Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill, who shares the following guest post:
YouLoop Antenna Fun
by Billy Hemphill WD9EQD
Like many listeners, I live in an antenna restricted community. While I have strung up some hidden outdoor wire antennas, I have found that they didn’t really perform that much better than just using the telescoping antenna with maybe a length of wire attached. The biggest problem (whether indoor or outdoor antenna) has been the high noise floor.
A few months ago I bought an AirSpy HF+ Discovery SDR receiver. I had already owned a couple of SDRPlay SDR receivers, but the high noise floor limited their performance. I had read good reviews about the AirSpy, especially its performance on the AM Broadcast band and the lower shortwave bands.
I have about 80 feet of speaker wire strung from the second floor and across the high windows in the living room. This does perform fairly well, but the high noise floor still exists.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought the YouLoop Magnetic Loop antenna from AirSpy. I gave it a try and am amazed at the lower noise floor compared to the indoor wire antenna.
Wire Antenna vs. YouLoop–some examples:
AirSpy with Wire Antenna
AirSpy with YouLoop
AirSpy with Wire Antenna
AirSpy with YouLoop
AirSpy with Wire Antenna
AirSpy with YouLoop
Dramatic reduction in the noise floor. I’ve done a lot of playing around with it and find that the YouLoop picks up just about the same stations as the indoor wire antenna does. But with the lower noise level, the YouLoop makes it more enjoyable to listen. Overall, the YouLoop is now my main antenna.
YouLoop with a Portable Radio
It works so well with the AirSpy, I started wondering if I could use it with a portable radio, like the Tecsun PL-880. But the AirSpy website has the following note:
Note: It is very likely your third party radio will not be sensitive enough to operate with the YouLoop properly. We have even seen self-documented failed attempts to build pre-amplifiers to compensate for the lack of sensitivity and/or the required dynamic range in third party radios. Use your brain, and eventually an Airspy HF+ Discovery.
Doesn’t sound like it will work with portable radios. BUT, I’m always one to try anyway.
Since the YouLoop has a SMA connector, I bought a SMA to 1/8” phone jack cable. Plugged it into the PL-880 antenna jack and found I had almost a dead radio. Very few stations heard. But in playing around, I accidentally touched the phone plug to the telescoping antenna and instantly got strong signals.
I did some very unscientific tests. I attached the YouLoop through the side antenna jack, did an ATS scan, then did the same with the YouLoop clipped to the telescoping antenna. Also did a scan with just the telescoping antenna fully extended.. I got some very interesting results. These were done one after the other, so there can be differences in signal fading, etc.
I have repeated the above test several times at different hours. While the actual number of ATS stations varied, the ratio between them remained fairly consistent to the above numbers.
From the above, it appears that the telescoping antenna circuit is more sensitive than the 1/8” antenna jack circuit. Maybe some attenuation is being added to the 1/8” jack since it’s more likely a higher gain antenna would be used there. Can anyone confirm that the circuit indeed attenuates thru the antenna jack?
The YouLoop seems to be a decent performer when directly clipped to the telescoping antenna. While not as good as a high gain outdoor antenna would be, it definitely is usable for indoor uses.
I also tested it clipped to the antennas of some other portable receivers. Tecsun S-8800, PL-330, Panasonic RF-2200 and Philco T-9 Trans-World receivers. All showed an increase over just using the telescoping antenna.
Some interesting notes:
The Tecsun PL-330 saw the same reduction in signal when directly plugged into the antenna jack as opposed to clipping on the telescoping antenna.
The Tecsun S-8800 did not show that much of a drop. I basically got the same number of stations when clipped to antenna as when I connected to the BNC jack:
In conclusion, I find that I can use the YouLoop with my portable radios to increase the signals on strong stations when used indoors. And it is quite the performer when used with the AirSpy HF+ Discovery SDR receiver. It easily portable and I find that I move it around the house as I need to. I just hang it off a window curtain rod. I may just order a second one so that my family room radio has one permanently attached to it.
There are many lists on the internet of various radio databases. If the database can be downloaded as either a CVS file or a spreadsheet, then it is possible to load it into the PortoDB app on the phone tablet. I’ll show how this can be done with two popular databases that I reference all the time.
EIBI Data Base
Most of you are probably familiar with the EIBI database of shortwave schedules. Many of the Shortwave Schedule apps on the Phones reference this database. For example, I use the Skywave Schedules on my phone. While it does allow for me to search by many parameters, I thought it might be fun to have it in a PortoDB database. Plus it would be interesting to see how PortoDB performs with a large data set. Continue reading →
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill, who shares the following guest post:
Radio Schedules in a Simple Android Database
by Bill Hemphill
I am a program listener. I really enjoy listening to various radio stations direct and by internet streaming. Over time, I have come up with a couple of spread sheets that lists the program, station, time, date, etc. For example, following is the spreadsheet for the shortwave radio programs/stations that I enjoy:
As the program schedules change, I update the spreadsheet. This has worked quite well for me. I usually sort on the weekday and then print out the spreadsheet as a list by time and frequency for each day.
While this method works, it does mean that I have these multiple page printouts that I have to refer to. This got me thinking that it would be great to have this on my Android phone/tablet. Then I could refer to it no matter where I was located.
At first, I tried to use Google Sheets, but found that using a spreadsheet on the phone or even a tablet to be a pain. I then tried entering it into a calendar program, but also found that very cumbersome. Continue reading →
I love how it was used as an opportunity to get the radio listener to call on the radio technician to re-program the radio push buttons. And of course while the technician is there, have him do a full alignment and maybe replace a tube.
The March 1941 issue of Radio and Television Retailing (Pages 16-17) had the article “Radio’s Opportunity for Contact”.
While the entire article is an interesting read, the first few paragraphs sums up the opportumities:
THE OPPORTUNITY for contact with consumers using pushbutton-tuned radios., afforded by dramatic March 29 broadcast station frequency shifts, represents an absolutely unique invitation to move more major merchandise, with the promotional expense at least partially covered by service and accessory sales.
Imagine what slick automobile salesmen could do if roads were suddenly altered in such a manner that 10,000,000 cars required some adjustment to operate properly, what refrigerator salesmen might accomplish if a change in current necessitated motor manipulation, how laundry equipment salesmen would positively gloat over the glut of prospects if that many people with old machines actually asked them to call.
Calls make sales, as the records of many home specialty retailers conclusively prove, and the beauty of this particular opportunity to make them lies in the three-fold fact that cold-canvassing is completely unnecessary, that the motivating power of any campaign built around it is obviously not just trumped-up by the trade and that only dealers selling or servicing radios can capitalize in all departments of their business.
So valuable from a major merchandising sales angle is the opportunity to call upon consumers afforded by the necessity for changing pushbutton settings that we suspect many radio retailers will hesitate to charge for this adjustment.
This may be particularly true where consumers so contacted are obviously prospects for new merchandise and will undoubtedly occur in some instances where customers are still being carried on time-payment accounts.
The Feb 1941 issue of Radio Service-Dealer (Page 8) also stressed the opportunities.
Reallocation of Broadcast Frequencies M arch 29th Opens Big Job For Service men Resetting Nation’s Push-Buttons
There are approximately 10 million push-button receivers in operation in this country. It will be your job to re-set the buttons for the new frequencies in the shortest possible time and with the least amount of confusion. It will also be your job and your opportunity to inspect these receivers for faulty operation. No such opportunity is likely to present itself again, so make the best of it.
And on page 7 of the Mar 1941 issue of Radio Service-Dealer has the article FREQUENCY REALLOCATION SERVICING PROBLEMS
1A—If a station with a strong signal intensity happens to be operating on double the frequency of the intermediate frequency of a receiver, there is liable to be a heterodyne whistle. The frequency of 455 kc has been used as the standard intermediate frequency on receivers manufactured in the United States. One main reason for selecting this frequency was that the broadcast frequency of 910 kc was assigned to Canada and, therefore, the possibility of a heterodyne note being produced on a receiver in the United States was at a minimum. Under the terms of the reallocation several American stations will be moved to 910 kc thus producing a problem in the cities where these stations are to be located. If a heterodyne note is heard due to this cause the remedy is to shift the intermediate frequency to one side or another.
Thank you, Bill, for shedding more light on Radio Moving Day and, especially, providing us with the broadcaster and technician’s point of view.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill, who writes:
I ran across a reference to Radio Delta International Shortwave, a Hollands station on 6020 kHz. The reference was to a song that was recorded for them by Silvia Swart en het Radio Delta lied. Which (according to Google) translates to The Radio Delta Song. It’s on YouTube and I like the sound of it even thought I don’t know Dutch.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:
Time Shifting Radio Programs for Later Listening
by Bill (WD9EQD)
There are quite a few programs on shortwave that I enjoy listening to for the actual program content. If I am lucky, I will receive a strong enough signal to really enjoy the experience. But all too often, I either can’t directly receive the program or conditions are such that listening is just not enjoyable. What I was looking for was good quality sound that I could listen to on my schedule.
I could always just go to the station website and listen to the live stream of the program. But what if there are two programs on different stations at the same time? I would have to choose which one to listen to. What I needed was a way to listen to the program on my schedule.
This write-up will be presenting several ways this can be accomplished.
Is the Program Streamed?
In many cases, it is possible to go to the program’s website and then listen to the latest program or even an archive of past programs at your convenience. Some examples are:
WBCQ has a link to an Archive of some of their programs. Just click on the Archive link and you will go to Internet Archive where there are a lot of programs that can be streamed or downloaded. The programs include:
Adventures in Pop Music
Analog Telephone Systems Show
B Movie Bob
Cows in Space
Godless Irena 1
Grits Radio Show
Lost Discs Radio Show
Radio Timtron Worldwide
Texas Radio Shortwave
The Lumpy Gravy Show
Zombies in your Brain
Plus many, many other programs…
Does the Program Have a Podcast?
Check to see if the program has a podcast. Many programs do and this makes it easy to always have the latest program updated into my favorite podcast program.
AWR Wavescan is available on a number of podcasting platforms
Some programs that have podcasts:
Hobart Radio International
Blues Radio International:
Your Weekend Show
International Radio Report
World of Radio
The Shortwave Report
The Lost Discs Radio Show
Le Show with Harry Shearer
Directly Record the Stream While It Is Being Broadcast
This method is a little more difficult and requires some setup. The method is to record the program directly from the internet stream of the station as it is broadcasting the program. Once set up, the procedure is completely automatic and will continue to capture the program until it is disabled in the scheduler.
Let’s walk through a typical program that we want to record. I like Alan Gray’s “Last Radio Playing” program on WWCR. It is broadcast weekly on Wednesday at 6pm Central Time on 6115. While I can receive the program over the air, it’s not very good reception, so I usually just stream it off the internet.
What I want to do is to set up an automatic computer program that will connect to the stream on Wednesday night, record the stream for one hour and then disconnect. I use the program StreamRipper which can run on either Linux or Windows.
Since I have a spare Raspberry Pi 4 computer, I chose to use the Linux version. The following description is based on Linux. A similar method I’m sure could be done with the Windows version.
Fortunately, StreamRipper is in the current software repository for the Raspberry PI and I could just install it with having to do a compile. I’m sure other Linux distributions probably also have it in their repository. It was a simple matter to install it. In Linux, Streamripper is run from the command line in a terminal window.
when executed, this would connect to the URL stream, record for 3600 seconds (60 minutes) and then disconnect from the stream A file called “Last Radio Playing.mp3” would be in the wwcr1 directory.
Save this command line to a shell file, maybe wwcr.sh. Then make this shell file executable.
Last is to enter a crontab entry to schedule the shell file wwcw.sh to be run every Wednesday at 6pm ct.
At the command line, enter crontab –e to edit the cron table.
Add the following line at the end:
0 19 * * 3 /home/pi/wwcr.sh
then exit and save the crontab file.
This line says to execute wwcr.sh every Wednesday at 1900 (my computer is on eastern time).
There are many ways to enhance the shell script. For example, I have added the date to the mp3 file name. My wwcr1.sh shell script is:
# WWCR1 Last Radio Playing
# Wednesday 7-8pm et
streamripper http://188.8.131.52:3763 -a “$NOW Last Radio Playing” -A -u FreeAmp/2.X -d /media/pi/RIP/wwcr1 -l 3600
This will create a MP3 file with the date in the file name. For example
2021-0505 Last Radio Playing.mp3
Note: I named the file wwcr1.sh to denote that WWCR transmitter 1 was being streamed. Each of the WWCR transmitters have different stream URL.
Most radio streams work fine with the default user agent but WWCR required a different user agent which is why the –u FreeAmp/2.X is added. Normally, –u useragent is not required. The default works fine.
For each program, just create a similar shell file and add it to the cron scheduler.
Streamripper is very powerful and has many options. One option is for it to attempt to divide the stream up into individual files – one for each song. Sometimes this works quite well – it all depends on the metadata that the station is sending over the stream. I usually just go for a single file for the entire show. Some stations are a little sloppy on whether the program starts on time – sometimes they start a minute early and sometimes run a minute over. The solution is to increase the recording time to two minutes longer and then specify in the crontab file that the show starts a minute early. It’s easy to adjust to whatever condition might be occurring.
Recording the BBC
I have found that the BBC makes it more difficult to use this procedure. For one thing, they have just changed all their stream URL’s. And they have decided NOT to make them public. When they did this some of the internet radios broke since they still had the old URL’s. Of course it didn’t take long for someone to discover and post the new stream URL’s:
I have tested the Radio 4 Extra stream and it does seem to work. For how long is anyone’s guess.
I found that while streamripper did seem to work on BBC, all the mp3 files came out garbled. So the method above doesn’t seem to work with the BBC.
I went back to the drawing board (many hours on Google) and discovered another way to create a shell script that can be scheduled to record a stream. This involves using the programs mplayer and timelimit.
First step is to install the programs mplayer and timelimit to the Linux system. mplayer is a simple command line audio and video player. timelimit is a program that will execute another program for a specific length of time.
Note: The bold line above is all on one line in the shell file.
This script will execute the timelimit command. The timelimit command will then execute the mplayer command for 1800 seconds (30 minutes).
The mplayer command then connects to the http stream; the stream instead of playing out loud is dumped to the dumpfile /media/pi/RIP/$NOW-bbc.mp3
The crontab entry becomes:
30 23 11 5 * /home/pi/bbc30.sh
In this case, the program on May 11 at 2330 will be recorded.
In conclusion, Podcasts are the easiest way to get the programs. But automatically recording directly from the station stream is really not that much harder to do. Just be careful. It’s very easy to accumulate much more audio than you can ever listen to in this lifetime.
One final note. The use of a Raspberry Pi makes this a very easy and convenient method. I run the pi totally headless. No keyboard, mouse or monitor. It just sits on a shelf out of the way and does it thing. I either log in using VNC when I want the graphical desktop, Putty for the command line, or WinSCP for transferring files. The Pi stays out of the way and I don’t end up with another computer system cluttering up my desktop.
Besides recording several shortwave programs, I use Streamripper to record many FM programs from all around the United States. It’s great for recording that program that is on in the early morning hours.
Thank you for sharing this with the SWLing Post community, Bill! This weekend, I’m going to put one of my RPi 3 units into headless service recording a few of my favorite programs that aren’t available after the live broadcast. Many thanks for the detailed command line tutorial!
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