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Letter: Don’t Dump on WWV

We’ll be glad we still have WWV when things get rough

WWV building
WWV building. Read about the service by clicking the image.

Here is my response to the letter to the editor “WWV Is Nice But Not All That Critical.”

The letter raised an eyebrow with me. The notion of eliminating the HF (2.5 to 20 MHz) service of the NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology station WWV is a bad idea.

I regularly use the 5 and 10 MHz signals to calibrate time bases in my spectrum analyzer, signal generators, receivers and frequency counters. It is a time-proven technique to zero-beat their reference oscillators with WWV and still valuable today in commercial and amateur radio use.

Yes, the Global Positioning System does that job, but it is vulnerable to enemy attack. WWV is the fallback to save us from problems of synchronizing networks, including the internet in the event that GPS becomes unusable.

The 60 kHz WWVB is the source for automatically setting “atomic” watches, wall clocks and other devices. Since we agree on that, then keeping the HF transmitters of WWV working is a small price to pay in the overall scheme of things. They are all at the same site in Fort Collins, Colo., operating from the same frequency standard and maintained by the same crew.

GPS is not infallible and is subject to interference, tampering or having satellites knocked out of the sky by those who do not like us.  We’ll be glad we still have WWV when things get rough.

Comment on this or any article. Write to Mark Persons is a frequent contributor to Radio World. Read his recent articles.