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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The IBOC Mess In North America


NOW FOR A RANT.

"Bacon frying in a pan", that's what the co-channel interference sounds like when you are 10-20 KHz from one of Ibiquity Digital Corporation's AM HD Radio-equipped stations. At nighttime in the northeast part of the US, a veritable RF storm of digital hash appears across the entire AM broadcast band precluding reception of many distant stations. What a mess.


IN-BAND, ON-CHANNEL?

Huh? I'm not sure why they call it "In-Band, On-Channel" - it most certainly is NOT "On-Channel". The 15 KHz digital sidebands either side of the main carrier bleed fully beyond the adjacent AM channel center and into that adjacent station's far sideband. No filter, on any receiver, regardless of bandwidth, can reject it. In order to provide room for these expanded sidebands superimposing digital information on top of analog audio, stations also have had to narrow their audio response to an absolute 5 KHz maximum, further reducing standard analog audio quality. Adherence to strict technical standards is now an absolute imperative, both in the transmitter, modulation technique, and antenna or you have an even worse interference problem. And we all know radio stations often fail in this area of strict adherence. This, currently, is what the FCC calls "Hybrid" digital operation, the precursor to going fully digital at some future date.


ENTER MONEY AND BIG BUSINESS

Now on to money and big-business, which seems to fuel today's society more than ever. Have you ever seen the licensing agreement that radio stations must capitulate to in order to broadcast under Ibiquity Digital Corporation's patents? Well, here it is:

http://www.ibiquity.com/i/Licensing_%20Fact_%20Sheet_2009.pdf

Here's the meat of it, and what the radio station must agree to if they wish to broadcast IBOC HD Radio:

1. The agreement is perpetual. You are handcuffed to Ibiquity, your provider and benefactor, forever.

2. Pay a one time fee of $25,000 to Ibiquity for rights to broadcast the Main Audio Channel. A station now pays a private, for-profit company for the right to broadcast its main signal.

3. Revenue sharing (part of your profit goes to Ibiquity). Pay 3% of incremental net revenue derived from any supplemental audio services made possible with HD Radio technology (a minimum of $1,000 per year per audio channel).

4. More revenue sharing (more of your profit goes to Ibiquity). Pay 3% of incremental net revenue derived from transmission of Auxilliary Data (Secondary and Tertiary digital data not associated with the Main Channel Primary Data).

5. Pay me again. Software upgrades to the existing HD Radio system must be licensed by paying an extra annual fee or the prevailing rate at the time of increase.


ENTER THE GOVERNMENT

And sad to say, the US Government (in name of the FCC) acts as a money-funneling agent for Ibiquity in their authorization of Ibiquity as the sole supplier of HD Radio technology. Call it monopoly if you wish. Yeah, yeah, I know - so Ibiquity has the patents on this technology. So what. Money, money, money, and more money. What ever happened to the PUBLIC INTEREST?

THE BIG DELAY

One more thing. Did you know that HD Radio is delayed by several seconds because of the technical encoding requirements? The figure most often seen is 8 seconds. No more taking the radio to the ballgame and listening to the commentator instead of the stadium announcer. No more listening to your favorite radio announcer describing the game while you watch it on TV.

SOME INTERESTING INFORMATION

As of this writing, some 289 stations broadcast in HD on the AM band in the US. Recently the FCC has added a link to their web page which provides a list of them:

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/digital/index.html

Click on the "AM" link on the page. The FM list is also available by clicking on the "FM" link.

Here's another useful page which attempts to document all AM IBOC stations, and stays fairly current:

http://topazdesigns.com/iboc/station-list.html

If you dislike IBOC, be sure to check out the Stop IBOC web site:

http://www.stopiboc.com/

An interesting article on Ibiquity's web site on technical requirements:

http://www.ibiquity.com/i/pdfs/Conversion_Requirements.pdf

And Ibiquity's licensing FAQ page:

http://www.ibiquity.com/broadcasters/licensing

Some other links:

http://hdradiofarce.blogspot.com/
http://radiomagonline.com/digital_radio/eye_iboc/

CONCLUSION

Let's hope from a radio enthusiast and DXer's standpoint that IBOC eventually fails when radio stations give up on the technology. Some have started to do that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sangean DT-400W Mini Review



The Sangean DT-400W is a dream receiver. Let me explain what I mean by this. If I had had one of these little radios when I was a teenage kid in the early 1960s I would have been in heaven. Digital tuning. It receives AM and FM frequencies, though no shortwave. It receives the Weather band. Good sensitivity. Fair but acceptable selectivity. Shirt pocket sized, and ten times better than the Japanese transistor radios of the day. And today, almost the perfect ultralight. I ordered mine from PROVANTAGE.COM for $49.58 plus shipping.

The DT-400W is the size of a pack of cigarettes, only thinner. It is in a vertical format, as were the transistor radios of many years ago. Audio is crisp, and very enjoyable. It has no external antenna, save the loopstick at the bottom of the radio for the MW band.

Two AA batteries are required. Battery life is fair, though nowhere near the Kaito WRX911. I use a pair of 2500 mAH NIMH rechargeables.

Tuning is accomplished with up and down arrow buttons. 19 memory positions are present for saving your favorite channels. A drawback I find is that you cannot tune out of a memory channel as the memory function is part of the carousel band switching method: AM-FM-MEMORY. You must switch back to the AM or FM band before you can tune again.

Sensitivity is good, and better than most ultralights. I find the selectivity only fair, but about the same as most small ultralights. In a dense RF environment, you may have some channel bleed on adjacent frequencies. The new DSP ultralights promise better selectivity, but so far have not shown better sensitivity. I find its nulling capabilities on the MW band also excellent.

Lack of an FM or Weather band antenna has been overcome by having the radio's circuitry couple to the headphone lead-in when headphones are connected. A short wire is also supplied with a headphone type plug on one end to act as an antenna if you are using the speaker.

The DT-400W comes with a nice belt clip which you can attach to the back. Volume control is a traditional wheel at the top. A switch is also at the top which will give DBB bass boost to the radio. A lock switch is at the right side which will prevent the radio from changing settings or tuning should you bump it.

Power button is at the top as well, and a quick press turns the radio on and sets a 90 minute timer. The radio will turn off after 90 minutes in case you fall asleep. Holding the power button down for an extra second will void this "feature". The dial has a nice, warm yellow backlight which comes on for a few seconds if the controls are touched.

The DT-400W couples to a passive loop fairly well, though not as well as some ultralights. Coupling needs to be quite close. Remember the loopstick is at the bottom of the radio.

Though not a cheap buy at a $50-dollar bill, the DT-400W lives up to my expectations very nicely. When I want a small portable unit to take with me, I usually grab it versus the other radios I have. Very nice, indeed.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kaito WRX911 Mini Review



I've had the Kaito WRX911 ultralight for a couple of months now since ordering it from JR.com. What a fantastic receiver for the price - $16.99 plus shipping! I bought the black one. It is slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes and about as thick.

The WRX911 is an analog set with slide rule tuning dial. Mediumwave AM, FM, and shortwave bands are included. The dial is tight, I can find almost no slack in it - very good for such a small, inexpensive radio. The tuning knob is sized large enough to get a good grip on, a little larger than the tuning wheel of the Sony SRF-59. Tuning is still touchy, though not as touchy as the SRF-59. Shortwave tuning range is 4.6 - 22 MHz. It is a very quiet receiver, being analog.

The radio uses two AA sized batteries. With headphones, battery usage is almost nil. A fellow owner claims upwards of 400 hours battery life. Batteries do not come with the unit. Included with the radio are a pair of earbuds and a cloth carrying case with drawstring.



The WRX911 uses a ferrite loopstick antenna for the MW band. Contrary to the wildly-enthusiastic reports of superb nulling ability, mine was only so-so out of the box and I questioned why. I noticed some interaction with the telescoping whip on the MW band, so I opened the case and had a look. Naturally, the whip has a short jumper which connects it to the circuit board. Tracing the circuit path, it seems to also connect somehow to one end of the loopstick wiring. The MW sensitivity is increased a little with this connection to the whip, but this severely compromises the nulling ability. Mostly I bought the WRX911 for MW reception anyway, so using a soldering iron, I unsoldered this connection (see photo) and taped off the wire, and rechecked. The nulling ability improved dramatically and is now as good as noted by others. And I no longer receive Radio Poland (on shortwave) at the high end of the MW band! Note that unsoldering this wire gives you no reception possibility on shortwave or FM.

Sensitivity with the antenna mod is still fair, though a little down from before. The radio's sensitivity is less than the Sangean DT-400W but easily brought up to acceptable with a small loop or external tuned ferrite rod like a Q-Stick. I have a homemade 4-inch tunable ferrite bar which does a nice job in coupling to the WRX911. Coupling to a passive loop is good. Currently I use both 12 inch and 42 inch loops here. Reception on the 42 inch is phenomenal.

Selectivity on the WRX911 is fairly good, a world of difference better than the Sony SRF-M37V, and perhaps on a rough par with the Sangean DT-400W.

The radio has a separate on/off switch from the volume control. I find it easy to forget and leave it on. I think it would be better had they incorporated it into the volume control.

For $16.99, how can you go wrong with this radio? Cheap fun. Get one before they are gone.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The 12-Inch Passive Loop


Now on to some projects I've been working on here this summer.

Haven't built a passive loop in many years, probably since way back in the 1970s, so thought I'd get back into it. The first is a 12-inch loop (12 inches per side). Now where do I find 100+ feet of wire? Who wants to buy wire? Not me.

I had a 20 foot length of 6-conductor, solid, twisted-pair telephone wire in a box in the cellar. The cover can be stripped with a razor blade or Xacto-Knife if you work carefully. In 15 minutes I had it complete. Take each pair of wires, tighten them up in an electric drill motor chuck, tie the other end to a door knob, and unwind them. Now you have 120 feet of nice, 24 gauge insulated wire of different colors.

I then spliced and soldered the lengths together. The wooden form consists of two 1/2 x 4 x 17 inch hardwood pieces formed into a cross by notching and gluing. The 4-inch width makes it sit up nicely all by itself. I then cut a small, 4 x 4 inch piece of thin wood veneer and nailed it to the center of the cross for support and a mount for the variable capacitor.


I didn't bother filing spacing notches for the wires, choosing to wind the coil in a close-wound fashion. Small wire nails in appropriate places make nice anchors for the wire. 26 turns of wire were wound around the form. My variable capacitor is a 250 pf unit, so a few extra turns were called for. Normally you wouldn't need 26 turns for a 365 pf unit. This loop tunes from about 510 KHz to 1500 KHz or so. A small jumper wire, about 4 inches in length with alligator clips on either end, is used to clip off a couple of turns of the loop to get the tuning range up to 1710 KHz.

Sensitivity of the loop is good, better than a 4-inch tuned ferrite rod placed next to your ULR. Nulling is sharp. Best thing about this loop is that it is extremely portable and can be set on a small garden table next to your chair. New York City, about 265 miles from here, is not generally receivable under daytime circumstances. Using this loop, stations like WFAN-660, WABC-770, and WCBS-880, all 50KW, are adequately above the noise level and are comfortably received using headphones.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Signor Marconi's Magic Box


Took this book to Arizona last winter to read. And what a great read it was. Learn the history of radio and how it developed through the efforts of Marconi himself, constantly striving for greater and greater distances of transmission, using larger and larger antennas and transmitters. If you love radio like I do, you will love this book.

Here's the Kirk McElhearn review-

http://www.techsoc.com/marconi.htm

Available from amazon.com-

http://www.amazon.com/Signor-Marconis-Magic-Box-Remarkable/dp/0306812754

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tecsun PL-600 Review And Schematics

       -With Comparisons To The Kaito 1103
       -And a slant towards medium wave reception

       -by RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER

       Purchased From: www.amazon.com
       US Distributor: Kaito Electronics
       Price: $79.99 + shipping

       Serial#: 20090220

Arrival

My new radio arrived from the Kaito distributor in California after a one week UPS trek across country. The PL-600 and accessories themselves were in a box of their own inside the shipping box which was stuffed with Chinese newspapers - I had no doubt that this Tecsun had come straight out of China! Adequate it seems, as everything arrived in good shape. Lots of Chinese writing all over the radio box, English as well, this ought to be interesting!

The PL-600 is available in three colors - a medium grey, silver, and black. Kaito sent me a grey one, though the Amazon ad depicted a black unit. Good enough.

Accessories

The PL-600 comes with a nice accessory package. Inside was an extremely nice foldover velcro travel case, external antenna wire wound on a spool (including mini connector and curtain clip), earbuds, 4 NiMH batteries (1000mAH), a 6 volt wall-wart AC adapter (for 110V), and manuals.

Manuals

Yes, manuals. Both English and Chinese manuals were included. The Chinese manual has many graphics depicting the use of the controls, and even some of the textual balloons are in English, though 99.9% of the manual is Chinese of course. The English manual is mostly a textual explanation of radio operations with a few pertinent graphics on pages 3 and 4. The Chinese manual contains a lot of numerical specifications that are not presented in the English manual.

Setup

The radio requires 4 AA batteries. Battery level is displayed on the screen, and is accurate for either NiMH batteries (~1.2 volts) or standard alkalines (~1.5 volts). When you set up the radio, you tell it through a system set code whether you are using alkalines or NiMH. The NiMH batteries are chargeable right in the radio using the AC adaptor. You can even set up the charge rate too. Charging automatically shuts off when finished. Excellent. The radio came preset for NiMH batteries.

The radio was also preset for North America, in that the medium wave (MW) broadcast band split was already set up for 10KHz. The long wave band (100KHz - 520KHz) was already activated too (the LW band on this radio is activated/deactivated by setting a system set code).

No other setup was required.

Quality and Ergonomics

The PL-600 build and fit quality is good, about the same as the Kaito 1103. The telescoping whip antenna seems a little cheaper in quality. My top section was slightly bent the first time it was pulled out, but easily straightened. It is the same length as the whip on the 1103, though not chromed as much.

Buttons are square on this radio, and give a nice solid click when pressed. Lettering is next to each button (usually above or below), not on the button itself, so it can't be worn off by repeated pressing of the button. Good thinking. Keypad is laid out very well. Very intuitive. Ergonomically, this radio is a near masterpiece. You hardly need the manual to learn how to use it.

A front-firing, round speaker is to the left, nearly 3 inches across. The left side of the radio has an external antenna jack, a three-position attenuator switch, a two-position tone switch (favoring treble or bass), a headphone jack, and a power jack for the AC adapter (6 volts, center pin is negative, by the way).

Three knobs are on the right side of the radio. They are tuning, volume, and BFO (used for tuning SSB). The BFO has a center detent, a nice feature.

On the back of the radio is a flip stand for elevating the PL-600 if set on a flat surface. The PL-600 also comes with a hand strap.

The LCD Display

The display is clear and easy to read, contrast is good (better than other reviews seem to have indicated). Backlight is yellow with a faint greenish tint to it. I like it, as it seems more natural and warm. It is 1000% more readable than my Eton E1, which was five times the price. The clock shows all the time, and in 24 hour format, hours and minutes only, no seconds. Two timers are available which can activate the radio for up to 90 minutes.

The PL-600 also has a nice 5-section signal strength bar, with 5 hash marks per section. I find it reads a little high, but it is an admirable effort at showing signal strength. It does catch your attention, much more so than the tiny Kaito 1103 signal strength bar.

The BFO

The BFO covers a little more than 2 KHz either side of the tuned carrier, wider than the Kaito 1103. The BFO at detent was close to but not exactly zeroed on the carrier frequencies of the MW stations I checked (perhaps ~500Hz off). It is touchy to adjust when attempting to tune an AM station using the ECSS method, but no touchier than tuning a Sony SRF-59! I will call it okay for a small portable - at least it has a real knob to grip and a wide range.

I find the recovered audio weak when tuning AM stations in the ECSS mode, so I probably won't use this technique much on this receiver. The BFO works well for normal CW or SSB though, and is fun and easy to tune in stations operating in these modes. It also works well for detecting weak carriers on the MW band.

Antennas

The PL-600 employs a ferrite antenna (4" in length) for the LW and MW band frequencies (up to 1710 KHz). Signal nulling is excellent, and slightly better than my Kaito 1103. It is probably the best signal nulling radio I own, including the ultralights. Its null is very distinct, where the 1103's seems broader and a fraction less deep. It's peak also has more of a sharpness to it which I don't notice in the 1103. It couples well to a passive loop, though not as well as the 1103. Coupling distance needs to be closer than the 1103, and the sweet spot is about two inches down from the top of the radio on the back side.

Shortwave and FM employ the telescoping whip antenna. An external antenna jack is at the left side of the radio, usable for shortwave and FM, defeating the whip.

Attenuator Switch

The attenuator switch (Local, Normal, DX) works for shortwave and FM only. Beware - the manual errs in stating it works for AM and shortwave only. It does not work for AM, unfortunately. While tuning shortwave, I found the attenuator switch attenuated signals too heavily even in the "Normal" position, so I left it in the "DX" position at all times. It seems to work okay on the FM band.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity of the PL-600 is good. On the MW band it is just slightly down from my Kaito 1103 across the band. Judging by ear on a weak station at noise level, I would figure it to be some 3-6 dB down from the 1103 at worst. For example, a signal barely above the noise level on the PL-600 which is 50% copyable (by voice intelligibility) will be just at the threshold of 100% copyable on the 1103. Used as your primary receiver, the slightly less sensitivity of the PL-600 on MW becomes a moot point if combined with a signal enhancing agent like a Q-Stick or even a small tunable passive loop.

On FM, the PL-600 is about the same sensitivity as the 1103. A cursory check was done on several weak stations, and strength was identical in all cases.

Sensitivity on the shortwave bands is so close I can't tell a difference. A few extra feet of wire clipped to the whip greatly enhances shortwave signal strength.

Tuning

In tuning the radio, no chuffing or dropout is apparent, and tuning is very smooth. Two tuning speeds are available, slow and fast, selectable by pressing a button on the front of the radio. In the fast speed, the radio tunes in 9 or 10 KHz increments on the MW band using the tuning dial or up and down buttons, 5 KHz on the shortwave bands, and 100 KHz on the FM band. Fast speed tunes through the LW band in 9 KHz increments. In the slow speed, the radio tunes in 1 KHz increments on the LW band, MW band and shortwave, and 10 KHz on the FM band.

Direct entry tuning couldn't be easier, and is the best on any radio I have used lately, including the Eton E1 and my old Drake SW-8. Simply punch in the frequency and the radio tunes to it - no pressing an "Enter" key, or period "." key twice, etc. It does in fact have an "Enter" key, however it is generally only needed on the FM band for MHz operations if you choose not to enter the trailing zeroes. Also, general band selection can be done by the "carousel" method. There is a button which takes you through LW-MW-FM, and another button that carousels you through the shortwave bands.

Scanning

Scanning is simple. Simply press and hold the "Up" or "Down" tuning button for a couple of seconds and the radio will scan in that direction through the current band. The PL-600 has a special function called Automatic Tuning Scan (ATS), which will scan both the MW and FM bands for receivable stations. Those found are saved in the P0 (Page 0) memory bank. Up to 100 can be saved. Simply press and hold the LW-MW-FM button and the ATS scan starts. A very nice feature.

Filters

Two filter widths are available for LW, MW and shortwave - wide and narrow, most likely 6 KHz and 4 KHz. The English manual does not specify the filter widths, although I am fairly certain the narrow filter is a 4 KHz one.

I tested both against strong local channels on the MW band. Both radios have front-end overload tendencies in an extremely strong signal area, and at my location I have one problem station: a 20KW transmitter at 4.9 miles distance. Both radios suffer mild overload and desense with the 20KW station at full daytime (20KW) power in the wide filter setting, though dramatically less in the narrow filter setting. This is not a defect in either radio at signals of this magnitude with standard filtering (non-DSP), considering their price point. My problem station drops its power to 500 watts at night, so further testing was done at that time.

Continuing on after dark, the wide filter feels slightly wider than my Kaito 1103, and a little extra slop-over is heard on the PL-600 at +/-10 KHz either side of a strong station. The PL-600 wide filter setting introduces a bit of treble hiss into the audio, more than the 1103. This is natural of its own right, regardless of the radio, though I attribute this on the PL-600 to the audio curve tending much more towards the treble end of the spectrum than the 1103.

The narrow filter is very close in performance to the 1103's. Adjacent channel slop is minimal on strong stations and about the same as the 1103. In an additional bonus, I found the narrow filter on the PL-600 to be lengths ahead in audio intelligibility as opposed to the 1103's. To me, the 1103's narrow filter sounds muffled. Not so on the PL-600. Signals are crisp and intelligible like tube sets used to be. Old timers will remember this sound, almost a feeling of being out there in the "ether", a third-dimensional feeling. Which brings us to audio....

Audio

Audio seems to be the sticking point for most critics of this radio. The complaints I have read indicate that it sounds harsh or distorted. It definitely tends towards the treble end of the spectrum, both with the wide and narrow filters, which is not to the taste of many people. I found YouTube to be a great source when prescreening a radio for purchase, as you can not only SEE, but HEAR it in actual use.

So check out the video reviews on YouTube. They give you a pretty good idea of the audio quality. Some will like it and some will not. I actually like my audio a bit harsh, skewed to the treble side. I think it aids in intelligibility with identifying DX. Many sets have too much injected bass, which muddies the signal. I always felt the renowned Sony 2010 was the worst offender here - great audio in the wide filter position, but total unintelligible mush in the narrow position, like someone speaking through a pillow. Why have a narrow filter if the audio is so unintelligible it's not usable? Another tip - use headphones. Audio is always better in headphones.

Lastly, the PL-600 does not incorporate a Line-Out jack, where the Kaito 1103 does. This would have been helpful.

Images

Both the PL-600 and the Kaito 1103 do have some image problems (what radio in this price range doesn't?). I found my PL-600 images to be about the same number and strength as my 1103 on each filter setting. A good way to tell? Tune your radio down in the long wave area between 100 KHz and 520 KHz and look for AM broadcast band signals 2 times (2X) the IF frequency down (910 KHz for the PL-600, and 900 KHz for the 1103). Another good place to check for images is in the 60 meter shortwave broadcast band, 4750 KHz - 5100 KHz. Strong stations in the 49 meter band (5750 KHz - 6200 KHz) will produce images here, at 900 or 910 KHz lower. Both radios show problems in this band as well.

Signal Spurs

In a quick check of the MW band, I found a couple of signal spurs on the PL-600, showing up as weak heterodynes. One was at 550 KHz, which was probably a weak image combination with another local AM powerhouse station at 1460 KHz. The Kaito 1103 had a nice image of this station at 560 KHz, with full but weak audio. No image audio of this station was apparent on the PL-600 at 550 KHz, just the weak heterodyne, which by the way was nullable, another indication it is image-related.

Noise Immunity

The PL-600 seems less noise-prone than the Kaito 1103. In that, I mean it has less susceptibility in reproducing household RFI noise than the 1103. I can take both radios to a particular part of the house plagued with RFI from computers, switching supplies, lighting, etc., and the 1103 is always markedly noisier. The PL-600's LCD display is also quite a bit cleaner than the 1103. Moving your hand close to the 1103's display produces a tremendous amount of hash. Not so with the PL-600.

Memory

The PL-600 has 600 memories, divided into ten pages of 50 each, and one page of 100. Even this can be modified when you set up the radio. I've never been one much for using memory on radios, preferring to tune. But memory operation couldn't be simpler, and is very intuitive. Tune the station, press the Memory button, select the memory slot#, press Memory button again to store a frequency. You can even copy a memory location into another one, a nice feature. Recall is even easier.

Summation

I find the Tecsun PL-600 to be a marvelous radio for the price, and one I will keep. It is a strong contender against the Kaito 1103 in performance/price range, stronger than any other I know at this time, and definitely worth the $79.99 asking price. Realize it is near half the asking price of a Grundig G5 or a Sony SW7600GR, and 95% as able. Though the audio might be considered a little harsh depending on taste, it is adequately sensitive, selective, and has great nulling and peaking ability on medium wave. It has terrific ergonomics and software, 600 memories, and adequate filters - specifically the narrow filter having excellent audio recovery (particularly apparent in headphones). It has two tuning speeds, a well-designed BFO, a main tuning knob including up and down tuning buttons, a real volume control, a bright (with backlight) easy to read display, and a well-supplied accessory package. It will make a great substitute for my ailing 1103, and a great spotting radio for MW band DX.

In my travels about the 'net this week, I've discovered the schematics for the PL-600. I've uploaded them to my file sharing service for your perusal.

PL-600 schematic: http://www.box.net/shared/viigcmuxl4


Friday, August 14, 2009

Solar Cycle 24 Start Delayed Until April, 2010


Recent predictions and charts of Solar Cycles 23-24 by the Australian Space Weather Agency show the start of the new cycle delayed again until April, 2010.

Bad news for shortwave buffs, but maybe better news for mediumwave DXers.

http://www.ips.gov.au/Solar/1/6

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New MW DX Season About To Start?


Time to get back to business here at RADIO-TIMETRAVELLER. Summer has slipped by on me, and we are wending our way back towards the Fall season all of a sudden. Where has the summer gone?

Just purchased a new Tecsun PL-600 receiver from Amazon for a great price of $79.99 plus shipping. Kaito Electronics out on the west coast is the distributor for this little gem. Been having some problems with my Kaito 1103 over the last year, and I bought the PL-600 as a replacement. It's very close to the Kaito in performance, and I like it better in almost every way. I've written a review of the new Tecsun, and I'll be posting it here on the blog. This review in .PDF format has been posted to the ultralightdx group file area as well.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ultralightdx/

Recent activity of some good mediumwave DX catches has appeared on the Yahoo ultralightdx group. Conditions seem to be showing some improvement as we get nearer to September.

Did some DXing the other night with the Sangean DT-400W and the new Tecsun PL-600 receiver which I use for spotting. I concentrated on 850KHz. Been wanting to catch KOA, Denver for the longest time, and I finally did.

Loggings recorded August 8, 2009.

850 Khz, 0112 UTC, KOA, Denver, Colorado. 50KW 1420 miles
850 Khz, 0120 UTC, WKNR, Cleveland, Ohio. 4.7KW 235 miles

And an unidentified ESPN sports radio station on the same frequency (why won't they identify?), quite strong, but nullable. Several stations were underneath this one, including the two above. KOA is a good catch here for me. It is outside the normal DX distance range. I caught it within a few minutes of sunset at the Denver end.

Spent some time this summer evaluating the my new Sangean DT-400W and Kaito WRX911 ultralights. They are both amazing little radios, and for different reasons. More on that later.