30 October 2006

shortwave summary, oct 2006 (part 5)

I wanted to do some early-morning scanning to pick up broadcasts from Asia. I used my Eton E5 and the Degen DE31 active loop antenna, and I call this my breakfast scan.

This scan was done on 21 Oct 2006 during 1552-1726 UTC. My primary source for station identifications was the EiBi A06 shortwave schedule.

5030 khz: China National Radio, SIO 454.
5955 khz: Multiple jumbled signals.
5965 khz: China Radio International in Russian, SIO 555.
6000 khz: City Sounds from Singapore, SIO 353.
6030 khz: China National Radio, SIO 252.
6145 khz: Firedrake, SIO 454.
6175 khz: China National Radio, SIO 242.
7110 khz: China National Radio, SIO 353, fading.
7190 khz: China National Radio in Japanese, SIO 454.
7305 khz: China National Radio, SIO 454.
9335 khz: Voice of Korea in French, SIO 454.
9350 khz: Radio Free Asia, SIO 454. I hear a very faint Firedrake on the same frequency, with a strength of 1.
9370 khz: Firedrake, SIO 151.
9425 khz: All India Radio, national service, middle-eastern singing with female announcer, SIO 353.
9455 khz: Firedrake, SIO 454.
9485 khz: Deutsche Welle, English to Asia, SIO 252.
9510 khz: BBC, English from Singapore, SIo 151.
9535 khz: NHK Radio Japan, Japanese to North America, SIO 555.
9570 khz: China Radio International, English to Africa, SIO 151.
9595 khz: Radio Liberty, Uzbek, SIO 151.
9680 khz: Firedrake, SIO 454.
9750 khz: Radio Japan, Japanese to Asia, SIO 353.
9790 khz: Radio Liberty, Tajik to Asia, SIO 353.
9810 khz: China National Radio, Mandarin to Asia, SIO 252.
9905 khz: Firedrake, SIO 353, targeting Radio Free Asia.
9975 khz: Sounds like Dr. Gene Scott, SIO 353. "I wish I could make every man who talked about abortion, pregnant." Reluctant laughter and applause from the audience (or should I say, congregation).
11710 khz: Voice of Korea, French, SIO 454.
11750 khz: Radio Free Asia, Uighur, SIO 232. Also hearing a click sound twice per second on this frequency.
11765 khz: Sound of Hope, SIO 212. Firedrake, strength of 3.
11830 khz: WYFR, SIO 151.
11900 khz: China Radio International, English to Asia and Africa, SIO 252.
11955 khz: BBC, English to Asia, SIO 242.
12025 khz: Radio Free Asia, Mandarin to Asia, SIO 555.
12085 khz: Not BBC as listed, sounds like calm Chinese music. SIO 353. Oops, I was wrong, the pace of the music just increased. This is Firedrake! It went off the air right at 1630 UTC like the BBC is scheduled to do.
13570 khz: WINB, SIO 151.
13675 khz: Radio Free Asia, Mandarin, SIO 313. Firedrake, strength of 2.
13695 khz: WYFR, SIO 151.
13715 khz: This is a Radio Free Asia frequency, but I don't hear it. Firedrake, SIO 353.
15130 khz: Radio Liberty, Russian to Europe, SIO 454.
15220 khz: WEWN, "Ave Maria", SIO 252.
15235 khz: Possibly Channel Africa, French to Africa. SIO 151.
15285 khz: WHRI, SIO 242, noise.
15335 khz: Radio Netherlands, Dutch to Middle East, SIO 242, noise.
15390 khz: Voice of America, Creole to Central America, SIO 454.
15475 khz: Africa Number 1, French to Africa, SIO 242.
17565 khz: Voice of America, Creole to Central America, SIO 555.
17640 khz: WHRA, SIO 555.
17735 khz: China Radio International, Arabic to Africa, SIO 444, noise.
17765 khz: Radio Canada International, French to Central America, SIO 555.
21470 khz: BBC, English to Africa via Ascension, SIO 252.

28 October 2006

nhk radio japan qsl

In March 2006, I emailed NHK World / Radio Japan with two reception reports and a QSL request. I don't remember exactly when I received it, but I photographed the QSL card in August. The envelope also included a reception report form, which is labeled with "Please dispatch within a week after reception at the latest", and "Please give definite comments - NOT merely program description".





A brochure in the envelope described the station's A06 broadcasting schedule and transmitter sites, and included brief shortwave listening suggestions.

26 October 2006

slovakia is returning to shortwave

Kim Andrew Elliott posted a link to the Media Network Weblog, which reports that Radio Slovakia International will resume shortwave broadcasting. Frequencies for the upcoming B06 schedule period will be announced soon. I, for one, will be eager to tune in to this station again.

25 October 2006

shortwave summary, oct 2006 (part 4)

Sorry for posting reception report articles consecutively. Usually I don't do this in order to provide a better variety of content. This report covers nuclear power plants, America's upcoming midterm elections, increased Iraqi violence, the difficulty of distributing food in Africa, Condoleeza Rice's trip to Asia, and problems with North Korea. A lot of this is mainstream news, with some of the stations carrying overlapping stories.

I used my Sony ICF SW7600GR, Eton E5, Kaito 1102, and a Degen DE31 active loop antenna.

Received stations:
* Radio Taiwan International
* Firedrake
* Radio Solh
* Deutsche Welle
* Radio Thailand
* BBC
* Radio Netherlands
* Radio Havana Cuba
* WBCQ
* Voice of America

* 07 Oct 2006, 0700 UTC, 5950 khz (Radio Taiwan International): Defense minister warned troops to stay out of politics. Military personnel should not be involved in protests. A symbolic, peaceful siege of the presidential office is planned on national day. Taiwan national day is on 10 October. Conservationists sued after a nuclear reactor opened. The second nuclear reactor was installed at a controversial plant on Taiwan's northeast coast. A conservationist group filed a lawsuit against the power company. The plant is scheduled to be operational in July 2009. Migration music festival. "You're listening to Radio Taiwan international". A high-speed rail line will be completed at the end of the month, connecting Taipei to Kaohsiung. Travel time will decrease from 4 hours to 80 minutes. Weather in Taipei: partly cloudy, 22-29C (71-84F).

* 07 Oct 2006, 1601 UTC: Some Firedrake logs... 6145 khz, 7130 khz, 7365 khz, 9455 khz, 9905 khz, 10400 khz, 11765 khz.

* 07 Oct 2006, 1645 khz, 17700 khz (Radio Solh): Arabic music. Heard Radio Solh identification at 1701 UTC. Brief speaking between songs; male and female hosts. Language could be Pashto or Dari. The transmitter is believed to be in Rampisham, UK. The studio is in a two-story yellow cube building in Kabul. I heard this signal until 1737 UTC.

* 09 Oct 2006, 0000 UTC, 9695 khz (Deutsche Welle): Persons in Afghanistan were identified as suspects in journalist killing. The international community condemned the killing of the Russian journalist focusing on Chechnya. Hired gunman may appear on a surveillance tape. Chinese president Hu Jintao remarked about a positive turn in relations between China and Japan. The Liberal party in Belgium faces losses in elections.

This signal has not been very strong for me during October. I'd like to hear from anyone in North America that follows this broadcast, to hear if you are experiencing decreased signal strength.

* 13 Oct 2006, 0201 UTC, 5890 khz (Radio Thailand): Prime minister says that elections will be held in a liberal and fair manner. The transmitter kept dropping out for about half a second every few minutes. Thailand learned lessons from past corrupt elections. Asian countries continue supporting Thailand following the coup, referring to it as an "internal matter". The office of natural resources and environmental planning is searching for sites to hold flood waters. Identification: "This is Radio Thailand news." This station often blurs the line between news and advertisements. "ASEAN - ten nations, one community." "Fly Bangkok airways nonstop to Hiroshima." Feedback for 1 second at 0216 UTC. North Korea's nuclear testing, and reactions from financial markets and the USA. Now there's a story about the Xbox 360 and its parental controls. The announcer pronounced "debuted" with a "t" sound. "Discover the wonders of Asia with Bangkok airways." Upcoming events bulletin. "That concludes our program in English to the United States west coast." Grandfather clock bells.

* 18 Oct 2006, 0401 UTC, 7120 khz (BBC): Should Washington seek help for Iraq from Iran and Syria? Rumsfeld says neither Iran nor Syria have been helpful in the past. Condoleeza Rice toured Asia to enforce North Korean sanctions. She was to visit Seoul, Beijing, and Moscow. There was an attack at a southern military base in Sri Lanka involving suicide attack boats. Navy gunboats were sent in to counter the attack. Venezuela will not compromise to break the UN deadlock regarding a temporary seat on the security council.

Sectarian violence is a daily occurence in Iraq, and the new government can do little about it. If the USA exited Iraq now, a huge civil war could result. The Iraq war is starting to be "deeply unpopular" in America. (Starting, or continuing?) Identification: "You're listening to BBC World Service." Indigenous people living near the Amazon continue protesting against an oil company operating in the area. North Korea says that the sanctions amount to a declaration of war. China and North Korea are divided by a river. China's side of the border looks very modern, but there's very few signs of life on the North Korea side. China appears to be taking a much tougher stance to North Korea after the nuclear weapon tests.

I heard some faint morse code on this frequency during the reception, and the signal was fading slightly.

* 20 Oct 2006, 0351 UTC, 6035 khz (BBC): This signal is from South Africa, broadcasting to Africa. Good strong reception. "You're listening to Network Africa on the BBC." Racism on the football field? Publishing books on the Internet.

* 20 Oct 2006, 0400 UTC, 6165 khz (Radio Netherlands): Violence in Iraq is worsening. Will it influence elections in the USA next month? 70 US soldiers killed so far this month in Iraq. Bush agreed with a comparison of Iraq to Vietnam and the Tet offensive. Should the USA speak to Iran and Syria for help in Iraq? "You're listening to Newsline from Radio Netherlands." Ten deaths in the Ivory Coast were caused by the toxic waste dump. The company is not considered trustworthy because they took so long to admit to the chemical processing onboard the ship. The ship carrying the toxic material is called the Probo Koala.

According to Wikipedia, the ship first tried to dump the toxic waste in the Netherlands and Nigeria, but prices were too high. The toxic waste is reported to be a mix of water, gasoline, and caustic soda, resulting from cleaning the ship's gas tanks. One of the toxic gases emitted from the waste was hydrogen sulphide.

Some want the Central Bank to abolish the 500 euro bank note, because it is often used in money laundering. Nuclear energy is making a comeback. The fifth nuclear power plant in Finland is now under construction. Four existing power plants there have a good track record. The fifth reactor is a new model; the Finnish are like guinea pigs. International pressure mounted on Russia to conduct a full investigation into murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya. The secret service in Belarus is still called the KGB. People in Holland aged 35-49 are "getting busier." The average Dutch citizen sleeps for 8.5 hours a night. They're watching less television because they'd rather use the computer. The NATO mission in Afghanistan might fail. More Dutch politicians are writing books, which is an influence from the USA.

* 20 Oct 2006, 0502 UTC, 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): They started late, not me! Injured persons in Gaza have mysterious wounds, according to doctors. Severe burn and internal wounds, requiring amputation or resulting in death. Is this caused by new Israeli weapons? Victims have "dusting" on internal organs. The cause could be dense inert metal explosive (DIME), manufactured in the USA. The DIME weapon is in the early stages of development.

This is the 20th anniversary of the death of Samora Machel, a Mozambique leader who freed his country from Portuguese rule in 1975. He was returning from a meeting in Zambia when his plane crashed into the mountains. Was a false beacon signal from South Africa to blame? Music: conga, acoustic guitar, Spanish male-and-female duet. Nice and peaceful.

* 21 Oct 2006, 0232 UTC, 7415 khz (WBCQ): "Death is a learning experience." Religious show? "God is the source of alienation." Two people talking; WBCQ's schedule says that this is the Christian Media Network. "Thanks for listening to the apocalypse chronicles." Uhhh, sure thing, crackpots.

* 21 Oct 2006, 0400 UTC, 9575 khz (Voice of America): Senior Sunni and Shiite clerics in Iraq issue edicts, quoting the Qur'an, forbidding sectarian violence. Decreasing popularity of the war in the USA could affect next month's elections; Republicans risk losing control of congress. "Our goal in Iraq is clear...and unchanging", said President Bush. Iran keeps changing its position on its nuclear program. USA remains committed to a 1978 declaration to protect South Korea, using nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Condoleeza Rice met with Chinese president Hu Jintao to discuss ending the North Korea conflict. A landmark truce between Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) was reached in August. The EU is pressuring Sudan to accept a UN peacekeeping force. The UN has authorized a force of 20,000. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld will meet with top generals to discuss the Iraq war. A handover timeframe is being discussed.

Emergency food deliveries in East Africa are faced with security problems. Roads in Darfur are too dangerous to use. There's the risk of kidnapping, robbery at gunpoint, or murder. People who aren't on the list to receive aid might bring weapons and threaten the aid workers. Aid workers in Somalia face similar problems. Somali warlords demand money to let the supplies pass. 30,000 Somalis escaped to the Somalia/Kenya border region. Droughts greatly reduced the food supply in the area. 852 million people in the world do not have enough food to eat. Kenya, Congo, Bangladesh, and India have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from the World Bank due to corruption.

1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu is the subject of a new authorized biography. He used nonviolent confrontation against apartheid. Sports update: tennis, MLB world series, and cricket. Federer. Sharapova. St. Louis reaches the world series. Molina. Beltran choked. Suppan. Tigers host game 1 on Saturday. Pele will attend the Brazilian Grand Prix to pay tribute to Michael Schumacher, who is retiring. Stock market update.

Today in history: Thomas Edison's first successful lightbulb burned for 13.5 hours. Guggenheim museum in New York City, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was controversial due to its unusual building design. Dizzy Gillespie's birthday.

22 October 2006

shortwave summary, oct 2006 (part 3)

This report features news about China's National Daay, Michael Schumacher's race in Shanghai, heightened tensions between Russia and Georgia, North Korea's threatening nature, and the meaning of purple shopping baskets. During these receptions, I was using my Eton E5, Sony ICF SW7600GR, and a Degen DE31 active loop antenna.

Received stations:
* China Radio International
* Voice of Russia
* City Sounds
* Firedrake
* Voice of America
* Deutsche Welle
* Radio Netherlands

* 02 Oct 2006, 0102 UTC, 9790 khz (China Radio International): President Hu Jintao visited the site of the new Olympic stadium. He encouraged workers to prepare for the best Olympic games in history. China's elderly population will reach 174 million by 2010. Following the Russia/Georgia incident, Russian troops will withdraw from Georgia. USA imposing sanctions on those involved in Iran's weapons programs. Israeli army withdrew all troops from southern Lebanon. Host: Mike Patterson in Beijing. On Sunday, tens of thousands gathered in Tianamen square for the National Day flag raising ceremony. Millions of Chinese will travel to visit family for the holiday. Hong Kong celebrated National Day, raising the flags of the PRC and Hong Kong SAR. The announcer mentioned Thailand's new interim constitution and the bloodless coup.

Michael Schumacher raced at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. Tickets for the race ranged from US$45 to US$500. It was Schumacher's last race in Shanghai; he will retire next year. Ticket sales were much better this year due to improved marketing. The news ended at 0120 UTC. An advertisement of some kind promised that "just a few injections can bring you endless youth!" A photo exhibition in Argentina celebrates the 57th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. For the past decade, traveling in and out of Tibet has been difficult. This segment is titled "Eye on the Tibet railway." Tibet is 4000 meters above sea level, and the railway is a triumph of engineering.

I wanted to hear more about the Tibetan railway, but I stopped listening because the signal became very weak.

* 02 Oct 2006, 0201 UTC, 15595 khz (Voice of Russia): After hearing about the conflict between Russia and Georgia, I went to the source for more details. Four Russian military officers were arrested on charges of espionage in Georgia. Vladimir Putin blasted Georgia's "witch hunts". He claims the move was designed to distract the public. Two remaining Russian military bases in Georgia are staying put, although the current deadline for closure is 2008. Several nations in the region offered to mediate the conflict. Iran claims its nuclear program will go on, however, they may accept a 3-month suspension of uranium enrichment. I heard identification: "Voice of Russia world service." Three days of mourning were declared in Brazil for the Amazon plane crash. There's a possible natural gas development project near the Barents sea. 11% rise in salaries for Russian workers. This is the "Sunday panorama" news roundup program. Russia is trying to host the 2012 winter Olympic games. The USA "obstructed" a security council issue related to Georgia.

Thanks, Russia, for putting gloom and doom on the radio.

* 03 Oct 2006, 1550 UTC, 6000 khz (???): Pop music. Talking at 1555 UTC. Piano music. Please give me an ident! It went off the air at 1600 UTC. I am pretty sure this was City Sounds coming from Singapore.

* 03 Oct 2006, 1902 UTC: Some Firedrake frequencies: 11700 khz, 11785 khz, 13625 khz, 15510 khz.

* 03 Oct 2006, 1909 UTC, 15445 khz (Voice of America): I tuned in for just a couple minutes. There's a nuclear test threat from North Korea. Isolation may have created more economic problems. What will Beijing do? China wants to avoid a regional nuclear arms race. High tensions in the Gaza strip due to an escalating power struggle between Hamas and Fatah.

* 03 Oct 2006, 1913 UTC, 17860 khz (Deutsche Welle): Arabic from Rwanda. Great signal!

* 04 Oct 2006, 0400 UTC, 6165 khz (Radio Netherlands): "From Hilversum in Holland, this is Radio Netherlands." A South Korean may lead the United Nations. Bosnia holds a key election. No vetos in the security council for a South Korean UN secretary general candidate. The candidate reflects of South Korea's growing status. He has a reputation as a hard-working administrator. This is further proof that the cold war is over, according to whoever was being interviewed. The South Korean government was formed in 1948 by the United Nations. North Korea intends to carry out a nuclear weapon test, angering its neighbors, Japan and South Korea. North Korea has very few friends left in the region. A pre-emptive strike by the USA seems unlikely. Bosnia remains a very divided nation. There was a sense of resignation and fear prior to the elections there.

Holland's postal service company was privatized but the government retained "golden shares." More often, a privatized company may be under obligation to a public official. These practices are now being challenged. A story about low-income families in Brazil. Shooting of several girls at an Amish school in Pennsylvania - the leading story in Dutch newspapers. New hope for job-seekers who face discrimination: anonymous applications. Iranians integrate the best when coming to the Netherlands. The number of people living alone in Holland has risen sharply in the past 10 years. New housing construction focuses on family situations. Singles can use a purple shopping basket at the grocery store to indicate their availability.

Euroquest with Jonathan Groubert. The NSA eavesdrops on US citizens without a warrant. Great Britain has an extensive closed-circuit video system. Do Europeans accept the need for reduced privacy? One woman is against the scanning of email that Google's Gmail service implements. "Those with clean hands have nothing to hide" is a naive observation, according to an Amsterdam professor of Internet and privacy ethics. There are no guarantees of increased security. Radio France International segment, "French privacy under pressure." Tracking people via GPS. Criminals, victims, and witnesses are added to a crime database.

Next, a brief history of Soviet spy agencies. Cheka became the KGB, and is now known as the FSB. Vladimir Bukovsky, a dissident, is no longer welcome in Russia. FSB blew up two apartment buildings in 1999 and blamed the Chechens. The FSB was caught while setting up more bombs. Two bombers were never brought to trial. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the 2004 Chechen hostage situation. Russia pays a high price for being protected by the FSB. Bukovsky predicts further fragmentation of Russia, "not necessarily along ethnic lines." Perhaps the former Soviet Union has better chances of solving problems with local governments than with the help of "inert" Moscow. Jonathan closed the segment by saying "I hope you have a wonderfully private weekend."

21 October 2006

tecsun dr-920 is grundig g1100

I have a Tecsun DR-920 around here somewhere... let's see... oh, there it is, between the mustard and the salsa:





Universal Radio's portable shortwave page lists an upcoming radio called the Grundig G1100. The image for that product is immediately recognizable as the Tecsun DR-920. The Grundig G1000 was also a rebranded Tecsun DR-910. These are both analog-tuned digital-display radios with AM, FM, and several shortwave bands.

The DR-920 is nice because of its compact size, attractive design and labeling, nice speaker, and clear FM reception. It is single-conversion, though.

One of the biggest problems I've had with this radio is that the frequency display will rapidly switch between two adjacent frequencies (such as 5975 and 5976 khz), which causes the backlight to come on, increasing the battery drain. It will be interesting to see if this Grundig-branded unit has the same problem.

18 October 2006

regarding the future of chu

A thread on rec.radio.shortwave alerted me to the fact that CHU, Canada's time station operating on 3330 / 7335 / 14670 khz, may undergo changes or discontinue operation as of 01 April 2007. I got an email address for inquiries, and I will publish the response verbatim:


About the New Messages on CHU – October, 2006

The added messages on CHU are:
“On April 1, 2007, CHU needs to stop operating, change frequencies, or re-licence. Contact radio.chu@nrc.gc.ca or mail CHU Canada K1A 0R6,” and
« En avril 2007, CHU doit soit cesser ses opérations, soit changer de fréquence, soit renouveler sa licence. Contactez radio@chu.cnrc.gc.ca ou écrivez à CHU Canada, Conseil national de recherches, K1A 0R6. »

This outreach is to collect information from users of CHU to help shape recommendations concerning what should be done concerning changes to CHU that will have to be in place by April 2007.

In April 2007 the licence on 7.335 MHz will have to be modified to reflect changes on the status of the band allocation by the International Telecommunications Union. This frequency has been changed from “fixed service” to “broadcast”. (The ITU decision does not affect the frequencies 3.33 MHz and 14.67 MHz.) Some alternatives are: Re-licencing just might be possible, calling the 7.335 MHz a “broadcast”. It is also possible to stop using that frequency (the most useful of the three we use). Stopping one signal is the easiest solution but could create problems for some clients who are counting on this particular signal. Change the frequency from 7.335 MHz to a nearby fixed-service frequency. It would need some investment from our part in new hardware and in manpower. It could also create problems for clients, and likely not all radios will be able to tune to the new frequency.

To be seriously considered, any of the above alternatives will need to have a zero-based budgeting justification prepared, comparing it against the least expensive alternative of closing CHU entirely. CHU is entering a phase where major investment in new transmitters will be required if it is to be kept operating. In the absence of input from the CHU user community, concerning the importance of CHU’s contribution in the modern world, this last option is an inescapable recommendation.

The CHU code is also used as a radio clock, which can be used as a reference clock for an NTP time server. Software drivers have been written that can obtain the date and time from the code and that tune a digitally tuned radio to one of our 3 frequencies, to get the best signal. Users of this service generally don’t listen to the audio broadcast. So we cannot gauge the usage by sending this announcement.

Please, if you know of anyone using CHU but not aware of the possible changes to its frequency usage, let them know and ask them to contact us. Also if you have an important use for CHU signals, please tell us how you use our signals.

Be assured that we will try our best to maintain the CHU service as it is, keeping the three frequencies as they are.

Thank you for your support.


Raymond Pelletier
============================================
Frequency and Time
Institute for National Measurement Standards
National Research Council Canada
M-36, room 1026
1200 Montreal Road
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0R6
Tel: (613) 993-3430
Fax: (613) 952-1394
raymond.pelletier@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
Government of Canada
========================================

15 October 2006

shortwave summary, oct 2006 (part 2)

These receptions were done with my Eton E5 and my Sony ICF SW7600GR. I used my Degen DE31 active loop antenna in some cases. All of these receptions are from 01 October 2006. Read below to find out about organic farming, a taiko drummer, flooding in Thailand, and economic news encompassing Africa.

Received stations:
* BBC
* Radio Japan
* Radio Thailand
* Channel Africa

* 0033 UTC, 15280 khz (BBC): This signal began strong, but during the subsequent 20 minutes, it weakened considerably. Organic farming was being discussed, with several people representing opposing viewpoints. The host mentioned the spinach infected with E.coli, which came from an organic farm in California. Organic farming is increasing. Effects of pesticides on humans are subtle and difficult to identify. Locally-produced food items are gaining favor with consumers because they are conscious of transportation's effects on global warming.

* 0103 UTC, 17825 khz (Radio Japan): Great signal! The Japanese government is giving $7 million to Vietnam so they can build a laboratory to study bird flu. India completed its investigation of the train bombings. A shortwave frequency notice was given. Sunday marks the beginning of presidential elections in Brazil, where the incumbent leads the challenger by 20 percentage points. A group known as the Kurdistan Workers Party (abbreviated as PKK) announced a ceasefire in Turkey which will begin on Sunday. The PKK increased its activities after the fall of Hussein in Iraq.

Japan airlines will merge its domestic and international operations to cut costs and administrative work. The airline lost $400 million in the most recent fiscal year. "J-Melo" and "Pop joins the world" music shows will be next. The news segment of this broadcast lasted 10 minutes.

J-Melo has a special guest: Leonard Eto, a taiko drum player. He performed a piece called "ocean blue". The pace quickened at the end. After the song, he described how he plays. He sounded out of breath. Then there was instructional audio (sounds like it came from a video) about how the drums are made. "The hide is then hammered to soften it." He's playing together now with a tabla drummer; this second song is called "elephant gate". Eto's music is in the movies "JFK" and "The Lion King". Taiko drums are no longer just played by Japanese people. Third song is called "sound good". Eto calls drumming an opportunity to stimulate his creativity. The last song is called "(something) number 2" and was performed along with his brother.

Ah, Japanese music shows! I love them. It can be frustrating though to look up an artist afterward and have a hard time finding their music in an online store like Amazon or iTunes. Sometimes I can find their music but it's only available as a pricy import.

At 0130 UTC during this broadcast, I started hearing adjacent channel interference. It was from Radio Veritas Asia on 17830 khz, from the Phillipines. It was a weak signal, alas.

* 0200 UTC, 5890 khz (Radio Thailand): I wanted to hear Radio Thailand after the September 2006 coup. This time, it came through. "This is HSK9, Radio Thailand world service." The irrigation department is dissipating water from rivers to combat flooding. 60 troops are sandbagging; 14,000 homes are flooded. A typhoon is expected to bring heavy rains. Water pumps are being installed. Some hospitals are flooded, but all except one remain open. 49,000 people became sick from water-borne illnesses. Discussing the "supreme commander" who came into power as a result of the coup. The goal of the coup is to keep the Thai people united. Corruption is a major threat to national security.

A meeting was held to discuss operations issues at the new airport. One of the topics was baggage delays. Electricity consumption in Thailand rose by 4.9% so far this year. The lower-than-expected rise is due to high oil prices and conservation efforts. Banks can now provide automated payment of water bills. Chevron Thailand is offering 60 scholarships to honor the 60th year of the king. But they're asking for contributions? I find it peculiar that Chevron is allowed to insert announcements into this government-operated broadcast. I heard another identification: "You're listening to Radio Thailand news." Radio Thailand does a great job with identification during their 30-minute broadcast.

In the mid-1960s, southeast Asia was in disarray, partly due to the Vietnam war and political unrest. Thailand then proposed a southeast Asian union, called ASEAN (Association of South-east Asian Nations). Business news: The US commerce department will retain oversight of ICANN for 3 more years. (America owns the Internet.) ICANN will ultimately be turned over to the private sector. AMD reached an agreement with the second-largest PC maker in China (Founder Technology). National Day in China is approaching. It will mark the 57th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. This was followed by the Chinese national anthem. The broadcast ended with the sound of grandfather clock bells, and "That concludes our program in English."

I didn't need the DE31 antenna for this reception, because the broadcast was from nearby Delano, California.

* 0500 UTC, 9685 khz (Channel Africa): I lucked out! I was trying to catch China Radio International, but it didn't have a usable signal. So I found this signal, which was a rare treat! "Last Wednesday was national tourism day." This broadcast was entirely focused on financial news. Kenya had 14% tourism growth. Kenya is planning for the privatization of its rail system. There's expectations of US$100 billion in investments in Nigeria during 2005-2008, which will support infrastructure upgrades. Throughout this broadcast, the male announcer interviewed various people for details on the stories. Kenya is apparently the largest tea producer in the world. Labor accounts for 60% of the production costs for tea. Unions are expected to fight against job losses due to mechanization.

Now discussing cocoa beans in Ghana. The 2005-2006 crop was excellent. Rain levels have been good, so the 2006-2007 crop outlook is good. People see the stock market as a store of value right now. Stock market there seems unvervalued by 20%. Heard partial identification: "You're listening to... on Channel Africa." South Africa has the best infrastructure. There are huge growth opportunities for financial institutions; small and medium enterprises. "No ATMs in Uganda." There's a need to establish a credit bureau due to concerns of loan defaults. There's a "slow and unwieldy" justice system in Africa. Africans don't like government intervention. It's very difficult to get current information on financial services in Africa. A reaction by the IMF about China's reckless lending. The World Bank released a global competitiveness report; Africa did not score well. The signoff music was cool!

This signal weakened near the end, and I also heard music interference on the same frequency. I wonder if I heard Radio Gazeta.

12 October 2006

radio electronics usenet thread summary

A recent thread on rec.radio.shortwave began with the merits of two inexpensive digital radios, and progressed through radio engineering details. User "dunxuk" started this thread with the subject, "Degen DE11 vs Tecsun PL200, any opinions?" The first few replies compared the new DE11 to the quirky but much-celebrated DE1103 (KA1103).

Count Floyd started to push the conversation into a different direction: "Damn, you would think in 2006 that single-conversion radios were not even being made! I have an old S-38 and an HE-10, both single conversions, but they were made in the '40's and '50's! They still pull in great DX on the BCB though and the tubes keep my room warm in the winter!"

Telamon had this excellent follow-up: "That's because the age of the design has nothing to do with whether it is 1, 2, or 3 conversion. There were double and triple conversion receivers back then. What determines the number of conversions is cost."

Then we heard from Frank Dresser: "The only real problem with single conversion is image rejection, and older
higher quality single conversion radios obtained increased image rejection with additional tuned RF circuits. ... For the same image rejection at high frequencies, a high IF converted to a lower IF will be cheaper than that lower IF with multiple tuned RF stages. However, conversion stages are noisier and potentially less linear than amplifier stages."

Frank's post continued with more detail: "If anyone ever manages to design an inexpensive narrow bandwidth filter with
an excellent shape factor at 45 Mhz or so, we can pretty much say goodby[sic] to the multiple conversion radio. Skip all those troublesome conversion stages! Exept there might still be a few radios with extra conversion stages. If so, there will surely be somebody saying "I can't believe they're still using that old 20th century technology!!" Of course, the manufacturer might be doing it to distribute gain at different frequencies in order to avoid oscillation. But that's whole 'nother bit of radio design
trivia."

Matt Weber replied to Telamon: "You can make a fairly respectable single conversion receiver, but there are a couple things you need to do to get reasonable image rejection, and selectivity. Raise the IF frequency to several Mhz, and put a tuned rf amp in front of the mixer. That usually required a crystal filter for good shape characteristics and good selectivity."

Frank Dresser replied to this post as well, and ended with: "Making single conversion radios with good image rejection is certainly possible, but it isn't simple."

08 October 2006

ewtn wewn qsl

My first QSL card came from EWTN (Eternal World Television Network), and their international high frequency station, WEWN. It lists my reception as 20 July 2005, 1000-1030 UTC on 5850 khz. The postage stamp is dated 05 October 2005.



07 October 2006

clock instructions for radios i own

I always forget how to set the clock on my radios, so I am including the instructions here as a reference for myself and others. I set the clocks on my radios according to UTC rather than local time.

All of these instructions assume that the radio is turned off first.

Eton E5

• hold the "page/time" button for 2-3 seconds
• the hours will flash, during which time the knob can be turned to change the hours
• press the "page/time" button to change the focus to the minutes
• the knob can then be turned to change the minutes
• while the numbers are flashing, F1-F7 can be pressed to set the weekday to 1-7 as desired
• pressing "page/time" while the minutes are flashing will exit clock editing mode

Kaito KA 11

• press "enter" button twice (this causes the clock icon to flash for 6 seconds)
• when the clock icon is flashing, press the number buttons to set the current time

To change between 12/24 hour modes:

• disconnect the power adapter and remove batteries; wait for the display to clear
• connect the power adapter or insert batteries. "SET" will appear on the LCD
• quickly press "enter" button twice. "12-24" will appear on the LCD
• press "1" for 12-hour mode or press "2" for 24-hour mode

Kaito KA 1102

• press "enter" button twice (this causes the clock icon to flash for 6 seconds)
• while the clock icon is flashing, press the number buttons to set the current time

To change between 12/24 hour modes:

• disconnect the power adapter and remove batteries; wait for the display to clear
• connect the power adapter or insert batteries. "SET" will appear on the LCD
• quickly press "enter" button twice. "12-24" will appear on the LCD
• press "1" for 12-hour mode or press "2" for 24-hour mode

Sony ICF SW7600GR

• hold the "local time set" button and press the left/right (inside plus/minus) buttons to set the time difference between local time and UTC
• to set daylight saving time, press DST so the clock icon appears
• hold the "local time set" button and press the left/right (outside plus/minus) buttons to set the local time

Tecsun PL-350

• press and hold the time set button (bottom left of the keypad)
• enter the current time using four digits and 24-hour time
• press the time set button again

06 October 2006

shortwave summary, oct 2006 (part 1)

This shortwave summary article focuses on the Firedrake jammer believed to be operated by China. Glenn Hauser's DX Listening Digest is a great source of information about this jammer, with he and others sharing logs of this all-music signal.

While scanning with my Eton E5 on 01 October, I came across a broadcast of Chinese orchestra music. It's the signature sound of China's Firedrake jammer, which typically goes after Sound of Hope broadcasts. I scanned for the Firedrake signal on other frequencies.

During 1840-1910 UTC:

* 10400 khz (SIO 252)
* 11700 khz (SIO 353)
* 13625 khz (SIO 454)
* 14600 khz (SIO 353)
* 15510 khz (SIO 252)

During 2000-2015 UTC:

* 11700 khz (SIO 151)
* 11785 khz (SIO 353)
* 13625 khz (SIO 555)

During 2115-2126 UTC:

* 11940 khz (SIO 353)
* 13625 khz (SIO 454)

On 03 October, during 1902-1915 UTC:

* 11700 khz (SIO 252)
* 11785 khz (SIO 454)
* 13625 khz (SIO 353)
* 15510 khz (SIO 454)

I feel guilty giving these signals a '5' rating for interference; know what I mean?

Here are two recordings of the jammer on 13625 khz. The first one is a bit noisy; the second one is clearer. For those of you that haven't heard it, I hope these recordings help you identify the signals if you find them.

* firedrake_shortwave_jammer_13625khz.mp3 (1m 35s, 372 kb)
* firedrake_shortwave_jammer_13625khz_part_2.mp3 (1m 23s, 326 kb)

Here's an ARRL article about the Firedrake jammer, mentioning its impact on amateur radio frequencies.

Please keep logs if you come across these broadcasts! Publish them online, submit them to Glenn Hauser, and inform your shortwave listening friends and family.

03 October 2006

kaide kk-9 review

For a cheap radio adventure, I obtained a new Kaide KK-9 radio from China. It cost US$11.19, and arrived from Hong Kong in 13 days. I wanted to determine if a Kaide radio approached the quality of radios like the R-912 and R-9012 from Tecsun, and the very similar Kaito WRX911.



This analog-tuned pocket radio receives 64-108 MHz in the FM/TV band, 526-1606 khz for mediumwave, and the 49m, 41m, 31m, 25m, 19m, and 16m shortwave bands.

My Eton E5 served as a reference for identifying signals.

Appearance

The KK-9 has a nice appearance. There's some red and blue ink on the front, although most of the radio is silver, black, and white. The background of the tuning scale resembles a world map. The shortwave frequency ranges seem generous, stretching beyond the broadcast bands. The vertical divider between the speaker and the tuner display resembles the form of the Grundig YB-400PE. (According to a review on Radiointel, the company that makes the Kchibo and Kaide products also manufactures the YB-400PE.)



With close observation of the speaker grille, I noticed slight defects in the plastic molding. The surface has a few bumps that go against the intended design.

This is a no-frills product:
* it lacks a power switch, and is turned on and off via the volume dial
* there isn't a ribbon in the battery bay to help loosen batteries
* the battery door rattles
* no flip-stand is available, and the radio does not feel sturdy when stood up
* there isn't a clip for the antenna; instead, a thin plastic stump guides the antenna to its closed position
* the antenna doesn't rotate
* it's difficult to fit my hand through the small wrist strap
* contours on the right side of the radio make the tuning knob less accessible

Controls

On an analog shortwave radio with a small tuning scale and wide frequency bands, increased precision is needed to find signals. That will prove difficult here, as the knob's small size and position make it awkward to use. On the plus side, the tuning knob produces good responsiveness with the frequency and the tuning needle. The knob's stiffness could be a benefit, helping to reduce drift.



The band switch on the top of the radio is easy to push too far when selecting a band. Sometimes when I pressed either the AM or the FM/TV button, nothing happened and I had to press again.

A dx/local switch is provided, but in my experience, this only resulted in volume attenuation. Maybe I'm still a novice, but I always find myself saying "more, more!" to the antenna, rather than "less, less!".

Audio

I briefly compared the speakers of the Kaide KK-9 and the Tecsun R-912. The Kaide's speaker may be slightly bigger, but there was no noticeable difference in audio quality. As a downside, the larger speaker grille on the KK-9 leaves less space for the tuning display.

Unlike my Tecsun analog-tuned radios, the KK-9 doesn't emit lots of whistling sounds while fine-tuning a signal.

When I plugged in my iPod earphones and set the volume to zero, the KK-9 emitted less hiss than my R-9012. It was a fainter hiss, with lower frequencies. FM stations sounded better with earphones, perhaps due to the improved frequency response. On mediumwave, most stations above 1100 khz were accompanied by a high ringing sound that I didn't hear with the speaker. And for shortwave, using earphones made me try harder to clarify stations, with a lot of back-and-forth tuning.

Shortwave

Shortwave reception on this radio is disappointing. The telescopic antenna only fetched the strongest signals, although clipping onto a DE31 active loop antenna increased signal strength. Overall, shortwave stations sounded noisy, which would make for tedious listening during prolonged use.

While trying to find WWV on 10 mhz, I heard what sounded like a local radio station. A woman was speaking perfect English in a matter-of-fact tone. A few moments later, I identified it as 92.7 FM, in the 31-meter band! I don't like radios that make it difficult to receive WWV / WWVH.

FM signals were found elsewhere in shortwave bands: 92.7 mhz was above 6.38 in the 49-meter band, 96.5 mhz was about halfway between 7.00 and 7.20 mhz in the 41-meter band, 104.5 mhz was found with the needle above 10.62 mhz in the 31-meter band, 96.5 mhz was found again in the 21-meter band with the needle between 13.25 and 13.40 mhz.

I logged a number of shortwave stations with this radio in an effort to determine the accuracy of the printed tuning scales. Each band then received an accuracy rating (good, fair, or bad).

49-meter band (accuracy: fair)

* WWCR on 5765 khz: the needle was just above 5.92 mhz
* WEWN on 5810 khz: the needle was above 5.92 mhz
* WEWN on 5850 khz: the needle was between 5.92 and 6.00 mhz
* WHRI on 5860 khz: the needle on 6.00 mhz
* Radio Thailand on 5890 khz: the needle was on 6.00 mhz (distorted, hard to tune in)
* University Network/Caribbean Beacon on 6090 khz: the needle was 1/3 of the way from 6.00 to 6.12 mhz
* WYFR on 5985 khz: the needle was a bit below 6.12 mhz
* Radio Taiwan International on 5950 khz: the needle was just below 6.12 mhz
* Radio Havana Cuba on 6000 khz: the needle was on 6.12 mhz
* Radio Sweden on 6010 khz: the needle was on 6.12 mhz (somewhat distorted)
* Radio Netherlands on 6165 khz: the needle was on 6.25 mhz

41-meter band (accuracy: bad)

* an image of KTBN on 7505 khz: the needle was below 6.70 mhz
* WYFR on 6855 khz: the needle was just below 7.00 mhz

31-meter band (accuracy: good)

* WYFR on 9505 khz: the needle was below 9.55 mhz
* WHRI on 9515 khz: the needle was below 9.55 mhz
* China Radio International on 9790 khz: the needle was halfway from 9.55 to 10.14 mhz
* WHRI on 9840 khz: the needle was halfway from 9.55 to 10.04 mhz
* WEWN on 9975 khz: the needle was below 10.04 mhz
* WWV on 10000 khz: the needle was just below 10.04 mhz

25-meter band (accuracy: fair)

* HCJB and VOA on 11750 khz: the needle was on 11.45 mhz (stations found at different times)
* Sound of Hope and a Firedrake jammer on 11765 khz: the needle was just above 11.45 mhz
* Radio Netherlands on 11970 khz: the needle was halfway from 11.45 to 11.90 mhz
* VOA on 12025 khz: the needle was below 11.90 mhz
* BBC on 12095 khz: the needle was below 11.90 mhz
* an image of Radio Canada International on 13710 khz: the needle was above 12.40 mhz

21-meter band (accuracy: bad)

* Firedrake on 13625 khz: the needle was below 13.25 mhz
* China Radio International on 13680 khz: the needle was above 13.25 mhz
* an image of CHU on 14670 khz: the needle was above 13.25 mhz
* an image of WWV/WWVH on 15000 khz: the needle was just below 13.66 mhz
* an image of WYFR on 15155 khz: the needle was above 13.66 mhz

19-meter band (accuracy: bad)

* WYFR on 15130 khz: the needle was 2/3 of the way from 14.83 to 15.00 mhz
* WYFR on 15155 khz: the needle was on 15.00 mhz
* Voice of Korea on 15180 khz: the needle was on 15.00 mhz
* CVC on 15250 khz: the needle was 1/3 of the way from 15.00 to 15.30 mhz
* WHRI on 15285 khz: the needle was about halfway from 15.30 to 15.68 mhz
* WHRA on 15665 khz: the needle was halfway from 15.30 to 15.68 mhz
* WWCR on 15825 khz: the needle was below 15.68 mhz

16-meter band (accuracy: good)

* an image of WYFR on 17795 khz: the needle was below 16.80 mhz
* WHRA on 17640 khz: the needle was on 17.65 mhz
* WYFR on 17750 khz: the needle was just above 17.65 mhz
* Radio Canada International on 17765 khz: the needle was above 17.65 mhz
* Radio Japan on 17825 khz: the needle was further above 17.65 khz

Mediumwave

The KK-9 was more functional and reliable with mediumwave. The mediumwave scale gets a "good" accuracy rating. Here are the stations I found:

* 560 khz: the needle was a bit below 600 khz
* 680 khz: the needle was a bit above 680 khz
* 740 khz: the needle was a bit below 800 khz
* 810 khz: the needle was a bit above 800 khz
* 910 khz: the needle was just below 1000 khz
* 960 khz: found with the needle on 1000 khz
* 1050 khz: the needle was between 1000 and 1200 khz
* 1100 khz: the needle was just below 1200 khz
* 1260 khz: the needle was halfway between 1200 and 1400 khz
* 1310 khz: the needle was just below 1400 khz
* 1400 khz: right where it should be
* 1450 khz: the needle was a bit above 1400 khz
* 1550 khz: the needle was a bit below 1600 khz

FM/TV

This radio uses up half of the FM tuning scale for the 64 - 88 mhz range. Also, it's a very tiny space in the 88 - 96 mhz range. The FM tuning scale accuracy gets a "fair" rating. Let's see what happened here:

* found 90.3 mhz right on the "3" in VHF
* found 92.7 mhz a bit above the "3" in VHF
* found 96.5 mhz a bit above the "1" in VHF
* found 97.3 mhz a bit further above the "1" in VHF
* found 98.1 mhz further above the "1" in VHF
* found 90.3 mhz below 96
* found 92.7 mhz just below 96
* signals were jumbled together around 96 mhz on the tuning scale
* found 97.3 mhz with the needle on 98
* found 98.1 mhz a bit above 98
* found 98.9 mhz a bit above 98
* found 100.5 mhz a bit above 98
* found 102.1 mhz a bit below 104
* found 103.7 mhz on 104
* found 104.5 mhz a bit above 104
* found 105.3 mhz a bit more above 104
* found 106.9 mhz over 108

FM signals were often distorted, or jumbled with other signals. Grabbing an FM station requires extremely tiny tuning movements. Unfortunately some local FM stations were easier to find below 88 mhz where I fished for images.

I found the audio for a local television station, KRON 4, just above the "3" in the VHF scale. The same signal was about halfway between the "2" and the "3" in VHF.

Conclusion

Several enhancements would improve this radio. A smaller speaker and a horizontal tuner would allow for a slightly longer tuning range. The shortwave frequency ranges should be smaller to make tuning and station separation easier. The loose buttons, band switch, and battery door could probably be tightened up. The contours on the right side of the radio should be eliminated so the tuning knob can be used properly. I always appreciate an on/off switch, as well. That just covers some cosmetic issues.

On the technical side, this receiver is flawed due to inaccurate shortwave tuning scales, and for picking up out-of-band signals.

The KK-9 has given me the definition of a cheap shortwave radio. Overall, I must rate the KK-9 radio as inadequate, and simply a Chinese souvenir. The "QC PASS" sticker on the back of the KK-9 should be considered a forgery. This experience clarifies the value of Tecsun's considerably more functional analog-tuned pocket radios, such as the R-912 and R-9012. I will continue recommending those radios, as well as the equivalent Kaito WRX911 (more suited for the North American market), for those wishing to inexpensively satisfy shortwave curiosity.

02 October 2006

wbcq says shortwave isn't dead

Happy October!

Starting around 0000 UTC on 30 September 2006, I briefly listened to WBCQ on 7415 khz. The signal strength was average, but I heard a ton of local interference.

Just after talking about how his transmitters were somewhat in disrepair, Allan Weiner was mocking the belief that shortwave is dead or dying. "If you think shortwave is dying, try finding a frequency!" WBCQ wants to move from 18910 khz down to a frequency perhaps in the 15 mhz range, but they're having trouble finding one that's available for a long block of time.