Tag Archives: Mediumwave

Guest Post: Mediumwave DXing in Botswana

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Peter Wilson, who shares the following guest post and recordings from his listening post in Botswana:


Peter’s receiver is a Airspy HF+ Discovery SDR using SDR Console V3

MWDX from Australia and the USA received in Botswana

by Peter Wilson

Hello Thomas.

I moved my 16.2 metre random wire slightly farther away from the house, and installed a binocular balun and connected 20m of RG58 at the far end, not the “house end”.

Peter’s random wire antenna with binocular balun

Reception examples:

1500 USA WFED Washington DC 12790km

1152 AUS 6PB
ABC NewsRadio Busselton 8469km with ABC News ID

1600 B Radio Nove de Julho ID 7234km
Sao Paulo. Brazil. ID,
Web Address and jingle. Rinsed and repeated.
Portuguese: Radio Nove de Julho [English: Radio 9th July]

1026 kHz MOZ Emissor Provincial de Manica Chimoio 1057km.
A bit parochial but features the radio Mozambique song.

850 USA WTAR Norfolk, Virginia Fox Sports Radio ID 12700km

1296 6RN ABC Radio National. Wagin, Australia 10kW 8644km

558 AUS 6WA ABC Great Southern WA Wagin 8644km


Impressive reception from your home in Botswana! Thank you so much for sharing these recordings, Peter. You’ve certainly made the most of your random wire antenna!

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Paul’s thoughts about Mediumwave DXing in Alaska

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who has kindly allowed me to published some notes he recently shared among MW DXers about DXing in McGrath, Alaska, USA:
During a Zoom hang out with a bunch of Pacific NW DXers, one of the things that come up was why my DXing in Alaska is beyond amazing, and we’ve come to a few conclusions.

The extended darkness. Sunrise in the middle of winter here is 3+ hours later than the west coast, so once their Skywave burns off, I’m left with darkness over the pole and to my west.

There’re no operating AM stations within just under 200 miles from me which is a big help. I have heard distant signals on the same channel as “semi locals” such as 780 and 1080.
And I’m pretty sure there’s something to the fact I’m close to the North Pole. Still far, but closer than most.

Interesting to note though: pre sunset DX isn’t a thing there. What I’ve unscientifically discovered is it seems to be that the entire Pacific has to be dark for DX  to be worthwhile for me in the evening … despite my evening DX being Canada and the lower 48 US States.
What most everyone else hears at night, such as the transpacific signals from Japan, China, Australia etc…, I hear in the morning. Hearing anything from Asia or the Pacific at night is EXTREMELY rare.

[Since I’m DXing outdoors in extremely cold conditions] I’m getting extra batteries, extra audio cables (to go between the recorder and the radio), another radio, and another recorder. Oh and some hot hands hand warmers. Also have some extra gloves and hats ordered too.. getting prepped for winter DXing well ahead of time!

The hand warmers are as much for my gloves as they are for my digital recorder… AA batteries don’t last long during continuous use in extreme cold.

i also have a portable battery and extra cable so I can use it for my phone. Those lithium ion batteries hate cold even more than aa alkaline batteries–they will shut off in the cold. In fact, you have to not only warm it up but charge it. The cold causes it to think tis dead…. and even warming it up won’t work.

Here’s a video link to my FSL antenna designed and built by Gary DeBock:

DXIng is one of the reasons I moved back up here to Alaska and it’s entirely fascinating. I learn something new every “DX season”.

Lower 48 theory and ideas just don’t hold a bunch of weight up here … I’ve had ideas and suggestions from some really smart people that just didn’t work out.

Until you’ve DXed in Alaska, it’s hard to explain and understand.

Thank you for sharing your notes, Paul! Having never done DX in those latitudes, I can only imagine how different conditions might be–especially in those long, dark winters!

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Medium Wave Circle website sports updates and upgrades

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Steve Whitt, who writes:

Hello Thomas

Just a brief note to tell you about exciting developments here at the Medium Wave Circle.

We’ve just launched our new-look website at

https://mwcircle.org/

And we’d like to share the news far and wide.

Some of the features of the new website are:

    • easy to use membership with secure online payment
    • access to the full archive of Medium Wave News (all 500 issues)
    • access to the latest 2020 Editions of the All Time DX Heard in the British Isles
    • a new section for news and feature articles
    • a completely new and re-written library
    • For the first time we also host the archive of the European MW Guide which was the most
    • complete directory of radio stations in Europe.

All the content is either new or completely revised and updated. Most importantly we want our website to be unique and that is why the features, photos, QSLs and audio clips are not to be found elsewhere online.

The new website has been carefully designed to work on desktop PCs, laptops, ipads and even smartphones. It has also been updated to improve security – you will notice the https web address & the padlock next to the url in your browser.

Click here to check out the new site!

Introduction to Long Distance Medium Wave Listening

Thanking you in anticipation.

Kind regards

Steve Whitt

I like the new look and upgrades!  Thanks for sharing, Steve!

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Radio Waves: Dirty Transmitters, World Amateur Radio Day, Electronic Echoes, DRM via Android, and 10 More BBC AM Services Close

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 Grayhat, David Iurescia, Bill Hemphill, Harald Kuhl, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Transmitter Noise / Dirty Transmitters: Receiver Performance has hit a Brick Wall (DJ0IP)

For the past 15 years, Ham Radio’s Mega-Focus on Receiver Dynamic Range (DR3) has resulted in the community ignoring other factors that are just as important to receiver performance.

Even though our receivers have made a quantum leap in performance in important parameters such as DR3, RMDR, etc., On-The-Air Reception has gotten worse.

Unless used at a multi-transmitter site, today’s typical user won’t detect a difference in the receiver performance between a radio with 90 dB DR3 and a radio with 110 dB DR3. That’s because Receiver Performance is not the limiting factor.[]

World Amateur Radio Day 18 April 2021 (IARU REGION 2 Newsletter)

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) is an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of amateur radio to the communications technology revolution which has dramatically impacted the daily life of virtually everyone on the planet. Many of these technologies and techniques started as experiments, not by governments or commercial enterprises, but by radio amateurs.

WARD 2021 commemorates the 96th anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union’s founding in 1925, where amateurs first met in Paris to band together to give voice to these early experimenters to national governments and international bodies representing all radio amateurs.

The almost universal adoption of mobile technology created ever increasing demand on a finite resource, the radio spectrum. Access to useable spectrum is the fundamental base on which amateur radio was built and continues to be developed. As a result, amateur radio is very different than decades ago. Embracing new technologies and techniques has greatly expanded what amateur radio is and opened further possibilities as to what it could be. The proliferation of technology also means that the ongoing experimentation and innovation in electronics, radio frequency technique and radio wave propagation is no longer only the traditional realm of the radio amateur but also includes university research satellites, the “maker” community, and other non-commercial experimenters: citizen scientists.

Looking ahead, this ongoing evolution of the telecommunications ecosystem makes it clear that the national Member Societies of the IARU and IARU itself must also continuously change and adapt. A century later, the future possibilities are as exciting as ever.

Celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. The pandemic and more localized natural disasters continue to demonstrate the value of ordinary citizens as technically skilled contributors to society. The original social network is robust. Expose someone new to amateur radio (properly distanced), get on the air and contact the many special event stations, on HF, VHF, or satellite.

Electronic Echoes (KPC Radio)

From SWLing Post contributor Bill Hemphill:

“I have run across an interesting set of audio interviews that were done by Aaron Castillo of kpcradio.com. This is an internet based radio station of Pierce College in California.

Aaron did a series of audio interviews in the fall of 2020 called Electronic Echoes. See following link:

https://kpcradio.com/author/aaron-castillo/

 

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App upgrades mobile devices to receive undistorted DRM Digital Radio anytime and anywhere (Fraunhofer Press Release)

Horgen/Switzerland, Erlangen/Germany: Starwaves, a developer and distributor of receiver technologies centered around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), joined forces with Fraunhofer IIS, a leading supplier in the field of broadcast encoder and receiver components for DRM, to develop an Android app that allows DRM reception on mobile devices. Starwaves enables Android phones and tablets to receive entertainment, text information, and emergency warnings via DRM Digital Radio – without costly data plans, independent from cell phone network availability, and based on innovative Fraunhofer technology.

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is the digital successor standard to the classic AM and FM radio services. In many parts of the world, terrestrial digital radio broadcasts are already an important and trusted source of entertainment and information. They do not require monthly payments and work reliably even if there are no cell networks available. Radio reception with mobile phones and tablets combines the mobility and flexibility of these devices with the benefits of free-to-air radio services.

Starwaves has been active in the field of DRM radio receivers for many years. The “STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio” app was developed in close cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS. Its goal is to ensure easy access to innovative DRM radio services for everybody. It is available from now in the Google and Amazon Android app stores. The app provides listeners with access to all the essential features of the DRM digital radio standard, across all transmission bands from DRM on long wave to FM band and VHF band-III.

Fraunhofer IIS is a significant co-developer of core digital radio technologies. This includes the innovative xHE-AAC audio codec, which provides high audio quality at lowest data rates, as well as the Journaline application, which gives radio listeners access to news, the latest sports updates, local weather forecasts, travel tips, and even radio schooling services without requiring internet access.

The app also supports many more DRM features such as the Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF), image slideshows, station logos, and service descriptions including Unicode support for worldwide application. To provide all these services, the app only requires a standard off-the-shelf SDR RF dongle that is attached to the device’s USB port.

“We are proud to launch the world’s first low-cost full-featured DRM digital radio reception solution for mobile devices, developed in close partnership with Fraunhofer IIS. Now everybody can easily upgrade their existing mobile phone and tablet to enjoy DRM digital radio with its undistorted audio quality and advanced features including Journaline,” says Johannes von Weyssenhoff, founder of Starwaves.

I order to meet the needs of everyday radio listeners and to clearly separate this app from the engineering-driven approaches of the past, usability was a primary development objective from day one. With only a few clicks on the clutter-free interface, users select their preferred radio service, navigate through the clearly structured menus, and gain instant access to the various advanced information services that DRM provides. By supporting multiple user interface languages, the app ensures optimized usability in many countries around the globe.

About STARWAVES

Found in 2005 in Bad Münder, Lower Saxony/Germany, Starwaves had set its focus on the development and distribution of receiver technologies around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale). As far back as 2003 after both organizations, the DRM Consortium and the WorldDAB Forum, had expressed their appeal to the industry at IFA in Berlin to develop and produce multi-standard receivers compatible with both their systems, Starwaves developed its model ”STARWAVES Prelude”, the world’s first DRM-DAB receiver and presented it at CeBIT 2004 in Hanover. In 2006 Starwaves was again in the headlines with the ”Carbox”: It was the world’s first automotive DRM-DAB receiver which then was produced in volumes and enjoyed by lots of listeners worldwide – including many DXers thanks to its excellent analogue Short-Wave capabilities as well.

Since 2008 Starwaves moved its focus to Africa where it developed and tested an innovative approach of broadcasting community television in the L-Band with DVB-T2 in cooperation with ICASA – another world premiere. After DRM was chosen the national standard in India in 2012 Starwaves relocated its headquarters to Switzerland and started developing a new generation of DRM receivers.

Starwaves also initiated Africa’s first DRM trial in the FM Band in Johannesburg/South Africa and completed it with local and international partners. The trial report contains valuable discoveries regarding the feasibility of DRM for community radio which guided the South African government to adopt DRM in the FM Band for community radio and secured the report becoming an internationally recognized piece of standard literature, recently endorsed by ITU. Today, Starwaves offers various DRM receivers and broadcast solutions for consumers and the professional broadcasting industry.

For more information, contact sales@starwaves.com or visit www.starwaves.com/de/starwaves-drm-softradio

Ten more stations turn off Medium Wave services (Radio Today)

Ten more local BBC radio stations are turning off their Medium Wave transmitters for good this year.

BBC Essex, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle will be FM and digital only in May and June 2021.

In addition, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Gloucestershire will reduce AM coverage.

The BBC’s intention to close MW transmitters was first announced ten years ago in 2011.[]


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AM Radio History: 80th Anniversary of the “Havana Treaty,”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

I came across this article on Wikipedia. It is a few days late, but thought it might be of interest to others. The link is

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Regional_Broadcasting_Agreement.

Briefly, this past Monday, was the 80th anniversary of the implementation of the “Havana Treaty,” which was actually signed on December 13, 1937, and finally implemented 80 years ago on March 29, 1941. It provided for reorganization of the “AM” medium wave band into frequency allocations for clear channel, regional and local stations.

AM radio was the Internet of its day. The invention of the telegraph notwithstanding, radio provided widespread, instant communication, albeit one way, to a vast population reaching hundreds of miles from the transmission source. It extended to the most rural parts of the country adding “A battery” and “B battery” to the lexicon.

The initial licensing process had been done with very little planning and forethought using 96 channels between 550 and 1500 kHz. The reorganization was the culmination of the need for some order to reduce mutual station interference and provide more reliable service to listeners. It involved frequency changes for about 1000 stations in several countries. March 29, 1941 was informally known as “moving day.”

The Wikipedia article details the changes made at that time and goes on to describe subsequent expansions of the AM broadcast band.

Fascinating! Thank you for sharing this bit of radio history with us, Bob!

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Transmitters stuck in time

Sometimes we radio enthusiasts discover odd things on the air.

We’re listeners and we notice things.

A few days ago our friendy, Matt Blaze, tweeted this:

Yep, for eight years a DDOT TIS (Traffic Information System) transmitter has been broadcasting the same repeating message and few have noticed.

You can read Matt’s whole Twitter chain here.

Matt has also kindly shared an audio recording of this transmitter. He notes that the reception “was weak but readable” from his home:

What’s more, Matt’s tweet was picked up by The Drive and turned into a post, thus exposing our radio geekery to the populos at large. Many thanks to the numerous SWLing Post readers who shared a link to the article.

I have to assume someone from the DDOT was paying attention too because Matt posted that as of March 3rd, it appears the transmitter has been taken off the air:

This reminded me of another transmitter stuck in time that I thought David Goren once mentioned. I checked with him and he confirmed:

Yes, there’s a transmitter somewhere on MW in NYC that has been broadcasting: “this is a functional test of the text-to-speech capability of the [VR or BR 2000] software package”. They’ve probably been on at least 10 years.

Many thanks to David for sharing the following recording:

Have you ever heard a forgotten transmitter? Please comment with details!

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Chuck’s re-capped GE Superadio II might set a new AM BCL benchmark

I recently took delivery of a better-than-new classic solid-state portable broadcast receiver: the venerable GE Superadio II.

This Superadio II was generously given to me by SWLing Post contributor, Chuck Rippel (K8HU), who has–in his spare time–been re-capping and restoring all three of the GE Superadio series models and bringing them back to life. Chuck wanted to send me one of the units he’d recently finished, knowing that it might help me when doing AM reception evaluations. He insisted “no strings attached.”

Besides thank you, all I can say is…

Wow–!

Note angels singing in the background.

When I received the Superadio II a week or so ago, I removed it from the box and it looked brand new; even sporting the original “Headset Capable” grill sticker.

This is a case, however, of a refurbished radio likely out-performing the original.  Here’s a list of the main modifications:

  • All of the original dry capacitors replaced with Nichicon Audio Grade components
  • FM AFC and AM and FM IF and RF sections have been aligned
  • Rebuilt the volume control

I’m sure there are other modifications Chuck didn’t mention.

Chuck told me each radio takes a full day to restore. Some of the alignment, rebuilding, and re-capping is surprisingly tricky and varies with each of the three models. Why is he doing this?

Chuck told me, “My enjoyment comes from giving these radios a new lease on life.”

A new lease on life, indeed!

Last weekend, we had a break in the weather–and I had a short break in my schedule–so I took the GE Superadio II, GE 7-2990A, C.Crane CCRadio3, and Panasonic RF-2200 outdoors for some fresh air.

It was late afternoon and, frankly, I didn’t have the time to do a full comparative session, but having spent the better part of an hour tuning around and comparing the characteristics of each radio, I decided to make a short video to share.

The video features the GE Superadio II, but I speak to some of the pros and cons of each model. Keep in mind, this is very much a casual/informal comparison:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The SR-II not only has the best audio fidelity in this bunch, but it’s also extremely stable and has no noise floor to speak of. No doubt, this is the result of those Nichicon Audio Grade components and a skilled technician.

Side note: Chuck is well-known in the radio world because he used to restore the Collins R390A which must be one of the most mechanically-complicated receivers ever made.

I haven’t even properly tested the SR-II on FM yet because I couldn’t pull myself away from the mediumwave dial that afternoon!

I asked Chuck if he would consider refurbishing GE Superadios for other people and I think he would.  If interested, contact me and I’ll put you in touch. Else, Chuck might leave details in the comments section of this post.

He does currently have a restored GE Superadio II on eBay. I just checked and in his listing, you’ll see a full description of the modifications made.

Click here to view on eBay.

Chuck, thank you once again for sending me this SR-II. It’ll become a permanent addition here at SWLing Post HQ. Again, I’m simply amazed at the audio fidelity of this 1980s era receiver. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything made today that can even compare.

And thanks for doing your bit to refurbish these classic portables!

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