In retrospect, it amazes me to think that years back, I used to consider the Russian Letter beacons on ~7.039 to be a nuisance. If you read BLOG entries from 2013 & 2014, I erroneously compared those beacons to the hassle of RTTY QRM; something FAR worse. Today, I not only RELY on those beacon signals, I take a listen for them any evening I happen to be tuning around on 40 meters. (While these beacons live in the Cw band, there are just as useful for Ssb operations to Asia.)
In case you're not familiar with the Russian Letter beacons, take a moment to read what has been written thus far about these beacons and radiosport competitions.
- [x] - Beacon Tracking saves WQ6X from drowning in 2018 SEA NET
- [x] - Russian Letter Beacons Rescue 40 meters
- [x] - WQ6X operations: the Weekend of BEACONS and RTTY
- [x] - MX Russian Letter Beacons: a Dutch .Pdf article
- [x] - Russian Navy 7039.3 kHz "K" Cluster Beacon
- [x] - Single-letter beacons - a frequency list
Like the NCDXF Beacons, the Russian Letter beacons can help determine propagation paths open on 40 meters. An advantage of the letter beacons is that they transmit every second; unlike the NCDXF beacons which transmit once every 3 minutes. Unlike the NCDXF beacons which transmit
at 4 power levels (100w, 10w, 1w & 0.1w) the letter beacons operate at a constant power level;
altho that power-level has never been officially documented.
The Popular Communications articles led me to believe that Russian Letter Beacons operate largely
(if not completely) unattended, altho recent K-beacon signal spots have led me to question that.
On May 9th, I made the following observation:
Turning the 2-el Shorty-40 yagi towards Asia, tuning to ~7.039 the F-K-M beacons were heard,
however for the 1st time ever the "K" beacon was transmitting differently than I've ever heard it.
Repeated over and over again I heard "K K K T T T..." - why the change, I am not certain.
I guess the question becomes how long will this difference continue to manifest.
Then on May 16th the following observation was made:
By 07:00 new callers in the contest had all but disappeared. Hoping for an Asian connection, the Shorty-40
yagi was turned to 320-degrees. Tuning to ~7.039, the Russian "K" and "M" beacons were heard. Similar but different to last weekend,
the K-beacon wasn't transmitting "K" repeatedly; instead, the transmission was "K K K K T T". Last weekend it was: "K K K T T T".
I have no idea why the transmission content has changed for a 2nd time. Continued listening may provide a clue.
Then on May 23rd, the K-beacon was back to transmitting "K" once every second.
As to what this is all about, I have no clue. Nevertheless, I thought it worth reporting.
Bottom-line? The Russian Letter beacons have become my friends.
Altho I have heard a couple of the European letter beacons, the main focus for WQ6X
operations are the Asian F-K-M beacons. I only wish that other continents & countries
would join in the 7.039 beacon game; if the Russians can doit, why not other countries?
Do YOU make use of the Single-Letter-Beacons?
Please share your results with me and I will write it up.