Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dean Denton–our intrepid 13 year old DXer–who seeks a little input from the community. Dean writes:
I am going on holiday in July this year, to Fuerteventura in Islas Canarias, near west Africa.
This will be the first time I will be going on holiday, you will probably know the feeling. Because I am a hardcore radio-fan, I will of course bring my Tecsun PL-660, and I will be posting clips on my YouTube Channel, EuropeDX.
Please could you give me, some vital tips when going on holiday when DXing?
The Canary Islands are in close proximity to North West Africa, so I will be DXing: Morocco, Mauritius, Algeria, Western Sahara, Senegal and others.
To those who are reading this post, I am compiling a list of tech that I am bringing with me. Please help add to this list, off of your experience of being abroad.
Here is the list:
- Shortwave Radio, Tecsun PL-660, for the immersion.
- Tecsun AN-200 Loop antenna, for pulling AM stations.
- Travel adapter, we all need one.
- Portable MP3 player, to listen to music
- A Portable Digital TV, for watching movies on USB.
- An action camera w/lapel microphone, for capturing videos.
- FM Transmitter, to show the locals what music is!
- 4G Mobile Data Router, internet is a basic human requirement.
Please suggest more!
I think that the AM and FM DXing will be breathtaking. The Canary Islands are located where I will be able to pick up African radio stations, but also Transatlantic Brazilian and American stations. Due to the high pressure and high temperature, FM Tropo is not rare in the Canary Island’s climate. Enabling this, it will spark my YouTube channel.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope the SWLing community help me. If you would like to contact me, email me at europedx(at)gmail(dot)com.
Thanks, Dean! You’re talking my favorite topics: radio and travel!
I know we have a number of readers who live in the Canary Islands. No doubt, you’ll get to experience some serious radio fun across the bands.
In terms of tips, I would suggest you assume your accommodation could be plagued with radio noise and you may be forced to find an outdoor spot to do all but your FM DXing. If you know where you’re going to stay, check it out on Google Maps and see if there’s an obvious safe spot to play radio outdoors. Of course, it helps if your accommodation has an outdoor space like a balcony, patio or garden.
Looks like you’ve got a pretty good checklist there. Here are a few additional items I typically take on a holiday DXpedition:
- Earphones/Headphones (never leave home without them!)
- A small back-up radio (if you have one–something like a Tecsun PL-310ET)
- A copy of the World Radio TV Handbook (though I don’t take the WRTH if space/weight are too tight–I rely on apps with offline schedules like Skywave Radio Schedules [Android] or Shortwave Broadcast Schedules [iOS])
- Extra set of AA batteries for the PL-660
- Small headlamp or flashlight for night time outdoor listening
- Notepad and pencil for logs
SWLing Post readers: How do you plan and what do you take on radio holidays? Please feel free to comment and share your advice!
Echoing Conor’s comment above, I would err on the side of paring down the equipment and doing as much with it as you can. That said, the items on Dean’s list aren’t all purely for radio listening, so there isn’t much bloat there. Basically I am normally satisfied with my Tecsun PL-380, a notebook and pen, and either web access on my phone or ideally a locally-stored schedule/database. Often it’s nice to not even try and look up stations as I’m listening, and simply log them while I listen. This way you engage with the station a bit more.
Only other thoughts I have are: check the compatibility and any roaming charges around the 4G dongle, and I would recommend checking the local laws around FM transmitters, or leaving it at home. Happy travels!
The Canary Islands and Madeira are interesting places for DXing – hardly any really strong signals on the air and quite often very low noise. The pictures at http://www.dl4no.de/thema/qrp-ante.htm were taken on Fuerteventura: FT-817, twisted-pair “antenna cable cable” through the window frame.
Fuerteventura has very little rain. Therefore you often find flat roofs where laundry is dried etc. You might be able to erect some kind of “long wire” antenna there. Naturally this will not work in a big hotel. I prefer a small appartement and a rental car.
One thing you should consider: Fuerteventura is relatively flat. But look out for hills and mountains that might block certain directions. For a first orientation you could use Open Streetmaps. In the topo view you can insert contour lines. But you should know that the spacial resolution of these contour lines is quite bad – perhaps 100 m with a lot of smoothing. Check the “standing waves” at the shore lines in front of cliffs. They can easily be 20 m high 🙂
BTW: I would not risk to bring a FM brouadcast transmitter.
I brought my PL-660 to the Canaries a few years ago. I simply used a long wire antenna, and also brought along a notepad. That’s all I brought. The new location (I’m normally in Ireland) opened up new stations in Africa and Central America, and I got some QSL cards from those new stations. My advice is: don’t overcomplicate things; bring the basics of what you need to get some SWL done. The limited tech you bring forces you to use what you have and use it well, which is a fun challenge! Have fun and happy listening.
Thanks for the recommendations and comments. I will definitely take this to mind.
I would add a clip-on / external wire antenna and an audio recorder with audio lead.