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.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Al Holt, who writes:
Your readers may be interested in tuning in the daily (except Sunday) broadcasts of Marine Weather Center on 4045 and possibly 8173, 12,350 kHz. These broadcasts use upper sideband mode. https://www.mwxc.com/index.php
It’s described as, “custom weather and routing information for small vessels in the Caribbean Sea, Bahamas and United States East Coast,” and is based near Lakeland, FL.
As a subscription weather service for pleasure craft, but they provide an interesting roundup and forecast of weather in this area of the world. They do take questions and traffic from subscribing vessels at the conclusion of their broadcast.
I am usually am able to receive the omnidirectional broadcast on 4045 kHz here in northern Florida. But, their coverage at greater distances is pretty good I think.
The chart below (taken from their ‘Services’ page https://www.mwxc.com/marine_weather_services.php ) shows this broadcast starting at 1100z, but I usually hear them closer to 1200z and that may be due to atmospheric conditions. I haven’t had much success catching their later transmissions. I’m not sure how often their webpage gets updated and schedule changes are probably relayed privately to their subscribers.
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this information, Al.
Post Readers: I know there are a number of SWLing Post readers who sail and cruise (some on very long voyages)—I’m curious if any use the Marine Weather Service regularity. Please comment!
LONDON (Reuters) – The risk of cyber attacks targeting ships’ satellite navigation is pushing nations to delve back through history and develop back-up systems with roots in World War Two radio technology.
Ships use GPS (Global Positioning System) and other similar devices that rely on sending and receiving satellite signals, which many experts say are vulnerable to jamming by hackers.
About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea and the stakes are high in increasingly crowded shipping lanes. Unlike aircraft, ships lack a back-up navigation system and if their GPS ceases to function, they risk running aground or colliding with other vessels.
South Korea is developing an alternative system using an earth-based navigation technology known as eLoran, while the United States is planning to follow suit. Britain and Russia have also explored adopting versions of the technology, which works on radio signals.
For those who receive (and send) flight data from ADS-B capable devices such as the RTL-SDR dongles or have Apps for their tablets and phones, FlightAware announced on Wednesday this change to their service:
Hi from FlightAware,
After months of development, we released a large upgrade to our back-end flight tracking engine on Tuesday. Not only did the upgrade include dozens of bug fixes and flight tracking improvements, but we added a massive enhancement for US and Canadian flight tracking — the flight status and radar data is now live with no more five minute delay! Previously, the US/Canada data feed contained a five minute delay in addition to our ~30 second processing time, but now all data is less than a minute delayed from real time. In addition to the general improvement, this yields a lot of additional benefits:
More seamless transition between RADAR, ADS-B, and MLAT positions
Flights will no longer transition from “Arriving soon” to “Arrived 5 minutes ago”
Fewer estimated positions due to delayed RADAR data
Now that the radar data in the US and Canada is real-time, we’ll soon be enabling public MLAT data in the US, which is real-time just like our ADS-B data.
This is a major upgrade in data for folks in North America, and it will make using programs like PlanePlotter even more useful!
For those who might be interested in building their own dedicated ADS-B receiver, information may be found here. Of course FlightAware may be used as an online flight checking service just for tracking the progress of a given flight, which is in itself a lot of fun!
Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Brian D. Smith (W9IND), for the following guest post and recording.
Note that Brian could use your help to ID a few unidentified broadcasters in this recording. If you can help, please comment:
Shortwave Radio 1974: Canada, Argentina, Spain, West Germany, Albania, utility stations
Want to know what shortwave radio sounded like in 1974?
This 55-minute recording, recovered from a cassette, was never intended to be anything but “audio notes”: I was an 18-year-old shortwave listener who collected QSL cards from international stations, and I was tired of using a pen and a notepad to copy down details of the broadcasts. I wanted an easier way to record what I heard, and my cassette tape recorder seemed like the perfect means to accomplish that goal.
But it wasn’t. I soon discovered that it was simpler to just edit my notes as I was jotting them down — not spend time on endless searches for specific information located all over the tape. To make a long story shorter, I abandoned my “audio notes” plan after a single shortwave recording: This one.
Hallicrafters S-108 (Image: DXing.com)
Still, for those who want to experience the feel of sitting at a shortwave radio in the mid-1970s and slowly spinning the dial, this tape delivers. Nothing great in terms of sound quality; I was using a Hallicrafters S-108 that was outdated even at the time. And my recording “technique” involved placing the cassette microphone next to the radio speaker.
Thus, what you’ll hear is a grab bag of randomness: Major shortwave broadcasting stations from Canada, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Albania; maritime CW and other utility stations; and even a one-sided conversation involving a mobile phone, apparently located at sea. There are lengthy (even boring) programs, theme songs and interval signals, and brief IDs, one in Morse code from an Italian Navy station and another from a Department of Energy station used to track shipments of nuclear materials. And I can’t even identify the station behind every recording, including several Spanish broadcasts (I don’t speak the language) and an interview in English with a UFO book author.
The following is a guide, with approximate Windows Media Player starting times, of the signals on this recording. (Incidentally, the CBC recording was from July 11, 1974 — a date I deduced by researching the Major League Baseball scores of the previous day.)
Guide to the Recording
0:00 — CBC (Radio Canada) Northern and Armed Forces Service: News and sports.
7:51 — RAE (Radio Argentina): Sign-off with closing theme
9:14 — Department of Energy station in Belton, Missouri: “This is KRF-265 clear.”
9:17 — Interval signal: Radio Spain.
9:40 — New York Radio, WSY-70 (aviation weather broadcast)
10:22 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Music.
10:51— Unidentified station (English): Historic drama with mention of Vice President John Adams, plus bell-heavy closing theme.
14:12 — RAI (Italy), male announcer, poor signal strength.
14:20 — Unidentified station (Spanish): Theme music and apparent ID, good signal strength.
15:16 — Unidentified station (foreign-speaking, possibly Spanish): Song, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.”
17:00 — Deutsche Welle (The Voice of West Germany): Announcement of frequencies, theme song.
17:39 — Unidentified station (English): Interview with the Rev. Barry Downing, author of “The Bible and Flying Saucers.”
24:36 — One side of mobile telephone conversation in SSB, possibly from maritime location.
30:37 — Radio Tirana (Albania): Lengthy economic and geopolitical talk (female announcer); bad audio. Theme and ID at 36:23, sign-off at 55:03.
55:11 — Italian Navy, Rome: “VVV IDR3 (and long tone)” in Morse code.