Thursday, December 16, 2010

UK Proposes Massive Coast Guard Cuts

A leaked plan from the UK Department for Transport proposes the reduction of Coast Guard facilities from 19 to 8, only 3 of which would operate 24/7.

The new full-time maritime centers would be at Aberdeen, Southampton/Portsmouth, and Dover. Five sub-centers would be open in daylight hours only, at Swansea, Humber, Falmouth, Belfast or Liverpool, and Stornoway or Shetland.

One immediate issue of contention is that this plan leaves only one Coast Guard base in Wales.

In addition, the transport secretary continues with plans to privatize the search and rescue operation. The Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and Coast Guard's "aging" Sea King helicopters would be replaced with a SAR system supplied by a private contractor.

The effects of all this on Coast Guard radio are not yet known, since nothing is as yet definite.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Possible Winter Storm Recon

Get out your intersection/ waypoint charts:

NOUS42 KNHC 151515
1015 AM EST WED 15 DECEMBER 2010
VALID 16/1100Z TO 17/1100Z DECEMBER 2010
WSPOD NUMBER.....10-015


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Radios for 2011

Following something of a drought in tabletop communication receivers, we now see some interesting new radios in the pipeline for utility grade performance at less than astronomical prices.

Alinco DX-R8T

This is a small radio with typical tabletop receiver coverage and specs. It sounds worth checking out. Here's the description on Universal Radio's web site:

The Alinco DX-R8T receiver covers 150 kHz to 30 MHz in SSB, CW, AM and FM. Other features include: IF shift, band and memory scanning, attenuator, preamp, RIT and noise blanker. Enjoy 600 alphanumeric memories (3 banks of 200 channels). There are rear panel connectors for external devices including IQ output for possible use in SDR applications, DRM, external decoding, etc. With SDR freeware (not supplied) you will be able to decode DRM with a PC with sound card.

Requires 12 VDC at 1 amp. Please note that this radio comes with a 12VDC cable and Owner's Manual only. It does not include a power supply. An AC power supply that provides 12VDC filtered 3 amp (or greater) power supply is required for home operation. See Samlex SPS-1204UL (below) or equivalent. Size: 9.45 x 3.95 x 11.54 inches (240x100x293mm 4.1 kg).

Listed price is $549.95.

AOR AR7070

This replacement of the highly regarded AR-7030, made by AOR UK, has been in the works for some time now. Prototype units have gotten good reviews from the few who have seen them. Supposedly it's been held up by difficulties in obtaining quality parts and in various firmware issues. It has not been FCC approved for the US, though this is in work according to Universal. It's an up-converted radio with DSP and an H mode front end. Here's the first paragraph of a review:

The AR7070 has been designed by my friend John Thorpe the designer of the highly acclaimed AR7030 HF receiver and also the designer of the 'HF' series of receivers made in Matlock by Lowe Electronics in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The AR7070 is an up conversion receiver that uses the techniques of the receive section of the CDG2000 transceiver that Martein improved upon to make his 'holy grail' receiver with a 9MHz IF. Like the CDG2000 receiver the AR7070 is sensitive enough not to require a preamplifier before its first H mode mixer.

The price in US$ is not known, but it will not be cheap.

Winradio WR-G33DDC Excalibur Pro

Well, OK, this is actually an SDR for use with a computer, but it has been the subject of considerable interest, including here on my part. Winradio has two styles of radios in the G-3 class. The Excalibur is the version using digital down-conversion (DDC). This radio, the WR-G31DDC is still available, but presumably it may be nearing the end of Winradio's usual 5-year support cycle. The G33 is said to have 4 MHz available for demodulation instead of two. The radio will probably share the Excalibur's tendency to use all the PC computing power you can give it.

Here's the description on Winradio's site:

The WiNRADiO WR-G33DDC 'EXCALIBUR Pro' is a high-performance, low-cost, direct-sampling, software-defined, shortwave receiver with a frequency range from 9 kHz to 49.995 MHz. It includes a real-time 50 MHz-wide spectrum analyzer and 4 MHz-wide instantaneous bandwidth available for recording, demodulation and further digital processing.

This product is an advanced version of the WR-G31DDC receiver offering the following additional improvements:

4 MHz instantaneous processing bandwidth
Low-noise preamplifier
Configurable preselection filters
Filter bandwidth adjustable down to 1 Hz
0.5 ppm frequency stability
Test and measurement functions

Again, the price has not been announced. The current G31DDC is $849.95 at Grove.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Greenland: KNR closes MW/SW

Google translation (not always good) of the Danish language site:

Greenland: KNR closes between wave [MW, also closing SWBC -Hugh]

Friday 10th December 2010
By Stig Hartvig Nielsen

For more than 50 years, the Greenlandic radio KNR, has been broadcast on medium wave.

From five different forward positions, sea and the entire west coast of Greenland were covered by KNRs radio program. But on 11 February 2011 [KNR will turn] off the five AM radio transmitters, and KNR will then only be audible in Greenlandic towns on FM.

It is the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Transport in Greenland, which has decided to dismantle the five medium-wave transmitters, respectively: Upernavik (810 kHz), Uummannaq (900 kHz), Qeqertarsuaq (650 kHz), Nuuk (570 kHz) and Simiutaq (720 kHz). The transmitters are between 5 and 10 kW.

Head Mads Byrialsen from Home Rule to disclose that medium wave facilities are very old, and therefore would be expensive to continue to maintain.

"There is also an extensive network of FM transmitters along the coast, covering all cities and villages and sea near inhabited areas. There are very few who could not hear KNR radio via FM transmitters. It was as a result it estimated that the resources used for maintenance of medium wave facilities may be used more efficiently for other purposes, "says Byrialsen further.

Fishermen and others sailing on the high seas, trappers, hunters and others inside the fjords, people on the ice cap, listeners in Canada and [others will therefore be] precluded thereby from [hearing] KNR. From 11 February next year it will only be in Greenlandic towns and villages, you could hear the KNR. The vast majority of FM transmitters here uses [transmitter powers] between 10 and 50 watts, and has a very limited range.

Mads Byrialsen stresses, however, that this will be very few people who lose the opportunity to hear KNR, and that there are security implications.

It will still be possible to communicate with coast radio and there will four times daily - year round - at 08.05, 12.05, 18.05 and 22.05 Greenlandic time - will be sent weather reports on coastal radio VHF working channels. Broadcasts are 12.05 and 22.05 will be reruns. Fishermen and people moving in nature, will therefore still be able to hear the weather forecast.

Also end with a short wave from Greenland

In the past few years, the main news broadcasts from KNR has been broadcast on a low power SSB shortwave broadcasts from the Greenlandic town of Tasiilaq. These broadcasts also disbanded at 11 February.

Mads Byrialsen indicate that users of the lake is served by KNR's weather announcements will be broadcast over the 4 VHF working channels in the area. "There are so far indicated a very limited number of seagoing ships which are resident in Tasiilaq," adds Mads Byrialsen.

Previously there has been quite other plans - namely that the five medium-wave transmitters on the west coast were replaced by one or two powerful AM short wave transmitters located on Telegraf√łen at Nuuk. This or these transmitters could cover not only all of Greenland but also all the waters where Greenlandic fishermen come. But those plans were abandoned.

"Plans for an AM short wave transmitter at Telegraf√łen off Nuuk were downsized during the negotiations for DVBT. The investment was more than 5 million. And the annual operating costs were too high. Furthermore, it was estimated that few users would invest in a shortwave receiver, and that the quality would otherwise be questionable and very dependent on atmospheric phenomena," explains Mads Byrialsen.

On 11 February 2011 8 is the end

All Greenland between wave ends closed on 11 February at 08:00 West Greenland time. Medium Wave plants will be decommissioned immediately after closing, and [not] maintained so hence not operational in any emergency. It would cost Tele Greenland 1.5 million good kr annually to maintain forward clean.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bangkok Weather Fax Is Not Dead

This grungy chart was copied on 7396.9 kHz (tune 7395.0), around 1730 UTC on December 1. It's from HSW, Bangkok, Thailand, and should put to rest the claims that this station has left the air. It remains quite active on this single frequency.

The DX-Tuner in Hong Kong was used. Signal was good at start, but dropped off into the crud.