Tag Archives: DXpeditions

Gary DeBock’s April 2017 Kona, Hawaii Ultralight DXpedition

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares the following notes and recordings from an Ultralight DXpedition in Kona, Hawaii:


April 2017 Kona, Hawaii Ultralight DXpedition

The first long-range test of a “Frequent Flyer” FSL Antenna

By Gary DeBock, Puyallup, WA, USA April 2017

Introduction

Ever since the U.K.’s Graham Maynard published his innovative article about the “Ferrite Sleeve” antenna in early 2011 an enthusiastic group of DXers and tinkerers has continually refined and upgraded the design, with most of them going in the pursuit of maximum possible gain. Monster FSL models were designed with weights of up to 38 pounds (17 kg), and considering the size, weight and subversive appearance of the typical model, the general assumption was that this new type of antenna was highly unsuitable for air travel, since it would send airport security personnel into a serious panic.

This situation continued for a full 6 years, during which the FSL antenna became a star performer in the related new niche of ocean cliff transoceanic DXing. But was there another possible application for the antenna’s compact performance advantage? What if a very lightweight, high-performing model could be designed which would not only provide a huge boost in DXing gain, but fit inside a hand-carry suitcase, and routinely pass airport security screening inspections around the world? This was a tough design challenge, but well worth the effort if successful!

Since the new antenna would need the maximum possible performance for its small, lightweight size, the use of the Russian surplus 100mm x 20mm x 3mm ferrite bars was mandatory. Every possible effort would be used to make the antenna as compact and lightweight as possible, although the choice of the highest-sensitivity 1162/46 Litz wire was critical for best performance. The PVC frame would be shrunk down to the smallest practical size. Finally, in a major experimental effort here over the winter season, the first of the new 5 inch (127mm) “Frequent Flyer” FSL’s became a reality. The finished antenna had a very non-subversive appearance, and could fit inside a custom-sized plastic tote within a hand-carry suitcase. Most importantly, it could still deliver a serious amount of inductive coupling gain– roughly similar to that provided by a 4 foot (1.22m) air core box loop, but with the advantage of somewhat lower noise reception.

Because the Russian surplus 100mm x 20mm x 3mm ferrite bars are extremely scarce (without any current supply source) only five of these original “Frequent Flyer” models would be made, although alternative models using the commonly available 140mm x 8mm ferrite rods were also designed. These antennas would be somewhat heavier and larger, but these “Baby FSL” ferrite rod models could be easily assembled from parts available on eBay, fit inside the hand-carry suitcases, and still deliver a lot of DXing performance (while routinely passing airport security screening). Finally, an economic model using the commonly available 62mm x 12mm x 4mm Russian surplus ferrite bars was also designed. This lightweight FSL can be constructed for around $65 US, and can still provide a serious DXing gain boost to a stock Ultralight radio. For want of better terms, these three classes of “Frequent Flyer” FSL antennas are called the “first class,” the “business class” and “coach class” models, with FSL sensitivity scores (ferrite length x coil diameter) of 585, 490 and 300 respectively.

From April 9-12 a Mini-DXpedition was conducted on a 6th floor oceanfront room at the Royal Kona Resort Motel in Kona, Hawaii. This was the first of many long-range DXing trips based upon the performance boost provided by the compact new antenna– which was specifically designed to easily pass through airport TSA security checkpoints. A 5 inch (127mm) “Frequent Flyer” FSL antenna was packed inside a matched-size plastic tote within a hand-carry suitcase, and breezed through TSA security screening in both the Seattle and Kona airports (without even a single question ever being asked). This was one of the “first class” Frequent Flyer models described previously, and was used to boost DX station gain on a 7.5″ loopstick C.Crane “Skywave” Ultralight radio. This combination was effective enough to track down many exotic Pacific Island stations (540, 621, 1440, etc.) at S9 levels during transmitter-site sunset skip propagation into Kona, as well as Asian TP-DX of varying strength around local sunrise.

This Kona trip was primarily designed as an anniversary celebration with my wife, so before we took off I had (somewhat reluctantly) agreed that DXing would have a secondary priority to sightseeing over the four days. Because of this there were many frequencies that could not be investigated in Kona, but I knew very well which Pacific island stations were tough challenges in both North America and Japan, and I was determined to go after them with a vengeance. 540, 621 and 1440 would all receive serious attention in Kona– not because they were great challenges in Hawaii, but because most DXers in both North America and Japan needed all possible information about them if they were to have any chance of reception at all. Besides this I was eager to try my long-range luck chasing exotic Asians around local sunrise with the innovative FSL antenna, but I knew that east-west propagation was almost totally dependent upon solar activity– and as it turned out both the A and K indexes shot up after our arrival.

Overall the Kona MW propagation to the Pacific islands was exceptional around local midnight (as expected), but the sunrise propagation was somewhat challenging for long range Asians. Perhaps the biggest success of this entire trip was the interest and excitement that the “Frequent Flyer” FSL antenna series (the major experimental project here this past winter) has inspired among DXers who routinely travel to foreign countries and other faraway venues. As I write this Craig Barnes of Wheat Ridge, Colorado is conducting his own 5 inch “Frequent Flyer” FSL- based DXpedition to Hawaii. Good luck, Craig!

Recordings

[Note: a selection of audio files have been embedded in the post below, but all audio is available to download and stream via the links provided.]

531  6DL?   Dalwallinu, Australia   Presumably the one with the same-sounding announcer and program as the one on 630-4QN at the time (at 1547 on 4-9; see MP3 for 630-4QN), but it didn’t seem to be exactly parallel (maybe a time zone delay?)
https://app.box.com/s/7bg1hruxrufccuys5axc4yzumexr3q36

540  2AP   Apia, Western Samoa   This station features a lot of Samoan music (with both male and female announcers), and dominates the frequency in Kona at night as long as it transmits. Unfortunately it doesn’t follow the listed PAL sign off time of 1000, but runs past this time routinely, which made it tough to track down an exact sign off time during my limited sessions. My guess is that it signs off sometime between 1030 and 1100. The following MP3 is of S9+ level Samoan Christian worship music at 0931 on 4-9. This overwhelming signal was one of the most awesome recorded during the entire DXpedition:

https://app.box.com/s/8ejvx8s7udh5ibtqymtxs5ew65mquqcl

Energetic Samoan music at 0956 on 4-12. This is typical of the station’s music format

https://app.box.com/s/tbo84s7gb2jci6gfxkawo7rsqpmpkyp3

More typical Samoan choral music at 0835 on 4-11 — a staple of programming in the station’s format

https://app.box.com/s/z8ecbvx14fyqx0tpjtw2ahy2r7omhst4

Relaxing Samoan choral music at 1013 on 4-12

https://app.box.com/s/v50700yxviojl4qkkdgh9omdx1hf0yrl

The usual male announcer in Samoan at 1028 on 4-12

https://app.box.com/s/03xy87zls2aqqz52oiz8pbobi9f433rt

The usual female announcer in Samoan at 0856 on 4-11

https://app.box.com/s/6rkd8ckcd1005fyc5itupxowaf6jqhex

558   Radio Fiji One   Suva, Fiji   Somewhat of an underperformer considering its South Pacific location and (nominal) 10 kW power level. My guess is that the station has some transmitter and/ or antenna issues. Here is some fair level male speech with island music at 1001 on 4-9, which was the strongest signal it managed during the entire trip

https://app.box.com/s/ly0u5y34rg85e1aotimyjjj1bksunsd3

558   UnID-TP    Once again, this weak signal sounded a lot like the 630-4QN program at the time (1548 on 4-11), so my guess is that 6WA in Wagin, Australia is the most likely possibility

https://app.box.com/s/10plmz0gumpjk7ymwi6ay44oqzo67ong

603   HLSA   Namyang, S. Korea   One of the common Asians which ran the gauntlet of dicey solar activity. It was fairly good at 1521 on 4-12, but was MIA during a couple of days

https://app.box.com/s/9s3g67w2j5ge9ggsj31kwuwnqmfdiyh9

621   3RN   Melbourne, Australia   This LR network station would start to fade in just when Radio Tuvalu was about to sign off (around 1000), although it never provided any serious competition for the exotic station. This MP3 was made just after Tuvalu’s sign off at 1006 on 4-9

https://app.box.com/s/x0k4bnu3jmytorhzjphz5a6nqyet4h5r

621  Radio Tuvalu   Funafuti, Tuvalu   A very tough station to track down on the mainland, but certainly a “piece of cake” in Kona. Routinely has sign off at 1003 UTC, preceded by island choral music and the national anthem (sung by the same choral group). Around 0950 a female announcer begins the routine by giving a monolog news broadcast about 5 minutes long, typically followed by an island music song right before the fixed 5-minute sign off routine. The latter two features are included in the following 8 minute recording (at near S9 strength) made at 0955 on April 10

https://app.box.com/s/3z2ql91i5afhhi6kmjsnvos4p9q2j56y

The usual female announcer with her 5 minute news broadcast at near S9 strength at 0955 prior to the sign off routine on April 11. The lady giving the correct pronunciation for “Tuvalu” is at the 11 second point

https://app.box.com/s/knpjrxdb40p7hfe9xx7djlwyz3fzf8j3

Around five minutes of typical Island choral music at good-level strength at 0921 on 4-9

https://app.box.com/s/0vouj030pvoxy96o7xtvg45zq0uxed1n

Here is a different recording of the female-announced news broadcast just prior to the sign off routine at 0956 on 4-9 (at very good strength)

https://app.box.com/s/u0rg1xlye0le5jth12x8wccw6nc5sv99

630   4QN   Townsville, Australia   This 50 kW station was far and away the strongest Australian signal heard throughout the trip. Unfortunately it wasn’t in the same time zone as fellow LR network stations on 531 and 558 in Western Australia, making parallel checks seem dubious. Here is a typical signal at 1543 on 4-9

https://app.box.com/s/j82og05m8v4umqacm78e41cs1xht21to

657   Pyongyang BS   Pyongyang, N. Korea   This bizarre station was far and away the strongest Asian heard during the trip– almost like it was a South Pacific semi-local. When solar activity cooled off it could blast in with serious power, such as at 1555 on 4-9

https://app.box.com/s/9exi01zvab4y2fjemxbqhz6ma1q3gv8o

For those who really don’t mind wacky-sounding music (this is your final warning), the 3 minute long version of this signal is posted at

https://app.box.com/s/m69fuqcxrjul7y06wu5f5ge63bap3cka

693   UnID-TP   This mystery signal showed up at 1604 on 4-9, after NHK2 (JOAB) sign off. Obviously there is male speech and some kind of backup music at various times, but I’m totally unfamiliar with stations on this frequency (except for JOAB). Any hints or suggestions? This station only showed up on 4-9; rising solar activity brought in only 690-Honolulu splatter on the other three days

https://app.box.com/s/8yabwqs7llyac52tsfv4taannfuggedq

774   JOUB   Akita, Japan   Solar activity limited the usual potent signals from this NHK big gun, but it did manage fair strength at 1505 on 4-11

https://app.box.com/s/uigxcvv382u7ryq1k1xqcsvw7uuj5bd9

972   HLCA   Dangjin, S. Korea   Another Asian big gun taking somewhat of a hit from unfavorable solar activity at 1517 on 4-12

https://app.box.com/s/uigxcvv382u7ryq1k1xqcsvw7uuj5bd9

1017   A3Z   Nuku’alofa, Tonga   Island music at very good strength at 0944 on 4-9; this station was strong every evening at this same time

https://app.box.com/s/6cq35g3lio356v4hserwpehi5o3cofcc

Live play-by-play of a sports competition at 1015 on 4-12, with a “goal” at the 10 second point in the recording

https://app.box.com/s/umg0rj0as6h97wmwqsrqni57scs1woee

The usual male announcer in the Tongan language at very good strength at 0835 on 4-11

https://app.box.com/s/4ngp7fhuru3l6rmvgxnkqftu9nzmu3sn

The same Tongan male announcer at good level at 0953 on 4-11, obviously on “island time,” with very long pauses in his speech pattern

https://app.box.com/s/4y59xljxk0d24kvtbab8yjvnc5q1gc71

1035   Newstalk ZB   Wellington, NZ   Received late in sunrise enhancement at 1611 on 4-12, this was a rather modest signal from the Kiwi big gun, which never seemed to get anywhere close to its Oregon cliff strength during the entire trip

https://app.box.com/s/1lwotewd38bn4z26l786ihjv5eyuklzf

1098   V7AB   Radio Marshalls   Majuro, Marshall Islands   One of the regular Pacific island stations received in Kona, and one of the best bets for Mainland reception. The frequency has very little QRM, although Newstalk ZB could be weakly received in between the island music songs after around 0900.

Strong island music at 0955 on 4-9 (its best performance during the trip)

https://app.box.com/s/cmqbngvvtnfvkm201jqlpcbws4te5wk5

More energetic island music at 0958 on 4-9

https://app.box.com/s/nvljx11f8tvrnrb2hyelci4fsxjwff93

Typical island music on the same night at 0948 (4-9)

https://app.box.com/s/znb2botiiuzq7201xponc35c7o06blov

1098   Newstalk ZB   Christchurch, NZ   Heard only once in between island songs on V7AB (at 0957 on 4-9); and never really strong enough to compete for the frequency with Radio Marshalls

https://app.box.com/s/x1i5e35rxkzgx6wxrnome06r9g2122j5

1440   Radio Kiribati   Bairiki, Kiribati   Because of its domestic frequency this obscure station is another of the toughest Pacific island stations (and countries) to receive on the Mainland, but some very helpful identity clues were discovered in Kona (where the station is a breeze to hear). The station routinely signs off at 0936 UTC each evening, with a very loud 1000 Hz audio tone right before it cuts power. The sign off routine includes station ID’s in both the local language and English around 0932 prior to the choral music national anthem, although because of her heavy accent the fact that the female announcer is talking in English might well go unnoticed. The full sign off routine is included in the following MP3, preceded by an Island music number (during which a 1440 Spanish pest attempts a run on the frequency, only to be immediately drowned out)

https://app.box.com/s/s9sgwesnmi3ljjf1fkuhlsb08st7ty5y

The station uses a distinctive 4-bong time signal on the half hour, as in this recording made at 0929 UTC (at the 35 second point).

https://app.box.com/s/ks6n49yjreqdykdu2am76jl7qqj9mvyu 

The American country music format can be heard prior to the 4-bong time signal.

Prior to the sign off routine this station also uses its female announcer to give a final news update (like 621-Tuvalu). This recording is of such a news update at 0925 on 4-11, with several mentions made of the American president

https://app.box.com/s/a1zx6jelrvhguyzjfy6b5dgwlfjfceij

This station plays a lot of American country music (of all formats). Here is typical programming at 0912 on 4-11

https://app.box.com/s/fdtbl3tk01yz7u2y5lb7xyaaauc33km8

1566   HLAZ   Jeju, S. Korea   Fairly regular with its Chinese Christian service around 1530 each morning in Kona, but never at very great strength (possibly due to unfavorable solar activity). Here at 1609 on 4-9 it is the music station playing the Chinese version of “I Would Rather Have Jesus,” in a mix with the (presumed) Mainland Chinese Yanbian Jammer

https://app.box.com/s/m66yi638bm6r1vrigiewo9680yuydvk6

1566   Yanbian, China   (Presumed location, Jammer)  Because of Chinese inflection this is the apparent co-channel of HLAZ in the same recording at 1609 on 4-9; it was also received at 1600 on 4-10 with Chinese 5+1 time pips (thanks to Chris Kadlec for his assessment)

https://app.box.com/s/m66yi638bm6r1vrigiewo9680yuydvk6

1593   CNR1   Changzhou, China   Good strength at 1525 on 4-12, with co-channel NHK2 quite a bit weaker underneath

https://app.box.com/s/3shbri3d8hfpaej6kvzyklkz6kl1oq4j

1593   NHK2   Matsue/ Niigata, Japan   In a mix with CNR1 at about an equal level around 1520 on 4-12

https://app.box.com/s/my9bdqgobvo4iuvgd3hhrkh9yap28xgr

The “Business Class” Frequent Flyer FSL antenna


Many thanks, Gary, for sharing your Kona DXpedition report and audio with us! It sounds like you had a great vacation and some excellent DX to boot!

Guest Post: July 2016 Rockwork 4 Ocean Cliff DXpedition

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares this summary of the July 2016 Rockwork 4 Ocean Cliff DXpedition:


July 2016 Rockwork 4 Ocean Cliff DXpedition

An International Team Gets Full “Exposure” to a Wild New DXing Venue

By Gary DeBock, Puyallup, WA, USA

Gary-DeBock-OceanDX

Introduction

In the previous century the outstanding receivers developed by the Japanese Sony and Panasonic companies introduced many of us to the thrill of shortwave listening as teenagers, and created an unusually dedicated DXer hobby group in Japan, as well. The Japanese MW-DXing group has all along been extremely active in the hobby, although the challenge of English communication has somewhat limited their interaction with other DXing groups.

Recently I was highly honored to introduce several modified Ultralight radios to the Japanese DXers, who not only tried these out with great interest, but who also designed and set up modification procedures for Japanese-made equivalents. One of the leaders in this effort was Satoshi Miyauchi, who has already built not only his own 7.5” loopstick Tecsun PL-380 model, but has also built his own 3 inch and 4.25 inch FSL Tecsun PL-380 models as well. When Satoshi-san inquired about the possibility of participating in one of our Rockwork 4 ocean cliff DXpeditions this summer (along with his friend, the famous Japanese MW-DXer Hiroo Nakagawa), I was thrilled to issue the invitation.

The Rockwork 4 turnoff site on Highway 101 is a sweeping ocean view site about 419 feet (158 meters) directly above the Pacific near Manzanita, Oregon. This would be the first time that any international visitors would participate in an ocean cliff DXpedition. Our North American TP-DXing group has always had a great interest in Japanese DX and Japanese DXers, and this would be the first major North American DXpedition to feature MW-DXers from both countries. Canadian Nick Hall-Patch (of Victoria, B.C.) also was highly interested in participating with the Japanese, and as such, our 5-man DXpedition group was composed primarily of DXers from other countries (with only Tom Rothlisberger joining me as repeat American participants).

Although my own DXpedition efforts started on the morning of July 5th, Nick and Tom both joined up for the session on Saturday, July 9th. We all welcomed our Japanese guests (with a joint dinner at the aptly named “Tsunami” restaurant in Wheeler, Oregon) that evening, and prepared for what we hoped would be a very memorable DXing session early the next morning.

OceanDX-CrewWell, it certainly was very memorable—in the worst possible way. A toxic mix of gale force winds and pounding rain was hammering the ocean cliff site as soon as we arrived for antenna setup at 1015 UTC (0315 local time), which was far and away the worst weather that any of us had ever experienced in an outdoor DXpedition. The sensible Japanese had at least brought suitable rain gear for the session, which was more than the careless North Americans had brought. Tom and I ended up thoroughly drenched and shivering as soon as the antennas were set up, while Nick was partially drenched. A single 15 inch FSL antenna was set up on its PVC base and strapped tightly down to the ocean cliff wall with heavy-duty plastic tie wraps, enabling Satoshi, Hiroo and I to track down some New Zealand, Australian and Tahiti DX with our Ultralight radios despite the vicious weather. Tom’s broadband loop supports absolutely refused to stay upright in the gale force winds, and he eventually had no option other than going outside in the nasty weather to hold one of them in the vertical position manually as he recorded DX on his Perseus-SDR. Nick’s active vertical whip was relatively impervious to the vicious weather, but he was drenched from the knees down because of the pounding rain during its early morning setup.

OceanDX-2

That entire July 10th session was thoroughly miserable for all of us, but both Satoshi and Hiroo showed great optimism and determination throughout the three hour struggle, which made all of us highly motivated to do the same!

Fortunately, DX (and weather) on the next (and final) morning would allow our Japanese and Canadian guests to experience the South Pacific DX propagation that this cliff is famous for providing. Satoshi and Hiroo became quick experts in New Zealand “big gun” stations, and Satoshi had a great thrill when 738-Tahiti pounded in at an S9 level on his homemade 3 inch FSL Tecsun PL-380 portable.OceanDX-Car

Propagation definitely favored New Zealand throughout the week (in one of the most Kiwi-slanted trips that has ever been observed here). Although we had a near-daily blowtorch signal from 738-Tahiti and occasional reception from 1017-Tonga, Australian signals generally had a rough time in the NZ-slanted conditions. Tom and I both agree that overall propagation was down somewhat from the exceptional conditions we enjoyed last summer (when we enjoyed good reception of stations like 558-6WA and 558-Fiji) but the chance to welcome the Japanese DXers made the experience especially memorable, and their skill and determination was an inspiration to us all. Listed below are the DU loggings made with my Ultralight radio + FSL antenna combos, which performed quite well throughout the vicious weather challenges on July 10th (better than the drenched and shivering DXer that created them, actually). The DU loggings made by the other DXers will no doubt exceed these, but we all had great fun together, and are looking forward to the next joint DXpedition (either here, or in Japan).

531   4KZ   (Innisfail, Australia, 10 kW)   MIA during Kiwi-slanted propagation on most mornings, it made it through at a modest level with its classic oldies format and interval signal during PI fade at 1209 on 7-5

https://app.box.com/s/phtsbdii0tatmxeb0qfq677it0emsa3i  

531   More FM   (Alexandra, NZ, 2 kW)   Rare low-powered Kiwi station played hard to get, but did show up during a deep PI fade in Kiwi-slanted propagation at 1222 on 7-6. This Kiwi English monolog sounds mostly garbled to me, but the first 5 seconds certainly sounds like “Welcome time to More FM’s blog…” (headphones recommended)

https://app.box.com/s/q527grcf5ee5q2l402sjiwl3syn8d8g4

531   PI   (Auckland, NZ, 5 kW)   Samoan broadcaster dominated on all 7 days with good signals, although 4KZ and More FM did manage to get through at times. This good-level Samoan female speech on 7-5 was typical

https://app.box.com/s/pe8gr1917b4vn3gccskee5gep6go7cft 

567   RNZ   (Wellington, NZ, 50 kW)   Most of this big gun’s legendary transoceanic signal seems to have been destroyed along with its old tower (during the recent demolition). It showed up weakly on all 7 days, although always inferior in strength to its 675 parallel

https://app.box.com/s/2mqql3qwk3vxg0ym5iu4tpi5f8ppvvj7 

576   2RN   (Sydney, Australia, 50 kW)   Kiwi-slanted propagation hit this RN-network big gun pretty hard, but it did show up with mediocre signals not // 657 at 1237 on 7-8

https://app.box.com/s/g39m6brj1dgh6qwx5i7m8xz45ynqu9yy

576   Star   (Hamilton, NZ, 2.5 kW)   The “Dwarf Star” (ex-The Word) was strong enough with its Christian female vocal music to confirm the parallel with 657 at 1244 on 7-11. The first 12 seconds in the recording are 576-Star, and the last 12 seconds are the 657 parallel

https://app.box.com/s/m548dxdvwu1ke99z4e1y2r12prfdf809

585   Radio Ngati Porou  (Ruatoria, NZ, 2 kW)   Wispy male speech was received at 1234 on 7-6 sounding like the usual Maori announcer, but the 603 // apparently started a new song right during the parallel check. Signal nosedived thereafter.

594   Rhema   (Timaru/ Wanganui, NZ, 5/ 2 kW)   Modest level Christian music // 684 at 1250 on 7-6. Usually a little stronger than the 684 parallel, with no sign of Aussie big gun 3WV during the Kiwi-slanted conditions

https://app.box.com/s/m2d7qbws87z5z1jg8d8n4lvqmz298p8k     

603   Radio Waatea   (Auckland, NZ, 5 kW)   Usually the strongest of the Maori network, this vibrant regular plays a mix of Maori and Motown music. Its strongest signal was on the last day (7-11) at 1218

https://app.box.com/s/xdxju7jr1flspiln9nz1havsvd8gy85o

657   Star   (Wellington/ Tauranga, NZ, 50/ 10 kW)   Christian hymn broadcaster owned the frequency during the Kiwi-slanted conditions, with this good-level music at 1211 on the last day of  7-11

https://app.box.com/s/mxti60qwfcc3298c541ak4k5p9s3vqj5

675   RNZ National   (Christchurch, NZ, 10 kW)   The new kingpin of RNZ network transoceanic strength (after the demise of 567’s old tower), this relay consistently outperformed its 50 kW parallel. This signal at 1257 on 7-8 was typical

https://app.box.com/s/wx9b9i1dex7mqyrb9b9zgbnk1n3svwew 

684   Rhema   (Gisborne, NZ, 5 kW)   Christian contemporary music broadcaster with fairly good signals // 594 at 1247 on 7-9; Tony W. says that the tower property has been sold and eviction is forthcoming

https://app.box.com/s/691ddrcehygaiko5pgpll2jp1nu1en91

702   2BL   (Sydney, Australia, 50 kW)   Easily pushing 702-Magic aside whenever it showed up, this Oz big gun was the dominant station on both 7-7 and 7-10. The interview format was much different from Magic’s oldie music

https://app.box.com/s/f0qfop5x7ymw1gbyowg65obveuqjwf6m 

702   Magic   (Auckland, NZ, 10 kW)   Capable of blistering signals when Kiwi propagation was enhanced, this oldie music broadcaster was the only DU on the frequency on 5 of 7 days

https://app.box.com/s/gtd8u8zxduwpirycbso99kigyum2ja5c

738   Radio Polynesie   (Mahina, Tahiti, 20 kW)   A real blowtorch on most days, this French-language signal at 1233 on 7-9 was the strongest DU recording made during the trip, and seriously tested the crunch resistance of my Ultralight radio

https://app.box.com/s/pw2gpfgh7vd19b33yz8ag7466y18462t

756   RNZ   (Auckland, NZ, 10 kW)   Pretty good signal with music // 675 at 1212 on 7-8, a good demonstration of the cliff’s ability to cut down splatter from the 750-Portland pest (50 kW and only 70 miles away)

https://app.box.com/s/qlx6esrtgccrg32pkwqt0yr71suuw52d

765   Radio Kahungunu   (Napier-Hastings, NZ, 2.5 kW)   Once again this low-powered Maori network station acted very much like a Kiwi big gun throughout the week. Maori and Motown music is the norm, as in this recording // 603 at 1215 on 7-8

https://app.box.com/s/p04c5i3fvvpxfw449nbsa2jlwmipsh6n

774   3LO   (Melbourne, Australia, 50 kW)   LR Network big gun was strong at 1222 on 7-5 but missing in action under Radio Sport on most days

https://app.box.com/s/egf89xhr29obvisblm7cb9bzehid62jh

774   Radio Sport   (New Plymouth, NZ, 5 kW)   Not nearly as strong as its 792 parallel, it was hit hard by Seattle splatter on most mornings, and never came up in strength for a decent recording

783   Access Radio   (Wellington, NZ, 10 kW)   Multi-cultural station with varied ethnic programming, this apparent Samoan language music and speech was received at 1241 on 7-7

https://app.box.com/s/yg4xp9r7er4hyul4jvcpsr5x747vqkf2

792   Radio Sport   (Hamilton, NZ, 5 kW)   Fairly strong on most mornings with its network relay of Fox Sports News, the Yankee-accented English owned the frequency on all 7 days (over the MIA Oz big gun 4RN)

https://app.box.com/s/um0gfok28blvq90n0eeoeuuoq3v5jzzy

828   3GI   (Sale, Australia, 10 kW)   On a couple of occasions this LR network big gun was just strong enough to confirm the parallel with 774, but most often it was in a ghostly mix with a presumed Radio Trackside (which never came up in strength for a decent recording).

891   5AN   (Adelaide, Australia, 50 kW)   Another underperforming Oz big gun, it was usually in a threshold-level mix with another DU English station (probably 4TAB).

936   Chinese Voice   (Auckland, NZ, 1 kW)   A prime target during enhanced Kiwi propagation, this low-powered ethnic station came through with fairly good-level music and Chinese speech during exceptional propagation at 1243 on 7-6

https://app.box.com/s/sng6i7c70sqm3e5bpymy3mfy1dbpbfdn

1008   Newstalk ZB   (Tauranga, NZ, 10 kW)   Getting through the 1010 splatter at a modest level // 1035 at 1220 on 7-7. Generally not as strong as either the 1035 or 1044 parallel

https://app.box.com/s/8l5sn7mayuwkzs896lbciw4s1e8738dw

1017   A3Z   (Nuku’alofa, Tonga, 10 kW)   Rushed antenna setup prior to 1130 on 7-9 paid off with a fairly good-level logging of male speech from this station, the only foreign language DU on the frequency. Since A3Z’s sign off is usually prior to sunrise enhancement at the cliff, the best chance to track it down is during its late Saturday night transmission, when it typically stays on a little later

https://app.box.com/s/jz35gvlr8re5ldfqol9h6ux0kd04dea5

1035   Newstalk ZB   (Wellington, NZ, 20 kW)   The flagship relay of this talk radio network had potent signals on most mornings, including this excellent-level discussion concerning NZ real estate at 1222 on 7-8

https://app.box.com/s/a21xkbboz6pbbqj73lj0ted4ft3fjiua

1044   Newstalk ZB   (Dunedin, NZ, 10 kW)   Fairly strong on most mornings with the usual call-in talk program and occasional music // 1035. This recording was at 1210 on 7-9

https://app.box.com/s/z7flaydc0if63v9qhro7deyvp3rno67d

1386   Radio Tarana   (Auckland, NZ, 10 kW)   Hindu music broadcaster pounded in when Kiwi propagation was enhanced (as in this recording at 1246 on 7-6), otherwise it got lost in splatter

https://app.box.com/s/aaguop8hp57aa38eulommx06tm3l22qw

1503   Radio Sport   (Wellington/ Christchurch, NZ, 5/ 2,5 kW)   Yankee English from the relay of Fox Sports News (// 792) was usually audible on this frequency on all 7 days

https://app.box.com/s/wed793j34pnu0thkulc3w8o7v716gs98

73 and Good DX,
Gary DeBock (DXing at the Rockwork 4 Ocean Cliff near Manzanita, OR, USA)
7.5″ loopstick C.Crane Skywave Ultralights (3) +
15″ and 17″ FSL antennas


Tom-Photo

Report from Tom Rothlisberger

Saturday July 09 

Three of us on the ocean cliffside pullout this morning. It took some time to set up everything as this was a new antenna and configuration for me at the cliffs, and I was planning to experiment with a vactrol for the first time. A major setback occurred when my Win10 notebook refused to recognize the Perseus hardware due to a possibly corrupt driver. To make matters worse I did not bring the backup MSI Wind U100 that I have been using for years with good results. Note to self: always bring backup. I wound up borrowing Nick’s netbook as he did not need it for experiments that morning. So it was 1222 by the time I started recording. Magic 702 was slamming in and 1KW TAB Trackside on 549 was in nicely but briefly. I didn’t think the session was as good as what was experienced last year but everything was working and signals were loud at times, usually briefly, before settling back down into the noise. Little high band action but 1503 Radio Sport was in.

Sunday July 10

Driving rain and gale force winds were making things miserable. My antenna spreaders blew down time after time. For the last 15 minutes of the opening I was holding one up outside by hand, the other secured to the rock wall by heavy straps.

This turned out to be a morning favoring Australia. 1116 4BC was ruling the band with huge signals, I had Aussies on 702 and 936 instead of NZ stations. The ABC News fanfare was heard on 891 on the half hour and there was audio on 1566, 1611 and 1701. This was the only of the three mornings the whole band was in although not very robust like it was last August. IDing signals is still ongoing.

We were all soaked to the bone when it was over, my Gore-Tex jacket was no match for that storm. Distinguished visiting DXers Hiroo-san and Satoshi-san were still smiling at the end. That’s really the important thing, to have fun and overcome adversity. That we heard any stations at all was an added bonus. And we did hear some! We will always remember this morning.

Monday July 11

Another mostly New Zealand morning, decent signals but they would fade back down after a minute or two, and something else would become strong elsewhere on the band, one at a time. This made getting parallels for ID purposes difficult. On several frequencies NZ and Australia signals were fighting it out. It was another low band morning. The TAB Trackside affiliate on 1224 (1 KW) was briefly good but almost nothing heard above it except for occasional audio from Radio Sport 1503. 738 Tahiti was slamming in with meter-bending signals. Satoshi-san and Hiroo-san seemed very pleased as this station is considered rare and exotic DX from Japan.

Overall: 657 Star gets the award for strongest and longest lasting DU signal over the three days, beating last year’s champions 1035 Newstalk ZB and the no longer potent RNZ 567. I had more wire up this year but the signals were really no better. I failed to find a “sweet spot” with the vactrol for reducing splatter from the Portland powerhouses.

Longwave: DX NDBs were practically non-existent. I am wondering if the antenna configuration made it deaf at LW, or if conditions were really that terrible. Only one DX station, 352 KHz “RG” Nikau, Rarotonga, Cook Islands was noted. 531 PI was also exceedingly weak so I suspect the antenna. I will be changing things again at my next visit to the ocean cliffs to ensure I get more LW action.

73, Tom  K7WV


Nick-Hall-Patch

Report From Nick Hall-Patch

As promised, a logging or two, and a couple of photos:

549 NEW ZEALAND, Napier-Hastings, TAB Trackside Radio. Man talking, sounded like announcing a horse race, becoming fair //828 1220 July 9. (NHP)

594 NEW ZEALAND, Timaru/Wanganui, Star. Light music, poor strength, //909 July 10. (NHP)

693 NEW ZEALAND, Dunedin, Radio Sport. Poor to fair strength, American sport talk //792 1225 July 9 (NHP)

729 NEW ZEALAND, Tokorua, R. New Zealand National. Light Dixieland style mx, poor strength, seemed //675 but slightly offset so hard to say for certain. Only there for a minute or two, 1212 July 9. (NHP)

747 JAPAN, Sapporo, JOIB. Briefly poor and //774, with man in what sounded like Japanese, certainly not DU English, 1136 July 10. (NHP)

774 NEW ZEALAND, New Plymouth, Radio Sport. Fair to good signal, earlier //792 with American sport talk, bit of electrical noise, unusual for this quiet location, 1227 July 9. (NHP)

792 NEW ZEALAND, Hamilton, Radio Sport. American sport talk, fair strength in splatter //774 1224 July 9. (NHP)

Ocean

828 NEW ZEALAND, Palmerston North, TAB Trackside Radio. Horse race announcer, fading up to good strength with a little splatter, 1223 July 9, earlier ID’ed by //549. (NHP)

1611 // 1629 t AUSTRALIA, but who? 1216 July 10.

http://www3.telus.net/public/shallpat/rockworks/1611_1629parallel_20160710_1216.wav

Not what I would call listenable, but somewhat identifiable DX, could be a preacher, which might be Vision Radio Network, but several sites on each channel. Not heard on other days, so a bit out of the ordinary. (NHP)

(NHP) RFSpace NetSDR, RFSpace SDR-14 running DX Fishbarrel program; AMRAD active 4’ whip antenna


Report From Satoshi Miyauchi

(July 28) It is just like last week that we had been there! All those memories are good to remember, including the very precious “welcoming” weather on 10th morning! It just showed that even for short period of stay, at least TWO sessions might be required …

DXing results are of course something that we really appreciate out of the DXpedition, but simply the fact that we could meet up and DXing together means a lot! And also both Hiroo and me were very much impressed by all of your efforts even in the middle of darkness and especially in the stormy weather. As for us also, it was the worst weather we ever had on the day of DXpedition! So in many ways we could get “first ever” in this joint DXpedition! We hope that we all can meet sometime in the future either at the cliff, Cliff in Japan, or any other location in the world! Thanking you once again for your hospitality, and actual support on equipments that we could use throughout the DXpedition!

Best 73,

Satoshi Miyauchi


DXpedition Videos

First Day Tour (July 5th, FSL antenna setup)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBeoUF0ruvQ

July 9th Antenna Setup (Tom, Nick and Gary)  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8Kn2vrBzK0

The Session from Hell (July 10th)  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw9k6E08eME

Final Day Success (July 11th)  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjda-kO_oQE


Wow! Gary, thanks so much and thanks to all of the team members–Hiroo, Satoshi, Tom and Nick–for sharing your experiences. Though your weather was less than desirable, it appears your DX was quite successful. You’ve so many mediumwave loggings from New Zealand, I’m convinced you were actually in New Zealand! Most impressive!

Most importantly, it sounds like you all enjoyed a little DX fellowship. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.  We look forward to future DXpedition reports!

Heard VK0EK on the radio

Heard Island (Image: VK0EK)

Heard Island (Image: VK0EK)

Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a ham radio operator (call sign K4SWL). Being a shortwave radio enthusiast, of course, I spend most of my time on the air in the HF portion of the amateur radio spectrum. Contacting distant stations and connecting with other ham radio operators around our little planet gives me immense joy.

Most of you also probably know that I’m a fan of all things Antarctic, so it should come as no surprise that I really wanted to work VK0EK: the Heard Island DXpedition.

Thing is, my life has been so hectic lately, I’ve barely been home during the Heard Island DXpedition (March 29th – April 11th). And the days I have been home, VK0EK’s signals have been incredibly weak.

In short: timing and propagation were all working against me.  And VK0EK was soon to pack up and come back home. I was becoming desperate…and beginning to lose hope that I’d make any contact with this unique and rare entity in the isolated stretch of ocean between Madagascar and Antartica.

"Antennas with a clearing" on Heard Island (Photo by Bill, AE0EE)

“Antennas with a clearing” on Heard Island (Photo by Bill, AE0EE)

My hope was waning.  Then, Tusday evening, I gave a presentation about shortwave radio at the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club. On the hour-long drive home, I stopped by my good friend Vlado’s (N3CZ) to confess my troubles to the radio doc.

Now it just happens that Vlado has a much better antenna set-up to work DX than I do, and what’s more, (close your ears, fellow QRPers) he has an amplifier.

Most importantly, though, Vlado is a keen DXer.  He’s got 330 countries under his belt, and ever up for a challenge, routinely pushes himself to accomplish more with less. In January, with members of the local club, he entered a QRP challenge; he had 100 countries worked by the following month, all in his spare time. And a few years ago, Vlado actually built a radio of his own design and worked 100 countries within two months (you can read about that here).

So, of course, he was game to help me make a contact…even if it was a long shot.  A very long shot.

Juan de Nova

When I arrived at Vlado’s QTH around 21:00 local, VK0EK was impossibly weak, so we focused our efforts on 30 meters and FT4JA: the Juan de Nova Island DXpedition (another all-time new one for me).

A portion of the FT4JA antenna farm. (Image: FT4JA)

A portion of the FT4JA antenna farm. (Image: FT4JA)

After more than an hour of calling, FT4JA finally heard my call and (woo hoo!) I was confirmed in their log.

But what about Heard Island?

penguin-chow-line4_6-1600px

After working FT4JA, we moved down to 40 meters where VK0EK was slightly louder than before. Well, maybe it’s not impossible, I thought hopefully. Just next to it.

Between QSB (fading) and tuner-uppers, my ears were bleeding trying to hear Heard’s minuscule CW signal–so faint, so distant were they.

After only about ten minutes of steady calling, Vlado made a sign to get my attention, and we strained to listen, very carefully.

VK0EK came back very faintly with just one letter incorrect in my call–it was enough that I didn’t catch it at first. But Vlado heard it, and after sending the call back a couple of times, then the report, VK0EK confirmed my call with a signal report, and I reciprocated.

Vlad and I leapt to our feet, yelling, “WOO HOO!” (and hopefully didn’t wake up any of Vlad’s neighbors).

Heard Island is actually running an online log that is updated live. We immediately looked there to confirm I was in their log, and was greeted with this great circle map and a line from Heard Island to my call sign in the States. Vlado made this screen capture as a momento:

k4swl VK0EK 40m cw 0231 april4 2016

Here’s to good friends and mentors

In one incredible evening, I snagged two all-time new ones–and I owe it all to my good buddy, Vlado. Most importantly, I’ve been learning so much from him as he patiently coaches me through some weak DX with serious pileups. Plus it’s just always fun hanging around Vlado, the best broken radio doctor I know, to whom “challenge” is…well, a piece of cake.

Thanks Vlado, for your enthusiasm and patience–I’m lucky to have a friend like you!

Heard Island DXpedition (VK0EK) live via WBCQ tonight

heard-live-with-text

(Source: ARRL)

[…]At 0000 UTC on March 23 (the evening of Tuesday, March 22, in US time zones), Tom Medlin, W5KUB, host of the weekly “Amateur Radio Roundtable” video webcast and radio program, hopes to make ham radio media history by interviewing the DXpedition team live on his webcast. Audio will be simulcast on international shortwave broadcaster WBCQ on 5130 kHz.

Heard Island is an Australian protectorate, part of a subantarctic island group(Heard Island and McDonald Islands) in the southwest Indian Ocean, some 4000 kilometers (approximately 2480 miles) southwest of Western Australia and 1000 kilometers (approximately 620 miles) north of Antarctica. 

 I will certainly be listening to WBCQ tonight and, hopefully, recording the show for the SRAA.
For updates about the Heard Island DXpedition, check out their website (and admire Jeff Murray’s excellent official DXpedition artwork while you’re at it!).

 

A PARI DXpedition update

Mark Fahey, scanning the bands with his WinRadio Excalibur/Surface Pro 2 combo

Mark Fahey, scanning the bands with his WinRadio Excalibur/Surface Pro 2 combo

The SWLing Post DXpedition at PARI is going very well.  We started yesterday around noon with beautiful fall weather; late last night, it started raining but that hasn’t dampened our spirits today.

Gary-Ultralights

Despite the wet, chilly weather, Gary Donnelly (above) has been logging numerous shortwave stations during the day and mediumwave stations at night via his assortment of ultralight radios. Bill Boyd, another DXpeditioner, has been travelling the 200 acre PARI campus and listening via his Tecsun PL-880.

CR-1-DXpedition

DXpeditioner, Mark Fahey, has traveled here from his home in Australia, thus he’s particularly enjoyed hearing South American stations which are somewhat rare in his corner of the world. Today alone, Mark snagged two other firsts: the time station CHU Canada, and a perfect two hour recording of the Voice of Nigeria in DRM. Mark says that his listening expectations are turned upside down, because day/night band openings are nearly opposite of what he’s used to. This is the great thing about SWLing during travels: exotic stations become much lower hanging fruit.

Screenshot of the Elad FDM-S2 on part of the 19 meter band

Screenshot of the Elad FDM-S2 on part of the 19 meter band

Mark and I have set up a table full of SDRs and have been actively recording spectrum while listening. We have a WinRadio Excalibur, Elad FDM-S2 and the SDRplay RSP.

We also have the CommRadio CR-1 hooked up: it has been a fantastic receiver for visitors to use and a brilliant auxiliary receiver while both SDRs have been recording spectrum simultaneously.

The SDRplay RSP via the HDSDR app

The SDRplay RSP via the HDSDR app

A few samples from the logs

Despite mediocre band conditions, we’ve managed to hear a lot of stations.

Here is our band scan at 1500 UTC on the 19 meter band:

  • 15140 Radio Sultanate Oman Arabic
  • 15255 Radio Free Europe Turkmen
  • 15265 Adventist World Radio Hindi
  • 15290 Adventist World Radio Punjabi (vy weak)
  • 15300 Radio Romania International Arabic
  • 15395 Athmeeya Yatra Radio Sindhi (vy weak)
  • 15410 Radio Liberty (faint)
  • 15420 BBC English
  • 15435 Radio Riyadh Arabic
  • 15460 Radio Free Europe Tajik
  • 15490 Radio Exterior de Espana Spanish
  • 15535 Radio Cairo Arabic
  • 15550 Radio Dabanga Sudanese Arabic
  • 15580 Voice of America English
  • 15595 Vatican Radio Arabic
  • 15610 EWTN (WEWN) English
  • 15620 Radio Veritas (?) Filipino (?)
  • 15670 Adventist World Radio English
  • 15700 China Radio International English
  • 15770 WRMI English

1600 UTC on the 25 meter band:

  • 11435 HM01 Cuban Numbers Station Spanish
  • 11550 EWTN (WEWN) Spanish
  • 11600 Bible Voice BCN Persian (faint)
  • 11620 All India Radio Russian (faint)
  • 11715 Vatican Radio Russian (faint)
  • 11775 Caribbean Beacon English
  • 11825 WRMI (Overcomer) English
  • 11950 Radio Habana Cuba Spanish
  • 12050 EWTN (WEWN) Spanish (vy weak)
  • 12055 Voice of America Somali
  • 12160 WWCR English

2000 UTC on the 25 meter band:

  • 11600 Denge Kurdistan Kurdish
  • 11670 All India Radio Hindi
  • 11700 All India Radio GOS
  • 11735 Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation Swahili
  • 11760 Radio Habana Cuba French
  • 11775 Caribbean Beacon English
  • 11810 BBC English
  • 11825 WRMI (Overcomer) English
  • 1900 Voice of America French
  • 11930 Radio Marti Spanish (being jammed by Cuba)
  • 11955 Adventist World Radio Dyula
  • 11995 Radio France International French
  • 12050 EWTN (WEWN) Spanish
  • 12060 Radio Algerienne Chaine 1 Arabic
  • 12095 BBC English
  • 12105 WTWW Portuguese