About 10 days ago, the Better Half and I visited my wife’s sister in Sodus, NY, a small town in the western part of the state near the shores of Lake Ontario.
First consideration when packing was – never mind the underwear and the toothpaste – what radios shall I take? I decided to go light . . . just a CCrane Skywave SSB and a Uniden BC125AT analog-only scanner.
In the predawn hours on a handful of mornings, I decided to see what I could hear on medium wave with the diminutive Skywave SSB. The Skywave is an “ultralight” radio – under 20 cubic inches in volume. Because the Skywave’s plastic case is so small, the ferrite antenna within it is very small . . . less than 3 inches long. It is by no means a huge antenna for grabbing signals.
It was Gary DeBock who pioneered ultralight DXing with tiny generally inexpensive radios. As a ham radio operator, he had worked 144 countries using a Heathkit 1-2 watt kit transmitter he had built. In the process, he learned a great deal about propagation.
In 2007, he decided to see what he could do with a cheap pocket radio, a Sony Walkman SRS 59. At 1 am on an autumn night from his home in Washington state, he put propagation and operating skill to work and heard three distant medium-wave stations: a couple from Japan and one from Korea. He posted his results on the internet in November, 2007, and he got a lot skeptical feedback: How could you possibly do this?
His response (in essence): Try it for yourself.
Some people did try for themselves; some with great success. One DXer from Canada logged 300 stations in 30 days. Interest in MW DXing with pocket-sized consumer radios took off, and ultralight DXing was born.
So, in the predawn hours in Sodus, NY, I decided to give ultralight DXing a try . . . barefoot . . . that means with no external antennas or signal boosters . . . just me kicked back in a recliner, the CCrane Skywave SSB, and a pair of headphones. Simple.
Before we proceed, you need to understand that my DXing style might charitably be described as “lazy.” Instead of laboriously turning the tuning knob, I use the seek function on the CCrane Skywave. I simply press and hold for a moment the up or down arrow and wait for the Skywave to stop at the next signal it detects. Then, if I feel that the signal might be enhanced by re-orienting the antenna with respect to the signal, I wiggle the Skywave around in my hand and listen for an improvement in what I am hearing through the headphones.
The results: I logged (among others) Atlanta, Georgia (493 miles) and Charlotte, North Carolina (588 miles) on the CCrane Skywave SSB with its tiny internal antenna. Also received: Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore, and Toronto and a bunch of unknowns.
One afternoon, I decided to see what distant stations Skywave might receive during the daylight hours. I was kicked back in the recliner with headphones on, doing my usual, waving the Skywave around in the air to optimize the reception. My sister-in-law started laughing. She said I looked like a demented band leader, conducting a silent orchestra! I tried to assure her that my mental status was OK and that I was trying to optimize the signal. I’m not sure it worked.
But one thing is certain: barefoot ultralight MW DXing is fun. All you need is a tiny radio, a bit of darkness, a pair of headphones, and a willingness to be surprised.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares the following notes and video:
The 7.5 inch (19cm) loopstick Radiwow R-108 model “smokes” the stock R-108 model in this video demonstration of receiving daytime DX fringe station 550-KARI in Blaine, WA (5 kW at 150 miles). The modification uses the same enhanced loopstick as described in the XHDATA D-808 “Supercharging” article, and is reasonably easy to complete (although some experience is recommended)
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares his extensive 2021 Ultralight Radio Shootout.
This is truly a deep dive featuring five popular ultralight portable radios and examining mediumwave, shortwave, FM, and AIR Band performance.
The review is an amazing 40 pages long! In order to display the entire review, click on the “Continue reading” link below.
2021 Ultralight Radio Shootout
Five Hot Little Portables Brighten Up the Pandemic
By Gary DeBock, Puyallup, WA, USA April 2021
Introduction The challenges and thrills of DXing with pocket radios have not only survived but thrived since the Ultralight Radio Boom in early 2008, resulting in a worldwide spread of the hobby niche group. Based upon the essential concepts of DXing skill, propagation knowledge and perseverance, the human factor is critical for success in pocket radio DXing, unlike with computer-controlled listening. The hobbyist either sinks or swims according to his own personal choices of DXing times, frequencies and recording decisions during limited propagation openings—all with the added challenge of depending on very basic equipment. DXing success or failure has never been more personal… but on the rare occasions when legendary DX is tracked down despite all of the multiple challenges, the thrill of success is truly exceptional—and based entirely upon one’s own DXing skill.
Ultralight Radio DXing has inspired spinoff fascination not only with portable antennas like the new Ferrite Sleeve Loops (FSL’s) but also with overseas travel DXing, enhanced transoceanic propagation at challenging sites like ocean side cliffs and Alaskan snowfields, as well as at isolated islands far out into the ocean. The extreme portability of advanced pocket radios and FSL antennas has truly allowed hobbyists to “go where no DXer has gone before,” experiencing breakthrough radio propagation, astonishing antenna performance and unforgettable hobby thrills. Among the radio hobby groups of 2021 it is continuing to be one of the most innovative and vibrant segments of the entire community.
The portable radio manufacturing industry has changed pretty dramatically over the past few years as much of the advanced technology used by foreign companies in their radio factories in China has been “appropriated” (to use a generous term) by new Chinese competitors. Without getting into the political ramifications of such behavior the obvious fact in the 2021 portable radio market is that all of the top competitors in this Shootout come from factories in China, and four of the five have Chinese name brands. For those who feel uneasy about this rampant copying of foreign technology the American-designed C. Crane Skywave is still available, although even it is still manufactured in Shenzhen, China—the nerve center of such copying.
Prior to purchasing any of these portables a DXer should assess his own hobby goals, especially whether transoceanic DXing will be part of the mission– in which case a full range of DSP filtering options is essential. Two of the China-brand models use only rechargeable 3.7v lithium type batteries with limited run time, which may not be a good choice for DXers who need long endurance out in the field. A hobbyist should also decide whether a strong manufacturer’s warranty is important. Quality control in some Chinese factories has been lacking, and some of the China-brand radio sellers offer only exchanges—after you pay to ship the defective model back to China. Purchasers should not assume that Western concepts of reliability and refunds apply in China, because in many cases they do not. When purchasing these radios a DXer should try to purchase through a reputable seller offering a meaningful warranty—preferably in their own home country.
One of the unique advantages of Ultralight Radio DXing is the opportunity to sample the latest in innovative technology at a very reasonable cost—and the five pocket radio models chosen for this review include some second-generation DSP chip models with astonishing capabilities. Whether your interest is in domestic or split-frequency AM-DXing, FM, Longwave or Shortwave, the pocket radio manufacturers have designed a breakthrough model for you—and you can try out any (or all) of them at a cost far less than that of a single table receiver. So get ready for some exciting introductions… and an even more exciting four band DXing competition!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and Ultralight DX enthusiast, Gary DeBock, for sharing the following guest post:
Nulling a local pest with dual FSL Loops
by Gary DeBock
After many dual FSL antenna experiments I’ve finally determined how to effectively cancel out QRM from a local pest that is off to the side (ideally 90 degrees different, but practical from 50 degrees to 90 degrees different) from a weak DX station, although I’m not quite sure of the theory behind this discovery.
This experiment was an attempt to cancel out QRM from a local pest, 950-KJR in Seattle, WA (35 miles/ 56 km to the north) and chase 950-KKSE in Parker, CO (1005 miles/ 1617 km to the southeast) during the early morning hours. The receiver was a basic (non-SSB) C.Crane Skywave, and two identical 5 inch ferrite rod FSL antennas were used. Please refer to the photo (above) to follow this description.
Step 1) Null out the pest station with the portable radio’s loopstick (away from the FSL antennas). Set the radio down in this nulled position, so that the pest station is as weak as possible, while ensuring that there is space to set up the FSL antennas to the back and side (see photo).
Step 2) Take the “Reception FSL” and use it to peak the pest station’s frequency, setting it up parallel to the portable radio as shown, at the position providing the maximum inductive coupling gain. This will temporarily boost up the pest station, which previously was nulled.
Step 3) Take the “Nulling FSL” and pretune the frequency to that of the pest station. You can do this either by adjusting the variable cap plates to match those of the “Reception FSL,” or by temporarily peaking the pest station’s signal in a position in front of the portable radio. After setting this frequency, set the “Nulling FSL” off to the side of the portable radio as shown, with the spacing identical to the spacing between the radio and the “Reception FSL.”
Step 4) Slowly and carefully tune the “Nulling FSL” until you hear the pest station’s signal take a sharp drop. This setting will be very sharp, but once you find this position you will have nulled out the pest very effectively, and if another station is on the frequency, it may suddenly become dominant, even if it is far away (like 950-KKSE in Denver).
Some MP3’s from this morning’s experiments:
950-KJR in nulled position with the portable only
950-KKSE generally dominant over the local pest KJR when the “Nulling FSL” is peaked
Fascinating, Gary! I don’t understand the dynamics of why this works, but it’s amazing that it does so effectively. I can think of two MW frequencies in particular where I could put a system like this to the test.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary Debock, who shares a short report he originally posted on Facebook from the Rockwork 2020 Ultralight DXpedition:
Rockwork 2020 started off with a monster session, with S9 signals from the likes of 320-AI (Aitutaki, Cook Islands), 352-RG (Rarotonga, Cook Islands), 558-Radio Fiji One, 603-Radio Waatea, 1017-Tonga, 1107-Magic Talk and the new 1503-Gold.
The session was kind of wild, with three different sets of visitors asking about my gear setup at Rockwork 4 (typically during critical moments of live DXing, of course :-). Despite this both Longwave and Medium Wave featured great propagation to New Zealand, with the long range beacon 238-KT (Kaitaia) opening up the fun around 1225. Switching back and forth between Longwave and MW in a live DXing format wasn’t exactly ideal, and no doubt my long time DXpedition partner Tom R. could have really cleaned up on the South Pacific beacons this morning with his SDR and broadband loop setup. As it was I came away with 238-KT, 320-AI (a monster signal), 352-RG and 366-PNI from across the equator, with 558-Radio Fiji One probably having its best session ever at the awesome ocean side cliff (extended S9+ periods between 1300-1330).
I promised long term “Cliffhanger DX” partner Craig Barnes that I would go all-out to receive some exotic DX in his honor, and the Cliff more than cooperated.
The Longwave and Medium Wave DX this morning [Auguest 5, 2020] was phenomenal, and there are still two more days before Tom gets here. Hopefully these conditions will stick around!
320 AI Aitutaki, Cook Islands Great signal but shaky sounding CW tone at 1239– best signal ever at the Cliff:
352 RG Rarotonga, Cook Islands In an S9 snarl with 353-LLD (Hawaiian mega-beacon) at 1256:
558 Radio Fiji One Suva, Fiji Overwhelming S9 signal and ID’s both before and after an island music song at 1312:
1017 A3Z Nuku’alofa, Tonga Female Tongan in an S9 snarl with DU sports co-channel (2KY?) at 1253:
More New Zealand monster signals from yesterday morning, courtesy of the “Kiwi Cliff.” This place’s preference for New Zealand signals is wacky to the extreme!
603 Radio Waatea Auckland, NZ 5 kW S9 Maori island music // 765 followed by a female Maori chant at 1309:
1107 Magic Talk Tauranga, NZ 10 kW Meltdown level Kiwi conversation between host and lady caller at 1255:
1503 Gold Wellington/ Christchurch, NZ 5/ 2.5 kW The old Radio Sports’ Yankee-accented English (from Fox Sports Network) has now been replaced by rocking oldies, such as Phil Collins with powerful strength at 1307:
73 and Good DX,
Gary DeBock (DXing at the Rockwork Ocean Cliff near Manzanita, OR, USA)
7.5″ loopstick CC Skywaves, PL-380 & XHDATA D-808
12″ Longwave FSL + three new 8″ Medium Wave FSL’s
Thank you so much, Gary, for allowing me to share your reports on the SWLing Post. Many of us would love to experience mediumwave DXing from your Rockwood perch, but we’ll have to live it vicariously through your excellent reports! We wish you excellent DX!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, who shares the following guest post and update from the August 2019 Rockwork DXpedition:
Gary DeBock DXing with Craig Barnes at the Rockwork 4 ocean cliff near Manzanita, Oregon, USA
Once again the largest FSL antenna collection on the planet made its way across the Columbia River bridge during an overnight trip to NW Oregon, finally being deployed at the original Highway 101 plunging cliff turnoff– Rockwork 4. There has been a drastic decrease in the squatter population, so that Craig Barnes and I were able to easily set up all four PVC bases for all-out DU-DXing at the dream site this morning (see photo). Unfortunately Chris Black came down with a health issue at the last minute, and needed to cancel out.
Craig and I had some excellent signals from the regulars (including 531-More FM, 558-Fiji and 1017-Tonga), although it wasn’t quite a stellar morning for rare DX. We were kind of spoiled last year with 1017-Tonga staying a S9 practically throughout the session, but this morning it was “only” at S9 for a few minutes at a time. This meant that as soon as I notified Craig of 1017’s potent status, the signal tended to nosedive. Maybe the cumulative effects of humidity and salt water exposure are beginning to take their toll on the Tongan big gun? 558-Fiji showed up with decent signals for a couple minutes at a time, which meant that Craig got the short end of the stick after I notified him of the potent signal. 531-More FM hit an awesome S9 peak around 1312 (including the usual split-second female ID), making it once again seem totally bizarre that no trace of the 2 kW modern rock station has ever been received at Grayland for the duration. The Rockwork Cliff is typically focused in like a laser on New Zealand, and this was a typical morning!
531 More FM Alexandra, NZ 2 kW Potent S9 modern rock signal from this Rockwork regular, with female “More FM” ID at 19 seconds:
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock, for sharing the following guest post:
November 2018 Poipu, Hawaii Ultralight DXpedition
A Thrilling Sample of Forward Pacific Propagation
By Gary DeBock, Puyallup, WA, USA January 2019
In late September my wife and I stumbled across an outstanding 6-day Costco Travel package to the Aston at Poipu Kai on Hawaii’s Kauai island, the westernmost of the main Hawaiian islands (and closest to Asia). Included in the $2.3K cost was roundtrip airfare for two on Alaska Air (nonstop from Seattle both ways, with no “red-eye” flights), 5 nights at a gorgeous, beachside 2-BR condo with a patio area ideal for TP-DXing (and within easy walking distance to the island’s best snorkeling beach), a full sized new rental car and a $50 Costco cash card to use for a little spending $$. This was far and away the best travel bargain we have ever had to the Hawaiian Islands– and right in the middle of the DX season!
The location at Poipu Kai was at the extreme southeastern tip of Kauai Island, which offered a clear, unobstructed salt water path to Asia, ANZ, the Pacific islands and both North and South America. Unfortunately, it also offered a clear salt water path to the RF Zoo of Honolulu (more about that later).
Of course, before you can chase DX in Hawaii you will need to bring along some kind of radio and antenna– whether it is a hot-performing portable, an SDR along with a small broadband antenna or an Ultralight with a “Frequent Flyer” miniature FSL. Whatever you bring will need to go through TSA inspections both ways– so try not to get too complicated or extravagant. Fragile items can be taken in hand-carry luggage, so use this for radios, FSL antennas, digital recorders and anything else that could be smashed. Also keep in mind that many large motels and condos do not allow external antennas to be set up on their property– and most of them generate enough indoor RFI to make DXing indoors a lost cause. Before leaving for the Islands, be ready with a DXing plan that you know will work!
For me, TP-DXing with a modified CC Skywave SSB portable and TSA-friendly 5 inch (127mm) diameter FSL antenna in the large open patio area right outside our condo meant chasing enhanced DX right in the middle of a gorgeous beach side garden (click here to view on YouTube).
These 2-BR condo complexes were overbuilt somewhat, and the mainland owners of these condos badly need the tourist rental income to pay their mortgages. The competition for this rental income is high. As such, the cost per night for a stay at one of these newer 2-BR condos on Kauai is about the same as for a well-worn 1-BR motel room in Kona (on the Big Island).
So, what can a TP-DXer expect from the transoceanic propagation at Poipu Kai? First of all, there is so much enhanced DX coming from so many different areas of the world that you will need to carefully choose your priorities. What is your main DXing thrill? For me, it was chasing exotic Asian DX that was unlikely or unavailable at home in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, when I tried to do this during the evening hours on Kauai (0700-1000 UTC) there was so much enhanced transoceanic DX coming from North and South America that the frequencies became a snarling maze of languages and heterodynes. During a check of 801 for kHz Pyongyang BS at 0922 UTC the frequency was completely hijacked by 800-Radio Transmundial in the Caribbean (near South America). The same thing was going on all over the band, with North and South American stations on the 10 kHz band plan fighting it out with Asians and Pacific Islanders using the 9 kHz frequency system. Honolulu QRM added its own distinctive touch to this jumbled fiasco, and eventually I was forced to concentrate on sunrise DXing sessions in order to track down any really exotic Asian DX. The bands were so much quieter during the sunrise sessions starting around 1500 UTC. Of course, if a DXer was mainly interested in North or South American DX in Kauai he could have made out like a bandit around local sunset, when the Asian and Pacific Island stations would not yet have faded in.
The Asian propagation to Kauai Island during the sunrise sessions was like having constant exposure to the best possible TP-DXing signals that ever show up on west coast ocean beaches– except that far more of Asia was in play. Big gun Middle East stations like 702-BBC (in Oman) can show up at decent strength, and not too many TP-DXers have familiarity with Arabic. Stations like 918-Cambodia which are rare DX on the west coast often thunder in at S9, and by necessity a DXer quickly learns the Vietnam parallel frequencies for its various networks. The Chinese propaganda blasters on 666, 783 and 909 pound in like locals, and a DXer needs to wait out their sign off times in order to receive anything exotic on their frequencies. The entire situation is a crash course in surviving and thriving in the middle of nonstop exceptional propagation, which can easily overload your abilities to sort out languages, stations and programming. Depending on your TP-DXing experience, you will either find this situation thrilling or bewildering.
If you have extensive TP-DXing experience on west coast ocean beaches you will probably feel like you are on Cloud Nine, but without this experience you will probably wonder where to start. The usual Asian big guns on 594, 747, 774 and 972 are either buried in Honolulu splatter or have trouble holding down their frequencies. Language recognition of Chinese, Korean and Japanese becomes essential in sorting out unfamiliar stations, and at least basic recognition of Vietnamese, Thai and Taiwanese is helpful. In addition, knowledge of exotic station frequencies is necessary before a DXer can hope to track these exotic stations down. Many exotic station frequencies (like 576, 594, 657, 693 and others) are jumbled with Honolulu splatter, and you need to know which ones are not (702, 729, 918, 954 etc.).The amount of TP-DXing experience that you can bring to the island is directly related to the results that you can expect from DXing on the island. Fortunately, because of two previous Hawaii trips and an April visit to the Cook Islands, I was able to track down some thrilling TP-DX on Kauai– 693-Bangladesh, 702-BBC (Oman), 729-Myanmar, 918-Cambodia, 927-AIR, 954-AIR plus Vietnam stations on 675, 702, 711 and 729. An S9-level 800-Radio Transmundial in Bonaire (next to South America) jumped over to 801 during an evening session. As an example of the outstanding ocean-enhanced propagation, for the first time ever in any DXpedition I was able to receive 7 transoceanic DX stations on one frequency alone (702 kHz).
Hawaiian station splatter is a major issue in Kauai, but depending upon the location of these pests, their signals may taper off just before TP propagation collapses (around 1705 in November). On my last session I was able to finally track down the 1000 kW Asian big gun 693-Bangladesh through wicked 690-KHNR (Honolulu) spatter, probably because the pest was farther into daylight than my more westerly Kauai location. The Hawaii pests on Maui and the Big Island also display the same behavior.
Propagation slowdowns on the west coast seem to be fairly irrelevant in Hawaii, with the only difference being S9 Australian and NZ signals showing up in the null of the S9 Asians. During regular sessions the big gun ANZ stations are usually around at S5 levels in the null of the Asians, but I didn’t really go after the DU’s during the Kauai trip. The Pacific island exotic stations on 621, 1017, 1098 and 1440 were usually at S9 levels about 2 hours after local sunset, but once again the North and South American transoceanic DX stations were turning their frequencies into a pretty wild fiasco. Originally it seemed like a great idea to have a straight salt water shot to all these areas, but be careful what you wish for– you just might get it 🙂
Finally, In consideration of the exceptional value of the Costco travel package and the superb transoceanic DX propagation prevalent on the Kauai beach, this 6 day Hawaii vacation proved to be as much of a lifetime hobby thrill as visiting the exotic Cook islands in April– at less than half the cost. My strong advice to anyone who is feeling bored with his AM-DXing hobby is to step out of your comfort zone, and try something really new. You can certainly chase DX at home or at the same flat ocean beach for decades, but you are unlikely to experience anything radically different from what you have already experienced. Breakthrough results require breakthrough innovation, exploration and experimentation, and the commitment to overcome all challenges until you get the results you desire.
DXing on Kauai Island makes it easy for you. All the comforts of home are within a 20-minute drive. A Walmart, Safeway, Costco and Home Depot are all in the local area, close to your gorgeous 2-BR beach side condo. You don’t even need to change currency or bring a passport (well, at least if you live south of the border). An outstanding snorkeling beach is a 5 minute walk away, and the “Garden Island” is one of the most beautiful in the entire Hawaiian chain, waiting for you to explore it in your new, full-sized rental car. What more could you ask for? So go ahead and take the plunge… and discover the exceptional thrill of forward Pacific TP-DXing!
Listed below are 94 transoceanic DX receptions made in Kauai with the related recording links, including stations in Oman, Egypt, Iran, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and many others. Sincere thanks is given to all who helped identify mystery stations, especially the Finnish DXers like Mauno, Mika, Jari L. and Jari S. with their awesome language identification skills. You guys really rock!
540 UnID-Spanish During a search for Samoa at 0738 on 11-6 this strong mystery Spanish station monopolized the frequency; both North and South America had a clear salt water path to my DXing site, making it tough to chase the Pacific islands after sunset https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/vm0datfx40j4ie2mxyioby62in9v81wl
693 Bangladesh Betar Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1000 kW The super power exotic station finally broke through wicked 690-KHNR Honolulu splatter (10 kW at 113 miles) at 1639 on 11-8 with an apparent Islamic sermon (having mentions of “Allah” at 27 and 31 seconds) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/haye98bfrypbt1cdb1wgma2mx01wskpx
702 BBC Arabic Service A’Seela, Oman, 800 kW One of the big surprises of the DXpedition, this station was amazingly strong for the 8,586 mile (13,818 km) distance at 1604 on 11-6. Thanks to Mauno and Mika for the language and station investigation https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/cwgqhpm3hy0thmthw4o018i7c70y0b8i
720 UnID-TP Mystery Asian station (apparently not in any east Asian language) mixing with the Chinese opera station at 1536 on 11-4; Mauno and Jari S. mentioned VOIRI (Iran) as a possibility, but the Tajik and Uzbek languages being broadcast around that time are tough to identify https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/8l5utr5yxvybjzb2wrmaxvkoazuqmdf9
729 Myanma Radio Yangon, Myanmar, 100 kW Male-female speech in unique Asian language with clear mention of “Myanmar” at the 46 second point at 1541 on 11-4 (thanks to Chuck for deciphering). Unfortunately 576 and 594 were wiped out by Hawaii splatter https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/yq7uqray3bq93a6zu76kb92enk46wvq6
729 Myanma Radio? Fading up all alone at 1625 on 11-4, this male speaker’s language and voice sound a lot like the ones in the previous recording (thanks to Bruce for language suggestion, and to Ken Alexander, a Canadian retiring in Thailand, for the improved audio file) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/24c46lrjjm2329x4e1h634u3m7swn3f5
783 Voice of the Strait Zhangpu, China, 600 kW A major propaganda blaster to Taiwan, this was the strongest Asian station during the trip. All kinds of carefully selected music were broadcast– pop, opera and even rap (which, as Chris Kadlec says, is banned in China but is fair game to broadcast to Taiwan, where it is popular). This big gun was totally immune to any propagation downturns, as demonstrated in this local-like sign off message at 1600 on 11-7, which was actually a DU-slanted morning https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/6cbton9gqiqvqiwe6ewfc8u0aoztv4dm
800 PJB Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, 440 kW Hijacking the 801 frequency at 0921 on 11-3 with an S9 signal and “Transmundial” ID at 6 seconds, this signal was typical of powerful North and South American stations that would mix with the Asian and Pacific island stations each evening in a wild competition. Received at 5.981 miles/ 9,627 km https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/wiotqzpyghyinwl4o1f0c3vw2s1brtbw
819 KCBS Pyongyang, N. Korea, 500 kW This Asian big gun wasn’t quite as strong as it was in Kona, Hawaii a year earlier, and suffered some minor 830-Honolulu splatter. There was no sign of the Seoul area jammer, though. Its orchestral music was at good strength at 1606 on 11-3 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/zmtr8yqln8lqg9419a842u802w86pryx
909 CNR6 Quanzhou, China, 300 kW Another of the Taiwan-directed propaganda blasters, this one tended to play classical or choral music, and (like 783-Voice of the Strait) it was usually at overwhelming strength. This sign off message at 1602 on 11-7 has it all– S9+ strength, a “Shenzhou zhi Sheng” female-voiced ID at 35 seconds, and even a suggestive-voiced female from 49 to 58 seconds. Current sign off is at 1604 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/urhk66t4mqunezupi99r0red0pt4u7ub
918 ERTU Bawiti, Egypt, 10 kW Some awesome investigative work by Mauno determined that this modest signal at 1628 on 11-6 was Egyptian Arabic– one of the biggest surprises of the trip (otherwise it would have remained an UnID). Thanks for the extra effort! (8,921 miles/ 14,357 km) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/hhdwsw42ok5pcevh41amx9i7ln3cxmag
918 RNK Phnom Penh, Kampuchea, 600 kW One of the biggest stars of the DXpedition, with S9-level Kampuchean pop music almost every morning around 1630, burying Shandong completely. Apparently there is some special propagation between Hawaii and Southeast Asia around this time in early November. This music was at 1637 on 11-3 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/6ohs2orw3o1w5oiqyfyfxcczsrvykazq
927 AIR-South Visakhapatnam, India, 100 kW India news in English by female announcer at 1531 on 11-8 (mixing with China); with mentions of “also approved Indian…” at 9 seconds and “for India to express” at 25 seconds. Thanks very much to C.K. Raman of India for matching the recording to the AIR archives https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/ozrw09zrlayks7nt3dxt95zeaibqmwd7
972 HLCA Dangjin, S. Korea, 1500 kW The Korean big gun played the part during most sessions, although the Chinese co-channel rarely left it alone. Here was a typical S9 signal at 1532 on 11-3, over the Chinese and accented English news co-channels https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/v3ojq208x2pmrajzgrv5uqjh1cxu2xa7
972 UnID– AIR (East)? Accented English news from 10 seconds to 25 seconds in the following recording under HLCA at 1532 on 11-3, but there was no chance at the time to check the other AIR frequencies for a parallel. Unless Henan Economic was broadcasting in English this was most likely the 300 kW Cuttack transmitter in eastern India, with no other accented English possibilities on the frequency at the time https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/v3ojq208x2pmrajzgrv5uqjh1cxu2xa7
1575 Iranian Jammer Causing severe interference to VOA-Thailand’s Bengali program at 1620 on 11-8, the “official” target of this prolific Jammer is Radio Farda in the U.A.E. The transmitter location is unknown, but likely distance to Kauai is around 8,000 miles/ 12,875 km https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/pn1iwgnxq3vzgf5tj9b2ek0pb6p14qg3
As most transoceanic DXers are aware, the Hawaiian Islands offer an exceptional opportunity for AM-DXing hobbyists to chase enhanced, salt water-boosted signals from around the world. A recent Ultralight + FSL antenna trip provided all the DXing excitement anyone could hope for, with potent signals received from Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and both North and South America. But this was all live DXing– one frequency at a time. Is a similar trip possible using a broadband loop antenna, and an SDR to record spectrum in one of the world’s most enhanced environments?
Normally such a challenge would be unthinkable, due to external antenna restrictions and the impossibility of carrying large loop antenna components on major airlines. But the unique situation at Poipu Beach on Kauai Island is definitely worth mentioning.
First of all, there is a fully stocked Home Depot store about 15 minutes away by car, offering PVC pipes, concrete bases and antenna wire– along with any tools necessary for antenna assembly. The 2-BR condos on the Poipu Kai beach are not part of a motel, but are individually owned and rented out by a management company for owners on the mainland. I never saw a single management company official on the property during the entire 6 days, except for the night when we checked into the complex management office (and he seemed to stay right there). Each morning I set up my FSL antenna on a 5′ PVC base in the large open patio area behind our condo from 0400-0700 local time (1400-1700 UTC), and never was questioned by anybody– let alone anybody from the management company. I’m pretty sure that small, breakdown versions of broadband antennas (such as the type that both Chuck and Tom have become skillful in setting up at the Rockwork cliff every August) would be fully acceptable during these sunrise enhancement sessions in Hawaii. There is excellent, free Wi-Fi available at the site for checking parallels and web streams, and fragile items like the SDR receivers and Wellbrook amps could be carried in hand carry luggage, similar to how I carry the Ultralights and FSL antennas. After such a broadband DXpedition the antenna parts could be probably be returned to the local Home Depot store, possibly with a chance of refunds.
Of course with a such a pioneering effort there will always be challenges and surprising discoveries, and a sense of optimism and adventure will prove to be most useful. But the opportunity certainly is there– as well as the chance to conduct a breakthrough DXpedition that could be of legendary success.
What an amazing report, Gary! I’ll admit, I’m just a wee bit envious of your Ultralight DXpedition locations! Thanks for sharing the details an, especially, your recordings! Inspiring!
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