Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Longwire Signal Strength Tests

Here is a chart of signal strength tests for 3 longwire lengths - 70 ft., 150 ft., and 240 ft., made Nov. 30, 2008 between 1200 and 1300 local time. In all cases, strength increased with incremental increase in wire length, except for 810 kHz, KGO. I'm sure this anomoly was due to band conditions at the exact time of monitoring.

KPLY, 630 kHz, Reno, NV was not receivable at all.

All stations monitored transmit below 1000 kHz. The 240 ft. longwire is resonant at approximately 1000 kHz at a quarter wave, the 150 ft. longwire approximately 1520 kHz. It is apparent that increasing wire length up to at least one quarter wave will always increase signal level. Two stations were not receivable at all (no signal apparent) until wire length was increased from 70 ft. to 150 ft., where they then became readable. It seems at least 150 ft. of wire is necessary for daytime DXing.

Signal strengths are indicated in S-units. See notes at bottom for symbol explanation. Eton E1, preamp off.

Strengths indicated as follows: 70ft---150ft---240ft

550 kHz KFYI Phoenix, AZ 6---8---9
560 kHz KBLU Yuma, AZ 5---**1---**1
580 kHz KSAZ Marana, AZ 1.5---4.5---6
590 kHz KSUB Cedar City, UT 1---1.5#---2.5#
600 kHz KOGO San Diego, CA 1.5---3.5---5
630 kHz KPLY Reno, NV 0---0---0
640 kHz KFI Los Angeles, CA 3.5---5.5---7
660 kHz KTNN Window Rock, AZ 0---$---3
680 kHz KNBR San Francisco, CA 3---3.5---5
700 kHz KALL N. Salt Lake City, UT 0---2#---4.5
720 kHz KDWN Las Vegas, NV 5---7---8
740 kHz KCBS San Francisco, CA 1.5---5.5---8.5
760 kHz KFMB San Diego, CA 1---3---4.5
770 kHz KKOB Albuquerque, NM 1---1---3
810 kHz KGO San Francisco, CA 3---2.5---4
830 kHz KFLT Tucson, AZ 3.5---6.5---9
930 kHz KAFF Flagstaff, AZ $---2---4


0 No signal apparent
$ Signal there, but not intelligble
# Signal there, poor intelligibility


**1 Station was off the air at this time for some reason.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More Wire Procured

I procured an extra 90 feet of wire for the antenna yesterday. That will bring the longwire out to about 240 feet. That length is resonant, at a quarter wave, to about 1000 kilocycles (oops, KHz kilohertz - my age is showing).

It will be interesting to compare signal strengths between the new length and the old 150 ft. length. Signal strengths were markedly improved in going from 70 ft. to 150 ft., generally 2-4 S-units on the long distance mediumwave stuff. I don't expect a like-improvement, but we'll see. I'm anxious to try this out on KALL, 700 KHz, N. Salt Lake City, UT, and KPLY, 630 KHz, Reno, NV, a very difficult daytime catch.

Signal strength improvement on the short range stations (up to 100 miles) was small at best going from 70 ft. to 150 ft. My short range test station is often KBLU, 560 KHz, Yuma, AZ. Its distance is 80 miles. It's a 1 KW station, both night and day, and changes antenna patterns at sundown. Good copy, though somewhat weak during the day, when they shift to the nighttime pattern it is difficult copy as its strength drops to near zero with added Mexican interference. They must have a terrific phasing network.

More on this in a few days.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eton E1 Review Coming

Been working for some time on a comprehensive Eton E1 review. It is about 70% complete. I'll be posting it when it is done. The E1 continues to perform admirably. It's sensitivity, particularly on a longwire, is excellent. Selectivity is good as well. It's performance is similar to the Drake SW-8 in many respects, and goes well beyond what one would expect in a portable. Of course, the E1 was a multi-year design effort by the Drake team, so probably not much of a surprise there.

Heard the mystery "presumed" Chinese station again Monday morning (local) at the usual time. Forgot to check it this morning, but will try again tomorrow. Coincidence has it that this station has only been received on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays so far. Possibly another clue in the puzzle? Hopefully we shall see.

Snow back east in New York this morning in the news. We are basking in the 80 degree sunshine as I write. Perfect for outside DXing!

Friday, November 14, 2008

AM Bandscan 530-1000 KHz

Been working on getting the AM bandscan filled out. This is time consuming duty, as many stations these days don't identify as readily as they used to. Sundays is always a good day, especially during football coverage, as they tend to identify more readily during this time.

This first effort covers 530 KHz through 1000 KHz. These are daytime loggings only, according to the rules set forth in a previous post, making sure stations are logged no closer than 3 hours from sunrise and sunset times. These loggings have been recorded since mid-October 2008.

All loggings were recorded using the Eton E1 with a 150 ft. longwire.

530 KHz
540 KHz
550 KHz KFYI Phoenix, AZ 5KW
560 KHz KBLU Yuma, AZ 1KW
570 KHz KLAC Los Angeles, CA 5KW
580 KHz KSAZ Marana, AZ 5KW
590 KHz KSUB Cedar City, UT 5KW
600 KHz KOGO San Diego, CA 5KW
610 KHz
620 KHz KTAR Phoenix, AZ 5KW
630 KHz KPLY Reno, NV 5KW very weak, outstanding catch for daytime
640 KHz KFI Los Angeles, CA 50KW
650 KHz KMTI Manti, UT 10KW
660 KHz KTNN Window Rock, AZ 50KW
670 KHz KBTB? Las Vegas, NV 10KW why won't stations identify?
680 KHz KNBR San Francisco, CA 50KW
690 KHz XETRA Tijuana, BC 78KW
700 KHz KALL N. Salt Lake City, UT 50KW
710 KHz KSPN Los Angeles, CA 50KW
720 KHz KDWN Las Vegas, NV 50KW
730 KHz
740 KHz KCBS San Francisco, CA 50KW
750 KHz
760 KHz KFMB San Diego, CA 50KW
760 KHz KKZN Thornton, CO 50KW
770 KHz KKOB Albuquerque, NM 50KW
780 KHz KAZM Sedona, AZ 5KW
790 KHz XESU La Dinamica Mexicali 1KW
800 KHz
810 KHz KGO San Francisco, CA 50KW
820 KHz Probable Mexican
830 KHz KFLT Tucson, AZ 50KW
830 KHz KLAA Orange, CA 50KW
840 KHz KXNT N. Las Vegas, NV 50KW
850 KHz La ZF, Mexicali 500W
860 KHz Probable Mexican
870 KHz Probable Mexican
880 KHz
890 KHz KDXU St. George, UT 10KW
900 KHz
910 KHz KGME Phoenix, AZ 5KW
910 KHz XEAO R. Mexicana, Mexicali 1KW
920 KHz KBAD Las vegas, NV 5KW
930 KHz KAFF Flagstaff, AZ 5KW
940 KHz XEMMM Mexicali 1KW
950 KHz XEKAM Tijuana, BC 20KW
960 KHz KKNT Phoenix, AZ 5KW
970 KHz KNWS Coachella, CA 5KW
980 KHz KNTR Lake Havasu, AZ 1KW
990 KHz XECL Rocola 990, Mexicali 5KW
1000 KHz Identifies as K-Star

Don't Laugh at Yard Sales

This summer I participated in a multi-family yard sale. Early, I got set up. The other families arrived. One of the familes had some electronics, mostly stereo gear, and was starting to set up across the lawn. I went over and had a look. There, sitting on their table was a Yaesu FRG-7 "Frog", in near mint condition, albeit with a little basement dust. Price: $7.50.

Acting non-chalant and ignorant, I flashed the cash for this little beauty and snatched it up. The owner's father had been a Ham and was now deceased. The rig cleaned up marvelously and works like a champ. The only thing needed was a little main dial alignment. I had one of these rigs in the late 1970s and have been sorry I sold it ever since. What a find! You never know.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Presumed Chinese Station Re-emerges

The presumed Chinese station was in again this morning at 1434 UTC (0734-0745L) on 900 kHz. Signal was weak and copyable but steady. Talk and Chinese music. Origin still unknown. Mexican stations are generally weak to non-existant at this time of morning as they have faded out almost completely. A single station on 900 kHz exists in Victoria, BC, but I don't think that is the origin of this signal. The mystery continues.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Desert One

The Desert One monitoring site. Site is located three miles north of Quartzsite, AZ. It is sandwiched between two parallel ranges of mountains which run north and south. These ranges are approximately 11 miles apart, with the receiving location located in the middle. Range heights are roughly 1000 feet higher than the desert floor.
A 150 ft. longwire extends to the northwest on the ground. The Eton E1 is generally fed through the RF Systems magnetic balun, shown just to the rear of the E1 in the photo. Grounding the balun to the truck frame results in a 1-2.5 S-unit increase in signal strength on stations at extreme distance. Negligible strength improvement was found on closer stations within 100 miles or so. Curious indeed.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Good Week

All loggings were on the Eton E1 with 150 ft. longwire unless noted.

Nov 1, 2008. 0130 UTC (1830L). KGAB, Orchard Valley, WY. Weak, heard under KMTI, Manti, UT. KGAB cuts power at nighttime from 8.6KW to just 500 watts. Not sure if it was operating under nightime power, but probable, as local time at transmitter was 1930. A good catch, and Wyoming too.

Nov 2, 2008. 1230 UTC (0530L). KSNM, Las Cruces, NM. Heard on truck radio.

Nov 3, 2008. A good opening to Cuba at 2257 UTC (1557L) logged numerous Cuban stations broadcasting the one-second time pip. Though no voice audio or music was apparent, time pip signals were good to excellent.

All loggings below are are presumed. These are the strongest Cuban stations on these frequencies.

530 kHz R. Rebelde 10KW
570 kHz R. Reloj 30KW
590 kHz R. Musical 30KW
770 kHz R. Rebelde (power unknown)
790 kHz R. Reloj 30KW
810 kHz R. Progreso 10KW
880 kHz R. Progreso 30KW
890 kHz R. Progreso 80KW

530 kHz and 810 kHz were the strongest in the pack. All stations were gone by 1615L. This must have been sunset enhancement over Cuba as far as I can tell, as we had lots of daylight left here.

Nov 4, 2008. 1442 UTC (0742L). Medium strength station heard on 900 kHz on the truck radio with deep fades in an oriental language, possibly Chinese, with beautiful oriental music. Faded totally by 0750L. Heard again on Nov 5 morning at the same time, but much weaker. Have not been able to grab this one again on subsequent days this week. China? I sure would like to know the origin of this station.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

KKZN Thornton, Colorado Logged!

Well, only a day has gone by since I was wondering if logging the Denver area during daylight hours was possible from here. It came yesterday afternoon at 1454L.

October 31, 2008. KKZN 760 KHz, Thornton, CO. 50KW station. Distance: 675 miles! Signal strength was S-3. KFMB San Diego was underneath. Eton E1 with 150 ft. longwire. Preamp off. Outstanding!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Long Distance Daytime AM DX

The daytime AM bandscan for the segment 530 KHz - 1000 KHz is just about complete. Current setup is the Eton E1 using a 150 ft. longwire layed on the ground, oriented NW. The wire is fed to the E1 through the RF Systems magnetic balun. The surprising thing on this trip is that I am getting an additional average 1-2.5 S-units on most stations by grounding the E1, in this case, to the truck frame! I am planning on adding an additional 100 ft. to the antenna soon. Makes me wonder what a real earth ground might do here, though the desert soil conductivity is very, very poor. Annual precipitation here is on the order of about two inches. Many years it never rains at all.

Okay, on to the current distance catches, all mid afternoon, well within the 3 hour buffer zone for sunset:

KTNN-660, Window Rock, AZ. Voice of the Navajo Nation. 50KW station. 327 miles. S-2 strength. A very interesting station, for those who have not logged this one before. I have heard KTNN many times before when I lived out west. They are basically a country western format with a lot of Navajo language thrown in, including a lot of local Navajo coverage.

KNBR-680, San Francisco, CA. 50 KW station. 517 miles. S-4 strength.

KALL-700, North Salt Lake City, UT. 50KW station. 515 miles. S-4.5 strength.

KDWN-720, Las Vegas, NV. 50KW station. Approximately 200 miles. S-8 strength. An easy catch at any time.

KCBS-740, San Francisco, CA. 50KW station. 558 miles. S-6.5 strength.

KKOB-770, Albuquerque, NM. 50KW station. 447 miles. S-2 strength.

KGO-810, San Francisco, CA. 50KW station. 516 miles. S-1 strength. Very intermittent, receivable about 20% of the time.

In the strength contests, KALL-700 and KCBS-740 are the overall winners. KCBS-740 at 558 miles takes the distance contest. Remember, all of these stations were received during full daylight, approximately 2-3 PM in the afternoon. KCBS-740 is approaching 600 miles, which makes me believe that it might be possible to log KOA 850 KHz in Denver at 662 miles one of these days. So far, KOA has not been receivable.

More thoughts soon.

Random Loggings for October 26-27, 2008

All stations received on the Eton E1 with 150 ft. longwire through RF Systems magnetic balun.

Oct 26, 2008. 2217 UTC. Egyptian Radio, 6290 kHz. Weak but readable, received 2.5 hours before local sunset. Amazing that this station can make this path this early. Rechecked at 0000 with good signal strength.

Oct 26, 2008. 2343 UTC. R. Mauritaine, 4845 kHz. Fair signal, one hour before local sunset.

Oct 26, 2008. 2350 UTC. R. Brasil Central, 4985 kHz. Fair signal. This station runs 10KW. Format was oldies, playing Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, etc.

Oct 27, 2008. 0022 UTC. KHWG, 750 kHz, Fallon, NV. 10KW. Approximately 20 minutes before local sunset. This is a tough station to log at this time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Daylight DX Time Limits

Some time limits should be applied when searching for daylight DX in the AM broadcast band. In my experiments, 2.5 hours is about as close as you can get to sunrise and sunset times before the band starts to change dramatically. The sun is setting here currently at 5:43 PM. I find that by 3:30PM the characteristics of the band have shifted somewhat toward longer range DX as late afternoon approaches. Morning sunrise here is 6:42 AM, and by 9:30 AM we are back to daytime conditions again. So, for purposes of tallying daytime DX on the AM band, and adding in an extra 30 minutes for safety padding, 3 hours after sunrise and 3 hours before sunset will be the start and stop limits for my DX tests.

Several stations have been received during daylight hours in excess of 500 miles. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cross Country

Just completed a cross country trip from my home in Avon, NY to Quartzsite, Arizona, latitude 33.663N, longitude 114.229W. Total distance about 2500 road miles. I am here for the winter, probably till the end of March, 2009. I used to live in this deserted place from 1990-2002. It is literally in the desert wilds, just 18 miles east of the California line and the Colorado River. It is right on I-10, the road that connects Phoenix, AZ with Los Angeles, CA. I am 85 miles north of the Mexican border, and Mexican stations on the AM broadcast band are prolific especially at night.

I brought the Eton E1 and the Kaito 1103 and the Sony SRF-M37V ultralight for a little DXing. A couple of hundred feet of wire will provide a little extra signal juice. One good thing, there will be absolutely no noise here so that should help.

I will be reporting more. At the moment I am compiling a bandscan of the AM band during daylight hours. There are some surprises!

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Loggings

Sep 9, 2008. Sat out in the yard in a lawn chair this night at 0030 UTC (2030L), with a 15 foot wire clipped to the whip antenna of the Eton E1. Tuned for carriers and found a strong one on 555 Khz. Turned out this is ZIZ Radio, Basseterre, on St. Kitts & Nevis. Audio was weak and generally undecipherable, but definitely Caribbean. Latest WRTH has the power of this staion at 10KW. Distance 1973 miles. A good haul.

Sep 18, 2008. 1800 UTC. WIEZ, 670 kHz. Lewiston, PA. Daytime station, 5.4KW. Distance 160 miles. Eton E1 with 70 ft. wire on ground and RF Systems magnetic balun.

Sep 18, 2008. 1810 UTC. CFOS, 560 kHz. Owen Sound, Ontario. 7.5KW. Distance 192 miles. Eton E1 with 70 ft. wire on ground and RF Systems magnetic balun. This station is up on Georgian Bay. Strong signal for the distance/power. Part of the path is over Lake Ontario, which helps.

Sep 18, 2008. 2045 UTC. ZIZ Radio again, 555 kHz, St. Kitts & Nevis. Weaker carrier this time, but audio was in there 90%. Recovery was best on the Eton E1 using SyncAM, DSB.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

On The Air

It's about time I added something to this blog, wouldn't you say?

A new, or I should say "renewed", interest for me is mediumwave DXing on the AM broadcast band. With my location in Western New York on the east coast of the U.S., multitudes of stations produce near chaos on the band.

Locally too, there are 50KW (WHAM, Rochester) and a 20KW (WYSL, Avon) transmitter outlets, and they play havoc with a receiver that has any kind of serious antenna attached. The 20KW transmitter is the worst, at a distance of only 5 miles, with a pattern pointed my way.

Recently, the new sport of Ultralight Radio DXing has taken hold, and has kindled some interest with me also. This is mediumwave DXing using small, inexpensive AM portables. More info can be found on this excellent Canadian site:

I have one ultralight radio at the moment, a Sony SRF-M37V. Latest DX received here just last night (Sep. 6, UTC) was KCJJ-1630, Iowa City, Iowa, a distance of 710 miles. This is a 10/1KW station and was received at 0200 UTC while running nightime power of 1KW. Signal was good at times, they were broadcasting some local football match. This was received with no external antenna or loop assist.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Sun Rises On The Broadcast Day


Radio, static, and other sundry thought. Mostly about radio - but not necessarily!

Stay tuned!