NCDXF/IARU HF beacons – a background:
The Northern California DX Foundation and International Amateur Radio Union have designed and installed 18 automatic beacons in the amateur HF bands. They are distributed worldwide and form a valuable propagation resource.
The signal is the callsign in CW at 22wpm, followed by 4 dashes. The dashes start at 100W and progressively reduce in power to 100mW. Each beacon is allocated a time slot and transmits at 10 second intervals, starting on 14MHz and working up to 28MHz. In this way complete coverage is built up. The slot timings are very accurate and enable monitoring by prediction of these slots on a computer. A more detailed description and explanation can be found at the NCDXF/IARU website
BeSpeak is a real time HF beacon announcer. You select a band and the screen shows location, callsign and status of the beacon transmitting at that time. The distance and bearing from your own location is also displayed, together with selectable voice announcements of the current beacon. Home location and beacon data are fully editable within the application.
Version 5 adds more features – automatic beacon recognition and logging,data analysis, charting together with rig control . The user interface has been amended and includes an option to track a single beacon across all bands.
Primary screen and control centre
You can see the various selector buttons and options available, allowing you to set it up as you wish.
When automatic logging is enabled the data can be displayed full screen on either 2D or 3D charts.
Automatic logging & recognition controls
BeSpeak uses fast Fourier Transforms to split the received signal into discrete frequency bands. It then listens for the morse identification transmissions in those bands, and outputs a positive identification when morse is heard. This version does not distinguish between the power output steps.
It includes a simple wizard to aid in setting up the recognition algorithms to suit prevailing band noise conditions. These recognition controls should not need to be adjusted often, but if noise changes significantly in any session then some tweaks could be necessary.
IMPORTANT If you already have an earlier version of BeSpeak installed you MUST uninstall it before installing this version. See the ReadMe in the zip distribution file.
This version requires a Registration File which must be downloaded separately.
This file is free, and lasts for a year from date of generation (broadly January each year). BeSpeak dates from 2001 so I need to know how many people are still using the program so I can decide if an update at some point is worthwhile. I’m still getting requests for new files so please continue to email me for a new Registration File.
On first installation Setup will install a Registration file (BeSpeakReg.txt) into the program folder chosen. With version 517 this expired in June 2003. You need to install the new Registration File.
To install it unzip the downloaded file. It goes into the same folder as your BeSpeak executable file (BeSpeak***.exe). The default location is C:\Program Files\BeSpeak. Next simply copy and paste the new file over the old one.
Make sure that you agree to overwrite the existing file of the same name at the Windows® warning message.
If you tamper with, or change, the Registration File in any way BeSpeak will not start.
BeSpeak is suitable for W98SE, XP, Vista, W7, W8 and W10 (tested up to version 1909 Autumn 2019) only. Do not install on NT4 systems or server systems – crashing & data loss is guaranteed!
16 bit soundcard required for automatic logging and an RS232 port for rig control