Tuesday, July 28, 2009

National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09)

For our readers who are HF Government monioring enthusiasts:

National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09) is scheduled for July 27 through July 31, 2009. NLE 09 will be the first major exercise conducted by the United States government that will focus exclusively on terrorism prevention and protection, as opposed to incident response and recovery.

NLE 09 is designated as a Tier I National Level Exercise. Tier I exercises (formerly known as the Top Officials exercise series or TOPOFF) are conducted annually in accordance with the National Exercise Program (NEP), which serves as the nation's overarching exercise program for planning, organizing, conducting and evaluating national level exercises. The NEP was established to provide the U.S. government, at all levels, exercise opportunities to prepare for catastrophic crises ranging from terrorism to natural disasters.

NLE 09 is a White House directed, Congressionally- mandated exercise that includes the participation of all appropriate federal department and agency senior officials, their deputies, staff and key operational elements. In addition, broad regional participation of state, tribal, local, and private sector is anticipated. This year the United States welcomes the participation of Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom in NLE 09.


NLE 09 will focus on intelligence and information sharing among intelligence and law enforcement communities, and between international, federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector participants.

The NLE 09 scenario will begin in the aftermath of a notional terrorist event outside of the United States, and exercise play will center on preventing subsequent efforts by the terrorists to enter the United States and carry out additional attacks. This scenario enables participating senior officials to focus on issues related to preventing terrorist events domestically and protecting U.S. critical infrastructure.

NLE 09 will allow terrorism prevention efforts to proceed to a logical end (successful or not), with no requirement for response or recovery activities.

NLE 09 will be an operations-based exercise to include: activities taking place at command posts, emergency operation centers, intelligence centers and potential field locations to include federal headquarters facilities in the Washington D.C. area, and in federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector facilities in FEMA Region VI, which includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and California.


Through a comprehensive evaluation process, the exercise will assess prevention and protection capabilities both nationally and regionally. Although NLE 09 is still in the planning stages, the exercise is currently designed to validate the following capabilities:

•Intelligence/Information Sharing and Dissemination
•Counter-Terrorism Investigation and Law Enforcement
•Air, Border and Maritime Security
•Critical Infrastructure Protection
•Public and Private Sector Alert/Notification and Security Advisories
•International Coordination


Exercises such as NLE 09 are an important component of national preparedness, helping to build an integrated federal, state, tribal, local and private sector capability to prevent terrorist attacks, and rapidly and effectively respond to, and recover from, any terrorist attack or major disaster that occurs.

The full-scale exercise offers agencies and jurisdictions a way to test their plans and skills in a real-time, realistic environment and to gain the in-depth knowledge that only experience can provide. Participants will exercise prevention and information sharing functions that are critical to preventing terrorist attacks. Lessons learned from the exercise will provide valuable insights to guide future planning for securing the nation against terrorist attacks, disasters, and other emergencies.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ham Radio Hurricane Emergency Operations

With hurricane season underway, all amateur radio operators be aware of the major emergency net frequencies. These nets can be activated on short notice, and if in session, should be avoided during contests, other nets, and regular operations. From the July 15th edition of the ARRL's ARES E-Letter, here are links to the primary HF emcomm Web pages:

Major HF Nets:

WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center http://www.wx4nhc.org/
Hurricane Watch Net http://www.hwn.org/
SKYWARN http://www.weather.gov/skywarn/
Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Net (SATERN) http://satern.org/
The Waterway Net http://www.waterwayradio.net/
VoIP SKYWARN/Hurricane Net. (The latter is an Internet-based operation, but of interest.) http://www.voipwx.net/

Major National-Level Served Agencies:

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster http://www.nvoad.org/
Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/
National Weather Service http://www.nws.noaa.gov/
Citizen Corps http://www.citizencorps.gov/
Salvation Army http://www.salvationarmy.org/
REACT http://www.reactintl.org/

More on all this as the hurricane season proceeds.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shuttle to launch Bevo-1 into orbit on July 30

On flight day 16 (7/30) the space shuttle Endeavor crew will be launching several payloads into low earth orbit. See my story on the ANDE-2 payloads at


Another payload will be the Dragonsat-1 Paradigm aka BEVO-1 developed by the University of Texas. The primary objective of PARADIGM is to collect GPS data from a NASA-designed receiver and downlink it to a ground station at UT-Austin. The data will then be delivered to NASA JSC for post-processing. AFSK and FSK Telemetry on UHF will be transmitted until end of life. A five inch cubesat of less than 3.5kg. For more information see http://paradigm.ae.utexas.edu/

Here are the downlink particulars:

Beacon Mode
Downlink Freq: 437.325 MHz
Modulation: FM, 200mW
Morse Code, ~20 WPM

Data Mode
Downlink Freq: 437.325 MHz
Modulation: FM, 1W
GMSK, 9600 baud, AX.25 (High-speed, default)
Bell 202, AX.25 (Low-speed)

And let me give a shout out to the UT gang who got this satellite built and into orbit "Hook'em Horns!"

The other payload associated with this mission is Aggiesat 2 (devloped by students at Texas A&M). I am still waiting confirmation on the downlink info from the project and will pass it along as soon as I get it.

Navy's ANDE-2 Launched Aboard Endeavour Downlink on 2 Meters

Blog Editor's Note: Want a shot at monitoring an orbiting spacecraft? Hams, Scanner Enthusiast and other radio hobbyist have a chance to monitor these two Navy satellites on their amateur band downlinks at 145.825 MHz. See AMSAT notice at the end of this post.

By Donna McKinney, Naval Research Laboratory Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) satellite suite, the Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment 2 (ANDE-2), launched aboard NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour July 15.

The ANDE-2 satellite suite consists of two nearly perfectly spherical micro-satellites with instrumentation to perform two interrelated mission objectives. The first objective is to monitor the total atmospheric density along the orbit for improved orbit determination of resident space objects. The second objective is to provide a test object for both radar and optical U.S. Space Surveillance Network sensors.

ANDE-2 is a low-cost mission designed to study the atmosphere of the Earth from low-Earth orbit by monitoring total atmospheric density between 300 and 400 kilometer altitude. ANDE-2 data will be used to improve methods for the precision orbit determination of space objects and to calibrate the Space Fence, a radar space surveillance system belonging to the Air Force 20th Space Control Squadron, a principal resource for tracking low-Earth orbiting space satellites.

Because of ANDE-2's particular design requirements, a new deployment technique was developed by the Air Force Space Test Program and tested with the ANDE Risk Reduction (ANDERR) flight in December 2006. The primary ANDERR mission objective, a test of the Shuttle deployment mechanism, was successful.

The ANDE project was conceived and developed at NRL, by Andrew Nicholas of NRL's Space Science Division. The mission consists of two microsatellites with the same size but different masses sent into orbit at the same time: the lighter satellite, known as Pollux, and the heavier satellite, Castor.

The Castor spacecraft carries active instruments: a miniature wind and temperature spectrometer to measure atmospheric composition, cross-track winds and neutral temperature; a Global Positioning Sensor; a thermal monitoring system to monitor the temperature of the satellite; an electrostatic analyzer to monitor plasma density spacecraft charging.

Each satellite contains a small lightweight payload designed to determine the spin rate and orientation of the satellite from on-orbit measurements and from ground-based observations. The two microsatellites will slowly separate into lead-trail orbit to provide researchers an opportunity to study small-scale, spatial and temporal variations in drag associated with geomagnetic activity.

Both satellites will be fitted with an array of 30 retro reflectors and will be observed by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network and domestic and international satellite laser ranging sites. The variation in observed position will be used to determine in-track total density. Scientists will determine its position in relation to the passive satellite to compute total density and validate drag coefficient models. In addition, instrumentation on board Castor will measure density and composition.

A joint effort between the Space Science Division and the Naval Center for Space Technology to routinely process and analyze the ANDERR data has led to improved orbit determination and prediction using an atmospheric model correction method. The ANDE data provide a valuable tool for correcting deficiencies in atmospheric models and have led to advancements in miniature sensor technology. These advancements are pivotal for multi-point in-situ space weather sensing. The DoD Space Test Program will provide launch services for the ANDE-2 mission.

Experiment/Payload Description

Research Summary

Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment - 2 (ANDE-2) objectives are to measure atmospheric density and composition in low Earth orbit (LEO) and to better characterize the parameters used to calculate a satellite's drag coefficient.

This experiment consists of two microsatellites, called ANDE Active (AA) spacecraft (Castor) and the ANDE Passive (AP) spacecraft (Pollux), that are launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay.

These spherical satellites are 19 inches in diameter and will be tracked by the Satellite Laser Ranging systems and the Space Surveillance Network.


The main objective of Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment - 2 (ANDE-2) is to measure the total atmospheric density between 100 and 400 km. The density data that is gathered will be used to improve orbit determination calculations of the orbits of resident space objects.

ANDE-2 consists of two spherical micro satellites. These satellites are launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay into a circular orbit just below the International Space Station altitude.

Both satellites will be tracked by the Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) system and the U.S. Space Surveillance Network (SSN). These satellites have the same dimensions, but have different masses. Because of the difference in mass, the satellites will drift apart over time. Observing the satellites' position will provide a study on spatial and temporal variations in atmospheric drag associated with geomagnetic activity.

Operational Requirements

ANDE-2 uses two spherical microsatellites which are launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay. Both satellites are 19 inch diameter spheres, have a mass of 50 and 25 kg, and are constructed of aluminum. The surface of both spheres contains an embedded array of sensors including 30 retro reflectors, six laser diodes for tracking, and six photovoltaic cells for determining orientation and spin rate. Both spheres also have thermal monitor systems. The ANDE spacecraft are located inside the Internal Cargo Unit (ICU). The ICU is made of three aluminum sections. Each section is separated by a light band separation system. Once ejected from the cargo bay, the ICU will separate and deploy the ANDE spheres at a safe distance from the shuttle.

Operational Protocols

ANDE will be launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay. The two microsatellites will be contained inside the ICU canister. Once the ICU canister is a safe distance from the Space Shuttle, two micro satellites will be released at an altitude of approximately 350 km.

And from AMSAT

AMSAT News Service Bulletin 193.06
July 12, 2009
BID: $ANS-193.06

Castor and Pollox, two satellites in the Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment (ANDE) program are ready to fly with the launch of STS-127 from Kennedy Space Center. The ANDE mission consists of two spherical spacecraft fitted with retro-reflectors for satellite laser ranging (SLR). The constant and well-determined cross section and surface properties of the ANDE spacecraft provide an ideal set of objects for monitoring atmospheric drag and the calibration of space surveillance network (SSN) assets both radar and optical.

Castor is a 19 inch diameter aluminum sphere with a mass of 63 kg. It is as near perfect sphere as possible given the constraints of cost and manufacturability. The sphere is split in half with e delrin disc. The hemispheres are also the satellite antenna. For power, the satellite has 112 19AH lithium primary cells. This provides about 7000 watt-hours of power which has to last for the one year mission.

The satellite has several different types of sensors. There are two main sensors, a Neutral particle wind and temperature spectrometer and an ion mass spectrometer.

A group of college students designed and built a MEMS sensor payload to test some commercial gyroscopes and a magnetometer. There are also six light sensors and six temperature sensors mounted in the satellite hemispheres.

The Pollux satellite was originally to be a passive satellite with retroreflectors for laser ranging. It has been turned into a high school student project involving several schools in the Fairfax County, Virginia area.

The satellite is powered by twenty-eight 19AH Lithium-ion cells configured to provide 14 volts. The battery configuration uses the spare ANDE satellite hardware.

The electronics is based on cubesat hardware developed at the Naval Research Laboratory and Stensat Group LLC.

The communications board contains the transmitter and receiver. The transmitter operates at 2 meters and can put out up to 1 watt of signal. Power level is adjustable. The transmitter can operate at 1200 baud AFSK and 9600 baud FSK. The transmitter uses the AX.25 protocol. An experimental FX.25 protocol will be tested that adds forward error correction capability to the AX.25 protocol and still allows typical TNCs to decode the packets.

Both satellites will transmit on 145.825 MHz. Additional details about the telemetry format, as well as the FX.25 and GMSK experiments can be found at https://goby.nrl.navy.mil/ANDE/Main.html

Attention European Radio Readers

Patrick Lindecker, the developer of the Multipsk digital decoding software package, has pasted along the following interesting info.


Hello to all European testers,

I have had the information that an helicopter or airplane of the Tour de France could use "1382" frames with GPS ($GPRMC) positions inside.

So I have issued a test version of Multipsk, in which I have added a function to display GPS positions carried in the "1382" frames either on a local map or GoogleEarth. The "1382" professional mode is only available for licencied users.

The frequency is 164,6875 MHz. The Tour de France is tomorrow (Sunday) between France and Switzeland. It could be fun to follow their positions.

The test version contains the Multipsk test version and the help files: http://f6cte.free.fr/MULTIPSK_TEST_18_07_2009.ZIP

Paste this adress in your Internet Explorer or equivalent. Download the file. Create a tempory folder (C:\TEST, for example), unzip the file in it and start C:\TEST\Multipsk.exe (the auxiliary files will be created automatically). Add your user key and the Maps sub-directory in this temporary folder.

TKS for reports.


Here are the modifications done in this test version:

* TCP/IP command "SDR_HF_FR" of the SdR central frequency (commande TCP/IP "SDR_HF_FR" de la fréquence SdR)

* improvement of the SdR mode and frequency management (amélioration de la gestion de la fréquence et du mode SdR)

* possibility of a wide vertical dash on the waterfall (possibilité d'une barre verticale épaisse sur la chute d'eau)

* Addition of the number of Acars positions on the map (ajout du nombre de positions Acars sur la carte)

* modification of the sound generation from the PC (modification de la génération de son du PC)

* ARQ FAE: extension to callsigns containing the "/" character (ARQ FAE: extension aux indicatifs contenant "/")

* ARQ FAE mail: extension of the delay before abandon (courrier ARQ FAE: extension du délai avant abandon)

* ARQ FAE: slight modification of the progression display (ARQ FAE: légère modification de l'affichage de la progression)

* ARQ FAE: bug on 'End of mail transfer' not displayed (ARQ FAE: "bug" sur 'End of mail transfer' non affiché)

* ARQ FAE: bug on addressee on mail transfer (ARQ FAE: "bug" sur le destinataire en transmission de courrier)

* ARQ FAE: bug on display of control messages (ARQ FAE: "bug" sur l'affichage des messages de contrôle)

* JT65: DF with "Ø" considered, if callsign is clicked (JT65: DF avec "Ø" considéré, si l'indicatif est cliqué)

* JT65: on a CQ, the report in dB will fill the dB fields (JT65: sur un CQ, le report en dB sera chargé dans les champs dB)

* JT65: "synchro-1270" display (JT65: affichage "synchro-1270")

* JT65: frequency adjustment with left and right buttons (JT65: réglage de la fréquence avec les boutons gauche et droit)

* 1382: display of GPS positions on local map or Googlearth (182: affichage des positions GPS sur carte ou sur GoogleEarth)

* updating of the internal prefixes list (mise à jour de la liste interne des préfixes)

* bug on Panoramics started from the Configuration screen ("bug" sur les panoramiques lancés depuis l'écran Configuration)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

W1AW to add new digital modes to its transmitting schedule

Want to practice receiving the ham PSK and MFSK digital modes and learning what they sound like?

Well now you will have an opportunity. From the ARRL:

ARRL Bulletin 27 ARLB027
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT July 14, 2009
To all radio amateurs

ARLB027 W1AW to add new digital modes to its transmitting schedule

After a survey of W1AW-listeners, W1AW will begin using two different modes on August 17, 2009.

On August 17, 2009, W1AW will replace its AMTOR and ASCII transmissions with PSK31 and MFSK16, respectively.

RTTY (Baudot) will continue to be the first digital mode used in the transmission schedule.

The frequencies used by W1AW for all its digital transmissions will remain the same.

All regular 6 PM and 9 PM eastern time digital transmissions will begin with RTTY. PSK31 and MFSK16 will be sent as time allows.

The Tuesday and Friday Keplerian data bulletins will be sent using RTTY and PSK31.

The W1AW operating schedule -- complete with times and frequencies -- can be found on the ARRLWeb page at, http://www.arrl.org/w1aw.html#w1awsked.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where do satellite catalogs come from?

Tracking all the active satellites and orbital debris around the Earth is a challenging task, even for the US Defense Department. (credit: NASA)

Occasionally on this blog I write up information on some of the more interesting military satellite information that crosses my desk. In those write ups you will see mention of the NORAD Space Catalog number, International Designator, and other information on the object's orbit.

I have come across a most interesting article online that describes the creation and maintenance of satellite catalogs and a lot more by a knowledgeable author, Brian Weeden.


If you would like to learn more about how NORAD tracks stuff in orbit, this is a must read.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

US Capitol Police Radios Finally to Be Replaced

Before I begin, only the corrupt morons in Congress could pull off this sort of vote. War Supplemental and US Capitol Police radio replacement - now those are two things that really go together - NOT! And the price tag $100 million for a system expected to last 15 years for this small department and geographic coverage area -- outrageous. More fraud, waste and abuse by Congress. My thanks to Alan Henney, SCAN-DC and Roll Call for this piece.


The Capitol Police department is poised to replace its outdated and unreliable radio system, after President Barack Obama recently signed a war supplemental that includes funding for the project.

Police officials have argued for years that the radios need to be replaced, but Congress has been slow in funding such an expensive project. The current estimate for the project totals almost $100 million - about $65 million more than the original proposal.

Most of that funding is now secure. The Iraq and Afghanistan supplemental spending bill includes about $70 million to replace the radios, paving the way for the department to start a three-year process. They hope to complete it in 2012.

But there's one catch: For every dollar spent, police officials have to clear an "obligation plan" with the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

Such approval has slowed down the process in the past. About a year ago, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch halted upgrade plans after the cost estimate jumped from $35 million to $70 million.

Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has said she is now "comfortable" with the price, though she and other committee members have expressed concern that it would increase if unchecked. Senate appropriators, meanwhile, have questioned the price but have been more or less supportive.

A design study for the project - which is due for completion in a few months - might also add new specifications and cost to the project.

Appropriators thus requested that the supplemental funds for radios be fenced off, or given out on the condition of committee approval.

Still, police officials hope the sudden influx of funds will jump-start a process that has dragged on for years. They plan to hand over their first obligation plan to committees later this summer.

In the past, appropriators have balked at the expense of the system, which will only last about 15 years. Part of the problem is the uniqueness of the Capitol - police need to be able to use radios inside thick marble walls and in underground subways.

In the meantime, the department's radios have gotten so out of date that the manufacturer can no longer provide technical support.

"These circumstances create a substantive risk to our ability to properly carry out our mission, especially during a time of emergency," Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse said in recent testimony to Members. The system, he added, "may present an unacceptably high risk to the life and safety" of those on Capitol Hill.

The department is one of the last local agencies to switch over to digital, leaving conversations open to anyone with a store-bought scanner. As it stands, Capitol Police officers can't communicate with officers from agencies such as the Metropolitan Police Department. Their radios are incompatible.

Replacing the radios will change all that, Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said. New radios, she said in an e-mail, will improve "our ability to fulfill our security mission of protecting the Capitol Complex, Congress and its legislative process."

"Officer safety will be improved as radio communication within buildings and in underground areas will be reliable and secure," she said.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 233rd Birthday America

I want to take this opportunity to wish all my fellow Americans a happy 233rd birthday. This holiday is courtesy of the millions of men and women who have served in uniform. So I also want to pass along a special shout out to our servicemen and women, and especially their families. Your service and sacrifice continues a long tradition of protecting and preserving the freedom and liberties we enjoy here in America. The old Chief salutes each of you and may God keep you safe and out of harms way.

Fair Winds and Following Seas. Bravo Zulu.

Space Station Marathon

If you've never seen a spaceship with your own eyes, now's your chance.

The International Space Station (ISS) is about to make a remarkable series of flybys over the United States. Beginning this 4th of July weekend, the station will appear once, twice, and sometimes three times a day for many days in a row. No matter where you live, you should have at least a few opportunities to see the biggest spaceship ever built.

Check NASA's ISS Tracker for flyby times at your location.

The ISS has been under construction for nearly 11 years, and it has grown very large and very bright. The station is now more than 350 ft wide (wider than a football field), has 12,600 cubic feet of labs and living quarters, and on Earth would weigh about 670,000 lb. Sunlight illuminating the massive outpost makes it shine fifteen times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

Sometimes it is even brighter than that. Sunlight glinting from the station's flat surfaces (mainly solar arrays) produce dazzling flares as much as six hundred times brighter than Sirius. For astronomers: On the scale of visual magnitudes, space station flares register -8.

"The station flared spectacularly on May 22nd when it passed over my backyard observatory in the Netherlands," reports amateur astronomer Quintus Oostendorp. "I knew the ISS was coming, so I had my telescope ready and I was able see exactly what happened."

At present, the flares are unpredictable. No one knows when they will happen or exactly how bright they will be. Any given flyby could be interrupted by one — and that's what makes the watch so much fun.

The marathon of space station flybys won't stop until mid-to-late July (depending on your location). That gives space shuttle Endeavour, currently scheduled to launch on July 11th, time to reach the space station and join the show. As the shuttle approaches station for docking, many observers will witness a memorable double flyby — Endeavour and the ISS sailing side by side across the starry night sky.

Endeavour is on yet another space station construction mission. This time it will deliver a "space porch" to be added to Japan's Kibo science laboratory module. The porch is not a place where astronauts can sit, relax and watch the stars drift by (although that is not a bad idea); it is a science platform. When an experiment needs to be exposed to the hard vacuum or energetic radiation of space, it can placed outside on the porch to take advantage of the space station's unique research environment. The official name of the porch is the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility and it will add its own small contribution to the station's reflected luminosity in the night sky.

What now? Check for flyby times, ready your telescope (optional), and let the sightings begin.

Both of my binoculars are at the ready and I look forward to catching the ISS crossing our mountain skies.

For my local office here is a list of ISS passes over southwest North Carolina (obs based on a Murphy NC viewing site).


ISS Sun Jul 05/05:53 AM 2 24 10 above NNW 24 above NNE
ISS Mon Jul 06/10:41 PM 6 54 10 above WSW 10 above NE
ISS Tue Jul 07/05:07 AM 5 26 10 above NNW 11 above E
ISS Tue Jul 07/09:31 PM 5 33 11 above SSW 11 above ENE
ISS Tue Jul 07/11:07 PM 4 17 10 above WNW 10 above NNE
ISS Wed Jul 08/05:31 AM 5 74 10 above NW 12 above SE
ISS Wed Jul 08/09:55 PM 5 50 10 above WSW 12 above NE
ISS Thu Jul 09/04:21 AM 5 28 10 above NNW 10 above E
ISS Thu Jul 09/05:56 AM 4 16 10 above W 10 above S
ISS Thu Jul 09/10:23 PM 1 15 15 above NNW 11 above N
ISS Fri Jul 10/04:49 AM 1 30 30 above SSE 12 above SE
ISS Sat Jul 11/09:38 PM 1 14 14 above NNW 10 above N

Tracking Resources
NASA http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/
Heaven's Above http://heavens-above.com/
Simple Flybys http://spaceweather.com/flybys

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips Credit: Science@NASA

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A pair of Tucson brothers aim to render police scanners obsolete.

Information from: Arizona Daily Star (http://www.azstarnet.com/ ) and the SCAN-L newsgroup (James Richardson).

Parker and Marshall Minardo, owners of a software company called EdgeRift, created a $1 iPhone application called Emergency Radio that gives users ccess to more than 1,200 radio feeds from police, fire and emergency frequencies around the country.

Within days of its launch in early May, the application shot up to No. 2 on Apple's list of paid applications. As of Friday, Emergency Radio was still ranked in the top 40.9

More than 180,000 iPhone and iPod Touch owners have downloaded Emergency Radio, and the application is currently averaging between 1,000 and 1,200 downloads per day, said 20-year-old Parker, Edgerift's CEO.

The Minardos who run the business out of their Tucson home keep 70 cents from each sale, so the application is making the brothers flush with cash.

"Maybe we'll go out to breakfast," deadpanned Marshall, 26, the company president. "We haven't made any plans to celebrate. We're just trying to keep it going."

A free version of the application, which lets you listen to emergency feeds in a few big cities, has been downloaded 80,000 times.

The application taps into the groundwork laid by ScanAmerica part of the RadioReference.com network which streams the scanner feeds. Emergency Radio makes the feeds easy to access on the iPhone and also lists the police, fire and rescue squads' codes and their definitions so you can understand what the emergency workers are talking about.

EdgeRift was not exactly an overnight success.

It all started in 2001, when Parker started developing applications for personal digital assistants.

He and Marshall formed a business called PDA Performance that found limited success selling applications that organized contacts and streamlined the user interface.

In 2004, the company moved to Tucson so Marshall could earn a political science degree from the University of Arizona. The brothers relaunched the company as EdgeRift in February 2008 and shifted the focus to developing software for the burgeoning iPhone.

"All the top apps were entertainment and games, and we were thinking of what would be fun and exciting on the iPhone," Parker said. "It kind of occurred to us that with all the online feeds from emergency and police scanners, there was no easy way to access them and play them on the iPhone.

We thought it would be great if we could do that."

It took the duo four weeks to put the application together, with Parker handling programming while Marshall worked on logistics, such as customer support and day-to-day operations. Apple approved the application on April 18 and released it in early May.

Emergency Radio caught fire, picking up 50 sales the first day, then doubling for the next several days.

"It appeals to so many different people out there," Parker said. "Policemen and firemen are e-mailing us, and they're so excited they love it. It really worked out well."

The Minardos will release a free update to the program next month and are considering working on a version for the BlackBerry. The brothers say they work 80 hours a week and are considering renting out an office and hiring one or more employees to help with the workload.

"It's very strange," Marshall said. "We worked very hard for this one. We never expected anything like this. It's just unbelievable."

Multipsk to add Mil-Std 188-110A

Fans of Multipsk will be happy to know that Patrick, F6CTE, developer of the program, is in the process of adding the Mil-Std-188-110A serial modem mode to the popular decoding software. This mode will become part of the professional package and not the freeware version.

Mil-Std 188-110a is a mode commonly used by various military services, including the US Department of Defense services, US Coast Guard, the Chinese military, Mexican Navy, Swedish Navy, the Australian ADF-HFCS, Austria Navy, Swiss diplo nets, Georgia military, Venezuela Army/Navy, and the Spanish Navy to name a few. Since the Skysweep software is going away in the near future, this is very welcomed news. Patrick's program just keeps getting better and is very reasonably priced to het the professional modes.

You can learn more about the Mil-Std-188-110A mode at

You can also learn more about this mode in Joerg Klingenfuss' Radio Data Code Manual available from our friends at Universal Radio via the link below

You can hear an audio sample on the Taunus Signals website at

Here are the current modes decoded by the Multipsk software:

Phase Shift Keying modes:
BPSK: BPSK31-63-125-250 / CHIP (64/128) / PSK10 / PSKFEC31 / PSKAM10-31-50
BPSK with SSTV: PSK63 F - PSK220F + DIGISSTV "Run"
QPSK: QPSK31-63-125-250

On-Off Keying Modes:

Frequency Shift Keying modes:
PACKET: 110-300-1200 bauds + APRS+ DIGISSTV "Run"
ASCII / RTTY 45-50-75-100-110-150-200 / SYNOP + SHIP

Multi Frequency Shift Keying modes:
OLIVIA / Contestia / RTTYM / VOICE
DominoF / DominoEX
Automatic Link Establishment (see http://www.hflink.com) MIL-STD-188-141A+
JT65 (A B and C)

Hellschreiber modes:

Graphic modes:
HF FAX / SSTV / PSK SSTV modes (mentioned above) / MFSK116 SSTV (mentioned above)

DSP modes:
Filters / Analysis / Binaural CW reception

Video ID / RS ID / Call ID

RTTY, CW, BPSK31, BPSK63 and PSKFEC31 Panoramics

TCP/IP digital modem

Integered SdR demodulator/modulator

You can learn more about the Multipsk family of software at

If you are active on HF utes and you want to decode digital signals, Multipsk is a "must" download.

73 and good hunting de Larry