Tuesday, August 28, 2018


From Tom DF5JL on the UDXF newsgroup:

The weekend was really good for surprises: Although solar wind speeds were low, the storms we observed were due to the enhanced magnetic field with sustained southward orientation associated with the passage of a magnetic cloud, which in turn coalesced with the 20th August coronal
mass ejection (CME). Negative Bz values were observed since about 1500 UT on August 25, and finally reached a value of -17nT.

Not only did a coronary mass ejection (CME) give us a magnetic strom of class G3 (k = 7), suddenly also a big sunspot appeared. We remember: For most of the year 2018, the solar disk was empty, without even the slightest sunspot. But this weekend suddenly there was a rapidly expanding spot with two dark cores as wide as the earth.

The new sunspot AR2720 is not only large, its magnetic polarity is also reversed compared to the sunspots of the current solar cycle 24. So, could this be the first big sunspot of the coming solar cycle? A new solar cycle always starts with a sunspot, in which magnetic north and south poles are reversed compared to the previous spots.

However, the relative equatorial proximity of this spot speaks against it - a sure sign of the beginning of a new cycle would be in addition to the reverse polarity of a relative equatorial distance. Further
observations are necessary.

As well as better conditions on the shortwave ;)

73 Tom DF5JL

Saturday, July 14, 2018

KiwiSDR TDoA Direction Finding Now Freely Available for Public Use

This is an article about some experimental work going on with Time Difference of Arrival (TDoA) direction finding techniques on KiwiSDR units. The idea is that public KiwiSDRs distributed around the world can be used to pinpoint the physical locations of any 0 - 30 MHz transmitter using the TDoA technique. This feature has recently been activated and can be accessed for free via any KiwiSDR.

This is a very interesting article and capability. Worth the read at

Skywave and Groundwave Propagation

Friday, June 29, 2018

Monitoring the Hurricane Hunters and More During the Hurricane Season

The July issue of The Spectrum Monitor is going to be released today and my monthly Milcom column will have detailed coverage of frequencies and call signs used by the US Government/Military agencies to study, track and report on hurricanes and tropical systems. It includes the latest information on the US Air Force and NOAA Hurricane Hunters.

It has been almost a decade (2008 in Monitoring Times magazine) since my last article on this subject so I had a lot of updates and information to share.

Yesterday, Curt Phillips shared with the Tarheel Scanner Group a list of Amateur Radio frequencies you can monitor during the hurricane season. With possible tropical activity developing off the southeast US coast or Gulf of Mexico in the next few days, my TSM list and this ham radio frequency list from Southgate should be helpful to stay informed.

From Southgate

On the IARU Region 1 site Greg Mossop G0DUB reports on the amateur radio nets that may be active during the Atlantic Hurricane Season June 1 to November 30

So it is time to remind the wider Amateur Radio community that the following frequencies may be in use by nets in North and Central America to track and deal with the consequences of these severe weather events. Radio Amateurs in Region 2 play their part in gathering and distributing information for the weather and emergency services as they do every year.

Radio Amateurs in Region 1 are reminded it is possible to cause unintentional QRM to these nets so please listen carefully if operating near these frequencies:

Belize: 7.177MHz
Caribbean Emergency & Weather Nets (CEWN): 3.815 & 7.162 MHz
Caribbean Emergency: 14.185 MHz
Central America: 7.090 & 3.750 MHz
Cuba: 3.720, 3.740, 7.110 and 7.120 MHz
Eastern Caribbean Narrow Band Emergency System Net: 7.036 MHz USB (Olivia & MT63)
Guatemala: 7.075 MHz
Mexico: 3.690, 3.693(Alternative), 7.060 & 14.120 MHz
Nicaragua: Main Frequencies 3.798, 7.098, 14.298 MHz Alternate Frequencies 3.898, 7.108, 14.198MHz
Panama: 7.085 MHz
Republica Dominicana: 3.780, 7.065 (Main), 14.280 MHz

Maritime Mobile Service Net: 14.300 MHz
Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN): 14.265 MHz
Hurricane Watch Net: 14.325 MHz (day) 7.268MHz (Night)
National Hurricane Centre ( WX4NHC ) 14.325MHz

Other local emergency communications groups may also activate if a hurricane approaches their area and those frequencies would be announced at the time.  Thanks to the National Societies and Emergency Communications Groups of IARU Region 2 for updating their frequency information.

IARU Region 1 http://iaru-r1.org/


You can get you copy of the July TSM issue that will include my column (electronic pdf format) from Spectrum Monitor for only $3 at https://www.thespectrummonitor.com/. Even better you can get a full year subscription to TSM for only US$24 and never miss any of my monthly Milcom columns. TSM is the only full spectrum radio hobby magazine in the US marketplace.

If you monitor radio you need a TSM subscription.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

From ARRL Newsleter: FT8 Activity Bumping Up at Some Expense to Other Modes

Despite largely dismal HF conditions, there is no doubt that the recent FT8 digital protocol has hams on the air. The mode has caught on so quickly that co-developer Joe Taylor expressed surprise last fall at the rapid uptake of FT8 for making contacts on HF bands Judging by Logbook of The World (LoTW) data, more than 2.3 million FT8 contacts were uploaded in 1 month -- a net gain of 1.2 million contacts on all modes over the same month last year, ARRL Radiosport Manager Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, said. Over the same period, activity in some of the other modes has declined.

"Year-to-date DXCC applications are up by 11% over the same period last year," Fusaro said. "So far, we have processed 898 Worked All States (WAS) applications -- a 72% increase over the same period last year. Of those applications, 347 -- or 39% -- were FT8 endorsements. Application for VUCC are also up by 33% over 2017."

Fusaro said that while some feel that FT8 is "taking over the world," subsuming all other modes, that's not the case. "Activity in the traditional modes of SSB and CW has decreased only slightly, by 10%," he said. "The real decrease is in RTTY and PSK activity and in the other WSJT-X modes. I believe poor propagation would have cut into SSB and CW activity, regardless of the new mode." Anecdotal reports support Fusaro's hard numbers, with wall-to-wall signals surrounding the FT8 watering holes.

Late last year, Denny Berg, WB9MSM, achieved his goal of completing DXCC using FT8. It took him just 4 months.  "I can tell all of you that this mode is spreading like wildfire throughout all the HF bands," Berg told The Daily DX at the time He said he was able to work all states on FT8 in about 6 weeks of operating. Taylor has characterized SSB and CW as "general-purpose modes" that are good for ragchewing, DXing, contesting, disaster communication, and other purposes. On the other hand, he has said, FT8 and the other protocols in the WSJT-X suite are "special-purpose modes," designed for making reliable, error-free contacts using signals that may be too weak to work using more traditional modes -- and sometimes even too far down in the noise even to hear.

ARLS005 Amateur Radio Transponders on Planned Chinese Satellites to Include HF

China's Amateur Radio Satellite organization, CAMSAT, has released some details of three new Amateur Radio satellites that could be launched as early as September. Two of the satellites, CAS-5A and CAS-6, will carry transponders, and one of them will have HF capability.

CAS-5A is a 6U CubeSat. It will have an HF/HF (21/29 MHz) mode linear transponder; an HF/UHF (21/435 MHz) mode linear transponder; an HF CW telemetry beacon; VHF/UHF mode linear transponder; a VHF/UHF mode FM transponder; a UHF CW telemetry beacon, and UHF AX.25 4,000/9,600-baud GMSK Telemetry. Transponders will have 30 kHz passbands, except for the H/U unit, which will be 15 kHz.

The tiny CAS-5B, weighing 1/2 kilogram, will be deployed from CAS-5A in orbit. It will carry a UHF CW beacon on an Amateur Radio frequency. It will be placed into a 539 x 533 kilometer, 97.5-degree orbit.

CAS-5A/B will launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

CAS-6, a 50-kilogram microsat, will include a VHF CW telemetry beacon; a U/V mode 20 kHz linear transponder, and AX.25 4,800-baud GMSK telemetry downlink. It will also carry an atmospheric wind detector and other systems that will operate on non-amateur frequencies.

A launch at sea is planned for CAS-6 from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. The microsat will be placed into a 579 x 579 kilometer, 45-degree orbit.

CAMSAT has applied to the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) to coordinate frequencies for all three spacecraft.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

ARLS004 Three CubeSats with Amateur Radio Payloads Deployed from ISS

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that three CubeSats carrying Amateur Radio payloads, including one with a V/U linear transponder, were deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) on May 11 at around 1030 UTC.

Irazu (Costa Rica) and 1KUNS-PF (Kenya) carry beacon/telemetry in the 70-centimeter Amateur Radio band, while UBAKUSAT (Turkey) carries an Amateur Radio linear transponder for SSB and CW, in addition to CW and telemetry beacons. Irazu is a 1U CubeSat developed by students at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, with a telemetry beacon at 436.500 MHz. 1KUNS-PF is a 3U CubeSat developed by students at the University of Nairobi, with a telemetry beacon (9.6 kbps) at 437.300 MHz.

UBAKUSAT, a 3U CubeSat developed by students at the Istanbul Technical University, has a CW beacon at 437.225 MHz, and a telemetry beacon at 437.325 MHz. The linear transponder downlink is
435.200 - 435.250 MHz; the uplink is 145.940 - 145.990 MHz.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Summer 2018 International Shortwave Broadcast Guide Now Available at Amazon

Older ham radio operators and radio listeners might remember a time when shortwave radio stations broadcast a nearly constant drumbeat of political propaganda during the Cold War years. Shortwave radio stations such as Radio Moscow, the Voice of America, and the BBC, to name a few, played an important ideological role during that confrontation between the East and the West.

Once again, Global Radio broadcasters have moved to the front lines at what is now shaping up as a new Cold War by some of the world’s major super powers. As tensions heat up in the world’s hotspots such as eastern Europe, the Middle East and Eastern Asia, you can follow breaking international events on the radio waves, but you need an accurate and comprehensive guide to broadcast frequencies to hear it.

Teak Publishing is pleased release that important guide – the 10th edition (Summer 2018) International Shortwave Broadcast Guide (ISWBG) electronic book by Amazon bestselling author Gayle Van Horn W4GVH.

If you want to get in on the action, then this Amazon electronic book is your ticket to travel the Global Radio bands. The ISWBG is an exclusive 24-hour station/frequency guide with schedules for selected mediumwave broadcasters and all known longwave/shortwave radio stations transmitting at time of publication. This unique resource is the only radio publication that has by-hour schedules that includes all language services, frequencies and world target areas for over 500 stations. It has a complete listing of DX radio programs and Internet websites addresses for many of the stations listed in the book. There are also listings for standard time and frequency stations, and even a few intriguing spy numbers station listings.

New in this 10th edition of the ISWBG is a feature, Monitoring Brazil on Shortwave Radio. It is more than futebol! by Gayle Van Horn. Soccer teams from around the world will compete this summer in the FIFA World Cup, and Brazil is expected to be a top contender to win the event. This article will aid you in monitoring broadcasters that will be carrying Brazilian soccer team news during this international event.

Other authors with articles in this edition include The Spectrum Monitor’s Fred Waterer, with a feature on summer radio programming, and Hans Johnson with a profile on the state of DRM broadcasting in 2018. There are also two First Look reviews on the new AirSpy HF+ SDR and the W6LVP Magnetic Loop Antenna by Loyd Van Horn W4LVH.

Spectrum Monitor e-zine columnist/feature writer Larry Van Horn N5FPW has a special feature on Who’s Who in the Shortwave Radio Spectrum that will assist the reader in monitoring Global Radio activity outside the broadcast radio spectrum. This article also includes an update to the Teak Publishing HF 1000+ non-broadcast frequency list.

International Shortwave Broadcast Guide 10th edition of this semiannual Teak Publishing publication is available worldwide from Amazon and their various international websites at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CT89MNP.

The price for this latest edition is still US$7.99. Since this book is being released internationally, Amazon customers in the United Kingdom, Germany, France Spain, Italy, Japan, India, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Australia can order this electronic book (e-Book) from Amazon websites directly servicing these countries. All other countries can use the regular Amazon.com website.
Don’t own a Kindle reader from Amazon? Not a problem. You do not need to own a Kindle to read Amazon e-book publications. You can read any Kindle book with Amazon’s free reading apps on literally any electronic media platform.

A Kindle app is available for most major smartphones, tablets and computers. There is a Kindle app available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch; Android Phone; Android Tablet; PC; Windows 8; Mac Kindle Cloud Reader; Windows Phone; Samsung; BlackBerry 10; BlackBerry; and WebOS. This means with a free Kindle reading apps, you can buy a Kindle book once, and read it on any device with the Kindle app installed*. You can also read that same Kindle book on a Kindle device if you own one.

You can find additional details on these apps by checking out this link to the Amazon website at www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771.

For additional information on this and other Teak Publishing radio hobby books, monitor the company sponsored Internet blogs – The Military Monitoring Post (http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com/), The Btown Monitor Post (http://monitor-post.blogspot.com/) and The Shortwave Central (http://mt-shortwave.blogspot.com/) for availability of additional e-books that are currently in production. You can learn more about the author by going to her author page on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Gayle-Van-Horn/e/B0084MVQCM/.

Global Radio listeners are routinely entertained with unique perspectives to events, music, culture, history, and news from other countries that you won’t see or hear on your local or national broadcast channels. Global Radio broadcasts are not restricted by country borders or oceans, and can travel thousands of miles, reaching millions of listeners worldwide, now in over 300 different languages and dialects.

Listeners can easily hear shortwave broadcast stations from China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, New Zealand, North/South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam, and many other counties. If you have a shortwave radio receiver or Internet connection, and this unique radio resource, you will know when and where to listen to your favorite radio broadcast station.

The International Shortwave Broadcast Guide will have wide appeal to amateur radio operators, shortwave radio hobbyists, news agencies, news buffs, educators, foreign language students, expatriates, or anyone else interested in listening to a global view of world news and major events as they happen.

Whether you are an amateur radio operator or shortwave radio enthusiasts and want to get in on the action outside of the ham bands, then this new electronic book from Teak Publishing is a must in your radio reference library.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Swaziland Name Change - Kingdom of eSwatini

For all my DXing ham friends, Swaziland is no more.  In an article posted on Snithsonian,com (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/swaziland-now-kingdom-eswatini-180968883/), Mswati III of Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarch, has declared that his nation’s official name is now the Kingdom of eSwatin.

Though it sounds like an attempt to bring the small, landlocked nation into the digital age, it’s actually the country’s name in Swazi, the local tongue. AFP reports the change was made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country’s complete independence from British rule in 1968. The move also coincides with the king’s own 50th birthday, which was on April 19, Sewell Chan at the New York Times reports.

“I would like to announce that Swaziland will now revert to its original name,” the king said during the independence day celebration, according to Reuters. “African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized. So from now on, the country will be officially known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.”

The change, according to the king, is also an attempt to distinguish the country’s name from other nations. “Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland,” he added.

The switch is not out of the blue. Reuters points out the country had recently begun using its traditional name at the U.N. General Assembly and at the African Union. In recent years, during addresses to parliament, the king has used the name for the region used before British colonization in 1906.

ast absolute monarch, has declared that his nation’s official name is now the Kingdom of eSwatini.
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/swaziland-now-kingdom-eswatini-180968883/#tf7pWAb6mfGwRpEX.99
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Guess we will have a new name pop up on the ARRL DXCC list soon.
Image result for ham radio swaziland qsl card