Thursday, June 28, 2007

Listening Report: 14076-77 kHz USB Is Amateur

The "Polytone" signals discovered yesterday in the 20 meter digital subband are definitely amateur, not Russian intelligence. Considerable speculation had taken place on the ENIGMA2000 mailing list, until an amateur there mentioned that hams had been using JT65A in this frequency range. It's yet another esoteric digital mode, this one more typically used for EME (Earth-Moon-Earth aka "moon bounce") communications on VHF. It doesn't exchange a lot of information, but its short messages are very reliable in extreme fading situations and high noise floors.

I monitored this frequency range for one entire evening. I barely understand JT65A, but I get enough of what's going on to operate the software. Decoded messages were of sufficient quantity and proper signal characteristics for high confidence in their origin.

In the following dumps from WSJT's output screen, the columns are UTC hhmmss, sync, signal/noise in dB, frequency offset in Hz, measured frequency width in Hz, decode confidence, message text, Reed-Solomon success (1 is good), and overall confidence 0-10 if a "deep search" was needed (it wasn't).

Here's one good exchange. Signal levels aren't terrific, but decode seems to be working. Note the 60-second cycles:

014900 6 -13 0.2 -589 3 * CQ JR3MCV PM74 1 0
015000 0 -15 7.6 46 2
015100 7 -8 0.3 -589 3 * CQ JR3MCV PM74 1 0
015200 2 -17 0.5 -592 4 * JR3MCV AF6AS DM13 1 0
015300 4 -9 0.2 -589 3 * CQ JR3MCV PM74 1 0
015400 5 -14 0.0 -592 1 * JR3MCV AF6AS DM13 1 0
015500 3 -11 -0.2 -589 3 * AF6AS JR3MCV -23 1 0
015600 6 -12 0.1 -587 3 * JR3MCV AF6AS R-15 1 0
015700 6 -7 0.2 -589 3 * AF6AS JR3MCV RRR 1 0
015800 3 -11 0.0 -581 4 * JR3MCV AF6AS R-15 1 0
015900 6 -9 0.3 -589 3 * AF6AS JR3MCV RRR 1 0
020000 7 -10 0.1 -581 3 * JR3MCV AF6AS 73 1 0
020100 5 -9 0.3 -589 0 * AF6AS JR3MCV 73 1 0

Here's a later CQ, which was validated by the presence of a Morse ID transmitted after the JT65A CQ call:

031000 2 -6 0.7 65 4 * CQ WB5TUF EL29 1 6
031200 5 -9 0.1 65 4 * CQ WB5TUF EL29 1 5

Similar with this one:

032700 3 -9 -0.4 27 4 * RZ1OM W9RVG EM57 1 0

And this:

033300 8 -7 -0.1 -75 3 * UT5UBB W9RVG EM57 1 0

It's hams, folks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NMN Reception Report Information (For Night of Nights)

Senior Chief Petty Officer Jerry D. Burleson, Operations Specialist In Charge at Coast Guard Communication Area Master Station Atlantic/NMN has written to supply reception report information for that station. The information has been added to the Night of Nights VIII page of the MRHS Web site at:

http://www.radiomarine.org

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Senior Chief Petty Officer Burleson and the staff at CAMSLANT/NMN for the time and effort they have dedicated to activating this famous station on Morse once again. It could not have been an easy task. The Radioman rating may no longer exist in the USCG but its clear that many still serving remember the tradition of maritime communications and the many lives saved by USCG ops standing guard on 500kc.

VY 73,

RD

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yet More Google Earth Coordinates

Some French Forces stuff...


46°42'56.49"N 1°14'18.61"E

The French Navy's awesome VLF facility at Rosnay, running 500 kW on various frequencies around 20 kHz.


48°32'47.72"N 2°34'47.76"E

Another transmitting station in the French Navy VLF network, at Sainte-Assise. These communicate with nuclear missile subs.


48°55'9.49"N 2°10'20.50"E

Major HF transmitting site just west of Carrieres-sur-Seine, outside of Paris. All types of antennas are visible, including large rotary log periodics and various types of wires. Probably military.

Note the important-looking high-security compound at the south end of this facility, with its huge microwave mast, satellite dish, double perimeter, and weird play field painted on the tarmac. "Nycotin," a contributor to the Google Earth Community, seems to think this is an underground Navy comm center with nuclear- hardened antennas in silos. I certainly cannot confirm this!

Night of Nights VIII - Official Announcement

All ships and stations please copy...

HISTORIC MORSE CODE RADIO STATION KPH
RETURNS TO THE AIR FOR "NIGHT OF NIGHTS VIII"

Plus...

o Station KFS will return to the air!

o MRHS station KSM will be on the air.

o Coast Guard station NMN to be heard for the first time since
USCG ended the use of Morse!

o Coast Stations WLO, KLB, NMC, NOJ and NMN may join in.

o Amateur station K6KPH, with commercial operators at the key, will
be QRV signal reports.

If you're not already a member, join the MRHS mailing list for late
information. Just send an email message to:

Radiomarine-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

------------

It's hard to believe that this will the eighth annual Night of Nights.
What began as a modest effort on the part of a small band of dedicated
enthusiasts has grown into a truly global event.

Listeners around the world wait with their earphones on to hear the
first signals rise up out of the static. Many write wonderful
letters with phrases like "It was tough going there for a while but
I stuck with you through to the end!". Words like those let us
know that we're on the right track and that this event is as close
to the hearts of many other "true believers" as it is to ours.

In this eighth annual "Night of Nights", historic Morse code radio
station KPH will return to the air in commemoration of the closing
of commercial Morse operation in the USA.

Frequency and reception report information for all stations appear
below.

KPH, the ex-RCA coast station located north of San Francisco, will
return to the air for commemorative broadcasts on 12 July at 1701 PDT
(13 July at 0001 GMT), 8 years and one minute after what was thought
to be the last commercial Morse transmission in the US. Now the
Maritime Radio Historical Society's own KSM carries on the tradition
of commercial Morse.

These on-the-air events are intended to honor the men and women who
followed the radiotelegraph trade on ships and at coast stations
around the world and made it one of honor and skill.

Transmissions are expected to continue until at least midnight PDT
(0700GMT).

Veteran Morse operators, including former KPH staff members, will be
on duty at the receiving station at Point Reyes, CA listening for
calls from ships and sending messages just as they did for so many
years before Morse operations were shut down.

The transmitters are located 18 miles south of Point Reyes in
Bolinas, CA at the transmitting station established in 1913 by the
American Marconi Co. The original KPH transmitters, receivers and
antennas will be used to activate frequencies in all the commercial
maritime HF bands and on MF as well.

Many of the KPH transmitters will be 50s vintage RCA sets. KFS will use a 1940s vintage Press Wireless PW-15 transmitter on 12Mc. This is the transmitter that was in service at KFS on the "last day" of American Morse and is thought to be the last PW-15 in service in the world. The transmitting antennas include a Marconi T for MF,
double extended Zepps for 4, 6 and 8Mc and H over 2s for 12, 16 and 22Mc.

KPH will send traffic lists, weather and press broadcasts as well as
special commemorative messages, some of which will be sent by hand.
At other times the KPH, KSM and KFS "wheel" will be sent to mark the
transmitting frequencies.

Members of the public are invited to visit the receiving station for
this event. The station will be open to visitors beginning at
1500PDT (3:00pm). The station is located at 17400 Sir Francis Drake
Boulevard and is on the route to the Point Reyes lighthouse. Watch
for a cypress lined driveway on the right about a mile past the entry
to Coast Guard station NMC.

KPH and KSM are operated by the Maritime Radio Historical Society in
cooperation with the Point Reyes National Seashore, part of the
National Park Service.

Further information may be found on the Maritime Radio Historical
Society Web site at http://www.radiomarine.org or by contacting
Richard Dillman at +1 415-663-8982 (email: ddillman@igc.org).

BT

Station Information follows...

------------

KPH

KPH will transmit on 426, 500, 4247.0, 6477.5, 8642.0, 12808.5, 17016.8 and 22477.5kc.

These frequencies and those for KFS have been made available through the generous cooperation of Globe Wireless, the current owner of the KPH and KFS licenses.

KPH operators will listen for calls from ships on ITU Channel 3 in
all bands. The Channel 3 frequencies are 4184.0, 6276.0,
8368.0, 12552.0, 16736.0 and 22280.5kc on HF and 500kc on MF.

Reception reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

Denice is a former KPH operator and was the first female telegrapher
hired at the station.

------------

KFS

KFS will transmit on 12695.5 and 17026.0

KFS will listen for calls from ships on HF Channel 3 (see
KPH listing for frequencies).

------------

KSM

KSM will transmit on 426, 500, 6474 and 12993kc.

(We don't have enough antennas to accommodate the other KSM
frequencies.)

KSM will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see
KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

------------

WLO

(NOTE: This information has not been confirmed by WLO
at the time of this announcement.)

WLO will transmit on 438, 500, 8514.0 and 12660.0kc

WLO will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see
KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to:

WLO/KLB
7700 RINLA AVENUE
MOBILE, ALABAMA 36619
USA

Or via email to: wloradio@wloradio.com

------------

KLB

KLB will transmit on 488, 500, 6411.0 and
12917.0kc beginning at 0030 GMT

KLB will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see
KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to:

klb@wavecable.com

------------

NMN

For the first time since the USCG ended Morse operations NMN
will be back on the air!

NMN will transmit on 448, 468, 500, 8471, 12718.5 and 16976kc

NMN will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see
KPH listing for frequencies).

No reception report information has been supplied for NMN.

------------

(NOTE: As of this writing operators are unavailable to put NMC on the
air. But it will be worth listening in case there's a last minute
change.)

NMC

NMC will transmit on 448, 472, 500, 6383.0, 8574.0 and 17220.5kc

NMC will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see
KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to:

COMMANDING OFFICER
ATTN ITC ERIC SIMMONS
COMMUNICATIONS AREA MASTER STATION PACIFIC
17000 SIR FRANCIS DRAKE BLVD
POINT REYES STATION, CALIFORNIA 94956-0560
USA

------------

NOJ

(Note that NOJ will be operational on MF this year!)

NOJ will transmit on 416, 470, 500, 8650.0, 12889.5
and 16909.7kc.

NOJ will listen for calls from ships on Channel 3 (see
KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to:

COMMANDING OFFICER
ATTN OSCM WILLIAM KECKLER
US COAST GUARD COMMUNICATIONS STATION KODIAK
PO BOX 190017
KODIAK, ALASKA 99619
USA

------------

K6KPH

Amateur station K6KPH will transmit and listen on 3550, 7050 and
14050kc for KPH, KFS and KSM reception reports. Professional
operators will be at the key and commercial procedures will be used.
But please don't hesitate to call, not matter what your code speed
or experience level may be.

K6KPH verification reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

BT

BV ES VY 73 TO ALL,

MRHS

Saturday, June 23, 2007

KFS Testing on 17026 kHz CW

In preparation for Night of Nights (12 July) KFS/A is testing on 17026kc, running a wheel as of 1930 GMT. For Night of Nights a 12Mc KFS frequency will also be available.

KSM is on the air as usual running a wheel with the traffic list scheduled for 2100 GMT and high seas weather at 2130 GMT on:

4350.5kc
6474.0kc
12993.0kc
16914.0kc

The traffic list and weather will be announced on 500kc and sent on 426kc.

VY 73,

Richard Dillman
Chief Operator, MRHS


(A weak QRU? marker is audible on 17026 CW in Southern California at 2159 UTC.

KSM has wx in progress at 2202 UTC. 4350.5 and 6474 are S8, 12993 is S2, and 16914 is in and out of the noise. This is consistent with skip over this distance. -Hugh)

Friday, June 22, 2007

STS-117 Landing Today

Gulfstream aircraft have just taken off at EDW and KSC to evaluate weather by shooting approaches to the runways. The first landing opportunity at KSC was waved off, now there is an orbit allowing either depending on when the deorbit burn is done. Landing would be around 1945 UTC in either case.


[EDIT 1752 UTC:]


The decision has just been made to go to Edwards AFB on the desert northeast of Los Angeles. The shuttle will come from almost due south, and the loudest sonic booms will be in San Diego and east of L.A.. Landing is on EDW runway 22 at 1949 UTC.

[UPDATE #2 1819 UTC:]

NASA's WB-57F aircraft (NASA 928) has been heard making patches on HF. It is a high-altitude research plane with various missions. It is used on shuttle missions for photo-recon of the descending spacecraft.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some More Google Earth Coordinates

38.379126, -121.762193
Google Earth recently added high-res imagery of the Dixon, CA area. The HFDL ground station is on the old VOA site, along with some Globe Wireless assets. Nice antenna farm!

56° 4'56.40"N 37° 5'25.71"E
Russian station UVB 76, source of The Buzzer (S28), a numbers station which emits only an intermittent buzzing sound 24/7/52 on 4625 kHz. We know it's a channel marker because it has been interrupted 3 times (that we know of) for short voice messages in Russian. Possibly military. Note the little roads extending away from the transmitter building and dipole antenna, leading to other antennas in the woods, or ??????

Russian Cluster Beacons Are Up

They've been reported for a couple of days now. Active clusters are (at least) 5, 7, 10, 13, and 16. Look up and down around 1 kilohertz from 5154.0, 7039.0, 10872.0, 13528.0, and 16332.0 kHz CW.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Rain In Spain

According to NASA TV, STS-117 remains go for launch at KSC. However, the weather at the Zaragoza, Spain TAL site has turned rainy, making the launch a no-go at this moment. The countdown remains in a planned hold for the approximately 8 minute window either side of 7:38 Eastern. We'll see what happens.

STS-117 On Schedule

NASA TV has just reported that the launch is still on schedule for 7:38 EST (2338 UTC) Friday evening (tonight). Weather is clear and seems to be well within launch constraints at KSC, and at one TAL (Trans-Atlantic Landing abort) site.

Has This Blog Been Censored?

Two or three posts to this blog regarding STS-117 seem to have vanished. Given the intense security surrounding this launch (such as the 50-nm radius TFR), I am currently wondering if this was a simple mistake, server glitch, or something far more intentional.

The posts were straight relays of official press information from the KSC Public Affairs Office, as sent out on their public mailing list. They were obviously carefully vetted and cleared for publication. I don't know why they would go away.

[UPDATE: The posts turned up on another blog. I didn't post them there, but that's where they went. Looks like software weirdness, not any kind of censorship.]

Booster Recovery Vessels up on 5211 kHz USB

STS-117 appears on time for the launch this evening... watching the weather...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Space Shuttle Launch Set for Next Week

STS-117 EVENTS SCHEDULE
(All times are Eastern)

L-4 Days - Monday, June 4
6:30 p.m. - STS-117 crew arrival at Shuttle Landing Facility

L-3 Days - Tuesday, June 5
9 p.m. - Launch countdown officially begins (Not on NASA TV)

L-1 Day - Thursday, June 7
10:30 p.m. - Rotating Service Structure moves to launch position

Launch Day - Friday, June 8

9:42 a.m. - Tanking commences (Not on NASA TV)
1:30 p.m. - Live launch commentary begins
3:17 p.m. -- Astronauts don flight suits
3:47 p.m. -- Depart for launch pad
4:17 p.m. -- Arrive at white room and begin ingress
5:32 p.m. -- Close crew hatch
7:38 p.m. -- Launch

NECN Quarterly Exercise in Progress

10493.0 kHz is active with the quarterly National Emergency Coordination Net drill. A FEMA station with callsign WGY ??? is working Army MARS at 1854 in USB.

It's worth checking out the alternate primary frequency on 5211.0, or maybe 13956 and 14567, USB and LSB.