Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mighty KBC Digital Transmissions Aug. 31 - Sept.1

Also from Kim:

I will also use this opportunity to let you know that I will have a one-minute MFSK32 transmission on The Mighty KBC, based in the Netherlands but using a transmitter in Germany.

Saturday, August 31, 1130 UTC (approximately) on 6095 kHz

Sunday, September 1, 0130 UTC (approximately) on 7375 kHz (Saturday 9:30 pm EDT)

This station is often heard in the USA, if conditions permit.


Epic VOA Radiogram (With Dung Beetle) for Aug. 31 - Sept. 1

From Kim Elliott:

VOA Radiogram Program 24 this weekend, 31 August and 1 September 2013, will be rather complex.

Most VOA Radiogram listeners have had success using the RSID (Reed Solomon Identification) to automatically change modes. The RSID is the brief signal that occurs at the beginning of digital mode transmissions. One exception to this success is the RSID for MFSK64, which is not decoded on some listeners' software.

In an attempt to improve RSID performance, I have produced this weekend's VOA Radiogram using Fldigi 3.21.74AB. If you download, install, and use this "alpha" version of Fldigi from, we may have better luck with the RSIDs.

Please keep your previous version of Fldigi, at least for now, in case 3.21.74AB does not work well on your PC.

If you can't, or prefer not to, install 3.21.74AB, I will provide time for you to switch manually to MFSK64 and MFSK128.

In addition to the RSID experiments, VOA Radiogram will also transmit sample text in Vietnamese and Russian. Vietnamese has all sorts of diacritics, and Russian uses a Cyrillic alphabet, so this will be a real workout. You will need to use the UTF-8 character set. In Fldigi, UTF-8 can be selected in a menu located somewhere in Configure > Colors & Fonts, depending on your version.

This weekend's VOA Radiogram will also contain two transmissions in Flmsg format. The first will be a VOA News story similar to those transmitted during past weekends. The second will be a Base64-encoded VOA logo transmitted in MFSK128. Because of the speed of MFSK128, I'm expecting a fairly high failure rate. Worth a try, though.

Please close and restart Fldigi between VOA Radiogram broadcasts this weekend. This is because letters with accents often do not display correctly, i.e. UTF-8 no longer works, after an Flmsg item is received. 

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, 31 August/September 1 2013:

2:55  MFSK16: Program preview
3:10  MFSK32: Vietnamese and Russian text samples
2:58  MFSK32: Discussion of RSIDs
1:50  MFSK64/Flmsg: VOA News re dung beetles*
 :56  MFSK32: Image of dung beetle
3:07  MFSK128/Flmsg/Base64: VOA blue logo*
2:16  MFSK64: VOA News re China hack attack
2:38  MFSK32: VOA Khmer radio photo contest
2:31  MFSK32: Image of submitted radio photo
1:10  MFSK16: Closing announcements 
  :15  Surprise mode of the week
*To make Flmsg work with Fldigi, in Fldigi: Configure > Misc > NBEMS, under Reception of flmsg files, check both boxes, and under that indicate where your Flmsg.exe file is located. 

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1300-1330 6095 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

Please send reception reports to

Audio samples of difficult reception that nevertheless results in a successful text decode are especially helpful.

I will start today to respond to your emails from last weekend.


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter

Monday, August 26, 2013

V. of Russia Going Dark January 1st

 From RIA Novosti:

MOSCOW, August 21 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government’s international radio broadcasting service Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia) will stop its shortwave broadcasts from January 1 next year, the online journal reported Wednesday.

The shortwave service is closing “due to funding cuts,” Voice of Russia deputy director Natalya Zhmai said in a letter dated August 15 to Andrei Romanchenko, head of the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRBN), the journal said.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Personal Reflections on Grove Interview

ALL views are the PERSONAL OPINION of this writer only, and DO NOT necessarily reflect any views or policies of Grove Enterprises/ Monitoring Times.

A number of points were made in this interview, by both the interviewer and the interviewee,  which raise interesting issues. They deserve some thought.  My summaries of these (in bold face) are from memory, and some are undoubtedly wrong.

Let's get this going:

HF utility radio will continue to lose listenable signals, and possibly eventually wither away completely.

Not likely.  What it will continue to lose is high powered USB voice signals, which once covered the maritime, aero, and fixed service bands. 

There is currently a lot of interest in developing high-speed data links over HF. This is something of a Holy Grail in military R&D right now. 

Research into this interesting technology continues. I have seen any number of PowerPoint presentations, documents, and such. These all say the same thing, which is that while satcom represents an advance over old style HF radio, it is not the guaranteed, always-on, global platform that it was once billed to be. If HF data rates can be increased from the current 600-1200 baud, which they probably can, it will sell a new generation of equipment.

The shortage of transmitter parts is forcing users off HF.

That's a maybe.  Right now, transmitter parts ARE short, and getting shorter, as new-old-stock inventories sell out and "parter" units are exhausted.  Indeed, this is one cause of the widely bemoaned problem that no one, at least in the USA, makes HF transmitters over 1 kW power any more.  However, if it's possible to find relatively affordable (if extremely bad) 8-10 kW amplifiers for 11 meters, which it is, then obviously someone's getting parts.

Things like this become cycles in economics.  Nobody wants it because nobody makes it, and nobody makes it because nobody wants it.

Sooner or later, someone will discover that demand still exceeds supply here, which it does, and sell an awful lot of stuff.

HF broadcasting has no commercial potential, and it will die.

HF broadcasting suffers from an identity crisis.  Its original purpose was never to sell toothpaste and sugary sodas.  They had local radio, or out-of-market AM flamethrowers, for that.  Its original purpose was for governments and religious organizations to sell themselves.

This demand declined to practically zero in many places, due to new technologies and the end of the Cold War. Suddenly, we were staring directly at the inconvenient truth that HF broadcasting has never had very much commercial potential. 

Thank goodness for that.  It's what made SWBC such fun.

SWBC is now revealed clearly as a niche product, and marketing to a niche audience has never been easy. A different model is necessary than the one used by, say, Clear Channel or Citadel.

The future of HF broadcasting, therefore, is undefined.  It's a mature technology looking for new uses.  However, until high speed Internet gets to the Third World, we will continue to see companies competing to sell wind-up and/or solar HF receivers.

The ionosphere is just too unreliable for modern communications.

Many recent advances in technology have come from the need to render the ionosphere as reliable as satcom. Both are subject to solar outages, and neither is invulnerable to the various causes of communication loss.  It appears that the modern military wants both, as do some civilian users.

It also remains a sometimes inconvenient truth that the ionosphere does not cost anything, while satellite time costs a lot.  Given that satcom is human-made, while the ionosphere just is, this will not change.

Digital communication offers ways to cope with the more common ionospheric issues, such as selective fading and changing signal levels. It's not spark gaps or people shouting into mikes any more.

Only backward countries want HF. Others want high-tech.

No, what's happened is that people always want The Latest Thing.  It's new, and sexy.  Its marketers promise everything short of making everyone's morning coffee.

It's also very, very, very expensive."Backward" countries also tend to be poor countries. This to a certain extent becomes more important than sexiness when it's time to actually spend money.

Eventually, someone listens to the engineers, and comms wind up on the frequencies and modes that do them best.  There is still an underlying need for people to communicate.

Contrast this with the so-called "First World," where the common pattern is to keep throwing money at an unsatisfactory communication system, trying to force it into working.  This is actually more common on the "scanner" frequencies (VHF/UHF). We have seen any number of American cities creating fiscal black holes as regards their emergency comm, forever adding or updating high tech gear while the problems stay the same.

The radio hobby's demographics are too old, and it might die along with the baby boomers.

This misconception is harder to get rid of than termites in Los Angeles.

Some activities appeal to a young demographic.  Some activities appeal to an older demographic.  This means a lot if you're selling zit cream, but it's relatively irrelevant for leisure time activities.

You never see anyone bemoaning the young demographics of, say, extreme skateboarding.  No one publishes one article after another predicting doom as soon as everyone involved hits 30.  Obviously, they don't have to, since new kids come in every day.

However, we do see everyone bemoaning the old demographics of radio, and predicting doom as soon as everyone doing it dies off.  No one ever considers that some of the people who gave up extreme skateboarding years ago might want a more peaceful pursuit. 

It is very likely that, in the computer age, radio is just an inherently older demographic. It certainly does appear that new adults come in every day. 

Stop worrying about The Kids.

VOARadiogram for August 23-24

From Kim Elliott:

Hello friends,

Many of you successfully decoded the Chinese text on VOA Radiogram last weekend (17-18 August). Some saw blocks instead of Chinese characters, but after copying those blocks to a word processor or other application, the Chinese characters appeared. Others were able to see the Chinese characters after installing the East Asian language support files for the operating system. We will try another sample of Chinese text this weekend.

The large SVG-formatted VOA logo within the Flmsg news story, developed by UK listener Mark Hirst, also worked well. It required only 15 seconds to transmit. If you have Internet Explorer and did not see the logo, try renaming the Flmsg file with an .xhtml suffix.

I am trying another method of recording the RSIDs for this weekend's program. Perhaps it will provide a solution to the problems some of you are having with RSIDs. For many of you, the RSID for last weekend's surprise mode, 4xPSKR63, was not detected.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, 23-24 August 2013:     

2:20  MFSK16: Program preview
1:46  MFSK32: Chinese text sample*
6:33  MFSK32: VOA News re robot, with image
6:39  MFSK32: VOA News re Kepler Telescope, with image
4:32  MFSK64/Flmsg: RFE/RL News re left-handers in former USSR**
1:18  MFSK32: Image accompanying left-hander story
1:11  MFSK16: Closing announcements
1:24  MFSK16: VOA Radiogram logo (500x44)

*Use the UTF-8 character set. In Fldigi: Configure > Colors & Fonts > Select Char Set. Close and restart Fldigi between VOA Radiogram broadcasts.

**To make Flmsg work with Fldigi, in Fldigi: Configure > Misc > NBEMS > Under reception of flmsg files, check both boxes, and under that indicate where your Flmsg.exe file is located.

Please send reception reports to

I am now responding to your emails from last weekend.

I hope you can tune in this weekend.

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC)
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1300-1330 6095 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina. 


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter

VOA Radiogram
Twitter: @voaradiogram

Bob Grove Interviewed by HamRadioNow

This YouTube video, episode 89 of HamRadioNow, is dated August 5, 2013.  It is an extended (full hour) interview with Grove Enterprises/ Monitoring Times founder Bob Grove.  He goes into detail on why he decided to discontinue MT rather than sell it.

Despite rather grungy Skype audio, the interview is quite interesting.

You will find it here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend Aug.17-18

This weekend, the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW) will feature amateur special event stations at many of the world's lighthouses and lightships.  Many will be using distinctive call signs.  As always, it begins Saturday at 0001 UTC (Friday evening in the US), and lasts exactly 48 hours.

This has become a very popular event, attracting utility DXers along with hams seeking to work the lighthouses.  From its creation by the sponsoring Ayr Amateur Radio Group 16 years ago, ILLW has grown from a few lighthouses to this year's 450 plus.

ILLW's on-air activity coincides with International Lighthouse Weekend, organized by the Association of Lighthouse Keepers, in which many of these iconic facilities will hold open houses at some point in the weekend. The goal is to promote public awareness of the continued value of lighthouses, and their keepers, in the GPS era. As many know, both are becoming endangered species.

Full details 
KMZ file for Google Earth 
List of all participants

Interesting Multilingual VOA Radiogram for August 17-18

From Kim Andrew Elliott.

Hello friends,

VOA Radiogram for the weekend 17 and 18 should be an interesting program.

It will include our first attempt to transmit Chinese characters. (It's part of a VOA Chinese story about the future of BlackBerry.) And there will be a VOA News story in Spanish. To view the Spanish accents and the Chinese characters, your character set should be UTF-8. In Fldigi: Configure > Colors & Fonts to change the character set.

The broadcast will also include an Flmsg VOA News story including an SVG-formatted VOA logo created by Mark Hirst in the UK. If you have Internet Explorer, and cannot see the logo, try renaming the Flmsg file with an .xhtml suffix.

If you listen to more than one broadcast of VOA Radiogram this weekend, close Flidigi and restart it between broadcasts. This is because something in Flmsg turns off the UTF-8 character set, even though Fldigi is still configured for UTF-8.

Two of this weekend's VOA News stories on VOA Radiogram feature VOA journalists who are radio amateurs. VOA Asia correspondent Steven Herman, W7VOA (@W7VOA), is interviewed about his visit to North Korea, and George Putic, KI4FNF, wrote the story about the renewed search for extraterrestrial life.

And there will be a VOA News story about a way to keep older brains healthy -- other than experimenting with digital modes.   

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, 17 and 18 August 2013:

3:04  MFSK16: Program preview
4:50  MFSK32: VOA Spanish logo and news re VOA app
1:46  MFSK32: VOA Chinese logo and sample text
3:26  MFSK32: VOA News re benefits of hot chocolate
1:22  MFSK32: VOA Radiogram logo and addresses
4:43  MFSK64: VOA's W7VOA visits North Korea
1:18  MFSK32: Photo of W7VOA in Pyongyang
3:28  MFSK64/Flmsg*: VOA's KI4FNF on search for extraterrestrials
1:18  MFSK32: Photo of Gemini Observatory
1:12  MFSK16: Closing announcements
0:16  Surprise mode of the week

*To make Flmsg work with Fldigi (both can be downloaded from, in Fldigi: Configure > Misc > NBEMS -- Under Reception of flmsg files, check both boxes, and under that indicate where your Flmsg.exe file is located.

As always, reception reports are much appreciated and should be sent to

Audio samples of difficult reception conditions which nevertheless result in a successful decode of MFSK text (it's OK if the images are fuzzy) are especially helpful.

I appreciate your use of typical shortwave portables, but reception on any type of receiver or transceiver is useful for our experiments.

Your comments, suggestions, and ideas are always welcome.

The best part of my week is when I see your emails coming in.

Thanks for listening and decoding.


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC)
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1300-1330 6095 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

ARINC Bought by Rockwell Collins


Rockwell Collins to Buy Carlyle’s Arinc for $1.39 Billion
By Julie Johnsson & Thomas Black - 2013-08-12T21:16:29Z

Rockwell Collins Inc. Chief Executive Officer Kelly Ortberg landed Arinc Inc., the company’s biggest acquisition, after months of talks with owner Carlyle Group LP -- and just 11 days in the new job.

The $1.39 billion transaction announced yesterday is the largest U.S. aerospace and defense deal unveiled this year and will expand Rockwell Collins’s aerospace business outside the cockpit by combining its avionics and cabin technologies with Arinc’s communications networks.

Ortberg, 53, spearheaded the acquisition effort as he prepared to take over as CEO of Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Rockwell Collins Aug. 1, replacing Clay Jones, who retired. The purchase gives Rockwell Collins a profitable company with a global customer base and an air-to-ground communications system that should give pilots a wealth of data as air traffic control systems are modernized, he said.

Here's the List of Locations Given in RAF Volmet

The interest in the UK Royal Air Force Volmet remains high, due to the surprise appearance of a North American relay station, possibly as part of an exercise in Canada.

This station, which could be heard worldwide, came up a few days back on 11159 kHz, a NATO and US Air Force frequency in a band which is highly monitored.  This morning, local time, it is no longer being heard anywhere. It is likely that the station has left the air, as quickly as it appeared.

The computer voice "talks" fast, and not always clearly. In addition, the names of the airports are often obscure compared to the well-known international destinations mentioned in civilian volmets.

The volmet is in a program which begins every hour and half hour. The program contains 5 time slots, identified at the beginning of each one as "Military One, time slot [x], information broadcast."  The slots run 6-7 minutes.  The fast "talking" leaves a lot of time after one pass through the list, and so it is repeated from the top, as time permits.

The really tricky one is slot 5, which apparently pertains to operations in the Middle East.  It seems a little strange.  Another strangeness is the re-appearance of Brize Norton , slot 1 number 1, in slot 3 number 9.  This has been confirmed.  It's either the same Brize Norton RAF base in England, or some place with the same name in North Africa which has managed to consistently have the exact same weather at the same time.

After considerable research, and listening to the recorded contributions of listeners such as Token who have lower noise, I've pretty well nailed it.  Confidence is high in this one.  Here we go:

Slot 1:

Brize Norton
East Midlands

Slot 2:

Belfast Aldergrove
Adana Incirlik

Slot 3:

Tenerif South
Ascension Island
Brize Norton

Slot 4:

Bari Palese
Catania Sigonella
Larnaca International
Cairo International
Nice Cote d'Azur
Bahrain International

Slot 5:

Muscat International
Dubai Minhad
Baghdad International
Fujairah International Airport

Saturday, August 10, 2013

RAF VOLMET on 11159 kHz

For the last day or so, the UK Royal Air Force VOLMET (aviation weather broadcast) has been loud and clear in the U.S. on 11159 kHz USB. This is not a frequency change, as the European signal is still on its normal frequency of 11253 kHz USB.

The 11159 signal duplicates the 11253, but is slightly out of sync with it.  (Thanks, Token!)

All reception reports suggest that this signal's point of origin is in the continental U.S., and likely the West.

At 2318 UTC on 10 Aug, it's S9+ here in CA.


Friday, August 09, 2013

VOA Radiogram for August 10-11: some interesting experiments

From Kim Andrew Elliott:

Hello friends,

I am in the process of answering your reception reports from the past weekend's VOA Radiogram.

Some of you are doing some interesting experiments with the digital modes on VOA Radiogram. And some of you are letting us know about some useful techniques to improve both the production and the reception of the program.

Mark, WA4KFZ, notes that the SSTV Denoiser software, part of the SSTV Tools suite from, can be effective with some of the "noisy" MFSK images you receive on VOA Radiogram.

In this weekend's VOA Radiogram, one VOA News item will be in the MFSK22 mode (80 words per minute). Unlike the MFSK 16, 32, and 64 modes, which have a sample rate of 8000 Hz, MFSK22 has a sample rate of 11025 Hz. For this weekend's program, I recorded to one track at 48000 Hz for the voice introduction and closing music, one track at 8000 Hz for MFSK 16 and 32, and one track at 11025 Hz for the MFSK22 item. Then all three were mixed to one .wav file with a sample rate of 48000 Hz.

Another "feature" in this weekend's program will be five seconds of silence whenever modes are changed. This might improve the performance of the RSID.

The Flmsg-formatted VOA News story in this weekend's program is 9 minutes, 6 seconds long. That might seem unusually long, but it includes 4 minutes, 20 seconds for a VOA logo in SVG format as part of the html. This was created for us by Mark Hirst in the UK.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, 10-11 August 2013:

2:30  MFSK16: Program preview
3:26  MFSK22: VOA News re import of Apple products
3:12  MFSK32: Greetings to l'Associazione Italiana Radioascolto
2:10  MFSK32 image: AIR logo
9:06  MFSK32/Flmsg*: VOA News re one year of Curiosity on Mars
2:26  MFSK32 image: Curiosity tire tracks
1:10  MFSK16: Closing announcements
2:20  Surprise image, text, image of the week

*To make Flmsg work with Fldigi (both can be downloaded from, in Flmsg: Configure > Misc > NBEMS -- Under Reception of flmsg files, check both boxes, and under that indicate where your Flmsg.exe file is located.

Please send your reception reports, audio samples, screenshots, comments, ideas, suggestions to .

Thanks for listening and decoding.


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter

VOA Radiogram
Twitter: @voaradiogram
Some magnetic storming is predicted for this weekend, so keep your fingers crossed and make an offering to the Propagation Gods.

Friday, August 02, 2013

VOA Radiogram for August 3-4

From Kim Andrew Elliott:

If you are an EasyPal fan, EasyPal returns this weekend with a striking image of the Las Vegas skyline. Don't be too disappointed if you cannot decode the EasyPal image. A certain signal threshold is required, and the failure rate is rather high.

In recording the program for this weekend, I applied audio compression to my voice introduction and to the music at the end of the show -- but not to the digital tones. Perhaps you will notice the difference. 

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram for the weekend of 3 and 4 August 2013:

2:30  MFSK16: Program preview
  :45  MFSK32: VOA logo image
5:22  MFSK32: VOA News re 3D printed heart
1:00  MFSK32: Heart image    
4:15  MFSK64 in Flmsg* format: VOA News re oxygen in Mars's past
1:15  MFSK32: Mars image
7:05  EasyPal image** (4-QAM)
1:08  MFSK16: closing announcements
1:17  MFSK32: VOA Radiogram logo image
 :55  Surprise mode of the week

*To make Flmsg work with Fldigi (both can be downloaded from, in Flmsg: Configure > Misc > NBEMS -- Under Reception of flmsg files, check both boxes, and under that indicate where your Flmsg.exe file is located.

**Download EasyPal software from

Please send reception reports to

These would be especially helpful:

1) Audio samples of poor reception which nevertheless results in a successful decoding of the text modes.

2) Reception of the digital modes on less expensive portable radios, and any advice you have on how to feed audio from those radios to your PC and the decoding software.

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC)
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1300-1330 6095 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina

Thanks for listening and decoding, and I look forward to your emails.


Kim Andrew Elliott
Producer and Presenter
VOA Radiogram