Friday, April 03, 2015

Frequency Change for VOA Radiogram April 4-5

From Kim Andrew Elliott:

Hello friends,

The Saturday 0930-1000 broadcast of VOA Radiogram returns to 5745 kHz as of this weekend (4 April).

Yes, there were some breaks in transmission at the beginning of last week's transmission Sunday at 1930 UTC on 15670 kHz. It was not your receiver, computer, or software.

Last week's test of the 8PSK FEC modes was interesting. In general, the 8PSK FEC modes did not perform as well as well as the MFSK modes. [They were much more problematic here, in The Land That Short Wave Forgot, with the fast one being totally uncopyable. You really need the MFSK 100% duty cycle and phase tolerance to punch through fades on these marginal paths. We'll see if the pilot tone makes any difference. -Hugh] However, Richard in New Brunswick and I, using a receiver in Nova Scotia, had 100% copy of all the modes, including 8PSKR250F at 635 wpm! This mode might be useful for high-speed data transmission, including formatted web pages, over distances of 1500 km or less, especially when propagation is stable.

This weekend we will do one more test of 8PSK125F. This will actually be two transmissions, one without the pilot tone, and one with the pilot tone. You do not need to make any adjustments to  detect the pilot tone, other than to have the Fldigi RxID on (green). "The RsID signal will both determine the mode and the mode center frequency (to the nearest 2.6 Hz). A finer resolution of the mode center frequency can be made using the optional pilot carrier," according to the Fldigi Users Manual.











Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 105, 4-5 April 2015, all in MFSK32 except where indicated ...

 1:27  Program preview
 2:46  Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV*
 8:53  8PSK125F: Tatar-language TV channels off air
10:03  8PSK125F (with pilot tone): Same story
11:08  MFSK32 resumes: Cyberattack targets GitHub*
16:39  Google and Chinese website certificates*
21:18  Cuba will increase Internet access*
27:10  Closing announcements
28:35  Bonus mode: Olivia 16-1000

* with image

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com .

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):
Sat 0930-1000 5745 kHz (new frequency)
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

The Mighty KBC will transmit a minute of MFSK64 Sunday at 0130 UTC (Saturday at 9:30 pm EDT) on 7375 kHz (via Germany). This is part of the expanded KBC transmission UTC Sundays at 0000-0300 UTC on 7375 kHz. The Saturday transmission of The Mighty KBC on 6095 kHz is discontinued.  Reports to Eric at themightykbc@gmail.com .

WRMI, Radio Miami International, 9955 kHz, will transmit IDs in digital modes again this weekend. You might not hear these transmissions, or even see a trace of the digital modes on your waterfall, but you might still successfully decode the text. Reports to Jeff at info@wrmi.net .



UTC Day UTC Time Center audio frequency Mode
Saturday 1014:30 2000 Hz MFSK32 image
Saturday 2129:30 2000 Hz MFSK16
Sunday 0129:30 2000 Hz MFSK32
Sunday 0329:30 1500 Hz Olivia 32-2000
Sunday 1039:30 2000 Hz MFSK32 image
Sunday 2259:30 2000 Hz MFSK16
Monday 0059:00 2000 Hz MFSK32
Monday 0329:00 1500 Hz Olivia 32-2000

AndFlmsg (Fldigi for Android). If you have an Android tablet or phone, a new beta release (B0.5.0) of AndFlmsg  is now available at  http://www.w1hkj.com/vk2eta/ . This new version can decode MFSK images and has other improvements. Please let me know your results. (This tip from the developer: On the modem screen, to copy and paste part of the decoded text, simply stop the modem with the Modem On/Off button, then long-press on the received text to show the select/copy tool. The text can then be pasted into an email app for example.) (AndFlmsg B0.5.0 may not yet have the 8PSK125F mode.)

Thank you for your helpful reports from last weekend's broadcast (program 104). I will compile the gallery of MFSK images and answer those reports as soon as I can.


Kim


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net



Friday, March 27, 2015

ALE Included in 2015 US Armed Forces Day Tests

Every year, various US military auxiliary (MARS) stations conduct an activity in which they listen for stations on amateur frequencies and transmit on out-of-band military frequencies.  This operation is specifically authorized by FCC rules once a year for what's called the Armed Forces Day Communication Test. Indeed, the activity used to be on Armed Forces Day, the third weekend in May. In recent years, however, they've moved it up a week to avoid conflict with the popular Dayton Hamvention.

This year's test will include Automatic Link Establishment.  Yes, this is legal for hams to use, and there is an HFLINK net that does just that. The only hard part is transmitting, since antenna match has to be retuned very quickly by the standards of amateur gear. Good autotuners are essential.

Receiving in scanning mode, though, can be done with plain old PC-ALE. Create a .qrg file of the mil frequencies, and off you go.

From the announcement:

ALE IN USA ANNUAL ARMED FORCES DAY CROSS-BAND
COMMUNICATIONS TEST (09-10 MAY 2015)


= Armed Forces Day ALE Direct Interoperability =

This is the first year that ALE will be in use for this event.
Ham operators may use ALE "Individual Call" selective calling
to connect with a military station, for voice communications.
Amateur Stations with Automatic Link Establishment (ALE)
capability can contact a military station directly on specific
half duplex “cross band” channels established for this purpose.

Military stations will scan and receive certain Amateur
HFLINK ALE frequencies, and transmit on the corresponding
military ALE frequency. Military stations will also
transmit ALE station identification (soundings) on each
military frequency at 30 to 90 minute intervals. Amateur
stations which are capable may scan the military frequencies
and monitor the soundings to build the LQA database or
select the channel manually. HF Radios with an embedded
ALE feature, or ham radios with computer-based PC-ALE,
are compatible for use with the military 2G-ALE used in
this event.


============================

 ALE Military Stations:

 CALLSIGN | ALE ADDRESS

 AAZ | AAZ
 NBL | HMBNNN
 NUW | NUW
 AGA2SY | 2SYAGA

 ============================


Armed Forces Day Interoperability

 ALE CHANNEL FREQUENCY LIST:

 Channel| Amateur      | Military
 X75US  |  3,996.0 USB |  4,000.0 USB
 X60INT |  5,371.5 USB |  5,385.5 USB
 X40US  |  7,296.0 USB |  7,357.0 USB
 X20INT | 14,346.0 USB | 14,846.0 USB
 X17INT | 18,117.5 USB | 18,272.5 USB
 X15INT | 21,432.5 USB | 20,940.0 USB
 X12INT | 24,932.0 USB | 24,858.5 USB

 
Upper Sideband (USB) is utilized on all frequencies
for transmit and receive.

============================

Amateur stations seeking more information about ALE go to
http://hflink.net http://hflink.net

============================

ABOUT THE ANNUAL ARMED FORCES DAY CROSS-BAND MILITARY/AMATEUR
RADIO COMMUNICATIONS TEST (09-10 MAY 2015)

The US Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard
are co-sponsoring the annual military/amateur radio
communications tests in celebration of the 65th Anniversary
of Armed Forces Day (AFD) and the 90th Anniversary of MARS.

The annual celebration is a unique opportunity to test two
way communications between Amateurs and military communicators
authorized in 47 CFR 97.111, and features traditional military
to amateur cross band SSB voice, Morse Code, practice using
legacy interoperability waveforms, as well as an opportunity
for Amateurs to utilize more modern military communications
modes such as MIL-STD Serial PSK and Automatic Link
Establishment (ALE). These tests give Amateur Radio operators
and Short Wave Listeners (SWL) an opportunity and a challenge
to demonstrate their individual technical skills, and to
receive recognition from the appropriate military radio
station for their proven expertise. QSL cards will be
provided to those stations making contact with the military
stations.

Important Experimental 5-mode VOA Radiogram for March 28-29

VOA Radiogram is having an important test session this week.  Please read these essential instructions if you wish to participate in this test.

From Kim Andrew Elliott:


Hello friends,

For this weekend's VOA Radiogram, please download Fldigi 3.22.06 from http://w1hkj.com/download.html.

We will try two of the new 8PSK modes with forward error correction (FEC). These are available in 3.22.06. The FEC built into 8PSK125F and 8PSK250F might help these modes survive the rigors of shortwave, despite their fast speed.

Fldigi 3.22.06 also restores the ability to display UTF-8 characters [broken in 3.22.05 -Hugh], although this weekend's program contains no non-Latin characters or exotic punctuation marks.

This weekend's program (program 104) will transmit the same 724-word Reuters news story about social media in Africa in five different modes, each increasing in speed, until MFSK32 resumes to close the show ...

 2:53 MFSK32 (120 wpm)*
12:18 MFSK64 (250 wpm)*
18:05 8PSK125F (317 wpm)
20:55 MFSK128 (480 wpm)*
25:17 8PSK250F (635 wpm)
26:51 MFSK32: Closing announcements
27:33 MFSK32: Bonus image of solar eclipse

* with image

It is likely that decoding errors will be seen as the modes increase in speed. Nevertheless, please stay tuned until the closing announcements and image in MFSK32.

In Fldigi: Configure > Modems > PSK: At the bottom of this menu under "8 psk", leave the Pilot tone box unchecked, which is the default. We will try the pilot tone with 8PSK during the weekend of April 4-5.

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):
Sat 0930-1000 5910 kHz*
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

* This will change to 5745 kHz beginning 4 April 2015.

The Mighty KBC will transmit a minute of MFSK64 Saturday at about 1230 UTC on 6095 kHz and Sunday at about 0130 UTC on 7375 kHz. Both frequencies are via Germany. The last KBC Saturday broadcast on 6095 kHz will be 28 March. KBC will continue Sundays at 0900-1600 UTC on 6095 kHz.

AndFlmsg. If you have an Android device, please try the free beta Android app AndFlmsg from http://www.w1hkj.com/vk2eta/. Although AndFlmsg is designed for Flmsg forms, it also decodes plain text (non-Flmsg) content. Swipe AndFlmsg until you reach the modem screen, the one with the W.Fall On/Off button bottom right. Acoustic coupling -- radio speaker near the Android device's built-in mic -- usually works well. [Works great here. Everything but the images. - Hugh]

Thank you for your reception reports from last weekend. I will compile the MFSK image gallery and respond to your reports as soon as I can.

As of the end of March 2015, VOA Radiogram has been on the air two years. We are still learning new things about text and images via shortwave, and software is being developed. Thanks for your support.

Kim

Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vanuatu Cyclone Relief on HF

From Dallas McKenzie on UDXF:

8.992 (RNZAF) and 8.867 (Auckland Radio)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Severe (Kp=8) Geomagnetic Storm in Progress

From Solarham:


March 17th, 2015 is turning out to be a very lucky day for sky watchers. A Severe G4 Level (KP=8) Geomagnetic Storm was observed following the passage of a coronal mass ejection (CME). Solar wind speeds increased to near 700 km/s and the Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) pointed sharply south (-20 to -25nT) for long durations, thus helping to intensify storm conditions. Sky watchers at middle to high latitudes should be alert for additional aurora displays during the next 24 hours once it is dark outside. Additional sub-storming will be possible should solar wind conditions cooperate.


The aurora photos making the Internet rounds are unbelievable.  The full structure of the aurora is revealed, with the different colors from different spectral lines all visible at once.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Screen Shot of VOA Radiogram on Android Tablet

17860 kHz ~1610 UTC Mar 14 2015:
(disregard time shown on screen)



Friday, March 13, 2015

Interesting VOA Radiogram for March 14-15


From Kim Andrew Elliott:


Hello friends,

Last weekend's tests with audio levels and the "wandering RSIDs" were not especially conclusive. I will study your reports in more detail as I read and answer your emails in the next few days.

[I can't get a handle on that one either.  It happened to me once, but I couldn't find a reason despite having the SDR's I/Q recording. -Hugh]

The VOA news item in Flmsg generally worked well.

A few listeners, including me, tried the new AndFlmsg Android app to decode VOA Radiogram. That was also successful. See more here:

http://voaradiogram.net/post/113349398627/decoding-voa-radiogram-on-android-devices

I bought a US$80 Android tablet.  I never before owned a tablet or played with Android, but I was able to download the app and make it work. (I still have much to learn about tablets, Android, and the app.)

If you have an Android device, you can download the beta version of AndFlmsg from:

http://www.w1hkj.com/vk2eta/

[I grabbed this app after Kim mentioned it last week. It works on my ASUS tablet here.  Screen shot:


]

It has been the custom on VOA Radiogram to insert line breaks at 65 characters.  This seems to provide the best looking print-out of text on most personal computers. On this weekend's  program, there will be no line breaks on the second news story: It will be pure "wrap."  Let me know how it looks on your display. This will be especially interesting if you are trying the AndFlmsg app on an Android app.  

This weekend's VOA Radiogram will include a brief Flmsg item (using plaintext form), just before the closing announcements and using the plaintext form. It will be interesting to see how this renders on personal computers using Fldigi and on Android devices using And Flmsg.

Yes, last weekend's transmission UTC 8 March at 0230-0300 had technical difficulties. The transmitter stayed on the air, but the audio input was interrupted in the beginning, so the first MFSK32 image could not be decoded.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 102, 14-15 March 2015, all in MFSK32 except where noted:

  1:58  Program preview
  3:02  Iran's "Halal" Internet*
10:37  Islamic state's Facebook alternative goes offline*
17:12  North Koreans import smartphones to store videos*
24:51  Flmsg about AndFlmsg
25:47  Closing announcements
28:19  Olivia 32-1000: Bonus mode of the week

* with image

Please send reception report to radiogram@voanews.com.

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):
Sat 0930-1000 5910 kHz
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

The Mighty KBC will transmit a minute of MFSK (an image showing the central railway station in Ede, the Netherlands, home of KBC) on Saturday at 1230 UTC on 6095 kHz, and Sunday at 0130 UTC (Saturday evening 9:30 pm EDT) on 7375 kHz. Both frequencies are via Germany. Reports to Eric at themightykbc@gmail.com .

Thanks for your very interesting reception reports from last weekend.  I'll compile a gallery of MFSK images and respond as soon as possible.

Kim

Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Congratulations to VOA Radiogram on Program #100!

The VOA Radiogram which airs this weekend is number 100. I have been in a crazy work period and not posting as much stuff to the blog as I should, but now that it's aired I have to say something.  Thanks to Kim Andrew Elliott and whoever else was instrumental on getting this ground-breaking fusion of broadcast and utility techniques onto a transmitter with international reach.

Kim has shown over these two years that he's one of us. He gets it.

Most of his selections from VOA News are about science and technology.  Obviously, anyone geeky enough to hang on for 100 broadcasts would be interested in these.

More recently, though, he has rotated in stories from RFE/RL and such about media freedom and the attacks on it. This has included the "Net Neutrality" debate in the US, and the objectivity of RT (Russia Today).

Program 100 contains something Kim wrote for the International Broadcasting column in the March 2015 Journal of the North American Shortwave Association (NASWA). It's good, and it's annotated by moi:

VOA Radiogram: Two years of strange noises on shortwave
Kim Andrew Elliott

March 2015 will mark two years of VOA Radiogram, the weekly Voice
of America program in which digital text and image modes are, as
illogical as it may seem, [1] broadcast by an analog shortwave
broadcast transmitter.

A few years ago I was aware that more and more countries were
devising more and more ways to block Internet content.  [2] At the
same time, as a radio amateur, I was becoming active in the
digital modes. I was amazed at how well the digital modes, many
with built-in error correction, could cope with difficult HF
conditions.

In a rare flicker of inspiration, I thought of using digital
modes on shortwave to transmit text and images, the building
blocks of web pages, into countries where the Internet is
censored.

However, at the time, I thought that the digital modes had to be
transmitted and received in single sideband, because that's how
the hams do it. An engineering colleague set me straight: the
digital modes are conveyed via audio, and audio can be
transmitted by AM as well as SSB. [3]

That revelation meant that the digital modes could be transmitted
on any existing analog AM shortwave broadcast transmitter. And it
could be received even on inexpensive portable shortwave radios
with no SSB capability. Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), on the
other hand, needs a new transmitter, or at least a new exciter,
and a special (and these days hard to find) receiver. [4]

How to decode the modes

To decode the VOA Radiogram content, audio from the plain or
fancy receiver must be patched into a personal computer. (In a
pinch, the radio's speaker can be placed next to the built-in mic
of a laptop PC.) Software does the decoding. Most VOA Radiogram
listeners use Fldigi from w1hkj.com, but other decoding software,
such as MultiPSK and DM780, is available.

The concept was first tested on WBCQ and WRMI. In March 2013, the
new VOA Radiogram program went on the air, transmitted from a
50-year-old GE transmitter, using 80 kilowatts, at the IBB
Greenville, NC, site. 

Thousands of reception reports have so far been received from
shortwave listeners and radio amateurs. Most are located in
Europe and North America, but some are in Latin America and Asia.
Most weekends, VOA Radiogram is successfully decoded by a
listener in New Zealand, 14000 km from the transmitter. 

MFSK is the best, so far

In the first weeks of VOA Radiogram, the various digital modes
available to amateur radio were tested side by side. These modes
included the various flavors and speeds of BPSK, QPSK, MT63,
Olivia, and Thor. It was, however, MFSK that provided the most
successful text decodes. And, as a bonus, MFSK can also be used
to transmit images, in a manner similar to slow scan television
(SSTV).  [5]

In addition to the decision about the mode was the question of
the speed of the mode. As a general rule, the faster the mode,
the less able it is to cope with difficult shortwave conditions.
MFSK16 (as in 16 baud) is amazingly robust in dreadful
conditions, but slow at 55 words per minute. MFSK64 is 240 wpm
but works well only in favorable conditions. MFSK128, at 480 wpm,
is blisteringly fast but really best suited for local VHF and
UHF. Ultimately, MFSK32  demonstrated the best combination of
speed (120 wpm) and performance in typical, i.e. usually not
brilliant, shortwave conditions.

Extends the range of (what's left of) shortwave broadcasts

Reception reports and audio files received from listeners
indicate that MFSK32 not only works well, it works better than
voice on analog shortwave. In conditions where a typical voice
broadcast is difficult to comprehend, e.g. my voice introduction
to each VOA Radiogram, the text is often copied 100%. Thus, the
introduction of software has extended the communications
capability of shortwave broadcast transmitters, just at a time
when those transmitters are being dismantled at an alarming rate.

If a country blocks our Internet content, it will probably also
jam our shortwave broadcasts. The text modes have been tested
against Chinese jamming of VOA and Radio Free Asia, and Cuban
jamming of Radio Martí. Remote receivers in or near the target
countries show the text modes slicing through some intense
jamming. [6]

MFSK32 occupies only about 500 Hz of the 2000 Hz bandwidth
available in each sideband of an AM shortwave signal. New modes
in development use all of that available 2000 Hz, to some extent
for additional speed, but even more for additional error
correction. This would result in a text delivery technology
especially well- suited to shortwave broadcasting, and perhaps
even more resistant to jamming. [7]

Now we need hardware and software solutions

It would be helpful if more of the surviving shortwave broadcast
stations would transmit text and images, even just a few minutes
per week. This would encourage software developers and receiver
manufacturers to facilitate the reception of these modes. The
Elecraft K3 amateur transceiver decodes the popular PSK31 mode
and shows the text on the rig's display, so receivers could also
do this with other modes. [8]

Fldigi and the other decoding software now used by VOA Radiogram
listeners are really designed for amateur radio use. They include
several features, such as encoding, not needed for receive-only
use and intimidating to the non-technical. Therefore, a vital
requirement is the development of a software app that would
simplify the decoding process and make it possible on mobile
devices as well as PCs.  [9]


---

[1] Cuba's been doing it for years. They tested a variety of digital modes over high powered AM rigs that sure sounded like Radio Havana's. Now they broadcast a complex one called RDFT, in AM, on a full schedule daily.

[2] I'm weird, but I've said for years that putting all our communications onto the Internet means that we give up redundancies that greatly increased end-to-end delivery reliability in our previous mix of comm systems.  2015 is shaping up as the year more people join the growing chorus of, "You know, we should have kept some of that old HF stuff."

[3] True. There are other (better) ways to do it, but right now the decode takes place after the audio output of the receiver. I typically receive in LSB because it's a little less noisy on the images given the sub-optimum frequencies they're received on here.  The difference is negligible otherwise.

[4] It also needs a 12-15 dB s/n ratio.  "Digital ready" transmitters, or conversions of same with the required power, are expensive, and receivers get a price bump from the license fee which discourages what audience there might be.  Right now, huge HF setups are valued mostly as scrap metal.

[5] Both big pluses.  MFSK has a 100% duty cycle, same as old FSK RTTY, which is still used daily on ham bands.  I was personally surprised when some of the amateur contest BPSK modes didn't do better, but amateur is a different set of parameters.

[6] On the noisy channels I have, VOA Radiogram's MFSK is typically 99% copy. The voice is often unintelligible.

[7] True, if the extra bandwidth was used for redundancy and error correction.  Right now most of the b/w at the high end of the audio passband is harmonics.

[8] Doing it in-rig is a neat concept.  The non-technical consumer would ideally have a simple box from Radios R Us with the fewest possible knobs and config settings. Maybe an output to a PC or a Bluetooth device at the max.

[9] MFSK decoding, with images, should not be difficult on tablets and smartphones.  I print RTTY on mine regularly.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

30 MHz Mystery Deepens

A few days ago, a very strong beeping noise appeared around 30000.99 kHz.  A previous post to this blog and a YouTube video mentioned this beep.  Others had discovered it as well, and as of today there had been loggings from Europe, both Americas, New Zealand, and possibly other places..  The signal is skip, probably from the USA, and definitely using high effective radiated power.

Or at least it was, since no one heard it today much after 1400 UTC.

This might or might not have been due to conditions.  Today's band conditions have been erratic at best and poor at worst, due to a weak magnetic storm which is still in progress.  Yesterday, however, the conditions were good.  The list of signals monitored just above 30 MHz was bizarre:

1. Everyone heard the aforementioned pip/ dasher/ beacon/ beeper/ whatever you call it at your house.

2. Europeans copied faxes from GYA, the UK Royal Navy.  This fax was heard weakly here in Southern California, although no clear copy was possible.

3. Americans and some Europeans copied USB ALE from EN10, which has been monitored before on lower frequencies.  It's the Arkansas National Guard.  Most of the time, tuning a dial/window to 30000.03 kHz centers the signal, though in the morning (U.S. time) it seems to drift up to 30000.47 kHz.  It sounds every half hour, and each sounding consists of three separate transmissions.

4. Some Europeans heard weak time or data signals.  These are not the same as the beeper, which actually has a period around 0.6 seconds.

5. Both Richard Dillman (San Francisco) and myself (SoCal) have heard single dahs, just a transmitter keyed once on and off, and then gone.  These appear rarely, like only a couple of times a day, but they are extremely strong when they do.  There is a huge click on both make and break of a sort caused more by FFT overloading than any defect in the actual transmitted signal.  Whoever is making these is using serious RF.

6.  There have been other assorted noises of a sort common to this part of the radio spectrum. Today I had what sounded like an RF welder or heater, and something which sounded like CB or "freeband" splatter.  These noises come and go with the skip, but they are nothing new.

In previous solar peaks, the spectrum between 30 and 50 MHz has produced some of the strangest things anyone has ever heard on the radio.  This time around, however, the reduced use of this band has definitely taken its toll, and I was beginning to wonder if there would be any good heavy-duty mysteries to remember in the low solar years.

I need wonder no more.  We have a good one indeed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

ALE above 30 MHz?

Multiple listeners have copied USB ALE on 30000.03 kHz USB (dial/window frequency).  It's always soundings by EN10, a known military call sign used by the National Guard.

This is not the first time I have noticed ALE above 30 MHz, though it's the first time I actually got a decode on it.

Be warned that the frequency also has a signal consisting of a continuous stream of beeps, with alternating pulse lengths measured at 0.1 and 0.15 seconds. Nothing about this is known, except that it strongly appears to be a propagated signal as opposed to, say, a nearby radiolocation beacon.

Yesterday's activity is shown in a YouTube video on this column's channel.

Friday, February 06, 2015

VOA Radiogram for 7-8 Feb 2015

Hello friends,

On last weekend’s program, many attempts by listeners to use Fldigi to decode the CW bonus mode were not successful. I probably should have inserted more blank lines before the CW began, and the simultaneous music was probably not helpful. All of this is probably just as well, because the CW message mentioned my birthday, including my age in Roman numerals. (If you want to try it again, the audio -- minus music, fading, noise, etc -- is here.)

[The message was KIM IS LXIII 3 FEB -Hugh]

On this weekend’s VOA Radiogram, we will again transmit the MFSK32 once, followed by a 30-second tuning signal. Listeners have suggested another possible solution when the RxID causes Fldigi to tune to the wrong frequency: Configure > IDs > turn on Disable freq change.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 97, 7-8 February 2015:

 1:49  Tuning signal and program preview
 3:36  Media restrictions in Azerbaijan
 5:29  Media restrictions in Kyrgyzstan
 6:37  Website of English-language Moscow Times disrupted*
10:46  BBC considers adding a Korean service*
15:46  China blocks VPNs and may step up net censorship*
24:14  New material promises faster computer chips*
27:29  Closing announcements
28:52  Contestia 32-1000: Bonus mode of the week

* with image

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):
Sat 0930-1000 5910 kHz
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com .

The Mighty KBC will transmit a minute of MFSK64 Saturday at about 1230 UTC on 6095 kHz and Sunday at about 0130 UTC (Saturday 8:30 pm EST) on 7375 kHz. Both frequencies are via Germany. Send reports to Eric at themightykbc@gmail.com.

Thanks for your reports to VOA Radiogram last weekend. From your reports, it appears that the 15670 kHz transmission is again being heard in Europe, now that difficult mid-winter propagation is (mostly) behind us. I will soon respond to your reports, including the MFSK gallery from program 96. New in that gallery will be images from Thailand.

Kim

Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram

Friday, January 30, 2015

CW in VOA Radiogram for 31 Jan and 01 Feb

From Kim Andrew Elliott:

Hello friends,

The most interesting event from last weekend’s program was the inaudibility, in much of North America, of the Sunday 0230-0300 UTC transmission on 5745 kHz. The signal was somewhat better in Europe. I tried several remote receivers and finally found a good signal on a receiver in Venezuela.

The experiment with the thirty-second tuning signal seems to have succeeded, so we will do it again this weekend. After the voice introduction, the MFSK32 RSID will be transmitted once. If Fldigi is not tuned to an audio frequency near 1500 Hz, use the tuning signal to center the tuner to the correct frequency.

The bonus mode of the week will be CW. There is no RSID for CW, so, if you use Fldigi to help “copy” the CW, change the mode manually. It will probably also help to set the CW transmit speed to 15 WPM so that Fldigi receives at or near the 15 WPM used for the bonus CW transmission. …



Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 96, 31 January/1 February 2015, all in MFSK32 except for the bonus CW:

 2:11  Program preview (now)
 3:16  Greece reconsiders sale of port to Chinese company*
 7:09  US firms concerned about Chinese cyber regulation*
13:11  Fake products on Chinese online sales sites*
19:15  Freedom in the World 2015 report*
27:04  Closing announcements
28:27  CW: Bonus mode of the week

*with image

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):
Sat 0930-1000 5910 kHz
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

The Mighty KBC will transmit a minute of MFSK64 (image of a great looking radio dial in the dark) Saturday at about 1230 UTC on 6095 kHz, and Sunday at about 0130 UTC (Saturday 8:30 pm EST) on 7375 kHz. Both frequencies are via Germany. Send reports to Eric at themightykbc@gmail.com .

Thanks for your reports from last weekend. The MFSK image gallery will include a dearth of pictures from the UTC Sunday 0230 transmission because of the aforementioned poor propagation. Last weekend I had problems opening images attached to everyone’s emails, so I apologize to anyone whose MFSK image decode was left out of the program 94 gallery.

Kim

Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net 

Friday, January 23, 2015

VOA Radiogram for January 24-25

From Kim Andrew Elliott:

Hello friends,

Many of you have had problems with the Fldigi RxID. It correctly identifies the MFSK32 mode, but sets the audio frequency to somewhere between 1100 and 1200 Hz rather than the actual 1500 Hz center frequency.

I've noticed this phenomenon for over a year, but it might be more prevalent in newer versions of Fldigi.

If you are receiving a strong signal from the North Carolina transmitter, there is often a "halo" above and below the 500-Hz-wide trace of the MFSK32 signal. You can see this in a screenshot sent by Jonathan in Ontario ...






I think the Fldigi RxID latches on to the first thing it encounters that looks like an RSID, which would be the halo to the left (lower in frequency) of the actual MFSK32 signal. That halo is enough to activate the RxID, but not enough to receive actual text.

One solution might be to use an attenuator. Another solution is, in Fldigi: Configure > ID > turn off "Searches passband," then manually set the center frequency to 1500 Hz.

On this weekend's VOA Radiogram, after my voice introduction, I will transmit the MFSK32 RSID. That will be followed by a 30-second tuning signal. If the RxID set Fldigi to the wrong audio frequency, this will give you time to retune to the correct frequency.

After the first MFSK32 RSID, I will transmit no further RSID's until the RSID for the bonus mode of the week: MT63-2000L.  

Olivia 16-2000: Last weekend's Olivia 16-2000 did not perform as well as the slower Olivia 32-2000 of the weekend before. In fact, the Olivia 16-2000 may not have been an improvement over MFSK32. This still needs more analysis: I will look through your text files when I respond to your reception reports.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 95, 24-25 January 2015 -- all in MFSK32 except where noted:

 1:39  Thirty-second tuning signal at 1500 Hz.
 2:07  Program preview
 3:10  Early release of State of the Union text*
 9:29  Russian reaction to State of the Union comments*
18:22  US-Philippine alliance in the South China Sea*
25:38  Closing announcements*
28:16  MT63-2000L: Bonus mode of the week


* with image 

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com


VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):
Sat 0930-1000 5910 kHz         (might no longer be audible in Europe)
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz        (audible in Europe, if you are awake)
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz      (reception should be improving in Europe)
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.


The Mighty KBC will transmit a minute of MFSK64 Saturday at about 1230 UTC on 6095 kHz, and Sunday at about 0130 UTC (Saturday 8:30 pm EST) on 7375 kHz. Both frequencies are via Germany. Reception reports to Eric: themightykbc@gmail.com .


Thank you for your VOA Radiogram reception reports from the weekend of 17-18 January. I will respond to them during the weekend.


Kim


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Correction for December Utility Planet

In the December column, in the section concerning the Russian Digital Pseudo-Polytone (DP01), the incorrect frequencies were shown for Eddy Waters' logging.

The correct frequencies are 18265 (0830 UTC), 19117 (0840 UTC),  and 19922 khz (0850 UTC).

We apologize for any confusion this might have caused.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Reset Your Fldigi for VOA Radiogram January 17-18

Hello friends,

Last week’s news item in Olivia 32-2000 provided successful text decodes in some difficult reception conditions. This weekend, we will try a VOA News item in Olivia 16-2000. It’s faster, about 76 wpm, but with only 16 tones, it might not be as robust. The Olivia 16-2000 mode requires a custom setting in Fldigi.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 94, 17-18 January 2015 -- all in MFSK32 except where noted:

 1:42  Program preview
 2:50  WikiHouse simplifies home construction*
 7:22  Taiwan protests new Chinese air routes*
13:53  Facebook app provides Internet to Colombia*
20:18  Olivia 16-2000: Proposed cuts in methane emissions
25:07  Closing announcements*
28:09  Thor16: Bonus mode of the week

*with image

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):
Sat 0930-1000 5910 kHz
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

The Mighty KBC will transmit a minute of MFSK64 Saturday at about 1230 UTC on 6095 kHz and Sunday at about 0130 UTC (Saturday 8:30 pm EST) on 7375 kHz. Both frequencies are via Germany. Reports to Eric: themightykbc@gmail.com .

At voaradiogram.net, check out this very nice homebrew tube (valve) receiver used by Klaus in Germany to receive VOA Radiogram.

Thanks for the reception reports from last weekend, which I will begin answering now.

Kim

Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net