31 March 2006

shortwave summary: mar 2006 (part 3)

Here are some easy catches from some favorite stations. I might exclude SIO codes from my future reception reports, because most of the time it's not relevant. If anyone has an opinion on this, please leave a comment. I mostly used my Eton E5 and Kaito 1102 for these receptions.

* China Radio International
* Radio Thailand
* Radio Havana Cuba
* Radio Taiwan International
* Voice of America

* 14 Mar 2006, 2304 UTC, 11970 khz (China Radio International): Milosevic will be buried in Serbia. A silicon valley electronics store (that's near me!) hosting a consumer rights event on Wednesday. China is ready for cross-strait talks with Taiwan under the One China principle. Isn't China always ready for that? National People's Congress approved China's 11th 5-year plan. "Can you trust the food you eat these days?" Food in China can be trusted due to market competition, according to a professor from China Agricultural university. A majority of cooking oils are genetically modified and imported. "So far, so good" regarding bird flu. The plan to prevent spreading involves killing any infected birds. Livestock producers have good regulations. There's a negative opinion of genetically modified foods in North America. SIO 444.

* 15 Mar 2006, 0000 UTC, 11885 khz (China Radio International): Hearing CRI (from Xian) with strong echo and lots of interference. I was looking for Radio Cairo. Lots of foreign language broadcasts in the 31 meter band at the moment. SIO 222.

* 0258 UTC, 5890 khz (Radio Thailand): "Radio Thailand's world service." Grandfather clock bells. Broadcasting from Bangkok. "For listeners in the United States west coast." (That's me!) Salary increases for employees of state-owned enterprises. Problems with stray animals. SIO 423; significant noise, some fading.

* 16 Mar 2006, 0527 UTC, 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): President Bush vowed to turn Iraq over to Iraqi forces within a year. "Real progress in Iraq." A large number of airstrikes against Iraq recently. USA "making a mockery of international law." World Baseball Classic update. Mailbag show. They're sending a tourist map of Cuba to the son of a listener in England. Now I want one! SIO 444.

* 23 Mar 2006, 0519 UTC, 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): Cuba's World Baseball Classic team got 2nd place and was welcomed home. They received a speech from Fidel Castro. Guatemala called for closure of torture centers used by the USA. RHC has a Spanish language broadcast on 5025 khz. Women are in the majority in RHC's english department. SIO 433.

* 24 Mar 2006, 0700 UTC, 5950 khz (Radio Taiwan International): "Broadcasting from Taipei, Taiwan, the Republic of China." Six Taiwanese allies will not attend a meeting hosted by China. China's "one country, two systems" policy is not for Taiwan. That was how Hong Kong and Macau were turned into special administrative regions of China. The defensive weapons purchase from the United States has been delayed so far for over a year. Taiwanese airlines increased fuel surcharges on international flights. This practice started in 2004 and was initially planned for just 3 months. Taipei weather for Friday: mostly cloudy with showers and thundershowers, with temperatures in the range of 17-20C (62-68F). Disposable chopsticks can contain sulphur dioxide, which can pose a health risk to those with asthma. Don't use chopsticks that are too white or that have a sour smell. Taking your own chopsticks can be good for your health, and reduces the need to harvest wood and bamboo. People "need to be aware and love the earth." About 50 restaurants offer discounts for customers that bring their own chopsticks. It will take the public a while to get used to it. This day in history: 23 March, 1983: Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire. SIO 444.

* 25 Mar 2006, 2303 UTC, 11970 khz (China Radio International): Death toll for the coal mine accident rose to 23. Relations between China and Japan are at their lowest point in decades. Russia dismissed a Pentagon report claiming that Russians passed intelligence to Iraq at the beginning of the war in 2003; called it "groundless accusations". China appealed to the EU to reconsider anti-dumping tariffs related to shoes. Chinese products aren't being dumped on the market. Half of shoes sold in the EU last year were made in China. Ukraine elections on Sunday (26 March). Yuschenko's party is trailing; this could result in the first coalition government. Election fraud and human rights violations in Belarus. Beijing weather: sunny with increasing clouds, 2-16C (35-60F). SIO 555.

* 29 Mar 2006, 0107 UTC, 9570 khz (China Radio International): This broadcast for North America comes from Albania, for some reason. I didn't listen very long because of poor signal quality. I heard part of a story about peer pressure. SIO 322.

* 0405 UTC, 9575 khz (Voice of America): Africa News Now show. Immigrant children in America integrate quickly, but it's harder for their parents. Baseball player Marquis Grissom announced his retirement after performing poorly in spring training. Iran is believed to be 6-9 months from perfecting the uranium enrichment process. Bombing Iran would not eliminate its nuclear program, because facilities are deep underground and scattered throughout the country. "The population overwhelmingly likes America." Angola overtook Saudi Arabia in February as China's top oil supplier. Daybreak Africa show. Nigerian president will meet with President Bush at the White House on Wednesday (29 March). Senator Patrick Leahy recommends canceling the visit due to the escape of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was in exile in Nigeria. Taylor was to be transferred to Liberia to face war crimes charges. He's "a threat to regional security." Indictment was issued in March 2003. Special tourist visas were granted for viewing Wednesday's solar eclipse in northern Africa. A new VOA schedule takes effect on 03 April. SIO 444.

* 0500 UTC, 6060 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): Resistance fighters hit an Iraqi army recruitment center, causing 40 deaths. Thousands of students walked out of schools in Los Angeles, protesting immigration restrictions. Karl Rove could be indicted for conspiracy in the CIA identity leak case. A new female announcer is reading the local Cuba news. Editorial viewpoint: Americans reject criminalization and deportation of illegal immigrants. The United States itself was founded by immigrants. Declassified documents prove that Luis Posada Carriles was working with the CIA. (CO2KK) Arnie Coro's DXers Unlimited. Arnie was given a circuit board from a discarded mainframe computer and harvested hundreds of components (resistors, capacitors, etc) for homebrew projects. The geomagnetic field is expected to remain quiet for the next several days. When a Cuban says "newcomer", it sounds an awful lot like "cucumber". SIO 433; signal was weaker than usual, with some interference from 6055 khz.

29 March 2006

radio marti recording with jamming

Cuba transmits noise on the same frequency as Radio Marti broadcasts. When I listen to 6030 khz where I am, I hear a sound like running water on top of the broadcast. Here's a recording of it. This Radio Marti broadcast came from a Greenville, NC transmitter.

6030_khz_13mar2006_0215utc.mp3 - 2 min, 486 kb

Also see my previous article, is radio marti propaganda?

28 March 2006

goodbye united kingdom

The BBC has zapped their 5975 khz transmission to Latin America between 0000-0100 UTC and 0200-0400 UTC. That frequency was the best way for me to receive BBC via shortwave. So that's over. Here's their new pathetic shortwave schedule.

27 March 2006

degen de202 internals photo

The County Comm GP-4L is the smallest shortwave radio in my collection. It is a Degen DE202 with an added LED, which can be used as a simple flashlight.

Here's a photo of the radio's insides:

Interesting bits:
* The logic board has a label saying "NOTE: 0.8mm / THE THICKNESS IS 0.8mm"
* The speaker has a plastic cone, like cheap headphones
* A spring provides contact between the band switch and the outer casing, perhaps for grounding

25 March 2006

atom/rss feed

This weblog publishes an atom feed, and the descriptions are set to "full". This means your news reader should fetch the entirety of my articles.

When I look at my own atom feed in Safari, I see that only short descriptions are published, along with a "read more" link back to the website. I will try republishing everything to see if this is fixed. This issue is near the top of Blogger's crossed-out (i.e. recently-fixed) known issues.

If anyone is using the atom feed, or has questions or problems in that regard, let me know here.

full e5 writeup at passband.com

Passband.com has a full Eton E5 writeup on their Receiver News page. David Zantow compares the E5 to a pre-production sample and to the Kaito/Degen 1103.

Are any of you owners of the E5, or considering it?

24 March 2006

dxers guide

Radiointel links to the DXers Guide weblog based in India. If you're not reading that site already, check out this interesting article:

RTI Listeners' Club Meeting in Calcutta

22 March 2006

usenet post about radios that last

In my journey through the rec.radio.shortwave usenet newsgroup, I found a gem titled "Keepers: shortwave radios that last". In addition to being informative, it is quite funny! Here's a quote from the end of the post by VE3IUT:

"My wife has arrived and is demanding to know why I am wasting my time on this thing when there are 3749 chores to do and her mother was right: I am a good for nothing lazy layabout bum and she should have married Raoul who became a lawyer AND a doctor"

A few months ago, I posted an article called multiple radios: making the case, although it was not nearly as funny.

21 March 2006

voice of america qsl

I sent a reception report to the Voice of America in January after hearing a broadcast from their Greenville transmitter. They sent this QSL card:

On the back of the card:
The transmitter at the Morocco Transmitting Station houses ten 500 kw transmitters which beam Voice of America programs to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

This one was pretty easy and with a fast turnaround. I bet this thing didn't even get on a boat or a plane!

20 March 2006

shortwave summary: mar 2006 (part 2)

Radio Taiwan International's commentary on China/Taiwan relations was interesting. Lots of broadcasters reported on the death of Slobodan Milosevic. An interesting facet to that story is the exile status of his wife and son, who are hiding in Russia.

Broadcasters mentioned in this report:
* Radio Taiwan International
* Radio Havana Cuba
* KBS South Korea
* Channel Africa, South Africa
* Radio Sweden
* China Radio International
* Radio Netherlands
* Radio Japan

* 08 Mar 2006, 0258 UTC, 5950 khz (Radio Taiwan International): "This is Radio Taiwan International, broadcasting from Taipei, Taiwan, the Republic of China." USA opposes unilateral status quo changes across the strait. China has 784 missiles aimed at Taiwan. In the 1990s, China launched 4 missiles into the water to oppose Taiwan elections. Ang Le won the best director oscar. He's a role model for Taiwan's filmmakers. China took credit while ignoring that Le is from Taiwan. Weather for Taipei: partly cloudy, 20-25C (68-77F). The situation in the strait is always told from one point of view. The media, including the BBC, reinforces Beijing's point of view. Don't call Taiwan "the island"; that implies it is not a country. Taiwan comprises several islands besides the main island (which was named ilha formosa by the Portuguese). Leadership referred to as "Taiwan authorities" instead of "the government". "It's part of the big lie." Calling the president an "independence-minded leader" is also unfair. Announcer made a joke about Beijing's "invasion-minded dictator". SIO 434.

* 0500 UTC, 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): Broadcast running a few minutes late by my clock. "Alternative information from the source." Cindy Sheehan and 3 other protesters were arrested in New York City. Cindy was "dropped on the pavement" during arrest. USA is paying Iraqi newspapers to print favorable articles that lack attribution; supposedly not violating any USA laws or Pentagon guidelines. "Detrimental to U.S. credibility" vs. "critical tool in propaganda war." Cuba, unlike Taiwan, is perfectly happy to call itself "the island." Bernie Dwyer was recently in Boston; interviewed Noam Chomsky. His voice was easier to understand this time but still not great. John Bolton threatens military action against Iran. USA could target the core of Iran's uranium enrichment program to disable it. World Baseball Classic update; DXers Unlimited with Arnie Coro CO2KK, discussing low-budget radio. SIO 343.

* 10 Mar 2006, 0500 UTC, 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): Running at least 5 minutes late. Heard the phrase "Iran's peaceful nuclear program." "Hot sun" on a winter day in Havana. Mailbag show was a repeat. SIO 322.

* 11 Mar 2006, 0505 UTC, 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): Jimmy Carter urges troop withdrawal from Iraq. Viewpoint: USA is "world's worst abuser of human rights" but passes judgement on the rest of the world in an annual report. "Racial discrimination has always plagued U.S. society." SIO 433.

* 13 Mar 2006, 0223 UTC, 9560 khz (KBS South Korea): Talking to parents/children about needing counseling. Playing music. "Listening to worldwide friendship." Reading letters from listeners. About 20 minutes later, the signal was overcome by noise. SIO 544.

* 0303 UTC, 7390 khz (Channel Africa, South Africa): "...Should not underestimate the contributions that women have made", "Women's day on the 8th of March." Couldn't follow the broadcast due to the weak signal and noise. SIO 222.

* 0330 UTC, 6010 khz (Radio Sweden): "You're listening to Radio Sweden." Discussing Sweden's thriving indie music scene. Sweden is the world's 3rd-largest exporter of pop music, behind the US and UK. Bands: Legends, Loveninjas. "Who knows the sun," catchy single. Musicians' strength is in writing good melodies. Loveninjas gaining reputation for their live performances. "We just want to have as much fun as possible!" Lost their costumes in Stuttgart Germany. Writing songs about "sex, death, and Japanese girls." Many websites and blogs cover new Swedish music. Loveninjas gigs confined to Europe for now. "Radio Sweden's music magazine" called Headset. "Sweden's hip hop king is back and everything's going fine!" Transmission stopped abruptly during the closing song. SIO 433.

* 0402 UTC, 6190 khz (China Radio Intl): Slobodan Milosevic has died. Chinese army seeks to strengthen national defense, "maintain peace." National people's congress wants to make it a crime to deliberately spread HIV. 10 years to life imprisonment for an offense. Announcer speaking fast! Milosevic had high blood pressure; faced 66 war crime charges. Israel and USA have the ability to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. China economy expanding at "a tremendous rate". Revitalizing the countryside is China's main priority. Heard the phrase "new socialist countryside"...what's that? Desire to improve living standards of farmers. Milosevic "orchestrated the Balkan wars in the 1990s." His family wants autopsy performed in Moscow, not The Hague. Trial began in Feb 2002; it was about to enter the final stage. UN wants full Iranian compliance with non-proliferation treaty. Bush calls China a strategic partner. Huge trade deficit with the USA. Chinese are annoyed by the culture of tipping. They would rather save the money and give it to charity. Weather report for San Francisco: light rain, 6-10C (42-50F). SIO 533.

* 0500 UTC, 6165 khz (Radio Netherlands): "It's 0500 hours UTC...From Hilversum in Holland." Milosevic died in prison cell in The Hague. Indicted but never convicted in the violent breakup of Yugoslavia. Death ends the trial; can't continue "in absentia of the accused." Belgrade viewpoint: "the tribunal killed Milosevic", didn't provide adequate access to treatment. "Supporters are going to be very sad." This is bad for Serbia, the region, and relatives of the victims. Will be hard for Serbian government to arrange the funeral. Milosevic family is on the run, hiding in Russia. Son and wife should be arrested if they appear for the funeral. It's a tragedy "now that justice cannot be done." Milosevic was always "rigid in negotiations." SIO 444.

* 1708 UTC, 9535 khz (Radio Japan): Computer chips used in cars are seeing increased demand. Milosevic died in his cell. Attacks in Baghdad cause deaths. "Pop joins the world" music show. Band: The Tokyo Incidents; changed guitarist and keyboard in 2005. Funky song, young girl voice. SIO 454; slight fading.

17 March 2006

kaito 1102 batteries

The Kaito KA1102's battery compartment is a dark and scary place, often filled with starburst lime-colored rechargeable batteries.

The 1300mah NiMH batteries that came with my 1102 are great and a charge lasts a long time. It has been so long since I charged the 1102's batteries that I forgot how to do it properly.

The radio came with an adapter and has a built-in charger, but I charge batteries for all of my other radios with a standalone charger. So my instinct, when the batteries ran out of power, was to remove the batteries for an overnight recharge.

I appreciate the hinged battery door that stays attached to the radio, as Ulis mentions in his Degen DE1102/Kaito KA1102 review on Radiointel.

The two outer batteries came out easily, especially since the ejector ribbon was laid down correctly. But the third battery was deep inside a tight crevice.

The factory batteries have a clever design. The edge of the battery near the positive end features a small groove. So after the first two batteries are removed, a fingernail can be placed into the third battery groove, and some amount of tugging and coercion will follow. Here's how my battery tugging adventure concluded:

I re-inserted the other two batteries, found the adapter, and charged the batteries inside the radio.

If the radio isn't plugged in when pressing the P-# key sequence to begin charging, the battery icon starts animating even though charging hasn't started. It took me several tries before I noticed the problem! When the radio is plugged in, an electrical plug icon appears on the display. In this case, I plugged my radio into a power strip that was switched off.

15 March 2006

8430 khz bleepy recording

My goodness! There were at least three different signals received on 8430 khz ssb on 13 Mar 2006 after 0800 UTC. Maybe they were actually on adjacent frequencies and the bandwidth was wide enough to catch them all. Loop this mp3 for a really hypnotic effect. It was recorded from my Eton E5.

8430_khz_13mar2006_0808utc.mp3 - 7 min, 1.7mb

14 March 2006

new eton products

Eton Corporation's website was updated today with some new and familiar products.

In the "Design" section, four new products are shown as coming soon: Sound 100 (AM/FM), Sound 101 (AM/FM/SW/Sirius-ready), Sound 110 (AM/FM/SW), and Sound 111 (AM/FM/SW/XM-ready).

In the "Innovation" section, the Eton E5 is now listed. Also listed is an E1 without satellite radio integration, for the same price as the E1XM.

In the "Necessity" section of the site, four radios co-branded with the American Red Cross are shown: FR250, FR300, FR350, and FR400.

Thanks to Radiointel and Radios4you for providing photos from the CES 2006 tradeshow, showing some of the new Eton products. I'd like to know more about that radio with the gear tuning.

13 March 2006

shortwave summary: mar 2006 (part 1)

I'll start early this month with reception reports. I've been working with the faint, distant signals in addition to the easy catches, so some logs lack details. Kim Andrew Elliott tells us that Radio Slovakia is ending shortwave broadcasts.

Broadcasters covered below:
* Radio Havana Cuba
* Voice of Korea, North Korea
* Voice of Croatia
* Radio Japan
* Radio Taiwan International
* Radio Sweden
* Radio Bulgaria
* Voice of America
* China Radio International

* 02 Mar 2006, 0515 UTC: 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): President Bush's approval rating at all-time low. Halliburton will be paid all of its disputed charges from a no-bid contract to provide fuel in Iraq. Company is accused of benefiting from connection with VP Cheney. "World sports for all" event coming up in Cuba, 31 Oct - 03 Nov. Ed Newman said: "winter day in beautiful Cuba, where it's warm out." 01 May 2006 will mark Radio Havana Cuba's 45th anniversary. SIO 444.

* 03 Mar 2006, 0200 UTC: 13650 khz (Voice of Korea, North Korea): "Democratic People's Republic of Korea." Not strong enough to understand. SIO 222.

* 0300 UTC, 7285 khz (Voice of Croatia): "This is Croatian Radio." "A warm welcome to our listeners." DNA testing of cows helped analyze mad cow disease in Croatia. Cash awards given to Croatian olympic medal winners. Wooden vessels were constructed on a Croatian island in the 1500s. One trademark was eyes carved into the bows. Announcer spoke very fast! It's a shame that this broadcast is so short. Shipbuilding story was very interesting. SIO 333; fading, static.

* 0500 UTC, 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): A majority of troops in Iraq favor ending the occupation. 72% of troops want the USA to leave Iraq within a year. Mentioned how an announcer would read newspapers and magazines to cigar-rollers (like I saw in a James Bond movie once!) Bolivia launched a literacy program in all of its eight provinces, in cooperation with Cuba. Editorial viewpoint regarding the USA's involvement in a human rights organization within the United Nations. USA wants to reduce the number of members, and introduced a sanction clause. A rare moment on RHC: spanish speaking in the background overlaid with an english translation. 6000 languages are spoken on this planet. Negative comments for the USA economy; 76% of households carry debt. Stagnant wages, rising healthcare costs, costly education and housing. 25 million Americans depend on food donations. SIO 544.

* 04 Mar 2006, 1700 UTC, 9535 khz (Radio Japan): Bush, Musharraf confirm their commitment to defeat terrorism. China will increase military budget by 14% this year. China has "neither the intention nor the ability to become a military superpower." (Was that wishful thinking?) Japan wants China to stop natural gas exploration in the East China Sea; countries dispute ownership. 317 Guantanamo prisoner names released to the Associated Press. A man who died in China might have had H5N1; eight previous bird flu deaths there. I can hear the announcer turning pages while reading the news.

"Welcome to: Hello from Tokyo!" 2-10C (35-50F) outside; people heard sniffling on the trains. The "Hello from Tokyo" show will be terminated in April. Female announcer is getting married and moving to Denver, Colorado. Male announcer plans to pursue an acting career. They called a listener and interviewed him. Later in the show, they encouraged people to write in and include their phone numbers. The listener lives in Santa Barbara, California. They asked him for a music request at the end of the call. Now interviewing Kim (Andrew) Elliott from the IBB. Seeing a decline in shortwave broadcasting. Radio Slovakia going off the air (that's the first I heard of it...). VOA closing down its News Now service. China Radio International, on the other hand, is expanding and buying transmitters; venturing into FM. "Listening is more difficult in my house." Xenon lights cause a lot of interference. Shortwave is a difficult medium to block, compared to the Internet and satellite communications. DRM is more sensitive to interference than analog broadcasts. "Thank you Tokyo! An honor to be on Radio Japan" -- Kim Andrew Elliott at the end of the interview. Music: "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys. SIO 544-555.

* 05 Mar 2006, 0200 UTC, 5950 khz (Radio Taiwan Intl): Plans to draft a new constitution. Current constitution is from before WWII. China launched military exercises after Taiwan suspended the unification council. The number of Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan increased by 200 over 6 years. Taipei weather for Sunday: mostly cloudy, occasional showers, 17-20C (62-68F). Station id: "brought to you by Radio Taiwan International." "Broadcasting from Taipei, Taiwan, the Republic of China." SIO 433; fading.

* 0230 UTC, 6010 khz (Radio Sweden): Flute intro music. "Shortwave to North America... half-hour program in English." From Stockholm. Sweden drawn into protests over the Mohammed caricatures. The government is under fire for slow response to the Asian tsunami. Bird flu reaches Europe. I was disappointed that they spent so much time discussing the tsunami as it was mostly old news. SIO 333.

* 0300 UTC, 7285 khz (Voice of Croatia): "This is Croatian Radio, the Voice of Croatia." Weak signal; couldn't copy most of it. Heard "the need to establish a coast guard..." SIO 232.

* 06 Mar 2006, 0007 UTC, 9700 khz (Radio Bulgaria): Did not hear identification. Transmission too weak to understand clearly. "Powerful army", "Bulgarian", "Bulgarian people". The E5 volume was at 14 (usually it is around 6-8). SIO 121.

* 07 Mar 2006, 2104 UTC, 17825 khz (Radio Japan): Interceptor missiles; Japan developing the nose cone. Experiments conducted off Hawaii. Test flight of a radio-controlled plane with no flight time limit. Working with Chinese to increase understanding; relations at their worst. It's important to hear military and political news, but there was nothing fun in this broadcast. SIO 545.

* 2135 UTC, 15580 khz (Voice of America): Music program; interviewing a female musician who plays a harmonica. Song: "Goodbye Charlie Brown." A Google search revealed her name: Terri Hendrix. SIO 544.

11 March 2006

eton discontinues grundig s350

(This is a follow-up to an article from two days ago: eton s350dl for us$100.)

From passband.com, we learn that Eton has discontinued the Grundig S350.

The S350DL price drop to US$100 (after removing the headphones) gave it the same price as the S350. So this move makes sense. Look for clearance bargains for both the S350 and S350DL-with-headphones.

This is all odd to me as I just purchased a Tecsun BCL-2000 (OEM version of the Grundig S350) via eBay. After reading descriptions of the tuner lock feature in the BCL-3000 / S350DL, I decided that I didn't want it. I would want it if I could engage/disengage the tuner lock manually.

10 March 2006

computer-controlled radios

Computer-controlled HF radios are becoming readily available and more powerful. Companies like Elad, Icom, and WinRadio are producing such products.

The concept is that the receiving electronics are inside an undistinguished plastic or metal box, and a connection to a computer allows control of the radio through software. External antennas seem like a necessity here. I can immediately conjure up a list of advantages over self-contained portable or tabletop radios:

* Larger area available for user interface, only limited by the computer screen size
* A radio without a screen or control panel can be smaller and cheaper to produce
* Controls won't break or wear out
* User interface problems can be resolved by a software update
* Support for decoding digital signals may be integrated already, or added to the software later
* Unit could be powered by the computer (although I don't know if enough power is available this way)
* Computer can provide advanced DSP capability
* Easy management and browsing of station memories and broadcast schedules
* Easy to control remotely
* Easy logging

But these radios just don't appeal to me. I find that I want to spend time away from computers, as I work with them all day long already. So grabbing a radio and existing within that world, at least for a short time, is a perfect escape.

09 March 2006

eton s350dl for us$100

Anyone looking for an Eton S350DL should visit Eton Corporation where they can be ordered for US$100, the same price as the Grundig S350. No idea if this is temporary or permanent, or what it could mean about future products.

Note that the S350DL is very similar to the Tecsun BCL-3000, except for the speaker size, outer casing, and labeling. Tecsun radios are often available on eBay.

Edit: Radiointel.com points out that the headphones are not included in the $100 package.

08 March 2006

radio taiwan international recording

I recorded Radio Taiwan International last night with my E5. There was fading, but I improved the audio somewhat with post-processing.

This recording explains Taiwan's viewpoint on China/Taiwan relations. Anyone reading this who hasn't yet heard a shortwave broadcast can get a feel for it -- just know that better reception is possible.

rti_08mar2006_0300utc.mp3 - 4.3mb, 18 min 41 sec

05 March 2006

tips for shortwave radio beginners

Shortwave radio listening requires research, exploration, and experience to achieve the best results. It's frustrating, although common, to hear static after turning on a shortwave receiver. When that happens, you need to draw the correct conclusions and react. At least you know that the radio will power on and that the volume is at a good level.

These pointers won't solve all of your problems, but they're a great place to start. Newcomers to shortwave will gain a basic framework for successful operation of a shortwave receiver. Others have put together similar tips; these are simply my recommendations.

* Test shortwave reception with a time station. WWV, WWVH, and CHU broadcast 24 hours a day, providing convenient reference signals. See the radio clock page on Wikipedia for more information.

* Learn which frequencies work best at a particular time of day. Wikipedia's shortwave page says: "During the day, higher shortwave frequencies (> 10 MHz) can travel longer distances than lower; at night, this property is reversed."

* Learn about band scanning. Most shortwave broadcasters use frequencies within ranges known as broadcast bands. The broadcast bands are listed on Wikipedia's shortwave page. Some digitally-tuned radios will only scan within these bands by default. Other radios might not have continuous shortwave tuning, and only include some of the broadcast bands. Stations occasionally exist outside these bands, however. For example, WBCQ uses 7415 khz which is technically outside the 41 meter band (7100 - 7300 khz).

* Focus on antenna placement. Broadcasts targeted to your location might be usable with just a built-in telescopic whip antenna. Radios may also come with a wire antenna that can be hung by a window, placed outdoors, or oriented to improve reception. Try for the best possible reception with the built-in antenna first, then determine if a wire antenna provides a benefit.

* Learn about and use UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). If your radio has a built-in clock, set it to UTC. This will be a convenient UTC reference when checking shortwave broadcast schedules. If your radio supports switching between local time and UTC, set the clock to local time after specifying your timezone.

* Use online shortwave schedules. The shortest broadcast I've received so far is a 15-minute broadcast by the Voice of Croatia. Most shortwave broadcasts last approximately 1-3 hours. I frequently use and recommend www.primetimeshortwave.com and www.hfradio.org. I'm not familiar with books such as the World Radio TV Handbook or Passport to World Band Radio, but perhaps some readers will comment on these.

* Understand, avoid, and eliminate interference. Most people can go to a store, purchase a radio, plug it in, turn the tuning dial, and easily hear lots of AM (mediumwave) and FM stations clearly at any time of day. Shortwave signals tend to be weaker, can come from very far away, and are more prone to interference. Shortwave interference comes from things like fluorescent lights, dimmer switches, electric wiring inside a home or office, computers, microwaves, televisions, wireless phones, electric motors, and BPL (broadband over power lines).

* If you're unhappy with shortwave reception indoors, put fresh or charged batteries in your radio and take it outside, if it is portable. Certain building materials like concrete and steel will block signals and make indoor reception difficult. Move at least 15 feet (about 4.5 meters) away from buildings and power lines. Look for as much open sky as possible.

* Shortwave propagation is dependent on the ionosphere and solar conditions, so check the current propagation conditions. The lower the Kp index, the better. Signals will also be weakened by moisture in the atmosphere.

* Create and print a page of shortwave information when going outside or traveling. Include the broadcast band frequency ranges, interference sources, and the frequencies and schedules of broadcasts you've received before. My cheat sheet is folded up and tucked inside my reception report notebook. Traveling can provide interesting results for shortwave reception because of the opportunity to receive different broadcasts. Even just when stepping outside with a radio, it helps to carry some information that typically resides on a computer.

* Log your receptions for future reference. Keep a notebook and pen handy to write down the time, frequency, station name, and anything interesting about the broadcasts you hear.

* Edit: And for those interested in number stations, head to the Enigma 2000 group on Yahoo.

02 March 2006

radio havana cuba in reverse

Last September, I heard Radio Havana Cuba play a broadcast tape backwards at the top of the hour. I mentioned this again in a recent rec.radio.shortwave thread. Usenet poster HFguy replied with this:

"The backwards tape process is/was used to send a program to another site where it was recorded. It was sent backwards so the tape didn't have to be rewound before playing it on the air."

On the subject of Radio Havana Cuba's on-time performance, usenet poster running dogg had this to say:

"Radio Havana is NEVER on time. Sometimes they'll start the hour five minutes early, sometimes five minutes late. And it's never predictable, either, they could be early for a few days, then late for a week. Why this is is anybody's guess. Maybe it's the laziness that's epidemic in communist countries. Nothing gets done right, nothing gets done on time, a lot of it never gets done at all. Everybody has a guaranteed job and guaranteed pay, so nobody feels the need to perform."