Category Archives: DX

A Compact RSPdx & Wellbrook Loop Kit for the Beach — My Approach

I have enjoyed three to four medium wave and shortwave DXpeditions per year since 1988, to sites on the Washington and Oregon coasts. I love the chance they give to experiment with antennas in a (hopefully!) noise-free location, and concentrate on catching stations that might not be heard from home.

All of my DX trips have been via car–until now! I’ve just returned from nine vacation days in Hawaii (Waikoloa Beach, on the Big Island), and I thought others might like to see the radio related items I chose to take along for air travel. I’m pleased to report that everything worked as planned, and I have five days of SDR IQ WAV files of the MW band for review, all recorded in the time frame surrounding local dawn.

My goal was not the smallest, most compact portable setup, but one with high performance and modest size. Fitting everything into a day pack was another requirement. A simple wire antenna and an even smaller Windows tablet or laptop than the one I’ve used (and a smaller SDR like the HF+ Discovery, for that matter) would make a much smaller package. However, the items I’ve assembled worked excellently for me during my enjoyable Hawaii vacation. The directional loop antenna provided nulls on medium wave of 30 dB during preliminary tests indoors, a less-than-ideal test situation.

Waikoloa Beach–just one of a zillion picturesque scenes in Hawaii.

Here is a list of what I’ve put together for my DXing “kit”:

    • SDRPlay RSPdx receiver
    • Short USB cable for receiver<>PC connection, with two RFI chokes installed
    • Lenovo X1 tablet— a Windows 10 device with magnetically attached keyboard; this model is a competitor to Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet
    • Wellbrook Communications’ ALA1530 head amp module, modified for female SO239 connectors enabling use of large diameter LMR-600 coaxial cable as a 2-turn loop element. My antenna setup is similar to Wellbrook’s commercial flexible loop
    • Wooden base for the antenna (ALA1530 is bolted to the base)
    • 20 feet of lightweight RG-174 coax
    • Wellbrook DC interface module for the ALA1530
    • 3.0 Ah LiFePO4 rechargeable battery for the Wellbrook antenna
    • 15 foot long section of high grade “Times Mfg.” LMR-600 coax cable with PL259 connectors (bought from Ebay already assembled/soldered)
    • Fold-up beach mat
    • Small day pack to hold everything

All the contents of this DXing setup fit a standard size day pack.

You’ll note the absence of headphones in the list. This is because my intent from the start was to record all the DX (MW band) as SDR WAV files for DXing post-vacation. That said, I did have headphones in my travel luggage for later spot checks of a few frequencies. That’s how I found 576 kHz Yangon, Myanmar lurking at their 1700 sign-off with national anthem and English announcement. The remainder of the DX to be uncovered will have to wait until I’m back home near Seattle!

The LMR-600 is a very thick and stiff coax cable, whose diameter approaches that used in the standard aluminum tubing ALA1530 series from Wellbrook. It has the benefit of being self-supporting in a 2-turn configuration and will also coil up into an approx. 12-inch package for transport. It just barely fits within the day pack I’m using. As I understand it, magnetic loops with tubing or large coax as the active element, versus simple wire, are more efficient in operation. Whether or not this holds true in practice remains to be seen.

I fashioned a wooden disc 3/4″ thick to attach the ALA1530 head amplifier, as I didn’t want to bring along a tripod or other support stand. The Wellbrook antennas all work well near or at ground level, so I was able to get great reception with the antenna right on the beach. The diameter at two turns of the coax is only a few inches smaller diameter than Wellbrook’s aluminum tubing loops. Three strips of strategically placed Velcro straps help keep the turns together when deployed as well as during storage.

In theory a two-turn loop should give 5 dB less gain than a single turn version; however, my older ALA1530 module has 5 dB more gain than the newer “LN” type, according to Andrew Ikin of Wellbrook Communications. The net result is that my two-turn antenna should have equal gain to the larger one-turn variety. Future experimentation with this DIY coax loop antenna is in order!

The Wellbrook loop antenna, RSPdx receiver, and Windows 10 tablet on the beach in Waikoloa, Hawaii.

Another view of the DXing position. Being this close to the water with my radio gear was unnerving at first, but the wave action on a calm Hawaii beach is totally different from the Oregon/Washington beaches with waves that can move in and out by a hundred feet or more.

The Wellbrook “DIY FlexLoop” works fine at beach level, and is less conspicuous this way, too.

The ALA1530 module is bolted to the 11-inch wooden disc for support. I’ve modified the module’s sockets to securely hold SO239 female connectors.

The commercial Wellbrook FLX1530LN is a fine product, and worthy of your consideration as a compact and high performance travel antenna. Full details can be found at this link.

SDR WAV Files for Download

One of my goals from the start for my Hawaii trip was to bring back SDR “IQ” WAV files for sharing with others. These approx. 900 Mb files cover the entire medium wave band as heard from my beach location in Waikoloa.

The overall page is: https://archive.org/details/@4nradio   Clicking on any of the entries will bring you to a details page. From there just right click on the “WAVE” link, and choose “Save as…” to download. For a few of the recordings I also posted the file that precedes the one that goes across the top-of-the-hour, because things seemed a bit more lively prior to 1700 (which  was at local sunrise, give or take a couple of minutes).

The IQ WAV files are only playable with suitable SDR radio software: SDRuno is first choice (but you need a RSP receiver connected). The files are also is compatible with HDSDR and SDR-Console V3. It may also play on Studio 1 software.

I hope other DXers enjoy the chance to tune through the MW band, as heard from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

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First logs from November DXcamp on Marajó Island

Martin Butera (left) and Ivan Dias (right) at the Marajó Island DX Camp

Many thanks to Martin Butera and Ivan Dias who inform us that their first logs from the Marajó Island DXpedition have been posted.

They provided a link to both a full story (click here) and a direct link for the logs (click here). They note that the logs will be updated monthly. They expect the process of processing the logs to be complete by August 2020. Click here to view their website.

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Radio Kahuzi Comparison Between Sweden and Switzerland KiwiSDRs

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who recently took advantage of a rainy Sunday in Maryland to put together the following video.

Dan notes that the video/screencast demonstrates, “reception of the low power Radio Kahuzi, the religious station in Democratic Republic of Congo, via two of the best KIWI SDR sites, in Sweden and Switzerland. The video shows how the signal of Radio Kahuzi propagates the 9,000 + kilometers from DRC into Europe.”

Fascinating!  Thank you for sharing this, Dan!

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Videos from DXcamp Marajó Island, November 2019

Photo: Ivan Dias & Martin Butera, during the first Dx-Camp 15.61 Crew Radio Listeners’ Marajó Island – Amazon Rainforest, North of Brazil – November 2019

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Martin Butera, founding member of the 15.61 Crew, for the following guest post:


The 15.61 Crew Radio Listeners, Martin Butera and Ivan Dias, give us a small video preview made in the first Dx-Camp on Marajó Island in the Amazon Rainforest, North of Brazil on November 2019.

There are more than 11 hours of SDR recordings and videos of the Ultralight radios, which will take much additional time to process, of course.

Crew is working on the report with a complete story that includes videos and photos of everything experienced during the DX-Camp–this will be published in several languages and the first LOG, which we estimate will be the first months of the South American summer 2020.

We recommend not forgetting to periodically visit the official site of the DX-Camp, to find updated information: https://dxcamp-marajo2019.blogspot.com/

Above, you’ll see a short stretch of the medium wave band with plenty of interesting content: 585 kHz, alternating between National Radio of Spain (Madrid), BSKSA (Saudi Arabia), 590 kHz, alternating with Poty Radio (Crateús / CE), Radio Diffuser (Boa Vista / RR) and Radio Continental (Buenos Aires), 594 kHz BSKSA (Saudi Arabia), 595.9 kHz SNRT (Morocco – operating off-frequency for years), 600 kHz Mirante Radio (São Luís / MA), Vale Radio (Barreiras) / BA) and Radio Gaucha (Porto Alegre / RS) and 603 kHz National Radio of Spain (Sevilla).

Videos

All of the following videos were captured during the November 2019 Dx-Camp:


Brazil is a country with vast continental distances. The following three videos showcase Brazilian radio from across the country.

Radio Diffuser Boa Vista (1408 km distance)

Radio Itatiaia 2191 (km distance)

Radio Band B (2747 km distance)


Photo: Ivan Dias & Martin Butera, during the first Dx-Camp 15.61 Crew Radio Listeners’ Marajó Island – Amazon Rainforest, North of Brazil – November 2019

More photos of the DX-Camp from the official site:

https://dxcamp-marajo2019.blogspot.com/p/photos.html

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Mike compares the SDRplay RSPdx on mediumwave and longwave

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Ladd with SDRplay, who shares the following videos comparing the new RSPdx with a number of benchmark SDRs:

SDRplay RSPdx and ELAD FDM-S2 weak NDB station

SDRplay RSPdx and ELAD FDM-S2 medium wave selectivity

SDRplay RSPdx and Airspy HF+ Discovery medium wave selectivity

SDRplay RSPdx and Airspy HF+ Discovery weak NDB station

SDRplay RSPdx and Microtelecom Perseus medium wave selectivity

SDRplay RSPdx and Microtelecom Perseus weak NDB station

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Alan Pennington’s report on the 2019 EDXC conference in Andorra

Photo by Alan Pennington

(Source: EDXC)

After an EDXC vote, by organisation members and individual members, Bucharest in Romania has been chosen as the destination for the 2020 EDXC Conference. It will take place in September 2020, dates and details are at the planning stages.

The two other contenders put forward by EDXC members were Skopje and Ohrid in North Macedonia and Malta.

Looking back a couple of months to September 2019, a report on the EDXC Conference in Andorra is online at the British DX Club website [PDF]. Written by Alan Pennington of the British DX Club, it captures the great atmosphere that these conferences always engender: travel, sightseeing, radio station visits, DX talk, interesting presentations, and socialising.

Click here to view this post on the EDXC website. 

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Crew 15.61 announces its first DXcamp in the Amazon rainforest

Crew 15.61 announces its first DXcamp in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and launches its exclusive event site.


From today you can visit https://dxcamp-marajo2019.blogspot.com/ and find all the information about the first DXcamps of the 15.61 Crew.

The DXcamp, will be held between November 15-18 on Marajó island. It’s the first time that an event with these dimensions and characteristics is held in Brazil and maybe in South America.

This DXcamp got the attention of several sponsors who helped the 15.61 Crew, including: C.Crane, SDRplay, DS Antennas (Brazil), Heil Sound, COMPACtenna, Cross Country Wireless, Antennas4Less, NI4L Antennas, Radiwow, RTL-SDR, ELAD, SSB, RadioShack, Antennas Loop DZ by Denis Zoqbi (Brazil), Arrow Antennas and the SWLing Post blog.

“When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money ” (Native American saying).

Vital to the planet weather, the Amazon region has suffered fires for several weeks and several organizations have denounced the silence of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro about what they consider a devastating environmental crime against Earth. Such disaster has caused worldwide shock and must be remembered, because as something that happened during September, unfortunately the media coverage is focusing probably another disaster.

Marajó is the largest island in Brazil and the largest river island in the world, where the Amazon and Tocantins rivers and the Atlantic Ocean meet. It’s located about three hours by boat from Belém, capital of Pará state.

The 15.61 Crew founders are Martín Butera, correspondent journalist in South America for the British DX Club and Ivan Dias da Silva Júnior, founder of the Regional DX group of Sorocaba/São Paulo.

The objective of 15.61 Crew is not just DX. We will take a direct and committed action to help the planet and raise awareness about the climate change that we are sadly living.

We will plant a tree on behalf of the European DX Council (EDXC). Planting a tree amid the flames that are killing the Amazon rainforest today will certainly not be your salvation, but it will leave a legacy and our contribution for a better world.

We will raise awareness that together we can change this situation with actions such like waste sorting, buying products that can be reused, lowering electricity consumption, eating more organic fruits and vegetables, moving on public transport and so on.

Martin Butera lives in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, about 27 hours from Belém or 1982 km. Ivan, lives in Sorocaba,São Paulo state, 38 hours from Belém or 2893 km. Both will meet in Belém and then go by boat to the island.

A trip like this requires a lot of preparation. It’s not something cheap or easy to be done. It takes a lot of time, effort and personal expenses to go to these remote places in South America and then share our catches with you. Those who would like to collaborate with us can do by Paypal account, from our website.

Why do we ask your financial support? Airline weight limits and luggage size are a problem in South America and are increasing the costs for us. We also have a long boat trip of more than 3 hours and will rent a house in the island.

Everything is already paid, but your help can made everything easier on the next DXcamps of 15.61 Crew. All donations will be reported on our site, but whoever makes an anonymous donation will be kept anonymous, and we will report only the value. Please consider support our DXcamp camp in Marajó island!

Your contribution will help us take the best listening station we can gather and have more and better chances of getting good results.

The 15.61 Crew founders, have extensive experience in the hobby, both Martin, 29 years as a ham radio operator (LU9EFO-PT2ZDX), with many DXpeditions in several South American islands, as Ivan, started DXing 26 years ago, including contributions to several clubs and as utility stations professional monitor.

Everything we do during this DXcamp will be shared by texts, photos and videos of our correspondent Martín Butera and will be published as son as possible on the BDXC bulletin and SWLing Post blog.

This will be the first of many DXcamps in exotic places that we plan to carry out, always with a message and a proposal for direct action. We are living in a world in danger and our roles as a society can’t be limited only to be only radio listeners.

Thank you!

Martin Butera & Ivan Dias
15.61 Crew Radio Listeners founders

To know more about CREW 15.61 Radio Listeners’ please click here.

Martín Butera is a correspondent journalist in South America for the British DX Club.

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