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November 29, 2010



This post reminds me, there's an iPad app I've been meaning to try out that's supposed to decode weather fax images:



This looks pretty cool. I didn't know anything like a weather fax existed.

Now comes the stupid question: Can't you get the same information online from a weather website?


Not a stupid question at all - for sure you can get the same info online; the weather fax is mainly intended for folks out on the open waterways who don't get internet (unless they dock near a Starbucks!).

If you'd like to follow some of the amateur radio digital action, tune to 7.036 or 14.070 Mhz. You'll get lots of PSK-31 signals.

Tom Welch

Before PCs, the weather fax could be generated using a dot matrix printer and some sort of interface for your SW radio. I believe these interface devices are still being sold.


Those coast guard frequencies broadcast the same squawking sounds one used to hear over the phone line when using a fax machine back in the 20th century. I thought I should be able to use my old fax machine to receive a weather fax off one of my radios, but never tried it. They broadcast satellite images as well as the hand drawn maps.

There's a lot of weird data on shortwave, like ACARS, used to plot the flight numbers and positions of commercial jets (which transmit a data squawk every minute or so.) NAVTEX does the same thing for ships at sea. There's also RTTY (radio teletype, which broadcasts keystrokes off a keyboard, so you can watch a person backspace and correct a typo) and the list goes on.


There's also a news agency (Kyodo News Agency - Japan) that transmits an entire newspaper via shortwave fax. The English edition is transmitted Tuesday-Saturday at 1:10 AM EDT and again 12 hours later at 1:10 PM EDT (0610 and 1810 UTC). I was unable to pick up any of their daytime frequencies today (12745.5, 16971, 17069.6, 22542 khz), I'll try again tonight (4316 and 8467.5 khz)


Kudos to Brandon for showing us others ways of entertainment with our radios


4316 very strong here-abouts in NA. Never heard of a newspaper fax before. Thanks!


Decoded a satellite image today. I believe it was broadcast from a weather station on the west coast of California. Reception was weak but usable.


Guy Atkins

Terry, in the late 1980s I bought an office FAX machine from a company going out of business. I got the FAX for a mere $30, and found info during a library search (an old Popular Electronics issue I think) that helped me change a crystal to make the drum turn at a different rate. Result? Weather FAX printouts from shortwave signals when hooked to a receiver's audio output! It was fun to print out the charts, but the smell from the burnt paper was nauseating (anyone remember these old smelly FAX machines?). With the new crystal I could only handle a single format of "lines per inch" FAX printouts however. I don't remember being able to decode Kyodo News Agency FAX signals which were at a different LPI, despite their strong signals into Seattle.

So... it's definitely possible to convert an office FAX to decode weather broadcasts. These days software programs are the way to go for FAx and all other digital utilities.

Larry Lanberg

Excellent post, Brandon - thank you. I own an RF-4900 & I love the thing. It does well what it was designed to do, and its a whole lot of fun to use. (I stress: What it was designed to do). I'm deeply suspicious of those people, supposedly knowledgeable about radios, who criticize this radio too harshly.

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