30 September 2009

shortwave summary, september 2009

During September, I logged shortwave broadcasters while in various northern California locations. I've used my Tecsun PL-350 receiver with the telescopic whip, and with indoor random wire antennas while at home.

Received stations:
• Firedrake
• Radio Australia
• Radio Havana Cuba
• Radio Taiwan International
• China Radio International
• Voice of Turkey

• 02 Sep 2009, 0300 UTC, 7325 kHz (Voice of Turkey, via Sackville): Turkey and Armenia are working on establishing diplomatic relations, and it has become the top story in Turkish media. Greece fails to realize Turkey's capabilities, with regards to Cyprus negotiations. The 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan since WW2 will be called into question. Governments worldwide are seeking to replace the Kyoto protocol.

There are parallels in democratization in both Turkey and Iraq. Turkey and northern Iraq have economic ties, such as the two oil pipelines that run between the two countries. "Clearing Turkey and Iraq of terrorism is of paramount importance."

A significant portion of this hour-long show was taken up by two of the station's reporters (based in the capital, Ankara) speaking via telephone to one of the station's listeners in the United Kingdom. They spent the first few minutes talking about the weather. The listener will be visiting Turkey in November for about five days. He works in the hospitality industry, and complained about a lack of flexibility for vacation scheduling. He has listened to TRT for about 10 years, saying that TRT offers "what a shortwave listener is looking for." Somehow, they started talking about a French climber who climbs towers with his bare hands to raise awareness of climate change. According to the listener, 100-watt bulbs are now banned in the UK, but he suggested that "changing your lightbulbs is not going to save the world." Shortly after that, he said that "so many things in our life are unnecessary but convenient." They then discussed the Dugard kidnap/rape story from California. One of the reporters pointed out similarities with the Josef Fritzl case in Austria, and the situation was described as "worse than death" for the victim. However, "nothing really shocks society these days."

I had difficulty understanding this broadcast because the reporters were speaking fast and had heavy accents. In my logbook, I noted that I might understand them better if they would speak slower. Given that both of the Voice of Turkey receptions I've done in the past few weeks have ended with ten minutes of filler piano music, it seems to me that they have the time to speak slower. On the other hand, I'm happy that Voice of Turkey is able to use the Sackville transmitter and reach North America.

• 0400 UTC, 6020 kHz (China Radio International, via Sackville): "From Beijing, this is CRI, China Radio International." China plans to maintain relations with the new Japanese government; "China and Japan are important neighbors." The Sichuan-Tibet railway construction has been delayed by geographic challenges and lack of funds. Gas and diesel prices were increased for the sixth time this year, with the increase amounting to 4%. China and Uzbekistan have launched a new e-commerce platform. Chinese students have been instructed on H1N1 viral prevention prior to the start of the school year. Weather: Beijing, overcast, 17-28C. Showers in Bangkok and Tokyo. Clear in New York and Toronto.

Elsewhere in the world: Iran wants to ease fears about its nuclear program, and the USA has set a deadline at the end of September for nuclear talks. Poland and Russia are about to finalize a new oil contract. Myanmar needs to restore peace and stability so exiled citizens can return home. Many fled into China after the start of armed conflicts last week. In the USA, stocks fell for a third straight day. Government officials are meeting in Gdansk, Poland to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World War 2 outbreak. "Remembering the tragedies of the second world war." China is making an official visit to Cuba, and will go on to visit the Bahamas and the USA. China denied Indian reports that one of its helicopters crossed the border into India.

I didn't really understand the e-commerce deal between China and Uzbekistan. A dollar figure for the amount of trade between the two countries was announced, but it wasn't clear what the goods or services were, or who the major beneficiaries were either.

• 03 Sep 2009, 2308 UTC, 17795 kHz (Radio Australia): The reporter was speaking to someone about a recent earthquake somewhere. This signal was moderately strong, but fading. The priorities following the earthquake were obtaining food, drinking water, medical kits, and blankets. No temporary shelters were being planned; people were left to fend for themselves. There were 57 confirmed deaths, and the number was expected to grow. The presidential election in Afghanistan has been plagued with accusations of vote-rigging. If Karzai is re-elected, it could benefit the insurgence. "If Karzai continues to hold some power, he should not hold all the power." Two Khmer Rouge leaders are being investigated by a war crimes tribunal.

Okay, which earthquake was this that they were discussing?

• 04 Sep 2009, 0500 UTC, 6010 kHz (Radio Havana Cuba): Cuba is one of my focus countries for shortwave listening. Their signals are loud, I can copy them with ease, and there are lots of interesting segments and topics in their broadcasts.

Spanish music at the top of the hour, as if they're running late. Running behind schedule? Too busy setting up the number stations? Ah, the intro lullaby started at 0503 UTC. "This is Radio Havana Cuba." Washington stopped aid to Honduras after a meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ousted Honduran president Zelaya. It's part of a plan to restore constitutional order in Honduras. The US military is ending a contract with a public relations firm over criticism that embedded journalists covering conflicts in the middle east were being screened. The contract was first revealed about a week ago. Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Ho Chi Minh, which Radio Havana Cuba called "Southeast Asia's most important communist leader." He was inspired by the Russian revolution. Chevron was sued for dumping toxic waste in Ecuador's rainforest. There's reportedly a video of the judge in the case, involved in some dishonest dealings.

Low-wage workers in the United States have routinely been denied overtime pay and forced to work for less than minimum wage, according to a survey. "Blue dog" democrats got large campaign donations from the healthcare industry. (Lots of these stories make the USA look bad. It's no surprise to me that Radio Havana Cuba appears to have an agenda!)

China and Cuba are getting along very well and will continue working together. Someone from Cuba is making an official visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (you know, the poorly-named communist northern half). The viewpoint segment was about climate change, and mentioned an upcoming summit that will take place in Copenhagen in December. The reporter hopes that the summit won't just be a place for leaders to give speeches without making commitments. The Caribbean Outlook segment followed, although I didn't listen to it.

• 06 Sep 2009, 0200 UTC, 9680 kHz (Radio Taiwan International): I first tuned in to 5950 kHz, but found that frequency's signal to be relatively weak. 9680 kHz came in stronger, although it started fading out halfway through the hour-long broadcast. This particular reception will be the subject of a future article on QSLs from RTI. RTI sent me two QSL cards, neither of which had entirely accurate reception details.

The government is monitoring migratory birds to track the spread of the H1N1 virus. Taiwan got a rare visit last week from the Dalai Lama. He offered prayers for the typhoon Morakot victims. China describes the Dalai Lama as a separatist. A major sporting event, the deaf Olympics, is coming up in Taipei. The event started in 1924, but this will be the first time it is hosted in Asia. Lights, rather than guns and whistles, are used for signaling the athletes to start a race or stop play in a team event. Lots of ads announcing the deaf Olympics have appeared on public transit vehicles in Taiwan. Many countries have their own sign languages, although a universal sign language exists. "You can't have beach volleyball in central Taipei!" "Taipei is quite a noisy city." One of the reporters lamented the fact that taxi drivers honk their horns aggressively at pedestrians.

During the "Women making waves" segment, a female science teacher was interviewed about how she became a teacher, how she keeps up with scientific developments, and how she approaches teaching. A tribe from the Solomon Islands made a donation to Taiwan to help with typhoon Morakot relief. The dollar amount of the donation was small, but it amounted to one year worth of savings for the tribe. The tribe wanted to show its gratitude to Taiwan for supporting them.

• 12 Sep 2009, 0807 kHz, 10210 kHz (Firedrake): I heard a weak, fading Firedrake broadcast here, although it was stronger than the presumed Firedrake signals on 8400 kHz and 9000 kHz.

23 September 2009

mediumwave logs, winter 2008-2009

Between November 2008 and January 2009, I logged 59 mediumwave stations. I used my Eton E5 radio with just the built-in ferrite antenna. I didn't get very many stations this time, but I managed to pull in WWL from New Orleans, and for the first time, I logged Texas with WOAI in San Antonio.

Here's a collection of quotes from my log:

• "You don't have to worry about that signal down in salinas valley." (due to online streaming)
• "British Petroleum is on board. We got Microsoft on board. Everybody is listening to this right now."
• "The chance to catch a fish of a lifetime."
• "Reduced tingling." (infomercials can be so delightful)
• "When you look at the veins of these children, you find that they're... not good."
• "Let's go back to where Jesus was born."
• "And now, it's time for letters to Obama-Claus."
• "Obama is playing you now like a fool."
• "Our one caller, and we get an idiot." (some talk-show agreed to take one caller, and the caller played a bugle into the phone.)
• "Obama says we have one president at a time."
• "Guess what? Global warming is causing the frigid temperatures in the northeast."
• "Is your sex drive what it used to be?"
• "28 [degrees fahrenheit] here in Seattle." (wow, that sucks)
• "They just push the billion-dollar button a few times."
• "Experience the miracle of fish oil." (experience the miracle of shutting up, you annoying advertiser)
• "30 [degrees fahrenheit] in Salem [Oregon], 32 in Vancouver [Washington], 30 in Portland [Oregon]."
• "Coming up next hour: the list of America's dirtiest hotels."
• "I use [online backup service] because folks, I know that at some point, my computer will crash. It's as simple as that."
• "The lowest gas prices in San Antonio." (hmmm, that's too far away to be of any use to me)
• "Popcorn... take it out and serve."
• "I wish we could've done brownies, and then gone to brownies."
• "I'm a happy single person."

States and provinces received:

• Arizona
• Baja California, Mexico
• British Columbia, Canada
• California
• Colorado
• Louisiana
• Nevada
• Oregon
• Texas
• Utah
• Washington
• Wyoming

Annoying mediumwave broadcasters using AM HD, effectively jamming both adjacent frequencies:

• 740 KCBS
• 910 KNEW
• 960 KKGN
• 1050 KNBR/KTCT
• 1310 KMKY

Stations received:

560: KSFO (San Francisco, CA)
580: KMJ (Fresno, CA)
590: KUGN (Eugene, OR)
600: KOGO (San Diego, CA)
610: KEAR (Berkeley, CA)
620: KPOJ (Portland, OR)
630: KIDD (Monterey, CA)
630: KXLI (Spokane, WA) (New)
640: KFI (Los Angeles, CA)
650: KSTE (Rancho Cordova, CA)
660: KTNN (Window Rock, AZ)
670: KMZQ (Las Vegas, NV) (New)
680: KNBR (San Francisco, CA)
690: CBU (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
710: KFIA (Sacramento, CA)
720: KDWN (Las Vegas, NV)
740: KCBS (San Francisco, CA)
760: KFMB (San Diego, CA)
770: KCBC (Riverbank, CA)
780: KKOH (Reno, NV)
790: KABC (Los Angeles, CA)
810: KGO (San Francisco, CA)
830: KNCO (Grass Valley, CA)
840: KMPH (Modesto, CA)
850: KOA (Denver, CO)
860: KTRB (San Francisco, CA)
870: KRLA (Glendale, CA)
870: WWL (New Orleans, LA)
890: KDXU (St. George, UT)
910: KNEW (Oakland, CA)
960: KKGN (Oakland, CA)
980: KFWB (Los Angeles, CA)
1000: KOMO (Seattle, WA)
1030: KTWO (Casper, WY)
1050: KTCT (San Mateo, CA)
1070: KNX (Los Angeles, CA)
1090: XEPRS (Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico)
1100: KFAX (San Francisco, CA)
1120: KPNW (Eugene, OR)
1130: KRDU (Dinuba, CA)
1140: KHTK (Sacramento, CA)
1150: KTLK (Los Angeles, CA)
1160: KSL (Salt Lake City, UT)
1180: KERN (Bakersfield, CA)
1190: KEX (Portland, OR)
1200: WOAI (San Antonio, TX) (New)
1220: KDOW (Palo Alto, CA) (New)
1260: KSFB (San Francisco, CA)
1270: KBZZ (Sparks, NV)
1310: KMKY (Oakland, CA)
1350: KSRO (Santa Rosa, CA)
1370: KZSF (San Jose, CA)
1400: KVTO (Berkeley, CA)
1450: KEST (San Francisco, CA)
1480: KYOS (Merced, CA)
1510: KPIG (Piedmont, CA)
1530: KFBK (Sacramento, CA)
1550: KFRC (San Francisco, CA) (Moved)
1640: KDIA (Vallejo, CA)

17 September 2009

ebay seller stole my photo for auction

An eBay seller stole my Redsun RF-1210 photo for their auction. I published the photo to Flickr with all rights reserved, and was never asked if the photo could be used for any other purpose.

Don't buy anything from cnnjseller.

Update: Here's the stolen photo on the offender's Flickr account.

Update 2: Complaints have been filed with both eBay and Yahoo/Flickr. I no longer see the auction on eBay. Yahoo/Flickr required additional information from me regarding my claim of violation of copyright, and I just submitted the additional information to them.

Update 3: Yahoo has pulled the stolen image from Flickr.

16 September 2009

ncdxf/iaru shortwave beacon receptions

W6WX is the callsign of a five-frequency shortwave beacon in northern California. It is one of the eighteen beacons in the NCDXF/IARU International Beacon Project. On 15 August 2009, with my Eton E5 and an indoor wire antenna, I heard the W6WX beacon on all five frequencies: 14100, 18110, 21150, 24930, and 28200 kHz.

Since I can't copy morse code at all, and certainly not at the 22WPM used by the beacon, I recorded the transmissions and decoded the morse afterward.

• 2215 UTC: 14100 kHz SSB, SIO 445 (lots of digital transmissions on this frequency, although faint)
• 2155 UTC: 18110 kHz SSB, SIO 555 (yep, i received these out of order)
• 2227 UTC: 21150 kHz SSB, SIO 555
• 2233 UTC: 24930 kHz SSB, SIO 555
• 2240 UTC: 28200 kHz SSB, SIO 252 (the morse code was barely audible above the noise)

The links above are for mp3 files, each about 15 seconds long and around 100 kb.

I submitted these reception reports to the NCDXF on 15 August 2009, and got a reply from VE3SUN the next day. Alas, they don't send QSL cards for the beacons.

One down, seventeen to go!

09 September 2009

rumored sangean ats-909 updates

Back in December 2006, I reported that Sangean was not interested in producing new shortwave products:

End of Sangean line

But last month, Herculodge reported on two rumored updates to the well-known Sangean ATS-909 receiver:

Two new Sangeans should be on the way soon: 909X and 909XR

The Sangean ATS-909, which I've never owned, has long been rumored to practically require internal modification for decent MW and SW sensitivity. A company called RadioLabs responded by offering a well-known ATS-909 overhaul which they call the Super 909.

While I'm plenty happy with the radios I already own, I'll watch these developments at Sangean with interest.

05 September 2009

krko am radio towers vandalized

Radio antenna towers for AM station KRKO in Snohomish County, Washington were intentionally knocked down by vandals on Friday, September 4, 2009. KRKO is a 5000-watt station operating on 1380 kHz. Here's an article about the crime, from SFGate / Associated Press:

• 2 radio towers in Washington state toppled

04 September 2009

mail from south korea's kbs

On August 9, 2009, I sent a brief email to KBS World Radio in South Korea to tell them that I have been missing their shortwave broadcasts. I meant it both ways: their broadcast times weren't convenient for me, and I regretted not hearing the broadcasts. About two weeks after I sent the email, I got a large envelope (about 6" x 12") from KBS, containing a reception report form, eight identical station stickers, and a "Spring 2009" pamphlet. They used my postal address from my previous correspondence to them, as I didn't include a postal address with my recent email.

The reception report form is interesting because of the list of occupations that are provided. At the top of the form where the listener describes himself or herself, the listed occupations are: student, company employee, civil servant, teacher, engineer, sailor, self-employed, medicine, journalist, artist, legal practitioner, farmer, freelancer, housekeeper, unemployed, and not applicable. It's interesting to think about how KBS imagines their current English listener audience.

The pamphlet is about 20 pages long, in color, with pages for many different languages. Inside the front cover is the current broadcasting schedule, along with a note that "some broadcasting frequencies are expected to change at the end of October, 2009" when the B schedule period begins. I only see nine "E" squares (for English broadcasts) on the whole daily schedule, and the only one labeled "NAM" (for North America) is between 1200 and 1300 UTC, from the Sackville transmitter site. Yep, that starts at 8am on the east coast, and 5am on the west coast.

Quoting from the pamphlet, here's the station history:
KBS World Radio, the overseas service of the Korean Broadcasting System, is Korea's window to the world. Alas, they didn't give me any indication that they'd add English broadcasts to North America in my preferred 0000 - 0700 UTC timeframe.

KBS World Radio's maiden transmission was a 15-minute English broadcast on August 15, 1953 under the station name, "the Voice of Free Korea." It was renamed as "Radio Korea" in 1973, and again as "Radio Korea International" in August 1994 to better reflect its increasingly global mission. The station adopted its current name, "KBS World Radio" on March 3, 2005.

KBS World Radio now broadcasts in 11 languages: Korean, English, Japanese, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Indonesian, Arabic, German, and Vietnamese. It provides a total of 48 hours and 4 minutes of daily programming on 22 shortwave and one medium-wave frequencies, bringing up-to-date information on Korea to the world.

KBS World Radio's primary mission is to promote friendly relations and understanding with the peoples of the world. It brings listeners fast and accurate coverage of news taking place in and around Korea as well as a wealth of information about Korean culture, society, and politics.

In addition to shortwave broadcasting, KBS World Radio aims to diversify its global reach through satellite radio, DRM transmission, local FM and AM relays, and the Internet in preparation for the full-fledged digital broadcasting era.
While KBS is clearly looking ahead to newer broadcasting technologies, they're still happy to reach out to the fans of their analog shortwave service. Alas, they didn't give any indication that they'd resume an English broadcast to North America during my preferred 0000 - 0700 UTC timeframe.