Category Archives: Ham Radio

Tune in to Skywarn nets in 50 states when severe weather threatens

Putting together a Twitter list and a set of Broadcastify radio feeds for Skywarn networks. I’ll only be adding these when I have confirmed to listen to traffic. There are also Skywarn twitter lists from KE4KMD that were used to compile this, and a national skywarn.org that has a national directory.

The Index to SKYWARN Web Pages on the Internet is from Todd L. Sherman KB4MHH and has been updated since 1996; it is an excellent reference. SKYWARN Storm Spotters from David Drummond is another national list.

For an account of the use of Twitter for SKYWARN activities, read #tSpotter: SKYWARN in the Social Media Age, a paper presented to the American Metorological Society in 2013.

So far I have details for 29 of 50 states compiled here as of April 5, 2014.

Alabama

Severe weather: #alwx. Mobile area: #mobwx

Alabama Skywarn Foundation has statewide connections.

Alabama severe weather frequencies, Radio Reference.

Skywarn North Alabama / Southern Middle Tennessee (WX4HUN) supports NWS Huntsville, Alabama. Twitter: @WX4HUN_Skywarn, @Activation_HUN. Hashtag #HUNwx. Listen on Broadcastify, N4IDX 146.960.

ALERT (Alabama Emergency Response Team) supports NWS Birmingham. Twitter: @k4nws.

East Alabama Skywarn serves Lee County and surrounding counties.

Central Alabama Skywarn serves the Montgomery area. W4AP 146.840 repeater, training net Thursdays 7:00 p.m. CT.

Alaska

Severe weather: #akwx

National Weather Service on Twitter: @NWSJuneau, @NWSAnchorage, @NWSFairbanks.

Arctic Amateur Radio Club, KL4KC.

NWS Fairbanks ham radio Skywarn station, KL7FWX.

Arizona

Severe weather: #azwx

Skywarn Arizona Sector 1 covers the Tucson area and is particularly active during monsoon season.

Maricopa Amateur Radio Association covers the Phoenix area.

Arkansas

Severe weather: #arwx

Arkansas Skywarn, and a Twitter feed @arkskywarn.

CAREN, Central Arkansas Radio Emergency Net via Broadcastify. Little Rock area, monitored April 4, 2014.

W5RHS SKYWARN Repeater 147.120 Mhz via Broadcastify. West of Benton Arkansas, Saline County, linked to other Arkansas Skywarn nets.

California

Severe weather: #cawx

Southwest California Skywarn serves the NWS San Diego office. Facebook: San Diego County Skywarn. Twitter: @SnDgCo_Skywarn.

Colorado

Severe weather: #cowx

Eastern Colorado Severe Weather Frequencies from W9TEC, last updated 1/2010.

Connecticut

Severe weather: #ctwx

Connecticut Skywarn has maps of frequencies in use and reporting areas.

Delaware

Severe weather: #dewx

District of Columbia

Severe weather: #dcwx

National Capital Area Skywarn Support Group covers the Baltimore/Washington metro area. WX4LWX frequency plan.

Florida

Severe weather: #flwx

Flagler Skywarn, Jacksonville area.

Georgia

Severe weather: #gawx

Hawaii

Severe weather: #hiwx

Idaho

Severe weather: #idwx

Illinois

Severe weather: #ilwx

Chicagoland Skywarn covers the greater Chicago area. (Broadcastify feed is down).

Northern Illinois Skywarn covers Boone and Winnebago counties.

Lake County Skywarn serves Libertyville, IL. The repeater for Skywarn is run by Lake County RACES/ARES.

Indiana

Severe weather: #inwx

Central Indiana Skywarn Repeater Net W9ICE via Broadcastify. 39 county system.
Central Indiana Skywarn web site. Indianapolis area, serves NWS Indianapolis.

Fort Wayne Radio Club SKYWARN is part of IMO Skywarn. IMO (“Indiana-Michigan-Ohio”) covers a 37 county warning area in northern Indiana, southernmost Michigan, and northwestern Ohio.

Iowa

Severe weather: #iawx

Kansas

Severe weather: #kswx

Kentucky

Severe weather: #kywx

Louisiana

Severe weather: #lawx

Northeast Louisiana Skywarn, Twitter @nelaskywarn. Web page is 404 on 4/5/14.

Lafayette SKYWARN Group. 537 System repeater, KF5VH on 145.370 MHz.

Maine

Severe weather: #mewx

Maryland

Severe weather: #mdwx

Massachusetts

Severe weather: #mawx

Taunton (Boston) area covers southern New England. Twitter: @wx1box. WX1BOX Skywarn web site. Echolink NEW-ENG

Michigan

Severe weather: #miwx, #wmiwx (Western Michigan), #upwx (Upper Peninsula).

Upper Peninsula Skywarn, 15 counties in the UP. K8MDH 147.315 Mhz, Keewenaw County Skywarn/ARES via Broadcastify.

Kent County Skywarn covers the Grand Rapids area. Facebook: KentCounty Skywarn

Lansing Area Skywarn covers Ingham County. Listen live to the Okemos repeater.

Ottawa County Skywarn, Holland MI area. Listen online to K8DAA 147.060 via Broadcastify (down 4/6/14)

Washtenaw County Skywarn, N8DUY repeater. Ann Arbor area. (Broadcastify feed down 4/4/14)

Minnesota

Severe weather: #mnwx

Metro Skywarn serves the Minneapolis / St Paul area. Twitter: @metroskywarn. Feed: Metro Skywarn – South Metro Area via Broadcastify.

Mississippi

Severe weather: #mswx

Northeast Mississippi Skywarn (Tupelo area) via Tupelo Amateur Radio Club.

Missouri

Severe weather: #mowx

N0NWS 145.490 MHz Southwest Missouri SkyWarn Severe Weather Net via Broadcastify. SMSSW on Facebook.

Montana

Severe weather: #mtwx

Nebraska

Severe weather: #newx

Nevada

Severe weather: #nvwx

New Hampshire

Severe weather: #nhwx

New Jersey

Severe weather: #njwx

Bergen Skywarn covers Bergen and Passaic counties. Twitter: @WX2BC.

Cape May County Skywarn is 147.42 simplex.

New Mexico

Severe weather: #nmwx

New York

Severe weather: #nywx

New York City Skywarn.

North Carolina

Severe weather: #ncwx. Wilmington area: #ilmwx. Eastern North Carolina: #encwx.

SE North Carolina: RBC Skywarn (Facebook). Attached to NWS Wilmington, NC.

Central Carolina Skywarn web site. Monitor Central Carolina Skywarn WB4TQD on Broadcastify; serves Raleigh, NC and surrounding counties.

North Dakota

Severe weather: #ndwx.

Ohio

Severe weather: #ohwx. Cincinnati area #cincywx.

Central Ohio Severe Weather Network supports NWS Wilmington, OH.

Cuyahoga County Skywarn supports the Cleveland area. Twitter: @CuyahogaSkywarn.

Cincinnati’s Weather Amateur Radio Network (WARN). Listen to W8NWS on Broadcastify. 146.88 MHz. 17 counties surrounding Hamilton County, Ohio. Twitter: @CincySkywarn, #cincywx

Oklahoma

Severe weather: #okwx

Oklahoma weather frequencies on Radio Reference.

Eastern Oklahoma / Northwestern Arkansas Skywarn is out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Station [WX5TUL].

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

Severe weather: #riwx.

South Carolina

Severe weather: #scwx.

South Dakota

Severe weather: #sdwx.

Tennessee

Severe weather: #tnwx.

East Tennessee Skywarn, and a twitter feed @etskywarn. Knoxville area.

Middle Tennessee Skywarn Spotters (Facebook; not active). Nashville area.
MTEARS radio network. Nashville Severe Weather web site, @NashSevereWX. Spotter reports from Nashville, #tspotter.

Memphis area: #memwx. Spotter reports from Memphis, #mspotter.

Texas

Severe weather: #txwx. Dallas/Fort Worth, #dfwwx. Lubbock, #lubwx.

Fort Worth / Dallas: @wx5fwd, NWS Fort Worth Skywarn radio desk. WX5FWD SKYWARN Team web site. EchoLink conference WX5FWD (372418).

Denton County: W5NGU 146.920 via Broadcastify. Denton County Amateur Radio Association web site. Denton ARES.

East Texas Skywarn.

Utah

Severe weather: #utwx

Vermont

Severe weather: #vtwx

Virginia

Washington State

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Severe weather: #wiwx

Milwaukee Area Skywarn Association, Twitter @mkeskywarn. Weather nets are on the 146.91 repeater; listen to the Milwaukee Radio Club WI9MRC directly, or WI9MRC 146.91 on Broadcastify.

Packerland Amateur Skywarn Society, serving the Green Bay area. Twitter @WX9GRBSkywarn. Listen to Green Bay Area Repeaters on Broadcastify.

MidWest SSTRC covers the Madison area. Listen to MidWest Amateur Severe Storm Tracking Response Center on Broadcastify.

Wyoming

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One-Day Tech Class: Saturday, May 3, 2014 9a-3p at Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

From Dan Romanchik KB6NU cwgeek@kb6nu.com – lightly edited:

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU will be conducting the next One-Day Tech Class will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 9am to 3pm at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, 220 E. Ann St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Immediately after the class, the Technician Class license exam will be administered.

Pre-registration is required, and there is a $10 fee to take the class. We often fill the class and have to put people on the waiting list. So, if you’d like to take this class, you should send a check or money order sooner rather than later to reserve their spot. Dan’s address is 1325 Orkney Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. People can also pay via PayPal by sending $10 to cwgeek@kb6nu.com.

There is also a $15 fee to take the test. This fee is payable to the volunteer examiners just before they take the test. DO NOT send me the $15 exam fee.

Prospective students can download the study guide from www.kb6nu.com/tech-manual. Read through it a couple of times and take some online practice tests (URLs for practice test websites can be found in the study guide) before taking the test. They greatly increase the chances that you will pass the test if you do some studying beforehand.

If you have any questions, please send an email to cwgeek@kb6nu.com or phone Dan at 734-930-6564.

73!

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

decoding radio digital modes without a radio, using WebSDR and fldigi

I’m interested in decoding radio digital modes without actually having a radio. The idea is that by using a web-based software defined radio (to tune in the signals) and the fldigi program (to decode the signals) that I should be able to “listen” to digital modes and start to explore the digital parts of the amateur and broadcast radio bands.

Fldigi-HB9ERN

I think I have all of the components, but I have yet to be able to get everything to work as expected. Here’s what I have:

WebSDR from http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/ . This is a software-defined radio tuning to the radio airwaves at the University of Twente in the Netherlands; it runs in your browser. There are 87 of these systems running around the world, listed at websdr.org.

fldigi from http://www.w1hkj.com/Fldigi.html . This software for Windows, Linux and OS X, runs on your local system and takes an audio signal and decodes it in one of many digital modes.

Soundflower from https://code.google.com/p/soundflower/ . This is a Mac system extension that allows you to redirect the audio output of one program (e.g. your browser) into the audio input of another program (e.g. fldigi). Not strictly necessary because the fldigi can also just decode whatever it hears through the computer’s built in microphone. I picked up the recommendation from an article on HamRadioAndVision.

A number of people have done Youtube videos describing what they are doing to make this work. For example, OZ9AEC has a 6 minute Youtube from 2009 shows reception in single channel and multichannel mode. He doesn’t use Soundflower, just the built in mic of his Mac.

Not described here – and probably what I need to figure out next – are two key bits of information. Where do you tune to pick up digital signals? And, more importantly, which decoder do you use? It’s not hard to pick out which modulation is being used if you have some practice, but as of this writing I couldn’t readily tell you what WEFAX sounds like compared to RTTY. Still sorting through those details before I can claim to have mastered this.

Note also that this should work with a local software-defined radio as well, or even with a “hardware-defined radio” placed near your mic or patched in with a mic cable.

Programming your new radio with CHIRP

From the CHIRP web site

CHIRP is a free, open-source tool for programming your amateur radio. It supports a large number of manufacturers and models, as well as provides a way to interface with multiple data sources and formats.

The basic idea is that rather than learning the peculiarities of your radio’s programming interface, you use CHIRP which has access to databases like Radio Reference and RepeaterBook to find the channels you want to have easy access to. Programming the device should just be a matter of loading in the set you want, attaching your radio to your computer via a programming cable, and selecting “Upload to Radio”.

My new radio is on its way, so I’ll update this when I get it to work! So far the application was easy to install (you have to install a Python runtime on OS X before it works) and it was easy to get the Washtenaw county repeater list from RepeaterBook.

UPDATED: It worked the first time! Here’s what I had to do to make it go smoothly.

First, before you upload channels to your radio, you have to download its current configuration. This gets all of the settings out of the system.

Second, after you are done uploading the channels, unplug the programming cable from the radio. This should be obvious? but somehow it wasn’t. Once I unplugged things everything worked just fine.

Third, make sure that you pick the right radio that you are connecting to or else unpredictable things can happen.

I found the walk-through at Miklor’s CHIRP Software Guide to be useful and helpful, and it suggested some additional features (like setting channels to be receive-only) that will probably get me to re-program the radio a few times before I’m done.

Listening to (and participating in!) the W8UM net for Sunday, November 18, 2012

My friend Dan KB6NU was network control for the W8UM net tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern (145.230 MHz, -600 kHz shift, 100 Hz PL). This was my first try at being on for the net, and so I waited patiently until my radio started making noises other than static.

After most everyone else checked in, I hit the transmit button and gave my call sign (KD8OQG) and was acknowledged by Dan. 

Among other things discussed tonight:

The Amateur Radio Relay League's Logbook of the World;
Where to get amateur radio gear in Hawaii, for someone traveling there;
The Monday, November 19 2012 performance of the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra at Hill Auditorium. 

I mostly listened, but it was an enjoyable hour spent, and it's always good to tune in to a good discussion.