Recordings: Paul records Vanuatu and Solomon Islands from central Alaska

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who shares the following recordings of Radio Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands Broadcasting. Paul lives in Galena, Alaska, and records most of these broadcasts outside of his broadcasting studio:

7260 kHz:

5020 kHz:

5020 kHz:

3945 is much weaker then 7260 for some reason and Nikkei is on that channel till 0900 UTC, so about the only chance I have of hearing Vanuatu on 3945 CLEARLY is when Nikkei signs off.

9545 kHz Monday Night 1130 AKDT/(0730 utc Tuesday)

7260 from April 19th at 1135 AKDT /0735 UTC)

5020 from April 20th at 1248 am AKDT/0848 UTC

Thanks for sharing your recordings, Paul! You’ve certainly done a fine job DXing in the northern latitudes all while standing next to a broadcast station.

Keep up the great work!

Curating a list of endangered shortwave stations

RCI-Sackville-2012

That’s my minivan parked in front of the RCI Sackville transmitting station in June, 2012. The site was closed by the end of 2012 and towers demolished shortly thereafter.

Recently, my friend and fellow archivist, London Shortwave, and I engaged in a discussion about creating a curated list of “endangered” shortwave radio stations.

The idea being we could use such a list to focus our efforts and those of the archiving community on recording broadcasters that were most likely to disappear in the near future.

London Shortwave published an excellent post about this on his blog.

Please click here to read his post.

We quickly put this page on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive as a starting point.

We need your help to curate this list!

Please comment either on London Shortwave’s blog, or on this post, and suggest any additional broadcasters we may have missed. Please include a link to news item(s) which may indicate the broadcaster faces closure.

Of course, this list and the categories are subjective–we’re simply using our best judgement in this process. Often, broadcasters can shut down with little or no notice.

Thanks in advance for your help!

The Icom IC-7300 vs. Elecraft KX3: Which do you prefer for CW/SSB?

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Many thanks to all of you who participated in our last survey comparing the new Icom IC-7300 with the WinRadio Excalibur SDR. We had over 100 responses (!!!)–the results will be posted in the forthcoming IC-7300 review.

Before completing my review, I thought I might fit in one more quick comparison–this time, comparing the Icom IC-7300 to my Elecraft KX3 and focusing on SSB and CW reception.

Recording notes and disclaimers

The Icom IC-7300 offers native digital audio recording, which means that it records both transmitted and received audio to an inserted SD card.

IC-7300The Elecraft KX3 does not have a built-in recorder (indeed, most transceivers do not) thus I made in-line recordings using my Zoom H2N digital recorder.

I did no post-processing of the audio other than converting .wav files to .mp3.

Both receivers shared my large outdoor omni-directional horizontal delta loop antenna for each test.

The Elad ASA15 Antenna Splitter Amplifier

The Elad ASA15 Antenna Splitter Amplifier

To keep the comparison on as equal footing as possible, the receivers shared the same antenna through my Elad ASA15 antenna splitter amplifier. Though the ASA15 has both 12dB amplification and –15dB attenuation, I employed neither.

The ASA15 allowed me to make the following recordings simultaneously.

In each case, I tried to set up both radios using the same filter widths, AGC settings, and (as much as possible), audio level. I didn’t engage a noise-reduction feature on either rig.

I also didn’t employ any type of audio equalization on either rig–still, you’ll note that one radio produces a more “flat” response than the other.

Please vote!

At the end of this post, I have an embedded a survey in which you can vote for the sample recordings you like best. Each recording is clearly labeled to denote that it’s either from “Radio A” or “Radio B” (chosen at random).

And now…here are the recordings:


Audio Clip 1: CW (20 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B


Audio Clip 2: Weak Signal CW (20 meter band)

Radio A

Rado B


Audio Clip 3: Weak/Strong SSB
(Sable Island working Asia/Pacific on 20 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B


We want to hear from you!

Use the form below to vote for the recordings you prefer in each section.

I’ll close voting at 12:00 UTC on Wednesday April 27, 2016. Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey!

Pirate Radio Recordings: Radio Casablanca

Poster - Casablanca_13

Last night at about 00:10 UTC, I was pleased to hear the interval signal of one of my favorite pirate radio stations: Radio Casablanca.

“Rick Blaine” fired up his AM transmitter and pumped out some amazing WWII era music on 6,940 kHz for about one hour and a half. Radio Casablanca only pops up a few times a year, so I always feel fortunate to grab the broadcast (click here to listen to previous recordings).

Signal strength varied over the course of the broadcast and the bands were quite noisy–still, the Casablanca signal punched through quite well at times.

Close your eyes and imagine what it must have been like to hear the great bands of the era over the shortwaves…

Click here to download an MP3 of the full recording, or simply listen via the embedded player below. Note that the interval signal starts around 01:25:

The Icom IC-7300 vs. WinRadio Excalibur: Which do you prefer?

Icom-IC-7300-Front

In the past, receiver shoot-outs in which I’ve provided sample audio for “blind” comparison––meaning, the listener does not know which audio sample is associated with which radio––have produced particularly positive feedback from Post readers.

The WinRadio Excalibur

The WinRadio Excalibur

So I’ve decided to do this for the new Icom IC-7300 transceiver. I’ve pitted the ‘7300 against a benchmark receiver: the WinRadio Excalibur.

I have a number of SDRs (software defined radios) in the shack at the moment, but I picked the Excalibur because it’s the closest in price ($900 US) to the IC-7300 ($1500) as compared to my Elad FDM-S2 ($520) or the TitanSDR Pro ($2500).

Recording notes and disclaimers

Both the WinRadio Excalibur and the Icom IC-7300 offer native digital audio recording (nice touch, Icom!). The Excalibur simply records the AF to a file on my PC’s hard drive, while the IC-7300 records the audio to an SD card which I can later transfer to my PC.

IC-7300

I’ve been using the Excalibur since 2012, so I’m very familiar with its recording feature. I was not, however, familiar with the IC-7300’s digital recorder, so prior to making recordings, I checked to make sure its recorded audio was a fair representation of its live audio. To my ear, the IC-7300 recorded audio was nearly identical to that of the live audio, so I used the 7300’s internal recorder rather than one of my external recorders.

Both receivers shared my large outdoor omni-directional horizontal delta loop antenna for each test.

The Elad ASA15 Antenna Splitter Amplifier

The Elad ASA15 Antenna Splitter Amplifier

To keep the comparison on as equal footing as possible, the receivers shared the same antenna through my Elad ASA15 antenna splitter amplifier. Though the ASA15 has both 12dB amplification and –15dB attenuation, I employed neither.

The ASA15 allowed me to make the following recordings simultaneously.

In each case, I tried to set up both radios using the same filter widths, gain, AGC settings, and (as much as possible), audio level. I didn’t engage a noise-reduction feature on either rig.

Note:  the only exception to the radios’ equal treatment was in the AM mode recordings, in which I used the WinRadio’s AM Sync (AMS) mode. Why? Frankly speaking, 99% of the time during which I use the Excalibur, I do employ its AMS mode as its AM mode often sounds “hot” and over-driven when band conditions are as noisy, as they were last night.

The IC-7300 does not have AM synchronous detection (AMS mode), but I felt it compared very favorably to the Excalibur in AMS mode.  The IC-7300 would have easily beat the Excalibur in this test had I only used the Excalibur’s AM mode. In the end, as a shortwave listener, the goal is to compare the total capabilities of broadcast performance between the two receivers (thus using sync mode if available, to maximize broadcast listening performance).

Please vote!

At the end of this post, I have an embedded a survey in which you can vote for the sample recordings you like best. Each recording is clearly labeled to denote that it’s either from “Radio A” or “Radio B” (I had my wife draw names from a hat to determine which radio would be labeled as A or B).

Since there are quite a few recordings, I’d suggest jotting down your notes separately before completing the survey.

Or, alternately, you can open the survey in a separate window by clicking here.

And now…here’s the recordings.

Ham Radio Band recordings

The following recordings were made on the 40 meter ham radio band yesterday evening. Both radios have the same filter width: 250 Hz in CW, 3 kHz in SSB.

Weak Signal CW (40 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B

Weak/Strong SSB QSO (40 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B


Shortwave Broadcast recordings

The following recordings were made on the 31 meter broadcast band yesterday evening. Both radios have the same filter width: 9 kHz and 8.2 kHz.

Weak Shortwave AM (Radio Bandeirantes 31 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B

Strong Shortwave AM (Radio Romania International, French 31 Meter Band)

Radio A 

Radio B


Mediumwave Broadcast recordings

Note that the following mediumwave recordings were made during the morning hours (grayline). The strong station is the closest AM broadcaster to my home; it’s not a blow-torch “Class A” type station, merely the closest local broadcaster.

In the “weak” sample, I tuned to 630 kHz, where multiple broadcasters could be heard on frequency––but one was dominant.

Both radios are set to a filter width of 9.0 kHz.

Strong Mediumwave AM (1010 kHz)

Radio A

Radio B

Weak Mediumwave AM (630 kHz)

Radio A

Radio B


We want to hear from you!

Use the form below to vote for the recordings you prefer in each section.

I’ll close voting at 12:00 UTC on Thursday April 21, 2016. Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey!

One year with the TitanSDR

TitanSDR-VOG

Last year, I reviewed the TitanSDR Pro by the Italian manufacturer, Enablia,. I was very impressed with not only this receiver’s performance, but also its accompanying application’s user interface. I also noted in the review that the TitanSDR is pricier than many other benchmark SDRs on the market ($1380-1970 EUR) but it is, after all, essentially a military-grade SDR that has been ported to the enthusiast/ham radio market.

I’ve been using and testing updates to theTitanSDR Pro for a year now, and I continue to be just as impressed with this receiver––and, especially, with the company who manufactures it, Enablia.

TitanSDRPro-3

I wondered at the time of my initial review how supportive Enablia might turn out to be; I knew time would tell.  Since my original review last year, Enablia has been regularly updating the TitanSDR application, adding many features requested by its users.  This shows a remarkable degree of responsiveness, and I now feel safe to say that that Enablia is an exceptional manufacturer with an exceptional product.

Only recently, I received an update which added two notch filters per narrowband channel, memories that retain AGC and notch filters settings, and sessions that retain AGC settings. I understand Enablia is also preparing updates that improve upon memory management, user interface, audio defaults, as well as offering a few tweaks to the existing feature set.

Overall, Enablia developers are certainly making this signal intelligence SDR cater to the ham radio and enthusiast market even better than before.

Though I use a number of SDRs, I reach for the TitanSDR any time there are multiple-band openings since it can record spectrum and audio across the entire LW/MW/SW landscape. Unlike my other SDRs, it’s not limited to an (already generous)  2-6 MHz recording/listening window.

For example, on Thursday night I had a lot on my listening/recording plate as there were a number of band openings. I had the TitanSDR tuned to:

  • the 31 meter band,
  • the 20 meter ham radio band,
  • the 49 meter band (specifically monitoring South American stations), and even
  • the mediumwave band.

The TitanSDR was recording spectrum on the 49 meter band while I made this AF recording of the Voice of Greece on the 31 meter band (9420 kHz, starting around 00:26 UTC on April 8, 2016):

Surprisingly, all of this recording wasn’t taxing my PC, nor the TitanSDR.

The TitanSDR application is highly stable and uses resources efficiently. Indeed, in the past year, to my knowledge the TitanSDR application hasn’t crashed even once, despite my rigorous demands of it. Since it runs nearly 24/7 in my shack, on a four-year old PC (third generation i5 Win 7), that’s saying a lot.

SWLing Post reader, Tony Roper, is also a heavy TitanSDR user and recently posted this 30+ minute video demonstrating some of the TitanSDR’s new features. Note that his screen capture software produced fairly low audio, so you’ll need to turn up the volume to hear his commentary:

Click here to view on YouTube.

In short, I stand by my conclusions drawn last year in my TitanSDR review:  although pricey compared to the competition, for those who can afford the price tag, the TitanSDR is a worthy hard-core DX machine that is especially useful to need a receiver with a bullet-proof front end, to weak-signal DXers, and to radio archivists like yours truly.

Recording the final broadcast of Radio Belarus?

CommRadio-CR-1-Zoom-H2N-BBC-AntarcticaRegarding our previous post about Radio Belarus closing down, SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, reminds me that we should try to add a recording of the final broadcast to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

If you can manage to capture the final broadcast (or any of the Belarus broadcasts between now and then), please consider submitting the recordings to the archive.

Many thanks!