Tag Archives: World Cup Shortwave

Recording the 2014 World Cup Final

WorldCupBall-001Sunday was the FIFA World Cup Final, and not only was I looking forward to the game, but (to tell the truth) I was also looking forward to recording the game via the BBC World Service for the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Due to the BBC WS cuts, part of me fears this may be a last chance to capture this radio and sports history.

If you would like to hear the recordings of the World Cup Final, skip to the bottom of this post. But if you want to know how I managed to make the recordings, and why I made the choices I did, feel free to continue reading…Warning: full-on radio geek tech ahead!

Making the recording

I had two SDRs (software defined radios) at my disposal: the Elad FDM-S2 and my trusty WinRadio Excalibur.  To record this match, I choose to use an SDR rather than a tabletop receiver for several reasons, namely:

  1. I wanted to make a spectrum recording so that I could record more than one frequency at a time;
  2. SDRs make recording radio content on the fly much easier than using a tabletop receiver, which must be connected to an external audio recorder, and I wanted ease of use so I could enjoy the game, too.

Propagation was rather mediocre Sunday, and there were only three feasible BBC World Service English frequencies I could tune in mid-afternoon, none of which, of course, were targeting North America:

  • 11,810 kHz from Ascension Island
  • 13,660 kHz from Woofferton, UK
  • 15,400 kHz from Ascension Island
  • 9,915 kHz from Woofferton, UK (starting at 20:00 UTC)

My hunch was that either 13,660 or 15,400 kHz would be my best bet for the early part of the match (pre-game starting at 18:30 UTC, half time at 20:00 UTC), however, I knew they would drop off after the first half of the game. And 11,800 kHz would be my best bet in the latter part of the game, unless 9,915 kHz happened to be stronger.

In the past, 11,800 had served me quite well for afternoon BBC listening, but yesterday there was an unscheduled religious broadcaster on 11,825 that was causing interference a full 30 kHz on either side of their carrier! During my pre-game check of the frequency, each attempt I made to block this broad interference was unsuccessful–very frustrating.

Which SDR?

The FDM-S2 is a fine SDR, and I was very tempted put it to the test.  But while the Elad FDM-S2 is quite capable of making very wide spectrum recordings (up to 6 MHz) and could easily record all four frequencies on four different meter bands at the same time, I decided to use the WinRadio Excalibur, instead.

Why? If 11,800 kHz was my only viable frequency option in the latter half of the game, I needed a receiver that could sync to the less noisy lower sideband of 11,800 kHz. While Elad plans to add USB/LSB selectable synchronous detection in the next version of their SDR application, it currently does not have this capability.

I suppose, too, I feel more comfortable with the WinRadio Excalibur; I’ve been using it now for well over two years. If something were to go wrong during the broadcast, I knew I could diagnose it quickly on the Excalibur.

In addition, the Excalibur can do both a spectrum recording and up to three individual AF recordings at the same time (though limited within a 2MHz bandwidth). I’m not sure if Elad has plans for this in their next SDR.

Setting up the Excalibur

The Excalibur only has a 2 MHz bandwidth for spectrum recordings. I knew if I focused on the middle frequency of 13,660, I would be able to record it and either 15,400 or 11,810 at the same time, but not all three.

The first half of the match, I recorded both 13,660 kHz and 15,400 kHz in a 2 MHz wide spectrum recording. At the same time, I recorded the audio (an AF recording) from 13,660 kHz, which was consistently the stronger of the two frequencies.

Half time

By 20:00 UTC, I knew both 13,660 and 15,400 kHz would stop transmitting and I would need to either hop to 11,810 kHz or 9,915 kHz.

While maintaining a good audio recording of 13,660, I stopped the 2 MHz spectrum recording and moved it to encompass 13,660 and 11,810 kHz. A quick check proved that 11,810 was the strongest station. Fortunately, the interference above 11,810 had quieted somewhat at that point, and by using the LSB sync lock, this noise was successfully mitigated a bit.

Still, I could hear a chuffing sound coming from the splatter 11,825 was producing. So I enabled the notch filter and widened it to 2 kHz. By shifting it around in the upper side band, I was able to find the “sweet spot” where most of the splatter noise was canceled. I then started the audio recording on 11,810 a few minutes prior to 20:00 UTC, making a little audio overlap with simultaneous recording on 13,660.

Syncing on the lower sideband and using the notch filter in the upper sideband mitigated most of the interference.

Syncing on the lower sideband and using the notch filter in the upper sideband mitigated most of the splatter interference.

In the end, I was very pleased with the results of the recordings. While capturing the BBC World Service isn’t exactly like snagging rare DX, I felt I had a lot riding on this recording, so pre-game preparations were necessary, especially since the Excalibur couldn’t record spectrum from 9,915 to 15,400 kHz.

And in theory, had I used the Elad FDM-S2, I could have recorded the entire chunk for three hours and then revisited the material later to make audio recordings from the AF.

The recordings

For your listening pleasure: the full 2014 World Cup final via the BBC World Service. This broadcast is broken into 3 sections: pre-game and the first half, second half, and extra time. Enjoy!

Pre-game and first half (13,66o kHz):

Second half (11,810 kHz):

Extra time and game wrap-up (11,810 kHz):

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The World Cup on shortwave, continents apart

WorldCupBall-001Yesterday, I was primed to follow the FIFA World Cup semi-final match featuring the Netherlands vs. Argentina. Moreover, we have good friends from Germany visiting; of course, they wanted to see who their winning team will be playing in the final match come Sunday.

But as we live in a fairly rural area, and don’t place much of a priority on television (radio, anyone?), we have no cable, no satellite, and with no more than a rabbit-ear indoor antenna on our only telly, no local over-the-air broadcasters available. But we found we were able to watch the match stream live on ESPN via an Apple TV box attached to our only television.

Of course, I also tuned in the match on shortwave radio–via the BBC World Service on 11,810 kHz out of Ascension Island–starting a little after 20:00 UTC. And guess which stream was more “live” (i.e., immediate), ESPN or shortwave?  Here’s the recording:

Answer:  You guessed it–the shortwave coverage was one full minute in advance of the ESPN “live” stream. My friends watching television in another room marveled at my clairvoyance…

When the match went into extra time, as Argentina and the Netherlands were tied 0-0, the BBC World Service dropped the frequency to KBS (you’ll hear a few minutes of KBS in the recording).  At this point I was resigned to watching the match on ESPN, as I didn’t want to miss any of the action while trying to find another broadcaster covering the match.

Then, radio to the rescue:  I received the following tweet from SWLing Post reader/contributor @LondonShortwave:

So I quickly tuned to Radio Nacional Amazonia on 6,180, where I discovered a booming signal and full match coverage. Even though the commentary was in Portuguese, a language I can’t speak, I could still follow the match knowing player and team names. When Argentina won the penalty kicks after extra time, commentators exploded with excitement. Listen for yourself:

What made the match all the better, besides watching it with my good friends here at home, was following it with my shortwave friends across the globe. As we exchanged tweets (while following coverage) it was as if we were all in the same room. Indeed, here’s what @LondonShortwave said:

So true–!  While using the Internet to communicate, we were listening to the same and far-more-efficient shortwave station for coverage.

Now on to Sunday, and hoping I can catch the final match on the BBC World Service…with the rest of the world. If you can, join us. Game on!

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BBC World Service: Portugal vs. Ghana

WorldCupBall-001Earlier today, I tuned to the BBC World Service on 17,830 kHz at 16:00 UTC, hoping they would be covering the USA vs. Germany game of the FIFA World Cup. I was pleased to hear World Cup coverage the moment I tuned in–but was a little disappointed that BBC had selected the Ghana vs. Portugal game.  Still, I can’t complain; this BBC service is, after all, intended for Africa. And a lot was at stake for Ghana…

So, I listened to the BBC coverage of that game while watching the USA vs Germany game stream over ESPN. I also watched a little of the Portugal/Ghana game, and realized I had an advantage over others streaming the game because the shortwave coverage from the BBC was almost 5 seconds ahead of the live stream. That’s the power of shortwave: goals at the speed of light!

For your listening pleasure, here is the full recording I made from the BBC World Service today. Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

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Listen to the FIFA World Cup 2010 on Shortwave Radio via RNW

The Netherlands will face Spain in Johannesburg on Sunday 11 July at 1830 UTC in the final of the FIFA World Cup 2010. Radio Netherlands Worldwide has posted the broadcast frequencies for this event and we have them listed below.

The following shortwave/mediumwave frequencies will will carry live coverage in Dutch, mind you (all times UTC):

* 1200-2200: 1296 kHz for Benelux
* 1800-2200: 5915 kHz to South Africa
* 1700-2200: 5935 kHz to Indonesia, Australia & Indian Ocean
* 1700-2200: 5950 kHz to Europe and Scandinavia
* 1700-2200: 9895 kHz to SW Europe
* 1800-2200: 11670 kHz to SE Europe & Middle East
* 1800-2200: 11905 kHz to US East Coast
* 1800-2200: 13640 kHz to US & Canada
* 1800-2200: 13685 kHz to Central & East Africa
* 1700-2200: 15310 kHz to Caribbean & Florida
* 1800-2200: 15475 kHz to South America
* 1700-2200: 17535 kHz to Atlantic Ocean & West Africa

Thanks to RNW Media Networks for this info.

UPDATE: Did you record the FIFA World Cup on shortwave? If so, please  send me your audio, I would be happy to post it on SWLing.com.

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