31 August 2009

shortwave summary, august 2009

My shortwave listening activities have increased recently, and I have reception logs to share. I used to do this on a regular basis here, but alas, times have changed. Recently, I've been using my Eton E5, Kaito KA1102, Grundig G3, and Tecsun PL-350 radios, along with an indoor 30-foot random wire antenna. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, the disappointing Grundig G3 was returned to sender.

Received stations:
• BPM time station (unconfirmed)
• Firedrake
• NHK Radio Japan
• Radio Havana Cuba
• Radio Taiwan International
• Voice of America
• Voice of Turkey
• WWV / WWVH time stations

• 25 Jul 2009, 0500 UTC, 2500 / 5000 / 10000 / 15000 / 20000 kHz (WWV / WWVH): I heard time station broadcasts on all of these frequencies at the same time. Good propagation conditions?

• 1250 UTC, 5000 / 10000 kHz (WWV / WWVH / BPM): I heard beeps once per second that were slightly offset from the WWV/WWVH ticks. Maybe I was hearing the BPM station from China.

• 1400 UTC, 5875 kHz (BBC): This English broadcast to Asia was weak with fading. The announcer discussed the famous Beatles' Abbey Road album artwork.

• 1416 UTC, 9760 kHz (Voice of America): This broadcast was weak and noisy. They played a quote of Obama saying that this is "the beginning of the end of the recession." A homerun by Alex Rodriguez ended the epic 15-inning game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

• 09 Aug 2009, 0500 UTC, 6010 kHz (Radio Havana Cuba): "This is Radio Havana Cuba." Why does their intro music sound like a lullaby? Generally, I like their bumper music, as well as the Cuban music that they play to fill each half hour of their broadcasts. The leadership crisis in Honduras is impacting the poorest members of the nation. Hugo Chavez claims that the USA wants to incite war between Venezuela and Colombia. Evictions of Palestinians in Israel is blocking progress towards peace. The "Skull and Bones" secret society from Yale University claims it stole some of Geronimo's remains. Ed Newman still neglects to say "dot" after "www" when giving a URL on the air.

Viewpoint segment: The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945. Bombing survivors continue to die from radiation exposure, although some are dying from old age. The commentator called the USA "one of the main enemies of life and peace." A Japanese word, hibakusha, is used to describe the atomic bombing survivors. It literally means "a person who has been bombed." Approximately 250,000 hibakusha are alive today. This segment was extremely critical of the USA, which Radio Havana Cuba is always willing to do, and focused on the gruesome results of the bombings. It was difficult to hear.

Arnie Coro's DXers unlimited: 28 consecutive days without a sunspot. Meteor showers are expected, because the Earth is going through a comet debris field. Meteor showers produce favorable ionization for amateur DXing. The 3B7 DXpedition will take place at St. Brandon island. The 3D2 DXpedition will take place on Conway Reef. Arnie talked about harmonic hunters, and referred to harmonics as "non-essential radiation." The maximum usable frequency is around 21 MHz due to the lack of sunspots. "73 and very good DX!" Even though I'm not yet an amateur radio operator, Arnie's enthusiasm and compelling delivery create a very enjoyable show.

• 10 Aug 2009, 0301 UTC, 5950 kHz (Radio Taiwan International): Typhoon Morakot news. More rain is coming; some areas are already flooded. The military has ben mobilized for disaster relief. Most damage is in the south of Taiwan. Temperatures around Taipei will be 26-32C tomorrow. When I heard this shortwave broadcast, typhoon Morakot was not yet widely covered by the mainstream news.

The health minister resigned to run for another office. H1N1 flu continues to spread. However, the approach has gone from containment and quarantine to detection and prevention. August 6 and August 9 mark the anniversaries of atomic bombings in Japan by the USA.

For the health beat segment, a childbirth expert was interviewed. It was rather boring. Pizza delivery has been very popular in Taiwan after the typhoon, and this will be the subject of a Chinese language lesson. After the first example phone call, the announcer asked, "now, will the pizza be delivered in 30 minutes? Probably not, because the guy forgot to request the address!" That was a fun segment, even though I don't aspire to learn the language. I wasn't clear on what dialect of Chinese was being used, but they likely used Mandarin.

• 12 Aug 2009, 0526 UTC, 6010 kHz (Radio Havana Cuba): "The Cuban Five...they will return!"

On a night when 49-meter broadcasts from Sackville (NHK Radio Japan and China Radio International) and Okeechobee (Radio Taiwan International) are coming in poorly, Cuba's broadcast is coming in clear and strong. It's a Caribbean victory!

• 24 Aug 2009, 0327 UTC, 5890 kHz (WWCR): For the last few days, I've been targeting the WWCR broadcasts so I could send them a reception report and request a QSL card. I don't enjoy listening to religious programming otherwise. When I tuned in, the pastor was telling his congregation how their "little church" could have a greater influence. He said that two things move the heart: music, and preaching. "Acupuncture does not work nearly as well on western men as it does on eastern men." "Want to be different? I'll stick a big ring in my nose, or my lip." The signal was fading and distorting, so it was difficult to follow the broadcast. I'm not certain how the acupuncture and body piercing came up, but he was trying to make a point that I missed.

I got identification in a few different forms. First, I heard the pastor say "This is pastor Peters." Then I heard an advertisement for a book called "America the Conquered" by Peter J. Peters. And at the top of the hour, I heard the station identification: "WWCR, Nashville Tennessee, USA."

• 0538 UTC, 6010 kHz (Radio Havana Cuba): During the mailbag show, Ed Newman once again laments that most of their letters and emails come from males, so the mailbag show is really the male-bag show.

• 28 Aug 2009, 0512 UTC, 6110 kHz (NHK Radio Japan): What to do when contracting the flu. China is arguing about the Dalai Lama's planned visit to Taiwan. Power-generating rice paddys.

NHK's signal was weak, fading, and suffering from local interference. The noise was affecting much of the 60m, 49m, and 41m bands, although a stronger Radio Havana Cuba broadcast on 6060 kHz was usable. I also tuned in too late to catch the top headlines. There's a lot going on in Asia right now, and I'd like to get more local perspective.

• 30 Aug 2009, 0303 UTC, 7325 kHz (Voice of Turkey): This was my first substantial Voice of Turkey reception. Unfortunately the signal strength was only moderate, and I was receiving a lot of noise. I was surprised to learn that this transmission came from Sackville, because I would have expected a stronger signal from there. I'm definitely missing that Delano transmitter. The broadcast was also plagued with random moments of silence that didn't sound like traditional fading problems. Based on the way the interruptions happened, I suspect that the problem was with the Sackville transmitter site, or with content delivery from the Voice of Turkey studios.

This station sure identifies frequently. I heard the "Voice of Turkey" identification at least seven times during the hour-long broadcast.

Among the news stories reported in this broadcast: Afghanistan is tallying the results from their recent presidential election, and results are expected next week. The U.S. government is releasing two prisoners from the Guantanamo prison. The station's website was given as www.trtenglish.com .

The Turkish music in this broadcast was the best part, and unfortunately, the poor signal quality hindered enjoyment of the music. The broadcast essentially ended at 0350 UTC; below is a video of the piano music that repeated to fill the remainder of the hour.

• 0735 UTC, 9000 kHz: I spent a lot of time trying to pull down a very weak music signal. When the signal strengthened, I recognized the loud oriental orchestral music; the trademark of the Firedrake jammer. A schedule check shows 9000 kHz as a Sound of Hope frequency, which Firedrake regularly targets. I used to hear Firedrake a lot, but this is most likely my first reception of it during 2009. Have they reduced transmitter power?

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