Great job snagging this particular VOK recording! You’re following a long tradition of SWLs before you who’ve made an effort to capture these fascinating bits of radio history. Keep up the great work, Dean!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who writes:
I put up a couple of videos on my “Willow Slough DX” YouTube channel nine hours ago that may rate at least an Arte Johnson (Laugh-in) “verrry interestink”. These are two videos of the North Korean shortwave station Voice of Korea operating with their new time zone and on their new schedule.
These are the two most recent videos of SW station receptions that I have posted during the last couple of days.
[The first video] is the VOK shortwave sign-on recorded at the newly scheduled time of 04:00, May 5, 2018 UTC on 15180 kHz. Distance: 5600 miles. Receiver: Sangean ATS-909X. Antenna: suburban 83m horizontal loop. Receiver location: Davis, California, USA. North Korea has changed its time zone to match UTC +9 which is used by South Korea. I was accustomed to tuning in Voice of Korea at 38 minutes past the scheduled hour for the English language news. Now I tune in at 8 minutes past the same hour. VOK broadcasts that were scheduled for 04:30 UTC now begin at 04:00 UTC. At the time I write this VOK shortwave programs listed on Short-Wave.info still show the old times:
Thanks for sharing this, Dan! It never crossed my mind that VOK would change their international broadcast time based on the fact they shifted their country’s time zone. From a North Korean perspective, though, I suppose this makes sense. Thanks for the tip!
Front page of the North Korean newspaper “Rodong” on April 28, 2018. (Source: Mark Fahey)
With North Korea in the global spotlight, I’ve been making every effort to listen to the Voice of Korea on shortwave. Unfortunately, from here on the east coast of North America, conditions have simply not been in my favor.
Fortunately, a couple of SWLing Post and SRAA contributors have had my back.
This morning, North Korean propaganda specialist Mark Fahey uploaded the following VOK recording to the archive and included notes and insight:
[The recording is] off 9,730 kHz so a mint shortwave file.
Recorded at the “Behind The Curtain” remote satellite and HF receiving site near Taipei, Taiwan (the site is remotely operated from Freemans Reach in Australia and was specifically established to monitor North Korean radio & television 24×7).
[I] also have long domestic recordings (which is what I have been focusing on rather than VOK).
[…]Of course domestic in Korean – but that has been my main interest/monitoring – what does the regime say to the domestic audience–?
They seem quite serious (I mean genuine) even acknowledging South Korea as a separate place and Moon being the president of this place. The domestic propaganda now not hiding the fact that South Korea is a separate sovereign nation, which is very un-North Korean propaganda!
The news is still kind of breaking in North Korea and the radio reflects that – the reports sound like Friday was yesterday. It takes a long time for North Korean media to report anything, so news from 3 days ago is presented as if it only happened 3 hours ago.
Also since it’s all topical I will include a YouTube link to a Voice Of Korea Documentary (propaganda to our ears of course–!) that has recently been posted to the Arabia Chapter of The Korean Friendship Association:
Hi there, the garden at my house is pretty small and as a consequence, I am very limited in terms of what antennas I can usefully employ. You can’t position anything further than about 10 metres from the brickwork and to compound this, we are surrounded on all sides by neighbours in close proximity. All very nice people, but all very noisy – electrically speaking lol. I simply can’t get far enough away from these sources of electrical noise to achieve excellent SNR.
The solution to my problem was ultimately a Wellbrook ALA1530 magnetic loop, but prior to that I used an end-fed random wire, the performance of which deteriorated as the months went by as the ubiquitous blanked of local QRM continued to increase. Eventually, I was forced outdoors, well away from my town – effectively catalysing my forays into the Oxfordshire countryside on DXpeditions. That first experience of listening to the radio on shortwave, in the absence of any QRM was enlightening to say the least and of course, subsequently, DXpeditions have become a mainstay of my listening activities. However, despite enjoying some great DX successes out in the woods, one has to be realistic about how often it’s possible to leave the house just to listen to the radio. This led me to the purchase of the Wellbrook ALA1530 magnetic loop. It proved to be a triumph of electrical noise mitigation and an absolute necessity in copying transatlantic medium wave signals in such a noisy and compact space. A total game-changer. The brilliant performance of the Wellbrook eventually led to me purchase a second, cheaper active antenna; the E-field Bonito Boni Whip and in turn, that purchase led me to the MegActive MA305, kindly supplied by Bonito themselves for objective testing.
Have DXing kit, will travel…everything you need in a small flight case…
You might remember my initial tests at home confirmed, as expected, that E-field antennas don’t work well in electrically noisy environments (except at LW frequencies in my experience) but outdoors, away from noise, they are superb. I have a number of reception videos on my YouTube channel – Oxford Shortwave Log which clearly demonstrate identical performance of the Bonito MegActive MA305 antenna and Wellbrook ALA1530 magnetic loop out in the woods. So, what if you’ve got a large garden in a suburban area that allows you to be just far enough from sources of electrical noise…how much of a difference does it make to the noise floor of your receiving equipment? Can E-field antennas such at the Bonito MegActive MA305 do the job? Furthermore, how well does a random wire work in a larger garden?
My MegActive MA305 antenna system for mobile DXing…and another use for a washing line…
I was fortunate enough to know someone who owns a house with a large garden, quite close to my QTH (a 10 minute walk) and who was more than willing to let me set up my DXing equipment and sit around until the early hours of the morning, listening to and recording various signals on my Eton Satellit. In preparation, I set up the Bonito MegActive MA305 antenna and hung the radiating element on the washing line – sounds ridiculous but actually worked very well, placing it about 2.5 metres above the ground. I also set up a 40 metre longwire, which at its closest point, was still approximately 25 metres from the house, and 30 metres from the neighbours. This post will focus on the performance of the MA305; a subsequent post will detail the performance of the longwire.
The large garden I ‘borrowed’ for my DXing session with the Bonito MegActive MA305 antenna
Suffice to say, the MegActive MA305 performed admirably during my first listening session. In the middle of the afternoon I copied a very strong signal from The Voice of Korea around 15:44 hrs UTC on the 25 metre broadcast band, followed at 17:10 hrs UTC with a superb signal from The Voice of the Broad Masses 2, Eritrea, on the 40 metre ham band. Later on in the evening I copied Radio Mail with excellent modulation, CHU Canada with voice announcements (almost impossible at home), Myanmar Radio with an untypically strong signal and XEPPM Radio Educación from Mexico City with a signal I would normally expect on a DXpedition-proper with a large antenna.
My conclusions to this experiment are simply that E-field antennas can work in a suburban environment, if you are able to site them far enough away from adjacent sources of electrical noise. I don’t have empirical data on this, however, I can confirm that 10 metres proximity is too close at my QTH and 30 metres is sufficiently far away at this test location. One has to assume the houses nearby are similarly equipped to mine with electrical appliances that generate electrical noise. Thus, if you’re interested in a very well-priced, compact antenna and you live in an urban or suburban environment with access to a large garden/ outdoor space, an E-field Boni Whip or MegActive MA305 might well be suitable – and you’ll have a superb portable antenna for those listening sessions away from home!
Finally, I should mention the Eton Satellit. Much-maligned in certain quarters when it was first introduced into the market, it continues to demonstrate superb DXing credentials. I won’t forget some words of wisdom from a friend of mine and fellow DXer, with more than 3 decades of experience in listening to the bands on HF. He told me that Judging from his own experience with some of the original Grundig Satellit models of the 1980s and early 90s (namely the 400, 500 and 700) he was quite sure that the Eton Satellit is a considerably better DX performer than those vintage sets, that offered great sound for casual listening to international broadcasters, but didn’t perform too convincingly on weak DX signals. The Eton Satellit has been a revelation and I’m pleased to have played a small part in turning around the rather widely held view that it was less than worthy of the Satellit branding.
Fresh out of the box, the Eton Satellit has surpassed all my expectations…
Please find embedded reception videos below and text links to the Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel. My next post on this subject will cover the performance of a 40 metre longwire in this large garden environment. Thank you for reading/watching/listening and I wish you all great DX!
Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rawad Hamwi, who shares the following recording and notes:
I recorded today part of Voice of Korea news bulletin (english language) when they started talking about what they did regarding the detonation on a H bomb today. You know, such things don’t occur everyday and maybe the last time we heard something similar on shortwave was during the cold war era.