Category Archives: Longwave

Urban DXing: testing the Bonito Boni whip against a 30 metre longwire & the Wellbrook ALA15030

Hi there, if like me, you live in an urban environment, chances are QRM is having a negative impact on the quality of the signals you’re receiving at home. The presence of electrical noise makes antenna choice very important, particuarly if you’re planning to spend more than a few £££s on something more sophisticated than a length of wire. Recently I was considering the the purchase of a second compact antenna, for use at home in my shack and out and about on DXpeditions. I already had the excellent Wellbrook ALA1530 H field antenna, but at more than £250, it’s very costly and thus it seemed rather extravagent to buy a second one, if I could find something with similar performance for less expense. Space is at a premium at home and of course I take much of my equipment out on DXpeditions, so the Bonito Boni whip active antenna appeared to be an ideal choice. A wideband active antenna (from 20 kHz to 300 MHz) operating from 12 to 15V DC, with a very compact form-factor definitely ticked all the boxes. Furthermore, with reasonable second and third order intercept points of +55 and +32.5 dBm respectively, the Boni whip, on paper at least, looked like a pretty good buy at around £100.

 

Now, clearly, an E field antenna such as the Boni whip is not going to match the SNR provided by the H field Wellbrook ALA1530 in a noisy, urban environment. I have uploaded a few reception videos to my YouTube channel to demonstrate this, making a direct comparison of the two. However, what about the performance of the whip versus a simple longwire in an urban environment? Is there a delta in performance? The value proposition of the whip is primarliy in it’s performance, coupled with portability I suppose, but that must be considered a secondary requirement. The whip might be 10 or 15 times more expensive than a reel of cheap equipment wire, but will the reception justify the cost delta?!

Text links follow directly below, with embedded videos thereafter; you will find 3 reception videos comparing the whip and a 30 metre longwire, on shortwave and one each for LW and MW. At the end of each video there’s a section with the Wellbrook loop, just to calibrate where the longwire and whip are in terms of a much more effective H field antenna. The result? Well, there’s not much to separate the longwire and Boni whip, except on LW, where the whip prevails. A friend told me recently, if reception is rubbish at home under a blanket of QRM, don’t blame the antenna, the noise is the real problem. He was right. So, the next tests are to be undertaken out in the field, where the whip has a real chance to shine. I’m rooting for it because to have an antenna that performs as well as, or close to my loop out in the woods, yet can be packed away into a small case would be brilliant. Thanks for reading/watching/listening.



Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

WI2XLQ (formerly WG2XFQ): Brian Justin’s annual longwave broadcast Dec 24-25

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932)

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932)

Now an annual Christmas tradition, Brian Justin (WA1ZMS) will put his longwave experimental station WI2XLQ on the air to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio transmission.

WI2XLQ will broadcast under its new callsign (formerly WG2XFQ) on 486 kHz from Forest, Virginia, beginning on December 24 at 0001 UTC. WI2XLQ will remain on the air for 48 hours.

Listener reports may be sent to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address.

If you would like more information about Brian Justin and WI2XLQ, check out our interview with him in 2013. Indeed, I successfully heard the 2013 WG2XFG broadcast and posted this audio clip on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Additionally, SWLing Post reader, George Stein has a very personal connection with radio pioneer, Reginald Fessenden: click here to read his story.

162 kHz longwave: CSA France seeks expressions of interest for broadcast license

(Source: Southgate ARC via Mike Barraclough)

French 162 kHz Broadcast Licence

The French Superior Council of Audiovisual (Content), CSA, is calling for expressions of interest in broadcasting on 162 kHz

They say: In accordance with the provisions of Article 26 of the amended Freedom of Communication Act of September 30, 1986 and at the request of the Government, the CSA decided to withdraw from Radio France the use of the 162 kHz frequency for broadcasting of France Inter.

In order to determine whether the Commission should initiate the procedures necessary to appeal the 162 kHz frequency, it decided to issue a call for expressions of interest for the broadcast of a radio service on the 162 kHz frequency.

Responses are expected no later than January 16, 2017.

Announcement in French
http://www.csa.fr/Espace-juridique/Decisions-du-CSA/Frequence-radio-162-kHz-appel-a-manifestation-d-interet

Now’s the time to grab longwave DX!

If you’ve been wanting to log France Inter as longwave DX, you’re running out of time. France Inter is shutting down their 162 kHz longwave service on December 31, 2016.

I’m grateful to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who has persistently reminded me that these are some of the last days to catch France Inter as LW DX here in North America.  Indeed, he shared a bit of interesting and encouraging news a couple weeks ago:

On the Radiodiscussions DX forum, Jim Farmer over in San Antonio got and recorded France Inter on 162 khz using a PK loop and Sony 7600GR.

The PK Loop he’s referring to is this one and, of course, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR is one of my staple portables.

While I’d love to try to grab France Inter with my Sony, my schedule makes it very difficult to arrange. Fortunately, I have SDRs which allow me to record spectrum throughout the night, then review the recordings in the morning.

Throughout the month of December, I’ve been recording a small chunk of longwave spectrum–with my WinRadio Excalibur–during the night and reviewing it in the morning in hopes that I could grab an opening from France Inter.

I was rewarded on December 19, 2016 around 0300 UTC. Though there was atmospheric noise that night in the form of static crashes, I snagged France Inter on 162 kHz.

My spectrum display from the Excalibur.

The 162 kHz carrier was barely above the noise floor (see above), so it was certainly weak signal DX. Here’s an audio sample:

Click here to download the mp3 file.

When that short LW opening happened, I was also able to snag Medi 1 from Morocco on 171 kHz. Again, not fantastic copy, but I’m happy:

Click here to download the mp3.

Mind you, both France Inter and Medi 1 only transmit at 2,000 watts–that’s flea power compared to our shortwave broadcasters. It’s amazing those signals can even hop the Atlantic.

Correction…an SWLing Post reader, qwerty.am, comments:

Actually, the power of France Inter and Medi1 is 2000 kW and 1600 kW respectively. So the power of most SW broadcasters should be called a “flea power” in comparison to what is used on longwave. The smallest output on LW band in Europe is 50 kW, it’s used by Denmark and Czech Rep. The 162 kHz transmitter is closing on Dec 26th, according to the latest news.

Wow!

Again, if you’d like to grab  longwave stations before they disappear, now is the time! Our LW broadcasters are disappearing rapidly. Fortunately, winter (here in the northern hemisphere) is the best time to chase LW DX.

Thanks, again, Ron for your encouragement! I’ll keep listening and recording!

LF Closure in Ireland Postponed Yet Again

rte

In yet another reversal concerning the fate of Longwave in the UK, this was reported in Radio Survivor Oct 10:

Ireland’s Longwave Station RTÉ 252 Spared from Imminent Closure

By on October 10, 2016 in International, Radio Bands

Listeners located in the U.K. who enjoy Ireland’s RTÉ 252 radio service are breathing a sign of relief. The planned 2017 closure of this longwave station has now been put on indefinite hold, according to Independent.ie.

An Irish diaspora in the U.K. is the primary audience for RTÉ 252, which broadcasts programming from the Radio 1 nationwide news and talk service. As Paul Bailey explained in a post this past June, the cost and complexity of maintaining the large LW transmitter and antenna amid budgetary pressures, along with the perceived obsolescence of the service, were the cited reasons for retiring the station.

There was public outcry in the wake of the original decision to shut down RTÉ 252, which resulted in delaying the date two years. That was followed by research from a group called Irish in Britain that argued the station helped listeners in England, Scotland and Wales keep up to date with matters at home and retain a “sense of Irishness.” A survey the group conducted showed that 92% of respondents listened to the station most or every day. Apparently, that added up to enough pressure on the Irish state broadcaster to keep RTÉ 252 going for the time being.

 You can read the full article here.

I have been watching this issue for some time and am encouraged to see people fighting for LF radio, indeed any continuation of broadcast radio. The key element in my mind being the many people who do not live within a regional broadcast area should not be discarded, or forced into services which which cost them significantly more money.

Here in the states people are still struggling to deal with reduced service areas due to the digital switch over of OTA television. With our “digital revolution” we are trying to force people into a “one size fits all” box, and there is no one box which can fit everyone.

The future is quite uncertain, as these reversals have shown, but I wish the Irish listeners well in their ongoing battle – they have accomplished more than most!!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.