Listening to WWV at the source: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

MysterySW-site-LTIf you haven’t already guessed it: yes, the mystery broadcast site I posted on Thursday was WWV/WWVB in Fort Collins, Colorado. Well done, responders!  Specifically, the photo shows the southern antennas of WWVB as I departed the site on Thursday, August 28, 2014; for those of you who got that detail, extra credit–!

I’d like to thank the staff at WWV/WWVB for allowing me to visit the site for the better part of the day. WWV is not officially open to tours, so this was a particular honor for me. And this was an especially fun pilgrimage, as WWV was most likely the first shortwave broadcast I ever heard:  as I’ve previously noted, when I was a kid my father used to set his watch to WWV every Sunday morning.  Now I’ve seen firsthand where that famous tock, tock (and accompanying characteristic tones) originate.

When I return home from my extended travels, I’ll sort through the photos I took at WWV and WWVB, and post them here on the SWLing Post.

Recording WWV

In the meantime, I have a few recordings to share with those who are interested in this mecca of chronology.  Before leaving WWV, I pulled out my Tecsun PL-380 and my Zoom H2N digital recorder, and recorded all the WWV broadcast frequencies. I captured their 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20 and even their recently reactivated 25 MHz signals.

I made these recordings in the conference room at WWVB broadcast house. As you can imagine, it was simply not at all necessary to extend the telescopic antenna. In fact, the signal was so strong, you’ll hear a slight amount of distortion in the voice audio.

TecsunPL380WWVB

Below, you can listen to the recordings of each frequency via the embedded player (click on the title to download the audio). Enjoy!

WWV on 2.5 MHz

WWV on 5 MHz

WWV on 10 MHz

WWV on 15 MHz (includes top of the hour station ID)

WWV on 20 MHz

Up to this point, I used the Tecsun PL-380, but quickly realized that the ‘380 wouldn’t tune to 25 MHz. A quick look at the back of the radio revealed that the ‘380 only tunes up to 21.950 MHz (!). Believe it or not, I’d never noticed this limitation of the PL-380, likely since I rarely tune above 21 MHz for broadcast listening.  Learn something new every day…But I couldn’t fail to complete my recordings.

SangeanATS505WWVB

 

So what did I do? I turned to Matthew Deutch, Chief Engineer at WWV and WWVB, who kindly allowed me to use their Sangean ATS-505 to make the final recording:

WWV on 25 MHz (includes Atlantic and Pacific weather)

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20 thoughts on “Listening to WWV at the source: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

  1. Pingback: NIST FY2019 budget includes request to shutdown WWV and WWVH | dxerhamnews

  2. Pingback: NIST FY2019 budget includes request to shutdown WWV and WWVH | The SWLing Post

  3. David

    Hi have a square box from Realistic TIME KUBE and works and receive the time on 5-10 and 15 mhz. It use9v battery and also can be use with a ac adapter. Have lost the manual and i want touse an adapter instead of the 9v battery. So i need an adapter and don’t know the voltage adapter needed.Its ver old receiver. A small box. Size 3×4 ” and abou 3 ” high.
    Model:12-159
    Serial:847A3471

    David Odor
    Thanks

    Reply
  4. Mike

    I’ve always wanted to know if you ever had to worry about which way you pointed your clock if you lived in CO.. It’s a shame that they wont build a site on the east coast.

    Reply
  5. Robert Dunton

    What is happened to all or any of the time frequency’s to the coast of Oregon near Astoria that keep My time clocks on time? I turned on the short wave radio on today and scanned the band and none of the signals are active To indicate a time constant to keep most al My Clocks that require this service to stay on time.

    Reply
  6. Dwight Morrow

    I could not find the sight and nothing in Fort Collins phone book. We were passing through on holidays from Canada

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Dwight,

      Unfortunately, they are not open to the public, so you couldn’t have stopped by even if you had their number. Were you able to see the antenna farm from the road? I believe it can be seen from the highway.
      Even their driveway is inconspicuous and not mentioned on any maps. In fact, Google Maps and/or Apple Maps sends you into a farm.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Hang on a second…seriously | The SWLing Post

  8. john leonardelli

    I also had the pleasure to do drive by several years ago but no luck with a tour

    No problem picking up signals with my icom R 20

    Nice to see the engineering team relying on a Sangean as their reference receiver

    When I was at the Marconi museum near Cape Cod they had a Frg-7

    Reply
  9. teodoro jaramillo

    Brief history and personal events with WWV. All NASA Satellite tracking stations syncronized timing with WWV, US NAVY STANDARD AND BCDT AGAINST START CHARTS AND .
    later on Ruby Standards and The bureau has Cesium.
    I was at Tracking station in Ecuador call sign HC1AGI (International Geophysical Year) right after SPUTNIK . Used a Mosley 3 Element three band beam, 1960
    started Engineering and Ops Code 533 GOddard Space Flight Center…my lab and office about
    s short walk to the low Hill where WWV Building sorrounded by the HIgh elegant Vertical antennas. Several LAbs with Faraday tight shielded tight…had troiuble keeping some residual
    RF from some devices and measurements ( HP Spectrum Analizers had a 5 mhz I.F) and they
    were all around GSFC….
    Our GSFC WA3NAN was very large and active in all areas of research and development with
    members of all trades and know how…As soon as WWV started to close we had requested the
    useage of the entire site and faccilities, but ended up installing WA3NAN systens in trailers
    and antennas on the wonderful POLES. WA3NAN (my call hc1ka/wa3fum) eventually was reassigned a site away
    near to NASA GSFC till today.
    I started SLWing..in Ecuador at the age of 11-12 adn already had found of course WWV on
    all bands and helped people syncronize their clock devices. Great coincidences in the life
    with RF and timing developments and thanks for the recordings which were part of a lifetime.
    Have lots of photos and NASA events which were broadcasted from the HIGH POLES for
    years conmemorating the space achievements from the unforgetable WWV Timing SIte.
    73
    T.Jaramillo hc5k/k4lrj ( retired in Ecuador hamming satellites )

    Reply
  10. DL4KE

    Its a long time ago, that i tuned into the time signal channels. will try it next time with the remote controlled SDR at twente/ PA0.
    mni tks for the vy gd recordings.

    73
    Juergen
    DL4KE

    nnnn

    Reply
  11. EA4998URE - David

    What a “coincidence”. Hopefully, before the summer holidays officially end, I will be off to another shortwave transmitter site. Well, to the remains of it. I will be visiting the former RFE/RL (and VOA in the last years of operation) site in Playa de Pals, near the Catalan city of Girona and also very close to my main QTH in Barcelona. The Pals RFE/RL site was from where a 1MW signal was transmitted by feeding the same audio signal to 4 Continental transmitters. Their output signals where put in phase, then the big Group D dipole curtain was divided into two “halves” by switching the feed lines in the appropriate way. Each half of the curtain received 500KW from two transmitters. So the total was 1000KW, or 1MW. If we add the antenna gain, the ERP was in the order of several megawatts. This was a signal directed to Eastern Europe, and more specifically to Moscow, via single-hop propagation. I suppose receivers in Moscow released plenty of smoke and had to be replaced every time they were tuned to a RFE/RL signal from Pals. Hahaha!

    The curtains were demolished in 2006 and because the place is abandoned now and has been repeatedly sacked, the station buildings are in a very poor situation, specially in the inside. Almost no radio hardware survives, but what is still there is quite interesting. For example, I am interested in one of the parabolic dishes (6.5m in diameter) that was used to receive the audio feeds via satellite (Those audio signals were the ones which were then rebroadcasted on shortwave frequencies). I wonder whether that dish could be used for ham radio microwave experimentation purposes. Here in Spain and more specifically in Catalonia the GHz bands are seeing every day more ham activity, so my idea could be good.

    There is an excellent website (www.radioliberty.org) which is a virtual museum of all things related to the Pals station. It was created and is maintained by a former worker of the station. The language in the English version of the website is a bit “macaronic” in some parts of the site, but I think this is a minor issue given the excellent amount of information kept there.

    There is also a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/PalsRadioStation) which keeps videos for the above website. Some of them are really long and very complete.

    Finally, although not part of the Pals station virtual museum website, there was even a documentary made, after the demolition of the antennas, as a tribute to the station. It can be watched in the following link although parts of it have not been translated to English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJnxsSL3bbY

    I will be taking some receivers (and other radio materials, such as antennas) with me when I go there. If it was an excellent location for a shortwave broadcasting transmitter site, I suppose it will also be an excellent location for DXing in the same bands!

    David – EA4998URE SWL

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      I will, Rafael–as soon as I’m back home and have time top sort through all of the photos (300+)! It was a great experience–the staff at the stations were incredibly accommodating.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
  12. lionel laleuf

    bonjour merci pour vos infos toujours aussi intéressantes les une que les autres ;Amitiés depuis la france de lionel F14425SWL

    toutes mes excuses pour écrire en français je ne parle pas en anglais THANKS pour vos infos

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Lionel,

      Je vous remercie pour votre commentaire. Je suis très heureux que vous écrivez en français; il y a un bon nombre de francophones qui lit le SWLing Post–donc pas de problème!

      -Thomas

      Reply

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