30 November 2008

redsun rf1201 nighttime mediumwave tuning

In a previous post, I tested daytime FM reception on my miniscule Redsun RF1201 radio. Along with my digitally-tuned Eton E5 for reference tuning, I used the RF1201 on an evening in November for some mediumwave tuning exploration. For each signal received, I've listed the callsign, frequency, and approximate distance from my location.

AM reception

KSFO 560 khz (0 miles): Strong signal but a bit noisy.

KEAR 610 khz (0 miles): Clear signal.

KNBR 680 khz (0 miles): strong signal with the needle centered on the 700 on the AM scale.

KCBS 740 khz (0 miles): Strong signal with the needle to the right of the 700 on the AM scale.

KKOH 780 khz (200 miles): Weak signal (I missed this the first time through) with the needle to the left of the 900 on the AM scale.

KGO 810 khz (0 miles): Strong signal with the tuning needle to the left of the 900 on the AM scale.

KTRB 860 khz (0 miles): Weak signal. The needle was almost centered on the 900 on the AM scale.

KNEW 910 khz (10 miles): Strong signal with the needle right of center of the 900 on the AM scale.

KWRU 940 khz (170 miles): Weak signal (I missed this the first time through) with the needle on the right edge of the 900 on the AM scale.

KKGN 960 khz (10 miles): Strong, clear signal with the needle to the right of the 900 on the AM scale.

KFWB 980 khz (360 miles): Very weak signal (not very usable) with the tuning needle to the right of the 900 on the AM scale.

KOMO 1000 khz (750 miles): Weak, noisy signal with the needle less than halfway between 900 and 1200 on the AM scale.

KIQI 1010 khz (0 miles): Average signal with the needle less than halfway between 900 and 1200 on the AM scale.

KTCT 1050 khz (20 miles): Strong, clear signal with the needle more than halfway between 900 and 1200 on the AM scale.

??? 1090 khz: Extremely weak, and impossible to isolate from the adjacent signal on 1100. The needle was just left of the 1200 on the AM scale.

KFAX 1100 khz (0 miles): Strong, mostly clear signal with the needle over the 1 in the 1200 on the AM scale.

KHTK 1140 khz (70 miles): Average signal with the needle between the 1 and the 2 in the 1200 on the AM scale.

KLOK 1170 khz (45 miles): Weak, noisy signal with the needle almost centered on the 1200 on the AM scale.

KSFB 1260 (0 miles): Strong, clear signal with the needle on the last digit in the 1200 on the AM scale.

KMKY 1310 khz (10 miles): Loud, strong, clear signal with the needle to the right of the 1200 on the AM scale.

KZSF 1370 khz (45 miles): Weak, noisy signal with the needle centered between the 1200 and the 1620 on the AM scale.

KVTO 1400 khz (10 miles): Strong, clear signal with the needle to the left of the 1620 on the AM scale.

KEST 1450 khz (0 miles): Average, clear signal with the needle on the 1 in the 1620 on the AM scale.

KSJX 1500 khz (45 miles): Weak, noisy signal with the needle on the 6 in the 1620 on the AM scale.

KFBK 1530 khz (70 miles): Weak signal with the needle centered on the 1620 on the AM scale.

KMPC 1540 khz (360 miles): "Radio Korea... Los Angeles." Really weak signal; sounded choppy due to a stronger signal on the adjacent channel (1550).

KYCY 1550 khz (0 miles): Strong signal with the needle just right of center on the 1620 on the AM scale.

Unfortunately, 1550 was the highest signal I could get reliably, so I was unable to really test the upper bounds of the AM band on this radio.

In a few cases, this little radio picked up mediumwave broadcasts from hundreds of miles away. However, weak signals that are adjacent to stronger signals will often be unusable.

22 November 2008

14 November 2008

interesting email from cri

A few days ago, I got an interesting email from China Radio International:
How are you? We haven't heard from you for a long time.

We wonder whether you can do us a favor helping to monitor the 1190AM(WBIS), the broadcast time is 1400-1500(Mon.-Fri.) Local time. Thanks in advance.

Looking forward to your reply.

Best wishes,

Yours sincerely,
YingLian
English Service
China Radio International
http://english.cri.cn/
I have written to CRI via email several times with shortwave reception reports and requests for magazine mailings. So, they have my postal address. I'm kind of curious why they would ask me to monitor a mediumwave station that's about 2,500 miles (4,023 km) from my location.

10 November 2008

redsun rf1201 daytime fm tuning

On a day in late October 2008, I used my Redsun RF1201 for some tuning adventures. My digitally-tuned Kaito KA1102 was used for reference. I also used my Tecsun R9012 for tuning and audio comparisons with the Redsun RF1201.

The Redsun RF1201 is a very attractive pocket radio. The tuning scale is very legible, and the white printing on the dark gray enclosure provides nice contrast. The power switch, band switch, volume dial, and tuning knob all function well and illustrate the radio's solid construction. The folding radio prop on the back actually snaps into place when deployed.

For each signal received, I've listed the callsign, frequency, and approximate distance from my location.

FM broadcasting reception

KQED 88.5 mhz (0 miles): Although this is a strong, local signal, it took a lot of fine-tuning to achieve a clean signal. The needle was approximately centered over the 90 on the FM scale.

KUSF 90.3 mhz (0 miles): The tuning needle was about halfway between the 90 and 94 on the FM scale, and I got a perfectly clear reception here with ease.

KNGY 92.7 mhz (10 miles): With the tuning needle touching the right edge of the 90 on the FM scale, I found this station but I also heard an image of KOIT 96.5 mhz. Because of the image, I was unable to get a clear signal of KNGY at first. However, I kept tuning and found a clear signal for KNGY with the needle centered on the 94 on the FM scale.

KOIT 96.5 mhz (0 miles): I got a clear signal with the tuning needle on the left side of the 98 on the FM scale.

KLLC 97.3 mhz (0 miles): With a slight movement from the 96.5 mhz station, I picked this one up easily.

KISQ 98.1 mhz (0 miles): It wasn't possible for me to isolate a clear signal for this station on the RF1201. The same problem was exhibited on the Tecsun. I contacted this station within the past couple of years to tell them about my reception problems. They replied and said that they were working on upgrading their equipment.

KSOL 98.9 mhz (0 miles): This Spanish-language station came in pretty clearly with the tuning needle about halfway between 98 and 102 on the FM scale.

KDFC 102.1 mhz (0 miles): This station came in very clearly with the needle almost centered on the 102 on the FM scale.

KKSF 103.7 mhz (0 miles): This station keeps smooth jazz alive in the San Francisco bay area. With the needle on the right side of the 102 on the FM scale, this station came in clearly.

KFOG 104.5 mhz (0 miles): With the needle to the right of the 102 on the FM scale, this station came in clearly.

KVVF 105.7 mhz (40 miles): This Spanish-language music station from Santa Clara came in with some noise.

KCBS 106.9 mhz (0 miles): The local all-news station that just began broadcasting on this frequency came in clearly with the needle on the left half of the 108 on the FM scale.

Audio quality

While receiving KNGY, I compared the audio quality of the speaker with a Tecsun R9012. The Tecsun had a sound that I would describe as hollow, while the Redsun unit had a clearer, fuller, brighter tone. While the Tecsun sounds fine for talk radio, I prefer the Redsun's speaker for listening to music.

Another way I tested the clarity issue was to tune the Redsun and Tecsun radios to the same station, turn the volume up a bit (on one radio at a time), and go to the other end of the room to listen. The Redsun was much easier to understand.

KDFC is a classical music station. Although I don't listen to classical music much, it is useful for audio testing. Classical music is comprised of pure recordings of well-known instruments, so knowing how these instruments typically sound is an effective reference. The RF1201 didn't hold up so well here because of the limited frequency response of the built-in speaker. More lower frequencies would have helped here.

Sibilance was not a problem when tuned to a clear broadcast. Sometimes, even a clear broadcast on some radios can sound distorted when emitting the "s" sound, producing what sounds like distortion. I would speculate that this is caused by inferior audio path components in the radio. The RF1201 does not noticeably demonstrate this problem.

28 October 2008

where the grundig satellit 750 comes from

In case you're wondering where the Grundig Satellit 750 comes from, I just saw it in a banner on the Chinese Tecsun website. Tecsun calls this radio the S-2000.

27 October 2008

am 740 kcbs expands to fm 106.9

Today, I learned that local AM flamethrower KCBS added a simulcast on FM 106.9. In the San Francisco bay area, FM 106.9 has changed hands and formats a few times in the past decade.

The all-news KCBS recently carried unusual promos for FM 106.9, which previously used the callsign KFRC. My best recollection of those ads suggested that KFRC was playing oldies music, with some KCBS news. Hearing KCBS identify itself today as AM 740 and FM 106.9 therefore wasn't a big surprise, just a little one.

What's the case for simulcasting an all-news broadcast on AM and FM? I suppose the motivation is to expand listener reach, and therefore, advertising dollars. Younger people are probably more likely to listen to FM radio, and to scan through stations when listening to the radio in a car. They're probably scanning for music stations, though.

I rely on KCBS for traffic reports. The traffic reports on KCBS happen every ten minutes ("on the eights", as some other stations might announce). (Actually, I could do a whole post about the traffic reports on KCBS.) So, car radios without AM couldn't previously tune in to KCBS to hear about the traffic, but now it's available on FM.

Technology is progressing, and soon, most devices with a screen will be capable of receiving and displaying maps, driving directions, and traffic information.

Without knowing more about the plans, I doubt that KCBS will move off AM. As previously mentioned, KCBS is one of the stations in my area broadcasting in AM HD. Wikipedia calls KCBS "a leading contender for the title of oldest station in the United States and possibly the world." So it's just hard to imagine that KCBS would give up on AM.

26 October 2008

tecsun bcl-2000 photo



Here's an older photo of my Tecsun BCL-2000 receiver. The lighting is uneven, and the shot is not aligned, but I like the appearance of the radio here.

25 October 2008

mailbag comment about kchibo

The short-lived Kchibo KK-S500 doesn't seem to be around anymore, including eBay and the Kchibo site.
I always thought it was over-priced with no SSB, although it had sync-detect. They were also supposedly coming out with their version of the Sony 7600 with a remote, but it's never appeared.

This comment was posted by an anonymous reader in March 2008. I just searched eBay and could not find the S500. I also could not find a model resembling the famed Sony ICF SW 7600. However, one eBay seller is offering the KK-9510, which is an analog-tuned, dual-conversion receiver that includes sync detection.

Kchibo's english website looks out of date, but their Chinese website is scrolling images and details of a few portable radios with DSP in the description.

One of the radios I own is a Kchibo KK-1215. It vaguely resembles the well-known Tecsun R-911 (also sold as the Kaito WRX911), except it adds a couple FM bands that include TV audio signals. It is well built, but the built-in speaker sounds really cheap.

19 October 2008

degen de1123 radio appears on eBay

A new portable AM/FM/SW radio from Degen has appeared on eBay. The DE1123 has a rather unusual appearance:



I immediately noticed the very thin design (thickness is listed at 0.5 inch), and the resemblance of the round speaker to the iPod click wheel design.

Here are some details of this new product:

* FM 87-108 mhz or 64-108 mhz (100 khz step)
* AM 522-1710 khz (9 khz step) or 520-1710 khz (10 khz step)
* SW 2300-23000 khz (5 khz step)
* DSP for radio signal processing
* 1GB mp3/wma player with digital recorder
* Powered by 3 AAA batteries

On the manufacturer's website, this radio is listed at ¥299 which converted to US$43.75 at xe.com. The cheapest DE1123 auctions currently listed on eBay start at US$59.99.

The DE1123 auction claims that due to the high-gain built-in antenna, an external antenna is not recommended. I think that's the first time I heard such a claim for a radio in this size class.

Missing details include SSB and single- vs. dual-conversion. Volume and tuning are both controlled via stepping buttons. And as shown clearly by front photos of the radio, numeric frequency entry is not available. Memory capacity is listed at 225 (100 FM, 25 AM, 100 SW). Although without a numeric keypad, recalling a frequency from memory is probably done by pressing the M button then the plus or minus buttons to step through the memory positions sequentially.

I haven't followed Degen's products very carefully in the past year or so, so I don't know if this DSP technology is new. To me, that's the most interesting aspect of this product. If I learn something more about it, I will share it. Comments are always welcome.

11 October 2008

magic johnson mocked by fm radio hosts

Two talk radio hosts on KTLK-FM suggested that Magic Johnson has faked AIDS. Hosts Chris Baker and Langdon Perry agreed with each other that Magic Johnson was pretending to have AIDS. Perry's logic was "'cause he's the only cured AIDS guy ever."

* Read the Media Matters article; listen to the audio recording
* Read the Associated Press article with KTLK-FM expressing regret

I would expect that if KTLK-FM were truly sorry, scanning their homepage for the word "Magic" would produce something. As of this moment, it doesn't.

The claim that Magic Johnson could be faking AIDS simply because he has been infected since 1991 shows a clear lack of knowledge on the subject of AIDS treatment. Off the top of my head, I can think of more deaths than survivals among those that are or were known to have AIDS, but long-term survival is clearly possible. It doesn't take one famous person's survival to prove that.

Some people criticize Magic Johnson for retreating from the AIDS prevention movement:

* Read the ESPN article

And to diverge slightly, I'm not familiar with the Chris Baker show. I welcome comments from those who have heard it, and from those who have listened to KTLK-FM.

18 September 2008

radio netherlands ditches north america

From the RedOrbit article:
Radio Netherlands now feels that the number of alternatives for listeners in North America is such that we have decided to end our shortwave broadcasts to the region. This will take effect from the start of our winter season on 26 October 2008.


Radio Netherlands to end shortwave broadcasts to North America

13 August 2008

ka2100 out, ccradio sw in?

I don't know if this is a temporary or permanent situation, but Kaito KA2100 availability seems to be poor in the USA. This is my finding after repeatedly checking the websites of two popular online radio dealers located in the USA, and searching eBay for KA2100.

Two eBay listings for the Redsun Radio list a total of 214 units available, direct from China.

Both of the aforementioned USA dealers offer the C.C. Radio SW. Has C.Crane persuaded Kaito to stop distributing the KA2100 to USA retailers? Is the supply low? Is demand only sufficient to warrant selling one of the two very similar products?

Kaito's USA website still offers the KA2100 at an inflated price (even despite the humorously out-of-date Fathers' day special pricing).

(The Kaito KA2100 and C.C.Radio SW radios are derived from the Redsun RP2100.)

05 August 2008

03 August 2008

mediumwave logs, winter 2008

I logged 105 mediumwave stations with my Eton E5 during February and March 2008. Eleven of these stations are first-time logs for me. HD broadcasts on five frequencies blocked me from logging out-of-state stations that I have logged in the past, which was extremely frustrating. Once again, I heard several Spanish stations that I was unable to identify.

Here's my list of confirmed stations:

540: CBK (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada)
540: KRXA (Carmel Valley, CA) (New)
550: KOAC (Corvallis, OR)
560: KSFO (San Francisco, CA)
570: KVI (Seattle, WA)
580: KMJ (Fresno, CA)
590: KUGN (Eugene, OR)
600: KOGO (San Diego, CA)
610: KEAR (Berkeley, CA)
620: KPOJ (Portland, OR)
630: KIDD (Monterey, CA)
630: KPLY (Reno, NV)
640: KFI (Los Angeles, CA)
650: KSTE (Rancho Cordova, CA)
660: KTNN (Window Rock, AZ)
670: KBOI (Boise, ID)
680: KNBR (San Francisco, CA)
690: CBU (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
700: KMBX (Soledad, CA) (New)
710: KFIA (Sacramento, CA)
720: KDWN (Las Vegas, NV)
740: KCBS (San Francisco, CA)
760: KFMB (San Diego, CA)
770: KCBC (Riverbank, CA)
770: KKOB (Albuquerque, NM)
780: KKOH (Reno, NV)
790: KABC (Los Angeles, CA)
810: KGO (San Francisco, CA)
830: KNCO (Grass Valley, CA)
840: KMPH (Modesto, CA)
840: HAR WPEI-433 (San Francisco/San Bruno, CA): http://www.angelfire.com/sc/scannerpost/tisgov.html
850: KOA (Denver, CO)
860: KTRB (San Francisco, CA)
870: KRLA (Glendale, CA)
870: WWL (New Orleans, LA)
880: KKMC (Salinas, CA)
890: KDXU (St. George, UT)
910: KNEW (Oakland, CA)
940: KWRU (Fresno, CA)
950: KJR (Seattle, WA) (New)
960: KKGN (Oakland, CA)
970: KCMD (Portland, OR)
980: CKNW (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
980: KFWB (Los Angeles, CA)
990: KTMS (Santa Barbara, CA) (New)
1000: KOMO (Seattle, WA)
1010: KIQI (San Francisco, CA)
1020: KTNQ (Los Angeles, CA) (New)
1030: KTWO (Casper, WY)
1050: KNBR (San Francisco, CA)
1070: KNX (Los Angeles, CA)
1080: KSCO (Santa Cruz, CA)
1090: XEPRS (Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico)
1100: KFAX (San Francisco, CA)
1110: KBND (Bend, OR) (New)
1120: KPNW (Eugene, OR)
1120: KZSJ (San Martin, CA)
1130: CKWX (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
1130: KRDU (Dinuba, CA)
1140: KHTK (Sacramento, CA)
1150: KTLK (Los Angeles, CA)
1160: KSL (Salt Lake City, UT)
1170: KLOK (San Jose, CA)
1180: KERI (Bakersfield, CA)
1190: KDYA (Vallejo, CA)
1190: KEX (Portland, OR)
1200: KYAA (Soquel, CA)
1210: KPRZ (San Marcos, CA) (New)
1220: KNTS (Palo Alto, CA)
1240: KSUE (Susanville, CA)
1260: KSFB (San Francisco, CA)
1270: KBZZ (Sparks, NV)
1290: KAZA (Gilroy, CA)
1290: KPAY (Chico, CA) (New)
1310: KMKY (Oakland, CA)
1330: KLBS (Los Banos, CA)
1340: KTSN (Elko, NV) (New)
1350: KSRO (Santa Rosa, CA)
1360: KFIV (Modesto, CA)
1370: KZSF (San Jose, CA)
1380: KTKZ (Sacramento, CA)
1400: KVTO (Berkeley, CA)
1410: KERN (Bakersfield, CA)
1430: KYKN (Keizer, OR) (New)
1440: KVON (Napa, CA)
1450: KEST (San Francisco, CA)
1460: KION (Salinas, CA) (New)
1490: KTOB (Petaluma, CA)
1500: KSJX (San Jose, CA)
1510: KGA (Spokane, WA)
1510: KPIG (Piedmont, CA)
1520: KVTA (Port Hueneme, CA)
1530: KFBK (Sacramento, CA)
1540: KMPC (Los Angeles, CA)
1550: KYCY (San Francisco, CA)
1560: KNZR (Bakersfield, CA)
1580: KMIK (Tempe, AZ)
1590: KLIV (San Jose, CA)
1600: KUBA (Yuba City, CA)
1620: KSMH (Sacramento, CA)
1640: KDIA (Vallejo, CA)
1670: KNRO (Redding, CA)
1680: KGED (Fresno, CA) (New)
1690: KFSG (Roseville, CA)
1700: XEPE (Tecate, Baja California, Mexico)

04 May 2008

taiwan reconsidering north american shortwave broadcasting

A reader named Chuck E. wrote:
Weatherall and all SWLs,

We have a big problem. Radio Taiwan Int'l has just revealed that their management is considering ENDING SHORTWAVE BROADCASTS TO THE USA on 5950 and 9680. They are seeking listener comments on this. We can't let this happen, RTI is one of the best SW broadcasters we have left. Here is the contact email for comments on this:

paula@rti.org.tw

Please ask RTI to continue SW transmissions!
I agree that RTI is one of the best shortwave broadcasters. Taiwan isn't just a normal place, it is facing tensions from China over issues of ownership and independence. I've mentioned here before that I won't listen to a station's internet broadcast once their shortwave broadcast goes away.

My letter has been sent to the above address, and those of you who enjoy RTI's content via shortwave broadcasting are encouraged to also send them a message.

22 March 2008

reader question: eton e5 versus sony icf sw7600gr

This question was recently submitted by Pete:
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.
Send those aliens my way! I'm ready for a vacation.

Without recently comparing these two radios side-by-side for shortwave performance, I have an overall preference for the Eton E5. The Eton E5 is smaller, produces better treble response through the speaker, and has the continuous non-muting tuning knob. The E5's tuning knob is great for band scanning. The SW7600GR offers AM synchronous detection, but in my experience, it has only slightly improved already-usable signals. (I risk angering some readers with that comment, but I'm always willing to hear your opinions!) My SW7600GR is rarely used these days; the E5 is my main receiver for mediumwave DX and shortwave.

16 March 2008

beeping ka2100 buttons question

An anonymous reader posted the following recently, and I'm putting it on the main page so more people can see, and perhaps respond, to it:
Just got a KA2100 and am impressed so far. Good service from Universal Radio. KGO in San Francisco comes in crystal clear 1000 Mi away in BC. Still playing with SW. Anyone know how to turn off the beep when the buttons are pressed?
By the way, nice job catching KGO, which is here in my hometown.

08 March 2008

quotes collected during mediumwave dxing

While attempting to identify mediumwave stations in the past couple months, I write some non-identifying quotes from the radio into my log. Since I'm not ready to post my mediumwave dx results, I thought I'd share some of these quotes. Since I didn't know the callsign in every case, I'll just list the frequency. I could post a reaction to many of these, but I thought I'd let you readers have the first shot at it.

• "The show is done; you can unbuckle the seatbelt." (540 kHz)
• "It's like an almanac on crack." (550 kHz)
• "20 billion dollars worth of arms. ...precise guided weapons... moving into the Saudis' large and growing arsenal." (560 kHz)
• "Think twice before starting that food fight." (740 kHz)
• "Folks, now more than ever, we need a joint product we can trust." (770 kHz)
• "You're like a two-year-old... you just keep playing with that thing!" (860 kHz)
• "Too bad they're unable to stop their opponent from scoring!" (950 kHz)
• "You can always go to surgery as a last resort." (960 kHz)
• "We happen to do it in a studio. You can do it anywhere in America!" (970 kHz)
• "150,000 watts of pure San Diego power." (1090 kHz)
• "I've never done steroids." "No, you've just done donuts." (1120 kHz)
• "A family of twin sisters recognized by the Guinness book of world records..." (1130 kHz)
• "My brother... mi hermano." (1170 kHz)
• "You've gotta get your kids out of the government schools." (1180 kHz)
• "Who cares if you kill yourself if you're a child molester?" (1360 kHz)

02 March 2008

mediumwave dx vs. hd radio

While trying to log mediumwave stations this year, I have encountered a new problem. The mediumwave band now contains harmful interference where once it contained AM stations. The introduction of HD radio on the AM broadcast band may be to blame.

I expect the occasional instance of adjacent channel interference. I may hear a strong signal on 1400 kHz, then hear remnants of that same signal when tuned to 1410 kHz. Compensating for this problem usually involves enabling the narrow filter on a radio, tuning further away from the interference source (such as going to 1412 kHz for example), or a combination of the two. With the noise that I'm now hearing surrounding some HD broadcasts, these methods are ineffective as the noise is overwhelming.

Here are the stations that I have logged, which have harmful noise on both adjacent channels (plus and minus 10 kHz). I'll also list stations that I logged back in 2006, but will likely no longer hear as a result of adjacent channel interference. Listening tests to confirm the presence of noise on the adjacent frequencies were performed with my Eton E5 on 02 March 2008.

• 740 KCBS: Sometime in 2008, KCBS began identifying itself as "KCBS and KCBS HD". An email exchange with the station reveals that their HD broadcast is running 24/7. 730 kHz and 750 kHz are now so noisy that no stations can be identified on these frequencies. So this eliminates 730 CHMJ (Vancouver, BC, Canada), 750 KHWG (Fallon, NV), 750 KOAL (Price, UT), and 750 KXL (Portland, OR).

• 910 KNEW: Their website says "Broadcasting in HD radio." This eliminates 900 CKMO (Victoria, BC, Canada), 900 KBIF (Fresno, CA), 920 KIHM (Reno, NV), 920 KVIN (Ceres, CA), and 920 KXLY (Spokane, WA).

• 960 KKGN: This station used to be KQKE until August 2007. Their website includes an "HD radio" logo. This will eliminate 950 KAHI (Sacramento, CA), and 970 KCMD (Portland, OR).

• 1050 KNBR: This is an odd one. KNBR is the callsign here for both 680 and 1050. The 680 frequency does not have adjacent channel interference on 670 and 690. I don't know why only 1050 would use HD. The only confirmation I have for my suspicion of an HD broadcast on 1050 is Wikipedia. Fortunately, I have not previously logged any stations on 1040 or 1060.

• 1310 KMKY: Oh great, Radio Disney with its numerous stations will use HD radio too? I could not find evidence of the HD broadcast on the Radio Disney website, but I found it on the iBiquity station list for California. This eliminates 1300 KCMY (Carson City, NV) and 1320 KCTC (Sacramento, CA).

24 February 2008

first canadian am station logged

I just logged my first Canadian AM station in this current mediumwave DX project: AM 690 CBU (CBC Radio One) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. CBU uses a 50 kW transmitter, and the station is approximately 800 miles from me. This station was received by my Eton E5 with no external antenna. I previously logged this station during my autumn 2006 mediumwave DX project.

The signal is strong and clear, and currently features a show with an eclectic music selection. For example, a Paul Anka song was followed by "Woman from Tokyo" by Deep Purple. According to www.cbc.ca, this show is "In the key of Charles", hosted by Gregory Charles. At times, he plays a piano and sings along. I like it! I don't think I've ever heard a radio show like this before.

23 February 2008

nimh batteries with reduced self-discharge

I used to be a big user of rechargeable NiMH batteries in my radios. My Eton E5 has more recently been living on alkaline batteries, and they seem to provide a much longer lifespan than the Energizer rechargeables I was using. Also, when traveling, I always packed a spare set of alkaline batteries instead of my battery charger.

Experiencing the poor lifespan of NiMH batteries in my radios led me to take action. First, I obtained a battery charger that was capable of fully charging the 2500 mAh Energizer NiMH batteries that I was using. Second, I researched the self-discharge property of NiMH batteries with the help of reader comments and some Internet searches.

While researching batteries, I learned about a new type of rechargeable NiMH battery that greatly reduced the self-discharge effect. Sanyo's eneloop batteries are one example of this new battery type, and in September 2006, I obtained a 4-pack of 2000 mAh NiMH eneloop batteries for $11.99 plus shipping.

When the batteries arrived, I immediately took them out of the packaging to measure their voltage levels with my volt meter. All of the batteries reported 1.31 volts. What happened next was not intended, but it happened. The batteries wandered around my apartment, unused, for 17 months. Well, they surfaced again, and the alkalines in my E5 just ran out. So I measured the eneloop batteries again (they all reported 1.30 volts today), then put them into my E5. So my Eton E5 is back on rechargeables, and these eneloop batteries only lost 0.01 volts after 17 months.

20 February 2008

wwvh transmitter antenna upgrade

Shortwave transmitter antennas have been upgraded at WWVH, a NIST radio station in Hawaii.
In a seven-year project to adopt a technology used on Navy ships, NIST has installed new antennas encased in fiberglass rather than traditional steel supports, to resist corrosion from the salty ocean air. ... NIST staff believe the project is the first demonstration of high-powered, high-frequency fiberglass antennas on land.
Have any of you heard any changes in WWVH service? I continue to get decent WWVH reception here during the day on 10 mhz and 15 mhz. I'll have to try for 2.5 mhz and 5 mhz at night.

16 February 2008

radio marti recording: 02 february 2008



This is a 30-minute recording of Radio Marti on 13820 khz. According to martinoticias.com's frequency list, this broadcast originated in Greenville, NC.

I heard this broadcast during a shortwave scan, and was surprised to hear a strong Radio Marti signal that was mostly free of a jamming signal. You might hear a faint trace of Cuba's bubble jammer in this recording.

I don't know Spanish, so I can't discuss the program contents. Top-of-the-hour identification can be heard starting at 6 minutes and 40 seconds into the recording. Another notable section is at 25 minutes and 48 seconds when there's an English recording. I'm always amused to hear English used as the backdrop over which a translation is spoken. That part is about Raul Castro's Cuban government.

If you understand Spanish, you're welcome to share your comments about the program contents. And let me know if you encounter any problems with the embedded media player.

12 February 2008

bbc discontinuing shortwave to europe

Bad news for fans of the BBC's shortwave transmissions in Europe, as well as in other locations where the European transmissions could be heard. Quoting bbc.co.uk:
The remaining BBC World Service shortwave transmissions to Europe will close on 18th February 2008.

This change is being made in line with listener trends in radio. Increasing numbers of people around the world are choosing to listen to radio on a range of other platforms including FM, satellite and online, with fewer listening on shortwave.
This news came to me via Google News. More information is provided on bbc.co.uk. I haven't followed this story too carefully, so I don't know whether there are shortwave transmitters that will be repurposed or shut down as a result.

09 February 2008

winter am dx is on

I'm in the early stages of a winter mediumwave (am) DX project. I just confirmed the identification of my 17th station, KOMO 1000 in Seattle, Washington, which is approximately 750 miles away. My Eton E5 is doing the heavy lifting.

07 February 2008

kaito ka11 first look

Gadget-lust caused me to purchase a Kaito KA11 sometime last year. It is redundant in my radio collection, but I wanted it anyway because it is tiny, attractive, and offers good functionality. And Kaito has a reputation for producing high-quality radios. Let's take a look at this little thing:




I paid US$50.90 for the radio, US$9.95 for shipping, and received it from Florida in about one week. Simply opening the product box was enough to elicit shock from me over how small this radio is. The KA11 is smaller but heavier than the WRX911, and features a numeric keypad.

Here are the positive aspects of the KA11:
  • solid, firm enclosure
  • the side-mounted antenna has a hinge all the way at the bottom, so you can pull the entire antenna out and rotate it
  • the orange backlight looks really nice and fills the whole screen
  • the battery door is permanently attached
  • a plastic prop on the end of the hand strap clips into the back of the radio
  • strong local AM and FM signals are received with ease, and FM signals come in fine while the telescopic antenna is stowed within the radio
  • stronger shortwave signals in the 49-meter and 31-meter bands were picked up with just the telescopic antenna

And here are some of my complaints regarding the KA11:
  • pressing a button does not always register
  • moving the telescopic antenna in and out of the radio doesn't feel right, as if it is getting stuck or is about to break. the antenna enclosure is presumably tiny and delicate. the antenna itself is relatively sturdy and quite long.
  • quite a wide filter on AM, which means that strong local stations can be heard on adjacent channels
  • shucks, no protective pouch included!
  • lack of bass response is apparent on FM stations
  • sibilance (whistling, chirping sounds)
  • poor language in the user manual
  • location of the volume dial makes it susceptible to accidental adjustment
  • shortwave reception is limited to 5800-18100 khz
  • the digital thermometer is nice but gratuitous

The speaker's limited frequency response seems well suited to talk radio, where the speaker can adequately handle the typical frequency range of the human voice. The speaker's limitations are very noticeable when used for music.

One of the shortwave signals I picked up with just the telescopic antenna was a weak WWVH signal on 10000 khz around 0150 UTC. If you're going to use this radio for shortwave reception, you're going to need to supplement the telescopic antenna.

A high level of hiss is audible when earphones are plugged in and the volume is all the way down. I wish I had a better understanding of the technical side of this issue. It seems like the space requirements and the cost for improved audio quality is within reach for this type of product.

Before plugging in earphones, turn the volume way down to avoid a surprise and preserve your hearing! The volume output of the heaphones and the tiny speaker do not relate very well.

On the topic of volume control, my personal preference would be to remove the miniscule volume dial and instead provide up/down volume buttons.

This is certainly no DX machine; it is best suited to background listening rather than active listening. This is an attractive, pocket-sized novelty radio with basic capabilities and a cheap internal speaker. Perhaps the small packaging is enough to entice your friends or family members who have radio curiosity or require an ultra-portable receiver.

29 January 2008

tecsun pl-450 radio appears on eBay

Tecsun just released a new digitally-tuned portable radio called the PL-450. The eBay auction that I found for this radio indicated that it replaces the PL-350 (which is in my collection). Here's an image from Tecsun of the PL-450 in an attractive silver enclosure:



This radio receives AM (522-1620 khz with 9 khz steps, or 520-1710 khz with 10 khz steps), FM (76 - 108 mhz), and shortwave (1711 - 29999 khz). Although the auction currently omits this, the Chinese specs for the PL-450 also lists longwave (100 - 519 khz). If you look at a high-resolution image of the radio, you can see FM, MW, LW, and SW labels below the band switch buttons. The auction specifies dual conversion reception for AM; I'm unsure if this includes shortwave. The PL-350 model was a single-conversion receiver.

Like the PL-350 that preceded it, the PL-450 takes three AA batteries. Three batteries is inconvenient, especially if one decides to buy higher-quality rechargeable batteries to replace the factory rechargeables. What to do with the fourth battery? I like the tuning knob on the side of the radio as opposed to a flat tuning dial recessed into the enclosure as found on other pocket-sized receivers.

I like this oddly-translated phrase from the auction: "The sleepy function allows you to sleep more before getting up!"

Tecsun's website also shows a PL-600 radio, which probably replaces the PL-550. Anyone have any theories why Tecsun added longwave reception to the PL-450 and PL-600?

24 January 2008

my tecsun dr-920 replacement arrived

My Tecsun DR-920 replacement arrived on 15 January 2008, alongside the Redsun RF1201 that I ordered from China. I installed two alkaline batteries, set the clock, and tuned to several AM and FM stations to give the radio a basic workout. So far, so good.

If you didn't read it already, here's a link to my April 2007 review of the Tecsun DR-920.

This DR-920 has very good build quality, like the unit that I had before this one. The knobs, buttons, and switches are all in excellent condition. The telescopic antenna is as durable as can be expected for its size. The audio quality, both through the built-in speaker and through the headphone jack, seems the same as before. Hiss is audible on all bands through headphones, even with the volume at zero.

I noticed a difference between this radio and my original DR-920: this radio's backlight is yellow while my original radio had an orange backlight. The orange backlight looked better.

One issue I previously complained about with the DR-920 was the frequency display rapidly alternating between adjacent frequencies (such as 739 and 740 khz). When that happened, it kept the LCD backlight on unnecessarily. With this new unit, the frequency jumps a bit sometimes, but often it quickly settles on a frequency and shuts off the backlight. There was one instance where the frequency was unstable just after turning the radio on, requiring adjustment of the tuning knob to calm it. I'll keep watching to see if this DR-920 shows improvements over my previous one.

20 January 2008

images of new grundig radios

Here are images of the forthcoming Grundig G4, G6, and Satellit 750 radios. These images come from the Universal Radio online catalog.

Grundig G4



Grundig G6



Grundig Satellit 750

18 January 2008

redsun rf1201 first look

My Redsun RF1201 arrived from China on January 15, 2008. This pocket radio receives AM, FM, and shortwave, and is comparable to the Kaito WRX911 in terms of size, design, and features.

Inside the box were these items:
  • Redsun RF1201 radio
  • a wire antenna that clips onto the telescopic antenna
  • a cloth pouch (hooray! I really like these, and sometimes the sellers remove them from the box before shipment)
  • a 3" blue-and-white CDROM, labeled with a panda bear face, claiming to hold 25 minutes / 225 megabytes

Alas, all of my current optical drives are slot-load models that don't support 3" discs.




I loaded the RF1201 with a pair of alkaline batteries for initial testing. I'm pleased with this radio so far, due to:
  • very good build quality
  • strong, clear signals for local AM and FM stations
  • high-quality printing on the tuning scale
  • nice frequency response via headphones

I heard a weak WWVH signal and a moderately strong WWV signal at 5000 khz with just the telescopic antenna. I found a few strong signals in the 60-meter, 49-meter, and 31-meter bands during an evening session a couple days ago, although shortwave reception was noisy due to local interference.

My main gripes about this radio thus far:
  • limited frequency response from the speaker due to its size
  • the volume dial is very touchy
  • noticeable hiss from the headphone jack

To be fair, headphone jack hiss is common for the pocket radio category. Overall, this has been a satisfying radio buying experience. I unfortunately had a bad first impression of Redsun, since the RF1210 that I bought had a loose tuning knob. I'm still planning to acquire an RP3000/RP3100 once those are available for purchase in the USA.

If you're interested in Redsun radios, you might wish to check out the RP2100/KA2100 user reviews on this site.

14 January 2008

new grundig radios for 2008

The Eton website lists new Grundig radios that are expected in the next couple of months:

* Grundig G4 World Recorder

This radio has an interface that resembles the Kaito 1102. It is an AM, FM, and Shortwave receiver with MP3 recording and playback. MP3 storage will use an SD card that can be up to 2gb in size. Eton's website lists February 2008 as the launch date, and the list price is US$200.

* Grundig G6 Aviator

This radio provides AM, FM, VHF, and Shortwave reception with SSB. Eton's website lists February 2008 as the launch date, and the list price is US$100.

* Grundig Satellit 750

This radio appears to be smaller than, but taking many design cues from, the well-known Satellit 700 radio. The Satellit 750 will receive AM, FM, LW, SW with SSB, and VHF. Eton's website lists March 2008 as the launch date, with a US$300 list price.

Interestingly, the only shortwave products still listed in the Eton product line section are the wind-up radios and the E1XM. Other radios, such as the E1, E5, E10, and E100, are now listed in a section titled "Past Collection".

12 January 2008

shortwave web news

I'd like to first highlight the relatively-new Radio Kitchen Blog. Radio Kitchen is operated by The Professor from WFMU, and is a dedicated site for his radio interests that rose out of his "Adventures in Amplitude Modulation" series on the WFMU weblog. Radio Kitchen hosts band scan recordings along with context-rich commentary and images.

Second, as a recent reader comment reminded me, RadioIntel changed its website layout and is no longer designed around news articles and periodic updates. RadioIntel is a tremendous resource for me, and browsing that site put the idea into my head about publishing my own shortwave radio content. Ulis, the site's owner, gave me some great tips for close-up photography of radios using macro mode. I have accepted the fact that I can't offer anything approaching the quantity and quality of radio receiver reviews that RadioIntel publishes. If you somehow haven't visited that site yet, please do so and let them know what you think.

06 January 2008

harry shearer prefers an ats-909

Harry Shearer, known for his contributions to the movie "Spinal Tap" and a number of voices on "The Simpsons", is a shortwave radio enthusiast:

* Harry Shearer: Comic Relief via Shortwave

Regarding his Sangean ATS-909 receiver, Harry says
This has all the buttons I need and not much else. There is one that says ‘Page,’ and I’ve never pressed that. I don’t know what would happen.
Mr. Shearer's radio show, "Le Show", is part satire, part radio drama, and is broadcast on shortwave by WBCQ.

Harry, I am continually delighted by your work! (I wonder if he has a super 909...)

solar cycle 24 begins

The folks at passband.com have announced the start of solar cycle 24. It is expected to be a great one for HF propogation! So let's see how long-distance reception goes during the next several years.

01 January 2008

a place for comments and questions: 2008

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.

I'll do my best to respond, either with a comment here of my own, or an article on the front page.

* 2006 comments and questions
* 2007 comments and questions