Rich Burgan, WC8J

WC8J is my Amateur Radio Station.
Interests: Solar Power, Home Energy Management, GPS, DGPS, EMWIN, NWR 2000, SAME, EAS, Amateur Satellites, Digital Satellites, Automated Satellite Ground Stations, Automated Amateur Astronomy, UNIX, Linux, Spread Spectrum Communications, Computer Security, Meteorology and Weather Satellites, Amateur Radio.

Panorama of WC8J
Amateur Radio Station WC8J (photo mosaic) 2 Feb 2005


Interests & Projects

Here are some things I'm interested in interspersed with my projects.  I have only put up the ones I'm most interested in.  If you want to discuss any of these topics I'd like an e-mail.

Current items Older items
The Sun & Solar Power EMWIN Demodulator
Home Energy Monitors
Emergency Alert Monitors


The Sun & Solar Power:

The Sun provides almost all of the energy we use on earth.  Most people have never seen the Sun in detail since its too bright to look at directly.  We are most familiar with its effects on our environment and ourselves.  For a number of years I have been monitoring and experimenting with the energy management in my home.  The Sun is actively changing all the time.  Try some of the following links to see what I mean:

Latest Solar Events
Aurora Forecast
Solar far-side images

Solar X-rays: Status
Geomagnetic Field: Status

Solar Power Monitor













I've always wanted to do this.  Although its not economically justifiable except for its educational value.  It will contribute a valuable resource to my Amateur Radio Station.  A 8 Watt solar PV panel is mounted on my az-el satellite tracker, pointed South and up at my latitude angle.  It is terminated in a 25 Ohm load.  Across the resistor is  a digital voltmeter with a serial interface.  The serial interface is connected to a Linux based system.  A PERL script polls the meter every ten seconds, does some calculations and logs the results.  Every five minutes a script kicks off to generate the graph.  The script also pulls in the outside temperature from my weather station.  Note: I've tried mounting the PV panel flat, leaning it at 40 degrees to match my latitude, and mounting it on the Az-El satellite tracking antenna so it can track the Sun.  Someday I will mount it more permanently.

Home PV System Simulator:

This is an attempt to simulate a home PV system rated at 4kW AC.  The simulation is driven from a the 10 Watt panel described above by scaling it up to 4kW.  The other input is the actual load 220 VAC load of my home.  You can also see my experimental solar energy forecast superimposed on the graph.  The forecast updates four times a day at 6-AM, 12-noon, 6-PM and 12-midnight and predicts solar energy levels for a two day period.  This simulation does not include a battery storage system or net metering (yet).

An actual 3.2 kW PV System:

This is the data from a PV system installed on the roof of the carriage house at the Ohio Governor's home.  The data is presented in the same format as the simulation above.  I don't know too much about the system, but it appears to be a grid connected (net metered) system.  I don't know if it has a battery system.  There is some 'wierd-ness' in the data now and then that I can't explain.  (e.g. the PV panel produces negative power and there are random excursions in the data.)  This plot is produced from data available at the GEO "Green Energy Ohio" organization website at:  My thanks to GEO for making this data available on the web!


Home Energy Monitors:

AC Power from the "Grid":













How much power are you using right now?  In a normal home you can't tell.  If you want to use less it helps to have a way to measure what you are using so you can see progress.  The power company meter has a rotating aluminum disk which rotates once for every 7.2 watt-hours of energy consumed.  I took apart an old barcode reader gun and used the parts to build a non-attached reader to count the rotations of the meter disk.  It produces one pulse for every 7.2 Watt hour revolution of the disk.  The pulses are read by a Linux based computer that logs the data and updates the graph every 5 minutes.  Note: Sometimes you can see spikes in the graph that drop to almost zero.  These are caused by sunlight reflecting into the sensor off the meter glass.  I can eliminate this problem by enclosing the meter.  But, the power company doesn't like it.
Natural Gas Consumption meter:













I also instrumented the natural gas meter with a remote reader.  It uses parts from a bar-code scanner I picked up at a Hamfest.  Essentially it sees the hand on the 1/2 Cubic Foot dial as a rotating "bar" and produces one pulse for each revolution. The output pulses from the meter reader are connected to a Linux based computer that logs the data and updates the graph every 5 minutes.  There are two 'loads' on the gas meter: The furnace and the water heater.  Note: At this time I do not understand the banding effect that causes the plotted points to group together.

Emergency Alert Monitors:
NOAA National Weather Radio (CRS NWR 2000) Specific Area Message Encoder and FCC Emergency Alert System Decoder.

NWR SAME Live Monitor for Columbus, Ohio (Weather Warnings)
NWR SAME message log from KIG86, 162.55 MHz transmitter covering Columbus, Ohio

EAS Live Monitor Columbus, Ohio (Weather and Civil Emergency Warnings)
EAS message log from WNCI, 97.9 MHz FM covering Columbus and Central, Ohio

Listened to NOAA Weather Radio recently? You will notice much of the speech is now computer generated.  Or maybe you've heard those strange data bursts over your AM, FM, or Cable TV station.  They are Specific Area Message Encoded headers used to issue emergency messages.  The bursts contain data to automatically control dissemination of the message to a specific area.  You can hear a sample of the code bursts here: Sample SAME / EAS audio burst

I have some more information at: WC8J NWR 2000 SAME / EAS Reference page.

I was recently interviewed for a Security Focus on-line article about EAS security.   Read the article by Kevin Poulsen here.



Virtual Network Computing ( with SSH )

Speak Freely - Network voice intercom system

XV - The BEST viewer. (Used by JPL on Mars Pathfinder) Free to UNIX users!

KA9Q - Phil Karn's home page.


Let HAL 9000 check your system. Click one of the following:
gsm (6 KBt)
AU (37 KBt)
WAV (44 KBt) 

Here is the reference information for my PGP public key:
Type bits/key ID   Date       User              IDpub 
     1024/8134BC51 1995/11/21 Richard D. Burgan <> 
Key fingerprint = 9E 91 4D D0 14 31 2F 98 4D 4D 92 26 47 03 B6 7E