Tag Archives: FM DX

Radio Waves: The Enduring Appeal of Shortwave Radio, Ampegon Ships 100kW Transmitter, 4,270 km FM DX, Emisión Sefarad, and the Eswatini Transmitter

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors David Goren, Tracy Wood, and David Iurescia for the following tips:


Deep in the dial: Lawrence English on the enduring appeal of shortwave radio (The Wire)

To mark The Wire’s Radio Activity special issue, the Room40 label head examines the uncanny sonic properties of high frequency transmission

100 years ago this December, voices spoken on one side of the Atlantic shot through the atmosphere and materialised on the other side of the ocean. It was a moment of jubilation for those involved and proof of concept that formalised the possibilities of an emergent zone of signalling and communications called radio. It also helped to bring into focus the unrealised potential of this technology as a mechanism for access to, and transference of, signals of all sorts from around the globe.

These first transatlantic voices were carried on wavelengths of around 200 metres. At that time, which was before the creation of the International Telecommunication Union who coordinate the use of various frequency bandwidths on the radio spectrum, the length of the waves sat at the cusp of two bandwidths: the lowest end of medium wave and the highest end of shortwave. Not only had this amateur broadcast achieved new distances over which communication might pass, but it also demonstrated the process of skywave propagation. This method, whereby radio signals are bounced off the ionosphere (the electrically charged upper layer of Earth’s atmosphere), extends the range of transmission of a radio signal considerably.

What made skywave propagation especially interesting was that, as a technique, it was being actively explored by both amateur radio enthusiasts (the so-called ham radio movement) and commercial interests alike. In fact, throughout the 1920s experimental approaches to radio (broadcast and otherwise) were an area of intense interest and research. This attention was aided by booms in broadcast hardware and a growing understanding about how the technology could be deployed to radically reconfigure the ways in which transmission of voice, music and other signals might be achieved over greater and greater distances.[]

Ampegon Ships First of Four 100kW Shortwave Transmitters (Ampegon)

Ampegon has shipped the first of a series of four new 100kW shortwave transmitters from its factory in Kleindöttingen, Aargau, Switzerland. The transmitter RF and PSM sections were carefully moved out of the factory and onto a lorry for transfer to our shipping partner. There it will be securely packed in shipping crates and prepared for onward transport.

Ampegon’s TSW-2100 100kW shortwave transmitter is an economical and reliable transmitter system intended for regional to international broadcasting. Its relatively high output power provides good signal strength hundreds of kilometers away from the transmitter when attached to a good antenna, while it is still of sufficiently low power to allow operation from standard low voltage three-phase electrical connections.

Almost all shortwave transmitters currently in production feature digital DRM capabilities, since they are specified with DRM modulators and content servers. This permits the delivery of stereo FM-quality sound and a digital data channel over the same 9/10kHz broadcast band as an analogue transmission. Additionally, when used in DRM mode, power consumption is reduced by approximately 40%-50%, saving broadcasters hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in electricity costs!

With this transmitter safely on its way to its new home, attention turns to completing the next two systems currently under testing. All transmitters undergo rigorous factory acceptance testing to ensure installation and commissioning can be completed with minimum possible disruption.

For further information about Ampegon’s high power shortwave transmitter range, please see our product pages at: www.ampegon.com/products/sw-tube-transmitters/

To learn more about DRM transmissions, please visit the DRM consortium here: www.drm.org[]

FM radio station on 90.7 MHz near Quebec is heard across the Atlantic in Ireland – 21st June 2021 (EI7GL)

21st June 2021: This was a remarkable day for VHF propagation with a very rare trans-Atlantic opening on the 88-108 MHz FM band.

As outlined in a previous post, Paul Logan in the north of Ireland managed to hear a radio station from Greenland on 88.5 MHz from roughly 13:00 to 14:00 UTC on the 21st of June.

Near the end of this opening, Paul also managed to hear a radio station near Quebec in Canada, a distance of approximately 4,270 kms !

The radio station in question was the 100 kilowatt transmitter of CBRX-FM-3 ICI MUSIQUE which is located at Riviére-du-Loup just to the east of Quebec City in Canada.

A short audio clip from Paul is embedded below…

 

[Click here to continue reading this post on EI7GL’s blog…]

For 35 years, mother-daughter duo has run a radio show on Ladino and Sephardic Jewish culture from Madrid (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Matilde Gini de Barnatán and her daughter Viviana Rajel Barnatán didn’t set out to make Jewish history in Spain.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Matilde, now 85, established herself in Argentina as a prominent researcher, teacher and scholar of the history of Sephardic culture and the Spanish Inquisition in Ibero-America. Her extensive expertise and recognition in Argentine intellectual circles helped her become a close friend of the renowned writer Jorge Luis Borges.

Viviana Rajel, now 55, studied acting in Buenos Aires.

But in April 1986, as Israel was establishing its diplomatic relations with Spain, so did the Spanish government with its Jewish ancestry. Through its state-owned public radio service, the country set out to develop a cultural project in the form of a radio show to reintroduce Ladino — or Judeo-Spanish, an endangered Romance language spoken by past generations of the Sephardic Jewish Diaspora — as a vital piece of Spanish heritage.

It was “a gesture of friendship between Spain, Israel and the Sephardic communities around the world,” according to Viviana Rajel.

Due to the lack of native Ladino speakers in Spain at the time, there was virtually no one available to take on the endeavor. Through academic networks of Sephardic scholars that linked Spain with Argentina, Matilde was found and asked to relocate and be the project’s primary role — which its developers pitched as a way to redress the historical wrong of the Spanish Inquisition, the 15th-century expulsion of Jews from the country.

Viviana Rajel followed her mother because she wanted the show to portray the matriarchal essence behind the oral tradition of Ladino, which traditionally passes from generation to generation through the women of the family.

Hence was born “Emisión Sefarad” (or “Sepharad Broadcast”), a weekly radio show available online and on shortwaves in Judeo-Spanish that broadcasts every Sunday on the Spanish National Radio’s overseas service. April marked 35 years of the program, which has aired uninterrupted since its launch.

Click here to continue reading, noting that this article is behind a paywall.

The incredible reach of the Eswatini transmitter (Evangelical Focus)

TWR Africa has been spreading hope throughout the African continent since 1974 engaging millions in more than 50 countries.

Radio, the internet, mobile devices, TWR360, and other media sources open doors to allow the gospel to spread to countries where Christianity is legally forbidden, to animistic tribes in the Nuba Mountains who are cut off from the rest of civilization, and to displaced people fleeing war in northern Mozambique. We have been equipped with powerful media tools to take the Good News into places where we physically cannot go. Through the power of the Spirit, we can use radio and other mass media to accomplish the task Jesus gave us to make disciples of all nations.

TWR broadcasts from various transmitter sites in Africa including TWR Eswatini and the Middle East on shortwave, and TWR West Africa on medium wave (AM). In addition, TWR broadcasts programs via several TWR partner FM radio networks and a satellite channel that offer direct-to-home services to various parts of the continent.[]

 


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Any experience with the Tecsun TU-80 enthusiast-grade FM tuner?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, George, who writes:

Hi Thomas -I hope you’re keeping well.

[…]I have had my eye on the Tecsun TU-80. However, I seem to find no videos on its use and no reviews. Perhaps it’s because it’s new.

I wonder if any of the SWLing Post readers have some info about it.

Post readers: If you have any experience using the Tecsun TU-80 FM tuner, please comment. I am not familiar with it. Very curious if it might be a great dedicated FM DXing receiver. It is pricey ($530 US on eBay).

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Guest Post: What is FM Lightning Scatter DX?

Photo by Olivier Lance on Unsplash

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who shares the following guest post:


What is Lightning Scatter DX?

by Bruce Atchison (VE6XTC)

Believe it or not, it’s possible to receive distant FM stations during a thunder storm. While lightning makes it difficult to hear AM and shortwave broadcasts, its crackles aren’t as evident on the 88 MHz to 108 MHz band.

When lightning strikes, it temporarily ionizes the air around it. Radio signals are reflected by the charged gasses and come back down to earth.

From my experience with this kind of DX, the signal became noticeably stronger during lightning strikes. This effect lasted for a second, then the signal level dropped to its former strength.

While a thunder storm raged overhead on July 7th, I used my CC Skywave SSB radio to check out the FM band. Instead of hearing E-skip as I had hoped, I found that tropo-like conditions reflected stations down to my home. I heard signals from a hundred miles away or further.

As just one example, I found a low-power station with the call letters CKSS on 88.1MHZ. They call themselves 88.1 The One. Find out more about this station at the http://www.881theone.ca/ link. It’s located in the town of Stony Plain, Alberta. This station plays country music and airs local news events.

At a guess, I’d say the transmitter is about 120 miles from my QTH in Radway. It normally doesn’t come in at all. The signal strength varied too, showing that it wasn’t a local.

In my instance of catching CKSS’s signal, a form of tropo ducting was also present. Rain can produce reflections of signals but it’s much more pronounced in the UHF and microwave bands.

When a thunder storm is ruining AM and shortwave reception, try DXing the FM band. You’ll be surprised at what occasionally comes in.

For further information on weather-related DX, check William R. Hepburn’s article.

To see a demonstration of lightning scatter on amateur TV, watch the
following video:

To hear what FM lightning scatter sounds like, watch this video:


Thank you for sharing this guest post Bruce. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never tried to hear lightening scatter DX, but I will certainly give it a go.  This time of year, we’ve numerous thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening, so I’ll certainly have the opportunity!

Post readers: Have you ever caught FM DX off of Lightening Scatter? Please comment!

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Guest Post: Roseanna snags some unexpected FM DX

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Roseanna, who shares the following guest post originally published on her blog, The Girl with the Radio:


Unexpected FM madness!

I would like tho share with you a once in a lifetime Sporadic-E event that happened to me today along with videos of the catches I received during it.

It was about 12:00 UTC (1PM local time) and I was listening to NRJ on my personal FM transmitter (106.3MHz) when all of a sudden my pop music fuzzed and turned into classical music. It was then that I knew something was happening and I didn’t want to miss it!

I jumped up, got out my phone camera and started scanning around trying to find distant FM stations and my goodness did I get some amazing catches!

There was no tropo forecast for my area nor some of the places I heard and I wasn’t prepared in the slightest so I ask for your forgiveness on the shaky unprofessional footage and I hope you enjoy watching the following catches that I received!

For those interested my setup is a Sony ST-SE570 with a “bunny ear” telescopic aerial with the ground positioned vertically and the feed positioned horizontally. I put the feed to be facing at 90 degrees East to West.

Disclaimer: the order in which these stations were received has been altered to make this blog post more fun, the times in UTC are in the video titles for those of you interested in the chronological order in which I received these stations!

First stop: Czechia!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

This is an amazing catch to start us off; 10kW at 1300km with RDS!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

This one is even more impressive that the last one at 5.5kW with RDS, I still am surprised at these catches watching them back!!

Next stop: Romania!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

This catch is just insane. I have BBC Radio 2 on 88.1MHz and you can hear RRA and BBC R2 fighting to be heard!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

And this catch …. I have no words to describe my sheer amazement, surprise, shock and excitement hearing a station from Romania (Over 1800km / 1100 miles away) that is broadcasting at only 2kW. It is on the same frequency as France Musique broadcasting at 160kW which is much much closer; I still can’t believe I heard this at all!

After all that excitement we now stop over in Slovakia!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

This is a much less insane catch compared to the last few but it is still awesome! Disclaimer: I skipped a load of fading in the recording where it fades.

Click here to listen via YouTube.

And here is SRo 1 again, however this time a much lower powered transmitter compared to the last one and yet the signal is still really good and most of the RDS data was decode-able!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

Here is SRo 4, 20kW and some of the RDS decoded. an UnID was on 94.6MHz which made this quite awesome to get the RDS PI!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

And for our last stop in Slovakia we meet Fun Rádio, an 18kW station with RDS received!

Our last stop on our FM journey; Hungary!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

This is Retro Rádió a 50kW station in Hungary. It was broadcasting over BBC Radio Wiltshire and I even got RDS!

I hope you all enjoyed going on this radio tour of Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Czechia with me, I certainly did!

Thank you ever so much for reading and watching and I hope to see you around for my next adventure!


And thank you, Roseanna, for taking us on your FM travels! Isn’t RDS an amazing tool for grabbing station IDs during these FM DX openings–? Well played! Again, many thanks as I enjoyed your FM tour of eastern Europe.

Post Readers: Check out Roseanna’s blog The Girl With the Radio!

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Impressive Transatlantic FM DX: Newfoundland to Northern Ireland on 88.5 MHz

(Source: Southgate ARC)

88 MHz Trans-Atlantic signals heard in Ireland

On Sunday the 8th of July 2018, there was a remarkable opening on the VHF bands across the North Atlantic. While there were plenty of strong multi-hop Sporadic-E signals on the 28 MHz and 50 MHz bands, the maximum qusable frequency did reach as high as 88 MHz at one stage.

Paul Logan in Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland managed to catch CBC radio 1 on 88.5 MHz from Newfoundland, Canada at 22:35 local time (21:35 UTC). It is very rare for openings on Band 2 across the Atlantic and to date, only two people have managed to succeed in hearing North American radio stations.

Click here to view video of reception on YouTube.

Click here to read the full article on EI7GL’s blog.

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Aeronautical SDR: Ivan’s in-flight FM spectrum captures

Aircraft-Jet-Boeing-VOLMET

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ivan Cholakov (NO2CW), who writes:

Thomas, not sure if this is something relevant but airlines now state it is OK to use an am/fm radio on board aircraft.

Not much possibilities for AM unfortunately but on a recent flight from Ft Lauderdale to Dallas and Albuquerque I hooked up an SDRPlay receiver to a 3 inch stick antenna and recorded a few stations I was able to pick up along the way.

The first video is posted here:

I did take a few more videos flying between JFK and MIA as well.

I used the following equipment:

fm_dx

1. 13 inch laptop that I also use for work
2. SDRPlay receiver
3. Old scanner antenna that I happened to have
4. SDRUno software to drive the radio
5. Screen recorder that comes with the Win 10 Xbox app
6. Windows movie maker to stitch the individual clips together and annotate

If needed, the size of the setup above can shrink further if a smaller laptop/tablet is used and an RTL dongle instead of SDRPlay.

You will also need to equip yourself with a window seat. Otherwise, signals are significantly weaker.

I did not place the antenna in a special position, just next to me on the seat where it could not be noticed by other passengers. I uploaded a few more videos from my weekly shuttle flights between MIA an JFK.

Ivan NO2CW

Wow!  Thanks so much, for sharing this, Ivan.

I’ve always packed a simple FM-capable radio in my one, compact carry on bag and typically try a little FM DX travel while in flight. I was never aware there was a restriction on using an FM receiver in flight, but I’ve always kept my radio listening very discrete so it’s never been a problem.

I love the idea of doing in-flight FM spectrum captures! It would be fun to watch signals on the spectrum shift and change as the flight progresses. Very cool, Ivan!

Post readers: Have you ever made in-flight FM spectrum captures like Ivan?  Please comment!

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FM DXing: Troy’s unexpected catch

Troy-FM-DX

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who writes:

Thomas, if I were to read this on your blog, I would not have believed the following.

I live in Virginia nearly equidistant from RIC/Richmond Int’l AP (east of Richmond) and PHF AP (in Newport News). I had a 1:40 P.M. doctor’s appt. [July 12] and I took to I-64 East en route to the doctor near Newport News. My Silverado has an XM Radio that I typically listen to, but the reception is bad in the summer because of the wooded nature of the interstate.

I hit the “FM” button and I quickly found a station at 105.7. There were two other 105.7 stations that periodically interfered, but one station was dominating/booming. After music I heard commercials about concerts in Iowa. I heard an Iowa Lottery Commercial. And a Lasik commercial – yes, all from Iowa. I heard a weather forecast that definitely wasn’t for Virginia. After 10-12 minutes I got a station I.D.. It was KSUX Sioux City, Iowa. Sioux City, Iowa is 1,332 miles away or an estimated 22-hour drive!

KSUX dominated the airwaves until I got very close to my Newport News, VA appt. By then (around 12:55 P.M.) I had picked-up one of the other two stations that were competing on 105.7. It was a station on the Outer Banks, NC (about 2.5 hours by car away).

When I went back to my Silverado at exactly 2 P.M., the KSUX was barely audible as the Outer Banks, NC station was now the most clear. I drove back towards my home on I-64 West and after a few miles (5-10 at most) the third of the three stations became clear. The third station was “Kiss 105.7” originating in Richmond, VA. That means the Sioux City, Iowa station, 1,332-miles away, had obliterated the Richmond, VA signal from 12:30 P.M. to almost 1:00 P.M. even though at this juncture of my drive Richmond was 45-55 miles away.

The KSUX Sioux City, IA station … even though weak on the drive home … still occasionally popped through the airwaves to cause interference with the Richmond, VA signal.

If I hadn’t heard it, I would have never believed it. I did a quick check and I didn’t see anything regarding closer stations possibly simulcasting the KSUX signal. It appears to be 100% legit.

I’m dumbfounded. It’s a head scratcher for sure.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Troy. You, sir, were the recipient of some excellent FM DX openings!

FM DXing conditions

There are a few conditions that make for proper FM DX:

  1. Sporadic-E and tropospheric ducting (DXers often call this, “Tropo”)
  2. Meteor scatter, where signals bounce off of ionized trails left by meteors
  3. Also, when there is exceptionally high sunspot activity, FM signals have been known to bounce off the ionosphere (like shortwave signals)

I strongly suspect you were enjoying FM DX from sporadic E. If memory serves (and keep in mind, I’m currently vacationing in an off-grid cabin without Internet), we had a K Index of 5 or so on July 12–at least, I believe I heard a ham radio operator report this on 40 meters that day. I can confirm that the HF bands were absolutely obliterated parts of that particular day. Conditions were very unsettled for the HF (high-frequency) bands, but potentially excellent for sporadic E.

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

Fred Osterman writes about Sporadic E on DXing.com:

Sporadic-E propagation is caused by patches of intense ionization in the E-layer of the ionosphere (approximately 35 to 60 miles above the Earth’s surface). Signals on frequencies above 30 MHz normally pass through the ionosphere and into space. However, sporadic-E “clouds” are capable of refracting such signals back to Earth. The term “clouds” is an apt way to describe the patches of highly charged particles that form during a sporadic-E event. Like clouds, these patches move and are highly irregular in size and shape. It is possible to track the movement of a sporadic-E “cloud” by noting the locations of stations that fade in and out on a frequency as the cloud moves.

Sporadic-E propagation can occur any time of day or year. However, sporadic-E is most common from about mid-May to late July, with another peak a week before and after the winter solstice. Sporadic-E seems to be most common from about mid-morning to noon, local time, and again from late afternoon through the evening hours.

If you’re interested in chasing a little FM DX (’tis the season–!), read Fred’s full article about FM and TV DXing on DXing.com. What I like about Fred’s article is that it’s simple and easy to understand.

Post readers: Has anyone else enjoyed a little FM DX this summer? Please comment! This is a part of the DXing hobby that I rarely feature on the SWLing Post, but would love to highlight more often. Let me know if you’d like to write a guest post on this topic!

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