Page Created:
2005 December 25

Page Updated:
2012 August 12


Welcome to Starlight Cascade Observatory Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance 1 Solar Radio Telescope Page! Near Yarker, Ontario, Canada. (44.22.39 N 76.45.47 W    151M Elevation)

The SID1 Solar Radio telescope is an automated, 40khz radio telescope located near Yarker (outside of Kingston) Ontario Canada. It takes readings of solar flux signal strength once every 4 minutes, 24 hours a day.

Jun 1 2014 imagearchive/current.png The last 24 hours of data from the SCO-SRT:

The datestamp at the bottom of the graph is month-day-year-hour-minute-second. The number 240 refers to the 240 seconds between data samples. (24 hours = 1440 minutes/4 minutes = 360 data samples/day).
The y axis is 0-10 volts at the receiver representing the maximum range of data. The X Axis represent 24 hours of data, with each point being a data reading taken every 240 seconds (=4 minutes). The timestamp at the bottom of the image is in UT time and represents the START of the data run.

This graph should update daily but there seems to be issues about regularity. So we check it 4 times a day and if a data file exists, we process it. We started the program just after 20:00 EDT which is just after 00:00 UT time. Each graph is a 800x600 .PNG file at about 40kb.

The data archive contains the raw text data, after being renamed from the original file name. The filename format is: scosrt-yyyy-m-d-h-m-s.txt.
The image archive contains all of the graph data.
Click Here for the last 7 images * Click Here for the last 30 images

We got it from Radio Astronomy Supplies out of Sunrise Florida:
Our new "VLF 40 KHz", Computer Controlled", radio telescope has been added to our product line. As all of our systems, this is a high quality, low cost, research grade, radio telescope. This "turn-key" system is for solar research. The VLF Receiver will display any solar enhancements reaching the D Layer of the earths atmosphere.
From Wikipedia: The D layer is the innermost layer, 60 km to 90 km above the surface of the Earth. Ionization here is due to Lyman series-alpha hydrogen radiation at a wavelength of 121.5 nanometre (nm) ionizing nitric oxide (NO). In addition, with high Solar activity hard X-rays (wavelength less than 1 nm) may ionize (N2, O2). During the night cosmic rays produce a residual amount of ionization. Recombination is high in the D layer, the net ionization effect is low, but loss of wave energy is great due to frequent collisions of the electrons (about ten collisions every msec). As a result high-frequency (HF) radio waves are not reflected by the D layer but suffer loss of energy therein. This is the main reason for absorption of HF radio waves, particularly at 10 MHz and below, with progressively smaller absorption as the frequency gets higher. The absorption is small at night and greatest about midday. The layer reduces greatly after sunset; a small part remains due to galactic cosmic rays. A common example of the D layer in action is the disappearance of distant AM broadcast band stations in the daytime.

During solar proton events, ionization can reach unusually high levels in the D-region over high and polar latitudes. Such very rare events are known as Polar Cap Absorption (or PCA) events, because the increased ionization significantly enhances the absorption of radio signals passing through the region. In fact, absorption levels can increase by many tens of dB during intense events, which is enough to absorb most (if not all) transpolar HF radio signal transmissions. Such events typically last less than 24 to 48 hours.

Resource Links:

  • The Daedalus Solar Radio telescope is an automated, 40khz radio telescope located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
  • Wikipedia entry on radio propogation:

    SolarRadio Telescope Blog:
  • 2013 March 24 - SID1 appears to have not survived the transition to both a newer computer without the old COM1 port (now using a serial-usb adapter) and windows 7. The software Spectracyber I is not getting any voltage readings from the receiver anymore. We checked and changed the COM port settings 2400 8N1 all the way up to 9600 8N1 and still nothing. Spectracyber also has issues runnings and opening files under windows7, even when not located in the program files folder.
  • 2013 March 17 - replaced 6 year old radioroom computer with newer faster one. A couple of days of data will be lost as we reconfigure the automated scripts to save and process the data.
  • 2013 February 20 - fixed annotation code and ran against all of 2013 images. Changed data cycle from 360 data point at 240 seconds each to 239 seconds. This should move the +4 minutes daily to -2 minutes daily of travelling start time. +4-6=-2.
  • 2012 July 18 - images have not been automatically updated for a week or so. troubleshooting.
  • 2011 Nov 12 - pretty stable. no changes lately.
  • 2010 Sept 29 - added code to generate last7 and last30 images based on file datestamp. Since most of the historical files were just recently converted over, they tend to have very new datestamps. Going forward this will automatically correct itself
  • 2010 Sept 25 - converted historical data from 2007 to present and uploaded it to this server. Some problems in nomenclature of the non-zero padded month and day numbers so that they are not appearing in correct order. Also now updating more frequently, if the specacyber program has created a data file, it will be processed within 6 hours as opposed to 24 as before.
  • 2010 Sept 23 - adjusted gain up a touch to get date up from 0. Reconfigured this web server from processscosrt script from once/day to hourly Will reconfigure solarradio workstation to check for new data hourly as well.
  • 2010 Sept 22 - adjusted gain up a touch to get data up from 0. The plot from sept 21 did show a little bit but mostly was flatlined. permissions look good, appear program is not generating data n a 24 hour basis.
  • 2010 Sept 20 - it appears the automation worked once and now is failing. Probably a file permissions issue.
  • 2010 Sept 17 - tweaking webpage and looking for better method to display what will be thousands of graphs in the imagearchive when the backlog gets processed.
  • 2010 Sept 16 - working python and bash scripts to automate data transfer from the workstation running the telescope to rename the files, generate PNG graphs, backing up both text and graph data, automated FTP up to this server and then more code to move it around a bit and archive it again. Also recalibrated internal sensitivity to about 4 volts at 20:00 EDT today as it has been peaking at max for some days now.
  • 2010 August 09 - working on code to take the data file and generated a daily graphical display
  • 2008 November 25 - some updates to this web page and some work on automating data uploads to the web site. Next on the list, graphical displays based on the data.
  • 2008 August - replaced workstation with new small Intel atom Core2 desktop @1.6GHz, 1Gb RAM, 80Gb SATA drive, 2 serial ports. Could not get windows XP to run (did not see SATA drive), but was able to run Windows NT2000.
  • 2008 March 07 - Uploaded the Data from the system to see how easy it would be to manipulate using PHP to generate live graphs.
  • 2008 January 18 Friday - the system has been running very well for the last two years... now we have to find the time to analyse the data and work on a way to automate this task.
  • 2006 April 07 Friday - upgraded the workstation this was running on from a P3-500 to a P4-1700 and reinstalled the SpectraCyber I v3.02 from (20030329) software. Calibrations are now being done.
  • 2006 February - the laptop died, lost the program and the data. Telescope offline.
  • 2006 January - received the missing antenna and ground wires, comprised of a spool of 18 gauge solid core spool of wire. Installed, much better signal to noise than using the cat5 cable.
  • 2006 January 02 - after running for several days at 10 second sampling intervals we are getting a lot of variability that looks like local interference. Will have to get other opinions as to setup, antenna composition and orientation, possible use of a shielded cable run from the receiver to outside the house and then the antenna.

    The data looks like this:

    c 8 7 2010 22 38 47 240.000000 0 360 5 0
    The complete data file can be seen here. More data files can be found here and image(graph) archive files here.
    The header line format is:
    c 8 7 2010 22 38 47 240.000000 0 360 5 0
    c = continuous mode
    month date year hour minute second of start of data run (ie August 7th 2010 22:38:47)
    interval between data readings: 240
    The 0 360 5 0 are unknown.
  • 2005 Dec 28 - Got the software to run! Started it up, Set to ONLINE and a window popped open this time never before!) It contained a filename previously entered yesterday. Clicked ok, then checked the com port, it was wrong and set it to COM2, then scan start. Autosave on. Data started flowing the filename and date at the top of the graph were correct. Adjusted gain before sunrise to around 1volt then turned off monitor. at 09:00 the voltagereadings were 0. Maybe the monitor was causing this? Yep.. turned monitor back on and readings came up slowly from 0. Adjusted to about 5 volts turned off monitor and viewed workstation remotely using VNC. Signal dropped back down to zero again. Will try to remotely calibrate it (change it with the monitor off, view it remotely, change again, etc.)
  • 2005 Dec 27 - Installed a 16m cat3 cable consisting of eight 24 guage wires. We ran it along the top of an aluminum gutter and into the radio room. One of the eight wires was then attacked to the 40khz receiver. The software SpectraCyber I v3.2 installed ok, and the com2 port on the winnt2000pro box was adjusted to suit the specs (2400 baud, 8n1, etc). The software started ok in demo mode. Attempts to place it into ONLINE mode failed with the error "FileCreate failed with error 5". an hour of playing with various settings testing NTFS file system, space in folder names, installation on XPPro systems, all gave the same result.
  • 2005 Dec 26 - Found out via email that the antenna is just a simple long wire
  • 2005 Dec 25 - opened great present to discover there was no included antenna. There was supposed to be one in the order.

    SolarRadio Telescope Automation : Spectracyber I v3.2 generates a data file once a day in our case and saves it in a folder inside the c:\program files\spectracyber\data area. We have a windows scheduled task that runs daily at 20:00 to take this data file and archive it locally and also to save it onto the file server drive, then delete it from the local area.
    The file server (linux fedora 13) then runs a python script to rename the file to something more standardized. Another python script using the package "R" generates a .PNG graph of the data file. Lastly a bash script archives both the txt and png data on the file server.
    Around 20:30 EDT another bash script uploads the latest txt and image to this server.
    This server then runs a bash script to move file around and create another archival copy as well.