27 September 2005

shortwave summary: 27 sep 2005

I should come up with a consistent name for posts that include tidbits from multiple broadcasts. For now I'll try "shortwave summary".

* 27 Sep 2005: Radio Netherlands is a reliable broadcast during 0400-0500 UTC when they have broadcasts in the prestigious 49 meter and 31 meter bands. I briefly tuned in to 6165 khz (SIO 544) at 0424 UTC. They referred to Hurricane Katrina as a "veritable orgy of destruction."

* 26 Sep 2005: I started listening to the Voice of America on 9575 khz (SIO 555) at 0414 UTC. As mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to know what the Voice of America was telling the world, especially since they're not currently supposed to broadcast to United States citizens. First they discussed tracking monarch butterfly migration. (Your tax dollars at work.) Then they applied more spin than the world's finest laundromat to brag that advanced warnings and path prediction of Hurricane Katrina saved "tens of thousands of lives". What happened to the rest of the story?

* 25 Sep 2005: I had another chance to hear KBS from South Korea. I tuned into 9560 khz at 0213 UTC, when the SIO code was a respectable 454. They have a fun broadcasting style which is similar to Radio Taiwan International and Radio Havana Cuba sometimes, with two announcers on at once. Both people can discuss a news story and offer different opinions. They discussed a drink-serving robot, an idea which is not new, but is always fun to think about. (Sorry, I couldn't find a URL for this). They also mentioned the horrific possibility of remote-controlled robot soldiers.

* 24 Sep 2005: The United States is still bombing Afghanistan with B52s, destroying villages. There's disagreement with Hamid Karzai over the methods for hunting the Taliban. A widely-held view seems to be that Americans are arrogant. This was heard on Radio Netherlands, 6165 khz (SIO 544) and 9590 khz (SIO 353) around 0400 UTC.

* 24 Sep 2005: $1 billion is missing from the Iraqi defense fund. This was from Radio Havana Cuba on 6000 khz (SIO 454) at 0543 UTC.

25 September 2005

grundig g4000a review

I do not own a Grundig G4000A (internally identical to the YB-400PE) and only handled an unpowered unit in a store. This brief review is based on that experience.

I was instantly annoyed with the odd sponge-like operation of the keypad buttons. The buttons had to be pressed in a bit before the clicking sensation of the electrical connection was felt. Based on my experience with the buttons, I did not enjoy using the G4000A. Maybe this type of button helps prevent accidental usage? Anyone with a YB-400PE/G4000A is welcome to comment on what they think about the button feel. I don't know if any other review already mentions the weird feel of the buttons, but I don't recall hearing about it.

Other radios I have used (Kaito 1102, Sony ICF SW7600GR, Eton E100, Tecsun PL350) have more responsive buttons that allow for rapid entry. When listening to shortwave, I have a self-prepared broadcast schedule at hand. If I tune in and hear a weak signal, old content, or just plain boring stuff, I will move to the next available broadcast. Sometimes there are two good broadcasts on at the same time; I might frequently switch between them. Since I don't make extensive use of frequency memories (the YB-400PE/G4000A only has 40), I am continually entering direct frequencies.

The size of the G4000A, perhaps mostly to accomodate its speaker, seems too large for me given the features it has.

When I first started evaluating portable shortwave radios, the Grundig YB-400PE was a leading contender. Passport to Worldband Radio gave the YB-400PE top marks. I am glad that I ultimately chose something else, and was later able to get a feel for the G4000A without purchasing it, because I would have been disappointed.

24 September 2005


"Mooncakes are expensive, are considered a delicacy, and go best with oolong or jasmine tea." (wikipedia.org)

On Wednesday, I learned about mooncakes while listening to Radio Taiwan International. A majority of mooncakes are eaten around the time of the Chinese Moon Festival. Mooncakes also symbolize the overthrow of the Mongols. Unfortunately (I say this because they sound delicious), mooncake popularity is declining due to people becoming health-conscious. Newer varieties of mooncakes use low sugar, high fiber, and little to no fat.

Previously, RTI had a segment about Din Tai Fung, a famous steamed dumpling restaurant in Taipei. RTI's cultural content likely helps to increase tourism (and eating) there.

Radio Taiwan International's broadcasts are sent across the Pacific Ocean via undersea cable, which certainly must contribute to the excellent signals (SIO 454-555) I receive (which are transmitted from Okeechobee, Florida following a satellite transmission originating in Oakland, California).

21 September 2005

right, ascension

While trying to grab Radio Havana Cuba on 6000 khz, I accidentally picked up the BBC World Service on 6005 khz. Prime time shortwave indicates that this broadcast is from Ascension Island [cia world factbook] [wikipedia] in the South Atlantic, destined for Africa. Ascension is a breeding ground for sea turtles and sooty terns.

16 September 2005

shortwave notes

I've been updating my shortwave cheat sheet with new frequencies and broadcast schedule entries as I find and confirm them. Reception has been rough lately due to solar flares. Lots of recent broadcasts have covered Hurricane Katrina and the US government's response to it. It's nice to hear the international support, both in forms of grieving and criticizing the inadequate emergency response. Other tidbits:

* 03 Sep 2005: I heard a song on Radio New Zealand International (from a New Zealand band) that I liked. I wrote down a description of the song in my notebook, and emailed the station when I got home. I asked them if they could identify the song. Separately, I sent a reception report using their online form. They sent an online QSL but I haven't heard back about the music. This was at approximately 0451 UTC in case anyone else out there can help me track it down.

* 04-05 Sep 2005: Thanks again to prime time shortwave, I found broadcasts from North and South Korea.

* 10 Sep 2005: At 0600 UTC, Radio Havana Cuba was beginning another hour of English language service. They apparently played a tape backwards for about 30 seconds. The station was silent for about 4 minutes, then the broadcast commenced as normal.

02 September 2005

listening hilights

Between approximately 0530-0730 UTC (02 Sep 2005), I listened to Radio Havana Cuba and Radio Taiwan International. Here are the highlights:

* Cuban Parliament releases declaration regarding Hurricane Katrina, saying that the news from the United States makes them sad, and that they express solidarity with the US people, government, local authorities (in affected areas), and victims. "The whole world should feel this tragedy as its own."

* China has 700 missiles aimed at Taiwan (whatever exactly that means), and more are expected.

* The "New music lounge with Julie Tang" focused on boy bands. I got to hear two songs from Taiwanese boy bands! English translations of the band names are "energy" and "the little tigers". I didn't care much for the songs but it was certainly something unique. And Julie, the show host, expressed annoyance with androgynous boy band members wo have their hair just right and wear too much makeup.

01 September 2005

shortwave cheat sheet

I created a document containing lots of relevant information for shortwave listening. It's designed to print on one sheet of 8.5"x11" paper. TextEdit.app is a pretty good tool for this task, as it lets me set arbitrary tab stops and change font faces and sizes. I'm using Verdana 9 with 0.9x line spacing. Unfortunately, I can't get TextEdit to cooperate with respect to custom page layouts, so I'm stuck with the gratuitous 1" margins.

I'm not going to distribute my cheat sheet because it contains information copied and paraphrased from other sources, such as shortwave receiver manuals and various websites. But I'll tell you what's listed: frequency ranges for the broadcast bands; best listening conditions for those bands; a time-sorted list (with frequencies) of all the broadcasts I've heard (minus the religious ones); time station frequencies; major cities in each time zone; bands for ham radio, aeronautical, and maritime communications; reception and interference tips; explanation of radio wave propagation and the ionosphere; the nato phonetic alphabet; and a morse code guide.

In the past few days, I've been using my evening listening sessions to verify the frequency/broadcast schedule and find more broadcasts as listed on the excellent prime time shortwave website.