Catch the 2017 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast?

Listening to the 2017 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast from the back of my vehicle in Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec, Canada.

Yesterday afternoon, I packed up the Sony ICF-SW100, Audiomax SRW-710S and Elecraft KX2 portables in search of a quite spot to listen to the BBC World Service Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast. I also packed my PK Loop and NASA PA 30 antennas.

I’m traveling in Canada again and staying in an RFI-dense condo. There was no way I’d hear the broadcast through the noise, so I searched for a field location.

I discovered a quiet spot to park on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec, Canada.

The location was almost ideal: it was RFI quiet compared to other spots I checked and I had access to a tree where I could hang the NASA PA 30 wire antenna.

View of the Saint Lawrence River from my back-of-the-minivan listening post.

Once I arrived, with little time to spare, I deployed the NASA PA 30 and connected it to my Elecraft KX2 transceiver. I then connected the Sony ICF-SW100 to the PK Loop antenna.

Since the KX2 is the most sensitive receiver in my travel arsenal–and even has built-in noise blanking, variable DSP noise reduction, and variable filter width–I used it as the source for my recording.

I checked audio levels by tuning the KX2 to the Voice of Greece on 9420–VOG was blowtorch strength.

None of the frequencies used for the Midwinter broadcast were ideal for my location and time of day (after all, these broadcasts target Antarctica!) but last year I did successfully receive the 41 meter band broadcast.

My fingers were crossed as the broadcast time approached (17:30 local/21:30 UTC).

A few seconds before the half hour, I heard the AM carrier light up on 7,360 kHz (ASCENSION). Very good sign! The broadcast audio followed a few seconds later and was weak, but intelligible. I would give the signal an overall SINPO of 35343.

I couldn’t receive a thing on the 6035 kHz (DHABAYYA) and only an extremely faint signal on 5985 kHz (WOOFFERTON).

The Elecraft KX2/NASA PA 30 combo did prove to be the most effective receiver/antenna pair.

I forgot to do two things in advance, however: to turn off the KX2’s key beeps (which would have been audible in the recording had I adjusted receiver settings) and to set my Zoom H2N to record in WAV format. Oh well…

I was very pleased with the results, all things considered.

The Sony ICF-SW100/PK Loop combo was also quite effective. The signal was a little weaker and less stable than the KX2, but I was still very pleased overall. Here’s a short video–note that I have the sync lock engaged:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The PK Loop was positioned on a folding trail seat close to the ground. After experimenting, I found that loop height had little impact on overall reception, so I opted to keep it closer for accessibility.

The PK Loop antenna.

Very impressive reception of weak DX for such a small portable a compact loop antenna. In the end, the SW100 is a phenomenal little DX machine!

I brought the Audiomax SRW-710S along as well. Since it has a built-in digital recording feature, I had hoped it might provide an additional recording of the broadcast.

Sadly, it fell short.

No matter how I positioned the receiver, nor what antenna it was connected to, the SRW-710S simply couldn’t cope with the weak signal, QRN and overall band conditions. The noise floor was high and the signal (when audible) very unstable. It was like listening to a battle between the receiver’s internal noise and the target signal.

The $20 Audiomax simply can’t compare to benchmark receivers like the ICF-SW100 and Elecraft KX2. Still, it’s an acceptable little radio for recording stronger shortwave, mediumwave and FM signals. I completely agree with Troy Riedel’s assessment.

Another Midwinter broadcast for the books!

It’s always a treat to enjoy the BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast live, knowing that the BAS crew, wintering over in Antarctica, are enjoying it at the same time!

That, in a nutshell, is the magic of shortwave radio.

Please share your recordings!

I’ve already received a healthy number of recordings from SWLing Post readers!  Thank you so much!

If you have a recording of the 2017 Midwinter Broadcast that you’d like to submit, please do so by Sunday. I’m participating in Field Day and attending an airshow this weekend, but plan to publish a post with all of the recordings and your photos early next week.

Please send your recordings with any notes and photos to my email address which can be found on the Contact page. If you submit a video, please upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and simply send me the link. Thank you!

eBay: Galaxy R-530 Communications Receiver & Speaker

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob G, who shares a link to this rare Galaxy R-530 receiver and speaker on eBay:

Click here to view on eBay.

The R-530 is certainly a handsome receiver. FYI: the last time we posted one of these from eBay, the final price was $470 shipped, but this particular listing also includes the SC-530 matching speaker.

Earlier this year, when an R-530 appeared on eBay, our resident rare receiver guru, Dan Robinson, chimed in with the following:

Some observations on this. The R-530, and military version R-1530, were considered fairly top of the line when they were made. They’re still among the rarer radios on the used market, though not the rarest. The R-1530 is not seen often.

On performance, these receivers were not on the same level as National HRO-500s, 51Js, and R-390s. This was made by Hy-Gain after all, which was not top of the heap in receiving design.

However, the R-530/1530s are great looking pieces. Anyone considering these should make absolutely sure that the PLL circuit functions on all bands. Poor cosmetic condition is a tipoff that the radio had a hard life.

Are there any Post readers own and use an R-530 of R-1530? Please comment!

FCC: A detailed application for a new 10KW DRM transmitter

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

Thomas, did you see this? It’s a detailed application to the FCC for the construction of a 10KW shortwave transmitter for DRM on 9.65 MHz and 15.45 MHz.

Click here to download the application (PDF).

Thanks, Ed! I know nothing about Turms Tech other than on their FCC application, they list their business is “broadcast and data.”

Another SWLing Post reader forwarded the following from this article in Radio Mag Online:

“Of interest in the U.S. is the recent application of Turms Tech LLC to broadcast DRM from New Jersey toward Europe and the Middle East. Specifically, they plan on using the Armstrong tower, just west and north of New York City, with yagi-type antennas, generating an ERP of 10 kW on 9.65 and 15.45 MHz.”

The Radio Mag article is worth reading in full as it includes a number of DRM news items.

Additionally, if you’re interesting in following DRM news, check out the excellent DRMNA blog.

Post readers: anyone have more information about this new DRM broadcast site?  Please comment!

Shortwave Radiogram begins June 24-25, 2017

(Source: Shortwave Radiogram via Tom Ally)

Shortwave Radiogram begins 24-25 June 2017

The Shortwave Radiogram transmission schedule:

Sunday 0600-0630 UTC 7730 kHz

Sunday 2030-2100 UTC 11580 kHz

Sunday 2330-2400 UTC 11580 kHz

All via WRMI in Florida

Great to see that Kim Elliott isn’t skipping a beat moving from the VOA Radiogram to the Shortwave Radiogram in his retirement!  Let’s support him by tuning in!

Click here to visit the new Shortwave Radiogram website.

Help record the 2017 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast today!

Every year, the BBC broadcasts a special program to the scientists and support staff in the British Antarctic Survey Team. The BBC plays music requests and sends special messages to the small team of 40+ located at various Antarctic research stations. Each year, the thirty minute show is guaranteed to be quirky, nostalgic, and certainly a DX-worthy catch!

After successful listener events from years past, I’m calling on all SWLing Post readers and shortwave radio listeners to make a short recording (say, 30-60 seconds) of the BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast today and share it here at the Post (frequencies and time below).

The recording can be audio-only, or even a video taken from any recording device or smart phone. It would be helpful to have a description and/or photo of your listening environment and location, if possible.

If you submit your recording to me, I will post it here on the SWLing Post–and insure that the British Antarctic Survey receives the post, too.  The recordings will be arranged by geographic location.

Frequencies

Please note that the broadcast begins at 2130 UTC on June 21, 2017. The following frequencies are based on the test transmissions last week and info published by Martin Goulding and Mauno Ritola (thank you, guys!):

From ASCENSION

7360 kHz250 kW / 207 deg to Antarctica

From DHABAYYA

6035 kHz250 kW / 203 deg to Antarctica

From WOOFFERTON

5985 kHz300 kW / 184 deg to Antarctica

I’m sure there will be live reports in the SWLing Post chat room during the broadcast.  Please sign in and share your report as well!

I hope I’ll be able to receive the broadcast this year–I’m traveling again in Québec, but will have my trusty Sony ICF-SW100 and Elecraft KX2 in tow.

Listening for the Midwinter test transmissions last week with the Elecraft KX2.

I’ll plan to set up at the same listening spot I did last year.

The Midwinter broadcast is one of my favorite programs of the year. I suppose, in part, this is because it happens on June 21–the Summer/Winter solstice–which also happens to be my birthday! Woo hoo!