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Topics - Dave Richards

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HF Beacons / Madonna
« on: August 30, 2022, 0001 UTC »
I didn't see a thread for Madonna, so am starting a new one. I'm guessing it has been included in the posts that some of our members make when they post all their loggings for the day.

Madonna at 4097.27 ~240 dits/minute at 4:40pm PDT (2340z) on 8-29-2022 Copyable above the S1 band noise most of the time, though occasionally dips under.
Heard on the KFS SDR. Also on KPH, with a similar report.

22 Meter Band HiFER Beacons / 22M Beacons Log 8-19-2022
« on: August 20, 2022, 0006 UTC »
The following heard on the KFS SDR in Half Moon Bay, CA -

TSN (Tucson, AZ) 13555.96 0154z S5 on a band with S3 noise. However, although the signal was easily discerniable, the spacing between the letters made copying the callsign a bit challenging. There is virtually no delay before the callsign repeats, and the spacing between the letters is such that it sounds like SNT. If it weren't for the listing on LWCA, I wouldn't have realized I was listening to TSN. Increasing the delay before the callsign repeats, by a second or two, would solve this issue.

PCO (Pine, CO) 13563.48 0206z S3-S4 (just copyable above noise)

EDIT - I heard TSN again this morning (8-20-2022), and the delay has been increased. It is easy to copy now.

HF Beacons / Gendarme
« on: April 21, 2022, 0154 UTC »
I don't see a thread dedicated to Gendarme, though I do see fairly frequent loggings of it by Teotwaki in his log threads. That's why I'm posting this in it's own thread.

I'm currently slumming it in style with my cat Sprout in my campervan. A week or so ago, we were in Prescott National Forest, AZ, from where I logged the following on my Belka-DX receiver with set-top whip -

Gendarme on ~6627 at 2115z on 4/10/2022. Very weak, but copyable, due to low band noise.

HF Beacons / Some Loggings From The Eastern Sierras
« on: November 02, 2021, 1903 UTC »
I recently returned from a campervan trip in the Eastern Sierras in California. All following loggings were taken while standing outside with the set-top whip. Frequencies are approximate, though should be to within a few tens of Hz, due to the difficulty in zero-beating this receiver when in CW mode.

Desert Whooper on 4095.65. I almost didn't bother to include loggings for this beacon, as it was a given I was going to hear it. My only criticism of DW is that it is radiating so well, that it's not exactly that hard to hear. Not much of a challenge  ;D

Travertine Hot Springs - 10/20 0217z BAT 13.1 OTMP 65 ITMP 72 PV 0
                                    10/20 0226z BAT 13.0 OTMP 66 ITMP 71 PV 0
                                    10/20 0230z BAT 13.0 OTMP 64 ITMP 71 PV 0
All above loggings were an S unit or two above noise.

Mono Lake South Shore - 10/22 0025z BAT 13.2 OTMP 76 ITMP 82 PV 106 ~ 1 S unit above noise level.
                                     10/22 0030z BAT 13.1 OTMP 76 ITMP 82 PV 106 ~ 2 S units above noise level.
                                     10/22 0035z BAT 13.2 OTMP 77 ITMP 82 PV 68 ~ 2 S units above noise level.
                                     10/23 2156z BAT 13.7 OTMP 74 ITMP 84 PV 4 ~ 2 S units above noise level with QSB.
                                     10/23 2201z BAT 14.0 OTMP 73 ITMP 84 PV 4 ~ 2 S units above noise level with QSB.

Windy on 4102.85

Travertine Hot Springs - 10/20 0244z TMP 66 B 12.0 A few S units above the noise.
                                    10/20 1150z TMP 80 B 11.9 At noise level, with very slow QSB that occasionally brought it significantly above the noise level.

Mono Lake South Shore - 10/22 0020z TMP 81 B 11.7 A little above noise level with some QSB.

Madonna on 4097.23 Fast dasher

Travertine Hot Springs - 10/20 1120z At the noise level. Disappeared below it about 7 minutes later.
                                    10/25 2013z on 4097.21 (my best estimate) ~S1 but clear.

Undetermined Beacon(s)

Independence, CA - 10/23 2205z ~4095.95 slow dasher, about 3 seconds on and 3 seconds off. At 2225, it started coming in stronger.
                              At same time as above, a beacon on ~4095.86. Sounds like fairly long dashes. Very weak with QSB.
My guess is that the first beacon was Coxie, and the second one Buddha. It's possible my frequency measurement was off by a few tens of Hz.

Alabama Hills near Lone Pine - 10/25 2020z ~4095.85 ~3 or 4 second dashes, with ~ 2 seconds between each dash. Just above noise but clear. Am thinking this was Coxie.

I also logged the Part 15 beacon FJB from the Alabama Hills, and have reported it in the Part 15 forum.

For outings like these, I need a small and portable receiver, with accurate frequency readout, and a built-in spotting tone. As I see it, the only option is a KX2. I want something I can slip in my pocket and go on a walk with, but that also has the performance of a communications receiver. The Belka-DX is the closest I have been able to come to this so far, without incurring the cost of a KX2.


22 Meter Band HiFER Beacons / "SPT" Campervan Beacon on 13557.89 KHz
« on: October 19, 2021, 2322 UTC »
I've had a little Part 15 beacon in my campervan for a while now. It's running a few mW to an untuned 12 foot length of wire in the fiberglass muffin top of the van. I don't think it gets out very well when parked at home in the city. However, in open flat terrain, I can easily hear the ground wave over a mile away. Have not yet tested the limits of the groundwave.

Am currently traveling south on US395, from the Nevada state line, in the direction of Lone Pine, and maybe even further south than that. My beacon is on all the time 24/7, except for any times I am SWL'ing.

It sends the letters SPT at 6wpm on 13557.89 KHz 10 or 20Hz, depending on ambient temperature. SPT stands for Sprout, my little cat, who is traveling with me. I don't imagine anyone will hear SPT, but you never know........

Not sure if there's anyone here who does production for their stations, but good old Aunty Beeb just released a huge archive of 16,000 sound effects for download. They are free for personal, educational or research purposes, and can be licensed for commercial use.


What type of automation software do you use on your Part 15 station?  I know that some folk use applications like WinAmp and iTunes to act as a basic player. For operators who want more advanced functionality, the sky's the limit if you're prepared to pay. However, for us hobbyists, who tend to have fairly strict budgets, there are some free options -

1) Rivendell is open source radio automation software for Linux. I have not used it but, at the forum I used to frequent, there was a broadcast professional who loves it. I understand that it has a lot of
    functionality that should satisfy many experienced broadcast types. You can find it at http://www.rivendellaudio.org/

2) Zara Radio is a Windows-based radio automation software. This is the one I use. I'm not sure if the paid version is still available, but the free one is. The free one has not been updated
    in quite a few years, but I am running it on an early version of Windows 10 with no issues at all. My automation laptop used to be connected to the internet. It received regular Windows
    updates, but this was creating problems. The need to reboot the computer was a big one, and not desirable on a machine that I wanted to run continuously, 24/7. Then, there was an update
    that was causing Zara to become choppy and unreliable. I disconnected the laptop from the internet, and rolled the OS back to an earlier version. That was something like 2 years ago, and it
    has been running continuously, completely smoothly, with no issues.

    Zara has some great features. It can automatically announce the time, which I set mine to do at the top of the hour, along with the top of the hour station announcement and ID. It provides for
    some great ways to automate your programming. Sound bites, promos, PSA, commercials, or any other programming elements, can be placed into a folder. Then, at set times, Zara will look in
    that folder and play one file in it. It can select them randomly, or play them in strict rotation. Also, if you have a number of audio files that need to always play in the same sequence, you can
    create a sequence file, with the file extension .seq, and schedule that to play in Zara. For instance, every Sunday at 5pm, my station airs an episode of a big band show called "Fred Hall's Swing
    Thing". There is a pre-produced show opener, then the episode itself, then a pre-produced show closer, which promotes the time the next episode will air. These 3 programming elements are
    saved as a sequence file. One of the elements in that sequence file is another type of file - a rotation file, with the file extension .rot. This is for the specific episode of the show. It's an old
    show, for which new episodes stopped being created long ago. I have all available episodes (1,002 of them) in a folder. Zara plays the episodes in strict rotation - one every week. With 1,002
    episodes, it will be many years before they start repeating.

    The above are just some examples of how well suited Zara is to radio broadcasters. It's a lot of useful functionality for free. The free version is available at http://www.zarastudio.es/download.php

How do you schedule your songs and other audio files for broadcast? Simple solutions are fine. I've spent way too much time on this over the last few years, and do appreciate that it's not as much of a pre-occupation for others. All answers are valid. I'm keen to know what you do.

I built this little beacon back in May of last year, but only just got around to mounting it permanently outside. It is powered by a small solar panel, with no battery. As a result, it operates during daylight hours only, coming on 30 minutes to an hour after sunrise, and going off-air 30-45 mins before local sunset. It works on bright and moderately bright cloudy days, but does struggle a bit when the clouds are particularly thick and dark. I've thought about adding another panel or even a battery but, for the time being, am considering the slightly quirkiness of it's operating hours as part of it's charm.

It sends the letter "BRS" at 10wpm, in honor of my neighbor's cat Boris. Power is a stunning 1mW to a half-wave dipole in a slightly bent configuration on a second floor balcony. With such low power and a compromise antenna, I'll be amazed if anyone hears it. The plan is to run it at 10wpm for a few months then, if it has not been heard, to change to QRSS.

The frequency is a nominal 13556.9 KHz, which varies up and down by a few 10's of Hz, depending on the ambient outside temperature.

I hope it's OK to post this link. There's some more info, and pics, here -


Hello there, fellow HiFERs. I'm very happy to see a dedicated HiFER section on these forums.

I am scratch-building a little beacon that will put out about 2mW into a horizontal dipole on top of my property fence, at about 7 feet above ground. It will be a bit of a cloud-warmer, I think, but I'm interested to see how it will get out. It will be powered by a single small solar panel with no batteries, so will be operational during daylight hours only. I hope I won't be missing the valuable grey-line propagation time with this approach, but we'll see how it goes. It should be on the air sometime this week. As it sits on the bench, it is coming up on around 13556.91 or thereabouts.

My question to the group is what you think an ideal code speed is? I want it to be fast enough to be copyable to the ear, so no QRSS. I have a personal preference for something around 10 - 12wpm, as anything slower bores me somewhat. However, I want the decision to be driven by what is most likely to be copyable to listeners struggling with what will almost certainly be a very weak signal. The beacon's callsign will be BRS, in honor of my neighbor's cat Boris.

I'm thinking that a relatively high speed would maximize the chance of copying the entire callsign before any fading takes the signal out, so I'm veering towards around 10wpm. What do you guys think?

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