After recently checking out a number of photos on the Radiofreunde NRW Facebook page, I asked if a member of this group could give me a little more detail about their DXpeditions. Many thanks to Joachim Geisau who writes:
Radiofreunde NRW is an independent association of SWL, radio amateurs and technology enthusiasts. We meet 2-3 times a year for a few days in a rural area far away from urban noise to listen to radio broadcasts from the most distant countries.
Normally we set up several large antennas, mostly 8-10 different ones, both active and passive.
The antenna setup consisted of:
– two magnetic loops with 1m diameter
– two wire loops with 20 m size
– one beverage antenna 80 mtrs length
– another beverage antenna 240 mtrs length
– a PA0RDT mini whip antenna
– a DL4ZAO UniWhip antenna
Their signals are distributed via a self-made distribution unit. A total of about 6-800 m of coax cable is used. This makes broadcasts audible from distances more than 10,000 km.
Wow! Thank you, Joachim for the information and many thanks to Tom Kamp for the photos!
Post readers: If you’re interested in Radiofreunde NRW’s events, you can contact them via their email address: [email protected] They’re a multi-lingual group and can accommodate German, English, French, and Dutch!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jack Blanke (WB5LVP), who shares the following:
Really enjoyed your article yesterday, and felt compelled to respond with a similar DX’ing jaunt of mine two days ago.
I found myself in the same mindset and ventured out to a nearby peaceful fishing and yacht harbor to try out my new Tecsun PL-380. I have had it about 10 days and I have figured out that I have about all the urban power line and electrical noise I can stand at my home location, so I was headed out to give the 380 a chance to exercise its ears.
I found the most deserted corner of the parking lot at the harbor, positioned my pick-up for maximum shade, dropped the tail gate to provide a work surface, strung out about 75 feet of stranded #14 insulated copper wire and positioned my portable chair for DX action.
I did not have a copy of the WRTH, but I do use an iPhone app called Shortwave Broadcast Schedules by Black Cat that has really worked well for me and I highly recommend. With great anticipation, I flipped the power switch and enjoyed the most beautiful silence from man made electrical noise that I have ever experienced!! I could not believe how much quieter the receiver was in a more more pristine environment.
Jack’s ultralight Tailgate DXpedition kit
I opened the app to search for some DX’ing frequency possibilities, began tuning the bands and I was amazed at the number of short wave broadcast stations, the strength of their signals and the pure listening quality coming out of my 380, which is little larger than a pack of cigarettes!! I have been a licensed ham since 1970 and at one point back in the early 1970’s, I had a complete R. L. Drake HF station which might be called “Boat Anchors” by today’s standards. I was now listening to stations from around the globe on a receiver that comfortably fit in my pocket and a long wire strung out to a nearby “NO PARKING” sign post.
The Tecsun PL-380
Within a matter of a couple of relaxing hours, I had logged and enjoyed listening to Radio Habana, Voice of Vietnam, China Radio Int., Voice of Nigeria, Radio Romania Int., KBS World Radio and several other stateside shortwave broadcasts from Miami, Nashville & Lebanon Tennessee. I was totally thrilled at the performance of the radio/antenna combo and I anxiously await the opportunity to visit the area again for another Tailgate DXpedition!! I am particularly looking forward to fall days and cooler temps to go lose myself in the reverie of the shortwave bands, this time with a few brewskies in the ice chest, along with lunch.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I could not help but relate to your article when I read it!! Next time, I plan to photograph my Tailgate DXpedition, simple though it may be to share with others. I have been away from radio for some time, but have maintained my amateur license for nearly 50 years. Now that I am retired and have more time, I plan to enjoy my long lost love of radio once again.
Thanks for your web sight. I look forward to the newsletters and enjoy its resources.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Jack!
Isn’t it amazing how the shortwave bands simply open up when you remove all of the urban noise that plagues our receivers? That’s the brilliance behind impromptu DXpeditions. Plus, I’ve always believed that radio is best enjoyed outdoors.
We look forward to seeing some photos and a report of your next Tailgate DXpedition, Jack!
Until now we all knew about the pirate stations in Europe and America. However, DXpedition to Bay of Bay of Bengal had some surprise in store for us. Yes, it’s the pirate stations of Bay of Bengal flocking the Medium Wave which were the prized catch. Below are the Bengali Medium Wave Pirate Stations logs
Bengali Medium Wave Pirate Sagardeep No 1, 1272 KHz
Debanjan Chakraborty (VU3DCH) Scanning the Airwaves
Debanjan Chakraborty, is a self taught DXer from the city of Kolkata, West Bengal, India. In mid 90’s when he came across an article about radio listening and became fascinated by the hobby to scan the airwave for signals from far way land. His first QSL was from Radio Netherlands in 1996 and in over 2 decades now, adding up to a few thousand QSLs in his collection. It was only in 2009 he started his blog RadioWavesHunter http://radiowaveshunter.blogspot.in/ to put up his loggings and QSL collections. Interestingly his blog site has garnered over 12K+ visitors from across the globe. He has also, got some of vintage radios scanning the airwaves. Sony ICF 5900 (1975), Panasonic FR 2200 (1977), Yaesu – Musen FRG-7 (1976 -1980), Kenwood R-1000 (1979) and Sony ICF 2010 (1985) are few from his collection.
I recently received an email from SWLing Post friend, contributor and Patron, Mark Fahey, who is currently enjoying a fascinating DXpedition.
Many thanks to Mark who has allowed me to share a few of his notes from the trip. Mark writes:
I am at Susut, in the Bangli Regency, on the Indonesian island of Bali.
This treehouse is at the base region of Mt Agung, an active volcano, so the earth rumbles a few time each day.
For the next week and a half, I am alone in the Indonesian jungle with my WinRadio Excalibur a collection of loops and wire antennas and lots of storage for spectrum recording. No QRM, I am running on DC, but charge my gear during the day from an AC mains supply.
DX is fantastic – best today being CNR in DRM locked solid!
But the big disappointment is just like Malaysia, MW in most of Indonesia is now just white noise, nothing at all – and hardly any RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia) on the tropical bands now.
But FM jam-packed, I expect many are community pirate stations as well. I came all setup for FM capture as well.
Wow! What a brilliant DXpedition location, Mark! It appears you’ve truly removed all other distractions being in such a remote area.
Sign me up! I’m ready for some Indonesian tree house DXing!
Thanks for sharing, Mark! [And by the way, I’m not at all envious. Okay, maybe just a little. Or a lot.]
Post readers: Have you ever been on a DXpedition in an exotic or unique location? Please comment!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison (VE6XTC), who shares the following notes from a DXpedition over 30 years years ago. Bruce writes, “While going through some old blog posts, I found this one about a DXpedition I took in 1984.”
HUNTING FOR RARE GAME.
In past posts, I’ve mentioned my passion for radio. It began with my discovery of distant stations on my dad’s car radio when I was ten years old and continues to this day. Because my memoirs deal with subjects other than distant signal reception, referred to by radio aficionados as DX, I haven’t been able to write much about this infatuation.
One aspect of hunting for DX is travelling to remote locations that are free of man-made interference. When I learned that my cousin Wayne, was going hunting near Lodgepole in October of 1984, I begged a ride with him.
In a clearing along a cut line, I erected a seventy-foot-long wire antenna and connected it to my general coverage receiver which I powered with a car battery. While Wayne hunted moose, I tracked down exotic stations. Just as the fresh autumn air invigorated me, so did the crystal-clear reception of stations which I could barely hear back home.
At our makeshift camp site, I often let my cousin listen to the radio. This occasionally led to some strange situations. As we ate breakfast early one morning, I tuned in a station from Papua New Guinea. To my astonishment, the announcer began playing country music. There we were, two Canadians in the Alberta wilderness, listening to American country tunes from a station on the other side of the Pacific ocean.
Another memorable radio moment happened one night when I picked up a coast guard station in contact with a ship somewhere in the Pacific. Somebody on board it was hurt and needed a doctor. The radio man could barely speak English and the American on shore could barely understand the sailor’s accent. If it wasn’t a serious situation, it would have been comical.
My uncle Bob, who hunted in a different part of the forest, met us one evening as we relaxed by the fire. When he asked what I was doing with that fancy radio, I showed him by tuning in Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.
Uncle Bob gawked at the set and listened in awestruck silence for a minute. “I can understand that,” he exclaimed as a news announcer droned on in German. “I can understand everything he’s saying. How can you pick up a signal all the way from Germany?” he marvelled.
I couldn’t even begin to explain the intricacies of F2 radio wave propagation to him so I said, “Signals like that always come in like that on the short wave bands.”
I felt sad at the end of the week when we packed up and drove toward Edmonton. Though Wayne came back empty-handed, I had the fulfilling experience of listening to far away stations free of annoying buzzes from TV sets and power lines.
Thank you for sharing those wonderful memories, Bruce!
While I love the Panasonic RF-B65, the Voice of Greece and a St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout: this combo can’t fight the persistent radio interference here at the condo.
Some of you might recall that I’m spending the months of August and September in a condo near Québec City, Canada. We love it here, though it does present some radio challenges. Unlike our rural/remote mountain home in the States, I’ve always had to cope with QRM (manmade radio interference) here at the condo. Not surprising.
I typically bring my PK Loop antenna–it helps lower the noise a tad and is easy to take out on our balcony for optimal reception. Lately, though, the QRM has been even worse on the balcony than inside the condo (more on that in a future post).
Some North American and European stations punch through the noise when propagation is favorable (especially the Voice of Greece and Radio Romania International) but there have been evenings where nothing could penetrate the wall of noise.
Back at the condo, though, there’s no easy way to escape the noise.
Or is there?
Perhaps 21st century problems require 21st century solutions.
This year–especially here at the condo–I’ve spent a great deal of time exploring the KiwiSDR network.
For those of you not familiar, the KiwiSDR is a self-hosted WebSDR which operates much like a mini U Twente WebSDR. KiwiSDR owners install their SDRs at home–or in other favorable locations–then share control of their SDR with the world via the the Internet.
Like the U Twente WebSDR, KiwiSDRs allow multiple simultaneous users to control the SDR independently of each other. Each KiwiSDR can allow up to four simultaneous guests (the U Twente WebSDR can allow hundreds of simultaneous users, but it’s also a university-supported bespoke SDR with fantastic bandwidth!).
Over the past few years, the KiwiSDR network has grown almost exponentially. There are Kiwi SDRs on every continent save Antarctica (someone remedy that, please!).
Each red pin represents a KiwiSDR installation.
Other than the fact that the SDR audio is piped through the Internet–and you can’t walk outside and adjust the antenna–there is no difference between using a KiwiSDR remotely or locally.
In fact, the KiwiSDR only has a web browser-based application, there is no downloadable application for local use. So quite literally, the experience of controlling and using a KiwiSDR locally or globally is identical.
And it’s so much fun! I browse the KiwiSDR network via the map above, select an interesting location, and virtually travel there for an impromptu DXpedition. I can travel to India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, or Hawaii via the network and be back in time for dinner here in Canada without breaking a sweat or even using frequent flyer miles!
Of course, you don’t need an iPad, or any special equipment. The KiwiSDR application works with pretty much any computer, tablet or smart phone that has a web browser. For the best experience, however, I would suggest connecting a good external speaker, bluetooth speaker or headphones.
I know many of you are thinking, “But Thomas! This isn’t real radio!”
But I would argue that it is real radio! It’s a real radio, connected to a real antenna that you’re simply controlling via the Internet with a web-based SDR application. Instead of the audio going through a sound card into your headphones, it’s going into a soundcard, piped through the Internet, then into your headphones.
Give it a try! You might find an impromptu DXpedition is the perfect remedy to your QRM and RFI blues!
Post readers: Any heavy KiwiSDR users out there? Or do you oppose using WebSDRs? What are your thoughts? Please comment!
Bob, K4UEE, narrated an interesting PowerPoint presentation at both the recent DX Forum at the Dayton HamVention and the W5DXCC/HamCom.
This presentation includes a summary of the 3Y0Z DXpedition with stunning pictures, their Vessel vetting process, what they learned, planned refund of remaining funds, another attempt, and some personal observations of K4UEE.