Category Archives: Ultralight DX

Gary DeBock’s November 2018 Poipu, Hawaii Ultralight DXpedition

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, for sharing the following guest post:

November 2018 Poipu, Hawaii Ultralight DXpedition

A Thrilling Sample of Forward Pacific Propagation

By Gary DeBock, Puyallup, WA, USA   January 2019

In late September my wife and I stumbled across an outstanding 6-day Costco Travel package to the Aston at Poipu Kai on Hawaii’s Kauai island, the westernmost of the main Hawaiian islands (and closest to Asia). Included in the $2.3K cost was roundtrip airfare for two on Alaska Air (nonstop from Seattle both ways, with no “red-eye” flights), 5 nights at a gorgeous, beachside 2-BR condo with a patio area ideal for TP-DXing (and within easy walking distance to the island’s best snorkeling beach), a full sized new rental car and a $50 Costco cash card to use for a little spending $$. This was far and away the best travel bargain we have ever had to the Hawaiian Islands– and right in the middle of the DX season!

The location at Poipu Kai was at the extreme southeastern tip of Kauai Island, which offered a clear, unobstructed salt water path to Asia, ANZ, the Pacific islands and both North and South America. Unfortunately, it also offered a clear salt water path to the RF Zoo of Honolulu (more about that later).

Of course, before you can chase DX in Hawaii you will need to bring along some kind of radio and antenna– whether it is a hot-performing portable, an SDR along with a small broadband antenna or an Ultralight with a “Frequent Flyer” miniature FSL. Whatever you bring will need to go through TSA inspections both ways– so try not to get too complicated or extravagant. Fragile items can be taken in hand-carry luggage, so use this for radios, FSL antennas, digital recorders and anything else that could be smashed. Also keep in mind that many large motels and condos do not allow external antennas to be set up on their property– and most of them generate enough indoor RFI to make DXing indoors a lost cause. Before leaving for the Islands, be ready with a DXing plan that you know will work!

For me, TP-DXing with a modified CC Skywave SSB portable and TSA-friendly 5 inch (127mm) diameter FSL antenna in the large open patio area right outside our condo meant chasing enhanced DX right in the middle of a gorgeous beach side garden (click here to view on YouTube).

These 2-BR condo complexes were overbuilt somewhat, and the mainland owners of these condos badly need the tourist rental income to pay their mortgages. The competition for this rental income is high. As such, the cost per night for a stay at one of these newer 2-BR condos on Kauai is about the same as for a well-worn 1-BR motel room in Kona (on the Big Island).

So, what can a TP-DXer expect from the transoceanic propagation at Poipu Kai? First of all, there is so much enhanced DX coming from so many different areas of the world that you will need to carefully choose your priorities. What is your main DXing thrill? For me, it was chasing exotic Asian DX that was unlikely or unavailable at home in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, when I tried to do this during the evening hours on Kauai (0700-1000 UTC) there was so much enhanced transoceanic DX coming from North and South America that the frequencies became a snarling maze of languages and heterodynes. During a check of 801 for kHz Pyongyang BS at 0922 UTC the frequency was completely hijacked by 800-Radio Transmundial in the Caribbean (near South America). The same thing was going on all over the band, with North and South American stations on the 10 kHz band plan fighting it out with Asians and Pacific Islanders using the 9 kHz frequency system. Honolulu QRM added its own distinctive touch to this jumbled fiasco, and eventually I was forced to concentrate on sunrise DXing sessions in order to track down any really exotic Asian DX. The bands were so much quieter during the sunrise sessions starting around 1500 UTC. Of course, if a DXer was mainly interested in North or South American DX in Kauai he could have made out like a bandit around local sunset, when the Asian and Pacific Island stations would not yet have faded in.

The Asian propagation to Kauai Island during the sunrise sessions was like having constant exposure to the best possible TP-DXing signals that ever show up on west coast ocean beaches– except that far more of Asia was in play. Big gun Middle East stations like 702-BBC (in Oman) can show up at decent strength, and not too many TP-DXers have familiarity with Arabic. Stations like 918-Cambodia which are rare DX on the west coast often thunder in at S9, and by necessity a DXer quickly learns the Vietnam parallel frequencies for its various networks. The Chinese propaganda blasters on 666, 783 and 909 pound in like locals, and a DXer needs to wait out their sign off times in order to receive anything exotic on their frequencies. The entire situation is a crash course in surviving and thriving in the middle of nonstop exceptional propagation, which can easily overload your abilities to sort out languages, stations and programming. Depending on your TP-DXing experience, you will either find this situation thrilling or bewildering.

If you have extensive TP-DXing experience on west coast ocean beaches you will probably feel like you are on Cloud Nine, but without this experience you will probably wonder where to start. The usual Asian big guns on 594, 747, 774 and 972 are either buried in Honolulu splatter or have trouble holding down their frequencies. Language recognition of Chinese, Korean and Japanese becomes essential in sorting out unfamiliar stations, and at least basic recognition of Vietnamese, Thai and Taiwanese is helpful. In addition, knowledge of exotic station frequencies is necessary before a DXer can hope to track these exotic stations down. Many exotic station frequencies (like 576, 594, 657, 693 and others) are jumbled with Honolulu splatter, and you need to know which ones are not (702, 729, 918, 954 etc.).The amount of TP-DXing experience that you can bring to the island is directly related to the results that you can expect from DXing on the island. Fortunately, because of two previous Hawaii trips and an April visit to the Cook Islands, I was able to track down some thrilling TP-DX on Kauai– 693-Bangladesh, 702-BBC (Oman), 729-Myanmar, 918-Cambodia, 927-AIR, 954-AIR plus Vietnam stations on 675, 702, 711 and 729. An S9-level 800-Radio Transmundial in Bonaire (next to South America) jumped over to 801 during an evening session. As an example of the outstanding ocean-enhanced propagation, for the first time ever in any DXpedition I was able to receive 7 transoceanic DX stations on one frequency alone (702 kHz).

Hawaiian station splatter is a major issue in Kauai, but depending upon the location of these pests, their signals may taper off just before TP propagation collapses (around 1705 in November). On my last session I was able to finally track down the 1000 kW Asian big gun 693-Bangladesh through wicked 690-KHNR (Honolulu) spatter, probably because the pest was farther into daylight than my more westerly Kauai location. The Hawaii pests on Maui and the Big Island also display the same behavior.

Propagation slowdowns on the west coast seem to be fairly irrelevant in Hawaii, with the only difference being S9 Australian and NZ signals showing up in the null of the S9 Asians. During regular sessions the big gun ANZ stations are usually around at S5 levels in the null of the Asians, but I didn’t really go after the DU’s during the Kauai trip. The Pacific island exotic stations on 621, 1017, 1098 and 1440 were usually at S9 levels about 2 hours after local sunset, but once again the North and South American transoceanic DX stations were turning their frequencies into a pretty wild fiasco. Originally it seemed like a great idea to have a straight salt water shot to all these areas, but be careful what you wish for– you just might get it 🙂

Finally, In consideration of the exceptional value of the Costco travel package and the superb transoceanic DX propagation prevalent on the Kauai beach, this 6 day Hawaii vacation proved to be as much of a lifetime hobby thrill as visiting the exotic Cook islands in April– at less than half the cost. My strong advice to anyone who is feeling bored with his AM-DXing hobby is to step out of your comfort zone, and try something really new. You can certainly chase DX at home or at the same flat ocean beach for decades, but you are unlikely to experience anything radically different from what you have already experienced. Breakthrough results require breakthrough innovation, exploration and experimentation, and the commitment to overcome all challenges until you get the results you desire.

DXing on Kauai Island makes it easy for you. All the comforts of home are within a 20-minute drive. A Walmart, Safeway, Costco and Home Depot are all in the local area, close to your gorgeous 2-BR beach side condo. You don’t even need to change currency or bring a passport (well, at least if you live south of the border). An outstanding snorkeling beach is a 5 minute walk away, and the “Garden Island” is one of the most beautiful in the entire Hawaiian chain, waiting for you to explore it in your new, full-sized rental car. What more could you ask for? So go ahead and take the plunge… and discover the exceptional thrill of forward Pacific TP-DXing!

Listed below are 94 transoceanic DX receptions made in Kauai with the related recording links, including stations in Oman, Egypt, Iran, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and many others. Sincere thanks is given to all who helped identify mystery stations, especially the Finnish DXers like Mauno, Mika, Jari L. and Jari S. with their awesome language identification skills. You guys really rock!

531  JOQG   Morioka, Japan, 10 kW   Male-female Japanese conversation at good level // 729 at 1542 on 11-8; weak co-channel underneath

531  UnID-Chinese   Female speech in apparent Mandarin mixing with NHK1’s male speech at 1543 on 11-8, but no indication whether this was the Mainland or Taiwan

540  CNR1 Synchros   China   Chinese speech with serious echo effect (poorly coordinated network) at very good level at 1510 on 11-4

540  UnID-Spanish   During a search for Samoa at 0738 on 11-6 this strong mystery Spanish station monopolized the frequency; both North and South America had a clear salt water path to my DXing site, making it tough to chase the Pacific islands after sunset

549  UnID-TP   This was a rough frequency because of 550-Maui, but there is a 1200 kW CNR5 station on the frequency, and some female speech with apparent Chinese intonation was getting through Maui’s male speech at 1515 on 11-4

603  2RN   Nowra, Australia, 10 kW   Male-female DU English conversation not // 612 at 1541 on 11-7 over UnID music station during auroral conditions

603  CRI   Dongfang, China, 300 kW   Vietnamese service with Chinese lessons very strong at 1456 on 11-6

Chinese ID and TOH fanfare at good level at 1500 on 11-6

603  HLSA   Namyang, S. Korea, 500 kW   Presumed the station with Korean intonation under strong Chinese music from CRI during its Vietnamese service at 1512 on 11-3

603  UnID   Music station mixing with 2RN during auroral conditions at 1541 on 11-7; most likely NZ’s Radio Waatea

612  4QR   Brisbane, Australia, 50 kW   Overwhelming signal with call-in quiz program during auroral conditions at 1536 on 11-7; this was the strongest Oz signal during the trip

612  JOLK   Fukuoka, Japan, 100 kW   Good signal with Japanese male conversation // 729 at 1516 on 11-4

621  China   (Heilongjiang?)   Chinese music at good level but suffering from the throbbing Pyongyang BS transmitter on the same frequency at 1503 on 11-4

5+1 pips mixing with the awful-sounding 3+1 pips from Pyongyang BS at 1500 on 11-4 (at 39 seconds into the recording)

621  Pyongyang BS/ VOK   Chongjin, N. Korea, 500 kW   The sickest sounding transmitter on the band, with a throbbing off-frequency drift. This was the wacky audio during the VoK Japanese program at 0943 on 11-3

621  Radio Tuvalu   Funafuti, Tuvalu, 5 kW   The usual S9+ signal with female speech in the island dialect at 0928 on 11-3, with drums pounding for emphasis

Clear signal and 1 kHz heterodyne from Tuvalu (for the first 7 seconds) degenerates into a throbbing heterodyne and degraded signal when the FSL is re-directed at North Korea at 0942 on 11-3

630  4QN   Townsville, Australia, 50 kW   Call-in talk program // 612 over DU English co-channel during auroral conditions at 1542 on 11-7

630  CNR2 Synchros   China   Female Chinese speech fairly strong (but with slight muffled effect) over Asian co-channel at 1526 on 11-4

630  VoV?   Animated male-female speech in apparent Southeast Asian dialect dominant over CNR synchros at 1523 on 11-4; Jari S. guesses this is Vietnamese, but there was no chance at the time to check the 675-711 parallels

630  UnID-DU   DU English co-channel mixing with 4QN during auroral conditions at 1542 on 11-7; experience in the Cook Islands indicates this is most likely RNZ in Hawkes Bay (but no parallels available at the time)

639  2HC   Coff’s Harbour, Australia, 5 kW   Australian marine weather forecast at 1504 on 11-5; despite lack of any place names, Tony Magon says that ABC stations don’t run such detailed marine weather forecasts

639  CNR1 Synchros   China   Male Chinese speech and music strong at 1617 on 11-7

639  JOIP   Oita, Japan, 5 kW   Japanese female speech mixing with CNR1 at 1457 on 11-8; the Japanese DXers say that this is the NHK1 format

640  KFI   Los Angeles, CA, 50 kW   The North American stations were not targeted during this trip, but this particular one monopolized the 639 split frequency every evening, such as at 0924 on 11-3

657  China   (Henan?)   All alone with good signal (through 650 splatter) with Chinese male speech at 1609 on 11-4

657  Pyongyang BS   Kangnam, N. Korea, 1,500 kW   The strongest N. Korean signal on the band (and one of few with a clean signal) was at overwhelming strength with music at 1533 on 11-3, with minor 650 splatter

657  Star   Wellington/ Tauranga, NZ, 50/ 10 kW   Presumed the one with Christian music at a strong level (through some 650 splatter) during auroral conditions at 1509 on 11-5

666  JOBK   Osaka, Japan, 100 kW   Japanese male speech // 729 at temporary good level at 1535 on 11-5

666  Voice of the Strait   Fuzhou, China, 600 kW   A major propaganda blaster to Taiwan, this station (along with 783) almost always had potent signals during sunrise sessions. This female pop music was at typical strength at 1550 on 11-7

675  Cheng Sheng BC   Peikang, Taiwan, 5 kW   Male-female call in talk program in Chinese dialect at 1655 on 11-7; Hiroyuki Okamura says this is Taiwanese

Taiwanese pop music and male speech at good level at 1658 on 11-7

675  NHK1 Synchros   Hakodate/ Yamaguchi, Japan, 5/ 5 kW   Male Japanese conversation at modest strength // 729 at 1557 on 11-8

675  VoV   My Hao, Vietnam, 500 kW   Female speech at very good level // 711 at 1637 on 11-7

693  Bangladesh Betar   Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1000 kW   The super power exotic station finally broke through wicked 690-KHNR Honolulu splatter (10 kW at 113 miles) at 1639 on 11-8 with an apparent Islamic sermon (having mentions of “Allah” at 27 and 31 seconds)

693  JOAB   Tokyo, Japan, 500 kW   NHK2 Music box sign off chimes getting through rough 690-Honolulu splatter quite well at 1533 on 11-4

702  2BL   Sydney, Australia, 50 kW   Male DU English speech at good level // 612 at 1454 on 11-5

702  BBC Arabic Service   A’Seela, Oman, 800 kW   One of the big surprises of the DXpedition, this station was amazingly strong for the 8,586 mile (13,818 km) distance at 1604 on 11-6. Thanks to Mauno and Mika for the language and station investigation

702  China   Jiangsu, China, 200 kW   Beijing time and fair-level ID after KCBS time pips at 1500 on 11-8; thanks to Chuck and Jari S. for ID assessment

702  KCBS   Chongjin, N. Korea, 50 kW   Another North Korean with transmitter issues, this station was somewhat off frequency, with degraded audio (although not as bad as 621). Its Korean ID and 3+1 pips were dominant over China at 1500 on 11-8

702  NHK2 Synchros   Kitami/ Hiroshima, Japan, 10/ 10 kW   Japanese female speech at equal level with Korean speech from KCBS (along with its throbbing hum) at 1457 on 11-8

702  VoV   Danang, Vietnam,  50 kW   Male and female speech at 1612 on 11-4 with announcers and format sounding very much like those on 675 and 711 (although not parallel); Jari L. says this is Vietnamese

702  UnID-DU   Music station looping toward South Pacific mixing with 2BL during auroral conditions at 1452 on 11-5; most likely NZ’s Magic

711  HLKA   Sorae, S. Korea, 500 kW   One of the strongest Koreans on the band, but it had co-channel issues with V.O. Kuanghua and VoV. This very strong male-female Korean speech was at 1537 on 11-3

711  V.O. Kuanghua   Hsinfeng, Taiwan, 250 kW   Trumpet and Kuanghua ID mixing with the 3+1 pips from HLKA at 1500 on 11-7

Chinese conversation at a good level at 1503 on 11-6 (Thanks to Tony Magon for assessment)

711  VoV   Thoi Long, Vietnam, 500 kW   Female speech at good level // 675 at 1529 on 11-6; this station often had co-channel issues with Korea and Taiwan

720  China   The “Chinese opera station” was dominant on the frequency on most mornings, such as at 1553 on 11-5 with this strong signal, but its location in China is unknown

720  UnID-TP   Mystery Asian station (apparently not in any east Asian language) mixing with the Chinese opera station at 1536 on 11-4; Mauno and Jari S. mentioned VOIRI (Iran) as a possibility, but the Tajik and Uzbek languages being broadcast around that time are tough to identify

729  China   Chinese male speech mixing with JOCK’s female Japanese speech at a good level at 1456 on 11-8

729  JOCK   Nagoya, Japan, 50 kW   Oddly enough, this was the strongest NHK1 frequency. Female Japanese speech was at a good level mixing with China at 1456 on 11-8

729  Myanma Radio   Yangon, Myanmar, 100 kW  Male-female speech in unique Asian language with clear mention of “Myanmar” at the 46 second point at 1541 on 11-4 (thanks to Chuck for deciphering). Unfortunately 576 and 594 were wiped out by Hawaii splatter

729  Myanma Radio?   Fading up all alone at 1625 on 11-4, this male speaker’s language and voice sound a lot like the ones in the previous recording (thanks to Bruce for language suggestion, and to Ken Alexander, a Canadian retiring in Thailand, for the improved audio file)

729  VoV   Dong Hoi, Vietnam, 200 kW   Male speaker in Viet-sounding language at 1615 on 11-4 with apparent mentions of “Vietnam” at the 1 second and 32 second points; Jari L. says it sounds like Vietnamese

738  BEL2   Penghu, Taiwan, 100 kW   This frequency had serious splatter from 740-Maui, but there was enough of the Chinese news format at 1517 on 11-3 spoken by the female announcer to make reasonably certain of the identity

747  JOIB   Sapporo, Japan, 500 kW   The NHK2 big gun was barely able to get by 740-Maui splatter at 0933 on 11-3, but that was better than 594-JOAK, which was totally wiped out by 590-Honolulu

774  3LO   Melbourne, Australia, 50 kW   LR Network big gun at typical powerful strength with call-in talk at 1558 on 11-7

783  Voice of the Strait   Zhangpu, China, 600 kW   A major propaganda blaster to Taiwan, this was the strongest Asian station during the trip. All kinds of carefully selected music were broadcast– pop, opera and even rap (which, as Chris Kadlec says, is banned in China but is fair game to broadcast to Taiwan, where it is popular). This big gun was totally immune to any propagation downturns, as demonstrated in this local-like sign off message at 1600 on 11-7, which was actually a DU-slanted morning

Female vocal music at an excellent level at 1551 on 11-4 (typical strength)

More S9 female vocal music and 5+1 pips prior to the 1600 sign off message on 11-5

“Banned” Chinese rap music by Allen Su at 1502 on 11-3; a link to the YouTube video of the same song (“Beijing City”) follows (thanks to Chris Kadlec for the link)

Click here to view on YouTube.

783  UnID-China   Weak male Chinese speech continuing on the frequency after the Voice of Strait sign off at 1600 on 11-5 (from 1:10 to 1:20 in the following recording)

792  4RN   Brisbane, Australia, 25 kW   S9 level female conversation during RN network program at 1618 on 11-6

800  PJB   Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, 440 kW   Hijacking the 801 frequency at 0921 on 11-3 with an S9 signal and “Transmundial” ID at 6 seconds, this signal was typical of powerful North and South American stations that would mix with the Asian and Pacific island stations each evening in a wild competition. Received at 5.981 miles/ 9,627 km

810  RNZ   Dunedin, NZ, 10 kW   Frigid weather report at 1604 on 11-5 during DU slanted conditions

810  UnID-TP   Weak Asian showing up at 1553 on 11-4, but not enough signal for language recognition

819  KCBS   Pyongyang, N. Korea, 500 kW   This Asian big gun wasn’t quite as strong as it was in Kona, Hawaii a year earlier, and suffered some minor 830-Honolulu splatter. There was no sign of the Seoul area jammer, though. Its orchestral music was at good strength at 1606 on 11-3

837  CNR5   Quanzhou, China, 1000 kW   Presumed the one with male speech in a Chinese dialect fighting it out with 830-Honolulu splatter at 1526 on 11-3

855  Pyongyang BS   Sangwon, N. Korea, 500 kW   The usual female choral group shows up at a modest level at 1511 on 11-3. Like on 819, there was no sign of the Seoul-area jammer that showed up in Kona a year ago

864  HLKR   Gangneung, S. Korea, 100 kW   The Korean big gun is in a wild S9 snarl with a mystery Filipino station at 1539 on 11-3; this was a typical snarling Asian mix very common in the salt-water-boosted Kauai propagation

864  UnID-Philippines   Apparent Tagalog male speech mixing with HLKR at a strong level at 1539 on 11-3, but no indication which one of the five stations it was

909   CNR6   Quanzhou, China, 300 kW   Another of the Taiwan-directed propaganda blasters, this one tended to play classical or choral music, and (like 783-Voice of the Strait) it was usually at overwhelming strength. This sign off message at 1602 on 11-7 has it all– S9+ strength, a “Shenzhou zhi Sheng” female-voiced ID at 35 seconds, and even a suggestive-voiced female from 49 to 58 seconds. Current sign off is at 1604

Typical classical music (at typical S9 strength) at 1532 on 11-4

Another sample of CNR6 classical music at 1510 on 11-3

909  Xinjiang RGD   Tacheng, China, 10 kW   One of the surprise receptions of the trip. The Mongolian language was unusually strong, and dominant over CNR6’s classical music at 1548 on 11-3; thanks to Mauno and Jari S. for the language identification

909  JOVX   Abashiri, Japan, 5 kW   Presumed the one with Japanese female speech at 1608 on 11-7 (after the CNR6 sign off), and about 20 minutes after the usual NHK2 sign off that week (the only other Japanese station on the freq.)

918  ERTU   Bawiti, Egypt, 10 kW   Some awesome investigative work by Mauno determined that this modest signal at 1628 on 11-6 was Egyptian Arabic– one of the biggest surprises of the trip (otherwise it would have remained an UnID). Thanks for the extra effort! (8,921 miles/ 14,357 km)

918  RNK   Phnom Penh, Kampuchea, 600 kW   One of the biggest stars of the DXpedition, with S9-level Kampuchean pop music almost every morning around 1630, burying Shandong completely. Apparently there is some special propagation between Hawaii and Southeast Asia around this time in early November. This music was at 1637 on 11-3

Booming pop music at 1653 on 11-8

Burying Shandong at 1635 on 11-8

Full National Anthem at 1700 sign off on 11-8

918  Shandong RGD Synchros   Shandong, China   This Chinese network was mostly cannon fodder for RNK during the trip, but it did manage a very brief moment at equal strength with RNK’s high-voiced female speaker at 1553 on 11-4

918  UnID-Philippines   Tagalog-sounding speech at 1602 on 11-3, but no further indication of the identity

927  AIR-South   Visakhapatnam, India, 100 kW   India news in English by female announcer at 1531 on 11-8 (mixing with China); with mentions of “also approved Indian…” at 9 seconds and “for India to express” at 25 seconds. Thanks very much to C.K. Raman of India for matching the recording to the AIR archives

927  China   Male Chinese speech dominant over AIR’s female English speech at 1533 on 11-8, but no indication which one of the multiple Chinese stations is showing up

927  UnID-Chinese   Male and female Chinese speech at 1600 on 11-8 with multiple mentions of the Taoist deity Wong Tai Sin, which would seem highly unlikely in the officially atheist Mainland. Maybe BCC in Taiwan?

954  AIR-North   Najibabad, India, 200 kW   Female-voiced English news // 927 dominant over UnID Philippine station at 1534 on 11-8, with mention of “India” at 28 seconds

Female-voiced English news // 927 temporarily at equal strength with JOKR at 1533 on 11-8, but slowly fading under the Japanese male speaker

954  China   Female Chinese dominant over JOKR at 1534 on 11-8, but no indication which of the Chinese stations is showing up

954  JOKR  Tokyo, Japan, 100 kW  Japanese male conversation temporarily dominant over a wild mix of AIR’s female English speech, UnID Philippine music and Chinese female speech at 1534 on 11-8

954  UnID-Philippines  Persistently strong Tagalog-speaking lady dominant over co-channels at 1512 on 11-8, but there were no definite identity clues despite the signal strength (thanks to Vlad T. and Jari S. for the language identification)

The same female Tagalog speaker came back to dominate the frequency at 1552 on 11-8 in a conversation with someone, but with three Philippine stations on the frequency the identity remains a mystery

972  China   Henan Economic Service?   Persistent co-channel under HLCA during the week with Chinese speech format, such as at 1633 on 11-8. Rarely dominant

972  HLCA   Dangjin, S. Korea, 1500 kW   The Korean big gun played the part during most sessions, although the Chinese co-channel rarely left it alone. Here was a typical S9 signal at 1532 on 11-3, over the Chinese and accented English news co-channels

972  UnID– AIR (East)?   Accented English news from 10 seconds to 25 seconds in the following recording under HLCA at 1532 on 11-3, but there was no chance at the time to check the other AIR frequencies for a parallel. Unless Henan Economic was broadcasting in English this was most likely the 300 kW Cuttack transmitter in eastern India, with no other accented English possibilities on the frequency at the time

981  CNR1   China Synchros   Not quite as strong as in Kona, with minor splatter from 990-Honolulu. A typically strong signal was at 1505 on 11-8

1008  JONR   Osaka, Japan, 50 kW  Japanese female pop music at modest strength all alone at 1610 on 11-8

1017  A3Z   Nuku’alofa, Tonga, 10 kW   Island music with reverb-enhanced male speaker at strong level at 1617 on 11-8; the recent transmitter rejuvenation made this South Pacific station a reliable powerhouse each morning

1044  CRI   Changzhou, China, 300 kW   Japanese service at excellent strength with female speech at 1523 on 11-6, but suffering from some 1040-Honolulu splatter

1323  CRI  Huadian, China, 600 kW   Russian service at good strength all alone at 1520 on 11-6

1440 JOWF   Sapporo, Japan, 50 kW   Always in a mix with Radio Kiribati every evening, the pop-oriented station with its female announcer could occasionally reach a strong level like at 0935 on 11-3

1440  Radio Kiribati   Bairiki, Tarawa, 10 kW   The usual female announcer speaking the island language got a boost from semi-auroral conditions at 0845 on 11-6 to thunder over JOWF’s Japanese female announcer

Kiribati could pound in at great strength over JOWF during auroral conditions, such as with this Christian worship music in the island language at 0745 on 11-6

1557  UnID-TP   Weak music from unknown source at 1622 on 11-8

1566  HLAZ   Jeju, S. Korea, 250 kW   The Korean big gun with its Christian programming was seriously chopped up by 1570-Maui splatter, such as during its Chinese service at 1526 on 11-3. As such, the frequency was too noisy to chase exotic targets

1575  Iranian Jammer   Causing severe interference to VOA-Thailand’s Bengali program at 1620 on 11-8, the “official” target of this prolific Jammer is Radio Farda in the U.A.E. The transmitter location is unknown, but likely distance to Kauai is around 8,000 miles/ 12,875 km

1575  VOA   Ban Phachi, Thailand, 1000 kW   The big gun generally got its programs through prior to 1600, but the Iranian Jammer wreaked havoc on the Bengali program by 1630. This Burmese program at 1507 on 11-7 had no problem, though

1593  CNR1   Changzhou, China, 400 kW   Male Chinese speech at modest level at 1455 on 11-7

1593  NHK2 Synchros   Matsue/ Niigata, Japan, 10 kW/ 10 kW   Presumed the one with Japanese-intonated female speech under CNR1’s male Chinese speech at 1454 on 11-7

Broadband SDR-DXing in Hawaii—A Scouting Report

As most transoceanic DXers are aware, the Hawaiian Islands offer an exceptional opportunity for AM-DXing hobbyists to chase enhanced, salt water-boosted signals from around the world. A recent Ultralight + FSL antenna trip provided all the DXing excitement anyone could hope for, with potent signals received from Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and both North and South America. But this was all live DXing– one frequency at a time. Is a similar trip possible using a broadband loop antenna, and an SDR to record spectrum in one of the world’s most enhanced environments?

Normally such a challenge would be unthinkable, due to external antenna restrictions and the impossibility of carrying large loop antenna components on major airlines. But the unique situation at Poipu Beach on Kauai Island is definitely worth mentioning.

First of all, there is a fully stocked Home Depot store about 15 minutes away by car, offering PVC pipes, concrete bases and antenna wire– along with any tools necessary for antenna assembly. The 2-BR condos on the Poipu Kai beach are not part of a motel, but are individually owned and rented out by a management company for owners on the mainland. I never saw a single management company official on the property during the entire 6 days, except for the night when we checked into the complex management office (and he seemed to stay right there). Each morning I set up my FSL antenna on a 5′ PVC base in the large open patio area behind our condo from 0400-0700 local time (1400-1700 UTC), and never was questioned by anybody– let alone anybody from the management company. I’m pretty sure that small, breakdown versions of broadband antennas (such as the type that both Chuck and Tom have become skillful in setting up at the Rockwork cliff every August) would be fully acceptable during these sunrise enhancement sessions in Hawaii. There is excellent, free Wi-Fi available at the site for checking parallels and web streams, and fragile items like the SDR receivers and Wellbrook amps could be carried in hand carry luggage, similar to how I carry the Ultralights and FSL antennas. After such a broadband DXpedition the antenna parts could be probably be returned to the local Home Depot store, possibly with a chance of refunds.

Of course with a such a pioneering effort there will always be challenges and surprising discoveries, and a sense of optimism and adventure will prove to be most useful. But the opportunity certainly is there– as well as the chance to conduct a breakthrough DXpedition that could be of legendary success.

What an amazing report, Gary! I’ll admit, I’m just a wee bit envious of your Ultralight DXpedition locations! Thanks for sharing the details an, especially, your recordings! Inspiring!

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Quick Look: the RADIWOW R-108, a new DSP shortwave portable

Last week, I received a new portable shortwave radio by the post from China: the Radiwow R-108.

The brand, Radiwow, was new to me, but I suspect they’re linked in some way to the folks behind XHDATA. They contacted me around the Thanksgiving holiday and inquired about evaluating this new portable receiver. I replied, asking a few questions about the unit–you see, I don’t typically agree to take a look at a new product if I think it could simply be a re-badged version of something currently on the market.

Their reply was simple:

“Yes, it is shortwave radio, like PL-310ET radio but add air band, and better reception performance. Your tracking number is…”

So evidently, it was already on the way.

Radiwow claims the performance is better than that of the venerable Tecsun PL-310ET. This, I will have to test because the PL-310ET is certainly a workhorse Ultralight radio. And the R-108 includes air band? Sounds like a CC Skywave without weather radio. That could be quite appealing if the price is competitive.

And it seems this little radio fits neatly into the requirements of Ultralight DXing, thus I hope Gary DeBock and Guy Atkins might take a look as well.

In addition, the R-108 includes longwave frequencies. Something I know will please a number of our readers.

Here are some of the key points I gleamed from a digital copy of the owner’s manual:

Radiwow R108 Features:

  • Frequency range:
    • Longwave: 150-450 kHz)
    • Mediumwave/AM: 520-1710 kHz w/10 kHz steps, 522-1620 kHz w/9kHz steps
    • Shortwave: 1711-29,999 kHz
    • FM: 87.5-108 and 64-108 MHz
    • AIR: 118-137 MHz
  • ATS memory scans on all bands
  • 500 available preset memories
  • Squelch control
  • Direct keypad entry of frequencies
  • Clock function with sleep timer, snooze and alarm (buzzer or radio)
  • Keylock
  • FM stereo
  • AM bandwidths: 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1 kHz selections
  • Music/Voice audio modes
  • Built-in intelligent charger for included 3.7V 1500 mAh Li-ion battery pack

By the way, I suspect Radiwow is linked to XHDATA because 1.) they knew my shipping address without asking and 2.) their website prominently features the XHDATA D-808.

In addition, the only other place I could find the R-108 listed on the Internet is via AliExpress. As with the introduction of the XHDATA D-808, the AliExress price is (today) absurdly high. To me, this indicates that the page is simply a placeholder until the first production run is ready to ship.

I have a PL-310ET and you can count on me to compare the two sometime after the holidays.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few photos of the unit.

I must admit, the front panel of the radio looks familiar, but perhaps only because most other DSP portables have a similar layout. Please comment if you know of an identical portable.

Follow the tag Radiwow R-108 for updates.

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Guest Post: Supercharging the XHDATA D-808 with a 7.5″ loopstick

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, for sharing the following guest post:

Supercharging the XHDATA D-808

Installation of High Performance AM and LW Loopsticks

By Gary DeBock, Puyallup, WA, USA, September 2018


As a stock receiver the Chinese-made D-808 AM-LW-FM-SW-AIR portable is a very capable performer, with AM reception superior to that of any current Ultralight model, and impressive FM reception as well. The radio was certainly “inspired” (to use a generous term) by the C.Crane Skywave SSB model, which coincidentally was manufactured in the same part of China by C.Crane’s Redsun partner—with the first units going out the door a few months before the D-808 came into existence.

Because foreign intellectual property is routinely copied in China with no punishment from the government, XHDATA essentially had the chance to copy all the good points in the Skywave SSB design and improve upon its weak points as well. The only precaution that XHDATA took after this wholesale design appropriation was to forbid direct shipments of the D-808 from China to North America—presumably to avoid a copyright lawsuit by C.Crane. As such, the first D-808 models were sold to the rest of the world around January of 2018 at a price about half that of the Skywave SSB, while North American DXers were told that since the model couldn’t be shipped to the USA or Canada, they were out of luck.

Of course some D-808 models did make it into North America, where it was found to be a very capable portable with astonishing value for the price. Finally around March, an enterprising Chinese eBay seller came up with a plan to ship the model to North America through Israel, thereby skirting around XHDATA’s direct shipment prohibition. As of late August this eBay seller (harelan ecommerce) has already sold 62 of the D-808 models this way, even though he charges a premium for shipment to North America. Whether this single supply source will continue to serve North American customers is currently unknown, but out of the 7 models that I have purchased from him there hasn’t been a single D-808 model with any issues– despite the apparent lack of any manufacturer’s warranty offered on the radio.

Despite the D-808’s rather dubious design pedigree there is no doubt that the Chinese engineers (or reverse engineers?) did a superb job in creating an awesome radio for the money. Besides directly copying the Skywave’s SSB design and controls, XHDATA also made significant improvements, including a longer loopstick (providing clearly superior AM sensitivity), a much more powerful audio amplifier (correcting a serious shortcoming in the Skywave SSB) and a much lower price (about half that of the $169.99 Skywave SSB, for models shipped outside North America). Another great advantage for someone wishing to perform this loopstick upgrade are the perfectly located, highly accessible Litz wire connections on the RF circuit board—apparently used by the Chinese engineers to conveniently test out various loopsticks, and retained in the final product.  The radio’s high quality construction and survivability in adverse conditions were proven repeatedly over the summer here, with the model surviving accidental exposure to a 104 degree (43 degrees C) car trunk temperature, exposure to moderate rain, repeated travel bumps, and use as the main receiver during a 9-day DXpedition to a plunging ocean side cliff in Oregon state. The 3.7v lithium-ion rechargeable battery provides superior run time for extended DXing sessions, and is included in the D-808 shipping package, along with a USB cord to charge the battery, a plug-in wire antenna (for FM,SW and AIR), a vinyl carrying case, and a pretty basic English instruction manual.

One thing you will NOT find supplied with the D-808 is a warranty card– either in the shipping box, or online. This is pretty standard practice in China, incidentally, where concepts like refunds and warranties aren’t generally part of customers’ expectations. This doesn’t necessarily mean that XHDATA won’t repair obvious problems in a new D-808, but it does mean that they aren’t assuming the obligation to do so. I have heard from one North American purchaser who received a new D-808 with a defective speaker, and he is still waiting for the model to be repaired (after paying the shipping charge to send it back to China). Each individual purchaser must decide whether or not this lack of any warranty is a deal breaker. But if you are looking for a final reason to perform this loopstick transplant, why not consider the fact that you will not be violating any manufacturer’s warranty by doing so??

Realistic Expectations

Although this 7.5” loopstick upgrade will certainly make your D-808 far more sensitive than the stock model on Medium Wave or Longwave, it is not designed to compete with large (2’ sided or larger) inductively coupled box loops, or any of the new FSL antennas. The sensitivity upgrade will boost the D-808’s MW band weak-signal performance up to the level of classic portables like the ICF-2010 and RF-2200; however, and since the D-808’s DSP-enhanced selectivity will generally exceed that offered by these classic portables, the overall DXing capability in the AM mode could be considered slightly greater. The D-808 does have SSB capability, although it lacks the SSB tuning convenience offered by the ICF-2010 and RF-2200. It also lacks the ICF-2010’s superb Synch detector, a big advantage in weak signal DXing. But in portability, versatility and DXing value for the price, the “Supercharged” D-808 is a real winner.

Project Overview

This construction article will provide the builder with step-by-step instructions to upgrade the XHDATA D-808’s loopstick to a much more sensitive, externally-mounted 7.5” Medium Wave or Longwave loopstick replacement. Both the Medium Wave and Longwave 7.5” loopstick designs have been thoroughly tested and proven effective in actual DXing by hobbyists other than the author, and as long as the instructions are followed carefully, this relatively inexpensive modification will provide a major improvement in the D-808’s weak-signal reception capability.

This modification project involves close-order soldering on the D-808’s circuit board, and should only be attempted by builders with reasonably good eyesight, good hand coordination and soldering experience. The project also calls for the use of a precut plastic loopstick frame to attach the antenna to the top of the D-808’s top back cabinet surface, and the construction of this precut plastic frame requires either the use of a 12” (or larger) power miter saw, or some rather lengthy cutting with a hacksaw. Use of a power miter saw SHOULD NOT be attempted by those without serious power tool experience! The author assumes that only qualified power tool operators will attempt to use a 12” miter saw to cut these frames quickly, and that other builders who wish to construct them will use a hacksaw. As such, only basic cutting instructions are provided for the 12” power miter saw users, while detailed instructions are provided for the hacksaw users. To assist builders who are not qualified to use power tools, the author has prepared a LIMITED number of these precut plastic loopstick frames on a power miter saw, which will be offered at cost to these builders on a first come, first served basis.

A final warning is in order concerning the step of gluing the precut plastic loopstick frame to the D-808’s top back cabinet surface. Although this step is not dangerous, it is pretty tricky. Since the superglue “grips” very rapidly, you will only get one chance to ensure that the frame is straight, and centered on the D-808’s top cabinet surface. Do yourself a favor, and make multiple “dry runs” to practice this important step before applying the glue! Failure to take this step seriously will probably result in a crooked loopstick frame—which will hold the antenna just fine for DXing purposes, but which will be an eternal reminder to the DXer (and everyone else) of the hazards of haste.

Construction Parts Required

This 7.5” loopstick D-808 construction article will guide you through the assembly of either a 7.5” Medium Wave loopstick D-808 or a 7.5” Longwave loopstick D-808, so make sure that you order the parts necessary for construction of your chosen model. The picture above shows the parts that will be necessary for construction of either model, but the Litz wire and 7.5” ferrite rod components differ according to whether you are building the Medium Wave or Longwave model.

A)  XHDATA D-808 Receiver, currently available to North American purchasers (for $112.87 + $10. Click here to search eBay.

B)   Scotch brand “Extreme” strapping tape (any size roll)

C)   15 feet (4.6 meters) of 250/46 Litz wire (Medium Wave model). Click here to view on eBay.

OR 25 feet (7.7 meters) of 100/44 Litz wire (Longwave model). Click here to view on eBay.

D)  Two 120 lb. test plastic tie wraps (any length over 6”)

E)  Johnson Level & Tool Mfg. Co., Inc. 48” orange plastic carpenter’s level, part # 7748-O (provides enough plastic for two loopstick frames)

F)  Two 3/4” lengths of 1/2” I.D. clear vinyl hose

G)  Two 1” lengths of 5/8” I.D. rubber hose

H)  Roll of 2” Johnson & Johnson waterproof (medical) tape OR roll of 1” Rite-Aid waterproof tape

I)  Amidon 7.5” x .5” ferrite rod, part no.  R61-050-750 (MW model) OR part no. R33-050-750 (LW Model), available at

J)  6” of 1/16” shrink tubing

Miscellaneous:  One packet of Duro Super Glue (.07 ounce size), solder, 25w (low heat) soldering iron, hacksaw (or power miter saw), screwdriver set, sandpaper, needle nose pliers, diagonal cutters

D-808 Radio Preparation

Before starting the modification give the radio a thorough test on all bands, ensuring that all the stock model functions work properly, and that there are no issues with the display, speaker, headphone jack, battery or charging system. It’s also a good idea to run a daytime DX band scan on the AM or Longwave band (for whichever band you plan to construct an upgrade loopstick) and document the results—to use as a benchmark for the upgrade loopstick’s performance.

Step-By-Step Construction

Antenna Frame and 7.5 inch Loopstick Preparation

1)   Refer to the photo below. Using the “Supercharging the Tecsun PL-380” article (posted at or available directly from the author) carefully prepare the orange loopstick antenna frame according to construction steps 1-9, EXCEPT note that the lower (glue surface) edge of the antenna frame should be cut to a length of 5 3/4” (147mm), NOT 5” (127mm) as described in the PL-380 transplant article. Pay close attention to the safety precautions concerning power tool usage, and DO NOT attempt to use a power miter saw unless you have SERIOUS power tool experience!

2)   If you are constructing an AM (Medium Wave) loopstick, follow construction steps 10-16 in the PL-380 transplant article to construct the antenna. If you are constructing a Longwave loopstick, follow construction steps 10a-16a in the PL-380 transplant article to construct the antenna. If you are constructing both loopsticks, MAKE SURE that the ferrite rod and Litz wire are only used in the antennas for which they were designed. Mixing up these items is very easy, and such a mistake will make both loopsticks perform like clunkers.

3)   After construction of either the AM or Longwave loopstick, follow the instructions in steps 29 and 30 of the PL-380 transplant article to install a piece of 3 1/8” (79mm) shrink tubing, EXCEPT note that this length is slightly longer than the 3” (76mm) length called for in the PL-380 article.

4)   Refer to the photo below for the following three steps. [NOTE: Although this photo shows the AM (Medium Wave) loopstick, the procedures in this step are the same for the Longwave loopstick, although the position of the rubber hose lengths and clear vinyl inserts will be closer to the ends of the ferrite rod]. Carefully slide the length of 3 1/8” shrink tubing into the position shown, ensuring that there are no Litz wire kinks or bends inside the shrink tubing.

5)   Take the two 3/4” (19mm) clear vinyl inserts and slide them onto the ferrite rod ends, twisting them up against the border of the Scotch “Extreme” tape ends to lock the tape in place under the vinyl inserts. Ensure that the clear vinyl inserts do not touch any Litz wire leads or coil turns.

6)    Slide the 1” (25mm) lengths of rubber heater hose over the clear vinyl inserts until the appearance of the loopstick resembles the above photo. Ensure that the rubber hose sections also do not touch either the Litz wire leads or any coil turns. Finally, place the completed loopstick in a safe place until it is called for in Step  .

Radio Disassembly

7) Refer to the photo above for this step. Remove the battery from the radio, and using a Jeweler’s Phillips screwdriver of the correct size, remove the six identical screws in the positions shown (NOTE: These screws have a tendency to stick inside their slots, even when the slots are turned upside down. If you cannot remove all six screws it’s not a major problem, but at least ensure that the screws are completely loose in their slots, and that you don’t lose any of them during the remaining steps). Grasp the tuning knob, and pull it out horizontally in a completely straight manner to remove it from the radio. Ensure that the battery, tuning knob and all removed screws are placed in a safe place until the radio is reassembled.

8)   Carefully separate the front and back cabinet sections and place them down in the position shown in the photo below. Note that the front and back sections of the radio are connected by a ribbon wire plug-in system– ensure that this plug remains securely inside its slot at all times, and that no great stress is placed on the speaker wires.

9)   Refer to the close up photo below, and note the position of the two Litz wire soldering points on the circuit board (in the lower right corner of the photo). Using diagonal cutters, cut the two Litz wire leads at the position shown, UNLESS you wish to salvage this stock loopstick for other projects—in which case you should desolder the entire lengths of the Litz wire leads from the circuit board at the positions shown in the lower right corner (NOTE: The stock loopstick is of a fairly good design, and has an inductance that would be compatible with any DSP-chip Ultralight radio, providing an AM sensitivity boost in the process).

10)   Refer to the photo below. Using a flat Jeweler’s screwdriver with a 1/16” blade, carefully probe around all four sides of the stock loopstick to break all of the glue bonds. Work slowly and carefully around the perimeter of the ferrite rod, including the plastic covers on each end. Once most of the glue bonds have been broken the ferrite rod will begin to shift around as you break up the few remaining bonds, but until this point work slowly and patiently to break up the glue.

11)   Refer to the photo below. Using the flat Jeweler’s screwdriver, once all of the glue bonds have been broken and the ferrite rod is loose in its slot, lift the ferrite rod out of its slot on one side by prying up under the plastic cover on the end of the ferrite rod. Ensure that the Litz wire leads have either been cut or desoldered from the circuit board, then grasp the ferrite rod with your fingers and pull it completely out of the slot with a slight twisting motion.


12)   Remove the wrist strap, and refer to the photo below. Carefully pick up the two sides of the radio and place the back section in a vertical position as shown, with a heavy flat weight (barbell, or other heavy flat item) pressing up against the back cabinet section to keep it in a vertical position. Ensure that there is adequate, even lighting on the top cabinet section for the gluing process in the next step, and that the back cabinet surface will not shift around as you make the gluing “dry runs,” and perform the actual gluing of the loopstick frame to the top of the cabinet.


13) Take the previously prepared orange plastic loopstick frame, and ensure that its bottom glue surface is completely smooth and flat, with no uneven ridges on the edges of the glue surface (remove these with fine sandpaper, but ONLY on the ridges, and not on the rest of the flat glue surface). Using a damp paper towel, wipe the top cabinet glue surface and the loopstick frame glue surface to remove any dust or debris, then wipe them again with a dry, clean paper towel to ensure that they are both completely dry.

Take the loopstick frame and gently slide the frame over the top cabinet surface to ensure that both surfaces are smooth and flat. Refer to the photo at the top of the next page. Ensure that there is even, bright lighting on the top cabinet surface, and make several “dry runs” to place the loopstick frame in the exact center of the top cabinet surface (with 1/16”, or 1.5mm of space between the frame ends to the cabinet ends), and also 1/16” (1.5mm) of overhang above the front edge of the cabinet’s glue surface (NOTE: if you wish to simplify the process by lining up the front edge of the loopstick frame with the front edge of the cabinet’s glue surface it will still provide an acceptable result, but you will need to do some minor sanding of the whip antenna’s plastic slot post, as shown in the photo below. In either case, make repeated “dry runs” with the loopstick frame to practice placing it in the exact center of the top cabinet’s glue surface, since you will only get one chance to place it in the proper center position once the superglue is applied.

NOTE: The back of the loopstick frame has a beveled surface to permit full operation of the radio’s whip antenna after the frame is glued on the top of the cabinet surface. If the loopstick frame is glued with a 1/16” (1.5mm) overhang in front of the front edge of the cabinet surface then the whip antenna should have enough space for free operation. The alternative is to glue the two front edges lined up with each other to simplify the gluing process, in which case minor sanding may be required on the whip antenna slot post, as shown in the photo below.

14)   After making multiple “dry runs” and becoming familiar with accurate placement of the loopstick frame on top of the cabinet, refer to the photo at the top of the next page. After once again ensuring that the back cabinet section will not shift around during the gluing process, take the Duro superglue packet and apply a thin (1/8”, or 3mm) bead of glue along the center of the cabinet’s glue surface, extending it 5 1/4” (133mm)long, with equal spaces on both ends (as shown). While sighting the two sides place the loopstick frame carefully down in the correct center position as practiced previously, with the 1/16” overhang if desired. If satisfied with the position, press down on the frame to lock the two surfaces together securely. Usually the frame may be shifted around slightly within 1 or 2 seconds of placing it on the superglue, so use this brief time to promptly shift the frame to a straight position, if necessary. After a couple of seconds, though, you will need to be satisfied with whatever position the frame has ended up with (regardless, it will still hold the loopstick just fine, for DXing purposes).

15)   After the loopstick frame is securely placed and locked on top of the D-808’s cabinet surface, place downward pressure on the loopstick frame along its length in order to ensure a tight glue bond throughout the entire top cabinet surface. Continue this process for about one minute, and sight both ends of the loopstick frame to ensure that they are both completely flat against the D-808 cabinet.

16)   Inspect the front and back edges of the loopstick frame’s border with the D-808 cabinet for any glue seepage, and if any is found,  remove it promptly with the 1/16” flat Jeweler’s screwdriver blade. Glue should not be allowed to run past the frame edges. This completes the process of gluing the frame to the D-808 cabinet.

7.5” Loopstick Installation

17)   [NOTE:  The installation procedures of the Medium Wave (AM) and Longwave loopsticks are identical, except that the plastic tie wraps and rubber hose sections are closer to the ends of the ferrite rod in the Longwave version. The following photos are for the Medium Wave (AM) version,  but Longwave loopstick builders should follow the same steps, while referring to the Longwave model photo in the “Operation” section as a guide]

Refer to the photo below. Carefully take the previously prepared 7.5” loopstick and hold it in the position shown—in its slot, centered in the middle of the orange antenna frame, with the shrink tubing and Litz wire leads running down to the left. Take the two plastic tie wraps and install them in the position shown, centered over the rubber hose sections on the loopstick, while ensuring that no Litz wires or shrink tubing is bound under the plastic tie wraps.

18)   Refer to the photo below. Lay the two cabinet sections down flat as shown, ensuring that the Litz wire shrink tubing is in the exact position shown (if it isn’t, carefully slide it along both Litz wires until it is in this exact position). Carefully thread one Litz wire end through the empty wrist strap hole, then thread the other Litz wire end through the hole, as shown. Finally pull on the two Litz wires together from the right while guiding the end of the shrink tubing into the empty wrist strap hole, and pull a short section of the shrink tubing through the hole (as shown) to protect the Litz wire insulation from friction damage.

19) Refer to the photo below. Using the previous procedure to install shrink tubing (which is described in the PL-380 transplant article) install a 2.5” (63mm) length of shrink tubing over the two Litz wire ends, and shift the shrink tubing into the position shown in the photo. After this is done cut the two Litz wire leads to the lengths shown in the photo (NOTE: make sure that the ends of both Litz wires are cleanly cut, not frayed and at the minimum diameter before attempting to insert them into the shrink tubing. The process is much easier when the Litz wires pass smoothly through the shrink tubing).

20) Refer to the close up photo below. Using a low heat (25w) pencil-type soldering iron, remove the two stock Litz wire leads at the positions shown, taking care not to use excessive heat, or touch the adjacent components. Ensure that the new Litz wire leads are at the length shown when the leads are in a horizontal position throughout the cabinet, and cut them to this length if they are not.

21) NOTE: When tinning the 250/46 Litz wire it is essential that all of the individual Litz wire strands be completely soldered together for a length of at least 1/4” (6mm), with bright, shiny solder around the circumference of the Litz wire ends for this minimum (1/4”) length. The Litz wire must be heated with a clean, hot soldering iron around its circumference in order to melt the solder properly for this step]

Refer to the photo above. Pull the Litz wires up out of the previous position, and place a clean rag underneath them (on top of the circuit board) to completely protect the circuit board from any solder which might accidentally drop down during the tinning process. Using your hot 25w soldering iron melt a generous amount of solder on its tip, and work the soldering iron tip slowly and patiently around the circumference of each Litz wire end until there is a bright, shiny solder length of at least 1/4” (6mm) in a cylindrical pattern at the end of each Litz wire. When doing this, take great care not to allow any solder to drip down onto the circuit board below (i.e., make sure that your rag completely covers the circuit board). The final appearance of your Litz wire lead ends should resemble those in the photo.

22) When your Litz wire lead ends resemble the photo above, cut the soldered portion down to a length of 3/16” (5mm) and observe the appearance of the end of the Litz wire. It should have a bright, solid circular shape, with no gaps or individual Litz wires showing. If not, reheat the end of the Litz wire while adding some solder, and repeat this step.

23) NOTE: The Litz wire connection points on the circuit board are surrounded by other important components. It is important to avoid solder drips on these components, or solder bridges to their leads. Solder the Litz wire leads down at an angle to avoid these surrounding components, and use the minimum amount of heat and solder to ensure good electrical connections)

Refer to the close up photo above. Following the precautions described, solder the two Litz wire leads down onto the circuit board at an angle, as shown in the photo. After soldering, make a close visual inspection to ensure that there are no solder bridges across the Litz wire connections, or nearby components. The remaining length of the Litz wire leads should be routed in a horizontal manner to the wrist strap hole.

24) Carefully pick up the front and back cabinet sections, and hold the back cabinet section fairly close to the front section (as the radio would normally be oriented, when assembled). Refer to the photo below, and carefully insert the “Fine Tuning” control thumbwheel from the front cabinet section into its slot on the back cabinet section in a sideway movement. This will allow you to fully close the front and back cabinet sections in the next step.

25) Refer to the photo below. Pick up the two cabinet halves and carefully snap them together (this action should not require any great force). Place the radio face down in the position shown (with a soft surface underneath, for protection), and using the Jewelers Phillips screwdriver of the correct size, carefully screw in the six screws that were loosened previously, starting with the screw near the whip antenna post (you should pick up the radio temporarily and hold the two cabinet sections together tightly at this corner, as you do this).

After all six screws have been retightened take the Tuning control knob and press it back onto its shaft in a straight horizontal motion. Finally, reinstall the battery and battery compartment cover to finish up the reassembly.


This 7.5” transplant loopstick is designed to provide a major boost in sensitivity from 530-1700 kHz, and if the antenna is working properly both the weak signal reception and the radio’s nulling capability should be greatly enhanced. It is normal for the antenna to receive more background noise on the low band frequencies, although the sensitivity boost should be substantial across the band.

The construction design of the orange antenna frame allows full usage of the whip antenna for checking SW parallels of MW-DX stations, although if you chose to glue the antenna frame flush with the front of the back cabinet surface to simplify the gluing process, you may need to sand the whip antenna slot post slightly to allow free movement of the whip antenna (see step #13).

In the photo above, some of the important controls for Medium DXing are highlighted. The AM Bandwidth control allows you to choose multiple DSP filtering selections to enhance selectivity as desired, with the narrowest filtering (1 kHz) providing both the sharpest selectivity and the best weak-signal sensitivity. However this 1 kHz setting also has the poorest audio fidelity, with the higher audio frequencies typically cut off by the DSP filtering. As such, for regular DXing far away from strong local pests, the other AM Bandwidth settings may be more suitable. The Direct Frequency Entry key allows you to manual enter in any MW frequency, to which the radio will shift once the numbers are pressed on the keypad. The Tuning knob has three different modes, which can be toggled by pressing the knob horizontally. The first mode is tuning in either 9 kHz or 10 kHz steps (depending on which of these step you have selected), while the second mode is tuning in 1 kHz steps. The third mode is to lock the frequency in place. Pressing the knob again will return the tuning to 9 or 10 kHz steps.

The XHDATA D-808 has multiple display functions, which can be toggled by the indicated key. The first option is the temperature in either Centigrade or Fahrenheit (depending on your pre-set preference), while the second option is the alarm time. The third option is the current time (which you need to set according whether you prefer UTC or local time), while the fourth option is the received signal strength in both dBu and dB.

The supplied 3.7v lithium ion battery has superior run time, and may be easily charged using the supplied USB cable to either a computer or AC outlet (with the appropriate adapter). As reported in various posts throughout this year, the D-808 model has rugged construction with an excellent record of survival under tough conditions, including hot summer days, moderate rain exposure and extended usage as the main receiver during a 9-day ocean cliff DXpedition in Oregon—performing flawlessly at all times.


It is the author’s sincere hope that this “Supercharged” D-808 model will bring you a lot of DXing fun during travel, as well as at other times. When conditions are good you should never underestimate this enhanced model’s potential of receiving awesome DX beyond your expectations—as an example, here is the stand-alone performance of a 7.5” loopstick D-808 in receiving 1017-A3Z in Nuku’alofa, Tonga (10 kW at 5,632 miles/ 9,063 km) on the ocean cliff near Manzanita, Oregon at 1301 UTC on August 8th of this year:

Not only Tonga is received, but even the Australian horse racing station 1017-2KY in Sydney (5 kW at 7,630 miles/ 12,280 km) is received as a weak co-channel in the middle of the recording. My hope is that you all will be so lucky with your new Supercharged D-808!

73 and Good DX,

Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)

Absolutely amazing!  Thank you for taking the time to put this procedure together and describing the process in such fine detail, Gary! Hats off to you! 

Click here to read all of Gary DeBock’s posts on the SWLing Post.

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August 2018 Rockwork DXpedition: Top ten recorded signals

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares the following notes and recordings from the latest Rockwork DXpedition.

Top Ten DU signals from the August 2018 Rockwork DXpedition

– Gary DeBock

Life is good– breathtaking ocean scenery, an innovative compact antenna, thunderous DU signals and even a partner (Craig Barnes) to share in the bounty. Who could ask for more?

Listed below are the Top Ten DU signals recorded during the recent Rockwork ocean cliff trip (near Manzanita, Oregon) from August 1-9, including several low-powered Kiwi stations which acted like “big guns” pretty much throughout the DXpedition. All of these were recorded with 7.5″ loopstick portables (CC Skywave SSB and XHDATA D-808) and “Airport Unfriendly” 15″ and 17″ FSL antennas (guaranteed to send TSA agents into a security alert).

531 More FM Alexandra, New Zealand, 2 kW The obscure modern rock station usually managed at least one S9 peak each morning, and was fully competitive with Kiwi co-channel PI for the first time. This TOH recording at 1300 on 8-8 demonstrates its potent capability at the cliff

Click here to download.

531 PI Auckland, New Zealand, 5 kW Pacific island music at a huge level at 1248 on 8-7 was typical from this low band powerhouse, which was frequently in an all-Kiwi snarl with its overachieving co-channel More FM

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558 Radio Fiji One Suva, Fiji, 10 kW The donated Japanese transmitter still puts out awesome signals for this native-language powerhouse, including this island music with a Song Medley ID (“Radio Fiji One, na domoiviti”) at 1:38 into this recording at 1252 on 8-1

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567 RNZ National Wellington, New Zealand, 50 kW After demolition of its old tower the RNZ big gun has sometimes sounded anemic on the west coast, but certainly not at 1320 on 8-3 with Indian-accented English

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585 7RN Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 10 kW The RN network Tasmanian must have somehow hacked into the Kiwi propagation pipeline at 1306 on 8-6; at the time it was much stronger than its 576 parallel

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594 Star Timaru/ Wanganui, New Zealand 5 kW/ 2 kW Another Kiwi overachiever, this low powered network was socking it to the Oz big gun 3WV all week, including with this powerful Christian music // 657 at 1326 on 8-3

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657 Star Wellington, Tauranga, New Zealand 50 kW/ 10 kW The flagship Star station sure was playing the part with Christian music at an overwhelming level at 1238 on 8-6, including an ID at the end of the recording

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765 Radio Kahungunu Napier-Hastings, New Zealand 2.5 kW The overachieving Maori station was its usual potent self with island music and Maori chants at 1218 on 8-1; it was usually slightly stronger than its 603 parallel (Waatea)

Click here to download.

936 Chinese Voice Auckland, New Zealand 1 kW One of the most incredible signals of the entire DXpedition– the 1 kW ethnic station pounds into the cliff at an S9 level at 1309 on 8-2– ocean cliff propagation at its finest!

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1017 A3Z Nuku’alofa, Tonga 10 kW Yikes! The rejuvenated Pacific island big gun thunders into the cliff with the strongest signal I’ve ever heard recorded in North America, featuring island music at 1314 on 8-1… almost loud enough to wake up the sleeping squatters

Click here to download.

73 and Good DX,

Gary DeBock (DXing at the Rockwork ocean cliff near Manzanita, Oregon, USA with Craig Barnes from August 1-9)

Thank you for sharing those catches, Gary!  It’s amazing what DX you can snag with an ultralight radio and a homebrew FSL loop antenna. Someday, I hope to join you guys on the cliff!

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August 2018 Rockwork Ocean Cliff DXpedition most distant AM-DX

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares this note from the recent Rockwork Ocean Cliff DXpedition:

The most distant AM-DX received during the August 2018 Rockwork Ocean Cliff DXpedition was 558-6WA in Wagin, Western Australia, received during the last session (9 out of 9) at 1252 on August 9th. At 9,154 miles (14,732 km), the ABC “Nightlife” program content was matched to the related ABC website Podcast. The co-channel music is from 558-Radio Fiji One This was received on an XHDATA D-808 portable boosted by a 17″ FSL antenna:

Click here to download the audio file.

What an impressive catch, Gary! Thank you for sharing!

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