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

Friday, January 09, 2015

Slightly Slower VOA Radiogram for 10-11 January 2015

Again this weekend, because of poor mid-winter propagation, one of the VOA News stories will be transmitted in Olivia 32-2000 -- somewhat slow at 50 words per minute. In Fldigi, Olivia 32-2000 requires the custom setting of a 2000 Hz bandwidth and 32 tones. It's a robust mode that takes advantage of the available bandwidth of a shortwave broadcast channel.  

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 93, 10-11 January 2015, all in MFSK32 except where noted:

  1:42  Program preview
 3:02  Greetings to Encuentro Diexista in San Cristóbal
 5:11  Balloons with leaflets launched to North Korea*
 9:45  Chinese-led canal project in Nicaragua*
15:33  Russian-language TV program expands to Latvia*
21:06  Olivia 32-2000: Hashtag supports Charlie Hebdo
25:19  Closing announcements*
28:33  MFSK64L: 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.

Images for the gallery. Fldigi automatically saves MFSK images as .png files in the Windows folder C:\Users\[You]\fldigi.files\images\. The folder names and locations may be different in other operating systems. It is easiest for me to include your images in the weekly gallery of MFSK images if you attach those .png files to your reception report. 

The Mighty KBC will (as far as I know, although I didn't have a chance to confirm) include 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 for 6095 and/or 7375 reception to Eric at themightykbc@gmail.com .

Thanks for the many interesting reports for program 92. I hope to answer as many of those as I can before this weekend is over.

Kim

Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net

Friday, December 26, 2014

Newsy VOA Radiogram for December 27-28

From Kim Andrew Elliott:

Hello friends,

This weekend's VOA Radiogram includes VOA News story by Doug Bernard about the Internet in Cuba. It's longer that most of our items: about 12 minutes in MFSK32. I think it's all interesting, so I couldn't bring myself to cut any of it. I considered transmitting it in MFSK64, but given poor mid-winter propagation conditions in the northern hemisphere, I decided it best to stay with our reliable MFSK32 mode.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 91, 27-28 December 2014, all in MFSK32 except where indicated:

 1:38  Program preview
 2:38  Mobile computer lab in Nairobi*
 8:04  US wants open Internet in Cuba*
21:50  Launch of Russia's new Angara rocket*
26:18  Closing announcements*
28:22  Bonus mode: MFSK16

*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 on 7375 kHz. Both frequencies are via Germany. Send reports to Eric: themightykbc@gmail.com .

Thanks for tuning in and writing in, and for all your support, during 2014. Best wishes for the new year 2015.

Kim


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram

voaradiogram.net

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry & Well-Illustrated VOA Radiogram for December 20-21

 From Kim Andrew Elliott:

Hello friends,


Last weekend, 15670 kHz on Sunday at 1930-2000 was fair into into Europe, better than the total loss of the weekend before.  And 5910 kHz Saturday at 0930-1000 is improving into Europe now that we are near the winter solstice.



This weekend, VOA Radiogram will include six MFSK32 images.


Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 90, 20-21 December 2014:

 1:47  Program preview
 2:58  India rocket launch*
 6:06  Cambodian "ghost" plane up for auction*
10:59  Mocking Kim Jong-un is serious matter*
18:12  Belarus law on online media*
22:10  Ukrainian photo collections*
22:24  U.S. Capitol Christmas tree*
27:36  Closing announcements
28:38  Bonus mode: Thor-16

* 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. Send reports to Eric at themightykbc@gmail.com .


This reminder about Al Holt's helpful guide to building a ground isolator, to reduce noise from a computer into a shortwave radio.



I hope you can tune in and write in this weekend.


Enjoy the holidays.


Kim


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net


Thursday, December 18, 2014

"WWV" Solar Flux Hits 213!

Several complex active regions are pointed right at the Earth. They are producing class M flares and periodic minor R1-level radio blackouts. The "official" daily uncorrected solar flux broadcast by WWV hit 213 today.  I haven't checked, but that sounds like a peak for Cycle 24 or at least close to it.  Of course due to our planet relatively close to perihelion, it may go down when it's corrected.

All of this woke up VHF this morning, L.A. time, with a number of East Coast businesses audible on the West Coast. It might be a good idea to check on 6 meters at the usual times.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Wintry VOA Radiogram for 13-14 December 2014

From Kim Andrew Elliott:
Hello friends,

Many of us experience noise on our radios when audio from the radio is patched to a computer – especially a computer using an AC converter. VOA Radiogram listener Al Holt has provided these plans to build a ground isolator that might reduce some of that noise. [I used this type of transformer with a scanner once, and it works, if the problem is indeed grounding. -Hugh]

Noise from your computer cannot be blamed if you were unable to receive VOA Radiogram last weekend Sunday at 1930 UTC on 15670 kHz. Mid-winter propagation is the real cause. The 15670 kHz transmission was generally not heard  in Europe, but it was received fairly well in North America. And Chris in New Zealand received 15670 well enough for this MFSK32 image decode …


Let’s hope that 15670 is usable in Europe this weekend.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 89, 13-14 December 2014, all in MFSK32 except where noted …

1:34  Program preview (now)
2:43  News about amateur radio and shortwave
5:20  Citizen scientists track coastal ecosystem*
12:45  Controversy about South China Sea boundaries*
20:18  Russian television channel may be shut down*
27:39  Closing announcements
28:32  Bonus mode of the week: Olivia 32-1000

*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 resumes its minute of MFSK64 Saturday at about 1230 UTC on 6095 kHz, and Sunday at about 0130 UTC (8:30 pm EST) on 7375 kHz. Both frequencies are via Germany. Reports to Eric: themightykbc@gmail.com .

The ARRL 10-Meter Contest is this weekend, Saturday 0000 to Sunday 2359 UTC.  Modes are CW and phone (no digital modes). An ARRL 100th anniversary station will operate during the contest from the Voice of America Amateur Radio Club, K3VOA, using the call W1AW/3. I may be operating phone from the station on Sunday, especially around 14 to 16 UTC.  The 10-meter band is 28-29.7 MHz, where propagation can be very good, or very bad.

The International Space Station is planning to transmit slow scan television (SSTV) on 18 and 20 November. Details here. The SSTV mode will be PD180, which can be received with MultiPSK.

Thanks for all your reports from last weekend, the inaudible 15670 kHz notwithstanding. I will prepare a gallery of the images that were decoded, then answer your emails.

Thanks also to all who reported on the sound of the new audio processor being tested from the North Carolina transmitter.


Kim

Kim Andrew Elliott  
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net

Friday, December 05, 2014

Freedom-Loving VOA Radiogram for 6-7 December (Plus Radio Check Request)

From Kim Andrew Elliott:

Hello friends,
Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, program 88, 6-7 December 2014, all in MFSK32 except where indicated:


 1:38  Program preview
 2:41  Audio processor and DX meetings*
 6:51  Internet freedom report*
14:45  Mineral, mostly inaccessible, is named*
18:57  Exhibition of Navajo jewelry*
26:43  Closing announcements*
28:29  Bonus mode: QPSK31

*with image

Please send reception reports to radiogram@voanews.com.


VOA Radiogram this weekend includes news about a new report on world Internet freedom.

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 not transmit the usual minute of MFSK64 this weekend. The MFSK64 will return next weekend.


Thank you for your reception reports from last weekend, especially from those of you writing in for the first time. I will prepare either a QSL or an image gallery and try to answer all of the reports before the end of this weekend.


Please tune in and write in.


Kim


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram
voaradiogram.net

---------------
The International Broadcasting Bureau transmitting station in North Carolina is evaluating a new Orban 9300 Digital Optimod-AM audio processor on its transmitter GB-5.

The engineers in North Carolina "would be very interested in any listener comments regarding fidelity and the ability to overcome less than ideal propagation while using the new audio processor."

Here is the schedule:

UTC           kHz      Content
0400-0700     7405     Radio Martí
1230-1300     9610     Vatican Radio
1400-2000    13820     Radio Martí

These are normal voice broadcasts, with some music, not digital text modes! You may notice co-channel noise from Cuba on the Radio Martí frequencies.

Send reception reports to our usual address, radiogram@voanews.com, and I will forward them to North Carolina.