From the Isle of Music Program Preview for Oct 3/4

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Our October 4 (October 3 in the Americas on WBCQ) program presents the finale of Caribe Nostrum with special guest Guido López Gavilán, and we will play selections from each of the Rock and Pop nominees in Cubadisco 2016.

Two options for listening on shortwave:
WBCQ, 7490 KHz, Tuesdays 0000-0100 UTC
(8pm-9pm EDT Mondays in the Americas)
Channel 292, 6070 KHz, Tuesdays 1900-2000 UTC
(2100-2200 CEST)

See our Facebook page for more information.

Recap of Great Smoky Mountains NPOTA activations

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Last week, I attended the W4DXCC convention in Sevierville, Tennessee. The road trip afforded me several opportunities to make NPOTA activations through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

LowePro CS 60 Closed

I took my field kit which included the Elecraft KX2, QRP Ranger battery pack (not pictured), and EFT Trail-Friendly antenna.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

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My first stop was the Ocunaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, NC, where I had planned the “two-fer” activation of the Great Smoky Mountains (NP26) and the Blue Ridge Parkway (PK01).

First thing I did was ask the park ranger on duty how I could find the footpath to the point where the two parks overlap. Turns out, I had at least a one mile hike ahead of me.

PK01  and NP26

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I love hiking, so that wasn’t a problem.

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The only problem was I hadn’t accounted for the hike in my plans, so I knew I would be a little late for the scheduled activation time.

When I reached the Blue Ridge Parkway, I ventured down to the river where I found an excellent spot to set up my field kit.

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Thankfully, within thirty minutes, I had logged 15 contacts. I quickly packed up and attempted to catch back up with my schedule.

Thankfully, the Elk were elsewhere today!

I was grateful the Elk were elsewhere Thursday!

Back at the ranger’s station, I learned that the Ocunaluftee Visitor Center is also another National Park entity: the Trail Of Tears (TR12). I had no time to deploy my station once more, but made a mental note to add it to activations on my return trip.

NP26 and TR01

Next, I hopped in my car and drove to the Newfound Gap parking area where the Appalachian Trail (TR01) crosses the Great Smoky Mountains Park (NP26).

The view there was/is amazing:

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The area was packed with tourists, so I decided to hike up the Appalachian Trail (AT) to escape the bulk of the crowd.

img_20160922_150632201I hiked at least one mile up the narrow and steep AT before finding a suitable spot to set up my gear. It was a tight operating spot, but I managed to hang the antenna and position myself in a way that wouldn’t block foot traffic on the AT.

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I logged 18 stations in the span of about 45 minutes.

I also took several breaks to answer questions about ham radio from hikers.  I was particularly happy that one family took sincere interest in what I was doing and their young kids were fascinated that I was making contacts across the globe where there was no cell phone coverage nor Internet.

I packed up at 20:30 UTC, hiked back to my car and  managed to arrive at the conference center in Sevierville in time for dinner with my friends.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My activations on the return trip, Sunday, included the same locations as Thursday.

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TR01 and NP26

Instead of heading north on the Appalachian Trail, I decided to head south. I was running late to activate the site and knew if I headed north I’d have a long hike ahead of me. Once again, there were a lot of visitors at the site–many were there for a Sunday morning hike and were making their way (quite slowly) north. The southern route had no foot traffic at all, so I headed south.

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I found a suitable site to set up radio, but only because the trail was so quiet I could sit in the middle of it. The entire time I operated, I only encountered one hiker who was absolutely amazed I was making contacts across the continent when he hadn’t had cell phone reception in days.

I logged 14 contacts in 45 minutes.

NP26 and PK01

Next, I headed back down the mountain to the Ocunaluftee Visitor Center to the same site where I set up before.

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Unlike my Thursday activation, contacts trickled in very slowly. It took over one hour to log 11 contacts. Propagation was very strange: the only stations I worked on the 20 meter band–a total of four–were located in Idaho and Slovenia.

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You can *almost* see my antenna hanging from its first location.

Once, I even re-deployed my antenna, thinking that may help. I managed to raise the entire 35′ length into an ideal tree on the bank of the river. It was completely vertical with no slope. That did, perhaps, help snag my final two contacts.

TR12

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Despite the fact I was running late and I had struggled to make the minimum ten QSOs required for the NP26/PK01 activation, I decided to also attempt TR12 (Trail of Tears).

I hiked back to the Ocunaluftee Visitor’s Center and found a quiet spot, once again, near the river. I was happy with my operating location and the fact the antenna deployed with no problem.

Sadly, though, this activation was not meant to be. Even with multiple spots on the DX Cluster, I stopped operating after having only worked four stations in 45 minutes. If I hadn’t been on a schedule, perhaps I would have stayed another hour.

I didn’t let this bother me, though. I knew the TR12 activation would be a gamble and I was happy to have provided four NPOTA chasers with another NPOTA catch for the day!

All in all, I worked a total of 64 stations en route to and return from the W4DXCC conference. I call that a success, especially since I was able to enjoy some excellent hiking, scenery, weather and I even had a few opportunities to promote ham radio to the public. Of course, I feel like each time I do one of these activations, it also hones my emergency communication skills.

W4DXCC

Speaking of the W4DXCC, the conference was amazing as always and I’m happy to have been a part of it. For the second year in a row, we hosted a “Ham Radio Bootcamp”–a day-long tutorial on all aspects of ham radio. Once again, it drew a large crowd.

Vlado (N3CZ) demonstrating the IC-7300 functions and features at the Ham Radio Bootcamp.

Vlado (N3CZ) demonstrating the IC-7300 functions and features at the Ham Radio Bootcamp.

Each year, the convention operates as KB4C in a dedicated radio room. This year, we had two IC-7300 transceivers on the air.

Each year, the convention operates as KB4C in a dedicated radio room. This year, we had two IC-7300 transceivers on the air simultaneously.

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We had at least three antennas available including this excellent hex beam.

If you’re into DXing, contesting, or you’d simply like to make some new friends in the community, I would encourage you to put the W4DXCC conference in your calendar for 2017!

Recent Shortwave Logs From Alaska

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It’s been quite a while since I posted any logs. I picked out my best ones from the last 2 months.

Equipment: Tecsun PL-880, 225 foot long wires oriented for different directions, EmTech ZM2 Antenna tuner, DX Engineering RPA-1PLUS HF PreAmp and EmTech ZM2 antenna tuner.

5040 kHz, All India Radio Jaypore from 1641UTC to 1645UTC on September 22nd in the Oriya language with some singing and/or chanting. I would give this broadcast a SINPO Rating of 33343. The signal was overall on the higher side of fair but there ewas some static and noise with a light to moderate amount of fading and some digital data/pulsing kind of noise. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvtOZFbYMxo (Walker-AK)

7295 kHz & 7345 kHz, Radio Sahka via Yauktsk 1020UTC to 1030UTC on September 11 in Russian. What sounds like contemporary russian music is being played. 7295 is a bit louder and stronger for me, sometimes by a fairly noticeable margin most days but this time, the difference is hugely noticeable between the two signals. I would give these broadcasts a SINPO rating of 45455 I am rating this good as there was almost no atmospheric noise and very little fading! 7295 kHz audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g24DkJgv0qc 7345 kHz audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia4N62KB2gM (Walker-AK

7315 kHz, The Voice of Vietnam via Cypress Creek, South Carolina from 0100 to 0115UTC on September 22. The program begins with the incredibly recognizable and lovely VOV interval tune/intro signal. A female announcer gives a quick preview of the show and headlines then a news report begins.with a male. I would give this broadcast a SINPO of 34233. The signal was pretty fair, listenable but with lots of atmospheric noise/fading/static, but thankfully no interference. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_PH8MraW7A.

VOV also heard at 1624UTC on 7220 kHz via Hanoi with a traditional Vietnamese song and a SINPO rating of 33232. The signal itself was ok but there was a lot of noise, fading and at times, interference which resulted in my overall poor rating.  The signal itself was ok but there was alot of noise, fading and at times, interference which resulted in my overall poor rating. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9Kf2AYVeDA .

1209 kHz via Hanoi at 1130UTC is heard at fair to good levels from with a little fading and noise but not bad overall. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIFVztEl1yM .

12005 kHz VOV heard via Woofferton on August 29 at 0230UTC with good signal. Audio here of 15520 kHz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6F0ktPTDuc

I have not heard the claimed VOV broadcasts in English on 5955 via Moosbrun or the 9550 broadcasts, wherever that comes from! (Walker-AK)

9445 kHz, All India Radio General Overseas Service from 1826 to 1830UTC on August 27th in English. Indian music followed by a sports program, co produced by AIR, BBC and Radio Australia.I would give this broadcast a SINPO rating of 45454. THe signal was pretty darn good and audio was good too. Only a slight bit of fading and ever so slight noise. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ka9mc7c_F8 (Walker-AK)

9650 kHz, Radio Guinea via Conarky from 2357UTC to 0035UTC in French. Lively Afro-pop type music and announcers talking in french. I would give this a SINPO Rating of 35333. The broadcast was moderately fair, the unique music made this broadcast a bit easier to pick out of the noise but it was moderately listenable. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lmG9ms3ucU (Walker-AK)

9870 kHz, All India Radio Vividh Bharati Service from 1728UTC to 1741UTC on August 27th. Stellarly awesome signal with some lovely indian music and female announcer. I would give this a SINPO Rating of 5555! Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyJAJmwoE8I (Walker-AK)

9895 kHz, Radio Rossi via (???) from 0951UTC to 1002UTC on September 11. Enjoying some Russian music on Shortwave!  I would give this a SINPO rating of 44344. I rate this overall as good because of the strong signal and overall high listenability signal/audio quality wise. If it weren’t for the slight fading and noise, this would be nearly a 55555. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XcsJEAgDuc

5900 kHz heard a day earlier with what sounds like a news or feature interview segment with more then one man talking in Russian at 1000UTC. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWEgjpT1vwU (Walker-AK)

I would give this a SINPO rating of 44343. This signal was on the lower side of good but the overall quality was the higher side of fair due to the fading, noise and slightly low modulation.

11735 kHz, Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation via Dole, Zanzibar from 2049UTC to 2059UTC on September 5th. Some music playing, maybe middle eastern-like? somewhat lively tunes. A male announcer speaking, possibly in Swahili This is far from the best I log ZBC with, but also far from the worst I give this broadcast a SINPO rating of 44434. It was a fair to good signal with a bit of fading and choppy propagation but not bad. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn7o4G2iHSU (Walker-AK)

11750 kHz, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation via Trincomalee, Sri Lanka from 1721UTC to 1725UTC on September 24th in the Sinhalese language. Unfortunately, I do understand what is being said other then it appears this is an interview or discussion program hosted by a woman with a male guest on the phone.. A friend who listened to the recording says she gives a station ID at some point. I would give this broadcast a SINPO rating of 34444. The signal was fair and there was no interference but fading was moderate and propagation was somewhat choppy. If the signal had been a bit stronger with a little less fading and better propagation, this would’ve been a very enjoyable signal to listen to. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfqEK4caKKo (Walker-AK)

12035 kHz, Voice of Mongolia via Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from 0859 to 0908UTC on September 25 in English. My recording starts out with the carrier but no program audio yet. The interval tune begins, a male announces the name of the radio station. A female announcer comes on, welcoming people to the radio station. Frequency and broadcast schedule information is given out along with your website information. Another female announcer comes on and welcomes people to a New Edition of The Sunday Music Program. That female announcer reads a few news stories before a Mongolian song plays. I would give this broadcast a SINPO rating of 44344. Overall this broadcast was good because the signal was strong and with no noise or interference, just moderate fading and slightly choppy propagation. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpfoLtxkr70 (Walker-AK)

15275 kHz, Deutsche Welle via Issoudun from 1835 to 1838UTC on September 24 in French. It sounds like a news discussion/interview program with one man doing the large part of the talking. I would give this broadcast a SINPO rating of 45444. It was a pretty good signal with no noise or interference and only a slight bit more fading then my 1530 kHz reception of RFI on the same date and nearly same time from the same site with nearly the same target area. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTUzBk3FjeY (Walker-AK)

15300 kHz, Radio France International via Issoudun  from 1837UTC to 1841UTC on September 24 in French. What sounds like a woman possibly interviewing a man. I would give this broadsast a SINPO Rating of 45444. The signal was very good, there was no interference and very little noise. Just a bit of fading and ever so slightly choppy propagation. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1sJs9P0Qrw (Walker-AK)

15320 kHz, Radio Taiwan International via Paochung, Taiwan from 0356UTC to 0359TC on September 8th. There is ALOT of static/atmospheric noise on the channel and the signal is very weak. I recorded 5 minutes worth and took the 3 best segments of the reception and put them together. If I didn’t know what to look for, this would be impossible to have nailed down In the first part of this one clip which is 11 seconds, a male gives out a frequency and time schedule. In the second part of this clip which is 9 seconds, the same man gives out what I assume is the PO Box mailing address for RTI. In the 3rd and final part of this clip, that same man says simply “Radio Taiwan International” I would give it a SINPO rating of 12112. Audio here: https://app.box.com/s/kkcoe959r5iphbjvvnjoz2n0qxslhevz. I have also heard RTI’s 9465 kHz and  11685 kHz english broadcasts in the 1500 to 1600UTC time frame usually at barely fair levels, but occasionally at fair to good levels. (Walker-AK)

15520 kHz, Voice Of Turkey via Emirler, Turkey from 1628UTC to 1650UTC on September 24th in English. The lovely Voice of Turkey interval tune played for about 2 minutes before time pips played followed by a male announcing the start of the english service and the frequencies and times to listen. A Female announcer then came on and read news stories for about 10 minutes before the letter box program came on with a male announcer reading listener letters and reception report. I give this broadcast SINPO rating of 44333. This broadcast was teetering between fair and good. If it wasn’t for the choppy propagation, this signal would’ve been alot more listenable. Audio here of 15520 kHz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6F0ktPTDuc   I caught 9830 the next day and they played their interval tune for about 9 minutes before signing off about 10 minutes early!! 9830 kHz audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o7_LINGYMA .  I’ve heard the 9515 kHz Turkey broadcast in English in early September as well at fair signal levels with somewhat choppy propagation. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anc_8jznz_k  (Walker-AK)

15590 kHz, Radio Thailand via Udon Thani from 02359 to 0015UTC on August 19. Superb signal with interval tune, station introduction and a news segment of national headlines.An ad or two was heard for local/regional businesses along with promotional announcement inviting advertising inquires and giving an email address. I would give this a SINPO rating of 55455. This broadcast is near perfect! Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPQaA_RM74I. 9390 kHz heard in English on September 24th at 1937UTC with business and financial report information in english. SINPO of 54444 Almost as good as 15590 kHz and it should be noted that 9390 isn’t usually this good. Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQnEexGUBoE (Walker-AK)

Paul Walker is the Program Director at Community Radio For Alaska: KIYU located in Galena, Alaska and is a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Be sure to check out Paul’s YouTube channel and SoundCloud channel where everything he logs is recorded and posted. Click here to read his other contributions on the SWLing Post.

Dave reviews the SDRplay RSP

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Many thanks to my buddy, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who writes:

My long awaited “SDRplay RSP” review is now available. My apologies for the delay. It took more time then I had planned and other issues got in the way. We also tested it with the popular DSD+ software and worked well after some troubleshooting.

http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/perseus.html

I always enjoy your reviews, Dave! As you say, reviewing SDRs certainly takes more time than reviewing stand-alone receivers–especially when there are so many options for SDR applications! Like you, I feel like the SDRplay RSP offers a good value for the listener–especially at the $129 price point.

Mark’s multi-user SDR is now online

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SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, has just announced that his new Beaglebone-powered KiwiSDR receiver is online.  Mark notes:

Please try out my multi-user 0-30MHz SDR[.] The test system is operating from my monitoring station at Freemans Reach in south east Australia (near Sydney).

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Freemans Reach, Australia

[…]The test system is fully self contained and self operating. The antenna (ALA1530S+) we are using is a magnetic loop with an impedance tracking amplifier designed and manufactured by Wellbrook Communications, Llanwrth Wells in Wales. The receiver and CPU is the result of the Kickstarter funded project “KiwiSDR” which was conceived and designed by John Seamons ex Pixar and Lucas Films.

[…]You can use Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Firefox – but Internet Explorer is not supported at this stage. Tune in on this URL…

http://mediaexplorer.ddns.net:8073/

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Mark’s radio shack.

[Four] simultaneous users are supported with totally independent tuning and control

Mark's Wellbrook antenna

Mark’s Wellbrook ALA1530S+ antenna

Many thanks for sharing your KiwiSDR, Mark! Though demand has been quite high, I have managed to claim one of the four user seats on Mark’s SDR and “listen like a local.”

Mark: you’ve done a great job making a proper listening post for your remote listeners. The KiwiSDR/Wellbrook ALA1530S+ combo is performing admirably!

Click here to use Mark’s KiwiSDR.