Sunday, December 30, 2012

N5FPW and the JT9-1 Mode

After a lot of research, internal testing and more than my share of hand wringing I have successfully made my first two JT9-1 digital mode contacts. This afternoon at 1917 UTC, K5RCD Randall in Floresville, Texas, was the first station I contacted in this new robust digital mode. About 1/2 hour later NS2R Philip in Strawberry Plains was my second contact. Both contacts were made on 20m (14078 kHz) with 25 watts into the full length 80m G5RV.

The WSJT-x software package by K1JT Joe Taylor worked flawlessly.

Now if I can figure out how to get the JT9-1 mode into Logger 32 and get the ADIF standards folks to write it in so I can upload it to LOTW, I would be a very happy camper.

Wonder if I can make some contacts with the other new JT9 modes: JT9-2, JT9-5,  JT9-10 and JT9-30 modes? It is experimenting with cool stuff like this that makes ham radio so much fun. ;-)

JT9-1 Contact with Philip NS2R on 20m on 14078 kHz.

JT9 - a new digital mode for the MF and LF AR gang

There is a new weak signal mode in town and if you are a MF/LW amateur radio operator, you are going to like it. This new 9-FSK digital communications mode (for 2-way QSOs) called JT9 is optimised for MF and LF bands.

JT9 uses the structured messages introduced in 2003 for the JT65 mode, now widely used for EME and for QRP operations at HF. JT9 can operate at signal levels as low as -27 dB (in a 2500 Hz reference bandwidth), with one-minute timed transmissions. It also offers slower transmissions of 2, 5, 10 and 30 minutes duration, and the slowest mode can decode signals as weak as -40 dB. With one-minute transmissions, submode JT9-1 has a total bandwidth of just 15.6 Hz -- less than one-tenth the bandwidth of a JT65A signal. The other submodes are narrower still: a JT9-30 signal occupies about 0.4 Hz total bandwidth.

Note that these JT9 sensitivity levels are comparable to or better than those of WSPR, which uses simpler messages and is not intended for making 2-way QSOs. JT9 has much higher throughput and reliability than QRSS CW, including DFCW modes.

JT9 is implemented in an experimental version of WSJT called WSJT-X. Some further details can be found at , and an early version of WSJT-X can be downloaded from

WSJT-X is in an early development stage. A number of improvements and enhancements are already in the works, and others will surely be added. 

Screen capture of 160 meter JT9 signals courtesy of PC4T

Thursday, December 27, 2012

'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013... could be Ison - the comet of the century

From the Independent in the UK ( While not a radio event per se, it will garner headlines for sure next year and our telescope will be up and operational for this celestial event.

A comet discovered by two Russian astronomers will be visible from Earth next year. Get ready for a once-in-a lifetime light show, says David Whitehouse.
At the moment it is a faint object, visible only in sophisticated telescopes as a point of light moving slowly against the background stars. It doesn't seem much – a frozen chunk of rock and ice – one of many moving in the depths of space. But this one is being tracked with eager anticipation by astronomers from around the world, and in a year everyone could know its name.
Comet Ison could draw millions out into the dark to witness what could be the brightest comet seen in many generations – brighter even than the full Moon.

It was found as a blur on an electronic image of the night sky taken through a telescope at the Kislovodsk Observatory in Russia as part of a project to survey the sky looking for comets and asteroids – chunks of rock and ice that litter space. Astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok were expecting to use the International Scientific Optical Network's (Ison) 40cm telescope on the night of 20 September but clouds halted their plans.

It was a frustrating night but about half an hour prior to the beginning of morning twilight, they noticed the sky was clearing and got the telescope and camera up and running to obtain some survey images in the constellations of Gemini and Cancer.

When the images were obtained Nevski loaded them into a computer program designed to detect asteroids and comets moving between images. He noticed a rather bright object with unusually slow movement, which he thought could only mean it was situated way beyond the orbit of Jupiter. But he couldn't tell if the object was a comet, so Novichonok booked time on a larger telescope to take another look. Less than a day later the new images revealed that Nevski and Novichonok had discovered a comet, which was named Comet Ison. A database search showed it has been seen in images taken by other telescopes earlier that year and in late 2011. These observations allowed its orbit to be calculated, and when astronomers did that they let out a collective "wow."

Comet Ison has taken millions of years to reach us travelling from the so-called Oort cloud – a reservoir of trillions and trillions of chunks of rock and ice, leftovers from the birth of the planets. It reaches out more than a light-year – a quarter of the way to the nearest star. In the Oort cloud the Sun is but a distant point of light whose feeble gravity is just enough to hold onto the cloud. Every once in a while a tiny tug of gravity, perhaps from a nearby star or wandering object, disturbs the cloud sending some of its comets out into interstellar space to be lost forever and a few are scattered sunward. Comet Ison is making its first, and perhaps only visit to us. Its life has been cold, frozen hard and unchanging, but it is moving closer to the Sun, and getting warmer.

Ison's surface is very dark – darker than asphalt – pockmarked and dusty with ice beneath the surface. It's a small body, a few tens of miles across, with a tiny pull of gravity. If you stood upon it you could leap 20 miles into space taking over a week to come down again, watching as the comet rotated beneath you. You could walk to the equator, kneel down and gather up handfuls of comet material to make snowballs, throw them in a direction against the comet's spin and watch them hang motionless in front of you. But it will not remain quiet on Comet Ison for the Sun's heat will bring it to life.

By the end of summer it will become visible in small telescopes and binoculars. By October it will pass close to Mars and things will begin to stir. The surface will shift as the ice responds to the thermal shock, cracks will appear in the crust, tiny puffs of gas will rise from it as it is warmed. The comet's tail is forming.

Slowly at first but with increasing vigour, as it passes the orbit of Earth, the gas and dust geysers will gather force. The space around the comet becomes brilliant as the ice below the surface turns into gas and erupts, reflecting the light of the Sun. Now Ison is surrounded by a cloud of gas called the coma, hundreds of thousands of miles from side to side. The comet's rotation curves these jets into space as they trail into spirals behind it. As they move out the gas trails are stopped and blown backwards by the Solar Wind.

By late November it will be visible to the unaided eye just after dark in the same direction as the setting Sun. Its tail could stretch like a searchlight into the sky above the horizon. Then it will swing rapidly around the Sun, passing within two million miles of it, far closer than any planet ever does, to emerge visible in the evening sky heading northward towards the pole star. It could be an "unaided eye" object for months. When it is close in its approach to the Sun it could become intensely brilliant but at that stage it would be difficult and dangerous to see without special instrumentation as it would be only a degree from the sun.

Remarkably Ison might not be the only spectacular comet visible next year. Another comet, called 2014 L4 (PanSTARRS), was discovered last year and in March and April it could also be a magnificent object in the evening sky. 2013 could be the year of the great comets.

As Comet Ison heads back to deep space in 2014 the sky above it would begin to clear as the dust and gas geysers loose their energy. Returning to the place where the Sun is a distant point of light, Comet Ison may never return. Its tail points outward now as the solar wind is at its back, and it fades and the comet falls quiet once more, this time forever.

Dr David Whitehouse is an author and astronomer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

US UHF Milsat Pirate Busted

Many of us who monitoring Milsat activity are well aware of the hijinks involving Brazilian (aka Portuguese speaking) pirates transmitting over our UHF milsats. Well one another one of them has been busted, and no he was not in South America, but right here in the United States, New Jersey and an Extra Class Amateur Radio Operator to boot.

So who is our winner of the "Bonehead of 2012 award?" Here is part of the story courtesy of the ARRL website:

FCC Finds New Jersey Ham Violated Communication Act, Reduces Forfeiture from $20,000 to $16,000

After unsuccessfully appealing to the FCC to cancel his $20,000 forfeiture, Joaquim Barbosa, N2KBJ, of Elizabeth, New Jersey was issued a Forfeiture Order stating that he must pay $16,000 for “willfully and repeatedly violating Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by operating a radio transmitting equipment on the frequency 296.550 MHz without Commission authorization.”

The FCC noted in the Forfeiture Order that based on the examination process involved in pursuing an amateur license, “amateur licensees are expected to have an understanding of radio operations and pertinent FCC regulations, including Part 97 of the FCC’s rules governing the Amateur Radio Service. Licensed amateur operators know that they are authorized to operate only on the frequencies listed in Section 97.301 of the rules, as designated by their operator class and license. Pursuant to the Table of Allocations, the 267-322 MHz band -- the band that Barbosa was operating in -- is allocated solely for federal government use, which we continue to believe Barbosa knew (or should have known) was not authorized for non-government use.”

Barbosa’s Amateur Radio license expired August 31, 2008, but his timely filed renewal application was listed as “Offlined for Enforcement Bureau Action” in the ULS. As such, Barbosa was legally allowed to operate while his case was undergoing the enforcement proceedings.

You can read the complete bizarre story on Barbosa and why he thought he could operate on a DoD Milsat uplink/downlink on the ARRL website at:

And what is 296.550 MHz? From my MilcomMP database:

296.5500 FLTSAT Charlie Navy Fleet Relay (25 kHz) Channel 04 Uplink
The downlink for this uplink is 255.550 MHz.

Here are a couple of the notes in this regard from my database about this 255.550 downlink/296.550 uplink

255.5500 Portuguese pirates music and comms (also noted using DStar digital comms)
255.5500 Portuguese milsat downlink pirates, whistling

So N2KBJ guess we won't be seeing you hand around the ham bands in the future. Just curious how is that Brazilian milsat license you got working out for you?

As old P.T. Barnum you to say, "There's a sucker born every minute" or you may better recognize it in your 296.550 MHz native tongue, " um otário a cada minuto nasce."

Last Night was a very successful JT65 night on 80 mtrs

For whatever reason, last night the 706 seemed to beckon me to have an evening at the rig and what an evening that turned out to be.

It started around 1947 with a brief opening on 10 mtrs to the west coast. At 2030 I moved down to 20 mtrs for a couple of quick contacts to OR and Spain.

At 2108, I dropped in on 40 mtrs for 5 quick contacts, including a new country for me on 40 mtrs Greece, thanks to George, SV2KF.

Feeling pretty good about cx I dropped down to 80 meters for the rest of the evening. It was fun working 3576 in the center slot and it was quite productive as well. When the night started I needed only four more states to finish out my 5BWAS quest and they were all on 80 mtrs.

At 0103, the first of three of those states showed up with Ken KJ2U in Alpine UT with a great -10 signal.

Then at 0154, KI0QS Clyde in Bismark ND popped up with a -14 signal.

To add some spice to the night at 0322 worked Manfred HB3YAT from Elsau, Switzerland, at the high end of the band scope +974 with another -14 signal.

My very next contact at 0345 was my third state I needed for my 5BWAS, NE4RD (an ex-NC op) William in Billings MT with a nice -11 signal into Btown.

All in all I worked 36 new JT65 stations last night (what a great mode), added a new country on 40 mtr and 80 mtrs, and knocked off 3 of the last 4 states I need to finish out my 5BWAS.

So what is left?

New Mexico on 80 mtrs is it. And I hope that one falls real quick as well so that beautiful plaque will grace the N5FPW shack wall real soon.

Are you listening New Mexico?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Las Vegas police dump problem radio system

It was a multimillion-dollar mistake. And the timing couldn't be worse.

After two years of battling dropped calls and dead zones in the department's new radio system, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie has opted to drop Desert Sky.
On Oct. 11, Gillespie informed the CEO of the Harris Corp. that his company's Desert Sky radio system cannot meet his department's needs. That's a sharp change from past statements and advice to officers to remain patient while system bugs are fixed.
"I believe we've given Harris every opportunity to make the system work," Gillespie said. "It's just not a reliable system."
Unveiled in the summer of 2010, the $42 million Desert Sky digital system - based on Harris' OpenSky system marketed to emergency service agencies nationwide - was touted as having expanded channel capacities, enabling advanced data communications for computers in patrol cars and other features unavailable with the agency's aging analog system.
Desert Sky's data capabilities have seen mixed results, but the voice communication between officers is the bigger problem. While improved in the past two years, the system still is not up to snuff for an agency whose officers talk on the radio 50,000 times every day, the sheriff said.
"OpenSky cannot meet that demand," Gillespie said.
Complaints are common among patrol cops, who say the faulty system endangers their lives.
"It's honestly going to get an officer hurt," said one patrol officer who asked not to be identified. "It's just a matter of time. We're worried about getting into a situation where we need help and no one can hear us."
The decision to dump Desert Sky comes in the midst of the Metropolitan Police Department's worst budget crisis ever. The county wide agency's projected budget of $502 million for fiscal year 2013-14 is $46 million more than projected revenues.
Police officials say hiring a vendor to build a replacement voice transmission system could cost $15 million to $20 million, and take 16 to 24 months.
Assistant Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, who oversees the Las Vegas police Radio Systems Bureau, acknowledged the project could "require additional funds" at a time when the department is counting every penny.
"We're in discussions with Harris for a solution," Lombardo said. "It depends if they can meet our terms or not. If we come to impasse, we could explore other vendors."
The relationship between Harris and the department is not dead, however. The department will retain Desert Sky for data transmission, but needs a new system to handle day-to-day voice communication.
Harris might even be the company entrusted with that job. While it struck out with Desert Sky, Harris could build the infrastructure for the state-of-the art Project 25 - or P25 - radio system that has become the new federal standard for public safety agencies. P25 has proven to be effective in major urban settings, whereas OpenSky has not.
Gillespie wouldn't comment on companies that might build the new system, but said a decision would be made within 30 days. The potential cost is "under discussion," he said, as is the source of the money.
If Harris won't build a new voice system at no additional cost, the department would likely hire another vendor - Motorola is a primary competitor of Harris - and cover that bill by suing Harris for failing to build Desert Sky to contract specifications.
A Harris spokesperson did not return a call seeking comment Friday. The status of discussions between the department and Harris was unclear.
"Our desire is to not spend another dime on (Desert Sky). We're still pursuing that direction," Lombardo said. "There's still a lot of negotiation questions that have not been answered yet."
The department began looking at updating its radio system around 2003, as its analog system was nearing maximum capacity and the agency was expanding along with Southern Nevada's population.
The department contracted with M/A-COM Technology Solutions Inc. to design and build its new system, OpenSky. Harris Corp., a Florida-based corporation billed as the leading supplier of radios to the U.S. military, acquired M/A-COM in 2009.
Many other public safety agencies around the country bought OpenSky, and many have been left disappointed with systems dogged by performance and reliability problems.
In early 2009, the state of New York cited technology problems when it terminated a $2 billion contract with M/A-COM to build a statewide communications system.
Lancaster County, Pa., dumped its OpenSky contract in 2008 after spending about 11 years and $14 million on the project.
"It was the cutting edge of a technology," Lombardo said. "It hasn't been a resounding success."
Patrol officers don't mince their words when it comes to the technology.
"It's been a failure. A joke," said the patrol officer who asked for anonymity.
The officer told of a police shooting last year where the officers were caught in a dead zone and unable to radio for help.
"(The officers) tried like hell," he said.
In addition to dead zones and dropped calls, officers are also struggling to adapt to the new emergency button.
The radios have an emergency button that will override other radio traffic, but it hasn't always worked right and requires cops to learn when and how to use it.
"When you're in a situation and your adrenaline's flowing and you've got tunnel vision, everything you do is muscle memory. And officers weren't trained to use the emergency button," he said. "Some of us have gotten better, but it's not perfect."
Lombardo said officer safety is the department's top priority.
"That's why we're pursuing all our options, because that's as big a concern to us as it is to the police officers," he said. "The technology just hasn't gotten us to where we need to be, Harris has been assuring us they can get us there. But a lot of time has gone by."
From Dave Zantow, N9EWO:
This is the same radio system that Milwaukee WI has been struggling with for years. So the plan for Las Vegas is to now switch to P25 (from Open Sky) and MANY more taxpayer $$’s.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A "Dream Comet" Heading Our Way?

Although just spotted a few days ago, Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) has the potential to become a very bright object that will be well placed for viewing in late 2013. Minor Planet Center Circular M.P.E.C. 2012-S63

The discovery image of Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), as recorded by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok on September 24th. At the time the comet was 19th magnitude — roughly 100,000 times fainter than the limit of unaided vision.
V. Nevski / A. Novichonok / ISON
You can read about this exciting new find on the Sky and Telescope website by clicking here.

From an article written by John Thomas Didymus in Science and republished on the Digital Journal:

"According to National Geographic, astronomers say the comet is now approximately 615 million miles (990 million kilometers) from Earth, between the orbits of the two giant planets Saturn and Jupiter. Preliminary reports say the orbit will make its closest (perihelion) approach to the Sun on 28 November, 2013 at a distance of 0.012 AU (1,800,000 km; 1,100,000 mi) from the center-point of the Sun. Astronomers say the comet will pass approximately 1,100,000 kilometers (680,000 mi) above the Sun's surface.

"Astronomers at the Remanzacco Observatory, Italy have assured that the comet is not on collision course with Earth. They say C/2012 S1 "will get to within 0.012AU of the Sun at the end of November 2013 and then to ~0.4AU (about 37 million miles) from Earth at the beginning of January 2014."
"C/2012 S1 was observed close to Saturn and may still be observed with powerful telescopes as a faint glow in the constellation Cancer. It is expected to become visible to the naked eye beginning in 2013.
"According to National Geographic, predictions of its orbital trajectory indicate that if it survives its close approach to the Sun, the comet will be brightest in the sky in November 28, 2013 as it moves away from the Sun. It will be visible during December after sunset and in the morning sky before sunrise. New Scientist reports that scientists at the Remanzacco Observatory say that by December 9 it should be about as bright as Polaris, the North Star, and should remain visible to the naked eye until mid-January 2014. According to Astronomy Now, the comet could become brighter than the full moon around its closest approach to the Sun.
"Astronomers say that the orbit of C/2012 S1 is similar to that of the Great Comet of 1680, one of the brightest in history. reports that the Great Comet of 1680 was very bright in the sky and was visible even in daylight, throwing off a bright tail that spanned the western twilight sky. Some astronomers say that given the close orbital relationship between C/2012 S1 and the Great Comet of 1680, the objects may be the same.
"Gizmodo reports that Samra, says "if it lives up to expectations, this comet may be one of the brightest in history." According to The National Geographic, the brightness of C/2012 S1, will depend on how much gas and dust is blasted off the central core of ice and rocks at its close approach to the Sun.The bigger the cloud and tail, the more reflective the comet, astronomers say.
"However, Samra cautions: "While some predictions suggest it may become as bright as the full moon, and even visible during the day, one should be cautious when predicting how exciting a comet may get. Some comets have been notorious for creating a buzz but failing to put on a dazzling display. Only time will tell."
"Gizmodo leaves a note for Mayan "doom-mongers":
"... and one last note to the Mayan death and doom-mongers: the universe apologizes but, despite its name, 2012 S1 is actually arriving in 2013 holiday season."

Monday, October 01, 2012

NASA Spacecraft Records 'Earthsong'

Oct. 1, 2012: In space, they say, no one can hear you scream. Nobody ever said anything about singing, though. A NASA spacecraft has just beamed back a beautiful song sung by our own planet.
"It's called chorus," explains Craig Kletzing of the University of Iowa. "This is one of the clearest examples we've ever heard."

Chorus is an electromagnetic phenomenon caused by plasma waves in Earth's radiation belts. For years, ham radio operators on Earth have been listening to them from afar. Now, NASA's twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes are traveling through the region of space where chorus actually comes from--and the recordings are out of this world.

"This is what the radiation belts would sound like to a human being if we had radio antennas for ears," says Kletzing, whose team at the University of Iowa built the “EMFISIS” (Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science) receiver used to pick up the signals.

He's careful to point out that these are not acoustic waves of the kind that travel through the air of our planet. Chorus is made of radio waves that oscillate at acoustic frequencies, between 0 and 10 kHz. The magnetic search coil antennas of the Radiation Belt Storm Probes are designed to detect these kinds of waves.

"Chorus emissions are front and center for the Storm Probe mission," says Kletzing. "They are thought to be one of the most important waves for energizing the electrons that make up the outer radiation belt."

In particular, chorus might be responsible for so-called "killer electrons," high-energy particles that can endanger both satellites and astronauts. Many electrons in the radiation belts are harmless, with too little energy to do damage to human or electronic systems. But, sometimes, these electrons can catch a chorus wave, like a surfer riding a wave on Earth, and gain enough energy to become dangerous—or so researchers think.

The Radiation Belt Storm Probes are on a mission to find out for sure.

“The production of killer electrons is a matter of much debate, and chorus waves are only one possibility,” notes the Storm Probes’ mission scientist Dave Sibeck.

Launched in August 2012, the two probes are orbiting inside the radiation belts, sampling electromagnetic fields, counting the number of energetic particles, and listening to plasma waves of many frequencies.

“We hope to gather enough data to solve the mystery once and for all,” says Sibeck.

At the moment, the spacecraft are still undergoing their 60-day checkout phase before the main mission begins. So far, things are checking out very well.

“One of things we noticed right away is how clear the chorus sounds in the recording,” notes Kletzing. That's because our data is sampled at 16 bits, the same as a CD, which has not been done before in the radiation belts. This makes the data very high quality and shows that our instrument is very, very healthy.”

Eventually, Kletzing hopes to release unprecedented stereo recordings of Earth’s chorus.

“We have two spacecraft with two receivers,” he says, “so a stereo recording is possible.”

Such a recording would not only sound wonderful, but also have real scientific value. “One of the things we don't know is how broad the region is over which chorus occurs. The widely-separated ‘stereo capability’ of the Storm Probes will give us the ability to figure this out,” he explains.

With a two-year mission planned for the Storm Probes, the chorus is just getting started.

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips| Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

Friday, September 14, 2012

A New Kindle eBook - QSLing the World - A How-to Guide Now Available

Teak Publishing is proud to announce the release of their first Kindle eBook - QSLing the World - A How to Guide by Gayle Van Horn, a Monitoring Times columnist and the shortwave frequency manager for the magazine.

QSLing the World - A How-to Guide is a comprehensive resource and reference ebook for any radio hobbyist who is interested in acquiring a verification of reception from almost any type of radio station, whether it is broadcast, utility, amateur radio, satellites, or clandestine!

For many radio listeners who tune to shortwave, broadcast (AM/FM/TV), VHF/UHF scanner spectrum, or the amateur radio bands, the main objective of listening is to collect stations for the listener's logbook. While some radio hobbyists are program listeners who just listen for the content being broadcast, there is a large segment of the hobby who collect written proof that they have monitored the stations they have received or talked too.

These participants in this portion of the radio hobby attempt to QSL or verify the reception of the stations they hear or work. They do this by sending them a report of reception or their verification card in the hope that the station staff will return a card or letter (a.k.a. a QSL) verifying the radio reception. Along with QSLs, some radio hobbyists also collect station memorabilia that may include such items as frisbees, bumper stickers, pennants, decals, T-shirts, or anything associated with the station logo, slogan or call sign.

This new 140 plus page Kindle eBook covers the "how-to's" of QSLing, drawn from Gayle's 30 plus years of experience in the radio hobby. This includes best general practices in logging, reporting, and mailing a station reception report.

Should you try to send a report in a language you don't speak? What enclosure should you include with your reception report? How long should you wait for a reply from the station? Should you send a second report? This book answers these common questions and much more.

Finally, Gayle addresses an often-neglected question – what do you do with your QSL cards and letters after they start to accumulate? This and more is now available in this new edition of QSLing the World.

And there is no need to worry if you do not own a Kindle reader. You can still read our new Kindle electronic reader edition or any Kindle books anywhere with Amazon's free reading apps.

There are free Kindle reading apps for Smartphones (iPhone & iTouch,
Android, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry); Computer platforms (Windows and
Mac); Tablets (iPad and Android Tablet), and of course the Kindle readers
including the new Kindle Fire. You can get more detail on these apps by checking out this link to the Amazon website at

This Kindle eBook sells for $2.99 US, and is also available internationally through Amazon's various international servers. The book can be purchased at at

You can view Gayle's author page at

This second edition of QSLing the World, now in Kindle eBook format, is the most comprehensive compilation of trends and tips on the art of QSLing ever published for the radio listening hobby. It is a must-have reference in any hobby radio shack if you want to QSL the stations you are hearing on your radios.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

DHS Deploys Multiband Radios to State, Local Public Safety Agencies

Source: Courtesy of the Emergency website Homeland Security and Public Safety newstaff reports.

After years of interest, field tests and the conclusion of a pilot project, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) transitioned more than 100 multiband radios to 15 emergency response agencies around the nation, according to an Aug. 21 press release.

“Today, many state, local and federal emergency responders face communications interoperability challenges that put lives at risk,” said David Boyd, director of the S&T’s Office for Interoperability and Compatibility. “Thanks to the participation and insights of our state, local and federal pilot partners, S&T’s new multiband radio allows responders to communicate with other responding agencies and jurisdictions, regardless of radio band.”

Responders across agencies and jurisdictions can communicate critical information quickly with multiband radio, because the technology eliminates the need to carry multiple radios, swap or share radios, use a patching system, relay messages through dispatchers, or use runners to hand-carry messages.

In June 2011, amid an estimated crowd of 400,000, multiband radios were used at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, one of several tests that year. During the event, responders from 16 local, state and federal agencies tested the noise suppression and interoperability of their radios. Signal coverage for the test was 96 percent, and the radios were generally received favorably by responders. Many responders particularly liked the idea of only needing one radio, though some complained of the long antenna found on the Harris Unity XG-100P radio that was used in the test.

First responders can use the multiband radios in bands between 136 and 870 MHz, including the primary public safety very high frequency and ultra high frequency bands and the 700 and 800 MHz bands. When authorized, the radio also operates in the U.S. Defense Department bands and two federal bands.

Sales of multiband radios are increasing, and one manufacturer reported more than 20,000 radios sold. The Department of Interior spent $90,000 and the U.S. Marine Corps is expected to spend $49 million on multiband radios, according to the S&T.

Pilot partners that are receiving new multiband radios include:

Arizona Emergency Management
Blaine, Wash., Police Department
Boise, Idaho, Fire Department
Chicago Police Department/Emergency Management
DHS Immigration/Customs Enforcement
Hawaii Civil Defense
Indianapolis Fire Department
Miami-Dade County Public Safety
Michigan Emergency Medical Services
Murray State University in Kentucky
National Capitol Region
New Orleans Public Safety
Phoenix Police Department
U.S. Coast Guard, District 7, Miami
U.S. Coast Guard, Portsmouth, Va.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

X-Flare - Earth Facing

UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.: NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) just posted the following:

The R3 (Strong) Radio Blackout today at 12:49 EDT (1649 UTC) was accompanied by an earth-directed CME. Hampered by limited observations of the event, SWPC forecasters are now anticipating the passage of the [coronal mass ejection] around 1:00 a.m. EDT, Saturday, July 14. G1 (minor) Geomagnetic Storm activity is expected to then ensue through the rest of the day.

In short, NOAA is predicting minor effects from this space weather event - no major impacts on the power grid or satellites anticipated - although we remind you forecasting space weather is difficult and surprises are possible. Sky watchers in northern U.S. (and high latitudes) may have an opportunity to see aurora late Friday night into early Saturday morning.

Original story below . . .

X-FLARE! Big sunspot AR1520 unleashed an X1.4-class solar flare on July 12th at 1653 UT. Because the sunspot was directly facing Earth at the time of the blast, this is a geoeffective event. Stay tuned for updates about possible CMEs and radio blackouts.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a flash of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the blast site.

The UV and X-ray pulse from the flare will have partially ionized Earth's upper atmosphere on the dayside of our planet, disturbing the normal propagation of radio signals. Watch the Realtime Space Weather Gallery for possible reports of sudden ionospheric disturbances and other effects.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Executive order: Obama grabs communications

There is this report from the Canada Free Press by: Doug Hagmann & Joseph Hagmann

In the event you missed the Friday news dump, Barack Hussein Obama issued yet another executive order. Titled “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions,” it may be read in its entirety on the White House website here. At first blush, it appears that the order modernizes previous communications functionality, particularly as it relates to the continuity of governmental communication during wartime or national crisis as defined by Obama.

The text of the order itself consists of 2,205 words and seven-(7) sections and multiple subsections. The policy statement (section one) seems innocuous and actually beneficial to the continuity of communications within the U.S., until one begins to dissect the order and consider it in context with other Obama issued directives. Extensive analysis of this order, in tandem with other recent Obama orders and signed legislation, suggests a disconcerting pattern of potential overreach by Obama into the area of normal and customary commercial communication systems.

Based on our analysis of this order, it would appear that the implementation of emergency communications by Obama, using all forms of wired and wireless communication systems, is redirected through the Executive branch and could expand such takeover abilities beyond the limits of an actual act of war, national emergency, or other event impacting the national security of the U.S. The order also mandates that the Department of Homeland Security develops and submits such a plan to Obama within sixty-(60) days of this order (section 5.2(h)).

You can read the entire Executive Order at

Friday, July 06, 2012

Top Secret America- A hidden world, growing beyond control

If you think you know all there is to know about the U.S. government and its various federal agencies, think again. The government that we knew prior to 9/11 has changed dramatically since that faithful day in 2001.

For instance, it has been interesting to stand on the edges and see changes in military communications since that day. We have seen a major overhaul in the VHF/UHF spectrum subbands that is used by the DoD. The 225-400 MHz bandplan from several years ago is not what we observe today.

If you would like to learn more about the hidden world of our government, I highly recommend you visit the Washington Post website and read the online article - Top Secret America- A hidden world, growing beyond control by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin.

Priest and Arkin conducted a two-year investigation for The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

There is also a very interesting online database that as a Milcom monitor you will find very interesting and useful at

I will have more on this from a monitors point of view in an upcoming issue of Monitoring Times magazine in my monthly Milcom column.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Great Friend and Milcom Monitor Has Passed Away

Photo courtesy of Kevin Burke

Donald G. Edwards Jr. of Northville, passed away suddenly at home after a short battle with cancer on June 28, 2012.

Don was born on April 6, 1954. He was an avid musician playing in many local bands: BlackRiver for 20+ years and more recently Steel Heart. He was also an accomplished Photographer with pictures published in Monitoring Times Magazine. He enjoyed listening to and taking photos of Military aircraft and he was a Licensed Ham Radio operator call sign N2NUM.

Don worked at Coleco industries for many years and at Universal Custom Mill Work.

Don is survived by his wife, Nancy Louer Edwards; daughter Niki (Stephen) Schaffer, son Shaun (Stephanie) Edwards, two beloved grandchildren: Lily Ana Schaffer & Colin Edwards. A brother Harold Tabor and many nieces.

Don was predeceased by his parents Lillian Miller Edwards & Donald Edwards Sr., and two sisters Donna & Audrey.

Family and friends can gather to remember Don at the house : 332 Fourth St, Northville Monday Afternoon, July 2, at 4pm. Arrangements are by the Northville Funeral Home. Condolences may be made to the family online at

With deepest sympathies to Nancy and the family.

Smoke off my friend.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Multipsk Software Package Released

If you are looking for a good and useful sound card digital decoding program, I would suggest you give Multipsk a look. It is a package we use here on the Btown radio ranch. And now Multipsk just got better. I just received the following release from our friend Patrick Lindecker regarding the latest software release of his popular Multipsk sound card decoding package.

Hello to all Ham and SWL,

The new releases of MultiPSK (4.21.1), Clock (1.9.1) and Multidem (2.4.1) are on my website ( The main mirror site is Earl's, N8KBR: (click on "United States Download Site"). Another mirror site is Terry's:

Multipsk associated to Clock are freeware programs but with functions submitted to a licence (by user key).

The possibility to export TCP/IP data at 48000 Hz has been added to Multidem 2.4.1.

The main improvements of MULTIPSK 4.21.1 are the following:

* In GMDSS, addition of a "Traffic" window: this function permits to display all the last received GMDSS messages, collected by a specific GMDSS WEB server.

The "Traffic" button permits to display all the last GMDSS received messages, collected by a specific GMSS WEB server. In that case, Multipsk will transmit all the messages received by the user (Ham or SWL) to a WEB server. Multipsk will fetch and display all the collected Lentus messages during minutes 0, 5, 10...55. This function permits to follow ships route, beyond one's own distance of reception, to cover large areas.

Note 1: To avoid broadcasting unreliable pieces of information, only messages with correct CRC will be sent to the GMDSS server.

Note 2: GMDSS server files can be supplied (through an exchange of mails with the author) to constitute private GMDSS listening nets.

* In ACARS and HFDL, addition of a "Traffic" window: this function permits to display all the plane position messages, collected by a specific WEB server (ACARS or HFDL).

Note: ACARS or HFDL server files can be supplied (through an exchange of mails with the author) to constitute private ACARS or HFDL listening nets.

* In Lentus, addition of a "Traffic" window: this function permits to display all the last received and transmitted Lentus messages, collected by a specific Lentus WEB server.

* In DGPS, addition of information about the Station number and possibility of automatic switching to the DGPS detected speed ("Automatic" button).

* in the QSO window, possibility to find a word in the text.

* Possibility to receive TCP/IP data at 48000 Hz (to interface SdR programs, for example).

* In APRS, GMDSS, ACARS and HFDL, there is a better display on Google Earth and local maps with dashes between dots, only if the "Display all" button is pushed.


The paper "Lentus easy with Multipsk.doc" has been updated and is available on my website:

Note about translation of Multipsk.exe and Clock .exe: the 4.21 version of Multipsk/Clock has been completly translated to Spanish by Joachin (EA4ZB), from French. The translation file is on my Web site (

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Beginners Guide to Trunking Basics

If you are new to scanning or public safety trunking has just become active in your area. be sure to check out A Basic Guide to Trunking wriiten by Uniden's Paul Optiz. It is available in Adobe pdf format by clicking here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Murphy VIPER TRS Site Operational

The new VIPER TRS Site 45 located in Murphy is now operational. Caught my first TG on it this morning 57392 which is a P25 digital TG within the VIPER Medical TG series. It is assigned to Murphy Medical Center (VMB5) and was being used by a Cherokee EMS unit with an enroute patient report.

In order to monitor this TRS system, you will need a digital trunking scanner (we have them in stock at Grove Enterprises

Local VIPER TRS frequencies
Murphy Site (Cherokee Cty) SysID C92D Site ID 045 (2D)
866.0875 866.3375 866.9000 867.2000a 868.8375c 868.9125

In addition to state agencies, it is my understanding that County agencies will also migrate to this system in the future. Looks like Cherokee Co EMS has started to make their move.

I also have a report that Clay County is using VIPER now. Probably from Wine
Springs but maybe also from Joanna Bald.

Joanna Bald (Cherokee Cty) SysID C92D Site ID 008 (8)
866.8250 867.0750 867.8250 868.1750a 868.3250c

Wine Springs (Macon Co) SysID C92D Site ID 010 (A)
866.1375 866.3875 867.3375 868.1125a 868.8750c

So let the fun begin.

MT 2012 Annual Air Show Guide Now Available Online

Monitoring Times magazine, the world's leading radio hobby communications magazine has just posted to their website the Annual Air Show Listening Guide in pdf format for download. And the cost is right - free!

You can download your copy by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Space-X Dragon downlinks

Our good friend PJ Marsh posted the following to the Hearsat newsgroup.

"Here is a quick summary of the downlinks detected so far from Space-X / Dragon (All freqs in MHz);

2205.5 Mhz Dragon narrow band telemetry

2216.0 MHz TLM downlink via directional s-band antenna 20W, FFT

2265.0 MHz Dragon wide band telemetry FFT and

2287.5 MHz Reflection of ISS uplink to TDRSS, presumably off Dragon.

The 2287.5 signal is interesting to watch in FFT as you can see significant phasing effects, probably due to the multitude of reflections since the antenna on the ISS will be pointing up to a TDRSS."

Thanks for sharing Paul.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Strange English OM Voice Loop in 6950 kHz

As originally reported on the UDXF newsgroup, a strange English OM voice loop has popped up, first on 6990 kHz USB then yesterday moved to 6950 kHz USB. The loop is sending the following continuously: "She had your dark suit in greasy wash water all year. Don't ask me to carry an oily rag like that. They used an aggressive policeman to flag thoughtless motorists."

You just have to love shortwave for the wonderful and strange things you will hear. Now we need Yosemite Sam to make an appearance.

Friday, May 04, 2012

DC Embassies Open House This Weekend

Chinese Embassy in Washington DC.
(Photo courtesy of Chinese diplomatic service)

Our friend Allan Henney on the Scan-DC list posted the following:


"It's May -- that time of year for the embassy open houses! This Saturday and the following Saturday 70 embassies will host opening houses. Some use two-way radios, and I've been fascinated by the legal ramifications. If you go, please bring your scanner and share your close-call hits or at least note which embassies have radios and what type/band. Here are a few notes I have captured in past years and would appreciate further confirmation:"

Australia 171.950? Also had a brief close-call hit on 160.08. They used Motorola EX500/600 series.

Canada 463.5250r/s [d306] and 464.6750r/s [d306] (used in past, repeater and simplex)

French had an FRS-style radio in the guard shack, but was not in use.

Germany 160.270 [156.7] odd one, huh? Also 171.7625 and 172.5625 both freq counter hits (not confirmed) and 468.4125 catering (not confirmed)

Iraqi had a Motorola FRS/GMRS radio (not in use).

Italy 461.1125s [67.0], was: 464.5500s [67.0]

Saudi Arabia 468.6500s [141.3] and maybe 466.0625s

Slovak 462.675s(?) [hired security]

Sweden, House of 464.325s(?)

I expected to see some high-end gear last year, at least from the super powers, but mostly saw old analog Motorola business-style radios. One guard at the British Embassy had an old Motorola GP300 or GP350. Would love to pin down their frequency!

Does anybody have other embassy frequency finds to share?

See these Websites for the participating embassies:

May 5:
May 12:
Scan-DC mailing list

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Discovery flies for last time, ends chapter in aerospace history

A NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying the space shuttle Discovery performs a fly-by, April 17, 2012 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The aircraft landed at Washington Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Va., before its transfer to the National Air and Space Museum. Discovery completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles .(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katie Spencer)

Blog Editor Note: Those that follow me on my twitter account got quite a bit of timely monitoring info during this event. For future events along this line, be sure to follow me on my twitter account: @MilcomMP.

by Airman 1st Class Alexander W. Riedel, Defense Media Activity

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- After almost 27 years and 39 flights in Earth's orbit, the space shuttle Discovery arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., April 17 on its way to its final resting place.

The last moments in the air for Discovery began at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., mounted on top of a modified Boeing 747. The retired spacecraft will take final residence in a hangar at the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center April 19, in Chantilly, Va.

At its new home, Discovery will stand on the same spot the shuttle Enterprise occupied since the center's opening in 2003, according to Dr. Valerie Neal, the curator at the National Air and Space Museum. Unlike Discovery, Enterprise was only a test vehicle and was never used for space flight, making it a less significant artifact to experts. Therefore, it was moved to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.

On duty since 1984, Discovery was the third orbiter that was built and is now the oldest shuttle remaining in the fleet.

"Because it started service so early, it flew all different types of missions shuttles were assigned," said Neal. "In our view, it's the champion of the shuttle fleet and really helps tell the story of the shuttle era."

Most visitors will be shocked by the immense size of the orbiter, which on TV often seemed dwarfed by its external tank and booster rockets, Neal said. Others may wonder about the shuttle's outer condition. Its exterior is well worn and the black tiles of its heat shield show the scars that earth's atmosphere inflicted.

"We asked NASA not to clean the exterior or repaint it," Neal said. "We wanted Discovery to be as it was after it flew its last mission."

Changes to the orbiters were minor, Neal said, but included required deinstallation of maneuvering pods, which contained traces of hazardous fuels, and the removal of the shuttle's main engines, which NASA is planning to reuse in the future.

As the shuttle takes its place among the Enola Gay and other iconic aircraft, it also puts a close to a chapter of Air Force history.

"The intention in the 1970s was to put all missions, civil and military, on the shuttle once it became operational," said Rick Sturdevant, the deputy director of history at the Air Force Space Command. "It was supposed to become the only launch vehicle for the U.S., but a lot of Air Force personnel doubted it was a good idea to put all of our eggs in one basket."

"However, as the shuttle approached, Air Force planning intensified with the construction of a shuttle launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and a Shuttle Operations and Planning Center at Shriever Air Force Base, Colo.," Sturdevant said. "One of the primary reasons for the creation of what was later to become Air Force Space Command was the intention of administrating and planning shuttle operations for the Department of Defense."

While much of these installations were never used to full capacity, the Air Force provided services, such as range support during launches and tracking of orbital debris in protection of the shuttle.

Sturdevant said he believes the shuttle caused Air Force leadership to think more operationally about space and what the Air Force could do to use space in support of war-fighting capabilities. The shuttle was supposed to become essential in transporting those war-fighting assets into orbit.

"For 30 years, it was the premier aerospace vehicle in the world," said Tom Jones, a former shuttle pilot. "It was the most complex machine ever built and had capabilities in space that have yet to be matched, thirty years after it came onto the scene."

The shuttle established a semblance of routine space flight, Neal said. Space flight seemed like it was no longer going to be extraordinary, but that it was becoming a normal enterprise of the United States.

Two of the originally five sister-ships were destroyed during operations. In 1986, Challenger exploded shortly after take-off, and in 2003, Columbia was torn apart during re-entry into earth's atmosphere. During both accidents, all seven crew members were lost.

"In many ways, the orbiter left a bitter taste in the mouth of many senior Air Force officials," said Dwayne Day, a senior program officer with the National Research Council. "It helped develop a number of important technologies, and delivered numerous important scientific and national security payloads."

But the military did not get as much out of the program as hoped, and stopped DoD shuttle operations after the Challenger tragedy.

"People died in very public ways," said Day, who worked on the Columbia accident investigation board in 2003. "There were no ejection seats, no escape pods," Day said. " If the vehicle was damaged, the crew was doomed. It was a bad situation."

"The shuttle educated the military about having a distributed way of getting into orbit," said Jones. "Challenger only exposed the vulnerability of having only one way of getting your payloads into space."

The Air Force quickly responded and broadened its base, said Jones.

"What the orbiter did gain for the military was cutting-edge experience on human operations in space," explained Jones. "Now, with the classified X 37, which is sort of a derivative of the shuttle, the Air Force is taking full advantage of the lessons learned."

It took a lot more maintenance than was anticipated, said Neal, and maintenance took a long time in between flights, so the shuttle never deployed as routinely as desired.

"It was a very expensive vehicle," said Day. "It was so expensive that it made it difficult to find funding to develop a replacement vehicle."

Retired Air Force Col. John Casper, a former shuttle pilot, said the shuttle lasting legacy will be its contribution to building the International Space Station.

"Sixteen different nations are involved, forming what is often called the largest international program since the cooperation of the Allies in WWII," said Casper. "Another legacy is the Hubble Space telescope, which the shuttle carried into orbit."

For Casper, the transition, from an Air Force squadron to the astronaut corps, was an easy one.

"There is real joy in working as a team and experience tremendous teamwork with people that are very dedicated, very much like it was the Air Force," said Casper about shuttle crews. "It was a talented, educated and disciplined team, that was very passionate about what they do."

Like many missions in the Air Force, shuttle operations called for precision, professionalism and complete immersion in the job, said Jones.

Memories of experiences with the shuttles will always stay with the astronauts, they said.

"To look down onto our home - this great, beautiful planet - was very fulfilling," said Jones. "It is so lovely that tears came to your eyes when you get a chance to reflect upon what you are seeing."

For Casper, flying the shuttle was unlike anything possible on earth.

"The shuttle was not like a fighter. The only time you really flew it like a plane was the landing," said Casper. "And then it could only glide back to earth. There was no way to try the landing again - you only got one chance."

After the Columbia accident, Casper became NASA's Mishap Investigation Team's deputy for the debris recovery operation. While the nation was in shock, he said he lost friends.

"The community of astronauts is very small. We all know each other. Some even flew together in the Air Force," said Casper. "I guess it was also in the Air Force that you find out what happened, try to correct the problem and get back to the mission."

"You can't let it stop you," said Casper. "You can't stop flying planes in the Air Force and you can't stop exploring in space."

But the shuttle mission is over and new technology is needed to move onto bigger and better things, said Casper. But a certain sadness remains for the astronaut and space enthusiasts alike.

"Most shuttles have about 25 to 35 flights," said Casper. "But they were built for 100 flights each. So they're in pristine shape."

Thinking that the shuttles were old and decrepit is a common misconception, said Neal.

"The fleet has, in fact, been constantly updated, to the point that the shuttles that flew in 2011 were hardly the same as in 1984," said Neal. "It was the same airframe, but a lot of the technology inside was new," said Neal.

For Casper, now an assistant for program integration for NASA's Orion program, a strong space program is an essential political and military tool of the future, he said.
"Venturing into space is a demonstration to the world that we have the ability and the will to do so," he said. "It is a necessary extension of aerospace power and the Air Force's mission."

One important mission for the shuttle will continue even at the museum - it will continue to inspire.

"Seeing the U.S. Flag hanging on the hangar wall behind the shuttle, just like it did when it was in its assembly and servicing hangar, you realize that the shuttle is an icon for the United States," Neal said.

Neal's team wanted to make the arrival at the museum as accessible as possible, she said. The transfer from NASA was free to the museum and seeing the shuttle will be free to the public -after all it was the public that has supported and financed the shuttle program all along, Neal insisted.

"This is the spacecraft of your generation, it is an American icon." said Neal. "If you never made it to a launch or landing, you really owe it to yourself to see how the U.S. went into space during your lifetime. Come and take pride and ownership in it."

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located a few miles south of Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia. It is open from 10:00 am - 5:30 pm seven days a week, with the exception of Christmas Day. Admission is free, parking is available for a $15 fee.

The last flight of the space shuttle Discovery flies over Joint Base Andrews, Md. on April 17, 2012. Discovery piggy -backed a ride on a jumbo 747 from NASA KTTS Landing Facility (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sophia Piellusch)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

MT March 2012 Air Show issue now available for Kindle

No other issue of Monitoring Times magazine is more popular than our annual air show issue that is released in March of each year.

As a leader in the radio hobby publishing world, Grove Enterprises and the Monitoring Times magazine staff is pleased to announce that the March 2012 air show issue is now available in the Kindle reader format from at a price you just can not beat - $0.99. Now you can take our most popular issue of MT with you to the air show as a ready reference.

And no need to worry if you do not own a Kindle reader. You can still read our new Kindle electronic reader edition or any Kindle book anywhere with Amazon's free reading apps.

There are free Kindle reading apps for Smartphones (iPhone & iTouch, Android, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry); Computer platforms (Windows and Mac); Tablets (iPad and Android Tablet), and of course the Kindle readers including the new Kindle Fire that will be reviewed in the June issue of Monitoring Times. You can get more detail on these apps by clicking here.

MT March 2012 Product Description
Monitoring Times Xpress digital edition, March, 2012. Monitoring Times magazine is the leader in radio communications for the world of radio. Each issue is packed with shortwave, scanner and other radio reviews, features and columns. Now in our 31st year, MT is better than ever offering a print edition, PDF version (full color and graphics) and now the MT Digital Reader edition. This is our test of the digital version of the magazine for e-readers. It contains no graphics and no ads. We want to see your response as the reader whether this is worth pursuing as a monthly subscription. Please give us your thoughts and comments.

Bill Grove
Art Director, Monitoring Times Magazine
bill at

This is an offer to good to pass up. You can purchase your 99 cents MT Annual Air Show edition in Kindle format by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

1912 - Titanic Centenary - 2012

From our friend Tom Rosner and the UDXF newsgroup (thanks for sharing Tom):

A special broadcast on longwave 147,3 kHz & amateur crossband event will be held in memoriam of the sinking of RMS "Titanic"

on 14th April 22:30 GMT until 15th April 02:00 GMT with NWS transmitter DDH47 on 147,3 kHz in Morsecode only During 'silence periods' (red sectors of radio clock) of former maritime radio service the names of radio officers will be sent in qrss3 ( 1 dot in 3 seconds !)

Calls from amateur radio on hf will be answered by DL0SWA & DDH47

Event hosted by Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) & employees of TI33, Pinneberg & amateur radio group Seewetteramt & friends of Prof. Braun Day

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wallops Launched Cancelled for Tonight

Thanks to my old friend Keith Stein and the Scan-DC listserv:

NASA has scrubbed tonight's launch attempt for the ATREX mission
because of a payload problem. Next attempt no earlier than Friday night.

Mission information:

Details on Tonight's Five ATREX/Cloud Release Launches from Wallops

Courtesy of Cmdr Jaycee and the Seesat-L listserv

For those along the US East Coast, NASA is planning to launch five Terrier - Malemute sounding rockets over a five minute span tonight (sometime between midnight to 1:30 AM, EDT) from Wallops Island, Virginia.

"As part the mission, the five rockets will release a chemical tracer that will form milky, white clouds that allow scientists and the public to “see” the winds in space. These clouds may be visible for up to 20 minutes by residents from South Carolina to southern New Hampshire and Vermont."

For more, see:

NASA Jet Stream Study Will Light up The Night Sky

NASA - Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX)

NASA to Launch 5 Rockets to Study Jet Stream | ATREX Mission |

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Breaking News: X5 Flare

GEOMAGNETIC STORM UPDATE: A CME propelled toward Earth by this morning's X5-class solar flare is expected to reach our planet on March 8th at 0625 UT (+/- 7 hr). Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, who prepared the CME's forecast track, say the impact could spark a strong-to-severe geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Firmware Update Coming

Paul Opitz at Uniden posted the following announcement on Valentines Day:

Uniden expects to release a firmware update for the BCD396XT and BCD996XT near the end of February. This update is intended to improve reception and decoding of APCO 25 systems on many systems.

We've been developing and testing this update for a while, and are quite pleased overall with the improvements achieved.

Looking forward to getting this into your hands.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

New Rules for 5 MHz (60 Meters) To Go Into Effect March 5

ARLB002 New Rules for 5 MHz (60 Meters) To Go Into Effect March 5

ARRL Bulletin 2 ARLB002
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT February 3, 2012
To all radio amateurs

ARLB002 New Rules for 5 MHz (60 Meters) To Go Into Effect March 5

On November 18, the FCC released a Report and Order (R&O), defining new rules for the 60 meter (5 MHz) band. These rules are in response to a Petition for Rulemaking (PRM) filed by the ARRL more than five years ago and a June 2010 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). In the February 3 edition of the Federal Register, the FCC announced that these new rules will go into effect on March 5, 2012.

Details can be found at,

In summarizing the new rules, the FCC explained that the new rules amend the current rules to facilitate more efficient and effective use by the Amateur Radio Service of five channels in the 5330.5-5406.4 kHz band (the 60 meter band): "Specifically, and
consistent with our proposals in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding, the Commission replaces one of the channels with a less encumbered one, increases the maximum authorized power amateur stations may transmit in this band and authorizes amateur stations to transmit three additional emission designators. The Commission also adopts an additional operational rule that prohibits the use of automatically controlled digital stations and makes editorial revisions to the relevant portions of the Table of Frequency Allocations and our service rules."

The Amateur Radio Service in the United States has a secondary allocation on 60 meters. Only those amateurs who hold General, Advanced or Amateur Extra class licenses may operate on this band. Amateur stations must not cause harmful interference to -- and must accept interference from -- stations authorized by any
administration in the fixed service, as well as mobile (except aeronautical mobile) stations authorized by the administrations of other countries.

Friday, January 13, 2012

USFS Southern Area Helibases

The following is a list of USFS Southern Area Helibases and frequencies.

State Base Name Frequency Latitude/ Longitude Agency Location Airport Identifier
AL Andalusia 169.325tx Tn.123.0 168.725rx 31 18.5 / 86 23.6 NF in Alabama Andalusia, AL 79J

AR Mena 168.650 Tn.110.9 34 32.7 / 94 12.2 Ouachita NF Mena, AR M39

AR Mt. Ida 168.650 Tn.110.9 34 31.8 / 93 31.6 Ouachita NF Mt. Ida, AR 7M3

AR Clarksville 168.650 Tn.110.9 35 28.2 / 93 25.6 Ozark NF Clarksville, AR H35

FL Ocala 169.175 Tn.131.8 29 06.3 / 81 37.8 Ocala NF Altoona, FL OCF

FL Tallahassee 164.125tx 164.825rx Tn.136.5 30 23.7 / 84 20.9 Apalachicola NF Tallahassee, FL TLH

FL Big Cypress 171.625tx 172.425rx Tn.103.5 25 51.27 / 81 02.04 Big Cypress NP Big Cypress, FL 9FL7

FL Everglades 171.625tx 172.525rx 35 23.28 / 80 41.09 Everglades NP Homestead, FL HST

FL Lake City 164.125tx 164.825rx Tn.167.9 30 10.8 / 82 34.5 Osceola NF Lake City, FL LCQ

FL Merritt Island 166.725tx 165.450rx 28 64.03 / 80 73.07 Merritt Island NWR Titusville, FL X21

GA Pogo 163.150tx 164.625rx tn.103.5 30 44.3 / 82 07.6 Okefenokee NWR Folkston, GA 3GE1

GA Glassy Mountain 168.650 tn.136.5 34 50.42 / 83 30.02 Chattahoochee NF Clayton, GA

GA Rock Eagle 168.150tx 171.975rx tn.186.2 33 24.3/83 22.54 Chattahoochee/Oconee NFs Rock Eagle Work Center

KY Big Swag 171.525 36 52.5 / 84 25.4 Daniel Boone NF Somerset, KY SME

LA Alexandria 168.650 Tn.110.9 31 19.6 / 92 32.9 Kisatchie NF Alexandria, LA AEX

MS Wiggins 168.750 30 50.6 /89 09.6 Desoto NF Wiggins MS M24

MS Forest 168.675 32 21.2 / 89 29.3 Bienville NF Forest, MS 2M4

NC Woodlawn 168.650 Tn.110.9 35 46.1 / 82 02.1 Pisgah NF Marion, NC

NC Cheoah Airport 168.650 Tn.110.9 35 20.2 / 83 49.5 Nantahala NF Robbinsville, NC

NC New Bern 168.650 Tn.110.9 34 59.4 / 76 58.9 Croatan NF New Bern, NC EWN

NC Alligator River 35 57.1 / 75 52.4 Alligator River NWR Manteo, NC MQI

NC Rich Mtn. 168.650 Tn.110.9 35 05.9 / 83 13.7 Nantahala NF Highlands, NC

SC Seed Orchard 164.125tx 168.675rx tn.136.5 33 06.48 /79 46.48 Francis Marion & Sumter NFs Huger, SC

SC Greenwood 164.125tx 168.675rx tn.123.0 34 14.9 / 82 09.5 Francis Marion & Sumter NFs Greenwood, SC GRD

SC Savannah River 168.650 Tn.110.9 33 21.57/81 41.05
Savannah River New Ellenton, SC AGS

TN Copperhill 169.925 tn.103.5 35 0.16 / 84 34.5 Cherokee NF Ducktown, TN 1A3

TN Greenville 169.875 tn.100.0 36 12 / 82 49 Cherokee NF Greenville, TN GCY

TN Bowman 169.875tx tn.100.0 36 10.33/82 31.33 Cherokee NF Jackson Farm, TN

TN Sevierville 168.650 Tn.110.9 35 51.5 / 83 31.7 Great Smoky Mts. NP Sevierville, TN GKT

TX Lufkin 168.750 tn.110.9 31 18.66/94 49.3 NFs in Texas Lufkin, TX LFK

VA Abingdon 171.575 36 41.2 / 82 02.0 GW/Jeff NFs Highland, VA VJI

VA Weyers Cave 171.525 38 15.8 / 78 53.8 GW/Jeff NFs Shenandoah Valley, VA SHD

A common fixed wing aircraft that I see on my Mode-S box from the USFS is N182Z
USDA Forest Service Southern Region Becch 200 N182Z A14A59

Friday, January 06, 2012

Russian Satellite Debris

The Phobos-Grunt That Wasn't A Roscosmos rendering of Phobos-Grunt approaching Mars and its moon Phobos. Roscosmos

Courtesy of Harry Baughn:

"As of Wednesday morning, the fragments of Phobos-Grunt are expected to fall January 15, 2012. The final date could change due to external factors," said spokesman Alexei Zolotukhin, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

In an embarrassing setback, the $165-million probe designed to travel to the Mars moon of Phobos and bring back soil samples, blasted off on November 9 but failed to leave the Earth's orbit.

Click here for the story