HF Fax Images

HF Fax is a mode usually used by mariners to deliver images over HF. These images usually comprise of weather charts, giving marine users basic weather forecasts. They are broadcast from a selection of fixed stations which are at the shorelines of several countries. The number of stations sending out HF Fax have steadily declined over time - with lack of use, cost of operation and unavailability of parts causing stations to go out of service, almost permanently. Instead, mariners are encouraged to get their weather via satellite, or via Internet which could be provided through HF itself by using a gateway. However, something has to be said about the simplicity of HF Fax - which simply uses frequency shift keying to encode black and white dots as two separate tones. This can be decoded by a dedicated fax printer, or a computer with a sound card. Add the frequency propagation characteristics of HF and you have the perfect recipe for being able to receive images from around the world (although with degraded quality). The stations are often operated by the government or the weather bureau in the respective countries, and always broadcast to a tight schedule. Schedules are available online for almost all stations, although there are always unscheduled broadcasts which may surprise, or out of date schedules (such as for JJC). Each station operator decides the exact scheme of their transmission - this includes output power and directionality of the beam - so it's not necessarily the closer station that has the better signal.

VMC - Charleville, QLD, Australia and VMW - Wiluna, WA, Australia

These two stations are our own stations run by the Bureau of Meterology. As they are local, strong signals can be had almost around the clock although in some hours, there may be no signal at all, and other times VMW is stronger than VMC even in NSW. Below are a selection of charts and other transmissions. There are three to four transmitters at each site, and the transmissions are simulcast so that you can find the best frequency at any given time.

An Example Chart 1 from VMC or VMW

An Example Chart 2 from VMC or VMW

An Example Chart 3 from VMC or VMW

An Example Chart 4 from VMC or VMW

An Example Chart 5 from VMC or VMW

An Example Chart 6 from VMC or VMW

An Example Chart 7 from VMC or VMW

An Example Chart 8 from VMC or VMW

Chart Not Available as broadcast around the New Year

Unscheduled Test Chart Transmission

ZKLF - New Zealand

The sole station in New Zealand, operated by Metservice. Also fairly easy to receive as they're just next door. They only appear to have one transmitter, which rebroadcasts the chart every 15 minutes on four different frequencies for one chart every hour in certain times.

Chart from ZKLF 1

Chart from ZKLF 2

KVM70 - Honolulu, Hawaii

Moving further out, Hawaii has their own Weather Fax station operated by NOAA - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA. There are two transmitters, however, the frequencies chosen don't seem to be good for propagation to us here in Australia.

Chart from KVM70 1

Chart from KVM70 2

Chart from KVM70 3

Satellite Image from KVM70 1

Satellite Image from KVM70 2

Regular Test Chart from KVM70 - Unfortunately broadcast at a time when propagation is bad

HSW64 - Bangkok, Thailand

HSW64 is a fairly low power, and relatively "small" station. They tend to broadcast typed up broadcasts which are very difficult to read and their signals and weak and difficult to receive as they are cornered by broadcast stations fairly nearby on the dial. They have only one frequency and broadcast infrequently.

Shipping Forecast from HSW64

JMH2, JMH4, JMH6 - Japan

JMH did have six transmitters, but due to operating costs, they only have three now. Unfortunately, propagation conditions tend to be noisy, and their output power isn't great so charts from JMH are fairly rare around here.

Chart from JMH

JJC and Singapore Relay - Japan Kyodo News Network

JJC is the last surviving HF Fax newspaper. Apparently much more popular in the early days, this is how mariners get their news - via FAX. Unfortunately the schedules for this station seem to be incorrect and or out of date, and so it is a very hit and miss affair. They use a different sending rate for the Japanese transmissions as the characters are more delicate - this is half the speed of the English charts broadcast by other people and themselves. Some of their frequencies seem to be inactive here, possibly due to propagation differences, and while they do have six frequencies, they are not always simulcast - there can be a different chart on each frequency. I'm glad to have received some of their charts before they dissapear.

The LONGEST Fax Ever. Violates maximum fax length rules by a factor of more than 2. Almost 3 hours of FAX here. Japanese News Bulletin from JJC

Another Japanese News Bulletin from JJC

English News Bulletin from JJC

Navigation Warnings from JJC

BMF - Taiwan

BMF is another fax station which has two or three frequencies and can be received reasonably in Australia. I had claimed a QSL card from them previously.

A chart from BMF

Satellite Image from BMF

HLL2 - Korea

This station is very rarely received cleanly. It seems to be weaker than BMF, but here's some charts anyway.

A fragment of a transmission from HLL2

Another fragment of a transmission from HLL2

A NO-DATA announcement from HLL2 around the New Year period

GYA - Northwood, UK

Going even further out - GYA is a very high power fax broadcasting station in the UK. Even then, their signals are bound to be noisy.

A chart from GYA

A QSL return form by Fax from GYA

DDK - Hamburg, Germany

Another high power transmitter, but a fairly noisy signal. Freak occurance that I could receive them.

Satellite Image from DDK

CFH - Halifax, Canada

Finally, we come to this one very interesting fax. Another freak occurance, this time I managed to receive a fax from Environment Canada.

Fax from Enviro Canada