code of MINIMUF for not taking into account the
geomagnetic field, leaving out the equatorial anomaly and organizing
the ionosphere only with geographic coordinates. Beyond that, the
database is rather limited in scope, its accuracy decreasing
for paths longer than 6000 km, distance over which it still gives a
rough estimation. Indeed,
MINIMUF's F-region map has little resemblance to a real ionosphere
on a global scale. That accounts for some of its erratic DX
program running on all Windows platforms.
released under license ($30 !) it became rapidly a freeware available for
(needs QBasic on 32-bit OS), Linux