11 November 2015

kaito ka11 on shortwave

I powered up my diminutive Kaito KA11 with two like-new alkaline batteries, raised the miniscule whip antenna, and listened to the tiny speaker. It was shortwave I intended to scan. The time was about 0415 UTC, nighttime in my location, on Sun 18 Oct 2015.

At first, I heard nothing, even on 10000 (enter + 1 + 0 + enter), where I expected either WWV or WWVH to come through. Then while adjusting the telescopic antenna, the signal suddenly became loud as if the antenna had been loose in some way. I wanted to try 5000, but the shortwave frequency range on this receiver is 5800 to 18100 kHz. Although, amusingly, the radio accepts input of 18199 kHz. So with only 10000 and 15000 available on this radio for checking WWV and WWVH, it's difficult to do my initial propagation test.

Having to deal with strong local interference from adjacent apartments, I wandered my apartment in search of a combination of strong signal and low interference, with little success. Rather than consulting published schedule info, I tried to identify broadcasts the hard way.

5935: Female, English, religious, probably University Network
6090: music
7455: Male, English, religious
9790: Female, Asian language, the best signal by far from these receptions
10000: WWVH

In general, I experienced harsh audio with high-pitched static, heavy fading (nothing resembling gain control or sync detection here), and a poor overall listening experience. I've always enjoyed this radio's appearance, with its compact size, modest weight, and pleasant orange backlight for the LED display. The buttons have a satisfying feel when pressed, so operation of the radio is fine but the results are not. And most of my portables take AA batteries. This one takes two. I'm especially happy when a radio takes an even number of AA batteries.

The next afternoon, around 2100 UTC on the same day, I checked the available daytime bands. Again, I could only check WWV/WWVH on 10000 and 15000, and only 15000 registered a very weak tone from these time stations. I didn't even hear the voice identification to help me differentiate which station it was. Quick stepping through the 25m, 22m, 19m, and 16m bands didn't turn up any signals worth mentioning. I may have chosen a bad time for this band scan, and admittedly didn't use a more powerful reference radio to see what kinds of receptions might be possible.

In summary, this radio offers a lot in terms of look and feel, but couldn't receive much shortwave from inside my home.

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