Tag Archives: shortwave

CountyComm: A note of caution about the high-gain ferrite bar antenna

Ferrite-Bar-PL-365After our post this morning regarding the high-gain ferrite bar antenna (available via eBay), I received a message from Nick at CountyComm.

Nick notes:

“[The high-gain antenna is] very cool however we wanted to let you know that we found out it [can] actually destroy the antenna input to the GP5/SSB or GP5/DSP because of its heavy weight. [W]e had at least five radios come back [after] customers had purchased the large ferrite antenna from an eBay seller.”

Many thanks, Nick, for the feedback. It is important to note that the high-gain bar antenna is not an OEM product, so CountyComm isn’t responsible if it harms the radio’s antenna jack.

While still relatively lightweight, the high-gain bar antenna is substantially heavier and longer than the GP5’s supplied MW antenna.

I’ve been concerned about dropping the GP5/SSB with the larger bar antenna inserted–fearing the jack could break off–so I’ve been very careful using it. I’ll probably continue using the larger ferrite bar, understanding that I’ll have to handle it with care.

If you’re concerned about damaging your radio, I would suggest using an inductively coupled AN200 loop antenna instead.

Again, Nick, thanks for the heads-up!

Steven is impressed with the CountyComm GP5/SSB and high-gain bar antenna

GP5SSB-Front

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Steven Crawford, who sent the following message to me (several weeks ago) and has kindly allowed me to share it here. Steven writes:

I hope this finds you and yours well. I just wanted to take a few moments and express my sincere thanks to you for your posts of 12/20/2014 and 1/6/2016, and for sharing Larry Thompson’s post of 2/28/2016, and Ron’s post of 1/16/2016. If you are in regular contact with the other individuals please feel free to pass along my thanks as each of you and the respective post convinced me to purchase a CountyComm GP5/SSB and Ebay seller playloudfm’s high-gain ferrite bar antenna. I am so glad I did, so a hearty Thank You to each of you.

The afternoon of March 19th local was the first chance I had to use my GP-5/SSB. After popping in three fresh AA’s on AM using the internal ferrite bar antenna Beaumont, Texas’ own powerhouse 5,000 watt KLVI 560 was there as was 1,000 watt Orange’s KOGT 1600, 23 miles away and my AM daytime benchmark 50 kW KTRH 740 Houston 70 or so miles away on the back side of their pattern. KTRH surprisingly can be a little difficult during the day due to noise. The surprise was 50 kW WWL New Orleans 240 miles away was intelligible above the background noise. Extending the whip a quickie SW test showed WWV Fort Collins time signal was present at 15 MHz.

On the AM side the real money lay after dark once the sun had set in Beaumont and San Antonio. Using only the internal ferrite bar antenna all of the aforementioned AM stations were present. Continuing the internal antenna’s test 50 kW WBAP 820 Dallas 244 miles away and 50kW WOAI 1200 San Antonio 266 miles away were present. I started grinning when 50 kW WLAC 1510 Nashville 598 miles away and 50kW KMOX 1120 St. Louis 632 miles away were just intelligible above the background noise. Keep in mind these stations were received using only the internal antenna.

GP5SSB-MW-Antenna-1

I popped the CountyComm included factory external ferrite bar on and used it 9 -10 PM Saturday local, 0200 – 0300 March 20 UTC. Using the external antenna rotated for best reception WLAC and KMOX improved to the point they were easily listenable. 50 kW WSB 750 Atlanta 625 miles away was listenable above the noise and most surprising 50kW WBBM 780 Chicago 892 miles away(!!!) was just intelligible above the background noise. Another quickie SW test was performed at 10 PM local, 0300 March 20 Sunday UTC by extending the built in whip and the WWV Fort Collins time signals were present at 5 and 10 MHz with 10MHz being particularly well received.

Ferrite-Bar-Antenna-PL-365-GP5SSB

Photo source: eBay

A real treat lay in store after receiving Ebay seller playloudfm’s aftermarket high-gain ferrite bar antenna, the subject of your 1/6/2016 and Ron’s 1/16/2016 post, yesterday. I am not experienced enough to judge what the space weather or propagation conditions were like from 0300 to 0400 March 27th UTC but I was extremely surprised and pleased with the reception results the new antenna afforded.

As I sat relaxing in my easy chair before bed I decided to try the combo out using the included earphones so as to not wake my wife. With the lights off and my iPad open to www.oldradio.com/archives/stations/ccs.htm to help identify clear channel stations I took the handheld combo for a spin. All of the stations found with the factory supplied external ferrite bar antenna were present. There was just so much more signal present using the aftermarket antenna each became easily listenable. For WOAI, WWL, WLAC and KMOX the effect was as if I was located within their local night coverage area. 50 kW WHAS Louisville Kentucky 740 miles away was newly found present. Chicago’s WBBM was there as before and I was surprised to find 50 kW WGN 720 Chicago as well. The reception quality was such that one could enjoy listening to a Cub’s game or breaking local news story should one be so inclined on WBBM or WGN. The listening experience was similar for newly found 50 kW XEROK 800 Ciudad Juarez 738 miles away.

The most surprising and gratifying, to me anyway, find of the night using playloudfm’s antenna was receiving 5,000 watt (nights!) KCMO 710 Kansas City Missouri 624 miles away. The ability to rotate the antenna to take advantage of it’s directional and nulling ability really aided in this reception. It really is a great benefit to be able to rotate the GP-5/SSB’s external AM antennas for peak signal strength while nulling interfering signals and noise. Indeed KCMO was missing in one antenna orientation but rotating the antenna 90 degrees and the station popped in. I really should have jotted signal strength to noise ratios down but I was just enjoying tuning through the spectrum too much. I have not fully tested SSB Exalted Carrier tuning on the GP5/SSB of difficult stations but have tried it 3 or 4 times and it does appear to work as does tuning 1 kHZ either side of the nominal frequency. The later technique did help clean up some signals by further reducing background noise without greatly affecting listenability.

As best I can tell I ordered and received either the last or next to last of playloudfm’s current batch of high-gain ferrite bar antennas as the Ebay add showed two available when I ordered and the ad was almost immediately replaced with an “accepting pre-orders” ad. Currently there are no ads by seller playloudfm.[Note: it appears more inventory has been added to eBay.] My transaction and shipping was quick and smooth. The bulk of the two week wait occurred after the package was received at the Athens airport where tracking stopped. It should be noted by buyers should more antennas become available the tracking number supplied does not work on the USPS tracking service but it will track the package to Athens through Greece’s Hellenic Post tracking service at http://www.elta.gr/en-us/personal/tracktrace.aspx

Note: all distances listed above are “as the crow flies”, straight line city center to city center and are not necessarily correct for the transmission tower location.

This little radio is fast becoming a hand holdable favorite with easy to learn button placement for use in the dark. I am all ready beginning to prefer it to my Sony SW7600GR / AN200 loop combo for MW broadcast AM reception but I really must do more work with SW before calling the CountyComm my favorite of the two.

Steven followed up a week or so later with this addendum to his review:

I finally got the opportunity to test the FM performance of the radio using only the extended whip on the afternoon of April 1st, April 1st 19:30 – 21:00 UTC. Using www.radio-locator.com and my zip code I found 51 FM stations listed as local, distant and possible fringe reception. I was very surprised and pleased when I was able to log all of the most distant fringe stations, KUHF, KKBQ, KTBZ, KKHH, KHMX, KBXX, KODA, KILT, KLOL, KMJQ, KRBE, KOVE, and KGLK, with ERP’s listed as 90 to 100 kW and distances in the given in the 80 to 90 mile range. In short I was able to log all 51 listed stations. The FM broadcast band is crowded indeed with this little rocket radio. It should be noted my little corner of Southeast Texas is dead flat with nothing between me and these stations broadcast towers but Houston skyscrapers, the typical urban / suburban sprawl, timber and marsh. Ground elevations range from 16 ft to 80 ft above sea level between me and many of the broadcast towers.

[…]My Sony SW7600GR / AN200 loop / Sony AN-LP1 loop combination sits in it’s go bag rapidly falling into disfavor, replaced by the easily used in the dark one handed CountyComm GP-5/SSB. Again thank you for your kind response and thanks again to all who motivated me to purchase this rig.

Steven, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with the GP5-SSB and the high-gain ferrite bar antenna.

I also have the high-gain ferrite bar antenna and have been meaning to post videos showing how it performs compared with the supplied GP5 antenna. I must say, it does do a pretty amazing job. I’ll get some videos posted in the coming weeks!

All India Radio adapting strategy

All India Radio (AIR) Headquarters in Dehli, India. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

All India Radio (AIR) Headquarters in Dehli, India. Photo source: Wikimedia.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mike R, for sharing this article from Asia Radio Today:

During a session on Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) at Radio Asia,  Fayyaz Sheheryar the Director General of All India Radio said all PSB [Public Service] broadcasters are facing the question of how to make revenue within the public service model.

As governments are reducing funding for public service broadcasters, “there is competition between hedonism and altruism,” he said.

“If we want to earn money would it be at the expense of ethics? This is a question that requires everyone’s attention.”

The expansion of tv channels in India overshadowed radio for a while, but radio has come back to life “thanks to the deregulation of radio, new licences and new frequencies on FM and [DRM]” according to Sheheryar.

All India Radio has introduced new channels to compete with the new private commercial channels.

But, like other public broadcasters else where in the world, All India Radio is “facing questioning from commercial broadcasters about our role.”

[…]In India, All India Radio is allowed to take advertising, but advertising is not allowed to affect decisions on program content. It is heavily used by advertisers to reach both educated and mass rural populations, but the new private channels have taken a share of the pubic service broadcaster’s significant ad revenue.

“Public service broadcasting is a keystone of democracy,” said Sheheryar.

“Should we leave it to the market to decide the content of PSB? PSB gently leads the masses to more mature values and services all sectors of the population regardless of whether the have money to spend or not. Ratings cannot be the sole yardstick to measure the success of PSB.

[…]“The proliferation of private broadcasters has also contributed to the questioning of PSB’s role.”

[…]The question of how to fund AIR now that it is autonomous is constantly being discussed. All India Radio uses a “hybrid model of funding” with some government funding and some commercial revenue funding. Other sources of revenue are program sales, news media sales, facilities hire and transmission rental.

Despite the philosophical and revenue challenges Sheheryar is optimistic: “Public Service Broadcasting is on a revival course despite all the challenges. The [Indian] Prime Minister’s choice to broadcast regularly on AIR has helped us… For PBS to survive it must be recognised as a creative art and treated accordingly.”

Click here to read the full article.

Mark’s rekindled interest in shortwave radio

Sony-ICF-2001D

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mark Lane, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

I just wanted to thank you for a great website, I have been interested in SW since I was a boy and used to listen to my grandfather’s world radio. I cannot remember the make or model now but it was an amazing experience.

After all these years, at the age of 44, my interest perked again and I happened across your site.

Like a lot of people I was wondering “is there anything left to listen to on SW now we are truly in the ‘digital’ age”? After reading the content on your site and the blog I made up my mind, jumped onto eBay and after a number of failed attempts at winning any auctions I managed to bag a near mint Sony ICF 2001D [photo at top of page]!

I did get rather over excited and probably paid a bit too much for it, but too be honest I don’t care. I have already had a good couple of evenings trying to bag some far off stations and I am still trying to figure out all the buttons on the thing.

Then this past weekend, my daughter (15) asked about the radio and I showed her what I had been doing–she was hooked and kept asking me to try for some more stations. We spent the whole evening with the help of a couple of other websites trying to track down more distant stuff.

I have to say the 2001D is now my prize possession and my daughter was messaging her friends telling them all about the wonders of SW.

All I can say is keep up the good work and let’s hope SW does continue for as long as possible I will certainly be listening in until the airwaves go quiet, I trust that won’t happen for some considerable time.

Regards
Mark Lane
Worcester UK

Mark: thank you so much for sharing your message! It’s an honor to know that the SWLing Post played some part in your renewed interest in shortwave radio. The community here is simply amazing and I learn a lot myself from so many reader contributions.

Being a father of two daughters, I can say that there’s no better feeling than to know that a little radio listening time also translated into quality father and daughter time!

You just made my day!

Madagascar World Voice now broadcasting on shortwave

Madagascar-World-Voice

(Source: Radio World)

World Christian Broadcasting launched its second shortwave station, Madagascar World Voice, on Easter Sunday in late March.

The nonprofit organization is based near Nashville, Tenn. Station KNLS launched in 1983. 

President/CEO Charles H. Caudill announced the launch. “More than 10 years of planning and work have gone into making Madagascar World Voice a reality,” he said in a statement.

[…]WCB said the new Madagascar World Voice airs 13 hours daily in Arabic, African English, International English, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Spanish. The signals will reach Africa and the Middle East, and most of Europe and South America.[…]

Read the full article at Radio World online.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mike H, who shares the following Summer A-16 schedule for Madagascar World Voice:

MADAGASCAR   Summer A-16 of WWCB Madagascar World Voice
0100-0200 on  9665 MWV 100 kW / 040 deg to SoAs English
0200-0300 on  6190 MWV 100 kW / 250 deg to SoAm Spanish
0300-0400 on  6150 MWV 100 kW / 265 deg to SoAm Spanish
0400-0500 on  9480 MWV 100 kW / 295 deg to CeAf English
1800-1900 on  9570 MWV 100 kW / 355 deg to EaEu Russian
1800-1900 on 17640 MWV 100 kW / 310 deg to CeAf English
1900-2000 on 11945 MWV 100 kW / 355 deg to N/ME Arabic
1900-2000 on 13710 MWV 100 kW / 340 deg to EaAf Arabic
2100-2200 on 11615 MWV 100 kW / 325 deg to WeEu Chinese
2200-2300 on  9455 MWV 100 kW / 055 deg to EaAs Chinese
2200-2300 on 11770 MWV 100 kW / 325 deg to NoAf Arabic