There are places that an amateur radio operator feels as “dear” even if he’s never been there. Saint Helena Island, in the South Atlantic Ocean, is one of those, for your truly (and I guess my crush on broadcasting also counts on this!). So, whenever a station from ZD7 is on, I try to be there. So far, I didn’t manage to work the Island, but if you try sometimes, you might get what you need. Read more →
Tag Archive for: swl
Everyone who played intelligently with a radio knows that, as low as you move on the frequency side, you need an horizontally polarized antenna to be heard well at a distance. That’s what I learnt as an SWL, and that’s what my “Fishing rod” proved me, with not the best performance on 80 meters. So, I decided to fill – at least on the listening side – this gap, and, since my space allows, I stretched a wire from Read more →
When I've no success in QSLing a station, I quite never send a follow-up. Let's make it clear: nowadays broadcasters have automatic, modern and reliable systems to verify their signal quality in the coverage area. So, our reports are no more so useful, and – most of all (or, consequently) – it's not mandatory to answer them. The way radio things are going, it's mainly a PR thing, than a relationship undergoing between the station engineer and radio hobbysts.So, if such an attempt misses the target, I see no reason why pestering someone (that's what a follow-up is about, to my eyes) would increase your QSL/feedback chances. I always preferred (if we're not talking a meanwhile decommissioned station, or a special unique broadcast) sending in a new report. With WEWN (the shortwave outlet of Eternal Word Television Network, transmitting from Alabama) I had to go this way something like three or four times, but this week my success came. This reception, from 15th June 2011, at 23.27 UTC, on 15610 kHz, went confermed by a station card (you see above the front). The report was sent to the e-mail address given on the "Contact us" page of EWTN website) on 26th August 2011, and the card was in my mailbox on 21st September. Less than a month! Remember: don't follow-up, but report again. Let the station see you love radio (and their programmes), not only QSLs.
Each restaurant has its own “dish of the day”. It's true in general, and also for “radio specials”. If your final destination is Italy, and you decide to head to the Adriatic shore, in the “Romagna” region (one hour drive from Bologna), the special meal will be named “tropospheric enhancement”. The exact definition is “any condition that scatters, reflects or refracts signals in the Troposphere allowing long distance reception (and hence interference) to occur in the VHF, UHF and/or microwave radio bands”.
In the past years, I did experience this mostly on FM band, hearing many station from Veneto and Friuli area (as an example, this is a reception of AFN 106.0 “The Eagle”, broadcasting from Aviano/Vicenza, dating back to 2009). However, this year marked my first holiday with an ham license, and the eight days I spent in Cattolica (20 kilometers south of Rimini) told me a lot also about tropospheric effects in V-UHF. In global terms, however, it's been a special vacation, radio wise, providing many unexpected and long time chased goals, and I'm glad to class the results in various categories.
To be completely sincere, I didn't spend so much time in exploring FM spectrum during this holiday. It's what I mainly did last years, and I wanted to look on others bands, and also, being tropo heavily conditioned by weather conditions (it requires calm atmosphere, and warm temperatures), the end of august with its wind didn't help a lot. However, a couple stations ended in my log. On 3rd September, I did hear, from the beach, Radio Company, from two of its transmitters: on 96.0 MHz in the heights of Vicenza, and on 105.2, in Attimis (Udine). Latter was stronger than former, but both were above average. Two remarks, on this issue. First, I've to say that RDS on DE1106 is not very sensible (if the signal is not booming, PI Code won't be available). Then, the not perfect weather (it did never rain, and temperature was always in the high half of twenties in Celsius, but facing the sea was always very windy) made me miss all the Croatian and Slovenian station that I had plenty of in past holidays. Anyways, I repeat myself, it wasn't my priority and, even just one reception, has been fun!
V-UHF ham bands
I will try to keep this short, but there is a lot to tell. Tropo effects are incredible (or it's just me, who has never experienced them, that gets easily impressed by “standard” performance). With the Wouxun KG-UV2D, and just its “stub”, I managed to receive some sixteen different repeaters. Seven has to be counted as local, even if some of them were more than 20 kilometers far from me (RU4A at “Lido degli Estensi”, RU13 in Cesena, RU4 and 8 in Rimini, R1 and RU21 in Pesaro, RU28 in Ancona and T70A in San Marino), but all the others (RU10 in Pordenone, RU5, RU6a and RU13a in Treviso, RU2 in Verona, IR3UT at Cima Carega – Trento, and 9A0VRI in Ucka, Croatia) were surely signals lifted to my area by tropo. Speaking distances, the map on the side, speaks for itself.
So, after discovering so many signal sources, and listening carefully to identify positions, what has an OM to do? To call. I did, and the 5 watts of my Woxun were enough to bring me somewhere. I went prudent on this side, as I could engage those repeaters not very well, and I didn't want other stations to go crazy trying to hear me well. However, some five QSO did end in the log: with IV3NSP, I5JKI/3 AND IV3BCA/M on Pordenone's RU10; with 9A7KDT/M on Ucka's R4 (9A0VRI ), with IZ1PIX/4/M on Monte Agaro's R5a, with IZ3JZF/3/M on Monte Cesen's RU13a, and with IW3RWZ on Sacile's (Pordenone) RU5. What else to say, except “thanks a lot” to all the stations that I contacted for their patience. I've not been an easy QSO, with my voice between statics and noise, but you contributed to make my holiday special!
SWLing on the shore
Tropo doesn't enhance shortwave reception, but being on the sea creates optimal conditions for going between 2 to 30 MHz. I have to say, although I did try this during past holidays, this year I realized a lot about how much mountains, at my home QTH, do attenuate signals. If I didn't live it, I probably wouldn't believe it, but in my first day at sea, 11am local time, I switched on DE1106, and tried to put on 15 MHz. Faint, but time code and WWVH's female voice were there. On that frequency, in six years, in Aosta I never heard it! Then, a text message from a friend, warned my: “try also 25 MHz, sometimes Finland's time signal is there”. I did, and “beep, beep, beep…”. Again, weak, and sometimes completely vanishing, but readable. In less than half an hour, I had achieved two results that I never got close to at home. Exciting, at last! But the best moment had yet to come. On 3rd September, at 10.45 UTC, after a negative scan for tropo FM signals, I felt to check 11870 kHz. I had a weak song by Michael Franti and Lorenzo “Jovanotti”. Then, a voice in English. I couldn't believe myself, but the signal did increase. It turned out to be “Creation Moments” on KNLS. Alaska with just a telescopic antenna! That one, in five years, was never heard in Aosta, with better receivers and external antennas. After some five minutes of decent readability, the signal vanished, also because when 11 UTC approached a strong station switched on 11875, wiping out the channel. Anyways, an unforgettable moment, for what I have to thank the guys (you know who you are!) who patiently repeated me, from time to time, “don't get desperate if you don't get Alaska, it's just a matter of time”.
As far as SWLing ham bands is concerned, I had great fun, also thanks to the Field Day contest on the 3rd and 4th Sep week-end. Various stations from the US were heard on 21 and 18 MHz. The most interesting catch, anyways, looks to me like two guys from P.R. China, BI7LSI and BD7IXG. You can witness their signal below, and be sure I'll try more and more to bring radios on the shore. The Adriatic one also offers very good seafood, and a friendly atmosphere. Nothing more to ask, when it comes to holidays!
Many times, while telling about confirmations I get, I've written that as long as you get an answer from a station, you don't have to complain. Today, instead, I will. Once back home, tonight, a Radio Taiwan International envelope was waiting for me. I was quite glad, as this station has been sometimes elusive in terms of verifications. In the past, it has been easier to get a beer coaster from them, than a QSL. Now, while cutting the paper, I felt happy. On 15th June 2011 I did receive what I classed (here) as their Mandarin programme, at 22.44 UTC, on 6150 kHz, and I sent a report through the station's website QSL form. So, the answer could only relate to a confirmation. A card was in the envelope, and a nice one too (about the 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo, see above), but the data part, on the back, was left completely blank. The envelope contained also an A4 paper schedule in spanish (probably, it's reputed to be the one of their languages most close to italian!). Now, I wonder if it's worth anything putting up a QSL form on your site, to get feedback from listeners, if you're not ready/able to acknowledge it. I'm maybe (too) old fashioned, and not counting among those saying "well, better than nothing". In my opinion, to send people forwarding reports a blank QSL card, it would be better p.r. to send out a sticker. It would leave more sastifiaction, but most of all it would not originate the basic question I'm repeating to myself since I opened the envelope: is what I got a real confirmation? My reception, as you'll see in the video, was "presumed". Are we sure that just getting the card wipes out the doubt?
Propagation proves generous in the last days, making less hard to leave behind some sleep hours. To be remarked, above all, some good signals on the 3 MHz band, which were simply unpredictable to me. However, less talking now, and more logs. As usual, QTH is Aosta (north-western Italy), receiver an Icom R71, and aerial a vertical home made, used also for ham operations, 10 meters tall and derivated from a "fishing rod". Logs divided in three sections, so everyone will find his favourite dish!
3350 kHz – 04.58 UTC – 19th August 2011
Radio Exterior de Espana, from Cariari de Pococí in Costa Rica, isn't the hardest DX catch one can think of. Anyways, that morning it was really solid (aside some local spurious signals, that I'll have to investigate deeper). A song, then time pips, followed by female and male announcer on a "projecto de restauracion y investigacion". Nice to wake up with Central America blasting!
5025 kHz – 22.04 UTC – 24th July 2011
Before Rebelde violently kicks in, 5025 can reveal Australia. That night, it did. Not the strongest signal ever, but the night channel of Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Outback Radio, from Katherine in the Northern Territory, is a news in itself when heard. Some music at the beginning of the clip. for what sounds like a usual domestic radio show.
15190 kHz – 21.23 UTC – 23rd August 2011
Radio Inconfidencia from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, can surprise for the intensity it can reach on 19 meters, at night. Yesterday, MUF had to be high, as it was better than the last ten nights. Mention, by two different speakers, of different brazilian towns (sounded like quotes for some goods, or something like that). At 2 minutes 40 seconds in the recording, start of a popular song.
3330 kHz – 05.09 UTC – 19th August 2011
CHU, from Ottawa (Canada), is one of the stations you have to sincerely worry when unheard. Stronger than this in some mornings (pips are well defined, even "digital" ones, but the voice announcement has here to be more guessed than heard. But, hey it's August and we're on three MHz.
3810 kHz (LSB) – 04.52 UTC – 19th August 2011
The guys at HD2IOA, Guayaquil in Equador, aren't among the most regulars here at early morning. However, sometimes, like in this case, they do remember the world shortwaves are done to go far! It sounds to me they changed the style of their time signal. Anyone more expert can advice?
10000 kHz – 05.07 UTC – 17th August 2011
Some mornings, PPE-Observatorio Nacional (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), struggles its way to Europe with Fort Collins. Not this time, when the female voice from the land of the golden beaches and the eternal sun made no mercy of other signals.
7160.8 kHz – 01.47 UTC – 14th August 2011
K1KNM, Ken in Vermont, stronger than the European stations he was working.
7190 kHz – 02.03 UTC – 14th August 2011
WG3J, a club station in Maryland. Hoisy channel, but – as we do say in Italy, you would sign papers to cross the Pond with such intensity.
14125 kHz – 20.20 UTC – 22nd August 2011
Twenty meters are like a roulette. Night falls, and after a while you'll understand if it's long, or short, skip. Yesterday night they offered this wonderful QSO between FM5AN, Guy in Fort de France (Martinique) and CT1JEY. Chatty and strong as they were on a local VHF repeater. In a word, marvellous, like the bands in the last days!