I haven’t monitored ADS-B in a while… airplane tracking.  Thought I’d share a bit of my setup for that mode.

Here’s what I woke up to from turning it on (blank) last night. Virtual RADAR Server

The software…ADS-B Software ADSBSpy Virtual RADAR

(Some of) the hardware…K2NCC Airspy ADSB Filter 12V LNAThe filter, blue one pictured above:

The receiver, of which I’m sure most of you know of already…

What an ADS-B signal looks like on the waterfall:

eBay store I bought the LNA (low noise amplifier) from:

Although I’m using a discone at the moment, here’s the ADS-B antenna I use otherwise.

A little sample of the software from my POV….

Earlier example, same software, longer and more detailed…

Here’s a cheap SDR dongle, specifically for ADS-B….

And just as fine, better if you’re using more than ADS-B, another very good RTLSDR dongle by NooElec:

Free Virtual RADAR Server software here:


Spy the friendly skies!


vy 73, de Frank K2NCC





©2016 Frank Ravenswood

From the 2016 Library of K2NCC

Thanks for visiting again!

One thing I have a lot of in this house, is printed material. Shelves and boxes of knowledge I wish I could better retain, but enjoy nonetheless along the way.

Most eventually get traded, donated, sold, but some I just never get rid of. Reference books mostly, many with information not found online. Yeah, it was a surprise to me too, everything isn’t on the Web! The Klingenfuss guides are a great example.


Which brings me to today’s article about communications-related “shack books”. Not an “ultimate” list, as interests are as varied as the hobby.   Just a sample of what reading material I use and recommend. Some new, some vintage, each I feel worthy of sharing. I hope you do too. Everything on this list is something I personally suggest to be in your communications library.

Although I’m a fan of electronics & gadgets, I still like my books and magazines on paper. Some prefer e-books. With you can often have either/both. It’s my favorite place to buy online, especially with the free Prime shipping. Add to that, free movies, books, discounts…. I certainly got more than my membership $$$ worth over the years. But if Amazon didn’t have it, or I think their price too high, I linked to an alternative source.

Each in this article will have a basic title and description, probably lifted from the book or Amazon, my own photo of it, and a URL to get your own copy. Check your local library too, even older versions are often just fine. I occasionally find used copies (& less expensive) on eBay, Amazon,, etc.

Most of these listed will eventually have their own full K2NCC review. Please visit again for those later.

Titles in BOLD I suggest adding to your library sooner, unless another title specifically fits a need or interest. For instance, an ARRL Antenna Book is a time-honored staple, but if I don’t need it as much as I need an RFI solution, one will have priority over the other of course.

From the 2016 Library of K2NCC

ARRL Antenna Book

The ARRL Antenna Book for Radio Communications has everything you need to design your own complete antenna system. Since 1939, it has maintained its place at the forefront of Amateur Radio technology a single resource covering antenna theory, design and construction, and practical treatments and projects.”

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ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications

“The ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications is a valued reference for radio electronics and wireless communications. Since 1926, it has kept radio amateurs, professionals, and experimenters immersed in applied theory and do-it-yourself projects. The ARRL Handbook covers a wealth of information: the fundamentals of electronics and radio signals, construction practices, antennas and propagation, equipment and circuit design, and other useful reference information.”

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An Introduction to Satellite Image Interpretation

The book covers the foundations of remote sensing, the types of satellites, and the basics of satellite image interpretation. Other topics include geographical, oceanographical applications, and atmospheric science applications of satellite imagery. With a fully indexed glossary, this well-written and thoughtfully presented text is ideal for science teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, professionals working in the field of operational meteorology, and others interested in knowing more about interpreting satellite imagery. The accompanying CD-ROM of satellite images enables the user to zoom in on many images (some of which appear in color), use overlays to identify important elements in the satellite image, and keep a notes file.”

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An Introduction to Space Weather

“This textbook introduces the relationship between the Sun and Earth, and shows how it impacts our technological society. One of the first undergraduate textbooks on space weather aimed at non-science majors, it uses the practical aspects of space weather to introduce space physics and give students an understanding of the Sun-Earth relationship. Definitions of important terms are given throughout the text. Key concepts, supplements, and review questions are given at the end of each chapter to help students understand the materials covered. This textbook is ideal for introductory space physics courses.”

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Army Publication ATP 3-36 [FM 3-36] – Electronic Warfare Techniques

“Army Techniques Publication ATP 3-36 (FM 3-36) Electronic Warfare Techniques December 2014 provides techniques for the application of electronic warfare in unified land operations. ATP 3-36 expands the discussion of the role of electronic warfare in cyber electromagnetic activities started in FM 3-38.”

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Digital Techniques for Wideband Receivers

Widely recognized as the definitive design guide on digital processing work with today’s complex receiver systems. This third edition brings readers up-to-date with the latest information on wideband electronic warfare receivers, and includes new chapters on the detection of FM and BPSK radar signals, analog-to-information, time-reversal filter, monobit receivers with improved instantaneous dynamic range and it offers insights on building electronic warfare receivers. From fundamental concepts and procedures, to recent technology advances in digital receivers, readers get practical solutions to important wideband receiver problems.”

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Gordon West’s GROL Plus: GROL License + Radar Endorsement

“GROL+RADAR covers Element 1, Marine Radio Operator Permit (MROP); Element 3, General Radio Telephone Operator License (GROL); and Element 8, Ship RADAR Endorsement. The book is fully illustrated and contains the exact questions and answer choices from the official FCC question pools. Author Gordon West provides an educational answer explanation for each question, telling the reader which answer is correct and discussing why it is correct. GROL+RADAR also is available with study software that allows the student to take practice examinations on their PC.”

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Handbook for Marine Radio Communication

“Exhaustive coverage of all UK and international regulations relating to modern maritime communications, such as the crucial GMDSS, all contained within one singular volume. This is a definitive guide for today’s maritime communications industry, including ship owners, ship managers, coast guards, seafarers, students of maritime communications, as well as the recreational sector.”

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Handbook of Surveillance Technologies: History & Applications

From officially sanctioned, high-tech operations to budget spy cameras and cell phone video, this updated and expanded edition of a bestselling handbook reflects the rapid and significant growth of the surveillance industry. Using a narrative style and more than 950 illustrations, this handbook will help journalists/newscasters, privacy organizations, and civic planners grasp technical aspects while also providing professional-level information for surveillance studies, sociology and political science educators, law enforcement personnel, and forensic trainees. It includes extensive resource information for further study at the end of each chapter.”

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Propagation and Radio Science

Author Eric Nichols, KL7AJ, uses his lively, engaging approach to present the complex subject of radio propagation in simple, easy-to-understand terms. This book covers topics ranging from theoretical exploration to practical application. It explains the phenomena we observe on the amateur bands and invites you to embark on the journey through the still-unknown radio propagation universe.”

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RSGB Radio Communication Handbook

“Whether you are an operator who wants to know what goes on ‘under the hood’, an avid constructor or someone keen to go on learning about electronics and communication radio the RSGB Radio Communication Handbook is the one book you need. With nearly 600,000 words plus 2,000 illustrations and tables crammed into 864 pages it is not only a comprehensive guide to the technical side of amateur radio book it is terrific value too.”

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Reflections: Transmission Lines and Antennas

“Published in QST in seven parts from 1973 to 1976, the series explained in plain English concepts such as line loss, SWR, baluns and antenna tuners. The articles were later compiled into a book, Reflections: Transmission Lines and Antennas, that included additional material on matching networks, antennas and the Smith Chart. It was first published by the ARRL in 1990 and went through several editions. Later editions were published by Worldradio and CQ Communications.”

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Signal Analysis for Radio Monitoring

“This book is aimed to the shortwave listener, who is interested in digital signals. On more than 300 pages with many figures and tables the reader is introduced to the world of signal analysis. The book shall help a shortwave listener to identify digital radio signals. The different waveforms are explained and methodes are described how to analyse and retreave their main parameter.”

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Software Defined Radio using MATLAB & Simulink and the RTL-SDR

The RTL-SDR can be used to acquire and sample RF (radio frequency) signals transmitted in the frequency range 25MHz to 1.75GHz, and the MATLAB and Simulink environment can be used to develop receivers using first principles DSP (digital signal processing) algorithms.”

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Technical Handbook for Radio Monitoring VHF/UHF

“This book is describing common waveforms used on VHF- and UHF. It shall help the interested reader to identify these waveforms. The book is describing digital modulations like FSK, PSK, FH, DSSS aso. and used protocols. Systems like AIS, ACARS, GMS, THURAYA and others are described with spectrum pictures and detailed technical parameter.”

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The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency

“In this remarkable tour de force of investigative reporting, James Bamford exposes the inner workings of America’s largest, most secretive, and arguably most intrusive intelligence agency. The NSA has long eluded public scrutiny, but The Puzzle Palace penetrates its vast network of power and unmasks the people who control it.”


Understanding Weatherfax: Forecasting the Weather from Radio

All of the essentials for making your own forecast, no matter where you are in the world. Learn to interpret early warning signs of storm development from satellite images. Also includes case studies, receiving equipment, interpreting synoptic chart features, personal forecasting, world weather patterns and tracking and avoiding tropical storms.”

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WorldWide Listening Guide

“The Worldwide Listening Guide shows you how to access all of this audio content using these different delivery platforms. The Guide is focused on English language broadcasts that can be heard in North America. There is a comprehensive listing of more than 3500 programs. These are then placed in separate categories by program type, such as news, music, talk, current affairs.”

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Thanks for hanging out with me for a while! As new interesting titles appear in my life, I’ll post individual articles for those. Please visit again soon for new gems to discover.

Until then, come on over to Facebook and say “hello” to me and the gang!


Vy 73, de Frank K2NCC in Oregon


PS: I prefer to blog or review only what I’ve had in my hands. IMO, it’s the only way to give an experienced and honest opinion. Please remember that everything you buy via helps toward the cost of what I share with everyone freely. Sometimes that can be quite expensive.  Hopefully it helps as much as it is fun.  73!


©2016 Frank Ravenswood

Vibroplex Straight Key Blue

Meet my first Vibroplex.

Vibroplex standard straight-key with the “Race Blue” powder-coat paint.  Chrome parts and a black Navy-style knob.

Decided to upgrade the old Chinese Army straight key.  I’ve not owned many keys, but in time perhaps I’ll do a proper review of this gem.  I coast along about 16-22WPM and not even close to being a guru on the subject.  So I thought I’d just chat about it in “unsorted fun” for a bit.

Here’s a great page to learn about many of the different types of Morse code keys.

I chose another straight-key since I don’t use it “live” often and rarely go over 20WPM. About the max on a straight-key anyway, no?  Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I prefer an s/k over any other style I’ve tried.  The CW Touch Keyer comes in a close 2nd.

The Vibroplex is like butter compared to the military one I just retired.  But, underutilized at the moment.  It’ll be connected to an oscillator (practice keyer), not likely to be on the air any time soon.  I bang out a paragraph or two a few times a week and convince guests to tap out their name or SOS.  (Thus the cheat-sheet you see in the pic above.)


As most of you know by now, I don’t transmit much on HF of recent.  I’m more a SWL the past year or so, but the ham ticket gets justified on occasion at other locations.  I monitor a lot of utility stations and love to plot signals onto maps.  Well, I don’t, the radio, computer and software does, but I help.

Yet I have logged hundreds of CW amateur radio QSOs.  Plus the hours I spent in that little green box in the military (Army 05D).  My first ham ticket was Tech+ (with code).  I don’t hate the mode, I just don’t love it enough to dig in deep.  But this key will certainly make my practice more enjoyable.  It’s on my bucket-list to nail down the FCC commercial radio Morse code exam/s.  This year I expect, but the GMDSS test is first. Got my MP last year.

I hope to enjoy the experience along the way.  It’s definitely a “keeper”.
Check out Vibroplex’s selection here.

Thank you for visiting!  Feel free to hang around or visit again soon.
73, de k2ncc


©2016 Frank Ravenswood