Welcome to the world of HF Beacons!


The Northern California DX Foundation, in cooperation with other organizations throughout the world operates a network of time synchronized HF beacons. These beacons operate in the five amateur bands spanning 14 to 28 MHz. Since they are time synchronized, a listener can know exactly where a signal originated if the listener knows when the signal was received. This capability opens up the possibility of automated monitoring.

Beacons is a program designed to collect and graphically present signal strength information collected with your radio and your computer. If your radio is remotely controllable via a serial cable, Beacons will scan to any or all of the five bands the HF beacons operate on.


  • Controls receivers via serial port.
  • Collects data in graphical 'waterfall' format.
  • World map shows where beacon signal is coming from - in real time.
  • Waterfall's data can be saved to disk for future reference.
  • Two types of displays: 'all beacons, one band" (click the tab) or "all bands one beacon" (click the beacon on the world map).
  • Interface to SNTP time servers for time synchronization. 
  • Full Web browser built-it for access to latest Beacon information
  • Upgrades/updates available via the Web
  • Beacon bearing (short path and long path) as well as distance (miles and km) are available real-time.
  • Real-time waterfall display with customizable palettes gives further insight into the characteristics of the received signals.


Operating Beacons is meant to be simple. You cannot break it. Pausing your mouse over most items will supply an explanatory 'tool tip' pop-up.

The main tab, the World tab, displays a world map with a yellow circle indicating the current source of the beacon signal. Clicking on or near the circle will populate the five waterfalls being collected for that beacon; one for each band 

The band tabs provide a 'by band' look at the propagation conditions from every beacon on a given band.

Etc. is just that.

When you run Beacons for the first time, you select your radio, baud rates, COM ports, etc. Then click on the available 'GO' button. Beacons starts scanning the bands. You can select bands NOT to scan (for manual operation or due to stations requirements). You can also STOP scanning (perhaps to use the radio manually) and then 'Re-Start' scanning where you left off.

Beacons remembers your radio, spectrum display, and other settings; next session, they're all set when you start.

The interface is designed to be intuitive, uncluttered, and self-guiding with context sensitive help and 'tool tips' available to explain all features.

Time Server Information Sites:

On the TIME tab, clicking the hourglass icon should get a response pop-up in a second or two. If not, select another site from the pull-down list and try again. Should you need other sites. the links below are available. Just copy and paste their domain into the Time Servers window. Then click the hourglass...

List of Supported receivers:

  • ICOM radios, all addresses.
  • Ten-Tec Omni VI
  • Yaesu FT847 (and other CAT compatible receivers and transceivers)
  • Kachina KC-505
  • Kenwood radios are currently NOT supported (we just didn't have one in the club during Beacons development).