Thursday, July 11, 2019

Revised frequency list for Night of Nights XX

The heroic True Believers of KPH have made some more transmitting antennas active after the damage last winter. Here is the revised frequency list for Night of Nights XX, which begins tomorrow (US time) at the traditional 0001 UTC. That's July 13 on the Prime Meridian, but still July 12 (local time/date) in North America, including at the station location in Point Reyes National Seashore.

The time is traditional. It is when commercial Morse operation was discontinued by Globe Wireless, the last US holdout.  KPH (also using the KFS call sign by permission of its current owners) is a triumph of the human spirit, defiantly taking to the same frequencies (still allocated by the ITU) at this time every year.

WLO is not participating this year because it no longer exists. The Coast Guard is not participating this year either. KFS has one frequency active. This is 12695.5 . The rest are KPH.

Here's the latest list, with an addition, and the latest correction:

KPH:  426, 500, 4247.0, 6477.5, 8642.0, 12808.5, 17016.8, 22477.5 .


500 kHz is still the MW calling frequency, and QSY after contact is to 426. Ships call KPH and KFS on ITU maritime channel 3. This is:

4184.0, 6276.0, 8368.0, 12552.0, 16736.0, 22280.5  .

The ships are good catches.  Several call and pass traffic every year.

K6KPH is also active, and anyone who can handle heavy-duty commercial Morse can sit the circuit, since control ops with ham licenses are present.  Similar procedures are used, such as sending "DE" for a station to call again. QRY and a number means that other stations are waiting, and that's your turn.  Pilots know how this works (for takeoffs) only too well.

Everything is CW, of course.

Several of these frequencies are restored vintage "heavy iron" transmitters, and they sound great.  The rest, presumably, are the Henry transmitters which were installed at Bolinas High Power when it ceased commercial operation.
 
Those in the area can visit the receive building, which also houses the National Seashore office, and is reached by one of the best "tree tunnels" in the country.

Full details and links to maps to the receive building are at the MRHS web site.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Will hams lose two meters?

That is the question, and the answer will come at this year's WARC-19 and the future WARC-23. The re-allocation of the entire two meter band was not widely opposed at a European meeting, when France brought up a Thales proposal to use it for some kind of commercial airband cellular service.

As we know only too well, governments consider corporations to be more important than people, and they make their decisions accordingly. At some point, however, someone's got to raise a stink.  I probably join most of the readers here in going WTF at the prospect that ham radio would lose what's probably its most popular band.

Amateur groups are expected to fight this tooth and nail.

From DF2ZC, DARC Frequency Manager:

If this proposal in its current version is endorsed at the next meeting of the CEPT Conference Preparatory Group in August it is highly likely that it will appear on the agendas of WRC-19 and WRC-23 where a final decision will be made. At least 10 of the 48 CEPT countries have to be in favour of this proposal while not more than 6 must be against this.

During the recent Meeting of the CEPT Project Team A in Prague this proposal by France was being discussed for the first time. Only the German delegation made it clear that they are against this proposal including 144-146 MHz.  [That's as high as it goes in Europe. The frequency range in question would include the whole band worldwide. -Hugh]

The main reason for that little opposition might be that the 2 m band was included in the revised version of that French proposal only few days before the deadline for the Prague meeting. Consequently most other European countries had no time for internal discussions let alone formulating their position.

IARU, being supported by regulatory experts of their member associations (RSGB, DARC, VERON etc) is intensively working on executing their influence within the current process and trying to keep the 2 m band as it is now. By the way, the cost of this activities is covered by the funds resulting from the contributions of the IARU member societies. So those who left their county's amateur radio society should perhaps reconsider their decision. Without the commitment and the funds the amateur radio community would have little influence in that process, let alone could be present at the relevant meetings.

Most importantly, amateur radio should speak with a single voice only. So I would like to ask everybody to refrain from using maybe good personal contacts to your government or the EU. This would weaken our position and take away power and vigour from the systematic approach by IARU and country amateur radio societies. This particularly applies for online petitions in the WWW, which by the way do not even base on a correct facts background.


Friday, February 01, 2019

No more weather warnings on WWV/WWVH

ARRL Letter:


The National Weather Service (NWS) is discontinuing its high seas and storm warnings transmitted via National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) WWV/WWVH time and frequency-standard HF transmissions, starting January 31 [yesterday-Hugh] at 1800 UTC. The NWS warnings are aimed at the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific.

"This service is being terminated because weather information in the current broadcast format does not support frequent-enough updates for changes in marine weather and cannot provide enough detail in the allotted window required by mariners to avoid hazardous weather," NWS said in announcing the discontinuation. "Additionally, alternative technologies and numerous media outlets that provide weather information in various formats have overtaken the need for providing weather information through the NIST frequency signals."

The NWS said other sources of marine weather information, high seas alerts, and detailed forecasts are available over satellite, telephone, the internet, marine fax, radio fax, and VHF radio. The NWS, US Coast Guard, and US Navy provide multiple dissemination methods for storm positioning, high sea areas, observations, forecasts, outlooks, and warnings for both coastal and oceanic marine zones near the US, all through a variety of technologies, including NAVTEX and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).


Thursday, January 31, 2019

KPH/KFS/K6KPH resume partial operation on Saturday

With the government shutdown over, the National Park Service has re-opened the KPH receive building to normal use. All call signs should be on-air this Saturday.

But, as always, there's a catch.  A strong storm took down trees, destroying a number of feedlines to antennas. The damage includes broken poles and snapped wires, and generally it's a mess. Repairs will take time and cost money. As usual, the MRHS could use any donations we feel like giving them.

From MRHS:

With the end of the partial shutdown of the federal government the Maritime Radio Historical Society has been given clearance to return to "The Wireless Giant of the Pacific," and to resume operations as of 2 February 2019 at 1800 GMT, with the return of the Free Press broadcast from KPH and KFS. We will commence service to ships at sea at 2000 GMT. Our station in the amateur radio service, K6KPH, will return to the airwaves at that time, 2000 GMT.
---
 
The good news is that most of our ship customers will not be effected by the reduced operational capacity. The following commercial channels will be in service:


KPH:  426, 500, 8642, 12808.5, 17016.8 kc.

KFS:  12695.5 kc.

As always, KPH and KFS will maintain an effective watch on 500 kc, and guard all ITU HF Channel 3 frequencies, even the bands that were effected by the damage.

The bad news is that K6KPH suffered the most damage. 

Until further notice K6KPH will be limited to: 3550 & 14050 kc.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to our faithful customers, both maritime and amateur.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Reception of NOJ Kodiak AK FAX on 26 Jan 19

Here's a screen shot from about 15 minutes ago, on the 12 MHz frequency via the SDR at KPH using the big TCI antenna in a low-noise location.  Faxes received in this manner usually print just fine, so the problem is not caused by remote Internet reception.


Note the extremely noisy signal, the downward displacement of the white tone, the absence of a black tone, and the distortion covering something like 7 kHz. This is considerably mistuned from the listed frequency, but it gave the best chart, comparatively speaking.  At least it's readable, sort of.

All frequencies at all times are similarly distorted, suggesting that the problem is before it gets to the actual transmitters.

Now that the government is back in business, and the Coast Guard is actually getting paid for the incredible job it does for all of us, hopefully this problem will finally be resolved.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Will they ever fix Kodiak FAX?

For several weeks now, all NOJ radiofax transmissions from USCG in Kodiak, AK have been off-frequency and severely distorted. It's possible to get something resembling a chart by tuning to wherever the white frequency is at the moment, but even then it's fuzzy at best. 

Signal strength is not the problem, because the distortion happens on all frequencies and time slots, regardless of the reception quality. On a waterfall, the spectrum resembles several smeary tones and various distortion products. The charts coming from NOAA are not the problem either, since they look fine on the web site.

Nominal frequencies (center/USB dial in kHz) should be 2054.0/2052.1, 4298.0/4296.1, 8459/8457.1, and 12412.5/12410.6 kHz. 12412.5 is on right now, though that frequency won't give even bad copy.  Tuning around gets it.  Try putting the white tone on the strongest smeary mess, and see what happens.

Several listeners have sent e-mail to the address shown on NOJ's materials, and gotten no response. As with a lot of U.S. government functions right now, it's obviously on auto. Even when the whole Coast Guard isn't working for free, the reply that I've gotten most of the time when inquiring about the NOAA radiofax product is, "We don't do that any more." 

Given the dangerous weather in the area of responsibility this time of year, one must hope that the problem is fixed sooner rather than later.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Russian Military "Squeaky Wheel" (S32) Now Even Squeakier

The Russian "Squeaky Wheel" marker has been around for many years.  It's a channel marker for a military network. It used to be designated XSW, but then Russian voice traffic appeared, and it was changed to S32.

Today, however, the sound has changed, at least for now.  It's now three audio frequencies instead of two, so the "wheel" really needs oil. This spectrogram was made from the U. of Twente WebSDR tuned to 3828 kHz USB, with the passband opened to 3 kHz to get all of the tones. Note how the 2800-Hz tone appears to be somewhat distorted.

Now we can get headaches even faster.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

San Francisco HFDL is using System Table 51

I sent my column in this morning, so it was time for something important to happen. It always does after I don't have time to put it in.

This time, it's HFDL rolling out System Table number 51.  It adds a new ground station, number 10.  The coordinates, return to a site in southwestern Korea. The Google Earth image is a bit old, but it does show a definite antenna farm under construction.  It appears from the lack of shadows that the towers were not yet in place when this image was captured.

As we know, different ground stations use different tables.  This doesn't seem to be a problem for the aircraft, but it is for PC-HFDL users.  Fortunately, the frequencies never change much.

--------

Add 17 Jan 2313Z:

The new ground station 10 is listing out as MUAN - SOUTH KOREA. The appropriate correction has been made to this post.

Every ground station that I've been able to find with various SDRs, and every one that's mentioned on the Yahoo HFDL mailing list, is using table 51 (33 in hex). It would appear that the HFDL system is finally, at long last, standardizing on a single table. Thank the powers that be for this small favor.  I will post a working pchfdl.dat to my web site soon as I'm sure that it's the standard.

--------

Here is System Table 51:

Version 51

Ground Station ID 1
SAN FRANCISCO - CALIFORNIA
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 121 45 33  W  Latitude 38 23 4  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 8
Frequency 21934000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4
Frequency 17919000 Hz Master Frame Slot 12
Frequency 13276000 Hz Master Frame Slot 8
Frequency 11327000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4
Frequency 10081000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4
Frequency 8927000 Hz Master Frame Slot 12
Frequency 6559000 Hz Master Frame Slot 8
Frequency 5508000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4

Ground Station ID 2
MOLOKAI - HAWAII
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 157 11 11  W  Latitude 21 11 3  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 12
Frequency 21937000 Hz Master Frame Slot 0
Frequency 17919000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7
Frequency 13324000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 13312000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 13276000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 11348000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 11312000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 10027000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 8936000 Hz Master Frame Slot 0
Frequency 8912000 Hz Master Frame Slot 0
Frequency 6565000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7
Frequency 5514000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7

Ground Station ID 3
REYKJAVIK - ICELAND
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 22 27 19  W  Latitude 63 50 49  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 7
Frequency 17985000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 15025000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7
Frequency 11184000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 8977000 Hz Master Frame Slot 0
Frequency 6712000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 5720000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7
Frequency 3900000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3

Ground Station ID 4
RIVERHEAD - NEW YORK
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 72 38 14  W  Latitude 40 52 54  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 7
Frequency 21931000 Hz Master Frame Slot 1
Frequency 17919000 Hz Master Frame Slot 9
Frequency 13276000 Hz Master Frame Slot 5
Frequency 11387000 Hz Master Frame Slot 1
Frequency 8912000 Hz Master Frame Slot 9
Frequency 6661000 Hz Master Frame Slot 5
Frequency 5652000 Hz Master Frame Slot 1

Ground Station ID 5
AUCKLAND - NEW ZEALAND
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 174 48 34  E  Latitude 37 0 55  S
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 6
Frequency 17916000 Hz Master Frame Slot 12
Frequency 13351000 Hz Master Frame Slot 8
Frequency 10084000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4
Frequency 8921000 Hz Master Frame Slot 12
Frequency 6535000 Hz Master Frame Slot 8
Frequency 5583000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4

Ground Station ID 6
HAT YAI - THAILAND
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 100 23 18  E  Latitude 6 56 15  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 7
Frequency 21949000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 17928000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 13270000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 10066000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 8825000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 6535000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 5655000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10

Ground Station ID 7
SHANNON - IRELAND
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 8 55 35  W  Latitude 52 44 38  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 8
Frequency 11384000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 10081000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 8942000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 8843000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 6532000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 5547000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 3455000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 2998000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6

Ground Station ID 8
JOHANNESBURG - SOUTH AFRICA
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 28 12 21  E  Latitude 26 7 45  S
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 8
Frequency 21949000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 17922000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 13321000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 11321000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 8834000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 5529000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 4681000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 3016000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6

Ground Station ID 9
BARROW - ALASKA
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 156 34 37  W  Latitude 71 15 30  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 19
Frequency 21937000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 21928000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 17934000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 17919000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 11354000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 10093000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 10027000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 8936000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 8927000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 6646000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 5544000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 5538000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 5529000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 4687000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 4654000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 3497000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 3007000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 2992000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 2944000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10

Ground Station ID 10
MUAN - SOUTH KOREA
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 126 14 19  E  Latitude 35 1 56  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 8
Frequency 21931000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 17958000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 13342000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7
Frequency 10060000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 8939000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 6619000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7
Frequency 5502000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 2941000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7

Ground Station ID 11
ALBROOK - PANAMA CITY
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 79 22 25  W  Latitude 9 5 4  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 6
Frequency 17901000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 13264000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 10063000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10
Frequency 8894000 Hz Master Frame Slot 6
Frequency 6589000 Hz Master Frame Slot 2
Frequency 5589000 Hz Master Frame Slot 10

Ground Station ID 13
SANTA CRUZ - BOLIVIA
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 63 9 24  W  Latitude 17 40 15  S
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 7
Frequency 21997000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 17916000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 13315000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7
Frequency 11318000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3
Frequency 8957000 Hz Master Frame Slot 11
Frequency 6628000 Hz Master Frame Slot 7
Frequency 4660000 Hz Master Frame Slot 3

Ground Station ID 14
KRASNOYARSK - RUSSIA
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 92 35 0  E  Latitude 56 9 9  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 7
Frequency 21990000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4
Frequency 17912000 Hz Master Frame Slot 12
Frequency 13321000 Hz Master Frame Slot 8
Frequency 10087000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4
Frequency 8886000 Hz Master Frame Slot 12
Frequency 6596000 Hz Master Frame Slot 8
Frequency 5622000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4

Ground Station ID 15
AL MUHARRAQ - BAHRAIN
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 50 38 23  E  Latitude 26 16 25  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 6
Frequency 21982000 Hz Master Frame Slot 1
Frequency 17967000 Hz Master Frame Slot 9
Frequency 13354000 Hz Master Frame Slot 5
Frequency 10075000 Hz Master Frame Slot 1
Frequency 8885000 Hz Master Frame Slot 9
Frequency 5544000 Hz Master Frame Slot 5

Ground Station ID 16
AGANA - GUAM
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 144 49 41  E  Latitude 13 29 19  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 7
Frequency 21928000 Hz Master Frame Slot 1
Frequency 17919000 Hz Master Frame Slot 9
Frequency 13312000 Hz Master Frame Slot 5
Frequency 11306000 Hz Master Frame Slot 1
Frequency 8927000 Hz Master Frame Slot 5
Frequency 6652000 Hz Master Frame Slot 1
Frequency 5451000 Hz Master Frame Slot 9

Ground Station ID 17
CANARIAS - SPAIN
UTC UNLOCKED
Longitude 15 24 18  W  Latitude 27 57 39  N
Squitter Version 0
Number of frequencies 6
Frequency 21955000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4
Frequency 17928000 Hz Master Frame Slot 12
Frequency 13303000 Hz Master Frame Slot 8
Frequency 11348000 Hz Master Frame Slot 4
Frequency 8948000 Hz Master Frame Slot 12
Frequency 6529000 Hz Master Frame Slot 8