Monday, July 31, 2006

Castro in Surgery, Passes Temporary Power to Raul

Is this why the Cuban numbers transmissions have been different lately?

The Associated Press
Monday, July 31, 2006; 10:00 PM

HAVANA -- Fidel Castro temporarily relinquished his presidential powers to his brother Monday night and told Cubans he will undergo surgery.

The Cuban leader said in a letter read live on television by his secretary that he had suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and Cuba.

Because of that illness, Castro said he was temporarily relinquishing the presidency to his brother and successor Raul, the defense minister, according to the statement read by Carlos Valenciaga.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Summer Military Exercises In Progress

JTFEX 06-2
7/21 - 31, Atlantic Ocean
USN CVN-69, CVN-71, LHD 5
2 full carrier strike groups
US Army "coalition" forces
Bataan ESG, 26th MEU
2nd Fleet staff
Colombian, USN mock-adversary forces
3 other countries

Comms have been heard on 6694 and 6697 kHz
Also a military net on 2656 kHz may be this exercise

Pitch Black '06
7-28 to 8-18, Australia
RAAF, several other countries
3700, 5878, 9340, 10212, 12172, 15712, 20632, 22868 kHz

Monday, July 24, 2006

American Airlines to Start Using HFDL

From a press release on the ARINC web site:

Annapolis, Maryland—ARINC Incorporated today announced it has won a long-term renewal of its flight communications contract with American Airlines, the world’s largest airline. The new agreement covers American’s affiliates American Eagle and Executive Airlines as well.


The new contract also allows American to take advantage of ARINC’s GLOBALink/HF high-frequency data link service. This reliable and inexpensive technology extends the availability of data link service to remote oceanic and polar regions not covered by standard SATCOM.


“ARINC’s long relationship with American Airlines extends back almost 30 years to the infancy of ACARS messaging, and today American is the largest data link user in the world,” stated Stephen Means, Vice President, ARINC Aviation Solutions. “We look forward to continuing our partnership over the coming years, and extending it to include services such as HFDL, as well as newer and emerging technologies.”

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Craigslist Phone "Numbers" Mystery Deepens

I hope everyone's still checking the "missed connections" part of Craigslist for cryptic messages to "Mein Fraulein," especially around the beginning of the month. Along with the two described in Utility World, there has since been a third one with an Atlanta, GA listing and a VoIP number, and a fourth one in early July with a Little Rock, AR listing and number. At about the same time as the fourth, a different agency copied the format, using the same song but a different message format with cut-and-pasted numbers from the first phone recordings and the obligatory Craigslist posting, this time in Boston.

It is obvious that the fast spread of Voice over IP technology, which uses the Internet like a telephone, is changing the "numbers" scene, at least temporarily. Somehow I don't see VoIP permanently replacing the anonymity and accessibility of short wave radio for deep-cover recruits in sensitive areas any time soon.

FLASH: the source of the "copycat" 5th message has revealed itself, following a successful crack of the coded numbers, which turned out to be intentionally rather lightly encrypted. It is REALLY weird, in a nice way, and not what you'd expect.

We're still at the fact-checking and research stage on these developments. Anyone with infomation is invited to contact Utility World. Details are right here.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

VZX Australia to Cease Voice Services 9/30/06

Penta Comstat, aka Firefly Radio, in New South Wales, Australia, is a private coastal radio station providing HF radio services (mostly ship-to-shore phone patching) for yachtsmen and small vessels. The callsign is VZX. The station has announced on its web site that all HF voice services will close on 30 September, 2006.

VZX stopped accepting new memberships for the voice service some time ago. It will maintain a limited service until that date for existing members.

The decision was likely influenced by the growth of cell phone networks close to shore, and government HF weather services from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), which made Penta somewhat redundant. Also, it is a small station, and the owner wants to cut his work load after 30 years.

Full details are here.

This affects only the voice radio, not the HF e-mail service which is offered in affiliation with the SailMail Association. This service will continue as before.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

NMC Signal Report 0309

MF nothing heard, though 472 might have something in there.

6383.0 S9+10
8547.0 S7
17220.5 Faded, was S2 earlier

NMC with WX at 0200

Both txs currently have a weird sounding backwave 170 Hz down and a weaker IM product the same amount up from the carrier fq. May be insufficient suppression of FSK tone.

At 0400, KPH is now S5 on 426 kHz, with that traditional MF solid sound. What a great communication system that was.

WLO Signal Report at 0300

4343.0 S5-6
8514.0 S3
12660.0 S5

WLO at 0257 calling vessel, back to marker at 58.

KLB at 0242 passing tfc to unknown vessel. Message to master regarding berthing arrangements and pilotage from GENSTEAMCO, Seattle, WA. Then AR NIL, signed 73 SU dit dit

WLO at 0300 passing tfc to WC?

NIL, dit dit, back to mkr

KLB traffic at 0303 to master regarding hatch loading


R TKS 73 SU dit dit

back to mkr

KLB Signal Report at 0045

MF nothing heard
6411.0 S5
12917.0 S7

and at 0200:

MF nothing heard
6411.0 S6
12917.0 S1-3/fading/weak-readable

(Band is changing)

WLO Signal Report at 0116

4343.0 nothing heard
8514.0 S1-2 weak-readable
12660.0 S7

KSM Signal Report at 0112

6474.0 S9+20
12993.0 S3-4
16914.0 S1 weak-readable

KPH Night of Nights VII Signal Report from L.A.

KPH at 0000 with marker, then official night of nights msg at 0001

426.0 weak-readable
4247.0 S9+10 in L.A..
6477.5 S9+30
8642.0 S9+30
12808.5 S2
17016.8 S2
22477.5 S1/ weak-readable

At 0100, KPH changed antennas on 12 meg, and went down to S1, really buried
in the noise.

KPH/KSM/WLO/NOJ/etc CW Night of Nights VII starts in 1 hour!

(Frequencies are just below)

KPH, the ex-RCA coast station located north of San Francisco, will return to the air with several other historic coastal stations for commemorative broadcasts on 12 July at 1701 PDT (13 July at 0001 GMT), 7 years and one minute after the last commercial Morse transmission in the US. 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).

The first "Night of Nights," as it was called, was so successful that everyone practically demanded that it be made a yearly event on the anniversary of the end of commercial maritime Morse code wireless telegraphy in the United States. The last CW message was sent at 0000 UTC on July 13, when Globe Wireless reluctantly pulled the plug on a money-losing service. Since then, it has become not only a commemoration and salute to the dedicated members of the maritime radio profession, some of whom lost their lives pounding out distress calls on the high seas, but almost an act of defiance of the corporate monotony that has transformed radio in the globalization/privatization era.

We recommend that you keep an ear on the ship frequencies, because some surprises nearly always turn up. Especially keep an ear out for any of several restored radio rooms on WW II era vessels.

Here's full information:


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

These frequencies 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

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



(Note the addition of a 16Mc channel for KSM this year.)

KSM will transmit on 426, 500, 6474, 12993 and 16914kc.

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



WLO has just confirmed its frequencies for Night of Nights VII. The list includes a new 4Mc frequency.

WLO will transmit on 4343.0, 8514.0 and 12660.0kc.

WlO will listen for calls from ships on ITU channel 3 in each band.

Unfortunately, due to antenna problems caused by Hurricane Katrina, WLO will not be on MF this year.

Reception reports may be sent to:


Or via email to:



(Note the expanded frequencies for KLB! This year KLB has added MF, a 2Mc frequency and a
12Mc frequency. A tip of the MRHS earphones to CJ of KLB for all the work he has done to bring this about.)

KLB will transmit on 488, 500, 2063.0, 6411.0 and 12917.0kc

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

Reception reports may be sent to:


Or via email to:



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:




(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:

PO BOX 190017

Internet Stream

New this year. A receiver tuned to KPH will be streamed at .

There is also, of course, the excellent DX-Tuners membership network.

(No QSL for net reception, of course.)

General Info

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. KSM will use a 1940s vintage Press Wireless PW-15 transmitter will be on the KSM 12Mc frequency. Power output will be 4 to 5kW. 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, many of which will be sent by hand. At other times the KPH and KSM "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 is 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 or by contacting Richard Dillman at +1 415-990-7090 (email: or Tom Horsfall at +1 510-237-9535 (email:

12 MHz TX & Antenna Tests

We have a special request for those who will be monitoring KPH on 12808.5kc on Night of Nights.

The Transmitter Department plans to alternate transmitters and, more important, antennas on this frequency at the top of each hour during this year's Night of Nights.

Both antennas will be directional H over 2 types but one will be oriented north/south, the other east/west. The Transmitter Department will keep a careful log of which antenna is being used at which time and compare this against incoming reports.

So for all reception reports, but especially those for 12808.5, please include the time you heard the signal and a detailed signal report.

The two transmitters on 12808.5 will be an early 1990s vintage Henry and a 1950s vintage RCA "L" set. Some slight difference in keying may be noted between them.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Google Earth Coordinates to Look At

These pairs of map coordinates, in form latitude, longitude with - being west, are formatted to drop right into the search box of Google Earth. Make sure "fly to" is checked, put them in the box, and hit the button. Zoom in or out as need be.

Antennas don't always look that great from the sky, but even so, it's fun to look at the places we've heard for all these years.

CAMSPAC Pt. Reyes RX Station - Pt. Reyes, CA
(Main building, staffed 24/7)
38.103675, -122.93409

CAMSPAC Pt. Reyes TX Station - Bolinas, CA
(You can make out the antenna farm on this one)
37.92519, -122.731898

Cuban TX Site Near Bauta
(This part of Cuba has a lot of "interesting" facilities, but this is way the biggest of anything that looks like it would transmit. The building obviously holds some heavy duty hardware, and there are a lot of antennas. Possible Radio Havana, if so, possible V2 and M8.)
22.94859, -82.54499

Cyprus Akrotiri RAF Transmitting Station
(This is one of the world's great communication sites, going on for miles and miles in the UK Sovereign Base Area near the village of Akrotiri. The antenna field just west of the salt lake is a likely point of origin for the Lincolnshire Poacher (E3). South and east is a listening station believed to be used in the Echelon project.)
34.61722, 32.943919

DHO38 VLF antenna
(German Navy near Saterland, 800 kW on 23.4 kHz, possibly to submarines. Two groups of 350-meter masts are clearly visible.)
53.078411, 7.620686

DWD Pinneberg
(Nice antenna farm operated by the Deutscher Wetterdienst/ German Weather Service. Ground photos at )
53.673309, 9.8097714

Elmendorf AFB, AK
(Interesting antenna farm east of the base, north of Anchorage. Possible TX for Elmendorf HF-GCS, among others.)
61.24935, -149.731057

Imperial Beach "Elephant Cage"
(Key Cold War HFDF site using a circular Wullenweber antenna array looking a lot like Stonehenge from the air.)
32.59413, -117.13010

Russian Listening Station
(Another circular array, possibly for comint/ HFDF, west of Odessa.)
49.43356, 30.50385

US Navy Comm Station NAA
(Enormous antenna complex filling the whole peninsula near Cutler, ME. Transmits on VLF with 2 megawatts. The ground system is the 8th wonder of the radio world. Now operated by a contractor, but still on-air.)
44.64350, -67.28018

Varna Radio, Bulgaria
(Full-service maritime coastal station with wire log periodics and HF conical antennas in the woods. They way they have it cleared looks like the ultimate crop circle from the air.)
43.067271, 27.78662

Vileyka VLF Station
(Soviet era VLF installation for broadcasting to submarines, in what is now Belarus. The symmetrical layout looks like something left by a past civilization.)
54.46451, 26.788138

Welcome to the MT Utility World Blog

This blog is patterned after the existing one that Larry Van Horn set up for his milcom column last May. It works exactly the same way. It is intended for information that does not make the monthly Utility World column, or which is of critical time value. It builds on the concept of the existing column web site, except that it is far more easily updated and generally better adapted to the quick posting of real-time information such as hurricane traffic, frequency changes, or new transmissions of interest to the utility hobby and its various sub-hobbies such as aero, maitime, numbers, digital, or ALE.

Like the Milcom blog, we've had to disable comments to prevent the spam which is inevitably attracted by anything with as high a profile as Utility World. We want this to be about radio, not Viagra or Nigerian farmers. Since our web site and e-mail address are unaffected, we encourage everyone to send comments, frequencies, corrections, updates, and even just fun social chatter to the column's e-mail addresses which you'll find in the magazine or at the Monitoring Times web site.

Now, let's get down and DX the utilities!