For those who’d like to try receiving SSTV images and also get into the holiday spirit, there is an annual SSTV Fiesta from December 12, 2022 to January 6, 2023. The Fiesta is sponsored by the Azteca DX’ers. The frequencies are 14.230 MHz in the 20m amateur band and 27.700 MHz, just above the US Citizen’s Band.
I’ve monitored 27.700 MHz the past week and have decoded the images below using an Airspy HF + Discovery, 31 foot ground mounted vertical, MMSSTV software and VB cable for piping the audio from the Airspy to MMSSTV.
Note that you have to set your receiver to USB. With MMSSTV you can set your receiver on the frequency of choice and just walk away like I did and the software will store any images received. Image clarity depends on propagation, just like other modes.
Good luck, thanks go out to the Azteca DX’ers for this enjoyable event and 73’s.
Ten meter beacon band spans 28.100 – 28.300 MHz (photo by author)
Recent 10 Meter CW Beacon Activity
Mario Filippi, N2HUN
The 10m band has been coming alive lately and it’s time for all hams and SWLs to take advantage of it. For several years I’ve been listening to 10m beacons with mediocre results but this has all changed over the past few days with loggings of European beacons running as low as seven watts.
These amateur radio beacons can be found from 28.1 – 28.3 MHz, sending out their callsigns in CW along with other information such as power output, grid square, antenna type and other tidbits of interesting information. Most USA beacons are heard from 28.1 – 28.2 MHz while international ones inhabit 28.2 – 28.3 MHz. Some beacon ops will request QSL card reports the old school way via mail. I’ve written out a few already, bringing back fond memories of my early days as a ham and SWL.
Over the past few days at my central NJ QTH, using an Airspy HF+ Discovery and a ground mounted 31 foot vertical, here are some of the DX beacons logged:
IZ8RVA, 28.239 MHz, 1230 UTC
OH9TEN, 28.265 MHz, 1253 UTC
LA5TEN, 28.237 MHZ, 1300 UTC
OK1AR, 28.249 MHz, 1214 UTC
DA5TEN, 28.237 MHz, 1219 UTC (7 watts, vertical antenna!)
DL0IGI, 28.204 MHz, 1251 GMT (50watts)
Note that most signals were 449 with QSB so a quiet room, a good pair of headphones, many cups of good hot coffee/tea and a heap of patience are needed. Beacons will send a continuous CW tone as a preamble while others will transmit a series of V’s (…-). So, spin that VFO dial up to 10 meters, a band which comes alive as sunspots rise. If you are a QRP’er, this comes as good news since this band is great for those who love to run peanut whistles.
Author’s Airspy HF+ Discovery (small black box to the left of the laptop)
A Short Review of the Airspy HF+ Discovery SDR
by Mario Filippi (N2HUN)
I recently purchased an AirSpy HF+ Discovery. As a SWL for over 60 years who’s owned many shortwave radios by manufacturers such as Drake, Yaesu, Icom, Zenith, Kenwood, Panasonic, Sony, Radio Shack, Grundig, CountyComm, MFJ, Sears, AOR and have used a number of different SDRs such as the RTL-SDR.com, HackRF, NooElec and many other rudimentary inexpensive first generation SDR dongles, I feel the AirSpy was an excellent choice. It cost $169 plus shipping.
For LW/MW/HF reception, I use a 30’ ground mounted vertical with about 50 buried radials in different stages of decomposition hihi. For VHF, a roof mounted 2m/70cm SlimJim antenna is used, but I haven’t done much listening in that portion of the spectrum yet except for occasional foray into the aero, 2m ham, NOAA satellite and public service bands. Note that the AirSpy also covers 60 – 260MHz.
An older Dell Inspiron laptop and SDR# are used in conjunction with the AirSpy. For decoding, MultiPSK, FLDigi, MTTY, Yand (for NAVTEX), along with VB cable are the accompanying software to make the digital modes intelligible.
So far I’ve logged a few local LF aeronautical beacons and some DGPS beacons on longwave but will be in a better position to judge its performance when winter sets in. As for the medium (520 – 1710 kHz) wave AM broadcast band, the AirSpy easily brings in both local stations during daytime and distant stations at night with no adjacent channel interference whatsoever. Even low powered community Emergency Alert Stations in the 1600 – 1710 kHz portion of the band can be heard daily from this QTH. A rotatable loop would certainly improve reception though.
As for shortwave listening the AirSpy HF+Discovery is, in my opinion, great for listening to both shortwave broadcasts and utility stations though I tend to concentrate on UTES mostly such as VOLMET, WEFAX, RTTY (the few that remain unencrypted), CW marker stations (e.g. XSG and XSQ from China) NAVTEX (519 kHz), aero/maritime SSB, time signal stations (WWV, CHU) and many of the other esoteric digital utility signals populating the band. As for SW broadcast stations, WRMI, Radio Exterior, RFI, R. Marti, BBC, WWCR and Radio Algerienne, to mention a few have been received. The Frequency Manager (memory storage) in SDR# has quickly filled up with intercepts using the AirSpy.
As a ham and CB operator (yes, the two can mutually coexist in the same human body), I’ve found the AirSpy HF+ Discovery to be a trouper on all the HF ham and CB bands. One of my favorite hangouts is the 28.100 – 28.300 MHz slice of 10m where domestic and international low power CW beacons transmit their callsigns (and at times their grid squares and power output) into the ionosphere and achieve great distances. Recently, beacons from 5, 6 and 7 land in the US along with DX prefixes ED4, PY4 and XE1 were logged. If you’re into 10m FM operation you can also tune the AirSpy to hear local and distant repeaters on 29.62 – 29.68 MHz. When the band is open, .62 and .64 seem to be the most active here in Central NJ.
If you’re a CB (aptly named the Citizen’s Band) op, the AirSpy HF+ Discovery does a stellar job on Channels 1 – 40 which is especially exciting when the band’s open. While domestic (USA) CB’ers are limited to frequencies from 26.965 – 27.405 MHz you’ll nonetheless hear DX ops below our (USA) channel 1 and above channel 40 conversing in French, Spanish and German in LSB/USB. Add to this mix the fact that the FCC dropped the 150 mile limit for US ops a few years back and now the advent of the FM mode operation in the US, you’ll find the AirSpy won’t disappoint. In my opinion the AirSpy HF+Discovery was an excellent choice and I’m more than satisfied with its performance.
In the matter of honesty and full disclosure, I purchased the AirSpy HF+ Discovery completely on my own in an effort to upgrade my station. My choice was based on information gathered from the Internet and YouTube video reviews. The performance of this receiver was based on my experience using the vertical antenna described earlier, the hours spent at my QTH (location) listening to stations of interest to me and my six decades experience as a SWL. No test equipment to assess sensitivity, selectivity or other empirical methods to measure performance was used. That information can be found on the Airspy website. The main purpose of this article was to craft a rudimentary review for those interested with the caveat that reception will vary depending on many factors such as location, antenna, ionospheric conditions, feedline quality, computer/software variations, QRN, QRM, and operator experience. The results presented in this article are typical for my location; others may experience different results. Thanks very much.
Thank you for the tip, Mario! It is a pristine radio! The seller is claiming this is new–and it looks it–but the condition is listed as “Open box” so I assume the previous owner opened the box but never used the radio. The plastic film still covers the display area and looks pristine. I agree: it’s amazing when things like this pop up on eBay! The price ($748.00) as you say is steep, but it does appear the seller is open to offers.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), who writes:
Attached is a picture of a recent purchase of mine from eBay, a six foot long monophonic earphone for use with my Panasonic RF-2200.
Single mono earphones of that length are not easy to find. Most are too short for night stand use. And with the abundance of RFI emitting appliances in the home, a six-foot long earphone allows me to move my portable radio far away from things like laptops, cell phones and noisy power supplies.
Thank you for sharing this, Mario. I love how practical and affordable this is and the fact that the earpiece is identical (save cord length) to the original that would have accompanied the RF-2200. Click here to check out this item on eBay.
It consists of a 33 foot optical cable and handheld four inch monitor It has an internal battery that can take photos and videos of areas that are hard to get to. I bought it to check things such as chimneys, inside walls, dryer vents, pipe clogs (this one has a waterproof lens), range hood vents, roof vents, etc. The price of endoscopes has gone down precipitously and you can save even more if you have a Smartphone as there are endoscopes probe cables that attach directly to them. I purchased mine for about $100 from Amazon. There are many makes and models to choose from though.
This gadget might be of interest to hams, SWLs or anyone needing to route antennas through walls, or other dark spaces. For example, you could drill a test hole through a wall then thread the probe cable into the space to see if there are any wires, pipes or other hidden obstructions. I’ve drilled completely through the siding of my home to an inside wall on many occasions while keeping my fingers crossed that no electrical wires or pipes would be damaged. Now, with my endoscope, it won’t be such a worrisome procedure.
Thanks and 73’s,
Mario Filippi, N2HUN
Thank you for sharing this, Mario! The pricing on household borescopes or endoscopes has really fallen over the past few years. I have one persistent plumbing issue in our house and this gadget could help me identify the location. To have a pro come out to the house with a commercial grade camera, it’s an instant $300 plus taxes. As a bonus, I could use it to inspect my antenna conduit!
Thanks again, Mario.
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