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Author Topic: New HF Feed  (Read 18397 times)
InterpreDemon
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« on: March 26, 2013, 02:54:46 AM »

Just got the HF feed on-line. Coverage is New York Radio on 6577 and 5550 kHz using two "boat anchor" receivers, an R-390 and an R-390A coupled in frequency diversity mode to another even bigger boat anchor, the rarely seen CV-157 SSB, ISB converter... the total tube count between all three rigs is about ninety, so we'll be watching the listener count to be sure all that power consumption is worth it. Right now it's not a problem in the winter because they keep the shack warm, but in the summer I'll have to kick on the A/C or find a pair of "sand state" radios I can severely modify so as to make them work almost as well as real ones.

Anyway, those rigs were designed for this type of operation and the result is not entirely unexpected. The radios themselves function primarily as "HF down-converters" for the CV-157 converter, which is nothing more than a very sophisticated 455 kHz receiver. The buffered IF outputs on the R-390's are combined and fed to the CV-157, which does the product detection of the sideband intelligence and provides an AGC signal back to both receivers to control their gain. In this manner you can receive two different frequencies at one time, the stronger signal/radio taking priority over and even suppressing the weaker, which is the only way you could ever listen to two HF frequencies at the same time.

The procedure / schedule for New York Radio on this feed is roughly as follows. Flights departing the New York area or transiting to the Caribbean or North Atlantic routes will generally make their first contact with ARINC on VHF 129.9, which you can listen to on a dedicated feed out of KJFK. On that frequency they will be given their first HF frequency assignments prior to reaching their entry point, give their last position report over that point and then switch to HF for a SelCal check. Flights south and east generally will be assigned to the initial ARINC operator I am covering with this feed, and the frequency will change throughout the day, with the current assigned frequency becoming the new back-up frequency as the new primary frequency is assigned.

So, at about 0900Z in the morning the current frequency may be 5550 with the back-up 3.455, then around 1200Z it would be 6.577/5.550, then a few hours later 8.846 / 6.577, then 11.396 / 8.846, etc. Going higher during the day and coming back to 6.577 by the late afternoon or evening, then transitioning from 6.577 to 5.550 any time between 0200Z and 0600Z (10PM to 2AM EDT) and then down to 3.455 for the overnight until the rooster calls. Of course these times are approximate and depend upon band conditions as well as the volume of traffic. By far, 6.577 has the most coverage of the greatest amount of traffic both in the morning and evening, and 5.550 is second as these flights go well into the night. During the late night transition you will hear calls on both frequencies and the same controller sending them to whichever he or she is working as the primary.

Given my location relative to the ARINC HF site on Long Island, I rarely can pick up the ground station higher band signals during daytime, they skip over me and I cannot pick them up on ground wave, so I never have done much listening during those times. However, between 6.577 and 5.550 I get pretty much continuous activity from 2100Z through 0600Z and 1000Z and 1600Z, so it's a good place to hang out if you can handle the static. One receiver will always be tuned to 6.577, but if I am around during the daytime I may dial in the current primary, or perhaps one of ARINC's phone patch frequencies like 6.640 or 8.933 instead of 5.550 on the second receiver, and if up overnight (like now) I may tune in 3.455, but generally there is so little traffic at those hours it is not worth staying up, let alone bothering to tune the radio. So I'll do the best I can to keep it interesting.

Here's the link for your player: http://www.liveatc.net/play/hf_car_ct.pls

Happy listening!

Oh, and here's a picture of the old junk pile feeding it:
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 03:08:46 AM by InterpreDemon » Logged

Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
K5PAT
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 10:57:50 AM »

Nice rack Demon. Back in the 70's I had an R-390A and an SP-600, which is an R-390 look-alike. They both were fine stable receivers, but they took up a lot of room in the shack and put out a lot of heat in the Louisiana summers so I finally sold them and bought a smaller rig.
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 11:28:05 AM »

Pat - If you look to the left you'll see my SP-600, which got a paint job and moved from the shack to the living room. And I know the routine, find the random signals with the SP-600 by tuning that big, beautiful, smooth dial, then crank them in on the '390 while you go look for more. Over many years that is basically how I found and knew about almost all the aviation, military and pirate HF frequencies long before the internet and without benefit of any publications.

But I agree that all that stuff is going to get pretty hot this summer even in CT, so I am looking for a pair of Yaesu FRG-7's or Drake SSR-1's that I can modify and bundle together in the same manner.
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Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
JetScan1
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 07:18:36 PM »

Nice setup ! Thanks for providing the feed ! What sort of antenna are you using ? Not sure what HF conditions have been like recently or where we are in the sunspot cycle but I was just wondering if you ever try any further away aeronatical stations covering areas like the South Atlantic, South America, Africa, Pacific, Polar regions and what reception was like ?

Years ago (the late 80's) I remember being able to work aeronatical stations like Dakar, Tripoli, Recife (now Atlantico), Arctic, Tokyo, Honolulu, Brisbane, Manila, Tahiti from the east coast of North America using a little Sony-ICF 2010 and a 30 foot peice of copper wire as an antenna. I have not seen conditions that good in recent memory.   
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2013, 08:04:27 PM »

I was listening to Dakar the other night, as a matter of fact, and at certain times of the year I get most of the traffic from Europe to South America, Middle East, Pacific... pretty much everywhere. I could have dialed in just about anything, but I felt this pair of frequencies will give the most consistent, reliable entertainment. Just have a few more tweaks to perform to get things "just so". Right now there is something way back in the grass on 5550, which I believe might be Tuva Radio, which broadcasts on 5550 USB out of the Republic of Tuva on the border of southern Siberia. I have never been able to pull them in strong enough to get a positive ID, it could just be pirates or fishermen, but now that there will be archives it may be possible to figure out who they are. They seem to be in there strongest between 00Z and 04Z.

In answer to your other question, I use a 60m half wave dipole at around 30 ft elevation aligned E/W, which puts the gain pattern to the N/S. I could have it higher, ideally it would be at around fifty or sixty feet, which would give me NY ground station reception during the day, but I found out years ago that it also improved my lightning reception as well, so I keep it low. Most of my listening is sky wave anyway, and lower elevation increases the elevation angle of the pattern.

Finally, regarding reception years ago, I think you will find most SWLs, and amateur astronomers as well, of many years complaining of much greater radio and light pollution, and that is just a fact. On certain bands I can count upon "birdies" every so many Kc, in fact I get some type of switching supply that walks up and down through the night frequency of 3455 about half the time, so the cumulative effect of millions of those babies radiating out via power lines and such is certainly disheartening.

At least LiveATC gives those with the passion who have to live in impossible reception conditions to be able to listen thanks to those who are in marginally better conditions.
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Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
RonR
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 10:25:49 AM »

Hey ID, nice setup!  I'm not sure my 200A LIPA electrical service would be enough for those monster radios  grin

You mentioned you can hear Dakar...how well can you hear them?  I have a Yaesu FRG-8800 and use a simple long wire antenna.  With that I can also hear Dakar on 5565 and also on 6535 (5565 is better though).  It's not the best reception but it is understandable.  I can also hear Piarrco on 6649 with this basic setup.

I've found that 6577 seems to be the primary most of the day, even into the nighttime hours.  But just like you, my location on Long Island doesn't let me hear the higher frequencies that NY Radio uses further south (like 11330 or even 8918) during the day.  I've also used the Yaesu further away in upstate NY and didn't have much luck there either with the higher frequencies.  Too bad...Do you know if NY ARINC uses any transmission antennas outside of those on eastern Long island?  Or is everything on Long Island?

Ron
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Feed Provider:
ZBW/ZNY/ZDC (JFK Area) 1
ZBW/ZNY/ZDC (JFK Area) 2
ZBW/ZNY/ZDC (JFK Area) 3
ZBW/ZNY/ZDC (JFK Area) 4
ZBW (CLIPR32/HTO31)
ZBW (DXR19/SOUTHIE49)
KLGA Gnd
KLGA Dep
KLGA Twr
NY App (Liberty/North)
KLGA App (HAARP)
KLGA Del/ARINC/TCA
InterpreDemon
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2013, 11:47:29 AM »

Capturing all these things depends upon time of day/year, and with sky wave any radio will do when the band is in. Most of my "discovery" phase with aviation and military HF was years ago with an 80's Radio Shack DX-400 portable with the built-in whip antenna, which is actually a pretty good radio overall and not bad for sideband considering it does not have a product detector. In fact I am strongly considering picking up a pair of them to brew up a low power/heat replacement for the current setup in the summer months when precipitation and static crashes level the playing field even for fabulous receivers like the R-390. My recollection is that that radio performed very well on the higher bands during the day as well, and I used to listen to both sides of the conversations on 11.396 and 8.846 all the time. But that was years ago and possibly in a different solar cycle. I am also considering the old "frog" Yaesu FRG-7 or Drake SSR-1, both which use the Wadley Loop for very good "pre digital age" stability, have product detectors and can be modified to run in diversity mode.

One thing is for sure, I want to keep this feed up because just as that ARINC VHF feed bridges the gap between VHF departures and their entry into and HF, 6557/5550 bridge them to points further along, and the coverage is as reliable and predictable as VHF, which means good listening. Now that Dave has reorganized the HF feeds to make it easier to follow by frequency assignment, we basically have continuous coverage of a JFK departure all the way to Europe or the Caribbean. The only gap we have now is on the arrival side with 133.5 high oceanic approach. We can get the planes OK from the location of the VHF ARINC feed in RVC, I have a remotely programmable test receiver down there and I can pick up every single check-in coming in from the south at 280-300 miles distant, but cannot pick up the ground station down at Barnegat except under unusual band conditions and low tides. So what we really need is somebody who can feed that ground station regardless the airborne coverage, even if it means combining it with the airborne side from the ARINC feed.
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Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
InterpreDemon
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2013, 11:25:09 PM »

Well, as promised, I got a couple of those Radio Shvt DX-400 receivers going and was able to turn off the "furnace rack" for the summer. Had to modify them significantly (they were decades beyond warranty anyway) and brew up some sharp pass filters for each frequency, but they are running fine and actually sound reasonably good, all things considered, and they won't require daily attention like the big rigs, so I may actually be able to leave the feed up when I go on vacation.

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Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
Rob K
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2013, 06:30:37 PM »

Hi "Demon",

Appreciate your feeds, they are good for catching selcal codes.  Could I ask if it's possible to lose the 129.9 VHF feed please?  It is blocking out many of the HF transmissions and selcal codes, plus 129.9 is already provided by another feeder to this site.

What is your frequency schedule please?  I notice it's not mentioned in the listing like the other HF feeds.  It is nice to see that it now runs on 8846 through the daytime instead of 6577.  I am surprised how well you are picking up 8846 from your location actually.  grin
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2013, 08:07:00 PM »

Rob, I am the one who supplies the "other" 129.9 feed as well, but that one has a different coverage pattern (omnidirectional) and includes 129.4, which can REALLY be annoying when phone patches are going on. This 129.9 has a special phased array to pick up the Caribbean entry points, which means you hear the current HF frequency assignments. I like being able to get both with one feed, but also agree with you that it gets in the way at times. What I will probably do is rig up a priority circuit where the HF audio cuts out the VHF, or I will only add the VHF when the HF bands are dead anyway, or ditch it altogether... haven't decided yet.

As to the addition of 8846 during the day, that has been experimental, but will shortly become permanent when another radio or two arrive. Though 11396 can occasionally come in well, their use of it is not very predictable, whereas 5550, 6577 and 8846 are fairly predictable and come in well during the periods of greatest use... which is always nice.

This is what the setup will be over the summer with the solid-state radios running now (the big tube gear is off until I need the heat in the shack next Fall), and it will take another week or two for me to get there:

1. There will be three radios, each peaked and optimized for 6577, 5550 and 8846, however only two will be active on the stereo feed at any given time. 6577 will always be on the right channel (actually the channels are not discrete, the audio is panned about 45 degrees aurally to the left and right) and either 8846 or 5550 to the left.... that is what is going on right now, but with the addition of VHF 129.9 directly in the center.

2. The radios are rigged with "poor man's diversity", meaning their AGC lines are tied together, so the stronger signal on either radio will actually negatively suppress the weaker signal on the other radio, which makes things a bit more intelligible, however it will not match the seamless performance of the two R-390's feeding the CV-157 converter you were listening to in the first month or so, where you were not aware which frequency they were talking on unless they happened to mention it. That is why I added a bit of stereo separation with these "rice box" radios, because they are each detecting and generating their own audio instead of simply feeding their IF into a single converter. On the positive side, they have significantly better frequency stability than the tube rigs did and do not have to be re-tuned a few times a day like the others did. I don't know if you realized that this HF feed has always been two (sometimes more) simultaneously received channels, which is why there was no need for a schedule... you were listening to 6577 and 5550 at the same time, with others thrown in additionally from time to time.

3. ... But I can't do that type of blending and get the same performance with the cheap solid state radios running now, so we will only listen to two frequencies at a time. The automated schedule is probably going to be, as I said, 6577 at all times on the right, 8846 on the left from about 11:00Z through 01:00Z and 5550 from 01:00Z through 11:00Z. If I am around and 11396 (or higher) is active during the day I may plug that into the center instead of VHF, etc. It's a works in progress and all I am trying to do is put together a nice, busy channel to listen to that has some continuity of traffic.

4. As to the 8846 reception, that is actually going to get better pretty soon, in fact all three channels will because I am replacing my 65m dipole (which is not even close to being resonant at any of the frequencies we like) with a perfectly tuned trap dipole designed to pick up all three with a match under 2/1, so I suspect things will be sounding pretty good in another couple weeks.
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Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
Rob K
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2013, 06:05:48 PM »

Hi, thanks for the detailed response.  Clearly an excellent set up!  grin   

I've been listening for the past hour and the signal strength is great but still having a lot of issues with 129.9 blocking them out sadly.  As this already has a separate stream on this site may I make the suggestion that if people want to listen to 129.9 as well then they can simply run that feed in a separate browser tab ?
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2013, 09:45:54 PM »

Well Rob, I for one do most of my listening on my iPod, and doubtless many others on their smart phones and such, so I cannot listen to two streams at the same time, and I like listening to both. As I said, I will be working out a priority circuit that will squelch out or significantly pad down the VHF audio when HF transmissions occur, but in the meantime I will just cut the volume of that audio down so you only make it out when the HF is quiet. I'm in the middle of building and erecting the new antenna and getting the third 8846 receiver going, and when that is all finished I will figure out what to do with the VHF. Unlike you, I do not despise VHF communications and I do not really differentiate between ARINC frequencies and bands, only the traffic, and I just feel that since 129.9 is the entry point to ARINC for the three HF frequencies I am covering it's nice to be able to listen to all four... it is the same cadre of radio operators working 129.9 as HF, you can recognize them as they work that position, and most of the time the activity is serial, the pilots check in on VHF, get their HF assignment, do their first position report and then switch over to HF. After all, even receiving the multiple simultaneous HF frequencies can occasionally get confusing because when things are really busy or an operator gets bogged down they will sometimes transmit on the primary and backup at the same time using two operators, but it happens so rarely it is not worth fussing about. In the end, it will all get worked out with the objective being the maximum continuous (and contiguous) activity 24/7 with the least amount of confusion.
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Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
Rob K
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« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2013, 04:12:19 AM »

Well Rob, I for one do most of my listening on my iPod, and doubtless many others on their smart phones and such, so I cannot listen to two streams at the same time, and I like listening to both. As I said, I will be working out a priority circuit that will squelch out or significantly pad down the VHF audio when HF transmissions occur, but in the meantime I will just cut the volume of that audio down so you only make it out when the HF is quiet. I'm in the middle of building and erecting the new antenna and getting the third 8846 receiver going, and when that is all finished I will figure out what to do with the VHF. Unlike you, I do not despise VHF communications and I do not really differentiate between ARINC frequencies and bands, only the traffic, and I just feel that since 129.9 is the entry point to ARINC for the three HF frequencies I am covering it's nice to be able to listen to all four... it is the same cadre of radio operators working 129.9 as HF, you can recognize them as they work that position, and most of the time the activity is serial, the pilots check in on VHF, get their HF assignment, do their first position report and then switch over to HF. After all, even receiving the multiple simultaneous HF frequencies can occasionally get confusing because when things are really busy or an operator gets bogged down they will sometimes transmit on the primary and backup at the same time using two operators, but it happens so rarely it is not worth fussing about. In the end, it will all get worked out with the objective being the maximum continuous (and contiguous) activity 24/7 with the least amount of confusion.

Hi.  I don't "despise" VHF comms at all; not sure what gave you that idea  huh.  In fact I listen to the 129.9 feed quite often because, like you say, it's handy for ascertaining which HF freq is in use.  The issue I have is that it's transmission overload.  In an ideal world it would be great to have more than 1 pair of ears but unfortunately we were only "made" with 1 set and it's extremely hard work trying to "process" 2 or more simultaneous transmissions; what usually winds up happening is you miss both.  I speak from experience here as I usually run Chuck's 8918 feed alongside yours.  smiley
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2013, 10:56:26 AM »

Just a place marker
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 01:31:26 AM by InterpreDemon » Logged

Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
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