How to identify signal

Discussion in 'On-Air Operations - Q&A' started by W9HFQ, May 2, 2017.

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  1. W9HFQ

    W9HFQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a new ham. I took all three license exams in one evening and passed them in January of this year.
    After receiving my call I applied for the call of my high school radio club I joined in 1953.
    It was avaiabble as a vanity call.
    As a brand new inexperienced ham I am hearing signals I do not understand .
    Usually They sweep through about 10/12kHz and I mostly hear them on 20 meters.
    They make a "chirping" sound when I tune through them on upper SSB.
    Can anyone tell me what they are. There seem to be a large number of them.
    Could it be my receiver? I have a new IC 7300 that seems to work very well.
    Any help for this newl ham will be most welcome.
  2. WR2E

    WR2E Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Bill, welcome back!

    Without hearing the signals it's not possible to say what they are, but my guess is that you're hearing some of the many digital modes. Psk31, jt65, rtty, etc etc

    What frequency are you hearing them on, they usually hang in between the cw and phone segments.
  3. VE7JBX

    VE7JBX Ham Member QRZ Page


    One place to help you would be

    This has descriptions and often audio clips of all kinds of mystery signals. As noted above, the frequency they're on can be a big hint.

    If you have a computer with a sound card near your rig, a simple headphone out to audio in patch can be used along with various free software packages to view / decode various things too. For a NICE setup you might have to have things like ground loop isolation transformers etc but for a 'quick and dirty' approach to examining these signals, I've found a straight $2 patch cord and adjusting my sound card settings is all I need and I can decode various RTTY, PSK, JT-65, SSTV etc. I might even try to catch / decode some of the US MARS stuff scheduled for May 18 or so on the armed forces interop day (might have the date wrong but I think that's it, there a recent news article here on it).

    The "sweeping" you refer to makes me think you may be hearing some form of OTHR (over - the - horizon radar). As a teenager in the woods with a battery powered SW radio I well recall the near constant presence of the "Russian Woodpecker".... it would jump frequencies every few minutes. I think the newer versions do a freq sweep and I know I hear this sometimes on 20m, with a carrier being freq swept around 10 kHz as you mention. Assumed it was OTHR.

    Likely someone will chime in with more detailed info. Actually, chasing after and identifying some of these odd signals can be kind of fun, especially if you have a General Coverage Receiver.
  4. WR2E

    WR2E Ham Member QRZ Page

  5. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

  6. WQ4G

    WQ4G Ham Member QRZ Page

  7. WR2E

    WR2E Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wonder why Bill never came back?
  8. KG7FIU

    KG7FIU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, someone gave him the HF link above -- he may have gone Underground.
    Perhaps he became so enthralled reading about Ionosoundes he decided to go build one...
  9. N1NA

    N1NA Subscriber QRZ Page

    I can't wait for the movie!

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