29 December 2011

video of chu reception

On 12 September 2011, at around 0440 UTC, I used my Eton E5 receiver and my Degen DE31 active loop antenna to receive CHU, Canada's shortwave time signal broadcast from Ottawa. I was tuned to the 7850 kHz broadcast. It was a uniquely poor day for shortwave in my location.

Here's a 2m 30s video of the reception, taken with a mobile phone:

18 December 2011

checking in on redsun

When the Redsun RP2100 radio arrived on the analog radio receiver market, it quickly became a widely-regarded product among radio fans. It was readily available on eBay, got an overall positive review on RadioIntel, and was an impressive entry into the market for a new Chinese radio manufacturer. At the time, I hoped that the product's success meant that the anticipated RP3000/RP3100 would soon follow.

But the rumored RP3000/RP3100 hasn't materialized. At one point, I emailed the company to ask about the RP3000/RP3100. They stated that they were focused on the RP2100 at that time, which was eventually sold under the C.Crane and Kaito brands. Visitors to Redsun's website see a graphic displaying four radios, the fourth of which resembles the RP3000. Why do they tease us like this?!

The current crop of Redsun radios seems to closely follow the offerings of fellow Chinese radio manufacturer Tecsun. Among the many products created by the two companies, there's a pocket-sized multi-band radio (Tecsun R-911 and Redsun RF-1201), a larger multi-band radio (Tecsun R-9700DX and Redsun RF-1210), and a jumbo radio covering the full shortwave spectrum (Tecsun BCL-2000/BCL-3000 and Redsun RP2100).

I purchased two Redsun radios listed above: the RF-1201 and the RF-1210. While my RF-1210 has a loose tuning knob issue, these two radios are otherwise impressive for their price range and feature set. I still haven't purchased an RP2100, mostly because I already own a Tecsun BCL-2000. Sometimes, close competition can spur companies to improve quality and produce new, innovative products. Tecsun's route lately seems to be the use of DSP chips in inexpensive portable products like the PL-300wt, PL-310, and PL-380. Redsun's route? We're still waiting to find out.

While browsing Redsun's product lineup on their website, I found that the camouflaged RP007 was their most expensive product. The RP007 covers the full frequency range for FM, MW, and SW. It received mediocre rating in this review from dxer.ca [pdf]. And if Redsun were trying to evoke James Bond with the product name, watching a movie or two in the film series (with 22 films to date) would reveal that James is a classy dresser who does not do camouflage. But I digress.

I sent Redsun several questions about their products and analog radio broadcasting in general, but did not get a response by the time this article was published.

03 December 2011

the absence of radio netherlands

As I review the latest shortwave broadcasting schedules, the most notable absence for me is Radio Netherlands. Their broadcasts seemed to do everything right: lots of interesting content, up-to-date news, strong and reliable broadcasts, and perfectly understandable English. I noted in a May 2006 reception report that Radio Netherlands was my best source of news about Europe. And in April 2007, they broadcasted a detailed story about the Lincoln assassination.

For a few years at least, I was spoiled by that station and their transmission site in Bonaire. I've recently learned that the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in October 2010, although I've also received a Dutch language broadcast from that transmitter site since then.

25 November 2011

the disco palace

While browsing the shortwave schedules published by EiBi and Primetime Shortwave, I saw a station called "Disco Palace" that I didn't recognize. It was marked as a drm transmission, and alas, I don't have a digital radio mondiale (drm) receiver. But I went to their website and found the groovy graphics enticing enough to explore more. I tuned in to their online stream with my music player software, and enjoyed some dance and disco hits from years past.

Anyway, I looked up the frequency for their North American broadcast (only 2000-2100 UTC) on short-wave.info, and found that the transmitter is in French Guiana. The broadcast direction seems favorable for California, but again, without a drm receiver, I have no experience with it.

13 November 2011

shortwave border crossing information

Interesting article from the Associated Press indicating that a new shortwave broadcast will provide US/Mexico border crossing information:

• Feds unveil system for speedier border crossings

"Shortwave" probably means a low-watt broadcast only intended for reception within several miles of the border, though.

Which travelers have vehicles equipped for receiving such signals? Truckers might already have the capability if the broadcasts are in the Citizen's Band (26965-27405 kHz). But the article describes the new system as if it's intended to help everyone who wants to cross the border.

11 November 2011

the leap second is threatened

The leap second, necessary for keeping Earth-based atomic clocks in sync with the not-as-reliable rotation of the Earth, is considered a nuisance. A vote at the World Radio Conference in Geneva will decide its fate.

The leap second is an interesting catch on WWV and WWVH, with special voice announcements and, of course, one more or one less second in a given minute.

Read more here:

• Changes to the world's time scale debated
• Leap second (Wikipedia)
• NIST radio broadcasts

04 November 2011

weatherall's shortwave buying guide, 2011 edition

With winter holidays (and weather) fast approaching for those of us in the northern hemisphere of Earth, radio shopping may be on your mind. This is my guide for portable radio recommendations. Please note that this is based partially on experience with the radios and their manufacturers, and partially on my expectations for radios that I haven't used. Prices are approximate as of publishing time, and are in US dollars.

I've only covered a portion of the portable shortwave radio market here; some radio models, features, and manufacturers have been excluded. As always on this blog, reader comments are welcomed.

If you're considering a purchase through eBay, you may want to read my Shortwave radios on eBay article to familiarize yourself with the challenges you may encounter.

• $25: You can get a basic analog-tuned radio, typically requiring two AA batteries, with a short telescopic antenna. It'll be adequate for local AM and FM stations, and you can hear some strong shortwave stations if you avoid local interference sources. Slide-rule frequency displays are imprecise, so it can be hard to confirm what you're hearing. It's a fun way to scan the bands if you're not as concerned with finding a specific frequency. Many radios in this category are single-conversion, which invites the possibility of receiving unintended signals on the same frequency as the signals you want.

Recommended: Tecsun R-911 / Kaito WRX911, Tecsun R-912, Tecsun R-9012, Redsun RF1201.

Not recommended: Any products from Coby, jwin, Kaide, Kchibo, Bell & Howell.

• $50: This is the price range where radios tend to include a digital frequency display, helping you to find specific broadcasts.

Best in class: Kaito KA1101. This is the portable radio I would buy if I wanted something in the $50 price range.

Recommended: The Tecsun PL-300wt / Grundig G8 gets positive reviews, particularly for its mediumwave or AM broadcast band sensitivity. This isn't a radio I have tried, but it's an appealing option at this price. It is digitally tuned with digital frequency display, and its radio circuitry is DSP-based. Manual tuning is through the tuning dial or with memory recall, so there's no numeric keypad. Shortwave tuning from 2300 kHz to about 22000 kHz is divided among four bands, so tuning through the dial may be tedious, but the frequency display lets you know exactly what frequency you're hearing. A significant portion of the interface under the front cover is dedicated to a knob that allows selection of the timezone. So if you're mostly or always based in the same timezone, this radio's interface won't do much for you.

Take a chance: The C. Crane SWP appears to be a rebranded Redsun RP300. Redsun is one of the newer Chinese radio manufacturers and has a solid reputation. Check around to see if this radio has the reception sensitivity and reliability that warrants a purchase.

Take a chance: Eton has several dynamo (hand-crank) and solar-powered emergency radios near this price point. They make a good gift for anyone who needs to be concerned with emergency preparedness. This includes people living in areas prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, electrical storms, flooding, or disruptive power outages. Here in Northern California, where earthquakes are a part of life, we're reminded to have supplies on hand to keep us safe, hydrated, and fed for at least 72 hours.

Take a chance: The Tecsun PL-380 is another DSP-based receiver in a small package. I own the sibling radio, the PL-310, and I'm impressed with it.

• $100: This price category can get you a high-quality digitally tuned, dual conversion radio, with a long telescopic whip antenna, a signal strength meter, and typically requiring 3 or 4 AA batteries. These radios tend to be on the larger side; too big for pants pockets but not too big for jacket pockets.

Best in class: Kaito KA1102, Kaito KA1103. These radios are known for powerful reception capability in a small package. Both radios are nearly full-featured shortwave receivers, primarily lacking sync detection and switchable USB/LSB. Each radio has an interface quirk, with the 1102 requiring page 9 for SSB, and the 1103 using the big knob for both frequency and volume (volume setting is activated by pushing a button).

Recommended: Grundig G3. This radio is the successor to the Eton E5/Grundig G5 (the Eton E5 is the one I use the most). I had a bad experience with the early-production Grundig G3 unit that I tested, but I've heard that newer units work fine.

Not recommended: Grundig S350. These radios are bulky, heavy, single-conversion, and may suffer from tuning drift.

Not recommended: Sangean ATS-505: Overpriced and oversized for what it is, which is a poor substitute for one of the best-in-class Kaito radios.

• $150: In this price category, the Eton E5/Grundig G5 used to reside until it was replaced by the Grundig G3 (which is listed in the $100 category). Sony's top-of-the-line portable shortwave receiver is still widely available, with a few caveats versus other radios commonly available now.

Recommended: Sony ICF SW7600GR. This radio has a very high quality construction, includes a switch for LSB/USB, and includes sync detect. Negatives include the lack of a tuning knob, a small display area, and a rather conservative filter for AM.

Take a chance: Tecsun PL-660. Tecsun manufactures high-quality portable radios at a wide variety of price points. For 2011, this looks to be their top-of-the-line offering, with dual conversion, single sideband, synchronous detection, and a built-in battery charger.

31 October 2011

v02a number station logs

Here are some of my logs of the V02a Spanish numbers station. Receptions were with the Eton E5, using the telescopic whip antenna or a random wire antenna, indoors.

• 12 Sep 2011, sometime after 0700 UTC : 5883 kHz
• 02 Oct 2011, 0734-0742 UTC : 5883 kHz: Five-digit groups as usual, ending with "Final, final, final"; adjacent channel interference from WWCR (Nashville, TN, USA) on 5890 kHz
• 02 Oct 2011, 0800 UTC : 5898 kHz: "Atencion!"
• 08 Oct 2011, 0702 UTC : 5883 kHz: poor signal
• 08 Oct 2011, 0808 UTC : 5898 kHz: good signal
• 09 Oct 2011, 0632 UTC : 5800 kHz: morse code; expected Spanish numbers; off at 0633 UTC
• 16 Oct 2011, 0701 UTC : 5883 kHz: "Atencion!" greeting heard several times interspersed with number groups
• 16 Oct 2011, 0817 UTC : 5898 kHz: good signal
• 22 Oct 2011, 0708 UTC : 5883 kHz: fair signal with fading
• 22 Oct 2011, 0802 UTC : 5898 kHz: poor signal
• 30 Oct 2011, 0738 UTC : 5883 kHz: poor signal with fading; heard "final" twice at 0741 UTC

27 October 2011

printing my swl cheat sheet

For several years now, I've been maintaining a cheat sheet of hf radio frequencies, schedules, broadcasting bands, terms, reception tips, and so on for my outdoor listening activities. It's a single sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper, folded into eighths (two across by four down). It easily fits into my pocket or my logbook.

While preparing my autumn 2011 shortwave listening cheat sheet back in September, I replaced all of the schedule and station frequency data, and tightened up the text to take full advantage of available space. I noticed that the 8-point text looked a little small on both the screen and the paper. But there was a more serious problem: the left edge of the text was not printed correctly.

When my shortwave listening cheat sheet first came together, I looked at the one-inch margins on the printout and thought, "I can do better. This doesn't all have to be whitespace." So I reduced the top, bottom, left, and right margins from 1 inch all the way down to 0.15 inch, and it worked. This made it possible to fit more text on a page, and as a bonus, the frontmost eighth of the cheat sheet (when folded up) was both more impressive and more useful.

Then, after an OS update on my home computer, I tried printing the updated document with the same 0.15-inch margins. No good. I made several small adjustments until ending up with a usable printout with 0.25-inch margins on the left and right.

So, I lost a tenth of an inch along each of the four sides of the page. I also bumped the font up to 9-point, which took a lot of reformatting and some loss of data. To make this work, I cropped some of the schedule data, remove the air traffic control and selcal sections, and tightened up the wording in the "propagation and reception" section. My revised and reformatted shortwave listening cheat sheet has been very valuable during the past few weeks for outdoor listening sessions, away from all the noise sources conveniently listed.

22 October 2011

wbcq moving from 7415 to 7490 on monday

WBCQ 7.415 will move to 7.490 effective Monday, October 24, 2011

Quoted from wbcq.com:
The FCC has notified WBCQ that they must vacate 7.415 MHz no later than Monday, October 24, 2011. Effective this date the new frequency will be 7.490 MHz.

16 October 2011

radio survey spam from koit

KOIT 96.5 mHz in San Francisco is a light rock radio station. In other words, they play bland background music for mindless suburban types. The only time I hear it is while at my dentist's office, where it is played continuously in every room. Me? I prefer to have my pain dulled with chemicals while getting my mouth checked.

On Friday, October 14, 2011, I received postal mail from a company called Impact Research in Newton Square, PA. It was addressed to me, without a single flaw in my name or address, so I decided to take a look. Maybe it was legitimate, or maybe they just got past my filters.

The sensation of pleasure was evident in my brain as I scanned the text: "Dear Bay Area Radio Listener"... "radio listening preferences"... "help shape local radio programming"... "listen to your assigned station for at least one hour"... "you will be entered into a drawing"... "the station you have been assigned to listen to is KOIT at 96.5 FM".

Well, I never put any faith in drawings for $1000, but I was curious enough to follow through. I googled for "impact research" "newton square", and found articles berating it as a marketing ploy to boost Arbitron ratings:

• http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/chicago-media-blog/7542655/believe-it-or-not-fake-survey-brings-real-ratings-to-rewind

• http://boards.radio-info.com/smf/index.php/topic,154247.0.html

Plus, the enclosed "no postage necessary if mailed in the United States" postcard included fields for my name and address. So if I tried to enter the drawing for a modest stack of cash, some marketing firm could run wild with my contact information. Maybe I'd get invited to enter more bogus surveys.

Photos of the junk mail I received:

14 October 2011

kaito an-200 mediumwave antenna review

The AN-200 tunable passive loop antenna for mediumwave is manufactured by Tecsun, and sold under the Grundig and Kaito brands in the United States. It has an impressive appearance, with red wires wrapped around a clear plastic loop about 9 inches in diameter, and a black plastic arched base. So, is it just for show, or does it deliver better mediumwave reception?

As traditional mediumwave DXing is increasingly threatened by HD (hybrid digital)/IBOC (in band on channel) broadcasting, I'm looking for ways to get more out of this hobby in the near term. I purchased a Kaito AN-200 antenna to use via inductive coupling with my portable receivers. This is the first external AM antenna I've ever owned or even used, so I can't compare its performance with other similar products.

The item

Out of the box, this thing looks cool. The exposed red wire wrapped around the clear plastic ring has a nice, simple appearance and a bold red color for the wire.

The black plastic base and the clear plastic loop wobble as if not solidly connected. Since it's in this condition as a brand new item, I'm concerned that it will eventually fall apart. The antenna gets moved around during normal usage, and perhaps stowed when not needed. Durability of a product like this is a necessity, and the product I received does not inspire confidence.

The wrapped wire fits into a groove on the outside of the clear ring. In some places, the wire looks bent, scuffed, and not evenly distributed. My unit certainly does not resemble the glamor shots I have seen on eBay. I don't know how much functional difference it makes when I gently push the wires into visually-pleasing conformance, but this action provides the aforementioned aesthetic enhancement. However, there's enough slack in the line that the problem of disorderly, overlapping wire returns after a short time.

As for the tuning selector, it's a loose plastic knob with a barely discernible pointer on it. Fortunately, the pointer doesn't make a difference. Just turn the thing and listen to the results. The knob has a range of about a half turn. It's possible to just pull the wobbly knob off and turn the potentiometer directly, although the wobbly knob acts as a cover for the potentiometer to shield it from debris.

Overall, the construction and durability is poor. This is such a simple design that only neglect and inferior components could cause problems. Extra care with the design could have resulted in a wire that stays snug. Tighter coupling between the base and the loop would make me believe that this unit would last a long time, but that remains to be seen.

Test preparation

For calibration purposes, I used my digitally-tuned Eton E5 (which I often use for mediumwave DXing without an external antenna). To test the signal strength improvement of the AN-200 antenna, I used my Tecsun R-9012 radio (which is very similar to the Tecsun R-911 / Kaito WRX-911). Both radios were powered with new alkaline batteries.

Daytime reception tests

My daytime tests of the AN-200 took place between roughly 11am and 6pm local time.

Daytime performance of the AN-200 impressed me. Stations from great distances aren't audible via skywave propagation during the day, so the objective is to find some weak signals without the help of an external antenna, and use the AN-200 to make the signals usable.

On the E5, I tuned to 580 kHz (KMJ; Fresno, CA; 50 kW) and heard a faint signal among the noise. I tuned the R-9012 so I could tell that it was on the same frequency, but could not hear the weak signal sufficiently through the noise. I tuned the AN-200 which was along the left side of the R-9012, and KMJ's signal literally jumped right out of the background noise to sound as good as a local station. That was a dramatic boost in signal strength, and now I can easily hear this station during the day.

Another test involved 650 kHz (KSTE; Rancho Cordova, CA; 21 kW). At a distance of about 120 miles away and a weaker transmitter, this station came through weakly on the E5. I was able to find the frequency on the R-9012 without the AN-200, and the AN-200 boosted the signal to a usable level. This signal was noisy, though, so I wouldn't have enjoyed spending a lot of time listening to that station.

840 kHz (KMPH; Modesto, CA; 5 kW) is about 80 miles away, and during the day, my listening location is in the fringe reception zone according to the radio-locator coverage map. This is an example of when I had to use the AN-200 to pull in the signal on my E5 reference radio, and the R-9012 was able to receive the station but not loud enough to use.

With the E5 and the AN-200 during a later daytime session, the radio was tuned to 840 kHz but picked up KCBS on 740 kHz by tuning the AN-200 down. The KCBS signal came through loud and clear. So, the inductive-coupled antenna can apparently tune the radio.

Nighttime reception tests

My nighttime tests of the AN-200 took place between roughly 8pm and 11pm local time.

For my first nighttime test, I tuned to 840 kHz (KMPH; Modesto, CA; 5 kW) with my diminutive Tecsun R-9012 radio. The signal was weak, noisy, and not illuminating the radio's "Tune" LED. Also, this is a frequency where I often hear overlapping traffic advisory transmitters at night. With the radio held in front of the AN-200, I whipped through the antenna's tuning knob range a couple times. I saw the tune LED come on, and I heard a dramatic increase in the signal strength. Cool! The best results were achieved with the radio six inches or less from the base of the antenna.

Results with my Eton E5 were a bit different. The E5 already had a usable signal for KMPH on 840 kHz, even with the local/dx switch in the local position. But the signal strength meter wasn't showing anything, without involving the AN-200. Moving the E5 close to the base of the antenna caused the signal strength meter to reach the half-way mark.

It's also important to point out that the sweet spot is a very narrow range of the antenna's tuning knob. On the one hand, the half-revolution range of the knob allows traversing the whole range quickly, but on the other hand, it means that fine-tuning is laborious. The back and forth tuning adjustments aren't too difficult for one station, but it becomes an issue when trying to log lots of stations.

Another evening test was with 660 kHz. I was worried about 660 kHz being a usable frequency for signal strength tests, because 680 kHz hosts KNBR, a local 50 kW sports station with plenty of bandwidth to spare. But I found the signal properly isolated on the little Tecsun. Given the heavy fading and the chanting I heard on this frequency, I guessed it was the Navajo Nation station (KTNN; Window Rock, AZ; 50 kW). Without the AN-200, this signal was only occasionally fading in above the noise level. The antenna brought in a stronger signal on the R-9012, and was pulsing the "Tune" LED in time with the signal fading. I also heard a clear "Navajo Nation" identification.

Here's a tougher test. 1000 kHz (KOMO; Seattle, WA; 50 kW) next to 1010 kHz (KIQI; San Francisco, CA; 10 kW day/0.5 kW night). KIQI is in Spanish; KOMO is in English. I tuned the R-9012 to where its signal was the strongest, and where I didn't hear interference from the adjacent frequency. While sweeping the antenna's tuning knob, however, it only amplified the adjacent frequency and didn't boost the signal from KOMO. I will point out though in the AN-200's defense that the experience was not the same on the Eton E5. The E5 didn't get a boost of KIQI while tuned to 1000 kHz, so this particular instance revealed poor mediumwave selectivity on the R-9012.

A somewhat weak signal on 1070 kHz (KNX; Los Angeles, CA; 50 kW) seemed like another good place for testing, but the R-9012 was barely able to find it on the left side of a really strong signal on 1100 kHz (KFAX; San Francisco, CA; 50 kW).

On 1200 kHz (KYAA; Soquel, CA; 25 kW day/10 kW night), the station hardly comes in for me during the day, comes blaring in during twilight, and then is reduced to the audio equivalent of rubble later at night. This is one case where the AN-200 provided a nice signal boost to the E5 during my nighttime tests. Without the antenna, the R-9012 wouldn't have a chance with this signal.


With the R-9012, I found that the best improvement was possible by pointing the top of the radio at the base of the AN-200. This behavior depends on how each particular radio is constructed, whether the radio contains a ferrite bar antenna, and where the ferrite bar is located.

Trying to boost a weak signal next to a strong first-adjacent station was difficult in my experience, and the radio's selectivity plays a factor. If you're trying to boost a weak signal that is right next to a stronger signal, the AN-200 will work best on radios with excellent mediumwave selectivity or selectable bandwidths.

Ideally, you point the antenna at the station you want to receive, and stations not facing the antenna are nulled. I'm not experienced enough at this yet to say how well this antenna does it. One experience was trying to log KMIK (Phoenix, AZ) on 1580 kHz, where there was a strong signal from KBLA in Santa Monica, CA. For me, KMIK is just a few degrees towards the east from KBLA. Two 50 kilowatt flamethrowers on the same frequency, 360 miles apart. They have directional transmissions at night, but I'm glad I don't want to listen to either station on a regular basis.

A brief diversion

I laid the antenna down on my carpet and took a rather dark photo, and submitted the photo to the "Amazon Remembers" service. The Amazon Remembers service is human-powered through their Mechanical Turk service. The item was incorrectly identified by an unknown person as a "Smooth ring door knocker - flat black iron".


Was it worth the expense? Is it producing the stated benefits? Do I recommend this product?

This was a good lesson for the fact that upgrading one piece of equipment exposes flaws in other pieces of equipment. The Tecsun R-9012 has poor mediumwave selectivity which becomes evident when using an external antenna such as the AN-200. The external antenna was working correctly and effectively.

Using the AN-200 is really easy, at least with the inductive coupling method that I used. When you find the sweet spot for a signal with the antenna tuning knob, you know. The signal gets louder and sometimes clearer, and if your radio uses a tuning LED or a signal strength meter, you'll likely observe the change in signal strength. But focus on what you hear, not what you see.

This product provides me with a clear benefit that aligns exactly with why I purchased it. My AN-200 antenna appears to be poorly constructed and is not durable enough to last for many years as I'd like. The very simple design also suggests that this product is easily replicated by those with the knowledge, capability, and materials.

10 October 2011

quick longwave test on tecsun pl-310

I loaded a set of alkaline batteries into my Tecsun PL-310, and took notice of the LW label on the MW/LW button. Time to check the Montague Airport morse code beacon on 404 kHz!

Without the telescopic whip extended or an external wire antenna attached, the MOG morse code signal came in loud and clear. The beacon is at an airport in Montague, California; 280 miles from me.

Pushing the numeric buttons on this radio is a hassle. When it works, there's such a long delay that I almost forget what frequency I'm trying to enter. And when it doesn't work, I have to wait a couple seconds, realize that it didn't work, and try again. Tecsun, it's called responsiveness.

05 October 2011

kaito wrx911 review

I'm always looking to augment my collection of cheap plastic portable radios. There's no single radio, or even no collection of over 20 radios, that can do everything. And in my collection, there just wasn't one that I considered an outstanding receiver for radio commercials. I wanted to find a radio that could accurately broadcast advertisements from the AM and FM bands.

After evaluating the products on the market, I decided to get a Kaito WRX911. I always wondered what the result would be if I glued a ruler, a speaker, and a paper clip together inside a flimsy plastic box.

I have many digitally-tuned radios, but I am tired of cheating by punching in frequencies on a keypad. What was missing was some geniune manual labor that made me feel proud of accomplishing something when finding a station. Going back and forth through the bands by endlessly flicking the tuning knob would be a nice little workout for my hands. Additionally, the WRX911 is small enough that I could easily slip it into a pocket, in the event I arrived at a store and felt the urge to go in and buy something. However, as I would learn later, when they say pocket-sized, they mean the whole pocket.

Supposedly, a sound heard inside someone's head is considered by that person to be more believable. So for this product I focused on one with a built-in speaker that was smaller than my own ears. A small speaker's weak sound should permit me to utilize the full amount of skepticism necessary for dealing with advertising. And moving away from it would make the speaker even smaller, right? That's why stars in the sky look so small.

Telescopic antennas on some of my radios are ridiculously long! When I extend the antenna and place the radio on the floor, there shouldn't be danger of losing an eye. Similarly, this kind of setup should in no way resemble a vacuum cleaner, despite any possibility of the thing accurately making a sucking sound. So, the Kaito WRX911 seemed just right in the baby bear kind of way.

After deciding on the Kaito WRX911, I quickly (although not too quickly) learned that I could get either black or blue. Or black and blue, I suppose, if I got distracted while walking around with the radio, and tripped over something. Like a box.

After looking at the two colors for a while, it came down to this decision: do I want a blueberry-flavored radio or a chocolate-flavored one? When I figured out that those were the options, I immediately chose chocolate. Frankly, blueberries are everywhere these days: farmer's markets, grocery stores, and vending machines. But chocolate is harder to find.

I ordered the radio online, which meant there was a mandatory one-week waiting period. I guess they do a background check to make sure I don't intend to use the radio for nefarious purposes. Anyway, it was a stressful week, because I learned that chocolate was usually brown, and not black. I learned that licorice was usually black, and boy, do I hate licorice. Now I was starting to get mad. If I got a licorice radio by mistake, I just might have to put the unloved thing up for adoption. I mean, put some licorice in my mouth, and I'll show you the meaning of... darn, I forgot the saying.

When my radio arrived, my tongue was on it in no time. But what the heck? There's no flavor here at all! Discouraged at the possibility of spending twice as much on this radio as I originally planned, I nevertheless hurried to submit a purchase for the blue one. I discovered a way to opt out of the waiting period by paying more money, but I declined, so again I had a long wait ahead of me. It was frustrating to wait, but I decided I wouldn't turn the things on until my tongue was satisfied.

Photo of the black Kaito WRX911 at night (Olympus C-3020 digital camera, macro mode)

When the blue radio arrived, I tore the box open, ensuring that I couldn't return it or sell it used with the original packaging intact. Then I went in for a taste, and... well, you already know how this is going to end. THESE RADIOS AREN'T FLAVORED AT ALL. Let me tell you right now: don't make that same mistake. I licked both of these radios immediately after opening their diminutive boxes, right when the flavors should have been at their best, and they were tasteless. Who got to them before me? Did the air-tight cloth pouches fail to hold in the flavor? What should I do about this?

Further discouraged at having not one but two flavorless radios, I decided to try out the radio feature. After loading the black radio's backside with two AA batteries, I noticed the "DC In 3v" port on the left side. Wishful thinking, little buddy. You're getting your juice from alkalines, because I'm not sitting still while I wait to be instructed on what to buy.

I started tuning through the FM band, hunting for advertisements so I knew how to spend my disposable income, and quite possibly, next month's rent. I started hearing English and Spanish, and it wasn't too long until I found ads. Jackpot! The radio even turned on its green light, which apparently means: time to spend money!

Then the ads stopped, a bunch of cryptic jargon went past at a high rate, and the music started. Ahhh, soothing music by which to enjoy my new purchases. I can drive my new Toyota Tundra from my refinanced home, down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, after taking my new medication. But who are these musicians? And what products are they singing about? I hope there's a song about my new Toyota Tundra, because I still need to learn how to use some of these buttons, levers, and pedals. Why is it called the Tundra, anyway? I'm in California, and Toyota is from Japan. So I ask you, where's the tundra?

Unfortunately, the amount of bass coming from the WRX911 speaker was overwhelming. I reduced the volume so far as to risk missing the next batch of commercials. Where's the bass control on this thing?

I thought that perhaps I should move to the AM band. Maybe that band would be free of the oppressive bass frequencies. The first thing I noticed was that the voices seemed much more emphatic and dynamic than those on FM. Maybe these people are actually excited to be on the radio or something. Or desperate for listeners. I'm happy for you and all, but just TELL ME WHAT TO BUY.

With the steering wheel in one hand and the portable, battery-powered radio in the other, I found a strong AM station. This guy seems to be selling computers. Apparently there's a computer called the Air. Air and tundra are two things that naturally go well together, right? I better drive my new truck to the computer store and buy one now, before they close, and definitely before I get home. I want to make sure I have everything I need before I get home again. They can't just send me on an endless series of errands whenever they want.

Another AM station I tried was repeatedly using the word "ministry", so I made a mental note to look this word up when I got home. Maybe I could use my new Air to do that.

Suddenly, I was in the parking lot of a large shopping mall. Time to review all my mental notes of what to buy, and hopefully, get it all done at once! My Tundra has a lot of storage space, so I immediately decided to fill the truck with purchases and head home.

While walking out of the pet store, I got to the end of the tuning range and turned around. And there's the computer guy again. Now he's talking about an online video meeting of some kind. Well, now that I have the computer with the camera and microphone in it, I'm all set! Except... I don't know anyone. I guess I should try to meet some people, then convince them to meet me again, later, online. But I have no idea where to meet people. I need to get out of this crowded mall, drive home, and think about how to go about meeting people.

Back home again, after spending several hours unloading my new purchases, I wanted to look up that word: ministry. So, I did just that, and learned that Ministry was an industrial/metal band. It was pretty surprising, since the radio station where I learned about this was just all talk, and no music. Maybe the band was still asleep and would arrive at the studio later that night to perform a show. But it was past midnight already, so I made a mental note to try tuning in some other day.

Now it was time to try the shortwave band. Some of the strangest signals I picked up turned out to be government-sponsored jamming stations. These were heard on 5000 kHz, 10000 kHz, and 15000 kHz. I heard a series of beeps, and male and female voices. The strange thing is that some of these jammer stations reported a mailing address. I wrote down these addresses (one in Colorado and one in Hawaii), and will send them furious letters explaining that they are disrupting my enjoyment of this fine hobby! I don't even know what I'm missing, since those frequencies were otherwise clear. It seems like the other side just abandoned those frequencies.

Alas, the shortwave stations I heard were devoid of advertisements, except apparently for their own radio shows to which I was already listening. These shortwave stations seem to get louder and quieter and louder and quieter. Maybe I need a radio with a bigger speaker and a longer antenna. And quite possibly more buttons. I think I know a website where I can find radios like that.

In conclusion, I hope you haven't taken this review seriously.

30 September 2011

shortwave reception, sep 2011

It was a great month around here for shortwave listening. Opportunities combined with good conditions is a beautiful thing. In the past, I've used a couple regular locations for outdoor shortwave listening. This month, I tried a new location, and found that it had everything I wanted: a pleasant walk on a paved sidewalk, adequate lighting, not much automobile traffic, and very little environmental noise. Being outdoors, away from buildings with electrical wiring, and away from overhead power lines is arguably the best way to experience shortwave listening.

Some of these receptions were indoors with my Eton E5, occasionally with the Degen DE31 active loop antenna. Some receptions were outdoors with my Tecsun PL-350. All receptions took place in northern California.

Received stations:
• China Radio International
• Deutsche Welle
• Radio Australia
• Radio Netherlands
• Radio Taiwan International
• Voice of Russia

• 14 Sep 2011, 2304 UTC, 11840 kHz: I got a strong China Radio International signal with my Eton E5 and the Degen DE31. This broadcast comes from Sackville. CRI reported on the American hikers imprisoned in Iran. There were brief mentions of the American and European economic situations, with what I'd call cautioned optimism. I hope they don't dwell on this topic too much; it's already constantly in the news over here. Tell me something about China or Asia!

Now they're discussing Libya sanctions. When will we see resolution of who controls the Libyan government? And the Taliban are trying to disrupt the transfer of power in Afghanistan. France suffered a nuclear waste explosion, killing one and injuring four others.

Stories involving Hong Kong and the RMB currency, and Sony PSP pricing, were hard to follow due to fading. "You're listening to the Beijing Hour." "Coming to you live from the Chinese capital." This might be the first time I knowingly heard a live CRI broadcast, assuming it wasn't a replay.

Drunk driving arrests in China have plummeted since May, although no reason was mentioned. Chinese couples who give birth to children abroad to get around the family planning policy will have to pay social services fees if the foreign-born children are brought back to China. Many couples go to the USA to give birth to additional children. The family planning policy is not strictly a one-child policy; if both parents are both former only-childs, they can have more than one child. This was news to me.

Kids in big cities have unbalanced eating habits. School officials don't focus on nutrition when preparing student lunches. A balanced lunch should provide 40% of the necessary energy for a day. In some countries, school lunches are planned by professional nutritionists. Japanese students have to attend a nutrition class at a young age.

"That's all we have time for in this edition of the Beijing Hour." But there's seven minutes left in the hour! Schedule information and various recorded CRI promos followed.

• 15 Sep 2011, 0019 UTC, 9445 kHz: I found a strong signal, and thought "This sounds like Dutch." And it was! Radio Netherlands, Dutch to North America. Is this really broadcasting from Bonaire? Could they please transmit English to me? Not during this time slot, mind you. I'm happy that there's a Dutch language broadcast, even if I don't know the language. I just want an English broadcast at some time during 0300-0700 UTC. I should email them again.

• 0200 UTC, 9680 kHz: This is a strong Radio Taiwan International broadcast, coming to me from Okeechobee. They used to relay through Delano, didn't they? That transmitter site is closed though, as far as I know. Taiwan is seeking newer fighter jets from the United States. Taiwan's first lady will throw the first pitch at an upcoming Giants/Dodgers game in Los Angeles. Weather: Taiwan, partly cloudy, 27-30C. Beijing, partly cloudy, high of 19C. Tokyo, partly cloudy with a high of 32C. "RTI news, programs, pictures, and more, online at english.rti.org.tw."

Military plane crash. Two military planes crashed, killing three air force pilots, and the wreckage has been found. The investigation is ongoing, but one possibility is that one or both of the planes deviated from their flight plans. One of the planes is from the 1960s. President Barack Obama still needs to make a decision about supplying Taiwan with new fighter jets. (An agreement was reached some time after the broadcast.)

Singapore makes it easy for foreigners to become citizens. However, it's very hard for foreigners to become citizens in Taiwan. China wants to be known for innovation, and not just for being the world's factory. Next is a segment about convenience stores in Taiwan. The average Taiwanese goes to a convenience store 15 times per month. They go to pay bills, renew a driver's license, get train tickets, purchase inexpensive coffee, use an ATM. When traveling abroad, Taiwanese people don't know where to go to shop, and stores can be closed on Sundays. Stores are open every day in Taiwan.

A pancake dish popular in Thailand was invented in Taiwan. (I had to look this up afterward: Thai shrimp pancake.) The two female reporters briefly discussed how people sometimes confuse Taiwan and Thailand. When one woman tells someone she is from Taiwan, sometimes another person mentions that they visited Bangkok, which is in Thailand.

"You're listening to Radio Taiwan International. Check out our website at english.rti.org.tw." "Ilha Formosa--a look at Taiwan and its environment." Increased CO2 in the water could threaten clownfish.

The highlight for me during this hour of English broadcasting was the "Occidental Tourist" segment: Taiwan is a city that never sleeps. Food options during the middle of the night may be more plentiful than the options during the day. Night markets allow you to feast almost until sunrise. The reporter mentions several areas where rows of bars can be found. There are some 24-hour dim sum restaurants. Taipei also features a 24-hour bookstore. Supposedly, half of the cars in Taipei are taxis, and it's very easy to find a taxi. Taipei has a small downtown area which is easily bikeable. Karaoke is also a popular activity, and private rooms are available so you won't embarrass yourself in front of strangers.

Listening to this hour of Radio Taiwan International programming reminds me that this is one of the better shortwave broadcasters that I currently receive. The cultural segments they include in their broadcasts help me learn something about Taiwan, and especially, discover something more to like about Taiwan.

• 0300 UTC, 15425 kHz, "This is the Voice of Russia." The headlines were spoken rather quickly, and a bit of fading interfered with the clarity, so I was unable to follow. Summary of news stories: 2004 political crisis in Haiti. Tourists stuck in Bulgaria. Financial assistance is available for families impacted by the September 7 plane crash. "That was the news from Moscow." So, after that brief news segment, the rest of the broadcast has been about Russian music. I like music on most other shortwave broadcasts, although Russian music typically doesn't do anything for me.

• 17 Sep 2011, 0337 UTC, 7415 kHz: This must be WBCQ! It's an elusive station for me, but I got it during an outdoor listening session. References to illuminati, Israel, Palestine. This show features a woman and a man in a telephone interview format. The woman seems to be reading submitted questions. "I can't answer that," he would say, when he lacked the relevant knowledge or couldn't make a prediction about the future. Something about Libyan gold. A question about General Petraeus becoming a presidential candidate. On the real estate market, "A house is a place to live, not a gambling chip." (No argument from me.) Filler music was by The Police, "When the world is running down..." "WBCQ, Monticello Maine, USA."

• 0406 UTC, 9330 kHz: WBCQ again! Excavations near Bethlehem. "The bible is not a book of fables." "This is Science Rocks" (Science Rocks is a show listed on WBCQ's program guide). "Our vision is to get people back into the bible." They offer a quick study pocket guide, and their mailing address is in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada. "There is a better way to live than how we are living now."

During these two WBCQ receptions, I was walking around a small city, and I found a city block where power lines were not running overhead. My radio was nice and quiet there, instead of blasting me with unwanted static. And WBCQ has nicely isolated frequencies in the case of 7415 and 9330 kHz, so adjacent channel interference wasn't a problem. So once I found the quiet block, I stood in the path of a flood light so I could see my notebook and take notes.

• 23 Sep 2011, 0404 UTC, 7240 kHz: This is a Deutsche Welle broadcast in English from Kigali, Rwanda. The Kigali transmitter site loves California for some reason, and I get to benefit! This reception took place in a new listening location with very little noise. I should make this my new regular spot for outdoor listening.

Wall Street is approaching its lowest levels for the year. Pope Benedict is visiting Germany for four days and is facing protests about sex abuse scandals. Protesters in Berlin criticized the pope's views on gay rights. European nations are considering legislation similar to France's law that bans burqas. There are signs of economic slowdown in Germany and China.

• 0429 UTC, 15240 kHz: This is Radio Australia. A big news story of the moment is the possible neutrino (subatomic particle) traveling faster than the speed of light. "When we find out how the universe works, we find a way to use that information." Two boats of asylum-seekers were intercepted and sent to Christmas Island. Australia has been able to maintain strong Standard and Poors ratings due to its stable financial policies.

I couldn't hear the Radio Australia signal too well, but there was nothing else I wanted to listen to at that moment. So I kept it on the earphones and picked up bits and pieces of the broadcast. And my mind wandered. I started thinking about Australia, its location on earth, the Pacific ocean, and wondering about daily life in that part of the world. It was a fun diversion to try to imagine myself being removed from my America-centric life.

26 September 2011

voa ending broadcasts to china

Voice of America (VOA), the official broadcaster for the United States government, will no longer broadcast via shortwave to China as of October 1, 2011:

• Radio Silence in China: VOA Abandons the Airwaves [heritage.org]

The linked page above has a column on the right side where four key talking points are listed. So, read those if you want a quick summary of the full article.

22 September 2011

shortwave scanning, sep 2011

My Eton E5 is up and running, with relatively fresh alkalines, and the Degen DE31 active loop antenna is hanging in the window. Let's see what's out there. I only used the tuning knob here; no automatic scanning, stepping buttons, or frequency entry.

On 13 Sep 2011, at 0400 UTC, I hoped to catch China Radio International on either 6020 kHz or 6080 kHz, both transmitting from Sackville in a westerly direction. But I checked those frequencies and heard barely a murmur on them. The loop antenna helped somewhat, but the male announcer just couldn't keep up with the strong buzzing sound I was picking up. So I decided to do a band scan starting at 4700 kHz, the beginning of the 60-meter broadcast band.

4840 kHz: WWCR from Nashville. It sounds like infomercials. The signal is somewhat strong, but there's fading and the constant buzzing I mentioned above. If I hold the radio with my right hand, then the buzzing goes away, but then I can't sit at the computer and type and stuff. Ugh. Anyway, this infomercial is about storable foods, with free shipping. Oh, it's Alex Jones. I don't know much about this guy. I believe he's acquainted with George Noory and occasionally appears on Coast to Coast AM. Anyway, Alex is talking about "al qaeda terrorists". Not the most cheerful of subjects, right? Time to tune again.

WWV on 5000 kHz, just the gent from Colorado. The lady from Hawaii might be in there somewhere! I better turn on the loop antenna and find out. Yep, I can just hear her faint announcements just before the gentleman's recording, right before the minute marker tone.

5025 kHz. At times, I can hear Radio Rebelde here, but not tonight. Well, something is there, but barely. I enjoy listening to their music when the signal comes through.

5040 kHz. Music. I don't recognize it. Spanish? Ah, it appears to be Radio Havana Cuba. Well, I'd love to hear the music if the signal was better.

5755 kHz. "That's when you know you're talking to a lukewarm christian." Ah, one of the many religious shortwave broadcasts. Which one? WTWW from Tennessee. This frequency is just outside the 49-meter broadcast band. I wonder how stations like this, and WBCQ, are allocated frequencies outside of the normal broadcast bands. This signal is stronger than the others I've heard, but the content isn't really for me. Back to the tuning knob.

5935 kHz is a strong signal, and I recognize that voice! It's the legendary Dr. Gene Scott, a shortwave broadcaster that I learned about from the Professor. The good doctor died several years ago, but he's still on the radio, should you wish to find him. Dr. Scott is another religious broadcaster, but I enjoy listening to him for everything else he does. But this particular moment of his broadcast sounds tame.

5950 kHz, this must be Radio Taiwan International. And it is, but in Mandarin, which isn't a language I know. There's a little flute song here, but it didn't last long. I should be able to find Cuba on 6000 kHz or 6050 kHz, even though their evening broadcasts before 0500 UTC aren't aimed at me. Ah, 6050 kHz has a somewhat usable Radio Havana Cuba broadcast. Radio Havana Cuba was one of my first shortwave receptions; it was really exciting to hear the announcer state that she was in downtown Havana. This signal is fading like crazy. The loop antenna helped quite a bit. This story is about the Cuban Five, a frequent topic on Radio Havana Cuba, and arguably a story that helps keep Radio Havana Cuba on the air broadcasting to the United States. If you're not familiar with the Cuban Five, I suggest you look into it.

Singing on 6090 kHz. This is another frequency used by the University Network, Dr. Gene Scott's network. Interestingly, a voiceover just said "You are watching (unintelligible). The number to call is...". All I'm watching is the frequency displayed on my radio, pal!

6120 kHz has a Spanish broadcast from Radio Havana Cuba, but it's barely there and has severe fading.

6385 kHz has a repetitive noise, like the sound of a car that won't start, but at a lower pitch. I hear the same thing on 6400 kHz.

There's a really faint female voice on 7250 kHz. It's very weak, and it sounds like there's an echo. Vatican radio in French, perhaps? But the signal is too weak for me to recognize the language.

Nothing on 7415 kHz, where I was hoping WBCQ would be broadcasting something that I could hear.

Something on 7570 kHz, well past the 41-meter broadcast band. It sounds like Spanish, so it would be Radio Taiwan International broadcasting to Latin America from Okeechobee.

I pretty much flew through 8000-9000 kHz, not expecting to find much there unless it was a jammer. Now I have a broadcast on 9410 kHz which is clearly English even though I can't hear it too clearly. I just know the speech patterns. This signal appears to be WINB in Pennsylvania, broadcasting to Latin America. The broadcast stopped at 0458 UTC in mid-sentence. So, I scanned from 4700 kHz to 9400 kHz, and I'm ready to be done. I hope you enjoyed reading this, or I hope you stopped reading it once you realized that you didn't enjoy it!

Schedule information was obtained from Primetime Shortwave and EiBi.

18 September 2011

emergency preparedness radio broadcast

While tuning through the mediumwave band on my Eton E5, I found a TIS broadcast on 840 kHz. I have logged this transmitter before. But the current audio message is about emergency preparedness, so I decided to share it. The signal strength is 10 watts, and some of the content is specific to the Belvedere/Tiburon area of northern California. I received this broadcast from about 7 miles away.

"This is the city of Belvedere emergency advisory radio system WPEX988 operating on 840 AM. The message is: Our local emergency services have been encouraging residents of the Tiburon peninsula to get ready, and prepare for a catastrophe. Our community has responded with enthusiasm and commitment. This September, we are asking that you continue your hard work while recognizing natural disaster preparedness month. We ask that you take the time to update your emergency kit at home, in your car, and at your workplace. Replace food, water, and batteries that may have expired. This is also a good time to review your emergency plan with your family, and ensure that your emergency contact phone numbers, including your out-of-area contacts, are current. Once that has been completed, this is also a good time to practice your plan. If you would like to attend a get ready class, a number of classes will be held at various locations. The next meeting has been scheduled at the Tiburon Police Station on September 22nd from 7pm to 9pm. The class is free of charge, and is a great way to make sure that you are prepared for any kind of disaster. We also encourage you to participate in the annual ShakeOut nationwide earthquake drill on October 20th, by registering to participate and then practicing drop, cover, and hold at 10:20 AM on the 20th of October. Sign up today at www.shakeout.org to take part in this historic event. The website contains information and tools like audioclips to make the drill as effective as possible. After you drop, cover, and hold during the shakeout drill, why don't you take the opportunity to practice your personal plan, such as relaying important information through your out-of-area contacts. For more information on get ready classes, disaster supply kit lists, or personal plans, go to www.getready94920.org, or feel free to call me at 435-7386, or stop by the Tiburon uh, Police Department, the Office of Emergency Services, in the event of an emergency."

12 September 2011

the tecsun pl-350 revisited

I recently retrieved my Tecsun PL-350 from the shelf in my living room. It has been sitting up there for many months, without batteries of course, inside the cloth pouch that came with it. Since I'm hoping to do more radio listening during evening walks in the next couple of months, I wanted to find a capable portable radio to take with me. My Eton E5 is still the radio I go to for shortwave reception at home, but I'd like something a little smaller without sacrificing too much shortwave capability.

When I first got this radio, the rubberized exterior was a nice benefit because it was easy to hold onto. But now the radio has permanent fingerprints on the outside, and a sticky feel. Annoying. What happened to it? And is there any way to fix it?

I remember being interested in getting a radio with controls labeled in Chinese. And it wasn't too difficult an adjustment at first, because I memorized the controls by reading the English control guide PDF supplied by the eBay seller. But so much time has passed that I have to re-learn the buttons. And being away from the computer with a Chinese-labeled radio may be challenging.

I opened up the telescopic antenna, and was pleased at the sturdiness and stiffness of the antenna. This part is in excellent shape.

While tuning to various shortwave stations on the Eton E5, I also tuned them in on the PL-350. Even with the antenna gain set to DX and the antenna trim dial set appropriately, shortwave reception was weaker across the board on the PL-350 during the afternoon. After sundown, I was impressed with the PL-350's handling of broadcasts from Voice of Russia and China Radio International, but it struggled with a weaker Radio Taiwan International broadcast.

Unfortunately, due to carelessness, I snapped the folding stand on the back of the radio. The rectangular stand itself is misleadingly sturdy; the two plastic pegs that hold it into the back of the radio are small and weak. And while setting up the hinged stand to put the radio on a desk, I applied too much pressure and broke it. I made this mistake before with another Tecsun radio, the R-912.

So, is this an adequate portable radio for outdoor reception? Sure. First, the crucial parts are all solid and functioning. Second, this radio runs on three AA batteries, and carrying three spare batteries is easier than having to carry four. Third, it's small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. Fourth, it handles strong shortwave broadcasts adequately. This seems like the right radio for my outdoor listening adventures.

05 September 2011

wbcq has saturday airtime available

Does anyone want to be on the air? WBCQ is selling 7415 kHz airtime on Saturdays.

And now that I've plugged them even though they didn't ask me, I have a request of my own. WBCQ, please make it easier for me to receive your broadcasts in northern California! I know that your antennas aren't transmitting in my direction, but you have the kind of content I'd love to listen to a bit more often.

23 August 2011

need help with station/show id

Around approximately 0510UTC, on approximately 9400 kHz, I'm hearing an intermittent signal that I think identified as "radio weather", including a phrase "What's the weather?" It's using a talk radio format. I heard them announce a postal address in Ontario Canada several times. I'm using a super noisy Kaito WRX911 outdoors in Northern California. The transmission is in English.

On a related note, I'm hearing much more noise than I remember hearing in this location. Some new lights are especially noisy; possibly xenon lights that I've been dreading.

Update: another quote: "You're listening to radio weather, whether you like it or not!" I've also heard mentions of QSLs and propagation.

Update 2: A google search for "glenn hauser" "radio weather" revealed the answer: Glenn reported reception of a "Radio Weather" show on WBCQ's 9330 kHz transmission on August 10, so that's likely what I heard. (via DX Listening Digest 11-32)

06 February 2011

the tiny humanity bubble

The tiny humanity bubble
There is an ever-expanding bubble announcing Humanity’s presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way. This bubble is astronomically large (literally), and currently spans approximately 200 light years across.

But how big is this, really, compared to the size of the Galaxy in which we live (which is, itself, just one of countless billions of galaxies in the observable universe)?

Via Hacker News.