26 January 2007

recent qsl failures

I have seen recent comments about QSLs, which reminded me to check the progress of reception reports that I recently sent to shortwave broadcasters. I have some new mailings that I hope to photograph and share with you soon. However, there are also some overdue QSLs:

* All India Radio: reception report submitted via a webform on 21 October 2006 (not very long ago; I'm still hopeful)

* Caribbean Beacon: reception report sent to Anguilla via postal mail on 04 September 2006 (I guess the dollar I sent for postage was taken as a donation by the estate of Dr. Gene Scott)

* Radio Thailand: three reception reports emailed to HSK9 on 30 September 2006 (who knows what's going on in Thailand?)

* Voice of America: I emailed them a reception report on 07 October 2006 along with a request for a 2007 calendar. I got a QSL before the end of the year, but they noted that calendars were not yet available. How about now? Doesn't anyone care about January anymore?!

21 January 2007

fcc responds to sirius / xm merger rumor

Here's a follow-up on a previously discussed rumor about Sirius and XM merging into one satellite radio company:

* Sirius, XM can't merge: FCC chief

20 January 2007

usenet summary: qsls and ircs

This article summarizes a recent useful thread on the rec.radio.shortwave usenet newsgroup. The thread was about sending IRCs (international reply coupons) to shortwave broadcasters so that they would reply with a QSL card. The thread was titled "Why can't I buy any IRCs at the P.O.?"

Terry first posted:
I've tried to buy IRC's (International Reply Coupons) at the local P.O., even though they have them, they won't sell them! Their screen says: "Not For Sale" when they are scanned.

This has happened at the main Helena, MT P.O. and Tuesday at the Missoula, MT P.O. Anyone else experiencing this problem?BTW, these are the new ones good until 2009.

Someone identified as Tester replied with:
Try the attached link to email a complaint to the USPS. ...

It seems to work. Once, when I tried it to complain that the self-service area of my local PO was closed at 8:15 A.M. when it was supposed to open at 7 A.M. I got a phone call from the head of that PO in a day or two.

If you need more than a very small ammount (sic) of return postage from any one country you might consider one of those ham services that sells mint non-philatelic stamps. They're quite a bit cheaper than IRC's and the recipient doesn't have to chase down the only post office branch in the province which redeems IRC's, thus speeding your QSL.

A poster named David gave this interesting tidbit:
The IRCs are often useless to the recipient. I recall in 1963 when I answered over 100 reception reports of HJED in Cali, Colombia, that the engineers had hundreds of IRCs, unused. They said that it was hard or impossible to exchange them, so they just stuffed them in an envelope.

In Ecuador, where stamps were sold at private Kiosks outside th epost office (sic), it was essentially impossible to do an exchange for postage.

It's probably better to send nothing than an IRC except to established international broadcasters who know how to deal with them.

17 January 2007

possible redsun rp3000 release date

A kind, anonymous weblog visitor left this link on my comment page:


An image on that page lists RP3000 features, and there's an email response from Redsun with their expected release date.

15 January 2007

update on fidel castro's condition

Many of you probably learned this from the mass media. I'm posting it anyway because this story could affect the future of Radio Havana Cuba.
Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in "very grave" condition after three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection, a Spanish newspaper said Tuesday.

Full story: Castro's condition "very grave"

14 January 2007

mediumwave logs, east coast, december 2006

Do you North American east-coasters have any idea how much easier mediumwave DX is for you? While there, I would often tune into a station and get a clear identification within 10 minutes. States along the east coast are smaller, so stations seemed to be from all over the place. In California, I can identify a mediumwave station 500 miles away, but it's still in California. Where's the fun in that?

I went to the east coast for the holidays last month, and my Eton E5 came along. Unfortunately, I grabbed the wrong set of rechargeable batteries, because they quit working after about an hour. "Batteries, don't fail me now!" I wrote, when I saw the battery meter drop down to two bars.

I was in northern New York, with my E5 running on fresh alkalines. I think the biggest weakness of the Eton E5 for mediumwave DX is that tuning off the main frequency dramatically increases the noise level. I am not sure what causes this; it could be IBOC sideband signals or just plain adjacent channel interference. Anyone have ideas about this?

Here are the highlights of my mediumwave DX attempts:

570: Strong english. "Isn't it about time you tried Viagra?" "We are news radio WSYR 570, Syracuse." (WSYR; Syracuse, NY; 5 kW)

580: "This is CFR news." Ottawa, strong english. (CFRA; Ottawa, ON, Canada; 50 kW day, 10 kW night)

600: Laura Bush's skin cancer. Joe Barbera (cartoonist) left us. Faint english. "Looking for something special for Christmas? How about a grand piano?" "You're listening to the big one - 600 WICZ." Uh, okay, I can't find a listing for this station at either fcc.gov or radio-locator.com . Connecticut has WICC, but it's a 1/0.5 kW station, so why would it identify as the big one? WICZ is the callsign of a television station.

610: "Eastern New Jersey." "Tailgate City USA." Address in NJ, "minutes from both bridges." "Sports radio 610, WIP." (WIP; Philadelphia, PA; 5 kW)

620: Strong english. Football. Cincinnati Bengals / ________ Colts. (Indianapolis Colts, in fact.) "Sports radio 620, WHEN Syracuse." (WHEN; Syracuse, NY; 5 kW day, 1 kW night)

640: "AM 640 (sir monta?) radio." Heard it four times but I didn't understand. Maybe "toronto radio?" (CFMJ; Toronto, ON, Canada; 50 kW)

660: Medium strength english. Football: Bengals / Colts. Fading. "Second and long." Seems to be east/west. "Monday night football on westwood one." "WFAN New York." (WFAN; New York, NY; 50 kW)

680: Sports. A commercial with a .ca website. "All news radio." Jumbled. Traffic on the 401. Toronto weather. "680 news." Top 5 albums of the week in Canada. (CFTR; Toronto, ON, Canada; 50 kW)

700: "700 WLW." (WLW; Cincinnati, OH; 50 kW). Well, that was easy.

720: Speaking to a Holocaust survivor who lost his parents but escaped with his sister to Holland. Station address: 435 North Michigan Avenue. 591-7200 (phone number). Signal is medium to faint. Evacuation at northern Illinois hospital. "Outbound Eisenhower is slow." "WGN forecast." "Weather voice of Chicago, WGN." (WGN; Chicago, IL; 50 kW)

740: Strong english. "AM 740." Don Franks, 'round midnight. Clock factory ad. 416 area code (Toronto). Christmas music from the 1930s. Nice jazz! "From Toronto, AM 740" ... "Welcome to the all-night jukebox." (CHWO; Toronto, ON, Canada; 50 kW)

750: Strong english. Muslims in Atlanta. Dressing up in full burqa and walking around in a mall to gauge reactions. "wsbradio.com." (WSB; Atlanta, GA; 50 kW)

760: Detroit. "News talk 760 WJI" (or WJR?) (WJR; Detroit, MI; 50 kW)

780: Strong english - religious. Advertising homes in Lake Geneva. Ad for Skokie/Highland Park. WBBM. "wbbm780.com." "Bears radio, news radio." Chicago? (WBBM; Chicago, IL; 50 kW)

790: Strong english. Christmas music. "790 WTNY mitten tree." (WTNY; Watertown, NY; 1 kW)

800: Medium-strength country music. "Q country." (CJBQ; Belleville, ON, Canada; 10 kW)

810: Medium-strength english. OJ book deal canceled. Boder patrol agents facing prison time, should get pardoned by President Bush. Rollie James show (sp?) with so many in-show commercials! She talked about a radio turntable, for "when you're DXing AM." Pajamagram.com, C.Crane, Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Pepsi Arena. "810 WGY, Schenectady/Albany". (WGY; Schenectady, NY; 50 kW)

840: "84 WHAS." Fox news radio - Laura Bush had skin cancer tumor removed from shin. (WHAS; Louisville, KY; 50 kW)

870: Strong english. CBS news. Successful spacewalk to repair solar panels on the space station. Death of Barbera in Los Angeles. Fading. "Newstalk 870 WHCU." (WHCU; Ithaca, NY; 5 kW day, 1 kW night)

890: Medium-strength english. The jewelry exchange. Chicago weather at O'Hare. WLS. "WLS news." "Chicago's talk station." (WLS; Chicago, IL; 50 kW)

920: "AM 920 CKNX." Toronto hockey. Other stations are here too but CKNX is dominating the frequency. (CKNX; Wingham, ON, Canada; 10 kW day, 1 kW night)

930: "WBEN"-BCN,BZN? Weak-n-jumbled. (WBEN; Buffalo, NY; 5 kW)

940: "Every day on Montreal today." "The new 940 Montreal." Coast to Coast AM. Cool bumper music. Art Bell (is it a recording?) (CINW; Montreal, QC, Canada; 50 kW)

950: Strong english. "purplepages.com". "Winter in Central New York." Utica address in advertisement. Lars Larson. "Talk radio 950 WIES". I guess I got the callsign wrong. (WIBX; Utica, NY; 5 kW)

960: Strong clear english. Kingston mentioned in an ad. Hockey game at the Air Canada center. "They were good, we were horseshit." -- Paul Maurice, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "oldies960.com". The Maple Leafs lost to the Florida Panthers. Saturn of Belleville advertisement. "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." "Oldies 960... AM 960 CFFX". (CFFX; Kingston, ON, Canada; 10 kW day, 5 kW night)

970: Faint. Loveline. "You know what a glory hole is?" (Possibly WZAN; not enough data to confirm.)

990: Sports. Medium strength; jumbled, fading. Allen Iverson is happy with the deal. "Sportscenter every 20 minutes. ESPN radio." (Possibly WTIG; CKGM. Thanks to Jon for suggesting CKGM.)

1000: English. Chicago team - ad. 708 areacode in ad. absolutepoker.net. "absolutepoker.net is not a gambling website." Oh, I see. They just let you download the poker app. Sports talk? Jim Rome? Yes. "Live from Southern California... Premier Radio Networks." T.O. fined $35k for spitting in someone's face. He admitted it after the game but later changed his story. Carmelo Anthony in trouble.

1010: "Newstalk 1010 CFRB." (CFRB; Toronto, ON, Canada; 50 kW)

1020: Strong english. "Matt Damon is a horrible guy." "1020 KDKA, the voice of Pittsburgh." Bill O'Reilly show. Yuck. CNN headlines. (KDKA; Pittsburgh, PA; 50 kW)

1030: Soft, clean english. 617 areacode. Should the first lady have any expectation of privacy? "He's next on WBG." (Actually, it's WBZ.) (WBZ; Boston, MA; 50 kW)

1060: English. "Join other Pennsylvania homeowners."- ad. "Delaware valley." "KYW news radio." (KYW; Philadelphia, PA; 50 kW)

1070: "Information radio, 1070 CHOK." (CHOK; Sarnia, ON, Canada; 10 kW)

1080: English, politics talk. "WTIC news talk 1080." Sean Hannity show. (WTIC; Hartford, CT; 50 kW)

1090: JT. Sports talk. CBS news. No sign of the 2 climbers on Mount Hood in Oregon. "AM 1090 WBAL Baltimore." (WBAL; Baltimore, MD; 50 kW)

1100: Strong english. George Noory? Yes it is. Doors, "Come on baby, light my fire." Italian dining in Macedonia. Ohio? WTAM.com. "WTAM 1100 Cleveland." (WTAM; Cleveland, OH; 50 kW)

1110: Strong english. Predicting Hilary will win. Neil Bort show of government outrage. "Newstalk 1110 WBT." WBT.com. (WBT; Charlotte, NC; 50 kW)

1130: Financial talk. Executive pay, Wall Street. Bloomberg rewind. Holland/Lincoln tunnel. GW bridge; traffic for NYC. "Five boroughs." "Bloomberg 1130." (WBBR; New York, NY; 50 kW)

1140: English, jumbled. "1140 WRVA forecast." WRVA.com. (WRVA; Richmond, VA; 50 kW)

1150: "1150 ?KOC." ... "CKOC." (CKOC; Hamilton, ON, Canada; 50 kW)

1170: Religious. "This is why people are not getting saved." "Radio bible hour...Jesus never fails." Midnight shift miners news. I've never heard this before! "Midnight shift...(place)...will work as scheduled." Mining bulletin board. "This is the big one - news radio 1170 WWVA." Does every AM station have to identify as "the big one"? (WWVA; Wheeling, WV; 50 kW)

1190: Religious. "WLIB." "1190 WLIB." (WLIB; New York, NY; 10 kW day, 30 kW night)

1210: English. Survey about pre-marital sex using government data. 45% of Americans had pre-marital sex. "Your tax dollars paid for the collection of data." "Here in Philadelphia on Big Talker 1210." Strong, clear signal. "The big talker 1210, WPHT." (WPHT; Philadelphia, PA; 50 kW)

1290: "News talk 1290 CJBK." (CJBK; London, ON, Canada; 10 kW)

1300: 702 areacode. Ronnie Duncan. "Cleveland's news talk 1300 WERE." (WERE; Cleveland, OH; 5 kW)

1320: Christmas jazz music. Also a french broadcast on the same frequency. "1320 WJAS Pittsburgh." CNN radio. (WJAS; Pittsburgh, PA; 5 kW)

1380: Taylor auto mall ad. Kingston. Memorial cup. "The limestone city." "1380 CKLC." (CKLC; Kingston, ON, Canada; 10 kW)

1500: Strong english. Massachusetts politician. Possible republican presidential candidates. "Right here on Washington Post radio." Jim Bohannon show. Light fading. "Washington Post radio ... 1500 AM." (WTWP; Washington, D.C.; 50 kW) <- there's your representation

1520: Southwest airlines. Green Bay Packers game. Strong signal. Same game (but with slight delay) on 1530 khz. This should be interesting. Packers vs. Vikings. 6-0 in the third. 8 penalties for Minnesota. Vikings go ahead 7-6 with a TD return on interception. Thursday night football on Westwood one. Still no station id... no id in over an hour is so lame! Got id finally. Packers win 9-7. "AM 1520 WWKB Buffalo ... Buffalo's left channel ... 50,000 watts." (WWKB; Buffalo, NY; 50 kW)

1530: Toyota dealer: Cincinnati/northern Kentucky. "1530 Homer, the sports animal." (WCKY; Cincinnati, OH; 50 kW)

1560: Strong music station. Odd christmas song - hiphop style. Radio Disney. (WQEW; New York, NY; 50 kW)

1650: Old Navy commercial. Radio Disney? (WHKT; Portsmouth, VA; 10 kW day, 1 kW night)


Stations identified: 48

States/districts/provinces logged: 16
* Connecticut
* District of Columbia
* Georgia
* Illinois
* Kentucky
* Massachusetts
* Maryland
* Michigan
* North Carolina
* New York
* Ohio
* Pennsylvania
* Virginia
* West Virginia
* Ontario
* Quebec

Locations of furthest stations, with distance estimates:
* Atlanta, Georgia (900 miles)
* Charlotte, North Carolina (700 miles)
* Cincinnati, Ohio (600 miles)
* Chicago, Illinois (700 miles)
* Louisville, Kentucky (700 miles)
* Richmond, Virginia (500 miles)

11 January 2007

new eton website and findings

Have you seen the new Eton website? I like the updated design, and the interface is fairly sensible. Here's a few of the things I found while browsing the new pages:

* There's a new logo, which drops the unnecessary italics of the previous logo
* Products are grouped more sensibly now, including pages for Eton, Grundig, American Red Cross-branded, Sirius, and XM
* The S350DL product page includes a color widget that redraws the radio whenever the user mouses over a color
* Product photos look appealing but are not useful for showing detail
* The shortwave tutorial is now online; this is often included in their product manuals
* They offer Airwaves, a PDF in newsletter format that showcases Eton products
* Previously-announced Porsche products, P'7131 and P'7132, are nowhere to be found. Porsche is presently excluded from the "Brand Partners" page. Although, on the company's "Story" page, they claim that new Eton/Porsche products will launch in 2007
* Website search results, powered by Google, do not really indicate the type of information or the type of page. For example, I searched for "E1". Four links were in the results, and each were listed with different titles, but the same url: www.etoncorp.com . That's not very helpful!

I found this odd error on the "Story" page:
"1993: Etón launches the Grundig Yacht Boy 400, a small AM/FM/shortwave radio at an entry-level price point. Etón also launches the Grundig Yacht Boy 400, a small AM/FM/shortwave radio at an entry-level price point."

08 January 2007

rp2100 / ka2100 user reviews

The Redsun RP2100 / Kaito KA2100 radio is generating a very high level of interest among radio enthusiasts. There seems to be more interest in the '2100 than there was in the Eton E5, which I find a bit surprising.

This posting is here to solicit your opinions on the '2100. I have decided to wait for the Redsun RP3000, which I hope will come to market during this year. Since I will be unable to give you an original review of the '2100, I'm hoping that some of you current and future owners of this new radio will share some comments here.

Your reviews don't have to be lengthy; sometimes a well-written sentence that describes the overall experience can be effective. Or if there are reviews submitted before your own, you might try to address an area that hasn't already been discussed. I hope you'll participate!

07 January 2007

jr.com and amazon connection

I noticed today that JR.com might not list products on Amazon anymore. In the past, sometimes J&R was the retailer with the lowest price on Amazon for some shortwave radios. But J&R is not currently listed as a retailer for either the Eton E1 or the Sony ICF SW7600GR, even though their own website lists both of those radios in stock. I emailed J&R to get the details. If you use Amazon to check shortwave radio prices, you may now have to visit J&R separately to check their prices.

04 January 2007

art simon's degen de1121 review

Here is Art Simon's Review of the Degen DE1121. Early in the review, he states that it performs worse than the Degen 1103. That indication, combined with the minimal storage space on the detachable mp3 player, means that I don't plan to get one.

Within the review, Art compares the 1121 with a radio+recording product from another company, Pogo's Radio Yourway. Owners of the 1121 may find Art's review helpful for the clear radio recording instructions he provides.

By the way, Art, hello neighbor!

will sirius acquire xm?

A story at Engadget references the New York Times and suggests that Sirius and XM may be on the path to a merger:

Sirius wooing XM into merging

Is this just the retelling of an old story? Maybe, but I haven't yet speculated on this subject, so here's my chance.

For those of you still reading, I found it interesting that Sirius has a larger market capitalization than XM. My perception until now was that XM was the major one and Sirius was more like a scrappy upstart.

What are the possible results of such a merger? Neither company is currently profitable, so the merged company would not be profitable right away. Without the need to compete for subscribers, though, advertising costs could decline. The combined company would not need to lie about subscribers by including the number of cars sold that included their receiver even when the purchaser did not activate the service. There could be less of a rush to link up with popular electronics manufacturers to exclusively handle one service or the other, allowing for more focus on providing an excellent experience for the users. Now I wonder when we'll see the new Eton Sound product line materialize.

How about the content? Each service has some unique channels that would likely survive a merger, such as the MLB and NFL channels. Howard Stern's channel would stick around, but things could get crowded for lesser personalities and formats. With less competition for content, the combined company might not have to pay their talent as much as they might have in a competitive market. That will only help when hiring new talent or when it comes time for contract renewals, though. Existing contracts still stand unless the individual companies were able to do sneaky things with their lawyers.

On behalf of all satellite radio enthusiasts, I'll hope that the combined company does not try to keep too many existing channels by squeezing even more channels into the limited bandwidth of just one of the two services, further degrading quality.

What about the satellites? Would one of the two services be effectively shut down to save costs, or would both services remain operational in a hybrid setting? This seems like a potential for financial losses: providing incentives to existing customers in the way of discounted or free electronics so that the combined company can achieve its goals faster. Or, shut down one service and realize a loss on the satellite investment for the other service.

XM and Sirius both hold satellite radio licenses issued by the FCC. Assuming the combined company only operates one of the two services going forward, would the merger allow for the sale of one of the two licenses, or would the FCC revoke one license and find a new buyer on its own?

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.

01 January 2007

qsl tip: a u.s. dollar for return postage?

Here's an informative post from Bjarne Mjelde to answer a question regarding QSL requests:

Should I send a 1 USD bill to Canadian stations for return postage?

I included a dollar for return postage with my reception report to the Caribbean Beacon. It was sent on September 4, 2006, and I have not received a reply.