The U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard will sponsor traditional military / amateur radio communication tests on Saturday, May 13 to mark the 66th Annual Armed Forces Day (AFD). Armed Forces Day is May 20, but the AFD Crossband Military-Amateur Radio event will take place a week earlier to avoid scheduling conflicts with Hamvention attendees.
Complete information, including military stations, modes and frequencies, is available on the US Army MARS website.
The annual celebration is a unique opportunity to test two-way communication between radio amateurs and military stations (licensed under §97.111 of the rules of amateur service). It includes traditional military-amateur crossband SSB voice, CW, the practice of using legacy interoperability waveforms, and the ability for participating amateurs to use more modern military modes, such as MIL-STD Serial PSK and Automatic Link Establishment (ALE). Military stations and amateur radio stations are authorized to communicate directly on certain 60-meter interoperability channels – 5,330.5, 5,346.5 and 5,371.5 kHz.
These tests give amateur radio operators and shortwave (SWL) listeners a chance and challenge to demonstrate their individual technical skills and receive recognition from the appropriate military radio station. QSL cards will be available for stations successfully contacting participating military stations.
Message from AFD
The Armed Forces Day message will be transmitted via standard military radio teletype modes (MIL-STD 188-110A / B). Software is available to demodulate the military series PSK waveform, and detailed instructions can be downloaded. Using this mode with sound card equipment can be difficult; reread the instructions carefully.
A short practice transmission will be sent at 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on May 6, 7, 10 and 12 on 13.506.5 MHz USB and 17.443.0 MHz USB.
Military FSK is Baudot at 850 Hz, 75 baud, low note and 2000 Hz in the center. Most RTTY programs can be configured to decode this mode. To get a low note when receiving via USB, select reverse offset.
QSL cards are available for people who receive the Armed Forces Day test message. To receive a card, copy the printed text of the test message as received from the military station and include it in your report. No attempt should be made to correct any errors.
Stations copying Armed Forces Day messages from US Army and US Navy stations and requesting a QSL card, may Completed the online QSL report form. Stations copying the Armed Forces Day message from US Air Force stations and seeking a QSL card should send a request to Armed Forces Day Celebration, Chief, Air Force MARS, 203 W. Losey St, Scott AFB , IL 62225.
Include a transcript of the text received, observed time, observed frequency, military station call sign, your full name and ham radio call sign (if applicable), address complete postal code (including postal code).
Automatic link building
Stations with automatic connection establishment (ALE) can contact a military station on specific half-duplex cross-band channels established for this purpose. FTA is a selective calling and linking method used by government, military, and amateur radio communications. Military stations will scan and receive certain amateur HFLINK ALE frequencies and transmit on the corresponding military ALE frequency. Military stations will also transmit ALE station identification (soundings) on each military frequency at 30-90 minute intervals. Amateur stations can scan military frequencies and monitor polls to create the LQA database or select the channel manually. Amateur stations will call military stations using ALE selective calling on one of the paired cross-band channels.
Announcement of AFD’s special operations
NEPM on board the USS Iowa (BB61) will be on the air for its first annual Armed Forces Day military / amateur crossband radiocommunications test. Battleship Iowa Amateur Radio Association (BIARA) and qualified crew members from the Pacific Battleship Center will activate the NEPM.
The Potomac Valley Radioclub (PVRC) and the United States Naval Academy Radio Club will operate the NSS at the site of the 1918 Naval Radio Transmission Station at Greenbury Point in Annapolis, Maryland, across the Severn River from the US Naval Academy.
Other Navy stations are expected to be in service including NIIW, USS Half-way, San Diego; NWKJ; NWKJ, USS Yorktown, Charleston, South Carolina and NWVC, LST-325, Evansville, Indiana.