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Ambient Information Network - Datacasting Service

Michael-SATX

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Location
San Antonio, Texas
Hello, I wanted to create this post about this topic and hopefully try to collect hard to find info on what RR folks here know about the following:

Ambient Devices runs a data network called "Ambient Information Network" that sends weather, stock market activity, sport scores, energy pricing and usage using a paging network that utilizes encoded FM radio stations to send out a data broadcast signals to ambient devices.
Ambient Information Network is a Data-casting service that uses the USA Mobility 900 Mhz Nationwide Paging Network that covers 90% of US pop.

Question #1 : Does anyone know the exact Nationwide Frequency that these devices use ?
USA Mobility - (Was Arch, Metrocall, PageMart, PageNet and Sprint etc)
929.6625 6400 Baud Flex Inverted, Phase ABCD - (Active now in San Antonio, Texas)
929.5875 6400 Baud Flex Inverted, Phase ABCD - (No activity heard in SATX)
929.6125 3200 Baud Flex Inverted, Phase AB - (Active now in SATX)
931.2125 3200 Baud Flex Inverted, Phase AB - (No activity heard in SATX)

Question #2 : Does anyone know if the Ambient Information Network is shutting down & when ?
Some info pointed to the AIN being shut down after Dec 31, 2019 but SATX and other cities are still up and updating WX devices etc.
I searched and found an article with a lengthy user comments section that has some good info in this link :

Question #3 : Can this AIN datacasting be decoded and displayed using an SDR and a PDW type software that does POCSAG, FLEX, ACARS etc ?
Is there a program that does the format and protocol info needed to view the 5 or 7-Day Weather Forecast data that is provided by AccuWeather(dot)com ?

Question #4 : Does anyone know if these consumer weather display devices have say CAP CODES and thus are addressable to authorize their service ?
Note: There were NO MONTHLY FEES but certainly license fees were paid by the likes of Brookstone, Sharper Image, Radio Shack, Bushnell & Ambient.
Further I have 2 Radio Shack Cat # 63-1085 5-Day Weather Forecaster that both quit updating approx Feb 2018 but do show Ambient signal at startup.
Presently my Brookstone (no model # on unit, powered by Ambient) 5-Day Weather Forecaster is still going strong and shows 3 signal bars in SATX.
Bushnell has a trade-in program to send in your Bushnell FX unit and they will send you a La Crosse Wireless Color Weather Station model C85845v3.
Unfortunately, these LaCrosse devices try to best-guess the WX based on a pre-programmed barometric model vs the accurate AccuWeather
LaCrosse does make a $165 MSRP model C83100 Color Wi-Fi Weather Station with 7-day AccuWeather forecasts but not at a glance - req button presses.

Bottom Line: For a simple Glanceable device that needs no WIFI or outdoor sensors these old forecasters were fantastic and accurate thanks to the vast nationwide weather forecasting network of Accuweather (dot) com

Note: You never know who knows what until you simply ask - This forum seemed the best place to post and hopefully learn from others knowledge ;)
Bushnell Ambient Wireless 95003 FX3 FX5 FX7 5-Day Amber.jpgBrookstone 5 Day WX.jpg
 
Last edited:

kjsorenson

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Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
15
Hi,

I found a Brookstone 5 Day Weather Forecaster on eBay that has an image of the back after it had been opened. The Frequency is printed at 929.6625. I also have the same model that I picked up second hand, but it is configured differently and has no frequency printed anywhere that I can find. The 929.6625 MHz frequency is apparently now licensed to SPOK for nationwide data simulcasts. SPOK publishes online coverage maps for each state and there is a map for 929.6125 and another map for 929.6625. My Brookstone device fires up in the 'ready to receive mode', but does not show any weather data. There could be two possible problems (or both). I'm outside the coverage area for 929.6625 and/or the internal antenna has been disconnected. I opened the unit and found a disconnected wire about 16 inches long. There is no way of determining where that wire went without a rather complicated tear down which I'm not quite ready to attempt.

If you go to Ambient Devices Technical Resources you will find some very detailed information about the 2005 development version of the device with schematics and layouts. From what I can see now my unit is similar, but different in its physical layout. I can see that it has RS-232 input and output with Gnd. At least it appears that one can talk to the unit through a terminal. That is covered in the development version information.

Now, on the question of receiving Flex 6400 with an SDR receiver. I'm using SDRplay to receive 929.6125 here in NH. I appear to be out of range of 929.6625 and will probably need a yagi of about 10 to 20 db gain to receive it. I figure at this point, 6625 is where the data continues to be broadcast. The software is at https://www.discriminator.nl/pdw/index-en.html

If you get set up with an SDR and software I can advise on optimal settings for the software - I'm using SDRplay's software, but any receiver and software that covers the 900 MHz band should work with PDW: FM narrow, say 15 KHz bandwidth. If you do start to receive data on 929.6625 (which is my guess for the target) you can record sound and save data strings for more clues about the data packets. You will need to be able to route your audio into your mic input (or use one of the audio Virtual Cable programs) so that audio from the SDR can get to the PDW decoder.

At this point I'm messing with the project purely out of curiosity. If the service is down for good or I'm too far out of coverage I'd still like to try and figure out how the systems works and even develop a transmitter to spoof it and get some data over to the device. I have some small RF devices that I can program to send data packets in many forms to such a device. I need to capture sound and/or over the air data packets of the Flex transmission before I can do much more. I probably need to tear down the unit and re-attach the antenna, or attach a proper external antenna with some gain before I do much else. BTW - the devices use a PIC chip to store your customer code and they cannot be reprogrammed, at least without some major physical intervention. One could probably reverse engineer around that, but that's not for amateurs.

Anyone else out there have any knowledge or experience concerning the Brookstone (and Bushnell) 5 day weather forecaster and the system it uses?

Let me know how you get on.

Jim
Brookline, NH
03033
 

Michael-SATX

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Messages
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Location
San Antonio, Texas
Hello Jim in Brookline NH, thanks for being the first reply to my thread after 170 user views in a month and a half of time !



On Tuesday 2-11-20, I swapped the smaller PCB daughter board made by Unication from my working Brookstone 5 Day Forecaster

over to my old Radio Shack Cat # 63-1085 5 Day Forecaster and it came to life and showed the correct Accuweather forecast data.

Then Wed 2-12-20, I hot swapped back the smaller PCB daughter boards and the RS 5 Day Forecaster no longer updated because

the Cap Codes on the RS units were deleted from the AIN Datacasting stream approx 2 years ago. (Expired License Agreements ?)

The Brookstone 5 Day forecaster now was working again. I thought it was cool that the RX board OEM'd by Unication was the same.

Sadly, here in San Antonio, Texas the Ambient Information Network seems to have been shut down before midnight 2-13-2020.
In product forums there are end users also reporting that Portland, Boston, MA and Indiana just to name a few are also offline.
I still see 3 signal bars, however, I NO LONGER see the "Updating" RX icon flickering as it used to RX 15-minute WX updates !

I just fired up PDW connected to a discriminator tapped scanner tunned to 929.6625 Mhz and still decode pager traffic today.
I decoded some Flex 6400 alpha pager traffic from Raytheon.com as well as a few hospital ward pager messages & some numeric only.
I wish I would have done this when the Ambient Information Network was still up to view the Ambient WX forecasting data.

ps ~ Beware these EOL Weather Forecasters are popping up on ebay to lure in unaware buyers and take their money !!!
 

kjsorenson

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
15
Outstanding! Thanks for the reply to my reply. I guess there aren't many of
us out there.

Watching hospital pager traffic is like watching a hospital soap. There is
so much going on: calls to clean 'dirty' rooms, patients won't take their
meds, equipment showing alarms, bed requests etc. Some are endearing like: *Hi
Marcella! I have a very cute friend here in MSICU for you. Pt.
Balahernandez (5451442) 3mo M who had presented in resp distress.*

Anyway, interspersed with all the drama and medical stuff are the
occasional messages that look like they are from Accuweather:
!T>*(-R[/,"7#>~J!DSunny to partly cloudy PMore
sun than clouds >Sunny
_Mostly sunny GMostly sunny

GSunny to partly cloudy PA shower late in
the
a.m.#Mostly sunny G [27]

I can identify nothing concerning Ambient, but I cannot yet receive 929.6625.
I'm building a 10 element yagi and will see if I can locate its signal over
the weekend. That other traffic was on 929.608.

FYI - I found the original patents for the Ambient devices which I've not
had a chance to look at closely yet. However, the frequency they mention
is 929.66625. Probably a printing error? Here is a link to one of the
patents and inside are links to the other patents:


I have already mentioned this link to you:


I would download all the PDFs mentioned here in case they take down the
site. The site was down yesterday for quite some time and I had only copied
one of the PDF files. It came back on later and copied them.

One can use the information contained in them to build up a typical data
string that might be encountered over the air by the 5 day weather device.
The patents drill down further, but they don't give you access to the
figures or illustrations.

Here's a list:


CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- [0001]
This application is a non-provisional of, and claims the benefit of the
filing date of, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/763,861
filed on Jan. 31, 2006.
- [0002]
This application is also a continuation in part of, and claims the
benefit of the filing date of, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/247,780
filed Sep. 19, 2002 and published as U.S. Patent Application Publication
2003/0076369 on Apr. 24, 2003. Application Ser. No. 10/247,780 was a
non-provisional of Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/323,493, filed Sep.
19, 2001, Ser. No. 60/358,272, filed Feb. 20, 2002, and Ser. No. 60/398,648
filed Jul. 25, 2002.
- [0003]
This application is also a continuation in part of, and claims the
benefit of the filing date of, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/149,929
filed on Jun. 10, 2005 which is a non-provisional of U.S. Patent
Application Ser. No. 60/578,629 filed Jun. 10, 2004 and is a continuation
in part of the above-noted U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/247,780.

The link I dropped you in is the Ambient Umbrella, as dumb a product as I
could ever imagine, but it operates much like the 5 day weather station.
I'm not really sure if they are still in business as a company. I know from
the blog that there appear to be two ambient companies now. Or perhaps just
one. It's all very confusing, but that info could be traced with a bit of
effort.

With PDW (if it comes back on) you should be able to capture both the data
string and record it as a wave file. If you are able to do that, I would
greatly appreciate a copy of both. Thanks.

Somebody is still paying SPOK to transmit weather data, although
intermittently. We might be able to trace that back to a company or source.

Meanwhile, as I said, I need to teardown my device and getting it working
on the bench where I can have access to the RS-232 and use their query command set to
probe further into its operation.

The attached png shows the system architecture of the Umbrella device and the misprinted frequency.


I just ran across this blog post "Sniffer Pager Newwork Traffic - the Hardware

This is interesting - You wrote:

On Tuesday 2-11-20, I swapped the smaller PCB daughter board made by Unication from my working Brookstone 5 Day Forecaster

over to my old Radio Shack Cat # 63-1085 5 Day Forecaster and it came to life and showed the correct Accuweather forecast data.

Then Wed 2-12-20, I hot swapped back the smaller PCB daughter boards and the RS 5 Day Forecaster no longer updated because

the Cap Codes on the RS units were deleted from the AIN Datacasting stream approx 2 years ago. (Expired License Agreements ?)

The Brookstone 5 Day forecaster now was working again. I thought it was cool that the RX board OEM'd by Unication was the same.

How did you find out that the CAP codes were deleted?

We need to find out who is running the show and why. Ambient mentions that they have over a million devices out with customers. Obviously somebody has taken over to provide limited support for these devices as the system winds down. My guess is that the Ambient business model is no longer viable due to the universal presence of WiFi connections. However, if I am receiving what I believe are Accuweather data by Flex, I should be able to filter and port that to any display devise. Using Arduino comes to mind. But it would be easier with WiFi.

Let me know what you find out and I will do the same. Thanks very much for responding.

Jim


Here is a thesis PDF that explains the Flex paging protocol in almost layman-like terms.

  • As described in the above noted U.S. Patent Application Publication 2003/0076369-A1, a sub-addressing operation may be used to transmit specific data to a specific display device.
  • Each display device may be assigned a unique ID which is stored locally on the device. Broadcast packets preceded by this unique ID are decoded by the device, while other devices with different unique ID are discarded. By transmitting a particular service code or codes to a particular device or group of cloned devices which defines the kind of service that device subscribes to (e.g. a nine-day forecast for Boston), the display device can be conditioned to thereafter look for and respond to packets relating to that designated service. The transmitted data to which the device responds include not only displayable data, but also mapping data and software which determine how the device renders the received data on the display screen.

With or without a CAPCODE?
 

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Michael-SATX

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San Antonio, Texas
GREAT NEWS !!! - Sometime Saturday Feb 15 between 5am and 9am CST - the Ambient Information Network resumed WX operation !!!

Other users around the country also report they are back up and running and their various Weather Forecasters are updating once again !

On my Brookstone 5-Day weather forecaster (mfg 2007) to the right of the antenna icon - when the word "updating" is flashing
this means your 12 digit numeric CapCode is authorized and will RX AIN data and NOT just seeing signal bars next to Ambient etc.
After I hot swapped the Unication made pager receiver PCB - ie puting the de-authorized old RS board in the Brookstone unit
I only see the "updating" word flashing until next datacast 30 min later and poof the updating icon goes away and no more updates.
The documentation says these 12 digit capcodes are factory programmed by Unication in the PIC IC and cannot be reprogrammed or cloned.
Like all Ambient Devices products, each chip is factory programmed with a unique serial number. This allows users to customize
content delivery by visiting the Ambient Devices website at http://www.myambient.com. This unique serial number enables the Ambient
Information Network (AIN) to individually address a particular device. Serial numbers are assigned by Ambient Devices and registered
with the Ambient database. They cannot be changed or copied (cloned) but what about spoofed by generating a keep alive data string ?

Thanks Jim for sharing the link to the Ambient Devices Technical Resources - great details and info available while the getting is good !
So are you saying that the US Mobility 929.6625 Nationwide paging network is now owned by a company called "SPOK" ? explain ?

Below are 3 exact screen captures of the Ambient Data Stream on our SATX tower - note the 30 min updates (not 15 min update intervals).
Our tower sends out WX data for these 5 cities: Display Screen#1=El Paso ,#2=Austin ,#3=San Antonio ,#4=Dallas ,#5=Albuquerque,NM
On that note that seems a strange mix - why not say Dallas, Houston, Austin ,San Antonio & Corpus Christi, all more logical Texas cities ?

Address - Time - Date - Mode - Type - Bitrate - Monitored Messages in PDW v3.12 Software decoding 929.6625 Mhz

010652057 21:50:01 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !TR* &R[//"3#B~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&`d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&_c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [23]

010652057 22:19:55 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !T4* &R[//"4#%~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&`d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austi
+&_c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [24]

010652057 22:49:55 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !TR* &R[//"4#C~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&_d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&^c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [25]

You asked : What is a pager CAP code ?
“CAP Code” stands for Channel Access Protocol code, which is the unique 12 character unique ID code assigned to a particular pager.
When a pager detects its own cap code within a FLEX or POCSAG address frame, it will alert the. user with a beep, tone, or vibration.

Here is a JPG pic example of the main PCB attached to the pager receiver PCB OEM'd by Unication that is obstructed and on the bottom.
I would like to do the cool mod to attach the LEDs to the following pinouts: Pin#2 Yellow LED - Pin#3 Green LED - Pin#4 Red LED
The LEDs are for demonstration and diagnostic purposes. They blink red if there is a high chance of rain for today, yellow if
there is a medium chance of rain today, and green for a low chance of rain today. If the RESET button is pressed, these
LEDs show signal strength (Green = strong, yellow = medium, red = no signal strenght received) letting you know to adj location.

Yes Jim build that 900 Mhz YAGI or go waste gas and go mobile to explore possible better reception of the AIN 929.6625 Mhz signal.
Here in SATX I also decode pager traffic on 929.6125 which by the way seems to carry far more traffic than seen on 929.6625 Mhz.

Ambient RX+Display Modules.jpg
 
Last edited:

kjsorenson

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Feb 13, 2020
Messages
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Thanks for that good news.

About SPOK.

Go to this link which is an application in the FCC database. It shows that the owner Mobility Wireless is the contact for the operator of the license, which is SPOK. This simply means that SPOK is the service provider who is contracted out to provide the technical service through its transmitters and towers. SPOK may also have an interest in the ownership with Mobility being the flagship or holder. These businesses keep turning over rapidly and the actual ownership is hard to keep up with.

This particular application and license appears to be for Texas, but we will also find that SPOK also operates for them nationwide. At least I have the SPOK coverage maps for this area for 929.6625.



Secondly, the strings you sent me are the same type as the ones I'm receiving with my SDR receiver and PDW. So it appears that all packets for the 5 Day Weather Forecaster are sent out in the clear, but the particular device itself will only respond if the code is for that machine. That would also tell me that my device is too far out for coverage, and/or it is broken. Now to analyze my data strings and see if they can be 100% decoded by software to display on a computer screen in complete readable form. That should be possible because we know all their codes from the patents and the Ambient PDFs. A simple Python script would probably do it.

First I have to figure out why my SDR receiver frequency is so far off both given SPOK frequencies. I'm not even sure that the data I'm receiving is on either of those two frequencies. The SDRplay software has yet no way to correct for frequency errors which is dumb. All the other programs have that. So I might switch to another Linux based SDR program and see if I can determine the frequencies precisely. But basically it looks like whatever frequency I'm receiving is providing the right data now, so I really would not have to do that. But I don't like the idea of not knowing the frequencies I'm listening to. I'm probably still too far away from the Brookstone to pick up enough of the signal to respond. It probably needs an external antenna so I'm going to have to tear it down and figure that out.

Anyway, your info today has made a breakthrough here.

Many thanks
 

kjsorenson

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
15
Different simulcast zones have the ability to send different data to the same device address. This enables devices to always be receiving local information wherever they happen to be situated. For example, when a device is in San Francisco, it receives weather data for San Francisco. When the device moves to Los Angeles, it receives data for Los Angeles weather on the same channel. The device itself is not aware of the location shift – it simply renders data packets it receives at a specified address. To the device, this is simply a change of content. But to the user it looks like location based services without the expense of a GPS device
Most Likely if you map your location in reference to the cities that are covered in TX, you find those five cities are the closest. The cities covered in Texas are:

AMARILLO TX
AUSTIN TX
BEAUMONT TX
BROWNSVILLE TX
CORPUS CHRISTI TX
DALLAS TX
EL PASO TX
HOUSTON TX
LAREDO TX
LUBBOCK TX
SAN ANTONIO TX
WACO TX

Albuquerque makes sense in light of closeness to your location too. Would you be closest to Austin and most distant from Albuquerque? You are in San Antonio - I'll have to look at a map. But it appears that the cities are chosen by your location. Still some big questions there.

Do you have the codes for all the cities. I thought I had their codes, but now can't find it.

They cannot be changed or copied (cloned) but what about spoofed by generating a keep alive data string ?
Good idea. I think there are some java script commands in the Java PDF that refer to that.

From what you've written I assume that you are receiving those packets on a receiver and at the same time watching your weather station change accordingly. If so, could you possibly match a packet to an image on the display and send it to me. We know that you may not be receiving a full blank screen packet because the their controller knows what you need to be undated and will only sent what is new.

Thanks for info about the CAP code. So the CAPCODE is the address for a particular user. Therefore the unique serial number must come at the head of the string after the date in some manner?? You would think that it would be those alphanumeric characters that precede the plain text. But how are the numbers for temperatures represented? I would have thought that since your device started up from scratch (nothing in cache maybe) that the first string you show is a complete string? You could turn the station off, reset it, start it up and stand by ready with the receiver to to capture the first incoming string. Probably easier said than done. (n)

So I'd better get busy on my weather station here and get some data through it.

Jim
 

kjsorenson

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Feb 13, 2020
Messages
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Looked at a map. Maybe Lubbock as the center of those choices for that first data packet. But there is Oklahoma City. Maybe topography comes into play.
 

kjsorenson

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Messages
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Hi again, Let me bother you with one more question: When you say 'screen capture' do you mean as seen on the computer monitor using an SDR receiver? Did you see the small changes on your 5 day weather station? It looks like 3#B, 4#% and 4#C are only changes.

010652057 21:50:01 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !TR* &R[//"3#B~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&`d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&_c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [23]

010652057 22:19:55 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !T4* &R[//"4#%~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&`d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&_c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [24]

010652057 22:49:55 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !TR* &R[//"4#C~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&_d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&^c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [25]

Your 12 character code should be embedded in there as well. If a space could stand for 0 , 0!TR*0&R[//" might stand for your serial number

There's sure is a lot of scope in these strings to convert to readable weather data. I'm still not entirely convinced that these strings are producing what you see on your 5 Day Weather Forecaster. Mild doubt. Are they getting their weather information from source Accuweather? I think that could be true judging by some the vocabulary and word usage.

Yikes. I still have not gotten to that antenna and teardown. Oh, well, tomorrow is a holiday.

Cheers
 

kjsorenson

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Messages
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On closer inspection there are more differences:

010652057 21:50:01 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !TR* &R[//"3#B~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&`d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&_c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [23]

010652057 22:19:55 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !T4* &R[//"4#%~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&`d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&_c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [24]

010652057 22:49:55 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !TR* &R[//"4#C~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&_d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&^c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [25]
 

skybug

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Location
Tyngsboro, Mass.
I lost weather data up in here in the New England area for the last couple of days. I had full signal strength, but no updating was happening, the temp and forecast was stuck. Then it finally starting updating again. I have had one of them forecasters for a few years now and this has happened now and then and always came back to life. Figured it was just the data system had a hiccup. I did read a few years ago that the service was going away but never seen it happen, yet. There are a lot of these and others, forecasters out there, I sure hope they don't do away with it. Oh, on the info above, that first 9 digit number is the cap code.
 

kjsorenson

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I lost weather data up in here in the New England area for the last couple of days. I had full signal strength, but no updating was happening, the temp and forecast was stuck. Then it finally starting updating again. I have had one of them forecasters for a few years now and this has happened now and then and always came back to life. Figured it was just the data system had a hiccup. I did read a few years ago that the service was going away but never seen it happen, yet. There are a lot of these and others, forecasters out there, I sure hope they don't do away with it. Oh, on the info above, that first 9 digit number is the cap code.
 

kjsorenson

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
15
One fact that would help everybody seeking to keep their weather forecasters running smoothly is:

Who is running the system and how does one get in touch with then. Then, what are their plans for the service going forward?

For example, I emailed Ambient and asked as they suggested that I tell them my device serial number and location. That email address bounced the request. Other signs that they no longer support their devices are out there. Yet people owing those devices are still getting periodic service.

Now that my device is not working, whom do I call to check and see if my serial number is still included in their database on an active server that is providing weather packets to the wide coverage SPOK network in 929.6625?

One thing you can do is contact SPOK and ask if they can tell you who contracts them to provide wide area weather forecasting. For example,
here is my state on a SPOK coverage map. The provide wide area coverage on 929.6625 (what my device is tuned for).


I'm just outside coverage the coverage area. If I move into the coverage area with my device will it activate? However, I can't just drive over into coverage and wait forever.

So my next step is to contact SPOK and see if they can be of assistance to find the company that is paying for the broadcasts and then I will try and contact them. Do they have a plan looking forward or is this sporadic coverage just a part of a wind down.

Jim
 

kjsorenson

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
15
Further to my last post:

If I am able to find out if my device is still registered and data packets are still being sent out to it, I will put up a high gain external antenna at my location (they are quite small) and see if I can access the service from out of coverage. I'm right over the edge.
 

skybug

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 13, 2009
Messages
58
Location
Tyngsboro, Mass.
You can try to contact Spok, not sure how much they will give ya. Since they are just the carrier, they may not provide much help, but worth a try. I tried to contact someone about the weather data as well and got no where.
 

kjsorenson

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
15
Right you are....

Unfortunately, we don't have any information about the specified services in your area. I apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

At least they were polite enough to respond.
 

skybug

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 13, 2009
Messages
58
Location
Tyngsboro, Mass.
Oh ya, they are a good company, had them for years when I carried a pager, then the cell phone came along. They have lots of clients that use the system, and of course, they probably wouldn't tell ya much if they actually knew anything. Mine is still running and updating all the time still, my weather center thing that is. Such a shame, I know lots of folks have these, includig many family members, we'll all get left out in the cold and no where to turn when they shut down. It's the only service like this out there I believe.
 

kjsorenson

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
15
I assume you have a Brookstone 5 day weather station also, or is it another brand like Bushnell or Radio Shack. I'm interested in devices that still use paging as a source for their weather displays. I am in the coverage area for the other SPOC frequency of 929.6125 that does local one way paging. There is a weather broadcast on this frequency that I believe is Accuweather. But I can only see the raw paging string.


My Brookstone device has a serial number for the Nationwide service for which I'm out of range.

 

skybug

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Joined
Mar 13, 2009
Messages
58
Location
Tyngsboro, Mass.
You know, I don't know and have to run up and check it. I thought I read that some were working off a local radio station sub-carrier? I think I saw that somewhere, going to check it now. I have seen raw data packets on the web and had the mentioned cities in it like the example told above. I thought mine was on paging service and on the Spok one. Just looked at mine, its a Bushnell 5 day (FX5). On the back is states Live data from AccuWeather. Then there is a Ambient name there as well. Where I am, I have 2 to 3 bars showing up where it says Ambient on the right, top of the screen.
 
Last edited:

Michael-SATX

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
890
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Q= Jim, you asked about how I know that various CAP Codes have been deleted from the Ambient database over the years ?
A= Their Ambient PDF states these devices have unique serial numbers (CAP Codes) that enables Ambient Devices through their AIN
to individually address a particular device. Serial numbers are assigned by Ambient Devices and registered with the Ambient database.
Further, we know many series of devices have been de-authorized ie my 2 RS 63-1085 5 day WX units, Ambient's Stock Market Mavens,
Ambient's WX color changing Orbs, Bushnell's 7-day Golf Course WX forecasters and Bushnell telling their customers all their units will stop.

Q= Jim, do you have a friend or co-worker in 929.6625 coverage and they can try your Brookstone unit at their house and report back ?

Q= Skybug, when you can, sit by you Bushnell FX5 and while online, go to various website like AccuWeather, Weather Underground, etc
see what matches your device display data. In SATX my AIN data does NOT match up AccuWeather, so is the source ambientweather.net ?
But nevertheless I am happy and just 1 of 2 degree's off from AccuWeather (dot) com so to me it's good enough for government work :)

Q= Jim, try to attach either a single external antenna wire antenna to the built in exposed flat copper PCB antenna elements (s) try each ?
btw - My Brookstone unit has no 16-inch wire anywhere, just 2 wires to a piezo buzzer for hazardous weather warning and 2 battery leads.

Q= Jim, what service do you think provides that other weather conditions info we both see in PDW decodes - pilot or public safety related ?

Q= Jim, checked out your link to the FCC License for SPOK, Inc but I did not see anything for 929.6625 Mhz for any of those Texas locations.
btw - That FCC Lic - Paging and Radiotelephone License - KNKJ205 - Spok, Inc. (FRN=0015608417) was for 931.8625 & has pager traffic !
Our 2 towers for 931.8625 = Medical Center site Lic Loc# 5 (7711 Louis Pastuer Drive) & Downtown site Lic Loc# 20 (112 East Pecan Street)

Q= Jim, Does each USA city covered by Ambient WX Forecasts even have a unique city code or do these names just go out in clear text ?
btw - San Antonio is no where near Albuquerque, NM - Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston & Dallas are closest in this order to San Antonio.

Q= Jim, Just imagine what we could do by spoofing authorization/keep alive code signals have potential to resurrect dead WX forecasters ?
Q= I wonder if a unit "thinks" it's time synced and authorized would it then display the data that my authorized Brookstone unit displays ?

Q= Jim, yes I was watching my Brookstone and my PC Laptop running PDW attaching to a IF discriminator tapped scanner on 929.6625
btw - Yes, I R&R batteries, long pressed reset and had a clean slate memory and just 1 of those packets I pasted above fully populated data

Q= Skybug, I'm curious why PDW decodes a 9-digit ID code when the labels on units show 12 digit addresses - what's the deal here ?
btw - The PDW shown address of "010652057" is the ONLY one I have seen ever here in SATX that appears to be from Ambient's AIN !
So where are the other local users unique address ID's to authorize their units - also got my unit on ebay from Miami, FL and it works OK here.
Maybe this is just a group ID and some other data string authorizes and keeps alive the unit and or even tells it to lQQk for this group ID etc ?

Q= Skybug, On your Brookstone Weather FX5 please step through your 5 cities and tell which 5 cities you receive in Tyngsboro, Mass ?

Q= Jim, I even tried to use the myambient(dot)com address on the bottom of my 2 dead RS 5 Day forecasters to investigate perhaps
paying for the "Premium" subscription service for the past offer of a 6th paid for custom location thinking that might authorize these units?
I found their website not reachable and calling the listed 1-800 support # gets to another company selling to a life alert type pendant service !

Q= Jim, compare that weather data you RX on PDW to AccuWeather(dot)com in the way of forecasting and current weather conditions etc.

Q= Skybug, is your Bushnell WeatherFX FX5 a M/N# 950005 or the 950015 that on the ac adapter only can change colors on WX conditions ?
A= Click and check out the Bushnell Weather FX7/7-Day m/n# 950017 - only on ac adapter the back light changes with forecast conditions ;)

Q= Anyone, we need to try to better understand the data string such as the following Ambient and other Flex 6400 message components ?
Examples as exactly cut and pasted from PDW PC-screen:
Address - Time - Date - Mode - Type - Bitrate - Monitored Messages Fields in PDW v3.12 Software decoding 929.6625 Mhz

1) The only data string that seems to affect and drives my unit ( and probably all the other local Ambient AIN powered devices )
010652057 22:49:55 15-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 !TR* &R[//"4#C~G(+&aeYe[f[e[aY"!FF"El Paso TX +&_d\h`iae]]Z###&'Austin TX
+&^c]h`iag]^Z###&'San Antonio TX +&_c\d_g]aY\X"!""&Dallas TX
+&]`UaWaW`W_U!!"!#Albuquerque NM . [25]

2) Let's try to break down the following 2 similar strings ? So do these 2 pager users just see the 10 digit telephone # displayed or more info ?
My Questions are what does MSN / 059 / hello Message from / NOC means what ? / PCB means what ? / [02] & [07] mean what ?
Jim, I read your link to that dudes college thesis about FLEX paging decoding and I do remember seeing FLEX 6400 had 32 code words ?
002184074 00:29:17 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 MSN 059 hello Message from NOC PCB. 3612241867 [02]
008781830 00:29:45 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 MSN 057 hello Message from NOC PCB. 2102208829 [07]

3) I posted this message to highlight that the address code is smaller with only a 7 digit address - what happened to the 12 digit scheme ?
0048953 00:24:45 18-02-20 FLEX-A ALPHA 6400 From: notifier@r.ijfwvwsu.net Subject: (Down) - nb02-waw12-tll11-rtr01 - SolarWinds -
nb02-waw12-tll11-rtr01 - ip 10.50.2.129 is Down [40]

4) Here are a few more messages sent in a row to ponder: See G1x and the word Weather and city names ( who sends these and what for ? )

010652099 02:24:23 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1#+"[ZRYRVOYS\W""!!#Jefferson city . [25]

010652099 02:24:25 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1*K"WUKPIOLUQXU#!!!"SHEBOYGAN . [28]

010850092 02:24:25 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1 J"][TZTWPXR[W&""!"GREINER HOME . [30]

010850068 02:24:25 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G14+"RUQUOSO[S\S(##!#Royer Bird Farm . [79]

101005818 02:24:29 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1#+"Y[S[SUQ\W^V"#(##AMR . [93]

010652099 02:24:29 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1 +"YXQVPTMXR[W#!!!"Pleasant . [29]

010850066 02:24:29 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1 ,"ehaa\\Y_Ya^?''!"VAQUERO . [61]

101005818 02:24:47 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1$+"Y[S[SUQ\W^V"#(##AMR . [95]

010652099 02:24:47 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1!+"^[TZTWOXQZW#""!"Murphysboro . [31]

010850066 02:24:47 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1"+"ehaa\\Y_Ya^?''!"Weather Forecast [63]

010763371 02:24:47 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1"+"eg_b]][_]ca&'&##Corpus Christi . [74]

101005818 02:24:55 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1'+"Z]U[UXR[V_X"#>##Lubbock, TX . [97]

101005818 02:24:58 18-02-20 FLEX-C ALPHA 6400 ~G1(+"Y[S[SUQ\W^V"#(##Amarillo, TX . [99]

Lastly, I need to perform several hard resets on my unit are study and compare PDW messages to what affects my Brookstone unit
authorizing / de-authorizing and watch for other strings that possible cause things to happen other than my know 5 city message string
I also have to try running PDW from my 4-level FSK slicer connected via RS-232 comm port vs the discriminator tap to sound card input.
 
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