Information from the NIST regarding possible closure WWV radio stations

WWV’s transmitter building in Fort Collins, Colorado (2014)

Regarding the NIST FY2019 budget which includes a request to shutdown WWV, WWVH, and WWVB, many of you have been asking if there has been an update.

We will keep you posted as this budget moves through the process, but in the meantime I’ll share the feedback and links provided by Gail Porter, Public Relations Director for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Ms. Porter writes:

We are proud of the time and frequency services we provide through our radio stations and understand that these services are important to many people.

As you likely know, the President proposes budgets for executive branch agencies and then the Congress considers that request before determining funding levels for each agency and passing an appropriations law to implement a budget for a given year.

The President’s full NIST FY 2019 budget request to the Congress is available at the link below, including a brief description of why the shutdown of the radio stations is proposed: http://www.osec.doc.gov/bmi/budget/FY19CBJ/NIST_and_NTIS_FY2019_President’s_Budget_for_508_comp.pdf. see page NIST-25.

[…]The sentence below, which appears on page NIST 25, is the best description we have available to respond to your question.

“To consolidate and focus work on NIST efforts in quantum science, while maintaining essential core capabilities in measurement science research and measurement dissemination NIST will eliminate efforts that have been replaced by newer technologies, measurement science work that lies outside of NIST’s core mission space, and programs that can no longer be supported due to facility deterioration.”

[…]Here is a link to the NIST Budget Table for the FY2019 Presidential Request.

Also, in case these are of interest, here are links to press releases issued in May and June 2018 by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Committees’ on Appropriations about the FY2019 budget process:

House

Senate

Hope this information is helpful.

Many readers have been asking if all NIST stations are included in these cuts–the answer is yes.

If this budget passes as written, WWV, WWVH, and WWVB will all be closed.

If you value these NIST time stations, I would encourage you to contact your local representatives, and sign this White House petition.

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17 thoughts on “Information from the NIST regarding possible closure WWV radio stations

  1. Jayson Smith

    Last Friday I found a WWV/WWVH simulator which runs under Linux and Mac natively, and can be coaxed to run under Windows. It uses the system speech synthesizer (Espeak on Linux, Say for MacOS) to generate the announcements. It sends its audio to stdout and you have to pipe it to something like SoX. Accuracy needs a lot of work, but it’s cool to listen to, and you can set the DUT1 value, and simulate positive and even negative leap seconds! https://github.com/ka9q/wwv

    Reply
  2. Jayson Smith

    I’m very concerned about the possible shutdown of WWVB, as this would render the millions of so-called atomic clocks and watches useless. If this were to actually happen, who would have the authority to be licensed to transmit on 60KHZ and provide a WWVB-compatible substitute? Would it be legal—or could it be made legal by the FCC—to build/buy and operate low-power WWVB simulators for home use?

    Reply
    1. Nobody of Import

      The legitimacy for a GPS or NNTP constrained simulator for WWVB would likely be covered under Subpart 15 of the regs. Means for the ranges and distances possible, it’d be legal. But it’d be obnoxious all the same as you’d have to buy a GPS synchronizer or have Internet access to the NNTP server pool for setting/precision.

      One of the dumbest damn things I’ve heard. They’re cutting budget in the wrong places, to be blunt. This is a pittance on what they’re WASTING elsewhere and there should be a price for this one as well.

      Reply
  3. pkoning

    Would MSF (in England, also on 60 kHz) reach the USA well enough?
    There are other shortwave standard time/frequency stations, though on different frequencies. MSF used to be one, but apparently no longer.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Synchronizing “atomic” clock’s final tock? Time may no longer be synchronous | The SWLing Post

  5. Richard Cuff

    I’ve gone ahead and sent faxes of protest to my two senators (our district’s congressman retired earlier this year).

    I also sent a fax to the Secretary of the Commerce Department, the Cabinet-level agency that NIST reports into.

    Will it make a difference? I don’t know. But I honestly believe a reasoned protest (which I believe I provided) can’t hurt.

    Reply
  6. Jim Trame- W4FJT

    My take on the clocks is yes, they reference WWV stations to update the timebase and keep it in step with the atomic clock. I guess they’ll continue to run on the last update received and become less accurate over time as do all clocks. I have one in the shack, I don’t know if it is capable of being user set so it may just become another piece of outdated equipment eventually.

    I hate to see us give up the 5, 10, 15, 20 & 25 Mhz frequencies. When they’re vacated, there’s no going back because other users will jump in there.

    Reply
    1. Chuck

      “I hate to see us give up the 5, 10, 15, 20 & 25 Mhz frequencies. When they’re vacated, there’s no going back because other users will jump in there.”

      These frequencies are designated by the ITU for use as time service only per agreement outlined in Article 1.53 of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Radio Regulations (RR).

      “…the World Administrative Radio Conference, Geneva, 1979, allocated the frequencies 20 kHz +/- 0.05 kHz, 2.5 MHz +/- 5 kHz (2.5 MHz +/- 2 kHz in Region 1), 5 MHz +/- 5 kHz, 10 MHz +/- 5 kHz, 15 MHz +/- 10 kHz, 20 MHz +/- 10 kHz and 25 MHz +/- 10 kHz to the standard-frequency and time-signal service;”

      This means we can go back at any time.

      Reply
  7. Mario

    Wonder if these stations’ closing will affect those “atomic” clocks and watches that supposedly are linked to these time signal stations?

    Reply
    1. Michael Black

      I’m not seeing clarity here.

      There’s lots of talk about WWV/WWVH, which are shortwave stations, but WWVB, the 60KHz station, seems to be pulled along by inference.

      The only commercial clock that I know about which used WWV was Heathkit’s “most accurate clock”. Maybe otgers, but so expensive as never heard of them.

      The “atomic clocks”, that we know and are so cheap rely on WWVB in North America. Way more people likely use those than WWV, but WWVB isn’t as explicitly mentioned. So either it’s not included, or the story is lacking, because dropping WWVB will affect many. If WWVB is going, then this story is completely lacking travel.

      I must add that the ARRL is lagging on this, not noticing until Thomas blogged about it, and not really showing leadership.

      Michael

      Reply
      1. Thomas Post author

        The people I’ve been in contact with at NIST believe that WWVB would also be included in these proposed closures; essentially all WWV stations.

        Reply
        1. Michael Black

          Okay because Google search of “news” for WWVB turns up nothing about this. Lots of radio hobbyists have sentimental reasons for wanting WWV/WWVH but if WWVB goes away way more will be affected. If the story doesn’t make it to “regular” news, the people most affected won’t know, and their clout will be absent.

          Michael

          Reply
      2. Chuck

        “There’s lots of talk about WWV/WWVH, which are shortwave stations, but WWVB, the 60KHz station, seems to be pulled along by inference.”

        WWVB was not pulled along by inference, but by the clear description of the WWVB characteristics in the NIST budget proposals. The mistake of only highlighting WWV/WWVH was made, apparently on this blog, by SWLing.com that was later erroneously parroted by the ARRL who chose not to vet any of the details. Too many folks only read the incomplete bylines.

        Reply
        1. Thomas Post author

          I only mentioned WWV and WWVH in the title of my initial item because they are the shortwave radio stations of the NIST. I’ve since amended both the item and the title to reflect WWVB’s inclusion as one of the NIST stations in the cuts:

          UPDATE: I’ve received a number of questions about Fort Collins-based station WWVB and if it would also be included in the closures. As the budget states, it includes: “the shutdown of NIST radio stations in Colorado and Hawaii.” At the budget’s current iteration, this implies all NIST radios stations including WWVB. 

          I’ve pointed out WWV and WWVH in particular as they’re the shortwave time stations of the NIST. WWVB, on the other hand, provides a continuous 60 kHz carrier wave that, among other things, is used by self-setting “atomic” clocks used by consumers and industry.

          Reply

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