Armed with loops, fences, and an Icom IC-705, 13dka battles transatlantic MW DX

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, 13dka, who shares the following guest post:


Dipping my toes into transatlantic MW DX

by 13dka

Most of my SWLing life I wanted to dig into MW DX but never managed to make that really happen for some reason. Then last November, I fetched my first transatlantic station while I wasn’t even trying, in a rather surprising setting:

I have to explain that my home and neighborhood got so infested with a multitude of QRM sources that I did not put my outdoor antennas back up after a storm blew them out of the trees in winter 2018/19. I just used an ML-200 loop indoors, which also has to put up with my own additional QRM sources in my den, consisting of 3 computers running 24/7 and a couple of switching power supplies, a TV, LED lighting… allowing for very basic reception as long as my neighbors don’t watch TV or use the internet. On top of that, medium wave is badly beaten by a mowing robot’s boundary wire here, making reception on several portions of the band completely impossible.

I never expected receiving any US stations on MW in that noise, but I couldn’t sleep that night and scanned the bands a bit with the IC-705 hooked up to my new YouLoop hanging over my bed for testing. I had seen the characteristic transatlantic carriers on MW many times before on my SDRs, but for some reason I never picked up anything intelligible on them in any winter season, now a lot of these carriers were there again but on 1130 there was actually modulation and it wasn’t the only station!

Small bedside loop: SWL’s dreamcatcher!

Bloomberg Radio 1130 came in with almost enjoyable quality at times, but Bloomberg is also kind of a surefire station for MW DX over here. I also picked up a station on 1120 and another one on 880 which was briefly so strong that it surmounted the strong interference from BBC Radio Wales on 882 kHz. 1120 was confirmed the next night to be KMOX in St. Louis, 880 kHz was *not* KCBS in NY – I checked that immediately, I have a KiwiSDR set to that frequency booknarked on my cellphone in case I have a craving for the 1-877-Kars-4-Kids commercial. Powerwise likely candidates for that would be CHQT (50kW) in Edmonton, CKLQ (10kW) in Manitoba or KRVN in Nebraska (50kW class B station) but this may be hard to verify due to the dominance of the BBC on that frequency. Anyway, KMOX wasn’t a bad catch for a small, passive indoor loop, that’s 7,150km or 4,440 miles from here!

Bloomberg Radio on the YouLoop:

Here’s KMOX:

This was A) quite encouraging for nighttime DXpeditions to the dike (brrr…cold!), B) a testimony for the YouLoop’s good performance on MW and C) a testimony for the IC-705 having pretty much all one could wish for in a capable MW DX radio – notch filter, passband tuning on AM, stable ECSS, waterfall display to detect stations and last but not least loads of sensitivity to make the most out of low-output antennas down on MW.

Going to the dike

Of course I just had to put on some long johns and drive to the dike around 3:00am local a few nights later, to try my luck with my ML-200 (lacking a better idea) with an 80cm diameter rigid loop. I was mildly surprised that reception wasn’t that much better than with the YouLoop at home. The overall yield wasn’t exactly outstanding compared to other people’s logs but a lot of stations were hidden in the frequency ranges that are submerged in QRM at home. My log has US/Canadian stations on 20+ different frequencies, unfortunately most of them UNID. Here are some recordings I made that night, hunting for unambiguous station IDs from North American broadcasters:

ML-200, Nov. 16th, 2020

1130 Bloomberg Radio on the ML-200:

Presumedly WABC 770 in NYC: In MW DX, never think you ID’d something properly just because you heard a city name and the frequency has a clear-channel station located there!

This is more unambiguously 1010 WINS in NYC (with a twist described later)

1030 WBZ Boston, MA – the first part of the clip is showing how it sounds when the signal is good, the second part demonstrates how reliably propagation is taking a rest while a station identifies itself.

The grandpa of AM broadcasting, 1020 KDKA:

Moving away from the east coast, this is WHAS 840 in Louisville, KY:

760 WJR Detroit, MI

Here’s a tough one, the religious content I heard with a great signal before doesn’t warrant a proper ID alone, and as per usual the station ID’d while fading out. I could ID this only with a set of big, closed headphones, which is a mandatory accessory for all extreme DX (CHRB 1140 in High River, Alberta):

Of course I was occasionally checking other bands too and got some serviceable signals from Brazil:

Clube do Para on 4885 kHz:

VOA Pinheiro from Belem, Brazil on 4960:

Going to another dike, this time it’s personal!

Time to try something completely different: A ~1,000m/3,000′ straight (and preliminary considered continuos) stretch of mesh fence along the dike heading ~345° (NNW), pointing roughly to mid-/western mainland North America. I had briefly tried its aptitude for being a “natural” Beverage antenna before – with mixed but encouraging results: Due to the fence not being terminated at the far end it may be kind of bidirectional, and according to my latest insights a Beverage style antenna doesn’t work well over very good (conductive) ground, probably even less so close (maybe 200′) to the ocean. Also, I forgot to pack the 9:1 balun I prepared for that purpose, so I just had some wire with alligator clip to connect the fence to the radio. Boo.

Accordingly, what I saw on the waterfall display didn’t look so much different than what I got from the ML-200 before – there were clearly more stations visible (as a carrier line on the waterfall) but nothing was really booming in. However, I managed to log a few more stations, such as WRKO in Boston and (the highlight of the night) 1650 KCNZ “The Fan” in Cedar Falls, IA which has only 1kW to boot at night to make the 6,940 km/4,312 mi to my dike. This may or may not be an indication that the “Beverage sheep fence” isn’t so bad after all!

“Fence”- reception, Nov. 18th, 2020:

VOCM 590, St. Johns, New Foundland, Canada’s easternmost blowtorch is like Bloomberg an indicator station for European MW DXers:

680 WRKO, Boston, MA:

1040 kHz, presumed to be WHO, Des Moines, IA: No ID, only a matching frequency and a commercial for “Jethro BBQ”, which has locations only in and around Des Moines:

Here’s 1650 KCNZ, Cedar Falls, IA with 1KW:

To put that into some relation, this is what 1KW sounds like on a very quiet 40m band in SSB (K1KW from Massachusetts on 7156 kHz producing a 9+20 signal that morning on the “Fence antenna”):

BTW, interesting bycatch – not the first time I caught WWV and WWVH on the same frequency but that morning was the first time I could hear both on 5 MHz:

 

So where have you been all my life, American AM stations?

A question remains – how could I miss the existence of these stations forever, then in modern SDR times see the carriers on the spectrum scope and still miss the modulation on these carriers? Or the other way around – why did I hear them now?

To begin with, when I started out with the radio hobby many decades ago, the reason for the occasional whine and whistle on some stations (particularly past midnight) wasn’t obvious to me: The last thing I suspected was that this could be interference from across the pond, with the pitch of the whine (or “het”) having a direct relation to the 9kHz vs 10kHz difference in channel spacing. Of course these stations were there all my life! Then, with just some regular radio you’d have to pick one of very few frequencies where a strong station from across the pond coincides with a nice silent gap in the local channel allocation. But until this millennium, European medium waves had no such gaps and a lot more local blowtorches.

Since that time many MW stations were turned off and demolished and whole countries abandoned MW here in Europe, so we’re in a much better spot now for transatlantic DX. Unfortunately the opposite is true for listeners on the left side of the pond, you guys still have a very crowded AM band but less potential DX targets in Europe. On the bright side, the remaining European stations are often not restricted to 50kW and you have another ocean with very distant and rewarding DX stations that are very, very hard to catch in Europe!

Wrong time, wrong place

Another bunch of factors are – of course – propagation, season and location/latitude. The MW DX season is roughly fall to spring nights (when TX and RX are in the dark) with a period of increased absorption in the middle (the “mid-winter anomaly”), signals are potentially stronger at lower latitudes and weaker at higher ones but the distance to the noisy equator and a lack of stations interfering from the N can be a huge advantage for using over-the-pole paths on higher latitudes. The big showstopper is solar activity: Good condx on shortwave can be rather bad for skywave propagation on medium wave, so a solar minimum is the long-term hotspot for (transatlantic) medium wave DX.

I’m glad that I learned how intense that relationship is right away: When I discovered that Bloomberg is pretty good on my indoor YouLoop at home, condx were pretty down with SFI in the low 70s and very little excitement of the auroral zones. 2 weeks later the SFI was only slightly higher in the 80s-100, many of the carriers were missing on the waterfall and Bloomberg could be heard only in much bigger intervals.

Speaking of which – even with favorable condx, a proper radio and a half-proper antenna, patience is key! In my very fresh experience the fading cycles on those over-the-pond signals are long! So far I have seen everything fading in and out over the course of a few minutes to half hours or more, with less favorable conditions or a worse antenna it may take much longer until it sticks out of the noise for a while. So you may have to park on a frequency for a long time to not miss the station coming up so much that it becomes readable at the right time to ID it. Multiple DX stations on the same channel can make identification difficult unless one station really dominates the other and that all may take hours or days until it happens. Here’s a lucky example on 1010 kHz:

Lucky because in this case one station is already known – it’s WINS but it often has another station underneath and I was curious what that station might be. On this occasion, the station ID’d itself as “Newstalk 1010” (which is CFRB in Toronto, 0:05 in the clip) just in a short talking break on WINS. Again, this can’t be heard on my laptop speakers but on headphones:

Waiting for a moment like this to happen isn’t exactly fun, that’s why spectrum recordings are incredibly valuable particularly on MW – you won’t miss a possible station ID on frequency A because you were listening to frequency B, but a part of me thinks this is taking a bit of the challenge away, like blast fishing. 🙂

Fancy equipment


The IC-705 fits snuggly-wuggly into my steering wheel for extra-comfy tuning!

Fun fact: While Bloomberg NY on 1130 was (kind of) booming in at home so I knew for sure it was there, I could hear it even on the XHDAtA D-808 with its tiny loopstick and only average sensitivity on the AM band! So for “easy”, loud and undisturbed stations some persistence and a simple portable radio may suffice to catch some transatlantic DX. But most of the stations will be hit by interference from closer stations, then the radio needs at least to be capable of stable sideband reception, with a corresponding narrow filter and proper suppression of the unwanted sideband – luckily this isn’t an unusual feature on inexpensive portables anymore. So if you already have an SSB capable radio that’s all you need to address the most common issue with transatlantic DX, US and EU stations being too close in frequency. Of course passband tuning and notch filters are most helpful assets in a radio for this, rescuing reception in even more severe interference situations and the spectrum/waterfall display on an SDR helps a lot with finding the carriers and SDRs also have all the nice tools but with some more patience you may find stations with many conventional receivers.

Of course antennas are the crucial component again: If conditions are excellent, even a loopstick may bring the first stations into the log, some small magnetic (wideband) loop could dig up some more stations, from there it’s quickly going a bit esoteric – AFAIK there are no commercial offers for multi-turn (tuned) loop antennas nor are FSL antennas easy to come by, you can’t buy EWE et al antennas either and Beverage antennas for MW are quite a project – not that hard to get a kilometer of wire and there are even kits to buy but it could be much harder to find a place to roll it out in the direction you’re interested in, in an area that doesn’t have electric fences or high voltage power lines within a radius of at least several miles. I guess once you become addicted, you’ll stop asking yourself whether or not it’s worth the effort.

So it’s pretty clear what happened: For catching TA DX stations, the ionospheric conditions must be good, to receive that with a loopstick they must be ideal and that’s what they are currently – it’s winter in what’s still a deep solar minimum and on top of that, some of my radios are very apt for MX DX and I was lucky to listen on the right time on the right frequency. When I started writing this article, my enthusiastic bottom line was supposed to be something like “MW DX isn’t rocket science”, which is certainly true but I think my history with it shows that it’s not exactly trivial either. Maybe that’s why it’s so rewarding, it sure is some hardcore DX challenge that complements the shortwave activity quite nicely and may give you something to look forward to when solar activity is down.

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25 thoughts on “Armed with loops, fences, and an Icom IC-705, 13dka battles transatlantic MW DX

  1. TomL

    Great recordings! I had to laugh at the first Bloomberg recording which had an advertisement at the end from my alma mater (didn’t know they did radio commercials now).

    Since I live in the midwest USA, I can hear most of these stations easily every night. But funky things can happen around sundown. Many Class B or Class C stations reduce power (or go off the air) just after sundown. But since you live 6 or more hours east, the propagation might be good enough to catch these stations just before they change power output. I have caught a number of stations this way before becoming inaudible later. I like using radio-locator.com to see the daytime/nighttime reception patterns for each station.

    If there was a way to tune the loop, you might be able to get a few more s/n dB’s out of it. Then applying the preamp would be more efficient.

    And I am jealous of your outdoor listening location. Everywhere I go here, towns and counties have strict rules and enforce the disuse of public parks and such after sundown.

    Reply
    1. 13dka

      Hi Tom,

      NJIT seems to have some relationship with Bloomberg, they offer a “Bloomberg Concepts Certification Training” (but I think that’s not what the commercial was about). Thanks for the idea of trying to catch stations before they reduce their power! That sounds very feasible considering that propagation over the pond works well beyond sunrise here ( and then it even benefits from decreasing QRN and signals from the EU going down as well). Of course these benefits won’t happen the other way around but some pre-sunset skywave propagation to the east seems likely. Making a tuned loop for MW is on my to-do list, like, forever! 🙂

      I wasn’t aware that spending the night parking alone at some remote place in just of all the USA could be a problem, except in built-up areas maybe or if the police wants to disencourage gatherings etc.. Now you’re the second one mentioning this here. That sounds terrible! 🙁 I’m known as the guy with the antennas on my main listening post and I have a few more along the shoreline that are located in even more deserted areas where authorities never show up without a particular reason and our police is so undermanned that they may not show up even if there is a reason. 🙂 And even if they did, as long as I don’t disturb the nightly wildlife with noise, light, fire etc., obviously set up camp there or there’s some situation threatening my safety, they’d have no legal basis to shoo me away.

      Reply
  2. Ward

    As far as rap music on AM well I have heard some,, … most recently on 2/8/21 at 2052 Central from Texas, I heard Shaba Ranks on 1470 kHz, he was playing some pop music song. It was only brief reception but enough for some good copy. I could not determine a station I’d.

    Reply
  3. Mike

    With regards to the noise you experience at home:

    1) Does your TV make QRM even when it is off?

    2) For the switch mode power supplies that you use, do they use voltages (6vdc, 12vdc, etc) that are commonly available in transformer/linear based power supplies? For example, my Internet modem and router came with 12vdc switch mode supplies but instead of using them I purchased an Astron RS-12A linear power supply commonly used for amateur radio equipment, adjusted the voltage down from 13.8vdc to 12vdc and have been using that to power my modem and router. The QRM level was reduced greatly.

    3) With regards to LED bulbs is it possible for you to replace your current bulbs with string filament type bulbs? The bulbs that I speak of look like this (https://www.feit.com/product/1100-lumen-2700k-dimmable-led-2/) and aren’t much more than LED elements strung together in series to create the bulb. I was given one by a friend to test in a lamp near my radio area and it makes absolutely no QRM whatsoever. Their light output is very comparable to their incandescent equivalent.

    4) When you say that you can use the radio as long as the neighbours are not using the Internet is this due to your area having BPL type Internet where the powerlines are used for Internet connectivity?

    I’m just curious. Perhaps there are ways to help improve your radio listening experience at home as well.

    Reply
    1. 13dka

      Hi Mike,

      Thank you for trying to help! It’s complicated (and I’ll be disgressing a little) but…

      0. Generally the level of my own noise sources (which I could turn off if need be of course) is not much of an issue in 5 meters distance (where the loop is located) anymore, compared to all the “external” sources.

      1. I have an LED TV which is not much of an issue beyond a few meters and not an issue at all on HF and below. The problem is the crappy plasma TV of a neighbor being used by his wife like 16hrs/day and the incredible, unescapable H- and E-Fields it emits. If that would be the only problem I would’ve bought them a new one by now. 🙂

      2. See 0.

      3. It’s not my own LED lighting (which is off most of the time anyway) but the community’s crappy new LED streetlights having a nice noise “halo” with a range of ~150 meters each, pretty wideband but mostly noticeable on HF. Another (probably defective) LED billboard illumination across the street just puts the icing on the indigestible cake.

      4. Luckily, so far there’s only one PLC modem running in some distance at times. The problem is what I deem (from the looks of it on the waterfall) a crappy laptop PSU in the neighborhood that has true “general noise coverage” 0-30 MHz.

      You see, I have identified and located (mostly out of curiosity) most near-field and local QRM sources on my walks but instead of fighting eternal, recurring and partially hopeless battles against them and having my blood pressure permanently going through the roof against the doctor’s advice I decided to become a fulltime “DX nomad”. Not a hard decision since I have a number of very rewarding listening posts directly at the coastline within a few minutes of driving.

      Living on the village outskirts, even my aforementioned walks are giving me an opportunity for some listening pleasure, but also for some interesting insights in QRM sources, levels and ranges, I have surveyed most of my village and some other places this way and noticed the differences between the different neighborhoods and so on. But the most harrowing thing I learned is that – besides the identifiable, not-so-wideband humming, prattling or hissing sources, there is also a general, omnipresent, non-identifiable and non-locateable wideband noise blanket over the whole town, an equivalent to “white noise” in the audio range, one that can’t even be easily identified as QRM and that could be easily confused with QRN. On my walks I usually head out to the fields and enjoy true and often pretty weak DX with the sensitive little Belka DSP in my pocket, I also hear pretty much everyone in a pile-up for those DX stations but they all increasingly disappear under that strange noise blanket once I walk back and get closer than ~500m to the village. It used to be not very loud, something around 10dBm difference but that’s enough to drown out a whole layer of stations in the radio and it has roughly doubled in the past few years. Mind you, that’s a village in a rural landscape, not a city – this kind of noise is (more or less) just about anywhere where people live and likely just the propagated far-field sum of all noise sources at a place.

      That’s why I’m a strong proponent of trying remote/outdoor DXing, or any other means of getting as much distance to any signs of civilization as possible. Not only newcomers may not even know what they’re missing as long as they haven’t experienced the difference between their supposedly quiet neighborhood (or worse) and any place between human settlements, it doesn’t even have to be some remote and hard-to-reach wilderness. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Hm, that’s very interesting. RFI identification and mitigation is something that interests me hence my curiosity regarding your QRM sources.

        One idea that may be beneficial to you is to use an antenna phasing unit. I suggest this because it sounds like the plasma TV is your closest and probably strongest noise source and so what you could do would be to use the phaser to cancel out the plasma TV and whatever else may be in the beamwidth path of the phaser’s null and then use the loop antenna to null as much of the LED street lamps as possible.

        That is very disappointing to hear about your LED streetlamps. Does your village have village meetings so to speak where residents can bring up concerns and questions about village matters? Perhaps you could bring up this issue then? I would wonder if perhaps the issue might be something as simple as inadequate grounding on the lamp poles themselves. You mentioned that the noise is broadband in nature and so perhaps if you could demonstrate how it causes noticeable interference in the 2m amateur band (also used in times of emergencies by amateur radio operators) as well as the VHF and/or UHF public safety (police, fire and other emergency services) then that would most definitely get their attention. It kind of depends on how far you want to take this. I just want to give you a few ideas should you wish to do so.

        In addition what might work is if you use the 12khz IF output of the IC-705 and bring that into an SDR program like SDR# and use the program’s noise blanker to try and remove whatever other noise is possible. The effectiveness of the noise blanker varies so wildly across receivers hence my recommendation for using SDR software. I have been particularly impressed with SDR#’s wideband noise blanker as it has given very credible results with almost zero degradation to the desired signal. The only downside to this approach is that the 12khz IF output from the IC-705 is, you guessed it, only 12khz wide but you can use the IC-705’s much wider scope bandwidth to spot the signal of interest, center it in your passband, and then use the SDR software for final signal demodulation. Also, SDR# has recently implemented a co-channel canceller function for both AM and FM which is extremely helpful for notching out loud, adjacent AM stations.

        I understand about how much you enjoy going out in the field to listen to the radio but I just wanted to offer a few suggestions for the days during winter when it may be too cold to do so.

        Reply
        1. 13dka

          Hi Mike,

          Thank you for the suggestions! I just recently tried a “QRM Eliminator”, more with an eye on “lobe steering” on cross-loops or co-phasing verticals at the dike but of course I was curious what it can do at home, too. I quickly confirmed what I knew already – this is great if you have *one* QRM source but you have to be lucky to find a compromise for multiple sources and perfectly phasing out one source can actually intensify another, not to mention that the knob-twiddling has to be repeated on every band change. The WiMo device I tried adds some substantial attenuation on the main antenna when it’s turned on (which currently develops into a support disaster but that’s another story) so I had to try the concept with 2 active loops, which means twice the amount of jumper cables, 2x bias-T, 2x coax to the antennas and 3x power supply – a real mess in the shack and the increased complexity has very little practical benefit – I can get rid of an additional annoyance but beyond that it won’t increase SNR anywhere.

          The main reasons why I’m more interested in investigating and playing with the QRM rather than becoming Don Quixote about it is that I never planned to stay at this exact place forever, it gave me a strong incentive to experiment with antenna types and setups and the most important one is this: Once I learned how playing radio is like at a near-perfect location, even the pretty excellent conditions I had here (before the QRM got really bad) were not good enough anymore and I preferred going to the dike even back then. 🙂 But that also got me interested in why there is a difference and the metrics of that difference. I plan to write about that for years in order to convince more people about the benefits of taking their radios to nicer places but I also have several other hobbys and I work from home, which is another reason why I’m not that mad/sad about my radios dragging me outside. As much as I hate that in winter, getting better shortwave reception than all local(-ish) KiwiSDRs could give me through my cellphone on walks is rewarding, entertaining…and healthy! 🙂

          That’s also why it doesn’t bother me that I’d have no chance of getting more than some blank stares if I’d show up in a town meeting to tell them how their LED lighting is crap. In fact it’s likely not even in the worst category, because that category made the news by causing RFI on VHF marine radio and that would’ve hurt since we also have a harbor. 2m was hit hard by every other house having bad old 1980s analog cable-TV installations but (there might be some correlation) 2m is not being used at all in this particular part of the country, the local 2m repeater is no more and ham radio emergency communication has lost most of its meaning in Germany, if it ever had any. All public service radio communication has gone TETRA and if there was interference they wouldn’t even know it unless it’s really bad.

          The IC-705 has a brilliant noise blanker! It’s as good as (and possibly just the same as) what I have in the various SDR softwares and it can be configured in level, depth and width (my old SDR# version has only level and width). It actually helps with the characteristic LED streetlight prattling on 20m (but that’s also something a magnetic loop does mitigate a lot)! The SDR# co-channel canceler got me pretty exited and only the HF+ Discovery being out of stock at my local dealer kept me from impulse-purchasing my 3rd (or 4th?) SDR box to play with it. 🙂

          I hope that doesn’t all sound stubborn, I hope you can surmise that I actually tried the famous “everything” I could to (technically) get the most out of the home situation and I certainly would have tried everything beyond that if the alternative wouldn’t be better than anything I could achieve at home, or if I wouldn’t have an alternative at all. I’m also constantly checking my options to make the alternative my home, a permanent and ideally remote residence within 10 wavelengths distance to the ocean, a “radio van” (that doesn’t look like an RV) with engine-independent air-heating, a telescopic tower, a desk for my radios and a cot to take a nap on, or at least a solar-powered KiwiSDR installation with a storm-resistant LOG antenna…

          Reply
          1. Mike

            No worries. You don’t sound stubborn at all. You feel passionate about a concept and want to explore it to its fullest extent and I think that it is a great and creative idea to use the fence as an antenna. It reminds me reading the manuals for crystal radio kits aimed at younger folk where they would instruct the builder to try various things around the house as antennas and see what worked and what didn’t. Sometimes I feel that this spirit is missing from the radio hobby and am glad to see that you have that spirit.

            One of the things that I have found in the radio hobby that irks me, something that you have illustrated that you do not do, is when I read posts about people who complain about noise/QRM and being unable to listen/operate due to noise/QRM and then do absolutely nothing about it. They just throw their hands up and say “Well, I guess I can’t listen to the radio any more!” When people try and come to their assistance with suggestions they just push them all away and say “It’s no use! It won’t fix the problem!” It’s a very defeatist attitude and is something that bothers me. It’s almost like they don’t really care enough about the hobby to fight for it, so to speak, by improving their situation or finding other creative solutions. It just strikes me as so odd and negative.

            So, it’s very good on you for finding those creative solutions and also for telling others about them in hopes of providing as many open doors into the radio hobby as possible.

  4. Rob L

    Thanks for the facinating post! The 1kw from Iowa was a great catch! I have always wondered if an Icom transceiver would be good for mw dx & you answered that. Your all nighters at the dike reminded me of Sun. nights in the attic 50 years ago trying to hear the west coast (KFI & KNBR) from NE Ohio. I miss all of the great European SW stations. Those were the days. 73s

    Reply
    1. 13dka

      Hi Rob,

      You probably know that – most older general coverage HF TRX have some HPF or attenuation active below 1.8 MHz, including even fairly recent (pre-SDR-era) Icoms. The IC-705 and apparently the IC-7300 doesn’t suffer from compromised sensitivity on MW, but the latter has gotten some criticism for having a permanent 200kHz roll-off in the IF on AM, resulting in a somewhat unsatisfactory bass response, and other radios like the KX-3 have been criticized for restricted bandwidth on the other end of the audio spectrum. Both may not be that much of an issue when it comes to weak MW DX signals but the only HF TRX I can recommend based on my own hands-on experience in this regard is the IC-705, which doesn’t have any compromises like that – full sensitivity, allmode, no bass roll-off, and up to 10kHz filter bandwidth on AM. Confusingly, Icom’s spec sheets for all of their rigs state the same AM sensitivity of 13.0 microvolts for the LW/MW range, including the IC-705, 7300 or the IC-7100 (the only other Icom radio I heard of not having a <1.8 MHz HPF or pad in the circuit).

      Reply
  5. Steve Allen

    Another great article from 13dka; “with the IC-705 hooked up to my new YouLoop hanging over my bed for testing”….now that’s SWL dedication.

    When I was very young, I built a crystal radio inside of an AGC fuse box and attached it to a watchband to make a “Dick Tracey” wrist radio. Using a crystal earphone I clipped the antenna lead to the finger stop on a rotary phone (yes it was long ago) and using the network wiring of the telephone system as my antenna I was able to listen to the most local AM radio station from wherever I could find a dial telephone. Great idea to use a wire fence as an antenna. If it’s metal, it can resonate.
    Steve, KZ4TN

    Reply
    1. 13dka

      Thank you, Steve!

      Dick Tracy wrist radio, beats any “smart watch” in my book! 🙂 I’m pretty sure many of us tried to hook up their transistor radios to something really long like a fence and immediately learned that this is “too much of an antenna” for their radio. Took me 40 years to reconsider that! 🙂 I can imagine how this turns out pretty good with a crystal set though!

      Reply
  6. Robert Richmond

    The problem with interlinked uncoated metal fencing is every wire crossover spot with a little rust can act like a diode, thus potentially causing intermittent crashes, clicks, pops, etc. when using the fence as an antenna. YMMV.

    Reply
  7. John

    Anyone ever have the cops bother them while they’re out at 3am. Just wondering! I’ve wanted to dx at that hour but haven’t felt comfortable.

    Reply
  8. 13dka

    Thank you! I guess that depends a lot on perspective, if that was my lawn I probably would have installed an electric sheep myself (but one that doesn’t make such a racket on MW). 🙂

    Reply
  9. Steve

    Very interesting information. Unless I missed it, You never say where you are located. It would be helpful to know the nearest large city. I’m assuming England, but really have no idea.

    Reply
    1. 13dka

      Hello Steve,

      No you’re right! Sorry I forgot mentioning it, maybe because I feel a little guilty banging on about “my dike” on this blog so much. 🙂 That’s the German North Sea coast, the next big city would be Hamburg.

      Reply
  10. Bill Mead

    Great report and very good audio. And I have to say a “mowing robot boundary wire” sounds like the most ridiculous QRM-causing device ever installed in the history of wireless communication.

    Reply

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