Monthly Archives: August 2013

Pirate Radio Recordings: BOCHF Radio (Boards of Canada HF)

(Source: HF Underground)

(Source: HF Underground)

Just last night, I came across a new shortwave pirate radio station: BOCHF.

BOCHF started broadcasting around 23:10 UTC on 6,925 kHz USB, and after about a twenty-five minute set, took a five minute break, then returned with a  forty-two minute set, ending with an SSTV QSL. The signal, as you can hear below, is fairly strong, but interference was also strong at times; especially from SSB pescadores (fishermen) and the usual summer static crashes.

The entire mix consisted of Boards of Canada music from Tomorrow’s Harvest. There were no vocal ID’s, but there were messages in CW (Morse code) which clearly identifies this pirate as BOCHF.

The artists Boards of Canada have always had an affinity with shortwave radio, so I find a shortwave pirate station playing their music to be an appropriate tribute. Due to sound card problems, I was unable to decode the SSTV QSL, but thankfully a great copy was posted on HF Underground’s pirate radio forum (see above) by forum contributor, Chris Smolinski.

Click here to download MP3s of Part One and Part Two from the full broadcast last night or simply listen via the embedded audio players below:

BOCHF Part One:

BOCHF Part Two:

As I mentioned yesterday, Labor Day weekend is a great weekend to catch a few pirate stations on shortwave. Happy listening!

RTÉ Radio to broadcast GAA finals via shortwave radio

(Photo: RTE Radio)

(Photo: RTE Radio)

RTÉ Radio has announced that it will broadcast the GAA All Ireland Hurling Final on Sunday 8 September and the All Ireland Football Final on Sunday 22 September via multiple sources including shortwave radio (frequencies and times below).

RTÉ Radio explains:

“In Africa, where many Irish people live and work, often in relative isolation with poor communications, RTÉ is providing special transmissions on shortwave radio.

[…]These services are part of RTÉ’s continued commitment to Irish people overseas and, over the years, has proven especially popular with those in geographically or technically isolated areas.”

Of course, RTÉ will broadcast both finals via the Internet, local radio and television.

On shortwave, RTÉ will broadcast on multiple frequencies–attempting to target most regions of Africa–so there’s a very good chance you could hear one.

Shortwave frequencies for Africa–September 8 and 22, 2013

Both Finals throw in at 3:30 pm Irish Time (14:30 UTC)

  • Southern Africa – 7405 kHz (2pm to 6pm)
  • East Africa – 17725 kHz (2pm to 5pm)
  • East Africa -11620 kHz (5pm to 6pm)
  • West Africa – 7505 kHz (2pm to 6pm)

VOA Radiogram 31 August/1 September 2013 includes Vietnamese and Russian

VOARadioGram(Source: VOA Radiogram)

This weekend’s VOA Radiogram will include sample text in Vietnamese and Russian. Vietnamese has all sorts of diacritics, and Russian uses a Cyrillic alphabet, so this will be a real workout for your decoding software. Your character set should be UTF-8. In Fldigi, this adjustment is via Configure > Colors & Fonts.

The program will also attempt to improve the performance of RSID (Reed-Solomon Identification), the brief signal at the beginning of a digital mode transmission that automatically switches decoding software to the correct mode and audio frequency. I produced the program using Fldigi 3.21.74AB. You will need Fldigi 3.21.73 or newer for the MFSK64 and MFSK128 RSIDs to work correctly. If you have a previous version of Fldigi, or another decoding software, I have provided time for the mode to be changed manually.

Here is the lineup for VOA Radiogram, 31 August/September 1 2013:

2:55  MFSK16: Program preview

3:10  MFSK32: Vietnamese and Russian text samples

2:58  MFSK32: Discussion of RSIDs

1:50  MFSK64/Flmsg: VOA News re dung beetles*

:56  MFSK32: Image of dung beetle

3:07  MFSK128/Flmsg/Base64: VOA blue logo*

2:16  MFSK64: VOA News re China hack attack

2:38  MFSK32: VOA Khmer radio photo contest

2:31  MFSK32: Image of submitted radio photo

1:10  MFSK16: Closing announcements

:15  Surprise mode of the week

*To make Flmsg work with Fldigi, in Fldigi: Configure > Misc > NBEMS, under Reception of flmsg files, check both boxes, and under that indicate where your Flmsg.exe file is located.

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule

(all days and times UTC)

Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz

Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz

Sun 1300-1330 6095 kHz

Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz

All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

Please send reception reports to radiogram (at) voanews.com

A great weekend to catch some pirate radio action

Most pirate radio stations will send you an electronic or paper QSL. This is one I received from All Along The Watchtower Radio. (Click to enlarge)

Most pirate radio stations will send you an electronic or paper QSL. This is one I received from All Along The Watchtower Radio. (Click to enlarge)

Monday, September 2nd, is Labor Day throughout most of North America; shortwave pirates love to operate on long holiday weekends (though you can hear them most any weekend for that matter).

So, if you’ve never heard a live pirate station on shortwave radio, this is a great opportunity to catch your first pirate!

Where to find pirate stations

In a nutshell: In North America, you can usually find pirate radio broadcasters in AM or upper side band (USB) between 6,920 – 6,970 kHz from early evening into the night. 6,925 kHz is one of the most popular frequencies. Pirates broadcast elsewhere–especially in Europe–but this is the best watering hole in North America.

Pirates transmit at much lower power than commercial broadcasters, so it takes a good ear and, sometimes, a little patience to hear them through the static.

Let us know if you hear any pirate stations this weekend! Weather permitting, I’ll be listening and even tweeting pirates/frequencies when I hear them. Also check the HF Underground forum for live pirate radio loggings.

Good luck and good listening!

Russian Numbers Station UVB-76: “the most mysterious radio transmission in the world”

UVB-76-detailJames Cook, associate editor, at The Kernal has written an excellent article about the Russian numbers station UVB-76. Those of us who listen to numbers stations are very familiar with this reliable buzzer on 4.625 MHz. Cook writes:

The radio signal that occupies 4625 kHz has reportedly been broadcasting since the late 1970s. The earliest known recording of it is dated 1982. Ever since curious owners of shortwave radios first discovered the signal, it has broadcast a repeating buzzing noise. Every few years, the buzzer stops, and a Russian voice reads a mixture of numbers and Russian names.

A typical message came hours before Christmas day, 1997:

“Ya UVB-76, Ya UVB-76. 180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14. Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 7 4 2 7 9 9 1 4”

Instead of shutting down with the fall of communism in Russia, UVB-76 became even more active. Since the millenium, voice messages have become more and more frequent.

Click here to read Cook’s full article on The Kernel.

If you would like to listen to UVB-76, and can’t easily receive it via radio, click this link to listen to a live stream or click this one to load a live stream in iTunes.

If you’re interested in numbers stations, click here to read some previous articles on the SWLing Post.