Just arrived: the Tecsun PL-310ET

The Tecsun PL-310 as it arrived in the post.

I confess, I have well over twenty portable shortwave radios at the moment…So why am I still so enthusiastic when a new one arrives in the mailbox?

My Tecun PL-310ET just arrived, purchased from my favorite eBay seller, Anon-Co. And I just can’t wait to compare the PL-310ET with my PL-380.

Perhaps this will become another opportunity for a blind radio comparison by you, our community of listener-readers.  Dare I say, a community equally enthusiastic?

By the way, I plan to publish the results of our recent weak-signal comparison on Tuesday of next week. I’m still impressed by your responses. But there’s still time to submit your vote.  Stay tuned…!

Posted in New Products, News, Radios, Shortwave Radio | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

SABA conference to feature special DRM broadcast from Ascension Island

SABA

(Source: DRM Consortium via Alokesh Gupta)

The DRM Consortium is a Sector Partner at The Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA), Digital Radio Broadcasting Summit in Cape Town from 22nd – 24th April. The event will include a presentation by the DRM Chair, Ruxandra Obreja, on April 22nd at 11.50am and a dedicated DRM workshop on the 23rd April, from 4.00pm to 5.30pm under the title “The DRM Platform: A detailed and practical look at its superior functionalities and flexibility”.

The workshop will offer a live demonstration of DRM30 with a two-hour BBC broadcast, from Ascension Island – a site managed by DRM member, Babcock – to Southern Africa carrying BBC World Service English from 13:30 to 15:30GMT/UTC (114 degrees) 21735 kHz.

During and after the workshop DRM representatives and South African DRM supporters will be available to meet you and explain the features and to answer any questions.

The DRM Consortium has already been present at SABA events in Johannesburg and in Arusha (Tanzania) last year. The DRM standard is the only global standard which can be used in all radio frequency bands and is ideal for the large countries of Southern Africa. From national networks and regional stations to smaller commercial and community stations, all are able to broadcast their digital radio programmes with enhanced content and in excellent sound quality to everyone in their respective countries, regardless of whether people live in large cities, in small towns or villages.

Posted in Broadcasters, Digital Modes, DRM, News, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Numbers Stations in the news

towersThere have been a lot of numbers in the news lately.

Earlier this week, David Goren’s numbers station radio documentary was featured on the ABC Radio National show, Sounds Like Radio.

Click here to listen.

This morning, I also noticed this excellent BBC News Magazine piece on numbers stations, which includes an interview with Akin Fernandez, the creator of the Conet Project.

Here’s an excerpt from The spooky world of the ‘numbers stations’:

“This is the era of hyper-tech espionage, encrypted emails and mindboggling cryptography. But you can hear a very old-fashioned form of espionage on shortwave radio.

It is 13:03 on a Tuesday in a little crammed room of the BBC Monitoring building in Caversham and what is suddenly heard on a shortwave receiving station is a 10-minute message in Morse code.

There is a small community of aficionados who believe messages like this are a throwback to the era of Cold War espionage. They are the mysterious “numbers stations”.

At the apex of the Cold War, radio lovers across the globe started to notice bizarre broadcasts on the airwaves. Starting with a weird melody or the sound of several beeps, these transmissions might be followed by the unnerving sound of a strange woman’s voice counting in German or the creepy voice of a child reciting letters in English.

[...]Times have changed and technology has evolved, but there’s evidence that this old-fashioned seeming method of communication might still be used. Shortwave numbers stations might seem low-tech but they probably remain the best option for transmitting information to agents in the field, some espionage experts suggest.

“Nobody has found a more convenient and expedient way of communicating with an agent,” says Rupert Allason, an author specialising in espionage issues and writing under the pen name Nigel West.

“Their sole purpose is for intelligence agencies to communicate with their agents in denied areas – a territory where it is difficult to use a consensual form of communications,” Allason says.

A former GCHQ officer, who does not wish to be named, whose duty was to intercept signals towards the UK and search for these numbers stations in the 1980s is also adamant that these were broadcasts to agents in the field or in residencies or directed to embassies.

It was “one-way traffic” – the transmitters broadcast numbers to the recipient. The recipient did not reply.”

[...]“This system is completely secure because the messages can’t be tracked, the recipient could be anywhere,” says Akin Fernandez, the creator of the Conet Project – a comprehensive archive of the phenomenon of numbers stations. “It is easy. You just send the spies to a country and get them to buy a radio. They know where to tune and when,” he says.

Continue reading on the BBC Magazine website…

If you would like to know more about numbers stations, click here to read other numbers posts.

Click here to go to David’s website, Shortwaveology.net.

Posted in Broadcasters, International Broadcasting, News, Numbers Stations, Shortwave Radio, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

STF Radio: 1 Hour Million Watt Special, April 20

STF Radio sent the following announcement for their “1-hour Million-Watt Special”:

    ___________ ____  ____  __   ___  _  ___    
   / ___/_   __| ___||    \|  \ |   \(_)/ _ \   
   \___ \ | | | __|  | |) /| \ \| |) | | (_) |  
   \____/ |_| |_|    |_|\_\|_|\_\___/|_|\___/   
 
            I N T E R N A T I O N A L
 
               ***ANNOUNCEMENT***
 
            STF Radio International
                       
          1-hour Million-Watt Special 
                       
            April 20, 2014 0400 UTC
 
               –Frequency List–
                   
  5050 (The Americas)         Saturday Night
  5110 (N+C. America)                “
  7490 (N+C. America)                “
  7570 (N. America)                  “
  7730 (Mex/C. America)              “
  9925 (N. America)                  “
  9955 (Caribbean)                   “
  6025 (EU)                   Sunday Morning
 17630* DRM (EU, alternate program)  “
 17760 (Asia)                Sunday Afternoon
 21490 (Pacific Aus/NZ)              “
   
                   Music
                   Voice
          Digital Mode Text+Images
            Internet Hyperlinks
                   ….and more!
Posted in Broadcasters, News, Shortwave Radio, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New feature on 2014 Tecsun PL-660

Tecsun-PL660Many thanks to my buddy, David Korchin (K2WNW), who noticed that Anon-Co is selling a new 2014 production run of the Tecsun PL-660, which includes an Auto Sorting Memory feature.

AMBWbuttonPL660Anon-Co states that Auto Sorting Memory organizes all stored station memories automatically, removes duplicate stations and “sorts the sequence of stored stations.”

The new feature is enabled via the AM BW button.

Click here to view the new 2014 Tecsun PL-660 at Anon-Co.

UPDATE: Tom Stiles noted that his PL-660, purchased in September 2013, has this feature as well.  I just confirmed my PL-660 (purchased around the same time and pictured above) has it too.

Posted in New Products, News, Radios | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shortwave.am: a new online frequency guide

ShortwaveAMA few SWLing Post readers have recently recommended that I check out a new shortwave radio schedule site: shortwave.am.

Shortwave.am has a unique layout that lists broadcast schedules along with a map that displays broadcast footprints (both short and long path).

Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with the site developer, Stephen Cooper, who frequently comments on the SWLing Post.

Stephen kindly answered a couple of questions I posed.

My first question was why, with the number of shortwave schedule sites on the Internet, he felt motivated to create a new site.  Evidently, inspiration came from Stephen’s Android app, Shortwave Radio Schedules. He responds:

I first created the [Shortwave Radio Schedules] app to give me searchable listings on my phone which I found interfered much less with my radio than on my PC so I could turn my PC off and look at frequencies and schedules on a phone/tablet.

Since then I have just added extra features that I find useful, such as the ability to save logs including the station name, time, SINPO, a comment and a recording of the audio. I’ve used the app to then share my logs to Facebook groups, DXLD Yahoo Group etc. including the audio recordings made on the app.

The maps option I added because I had been using AOKI listings with the beam direction to try and work out favourable beam directions of broadcasts for me in the UK even if they were not targeted to Europe. I realised that it would be much easier to visualise this on a map and started looking at the Google Maps API to work out this would be possible on the app.

Once I added to the app I had noticed screenshots of the maps being posted on groups such as the Rally DX 2012 Facebook group’s and a few people who didn’t have Android asking if there was a web version. I looked into it and it wasn’t too hard to create shortwave.am after converting the Java code to PHP:and Javascript then the site was complete.”

When I asked Stephen what made his site differ from others, he responded:

“[I]t uses data from a combination of Eibi and AOKI to display the listings with maps showing the beam direction. It can also show estimate long paths of each broadcast and uses AJAX web technologies to show search results and maps without having to reload the page for each search or change of parameters.

[...]If you choose a station or language or both and click “Save” (next to the “Set Defaults” part of the site) it will set these as the default that will open each time you go to the site.

Also if you click on a transmitter it now shows all broadcasts coming from that transmitter.

[...]I am going to add some more of the features from the [Shortwave Radio Schedules] app such as the ability to add logging reports, view others reception reports from each station and the options to add recordings of a station and listen to others recordings.”

I think shortwave.am is fantastic, and I’m glad Stephen has put the time behind developing it in his spare time.

Stephen is eager to hear your comments, as he wishes to further develop the shortwave.am. Either post them here, or email Stephen directly.

Posted in Articles, News, Schedules, Schedules and Frequencies, Shortwave Radio, SWLers, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

BBC World Service features DRM

In this BBC World Service report, Mark Whittaker explores Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) and, especially, its potential in India. Use the embedded player or link below to listen:

(Source: Audioboo via Tarmo Tanilsoo on Facebook)

drmlogoYou’ll note the BBC World Service fails to mention that DRM has been in use now for over a decade.

The report ends by suggesting that portable DRM receivers will be on the market in a few months. Even if DRM radios start appearing, whether or not they’ll be effective and inexpensive remains to be seen. So far, portable DRM radios have been mediocre performers (at best) and relatively expensive.

Don’t get me wrong: I would love to see DRM take hold, I just have my doubts. DRM might stand a chance if a manufacturer like Tecsun were to build an inexpensive portable radio, with a form factor much like that of their other portables. If they made a DRM version of the PL-380, for example, it could be a winner for both the company and the medium/mode.

By the way, if you’ve never heard what DRM sounds like over the shortwaves, I just posted a fifty eight minute recording of All India Radio on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Contributor, Mark Fahey, recorded the broadcast from his home in Australia.

I’ve embedded a link to the audio below, but you can listen to the broadcast and read Mark’s notes on the shortwave archive (click here).

Posted in Broadcasters, Digital Modes, DRM, News, Recordings, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments