March 31, 2001 geomagnetic storm

Data analysis tools

by Volker Grassmann, DF5AI, December 13, 2002


Start page

data acquisition

storm history

operational results



science cooperation


Auroral activity





locating Auroras


QSO distances


The BeamFinder software

BeamFinder [36] is a software tool designed to support amateur radio propagation studies with a variety of calculation tools, radio propagation models and graphical features. The software provides a large 2500 x 1800 pixel screen map of the world and deals with quantities the radio amateur is already familiar with, i.e. grid squares, geographical coordinates, distances, antenna headings and frequencies. Detailed information is available on the web site.


Locating the geographical positions of Aurora backscatter

In this project, we are in particular interested in the software's capability to analyse the geometry of bistatic backscatter of radiowaves originating from E region irregularities aligned to the Earth's magnetic field. BeamFinder also provides the unique feature of estimating the geographical positions of Aurora backscatter without using antenna headings or any other type of directional information. The details are explained in a dedicated section of this project documentation.

Processing POES satellite data

This project has received a very special support from the POES team at NASA resulting in 59 polar plots displaying the Auroral activity on March 31, 2001. An enhanced version of BeamFinder allows the import of the POES data in the program's map presentation, see fig. 1. With this feature, BeamFinder's standard analyses in Auroral backscatter may be combined with satellite data which will hopefully support new types of analyses, see the section Auroral activity versus QSO activity.

Meanwhile, this unique feature has been opened to all registered BeamFinder users, i.e. the user may download actual POES data from the internet and may display the actual Auroral activity on BeamFinder's Maidenhead grid locator screen map.


Figure 1. Screen shot of the BeamFinder software including the colour code of Auroral activity imported from POES satellite data.

Standard tools

Because of the large data volume to be processed by this project and because of the requirement of creative methods in data visualisation, it is perhaps worth to catch a glimpse of the standard tools used in this project.


  • Apple G3 PowerBook, 500 MHz
  • second high-res monitor (working simultaneously with independend software applications)
  • ADSL internet connection (to download even large scientific papers and data from the internet within reasonable time)


  • MAIL: standard email program shipped with the Mac OS X operating system
  • SAFARI: standard internet browser shipped with the Mac
  • OS X operating system
  • MS Excel 98: spread-sheet application which is primarily used for data conversion when receiving QSO dx reports
  • Kaleidagraph 3.0: spread-sheet application providing powerful graphics in scientific data analyses
  • FileMaker Pro 3.0: database application managing the QSO data
  • GifBuilder 1.0: creating animated GIF graphics
  • Photoshop 3.0: pixel-oriented image processing
  • ClarisDraw 1.0: object-oriented drawing tool
  • RealBasic 4.0.2: programming
  • Freeway 3.5.6: web design


Copyright (C) of Volker Grassmann. All rights reserved. The material, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission of the author.