Sunday, May 31, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: SkySweeper Decoder Program Is Discontinued!

This terse announcement was posted on Saturday to the SkySweeper mailing list:

Hello All,

All sales, marketing and development of SkySweeper Std, SkySweeper Plus and SkySweeper Pro will be discontinued from 1st of June 2009.

SkySweep Technologies LTD is now fully concentrating on the SkySweep Messenger product family and some other professional systems development.

SkySweeper support continues as it is until 1.1.2011.

The latest versions and manuals can be downloaded here:

We would like to send our warmest thanks to all the SkySweeper users!

Mikko Huttunen

General Manager
SkySweep Technologies

Given the time difference between here and Finland, where the program was produced, June 1 has already come. SkySweeper is no more.

SkySweep Messenger is a commercial-grade messaging suite based on STANAG 4285, 4539, and 5066. It is also capable of the American MIL-STD-110A/B and MIL-STD-141 (more commonly known in the hobby as "ALE"). It has the usual e-mail and Internet connectivity. It is aimed at government users and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

SkySweeper was intended for either the more geeky hams or the hard core digital utility fans (in other words, us). It was a good deal for the price. It contained a great number of highly modular sub-programs, some working better than others, which could be combined in endless ways at the will at the user. More money got you more modules, not better code.

Dedicated, more specialized programs could often produce more accurate decodes of a few modes at a time, but with the loss of this modularity. SkySweeper allowed the user to string together decoders, analyzers, filters, processors, and transmitters into truly mind boggling series and parallel configurations. One could spend years experimenting with all this.

Best of all, Mikko was always available on the mailing list to answer newbie questions, gripes, and bug reports.

Mac users are lucky to still have Chris Smolinski's excellent MultiMode package. On the PC side, however, the departure of SkySweeper leaves a real gap in the market. There are still MixW and MultiPSK, both excellent multimode packages, but obviously aimed more at hams. On the high end, we still have the professional multi-mode products by HOKA, Wavecom, et al, but these are rightfully priced well beyond the means of most hobbyists.

I'm hoping that I'll still be able to move SkySweeper to new computers, because I'll be using it for a long time to come.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

WebSDR Temporarily Has More Bands

The Web Software Defined Radio site that I have written about before is running a special wideband setup in which a lot more bands are available. Especially fun for listeners on the US West Coast is the VLF/LF/MF band, from essentially DC to 600 kHz. Along with some utilities that I've never heard personally, it's also a chance to hear the European longwave broadcast band.

Other bands usually not available are amateur 160, 30, 20, 18, and 15 meters. Some weak CW was coming through on 15, despite the non-resonant antenna for this band. 160 was hopping due to the contest. 30 is wide enough to hear some adjacent utilities, notably New York VOLMET, which comes blasting in.

This will end soon. It was supposed to go back to normal on May 27, but this was extended due probably to a major ham radio contest this weekend.

As we've mentioned before, the SDR is at a university campus in the Netherlands, and maintained by a student amateur radio club.

Here are some catches I made this morning (local time):

60.0 kHz CW
MSF, Anthorn, UK; standard time signals and codes. The CW timing deviates slightly from the expected 1 interruption per second in such a way as to send a time code that can be decoded for time and date. A successful decode was made here at 1845 UTC. 05/30/09 1826

77.0 AM/PM
DCF77, Mainflingen, Germany;, time signals and codes. This is a more complex encoding scheme than MSF, and decode was not achieved due to SDR link latency/instability. 05/30/09 1904

100.00 Pulse Unk Loran-C. 05/30/09 1850

DCF49-European power grid control, Mainflingen, Germany. Continuous idle on mark with ASCII bursts. I've never heard this here via the air. Usually only Ary Boender reports it. 05/30/09 1930

Here's some more details from the web:

Agcy : EFR Berlin
Callsign : DCF49
Transmission site: LW-facility Mainflingen
Radiated Power : 60 kW
Frequencies : 129.1 and 139.0 kHz
Transmission mode: 200 bps ASCII
Modulation : FSK
Control protocol : DIN 19244
Message format : FT 1.2
Service : Long wave Teleswitching

HGA22-European power grid control, Lahihegy, Hungary. 05/30/09 1930

DCF39-European power grid control, Burg, Germany, 300-baud ASCII. Carrier w/data bursts. Not synced to others. Possible FSK. 05/30/09 1930

Friday, May 15, 2009

Slight SAQ Change


* *

The *planned* transmission with the Alexanderson alternator on 17.2 kHz at Grimeton Radio/SAQ at Tuesday 19 May is *moved to Wednesday 20 May* at the same times, 07:00 UTC and 07:30 UTC. Sorry for trouble.

--Lars Kalland

Yes, that is 17.2 kilohertz, using an RF alternator with a truly huge antenna. Coverage is worldwide, if you can dig it out of the noise down there.

Monday, May 11, 2009

T-9 and Counting

The ice constraint has been cleared, and the bird is go for launch. The count picks up at -9, and I'm QSY to a larger TV screen.

T-9 and Holding

If anyone wonders, the T-9 hold is longer than usual. Launch is still on schedule for 1801:56 UTC. This optimum launch time changes slightly as Hubble's orbit is tracked. The window for a launch actually lasts until 1843 UTC.

Count resumes at 1752:56 UTC.

Preliminary examination of the ice team's photos indicates no constraint, but needless to say there'll have to be a meeting on this.

Freedom Star Now On 6751 USB

3 hours ago, Allan Stern in FL heard Cape Radio and DoD Cape go to 6751.0 for range comm with Freedom Star.

STS-125 Remains on Schedule

NASA just exited the planned T-20 hold, and has resumed count toward a 2:01:57 EDT launch of the space shuttle mission STS-125 to the Hubble telescope.

At 1700 UTC, NASA TV shows an ice team examining icing on a LH2 return line. If this becomes too large, it's a no go for launch.

Cape Radio at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been heard working Booster Recovery Vessel Freedom Star on 5711 and 10780 kHz USB.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

STS-125 Launch Scheduled Monday

The Hubble repair mission is scheduled to launch, if all goes well, on Monday, May 11, at 1401 Eastern or 1801 UTC. As always, radio traffic downrange will start the night before, on the usual NASA frequencies.

From the NASA press release:

NASA will provide online updates at:

A webcast May 10 at noon will start the in-depth online coverage of the mission. Host Damon Talley of NASA's Digital Learning Network and correspondent Rebecca Sprague will preview the mission and examine the remarkable history and discoveries the Hubble observatory has made. Astrophysicist Mario Livio of the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute will discuss the telescope's impact beyond the scientific community.

A blog will provide launch countdown updates beginning at 8:30 a.m. May 11. Originating from the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the blog is the definitive Internet source for information leading up to launch.

During the STS-125 mission, visitors to NASA's shuttle Web site can read about the astronauts' progress and watch their five spacewalks live. Also, updates will be provided to the NASA News Twitter feed.

To access the feed, visit:

As Atlantis' flight wraps up, NASA will update a blog detailing the spacecraft's return to Earth.

SAQ 17.2 kHz Schedule for 2009


There will hopefully be transmissions with the Alexanderson alternator on 17.2 kHz, CW (A1A) at the following dates and times during 2009:


Tuesday, May 19 2009 at 07:00 and 07:30 UTC.

There will be a transmission to celebrate the Japanese VLF-station Josami Radio/JND when it will be nominated to Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Milestone and also celebrate its start 80 years ago. The radio station is now a museum.

No reports required and no QSL-cards are given.


Sunday, May 24 2009 at 10:55 UTC.

A transmission will take place to celebrate the First Swedish Coast Radio Station and 100 years of Karlskrona Radio/SAA. The station is still working on military frequencies.

No reports required and no QSL-cards are given.


Sunday, June 28 at 09:00 and 12:00 UTC.

The annual transmission on "Alexander Day". The station is open to visitors.

We are glad to receive reports and will exchange QSL-cards.


Saturday, October 24 at 09:00 UTC.

As last year we will transmit on United Nations Day.

No reports required and no QSL-cards are given.


Thursday, December 24, Christmas Eve at 08:00 UTC.

The Christmas transmission as before.
The stations is open to visitors.

We are glad to receive reports and will exchange QSL-cards.

We will start tuning up some 30 minutes before message.

Also read our web site:

QSL-reports are, when indicated, kindly received via:

- E-mail to:
- or fax to: +46-340-674195
- or via: SM bureau
- or direct by mail to: Alexander - Grimeton Veteranradios Vaenner, Radiostationen, Grimeton 72 S-430 16 ROLFSTORP


Lars Kalland SM6NM

Thanks to Lars for making this available, and Ary Boender for posting it to his UDXF list.