The LOWDOWN This Month|
In the August 2014 issue of the club publication:
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- "DX Downstairs" Kevin Carey presents members' LF and VLF loggings.
- "On The Air" Experimenters operating on the 160-190kHz and 136kHz bands... and...
- "The Top End" MedFER and HiFER beacon lists... and ...
- "The LF Notebook" Conducted by John Davis. News from, for and about LWCA members.
- "News From the Old World" Alan Gale keeps us informed of LF news from the "other side of the pond."
- "Natural Radio" Conducted by Mark Karney.
- "518 kHz Elliptical 50 Ohm Low Pass Filter" by John Andrews.
- "600 Meter Snapshot" from the WD2XSH quarterly report by Fritz Raab.
|| ||HAARP Given "Reprieve" of Sorts Until 2015|
Still, dismantling continues as if facility being nibbled to death by ducks.
The Department of Defense says it is postponing "irreversible" destruction of the once-controversial ionospheric research facility at Gakona, Alaska, for a year. However, academic organizations seeking a serious opportunity to negotiate for continued operation of the site question how removing critical test instruments, transmitters, generators, and even the vast antenna array itself, constitutes anything but irreversible dismantlement.
Once the target of all sorts of conspiracy theorists, HAARP came to the attention of the longwave community when the Navy experimented for a time with generation of ELF waves by thermal excitation of the ionosphere, via modulation of upward-directed high energy HF signals. That was only one of its uses, however. Others included research for the Air Force into the effect of various disturbances on signals passing through the ionosphere, and various programs of pure research on the nature of the ionosphere itself, largely conducted by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The program, which cost about $3 million to maintain and operate, fell victim to drastic federal budget cuts of the past several years.
Since many licensed amateur operators have been part of research teams who worked at the site, this recent development was the subject of a detailed ARRL news report that may be worth your attention.
| ||Atlantic Crossed Below 9 kHz with 150 μW ERP!
On June 2 (UTC), 2014, noted British DXer Paul Nicholson in Todmorden, UK, received transmissions emanating from the site of Dexter McIntyre W4DEX in Stanfield, NC, in the United States, below the low end of the allocated radio spectrum. The GPS referenced signal at 8970 Hz was clearly the strongest peak among 6500 Fourier transform bins, particularly after Paul combined the output of his two receivers with loop and Marconi aerials for a bit of directionality. According to Paul's report, "At 2014-06-02 12:00 Dex altered the TX frequency for a blind confirmation test. Six hours later the carrier had vanished and a new signal appeared at 8971.100 Hz with the same strength. An email response from Dex confirms 8971.1 as the new frequency. Range W4DEX to Todmorden UK is 6194 km." (3840 miles)
Paul's detailed reception report and spectra of the captures, along with details and pictures of the transmitting setup, can be found at the W4DEX Web site. As with most amateur VLF work, the transmitter features a high performance audio power amplifier, a remarkable homebuilt loading coil, and an almost unbelievable matching tansformer. The antenna is the same one that Dex has used for his previous MF, LF and VLF Part 5 licensed experiments.
Previous experiments in the sub-9kHz region have mainly been conducted in Europe, such as the kite-based transmissions of Stefan Schaefer DK7FC. His page contains a good introduction to what has been done so far, and links to additional resources.
Although frequencies below 9 kHz are not formally allocated in most countries, some administrations do require their citizens to obtain special permission to operate there anyway. Furthermore, some countries do have an explicit allocation of frequencies below 9 kHz, and it is probable that most nations soon will. Canada, for instance, allocates 8.3-9.0 kHz for meteorological aids. There is growing pressure internationally to set aside those frequencies for lightning detection networks.
|| ||SAQ Transmissions Copied on Both Sides of Atlantic
The world's only remaining Alexanderson alternator was operated at 17.2 kHz on the 29th of June to commemorate Alexanderson Day, and in addition to being widely heard in Europe, was also copied by W1VD in Connecticut and KL7L in Alaska.
An additional transmission was made this year on the morning of July 2nd, also copied by W1VD.
The station's Web site can be found at www.alexander.n.se.
| ||Canada Gets 630 Meters...Sort Of
Industry Canada published a revised Table of Allocations on Thursday, 1 May, incorporating the WRC12 ITU band of 472-479 kHz, with up to 5W ERP. Word of the change was spread over the weekend by Joe Craig on the RSGB LF reflector, and RAC announced the move on 5 May in their newsletter. It may be worth noting that as of late May, IC's RBR-4 — Standards for the Operation of Radio Stations in the Amateur Radio Service did not yet incorporate the allocation into the frequencies authorized for the amateur service.
| ||Further Updates to LWCA Library
We have adopted a new approach to making material available in the LWCA Library. Rather than trying to maintain index pages for every possible topic, we have now made it possible for the Site Search button at the top of this page to locate all types of files in the library. Site Search used to return results only for conventional HTML Web pages or plain text. But since many of the items these days are images, sound files, or PDF articles, we've now added metadata so that the search engine can easily track down the information you're looking for. A few more improvements are in the works, but it's already quite efficient. Two or three relevant keywords about what you are seeking will turn up nearly everything we have on the subject. Give it a try!
As mentioned before, the official annual Code of Federal Regulations update of the FCC Rules is nominally published on October 1 each year, but got delayed considerably this past fall by the notorious government shutdown. The various volumes of Title 47 Telecommunications have only slowly trickled onto the US Government Printing Office Web site. The remainder of the missing Parts (0-20) finally became available in the closing days of January. We have retrieved the ones most relevant to our hobby and mirrored them in the LWCA Library. Visit the Library's Reference Section to read or download complete texts of Parts 2, 5, 15, and even 97 in PDF form. Some excerpts are also available as quick loading Web pages.
| ||Related Longwave Sites|
William Hepburn's DX Information Centre has probably the best online list of aero and marine beacons based on official license information, lists of LW broadcasters and time signals, plus numerous resources for other types of DXing as well.
The searchable RNA database of LF beacons...not compiled from official sources, but a digest of signal reports from experienced listeners in North and Central America. It's a great tool for identifying those unknown signals. It won't always be up-to-date regarding decommissioned beacons, of course. This might somewhat limit its usefulness in targeting specific beacons to listen for, but it's still helpful if you pay attention to the most recent reported date for a given beacon.
Radio Waves Below 22 kHz Renato Romero's eclectic collection of topics pertaining to both manmade and natural radio signals from near DC to the upper end of audibility. Includes the VLF Open Lab, and articles by many contributors...some fairly orthodox, and some not. Visit: www.vlf.it
| ||QRSS and WOLF Software
Rik Strobbe's QRSS software (for transmitting extremely slow CW) is usually available from our file library, but while it is temporarily out of service, you can obtain QRSS and Rik's other useful software at the ON7YD download page.
Continuing Development of Argo. Alberto di Bene posts the latest version of Argo, a receiving tool for displaying slow CW, that performs FFT spectral analysis and displays it in ways optimized for QRSS. Many of the transoceanic LF amateur records were set using Argo at the receiving end. Argo has somewhat similar performance to Spectran, but interacts better with the user's soundcard and is customized for QRSS modes.
WOLF. Stewart Nelson devised this unique mode, a variant of BPSK. See his announcement of the MS-DOS version for more details. Now, a GUI-based version by Wolf Büscher continues to increase the mode's popularity. Find the new software at the DL4YHF site.
Spectrum Lab, at that same link, is another of Wolf's creations. In conjunction with your computer's sound card, not only is it an especially advanced spectrum analyzer, but it's also a filtering and sound processing tool, and can serve as the demodulator part of a receiver, implemented in software.
Slow CW for Linux. Claudio Girardi (IN3OTD) has released Slow CW software for users of the Linux operating system, currently v 0.42. The program (called glfer) contains both transmit and receive capability, the latter including an FFT-based spectrum analyzer somewhat similar to those found in popular Windows Slow CW programs.
As with much open-source software in the X-world, you have to compile the C source code yourself. Users will also need additional code libraries. Links to those, plus downloadable source code, can be found at Claudio's glfer page.
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