Archive for the ‘skywarn’ Category

Exploring Shortwave Radio Signals: A Peek into Non-Local Communications

Curious about what you can hear on shortwave ham radio? This video is a brief survey of the diverse world of communications on the shortwave spectrum. Expand your radio horizons and enhance your emergency communication preparedness by tuning in to the world of shortwave ham radio.

If you’ve started delving into radio communications beyond local stations and channels, like VHF and UHF, you’re in for a treat. Shortwave radio opens up a whole new realm of signals to explore, including emergency communications vital during natural disasters.

Shortwave radio covers a range of radio frequencies from 3 kHz to 30 MHz. This spectrum is home to a diverse array of radio signals that cater to various communication needs, making it a hub of activity and connectivity.

Within these high frequencies, you can tune in to a multitude of transmissions, from transoceanic air traffic control communications to the chatter of ships navigating the vast seas. Imagine hearing the voices of fishermen, much like those on your favorite reality TV shows about high-seas fishing adventures, along with military communications and the vibrant world of amateur radio enthusiasts.

One of the remarkable features of high-frequency (HF) radio is its ability to propagate signals over long distances, transcending line-of-sight limitations. This means that HF radio enables communication between different regions and even continents, fostering connectivity across vast distances.

During times of crisis and natural disasters, shortwave frequencies become invaluable for emergency communications. When local infrastructure falters or is disrupted, shortwave radio serves as a vital lifeline, facilitating critical two-way communications in and out of disaster-stricken areas.

Explore the fascinating realm of shortwave radio, where distant voices blend with essential information, bridging gaps and connecting communities in times of need. Uncover the power of HF radio to transcend boundaries and provide lifelines when they are needed most.

In this video, I give you a glimpse of the voice and data transmissions I pick up on my high-frequency amateur radio transceiver (in this video, an Icom IC-7000). In later videos, I will dive deeper into specific types of HF communications, such as aeronautical trans-oceanic signals.

German Teletype (RTTY) Weather on HF (Shortwave) Radio

This is a video of the German Weather Broadcast from DWD, Hamburg, on shortwave (HF), using teletype (RTTY). I demonstrate two decoding software options: JWcomm32 (older), and, FLdigi. Note the in FLdigi, the “Reverse” feather is selected to properly decode the signal (in either USB or LSB, you still need to select, “Reverse”).

The radio used to receive these weather bulletins is an Icom IC-7610, using an antenna designed for 160 Meters.

RTTY is a system for broadcasting text over radio. The technology dates back to the late 1950s and seems somewhat anachronistic. Speeds are slow, even slower than NAVTEX. A similar service is the USCG service, SITOR (Simplex Teletype Over Radio) providing offshore and coastal forecasts over very wide and remote areas from the tropics to the polar regions.

There is dedicated equipment to receive RTTY and SITOR but we can receive both using a standard HF/SSB receiver with software packages such as TRUETTY and SEATTY to decode the signals.

The main advantage of RTTY/SITOR is the reception of information over an entire ocean area. The USCG also shares frequencies across multiple transmitters according to a schedule, rather like NAVTEX. The system is available over the Atlantic and Pacific including polar regions not served. For more about SITOR see the Monitoring Times link or the USCG site.

Around Western Europe and the Mediterranean, the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) , the German Weather Service has accepted the responsibility to broadcast weather information for mariners on RTTY. Frequencies are in the table on the webpage at:
https://weather.mailasail.com/Franks-Weather/Radio-Teletype-Weather-Broadcasts

This video captures the RTTY transmission on 14467.3 kHz (with adjustment in the passband to center on Mark and Space as seen in the video).

DWD (Hamburg) Broadcast Content:

Some broadcasts are of raw weather observations in a WMO coded form. Otherwise, for the broadcasts include,

  • Strong wind, gale and storm warnings for German Bight, Western and Southern Baltic Sea, German North Sea and Baltic Sea coast
  • Weather forecast for the North Sea and Baltic Sea, Weather situation, forecast valid for 12 hours and outlook valid for another 12 hours
  • Weather report German North Sea and Baltic Sea coast, Weather situation and forecast valid for 12 hours.
  • Navigational warnings for North Sea, Baltic Sea and German coast
  • Weather report Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea Route North Cape – Shetlands, The Quark – Gulf of Finland. Weather situation and time series forecast for 2 days
  • Weather report North Atlantic. Route Pentlands – Southwest Greenland. Weather situation and time series forecast for 2 days
  • Station reports North Sea and Baltic Sea
  • Weather report Western European Sea. Route Southern Ireland – Area Canarias. Weather situation and time series forecast for 2 days
  • Medium range weather report North Sea, Weather situation and time series forecast for 5 days
  • For the Mediterranean there are Station reports Mediterranean Sea
  • Weather report Mediterranean Sea (in German), Weather situation and forecast valid for 24 hours.
  • Alborán – Tunis. Weather situation and time series forecast for 2 days
  • Weather report Eastern Mediterranean Sea (in German). Route Eastern Tunis – Rhodes/Cyprus. Weather situation and time series forecast for 2 days
  • Medium range weather report Mediterranean Sea (in English), Weather situation and time series forecast for 5 days
  • Around the North Sea and the Baltic this service is a useful supplement to NAVTEX. Particularly so are the 5 day outlooks, These give wind forecast every 12 hours for the 5 day period. The values are straight from the DWD NWP model at a few grid points although these are sufficient to give an overall view and much quicker to receive than synoptic charts on radio fax.

In the Mediterranean, most valuable is the 5 day forecast which seems to be used and very highly regarded by the majority of serious cruising yachtsmen. It is a most valuable service for predicting the major strong wind systems such as Mistrals, Libeccios, Tramontanes, etc. Such winds are usually well predicted 4 and often 5 days ahead. Conversely, I have never found the 24 hour forecast to be much use. For this period, the French, Spanish and even the Italian NAVTEX broadcasts are to be preferred.

Modern Amateur Radio Hobby – An Introduction

This video is an introduction to an international public-service and technology hobby known as ‘amateur radio’ (or ‘ham radio’).

Amateur radio (also called ham radio) describes the use of radio frequency spectrum for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radiosport, contesting, and emergency communication. The term “amateur” is used to specify “a duly-authorized person interested in radioelectric practice with a purely personal aim and without pecuniary interest;” (either direct monetary or other similar rewards) and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).

The amateur radio service (amateur service and amateur-satellite service) is established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) through the Radio Regulations. National governments regulate technical and operational characteristics of transmissions and issue individual stations licenses with an identifying call sign. Prospective amateur operators are tested for their understanding of key concepts in electronics and the host government’s radio regulations. Radio amateurs use a variety of voice, text, image, and data communications modes and have access to frequency allocations throughout the RF spectrum to enable communication across a city, region, country, continent, the world, or even into space.

Amateur radio is officially represented and coordinated by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which is organized in three regions and has as its members the national amateur radio societies which exist in most countries. According to an estimate made in 2011 by the American Radio Relay League, two million people throughout the world are regularly involved with amateur radio. About 830,000 amateur radio stations are located in IARU Region 2 (the Americas) followed by IARU Region 3 (South and East Asia and the Pacific Ocean) with about 750,000 stations. A significantly smaller number, about 400,000, are located in IARU Region 1 (Europe, Middle East, CIS, Africa).

Activities and practices

The expansive diversity found in the amateur radio hobby attracts practitioners who have a wide range of interests. Many hams begin with a fascination of radio communication and then combine other personal interests to make the pursuit of the hobby rewarding. Some of the focal areas amateurs pursue include radio contesting, radio propagation study, public service communication, technical experimentation, and computer networking. But, that is just a sampling of interest areas found in the hobby.

Amateur radio operators use various modes of transmission to communicate. The two most common modes for voice transmissions are frequency modulation (FM) and single sideband (SSB). The FM mode offers high-quality audio signals, while SSB is better at long distance communication when bandwidth is restricted.

Modern personal computers have encouraged the use of digital modes such as radioteletype (RTTY) which previously required cumbersome mechanical equipment. Hams led the development of packet radio in the 1970s, which has employed protocols such as AX.25 and TCP/IP. Specialized digital modes such as PSK31 allow real-time, low-power communications on the shortwave bands. More robust digital modes have been invented and improved, including such modes as Olivia, JT65, and WSPR.

NASA astronaut Col. Doug Wheelock, KF5BOC, Expedition 24 flight engineer, operates the NA1SS ham radio station in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. Equipment is a Kenwood TM-D700E transceiver.

Amateur radio operators, using battery- or generator-powered equipment, often provide essential communications services when regular channels are unavailable due to natural disasters or other disruptive events.

This video comes to us via Canada, and is used by permission from Bernard Bouchard – / ve2sms – The original video was published on Feb 28, 2013.- Website is https://www.ve2cwq.ca/amateur-radio-club-ve2cwq/

Voici maintenant, la version complète du documentaire «La radioamateur» d’une durée de 11 minutes. On y aborde toutes les activités sur le monde de la radioamateur. Ce vidéo a été produit par le Club Radioamateur VE2CWQ / Canwarn-Québec. Pour information: https://www.ve2cwq.ca/

Connect with me at https://NW7US.us

USA Amateur Radio information: http://ARRL.org

Marine Radiofax Weather Charts Via Shortwave Radio – WEFAX

Weather out over oceans?  That, and more.

More than international broadcast stations and amateur radio operators exist on the shortwave radio spectrum.  For instance, any non-broadcast signal that is not amateur radio is often lumped together into a category known as Utility Radio, abbreviated, UTE.  To dig deeper into UTE activity, you could check out the UDXF – the Utility DX Forum, located here:  https://www.udxf.nl/

Utility stations (UTE) are quite common, from marine (ships, fishing vessels, etc.), transoceanic air traffic (international passenger or cargo jets and other aeronautical trans-oceanic radio traffic), to military radio (weather, coordination, and much more).  UTE is a rich subdomain of the radio experience.

As an amateur radio operator, I listen to and monitor utility stations on shortwave, at times when not operating as an amateur radio station.  I check weather for air traffic or for marine traffic, because it helps me see the larger-scale weather patterns.

Sample Weather Satellite Picture via Shortwave

One of the captured weather images via shortwave radio.

Here is a video I made of my reception of weather charts via shortwave radio from radio station NMC, at Point Reyes, CA, using FLdigi software to receive these weather fax transmissions:

WEFAX 22.527 MHz on 2024 JUNE 14

This video is a screen and sound capture of my reception of weather charts and images by shortwave radio, from a station in California running about 4 kilowatts of RF power. This HF WEFAX (Weather Facsimile) service is on every day for ship (marine) weather dissemination so that ships out on the ocean can get weather charts and images not by satellite, but by receiving shortwave signals.

Below is a snippet from the published schedule from Point Reyes WEFAX Radio, callsign NMC, as follows:

22527 kHz – tune offset 1.9 kHz (see note, below)

UTC   WHICH CHART
----- --------------------------------
19:13 TROPICAL GOES IR SATELLITE IMAGE
19:23 WIND / WAVE ANALYSIS
19:33 96HR SURFACE FORECAST
19:43 96HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST
19:53 96HR 500MB FORECAST
20:03 96HR WAVE PERIOD / DIRECTION
-------------------------------------

The above snippet of the NMC chart transmission list is from the page, “NMC Point Reyes, Marine Radiofax Broadcast Schedule” found at:
https://weatherfax.com/nmc-point-reyes/

One of the captured weather images via shortwave radio.

One of the captured weather images via shortwave radio.

 

Here is a detailed description of the weather charts, and online access is at:
https://www.weather.gov/marine/radiofax_charts

Note: In the video, you see that I am tuned to 22.526 USB thus I was tuned to 22526 kHz USB, based on this: “Unless otherwise stated, assigned frequencies are shown, for carrier frequency subtract 1.9 kHz. Typically dedicated radiofax receivers use assigned frequencies, while receivers or transceivers, connected to external recorders or PC’s, are operated in the upper sideband (USB) mode using carrier frequencies.”

==================================
Source:

WORLDWIDE MARINE RADIOFACSIMILE
BROADCAST SCHEDULES
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC and ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
April 12, 2024

https://www.weather.gov/media/marine/rfax.pdf

 

ETH068 – Are You Weather Aware?

Storm Clouds - Everything Ham Radio - Weather

Photo by Curtis Mohr, K5CLM

While having access to your local RADAR wherever you are is great, you shouldn’t depend on it totally. You should be able to look at the sky, feel the wind, and see other clues to have an idea of what could be coming your way.

This brings up the question:

Are You Weather Aware?

In episode 68, we talk about this question and some things that you need to learn and do to help yourself be weather aware. Things like knowing what to look for in the clouds, why the wind suddenly changed directions, what to have in your emergency kit and having a plan with your family in case you need to vacate your home or seek shelter inside.

We dive into several weather events like tornadoes, flash floods, hail and even the event with the highest average of fatalities, which might surprise you.

We talk about W5KUB with the Amateur Radio Roundtable as he does his Hamvention coverage including the drive to and from. We also talk about some other hamfests that are coming up over the next two weeks.

If contesting is you thing, we talk about all the upcoming contests/on-the-air events for the next two weeks as well.

Check out the show notes and listen to the episode at:

http://www.everythinghamradio.com/podcast/68

AUXCOMM

I have taken the day off from work, I have just completed, along with several of my South Plainfield RACES/ARES compadres, a two day AUXCOMM class as taught by the Department of Homeland Security OEC/ICTAP, and offered by the NJ State Races Coordinator John Miller, and the Middlesex County NJ RACES Coordinator John Garmendi N2DV.

All I can say is, "Wow!".  This course was fantastic and re-awakened a lot of the training that I received when I was a Communications Officer with Middlesex County OEM back in the 80s and 90s. And a lot of things have changed since then, of course, and hopefully, I absorbed them like a sponge.

Hank Kobeler N3ORX listening to me explain our team's solution to one of the training exercises. 
(Photo by Drew Moore W2OU)

For those of you who are wondering what AUXCOMM is, that is the official name given by Homeland Security to Amateur Radio operators (RACES/ARES/CERT), REACT members and others, who augment the paid/trained first responders during declared emergencies.

The course, which spanned some 20 hours, was expertly taught by Hank Koebler N3ORX and Jim Millsap WB4NWS.  If I were to go into the experience which make these two fine gentlemen qualified to teach this course, it would probably occupy the next 5-10 blog posts. Suffice it to say that we were very fortunate enough to be taught by two experts with regard to Amateur Radio and EMCOMM.

The class went by quickly, and was never boring. Jim and Hank kept it interesting and, if I may dare say, fun. The pace was quick, but with enough time given to take in all the key and necessary aspects of what was being taught. There were ten units (I hate to call them "lectures") that were broken up by plenty of exercises where we had to identify resources, come up with communications plans, and then submit them for approval. This was followed by one last "Final Exam" or final planning session which brought together everything that we had learned up to that point, In addition, throughout the class, we learned the correct procedures for filling out the necessary ICS paperwork that accompanies all these kind of events.

I must admit that after the first day, my head felt like it does after the first day of Dayton Hamvention, busting to the seams with sensory overload. But it was all good, and by the second day, I think everyone returned in the morning feeling a bit better and just a tad more comfortable with their EMCOMM skills.

During our exercises, we fortunate to be joined by Mark Harla N2MHO (third from the right) from Cumberland County RACES. His experience and knowledge was invaluable to our little team.

The course built upon the education we received from those online FEMA courses that we all took on the Incident Command System, the National Incident Management System and the National Response Framework. It expanded upon that and throughout the class, decorum, attitude and etiquette were accented.

It does not do any good for the name and face of Amateur Radio, for uninvited, untrained, undisciplined "know-it-all cowboys" to show up to an emergency with an attitude that Amateur Radio is there "to save the day". That attitude, along with "Hey, lookie here at all my latest and greatest gear" is most assuredly going to get you escorted off the scene with a firm admonition to never return.

The keys to a successful blend of Amateur Radio and Disaster Response are training, decorum, the willingness to help with ANY situation (not just communications), and above all, professionalism. The willingness to blend in, get the job done with a minimal mount of attention or hoopla to yourself or the Amateur Radio Service, are what is needed. In fact, if you follow those guidelines, the Amateur Radio Service and Amateur Radio operators WILL come out smelling like a rose, and will be asked to come back on a continual basis.

To all Amateur Radio ops who read this blog that are interested in Public Service and Amateur Radio EMCOMM - I heartily urge you to go to your Town/City, County and State RACES/ARES leadership team to request them to have this AUXCOMM class brought to your state. Regardless of your level of experience, you are going to enjoy this class and will learn things that you never knew before.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!




There’s a new radio hobby magazine in town!

Recently, a number of hobby radio magazines have either retired, or have merged into a digital mix of several. Filling that void is the new The Spectrum Monitor, a creation of Ken Reitz KS4ZR, managing editor for Monitoring Times since 2012, features editor since 2009, columnist and feature writer for the MT magazine since 1988. Ken offers this digital, radio communications magazine monthly.  The web site is at http://www.thespectrummonitor.com/

There's a new radio hobby magazine in town!  The Spectrum Monitor magazine - get your's, today.

The Spectrum Monitor magazine – get your’s, today.

Ken, a former feature writer and columnist for Satellite Times, Satellite Entertainment GuideSatellite Orbit magazine, Dish Entertainment Guide and Direct Guide, is also contributing editor on personal electronics for Consumers Digest (2007 to present). He is the author of the Kindle e-books “How to Listen to the World” and “Profiles in Amateur Radio.”

The Spectrum Monitor Writers’ Group consists of former columnists, editors and writers for Monitoring Times, a monthly print and electronic magazine which ceases publication with the December, 2013 issue. Below, in alphabetical order, are the columnists, their amateur radio call signs, the name of their column in The Spectrum Monitor,  a brief bio and their websites:

Keith Baker KB1SF/VA3KSF, “Amateur Radio Satellites”

Past president and currently treasurer of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT). Freelance writer and photographer on amateur space telecommunications since 1993. Columnist and feature writer for Monitoring TimesThe Canadian Amateur and the AMSAT Journal. Web site: www.kb1sf.com

Kevin O’Hern Carey WB2QMY, “The Longwave Zone”

Reporting on radio’s lower extremes, where wavelengths can be measured in miles, and extending up to the start of the AM broadcast band. Since 1991, editor of “Below 500 kHz” column forMonitoring Times. Author of Listening to Longwave (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/books/0024u.html). This link also includes information for ordering his CD, VLF RADIO!, a narrated tour of the longwave band from 0 to 530 kHz, with actual recordings of LW stations.

Mike Chace-Ortiz AB1TZ/G6DHU “Digital HF: Intercept and Analyze”

Author of the Monitoring Times “Digital Digest” column since 1997, which follows the habits of embassies, aid organizations, intelligence and military HF users, the digital data systems they use, and how to decode, breakdown and identify their traffic. Web site: www.chace-ortiz.org/umc

Marc Ellis N9EWJ, “Adventures in Radio Restoration”

Authored a regular monthly column about radio restoration and history since 1986. Originally writing for Gernsback Publications (Hands-On Electronics, Popular Electronics, Electronics Now), he moved his column to Monitoring Times in January 2000. Editor of two publications for the Antique Wireless Association (www.antiquewireless.org): The AWA Journal and the AWA Gateway. The latter is a free on-line magazine targeted at newcomers to the radio collecting and restoration hobbies.

Dan Farber ACØLW, “Antenna Connections”

Monitoring Times antenna columnist 2009-2013. Building ham and SWL antennas for over 40 years.

Tomas Hood NW7US, “Understanding Propagation”

Tomas first discovered radio propagation in the early 1970s as a shortwave listener and, as a member of the Army Signal Corps in 1985, honed his skills in communications, operating and training fellow soldiers. An amateur Extra Class operator, licensed since 1990, you’ll find Tomas on CW (see http://cw.hfradio.org ), digital, and voice modes on any of the HF bands. He is a contributing editor for CQ Amateur Radio (and the late Popular Communications, and CQ VHF magazines), and a contributor to an ARRL publication on QRP communications. He also wrote for Monitoring Times and runs the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Center at http://SunSpotWatch.com.  Web site: http://nw7us.us/  Twitter: @NW7US  YouTube: https://YouTube.com/NW7US

Kirk Kleinschmidt NTØZ, “Amateur Radio Insight”

Amateur radio operator since 1977 at age 15. Author of Stealth Amateur Radio. Former editor,ARRL Handbook, former QST magazine assistant managing editor, columnist and feature writer for several radio-related magazines, technical editor for Ham Radio for Dummies, wrote “On the Ham Bands” column and numerous feature articles for Monitoring Times since 2009. Web site: www.stealthamateur.com.

Cory Koral K2WV, “Aeronautical Monitoring”

Lifelong air-band monitor, a private pilot since 1968 and a commercial pilot licensee since 1983, amateur radio licensee for more than 40 years. Air-band feature writer for Monitoring Times since 2010.

Stan Nelson KB5VL, “Amateur Radio Astronomy”

Amateur radio operator since 1960. Retired after 40-plus years involved in mobile communications/electronics/computers/automation. Active in radio astronomy for over twenty years, specializing in meteor monitoring. Wrote the “Amateur Radio Astronomy” column for Monitoring Timessince 2010. A member of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA). Web site: www.RoswellMeteor.com.

Chris Parris, “Federal Wavelengths”

Broadcast television engineer, avid scanner and shortwave listener, freelance writer on federal radio communications since 2004, wrote the “Fed Files” column for Monitoring Times.http://thefedfiles.com  http://mt-fedfiles.blogspot.com Twitter: @TheFedFiles

Doug Smith W9WI, “The Broadcast Tower”

Broadcast television engineer, casual cyclist and long distance reception enthusiast. “Broadcast Bandscan” columnist for Monitoring Times since 1991. Blog:http://americanbandscan.blogspot.com Web site: http://w9wi.com

Hugh Stegman NV6H, “Utility Planet”

Longtime DXer and writer on non-broadcast shortwave utility radio. Former “Utility World” columnist for Monitoring Times magazine for more than ten years. Web site: www.ominous-valve.com/uteworld.html Blog: http://mt-utility.blogspot.com/ Twitter: @UtilityPlanet YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/UtilityWorld

Dan Veeneman, “Scanning America”

Software developer and satellite communications engineer writing about scanners and public service radio reception for Monitoring Times for 17 years. Web site: www.signalharbor.com

Ron Walsh VE3GO, “Maritime Monitoring”

Retired career teacher, former president of the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation (now the Radio Amateurs of Canada), retired ship’s officer, licensed captain, “Boats” columnist and maritime feature writer for Monitoring Times for eight years. Avid photographer of ships and race cars.

Fred Waterer, “The Shortwave Listener”

Former “Programming Spotlight” columnist for Monitoring Times. Radio addict since 1969, freelance columnist since 1986. Fascinated by radio programming and history.  Website: http://www.doghousecharlie.com/

Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL, “World of Shortwave Listening”

Founder and director of the charity Ears To Our World (http://earstoourworld.org), curator of the Shortwave Radio Archive http://shortwavearchive.com and actively blogs about short­wave radio on the SWLing Post (http://swling.com/blog). Former feature writer for Monitoring Times.

 


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