A quick update & Roland Proesch Radio Monitoring books 2018

Firstly, a quick update on what’s been going on with me.

In the world of radios, ships, photos and Russians – not a lot!! No blog since September 2017 wasn’t what I had planned that’s for sure. Much of my writing time has gone to Jane’s, which has been great. This has meant I had to prioritise any free time available to them, having to put my blog on the back burner. Overall I’ve written or carried out analysis for around 10 Jane’s magazine articles since September 2017, as well as my continual fleet analysis on the Russian navy for Fighting Ships.

One of my articles from the November 2017 edition of Jane’s Intelligence Review

With regards to any radio monitoring, that also had to go on a back burner. When the shack was rebuilt as part of the house renovations I installed all the coaxial in temporary locations, drilled through the outer wall and coming into the shack through a large 50cm by 30cm hole in the interior plasterboard wall. This was in April 2015!! Hardly temporary!!

Due to the pretty crap weather we get here, and the fact that I needed at least 5 days of continuous good weather to be able to do all the connections outside, it has taken until the last week – 3 years later – to finally get the sunny days I needed at the same time as being off work.

Over the last year, the temporary connections had become worse and worse, with lots of noise causing interference. Nothing was earthed correctly either. Other factors such as the neighbours installing dreaded solar panels really screwed up everything, totally wiping out the main Russian navy day frequency they use for CW.

Not only that, with the hole in the interior wall being the size it is, it gets very cold in the room during the Winter – and the rest of the year for that matter – with a large draft blowing in most of the time.

Anyway, new outside connections are complete, in nice new waterproof boxes. Now the exterior part is done, I’m not weather dependant on the rest of it and hopefully I’ll be back up and running in the next month or so. I’ll do a full blog on the new setup once it’s complete.

Roland Proesch Radio Monitoring books 2018

For 2018, Roland Proesch has updated two of the five books he creates in his Technical handbook range.

The first is Signal Analysis for Radio Monitoring Edition 2018. This has nearly 60 new pages of information on how to analyse various waveforms, including a new section on Satellite signals – useful if you’ve already purchased his Technical handbook for satellite monitoring 2017. There’s also a section on describing how to analyse RADAR signals. Other things such as useful software tools and PC calibration is also included. Here’s a PDF of the contents with new information highlighted in yellow.

The other book is Frequency Handbook for Radio Monitoring Edition 2018. Whilst many people would say a book containing information on frequencies used by various utility stations, armed forces and other agencies is dated and old school, I tend to disagree. There is so much useless information out there online, I prefer using a book for looking things up that I may have found on the HF bands. Granted, a book does go out of date – normally as it’s being printed – but you can quite easily add your own entries in the right places if needed.

This update has several hundred changes of new, deleted and updated frequencies ranging from 0Hz to 30000kHz, and contains a section dedicated to ALE frequencies and idents.

Both books, along with the ones released last year in one of my previous blogs, are available from his website. As usual, he has his bundle offers which makes the books cheaper if you buy two or more at the same time.

I’ve used his books for years and highly recommend them.

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Roland Proesch Radio Monitoring books 2017

Roland Proesch has announced that his latest books on Radio monitoring are now available at his website

Whilst Signal Analysis for Radio Monitoring remains a 2015 edition, the other three – Technical Handbook for Radio Monitoring HF, Technical Handbook for Radio Monitoring VHF/UHF and Frequency Handbook for Radio Monitoring HF – have all been updated to 2017.

There is also a new title – Technical Handbook for Satellite Monitoring – which is over 400 pages long and is aimed at those that are interested in satellite communication. The book is the usual high standard with figures and tables on satellite systems and the waveforms they use.

Because of the new title, all satellite information (nearly 100 pages) has been removed from the VHF/UHF book, but these have been replaced by new modes such as Radar, C4FM, DVB-T etc.

At the moment, there are no PDF examples available, but going to my previous blog at the last release can provide that information for now. I’ll update when they do become available.

I highly recommend these books and they are very well priced at 49Euros each plus postage. There’s also the usual bundle price discount if you want more than one – further information on the website.

But, if you don’t want to pay the postage and are heading to the HAM RADIO 2017 exhibition in Friedrichshafen, Germany on the 14 – 16th July, then Roland will have a stand there (A1-213). I’m sure he’ll be pleased to see you there – I wish I could attend, but I’ll probably have to wait the 5 years or so until I move to Bavaria myself.

The opening times and price list for tickets to the exhibition can be found here

Fighting Ships 2014/2015

This years edition of Jane’s Fighting Ships, edited by Commodore Stephen Saunders RN, is now available to purchase from IHS for approximately £580.

Virginia Class SSN "Missouri" of the US Navy exiting Faslane.

Virginia Class SSN “Missouri” of the US Navy exiting Faslane. This image is in Fighting Ships 2014/2105

Fighting Ships was first published in 1898 by John Fredrick Thomas Jane. Mad on miniature wargames, he created Fighting Ships as a reference for a Sea Battle game that he devised. He wanted to ensure everyone that played the game had the correct information on World Navy fleets, armaments and other information. From this start, the book has evolved into what it is today

From only line-drawings that were in the early editions, now the yearbook contains well over a thousand excellent quality photographs and I’m very pleased to see again that it contains some of mine, at least 22 that I’ve found so far

Swedish Navy Gavle Class Corvette "Sundsvall" (K24) is one image in the 2014/2015 edition of Fighting Ships

Swedish Navy Gavle Class Corvette “Sundsvall” (K24) is one image in the 2014/2015 edition of Fighting Ships

Along with images, I also do my best to provide Stephen with information on the Russian Navy, mainly with data on Project deliveries, upgrades and commissions/decommissions. This isn’t always the easiest task as my Russian isn’t exactly fluent and it does sometimes bring out some quite confusing data. That said though, it is good fun going through everything, analysing the data and compiling it into something that hopefully gets included in this great publication

Most people will say that £580 is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a book, and I would tend to agree; however, Fighting Ships (and other IHS Jane’s yearbook publications) are not aimed at the general public as such, but more at the Armed Forces of the World and Defence Industries that provide technology, weapons etc to the Forces. As I’ve said previously, the quality of information, photos and data is second to none in my opinion. I have most of their yearbooks myself

C-2A 162164 of VRC-30 turning final at NAS North Island, one of the images included in this years Fighting Ships

C-2A 162164 of VRC-30 turning final at NAS North Island, one of the images included in this years Fighting Ships

Don’t forget though, if £580 is too rich for you, I sell older copies of most of Jane’s publications. Further information is available on my Jane’s sales link at the top of this blog, going there will also provide you with PDF examples of most books available

Book Review follow-up

Well, since my review on the Klingenfuss books there’s been quite a bit of discussion on the forums about these kind of publications, but in general there was a lot of agreement about Klingenfuss being poor

Nils Schiffhauer even went as far as making a comparison of three books against 54 signals he recorded.The books he compared were:
Joerg Klingenfuss’ Utility Guide 2013/1014
Michael Marten’s “Spezial-Frequenzliste Band 2, 2013/14
Roland Proesch’ “Frequency Handbook for Radio Monitoring HF”, Edition 2013

He allocated points to the signals which totalled 108. (Full entry/callsign info = 2, correct organisation but no callsign = 1, no entry = 0). The results are below:
Klingenfuss: 45
Marten: 79
Proesch: 68

This shows that over 50% of Klingenfuss has data missing or is incorrect. I’d be happy if around 75% of data was correct as it is a changing environment and 25% is an allowable discrepancy for these changes. The other two books come in at this (and above for Michael Martins)

CoverTechnicalHandbook2013_1E Moving on from this I obtained a copy of Roland Proesch’s “Technical Handbook for Radio Monitoring HF (2013)”, which is on the same subject as Klingenfuss’s “Radio Data Codes”. As I now have both books I am able to carry out a random comparison of the two publications

So that I could try and do a fair comparison, I flicked through the pages of Rolands book, randomly stopping and picking the HF mode on that page. I then opened Klingenfuss and compared what each book had on the subject. The results are below (RM = Radio Monitoring Handbook, KF = Klingenfuss):

DRM – WinDRM
RM – Full information on this subject
KF – No information at all (that I could find)
Winner – RM

DUP-ARQ
RM – Full information, images showing Spectrum information
KF – Same information, but the only images were of WaveCom decode screenshots
Winner – RM

DGPS
RM – 4 and a half pages on the subject including spectrum images and a table of information
KF – 1 page on the subject and another page of WaveCom decode screenshots
Winner – RM

DSC
RM – 1 info page, but contains a frequency table and Spectrum image. In the appendices there is a table containing all the Maritime Identification Digits, though basic country information only (an extra 5 pages). Another table contains Ship/Station Selective Calling (another 4 pages) – Total pages for DSC is 10
KF – Slightly more information, including a description of MMSIs. Contains the same tables as RM but with the added Coast Station identities. The total number of pages is 15 although there no Spectrum images and the images that are there are of WaveCom decode screenshots again
Winner – With both books I’d say there some inaccuracies when comparing the information to the ITU website, but KF does beat RM when it comes to DSC. The one thing that lets KF down though is its abuse of ITU – Quote: Alas, the data is obviously compiled by dull and incompetent ITU bureaucrats and, by consequence, incomplete and not up to date

Domino

Example page from Radio Monitoring HF 2013 of DominoEX

To compare the books further RM has 448 images of either Spectrum data, sonograms and such like whilst I struggled to find many in KF, but KF does have many decoder screenshots, which if this is what you want then fair enough.

Radio Monitoring has a much better coverage of Russian systems. For instance, the common MS-5 (also known as CIS-12 or Fire) QPSK system used by the Russian Navy is nowhere to be seen in Klingenfuss, whilst Radio Monitoring has over a page dedicated to it including Spectrum images and a sonogram, the same goes for other systems. It’s almost as if Klingenfuss refuses to acknowledge that Russian data systems exist

Kligenfuss does have a huge amount of data on Meteorological Transmissions, well over 140 pages, including tables and decodes, though I found the layout of some of it not that great. This information is readily available online anyway as is all the data contained in both books when it comes to frequencies, callsigns, MMSI decodes etc.

But, when it comes to learning about the actual Waveforms and Data Modes I’d say Radio Monitoring beats Klingenfuss hands down. The first 135 pages of Radio Monitoring are fantastic, with descriptions of Waveforms, protocols, bit/baud rates (including a 12 page table which has great information on shift, modes, and possible users – needs to be seen to see how good this is), ASCII coding and much more. I will admit that Klingenfuss is better for a small number of Data Modes, but by and large this is often not the case.

If you could only afford one book on this subject matter, then Radio Monitoring is the one to choose, I think you’d find at least something on what you were looking for.

There’s a PDF file available that has 81 pages taken from the Radio Monitoring Handbook if you’d like to see more of whats covered and how it looks. This also includes the table of contents so that you can see what modes are covered

More information on this book, and the others written by Roland Proesch, is available on his website.

The Technical handbook for Radio Monitoring HF 2013 is 49Euros plus shipping and i’d give it a 9 out of 10. Personally I’ll be looking into getting the other books in the series