Utility Dxing

Up until arriving in Europe in 2006, I had not really dabbled too much with utility dx. Back in the early 80’s I briefly played with RTTY and used to tune into TASS and Reuters news agency transmissions on Shortwave and then decode it via a decoder box onto my Siemens printer.  Andrew Lord and Bill Babb of the Australian Radio Dx Club were guys that explained it all to me. Using the huge Siemens printer and having to print out all the transmissions on rolls of paper was not exactly a great way to go. Not only that, the printers were noisy, smelly and very heavy to move around. A printer was not something you could take away on Dxpeditions.  I would often visit my friend Daryl at the Thornbury Post Office in Melbourne, Australia and he would supply me with rolls of  Postmaster General telegraph paper to keep the machine running. They were very wasteful machines.

Siemens RTTY printer

On a Dxpedition to Walsoorden in 2009 with the guys from DX Antwerp club, I rediscovered utility dxing. But this time nearly 30 years later it was so much different. How the technology had changed. Some of the modes I had never even heard of. The good thing about the dxers from DX Antwerp is they are quite experienced in utility dx. So learning from these guys was a treat.

Jos de Jonge introduced me to HFDL dx and it was fascinating to see how aircraft could be tracked all over Europe and other parts of the world via software like PC-HFDL and then see where they actually were via DX Atlas.

Something that really got my attention was Navtex Dxing. NAVTEX is a system that transmits weather and navigational warnings to ships operating in coastal areas. Coastal stations generally broadcast on 518 and 490 khz on the top end of the longwave band. \

During the winter months it it is quite often I can receive transmissions from Canada, USA, Bermuda, Porto Rico etc from here in Holland. It is possible to receive stations over the European continent and into Asia. Japan is heard along with Oman in the Middle East. I am fascinated at the propagation aspect of it all.

2012-06-04 06:30:46> ZCZC PA73
2012-06-04 06:30:50> NETHERLANDS COASTGUARD
2012-06-04 06:30:58> NAVIGATIONAL WARNING NR.73 071257 UTC FEB
2012-06-04 06:31:08> DANGEROUS OBSTACLE LOCATED 52-20.13N 004-06.27E MARKED WITH EAST
2012-06-04 06:31:20> CARDINAL LIGHTBUOY WRECK-E Q(3) 10S W 52-20.13N 004-06.39E AND
2012-06-04 06:31:35> 52-20.13N 004-06.04E
2012-06-04 06:31:37> NNNN

To receive these transmissions is quite easy. You can tune your radio to say 518 khz RTTY and use free software such as Yand or the commercial SeaTTY. Both are excellent at decoding messages. For those new to Navtex I would suggest using Yand desined by DX Antwerps,  Dirk Claessens

You can find the software in the files section of navtexdx yahoo group.

Click to join navtexdx

Click to join navtexdx


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