31 August 2007

any labor day radio deals?

I'm on the lookout this weekend for radio discounts, which I'll post about in the comments section if I find. You're invited to join in the hunt!

29 August 2007

shortwave summary, aug 2007 (part 1)

Since I moved almost 2 years ago, a majority of my shortwave reception has been from the comfort of my living room. I can sit at a table, with a loop antenna hanging in the window, and write in a notebook with ease. When I'm out on a walk, however, I'm carefully holding both my radio and notebook with one hand, and a pen with the other. I'm writing while I'm walking, which produces results that challenge the eye. Here's what I can relay to you from my recent radio walks in northern California with my Kaito KA1102.

Received stations:
* China Radio International
* Radio Havana Cuba
* Voice of America
* Voice of Russia

* 15 Aug 2007, 0340 UTC, 13635 khz (Voice of Russia): Discussing the life of a music composer. Strong signal.

* 0400 UTC, 6080 khz (China Radio International): There's an upcoming summit between North and South Korea. China is enhancing its relations with Kyrgyzstan. A bridge collapse in China killed 29 people. Terrorism is suspected in the Russian train derailment. China praised Kyrgyzstan for its stance on "the Taiwan question." Investigators were working to determine the cause of the bridge collapse. During that segment, the announcer pronounced the word debris as "DEB-ree". The Korean summit will be Aug 28-30. The Russian train bomb attack injured 60 people, and the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device. Heavy fighting continued in Tripoli. (Really? That's the first I've heard of it.)

Young people in Shanghai with incomplete education and lack of funds can now seek vocational training. Increased wealth in China has created demand for financial planners. Transportation and logistics problems for the Beijing olympics opening ceremonies were discussed. Olympic equestrian events will be held in Hong Kong. Beijing weather: 23-32C (73-90F), cloudy but clearing later.

* 0430 UTC: I took the opportunity to check several time station frequencies: 5 mhz: WWVH faint; WWV medium. 10 mhz: WWVH faint; WWV faint. 15 mhz: WWVH faint. 3330 khz: CHU faint. 7335 khz: CHU medium.

* 23 Aug 2007, 0315 UTC, 8400 khz ssb: I heard some conversation in a foreign language (my memory suggests it could have been Spanish). I couldn't zero-beat the signal, and wasn't sure of the correct frequency.

* 0400 UTC, 6020 / 6080 khz (China Radio International): Chinese music. "From Beijing, this is CRI." Water safety for urban areas. (How about plane safety?) Mine flooding was a natural disaster. Illegal gambling rackets have reappeared in rural areas. A suicide truck bomber struck north of Baghdad. Four crew and 10 soldiers died in a Black Hawk crash. Security has been tightened in Manila due to terrorist attack fears. Special CRI events are coming in September.

I couldn't stick with this signal on either of the two frequencies due to signal weakness and fading. It seemed to be a tough evening for shortwave reception in general.

* 0409 UTC, 9575 khz (Voice of America): "Daybreak Africa" show. Talks to end the 4-year conflict in Darfur could begin in October. The talks would have to cover wealth (from oil production), power sharing, and humanitarian concerns. "Voice of America" identification heard. Sexual minorities in Uganda have suffered abuse and want to be left alone. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and can result in life imprisonment. Kenya rejected a law that would have required journalists to reveal their sources. Kenya's president was lauded for the decision to not sign the law. The law was referred to as a threat to Kenya's democracy.

Cabinet changes were made in Liberia. The moves were intended to improve the government's performance. Daybreak Africa sports (no details were logged). Toys from China containing lead-based paint are resulting in massive recalls. A USA-based toy train maker is enjoying a boost in orders. "The number of inspectors is so few... you can't physically do it." Someone gave the advice to not boycott everything from China, but to address the holes in the system. Factory inspections have increased in China.

One of India's car makers will roll out the world's cheapest car next year at a price around 100,000 rupees (approximately US$2400). The car will feature 4-5 seats and a mostly plastic body. It does not yet have a name. (Feel free to reply here with suggestions!) The manufacturer is counting on huge sales volume. Increased car ownership would worsen air quality.

Hurricane Dean reached central Mexico; it is now classified as a tropical depression. One hundred Mexican oil rigs were evacuated. "VOA Washington D.C. signing off."

* 0500 UTC, 6000 / 9550 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): Mailbag show tonight. 14 people killed in downed helicopter, Bush warns of "another Vietnam", Hurricane Dean. President Bush said that withdrawal from Iraq could trigger a bloodbath.

I couldn't continue listening to Radio Havana Cuba due to weak signals.

21 August 2007

mailbag: eton s350dl replacement

Here's a question that was posted a few weeks ago to my general comments and questions page. I hope the original poster is still seeking advice; sorry for the lag time.

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

Many radio fans like the Redsun RP2100 / Kaito KA2100 for its strong reception, drift-free digital tuning, and audio quality. It may still be too early to comment on its durability. This site collected user reviews for the RP2100 / KA2100. Also worth noting is that C.Crane is selling an RP2100 look-alike that has been modded with their twin coil ferrite antenna, although I'm curious to learn if that is worth the extra cost.

Sangean and Tivoli make tabletop receivers that may provide more durability, but probably don't rank in the same category as either the S350DL or the RP2100/KA2100 for signal strength. I couldn't determine whether AM, FM, or shortwave was the top priority for the replacement.

Would anyone like to add detail or recommend another radio?

20 August 2007

volume problem with my sony portable

In a previous post, I mentioned that I've been using a Sony ICF S10MK2 around the house. A single pair of alkaline AA batteries lasted for over a year, with the radio being used for an hour or more on most days. I continue to use it mostly for AM, and rarely extend the telescopic antenna.

Now, even with relatively fresh batteries, the radio still occasionally exhibits a problem that I previously attributed to weak batteries. Adjusting the radio's volume sometimes produces scratchy noise, and the output volume is sometimes unstable. Does this problem sound familiar? I imagine that the volume control, which also turns the radio on and off, is susceptible to wear.

As proof that this is an imperfect world, the problem fails to reproduce while I sit here writing about it.

19 August 2007

voa closing its delano, california facility

The Voice of America will close its Delano, California facility in October. Many broadcasts have been served to me from the transmitters in Delano, from the Voice of America itself and Radio Thailand. This poses additional difficulties for shortwave listeners on the North American west coast.

The linked article mentions several challenges faced by the Delano operation: budgets, attracting and retaining talent, and dealing with endangered species on the facility's property.

17 August 2007

what happened to the grundig g1?

My memory tells me that the Universal Radio online catalog used to list a future product called the Grundig G1. It was visually identical to the Eton E1 except its enclosure was black instead of gray. I'd like to know if this product is still on the way.

12 August 2007

roadside transmitter logs, july 2007

During a couple roadtrips last month, I discovered some low-power roadside AM transmitters. Using a handheld device and repeated listens of the looping messages, I logged them and will reprint them here.

* (1680 khz) This is WPPD 481 broadcasting at 1680 khz from Pescadero, California. This information radio station is brought to you by the Pescadero municipal advisory council and the Pescadero emergency preparedness committee. Funding for this station was provided by a grant from the peninsula community foundation. When possible, this broadcast will be in English and in Spanish. If you have any comments or questions about this station, or would like to have something put on the air, call Larry Lawson at 879-#### or Kay Nelson at 879-####. You can also send us email at am1680@southcoast.net.

* (1610 khz) Welcome to spectacular Point Reyes National Seashore, one of over 380 areas administered by the National Park Service. The historic lighthouse located on the Point Reyes headlands offers dramatic views of the northern California coastline during clear weather, and an opportunity to visit the over 120-year-old lighthouse. The lighthouse visitor center and bookstore are open from 10 am to 4:30 pm Thursday through Monday. The 310 steps leading down to the lighthouse are also open from 10 am to 4:30 pm Thursday through Monday, but are closed for your safety when wind speeds exceed 40 miles per hour. Weather is unpredictable and changes quickly, so bring layers of warm clothing with you if you plan to walk to the lighthouse. Traveling to the lighthouse brings you through the pastoral zone of the park and the historic alphabet ranches established in the 1850s. These ranches offer a glimpse into the past. Originally, the entire peninsula was owned by the Shasta brothers law firm in San Francisco, and they used the letters of the alphabet to keep track of the parcels they rented out to tenant ranchers. Dairy and beef ranchers included Portuguese from the Azores, Irish, Italian, and Swiss; and they put Point Reyes on the map in the 19th century as a buttermaking region. In spring and summer, the lighthouse and chimney rock are excellent wildflower viewing areas. Please remember to leave behind beautiful displays for others to enjoy. The natural resources of the seashore are world-renowned. Over 490 species of birds have been seen on the peninsula, which accounts for over 45% of the species of birds in North America. The ocean waters off the headlands are one of the six most productive and biologically diverse areas on earth. While traveling through the seashore, please take note of the 16 am signs. There are different messages throughout the park, so please tune in for additional information and education. While enjoying all of these natural wonders, please be careful while visiting the seashore. We want your visit to be a safe one. Transmitter KPB 749.

08 August 2007

radio on video

This is an experimental page for hosting a Youtube video player targeted to interesting radio topics. I will initially leave comments enabled here in case you would like to voice your opinion on this feature of my site. Hope you enjoy it!

In case the automatically-selected videos above are of little interest, here are some hand-selected shortwave radio clips:

Shortwave Radio Station Pridnestrovie (PMR)

Shortwave Radio Station Belarus

Number station E03

Number station V02

Bandscan Shortwave 4mhz to 10mhz

Possible numbers station?

Number Station in Spanish - V2a ... poor audio but it shows a Kaito 1102 :)