Category Archives: Receivers

WGBW Denmark WI-1590

ImageI Recently received a QSL via e-mail from Mark Heller, the owner of WGBW in Denmark, Wisconsin. I heard WGBW during my AIH-22 expedition in 2012, but didn’t have time to send any reports until December 2013. Mark told me that the announcer voicing the ID that I captured and sent to the station, Scott Shannon, left WGBH and started a new job on WCBS-FM in the beginning of March this year. Anyhow, it seems that I managed to ID WGBW when the station was using it’s nighttime power of 500 Watts, which makes this a pretty good logging! A week or two after receiving Mark’s nice e-mail, I also received a very nice QSL-card in the mailbox, together with some coverage maps and other station memorablia. It’s always fun to receive nice answers from the stations, and this was a good example of that.

If you like to hear an audio-clip of the WGBW ID, it’s found here.

The past month I have received some nice QSL’s from stations in North America and Asia, and they will all be presented here.

 

WGBW_2I’m now also finished with the final version of the AIH-22 log. The complete log will be published here within a day or two, just need to deal with a couple of “cosmetic issues” of the document. All in all, more than 200 reception reports has been sent after the AIH-22 expedition, and so far I the answer rate is around 40%, which actually is pretty good.

Another fun project that I have started, is the restoring of a couple of classic portables, such as the Zenith Transoceanic A600, 1000, 3000 and 7000, two old Grundig Satellite’s, a Panasonic RF-2200 and a Sony ICF-5900W. There will be more about this in the blog during the spring and early summer.

And… besides everything else, Ultralight DXing has taken a bit of my time. In the beginning of the winter I modified a small Tecsun PL-380, transplanting a new and BIGGER ferrite rod into it. Results was a success! More about that later.

73’s for now,

Hans

More african surprises on Cape Skagen!

Just completed the first “real” mini-pedition to Cape Skagen this season. I went out at lunchtime on friday to get all my gear up and running and was listening friday afternoon to saturday morning and saturday afternoon to sunday morning. I didn’t have any great expectations for this weekend, due to last week’s radio blackout’s and proton storms, and just as expected, there was no signals at all on mediumwave from North America this weekend. Furthermore, the MW-band was quite noisy at times and on saturday evening a quite big Aurora Borealis event was experienced. Although the Northern Light is a beautyful sight, it’s the last thing a MW-DX:er aiming for North America and other over-the-pole-signals wants. I any case, this time I used my Eton E1XM as main receiver and the Afedri to do “over-the-full-hour” recordings of the entire MW-band at times when stations normally ID. I didn’t have battery power enough in my laptop to let it run constantly, so this was somewhat a compromise. Next time, I will have another power-arrangement for the SDR. I used three BOG:s in 310, 340 and 50 degrees, all fed through balun-transformers.

There wasn’t much heard from the Far East. JOHR, Sapporo on 1287 KHz was heard for a while in an un-even battle with the IRIB Regional station in Lar. Listening at sunset produced a shipload of chinese stations on friday afternoon and a just as huge load of All India Radio regionals on saturday afternoon. In fact, there was AIR-stations heard on almost every MW-channel. Picture at left shows the MW-spectrum at 1736 UTC, just after local sunset. I have checked my IQ-recordings from the Afedri briefly, and I know that I have local ID:s on several of the AIR-stations. I will continue examining the IQ-files this week, and a complete log will be published here later on. Listening at sunrise generally didn’t produce anything at all. I maybe have a peruvian station on 1530 KHz, received at sunrise saturday morning, but I need to analyse my recording before I can say anything more about this one. Sunrise sunday morning produced a handful of brazilian stations on lower frequencies, all them quite common and since signals was very unstable, I decied to reel the antennas in and go back home for a well deserved(?) sleep.

However, friday evening and night to saturday bringed me some pretty big surprises, and just as three weeks ago, when I visited Skagen the last time, it was signals from Africa which made me jump over my shoulders. At 19:39 UTC I found a station on 1485,04 KHz playing the kind of music that often is to be heard from stations in Tchad, Niger and Sudan. I’m not sure if there is any common name, defining this type of african music, so I’m just calling it “Sahel music”. I guess most of you know what I mean. In any case, this station was playing nonstop Sahel music and consulting WRTH gives Sudan i.e. SRTC Regional Al-Gadarif, which is listed on 1485 Khz with the modest power of 5 KW. Now, this is a tentative logging, but the kind of music makes me quite sure of what station I was dealing with.

Well, if this wasn’t enough, an hour later I jumped over a station on 1026 KHz, playing beautyful african music. It turned out to be no less than Rádio Mocambique, Emisora Provincial de Manica, in Chimoio. A good ID, “Rádio Mocambique – Manica” was received on the full hour. That was the second RM Emisora Provincial that I have received on Cape Skagen in three weeks.

“All good things are three” we use to say here in Scandinavia, and my african triplet was completed around midnight when Radio Free Africa in Mwanza, Tanzania was received on 1377 KHz. The french co-channel was quite weak this evening, making the door to Africa wide open. I was pretty lucky as well, since the Mwanza station ID’d seconds after I had turned on my recorder.

I also did some listening on shortwave. Propagation was pretty good into the pacific area. VL8A in Alice Springs on 4835 KHz was a booming signal already on saturday afternoon, together with RRI Palangkaraya on 3325 KHz. VL8K and VL8T was also nice signals on the 120 meter band later on saturday evening. On 3915 KHz, I found Radio Fly, Papua New Guinea, which was somewhat a surprise for me. I managed to record an ID and some other announcements at 16:00 UTC. The rest of the time the programme only contained nonstop contemporary pop-music and ballads. I any case, this was a catch that made me very happy! During the night between saturday and sunday, I also found CKZN on 6160,90 KHz and CFRX on 6069,97 KHz. Both canadiens with good signals.

Audio files: I have uploaded the audio clips of the three african stations. Be my guest and listen, but please, don’t use them to send fake reception reports. Thanks!

  • SRTC Regional Al-Gadarif 1485 KHz, is found here.
  • Rádio Mocambique, Emisora Provincial de Manica 1026 KHz, is found here.
  • Radio Free Africa, Mwanza, Tanzania 1377 KHz, is found here.

The complete log of the SKAG3 “mini-pedition” will be uploaded later on.

73!

Hans

Ooops… I did it again!

There is one thing that I have to admit: I have an obsession for radios made by the R. L. Drake company in Ohio. I have owned several C-lines, TR7/R7-lines, a SPR-4 and a R8. Being the happy owner of a R8A (wonderful radio, by the way), I was lucky enough to find a late serial SW8 on eBay – AND the seller was willing to ship the radio overseas. The late serial model differs from the early ones, having the telescope whip amplifier, coverage down to 100 KHz and the sideband selectable AM-sync. The late SW8 is said to be the “poor man’s R8B”, and I just can’t wait to receive the parcel from the U.S.

73’s!

Hans

Afedri SDR received – first impressions

Received the Afedri SDR last saturday, and have been listening around with the it during three days now, and I must say that I’m impressed by it’s performance versus it’s price. There was a few “hickups” during the setup-process, but thanks to help and assistance from Alex and a number of members in the Afedri yahoo-group, everything went well. I’ve noticed that the stock AC/DC adapter to my laptop (Asus X35E) generates about 5-6 dB of noise, so I have been running the PC on it’s internal battery. However, powering the Afedri from the PC’s USB outlet “eats” battery, and running the PC in “powersave modus” isn’t an option, because it seems that the Afedris VGA doesn’t work properly (I will investigate this closer later on). I have modified an USB cable to allow me to power the Afedri from a regulated (non-switch mode) power supply adjusted to +5V. This works really good, and allows me to run the computer on it’s own battery in powersave modus, without less performance from the Afedri.

In any case, I think that the Afedri SDR represents an exceptional value, considering it’s price. I think it’s very similar to the SDR-IQ (I haven’t yet tried any other SDR’s). The IF-recording capabilities is really impressive, and extremely useful during MW-DXing sessions. I beleive that the Afedri will become a very useful tool during my Aihkiniemi DXpedition later this season.

73!

Hans

Some updates…

Hi all!

The antenna and equipment pages on this site has been updated this evening. Have a look and say what you think! Also, I created a new page dedicated to ultralight DXing only, where you among other things will find my complete ultralight DX log from March to April this year.

73!

Hans

New toy ordered: The Afedri SDR-Net

Well, I guess that most of you people in the DX community has heard about this new SDR-receiver already. After reading about the Afedri on Arctic DX, I got inspired and decided to order one myself. The Afedri SDR-Net is offered by Alex /4Z5LV via his website, and sports a 80MHz 12 bit ADC, which in comparison with other (and much more expensive) SDR:s is representing a compromise. The Afedri doesn’t have any band pass filtering, so if you – like me – are interested in mediumwave DXing, it’s recommended that a low pass filter is added before the antenna input on the receiver. More about that further down. Anyhow, what’s making the Afedri so interesting for the MW-DXing community is the receiver’s ability to record up to 1250 KHz of IF bandwith – and this for such a low cost as US$ 249 + shipping! I paid a grand total of US$ 277 including shipping to Norway from Israel. In fact, you can afford to buy at least THREE Afedri’s for the same cost as for one high-end SDR. No wonder I’m curious about this little baby, and the upcoming MW-season will show if the Afedri SDR-Net represents the Best Bang for The Buck! I’m not going to get into any technical discussion here, instead I recommend you all to read Bjarne Mjelse’s thoughts about the radio, which is found here.

However, since the Afedri’s front/end is “wide as a barn door”, it’s recommended that the serious MW-DXer adds some kind of low pass
filtering at the antenna input, to avoid overload on the MW band from strong shortwave stations. I decided to opt for a custom made low pass filter with a cutoff frequency of 1800 KHz from Clifton Laboratories. I guess that this setup will work just fine!

In any case, the Afedri story will be continued this upcoming MW-season!

73!

Hans

Elecraft KX3 ordered!!

Since 2004, I have been an avid builder of the excellent transceiver kits from Elecraft. Sofar, I have built one KX1, two K1 and two K2 transceivers – all of them showing stunning performance on the HF amateur bands. Therefore, I couldn’t resist ordering the newest radio in the Elecraft range of HF-transceivers: The KX3, which is an ultra portable QRP-transceiver (weight is only 1.5 pounds/0.7 kg) with advanced DSP-technology and SDR-architecture. The transceiver is featuring a general coverage receiver; 0,5-32 MHz + the 6 meter amateur band. I decided to opt for the modular kit version (all cirkuit boards are factory made, the builder assembles the kit and does the final adjustments), together with the KXAT3 automatic antenna tuner which provides preselection also in receive-only mode (and also in the MW-band!), and since I’m a true “CW-nerd” I also ordered the IAMBIC paddles.

The primary use for this little gem will of course be portable ham-radio operation, but I’m also very curious about how this radio performs as a MW-receiver. I have very good experience with the receiver sections of the earlier Elecraft radios on HF, and being the “little brother” of Elecraft’s flagship K3, I’m convinced that the KX3 is no exception! No, it doesn’t feature Syncronous AM, but good SSB-filtering with good slopes works just as good. The KX3 may be the ultimate MW/SW portable for serious DX:ing. Time will show! Elecraft is planning to start shipping the KX3 in late February, so I guess that I will have a few weeks left of the MW-season when it’s delivered.

More information about the KX3 and other products from Elecraft is found here.

73!

Hans

Help – I can’t decide…

I’ve decided to “step up” a little bit SDR-wise, and thinking of buying a new SDR-receiver. The problem is, I can’t decide which one to choose. Sofar, I’ve been lokking at the QS1R/SDRMAXIV, the Perseus and the G31DDC Excalibur. All three receivers seems to be excellent, and all three has of course their “pros” and “cons”. At first, the QS1R with the SDRMAXIV software appeared to be a great choise, considering that the radio doesn’t need to use the PC’s soundcard, and that the SDRMAX-software now is capable of recording larger chunks (up to 2 MHZ?) of IF-bandwith.  I’m using my Lenovo T410s notebook (with the intel i5 dual core processor) – but doesn’t really know much about the built in soundcard (which most likely is a low-performance one). Still, the Excalibur and Perseus are very tempting, and it is of course possible to buy an high-end external soundcard, if necessary…

Any recommendations and/or comments from you is very mych appreciated! 

73’s from Stavanger!

Hans

Playing with SDR

SDR – Software Defined Radio… Well, I’ve been quite reluctant regarding “going digital” versus “staying analog”, but for a couple of days I’ve been playing with a SDR-IQ from RF-Space, and my verdict is: Yes! My other receivers, a JRC NRD-515, Palstar R30A and Sony ICF-2010 are still very good, but when it comes to the ability to dig up really weak signals from the mud the SDR-IQ stays untouched.  Besides that, the SDR-IQ receiver itself isn’t much bigger than a pocket-size digital camera and I need to take the laptop computer with me to Vardø anyway – so this will save a lot of flight-weight for me when it’s time to move up north. Image the carrying weight if I needed to send up the JRC, the R30A and the ICF-2010… Guess that SAS and Wideroe would have one or two things to say about that. Another big pro with the SDR-IQ is the ability to record a bandwith of roughly 190 KHz and everything within this bandwith. Of course, this requires quite a lot of discspace in the computer, but I have that and therefore the decision making regarding this issue is a “no brainer”. Yes, there are SDR-receivers on the market, such as the Perseus and WinRadio Excalibur, allowing recording of even bigger bandwiths – but for now the SDR-IQ is more than enough for me. If I stay nice, maybe Santa Claus will bring me a Perseus or Excalibur for Christmas, hi! By the way, the antenna I’m using here in Biri is a Wellbrook ALA330S which I’m phasing against a 15 meter wire by the means of a MFJ-1026 phasing unit, and the Palstar MW550P MW-preselector when listening on the MW band. The software I use for the SDR-IQ is SDR-Radio.com.