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Thread: Automated DTV scanning and logging web page

  1. #1
    kb8u Guest

    Default Automated DTV scanning and logging web page

    I have just finished a computer program and web page that I thought this group might be interested in:

    http://kb8u.ham-radio-op.net/TV

    It repeatedly scans for DTV stations and tries to find the call sign from the program when the tuner locks on a channel. If successful, it plots the relative signal strength and signal/noise. If the call sign can be found on fcc.gov, it retrieves the location and other data and displays it on a map, color coded by strength. If a station drops out, it will change the color to black and it will stay on the map for 48 hours. When zoomed out, only the strongest station in a city is displayed to avoid map clutter. The map updates every 5 minutes.

    The tuner is a Silicondust HDHomeRun. The antenna is currently a Tennadyne T32 LPDA up about 45 feet that I point in different directions from time to time. The computer program is written in Perl; it in turn repeatedly runs a free program available from Silicondust to scan for DTV signals. Signal strength graphs are plotted with an open source package called Cricket. The OS and web server are also open source, Ubuntu Linux and Apache. I found some example javascript code on the internet for the map that I modified.

    If anybody would like to run their own copy of this on their web page, please contact me. I'll open-source it if there's enough interest. <mycallsign>_vhf@hotmail.com (replace <mycallsign> with my ham radio call sign and don't forget the underscore.)

    Wish list:
    1. All stations would transmit their call sign in the program. WPXD Ann Arbor, for example does not so it is ignored. Serves them right.
    2. Display distance and bearing.
    3. Look up and map Canadian and Mexican DTV (any location info available?).
    4. Sort stations by RF channel number instead of strength and RF channel number.
    5. don't run hdhomerun_config, use API instead.
    6. MORE DX!

    Bugs :
    1. The map starts at the same location and zoom level each time, so E-skip may not show right now. I plan on fixing that.
    2. FCC data is NAD27(?), Google is WGS84 so the icons may be off a few dozen feet. Just look for the tower if you need more accuracy....
    3. Internet Explorer may cut off the call sign label in the list of stations on the right. I'll probably fix that (time to learn CSS). Try the latest Firefox.
    4. Very old browsers may not refresh the screen every 5 minutes. Try the latest Firefox.
    5. FCC look ups only check permanently licensed stations. WILX in Lansing, for example, is using a Special Temporary Authorization (until they move back to channel 10?) so it isn't on the map. If Congress delays the switch to all-DTV then I may fix that.
    6. Previous to today, some of the graphed data is bogus. Some bugs were fixed, but if the perl program crashes or the tuner flakes out, the last values will be used there on out. It's all pretty solid so I'm not going to fix that.

  2. #2
    kb8u Guest

    Default features added and bug fix

    I've been plugging away at this some more:

    Added distance and bearing to station.
    Default map center and zoom level "should" show E-skip stations.
    Displays stations licensed under STA.
    Fixed incorrect date displayed bug.
    Improved sidebar appearance (still not 100% happy with it, though).

    Best regards, Russ KB8U

  3. #3
    kb8u Guest

    Default Added another (much better) receive site

    I added a second receive site in Hillsdale county, Michigan. Just got the antenna up in the air on Sunday. Antenna is a hunk-o-wire about 8 inches diameter, a horizontal loop but it's up about 170 feet above ground level and on a hill. No pre-amp and fed with RG-213 so there's room for improvement still. The tower blocks the view toward Detroit for the antenna.

    http://kb8u.ham-radio-op.net/TV2

    Best DX for it so far is 304 kilometers on UHF.

    Best regards. Russ KB8U

  4. #4
    kb8u Guest

    Default New antenna at Hillsdale site

    Yesterday I replaced the hunk-o-wire at 170' with a short UHF yagi on a ring rotor and last month I added a preamp and ran some RG-6/UQ coax. Last night I was rewarded with a nice tropo opening with best DX to St. Louis, 406 miles distant. http://kb8u.ham-radio-op.net/TV2. Now I need to automate turning the rotor. Fortunately I can do that with both feet on the ground now!

  5. #5
    tonsofpcs Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kb8u View Post
    All stations would transmit their call sign in the program. WPXD Ann Arbor, for example does not so it is ignored. Serves them right.
    All stations transmit a unique TSID in PSIP that is assigned to them. The table of TSIDs is public. The "short name" in the text tables has no requirements.

    [QUOTE]2. FCC data is NAD27(?), Google is WGS84 so the icons may be off a few dozen feet. Just look for the tower if you need more accuracy..../QUOTE]
    NADCON from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration can handle the conversion but, inside the continental US, the variance is only a hundred meters at the worst points (over 200 meters in other territories with HI having the worst at or over 400 meters).

  6. #6
    kb8u Guest

    Default DTV real-time reception page has been re-written

    I've completely rewritten my DTV real-time propagation monitoring web page so it uses a client-server model. I have a client version for Microsoft OSes and linux. Apple computers should work, too, in theory. There are now 5 sites and 9 tuners collecting data.
    http://kb8u.ham-radio-op.net/all_tuners

    Thanks to rabbitears.info, it now can use TSID data if a call sign is not found in PSIP data. Any combination of tuners can be displayed so if you only want to look at one site, I can create a URL for that.

    If anybody else has a SiliconDust DTV tuner and would like to participate, drop me an email at CALLSIGN_vhf@hotmail.com Change CALLSIGN to my call sign (same as my user ID) and don't forget the _ (this is done to evade spammers, sorry).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Lebanon, IN
    Posts
    101

    Default

    I am continuing a thread that was started in 2009 by KB8U Russ Dwarshuis in Ann Arbor, MI. As you can read he had just developed an automated DTV scanning program he thought would be of interest to TV DXers. There was some response, but no takers. In November of 2010 I found this thread and contacted Russ directly. With much patience he helped me set up my own DTV scanning system in my shack, including creating a web server to share my reception with others. I then set up IndySteve with the same system at his place. Russ had also set up a reception map on his server to receive reception reports from Steve, myself, and eventually a few others. Interest grew and the map was moved to Rabbitears.info where the number of contributing tuners grew exponentially.

    I am interested in collecting comments and testimonials (good and bad) about automated DTV dxing for a future VUD article. Please jump in and let us know your thoughts and experiences. Also, tell us what equipment you are using to run the Autologger. Hope to hear from many of you!
    Mike Glass N9BNN
    Lebanon, IN
    EM69

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Springfield, Missouri
    Posts
    935

    Default

    In a short period of time, I have become a strong advocate of this type of dxing. I actually got set up with my own HDHR system and connected to Rabbitears for auto log dxing in October of this year. I have actually snagged new logs since then that I wouldn't have been aware were in on my Zenith converter box. I think this is a great way to dx the DTV band, especially IF you're away from home OR you want to go to sleep at night (as opposed to pulling an all nighter). Think of this as..."I have to get some sleep. I have to go to work tomorrow." The dx isn't going to stay away, just because you have to get some sleep. And if tropo dx is up and you ARE available, this is a great way to *clue you in* and you can then start checking the channels to physically see what's coming in.

    Regarding my dx equipment, I am using a Channel Master 4228 (8 bay old style) @ 25', a custom made VHF 2-6 yagi @ 20', fed through a CM 7778 preamplifier, controlled with a rotator and fed with commercial grade RG-6 (not the Lowes - Home Depot - Walmart packaged stuff).

    I started DTV dxing at my Missouri location on April 22, 2011. To date, I have logged 136 stations. In Oct-Nov I immediately added 11 new stations to my logbook when there were signals that came up in the night when I was sleeping and wasn't aware that dx conditions were changing. Obviously, I wasn't up to be checking the dials to see where signals were coming from. My big surprise was on November 2nd, when signals came up from the southern IN-IL area (Evansville), with the antenna pointed SW! Going east is a tough direction because it goes right through a cell tower site two miles away.

    IF you decide to jump on the bandwagon and add an HDHR unit to your dx shack for automated DTV dxing, Trip is nice enough to have this *help* page for getting it set up with his website...
    http://www.rabbitears.info/static.ph..._live_bandscan

    IF you want to see what's coming in at my location at any time, you can go here...
    http://m.rabbitears.info/index.php?r...T&unit=&auto=Y

    IF I want to check what's going on near me, I can go here...
    Omaha/Lincoln NE area
    http://m.rabbitears.info/index.php?r...T&unit=&auto=Y

    Milford IL (south of Chicago)
    http://m.rabbitears.info/index.php?request=tvdx_one&tid=1019DEC0&tno=0&hour s=&sort=all&tzone=CT&unit=&auto=Y
    Last edited by Jim Thomas; 11-27-2015 at 12:17 PM. Reason: added information
    Jim Thomas
    Springfield, MO

    Making FM Dxing more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Akron Ohio
    Posts
    631

    Default

    The autologger isn't perfect, but it is still a great tool. The first and only time there was actually a good tropo duct going on here when I was away, my computer kept unexpectedly freezing up and causing the autologger to stop working. But 99% of the time, it's working fine. There was also a day when the complete RabbitEars autologger system was down... luckily there wasn't any tropo at that time.

    It has helped me to log a few stations that I've never actually seen. Here are a few examples that it has logged that I still have yet to get screenshots of...

    20/41 WOTV Battle Creek, MI 213 miles
    20/5 CBLT Toronto, ON @ 211 miles (over local WFMJ)
    25/25 CBLFT Toronto, ON @ 211 miles
    40/40 CJMT Toronto, ON @ 211 miles
    44/57 CITY Toronto, ON @ 211 miles
    48/46 WHME South Bend, IN @ 229 miles

    If there is ever any good tropo here, which is rare, I'm already at the TV anyways... unless I can't be, if I'm at work or just have to get sleep and not pull an all-nighter.
    Andrew

    My TV and FM DX Photos from Akron, Ohio...
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/133179000@N04/albums

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    28

    Default

    I just read about this thread in the new December WTFDA VUD, so had to check it out.

    About 8 months ago I heard about the Rabbitears logging program and maps so inquired about it from Trip, the Rabbitears.info webmaster. I already had two HD HomeRun receivers and was logging reception scans on my own website, so I added his scripts to mine. I then added links to my feeds to rabbitears on my own web page, so you can now look at both my local scans and the lists and maps on rabbitears.info from my web page: http://www.larrykenney.com/hdhr/

    Trip's program was easy to set up and it has been running pretty much flawlessly on my I-Mac for over six months. I've even logged two "DX" stations - DX by west coast standards - at 86 and 175 mile distances. One, KCBA RF 13, Monterey, was logged while I was in Europe on July 31st. The other, KNVN RF 24, Chico, transmitting from east of Red Bluff, CA, has been seen three times. The last time I received KNVN, about two months ago, it got as strong as 22 dB SNR and was locked in for over two hours.

    My DXing is limited due to being located in San Francisco, 3/4 mile from Sutro Tower, and having stations on just about every channel, including low power stations on channels 2, 3 and 4. I can log 125 sub-channels in a single scan with my antennas pointed at 197 degrees, so that doesn't leave much room for DX signals. You can check out my log of stations received here: http://www.larrykenney.com/sfreceived.html - most of them available all of the time.

    Larry

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