Gary DeBock’s Ultralight Radio DXpedition in Hawaii

Kona, Hawaii DXpedition (Photo: Gary DeBock)

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

The Kona, Hawaii Ultralight Radio DXpedition was conducted from a sixth floor oceanfront motel room in the Royal Kona Resort Motel from April 9-12 (during an anniversary trip with my wife). A newly designed “airport friendly” 5 inch FSL antenna (designed to fit within hand-carry luggage, inside a plastic tote) and a 7.5 inch loopstick C.Crane Skywave Ultralight were used to track down and record Asian and South Pacific Medium Wave DX from such rare stations as 540-2AP (Apia, Samoa), 621-Tuvalu (Funafuti, Tuvalu) and 1440-Kiribati (Bairiki, Kiribati). Here are three extremely strong recording links for these exotic stations, including the daily sign off routines for 621-Tuvalu and 1440-Kiribati:

540 2AP Apia, Samoa Extremely strong Christian worship music (Samoan style) at 0931 UTC on April 9 (S9+ level)

Click here to download.

621 Tuvalu Funafuti, Tuvalu Over 8 minutes of traditional island music at an S9 level, including the sign off routine (with national anthem) at 1000 UTC

Click here to download.

1440 Kiribati Bairiki, Kiribati Over 7 minutes of traditional island music, station ID’s in English and the native language, and the national anthem (followed by a blistering 1000 Hz tone) at the 0936 UTC sign off– all at a strong level

Click here to download.

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7 thoughts on “Gary DeBock’s Ultralight Radio DXpedition in Hawaii

  1. Fritz

    Hello Gary – I keep looking at your constructions, really great. I’m from Austria and listen to Tecsun and Sangean and XHDATA radios. I’m in the city (Vienna) in winter and have a lot of disturbances and iron in the walls of the apartment. But in the summer I am in the country and I have already received many channels well. Good luck for the future – greetings Fritz

  2. karl keller

    FB Gary, and thanks for sharing! I’m curious though. A cylinder of ferrite rods, wrapped with wire, a mysterious control knob, all placed in a plastic box and stuffed in a carry-on…Did you raise any eyebrows with airport TSA? Any travelling advice in this regard for others considering a similar DXpedition?

    1. Gary DeBock

      Hi Karl, This 5 inch “Frequent Flyer” FSL antenna is a new design using the thin (3mm thick) Russian surplus 100mm ferrite bars, not the ferrite rods (which TSA might think have a more subversive appearance, and definitely weigh much more). As determined in FSL design experimentation the sensitivity of a 100mm ferrite bar is exactly the same as that of a 100mm ferrite rod, regardless of ferrite thickness. So the 100mm bars are ideal for a lightweight FSL antenna of this type, with a non-subversive appearance as a bonus.
      Unfortunately the 100mm x 20mm x 3mm ferrite bars are extremely scarce, so not very many of these models can be made. An acceptable substitute is the ferrite rod-based 3.5 inch “Baby FSL” model, which has also gotten through airport TSA checkpoints easily (demonstrated at )
      It sensitivity is fairly competitive with that of the 5 inch “Frequent Flyer” FSL, and all the parts are easily ordered on eBay.

  3. Rob Wagner

    Nice work, Gary. I enjoyed this post and the audio clips, especially hearing the IDs and s/off anncts. Some years ago, I visited the Cook Islands – another great place for both MW and SW DX. All the best, Rob VK3BVW.

  4. Guy Atkins

    Beautiful programming from exotic countries, and pounding signal levels… this is reception you and I can only dream about from Grayland (WA) and Rockworks (OR), Gary! But for you in Kona it wasn’t a dream :^)
    Thanks for sharing you experiences and recordings here, and in the DXing mailing lists recently.

    Did you log A3Z Tonga during your visit? They are an infrequent visitor now to the Pacific NW coast, unlike the 80s and 90s when they were common–and sometimes–a near-powerhouse when South Pacific reception was enhanced.

    1. Gary DeBock

      Hi Guy, Thanks for your generous comments! Yes, 1017-A3Z in Tonga did make a decent appearance in Kona with island music at 0945 UTC on April 9th (2345 local time in Kona). That recording is linked at

      In general the Kona propagation was phenomenal to the exotic island stations on 540, 621 and 1440, and very good to 1017-Tonga and 1098-Marshalls. 558-Fiji made a fairly good appearance also, but New Caledonia didn’t show up on either 666 or 729 (but I don’t know if they threw in the MW broadcasting towel along with 738-Tahiti). Happy Easter to you and Rochelle!


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