Category Archives: DXpeditions

Heard Island DXpedition (VK0EK) live via WBCQ tonight

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(Source: ARRL)

[…]At 0000 UTC on March 23 (the evening of Tuesday, March 22, in US time zones), Tom Medlin, W5KUB, host of the weekly “Amateur Radio Roundtable” video webcast and radio program, hopes to make ham radio media history by interviewing the DXpedition team live on his webcast. Audio will be simulcast on international shortwave broadcaster WBCQ on 5130 kHz.

Heard Island is an Australian protectorate, part of a subantarctic island group(Heard Island and McDonald Islands) in the southwest Indian Ocean, some 4000 kilometers (approximately 2480 miles) southwest of Western Australia and 1000 kilometers (approximately 620 miles) north of Antarctica. 

 I will certainly be listening to WBCQ tonight and, hopefully, recording the show for the SRAA.
For updates about the Heard Island DXpedition, check out their website (and admire Jeff Murray’s excellent official DXpedition artwork while you’re at it!).

 

A PARI DXpedition update

Mark Fahey, scanning the bands with his WinRadio Excalibur/Surface Pro 2 combo

Mark Fahey, scanning the bands with his WinRadio Excalibur/Surface Pro 2 combo

The SWLing Post DXpedition at PARI is going very well.  We started yesterday around noon with beautiful fall weather; late last night, it started raining but that hasn’t dampened our spirits today.

Gary-Ultralights

Despite the wet, chilly weather, Gary Donnelly (above) has been logging numerous shortwave stations during the day and mediumwave stations at night via his assortment of ultralight radios. Bill Boyd, another DXpeditioner, has been travelling the 200 acre PARI campus and listening via his Tecsun PL-880.

CR-1-DXpedition

DXpeditioner, Mark Fahey, has traveled here from his home in Australia, thus he’s particularly enjoyed hearing South American stations which are somewhat rare in his corner of the world. Today alone, Mark snagged two other firsts: the time station CHU Canada, and a perfect two hour recording of the Voice of Nigeria in DRM. Mark says that his listening expectations are turned upside down, because day/night band openings are nearly opposite of what he’s used to. This is the great thing about SWLing during travels: exotic stations become much lower hanging fruit.

Screenshot of the Elad FDM-S2 on part of the 19 meter band

Screenshot of the Elad FDM-S2 on part of the 19 meter band

Mark and I have set up a table full of SDRs and have been actively recording spectrum while listening. We have a WinRadio Excalibur, Elad FDM-S2 and the SDRplay RSP.

We also have the CommRadio CR-1 hooked up: it has been a fantastic receiver for visitors to use and a brilliant auxiliary receiver while both SDRs have been recording spectrum simultaneously.

The SDRplay RSP via the HDSDR app

The SDRplay RSP via the HDSDR app

A few samples from the logs

Despite mediocre band conditions, we’ve managed to hear a lot of stations.

Here is our band scan at 1500 UTC on the 19 meter band:

  • 15140 Radio Sultanate Oman Arabic
  • 15255 Radio Free Europe Turkmen
  • 15265 Adventist World Radio Hindi
  • 15290 Adventist World Radio Punjabi (vy weak)
  • 15300 Radio Romania International Arabic
  • 15395 Athmeeya Yatra Radio Sindhi (vy weak)
  • 15410 Radio Liberty (faint)
  • 15420 BBC English
  • 15435 Radio Riyadh Arabic
  • 15460 Radio Free Europe Tajik
  • 15490 Radio Exterior de Espana Spanish
  • 15535 Radio Cairo Arabic
  • 15550 Radio Dabanga Sudanese Arabic
  • 15580 Voice of America English
  • 15595 Vatican Radio Arabic
  • 15610 EWTN (WEWN) English
  • 15620 Radio Veritas (?) Filipino (?)
  • 15670 Adventist World Radio English
  • 15700 China Radio International English
  • 15770 WRMI English

1600 UTC on the 25 meter band:

  • 11435 HM01 Cuban Numbers Station Spanish
  • 11550 EWTN (WEWN) Spanish
  • 11600 Bible Voice BCN Persian (faint)
  • 11620 All India Radio Russian (faint)
  • 11715 Vatican Radio Russian (faint)
  • 11775 Caribbean Beacon English
  • 11825 WRMI (Overcomer) English
  • 11950 Radio Habana Cuba Spanish
  • 12050 EWTN (WEWN) Spanish (vy weak)
  • 12055 Voice of America Somali
  • 12160 WWCR English

2000 UTC on the 25 meter band:

  • 11600 Denge Kurdistan Kurdish
  • 11670 All India Radio Hindi
  • 11700 All India Radio GOS
  • 11735 Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation Swahili
  • 11760 Radio Habana Cuba French
  • 11775 Caribbean Beacon English
  • 11810 BBC English
  • 11825 WRMI (Overcomer) English
  • 1900 Voice of America French
  • 11930 Radio Marti Spanish (being jammed by Cuba)
  • 11955 Adventist World Radio Dyula
  • 11995 Radio France International French
  • 12050 EWTN (WEWN) Spanish
  • 12060 Radio Algerienne Chaine 1 Arabic
  • 12095 BBC English
  • 12105 WTWW Portuguese

SWLing Post DXpedition at PARI…this weekend!

If you’ve registered for, and plan to attend, the PARI DXPedition, please make sure you’ve joined our Yahoo Group.  This is where we’re finalizing details and communicating about the DXpedition, noting any changes, updates, etc.  

PARIdish

If you’ve tried to contact me recently and haven’t gotten a response yet (sorry about that!) it’s because I’ve been unusually busy: writing a shortwave radio buyer’s guide for The Spectrum Monitor, several reviews for WRTH 2016, plotting another reader challenge, and last but not least, putting together the final details of the SWLing Post DXpedition at PARI this weekend.

Soon I’ll be another kind of busy, at the DXpedition:  exploring the bands, gazing at the stars, and hanging out with some of the SWLing Post community. Needless to say, it’s going to be fun, and I’m looking forward to it.

If we have Internet access at PARI, we hope to post a few loggings and photos from our Twitter account.

We have about a dozen registrants this year, a good start.  If you can’t make it there, no worries; if all goes well, we may have another next year.

SWLing Post DXpedition at PARI is all systems go!

DSC_0884Some of you may recall a post I published last year regarding a shortwave and medium wave DXpedition at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), a 200-acre radio astronomy observatory and former NASA tracking station located deep in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Since this is the first event of its kind, we’ve been working closely with PARI staff to put the DXpedition together.  And come together, it has.

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve now received the official go-ahead: we’re clear to launch the (first-ever!) 2015 SWLing Post DXpedition, which will take place Friday, October 9, through Sunday, October 11.  Come join us!

PARI will soon post the official registration form on their website; of course, I’ll post an update when this form is ready.

Meanwhile, those of you who may be interested in attending, keep reading…and do join our dedicated email discussion group (more info below).

A few DXpedition details…

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As I mentioned last year, PARI has agreed to handle all of the event’s arrangements, and will even provide a limited number of basic shared dormitory rooms to the first registrants who request them. An event fee will pay for facilities and PARI staff (see below); modest profits, should there be any, will benefit PARI’s worthy science education mission.

We are fortunate to be sharing the beautiful PARI campus with with a larger party of amateur astronomers, aka, a “star party,” taking place the same weekend; the DXpedition will benefit from this in terms of expanded facilities access. An additional benefit is that we can share our passion for radio with members of the star party, while learning a little about astronomy from their members.  And for those of us who enjoy both, all the better.

Costs

The costs associated with the event are as follows:

Registration fee: $100

Lodging: On campus, the fee is $50 per night, per person, in a shared dormitory room; or $20 per night, per tent or travel trailer (no hook ups, though electricity is available). Want to come along, but not interested in roughing it? You’ll find numerous comfortable hotels and inns within a 30-40 minute drive of PARI’s mountain campus.

Meals: Catered meals will be provided for a modest charge to be determined (PARI is working with local food services to arrange our meals currently). Of course, you can always bring your own food and prepare it on-site, as well.  The campus has a lunchroom with a microwave.

The PARI campus and accommodation

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PARI was formerly a NASA tracking station, and following that, a Department of Defense monitoring facility.  Because of the remote nature of the campus, basic on-site dormitories were built; scientists use these throughout the year as they conduct their research, and the shared rooms are available upon request.

Typical PARI dorm room (click to enlarge)

Typical PARI dorm room (click to enlarge)

The dormitories are conveniently located in the heart of the 200-acre campus, and sleep about four to each room.  These are simple facilities, and no private rooms are offered. Bathrooms (with showers) are shared, and separate buildings house men and women; thus the dormitories may not be the best option if you plan to bring a spouse, a large family, or young children.

Of course, if you enjoy camping and/or star-gazing, you can pitch a tent (just $20/night), or park your travel trailer on campus (also just $20/night). Note that this is not a travel park, thus hook-ups for travel trailers are not supplied, although power is available.

For those who prefer not to camp or stay in a shared room, the nearby mountain town of Brevard, NC (approximately 35 minutes from PARI by car) is a charming small town offering numerous hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and other comfortable private accommodations. PARI often recommends the Hampton Inn in Brevard, NC. Hotels.com and AirBnB offer alternatives.

Receivers, antennas, and other radio equipment

DSC_0904DXpedition participants should bring their own receivers, antennas, and accessories. If you wish to bring an SDR or tabletop receiver, there are quite a few places on campus where you’ll have access to power. At least one main listening post will be set up under cover, as well, for our participants.

Feel free to bring any type of receiver you like. A few potential participants have noted that they plan to bring a portable receiver only, and that’s absolutely fine–this is your DXpedition, your chance to sit back and listen to your radio without distraction, so any radio you choose to bring is the right one.

Of course, a few SDRs, tabletops, and portable receivers will be available for participants to try out, so if you can’t bring your own receiver, please let me know in advance; I’ll try to reserve a time slot for you to use one of the available rigs.

SWLing Post DXpedition email group

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We have created an email discussion group for the DXpedition. If you are seriously considering joining the DXpedition, click here to become a member of the group as this is the place where we’ll organize and make further plans.

Since this is the first time the SWLing Post and PARI have sponsored a DXpedition, we’re certainly trail-blazing here. My sincere hope is that this event will lead to future DXpeditions…not to mention, real friendships among our readers and fellow SWLers.

Looking forward to the DXpedition–we’ll see you at PARI in October!

DXpedition at a radio astronomy observatory: Want to join me?

PARI-WestYesterday evening, prior to my presentation at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), I took the opportunity to do a little portable shortwave listening on the PARI campus.

Shortwave-Radio-Astronomy-PARI

One of the great things about listening to shortwave, mediumwave or longwave at a radio astronomy site is the blissful absence of any radio noise. Radio astronomy requires seriously RF-quiet conditions, and all the better for SWLing, too. My little Tecsun PL-380 receiver easily detected most everything on the 31 meter band; All India Radio (and the Voice of Korea on the same frequency), for example, was as strong as a local station.

DX among the radio telescopes:  Sound fun–?

Next year, in October 2015, I might just organize a radio listening DXpedition at PARI. It would be a wonderful opportunity to DX in an RFI-free environment in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina, on the 200+ acre campus of an active radio astronomy observatory and former NASA tracking station. (Really, how cool is that?!?)

PARI has agreed to handle all of the arrangements, and even provide some dorm rooms and camping space to the first registrants. There will be a fee for the event (to pay for the facilities and PARI staff time) but any profit would benefit PARI’s science education mission. The fee would be based on the number of attendees and how many nights we operate–I’d aim for two nights, on a Friday and Saturday (October 9 & 10, 2015).

If you would be interested in a shortwave listening DXpedition at PARI in Rosman, North Carolina, USA, please contact me or comment below.  Click here to track the distance to PARI.

Note: the autumn foliage, for which the NC mountain region is famed, will be at or near its peak during the time of the DXpedition.

PS–Bonus: A dish in motion

As I departed the PARI site late Friday, an astronomer programmed the rotation of the East radio telescope, an awe-inspiring 26-meter parabolic antenna.  I snapped a couple of shots with my iPhone.  It was truly impressive, this massive radio telescope slowly turning to some distant star or galaxy to acquire new data.  See for yourself (for a sense of scale, see the fence at the base):

PARI-East-26M-Antenna

PARI-East-26M-Antenna-3PARI-East-26M-Antenna-4