Shortwave Radio Recordings: BBC to the 2014 British Antarctic Survey

800px-Antarctica.svgAs promised, here are the recordings of the BBC World Service’s thirty minute broadcast to the British Antarctic Survey. The broadcast started at 21:30 UTC on June 21, 2014 and was broadcast on 5,875, 5,985, 7,350 and 9,890 kHz.

British_Antarctic_Survey_Logo

As in previous years, this broadcast was lighthearted, filled with humorous shout-outs from the team’s family and friends. Even a couple of special guests were included. Listen for yourself:

This excellent recording was made by SWLing Post reader, Dominik, in Europe:

Click here to download Dominik’s recording as an MP3.

Post reader Rob Wagner (VK3BVW), in Australia, could receive the broadcast on three frequencies (5,875, 5,985, and 7,350). He’s included clips of each broadcast on his excellent blog, The Mount Evelyn DX Report.

As for me, I was traveling to visit family yesterday afternoon when the broadcast started.  I knew from listening endeavors on previous visits that receiving a broadcast indoors at their home is not feasible; there is some sort of power line noise in that area that overwhelms anything on the short or medium wave bands, unless the station is very strong.

To cope with this noise, I knew I would need to move my operation outdoors, away from the house, and employ an outdoor antenna. So I packed the following, all into my small flight case: the CommRadio CR-1, a NASA PA-30 15 foot passive wide-band wire antenna, and the Zoom H2n Handy Recorder
.

CommRadio-CR-1-Zoom-H2N-BBC-Antarctica

I hung the PA-30 antenna in a nearby tree, spread a wool army blanket on the ground for lounging, and put the mini flight case to use as a stand to hold the radio and recorder. The CR-1 required no external power supply, as its internal battery had been charged in advance (one of the reasons I love this little receiver for travel).

To try out the set-up, I tuned around the bands. Conditions were rough, thunderstorms were in the region, but I was most impressed that I could hear several broadcasters on 31 meters. I knew that the BBC broadcast would be a tough catch; after all, none of their transmissions were targeting my part of the globe–rather, the opposite!

When I tuned to the BBC broadcast on 7,350 kHz, here’s what I heard:

This is (very) rough copy; for five or so minutes, you’ll hear me switching between AM/USB and LSB to find the best mode for the signal. I also check the other BBC frequencies to see if any were more audible.

In the end, using ECSS (zero-beating the signal in USB) seemed to work best.

For fun, I had also brought along the Tecsun PL-660–a choice portable radio for weak signal DX. I tuned to 7,350 and could just hear the BBC signal in the noise, but voice and music were unintelligible.

Tecsun-PL-660-BBC-Antarctic

What did I get out of the experience?  Good copy?  Alas, no.

But there’s nothing like the fun of playing radio outdoors! Even though the copy was rough, propagation deplorable, and static crashes abundant, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Moreover, I was amused to note that while I listened (and sweated) outside in the very hot, muggy conditions of the American southeast, a few scientists huddled near the extremely chilly southern pole at that exact moment, were tuning in the exact same broadcast.  It somehow made the heat bearable.

That’s the remarkable camaraderie of radio: truly, a wireless community.

One thought on “Shortwave Radio Recordings: BBC to the 2014 British Antarctic Survey

  1. Pingback: Help record the 2015 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast on June 21 | The SWLing Post

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