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Yesterday, while comparing the new Tecsun S-8800 with the PL-880 and ICF-SW7600GR (on the tail gate of my truck) I tuned to Radio Guinea and was instantly reminded why I love music over shortwave.
Here’s a clip I kept rather short for fear that YouTube might note the off-air music and pull the video for copyright infringement (happens all the time). I shot this with my mobile phone, so you can’t hear the bass notes:
Some of my favorite stations for music over the shortwaves are the Voice of Greece, Radio Guinea, Radio Havana Cuba, All India Radio, Radio Romania International, Medi 1 and Zanzibar Broadcasting Corp. Not to mention all of the private broadcasters like WRMI, The Mighty KBC and Bill Tilford’s productions!
This morning, I woke up, tuned to 9,580 kHz and all I heard was static.
Other than when the Shepparton transmitting station has been silenced for maintenance in the past, 9,580 kHz is one of the most reliable frequencies I’ve ever know on shortwave. Radio Australia has met me there every morning I’ve listened since I was eight years old.
I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend and certainly a staple source of news on shortwave radio. I know I’m not alone–a number of readers have shared similar sentiments this morning.
Archiving Radio Australia’s final days on the air
Listening to Radio Australia on 12,065 kHz with the Titan SDR Pro.
Since the beginning of the year, a few of us have been making a concerted effort to thoroughly archive Radio Australia’s final days on the air. Mark Fahey, London Shortwave, Richard Langley, Rob Wagner and I (to name a few) have been making both audio and/or spectrum recordings.
At 0100 UTC on January 31, 2017, we heard the “Waltzing Matilda” interval signal for one last time. As I understand it, the crew at the Shepparton site left the transmitter on a few extra seconds extra so their famous interval signal would be, in essence, the final sign-off.
Due to propagation and the time of day when the shut down happened, I was unable to make a recording, so I’m pleased others could.
Mark compares shortwave and satellite feeds
Mark Fahey’s Wellbrook Mag Loop antenna.
I’m grateful to friend and contributor, Mark Fahey, who lives near Sydney, Australia, and was also able to record the final moments of Radio Australia as well. Mark recorded the shortwave service and RA satellite feed simultaneously.
Mark shares the following recordings and notes:
This is RA’s final few minutes on shortwave – it was recorded on 17840kHz.
The file picks up the regular program ending, then into a Promo for RA “Pacific Beat” (a Pacific current affairs program), then the classic RA Interval Signal then the transmitter clicks off and the void is heard.
The file starts at exactly the same time as the first file, but in this example we are monitoring the Network Feed from Intelsat 18 at 180.0 degrees east (above the equator right on the international date line). This satellite feed is the way Radio Australia gets to the network of FM Transmitters they have scatted around the Pacific Region (which is why they feel they don’t need shortwave anymore for – most populated areas of Radio Australia’s target area now is covered by a network of Radio Australia FM transmitters).
Some differences to the first file – Radio Australia is produced in FM quality stereo, though of course DXers only ever heard it in shortwave quality mono. So this network feed is in stereo and has a wider dynamic range that what DXer’s are familiar with from Radio Australia. At the end of the Pacific Beat Promo, Radio Australia goes straight into News, the closing of the shortwave service was not an event that would have been noticed for the typical listeners of RA who now listen via FM in Pacific capitals and major towns.
Thank you Mark for your comparison–I’ve never heard RA so clearly. Only you would’ve thought to simultaneously record the satellite feed! It gives the moment that much more context.
A number of SWLing Post contributors have been sharing recordings this morning. I will plan to collect these and put them on the Shortwave Archive in the near future.
Today I listened to Radio Australia for the very last time. 15240 kHz and 15415 kHz were plagued with local noise and not especially strong signals. So 17840 kHz was the best option for my final moments with this grand old shortwave broadcaster. Mount Evelyn is about 200 km south of the Shepparton transmitter site – not far enough for proper F layer reflection and off the side of the beam, so the signal was a bit scratchy. But I was there for the end and that’s the important thing!
Thank you to all the SWLing readers who have been so kind in their comments about our national broadcaster. I know RA meant much to so many people around the globe. But I’ll have more to say on this in the near future. Thanks to Thomas for helping to promote the Save Radio Australia cause. The fight is not over yet!
Here are the last two minutes of the broadcast today, including the audible switch-off click and a few parting comments from me.
Hi there, I’m sure some of you will read the title of this post and conclude ‘that’s exactly that the Eton Satellit could never be’. I was of the same opinion, having read many reviews online suggesting this little radio on shortwave at least was essentially a bit ‘duff’ as we say in the UK. The fundamental flaws identified when it was first released included, but were not limited to – a general lack of sensitivity, poor AM SYNC stability and poor AM SYNC audio, poor filtering, particularly in SSB mode, muting whilst tuning, poor display visibility in sunlight, poor AGC timing…the list goes on.
On MW and FM there was a general consensus that this little radio performed very well, but with all the other flaws highlighted here, it certainly did not represent good value for money. A number of reviewers concluded that the Eton was an insult to the ‘Satellit’ brand. Oh dear, yet another shot in the foot for Eton then. User perception was confirmed when I posted my first reception video using this radio – a number of my Oxford Shortwave Log subscribers got in touch to say they were essentially scared off buying this radio at the time and that this was of course driven by the negative reviews that proliferated the internet.
Since the original launch, however, it would appear that firmware updates have improved this receiver immesurably, although I am quite certain this news hasn’t really filtered out into the market because there still appears to be a consensus that the newest Satellit is ‘not worthy’ so-to-speak. So, how did I come to buy a Satellit, a decision that could very well be perceived as risky to say the least, even foolhardy?! Well, one of my DXing fellows on YouTube (check out his YouTube channel – it’s full of amazing DX) posted a video of his recently purchased Satellit in a number of tests against the (largely) brilliant Tecsun PL-880. The Satellit equalled or bettered the PL-880 on MW and SW. I was very surprised at this outcome, for the same reasons as everyone else – it wasn’t supposed to be that good.
Even though the poster himself suggested the Eton might not be classified as a classic Satellit, it’s interesting to note that another DXer with three decades of experience and someone who’s owned the Satellit 400, 500 and 700 models concluded the opposite and that for various reasons, the newest Satellit is a far better performer with weak DX than those vintage receivers ever were. In his experience, the classic Satellit receivers always delivered excellent audio and thus were brilliant for listening to international broadcasters. However, for weak DX the Satellit 500 didn’t perform as well as the budget Sangean ATS-803A and the ICF-2001D wiped the floor with the 700. So, is the Eton worthy of the Satellit branding? Perhaps the problem is it’s just so small – I mean compared to the Satellit 800….you could confuse the Eton to be it’s remote control – if it had one! It is diminutive and I’ve purposely taken a picture of it with my calculator to demonstrate this. It’s actually not much bigger than the Tecsun PL-310ET, so in terms of form-factor, definitely a departure from Satellits of the past.
What about performance? I tested the Eton at the woods I use for DXing, with a 50 metre longwire. In the space of a couple of hours, I’d recorded ABC Northern Territories on 2325, 2485 and 4835 kHz, Pyongyang BS, North Korea on 3320 kHz, Angola on 4950 kHz, Guinea on 9650 kHz and a weak signal from the Solomon Islands on 5020 kHz. The signals from ABC on 2485 kHz, Angola and Guinea were stronger and clearer than I’d ever heard previously. Pyongyang on 3320 kHz and the Solomon Islands were personal firsts.
The Eton performed way beyond my expectations and I hope this post will go some way to restoring the repuation of this brilliant little radio, which in my opinion fully deserves to be called a Satellit. More testing is necssary, including direct comparisons with other receivers – all of that to come in due course. Text links and embedded reception videos follow. Thanks for reading/watching/listening and I wish you all great DX!
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.
The idea is that you monitor signals to determine if conditions are particularly good and can thereby trigger an I/Q recording of a whole band during that particular propagation high point -Jukka welcomes more comments on this idea.
Many thanks, Jon. I would certainly be a fan of this as so many times I’ve missed fantastic band openings while travelling. It would be nothing short of brilliant to come home to automatic SDR spectrum recordings taken during prime propagation. At the moment, propagation is so dismal, rare openings are worth recording!