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Navigation Telecommunications

RTL-SDR for LF Beacons

Introduction

In my previous post (Ref.1) I examined how the RTL-SDR with the up converter can be used to receive the LF/MF/HF bands. Low power radio navigation beacons are located in the LF band and can be received by the RTL-SDR. Figure 1 shows a table of LF radio navigation beacons located in the Toronto area (Ref.2).

Freq KHzCall Sign & Pwr WLocation
248KZ 50WButtonville, Ontario
257TZ 25WGibraltar, Ontario
341ZLP 40WMeadowvale, Ontario
368ZYZ 25WQueensway, Ontario
391OO 50WOshawa, Ontario
403ZTO 50WWoodhill, Ontario
Fig.1 Low Frequency Navigational Beacon List Toronto, Ontario Area Ref.2

Operation

For comparison purposes, I used a Sony ICF-7600 shortwave receiver with a whip antenna, an SDR-IQ and RTL-SDR/UpConverter on a Buddipole antenna. Figure 2 is a video showing the results. Each station’s call sign is sent out in Morse code. The RTL-SDR is tuned to USB with a 1200Hz filter bandwidth and tuned 600Hz below the carrier frequency to put the on/off carrier 600Hz in the middle of the filter bandwidth.

Fig.2 LF Beacon Reception with RTL-SDR
YouTube Channel
YouTube Channel

References

#1 – “RTL-SDR for HF 0-30MHz”
https://jeremyclark.ca/wp/telecom/rtl-sdr-for-hf-0-30mhz/

#2 – “North American LW Radio Beacons”, William Hepburn
http://www.dxinfocentre.com/ndb.htm

#3. – “Learn Telecommunications by Simulation”
https://www.clarktelecommunications.com/simulation.htm

By Jeremy Clark

Jeremy Clark is a Senior Telecommunications Engineer and Advanced Amateur Radio Operator VE3PKC. He is the author of E-Books on Telecommunications, Navigation & Electronics.