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    The LOWDOWN This Month
In the Oct 2016 issue of the club publication:
  • "DX Downstairs" Kevin Carey presents members' LF and VLF loggings.
  • "On The Air" Experimenters operating on the 160-190kHz and lower 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.
  • "On the Longwave Trail: New England & New York" by Kriss Larson.
  • "Brigantina Receiver Update" John Reed follows up with this unique Soviet era receiver.

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   Marine Radio "Night of Nights" A Success

      The Maritime Radio Historical Society reports that the annual July 12th commemorative operation went smoothly. "The event was a great success as far as we here at the MRHS are concerned. All 18 transmitters remained on the thanks to our crack Transmitter Department team. At the receive site guests took tours, vied for space at the operating positions and polished off the sandwiches."
      A defective control link scuttled the Coast Guard's plans to participate, however: "Sadly, in spite of heroic efforts, the USCG stations were not able to join us this year. But plans are already afoot for next year!"
      "Did you hear KPH/KFS/KSM or work K6KPH? Send your report to: MRHS, PO Box 392, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956 USA."
      More details can be found at the organization's Web site: radiomarine.org.

   Alexanderson Day SAQ Transmission Heard in North America

      The Sunday nearest Ernst F W Alexanderson's birthday fell on July 3 this year, and Sweden's historic 17.2 kHz World Heritage VLF station celebrated by opening to visitors and conducting two transmissions. Copy was reported from Maine to Alaska in North America, plus locations on the eastern side of the Atlantic.
      The US reports came from John Andrews W1TAG in Maine, Jay Rusgrove W1VD in Connecticut, and Laurence Howell KL7L in Alaska. You can read their comments in posts on the LWCA Message Board beginning with Message #6110 and its followups, which also include forwarded posts from other sources.
      The station's Web site is at www.alexander.n.se.

Earlier News Stories

   ARRL Files Ex Parte Statement in LF-MF Rulemaking

      10 Mar 2016 - At the end of the public comment period on FCC Docket ET 15-99 last September 31, Utilities Telecom Council, the industry organization which has long opposed amateur radio access to lower frequencies, filed a so-called reply comment that finally outlined a little detail on the type of coordination they were proposing new users of the band to undergo. In the view of many, they had been willfully vague on the subject during the proper comment period, and instead saved the essence of their proposal for literally the last minute of the reply deadline. It would have required formal coordination of all amateur operation below 490 kHz through UTC, with no requirement for timely determinations. No other respondents had a chance to address that proposal during the public comment period.
      With action expected on the docket in only a matter of weeks to a very few months now, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) submitted an ex parte statement that was accepted for filing today, addressing the amateur community's concerns with UTC's proposed requirements.
      You can read the full text for yourself at this FCC filings page. You can also read filings received during last year's public comment period through links in our earlier story, farther down on this page.

   Whither DGPS?

      Deadline for public comment on the proposed closure of all inland and some coastal longwave Differential GPS stations in the US came and went in November. The date of the proposed termination was January 16, but no notices of such shutdown had appeared on the Coast Guard NAVCENTER Web site, and listeners reported no noticeable difference in the number of stations on the air.
      We will continue to follow the story and report on any developments.

   Fewer Longwave Broadcast Closures in Early 2016

      The number of stations closing in the longwave broadcast band as we begin this New Year is not as drastic as the start of 2015, but many remain on shaky ground; and many mediumwave AM broadcasters in Europe (notably France) have gone away entirely, or will do so in a few days. On longwave, one of the more conspicuous closures is reported to be the Czech station on 270 kHz at Topolná. A later update, though, say this station remains on but at only 50 kW power.
      Several recent posts by Mike Terry in the LW Message Board provide an outline of which stations are off, which remain on, and which may be in greater jeopardy by the end of the year.

LW Resources & Additional Topics

   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, plus lists of LW broadcasters and time signals, and 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 software defined receiver.
      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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