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The Art (Science?) of Radio Propagation came a long way in the twentieth century. With the help of modern computers we can ALMOST predict what's going to happen over any given link! With the ubiquitous PC on almost every desk and a little software like we offer below, much of the "Black Magic" is removed from radio link design. While there is certainly room for improvement in this field, link design is now rather mundane. To be sure, Hams and many others have exploited anomolous propagation modes for years -- but for average everyday situations try one of these programs or investigate some of these references!

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More Info about Radio Propagation on SSS Online
FREE Propagation Software Programs
Other Propagation Resources
Reference Books on Radio Propagation
Radio Propagation Links

More Info about Radio Propagation on SSS Online

For articles, links, interviews, and more great information on indoor radio propagation, see our Indoor Wireless Radio Propagation Page!

Prof. Randy H. Katz' (University of California at Berkeley) Briefing -- "CS294-7: Radio Propagation" -- A great introduction to propagation effects (~402K)

Phil Flikkema's (University of Southern Florida) Briefing -- "Narrowband Multipath Fading: A Simple Model" -- A mathematical introduction to multipath fading (~73K)

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FREE Propagation Software Programs

Download Radio Propagation & Diffraction Calculator v1.03 (WIN3.11, also 95 & NT compatible; ~70K)

This is a radio frequency propagation calculator for the transmission path between an RF transmitter and a receiver. It is aimed mainly at short range radio applications, such as in-building LAN and point-to- point links up to a few km where there is a direct line-of-sight or a simple diffraction profile, or a modified range law model, but it can also support calculations for satellite, aeronautical and space communications where the line-of-sight model can be applied. It is useful to both ham operators and radio professionals.

The knife-edge diffraction calculation option allows the effects of a hill or other obstruction to be taken into account. Loss factors can be included, e.g. building penetration loss.

Maximum range and path budget margin are rapidly calculated and viewed while modifying the input parameters conveniently using the main graphic window. The parameters are displayed against a bitmap of radio stations and a hill to visually aid entry of the various parameters. A text-mode window can be opened up to list the results, with additional information, and then output to an Ascii file. A built-in help file includes information about the various parameters and calculated results and includes further information about changes in this version.

Special requirements: Windows 3.1, also 95 & NT compatible.

Changes: Bugs fixed, added window sizing and font selection to improve compatibility with user systems, added some intermodulation calculations.

Colin Seymour

Download Wireless RF Performance Evaluation Tool RCalc 3.13 (WIN3.11 or 95 ~182K)

RCalc III provides a convenient means of evaluating wireless control systems given a few basic system parameters. RCalc III is the result of three years of day-to-day use, testing, and validation by several RF and systems engineers. After the RF transmitter and receiver capabilities are entered, the user may estimate communications range performance, determine allowable path loss, calculate antenna factor, or determine which system parameters need to be improved to meet a specific communications range goal. RCalc III will base these calculations on either ideal propagation or, optionally, use a lossy propagation model to account for real-world non-idealities. In addition, a utility is provided to calculate dB losses due to impedance mismatch, and a maximum transmitter power lookup utility is provided to assist with meeting US and Canadian EMC regulations. The registered copy of RCalc III will allow the user to evaluate system performance given the constraints of operating under the many different foreign EMC regulations: maximum transmitter output power and allowable frequencies are provided for many countries. The list of supported countries will be updated periodically and distributed free to registered owners who purchase diskettes. The serial number and registration code is valid for all future releases of RCalc III.

Download HF 32-bit Propagation Models from NTIA/ITS (Windows-95/98/NT, 5.0 M )

The Propagation models software contains ICEPAC, VOACAP, and REC533. You can also access the Irregular Terrain Model (ITM) (Longley-Rice), the IF-77 Wave Propagation Model (Gierhart-Johnson), and the ITS Propagation Measurement data - UHF/VHF measurements at this site.

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OTHER Radio Propagation Resources:

NOSC -- 543

NOSC Tropospheric Branch Public Domain Radio Propagation Software — press "Software Programs" on the left menu bar to get to the right page. This is one of those icky frames sites that won't let you go there directly!

SoftWright -- RF propagation and radio design software since 1971

PROPsim logo

Elektrobit's PROPSim — State-of-the-Art radio channel test equipment

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  Reference Books on Radio Propagation

Click on a Title Below for a Direct Link to Purchase


Introduction to RF Propagation, by John S. Seybold. Hardcover: 352 pages, September 2005.


RF Systems, Components, and Circuits Handbook, Second Edition (Artech House), by Ferril Losee. Hardcover: 714 pages 2nd edition (August 31, 2005).


Radio Wave Propagation for Telecommunication Applications (Signals and Communication Technology), by H. Sizun, Fornel (Translator). Hardcover: 412 pages, 1st edition (October 2004).


RF Engineering for Wireless Networks : Hardware, Antennas, and Propagation (Communications Engineering), by Daniel M. Dobkin. Paperback: 448 pages (September 2004).


Fundamentals of Electromagnetics with Engineering Applications , by Stuart M. Wentworth. Hardcover - 608 pages (July 2004).


Introduction to Electromagnetic Wave Propagation , by Paul Rohan. Hardcover - 358 pages (August 1991).


Introduction to Radio Propagation for Fixed and Mobile Communications (Artech House Mobile Communications Series), by John Doble. Hardcover - 189 pages (October 1996).


The Propagation of Radio Waves : The Theory of Radio Waves of Low Power in the Ionosphere and Magnetosphere, by K. G. Budden. Paperback - 669 pages (September 1988).


Adaptive Array Measurements in Communications (Artech House Antennas and Propagation Library), by M. A. Halim. Hardcover - 224 pages (March 2001).


Radio Antennas and Propagation : Radio Engineering Fundamentals, by William Gosling. Paperback - 176 pages 3850 edition (November 1998).


Radio Wave Propagation : Principles and Techniques, by Jacques Lavergnat, Michael Sylvain, John C. C. Nelson (Translator). Hardcover - 272 pages (October 2000).


Radio Frequency Principles and Applications : The Generation, Propagation, and Reception of Signals and Noise (IEEE Press/Chapman & Hall Publishers), by Albert A. Smith, Jr. Hardcover - 240 pages (June 1998).

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  Radio Propagation Links:

QinetiQ's Centre for RF Propagation and Atmospheric Research page — a treasurehouse of information on all types of RF propagation.

Radio Signal Propagation - how radio signals travel or propagate at different frequencies — good primer from

KN4LF LF/MF/HF Frequency Radio Propagation Theory Notes — Layman Level Explanations Of Seemingly Mysterious LF MF and HF Occurrences

Ham Radio Online's Propagation Conditions Page

Radio Netherlands Radio Propagation Links

Barry McLarnon's "VHF/UHF/Microwave Radio Propagation: A Primer for Digital Experimenters"

"Types of Propagation" by Terry R. Dettmann, WX7S

Ionospheric Physics of Radio Wave Propagation, by Edwin C. Jones, MD, PhD (AE4TM), Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Tennessee

"Introduction to HF Radio Propagation" — Australian IPS Radio & Space Services — PDF file, 177K

"Transequatorial Radio Propagation" — Australian IPS Radio & Space Services— PDF file, 159K

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