Friday, February 27, 2015

Best Strategies For Monitoring and Storing HF Volmet and ARINC Frequencies

This author has been studying commercial aviation communications since at least the early 90s.

Everyone who monitors HF frequencies eventually finds something they like. For some people, it's the CW portion of the amateur bands, for some it's numbers stations, and for's listening to aircraft criss-cross the globe.

If you're new to this, it's important to know that you need a shortwave receiver with SSB coverage. SSB is upper and lower sideband.

If you're going to invest in an HF receiver, choose wisely. This author recommends Sangean, Kenwood, Yaesu, and Icom.

IF you REALLY have money to spend, there are two or three high end models out here that you should invest in. Those brands are AOR, Icom, and JRC.

Which models should you buy? AOR makes the AR - 8200 MK 3-B (Hand portable), and the AR - 8600 MK 2-B (Base). ICOM makes the R-75 and R-9500. JRC is also a great radio! Anything  you buy from JRC is a great investment!

With radio recommendations spoken for, we can now discuss strategies for monitoring and storing commercial aviation HF oceanic communications frequencies.

The first thing you should know is that commercial aviation oceanic comms are spread out by region.

On the west coast is Hawaii Volmet, and San Francisco ARINC. On the east coast is New York Volmet, and New York ARINC. All frequencies used by the two Volmet stations run by the FAA, and all of the ARINC frequencies are used in SSB, specifically USB (upper side band)

The next thing you need to know and commit to memory is that the frequencies used are divided by daytime and nighttime usage. Higher frequencies for daytime, lower frequencies for nighttime.

The BEST strategy this author has found to monitor both of the volmet centers and both of the ARINC centers is to program daytime volmet frequencies first, followed by daytime ARINC frequencies according to ARINC region.

Whether you go west to east, or east to west doesn't matter. Keep in mind that one of these methods is highly recommended so you can keep your memory channels and memory banks orderly.

ARINC regions are organized by "Network region".

New York ARINC regions are:

Network North Atlantic "A"

Network North Atlantic  "E"

Carribean Network "A"

Carribean Network "B"

As you see, the east coast of the U.S. ARINC system has a total of four networks.

The west coast ARINC system gets a little more complicated because they have to break up the Pacific Ocean into more strategic coverage areas.

The west coast ARINC networks are:

Central East Pacific Network 1

Central East Pacific Network 2

Central West Pacific Network

South Pacific Network

North Pacific Network

After much study, thought, and experimentation, this author found that the following memory program will more likely work for most people. All said and done, you'll need 90 memory channels since we're also going to add U.S. HF-GCS frequencies. An explanation for that will come later.

Memory Channel Assignment

WWV Daytime 1 - 20.000

WWV Daytime 2 - 15.000

WWV Daytime 3 - 10.000

WWV Nighttime 1 - 5.000

WWV Nighttime 2 - 2.5000

HNL Volmet Daytime - 13.282

New York Volmet Daytime 1 - 13.270

New York Volmet Daytime 2 - 10.051

New York Network "A" Daytime - 13.306

New York Network "A" Daytime 2 - 17.946

New York Network "A" Daytime 3 - 21.964

New York Network "E" Daytime 1 - 11.309

New York Network "E" Daytime 2 - 13.354

New York Network "E" Daytime 3 - 17.952

Carribean Network "A" Daytime - 11.396

Carribean Network "B" Daytime - 11.330

Carribran Network "B" Daytime 2 - 13.297

Carribean Network "B" Daytime 3 - 17.907

SFO ARINC Central East Pacific Network 1 Daytime - 10.057

SFO ARINC Central East Pacific Network 1 Daytime 2 - 13.354

SFO Central East Pacific Network 2 Daytime - 11.282

SFO Central East Pacific Network 2 Daytime 2 - 13.288

SFO Central East Pacific Network 2 Daytime 3 - 21.954

SFO Central West Pacific Network Daytime - 11.384

SFO Central West Pacific Network Daytime 2 - 13.300

SFO Central West Pacific Network Daytime 3 - 17.904

SFO Central West Pacific Network Daytime 4 - 21.985

SFO South Pacific Network Daytime - 13.261

SFO South Pacific Network Daytime 2 -17.904

SFO North Pacific Network Daytime 10.048

SFO North Pacific Network Daytime 2 - 11.330

SFO North Pacific Network Daytime 3 - 13.273

SFO North Pacific Network Daytime 4 - 13.339

SFO North Pacific Network Daytime 5 - 17.946

SFO North Pacific Network Daytime 6 - 21.925

At this point you'll notice a system pattern of grouping east to west and lowest daytime frequency to highest daytime frequency.

You'll notice that WWV daytime frequencies are listed first, followed by WWV nighttime frequencies. That was done as a good idea in the event you don't have a clock nearby or your clock stops'll always have a quick way to know what time it is.

WWV is also a nice way to test propagation at any given time.

Suggested Nighttime Volmet and ARINC programming / monitoring list:

HNL (Hawaii) Volmet Nighttime 1 - 2.863

HNL Volmet Nighttime 2 - 6.679

HNL Volmet Nighttime 3 - 8.828

New York Volmet Nighttime 1 - 3.485

New York Volmet Nighttime 2 - 6.604

New York ARINC Night North Atlantic Network "A" - 3.016

New York ARINC Night North Atlantic Network "A" 2 - 5.598

New York ARINC Night North Atlantic Network "A" 3 - 8.906

North Atlantic Network "E" Nighttime 1 - 2.962

North Atlantic Network "E" Nighttime 2 - 6.628

North Atlantic Network "E" Nighttime 3 - 8.825

Carribean Network "A" Nighttime 1 - 2.287

Carribean Network "A" Nighttime 2 - 3.455

Carribean Network "A"Nighttime 3 - 5.550

Carribean Network "A" Nighttime 4 - 6.577

Carribean Network "A" Nighttime 5 - 8.846

Carribean Network "B" Nighttime 1 - 5.520

Carribean Network "B" Nighttime 2 - 6.586

Carribean Network "B" Nighttime 3 - 8.918

SFO (San Francisco) Central East Pacific Network Nighttime 1 - 3.413

Central East Pacific Network Nighttime 2 - 3.452

Central East Pacific Network Nighttime 3 - 5.574

Central East Pacific Network Nighttime 4 - 6.673

Central East Pacific Network Nighttime 5 - 8.843

Central West Pacific Network Nighttime 1 - 2.998

Central West Pacific Network Nighttime 2 - 4.666

Central West Pacific Network Nighttime 3 - 6.532

Central West Pacific Network Nighttime 4 - 8.903

South Pacific Network Nighttime 1 - 3.467

South Pacific Network Nighttime 2 - 5.643

South Pacific Network Nighttime 3 - 8.867

North Pacific Network Nighttime 1 -2.932

North Pacific Network Nighttime 2 - 5.628

North Pacific Network Nighttime 3 - 5.667

North Pacific Network Nighttime 4 - 6.655

North Pacific Network Nighttime 5 - 8.915

North Pacific Network Nighttime 6 - 8.951

So far, if you're paying attention and keeping track of the Volmet and ARINC system layouts, you've noticed this overall pattern of system design and usage:

HNL Volmet has a total of 4 frequencies

N.Y. Volmet has a total of 3 frequencies

North Atlantic Network has a total of 12 frequencies

Carribean Network has a total of 12 frequencies

Central East Pacific Network has a total of 10 frequencies

Central West Pacific Network has a total of 8 frequencies

South Pacific Network has a total of 5 frequencies

North Pacific Network has a total of 12 frequencies

Now we move forward to the LDOC frequencies. LDOC is Long Distance Operational Control. These frequencies are used by flight crews who need to send messages to their operations centers.

There are a total of 6 LDOC frequencies, 4 daytime and 2 nighttime frequencies.

11.342 daytime

13 348 daytime

17.925 daytime

21.964 daytime

3.494 nighttime

6.640 nighttime

For an even more detailed technical explanation of these, and other frequencies along with a more exhaustive INTERNATIONAL listing of HF aeronautical frequencies, see the February 25th, 2015 update at the B-Town Wide Spectrum Monitor Blog by Larry Van Horn N5FPW (President Teak Publishing Company)

With all of that out of the way, let's add the U.S. HF-GCS frequencies to this list. These should be part of monitoring strategy since military aero activity and other military matters impact commercial aviation travel.

U.S. HF-GCS Daytime frequencies:

11.175 - main

13.200 back - up

15.016 back - up

U S. HF-GCS Nighttime frequencies:

4.724 back - up

6.739 back - up

8.992 - 24 hours

That's it! Hopefully, all of you enjoyed this and find it useful!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Global 24 Radio - Failure at The Outset?

Global24 Radio launched as a new shortwave service on October 31st, 2014. as with any other Halloween event, it seems that Global24 was in an eerie place from the start.

It was said that Global24 was going to revitalize shortwave radio, and Jeff White, who owns WRMI in Miami, Florida, said he was excited to see a long overdue commercialization of shortwave.

It is now the middle of January 2015, and none of these things are even close to happening. PCJ Radio International said they will no longer update their programming slot on Global 24 because of broken / unfulfilled promises on their deal with PCJ.

Here's a Global24 Forum thread where a listener calls Global24 out on their many promises that never came true, and a Global24 station staff member saying that it will be many more months:

Listeners have repeatedly told Global24 that they could not hear them, and listeners are also complaining that there has been a cold response or even a non-response to their reception reports. This Global24 forum thread reveals those woes:

One of GLOBAL24'S worst choices was to pick only one frequency for a 24 hour broadcast operation. 9395 kHz is the 31meter band, good for overnight and early morning broadcast, whereas a higher frequency is needed for daytime operation, preferably the 21 or 25 meter bands.

Rumor has it that Jeff White advised them that they needed to do something like what was described above.

At this time, we know that Global24 started broadcasting without a schedule firmly in place per their own admission. At this time, the perception is that Global24 was put together haphazardly and without much forethought.

Open Letter to The FCC - Education and Diversity in Amateur Radio

To whom it may concern at the United States Fedteral Communications Commission,

Over the last many years, amateur radio has been suffering from an image problem unlike any other form of communications media. The median age of licensed amateurs in the United States is between 50 and 90 years old. This age demographic is mostly males. There are well over 700,000 licensed amateurs in the U.S.

Out of the mostly male crowd in amateur radio, there are an unknown number of which are suffering from substance addiction, domestic violence issues in which the male partner committed great harm to the female partner, or who suffer from other problems involving a lack of basic education, secondary education, and unemployment.

The case of Brian Crow - K3VR is an example of male dominant behavior in amateur radio mostly stemming from lack of proper education.

Michael D. Elder of the Rush County V.E.C. with Jennifer Myles Dishman, recently posted a photo of themselves in a Facebook group. Above their photo together was a caption in mostly upper-case lettering. The caption was horribly misspelled, lacked proper sentence structure, lacked proper punctuation, and was overall a horrible mess to even attempt to interpret.

The referenced posting on Facebook was one more piece of evidence that the education level of U.S. amateur radio operators is on the decline. Amateur radio operators are there to help bring about international goodwill, grow the pool of electronic and communications expertise, and provide a last means of emergency communications.

How can any of the above take place when there is a lack of education? Currently, the FCC has no requirement for license applicants to prove that they possess educational competence of any kind.

Amateur radio operators who actively practice, regularly expose themselves to more than enough electricity to kill themselves, and expose communities to potential danger if their stations are not properly engineered, and if their antennas aren't safely assembled.

The study material for the FCC Amateur Radio Technician test is itself at least at the college level. Given that fact, it stands to reason that the FCC needs to start questioning how license candidates are passing these exams if they don't even have a high school language and spelling competency!

This should in no way bar a disabled person from studying for or taking any FCC exam with reasonable accommodation.

All of this begs the suggestion for the FCC to impose rulemaking that requires FCC license candidates to prove that they possess at least a college level language arts, spelling, and grammar level.

High school students still in school can be waived with a certified copy of their official school report card with no lower than a "B" average.

Along with these concerns, amateur radio suffers from a shocking lack of diversity of operators from various cultures, races, ethnicities, national origins, income levels, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, etc.

Over time, the facts have revealed that if an amateur operator reveals themselves to be non-white, low income, non-christian, or of anyother minority / marginalised group, they face great hostility and even threats to their personal safety from their fellow radio ops. TheFCC is likely not aware of this because no one is speaking up for fear of their safety.

With this now made public, we hope that our fellow licensed radio amateurs will take a step back and ask how they can help eliminate bias and bullying from amateur radio. Maybe firming a new partnership with the ARRL can be of value here.

We also ask the FCC to step in to ensure progress is made towards a heightened requirement for education and diversity.