Tag Archives: shortwave

Radio Emma Toc World Service Schedule for June 2020

(Source: Jim Salmon)

Radio Emma Toc World Service – Schedule Summary – June 2020

Ways to listen…   Radio Emma Toc World Service – programme no. 2 – June 2020

You can listen online – www.emmatoc.com  – visit the ‘World Service’ page.

You can listen to our shortwave or FM broadcasts via our relay partners as follows:

Happy listening! If you are outside the transmitter coverage areas, why not listen via the broadcasters’ online services. Website details for the above stations are listed on our own website here –  www.emmatoc.org/worldserviceschedule

If you don’t have access to receivers & aerials you can try using an online SDR receiver – ve3sun.com/KiwiSDR – experience the enjoyment of tuning around shortwave from worldwide locations online.

We are happy to issue eQSLs for reception reports sent to – emmatoc1922@gmail.com – & will gladly include for online reports. If using an online SDR, please give us the SDR location.

Finally if any stations wish to relay our programme a download link is available on our website. Please advise us of times & dates so we can publicise in our schedule.

Thank you!

Jim Salmon  –  Radio Emma Toc

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Return of “radio six international” to shortwave June 6, 2020

(Source: radio six international via Gérard Koopal)

Shortwave broadcast on June 6th

After an absence of five years, Scottish station radio six international returns to the HF bands to mark the outlet’s 57th anniversary.

Saturday Sounds with Tony Currie will air from 22:00 to 24:00 UTC on 6,070kHz (49.39m) via Channel 292’s 10kW transmitter in Germany. The programme will largely feature independent and unsigned music from around the world. QSL cards will be issued on receipt of either one Euro of one US dollar for return postage, with Reception Reports requested to be sent to Radio Six International, 21 Sherbrooke Avenue, Glasgow G41 4HF, Scotland. E-QSLs will happily be sent free of charge.

Launched in 1963 as an afternoon’s entertainment by a group of primary school children, it never went away and after various incarnations – including a spell as Europe’s first commercial cable radio network in the 1980s – the station has been webcasting round the clock for the past twenty years.

For a time, the station maintained a daily shortwave presence from 2004, using the facilities of both IRRS and WBCQ, switching to weekly transmissions from Ulbroka, Latvia in 2005 and daily programmes on medium wave and satellite via RTI in Tatras, Slovakia.

In 2008 the various transmissions were ended to concentrate on the internet service and the provision of syndicated programming around the world. 58 stations now take some or all of our output, with 9 hours a week simulcast on FM in New Zealand and 4 hours on FM in Taiwan.

Our broadcast on June 6th is currently on one-off; however we are considering a more regular return to the HF bands in the future.

Note: Radio Six International is an internet station at www.radiosix.com with audited listeners in 200 countries worldwide. It’s been webcasting since 2000, and syndicates up to 9 hours a week of programmes to its affiliate network of 58 AM, FM and DAB Digital stations around the world.

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Build an SDR station and balcony antenna farm for less than 150 Euros

UPDATE 11 May 2020: We recently learned that the MSI.SDR software defined radio dongle in the following post and tutorial is a clone of the SDRplay RSP1 SDR. We did not realize this when the post was published. Grayhat had done research prior to purchase and believed it not to be a clone, but only using the same chipset as the RSP1 (hence the compatibility with SDRuno). We have confirmed that it is indeed a clone now via SDRplay (clear here to read more via the excellent RTL-SDR blog). What follows isn’t an SDR review. Indeed, Grahat’s post has little to do with the receiver and much, much more to do with building proper antennas! We’ve removed links to the MSI.SDR and would encourage you to invest in the excellent SDRplay RSP1a instead (click here to read our RSP1a review). Thank you for understanding!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Grayhat, who shares the following guest post. He lives in Italy and has been in lock-down since the beginning of the pandemic. He pitched the idea of building an entire SDR setup from scratch–receiver and antennas–for less than 150 Euros (roughly $163 USD). I thought it was a brilliant idea and I believe he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of sourcing the components and building a mini antenna farm on his balcony while in quarantine:


From Zero to SDR

by Grayhat

What follows doesn’t pretend to be some kind of “definitive guide” or “last word”, on the contrary, it’s aimed at people who have little or no experience with SDR but want to try putting together a decent station without paying an arm and a leg.

The idea of writing this came to me after reading a number of messages and discussions on various online groups/forums, in a lot of cases, someone bought an SDR (usually the ones coming with a telescopic whip antenna), and after connecting it was expecting it “just to work” or, better said, pretending that the SDR connected to that whip (usually placed on a table right near the computer) could receive ANY POSSIBLE signal, including transmissions coming from the “dark side of the moon.” 🙂 Those folks got scared by the fact that the SDR “didn’t work” and decided to give up; now, this short “guide”  should allow anyone to setup what’s needed to have a working SDR

My self-imposed limitations for this project/experiment were the following:

  1. The whole setup shouldn’t cost more than 150 Euros so that, if after trying the SDR one doesn’t like it, (s)he won’t have paid $$$, otherwise, if (s)he decides to keep it, the resulting station will allow for further expansion/improvement
  2. The available space was considered to be that of an apartment, that is, no large field to put up huge wire antennas or to raise towers, the limit was the one of a balcony (in my home) that is 8 meters (max antenna length) by 3 meters (available height) by 2 meters (balcony width)
  3. The whole setup should be simple and straightforward, no need to solder components or to build special types of antennas
  4. Given the current Covid-19 sheltering, most components should be available online, while for others one may arrange with whatever is locally available (e.g. duct tape)

With the above limitations in mind, I took pencil, paper and rubber eraser (high-tech instruments, indeed) and started writing down a list of the needed stuff, after some writing, wiping and second thought, I came out with the following list, available on Amazon:

Bill of materials

The above includes all the needed stuff to put together a number of wire antennas (random wire, random dipole, loop…) the coax to connect the SDR, a balun to match the coax to the antenna and the accessory parts needed to put up the antenna. The selected SDR isn’t the common “RTL SDR” type, not that they don’t work, but their 8 bit ADC is far from being a good performer, so I decided to pick a different SDR which offers a 12 bits ADC and which also “presents itself” to the system as an SDRplay RSP1.

[Please note: we’ve since learned from SDRplay that the MSI.SDR is indeed a clone of the SDRplay RSP1. Here’s a post from the RTL-SDR blog confirming this. We recommend purchasing the RSP1a as a better alternative.]

Anyhow; all I can say is that after some tests, the MSI.SDR is a quite good unit and offers quite a lot of bangs for the buck, so I believe it may be a good unit for people willing to get their feet wet with SDRs

The above being said, here’s a pic of the MSI.SDR unit with the included stuff:

The unit is very small and the box has two connectors, an SMA for the antenna and a micro-USB (like the ones used in cellphones) for the USB cable which is used to both power and control it; the other bits are the telescopic whip antenna (around 98cm fully extended) with a magnetic base and a short run of coax, and the USB cable.

Once I got the SDR I decided to give the included whip antenna a try… well, to be clear, while it will allow you to pick up some strong local FM stations and maybe a bit else, it will only be useful to test if the SDR unit is working (before putting together our antenna), so don’t expect to receive much with that whip, yet… don’t throw it away, it may become useful (more later).

The other important piece is the BalUn. I picked a NooElec “Nine to One” v2, since I’ve used their v1 model and I’ve found it to work well, I decided to pick the newest model which has a better antenna wire connector.  The BalUn, which is in effect a so-called “transformer balun” is really small and the junction box I bought is much bigger, but it isn’t a problem. All in all, the box may host a preamplifier in the future, but for the moment it’s fine for the balun. The following pic shows the balun “installed” inside the junction box:

The scissors are there to give you an idea of the sizes; to put together the whole thing, I started by preparing two pieces of wire (the 2.5mm one),  made a turn with each wire and locked them with a nylon cable tier. Those turns will prevent the wire from sliding out and putting a strain on the balun connector.  I did that since I didn’t have plastic washers at hand, otherwise you may just slide two plastic washers (or proper diameter) over the wires and use two nylon tiers to lock them. In either case, the idea is that the “loops” or the washers won’t slide through the box holes and will support that (little bit of) strain caused by the wire connection.

Next, I stripped some of the insulation from the ends and connected the wires to one of the balun connectors (I chose the one in the pic since I believe it’s the most suitable for this setup), at that point I continued cutting the smaller “ring” of the box insulation caps (the two at top and the bottom one). Then I placed a piece of carboard roll (from a kitchen-paper roll) at the bottom to serve as a support (you can see it below the balun). At that point, I slid the balun SMA connector through the bottom hole and used the SMA to BNC adapter to hold it, done so I slid the two wires (connected to the green wire connector) through the side hole and then inserted the connector into the balun. I then placed the other piece of paper roll above the balun and closed the box with its cap. As a note, to properly close it, start by inserting the screw into the cap holes till end, so that they’ll extrude from the bottom, then place the cap over the box and tighten the screws–you may need to use some force to properly tighten it.

Notice that the wire shown in the pic are SHORT, later on I replaced them with longer wires (outside the box) to be able to better connect the balun box to the antenna, but the remainder of the build is the same.

Now that I had my “balun box” ready, I measured the antenna wire and, using the paracord and some nylon tiers, I installed it. I also installed the “counterpoise” wire. For the latter, at first I tried just connecting the remainder of wire to the “gnd” of the balun, leaving the spool laying on the floor, but later on I decided to hang up the counterpoise and the final result was the following:

Click to enlarge

Not a work of art, but then since I was experimenting, I decided not to add PTFE and tape to allow me to quickly rearrange the antenna to run other configurations, yet, the whole setup worked quite well and stood fine to some wind and rain, the picture below shows the balun box with the antenna/counterpoise wires and the coax with the snap-on ferrite chokes.

Click to enlarge

Notice that to avoid putting strain on the balun wires, I used a wire clamp I had in my junkbox–the clamp is then tied to the paracord using a nylon tier and the paracord holds the assembly and keeps the antenna wire in position. The ferrite chokes aren’t properly seated, and I’m planning to remove and re-place them, but for the moment they’re okay. The balcony faces to south/south-west so the antenna has a free horizon of about 270 degrees ranging from the Adriatic coast to the Appennines (Mt. S.Vicino can be seen behind the paracord)–not bad. Here’s another pic showing the horizon to West, just to give you an idea:

Getting back to the antenna installation, the other end of the antenna wire is tied to the opposite side of the balcony as shown below (let aside the tent/awning, I raise them when using the SDR, also, the bowline knot isn’t correct, I’ll need to tie that again):

The counterpoise instead is supported by a lamp I’ve on the terrace, here’s it’s setup:

The “paracord” goes down to a plastic bottle filled with a water/chlorine mixture which serves to keep it in place. The remainder of the wire is just hanging down for about 1.5 meters (the counterpoise is shorter than the antenna wire, it’s about 2/3 of its length).

Ok, time to put the antenna and SDR to test, so I brought the coax inside home, connected the other SMA to BNC adapter to the SDR and connected the coax going to the antenna. Note that 15 meters of coax is enough for me, but if one wants a length of up to 25 mt, it won’t be a problem.

I already installed the SDR software, in my case since the unit identifies itself as an “SDR1” I downloaded the SDRPlay “SDRuno” software https://sdrplay.com/windl2.php and since I was at it I also downloaded the PDF manual https://www.sdrplay.com/downloads/ and the “CookBook” http://www.nn4f.com/SDRuno-cookbook.pdf and I heartly recommend reading and digesting them before starting the whole thing (while you wait for all the stuff to be delivered). An important note is that you MUST install the SDRuno software BEFORE connecting the SDR since that way, the SDRuno setup will install the proper drivers and you won’t have issues.

Anyhow, I connected the coax to the SDR and then it was time to fire up the whole thing and give it a spin; so I powered up the laptop (technically, a “transformable” laptop/tablet), started SDRuno, opened the “RX control” and “Main Spectrum” windows and then clicked the “play” button, clicked the “broadcast” band, and the “MW” one and got this:

Not exceptional maybe, but not bad, either; in particular if one considers that it’s from a quite short piece of wire which isn’t exactly placed in an ideal position.

Deutsche Welle

So I went on and explored the bands a bit. On ham bands the SDR picked up signals from the whole mediterranean basin (Cyprus, Lebanon, Spain and then some) and from north too (Russia, Germany, Denmark); then depending on time, I was able to clearly receive broadcasts from China, South America, Africa and more ham QSOs from a lot of places.

BBC Ascension Island 5/9+ and just a bit of QSB

I must admit I didn’ record the callsigns or stations identifiers (“guilty” your honor–!) but I was more focused on testing the SDR and antenna than running a “DX session” at any rate.  On the BCB bands I picked up WWV, BBC,  VoA, China Radio International, Radio Free Asia, Radio Romania and a bunch of others from Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America. While on the ham bands, I was able to pick up some quite interesting QSOs and then… well, I went hunting for higher frequencies signals!

I got Police, Ambulances, Air control…so even if that “piece of wire” isn’t optimized for VHF/UHF it seems to be working decently there too. By the way, when changing bands you may (and probably will) need to adjust the gain control, but that will be almost the only thing needed to pull in signals

At the end of the day, I can say that I’m quite pleased with the performance offered by this simple and cheap setup. For less than 150 euros you have everything you need, not just the SDR.

Sure, the setup may be improved, but then again you’ll have all of the basic parts, so you won’t need too much. For example, if you live in a really noisy environment, it would be a good idea to use a loop antenna. You would only need a “cross shaped” support (PVC pipes or wood will do). You could quickly put together the SRL (Small Receiving Loop) designed by Matt Roberts (KK5JY) http://www.kk5jy.net/rx-loop/ the balun will be the SAME (yes, no need to wind whatsoever!) so building it will just be a matter of assembling a cross shaped support for the wire (which we already have because it’s the same used for the wire antenna) and you’ll have it. While I already tried the SRL, I didn’t build one to test with this SDR, but I’ll probably do that as soon as SWMBO will start complaining about those “wires on the balcony.”

Also, at the beginning I wrote “more later” when writing about the telescopic whip included with the SDR. Here’s the idea–it requires soldering, so if you don’t want that, skip this: remove the adhesive sheet on the bottom of the antenna base to expose the bottom cap and then remove (extract) the bottom cap. You’ll see a magnetic ring and a “bell shaped” piece of metal (the “ground” for the whip). In the middle of the “bell” there will be the antenna connector which is soldered to the coax wire with a nut holding the connector (and the “bell”) in place. De-solder the coax, unscrew the antenna connector and extract it, at that point you’ll have the telescopic whip and its connector, now you may use them to build the active “whip” antenna described here:

http://www.techlib.com/electronics/antennas.html#Improved%20Active%20Antenna

Notice that it is NOT the “usual” active whip–the circuitry and idea behind it is totally different–yet it works fine and will serve you from VLF (not kidding) up to around 100MHz. It might be a good companion for the SDR. It won’t be as quiet as the loop, yet it may be a valid “all rounder.”

To conclude, I believe that the setup described above is something anyone can afford. You don’t need to be an engineer or to have special knowledge or abilities–it’s just a matter of putting together some bits and pieces.

Obviously, this setup doesn’t require a large space and offers good performance across the bands. Plus it’s so easy to improve since the 12bit SDR is a good starting point

All the best everyone and STAY HOME, STAY SAFE !


Thank you so much, Grayhat!

I love the fact that you invested (however modestly) in a proper antenna setup to better serve you rather than relying on the basic whip antenna that comes with the SDR. You’re right: too often, we invest a receiver, yet invest no money or time into building an appropriate antenna.  The antenna is the most important component in a proper radio setup and those included telescoping whip antennas simply don’t perform well on the HF bands.

Based on our correspondence, I know you had fun piecing together this little system using a simple bill of materials and items you had on hand during the Covid-19 quarantine. Thank you for sharing it here with your SWLing Post community! 

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New Shortwave Program via WRMI: Alt Universe Top 40

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following announcement:

New Program: ALT UNIVERSE TOP 40

Written and produced by Indie Rock veteran John McMullan of The Trend, Alt Universe Top 40 is a genre-hopping weekly radio countdown that combines real-life chart achievements with “good-hearted adjustments that time and taste demand.”

With each hour-long show, the listener learns a few tidbits about familiar songs, and is gently introduced to music that SHOULD be familiar. In John’s world, The Beatles are still the “toppermost of the poppermost,” but, not far behind the Fab Four are deserving underground rock acts such as Good Question, Fools Face, and a number of other bands that turned in amazing records that were not exactly commercially successful.

Each show begins with a song that, at some point, was perched at number forty on one of the three major American charts, or in England or Australia. As the countdown continues, the musical selections include a song that should have made the Top 20, but did not; a single that charted at #11 in real life; a “should have been” Top 10; a Number 9, number 9, number 9…; something that is “modern and great” and should have reached number 8; a Little Slice of Heaven at Number 7; and the rest of the countdown filled out with bonus hits, a 3 from “Way Downtown,” and a Hall of Perfection Track.

Having designed the program specifically for Shortwave, McMullan draws inspiration from a variety of sources. He composed the opening fanfare and vocal jingles throughout the show by changing the lyrics to the chorus of the Trend classic he wrote in 1982, “Mama Thought You Were a Nice Girl.” The stories are usually trivia for chart nerds, but, with his music days never too far from his mind, McMullan throws in personal memories from time to time. There are AM hits, FM album hits, and jazz & blues selections that are only heard these days on public radio. Give Alt Universe Top 40 a listen, and you will certainly, as he says each week, “Keep on smiling through the static!”

You can hear Alt Universe Top 40 Saturdays at 10 pm Eastern Time (currently 0200 UTC Sunday) on 9455 kHz, and Sundays at 9 pm Eastern Time (currently 0100 UTC Monday) on 9395 kHz.

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Radio Emma Toc World Service updated schedule for May 2020


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jim Salmon–with Radio Emma Toc World Service–who shares the following updated shortwave radio schedule for May 2020:

Jim notes:

Happy listening! If you are outside the transmitter coverage areas, why not listen via the broadcasters’ online services. Website details for the above stations are listed on our own website here – www.emmatoc.org/worldserviceschedule

If you don’t have access to receivers & aerials you can try using an online SDR receiver – ve3sun.com/KiwiSDR – experience the enjoyment of tuning around shortwave from worldwide locations online – it’s almost real!

We are happy to issue eQSLs for reception reports sent to – emmatoc1922@gmail.com – & will gladly include for online reports. If using an online SDR, please give us the SDR location.

Finally if any stations wish to relay our programme a download link is available on our website. Please advise us of times & dates for our schedule.

Thank you!

Jim Salmon – Radio Emma Toc

Many thanks for the update, Jim! Brilliant job making the Radio Emma Toc WS broadcasts widely available!

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Radio Emma Toc World Service to start monthly shortwave broadcasts

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jim Salmon, who writes:

With some extra time on my hands at the moment I’ve been able to forward one of my projects & start producing a monthly programme – ‘Radio Emma Toc World Service’. This is tied in with my website – www.emmatoc.com – & is to raise awareness of the UK’s first licenced radio service in 1922 – 2MT – & also to celebrate our hobby of radio listening & transmitting today!

I am pleased to say I have relays coming up on WRMI & Unique Radio Australia, & am looking at further relays in Europe. I will let you know times & frequencies when finalised. In the meantime, the first programme can be heard on the website – just click on the World Service link. Also – if any stations wish to relay this programme I am happy for this – just get in touch with me via the website.

Excellent news, Jim! Readers, check out Radio Emma Toc online and read all about the project and history of 2MT. For your convenience, I’ve embedded the first broadcast below, but also check out the Emma Toc World Service page for more information and links!

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The meager “benefits” of Covid-19 from an SWL’s perspective

The Tecsun PL-680

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares the following note:

One of the benefits of the Covid-19 pandemic, as if there are any real benefits of a pandemic, is serendipitous programming on SW. I speak in particular of the ERT Proto Programma now airing on the Voice of Greece. As noted today (14 April), here in NB, on 9420 kHz tuning in around 19:50 UTC or so, there was classical opera being broadcast and after the news at 20:00 UTC, we were treated to “Musical Choices by Elena Maraka,” which is an eclectic music program of jazz and blues (funk, etc.). Nice. By the way, in a couple of hours, Proto Programma joins the Second Program (Deftero Programma).

Thank you, Richard, for sharing this note. Just one more reason 9420 kHz is a preset on all of my digital receivers.

And, you’re right: there are no real benefits of a pandemic. Still, it is fascinating from a listener’s perspective to hear how it changes the content of our shortwave landscape.

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