Tag Archives: Mediumwave DXing

The Sony ICF-M780SL: Peter catches some serious MW DX on Gran Canaria

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Peter Wilson, for sharing the following guest post and DXpedition report:

Sony ICF-M780SL MWDX on Gran Canaria

by Peter Wilson

Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain

I have spent the last two months in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.
I travelled light and didn’t bring my radio/SDR collection with me.

A portable I saw in a local department store caught ny eye, and I ended up buying one from a local electronics retailer which had it on special at €55. It is a Sony ICF-M780SL which as turned out, is something rather special. It is a four band (LW, MW, SW,FM) DSP receiver, with an AM IF (LW, MW,SW) of 45 kHz and an FM IF of 128 kHz.

There’s too much hash in my apartment block to use it at home, but as I am a couple of streets away from the Ocean I intended to use it there.

Problem is there almost as much RF hash at the oceanside as at home. Also the Atlantic breakers crash loudly on the shore, and the wind can howl quite loudly. I did have some limited success and have included a couple of clips.

I discovered a better DX location at a small Plaza a short distance inland from the Ocean. There is an early morning peak for MW TA leading up to about 07:30 UTC (= local time)

The radio is used barefoot in each clip. There is some camera hash.

Here are the highlights:

USA Transatlantic

1500 WFED booming with ID 5736 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

790 WAXY with ESPN Radio ID 6369 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

1540 KXEL 6935 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

1530 WCKY 6373 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

770 WABC 5459 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

1520 WWKB

ESPN Radio with sports talk. 5841 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

Ocean front around dusk

1350 TWR Armenia 5377 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

1521 Duba Saudi Arabia 5004 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

1458 Lyca Radio, Brookmans Park UK 2914 km

Click here to view on YouTube.

The Sony ICF-M780SL is a great MW/LW/FM performer. SW propagation has been mediocre and suffers from the RF hash QRN, so difficult to test.

Amazing, Peter! It’s hard for me to believe the reception you had of WFED (Federal News Radio). I listen to that station every time I go through the DC/Baltimore area and I think your reception is just as good. A TA crossing of almost 5,000 km with armchair copy! Quite an accomplishment!

Thank you for sharing your Gran Canaria DX with us. I’m pretty impressed with the Sony ICF-M780SL as well.

Post Readers: make sure you check out Peter’s YouTube channel by clicking here.

Click here to search Amazon.co.uk and click here to search eBay for the Sony ICF-M780SL.

Tom’s AM broadcast band recordings during eclipse totality

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, TomL, for sharing the following guest post:

August 21, 2017: Individual Recordings of MW During Totality

by TomL

I setup flimsy “Backpack Shack” loop antenna and preselector to my Sony ICF-2010 to listen to any propagation of MW signals as each transmitter experienced Totality. My location was a picnic area facing southwest with only a small hill to the east at Ferne Clyffe State Park near Goreville, IL.

I did not bring a DSP radio and computer which would have been better in hindsight. My observations were generally as follows:

Anything west of my location, except for local St. Louis stations were not identifiable.
Noise levels were somewhat elevated because of thunderstorms that had just moved through the area during the evening.

Anything east of my location experienced dramatic increases in signal along the path of totality.
Since large signal increases were seen with the Umbra moving AWAY from me, it would be more beneficial to use a DSP receiver with good outdoor antenna than a single frequency radio and preselector like my setup. The loop antenna sitting on a picnic table acted great and was usable to get strongest signal for each station.

It is still unknown why I could not identify any stations west of me with the Umbra moving TOWARDS my location and needs further study. I thought I heard KTWO in Casper WY, but upon listening to the recording, it was a male announcer buried in the noise and unintelligible.
A transmitter being IN the path of Totality has a better chance of lasting longer with a strong signal than one that is just outside of Totality. Compare behavior of WSB vs. WBT.

If this happens again, make sure to make multiple hotel reservations and cancel the ones not needed. Traffic was horrible and had to stay in a hotel half way from home and I aggravated an achillies heel problem in the stop and go traffic (YUK).

So, it was quite disappointing to not hear anything special west of my location. As Totality neared my site, I just left the radio tuned to KNOX for the people around me to hear. Its signal did become about 25% stronger and near the end of the recording you can hear other weaker stations trying to break in.

Click here to download 1120 KMOX recording.

As soon as totality was over, and my picture taking was done, I returned to the radio and found 1510 khz WLAC Nashville, TN was moderately strong! And this was seconds after their Totality had already ended. A baseline reading beforehand showed this station coming in very very faintly. Subjective SINPO rating beforehand=15452, just after Totality=34433.

Click here to download 1510 WLAC recording.

The next surprise was tuning to 750 WSB Atlanta GA was BOOMING in! They were very clever and had no announcers. Instead they were playing snippets of songs about sun, moon, dark themes. Very entertaining! Baseline beforehand was just moderate noise, no signals. During recording, SINPO=55444 with propagation getting slightly worse near the end of the recording.

Click here to download 750 WSB recording.

Final surprise was 1110 WBT Charlotte, NC, which was not in the path of Totality but just north of it also booming in but not as strongly. Also, near the end of the recording, the signal dropped off very sharply, unlike the WSB signal which stayed strong throughout the 5+ minute recording. Baseline beforehand was low noise and no signals. During recording, SINPO=43434 at 14:40 ET, then approximately 1½ minutes after their maximum eclipse (14:43 ET), SINPO=33423, then at 14:46 ET a SINPO=22422 with another unidentified station breaking through playing a Johnny Cash song.

Click here to download 1110 WBT recording.

Tom, thank you for taking the time to share your recordings and listening experiences with us! Snagging a daytime MW broadcast from the Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC regions is most impressive. I reckon they were about 400-500 miles (as the crow flies) from your Ferne Clyffe, IL location.

Sounds like you had an amazing experience, despite the stop-and-go traffic! 

Valentino experiments with a ferrite sheet loop antenna

Valentino’s homebrew ferrite sheet antenna.

Many thanks to SWLing Post conttributor, Valentino Barbi (I4BBO) who writes detailing a novel approach to FSL antenna design.

Please note that I translated Valentino’s message from Italian to English via Google translate so please forgive any errors. Valentino writes:

FSL antenna radio enthusiasts typically use numerous ferrite bars with high cost, weight and scarcity,

Ukrainian ferrite bar producers have now finished stocks and have raised their prices.

Normally you use this site to build FSL antennas:

I’ve been experimenting with a new antenna design for about 10 days comparing it with a classic FSL with 20 ferrite bars.

Listening to the audio signals are the same, only instrumentally the antenna FSL in ferrite film
Loses -2dB.

The construction is very simple in that the two ends overlap 5 mm.

I did this:

  • I took a sheet of A4 paper, I cut 5mm paper at one end.
  • I laid this sheet on a 10 cm (10 cm) diameter PVC tube.
  • The uncovered part of the tube is cut, now we will have exactly the exact diameter to fix the A4 sheet of ferrite with the overlap of 5 mm.

As for where to source a ferrite sheet, after much research I discovered this supplier almost by accident:

Click here to view the product page and ordering information.

In summary, the main advantages of this antenna design is weight, cost and availability of A4 sheet of ferrite.

Click here to follow Valentino’s antenna project on his website.

Fascinating, Valentino! Please feel free to share any further information about this FSL antenna as you experiment. It’s true that ferrite bars are becoming difficult to source. Sounds like this is an affordable alternative antenna design for ultralight DXing.

Video: Juan touts Panasonic RF-2200 performance & filter shapes

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Juan Pablo Carlino, who writes:

Hi. I own one RF-2200 after buying it in eBay in March 2008. Since then it became my favourite portable radio and as everybody [has commented], its a pleasure to hear MW with it.

I explain this due to the fact that it has a good rotative ferrite antenna and also because the narrow and wide filters have a suitable shape for MW: at least in my country each MW is spaced from the other by 10 KHz, so you don’t need a very sharp filter. The narrow one is not so narrow, just enough to attenuate maybe 6 db the splatter from the louder station and not loosing audio quality.

When you tune around you have the impression that the filter shape suites perfectly for MW, making the audio quality very pleasant. I would never sell it. If you are interested i’ve captured a short clip while playing with it outdoor on 7 MHz band, hearing ham stations on AM, SSB and CW.

Pay attention to how loud and clear i was hearing stations at 400 Km in AM:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts, Juan!

I agree with you completely. At least here in countries where MW stations are spaced at 10 kHz, I find the RF-2200 a mediumwave DX boss!

I’m constantly amazed with the RF-2200’s MW sensitivity and selectivity–and low noise floor. That combo, along with the filter shapes Juan mentions and the excellent built-in full-fidelity speaker make for a proper listening experience.

As I’ve said before, the RF-2200 is a radio with fortitude and purpose.

The only place I’ve ever really searched for an RF-2200 is eBay. I like eBay, because if you receive a faulty unit, you can typically return it or have some sort of recourse (as long as the seller accepts returns).

I would only buy an RF-2200 (or any vintage solid-state rigs) from a seller that has near 100% ratings with a number of radio sales in their past.  That is, if you’re seeking a working unit.

Though the RF-2200 is vintage and thus might eventually need repair. It’s ultimately reparable by a skilled technician, though.  My buddy Vlado, for example, has repaired 2200s in the past–indeed, we cracked my RF-2200 open a few months ago to clean contacts.

Panasonic RF-2200s typically cost between $175-300 for one that’s mechanically and cosmetically sound. Of course, NOS units go for much more and units with faults sell for much less.

I expect my RF-2200 will outlast me!

Click here to search for RF-2200s on eBay.

“Hello Finland, this is Vancouver calling”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William Lee, who shares the following story from the CBC:

Hello, Finland, this is Vancouver calling: radio fans listen to CBC from 6,700 km away

When people in other parts of the world tune in to CBC Radio in Vancouver, they usually do it through our app, or online or through Sirius XM.

But some people in Finland recently picked up Vancouver’s CBC broadcast — the broadcast heard locally at 690 AM and 88.1 FM — using an elaborate antenna system roughly 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Finland.

“It’s a few [radio hobbyists] from around Finland who have a very nice place up in the north where there’s not much neighbours which means not much interference,” Patrik Willfor, one of the listeners, told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. “It’s like a silent band there, so even the weakest signals come through.”

The practice is called DXing, and Willfor says he’s been at it for about 25 years since a friend told him that’s what their fathers used to do when they were young.[…]

Click here to read the full article on CBC British Columbia’s website.

Post readers: Is it just me? Or do you, too, get a kick out of it when the press gets a glimpse into the seemingly-anachronistic, but still-relevant-and-rocking world of radio–?

Note that you can also listen to the audio interview with Patrik via the embedded CBC player below: