Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Mighty KBC

One of my Sunday morning ‘treats’ is to listen to the Mighty KBC on 6095 Khz. My favourite show is The Emperor Rosko, from 11 am to 3 pm (UTC). Rosko plays an eclectic mix of tracks usually from yesteryear, but not always. They encompass rock, soul jazz, the full range. And the show is of course, interspersed with Rosko’s inimitable West Coast Jock delivery! I remember listening to the Emperor back in the seventies when he did a stint on Radio Luxembourg. This was the station where I could hear music that wasn’t aired on Radio 1 in the UK, as R1 had become a format station and only played top 40 stuff. One of the tracks I remember was Steeley Dan’s ‘Do it Again’, which was the ‘Power Play’ for a week on Luxembourg. The Power Play was a record which was played every hour after the News, every hour, for a full week. These were newly released records which were giving a boost on the station. This record turned me on to Steeley Dan, and I have been a fan ever since. Now I can’t remember if at the time, Rosko was doing the slot when I heard Do it Again, or one of the other DJ’s such as Tony Prince (‘Your Royal Ruler’!). But this morning, on KBC, what should be played, by Rosko, but ‘Do it Again’ by Steeley Dan, So I would like to think that 44 years on, I heard the same record, presented by the same DJ!

Unfortunately, The Mighty KBC is due to close it’s European transmissions due to lack of sponsorship. March the 27th this year will be the last transmission if no one comes up with the goods. It will be a very great shame if this were to happen, and for me personally, a bit of a hole in my Sunday mornings. If anyone out there knows a business who would be interested in advertising on The Mighty KBC, then ask them to get in touch at: themightykbc@gmail.com. I will say now that I have no connection with KBC at all, other than an interest in a superb radio station on short wave. And it would be a great shame to see it go.

This morning I listened whilst pottering in the garden, a perfect combination!

Lincoln DX Log for week ending 13 march 2016

My only listening period for this last week has been Friday and over the weekend. I was off work on Friday to ‘supervise’ the kitchen fitters and this gave me an opportunity to listen at times I don’t normally manage. This was interesting as a number of S.E. Asian stations were coming in very well, such as KTWR from Guam along with KSDA. These are not new stations for the log, but I only normally log these during the summer in the early evenings.

A new station for the log was Dimtse Radio Erena in the Oromo language. Although not real DX, the transmitter being located in Bulgaria, it is always interesting to get a new one in the log DX or not. Looking at the website, the transmissions are for the people of Eritrea, there being no free press in Eritrea. Quoting from their website:

“Eritrea has had no free press since September 2001, when the few Asmara-based independent newspapers were closed down and their publishers and editors were arrested as part of a wave of round-ups ordered by President Issaias Afeworki.

Since then, the only news available to Eritreans in their national language has been provided by the state media –Eri-TV, Radio Dimtsi Hafash and the government daily Hadas Eritrea – which are all closely supervised by the information ministry.

Africa’s biggest prison for journalists, Eritrea has for the past two years been ranked last in the Reporters Without Borders index that measures the degree of respect for press freedom in a total of 173 countries.”

It is always good to hear these stations who are bringing information to people who would not otherwise be able to receive it, and without the censorship from a Draconian government.

15240 Khz Guam KTWR 13:16 UTC Santhali. Music followed by schedule details. Close-down at 13:15 SINPO: 33333 2016-03-11

15390 Khz Guam KTWR 13:23 UTC Karen. Male announcer. Some ACI from BKSA on 15380 SINPO: 32233 2016-03-11

15430 Khz Guam KSDA 13:25 UTC English. Music followed by abrupt dead-air at 13:30 SINPO: 33333 2016-03-11

15610 Khz USA WEWN 13:32 UTC English. Religious service broadcast. SINPO: 43344 2016-03-11

15660 Khz Guam KSDA 13:34 UTC Malay. Religious broadcast SINPO: 32233 2016-03-11

13735 Khz Northern Marianas RFA 14:04 UTC Vietnamese. Female announcer. Transmissions sounds like there are multiple fire alarms going off in the background. Some strange transmitter fault. There doesn’t appear to be any jamming on that frequency. SINPO: 32222 2016-03-11

11750 Khz Phillipines FEBC 14:13 UTC Lahu. Male announcer SINPO: 33333 2016-03-11

11890 Khz Phillipines RFE 14:17 UTC Russian. Music and chat SINPO: 33333 2016-03-11

9355 Khz Thailand VOA Deewa 17:04 UTC Pashto. News SINPO: 43333 2016-03-11

9730 Khz Vietnam V O Vietnam 17:13 UTC Vietnamese. Female announcer SINPO: 33333 2016-03-11

5875 Khz Thailand BBCWS 17:28 UTC Pashto. Schedule info followed by News. SINPO: 43333 2016-03-11

5950 Khz Ethiopia V Tigray Revolution 17:34 UTC Tigrinya. Faint talking audible. Wiped out by RRI on 5955 SINPO: 22222 2016-03-11

6050 Khz Tibet PBS Xizang 17:43 UTC Non stop music SINPO: 33333 2016-03-11

5820 Khz Madagascar RTE 19:39 UTC English. Music and discussion SINPO: 32222 2016-03-11

6005 Khz Germany R Mi Amigo Intl 08:37 UTC Music and chat SINPO: 33333 2016-03-12

15160 Khz South Korea KBS 09:09 UTC Korean. Music and chat SINPO: 33333 2016-03-12

11670 Khz Phillipines VOA 16:37 UTC Tibetan. Discussion program. Slight interference from Firedrake. SINPO: 54444 2016-03-13

11720 Khz Northern Marianas IBB 16:50 UTC Uyghur. Discussion program. ID and close out music at 16:57 SINPO: 54444 2016-03-13

11735 Khz Zanzibar ZBC 17:01 UTC Swahili. News. SINPO: 33333 2016-03-13

11750 Khz Sri Lanka SBC 17:03 UTC Sinhalese. Male and female announcer. Chat and music SINPO: 43333 2016-03-13

11845 Khz Bulgaria Dimtse Radio Erena 17:27 UTC Oromo. ID at 17:28. Sounds like phone in program SINPO: 54444 2016-03-13

12015 Khz North Korea V O Korea 17:40 UTC Korean. Male and female announcers. SINPO: 43344 2016-03-13

11725 Khz New Zealand RNZI 17:46 UTC English. Maritime weather forecast SINPO: 43333 2016-03-13

Updated Beginners Guide to Short Wave Listening

Introduction

The following is a blog post I wrote back in 2014. I felt the time was right to update it in places as things change and further information becomes available.

The following is a distillation of my experience of being an SWL and Amateur Radio Operator over a number of years. I started shortwave listening when I was 14, having built my first short wave radio. This was a simple TRF design using one valve (or tube). Back in the early seventies, there were 1000’s of stations on the air and even a simple receiver pulled in many hundreds. So I was ‘hooked’ for life. There have been a number times when I have had to give up the hobby due to family, work etc., but I have always returned! Be aware, shortwave listening becomes a life-long passion! The following is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a start.

Where to start

So where does one start in the hobby of shortwave listening? There are a number of ways and as in most hobbies, it can be reasonably cheap or expensive. The least expensive route is to purchase one of the many capable and inexpensive portable receivers which incorporate shortwave bands on them. There are a number to choose from, with the better ones coming from Tecsun, Sony, Eton and Grundig. In the case of the Tecsuns, these can be purchased directly from China at very reasonable cost, or you may find good second hand models on the internet. If you aren’t bothered about a portable receiver, then many of the older communications receivers can be bought at reasonable cost from Ebay or other outlets. Models from Yaesu (FRG-7, FRG-7000), Trio/Kenwood (R600, R1000) and a number of others are all worth having. But to work well, these receivers require an external antenna, so this may affect your choice.

The other part to starting out is reading. Read as much as you can about listening and logging stations, what frequency bands there are, the best times for listening etc. There are numerous websites, Facebook, and Yahoo groups which have information covering these topics and more, along with very knowledgeable people who can guide you as well. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question! There is a list at the end of this article giving links to some of these places.

If you already have a small portable radio with shortwave bands on it, extend the telescopic antenna and get listening! The higher frequency bands tend to be better during the day, with those lower being better at night. Details of the bands will covered later in this article. Be patient, you may not hear anything straight away, or what hear may not be in a language you can understand. But after a while, it will start to make sense and you will realise that there are broadcasters with big signals on at the same time each day, which are easily logged. If your first language is English, then there are many of these to choose from such as the BBC, VOA (Voice of America), and RRI (Radio Romania International) to name a few. After a while, you will learn to hear the sounds of other languages and be able to log these too.

The Shortwave Bands – where are they and what are they

The High Frequency (HF) extend between 1800 khz and 30000 Khz. Within this range of frequencies there are allocations, or ranges of frequencies, for various services. So if we look at the International Broadcast allocations these are as follows:

120m band – 2300 – 2495 Khz

90m band – 3200 – 3400 Khz

75m band – 3900 -4000 Khz

60m band – 4750 – 5060 Khz

These four bands are known as the Tropical Bands are they are used by a number of low-power stations within the Tropical regions, including South America and Africa. Reception on these bands is best at night time and during the winter. Most of the stations on these bands do not use English but will be in the local language as they serve a relatively small area near the transmitters. Some listeners dedicate their listening to logging these stations. One of the ‘marker’ stations on these bands is ABC at Alice Springs, Northern Territories  or Tennent Creek. The frequencies they use are 2325 Khz, 2485 Khz, 4835 Khz and 5025 Khz. I call these ‘marker’ stations as they only have a 50 Kw signal, but can be very good to show band conditions on these frequencies. It is also interesting to log them during the Grey Line.

49m band – 5900 – 6200 Khz

41m band – 7200 – 7450 Khz

31m band – 9300 – 9900 Khz

25m band – 11600 – 12100 Khz

On these 4 bands between day and night time you will be able to log stations from the major broadcasters from all over the world. 31M is the most heavily used especially during the day. The 49 and 41m band tend to be better at night. I have found that 25m is also very well used and it is a band that can often through up surprises. Australia on 12065 or 12085 Khz is usually a very readable signal through most times of the day on this band.

22m band – 13570 – 13870 Khz

19m band – 15100 – 15800 Khz

16m band – 17480 – 17900 Khz

15m band – 18900 – 19020 Khz

13m band – 21450 – 21850 Khz

11m band – 25600 – 26100 Khz

All this set of bands gives better listening during the day, and for the last four, especially in summer. The 11m band, unfortunately, is seldom used, which is a shame as it could give world-wide listening during certain times.

Interspersed with these broadcast bands are a whole host of other allocations for Governments, Aircraft Communications and Amateur Radio. Amateur radio consists of enthusiasts who buy or build their own equipment and, after passing a test and being issued with a unique callsign, can use their equipment to chat to each other. Most Amateurs (or Hams) use SSB or CW rather than AM. It is possible, to hear hams from all over the world, even though relative to the commercial broadcast stations, their power output is low. Amateurs are allocated a dedicated set of bands as follows:

160m band – 1800 – 2000 Khz – not heavily used within the UK and communications are restricted to local mainly. During certain conditions world-wide communications are possible.

80m band – In the UK this is 3500 – 3800 Khz, in the US it is 3500 – 4000 Khz. Again used mainly for inter-country contacts but can give world-wide communications under the right conditions.

60m band – 5258 – 5403 Khz in the UK. Other countries have slightly different allocations.

40m band – 7000 – 7200 Khz in the UK, in other countries this extends to 7300 Khz

30m band – 10100 – 10150. This is restricted to CW (Morse) only. Can provide world-wide communications

20m band – 14000 – 14350 Khz. This is known as the ‘DX’ band as it supports world-wide communications both day and night. (DX is a short-hand for long distance or unusual contacts).

17m band – 18068 – 18168 Khz

15m band – 21000 – 21450 Khz Again another good DX band when conditions allow

12m band – 24890 – 24990 Khz

10m band – 28000 – 29700 – The largest Amateur band allocation at nearly 2000 Khz. This is an interesting band as it is on the edge of the HF spectrum and therefore can exhibit all sorts of conditions. Sometimes this band operates more like a VHF (i.e. local) band, at other times it supports world-wide communications.

Radio amateurs can use a plethora of operating modes which include CW (Morse), SSB, Data, Television and many more. They also frequently operate contests, which enables the listener to log new callsigns and countries much easier than during normal listening. The big contests during the year are CW WW, the International DX Contest and Field Day.

Summary

This guide has by no means been exhaustive but I wished to give some basic introductory information to get the user started. Shortwave listening is a fascinating hobby with a multitude of facets. No ‘Beginners Guide’ can ever hope to cover every aspect but I hope this has given a start and a flavour of what can be heard. There is no substitute for listening, listening and more listening. Soon you will get used to how the bands operate, what is best for day-time or night-time listenign etc. You will probably find some favourite stations you listen to regularly and build up a rapor with that station.

Alternatively, you may find your interests are more for the Amateur radio side, and all the fascinating aspects of that form of communication.

Links to information

If you prefer getting data and information from a book, the you can do no better than the World Radio and TV Handbook. This is available from a number of outlets including WRTH themselves. It gives full listings of all the International Broadcasters from around the world, along with schedules, contact details etc. It really is the ‘Bible’ of Shortwave listening.

There are a number of Facebook and Yahoo groups as mentioned earlier:

Facebook –

ODXA – The Ontario DX Association. Although Canadian based, they have members world-wide. Some very experienced and knowledgeable people on here and you will always get a friendly reception.

Shortwave Listeners Global

CumbreDX

On Yahoo there is SWSKEDS which has schedules for world-wide broadcast bands. This is updated on at least a daily basis and a downloadable excel list is available. This is an extremely useful document which I use all the time.

Other information links:

HCDX – Hard Core DX. They have a weekly newsletter with logs. – http://www.hard-core-dx.com/

SWLing Post – for news and information – http://swling.com/blog/

There are of course many number of forums etc on the internet devoted to Shortwave Listening. Google is your friend!

Clubs and Societies

RSGB – UK organisation for Amateur Radio

ARRL – Ditto for the US

ISWL – International Shortwave League – the only society which embraces Broadcast Band listening as well as Amateur.

BDXC – The British DX Club. Only covers broadcast stations, but covers MW, LW and FM as well as Short Wave.

Have great fun with your shortwave listening. With everything that goes on on the bands there is always something to listen to. Good Luck!!