Shortwave Radio Recordings: VOA on the 10th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing

Apollo_11_lunar_module-001

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Tom Laskowski, who shares this recording of the Voice of America; recorded on July 20, 1979 at 0500 UTC on the 31 meter band. Tom notes:

“The first 4:30 is from a VOA newscast that aired before the main part of the program. The main recording was presented on the 10th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. I enjoy listening to this every year on the landing anniversary.”

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Note that Tom has been sharing a number of shortwave recordings from the late 1970s. All of his recordings are being published on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Tom: thanks so much for being a part of the shortwave archive community.

If you have recordings you would like to share with the world as well, please contact me.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Channel Africa

SABCDespite dismal propagation, I was quite happy to receive a relatively strong signal earlier this week (31 August 2015) from Channel Africa, starting around 16:40 UTC on 15,235 kHz.

This recording begins with the French language service (already in progress), followed by the English language service. Receiver used was a WinRadio Excalibur connected to a large horizontal delta loop antenna.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Remember: this, along with many more recordings, are available in podcast form via the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Click here to view on iTunes.

Using synchronous detection and notch filter to eliminate het noise

WinRadioExcalibur-VOG-Notch

The lighter shaded side of the AM carrier indicates a lower sideband sync lock. (Click to enlarge)

A few days ago, I tuned to 9,420 kHz and found a relatively strong signal from the Avlis transmitter site of the Voice of Greece. The broadcast was quite clear until a heterodyne (het) tone popped up out of nowhere.

I checked the spectrum display of my Excalibur to find two steady carriers located about .5 kHz off each side of VOG’s AM carrier. I assume this may have been a faint digital signal centered on the same frequency as VOG.

The noise was annoying, but SDRs (and many tabletop radios) have tools to help mitigate this type of noise.

The het tone was originating from both sidebands of the VOG AM carrier (see spectrum display above). I had planned to use my notch filter to eliminate the noise, but I had two carriers to notch out and only one notch filter.

VOG AM carrier

Synchronous detection to the rescue… 

The simple solution was to eliminate one of the carriers using my SDR’s synchronous detector which can lock to either the upper or lower sideband. In this case, it didn’t make any difference which sideband I locked to because both had similar audio fidelity and were otherwise noise free. In the end, I locked to the lower sideband, thus eliminating the het in the upper sideband.

Next, I enabled my notch filter and moved its frequency to cover the annoying het carrier in the lower sideband; I kept the notch filter width as narrow as I could to preserve VOG’s audio fidelity. You can see the notch filter location and width in the spectrum display above (the notch filter is the thin yellow line).

I should note here that the great thing about using an SDR–or tabletop receiver with a spectrum display–is that you can see where the noise is. I was using my WinRadio Excalibur, but pretty much any SDR in my shack could have handled this task.

The results? No het tone and I was able to preserve the great audio fidelity from the Voice of Greece broadcast!

Here’s a 3.5 hour recording I made after cleaning up the signal. I believe at one point in the recording, I switched off the notch filter to demonstrate how loud the het tone was:

Guest Post: Brian’s 1974 mix tape of off-air shortwave radio recordings

HalliDial

Many thanks to SWLing Post and Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Brian Smith, for the following guest post and vintage recording:


Shortwave Radio 1974: Canada, Argentina, Spain, West Germany, Albania, utility stations

-Brian Smith (W9IND)

Want to know what shortwave radio sounded like in 1974? This 55-minute recording, recovered from a cassette, was never intended to be anything but “audio notes”: I was an 18-year-old shortwave listener who collected QSL cards from international stations, and I was tired of using a pen and a notepad to copy down details of the broadcasts. I wanted an easier way to record what I heard, and my cassette tape recorder seemed like the perfect means to accomplish that goal.

But it wasn’t. I soon discovered that it was simpler to just edit my notes as I was jotting them down — not spend time on endless searches for specific information located all over on the tape. To make a long story shorter, I abandoned my “audio notes” plan after a single shortwave recording: This one.

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image: DXing.com)

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image source: DXing.com)

Still, for those who want to experience the feel of sitting at a shortwave radio in the mid-1970s and slowly spinning the dial, this tape delivers. Nothing great in terms of sound quality; I was using a Hallicrafters S-108 that was outdated even at the time. And my recording “technique” involved placing the cassette microphone next to the radio speaker.

Thus, what you’ll hear is a grab bag of randomness: Major shortwave broadcasting stations from Canada, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Albania; maritime CW and other utility stations; and even a one-sided conversation involving a mobile phone, apparently located at sea. There are lengthy (even boring) programs, theme songs and interval signals, and brief IDs, one in Morse code from an Italian Navy station and another from a Department of Energy station used to track shipments of nuclear materials. And I can’t even identify the station behind every recording, including several Spanish broadcasts (I don’t speak the language) and an interview in English with a UFO book author.

The following is a guide, with approximate Windows Media Player starting times, of the signals on this recording. (Incidentally, the CBC recording was from July 11, 1974 — a date I deduced by researching the Major League Baseball scores of the previous day.)

Guide To The Recording

00:00 — CBC (Radio Canada) Northern and Armed Forces Service: News and sports.
07:51 — RAE (Radio Argentina): Sign-off with closing theme
09:14 — Department of Energy station in Belton, Missouri: “This is KRF-265 clear.”
09:17 — Interval signal: Radio Spain.
09:40 — New York Radio, WSY-70 (aviation weather broadcast)
10:22 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Music.
10:51— Unidentified station (English): Historic drama with mention of Vice President John Adams, plus bell-heavy closing theme.
14:12 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Male announcer, poor signal strength.
14:20 — Unidentified station (Spanish): Theme music and apparent ID, good signal strength.
15:16 — Unidentified station (foreign-speaking, possibly Spanish): Song, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.”
17:00 — Deutsche Welle (The Voice of West Germany): Announcement of frequencies, theme song.
17:39 — Unidentified station (English): Interview with the Rev. Barry Downing, author of “The Bible and Flying Saucers.”
24:36 — One side of mobile telephone conversation in SSB, possibly from maritime location.
30:37 — Radio Tirana (Albania): Lengthy economic and geopolitical talk (female announcer); bad audio. Theme and ID at 36:23, sign-off at 55:03.
55:11 — Italian Navy, Rome: “VVV IDR3 (and long tone)” in Morse code.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded audio player below:


Brian, this is a brilliant recording–regardless of audio quality–and we’re very thankful you took the time to share it. Propagation has left something to be desired as of late, so time traveling back to 1974 has been incredibly fun. 

Post Readers: If, like Brian, you have off-air recordings on tape that you’d like to share, please contact me! Even if you don’t have the means to transfer your tapes to a digital format, I’m a part of a small community of shortwave radio archivists who would be quite willing to help.

Peter’s archived recordings include KBC

SX-99-DialSWLing Post reader, Peter (K3KMS) writes:

In a post dated October 25, 2014, you mentioned listening to the ‘Giant Jukebox’ radio program on The Mighty KBC Shortwave.

For the past year or so, I have been a big fan of said program, and I try to listen to it every Saturday evening (0000 UTC, I’m located in Delaware). When I am able to listen, I record the program using my Drake R8B, and I archive the obtained recordings on my website.

The link to the archive web page is provided below (scroll down to the 7375 khz and 9925 khz table rows). I was hoping that you might share said link with your readership so that they, too, can experience this (in my humble opinion) awesome radio program at their leisure!

http://21centimeter.com/Shortwave_Archived_DX.html

Many thanks, Peter, and I’m quite happy to share your recordings. Like you, I’m a big fan of The Mighty KBC–we’re most fortunate to have a broadcaster like KBC on the shortwaves! I look forward to checking out your other recordings as well.

Jim’s shortwave listening post is a Navy ship

USNS Button - 02

USNS Sgt William R Button (Photo: NavySite.de)

SWLing Post contributor, Jim Clary (ND9M/VQ9JC) contacted me in June to obtain details about the BBC’s Midwinter broadcast to the British Antarctic Survey Team. Jim has been working on board the USNS Sgt William R Button since mid-June. While on board Jim has no web access, but he can send and receive emails and some files. I kept Jim informed about the time and frequencies of the BAS broadcast.

Jim had hoped to make a recording of the Midwinter broadcast at sea, but timing and some technical problems got in the way and he missed the bulk of the 30 minute program.

That’s okay, though, because Jim is an avid SWL and ham radio operator. During time off, he has logged a number of stations, so I asked if he would consider making a recording for us.  I mean, SWLing from a Navy ship?!  How cool is that?!

Within a week, Jim sent me a recording of the Voice of Korea. Here are some of his notes:

I’d heard [the Voice of Korea] many times before when Stateside (and they were Radio Pyongyang at the time), but their signals were always weak and had major polar flutter. Out here, the signal was in-my-face loud, so even though the station is not much of a rare DX catch, I wanted to get them on tape.[…]

[M]y location is the east southern Atlantic Ocean, not far from St. Helena.

[…]My ship is named USNS Sgt William R Button. The ship has been active since the mid 80s and was a “motor vessel” (M/V) until we became a Navy asset in 2009.

USNS Button - 04

[…]My receiver that I’m currently using is my QRP rig, a Yaesu FT-817ND. I changed over to a Navy antenna that I’m feeding with about 70 feet of 75-ohm RG-6 cable. There’s obviously some signal loss from both the length and impedance mismatch of the coax, but at these freqs it’s fairly negligible.

The antenna itself is an AS-2815/SSR-1 that’s mounted above the wheelhouse (bridge) of the ship. I can’t really describe the make up of the antenna simply because I don’t see why it works so well but it really does a good job. If I’d figured out where its feed point is a couple weeks ago, I would’ve had no problem logging the BBC’s Antarctic service!

.Click here to download Jim’s recording of the Voice of Korea or simply listen via the embedded player below. This broadcast was recorded on July 1, 2015 at 1900 UTC on 11910 kHz:

Many thanks, Jim! We look forward to any other recordings you wish to share!

Radio Cook Islands: Guy’s 1993 recordings

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Guy Atkins, for the following guest post:


Radio Cook Islands

by Guy Atkins

(Photo: Guy Atkins)

A view from the driveway entrance to the Radio Cook Islands studio in 1993. Insulators on an antenna (T2FD or multiband dipole) can be seen as dark spots against the cloudy sky. A feedline is also seen rising above the left side of the building. (Photo: Guy Atkins)

(Photo: Universal Radio)

(Photo: Universal Radio)

In 1993 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Rarotonga with my wife, courtesy of a nice award through my company which afforded me an all-expenses-paid trip anywhere we’d like to go.

I chose the South Pacific island of Rarotonga, partly because I wanted to visit Radio Cook Islands after listening to their “island music” on 11760 and 15170 kHz through my teenage years.

During our visit to the island I recorded 90+ minutes of RCI on 630 kHz with a local quality signal using a Grundig Satellit 500 and a Marantz PMD-221 recorder.

Recordings

The programming of Radio Cook Islands is bilingual, and announcers are fluent in both English and Cook Islands Maori. Music selections on RCI encompass all styles, to appeal to many age groups. These recordings was scheduled to include as much local music as possible.

RCI programming includes all the hallmarks of a small, non-professional station: stuck records & tape carts, dead air, poor modulation, and other miscues.

However, that’s part of the flavor of local radio, and these errors are heard throughout this recording. Particularly noticeable is the bassy, over-modulation of the studio announcer during sign-on announcements.

Recording 1

Notes: National anthem & hymn; sign-on announcements & music.
Music; weather; sign-off announcements & national anthem.
Local & regional news; weather; ads; music.

Recording 2

Notes: “Party Time” music request show; weather; local ads; more music.

Two engineers from Radio Cook Islands, photographed during my visit in April, 1993. (Photo: Guy Atkins)

Two engineers from Radio Cook Islands, photographed during my visit in April, 1993. (Photo: Guy Atkins)

Sadly, RCI will likely never be on shortwave again; a fire in the local tele-comm building a few months before my 1993 visit destroyed RCI’s transmitter. I had an amusing exchange with the secretary when I visited; she insisted that their station was still on shortwave. Of COURSE we’re on the air she said, because “the frequencies are published right here in the newspaper!” The engineer and announcer confirmed, though, that the silence on their former frequencies was for real. They indicated they were covering the outer islands just fine with FM translators and had no intention of restarting shortwave.

Radio Cook Islands 630 kHz antenna on the school ground of Takitumu Primary School.

Radio Cook Islands 630 kHz antenna on the school ground of Takitumu Primary School.

RCI’s headquarters is in downtown Avarua, and their 5 kw transmitter (reported at half power, 2.5 kw in Dec. 2012) and modern quarter-wavelength vertical antenna is located in the town of Matavera (northeast side of Rarotonga).

Bing.com maps view of Radio Cook Islands antenna, 630 kHz at Takitumu Primary School, Matavera.

Bing.com maps view of Radio Cook Islands antenna, 630 kHz at Takitumu Primary School, Matavera.

The antenna is in the yard of Takitumu primary school; see photos from Bing Maps and Panaromio [above].

It sure brings back a flood of good memories when I listen to these MP3s! I’d love to visit the Cooks again sometime.


Many thanks for this wonderful stroll down memory lane, Guy–radio nostalgia at its best!

I, too, would love to visit the Cook Islands someday–it is on my bucket list. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy your recordings. Again, many thanks for your guest post!