Tag Archives: Guest Posts

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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Finding local Emergency Alert Stations in the US

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), who shares the following guest post:


Emergency Alert Stations: A great source of local information

by Mario Filippi

During the pandemic a source of local information for residents in certain areas of the country can be found on Emergency Advisory Radio stations that dot the country and provide 24/7 information pertinent to a community.  Not all communities have these stations, which can be found from 1610 – 1710 kHz and operate at varying power outputs.

Author’s Yaesu FRG-100 tuned to EAS station

For example, a station I regularly hear is WRBX655 about 12 miles away in Franklin Township, NJ operating on 1630 kHz : https://www.franklintwpnj.org/Home/Components/News/News/6384/1130?cftype=News

At the moment it is broadcasting information on COVID-19 from the Center for Disease Control.  Every EAS  station has a call sign and wattage generally is from about 10 – 50 watts. However some stations do not necessarily announce their call signs so you can check theradiosource at: http://www.theradiosource.com/resources/stations-alert.htm

Now some of these stations are part of the HAR (Highway Advisory System) that broadcast on major roadways and usually have prominent road signs announcing where to tune your car’s AM radio for latest traffic conditions.  These stations were also termed TIS (Traveler’s Information Stations) at one time and were the precursors of HAR.  However, over the years the FCC allowed more leeway on what information could be broadcast and as a result these EAS stations appeared in communities and even state parks.

You can look up the locations of these stations to ascertain if one serves your community but the best way is to tune regularly from 1610 – 1710 kHz.  The optimal time to listen is during daylight hours as propagation changes greatly after dark and you’ll hear commercial AM radio stations coming in and overpowering most EAS.  As for range, I’ve heard HAR stations as far away as 40 miles depending on ground wave conditions which can vary greatly. QSB is common. Many of these stations will rebroadcast NWS weather information when no pertinent emergencies exist and that is another way to spot them. Some highway stations I’ve heard will begin each broadcast loop with a tone, they’re all different in their approach.

Attached [at the top of the page] is a picture of the author’s Yaesu FRG-100 tuned to WRBX655 from Franklin Township, New Jersey. For an antenna I’ve used a 31 foot vertical and a loop and success will depend on using an outdoor antenna but when away from the home QTH, I’ve heard many of these stations while traveling on the roadways of America, They’re a good break casual AM radio listening.  Give it a try.


Thank you, Mario! I must admit that when I travel, I often hunt down EAS transmitters via my car’s AM radio. Besides being a good source of local information, I do know some DXers who’ve identified and logged an impressive number of distant stations when conditions were ideal. 

If you live outside the US, do you have similar networks for local information? Please comment!

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DIY: How to build a Passive Resonant Transformer-Coupled Loop Antenna for HF reception

We recently posted a tutorial on building a simple Noise-Cancelling Passive Loop (NCPL) antenna. This prompted SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, to share his excellent article on building a Passive, Resonant, Transformer-Coupled Loop (PRTCL) Antenna:


A Passive, Resonant, Transformer-Coupled Loop Antenna for Shortwave

By Bob Colegrove

Over the years I have resisted the level-of-effort necessary to construct and maintain outdoor antennas.  Rather, I have focused on squeezing out all of the microvolts I could get inside the house. Many years ago I had access to a well-stocked engineering library, and used my advantage to gather information about the theory and development of loop antennas – a daunting undertaking for an English major.  Ultimately, by adhering to a few basic rules, some of them dating back 100 years, I found quite acceptable performance can be had with an indoor passive antenna intersecting just a few square feet of electromagnetic energy.

Theory

There are a couple of advantages of resonant loops as opposed to non-resonant ones.  The first is the fact that the signal dramatically increases when you reach the point of resonance.  The second follows from the first in that resonance provides a natural bandpass which suppresses higher and lower frequencies.  This gives the receiver a head start reducing intermodulation or other spurious responses. The downside of all this is that the resonant loop is, by design, a narrow-band antenna, which must be retuned every time the receiver frequency is changed by a few kHz.  On the other hand, there is nothing quite as rewarding as the sight (S-meter) and sound you get when you peak up one of these antennas – you know when you are tuned in.

There is nothing new about the loop antenna described here.  It’s just the distillation of the information I was able to collect and apply.  There are a number of recurring points throughout the literature, one of which is the equation for “effective height” of a loop antenna.  It basically comes down to the “NA product,” where N is the number of turns in the loop and A is the area they bound. In other words, provide the coil with as much inductance as possible.  Unfortunately, for resonant loops, the maximum coil size diminishes with frequency.

With this limitation on inductance, the challenge becomes minimizing unusable capacitance in the resonant frequency formula in order to get the highest inductance-to-capacitance (L/C) ratio possible.  Some of the unusable capacitance is built into the coil itself in the form of distributed capacitance, or self-capacitance between the coil turns. This cannot be totally eliminated, but can be minimized by winding the coil as a flat spiral rather than a solenoid, and keeping the turns well separated.

The second trick is with the variable capacitor.  Even with the plates fully open, there is residual capacitance on the order of 10 to 20 picofarads which can’t be used for tuning purposes.  A simple solution is to insert a capacitor in series, about ¼ the maximum value of the variable capacitor. This effectively decreases the minimum capacity and extends the upper frequency range.  In order to restore the full operating range of the variable capacitor, the fixed capacitor can be bypassed with a ‘band switch.’ With the series capacitor shorted, the variable capacitor operates at its normal range and extends coverage to the lower frequencies.

Construction

I have constructed similar loops covering long wave, medium wave, and shortwave all the way up to about 23 MHz.  I wanted to optimize this loop for the most active portion of the shortwave spectrum. Consequently, it covers approximately 2.6 to 12.3 MHz.  See Figure 1.

Figure 1.  A Passive, Resonant, Transformer-Coupled Loop Antenna for Shortwave

Figure 2 is a schematic diagram of the antenna.  Cd (in red) is the distributed capacitance of the primary coil, L1.  This is not tunable capacitance, but it still contributes to the resonance; likewise, the 15 pf minimum capacitance of C1.  By adding C2, the minimum total capacitance can be lowered to greatly increase the upper range of the antenna. S1 is the ‘band switch.’  It shorts out the series capacitor, restoring the maximum low frequency.

Figure 2.  Schematic Diagram

Frame – The frame is made from 3/8”-square basswood or poplar dowel (see Specialized Parts).  Two pieces, each 36” long, have been predrilled at ½” intervals to accommodate the primary and secondary coil wire (think of a tennis racket).  It is a good idea to drill holes along the length of each dowel – more than you will need. You may decide to change things later on, and drilling holes in an assembled antenna is not easy.  Also the two dowels are notched in their centers to fit together. See Figure 3 and Figure 4. The clear plastic disk in Figure 4 is a packing disk from a spindle of CDs; it is cemented to the square dowels, and used to hold them at right angles.  Any rigid, light-weight material will do.

Figure 3. Square Dowel Showing 1?2” Hole Spacing and Lacing of Secondary Coil


Figure 4. Cross Members Notched and Square Dowel Reinforcement

Primary Coil – With a coil size 36” in diameter, you likely won’t be able to get more than two turns of wire to resonate at frequencies up to 12 MHz.  This takes into account the precautions described above to minimize unusable capacitance.  AWG 22 stranded, insulated wire was used to lace this coil; ensure the dowels remain at right angles with one another.  Note that one set of holes in the dowel is skipped between the first and second turn.

Tuning Capacitor – Almost any salvaged variable capacitor can be made to work.  For a typical 2-gang unit, the gangs can be connected in series through the common rotor sections and metal frame with the stator terminals of each gang used as the outer terminals.  This will create a lower minimum capacitance as described above.

For the antenna described here, a single-gang, 365-pf capacitor (see Specialized Parts) was used with a fixed mica capacitor in series.  The minimum capacitance of the variable capacitor is nominally 15 pf. Figure 5 shows the capacitor assembly for the primary circuit. Components are mounted on a perforated circuit board, which, in turn, is mounted to the bottom of the vertical square dowel.  A portion of the base can be seen at the rear. A large diameter tuning knob is suggested, as the peak tuning for a properly constructed loop will be very sharp and require a delicate touch. As an option, I have used a planetary reduction mechanism on other antennas to give an 8:1 ratio with the capacitor shaft.

You may notice at high frequencies that the antenna is somewhat unstable with body contact of the knob or around the tuning capacitor.  This is because the resonant circuit is operating at a very high L/C ratio with capacitance at just a few picofarads. Body capacitance will tend to detune the antenna.  It may be useful to extend the knob 2 or 3 inches from the tuning capacitor with an insulated shaft.

Figure 5.  Capacitor Assembly

Secondary Coil – The secondary coil operates at low impedance to feed the lead-in.  There are two extremes governing the size of the secondary coil. A coil which is too small will not pick up much of the magnetic field generated by the primary circuit at resonance.  On the other hand, a secondary coil which is too large will overcouple or load the primary circuit. This will reduce the Q, or sharpness of the tuning.

The secondary coil is 16” diagonal at the largest turn and consists of 7 turns of AWG 20 buss wire.  Buss wire was used so the coil can easily be tapped after the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th turn.  The 7th turn is not currently used.  A tapped coil will provide better impedance matches to the lead-in when the antenna is used through a wide frequency range.  The taps are selected with a rotary switch. The taps are connected so that the outer turns are used first, and inner turns connected as needed.  It is important that unused turns remain unconnected (free) rather than shorted. See Figure 6.

Figure 6.  Secondary Coil Switch

Lead-in – A twisted pair of AWG 22 stranded wire is used as the lead-in.  This will be more flexible than coax. The lead-in should be kept as short as possible and twisted tightly so it will not pick up any signal by itself.  This is important at shortwave frequencies. A twisted pair can be fabricated from two lengths of wire with one set of ends anchored in a vise, while the remaining ends are twisted in the chuck of a hand drill.  Most portable radios are equipped with a standard 1/8” phone jack at the external antenna connection point.  So, this antenna is terminated with a 1/8” phone plug.

Base – There is nothing special about the base.  Your only guidance should be to make it as stable as possible.  Since the frame is light, most of the weight will be at the bottom with the capacitor assembly and other parts.  That helps stability. This antenna uses a 5” plastic jar lid for the bottom. Keep the base small, as the antenna will likely be operated on a desk or table.

Operation

The antenna is intended to operate in close proximity to the radio, such as on a desk or table.  There must be sufficient space to rotate the loop laterally. As described, this antenna has a range of 2.6 MHz through 12.3 MHz with a band overlap around 8 MHz.  Depending on your selection of capacitors, your range and overlap may be slightly different.

  1. Tune the receiver to a desired frequency.
  2. Set the band switch on the antenna to the corresponding band.
  3. Tune the antenna capacitor to resonance (peak signal).
  4. Rotate the secondary switch to the position of maximum signal strength.  Begin with the fewest turns (generally one) in the secondary.
  5. It may be necessary to repeak the primary circuit.

Repeat the procedure to test operation of the upper or lower band.

Unlike similar loops for long and medium wave reception, this antenna is not especially responsive to direction for peak or null signal reception.  However, you will find it very useful to reduce or possibly eliminate locally produced noise. Simply rotate the antenna on its base.

Modification

The basic concept for this antenna can easily be extended to higher or lower frequencies.  Removal of the inner turn of the primary will significantly raise the upper frequency; whereas, adding turns will increase the lower range.  Note that the lacing of the primary coil skips one set of holes in the square dowels between the first and second turn. This minimizes distributed capacitance between turns.  This separation should be maintained if additional turns are added to lower the operational frequency.

Specialized Parts

Some sources for square wood dowel and single-gang 365 pf variable capacitors are listed below.  The author does not endorse any of them. Prices for similar capacitors vary widely.

Square wood dowel:

Variable capacitor (365 pf):


Bob, thank you so much for sharing this excellent, detailed tutorial. Although I don’t have the exact same variable capacitor, I have all of the other components to make this antenna. I will have to put this on my Social DX bucket list! Thank you again!


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Guest Post: Radiofreunde NRW’s DXpedition-grade signal distribution system


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Joachim von Geisau (DH4JG), for the following guest post:


Signal distribution at SWL camps: The new JK-1000 HF distributor

by Joachim von Geisau (DH4JG)

The Friends of Radio NRW – an independent group of shortwave listeners and radio amateurs in Germany – have been organizing 2-3 SWL camps per year for a number of years, where they meet as far away as possible from electrical noise in order to listen to shortwave together.

To distribute antenna signals, we have previously used an RFT AVV01 antenna distributor.

At an SWL camp there are high demands on signal distribution. Both very weak and strong signals should be distributed well, un-distorted, without noise and other interference. The signal levels are approximately between 0.2 ?V (S1) to over 5 mV (S9 + 40 dB), with a frequency range of at least from 150 kHz to 30 MHz, thus broadcast bands from LW to SW are covered, also all amateur radio bands from 160 m to 10 m.

Popular among listeners are RFT AVV01 RF distributors from the former GDR, at least 30 years old. However, the use of an AVV01 has several disadvantages: high power consumption, difficulties in getting spare parts, high upkeep with corroded contacts and the like. In addition, the transmission of the LW/MW range drops, which is a disadvantage especially for MW listeners. The NV-14 system from Rohde & Schwarz from the late 1960s has the same weaknesses.

Two years ago, the desire arose to develop a concept for the replacement of the RFT system.
The following aspects were important:

  • Frequency range at least 100 kHz – 30 MHz, as linear as possible
  • frequencies below or above desirable
  • Running on 12 V DC or integrated noise-free power supply
  • Remote power supply for active antennas
  • Robust structure
  • Versatility
  • Hobby friendly budget

The amateur radio market offers several products for RF signal distribution (e.g., ELAD, Bonito et al.), but no solution to distribute 6-8 antennas to 10-12 receivers. It was clear from the beginning that DIY development was inevitable.

The starting point of the considerations was to integrate remote power supply for active antennas, an amplifier stage and a distribution network.

Such a distributor is able to distribute an antenna signal to several receivers; several antennas require several such distributors, which led to the decision to implement the project in plug-in technology.

With OM Frank Wornast DD3ZE (www.dd3ze.de), known e.g. for his converters, filters and the like, a well-known RF developer could be won, who took over the implementation of the concept based on the detailed specifications. OM Wornast first produced a prototype without remote power supply, which already did an excellent job of RF signal distribution.

A “hardness test” at an SWL camp showed that this distribution module easily fulfilled our requirements: Frequency range 10 kHz – 50 MHz (also usable with a few dB loss above 50 MHz). Supplemented by a switchable remote power supply and a 90V gas discharger at the antenna socket, the final PCB layout was created, representing the core of the new HF distribution system of Radio Freunde NRW

The distribution block consists of the following components:

  • Input with 90V arrester & 100 kOhm MOX resistor to dissipate static interference
  • Remote power supply, switchable, 10-14 V, max. 350 mA
  • Amplifier stage with 14-14.5 dB
  • Resistor network for distribution

The device is characterized by a very smooth frequency response and has a very low inherent noise. It offers the possibility of using levels of -120dBm with very good SNR
to process up to strong levels of up to + 14dBm. In addition, the reception on VLF is now possible, which did not work with the previous system.

 

The PCB is designed in a very practical way: series resistors for LEDs are integrated as well as fixing points for coaxial cables. The remote power supply can be switched separately, but can also be used permanently by means of a jumper.

With this concept, the distribution block can be used universally: use on an active or passive antenna with distribution to several receivers, by means of a step switch in front of it also for several antennas; if you leave the remote feed path unconnected, the block can also be used as a simple distributor, so it is almost universal for hobby purposes.

For use on SWL camps, we decided to install them in 19 “rack-mount technology. A standard rack can thus accommodate 4 distributors and a power supply, allowing  distribution of 4 antennas to 12 outputs each. An example of the installation is shown in the following picture: Parallel to the input is another BNC socket, which is connected via a C 100 nF where the input signal can be used DC-free for measurement purposes or the like. The distribution unit is installed in a transport case. The components themselves are mounted in slide-in housings which are provided with a corresponding front panel: Such front panels might be obtained from CNC manufacturers.

On the back + 12V DC must be supplied as operating voltage. For the power supply units, we opted for linear power supplies because we have made the best experience with these without interference. For a distribution unit with 4 slots, a power supply with 12V 1A is sufficient – each distribution block takes about 55 mA, an active antenna up to 150 mA, so even with “full load” a power supply with 1 A is sufficient. The distributor was tested with various well-known active and passive antennas, including a PA0RDT MiniWhip, active loops, long wires and T2FD.

Due to the wide input voltage range, the module can handle nearly any antenna. The cost for a distributor for 4 antennas amounts  (depending on the version: housing, sockets, switches, power supply, etc.) to about 700-1000 €. That may seem a lot at first glance. However, taking into account that a simple 5-gang distributor from mass production costs already around 250 ¬, the cost of the distribution of 4 antennas to each up to 12 outputs are not that much. The Friends of Radio NRW use two of these distribution units for SWL camps.

If you are interested in building one, please contact the author (dh4jg@darc.de) for further information. The development history of the distribution unit is also available at www.dx-unlimited.eu.


Wow!  What a beautifully engineered antenna distribution solution, Joachim!  I love how you worked together to sort out all of the requirements for your system then build it for ultimate performance and flexibility.  No doubt, you and your colleagues at  Radiofreunde NRW posses a lot of design and engineering skills!  Simply amazing and thank you for sharing your design with the radio community!

Contact Joachim for more details and check out notes and discussion at www.dx-unlimited.eu (may require registration).

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Guest Post: Radio Seribatu’s Three FM Stations Launch on January 1st, 2020

Radio Seribatu FM Tower

Many thanks for the following guest post about SWLing Post supporter, Mark Fahey, who will soon be launching three local Balinese radio stations:


Radio Seribatu New Year 2020

A 2018 personal DX-pedition by SWLing Post supporter Mark Fahey to a remote village community in Indonesia’s Bali Province was intended to capture and record local and regional MW and SW Tropical Band spectrum on a WinRadio Excalibur for the Radio Spectrum Archive.

The field trip took a most unexpected turn; It was a total failure. Mark didn’t suffer any equipment problems, the loop antennas performed well; the problem was that MW, SW radio was irrelevant to the local population and there were just no longer any local stations broadcasting to archive.

Mark hanging backstage for Radio Volcano

To salvage the experience, Mark shifted his focus to recording video and audio of local gamelan and soundscapes. Seen as a strange novelty by the local jungle community, Mark was soon allocated land, the village built him a house and he has become the first foreigner to ever become a resident of the district and village.

Radio Seribatu Studio Building Studios are on Lower Levels of the house

In return, he has undertaken a project to introduce, and up-skill the village in sustainable eco-industries and educate the village millennials on how to manage these ventures using digital technologies. A component of the project has seen the establishment of three radio stations broadcasting 100% Balinese content. They are the first 24-hour radio stations in the province.

For the last six months, the three stations, Radio Seribatu – Village; Radio Seribatu – Volcano and Radio Seribatu – Mesin have been building the studio complex, solving power and bandwidth issues and training the staff. The network licensing is now permanently allocated and at midnight on January 1st, the test transmissions finish and the three stations officially open.

Each station brings many firsts to the region. They are the first to broadcasts 24 hours per day in the province, the first to broadcast 100% Balinese content and the first to deploy a fully digital workflow and studio complex.

Radio Seribatu Studio A sports state-of-the-art digital workflow

Late February, Mark is presenting a deep dive of the stations in a presentation at the upcoming NASWA Winter SWL Fest in Philadelphia, and at that time the SWLing Post will present a detailed tour of the network, discuss the journey, how unexpected twists and turns were overcome, and explain how Radio Seribatu’s test broadcasts in less than twelve months have reached the third most listened to radio network in all of Indonesia.

Most (if not all!) SWLing Post readers are beyond Radio Seribatu’s FM footprint; however, the majority of the station’s listeners tune in via their IP web streams and so can you! You will find the stations in most online radio directories, iOS and Android Apps and new generation factory fitted car radios (including Buick, Hyundai, Subaru, Mazda, Chevrolet, VW, BMW, GMC, Ford, Chrysler, Kia, Honda, Audi, Toyota, RAM, etc.).

Radio Seribatu Worldwide on Car Radio

A sure-fire way to listen is via the stream links on their website www.radioseribatu.com

 

On the Radio Seribatu VILLAGE station, you will hear everything that is happening around Seribatu village and wider across the island. This is the place to hear live gamelan, festival broadcasts and discussions about issues affecting the community.

On VOLCANO, the playlist is 100% Balinese Indi Rock, Alternative and Punk. 24 hours per day this is the place to hear Balinese bands.

On MESIN Radio Seribatu is playing 100% Balinese Electronic, Trance, House, Techno and Dance.

Each station’s test transmissions are on air right now and continue up until 6 PM Bali Time on New Year’s Eve, December 31st (1000 UTC December 31st). Then all three stations will be in simulcast, presenting a 6-hour special soundscape/actualities program that allows the listener to experience the tropical sounds of Seribatu. With the stroke of midnight; at the beginning of the new decade, all three stations launch into their regular programming.

Putu and Radio Seribatu_s Scoppy

Radio Seribatu is QSLing anyone who listens in, be it via stream or FM. Simply send a hello note and brief report of reception to info@radioseribatu.com and in return, you will receive a limited edition QSL, complete with an exotic postage stamp, posted directly from the Balinese jungle. No return postage required!


Here’s a rundown of what you can hear on the 31st December 2019 launch broadcast:

1000 UTC – (6:00 PM Bali Time)

Puja Tri Sandya Prayers

The Trisandya (from Sanskrit ??????????? ??? , Trisandhy? Puja, “three-evening prayer”) is a commonly-used prayer in Balinese Hinduism. It is uttered three times each day: 6 am, noon, and 6 pm, somewhat reflecting the Muslim azan prayers heard in other parts of Indonesia.

1005 UTC – (6:05 PM Bali Time)

Seribatu Village Awakens

Most Balinese families live within a family compound in villages that may have a population of around 700 – 800 people. In Seribatu the family compounds typically contain several homes for different members of the extended family. A typical home compound may comprise up to three families and grow to approximately 30 people. The village stirs to life just before the crack of dawn; roosters crow and chickens are fed. Early morning is a busy time in Seribatu, listen for village drums, Motor Bikes and Scooters heading off to the Dawn Market, Women sweeping their homes with a wicker brush, crickets chirp, and villagers trade at the dawn market. School starts early, and before the heat the day the Indonesian National Anthem is recited.

1017 UTC – (6:17 PM Bali Time)

Balinese Wisdom – The Song of Morality

Please don’t ever think you are very Clever; Let people either say you are good or great.

1019 UTC – (6:19 PM Bali Time)

Morning Market

Simple Seribatu village compounds do not have a refrigerator. Meat, fish and other food are purchased the local central market at dawn and the following few hours before the heat of the day descends. Farmers trade their vegetables and other produce. Merchants sell hardware and household supplies. Minivans packed to the roof with purchased fresh produce maneuver around the narrow lanes of the market.

1044 UTC – (6:44 PM Bali Time)

Ducks in the Rice Fields

Rice is a staple food in Bali, and it has strong ties to the Balinese culture. The cycle of rice growth pretty much sets the tone for much of the traditional Balinese life. The Balinese community views rice as a gift from God and a symbol of life. For thousands of years, the Balinese people have been growing rice and cultivating the beautiful rice terraces of Bali where three kinds of rice are grown: white rice, black rice, and red rice.

1102 UTC – (7:02 PM Bali Time)

Balinese Cleansing Ceremony

This ceremony is intended to cleanse the bhuana alit (the inner world of the individual human being or the micro-cosmos) of negativity so that he/she will be able (again) to enclose and utilize this inner power in an appropriate, spiritual way. The symbolism of this ceremony is intended to remind the individual to guard himself against the selfish desires and actions of the ego in favor of the unselfish goals of the soul or higher self. One prays for a clear mind with positive thinking and for strength to keep one’s self- control in situations where negative emotions are bound to arise.

1114 UTC – (7:14 PM Bali Time)

Satria Bird Market

As a popular Indonesian saying goes, a man is considered to be a real man if he has a house, a wife, a kris (dagger), and a bird. Keeping wild birds as pets is a massively popular hobby in many parts of Indonesia. The better the bird sings, the higher the demand for it. On a visit to Bali’s Satria Bird Market, you will see many thousands of birds from hundreds of species. Many of the birds are caged in poorly maintained conditions. Among the strangest are vendors who keep birds in bags, from unfledged chicks still in nests to breeding adults.

1115 UTC – (7:15 PM Bali Time)

Bats at the Goa Lawah Temple

One of nine sacred temples on the island of Bali, the cave temple of Pura Goa Lawah is home to thousands of bats. If the local legend is to be believed, it also hides a river of healing waters and a titanic snake wearing a crown.

While the site had no name when the temple was built, it gained its name due to the thousands of bats that cling to the ceiling and walls of the natural chasm, “Goa” meaning “cave” and “Lawah” meaning “bat.” It is thought that the cave may extend through the mountain right to a nearby town. The legend goes that the dark recesses of the tunnel are home to a mythical snake king known as Vasuki, a massive naga that wears a crown on his head. He is said to live on the copious amounts of bats in the cavern. Yet another legend claims that a river of miraculous healing waters rushes through the depths of the cave.

1120 UTC – (7:20 PM Bali Time)

Balaganjur Traditional Musicians Rehearsal

Baleganjur music is an inseparable part of life and death in Bali, heard in every village across the island. Its traditional purpose is to accompany funeral processions, so this intensely rhythmic yet dignified ensemble has a permanent role in Balinese society. The musicians play their instruments as they walk, and due to this portability, Baleganjur is now a fixture of all celebratory processions. A standard Baleganjur ensemble consists of about 20 musicians, plus helpers to carry gongs, but these days in Bali bigger is better!

1155 UTC – (7:55 PM Bali Time)

A Brief Balinese Radio Interlude

Listeners phone in and sing, callers discuss the terrorist bombings in Bali, Rinso (Indonesia’s most popular detergent) Soap Powder advertisement and how to cure a stubborn cough.

1242 UTC – (8:42 PM Bali Time)

Subak – Water Irrigation

Subak is a traditional ecologically sustainable irrigation system that binds Balinese agrarian society together within the village’s Bale Banjar community center and Balinese temples. For the Balinese, irrigation is not simply providing water for the plant’s roots, but water is used to construct a complex, pulsed artificial ecosystem. The water management is under the authority of the priests in water temples, who practice Tri Hita Karana Philosophy, a self-described relationship between humans, the earth and the gods.

1255 UTC – (8:50 PM Bali Time)

Temple Ceremony

In Bali, there are over 4,500 temples where ceremonies take place almost every day of the year. Temple festivals are held on the anniversary of when the temple was consecrated and usually on a new or full moon.

An Odalan or temple ceremony usually lasts for three days, but larger ones, which occur every 5, 10, 30 or 100 years, can last for 11 days or longer. The Balinese are honoring the deities that rule over the temple by giving them a myriad of offerings, performances of vocal music, dance and gamelan music. They invite them down from their abode on Mount Agung to partake in the activities. Every ceremony in Bali is to maintain the natural balance of positive to negative, so the Balinese do not destroy the negative forces, but balance them in harmony with the positive.

1426 UTC – (10:26 PM Bali Time)

Seribatu Evening

As the end of the year and the decade approaches, the sounds of frogs, crickets and tropical rain delight the ear while a cool bottle of Bintang refreshes your thirst.

1505 UTC – (11:05 PM Bali Time)

Radio Seribatu Countdown to Launch

Sinaga Goatama’s (Mendira Village) original electronic composition “Blazing Fire” guides us to midnight and the launch of regular programming on all three Radio Seribatu stations.

1600 UTC – (Midnight AM Bali Time)

It’s 2020 and Radio Seribatu has Launched!

All three of Radio Seribatu’s Radio Stations; Village, Volcano and Mesin radio are officially on-air, and commence their regular programming!


Wow, Mark! This is a most impressive endeavor and, no doubt, all three Seribatu stations will have a loyal following in Bali and across the planet! I’ve already become a fan of MESIN! 

We wish you and the Seribatu staff/volunteers massive success in your 2020 launch year!

Post readers: Again, Radio Seribatu, is QSLing anyone who listens in. Send a brief, accurate report and you will receive a limited edition Seribatu QSL. Send all reports to: info@radioseribatu.com

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Lack of Sunspots Breaks a Space Age Record

Another [sun] spotless day on the sun.

Spaceweather.com reports that today we surpassed the largest number of spotless days (270) of the previous 2008 Solar Minimum cycle. The current spotless streak stands at 33 days and is quite possibly on its way to surpass the previous longest streak of this minimum at 36 days.  And you have to go back to 1913 to find a year that had more spotless days (311)!

Above: The blank sun on Dec. 8, 2019. Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

The bad news: the Solar Minimum could deepen as many scientists have calculated minimum may not occur until April 2020.  You might be wondering: when is the next Solar Maximum?  That’s forecast to be July 2025.  Both the minimum & maximum forecasts have a +/- 6-month error.

How has the historic Solar Minimum impacted your radio listening?  I know it’s impacted my motivation to set-up my solar telescope for solar observation.

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

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Guest Post: Paolo’s Tips For Avoiding Internet Scams

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paolo Viappiani (SWL I1-11437), who shares the following guest post:


Some Tips For Avoiding Internet Scams

by Paolo Viappiani – SWL I1-11437

pviappiani@tin.it

Recently, I have been amazed by the growing number of frauds that foul up the radio market on the Internet (I was scammed too), so I decided to write a post in order to help anyone who is interested in buying anything on the web.

First, it’s worth saying that most scam attempts involve high-quality items that are offered at surprisingly low prices. One of the most significant examples involves some rare (and discontinued) high-end radios by National Panasonic, typically the RF-8000 and RF-9000 models. In this post, I make an example of the RF-8000, but scams also concern radios of other brands..

Generally speaking, a number of advertisements on the most known advertising/classifieds sites (Quoka.de and ebay-kleinanzeigen.de in Germany, Subito.it, Kijiji and AAAnnunci.it in Italy, Le Bon Coin in France, ComoFicho in Spain, etc.) are mirrors for larks only, and we have to pay a great attention in order not to be scammed.

But… how can we recognize a scam?

The most common scams use the following techniques:

  1. The scammer advertises a very rare radio in like-new condition at an unbelievably low price. The buyer does not want to miss the bargain, so he contacts the seller and promptly transfers the money to him without further ado, but after that he waits in vain for the delivery of his item.
  2. High quality radios offered very cheap. If you contact the seller, the item is suddenly abroad. The alleged seller then proposes to handle the purchase through a “trust company”. The radio should be paid for in advance and the amount sent via cash transfer, but after that you never hear anything from the seller again.
  3. Alternatively, the buyer is requested to to deposit the money to the eBay company account to get the product. But the account is fake (really eBay has no “COMPANY ACCOUNT” and never handles private transactions–!), so the buyer loses his money and receives nothing in return.

Please also notice that often the fraudulent sellers offer a free period for evaluating the item, saying that  if you do not like the device, you can send it back. Please don’t fall into this trap, it is only one of the means the scammers use to entice you to purchase, but it is not true at all!

In the following section I’ll recount some examples of real scams concerning the National Panasonic RF-8000 and RF-9000 radios (but, as I already mentioned, the scams involve many other radios and also high-quality electronic or electro-acoustic devices).

One of the most prevalent (and very dangerous) scams concerning the RF-8000 radio is (was) perpetrated by a Portuguese seller who offered (for about 2.300 Euro on the AAAnnunci.it and Quoka.de websites) a very nice appearing radio, look at the photos below.

Really a radio in like-new conditions, uh?

But it is just a trap: most of the Panasonic RF-8000 radios have the leather covers on all sides cracked like crocodile skin (look at the image below); only a very few units still have the covers in pristine condition and for sure they cannot be found at cheap prices!

Incidentally, all the pictures used by that scammer (including the two shown in the first two pictures above) were stolen from an old eBay advertisement of October 2018 and that wonderful appearing RF-8000 was sold to a radio collector in China for about $ 5,000 USD.

But the same images also recently appeared on some European advertisement websites (in Italy and in Germany too); if you ask for info, you’ll be contacted soon by a seller from Portugal who offers to handle the purchase through a “trust company” of his confidence, named TrafCargo (beware of this, it is a convincing but fake website!).

Then, the seller requests that the amount for the radio and its shipping costs be sent via a bank wire transfer to the fake transportation company.

After that you never hear anything from the seller again.

Very similar scams are also found in various advertisement/classified websites (Quoka.de, ComoFicho.com etc.), look at the images below as examples. If such items are offered cheap, it is for sure a scam:

A similar attempt of fraud is commonly perpetrated by other people, including a female seller from Spain. As you might suspect, she offers something that looks like a real bargain, but it’s only a scam. After you have asked for info on the product, you receive a message in which it is specified that the item is located abroad and you are asked to deposit money to a fake “eBay” account (note that eBay does not accept any payment outside their site!).

In order to be more persuasive, often the scammer attaches a copy of his/her passport of other identity documentation in order to appear as a serious seller–please do not trust them however!

Also, beware of the fake “eBay invoice” that sometimes the scammers send, and for anything that involves eBay, contact the eBay helpdesk, ask for specific info and report them the fraud eventually.

In the following section you’ll find some useful advice on recognizing scams and making secure and safe purchases on the Internet:

  1. Always beware whenever the item is in a place (or a country) different from the one that was specified in the advertisement; also there is a valid reason for suspicion when the name or the address of the advertiser does not match the seller’s ones;
  2. Do not completely trust the pictures sent by the seller (they could be stolen from the Internet) and don’t forget to proceed to a “Google Image” search in order to find the sources of similar ones;
  3. Always ask the seller for some specific pictures or videos (radio precisely tuned on various frequencies and/or modes) and do not accept any runarounds about it (“you can try the radio for some days”, etc.); normally the scammers do not have the items they offer at hand, so they are not able to satisfy your precise requests.
  4. Never pay for the item in advance by rechargeable cards like Western Union or other non-secure ways of payment. Also the Bank Transfer (Wire Transfer) is not a secure form of payment in order to avoid frauds;
  5. Always ask the seller for payment by PayPal “Goods and Services” (NOT “Send money to friends”). If you choose Goods and Services, your purchase will be fully covered by the PayPal warranty.

And, in the case that you are a victim of a scam anyway, please always report the incident to the Police or the Judiciary of your Country, and don’t forget to also warn the site where the announcement was found.

Following the above advice should be sufficient to avoid any scam. So, good luck on your future web purchases!


This is excellent advice, Paolo. Thank you for sharing your experience!

One of my favorite bits of advice above–and one I use anytime I make a significant purchase via a classifieds website–is to ask the seller for specific photos or a video of the item. As you say, they don’t typically have the item on hand, so can’t comply and will make up excuses. That’s a major red flag!

Another red flag? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Trust your instincts and avoid the hassle and headache.

Post readers: Please share any other advice you have about avoiding radio scams. Have you ever been the victim of a scam? How did it play out? Please comment!


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