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Beacon Strength

For some time I have been observing what would appear to be somewhat
extravagant claims for the strength of the AO40 Beacon. It is my
understanding that the best level the Beacon can reach above the noise
floor is perhaps 27 or 28 dB.  Another source measured this as around 21dB.
My question is how can claims be made for S9+ levels when the standard S
point unit is 6dB?   I would suggest that a more realistic level claim
would be dB above the noise floor if this can be determined. With my modest
set-up using an FT847 with attenuator on, pre-amp off and noise floor at
under S1 on the meter, the beacon at best reaches S7.  Signals that don't
upset Leila are around S4 or 5 which in IMHO would equate to 12 or 15 dB
above the noise floor.  The S unit on the FT847 would seem to be 3dB?
Regardless of the size of the antenna if you can detect the noise floor you
have reached the practical limit of signal level?  I would appreciate some
input from more learned persons on this, thank you.
Hilton Meyer  ZL2MN

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