Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stereo Spacecraft Launched

There was a spectacular night launch onboard a Delta 7925 from Cape Canaveral launch pad LC17B last night (26 Oct 2006) at 0052 UTC. The rocket carried two solar science spacecraft, Stereo A (2006-47A/29510) and Stereo B (2006-47B/29511) into orbit.

STEREO's are nearly identical twin, golf cart-sized spacecraft that will make observations to help researchers construct the first-ever three-dimensional views of the sun. The images will show the star's stormy environment and its effects on the inner solar system, vital data for understanding how the sun creates space weather."

Communications package (X-Band), These are not exact freqs for each spacecraft listed below. The RF telecomm hardware on each spacecraft is identical except for their uplink and downlink frequencies. Downlink 8440 MHz, Uplink 7189 MHz, Data Format CCSDS.

You can learn more about these spacecraft and mission at

Friday, October 13, 2006



ALE On-The-Air Week 13-23 October AOTAW-2006
"The Automatic Link Establishment International QSO Party"
START: 0001 UTC 13 October 2006
END: 2359 UTC 23 October 2006

HFLINK sponsors this new International Amateur Radio event. All ham radio operators worldwide are invited to participate in 10 days of amateur radio HF-ALE Automatic Link Establishment activity on the air. "AOTAW" is an open operating event for hams to explore ALE communications and equipment. The experience gained by operator participation is useful for HF emergency and disaster relief communications.

There are now hundreds of amateur radio operators worldwide with ALE stations. The AOTAW gives operators a chance to exercise ALE transceivers, antennas, software, systems, and operating procedures.

ALE OPERATOR CERTIFICATE for AOTAW 2006 HFLINK issues a unique ALE Operator Certificate to operators who participate in AOTAW. To qualify for an ALE Operator Certificate, the operator must initiate and complete at least 5 QSOs through Automatic Link Establishment with other ALE operators. The ALE link must then be followed by communication either by voice or texting in any mode. Additional certificate endorsements are issued by HFLINK for operators who link with 25 stations or more.

LOGS:To qualify for a certificate, please send a Date/Callsign/Frequency log of your ALE QSOs by 31 DEC 2006 via email to: aotaw2006@ The certificate will be returned via direct email.

All operators are reminded to be courteous and operate within the recognised Amateur Radio ALE channels and standards. Please remember, AOTAW is not a contest, there is no score. AOTAW is intended to provide a way for more operators to gain valuable practical knowledge and expertise in the operation of an Amateur Radio ALE station.

1. NETCALLS: "HFL" net or "QRZ" net may be used as the general CQ calls for the event.
2. ALLCALL: SHOULD NOT BE USED in AOTAW. A QSO started by an ALLCALL does not qualify as a valid ALE link.
3. ANYCALL: Anycalls may be used. But remember, many ALE stations are not programmed to respond to Anycalls.

1. Call CQ: Transmit a CALL> NETCALL to either the "HFL" net or the"QRZ" net. Wait at least 1 minute for responses.
2. Call a station: Transmit an INDIVIDUAL CALL to the station. It maybe necessary to first add the station's callsign (address) to your ALE address list.
3. Upon linking on a VOICE channel, then use USB Voice for the QSO.
4. Upon linking on a DIGITAL channel, then send a short AMD message with the linked station. 5. When QSO is completed, transmit the CLEAR LINK signal.

After initial ALE link on a DIGITAL channel, use the universal short text message for ALE, called AMD. An AMD message request to the other operator can ask for other digital text keyboarding, such as:

ALE AMD: is the "universal" ALE text message system.
DTM ARQ: only by stations who are using PC-ALE or MARS-ALE software.
PSK31: (1500Hz centre) ask operator first via AMD.
Olivia: (1500Hz centre, 500/16) ask operator first via AMD.
CW: ask operator first via AMD.

ABOUT AOTAWAmateur operators who use ALE for government and non-governmental organisations may be especially interested in participation, for itprovides more chance to work with ALE linking and greater understanding of the system. It is a chance for operators to explore the various operational aspects of ALE that may not be utilised otherwise in a more structured organisation ALE network. The 10 days of AOTAW enables operators to participate as they can, for any amountof time in the event, and to experience ALE operation under various ionospheric propagation conditions. More information: HFLINK WEBSITE

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New ITU Intl Monitoring #311 Available Online

An interesting HF spectrum resource sometimes overlooked by radio hobbyist and is available for free every quarter is the ITU International Monitoring Publication. This publication has some really interesting intercepts that would interest the SW broadcast and ute DXer.

The new bulletin #311 that covers the period 1 Jul 2006 to 30 Sep 2006 (85 pages in pdf format) has been released. You can download that file at

Numbers Stations Newsletter Online

If you are interested in the shortwave numbers stations and other oddities, you will want to check out the latest Numbers and Oddities newsletter.

Numbers & Oddities #109 is now online at Click on the download section for this issue and archives.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Athens Tennessee Police to Encrypt Fulltime

Blog Editor Note: The encryption that Athens uses is a simple voice inversion scheme. While I won't point to any specifics, there are no cost and low cost capability available on the internet to decode these transmissions.

Bottom line: The Athens Police should be investigated for fraud, waste and abuse. As pointed out in the article below, this system was purchased with federal funds. This is NOT an interoperable system as the article clearly points out. So why was this department allowed to purchase a non-P25 system in this post 9/11 age with federal money?

Originally published in the Daily Post Athenian
By Jeremy Belk
Staff Writer Local News

Police scanner enthusiasts can no longer listen to the Athens Police Department now that the switch has been made to an encrypted radiocommunications system.

APD is switching its 55 portable and patrol unit radios over to an encrypted radio system, which scrambles transmissions received by police scanners and radios that do not have a special descrambling board installed inside.

Chief Chuck Ziegler said the transition to a completely encrypted system will take a few weeks to complete and get problems resolved.

Ziegler said the department is making the change because law breakers often use police scanners to monitor radio traffic as a way to avoid getting caught.

"It has become very common for criminals, such as drug dealers, meth manufacturers and burglars, to use commonly purchased radio scanners as counter surveillance," Ziegler said. "We´ve found in Athens people are able to monitor our radio traffic to determine patrol zones and what officers are on duty." [Duh!-LVH]

Ziegler described the encryption board which is being used as "like a copyright." He said no one can purchase a board to descramble APD transmissions without the department´s approval.
Scanner traffic from APD first went from normal voice transmission to a series of garbled speech and rhythmic noise starting on Sept. 11. Ziegler said he has already heard complaints from people in the community who enjoy listening to law enforcement traffic.

"The unfortunate side to this is there are a lot of people who enjoy listening to what the police department does," Ziegler said. "However, the same info is being used as counterintelligence by criminals."

Ziegler said it is amazing at the amount of people who have scanners. He said often times officers will be called to a disturbance or aparty and when they arrive nothing is happening because someone at the location had been listening to a scanner and alerted others that the police were on the way.

Secure communications, according to Ziegler, is a necessity in policework.

APD officers and dispatchers can still communicate with other agencies by switching the encryption off.

Many of the officers said the system has bugs that need to be worked out. McMinn County E-911 Director Jim Davis said the Athens Police Department using encryption will not affect county dispatchers and he supports the department´s decision to switch to an encrypted radio signal.

"The only problem we will at the E-911 dispatching is we will not be able to monitor city police traffic when they are encrypted," Davis said.

APD Patrol Capt. Rob Davis said if an APD officer needs to contact an outside agency the encryption could be turned off to use another channel on the scanner or the Athens dispatch center could contact the appropriate agency.

Davis said in the case of an emergency, such as a tornado or other natural disaster, encryption could be turned off on the radios; however, the intent is to use encryption on all radio communication.

Davis said the department has received a few complaints from citizens asking why their communications were scrambled.

Funding for the new scanners came from federal forfeiture money the city received from the White Spider prostitution sting. A local massage parlor was raided by local and federal law enforcement inconjunction with a nationwide investigation to illegal activities in massage parlors located across the country.