Category Archives: Interest

World Radio Day

Happy World Radio Day to all!

What will you being doing during this years WRD? I shall be sat at the radio sometime this evening listening what the world has to say via the ‘ether’. Whether it be enjoying some golden oldies fromn one of our more ‘local’ low power European stations, or the interesting magazine-style format of Radio Romania, or even, as last night, logging some utility stations from around the world, it’s all great radio. Talking of the latter, I was pleased to log Halifax Maritime Radio giving local coastal weather reports for the maritime community.

So whatever your listening pleasure, enjoy radio today and all the days of the year. It’s a great medium, and is largely, unaffected by politics and borders.

Long live Radio!!

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BBC launches Ethiopian and Eritrean radio services

The BBC on Monday launched new daily radio services producing news, current affairs, features and English language training for Ethiopians and Eritreans. The BBC World Service programmes will be broadcast from Monday to Friday in the Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya languages and will be aired on shortwave radio and streamed on Facebook. “There will be a strong focus on culture, health and original journalism from the region,” the British broadcaster said. It will also offer beginner, intermediate and advanced English language lessons once a week to speakers of the three regional languages.

The BBC last year launched an online portal entirely in Nigerian Pidgin, which takes inspiration from Portuguese, English, as well as Jamaican patois. It also launched a Korean service that is said could be available to listeners in North Korea if the signal is not blocked.

The announcements came as part of the World Service’s biggest expansion since the 1940s, funded by the British government. The expansion is designed to bring “independent journalism to millions more people around the world, including those in places where media freedom is under threat,” according to the BBC. “Through war, revolution and global change, people around the world have relied on the World Service for independent, trusted, impartial news”, said Francesca Unsworth, BBC World Service Director.

“As an independent broadcaster, we remain as relevant as ever in the twenty-first century, when in many places there is not more free expression, but less,” she added. The BBC World Service is the world’s largest international broadcaster, reaching a global audience of 269 million weekly, on radio, television and online.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall has set a target for the broadcaster to reach 500 million people worldwide by 2022.

Schedule :
1730-1830 UTC on 7595, 11720 and 12065 kHz
1830-1930 UTC on 9855 and 15490 kHz
1730 Amharic
1750 Oromo
1810 Tigrinya
1830 Amharic (repeat of 1730)
1850 Oromo (repeat of 1750)
1910 Tigrinya (repeat of 1810)

New Version (Version 11) of Popular Logging Program “DXtreme Monitor Log” Released

From the RADIOACTIVITY website:

For full details, see the above website, but here’s a taster

DXtreme Software™ has released a new version of its popular logging program for radio monitoring enthusiasts: DXtreme Monitor Log 11

Monitor Log 11 lets listeners and DXers log the stations they’ve heard using advanced features that can enhance their monitoring experience.

Ampegon to Install Shortwave Array Antenna

From the pages of Radioworld.com  comes this news:

“Ampegon says it is about to deliver and install its first rotatable shortwave high-power array antenna on the North American continent.

The system, which will be installed WBCQ in the United States, is designed for the transmission of shortwave signals of up to 500 kW, the high-power antenna offers different radiation patterns, an antenna gain of up to 23 dB and uses a technology characterized by a single-shaft structural design.

The tubular shaft with a diameter of four meters acts as a rotatable and supporting axis that is able to absorb static and dynamic forces originating from antenna components. This, explains Ampegon, allows the system to function under extreme weather conditions.

The antenna is made up of a low-band and a high-band array antenna, positioned back to back, each equipped with a reflector screen. Thus, WBCQ can access all shortwave frequency bands between 6 MHz and 26 MHz.

In addition, Ampegon points out that the computer-controlled and monitored system offers unlimited rotation capacity and will turn toward the coverage area using the shortest possible path. Intelligent drive control ensures the large rotating part of the structure is jolt-free, starting and braking to standstill with a high rotation speed of 1.2 degrees per second and a positioning accuracy of <1degree.

The system also features DC grounding, a minimal number of insulators and no insulation in structural parts.”

Should make their transmissions to the UK and Europe more audible.

B17 Schedules

The new B17 schedules are starting to be published. As the clocks change at different times through the world (UK is last Sunday in October), these will all be coming in over the next few weeks. HFCC is a good place to keep an eye on for these, as well as the websites for your favourite stations. It is also a good idea to keep checking your favourite schedules list website. I use the the excellent lists compiled by Dan Ferguson, which are available from the SWSKEDS group on Yahoo.

Here is the link to the B17 schedules on HFCC: http://www.hfcc.org/data/b17/

 

Yaesu FT-450D – long term review

Overview

I’ve had a Yaesu 450D transceiver for 2 years now and I thought this would be a good point to post a long term review. The following should be read in the context of using the 450 as a receiver for 99.99% of the time. I think I have had at most, 5 QSO’s using this as I much prefer to listen. Also, much of my listening is on the Shortwave Broadcast bands, with occasional forays onto the amateur (ham) bands and the MW AM broadcast band. So, here goes.

I will only summarise the technical side as all the details are available from the Yaesu website. In short, the 450D is a 100W HF+6m Amateur bands transceiver, with a general coverage receiver spanning 30KHz to 56 MHz. Modes available are AM, SSB,CW,FM and Data (both TX and RX). Sensitivity is rated at 2uV for AM, 0.25uF SSB/CW and 0.32 for FM. These are pretty standard specs. for a transceiver in this category. What does set it apart from most ‘entry level’ transceivers is the DSP, which is realised in the Width control. This provides stepped bandwidths as follows: SSB: 1.8KHz/2.4KHz/3.0KHz; CW: 300Hz/500Hz/2.4KHz; AM: 3K/6K/9K; FM: 2.5K/5K. When the DSP Width control is used in conjunction with the DNR and Contour controls, it is possible to dig a signal out of the noise. Unfortunately, the Notch control is only available in SSB/CW modes and not AM. This would be useful to Notch out some annoying adjacent blow-torch transmissions such as CRI when one is trying to hear one down in the noise. Of course, switching to LSB brings this in, and a number of times I have dug out a faint AM signal using LSB.

The DSP/SEL control on the receiver is the one knob most used on the receiver. It is used for selecting various DSP modes, along with selecting menu items. It can also be used, as I do, as a replacement for the tuning knob. The DSP control can be set for various steps, so I have set it for 5 KHz when tuning AM broadcast. When tuning ham bands, I use the main tuning knob, but have the ‘fast’ button engaged as this steps through at 100 Hz. If further fine tuning is required, the fast button can be switched out and tuning is in 10Hz steps.

Other controls available to the listener are a Noise Blanker, AGC Fast/Slow/Auto and attenuator switch. There is also the IPO button which avoids the RF amp and switches the antenna straight through to the first mixer.

Day to Day use

I have used a number of receivers over the last 40+ years, from simple homebrew regen. sets to AR88’s, Racal RA17, FT101, FT707 etc but nothing as modern as this. And quite frankly, the performance to me is stunning. I guess if I was a dyed in the wool contester then it probably wouldn’t, but then I wouldn’t be using an entry level transceiver for that. But for every day listening to broadcast band programs, both the high power regulars and the more obscure clandestine stations, this receiver shines. As it does too with regular ham band listening. My antenna ‘system’ is not ‘state-of-the-art’ being only a homebrew 66′ doublet, in inverted-V configuration, the highest point of which is about 25′ at the gable end of the house. This is fed to the receiver via a homebrew 9:1 balun.

The biggest problem of course these days is not the sensitivity or selectivity of the receiver (for those with a decent spec.) but RFI from all manner of devices. This is where the various DSP controls help. As well as being able to remove or reduce ‘natural’ interference, they are as useful in reducing the man-made version. Comparing a received signal on say, my Tecsun PL600 portable with the 450, the Tecsun struggles sometimes, even though in its own right it has an excellent receiver. But the 450 will useually dig them out.

All the knobs and switches function as they did 2 years ago; nothing has come lose or gone sloppy. The display is still bright and readable.

Now of course, there are some things I think could be better and/or improved upon. No receiver is perfect! I would like a wider bandwidth on AM for those high powered stations that come in at S5+40 (such as Radio Romania International). But, that would compromise the selectivity as the roofing filter would need to be wider (set at 10Khz on the 450). I would like the Notch control to work in AM as it does on the Icom 7200. But these are minor complaints compared with what is on offer.

When I purchased the 450, it was offered at £499.99. I notice it has gone up considerably recently, no doubt due to the falling pound and other factors. Martin Lynch, from whom I purchased mine, have it currently for £579. But even at this price, I think it is excellent value for money. For me to change the 450D, some thing rather special would have to come along for a similar price. All the offerings from Icom are much more expensive, as is the case with Kenwood.

I would whole-heatedly recommend this transceiver either as a first transceiver for a ham just starting on the HF bands, or a listener like myself who wants something a bit more than the good portables can provide. I would be interested in comments from other users, however you use your 450.