What is Hellschreiber?
Hellschreiber, or Hell, is a method of sending and receiving text using facsimile technology. It is unique in that the characters are not decoded, but "painted" or printed on a screen. There are several modes of Hellschreiber, the most popular being a single-tone version call Feld-Hell, an on-off keyed system with 122.5 dots/second, or about a 35 WPM text rate. FH has a narrow bandwidth of about 75 Hz. Feld-Hell also has the advantage of having a low duty cycle meaning your transmitter will run much cooler with this mode.
What does a Hell signal sound like?
It sounds like this.
A Hellschreiber field unit in action
Where did the name "Hell" come from?
We can thank the inventor, a German engineer named Rudolf Hell, who patented this early method of facsimile in 1929. Hellschreiber was the first successful direct printing text transmission system, and was very popular at a time when teleprinters were complex and expensive, because the Hell receiving mechanism had only two moving parts. At first the Hellschreiber was mostly used for land-line press services, which continued well into the 1980s. A military version was used by the German Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War (1933). During WWII, Hellschreiber was widely used for field portable military communications, for which it proved to be very suitable because the equipment was simple and robust.
How can I operate Hellschreiber?
As with any digital mode, you need a PC and an interface to your radio. You'll also need software. Today there are a number of freeware programs that can have you up and running in Hell in a matter of minutes, including Ham Radio Deluxe, MultiPSK, and IZ8BLY's software. Not freeware but a popular program is MixW. Another program, FL Digi, will not only work in windows but in Linux, as well. Cocoamodem is a new program for Mac users. We are building a complete list of Hell applications on our software page. For questions you may have about software, or how to interface your PC with your rig, watch the video below, visit our Yahoo Groups to post a question, or ask us directly here.
Where can I find Hell signals?
In general, here is where you'll find most Hell activity. As with any ham radio mode, these are suggested frequencies but not etched in stone, so please listen first before transmitting, as you're also likely to hear MFSK, Olivia, BPSK, JT65, and other digital modes on or near these frequencies. Also, check our spotter page and Twitter feed for current activity.
160 METERS 1.840
80 METERS 3.574 to 3.584
40 METERS 7.077 to 7.084
30 METERS 10.137 10.144 (Region I)
20 METERS 14.063 (PREFERRED), 14.073 (Note 1)
17 METERS 18.104
15 METERS 21.074
12 METERS 24.924
10 METERS 28.074
6 METERS 50.286
Note 1: For 20 meter ops, the FHC calling frequency is 14.063 and UP to 14.069. PSK31 ops are on 14.070 and the QRP club uses 14.060 as their calling frequency. We do not wish to cause interference to each other. A reminder, QRP is a power reference, not a mode. If using 14.073, be sure to avoid interference with the JT65 area at 14.076. Even though some may encroach on our segment, we need to be be the good guys!
Hellschreiber is a Fuzzy Mode, classified as J2B. As such Hellschreiber may be transmitted on CW or phone amateur radio frequencies. The list above is a starting point for your activities. The club expects that operators will operate with the high ideals of Ham Radio in mind, and be vigilant against QRMing our fellow hams.
Are there any hams in Hell?
We assume you mean one of the two towns in the world named Hell. This one is in Michigan and courtesy of KC2RXS some contacts were made during a "Hell-expedition". LA1K won the DX category of the October 2008 Sprint operating from Hell, Norway.
Is Hellschreiber Permissible Under Part 97?
Is Hellschreiber a facsimile or a direct-printing telegraph system?
From Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, ARRL Technical Relations Manager: