Posts Tagged ‘utilities’

DX’ing The ‘Utilities’ – Pt. 2

Unlike the growing scarcity of good HF maritime DX targets, there is still a large amount of HF aero activity to enjoy! Even with the move to satellite comms, there is still, at any given time of the day or night, hundreds of aircraft using HF radio to communicate with controllers, companies and home bases. Both commercial aviation and the military, as well as many privately owned aircraft, use the HF communication networks to keep them flying safely. From trans-oceanic 777s' and military transports to single engine float planes in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska, the sky is alive with DXing opportunities!

A huge percentage of commercial aircraft are delegated to moving freight and many of them can be heard on HF radio. Many of the planes in use are retired passenger planes that have been reconfigured for moving cargo. Back when I did this type of listening, older DC-8s seemed to be particularly popular, especially on the nightly South / Central America to Florida routes. I suspect that nowadays, these have been replaced with older DC-10's and 747's.


'FINE AIR 432' was logged on March 24,1996 at 0435Z while working Miami Radio on 6637kHz. The DC8-51F (Freighter) was over Bogota while enroute from Lima to Miami.




'NIPPON CARGO 083', a 747-200F, was logged
on 8891kHz working Baffin Radio. They were reporting position "LT", a waypoint above Alert, at 82-31N / 62-12W, westbound on Polar Track "Quebec".
The freighter was enroute Amsterdam to Anchorage.



The Antonov 124-100 is a gigantic Russian built freighter - capable of transporting in excess of
120 tons. This is aircraft "RA-82045" which was logged as 'HEAVYLIFT 878' in June, 1996.



Operated by Volga-Dnepr, 'HEAVYLIFT 878' was working Dakar (Senegal) Aeradio on 6535kHz reporting FL240 and position 13-14N / 24-26W enroute Cape Verde Islands to Sao Paulo, Brazil.


'AFM 01' was a DC8-55F logged while working Brazzaville Radio (Congo) on 8903kHz. It was at FL350, enroute Harare, Zimbabwe to Kano, Nigeria at the "MPK" waypoint, 250 miles east of Kinshasha, Zaire. Brazzavile was advising of 'crossing traffic, same level...please say intentions'... Yikes!
On another evening I heard the Dakar (Senegal) controller advise a British Speedbird 747 to 'go to flight level 330 ... please go now ... go very very fast'. I don't think I'll be flying in Africa anytime soon.


'AFM01' (Affretair) was Z-WMJ, shown here on final approach to Gatwick.



'PACIFIC AIR EXPRESS 3517' was heard on 8867kHz working Brisbane Radio while over the Coral Sea. The Lockheed L-188C four-engine turbo prop was enroute Honiara to Brisbane with a load of fresh tuna destined for the Japanese market. N360Q, shown on the ground at Honiara, was leased from the states and operated by Charrak Air.



The U.S. military is still active on HF radio and some interesting catches can be had. During the testing phase of the 'cruise' missile, the missile navigation systems were tested over the Northern Territories and Alberta. Once dropped from their B-52 launch platforms, the missiles were tracked across Alberta by Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft (ARIA). 'AGAR 93' was heard on one such mission on 11176kHz. 'AGAR 93' was # 81-0893, an EC-18 (modified Boeing 707) out of Wright Patterson' 4950th Test Wing. According to the aircraft commander who signed my verification, the aircraft was approximately 1 hour S.E. of Namao, Alberta. One can easily see why # 81-0893, shown here, was affectionately known as "The Beast".


'DOOM 81' was a gigantic B-52H from the 96th Bomb Squadron, stationed at Barksdale AFB, LA. The appropriately named big bomber was heard on 11176kHz while working Ascension Radio and was just about to rendezvous with their mid-air refueler when the mission was aborted. This was the first and only B-52 that I was ever able to confirm.

 

'ROMA 99' was logged on 17975kHz while working Thule Radio. They were taxiing for takeoff at Dulles International in Washington D.C. and reporting a minor fuel-pump problem. 'ROMA 99' was a KC-135R Stratotanker, # 62-003512, from the 509th Air Refueling Squadron at Griffis AFB, NY.



'REACH 71839' was heard on 11176kHz while working Albrook AFB, Alaska. Tail # 65-0239, this 'REACH' flight was an aging C-141B Starlifter, at one point, the Air Force's major transporter. 'REACH 71839', out of McChord AFB, was enroute Brazil to Puerto Rico.



There's still plenty to be heard on HF, outside of the amateur bands and a quick internet search on 'Utility DX' will turn up several interesting and informative sites ... each one having an abundance of related links to follow. Here are some that will be helpful:

               **************************************

A freshly updated list of all active HF aero frequencies. Also check their list of active aero 'callsigns'

http://monitor-post.blogspot.ca/p/this-international-hf-aero-frequency.html

If you can catch an aircraft's four-letter SELCAL code, often given during waypoint checks, you can search here for more info on the actual aircraft itself:

http://www.airframes.org/reg/b18305 

The Milcom Blogspot:

http://mt-milcom.blogspot.ca/

DX’ing The ‘Utilities’

After building the house here on Mayne Island, in the early 90's, it was several years until I was able to set up a dedicated station. In the meantime, I limited my radio activities strictly to listening. I had a nice Icom R-71A set up in a hall closet and spent my radio-time, mostly on weekend evenings, listening to maritime CW, HF aeronautical traffic and, of course, NDBs below the broadcast band. My HF receiving antenna consisted of three inverted-V's ... one for 160m, the second for 80m and the third for 40m ... all fed from the same coaxial line at the top of a 70' Balsam. It didn't take long to realize what an exceptional radio location I had, living right at the edge of the ocean, with dozens of miles of saltwater in most directions other than due west.


I really enjoyed following evening airline flights across both the North and South Atlantic, and in the early winter afternoons, following the commercial air-traffic all over Africa. Even though listening on 5 or 6MHz, I was amazed at how strong the signals from airliners over Africa at 30,000 feet or more could become, this far to the west. In the early mornings, directions were reversed and traffic from the far east, right into India, was fairly common. Often, small single-engine planes, usually run by various missionaries, could be heard while on the ground, taxiing at remote field locations and calling in via HF radio to request takeoff and flight-following.

Now, QSL's have always been one of my top radio interests and it wasn't long before I started sending and collecting verifications for both the aircraft and the ships I was hearing ... once I had figured out how to get my reception reports to their proper destinations. A very small portion of my 'utility' QSL collection is shown below. For the most part, it consists of PRC's or 'Prepared Reply Cards', with blank portions to be filled-in by the verification signers. Surprisingly, my return rate was around 90% and verifications were often returned with long, hand-written letters and numerous photographs ... especially from the ship RO's, as I suspect their days at sea were often quite monotonous. Even many of the military and commercial aircraft pilots would return a handwritten note along with the filled-in verification card, which I found even more surprising. It seemed that most were very surprised to hear that their radio transmissions were even making it this far and could be heard so readily.

Some of the most interesting catches came from the Pacific, with a large variety of ships operating out of Japan. There are probably still several maritime CW stations operating in Japan. Many of these were owned and operated by commercial fishing companies and could be heard working fleet vessels throughout the Pacific on their daily CW skeds.

This interesting catch from the North Pacific was the Japanese 'fisheries research vessel' 'M/V FUJI MARU'. She was about 1200 miles NW of her CW contact, JNA in Tokyo.


A Japanese cruise-ship, the 'M/V ORIENT VENUS' was logged early one summer morning while working JNA on 8355 KHz CW. Her position indicates she was in the Mariana Islands.







One of my first catches from the Great Lakes
was the 'M/V Oglebay Norton', a huge bulk
carrier out of Detroit. Her 150W signal was loud and clear late one August evening while in contact with WLC, Rogers City Radio.




The U.S. Coast Guard is still one of the best QSLers around.
Several of their stations will QSL with a nice printed card.
NMC (San Francisco) and NMO (Hawaii) were two
catches, regularly heard on the old 500 KHz calling
frequency.


Stormy weather often provided a good chance
to catch a search and rescue mission in progress.

'Rescue 6008' was an HH-60J helo enroute from
Chesapeake Bay to Elizabeth City, North Carolina during
a midnight rescue operation.





Although not my farthest HF maritime catch,
this was one of the most surprising. 'C4PC'
was heard early one February evening on 8 MHz CW, when conditions seemed terrible. No other ships were heard on the band at the time. As I learned later, the 'M/V MAIROULI' was at anchor near Beirut, Lebanon, a distance of nearly 7,000 miles from Mayne Island.

                                                                .... cont'd

Show Notes #077

Introduction:

  • We’re recording live, with music played as we record. Our guest tonight is Harrison, VE2HKW, from the MintCast podcast.

Announcements:

  • The Dalton Hamfest will be in Dalton, Georgia on February 25, 2012. The LHS Ambassador is Ronny, K4RJJ. This has probably come and gone by the time you hear this.
  • The KARC Hamfest will be held in Marietta, Georgia, March 17, 2012. Our LHS Ambassador is again Ronny, K4RJJ. Thanks, Ronny!
  • The Northeast Linux Fest will be in Worcester, Massachusetts on March 17, 2012. We’re still looking for an LHS ambassador for this event. Contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to help.
  • Some of you may have noticed that the LHS web site has been down occasionally. For some reason, the server locks up. We can’t tell if it’s a denial of service attack, or an improper configuration, but we’re working on it.
  • Paul, KE5WMA, in the chat room, reminds us of the Acadiana Hamfest on March 9, 2012, near Lafayette, LA., and the New Orleans Hamfest on March 24, 2012.
  • Happy Mardi Gras!

Topics:

  • Linux Utilities – Russ introduces us to some GNU/Linux utilities that provide information about your Linux system’s performance.
    • top shows a list of the processes running in descending order of resource consumption.
    • iftop allows you to monitor connections to your machine and the bandwidth used by each.
    • ifstat reports the amount of data passing through the interfaces every second, or other interval. For example, ifstat -i eth0 10 1 would report how much data moved through the first ethernet port in 10 seconds, and only do this once. Handy for capturing such information in a script program.
    • iotop shows what processes are the top disk I/O users.
    • All of these are command line utilities. Press Q to exit. Check the man pages for other keystrokes that can be used while the utilities run.
  • Interview with Harrison, VE2HKW
    • Harrison, VE2HKW, is a recent ham radio licensee and describes his introduction to the hobby, what he likes and doesn’t like, and provides an overview of the Canadian amateur radio licensing structure.
    • Harrison is also a member of the Covey Hill Amateur Radio Club (CHARC).
    • Check out Harrison’s blog and pictures of his ham shack.
    • Tune in to the MintCast podcast on Monday nights, 8:00pm eastern time, 01:00 UTC. Join the chat at irc.spotchat.org, #mintcast
    • You can contact Harrison by email at [email protected] or [email protected]

Feedback:

  • We received donations from Steve S., Paul G., and Bill H. Thank you! These donations will be added to the Dayton Hamvention fund to cover the costs of LHS’ presence at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention in Dayton, OH, May 18-20, 2012.
  • LHS had several mentions on Twitter by Neptune78.
  • Serge, ON4AA, asks about using the LHS logo to publicize the show. Russ explains that the LHS logo is not Creative Commons licensed, so please ask for permission to use it.
  • Larry Bushey of the Going Linux podcast responds to recent comments we made about their show. It’s a love fest!
  • Leif, KC8RWR, continues an ongoing comment dialog.

Contact Info:

Music:

  • “Rainbow Over The Bayou” by Regis V. Gronoff, from the album Hummingbird & Honeybee, courtesy of Jamendo
  • “Twist and Shout” by Swamp Daddy, from the album Swamp Daddy, also courtesy of Jamendo.

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