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Messages - Seamus

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HF Beacons / This morning
« on: November 08, 2009, 1405 UTC »
Scanned my list this morning, at around 13:30 UTC, and heard a few:

  • OK - weakly, but discernible by ear, with some QSB
  • BLINKY - fantastic signal, as usual
  • PIKE 78 - 78 dashes per minute, strong signal with clean keying and no chirp, but all the way down at 8000.75.  Had some fade, but when it was up, it sounded like it was in my back yard.
  • TS - weakly, in deep fades.

Location: upstate South Carolina
Radio: IC-718
Antenna: 400-foot longwire @ 40 feet (seems to have a strong north-south pattern)

I received some parts yesterday to put up a new antenna, but need to wait for the stores to open today for a couple of pieces that I forgot to order.  This will be a shortened dipole, rather than the "signal magnet" longwire, but it will be oriented in an east-west direction.  Hopefully, it will work to bring in the western beacons a little better.

I'm also expecting two orders of assorted RF and electronic components to arrive early in the week - I wonder what I could make with them.....?

HF Beacons / The sun came out...
« on: November 03, 2009, 1917 UTC »
I had parked the radio on CO's frequency, and had been listening to it earlier as it got weaker and weaker, presumably as the battery slid down its discharge slope.

Rather suddenly, I started hearing noises out of the speaker - a distinct beep, but wandering all over the place before finally settling down into a familiar rhythm:

I guess the sun finally came out in CO-land...

HF Beacons / Re: Hearing some this afternoon
« on: November 03, 2009, 0454 UTC »
Giving another run through the list a bit later tonight (04.38 UTC):

OK - good, strong, clean signal
Something - possibly WW, though maybe MO or TMP - around 4.078 - not enough to see clearly, even on the spectrogram; not consistently audible above background without the screen to look at
Ditter at 4.089 - again, almost-but-not-quite.  Just enough audible to think there might be something there, with a column of ants just visible in the right place on the spectrogram
Pike 78 - some fading, but strong when it's up
TS - pounding in strong, with easy copy and clean signal

HF Beacons / Hearing some this afternoon
« on: November 02, 2009, 2238 UTC »
I finally got a chance to program some beacon frequencies into my radio, so I'll no longer have to punch them all in by hand.  I figure I'll be much more likely to scan my list if all I have to do is push a couple of buttons instead of doing a "data entry" chore on the keypad.

Beacons heard @ 22.30 UTC:
BLINKY (booming in as usual - I think I'm in the prime skip zome for this one)
Pike 78
TS (good, strong signal, there)
CO (with a message)

Location:  upstate South Carolina
Radio: IC-718
Antenna:  400-foot longwire @40 feet (appears to have a north-south orientation -- working on putting up an east-west antenna, too)

HF Beacons / Re: Chirpy CO
« on: October 27, 2009, 2257 UTC »
Got a much better-sounding signal this evening, apparently on battery, instead of solar:

Recording:  http://www.rthtg.net/beacons/co_battery_27-oct-2009_22-20.mp3

Some fading in the evening, but still good copy.

Location:  upstate South Carolina
Radio:  IC-718
Antenna:  400-foot longwire (mostly north-south pattern) @ 40 feet

HF Beacons / Chirpy CO
« on: October 27, 2009, 1836 UTC »
Caught CO on the air, producing a series of strong hooks on the waterfall:

Recording:  http://www.rthtg.net/beacons/co_27-oct-2009_18-18.mp3

Sorry about the "listening through a tube" effect on the audio - I had the narrow filter inline to knock down a bit of local noise.

HF Beacons / UFO sighted in South Carolina
« on: October 20, 2009, 1634 UTC »
Hearing UFO from its new digs:

It's in there, though it's in and out of the noise floor.  Then again, it's off the side of my antenna, which favors a north-south direction.  I'm waiting on a couple of parts to get a new east-went antenna up, though it won't be as big as the one I already have in the treetops.  Looking forward to seeing if it'll help me hear some of these out west of here a bit better.

Location:  Upstate SC
Radio:  IC-718
Antenna:  400-foot longwire @40 feet

HF Beacons / Is this Echo?
« on: September 23, 2009, 0230 UTC »
Tuning around tonight, I heard Pike 78 and Blinky bleeping away, and OK doing a fair job of making it through some local interference.

I also heard what I believe to be Echo at 10.236.900:

My "cheat sheet" also shows a FL Dasher near the same frequency.  The nature of the signal - 1 pulse per second - may or may not be described as a "dasher", so I'm unsure as to whether or not this was Echo. 

Or are Echo (at 10.236.900) and the FL Dasher (10.236.700) actually the same beacon, but on my sheet with two different names and frequencies?

HF Beacons / Re: UFO is flying
« on: September 22, 2009, 1636 UTC »
Nice catch Seamus what is your location?
QTH is upstate South Carolina.
Radio is an Icom IC-718.
Antenna is a remote-balun 400-foot long wire, up about 40 feet in the trees.

HF Beacons / Re: UFO is flying
« on: September 21, 2009, 2321 UTC »
Just tuned it in, and sure enough, down there in between the static crashes from the storms headed this way, U...F...O...   ;D

HF Beacons / Blinky, Pikes, OK, and MO (sort of)
« on: September 21, 2009, 0247 UTC »
I tried to listen for UFO tonight, but had no joy.
I did manage to grab a few more on my list though:

MO was just barely in there even on the waterfall, but all of the others I was at least able to make out by ear (Pike 26 took some rhythm to get the pulse count right in between the fades)

I'm having a lot of fun pulling these signals out of the mud, and even beginning to wonder just what is involved in selecting a frequency for building a new beacon...

I downloaded msstv program, but have no idea how to integrate it with the remote receivers on the internet..any suggestions..

In my experience, this will vary depending on your sound card, and more specifically, how it allows you to route the audio coming from it.

The audio built into my current machine's main board offers no provision for looping the output back around to the input, so the only way I have found to get the SSTV program to work with that one is to physically connect the line out to the line in and let it listen to itself.  Doing this ties up the output, so you may need to either use a second output for your speakers, or a Y cable in order to listen to it and feed the SSTV program at the same time.

I have a second sound card though.  That one (an old Creative Sound Blaster Live card) has provision for an internal loopback (called "What U Hear" in the recording selections), which feeds the output back around to the input internally.  Enabling this can lead to some nasty feedback if you have a mic enabled too, but it makes it easy to feed the output of the player that's handling the stream from the Internet receiver into the slow-scan software.

Using a second sound card is a bit tricky sometimes, since you end up having to point programs at the right sound source and output (and a lot of them don't have that option - they just use whichever one you have set to be the default in the system settings), but it makes connections a LOT simpler if you want to use the computer for radio purposes and as a normal machine, too.  No fiddling with wiring or connections - one sound card is just for normal use, and the other one is always hooked to the radios and ready to go.

HF Beacons / Re: New Antenna - beacons heard!
« on: August 16, 2009, 0422 UTC »
They're mostly buried down in the noise, but I'm making them out by ear after a minute or two of listening (and knowing what to expect at a given frequency, thanks to the "cheat sheet" on the website).  The computer's analyzer helps a lot with locating them, as I can see that they're there visually before I can actually make sense of what I'm hearing down in the hash.  I may think that I hear a beep or two around a spot on the dial where I expect to find something, but looking at the waterfall gives me an idea of what that frequency has been doing over the last few seconds, so I can spot trends better and figure out if there's really a beacon down in all that mud, or if it's just my ears playing tricks on me.

I'm new at this whole low-power beacon thing, so I figure it's just training for hunting entirely by ear later on.

HF Beacons / New Antenna - beacons heard!
« on: August 15, 2009, 0500 UTC »
Having just moved into a new QTH (upstate SC), I have been installing a new antenna: 400 feet of wire, about 40 feet up into the trees.  Hooked it up today to test it out, and WOW!  I'm like a kid in a candy store (or a ham in a radio store), amazed at every new signal this thing pulls in.  Spinning the knob and fishing for some beacons tonight, I found:

Pike 78 (pretty sure that's the one), MO, OK, and - just barely peeking through the noise - A. 
A has been in and out a bit as I type this, but it's sort of making the trip, so I'll include it in the bunch.

HF Beacons / First beacon reception
« on: August 11, 2009, 0130 UTC »
I just moved into a new location in upstate South Carolina, and am still getting my radio gear set up.  I got a little bit antsy, and fired up the radio with just an attic wire antenna and no ground yet.

Punching in the frequencies listed on the wiki page, I was happy to see a signal come across the spectrum display when I punched one of them in.

It isn't much for a first beacon reception, but for what it's worth, I believe that to be Blinky fading in and out of the noise floor; 5.157600 at 00:57 UTC on 11 August 2009 - approximately 45 dashes per minute.

I hope to have more and stronger signal reports in the future, as I get some real antennas and ground lines run in.

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