Sunday, January 31, 2010

Greetings from the Snow!


It seems this winter will become a record winter not only for good DX but as far as amount of snow is concerned. The snow has been accumulating up to about 40 cm now and there is more to come. The DX QTH is in the middle of snowy trees. BOG is under about 40 cm snow and my longwire seems to have problems in the forest.
The conditions seems to be "back in normal" without any big surprises in the end of January, let´s hope some better times until the next CH due to arrive around Feb 10.

Meanwile I have updated the list of Japanese MW stations logged from December 1st 2009 up to January 20 2010. The number of stations is now 70, I had forgetten a common JO-station JOER 1350. A few new were also noted in the beginning of January, like NHK-stations on 945 (NHK1) and 1467 (JOID Oita).
The list is at Google-docs (Japan list, times usually around 1055 to 1400 UTC)
Japan list

Saturday, January 23, 2010

DX-Station of December 2009: Radio Symban Australia


It is not often that a new station appears on Short Waves! Indeed short waves are still used at least in Australia, where we can hear ABC on 2310, 2325 and 2485. But last year a new station "Radio Symban" started also here on 2368.5 kHz. It was first heard in Europe by MR (Mauno Ritola) and soon many dxers tried to get in here on 120 mb. The carrier could be seen often on the frequency, but to hear the audio was rather difficult. Maybe partly because the power has been rather low around 150-250 Watts only. It seems the power has been at least some days a bit more (up to 500 Watts), but information from Australia says it is still no more than maximum about 240 Watts. Another reason which makes it difficult is the current reception conditions which favors more Northernly paths. Anyway I managed to get some audio (apparently relay of a Greek radio) in some evenings in December. The best time has been always the local sunrise around 19 utc. Later on, in January the station has been heard quite regularly and during some days of a minor geomagnetic disturbance and a quick rise of the solar wind the reception has been almost near the level of strong ABC outlets! The station has some local programming with spots etc just after 19.00 utc. Usually around 17-19 utc the program consists mainly Greek music.
Thank you also for the nice hadwritten QSL received from the station´s "QSL-manager". The station has a web-page and a working on-line feed of the program as well. Let´s hope it can run the full power later on to make it easier to listen to.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Examples of Far East DX- conditions

As an example of signals received in December from the Far East you can listen to the video at the December archive of old posts (22 Dec.) where you can hear typical signals of JOUB 774 and JOIF 1413.

In addition an example of signals on December 8 at 1200 UTC can be found at my 4shared page. It is a Perseus file of about 30 seconds at noon covering the mw-band. You can explore the widespread reception conditions as there are stations also from North America´s North West, Alaska and Hawaii and the Easternmost stations from the Philippines like DWCM 1160.9 kHz.
The link to the file (zipped, 30 seconds)is

SPR_091208-1154_01000kHz_001 115945 120015 .zip

There is also a 45 seconds file at the same time (12:59:45 - 13:00:15, 343 Mb WAV) at Guy Atkin´s blog http://fivebelow.squarespace.com/. Thank You Guy for adding the file to the archives!

Exploring Japan on MW - times they´ve changed


Japan on MW has been an interesting target for me since I started to listen to MW-signals from Asia. My first QTH in the Center of Finland was rather good for Asia during dark wintertimes.
In the era of reporting and QSL-hunting (70´s ... 80´s) I got about 30 QSL-cards and letters from Japanese MW-stations (NHK and commercial stations). Before the current mf-allocation they were pretty easy to hear on their 10 kHz spaced channels. It took about 20 years to get these 30 stations verified. I think in my old logbooks are about 40 stations heard. Some examples of the QSLs at the picture.

In December 2009 I tested how many of them can be heard in about month in this deep solar minumum. I recorded almost daily total mw-band at several TOH´s for 5-15 minutes (including several recordings around 1320 utc to get the NHK2-IDs). All recording were preprogrammed beforehand at my King´s Village QTH. Some days the program crashed because of the electricity problems (at rural areas there are sometimes short power blackouts - usually 1 seconds or so...) so there were some periods of several days without recording. I have now explored majority of the recordings. It seems conditions favoured Japan as was expected - during this deep minimum and almost total darkness even in Southern Finland, conditions towards North-West, North and North-East are going on daily. Example of these conditions is KUMU Hawaii which could be heard almost daily in Scandinavia.

The count of the stations heard from Japan (NHK´s partly IDed only as "NHK1/2", partly rather definite ID as being the only NHK on the channel). Commercial stations were IDed by the company initials (usually, as an example "KBC Radio" 1413 JOIF).
So during about 20 days recordings at around 11,12,13 and 14 UTC totally about 55 stations were heard. I could estimated that during the best days (like 8th December for example) one could get an ID of 30-40 stations during about 3 hours containing 4 recordings of 5 minutes each at the TOH and 1 minute at 1320 UTC! That is a difference - during 1900´s I had a TRIO 9R59DS receiver and some longwire antennas - now a Perseus SDR-receiver and a BOG antenna. So one can not compare the results of 1970´s - 1980´s to todays captures!

The list of the stations:
freq station remarks
567 JOIK NHK1, Sapporo no call id
594 JOAK NHK1, Tokyo/Shobu no call id
648 JOIG NHK1, Toyama no call id
666 JOBK NHK1, Osaka
693 JOAB NHK2, Tokyo/Shobu
729 JOCK NHK1, Nagoya no call id
747 JOIB NHK2, Sapporo no call id(*
774 JOUB NHK2, Akita
792 NHK1, tent. Embetsu (//Hokkaido NHK) no call id
828 JOBB NHK2, Osaka/Habikino
837 JOQK NHK1, Niigata no call id
864 JOXR ROK Radio Okinawa, Naha/Nanjo
873 JOGB NHK2, Kumamoto
927 NHK1
936 JOTR ABS Akita Hoso, Akita
954 JOKR TBS Tokyo Hoso, Tokyo/Toda
963 JOTG NHK1, Aomori local news
990 JORK NHK1, Kochi no call id
1008 JONR ABC Asahi Hoso, Kyoto
1017 JOLB NHK2, Fukuoka
1053 JOAR CBC Chubu-Nippon Hoso, Nagoya/Kuwana-Shi
1071 JOFK NHK1, Hiroshima no call id
1107 JOCF MBC Minami Nihon Hoso, Kagoshima
1107 JOMR MRO Hokoriku Hoso, Kanazawa
1116 JODR BSN Niigata Hoso, Niigata
1134 JOQR NCB Bunka Hoso, Tokyo/Kawaguchi
1179 JOOR MBS, Mainichi Hoso, Osaka
1197 JOFO RKB, RKB Mainichi Hoso, Kitakyushu Fukuoka
1224 JOJK NHK1, Kanazawa no call id
1233 JOUR NBC Nagasaki Hoso, Nagasaki
1233 JOGR RAB Aomori Hoso, Aomori
1242 JOLF NBS Nippon Hoso, Tokyo/Kisarazu
1260 JOIR TBC Tohoku Hoso, Sendai
1269 JOJR JRT Shikoku Hoso, Tokushima
1278 JOFR RKB Mainichi Hoso, Fukuoka
1287 JOHR HBC, Hokkaido Hoso, Sapporo
1314 JOUF OBC Radio Osaka, Osaka/Sakai-Shi
1332 JOSF Tokai Hoso, Nagoya
1368 JOHP NHK1, Takamatsu Kagawa no call id
1377 JOUC NHK2, Yamaguchi
1386 JOJB NHK2, Kanazawa
1386 JOKB NHK2, Okayama
1395 RKC, Kochi Hoso, Sukumo Kochi
1413 JOIF KBC-Kyushu Asahi Hoso, Fukuoka
1422 JORF RF, RF Radio Nippon, Yokohama
1431 JOZF GBS, Gifu Hoso, Gifu
1440 JOWF STV, Sapporo TV Hoso, Sapporo
1467 JOID NHK2, Oita / NHK2 Hokkaido (** no call id
1494 JOYR RSK, Sanyo Hoso, Okayama
1503 JOUK NHK1, Akita no call id
1512 JOZB NHK2, Matsuyama no call id
1521 JOTC NHK2, Aomori no call id
1584 JOQG NHK1, Fukaura Aomori no call id
1593 JOQB NHK2, Niigata
1602 JOSB NHK2, Kitakyushu Fukuoka
1602 NHK2, Embetsu //747 Sapporo

*) Sapporo NHK 747 nowadays no call at 1320 only "NHK"
**) poss. Different relays diff. Days, one day //Hokkaido channels

Ids: NHK usually at 1320 after the weather
Some NHK1 with local programs before 11 utc
Some NHK-stations "Ided" being the only one on the frequency
Commercial stations Ids with company inititials with some exceptions (like "Radio Kansai 1395")
56 stations logged Dec 1 - 31 2009 (updated list after check 15th Jan.)
Perseus sdr + 250 m BOG (under snow) to NE

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

SDR-Receiver tests Part II

I did some more tests and search of the latest SDR-radios & softwares during the Holiday Season. It seems there are something going on on several receiver / software manufactures on SDRs just now.

SDR-RADIO

This is a nice piece of software which obviously is in the development stage, but versions that I tested worked quite OK with a SDR-IQ-receiver. Obviously this is more intented to HAM-operators and IQ-compatibility is only one of the features of this softaware. The highlights of this are an integrated MP3-recorder and easy connectivity into Internet and remote use of the receiver (like IQ). However I could not find a good possibility to measure the exact carrier frequency like using the SpectraVue-software ( see earlier post "Part I" recarding the latest SpectraVue 3.03). More about SDR-RADIO on their web-pages.

SDR-IP and SpectraVue 3.03

It seems the release of the new SDR-IP-model will be in Q1 2010 and the current softaware version of SpectaVue 3.03 seems to support 2 Ms/s samplerate to achive IQ-recording of 1.8 MHz with the resolution of 0.95 Hz. The resolution enhancement is important to all of us who wants to really see and measure the carrier frequency to the last Herz. This feature have been discussed many times earlier (see the archives of earlier posts) as it is often important to visually examine the spectrum of several carriers on the tuned frequency. The latest version of the manual does not mention the support for Perseus (or other IQ-recordings) - as it was on an earlier version - an issue discussed sometimes with earlier versions of SpectraVue. It is very understandable for the software designer just to support RF-Space products. As of IP IP-board some other interesting options are at least: support for down converter of 88-108MHz (an internal 10 MHz locked downconverter).The SDR-IP utilizes straight TCP/IP and ethernet for all communications. This offers the highest possible performance due to the highly optimized ethernet drivers on PC, Mac and Linux systems. So different Operating Systems are supported. The 1.333 Mhz sample rate gives a very convenient 1.2 Mhz output (IQ) bandwith – just suited for a MW-dxer. At that sample rate the resolution is about 0.6 Hz. Let´s see when we get some real world tests of the new IP-model!


Win Radio - new model !

I was a bit surprized to get to know that also WinRadio has released a new model "coming soon". The presented Excalibur model seems to have a few interesting features like three independent channels (i.e. three receivers in one), all parameters can be set separately for each channel. Each channel can also record audio simultaneously and independently. Recording and playback are also provided at the output of the Digital Down-Converter, where an entire 2 MHz spectrum band can be recorded for later demodulation (seems to be real IQ-recording, not the "IF"-as in earlier models). The recording facility also features pre-buffering to avoid a loss of signal at the start of a transmission. A flexible Scheduler function makes it possible to program each channel separately, for unattended recording on preselected frequencies, at specified dates and times. There are not yet more information of the scheduler. However according to specs I have found that the maximum resolution is only 1.5 Hz which is not as good as that of Perseus or SpectraVue softwares. As there are no more pictures or information, you can not say if the carrier frequency can be "seen" exactly or measured by the software automatically. More information will be seen in the near future I hope.


So it seems this year we will see more happening in the field of constantly developing receivers!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Perseus Markers - just another try


During the Christmas period one of the favourite short wave DXing targets has always been the Papua-New Guinean stations. These are few still left on 90 mb. As I had no possibility to check them during their Christmas programs or the often longer New Year´s Evening shows I made a short preview recording a Perseus file 3200-3400 kHz on Dec 29th while visiting my DX-ing cottage.

Quite a few fellow DXers have been making graphs using the Markers Log - feature of the latest Perseus software (2.1h). One major problem to do the graphs is the file format - it does not write the markers loggings as a tabulated file but rather a vertical file one freyency after another (figure showing the format). I transferred all the rows to Excel, made a "manual transpose" of the three channels info into a horizontal table, made then a new file with only the right rows (every 3rd) and got finally a table where you can make a graph. It is a bit hard to explain but everyone knowing how to operate with Excel can do that. Maybe there are easier ways and easier softwares (I do not know how e.g. SciDavis can do that), but when you know how to do it it is rather easy with Excel as well.

The signal of 3365 Papuan was the strongest starting from about -85 dBm. The noise level using the BOG under 20 cm snow was rather low around -140...-150 dBm. The signals of 3260 and 3325 were a bit weaker. Note that although the graph shows 3260 going stronger that is not true: an utility station started after 2030 utc and occupied the channel. So using large spans with known signals could lead wrong information!
Finally you can listen to an example of PNG Madang 3260 recorded earlier this december (Dec 2nd)- the signal was quite strong during the sign on around 19utc! video