22 November 2015

now equipped with wx radio

I recently acquired a small portable radio, a Kaito KA210, which receives AM (520-1710 kHz), FM (88-108 MHz), and the weather band (162.400-162.550 MHz). El Niño is coming, and I thought this would be a good time to explore a previously-ignored radio service. Not every form of local preparedness has to involve my computer, smart phone, or a local all-news AM/FM station, right?

At my home in San Francisco, I've received broadcasts on four of the seven available frequencies, and heard callsigns for all four of these stations.

  • 162.400: KHB49 "San Francisco all hazards" (IDed 22 Nov 2015 0223 UTC)
  • 162.475: WZ2504 (Sonoma County) (IDed 22 Nov 2015 0923 UTC)
  • 162.500: KDX54 "Big Rock Ridge all hazards" (IDed 22 Nov 2015 0923 UTC)
  • 162.550: KEC49 "Monterey all hazards" (IDed 22 Nov 2015 0952 UTC)

There are additional NOAA stations in my area that I haven't yet received:

19 November 2015

bbc shortwave, 26 sep 2015

During 1025-1050 UTC on 26 Sep 2015, I tuned to 9740 kHz on my Eton E5 with a ceiling-mounted random wire antenna connected. I heard a faint and fading English broadcast which sounded quite like BBC due to the accents. Short-wave.info lists three BBC broadcasts for this time and frequency, originating in Thailand and Singapore.

Within a few minutes, I positively identified the broadcast from the phrases "BBC World Service" and "BBC News". BBC's current frequency guide for Southeast Asia matches the data on short-wave.info, confirming broadcasts originating in both Thailand and Singapore on 9740 kHz. I'm assuming that I'm receiving the stronger of the two signals (which is from Thailand). In this case, Nahkon Sawan, Thailand to San Francisco, California represents a reception distance of approximately 7900 mi / 12700 km.

Links relevant to BBC's Thailand relay:

11 November 2015

kaito ka11 on shortwave

I powered up my diminutive Kaito KA11 with two like-new alkaline batteries, raised the miniscule whip antenna, and listened to the tiny speaker. It was shortwave I intended to scan. The time was about 0415 UTC, nighttime in my location, on Sun 18 Oct 2015.

At first, I heard nothing, even on 10000 (enter + 1 + 0 + enter), where I expected either WWV or WWVH to come through. Then while adjusting the telescopic antenna, the signal suddenly became loud as if the antenna had been loose in some way. I wanted to try 5000, but the shortwave frequency range on this receiver is 5800 to 18100 kHz. Although, amusingly, the radio accepts input of 18199 kHz. So with only 10000 and 15000 available on this radio for checking WWV and WWVH, it's difficult to do my initial propagation test.

Having to deal with strong local interference from adjacent apartments, I wandered my apartment in search of a combination of strong signal and low interference, with little success. Rather than consulting published schedule info, I tried to identify broadcasts the hard way.

5935: Female, English, religious, probably University Network
6090: music
7455: Male, English, religious
9790: Female, Asian language, the best signal by far from these receptions
10000: WWVH

In general, I experienced harsh audio with high-pitched static, heavy fading (nothing resembling gain control or sync detection here), and a poor overall listening experience. I've always enjoyed this radio's appearance, with its compact size, modest weight, and pleasant orange backlight for the LED display. The buttons have a satisfying feel when pressed, so operation of the radio is fine but the results are not. And most of my portables take AA batteries. This one takes two. I'm especially happy when a radio takes an even number of AA batteries.

The next afternoon, around 2100 UTC on the same day, I checked the available daytime bands. Again, I could only check WWV/WWVH on 10000 and 15000, and only 15000 registered a very weak tone from these time stations. I didn't even hear the voice identification to help me differentiate which station it was. Quick stepping through the 25m, 22m, 19m, and 16m bands didn't turn up any signals worth mentioning. I may have chosen a bad time for this band scan, and admittedly didn't use a more powerful reference radio to see what kinds of receptions might be possible.

In summary, this radio offers a lot in terms of look and feel, but couldn't receive much shortwave from inside my home.

30 October 2015

firedrake logs, oct 2015

Firedrake has interested me for a while, but I didn't log it at all in 2014. Recently I've been enjoying the UTwente WebSDR thanks to mentions from LondonShortwave on Twitter and my friend Dan. So I thought that would be a useful resource to look for Firedrake again. I found that it's still very active and can be found on a number of daytime and nighttime frequencies.

During 21-24 Oct 2015, Firedrake was located on these frequencies (kHz):

5890 (1800, 2000, 2100 UTC)
5970 (2000 UTC)
7435 (2100 UTC)
7505 (2200 UTC)
9355 (1800, 1900, 2000 UTC)
9370 (2200 UTC)
9685 (2100 UTC)
9745 (1800, 1900, 2000 UTC)
11560 (1800 UTC)
11945 (0100 UTC)
13830 (1100 UTC)
17625 (0500 UTC)
17810 (0600 UTC)

This is a consolidated version of my logs arranged by frequency. Times shown are simply the hour during which the transmission was identified; some receptions were only a minute long.

The target of all of these jamming transmissions, by my recollection, was Radio Free Asia. I saw at least two mentions on Twitter of Radio Free Asia receptions. One was a description of music, the other was a YouTube video. Radio Free Asia is a news broadcast, and the jammer is loud orchestral music. When identifying a station, it's important to ensure that the format is a match, as well as the date, time, frequency, and region (taking things like propagation and greyline location into account).

However, Radio Free Asia itself is not a source of broadcast frequencies for its Cantonese broadcasts. On their broadcasting schedule page, recently updated for the B15 period, the Cantonese schedule is indicated with Frequency Not Promoted.

25 October 2015

brief radio romania international log

25 Oct 2015, 2350 UTC. I've been listening on and off to Radio Romania International, English on 6015 kHz via the UTwente websdr. The broadcast was loud and clear, with the S-meter hitting S9+40. After they read a huge list of social networks in which they participate, they announce that their programming is also available on mobile phones. I was expecting to hear about some smartphone app or another, but instead they gave out a United States phone number.

At the close of the hour, the announcer (or a recording) stated that programming was also available in WMA, MP3, and AAC+ formats. They gave out the email address engl@rri.ro. Then I heard their standard closing melody of nine notes repeated until an abrupt end of the signal at 2357 UTC.

24 October 2015

uvb-76 buzzer on 6998 khz

The mysterious broadcast known as S28, UVB-76, and The Buzzer is commonly found on 4625 kHz USB. In the past few days, I and others found an identical broadcast on 6998 kHz USB. Here's a waterfall image of the broadcast from the UTwente WebSDR, on 23 Oct 2015 at 0125 UTC.

14 October 2015

shortwave scanning, 30 sep 2015

30 Sep 2015, 1933-2015 UTC (daytime), San Francisco, CA, USA. Frequencies in kHz. Broadcasting data from short-wave.info; city distances from geobytes. Eton E5 with ceiling-mounted random wire antenna.

15480: Adventist World Radio, Arabic (Madagascar; 10600 mi / 17060 km)
15580: Voice of America, English (Selebi-Phikwe, Botswana; 10356 mi / 16666 km) -- very weak, fading
15730: Voice of America, French (Greenville, NC, USA; 2477 mi / 3986 km) -- strong and clear
15825: WWCR, English (Nashville, TN, USA; 1960 mi / 3150 km)
17530: Voice of America, French (Greenville, NC, USA; 2477 mi / 3986 km) -- weak
17730: Radio Havana Cuba, French (Bauta, Cuba; 2565 mi / 4128 km) -- 1940 UTC
17730: Radio Havana Cuba, Portuguese (Bauta, Cuba; 2565 mi / 4128 km) -- 2000 UTC
17765: WHRI Overcomer, English (Cypress Creek, SC, USA; 2292 mi / 3690 km)
17855: Radio Exterior de España, Spanish (Noblejas, Spain; 5800 mi / 9325 km)

I've logged the long-distance Botswana VOA broadcast earlier this month, but to my knowledge I've never logged a broadcast from Madagascar before now.

03 October 2015

pdf: introduction to beacon dxing

While searching for more information related to the longwave non-directional beacons I have been recently seeking, I came across this PDF.