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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:
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!
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.
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!):
7360 kHz250 kW / 207 deg to Antarctica
6035 kHz250 kW / 203 deg to Antarctica
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.
Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, Antarctica (Image Source: British Antarctic Survey)
Post readers: I need your help!
SWLing Post reader Andy Webster (G7UHN) is searching for an off-air recording of the BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica from the year 2009.
Andy has a very personal connection to this particular broadcast because he was the wintering communications engineer at Rothera Research Station in 2009. One of his fondest memories was listening to the BBC Midwinter broadcast while he and his colleagues were huddled around the station’s Skanti TRP 8750 marine transceiver. Andy would like a proper off-air recording of the broadcast to share with his family and friends–so they can hear what the broadcast sounded like over shortwave radio.
If you happen to have an off-air recording of the 2009 Midwinter broadcast, could you please contact me or comment on this post?
On Tuesday, 21 June 2016, the BBC World Service officially transmitted the 2016 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast–an international radio broadcast intended for a small group of scientists, technicians, and support staff who work for the British Antarctic Survey.
This is one of my favorite annual broadcasts, and I endeavor to listen every year. Once again, the SWLing Post called upon readers to make a short recording of the broadcast from their locale.
Below are the entries, roughly organized by continent and country/region, including reader’s photos if provided. I had planned to post these recordings by Sunday, but my travels interfered and I discovered an additional ten recordings in my inbox! (If I’ve somehow missed including your entry, please contact me; I’ll amend this post.)
So, without further ado….
The 2016 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast Recordings
Paul’s Icom IC-7300 tuned to the BBC Midwinter broadcast.
SWL: Paul Philbrook Location: Adelaide, South Australia Notes: Here are a couple of recordings from this mornings broadcast. Just had a quick listen before heading off to work and recorded these two with the IC-7300. Radio: Icom IC-7300 Aerial: Multi-band loaded dipole. 5985 Khz strength 5 readable, 6035 Khz strength 8 good readability, 7360 Khz no copy.
SWL: Bryan Clark Location: Mangawhai, New Zealand Notes: Listening in New Zealand, reception was not as good as last year.
Here are short audio files of the 3 frequencies. I used an EWE antenna aimed southeast, that is across South America, for the best signals. Receiver is a WinRadio Excalibur Pro SDR.
SWL: Christoph Ratzer Location: Salzburg, Austria Notes: Here my complete recording for you. Received at my remote station http://remotedx.wordpress.com in Salzburg, WinRadio G33 Excalibur PRO, Delta loop antenna with Bonito ML052 amplifier.
SWL: Philippe Location: L’Hôpital-Camfrout, France (few km south of Brest) Notes: Very good conditions here, good sound. Equipment: Yaesu FT817ND + V inverted antenna and Yaesu Vx7r + original antenna (little stick on the radio). On both radios, reception: 59 / 59+
SWL: Renato Feuli (IK0OZK) Location: Valentano, Italy Notes: Woofferton at 5.895 Khz AM
Time UTC 21.33
Signal Report R/S R5 S 9+15 Db Very Good signal and audio
RTX JRC 245 and Windom antenna
To Ascension at 7.360 Khz AM
Time UTC 21.33
Signal Report R/S R5 S 9+10 Db Very Good Signal and audio
Receiver JRC NRD 545 Dsp and Long-Wire antenna
SWL: Joseph Location: Ponza island, Italy Notes: I am Joseph in Ponza island, Italy, with pleasure I send you a video of the Antarctic Midwinter 2016 recorded yesterday night with my old smartphone … great about the 5985 and 7360 frequencies, very poor reception on 6035, I used the 3 receivers Yaesu vr5000 connected on a discone antenna “Midland full band”, AOR ar 3030 and Kenwood R1000 on antenna “Mini Whip”.
SWL: Davide Borroni Location: Saronno, Italy Notes: 21 June 2016 at 2130-2200 UTC on 7360 KHZ AM. I listened to the BBC broadcast with SINPO 54444. I listened to beautiful music and talk. Thanks for show ! I used my R&S ESH3 (see above) with my magnetic loop 2 meter diameter antenna.
SWL: Chris Inwood Location: Conrwall, England Notes: [R]ecorded on 5.985 MHz. This frequency was by far the best quality. I was able to copy 7.365 here but there was slight QSB and some interference from an adjacent broadcaster HCJB. 6.035 was not heard at all neither was 9.720 MHz. Very best wishes and thanks, I always look forward to my email.
SWL: Mark Hirst Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire Notes: Thanks for alerting shortwave listeners to the British Antarctic Survey broadcast. It felt very poignant listening to a broadcast aimed at such a small number of people, with the voices of their loved ones being launched around the world.
I was able to record the broadcast from only 100 miles away from the Woofferton transmitter, so needless to say the quality and strength was very good. I imagine hearing that broadcast buried in the noise from far away with those happy birthday songs and best wishes must have been very emotional for its intended audience.
My recording location was Basingstoke, Hampshire in the UK – locator IO91LH 20HH
[Note that Mark also recorded the full 30 minute broadcast which you can download by clicking here.]
SWL: Dean Allison Location: Bedlington, Northumberland, England Notes: I have attached an audio file of the BBC transmission to Antarctica. My location is Bedlington, Northumberland, England, about 100 feet above sea level, using a Kenwood R5000 receiver and a 30 feet longwire antenna about 12 feet off the ground. This was the 5985 kHz transmission.
SWL: Jerry Rhys Location: Surrey, England Notes: Attached are two recordings of today’s BBC Antarctic Broadcast made between
2130 and 2150z. The first recording was made using AM mode with 8 kHz bandwidth on 5985 then 7360, followed by 6035. The second recording was made using SAM mode with 10 kHz bandwidth on 7360, 6035, and 5985.
The best signal was on 5985, 7360 was weak but readable, on 6035 I could detect a carrier and occasional modulation – on this frequency there was also interference from a digital transmission on 6037. Nothing heard on 9720.
I was using a RF Space SDR-IQ Receiver, and a Wellbrook ALA1530S Loop
Antenna installed in my loft. Many thanks for the SWLing Post, always an enjoyable read!
SWL: Alan (G4TMV) Location: northern England Notes: Reception of this special broadcast was excellent here in northern England on 5985 kHz. It was an enjoyable broadcast again, but Babcock weren’t wasting any electricity on it, it came on and went off again almost spot on 2130 and 2200!
SWL: Lawrence Beedle Location: Manchester, England Notes: Here is my recording of the mid winter broadcast by the BBC 21st June 2016. Tecsun PL660 telescopic aerial, indoors, sat at kitchen table in a house in Manchester, England, UK. 5985khz good reception. 6035 kHz not as strong, 7360 kHz no reception. Recorded on iPhone next to speaker on radio. 36 seconds.
SWL: David Mappin Location: Filey, England Notes: Just thought I would let you know how I got on with the BBC WS broadcast to Antarctica. I used my Icom IC-R75 receiver and a Wellbrook ALA1530 inside the house. 5985 kHz was very strong with me here on the east coast of the UK (NVIS propagation?). Nothing heard on 6035 or 9720 but a weak signal on 7360. Attached (above) is a photograph of my listening post. This is a link to a YouTube video of the start of the broadcast. My very best regards and thank you for your excellent website.
A screenshot from Cap’s Elad FDM-S1 SDR.
SWL: Cap Location: N.W. Scotland Notes: Here is my attempt last night with SDR screenshot attached, Elad FDM-S1 with homebrew mini Mag Loop (<250mm dia) sitting on my bookcase. No doubt there will be better signals/recordings than mine as the signal was really strong from WOF and considering my setup is 100% indoors, it came out ok. External antennas don’t last here as I am by the sea and regular 100mph+ storms in the winter is too much hassle.
SWL: Richard Langley Location: New Brunswick Notes: Tecsun PL-880 receiver with a Tecsun AN-03L 7-metre wire antenna in AM mode with 5.0 kHz RF filtering at the back of my yard. The photo [of Richard’s outdoor portable listening post] was taken during some other recordings last year.
Click here to listen to Richard’s recording, or simply use the embedded player below:
SWL: Thomas Witherspoon Location: Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec Notes: I traveled to an RFI quite spot in the parking lot of the Basilica in St.-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec. Click here to read a full post about my set-up and conditions. Note that I used a Sony ICF-SW55 receiver (above), perched on top of my vehicle and tuned to 7360 kHz.
SWL: Dan Hawkins Location: Davis, California Notes:Here is my YouTube video. I’m using both the Sangean and Hammarlund receivers to hunt down the BBC Midwinter Antarctic Broadcast. Probably a somewhat different result than on most of the videos, but probably typical of West Coast propagation at these frequencies and times.
SWL: Nace Magner Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky Notes: Please find attached a video of my reception of the BBC broadcast. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm passed through about 10 minutes prior to the video and the audio is dominated by lightning-related crashes. However, the BBC signal can be heard periodically. My location was on a university campus in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which is about 50 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee. I received the signal using a Tecsun PL-660 and its whip antenna. I enjoy the SWLing site. Best regards, Nace Magner (KW4LY)
Once again, many thanks to all of you who submitted your recordings of the BBC Midwinter Broadcast! We’ll be sharing this post with both the British Antarctic Survey and the BBC World Service. And to all of you, from the SWLing Post: Happy Midwinter! Happy Summer/Winter Solstice!