Not forsaken, just word bound

Just a quick note for anyone who reads this blog (all 2 of you!). I haven’t forsaken it, I just got to a point where I didn’t have a lot to say, a sort of bloggers block! I have also been pursuing my other hobby, photography, quite ernestly, and that, along with much gardening through the summer has curtailed any thoughts of writing. Normal service will be resumed as the nights draw in and more time is spent on the radio.

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Great conditions

I’ve not had an extended listening session for a while, until this evening. I was pleasantly surprised that conditions are excellent, and I am hoping this continues through the weekend. And it is not just high bands or low bands, it is across the board. So a good number of stations logged; some well known ones but received with higher strength than normal, and some South Americans which don’t often pop up until later into the summer. A great evenings listening!

15580 Khz Botswana VOA 18:23
UTC English. Africa News Tonight SINPO: 44444 2017-05-05

15400 Khz Ascension Island BBCWS 18:36 UTC English. Sports news SINPO: 43434 2017-05-05

15540 Khz Kuwait R Kuwait 18:57 UTC English. ‘This day in History’ program SINPO: 54444 2017-05-05

9700 Khz New Zealand RNZI 19:06 UTC English. News. Some ACI from VOIRI on 9710 SINPO: 32222 2017-05-05

11900 Khz Sao Tome VOA 20:10 UTC French. Music and chat SINPO: 33333 2017-05-05

12015 Khz North Korea V O Korea 20:17 UTC German service. Classical and Korean music SINPO: 43333 2017-05-05

9480 Khz Japan R Japan 20:22 UTC Japanese. Discussion SINPO: 32233 2017-05-05

9630 Khz Brazil R Aparecida 20:27 UTC Portugese. Chat SINPO: 21122 2017-05-05

9650 Khz Guinea R Guinea 20:34 UTC French. Discussion. Some ACI from Algirienne on 9655 SINPO: 33333 2017-05-05

9730 Khz Vietnam V O Vietnam 20:38 UTC French. World news SINPO: 54444 2017-05-05

9895 Khz Egypt R Cairo 20:44 UTC French. Amazingly, it is legible. Just a small amount of hum. Music and chat SINPO: 44444 2017-05-05

5915 Khz Zambia R Zambia 21:02 UTC Vernacular. Discussion SINPO: 22222 2017-05-05

5940 Khz Brazil R Voz Missionaria 21:07 UTC Music SINPO: 21122 2017-05-05

5980 Khz Botswana VOA 21:13 UTC French. Music and chat SINPO: 43333 2017-05-05

7460 Khz Mongolia RFA 21:29 UTC Korean. Discussion SINPO: 33333 2017-05-05

KBS World Service Tests to India and Europe for A17 season

With thanks to the Radioactivity blog comes this news:

KBS World Radio English Service will carry out test transmission from March 6 to 9 ahead of the A17 shortwave frequency adjustment. Please tune into the following frequencies and send us your reception reports. Your feedback will help us greatly in choosing the best frequency option for the new season. Thank you !

Date     Time (UTC)  Frequencies (KHz)  Target Area

March 6 & 7, 2017 – 2300 – 2400 UTC – 11810 kHz to Europe
March 6 & 7, 2017 –  1400 – 1600 UTC – 9525 kHz to India
March 8 & 9, 2017 –  1400 – 1600 UTC – 9880 kHz to India

(KBS)

February goes out with a bang

Listening conditions for a large chunk of the Winter Period (here in the Northern Hemisphere) have been plagued with noise and low MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency). This has been caused, in part, to a somewhat disturbed Sun. Even though we are in the descending part of the current cycle, CME’s and other perturbations can still occur.

However, over the last week or so, Old Sol has quietened down enabling a number of stations, not heard here for a while, to be logged once again. I noticed that South American stations have started to become audible earlier. Radio Bahrain, which is only a 10 KW transmitter and usually inaudible for most of the year, was logged on the 28th. Fairly deep down in the noise, but audible nonetheless.

Some I’m looking forward to some better weather as we move into spring, to enable me to repair my antenna which the autumn gales slightly trashed. I am also looking forward to getting out and about with a newly acquired Tecsun PL-310ET. This diminutive can pack a punch when connected to an external antenna, but can overload. So I want to get it away from all the urban RFI and see how it performs. I will report on this at a later date. So here’s to spring and summer and good DXing.

Stations logged on the last day of February:

9335 Khz Phillipines VOA 16:21 UTC Burmese. Discussion SINPO: 33223 2017-02-28

9355 Khz Thailand VOA Deewa Radio 16:27 UTC Pashto. Discussion. Horrible over-modulation. SINPO: 54344 2017-02-28

9390 Khz Thailand RFE 16:30 UTC Uzbek. ID and schedules at 16:30. SINPO: 44444 2017-02-28

9405 Khz Taiwan R Taiwan Intl. 16:33 UTC Traditional music and chat in English. ID at 16:40 SINPO: 32222 2017-02-28

9525 Khz Java V O Indonesia 17:12 UTC Spanish. Discussion with male announcer.ID at 17:15 SINPO: 44444 2017-02-28

9730 Khz Vietnam V O Vietnam 17:19 UTC Vietnamese. YL announcer. SINPO: 43333 2017-02-28

9745 Khz Bahrain R Bahrain. 17:22 UTC Arabic. OM announcer just audible. Some music at 17:24 SINPO: 22112 2017-02-28

9810 Khz Singapore BBCWS 17:26 UTC Dari. Closing announcements and back-ground music. SINPO: 54444 2017-02-28

9835 Khz Malaysia RTM Sarawak 17:30 UTC Music. SINPO: 22222 2017-02-28

9390 Khz Thailand R Thailand 19:00 UTC English. News and current affairs on The Morning Program SINPO: 54455 2017-02-28

9985 Khz Thailand VOA 19:10 UTC Korean. Music and chat SINPO: 43333 2017-02-28

 

Tecsun PL-365 Review

I have had this receiver for over 6 months now, and whilst not using it every day, I have used it enough to have an informed opinion of it’s pro’s and con’s.

Overview

A quick description of the receiver for those who have not heard of it.

pl365

The receiver is of an unusual design, more like a hand-held transceiver, measuring 53(W) X 159(H) X 26(D) mm. It naturally fits in the hand, with the thumb resting easily on the thumb-wheel tuning. The buttons on the front are for a number of alarm and display functions, SSB selection, and ETM, along with band selection and up/down keys. The inclusion of SSB makes this quite a unique radio, and certainly interesting to use when out and about.

It is supplied with ear buds, faux leather carrying case, the plug-in MW bar, and instruction booklet. A manual is also available to download.

As can be seen from the picture, the receiver sports a telescopic antenna for FM/SW, and a unique plug-in MW ferrite rod antenna, which is rotatable in its socket.

Band coverage is as follows:

FM 87~108 MHz

MW 522~1620

SW 1711~29999 kHz

Long Wave is also available and on mine was factory set to be included, but if not, it can be made available by the menu options.

Like many of Tecsun’s latest receivers, the PL-365 includes the ETM function, which stands for Easy Tuning Mode. With this, you select the band (MW,FM,SW), press ETM, and it loads into a local memory, all the stations that it detects. These do not over-ride any of the main memory that may have been already used to store stations. It is specific ‘ETM’ memory. Once the detection process is completed, the tuning wheel is then used to select each of the stations detected. This is an extremely useful feature on this receiver, as it doesn’t have keypad entry for frequencies. And band scanning using the thumb wheel in 5 Khz steps can get tedious! Of course, ETM will have to be repeated a number of times during an extended listening period as stations come and go.

Initial Listening Tests

My first port of call on starting the listening tests was FM, to judge how it received the local and national broadcasters, and to see how stereo broadcasts are received. Incidentally, I changed the supplied ear buds for some in-ear types which I find stay in place better. All national broadcasters (BBC) and local radio stations (BBC and independent) were detected well. Received audio on the built in speaker is pleasant, but as can imagined from such a small speaker, not of great range. However, stereo broadcasts from BBC Radio 3 (classical music) and Classic FM, sounded excellent using the ear buds. At night time, some further afield stations are detected, so the FM sensitivity is good.

When I conducted these initial tests, it was evening so I decided to give the MW band a whirl as well. I fitted the MW bar antenna into it’s socket atop the receiver, selected MW and hit the ETM button. After a couple of minutes, the detection process stopped and a great number of stations had been detected. Going through them, not only were there the local (and not so local) UK MW stations, but some from much further afield such as Bretagne 5, SBC in Riyadh, and RNE Radio 5 in Madrid. By turning the ferrite antenna, it was possible to peak these stations nicely.

So now to SW. As can be seen, SW coverage is full range from 1711 – 29999, excellent for a receiver of this price range. For this initial test, listening was carried out in the early evening, in the garden, during the summer, so the higher bands were where most of the action was. Following a similar pattern to the FM and MW test, the telescopic whip was extended and the ETM button pressed. On stopping detection, a total of 65 stations were noted. One or two of these, it later proved, were images, but for the most part they were all receivable signals. The treshold for detection is quite low, so some stations are barely audible under the noise, a testament to the sensitivity of the 365. All the major stations were received well, such as VOA on 15580, Saudia Arabia on a number of frequencies, CRI of course, over numerous frequencies. And in between, stations such as CNR1 (China National Radio), the regional Chinese service, and R Australia on 12065, BBC from Singapore.

After this, I did some listening on the 20 and 40m ham bands. To do this is slightly tricky, as it entails coming out of ETM mode by pressing the VF/VM button. This puts the radio into frequency mode and the thumb wheel is then used to get to the correct frequency. The USB/LSB button is then pressed and once a station is found, press the BFO button. The tuning thumb then becomes a BFO fine tune, and the amateur radio station can be tuned in accurately. It is tricky to start with but you do get used to it and amateur stations can be tuned in well. I received a number of European stations on 40m and European/Asian ones on 20m. So again, sensitivity is good, even though this is just using the whip antenna.

Long Term Listening Impressions

Over the months between those initial tests and now, I have done a number of hours listening using this radio, on both the MW and SW bands. I especially like it if I am out for a walk in the country near us as its handy to carry in the pocket. One Sunday I listened to the whole hour of a VOA broadcast on 15580, whilst wandering along the Lincolnshire foot paths. And it is also a nice radio to do a bit of casual listening from the armchair of an evening, when the TV is on but of no interest. This way I have enjoyed many a broadcast from VOA, RRI and the BBC using the ear buds. It’s also nice to tune into the Celtic music of Bretagne 5 during the evening on MW as a change from the fair on BBC Radio 2 or 3.

Conclusion

Would I recommend this radio? Yes I would, whole heartedly. For what it is designed to do, it does very well. Could it be better? Of course. A keypad would be nice, an external antenna port would be great and so on. But it was designed to be a general coverage receiver, in a small, hand-held package, and for that it receives top marks.

ABC Australia – short-sighted and out of touch

It was on January 31st the ABC ended its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory and to international audiences.

Yesterday a coalition of protesters gathered outside the ABC headquarters in Ultimo to protest restructure plans by new Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, including ending shortwave transmission.

Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), Hands off Radio National Music and ABC Friends say a range of management decisions have created a crisis at the national broadcaster, telling radioinfo that recent decisions  demonstrate how out of touch the ABC Executive has become.

Among the speakers yesterday was ABC Friends NSW President Mal Hewitt who spoke about the impact the shortwave closure is having on local communties, but not before outling a list of people that rely on it.

  • Tour operators and passengers virtually over the whole of the north of Australia.
  • Aboriginal Sea Rangers who work right around the top end.
  • Fisherman both commercial and indigenous.
  • Stock camps always on the move.
  • Cattle Stations.
  • Truckies.
  • Grey Nomads – there are clusters of them around their FM receivers on a Saturday afternoon listening to the footy.
  • Road construction workers
  • Miners and prospectors ever the oil rigs off the north west coast take short wave.
  • Tradesman on the road…

“And residents of about 150 remote Aboriginal across the Northern Territory, the top of Western Australia and Queensland. Another very important group of people that totally goes under ABC management’s radar, I suspect ABC management doesn’t recognise brown people and it specifically doesn’t recognise brown and poor people…..read more at->

 

Program favourites – Music Time in Africa

Listening to the short wave bands over a number of years, you build up a list of favourite programs on some of the stations. The Morning Show on R Thailand, a magazine program about what’s going on and what’s on in Thailand,  CRI’s ‘Drive Time’ program, also a magazine program for events in China, broadcast presumably, for people going to work. RRI has their regular ‘A world of Culture’ which gets you close to past and current cultural developments in Romania. If like me, you love all forms of music, then ‘Music Time in Africa’ from VOA is a must listen.

Broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays for one hour at 09:00, 15:00, 20:00, and 22:00 hours UTC, it offers an eclectic mix of music from all around Africa. If you like ‘World Music’ then you will love this show. Hosted by Heather Maxwell, who has an infectious enthusiasm for the music she presents, the show will give you, for instance, jazz-style music from Mali, or the tribal folk-style songs of Generale Defoe from the DRC amongst many. From her bio on the VOA pages for the program, ‘Heather Maxwell is an ethnomusicologist and experienced music professional in West Africa and the United States.

The program started in 1965, and so is one of VOA’s longest running shows. The show was founded by Leo Sarkisian, who retired from the show in 2012 and handed the reins over to Heather. Leo and his wife used to carry a reel-to-reel tape recorder with them all around Africa to get the recordings for the show. Over the years, he built up a huge library of music and interviews, which also was handed over to Heather on Leo’s retirement. Leo was so influential that on his retirement in 2012, he had a mention in the Washington Post:

Long before there was ping-pong diplomacy or pere­stroika, a short, balding Armenian American was lugging an enormous reel-to-reel from village to village, sweet-talking people into singing and playing for him.

[…]In Africa, he socialized with presidents, military dictators, accomplished musicians and tribal villagers. He outwardly steered away from politics, but under the surface he wove a subtle diplomatic tapestry based around grooving on tunes.”

That enthusiasm for the music and getting to know the musicians abides to this day. Heather interviews and records musicians from all over Africa, although the method of recording is now no longer a large, trusty, reel-to-reel!

So, next weekend, treat yourself to an hour of the best music in Africa, and tune into Music Time in Africa. I usually use the 15580 slot at 15:00, this seems to be the best for where I am in the UK.

Alternatively, if you miss any or you would just like to get an idea of what it’s all about, the programs are available on the VOA website at: http://www.voanews.com/z/1456. MTIA also has a facebook page at: http://www.voanews.com/z/1456.