Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More On New HFDL System Table #34 (0x0022)

Users of PC-HFDL probably know that when ARINC changes the System Table of frequencies used for this huge system, the mismatch is picked up by the program. You see this when it reverts to using numbers instead of frequencies in kHz. Checking the "System Table" box to open the window won't help, because the program still doesn't have the new information.

PC-HFDL does have the ability to update itself, but you have to be lucky. What happens is that the mismatch is also picked up by the "real" HFDL system, which sends aircraft the new table until everyone has it. Those who are listening at the right time, or the real hard core fans who run PC-HFDL 24/7 are already in business.

Everyone else has to update it by hand. Here's what you do:

1. Find the directory containing PC-HFDL. There should be a subfolder called configs (all lower case). This contains, at a minimum, three files auto-generated by PC-HFDL the first time it runs. These are:

pchfdl.ini (don't worry about this one);

pchfdl.dat (contains a lot of weird text and binary stuff that is apparently a capture of the system table from the air; this is how the program updates itself);

pchfdl.txt (a list of ground stations, with unused slots and 0 padded with UNKNOWN).

2. Ordinarily, only pchfdl.dat would need to be changed. However, this time there's a new ground station. This one replaces the long-gone Annapolis station in slot number 11. It's at or near the old Albrook Air Base near Panama City, which was once used by the US until the canal was given back. Therefore the HFDL community has decided to call it ALBROOK in PC-HFDL.

Therefore, two files must be changed.

3. Back up pchfdl.dat and pchfdl.txt somewhere else, so you have untouched copies if you need to revert.

4. Make sure PC-HFDL is not running, or none of the subsequent steps will work.

5. Download the new pchfdl.dat from somewhere. I got my copy from the excellent HFDL group on Yahoo. This is a great group populated by the real heavy duty HFDL monitors, and it is highly recommended. If you don't want to join, a copy of the file is on the Utility World site. It's the same one in use here, though for various reasons I can't guarantee it will be right for everyone.

6. Go to the PC-HFDL config folder and rename the existing pchfdl.dat. Copy in the new one. Make sure the file doesn't get changed in any way, for it indeed IS a binary and must be treated as such. Most problems in this step come from the file getting changed somehow.

7. Now it's time to fix the ground station list. This is easy. Rename pchfdl.txt and open it an any plain text editor like Notepad. Don't use a formatting editor like MS-WORD that adds stuff, unless you know how to save straight text from the program. Find the line containing ANNAPOLIS - MARYLAND and change it to ALBROOK - PANAMA.

When you're done, the text in the file should look like this:

UNKNOWN
SAN FRANCISCO - CALIFORNIA
MOLOKAI - HAWAII
REYKJAVIK - ICELAND
RIVERHEAD - NEW YORK
AUCKLAND - NEW ZEALAND
HAT YAI - THAILAND
SHANNON - IRELAND
JOHANNESBURG - SOUTH AFRICA
BARROW - ALASKA
UNKNOWN
ALBROOK - PANAMA
ANCHORAGE - ALASKA
SANTA CRUZ - BOLIVIA
KRASNOYARSK - RUSSIA
AL MUHARRAQ - BAHRAIN
AGANA - GUAM
CANARIAS - SPAIN


Save as pchfdl.txt and exit.

8. Fire up PC-HFDL, find some squitters to decode, and you should be back in business.

I have working copies of pchfdl.dat and pchfdl.txt for public download on the Utility World web site. You're welcome to them, though of course I must again note that they have no guarantees due to the jungle that is Windows. They were good files whey I put them up there, but that's where my knowledge of them stops.

I also have version34.txt, which is just a straight capture of the contents of the window that comes up when you check the System Table box. It's a good way to get the new table in its entirety. However, it's not needed for the operation of PC-HFDL.

Have a good flight!