Monday, July 19, 2010

HomePatrol-1 - What can it monitor?

I have had several questions regarding what HomePatrol will and will not monitor from the Radioref database. Paul Opitz from Uniden recently wrote the following:

HomePatrol-1 includes all systems and channels in Radio Reference database with the following exceptions:

-- Channels function tagged as Data
-- Channels that are not function tagged
-- Channels function tagged as Deprecated
-- Channels with a mode of "E" (encrypted)
-- Digital channels on system types that cannot be monitored (i.e. ProVoice)
-- Channels in deprecated systems
-- Unmonitorable Systems (i.e. OpenSky / Nextel / etc)

HomePatrol-1 can automatically select for scanning any channel that is properly geotagged. Channels not geotagged can be manually selected (easiest by using the included Sentinel PC software). The geographic selection process is unique to Uniden (and patented, to boot).

At some point, Joes (scanner geeks), will have the ability through the Uniden software to program the HomePatrol-1 with their own frequency list, but this won't happen with the initial release of the unit.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Uniden HomePatrol Update

Recently some question on the Scan-DC newsgroup came up on the new Uniden HomePatrol scanner. here is a portion of my comments regarding this new scanner.

My initial testing of the unit is pretty cool. The manuals aren't done yet, but if you have every programmed any scanner you don't need one, it is that simple. So folks who do not want to become radio engineers (Uniden calls them Bob and Mabel) will want to purchase this scanner. There will be additional features for advanced users that will be activated in the near future so that power users (Uniden calls them Joe) will have some interesting features they will like in HomePatrol. On the Friday before the Uniden Open House during our formal intro of the product, I had the scanner in my hands about one hour and during that time I master the basica operations and menuing system (actually it took about 20 minutes).

Saturday during the Uniden Open House in Dallas, an 8 year old grandson of one of the hobbyists at my table (I was a table host), programmed the HP scanner for DFW in literally seconds. Yes, Bob and Mabel, it is really that easy.

You can read some of my additional thoughts on my personal blog at

You can get my exclusive HP spec sheet (based on the testing of the unit we
have in hand) on the Grove Ent website at

More to come including a full review in Monitoring Times magazine soon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This Week on the Radio July 15, 2010

From the ARRL : This week, the North American QSO Party (RTTY), the DMC RTTY Contest and the CQ Worldwide VHF Contest are July 17-18. The Run for the Bacon QRP Contest is July 19. Next week, there is another running of the NCCC Sprint Ladder on July 23. The RSGB Islands on the Air (IOTA) Contest is July 24-25 and the SKCC Sprint July 28. All dates, unless otherwise stated, are UTC. See the ARRL Contest Branch page, the ARRL Contest Update and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar for more info. Looking for a Special Event station? Be sure to check out the ARRL Special Events Station Web page.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

SSTV from ISS on 145.800 MHz FM during July 15-16

ISS Amateur Radio Status: July 13, 2010

SpaceCam planed for July 15-16 By Miles Mann WF1F
Manned Amateur Radio Experiment

Notes from the Ariss blog

MAI-75 activation planned for July 15-16 (updated)

An activity to support SSTV activation (MAI-75) has been schedule on July 15 and 16. Times fall between 12:00-15:00 UTC on the 15th and 10:00-12:00 UTC on the 16th . The system will be operating space cam in slide show mode and is expected to use the Martin 1 format. The times are just over 1 orbit each day (two passes over Moscow) so opportunities will be very limited.

Tips for Working Slow Scan TV:

Will I be able to receive images from SpaceCam1?

Yes! SpaceCam1 will transmit and receive images on amateur radio frequencies, using standard SSTV formats. Although SpaceCam1 is capable of operating in several modes, the recommended format while in Slide Show mode is Robot 36. This format offers the best standard compromise between image quality and transmission time and heat stress.

In addition to two-way "interactive" operation, SpaceCam1 provides the following fully automatic functions:

-- Transmission from a live camera or disk at specified intervals
-- “Slide Show" operation from a set of images stored on the system
-- SSTV Repeater

What equipment will I need to receive the images?

Radio receiver with an outdoor antenna. The radio receive will need to be able to receive FM signals on 145.800 MHz radio band. A PC with SSTV software or a dedicated SSTV scan converter.

For information on how to receive SSTV images from the International Space station, check out the MAREX link:

Over the next few weeks we maybe receiving images from the International Space station via Slow Scan TV (SSTV). The MAREX team will be collecting these images from the amateur Radio and SWL community and we will post the best.

We would like to collect all images received. However in order to properly catalog the images we request you use the following image naming format. After you receive you images; please rename the images using the following format, All Lower case letters

Year 06, Month 07, Day 31, (UTC time), Call sign, Short text description, .JPG


New format: 0607311905wf1f.jpg

I removed the first two numbers of the year and the “Z” for UTC time. All dates are assumed to be in UTC dates. The images coming down from ISS will also have a time stamp embedded into the image. You can also use these numbers to generate you file names. If you are a Short Wave listener and do not have a call sign, just place your Initials after the time (0607311905abc.jpg)

If we break this down
Year =06
Month = 07
Day = 31
Time = 1905 UTC
Call sign = wf1f
Description (optional) = Windows shot
Image format = jpg

Image Quality
Please do not put any text over lays on the images, Example, do not put web page or advertisements in the image. Your own call sign and date are acceptable.

Send all images directly to MAREX at

We would also like to know the following information in your email.

Name or Call sign
Country / State
Software decoding tool
Elevation or range of ISS when you decoded the image.

Slide Show Mode:
The MAREX SpaceCam1 software contains a feature called “Slide Show” mode. It allows the crew to preload a directory full of images that will be automatically transmitted to Earth. The crew will not need to keep pushing a button to send images. In theory the system can run for weeks at a time without crew involvement. The SpaceCam project will be able to transmit over 200 SSTV images per day (Robot 36 format).

Ariss has not announced any plans for a SSTV Uplink frequency.

SSTV Decoding Software

There are many choices in SSTV software, some Free, others with more features cost a few bucks.

So have fun, find your best setup and start practicing (on Earth) how to decode SSTV on 2-meters.

Marexmg Web page

ARISS Web page and other great Space projects

73 Miles WF1F MAREX-MG

Amateur satellite to investigate power line interference

Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV will be giving a presentation on South Africa's first CubeSat at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium in Guildford, England, July 31- Aug 1

The world has experienced a long solar minimum which means that ionospheric communication had been very limited and for a few years was almost exclusively the domain of the commercial broadcasters running Megawatts.

HF radio communication is very susceptible to noise levels that are created by power lines, electrical installations and overhead lines used by trains and busses and power line telecommunication systems. If fact today there are many installation that do not necessarily comply with internationally agreed emission standards. With increasing solar activity interference signals are propagated over large areas and will interfere with HF communication.

The important mission of the SA AMSAT CubeSat is to measure the High Frequency noise levels over South Africa and report these measurement back to a ground station for analysis and action to reduce these unwanted signals. The information from the tiny satellite will identify the areas where the HF frequency polluters are situated and will help in reducing or eliminating the source.

It is also hoped to include a 30 kHz linear transponder and an Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) in the CubeSat.

I want one. After the South Africans have done their mapping maybe they can swing it up here to help locate our local power line interference.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mississippi Deploys Wireless Radio System To Aid Oil Spill Cleanup

From the Gov Monitor website:

Governor Haley Barbour announced today the distribution of more than 200 radios capable of operating through the Mississippi Wireless Integrated Network to help in the oil spill cleanup along Mississippi’s shoreline and barrier islands.

The MSWIN system, which provides interoperable communication for emergency responders, was created under the direction of Governor Barbour after Hurricane Katrina exposed a critical need.

“Immediately after the storm, we were unable to exchange critical information between various law enforcement agencies and other emergency personnel,” Governor Barbour said. “The ability to communicate can make a huge difference in our ability to fight the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill now, and in the future, it could mean the difference in our ability to save lives in an emergency.”

The MSWIN system allows users to speak through a secure digital radio system operating under the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission. The Mississippi National Guard, United States Coast Guard and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency will use the hand-held radios to guide cleanup vessels to oil in the water sighted by aircraft.

“This will help streamline response time to any reports of oil from Mississippi National Guard air operations,” said MEMA Director and WCC Vice Chairman Mike Womack. “The vessels assigned to a particular area will now have the capability to communicate directly with the resources in the air.”

“Interoperability is about breaking down communication barriers,” said WCC Chairman Chris Epps. “This is what the system is designed for, and we are proud that we can assist with and improve the response efforts in the oil disaster.”

The MSWIN system was established with $157 million in federal funds and $57 million in state bond funds. The MSWIN system is currently fully operational in the southern third of the state and is scheduled to be complete throughout the entire state of Mississippi by December of 2011.

Governor Barbour has asked for nearly $84 million more in federal funding to expand the MSWIN system’s broadband capacity beyond voice-only communications. The upgraded system could include photo and ambulance-to-hospital data transmission abilities.

Col. Lee Smithson, who oversees the Mississippi National Guard’s response to the oil spill as commander of Task Force Vigilant Horizon, said the radios will enable National Guard personnel to guide crews to the oil and allow ground crews to document the sightings.

“The radios enable us to fully leverage the capabilities of all supporting agencies. We tie in air, marine and shore activities using one system. It is a game changer in our favor.”