03 January 2007

a place for comments and questions: 2007

Readers of the Cobalt Pet shortwave radio weblog are encouraged to post comments and questions. In case you have a comment that's not related to a specific article, you are welcome to reply here. I'll link to this post from the website's sidebar so it's always easy to find. I welcome general comments, questions, and any feedback about the website.

For reference, here's the 2006 comments and questions page.

45 comments:

Pete said...

Great site. Please keep up the fine work here. I'm a casual SWL with a 7600G (beater, alarm clock) and a 7600GR (primary SWL rig), and I'm a not-too-active Extra Class ham operator. Your blog has encouraged me to do more BCBDXing as opposed to SW. Maybe those abysmal solar numbers are helping that regard too. I also do some LF and 160M listening when the noise is low enough, and I enjoy your rig reviews, though my Sonys have eliminated much of my desire for new gear.

weatherall said...

Pete:
I'm glad you like my site. That's good news about your renewed radio interests too. My first radio was a Kaito 1102, and I think I wrote somewhere on this site that I could've stopped purchasing radios after getting that one. I just have this gadget fascination that compels me to keep buying more. Let me know if you decide to put any radio information on the web; I'd be curious to check it out.

Art Simon said...

I don't know much about this, but it sounds interesting and I'm going:

The Musicians and DIY Electronics Swap Meet will be held on January 14th, 2007 at 924 Gilman Street, Berkeley, California, USA.

musicians, radio hams, students, circuit benders,
synth builders, amp builders, stompbox builders

Buy, sell, and trade instruments,
amplifiers, test gear, parts, books,
recording equipment
anything musical or electronic

924 Gilman Street, Berkeley, CA
http://www.euthymia.org/swap/

weatherall said...

Thanks Art. I'll probably skip it but let me know what you find there.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried to get a QSL from a mediumwave station?

Jon

weatherall said...

Jon:
Trying to get QSLs from mediumwave stations doesn't interest me that much and actually seems more difficult than getting a QSL from a shortwave broadcaster. Commercial stations in the USA make email communications difficult. I emailed a few stations to ask if they sent QSL cards, and did not receive replies. Perhaps I should use postal mail exclusively for mediumwave stations.

WWL is a station from which I'd like to have a QSL.

Any thoughts on this topic?

Anonymous said...

Now that your a certifiable radio junkie (see: I really don't need it, but what the heck, let's get it), the other radios that you have sitting around....do you keep batteries in them?

weatherall said...

Firestarter5:
My only radio that doesn't currently contain batteries is the Tecsun PL-350. I think you just embarrassed me! Most of the rest have alkaline batteries; only the E5, SW7600GR, and KA1102 are using NiMH.

weatherall said...

Oh, and the BCL-2000 currently contains batteries, which were implanted to assist me during recent DX sessions.

Anonymous said...

I am looking for a cheap digital recorder that can feed the input through to headphones. Can anyone suggest one? I am just looking for something basic like:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0009Y7IK2/ref=pd_kar_gw_2/002-8806876-6576845

That one would be great, but I am not sure if you can monitor the input while its recording or not. I might have to take advantage of Amazon's generous return policy to find out...

Anonymous said...

Hmm...the above URL did not show..but it was wrong anyway ;-) Try this:

http://tinyurl.com/yxjrlg

Olympus VN2100PC Digital Voice Recorder

Looks pretty snazzy for the $$. I could get some use from it with the sw radio and my scanners....just not sure if I can monitor what it is recording on its input in real time.

weatherall said...

LinuxSense: In an email exchange with the Professor from WFMU, he was really pushing the cassette recorder option because it would not introduce RF interference. I actually shopped around for as long as I could stand to find a new cassette recorder with an unamplified line-in jack, but I'm living in the wrong decade (and perhaps generation).

I would be curious to hear if there is a recorder that works well with shortwave, in particular. (Besides the Kaito KA1121 or the Sangean 818ACS)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I cant really see how a tape recording system would not introduce more noise than an all digital one...the motors alone should be quite noisy.

Anonymous said...

Re: Mediumwave QSL's

I myself am not too interested in mediumwave DX'ing, primarily for the same reasons you stated (not to mention that the programs are generally crap). Sometimes there's a few good ones out there (e.g. WGN in Chicago recently had a discussion with a correspondent who was at the CES in Vegas).

After reading this entry on Glenn Hauser's DX Listening Digest (http://www.worldofradio.com/dxld7003.txt, scroll down to USA, just after KRSN mentioning), it seems that mediumwave stations don't bother sending QSL's due to the usual reasons (i.e. time and money). The article even mentions that some DXers have threatened station engineers for QSL's. That's crazy.

As for email, some MW stations have email addresses posted on their websites for specific personnel (WLW is a good example of this). I would recommend emailing the station engineer.

I noticed that in your January 14 entry you had trouble identifying a station on 990 kHz. You may have been listening to CKGM "The Team" from Montreal. They usually broadcast ESPN radio in the evenings.

Cheers,

Jon

Anonymous said...

I picked up the Olympus VN2100PC Digital Voice Recorder and its a great little unit. Can record for up to 35 hours (5 at max quality) and its voice activation feature makes it ideal for catching elusive broadcasts. You can adjust the sensitivity of the voice activation and so far I have been able to get it to work reliably after some testing. You can also schedule recording sessions by time and date. Came with some windows based software to work with the audio files. I have not used it much, but it seems to work well. The only con is you can not monitor the mic input via the headphone or speaker while its recording. Using a y-adapter should cure this issue for me...will know tomorrow how well that works.

weatherall said...

Jon: That is a good tip to contact the station engineer. It sucks that some QSLing has been spoiled by disrespectful people. Oh well. International shortwave stations are sometimes quite generous, sending nice color postcards, newspapers, calendars, schedules, stickers, etc. I'm happy enough to focus on that these days.

Thanks for mentioning CKGM. I updated that article to note that CKGM was a possibility. Hopefully I can log it for real next time I am over there. I think before I take my next east coast trip with a radio, I will post on my front page and ask for some mediumwave DX tips.

weatherall said...

linuxsense: Sounds pretty convincing! Are you able to access the audio files directly through USB? And what audio format does it use? I have Mac OS X here.

Anonymous said...

My initial tests under Linux to access the audio files on the digital recorder were not successful. I may be able to get it to work, but for now I am just using the supplied application with XP (using vmware) to extract the audio. I'll try later to see if I can just access it as a usb storage device...but I dont have a lot of hope.

One thing I noticed last night is the voice activation feature does not work that great with sw stations. Too much background noise most of the time, turns recording on. No biggie I suppose, but it does make recording clandestine stations a bit harder.

Anonymous said...

I recorded an entire broadcast from a 'numbers station' out of Cuba this AM. I had to drop the quality on the mp3 way down to keep it small...but you can hear it good enough. I recorded this on 9040kHz at 12:05 pst. Runs about 40 minutes.

http://67.52.118.45/cuban_numbers-011907.mp3

Its 5.6mb. Dont try to stream it..just download it.

Enjoy.

weatherall said...

LinuxSense: Thanks for posting your numbers station recording. Was it noon or midnight?

Anonymous said...

That recording was just after midnight. This 'station' seems to broadcast on several freqs in the 9000kHz range starting around 23:30-00:15PST. I find it most often on 9040kHz but also on 9240kHz and a few others in that neighborhood.

Firestarter5 said...

"I have decided to wait for the Redsun RP3000, which I hope will come to market during this year.."

Which market? The Chinese market or the North American market? I seen a blurb on a site from Australia where the owner said they expect it to be available mid 2007, which I'm assuming is "available in AUS".

I'm wondering if someone like Universal will carry this radio, or is this going to be an Ebay item only (which I have little or no faith in).

weatherall said...

I have heard that Redsun will begin selling it in February. I believe there is enough demand for it that the eBay sellers will have it available within a short amount of time.

Have you had bad experiences with purchasing radios on eBay?

Firestarter5 said...

I just have a fear of buying something sight unseen, especially when it's coming from the other side of the world.

LinuxSense said...

I pretty much wont buy anything off eBay if the seller is making a killing on the shipping charges...just a rule of mine. It does not cost $48 to ship a radio from China ;-)

weatherall said...

Maybe we will see changes in the pricing of Chinese radios on eBay. eBay says they are serious about cracking down on excessive shipping charges, because it lets sellers avoid fees. The prices on eBay by the reputable sellers is often very close to the list price within China. Those sellers may get wholesale discounts though.

I would like to see eBay allow a buyer to photograph the postage on the item (although this wouldn't work for all shipping services) or to enter the tracking code which would allow eBay to determine the true shipping cost for the item.

LinuxSense said...

I dont have a problem with people making money off shipping, I'll just buy from someone else, but I still think its a poor way to do business. One thing is for sure...shopping around on eBay for the best shipping price can save you some bucks. I recently decided to replace my roof mounted discone with a "ScanTenna" and found two sellers on eBay with similar 'buy it now' prices. One had free shipping..the other was around $20.

Speaking of the scantenna...cant wait to set that up. I listen to a lot of 800mhz trunked systems around here on my scanner so I picked up 100' of LMR400 to use with it. I also got the LMR400 off eBay, $45, hell of a deal.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain with regards to failed QSL's. I'm still waiting for one from Radio Australia since September.

Speaking of which, I don't know if this has happened to you, but have you ever recieved a QSL or other material from a station in an unsealed envelope? This has happened twice to me, first with Radio Austria International (or Osterreich 1 or whatever they call themselves) and recently with the Voice of Turkey. Is my mail being intercepted by the authorities?

Jon

weatherall said...

Hello Jon:
Ah, Radio Australia, another one I should put on my qsl wishlist. I don't recall getting any QSLs that appear to have been tampered. I can't really imagine that mail from broadcasters in Austria or Turkey would be considered suspect... unless it's because of who you are!

LinuxSense said...

Hey All,

I just ordered the kit to build this antenna:

http://tinyurl.com/m4ydo

I am real interested to see how it compares to my current setup...especially if I mount it on my antenna mast (about 40' off the ground). My current setup is a 100' random wire with a 9:1 balun, good ground, and a RG8 feed line. Should be an interesting project and comparison...

JB said...

Been enjoying your site for a while now. Your posing last month about MW DXing inspired me to see what I could dig up. Something I haven't done since moving to GA from NY.

In fact I ended up creating a new blog that encompasses my love of all things radio. I'd invite you and anyone else to come by.
-Jon
http://bandscan.blogspot.com

weatherall said...

Hey LinuxSense:
That antenna looks intriguing. I'm curious to hear more about it.

Linuxsense said...

The antenna shipped this week...hopefully I will get it by Friday so I can build it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Way to go on the Caribbean Beacon QSL. That shows that waiting and perserverence pays off in this game.

That being said, I was wondering: when writing a reception report for a religious broadcaster (e.g. Caribbean Beacon), should one just write a general summary of what the presenter is saying or state the meaning of what is being said?

Jon

weatherall said...

Jon:
My reception report to Caribbean Beacon was a lot like the report that I posted to this site for the same reception. I didn't respond to the religious content; I just included some quotes and my reactions to Gene Scott's personality.

Positively identifying the broadcast is one of the main goals; providing valuable feedback to the broadcaster about their content is another main goal. Since the content in question is all pre-recorded, the feedback may not be as useful for the University Network.

Linuxsense said...

I got that active antenna built and installed. Very impressive for its size. I plan on doing a review of it soon, but in a nutshell, it outperforms my 100' random wire antenna on almost all freqs. Its very sensitive and I am still playing with the gain on it to find the best setting. Works OK indoors but really shines if you can get it away from the house. I used 48" of wire for the actual antenna but for you apartment dwellers, you could build it with as short as a 12" wire so you could fit it in a window. Would probably work very well like that. More later.

Matt said...

Your site is really great and very informative.
I am very new to shortwave listening, so my question might sound a bit stupid, but I was picking up a VoA broadcast in Europe at a time and frequency that is (according to their web site) for the Far East (10 May 2007, 1530-1600 UTC, 15105 kHz), so I would really like to know where the signal was sent from. Is there a way to find out?

weatherall said...

Matt:
That's a fine question! Thanks a lot for visiting the site. There are a few things you can do to pinpoint the broadcasting location:

* Check the voa.gov site itself for broadcasting information
* Check the shortwave schedule at eibi.de.vu
* Send VOA a reception report and inquire about where the transmission originates
* Learn the locations of the VOA transmitters and relays, to give you an idea of the possibilities for that particular broadcast

You'll probably learn a good amount from those activities. I hope you'll return and let us know what you find. Good luck with your reception!

Matt said...

Thanks for your reply. I couldn't find any information about transmitters on the VoA web site. According to a list of English broadcasts from addx.de the signal was from Morocco. I then found out that VoA has a transmitter there in "Briech". Makes me wonder even more now that I picked up the signal, since I was North but they should send East. On the other hand I was about one hop away....
Again thanks for your web site. Made me buy the E5 and order an AN-LP1 (my Tecsun PL747 was just too poor..)

Anonymous said...

I've had an Eton S350DL for about a year right now and it's frustrating having to replace it every seven months due to a whole list of problems (drastic jumps when tuning frequencies, an antenna that won't stay upright, etc.) It's probably no help either that I use it almost every day. What would you recommend as a suitable but not too expensive replacement?

Jon

Pete said...

If you were about to be abducted by aliens and you could only take one SW portable with you, would it be the Sony SW7600GR or the Eton E5? I live on the West Coast too, so I'm interested in your opinion of the two radios. I'm primarily interested in their SW performance.

Anonymous said...

Dear weatherall,
Great site and great blogs. I am an SWL who used to be on Andaman Islands, India in the 1990's when I was a kid and my prime catches would be australia, netherlands, voa and bbc among others. I am in USA now and the signal that I crave for is 9870kHz (vividh bharati, AIR). My first radio was a National Panasonic, then a small kchibo radio, then I got a philips AE3750 digital receiver (which was my main radio during my college days).
Anyway, I am planning to get the KA2100 lately. I have the KA1103 and 7600GR now. I use the GR with AN-LP1, which has been discontinued both in the USA and Japan. Passband.com mentions about the discontinuation on the "receiver news" link on their website.
Well, keep up the good work. Looking forward to read more on your site, now that radiointel is not being updated anymore.
Thanks a lot!
Dr.Sam

weatherall said...

Dr. Sam:
Thanks for taking the time to write. I like knowing what kinds of receptions people can obtain in other parts of the world. Enjoy the KA2100! I'd be curious to know which you prefer from among the KA1103, SW7600GR, and KA2100.

Anonymous said...

Dr.Sam,
I am able to catch All India Radio on 9870Khz in the mornings(around 7am CST) at Dallas on the whip of Eton E5 and Sony 7600GR. It is pretty strong and clear.

Dr.Sam said...

Hi Weatherall, I did not get the KA2100. Instead I went for Grundig G5. Both G3 and KA1103 sound good and a little tinny (more treble) because of which it is easier to comprehend weak/fading signals. But nothing comes close to the build quality of the GR, Nothing.
On SSB, I like the GR because of its ability to choose USB or LSB. The fine tuning for SSB does a good job on the G5 but still Sony is better on that front.
Waiting for the G6 now.