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Author Topic: Two beacons on 27MHz CW, mystery? Can anyone id location/purpose for me?  (Read 8755 times)

Offline Looking-Glass

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Over the past two years I have been hearing "5ABH" on 27.878MHz CW during daylight hours here, it transmits "5ABH" three times in CW then a tail then keys off for four minutes, runs on a four minute cycle. 

It is not in Australia, the Pacific Islands or USA region but somewhere in Asia, a friend in the Philippines says he has it beaming to China best.  Three friends in Japan have confirmed it's not in Japan either.  It is not a Drift Net or other fishing beacon, been on too long for that.

My friends in Japan said it could be a university "propagation beacon" or a spy beacon from either China, Vietnam or Asiatic Russia etc.

"5ABH" also has a sister by way of "IR2" CW on 27.003MHz same transmission format and has been around for a number of years.  There have been reports of "4IBH" on 27.385MHz CW also heard in Australia during daylight hours from the north, it has the same cycle/format as "5ABH".  I have yet to hear this one.

Both 5ABH & IR2 were last heard yesterday, Saturday 23rd January 2016 during an Asian opening.

Google searching and looking at other Utility DXing web sites have given me not one clue.

Any one help?  73 Jack Mt Piddington, NSW, Australia (Yaesu FT-1000D to multi band vertical and 240 feet random wire.)
Trundle, NSW.

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Offline R4002

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These could be fishing net buoy beacons - used by fishermen to find drift nets.  They tend to operate in the 1600-2000 kHz (1.6-2.0 MHz) and 26-30 MHz range and usually transmit a CW identifier at low power.  The CW identifier is usually somehow related to the associated ship's radio callsign or name.

Here's a well-compiled list of 26/27 MHz fishing drift net buoy beacons and their IDs:

http://www.qsl.net/n2sln/driftnetbeacons.html

There are several "real" 27MHz 11 meter beacons as well, most of them in the 27500 - 27600 region, although there are others, mainly operating within the "legal 40" CB band (26965-27405) on 27125, 27140 and others.  27500 is the "official" 11 meter beacon frequency, apparently.  CW activity has been heard on this frequency as well as PSK31.

The frequencies you list - 27878 and 27003, aren't on any 11m / 27 MHz beacon lists I've found.  

Here's a list I've compiled from a couple different sites:

27125 kHz - 16mW power - California - 2QRP and AOH - "AOH" in CW
27140 kHz +/- 3 kHz - 500mW power - France, IDs in CW - 14RS000 followed by a long tone burst.  
27175 kHz - unknown power - Thailand - 153SD101
27405 kHz - 1W power - Germany - 1 pip a minute
27499.6 kHz - 2W power - Moscow, Russia - 50KS00 in CW
27500 kHz - unknown power - Mexico City - pips in CW
27500 kHz - unknown power - Greenland - Voice ID in USB "38 voice beacon"
27501 kHz - 25W power - Kansas - 2KP
27504.4 kHz - 1W power - France, IDs in CW/PSK31 - 14RS000 (may have moved to 27140 kHz)
27540 kHz +/- 5 kHz - 1W power - East Coast USA - FM signal modulated with tone, no ID.  10 kHz wide FM signal.
27550 kHz / 27610 kHz - 25W power - Costa Rica - IDs in CW as "69BY".  Apparently moves around in frequency.  Originally on 27500 kHz.  Also on 6775 kHz, 13555 kHz, and 40680 kHz.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 2209 UTC by R4002 »
U.S. East Coast, various HF/VHF/UHF radios/scanners/receivers

Offline Token

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Over the past two years I have been hearing "5ABH" on 27.878MHz CW during daylight hours here, it transmits "5ABH" three times in CW then a tail then keys off for four minutes, runs on a four minute cycle. 

It is not in Australia, the Pacific Islands or USA region but somewhere in Asia, a friend in the Philippines says he has it beaming to China best.  Three friends in Japan have confirmed it's not in Japan either.  It is not a Drift Net or other fishing beacon, been on too long for that.

My friends in Japan said it could be a university "propagation beacon" or a spy beacon from either China, Vietnam or Asiatic Russia etc.

Not quite sure why you say it is not a Drift Net beacon, the format is identical to known drift net beacons in both the 26 - 29 MHz range and the 1.6 - 2.2 MHz range.

For example a family of beacons around 1.7 MHz is a regular in my log books, and I have seen them in operation for over 4 years, 5ADW, 5ABW, 5AFA, 4MUD, 4MGI, and 4OJT.  They all send their CW IDs 3 times, then a 3 second long tone, every 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

I am not sure what a "spy beacon" would be.

Drift Net beacons are my guess.

T!
T!
Mojave Desert, California USA

Offline R4002

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My guess is that "spy beacon" is akin to "channel marker" or some sort of propagation beacon used to indicate that 11 meters/27MHz is open.  

Token is right - some of these drift net beacons stay on the air for very long periods of time.  They're using relatively ineffecient antennas (for the 1600-2200 kHz range anyway) but as far as 26-30 MHz goes, they're likely running a base loaded 1/4 wave whip with the entire ocean as a ground plane.   ;D
« Last Edit: January 25, 2016, 1202 UTC by R4002 »
U.S. East Coast, various HF/VHF/UHF radios/scanners/receivers

Offline Looking-Glass

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Thanks for you input gentlemen, however, the general opinion is that they are not related to fishing beacons, I have debated this with some friends in Japan, Philippines and Australia and the reason being:

1.   They have been on for a number of years, fishing beacons come and go, these are consistent and are there every time the band is open.

2.   My friend in the Philippines has the best beam heading having 5ABH as in China, he says the Chinese are up to weird things across the HF spectrum.

3.   The beam heading to China is consistent, if they were fishing net beacons drifting about the heading would change.

4.   Fishing beacons on 27MHz often have two, three or four on the same frequency, 5ABH and IR2 are on stand alone frequencies and have never been joined by other beacons.

Token may be close as the callsigns he has mentioned for 1.7MHz comes close to 5ABH, also the transmission format is identical too.  There is also 4IBH on or around 27.385MHz CW, stand alone frequency also heard in Victoria and Tasmania over the past few years, I am yet to hear this on to date.

Thanks to R4002 for that listing, will have a look for those from time to time, the mystery continues, personally, I think there is more to them than simple old fishing beacons... ;)
Trundle, NSW.

Grid Square:  QF37ub

Yaesu FT-1000D, Yaesu FT-2000D, ICOM IC-736 HF/50MHz, ICOM IC R75 & Tecsun S-2000 to 450 feet of wire, 27MHz 1/2 wave CB antenna converted to 21MHz & a multi band vertical of dubious reliability.

Offline R4002

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IF they're not fishing buoy beacons I'd say their purpose is military/government and they are "channel markers" or propagation beacons - used for the same purposes the channel marker beacons in the lower parts of HF are used for - indicating that a certain frequency band is open for propagation to a certain area.  

27.878 MHz is far enough away from most "freeband" activity for it to be a military/government user.  I imagine the Chinese could care less about frequency allocation plans in the end anyway.  I do know that the 25-30 MHz band is heavily used in in the Asia/Pacific region - take a look at this video - showing the 10 meter band completely overrun by AM intruders using 28 MHz for two-way voice traffic, recorded in Thailand:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70fed-lAcxM

The 25-35 MHz region is sometimes used for Over-The-Horizon Radar (OTHR) and 27MHz is often where these things end up.  There are also ionosondes operating near or in conjunction with the OTHR activity.  Perhaps the 27878 signal is related to that. 

After all, 26-28 MHz is Japan's "1w DSB (double side band) fishery radio" band.  Here in the USA, there was a carrier on 27.650 MHz that I was able to hear 24/7 for several years (likely coming from a local military base) that could have been for a same purpose).  It has since disappeared.

27.385 MHz is CB Channel 38 and that happens to be one of the more active 11-meter frequencies out there.  It is the North American SSB Calling Frequency and has been for decades.  I know that frequency (along with 27.355) is heavily used for the same purposes in Australia/Oceania.    
« Last Edit: January 26, 2016, 1441 UTC by R4002 »
U.S. East Coast, various HF/VHF/UHF radios/scanners/receivers

Offline Looking-Glass

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R4002, I think you are near the target, China does run it's own show on HF with scant regard to international spectrum allocations.  CB radio in Australia on 27MHz is dying away, empty channels are common in the major cities, back in the late 70's through to the early 1990's CB was everywhere on 27MHz, CB shops have also disappeared in Australia.  UHF CB is reasonably popular in Australia and although not heavily populated there are plenty of repeaters to chat on.

In our mornings here I also have a listen to 27.025MHz AM and cannot believe the massive signals from some stations in the USA, Switchblade, John Deere, Magnolia and West Side seem to dominant 025 AM, they must be running the Full Gallon (1 Kw) and probably more.  Same applies to 27.085MHz AM which the group mentioned alternate between, some big signals from Hawaii also on 27.085MHz AM during our afternoons, sometimes 10dB over on the meter.

Amazed how many old fashioned Radio Telephones still in operation in the Philippines too, mostly between 16.100 to 16.700MHz USB unscrambled, broken English, Tagalog and sometimes English used, very strong here at night. 

The allocation 25-29MHz in this region is full of Indonesian, Japanese, Burmese and Philippine AM stations, some are fishing trawlers, taxi cabs, trucking companies, inter-island trading companies and other little businesses, I don't think Indonesia has any spectrum enforcement, any thing goes 25-29MHz.

New Zealand CB is still on the 26MHz part of the band, but like Australia, has decreased in popularity over the years, truck drivers can be heard on 26.450MHz AM CB when the band is open.  Most Australian truckers are on UHF CB, very few on 27MHz these days.
Trundle, NSW.

Grid Square:  QF37ub

Yaesu FT-1000D, Yaesu FT-2000D, ICOM IC-736 HF/50MHz, ICOM IC R75 & Tecsun S-2000 to 450 feet of wire, 27MHz 1/2 wave CB antenna converted to 21MHz & a multi band vertical of dubious reliability.

Offline R4002

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I read somewhere that New Zealand legalized use of the "American 40" CB channels in addition to their 26.330 to 26.770 MHz allocation, giving 80 possible channels with the two allocations 26330-26770 and 26965-27405.  I could be wrong though.  I know New Zealand has the same UHF CB as Australia.

When you say "old fashioned radio-telephones" you're referring to duplex (or half-duplex) telephone interconnecting services using HF frequencies for communication between ships and shore stations?  Or are you talking about regular HF-SSB (USB) marine traffic?  

27025, 27085, 27265 and 27285 are the "big radio" AM channels in the USA.  27085 is CB channel 11 - which, back when CB was first allocated as a 23-channel service and required a license, CH 11 was the "calling" channel, CH10 was the "truck" channel - later changed to CH19, and CH9 was the "emergency" channel.  Many older 23-channel radios labeled 11 as such, with 9 labeled in red.  Now, channel 9 (27065) is commonly used by Latin American stations as an AM calling channel, much like 11 is used by English-language stations.  There are several out-of-band frequencies (mainly below channel 1) that are used for similar purposes.  26565, 26575 and 26585 are the busy ones for Spanish language.  26775, 26815, 26835 and 26915 are the busy ones for English language.  Next time 27025 is rolling in, check those frequencies as well.  On the SSB side, the busy ones are usually 26555 LSB and 27455 USB (both for Latin American stations). 

25-29 MHz is "anything goes" south of the US-Mexico border too.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2016, 2236 UTC by R4002 »
U.S. East Coast, various HF/VHF/UHF radios/scanners/receivers

Offline Looking-Glass

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The mystery surrounding 5ABH & IR2 deepens, I had two friends who live on Guam Island check out both beacons and they found the following, using tri-band HF beams:

5ABH  27.878MHz  CW   160 and 170deg from Guam for maximum signal.

IR2     27.003MHz  CW  180deg from Guam for maximum signal.

That places the two beacons between Papua New Guinea and the southern fringes of Micronesia.  5ABH was last heard here yesterday at 0300z 539 report, IR2 also yesterday 519 report.

Slowly getting there I guess... ;D
Trundle, NSW.

Grid Square:  QF37ub

Yaesu FT-1000D, Yaesu FT-2000D, ICOM IC-736 HF/50MHz, ICOM IC R75 & Tecsun S-2000 to 450 feet of wire, 27MHz 1/2 wave CB antenna converted to 21MHz & a multi band vertical of dubious reliability.

Offline Teotwaki

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Interesting topic! Please keep the reports coming.
Jim
NRD-525, Elecraft KX3 and Elecraft PX3 Spectrum Display
76' end fed long wire & 66' off-center fed dipole for 10/20/40 meters
Orange County, SoCal, The better half

Offline Looking-Glass

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Just had 5ABH come in today (Monday 29th Feb 2016) for a good seven and a half hours with signal ranging from 419 to 569 report on 27.878MHz CW, however, no sign of IR2 down on 27.003MHz CW.

A friend of mine in Taiwan suggested that these beacons maybe "Master Beacons" established by a fishing company (Taiwan, Japan, South Korea etc) to indicate to trawler captains if there is propagation to a certain area and thus indicating if they should/can hear own their drift net beacons.

Seems to make sense as these beacons have been on air for a number of years now, if they were a drift net beacon they would have periods of non transmission as the beacon and nets would have been hauled aboard the trawler. 

Maybe the beacons are set up in some small island country, CB antenna, solar panel to a battery and low power beacon keyer common on amateur radio.

I tend to go along with the Master Beacon theory, which would explain their presence for a number of years now and seemingly running 24 hours... ;)
Trundle, NSW.

Grid Square:  QF37ub

Yaesu FT-1000D, Yaesu FT-2000D, ICOM IC-736 HF/50MHz, ICOM IC R75 & Tecsun S-2000 to 450 feet of wire, 27MHz 1/2 wave CB antenna converted to 21MHz & a multi band vertical of dubious reliability.

Offline Teotwaki

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Currently both 27 MHz CB and 28 MHz Ham signals are propagating extremely well. Might be a good time for beacons in this frequency range.

Jim
NRD-525, Elecraft KX3 and Elecraft PX3 Spectrum Display
76' end fed long wire & 66' off-center fed dipole for 10/20/40 meters
Orange County, SoCal, The better half