Tips for Tuning in SSB Fax Broadcasts

Seems like most folks have problems finding the right frequencies and times to receive fax broadcasts. The best times and frequencies vary with the sunspot cycle, time of day, and how far you are from the broadcasting station.

Sitting here in Antigua, with Boston and New Orleans stations just 1500 or so miles away, you would think everyone would be pulling them in. Yet a lot of folks have told us they are hearing nothing. We are getting good coverage, so I suspect there must be a common problem with picking the correct frequencies.

Here’s what we do. First, we start to listen for and watch the faxes two to three weeks in advance of a passage. This gives us a chance to get a feel for the rhythm of the weather cycle in the current season, and find out what frequencies work best and when.

Next, we program our fax receiver for what we guess to be two or three of the best times of day. This way it turns on automatically. Then, and this is the key, we turn up the audio on the receiver so we can hear it when it turns on. We can then drop what we’re doing, and try out different frequencies so we can find the best for this time of day. It is easy to pick out the clear signals with the audio turned up – after a couple of days we have things pretty much zeroed in.

When we’re on a passage, if there are any faxes we want to be sure not to miss, or we are starting to get less than absolutely clear images, we again leave the audio turned up so we know to check as soon as the chart starts broadcasting.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 7, 2001)

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