Sunday, February 28, 2010

Northwest/ Delta Oddity Continues On Air

The merger between Northwest and Delta Airlines was completed on January 31, 2010. Delta is the surviving company.

A few days ago, the folding of Northwest's booking system into Delta's was completed.The Northwest web site now goes to Delta's. All NW and NWA flight codes should now be DL and DAL.

What's interesting is that NWxxxx and NWAxxx flight numbers are still appearing on ACARS and HFDL. According to several people familiar with such things, this might be due to people manually entering codes that they are used to. Since ARINC, which operates both systems, tracks flights by registration number, this should not cause problems.

Something similar is happening with Mode-S identifiers.

Northwest's aircraft are being repainted into Delta livery. Most should be done by now. I'm less sure of what will happen to the old registrations ending in NW.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tsunami Expected in Hawaii 1105 AM HST

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center:

BULLETIN
TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 15
NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI
844 AM HST SAT FEB 27 2010

TO - CIVIL DEFENSE IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT - TSUNAMI WARNING SUPPLEMENT

A TSUNAMI WARNING CONTINUES IN EFFECT FOR THE STATE OF HAWAII.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 0834 PM HST 26 FEB 2010
COORDINATES - 36.1 SOUTH 72.6 WEST
LOCATION - NEAR COAST OF CENTRAL CHILE
MAGNITUDE - 8.8 MOMENT

MEASUREMENTS OR REPORTS OF TSUNAMI WAVE ACTIVITY

GAUGE LOCATION LAT LON TIME AMPL PER
------------------- ----- ------ ----- --------------- -----
HIVA OA MARQUESAS 9.8S 139.0W 1741Z 1.79M / 5.9FT 12MIN
PAPEETE TAHITI 17.5S 149.6W 1810Z 0.16M / 0.5FT 10MIN
CABO SAN LUCAS MX 22.9N 109.9W 1743Z 0.28M / 0.9FT 18MIN
NUKU HIVA MARQUESAS 8.9S 140.1W 1745Z 0.95M / 3.1FT 04MIN
MANZANILLO MX 19.1N 104.3W 1705Z 0.32M / 1.0FT 24MIN
DART MANZANILLO 434 16.0N 107.0W 1611Z 0.07M / 0.2FT 24MIN
ACAPULCO MX 16.8N 99.9W 1549Z 0.16M / 0.5FT 24MIN
RIKITEA PF 23.1S 134.9W 1559Z 0.15M / 0.5FT 22MIN
DART MARQUESAS 5140 8.5S 125.0W 1531Z 0.18M / 0.6FT 18MIN
BALTRA GALAPAGS EC 0.4S 90.3W 1452Z 0.35M / 1.2FT 14MIN
EASTER CL 27.2S 109.5W 1205Z 0.35M / 1.1FT 52MIN
ANCUD CL 41.9S 73.8W 0838Z 0.62M / 2.0FT 84MIN
CALLAO LA-PUNTA PE 12.1S 77.2W 1029Z 0.36M / 1.2FT 30MIN
ARICA CL 18.5S 70.3W 1008Z 0.94M / 3.1FT 42MIN
IQUIQUE CL 20.2S 70.1W 0907Z 0.28M / 0.9FT 68MIN
ANTOFAGASTA CL 23.2S 70.4W 0941Z 0.49M / 1.6FT 52MIN
DART LIMA 32412 18.0S 86.4W 0941Z 0.24M / 0.8FT 36MIN
CALDERA CL 27.1S 70.8W 0843Z 0.45M / 1.5FT 20MIN
TALCAHUANO CL 36.7S 73.4W 0653Z 2.34M / 7.7FT 88MIN
COQUIMBO CL 30.0S 71.3W 0852Z 1.32M / 4.3FT 30MIN
CORRAL CL 39.9S 73.4W 0739Z 0.90M / 2.9FT 16MIN
SAN FELIX CL 26.3S 80.1W 0815Z 0.53M / 1.7FT 08MIN
VALPARAISO CL 33.0S 71.6W 0708Z 1.29M / 4.2FT 20MIN

LAT - LATITUDE (N-NORTH, S-SOUTH)
LON - LONGITUDE (E-EAST, W-WEST)
TIME - TIME OF THE MEASUREMENT (Z IS UTC IS GREENWICH TIME)
AMPL - TSUNAMI AMPLITUDE MEASURED RELATIVE TO NORMAL SEA LEVEL.
IT IS ...NOT... CREST-TO-TROUGH WAVE HEIGHT.
VALUES ARE GIVEN IN BOTH METERS(M) AND FEET(FT).
PER - PERIOD OF TIME IN MINUTES(MIN) FROM ONE WAVE TO THE NEXT.

EVALUATION

A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED THAT COULD CAUSE DAMAGE ALONG COASTLINES OF ALL ISLANDS IN THE STATE OF HAWAII. URGENT ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY.

A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF LONG OCEAN WAVES. EACH INDIVIDUAL WAVE CREST CAN LAST 5 TO 15 MINUTES OR MORE AND EXTENSIVELY FLOOD COASTAL AREAS. THE DANGER CAN CONTINUE FOR MANY HOURS AFTER THE INITIAL WAVE AS SUBSEQUENT WAVES ARRIVE. TSUNAMI WAVE HEIGHTS CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND THE FIRST WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST.

TSUNAMI WAVES EFFICIENTLY WRAP AROUND ISLANDS. ALL SHORES ARE AT RISK NO MATTER WHICH DIRECTION THEY FACE. THE TROUGH OF A TSUNAMI WAVE MAY TEMPORARILY EXPOSE THE SEAFLOOR BUT THE AREA WILL QUICKLY FLOOD AGAIN. EXTREMELY STRONG AND UNUSUAL NEARSHORE CURRENTS CAN ACCOMPANY A TSUNAMI. DEBRIS PICKED UP AND CARRIED BY A TSUNAMI AMPLIFIES ITS DESTRUCTIVE POWER. SIMULTANEOUS HIGH TIDES OR HIGH SURF CAN SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE TSUNAMI HAZARD.

THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME IN HAWAII OF THE FIRST TSUNAMI WAVE IS

1105 AM HST SAT 27 FEB 2010

MESSAGES WILL BE ISSUED HOURLY OR SOONER AS CONDITIONS WARRANT.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shouldn't We Have Had This Discussion Before We Defunded eLORAN?

BBC News:



Sat-nav systems under increasing threat from 'jammers'

By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Technology that depends on satellite-navigation signals is increasingly threatened by attack from widely available equipment, experts say.

...

A UK meeting outlining the risks was held at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington on Tuesday.

The approach still costs in the thousands and is the preserve of what Professor Last calls the "real techies", but he guessed that the tools could be in the hands of criminals within a year or two.

...

Some at the conference suggested the relative security of the eLoran ground-based system that is already in place, but which existing consumer devices do not pick up.


Actually, such devices had been designed, and were ready for market once this system was ready for them. Of course, now there will never be such a system in the USA. Much of our civilization, from navigation to timekeeping, is now completely dependent on one very good, but very vulnerable, single system.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

1800 UTC Fishery Fax Confirmed JFX

Every day at 1800 UTC, a fax is sent over the Japanese Fishery frequency of 8658.0 kHz.

Others have been able to identify this transmission as JFX, Kagoshima Prefectural Fishery Radio, in the southern part of Japan. For the first time ever, the morning of February 10 (local time, 2/11 in Japan) had good enough conditions for readable text here.

Luckily, that day's fax was self-identified with the heading JFX-NOAA. NOAA is the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, umbrella agency for the National Weather Service and several oceanic prediction centers.

Indeed, the content seemed to be columns of figures showing forecast weather conditions for three days. Well, we know that JFW, Fukushima, sends NOAA weather. Obviously Kagoshima does too.

We now have a pretty good handle on the Japanese fishery faxes. What was once known in utility books as "Chuo Gyogyo" (Central Fishery) turns out to be at least three stations at the prefectural level. These are JFC (Misaki), JFW, and JFX. All of these use common fishery frequencies of 6414.5, 8658.0, 16907.5, and 22559.0 kHz.

In addition JSC, also at Kagoshima, still blisters the US West Coast on 16971.0 kHz with a very strong relay of the Kyodo News oceanic edition. This is at 2300 UTC daily. Other transmissions occur throughout the day.

Fax is tuned 1.9 kHz below these assigned frequencies.

Weather Iffy for Sunday Night STS-130 Landing

NASA:

Weather permitting, Endeavour is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center's shuttle landing facility at 10:20 p.m. EST. The STS-130 entry team led by Flight Director Norm Knight will be on console in Mission Control at 3:30 p.m. to prepare for deorbit and landing.

The latest Kennedy forecast calls for a chance of showers within 30 nautical miles of the shuttle landing facility and a cloud ceiling at 6,000 feet, both violations of landing rules. The forecast for Edwards Air Force Base in California also contains violations for showers within 30 nautical miles of the runway and cloud ceilings at 3,000 and 6,000 feet. The National Weather Service Spaceflight Meteorology Group at Johnson Space Center will provide Knight and his team with continuous updated forecasts and real-time observations to aid in a "go-no go" decision for the deorbit burn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

SDO Launches Successfully

NASA:

The SDO spacecraft is in good shape midway through the launch phase that will eventually place it in an elongated orbit reaching more than 21,000 miles high. Eventually, SDO's orbit will be circularized and will reach about 22,300 miles in what is called geosynchronous orbit. From that altitude, the spacecraft will point its instruments at the sun and relay the readings instantly to a ground station in New Mexico. The research is expected to reveal the sun's inner workings by constantly taking high resolution images of the sun, collecting readings from inside the sun and measuring its magnetic field activity. This data is expected to give researchers the insight they need to eventually predict solar storms and other activity on the sun that can affect spacecraft in orbit, astronauts on the International Space Station and electronic and other systems on Earth.


Details at SDO Web Site.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shuttle Docks; SDO Scrubs

You know about the shuttle already, so let's get to SDO, the Solar Dynamics Observatory. This payload's been awaiting launch forever. It's a unique mission, and one that's very interesting for those of us who live and breathe radio propagation.

Basically the SDO will ultimately reach geosynchronous orbit over New Mexico, from which it will return absolutely unprecedented data from observations of the sun at an absolutely mind boggling data rate. It will be able to fill a CD's worth every 36 seconds! This requires a dedicated ground station, with dishes pointed at SDO's stationary spot in the sky.

SDO scrubbed this morning after wind violated launch constraints. The Atlas booster's computers auto-aborted the count at T-3 minutes. The next opportunity is Thursday morning at 10:23 a.m. - 11:23 a.m. EST (1523-1623 UTC).

The SDO Launch Blog is here.

You can also follow SDO on twitter. Tweets are written in the first person, as if the payload is talking. They're fun and informative, and SDO has a huge following.

This mission's going to be good.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Loran-C Is Gone (at least in southern CONUS)

The Loran-C navigational chain that has burned up 100 kHz on the US West Coast since the late 1950s is off the air. The switch was pulled soon after 2000 UTC today (Feb 8), a time that had been previously announced by the US Coast Guard.

The silence is a bit unsettling. Quiet out there. Too quiet.

A UDXF member reports that the Loran-C station in Jupiter Inlet, FL, has also left the air.

New Pchfdl.dat Is Up

A new version of pchfdl.dat, the ARINC system table #35 (0x0023) file for PC-HFDL, has been tested here and found to work properly. It came from the files section of the HFDL mailing list. I've also made it available here at this column's web site.

Close PC-HFDL if you have it open, go to the configs folder of the program's home directory, and rename the old file to something like oldpchfdl.dat . Download this new file as a binary and place it in the configs folder. Restart PC-HFDL. If the system table shows as #35, you're there.

The pchfdl.txt file that supplies the names of the ground stations to PC-HFDL has also been tweaked a bit to finally reflect the name change to PANAMA. It, too, is available on the web site, and should be added to the configs folder in the same manner described above.

Daily Solar Flux Reaches 90

Solar activity is definitely increasing. New active region #1045 really cranked it up over the weekend. It is now huge, with multiple complex spots and potential for more bright M-class solar flares such as the one yesterday. Noise bursts are also being monitored in the 21 MHz range.

Geomagnetic activity remains quiet, but region 1045 and an adjacent coronal hole are likely to change that.

Meanwhile, another large and very active region, #1046, is rotating around the limb, promising to keep things busy for a while longer.

Prettiest Space Shuttle Launch Ever

STS-130 left town in the dead of night early Monday morning, in just about the most spectacular and truly beautiful shuttle launch every televised. If you can find the replays of this, look at them.

Launch related comms, mostly with the Booster Recovery Vessels, were heard on 5211, 9043, and 10780, all USB.

HFDL System Table #35 Now Current

Actually, it changed last Thursday. Some lucky individuals have probably gotten it off the air. For the rest of us, PCHFDL.DAT is in the files sections of the UDXF and HFDL mailing lists. Also, I'll post it to the column's web site as soon as I get it and check that it works.

It appears that the only changes are for the Panama station:

13264000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
8894000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6

Sunday, February 07, 2010

STS-130 Scrubs In Dead Of Night

As I found out upon awakening, the weather did prevent a launch of Endeavour on Sunday. Clouds. The next launch opportunity is at 4:14 AM Eastern Standard Time (0914 UTC) early Monday morning.

Decision time on tanking is 6:15 PM Eastern, with tanking to begin half an hour later if approved. The cloud cover remains iffy for a launch.

If it sounds as if there are a lot of weather criteria for launch, it's because there are. The list is huge. It covers not only the launch site, but the Eastern Test Range, the Booster Recovery Zones, the Shuttle Landing Facility (RTLS abort), and the TAL (Trans Atlantic Landing abort) sites. The list is here.

It takes a fair amount of luck before they're ever able to go at all.

STS-130 Weather Is Deteriorating

Major concern affecting a launch early Sunday morning is worsening weather, with wind and low clouds to the north of KSC. Weather is now forecast to have only a 30 per cent chance of allowing launch.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

STS-130 Countdown Remains On Schedule

Endeavour is still scheduled to launch early Sunday morning, at 4:39 AM Eastern Standard Time (0939 UTC). This mission will add a large crew module called Tranquility. It has a turret-like cupola with a spectacular view of Earth.

The Rotating Service Structure was removed at 8:39 AM Eastern on Saturday. Tanking begins at 7 PM Eastern, and will be covered on NASA TV. Live commentary on NASA TV and the Launch Blog begins at 11:30 PM Eastern.

Weather shows only a 20 per cent chance of violating launch constraints.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How To Fix Sigmira

Sigmira is a popular and free Windows program that does a nice job on several digital modes, notably the difficult STANAG 4285 (a form of 8-ary 2400-symbol/sec phase-shift keying used by many NATO militaries). It's a neat little package written by a knowledgeable guy.

Unfortunately, Sigmira has developed a problem of unknown origin. Here, STANAG 4285 simply stopped working. Clicking the button in the menu did nothing. Others have had an error message relating to a "control window not available," even though it had been available the last time the program was run.

The programmer is aware of the issue and has a fix that has so far worked for myself and everyone I know of who has done it. It is necessary to replace a config file in Sigmira's home folder called features.dat so that the missing features become available again.

Go to (Sigmira's web page), and scroll down. You'll see the following:

2010/1/26
The features.dat file needs to be replaced. The replacement can be obtained here: features.dat Place it at /bin/features.dat.

Click the link (which will be available on the web page) and replace the defective features.dat in the directory mentioned. Start up Sigmira and watch it work right.