WWV’s 25 MHz Signal Still Going Strong After 1 Year Back on the Air


Time and frequency standard station WWV silenced its 25 MHz signals in 1977, but it returned to the air on an “experimental basis” a year ago, and it’s still up and running. Resurrecting the long-dormant standard time outlet operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was Matt Deutch, NØRGT, WWV’s Lead Electrical Engineer

“We have been at 1 kW for the past year,” Deutch told ARRL. “We have had a few hiccups, but nothing serious.” Deutch said he was pleased to see the 25 MHz signals included in a recent QST article, “just like the good ole’ days” (see “Measuring Frequencies at VE3GSO,” in the April 2015 QST, p 37).

“Here at the site we have even been discussing giving the 25 MHz signal its own antenna again,” Deutch said. “The ham in me wants to give it something more exotic than a plain ole’ boring dipole. But what antenna could it be?” Deutch said he was inspired by the article “Amateur Radio Science” by Eric Nichols, KL7AJ, in the February 2013 QST, which asked hams to do more to advance and contribute to the radio art, “but the gears in my brain are still turning,” Deutch said.

The return of WWV’s 25 MHz outlet came about after Dean Lewis, W9WGV, lamented its loss last year in an e-mail to Deutch, who surprised him by putting the signal back on the air, initially temporarily. The 25 MHz signal not only provides another option to check your frequency calibration or the exact time, but it also can serve to indicate the state of propagation on 12 and 10 meters. Deutch said the WWV 25 MHz signal still gets signal reports from across the Atlantic.

According to NIST, the 25 MHz broadcast includes the normal WWV information transmitted on all other WWV frequencies and at the same level of accuracy. The transmitter in Fort Collins, Colorado, can put out 2500 W into what Deutch has called a “broadband monopole,” although he keeps the transmitter running at about 1200 W. WWV has invited listeners’ comments and signal reports.


WWV Celebrates 50 Years on the Air

On Friday, July 5, 2013, the station north of Fort Collins that dictates time to radio-controlled clocks across the nation celebrated its 50th year on the airwaves.

National Institute of Standards and Technology Radio Station WWVB may look simple — a low-slung building and a cluster of antenna-supporting towers. But it broadcasts a signal so powerful to self-setting clocks that it can stop nearby cars from starting.

The signal relays the national atomic clock in Boulder, and twice each year an employee at the station flips a switch that sets clocks across the nation to standard or daylight saving time. The station’s signal reaches about 50 million timekeeping devices across the continental U.S., according to a NIST release.

Station Manager Matthew Deutch is one of the men who have flipped the switch over the years since the station’s mission evolved from its 1963 roots broadcasting frequencies for satellite and missile programs, according to NIST.

“I feel like it’s a real privilege to provide a useful resource to people,” Deutch said. “ … We provide the standard time interval, the one-second tick, which is very accurate for a relatively low cost. That’s our primary mission.”

Although the station isn’t hosting an official event to commemorate the anniversary, Deutch said workers hosted a tour for area ham radio operators last week.

According to NIST, the station’s power level has been boosted from 4 kilowatts when it started to 70 kW today, which allows it to reach deeper into America’s corners — Maine and Florida will more easily receive the signal — and reach more products such as microwaves, cars and sprinkler systems, allowing them to keep self-setting, accurate time.