The ABC of ignoring audience needs

As most people who use short wave radio are aware, ABC Australia pulled all of their short wave services on the 31st January 2017. For those of us around the world who have enjoyed ABC broadcasts over the years, this at least, disappointing and at most, well, disappointing. They had a good range of interesting programs, from in-depth reports to music programs and light comedy. Some of us, me included, also used their Alice Springs and Tennent Creek low-power transmissions as a pointer to how the lower Tropical bands were performing. If you could get Alice Springs on 4835, then you knew the 60m band was holding up well and worth an explore.

But let us now turn our attention to the ranchers and ranch workers who live around the remote areas of Alice Springs and Tennent Creek. These places are literally, out in the middle of nowhere, with ranch sizes being calculated in square miles and not acres. Also the truckers making the long-haul trips via outback roads through some of the most inhospitable country known to man. All these people rely on good communications supplied locally for such items as weather reports/forecasting and anything that could be pertinent from local news. This sort of information can only be delivered successfully over these terrains using short wave. A network of FM stations would not give the coverage over the difficult topology encountered in these areas. A satellite system would have similar problems, and relies on having a ground station at a ranch with all the power requirements to receive such transmissions. If a rancher is fixing a fence several tens of miles from home will not be able to receive these transmissions.

We also need to turn to the needs of those people living on the plethora of Pacific islands which ABC also used to serve using their short wave transmissions. Some of the governments of Micronesia are not, at all times, stable, so up to date news and weather forecast/reports of a timely nature cannot necessarily be relied upon. Indeed, a few years ago, the government of Fiji closed down the local internet so any information supplied by that route was unavailable. This is where the short wave transmissions from Australia were so important through this period.

For all the non-recreational uses mentioned above, these transmissions can literally be the difference between life and death. ABC has mentioned savings as the reason for this move, but I saw a report where this amounts to only 1.9 million for the Northern Territories. But surely this cost is going to be swallowed up by having to supply content delivery via either satellite or expanding FM services.

Fortunately, a lot of debate is currently going on in Australia from community groups, MP’s in government and Union heads. If ABC thought that no-one would notice then they must be severely disappointed already with all sections of Australian society seemingly being up in arms over the decision. I think this will roll on for quite a while and ABC will either be completely bloody-minded or come to some sort of agreement. Maybe the Australian government may step in to save the day. All I know, its not going away in a hurry!

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The last set of logs for 2017

I had an idea today (they don’t happen very often!) of trying to listen to New Year celebrations from around the world. This was prompted by a post on one of the Facebook groups. So the plan was to listen to RNZI just after 11:00 UTC, as New Zealand sees the new year first. And then 2 hours later, tune into ABC Australia for their celebrations and so on and so on. Well, I hadn’t planned it very carefully, and with a mixture of family stuff to do and poor conditions, well, it didn’t happen. So my only resolution for next year is to plan this event properly, by drawing up a list of stations, frequencies and times. And if the propagation is OK, then it should work out. It will certainly make for an interesting listening schedule.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy and Peaceful 2017. Let us hope that the world is a little less fraught next year, and some of the ongoing wars finally come to and end. Thank you to all who use this blog, your support is very valued.

Let us also hope that some of the major broadcasters change their minds about shortwave (ABC I especially mean you!). Quite how the government ‘take over’ of VOA will pan out is any ones guess, but it would be nice to think they will not influence output, and stay in the background as a funding stream only.

Some listening from this afternoon took me to many parts of this wonderful world as usual. Hope you enjoy these and see you next year.

Charlie.

9645 Khz Australia Reach Beyond Australia 13:52 UTC English. Religious broadcast. Faith to Faith program SINPO: 44444 2016-12-31

15140 Khz Oman R Sultanate of Oman 14:20 UTC English. Pop music. SINPO: 44444 2016-12-31

15610 Khz USA WEWN 14:28 UTC English. ‘Agony Aunt’ show. SINPO: 43333 2016-12-31

15825 Khz USA WWCR 14:32 UTC English. Religious program. SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

13590 Khz Thailand VOA Deewa Radio 14:34 UTC Pashto. OM with discussion program SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

13630 Khz Botswana VOA 14:37 UTC Kinyarwanda. Mixture of english and african pop music SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

13800 Khz Germany R Tamazuj 14:44 UTC Sudanese. Music and chat SINPO: 32222 2016-12-31

13800 Khz Madagascar R Tamazuj 15:01 UTC Sudanese. Music and chat. ID at 15:03 SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

13820 Khz USA WWCR 15:05 UTC English. Religious program. SINPO: 44444 2016-12-31

13680 Khz Zambia Voice of Hope Africa 15:07 UTC English. Music and chat SINPO: 32233 2016-12-31

9335 Khz Phillipines VOA 15:52 UTC Burmese. OM and YL announcers with news. Obama mentioned a couple of times. SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

9345 Khz Phillipines FEBC 15:55 UTC Mandarin. OM with discussion. SINPO: 44444 2016-12-31

9425 Khz North Korea V O Korea 15:58 UTC Russian. Severe ACI from FEBC on 9430 SINPO: 43333 2016-12-31

9525 Khz Java V O Indonesia 16:05 UTC Arabic. Quaran chant. SINPO: 43333 2016-12-31

Fabulous 41(m)

I don’t often do much listening on the 41m, as a lot of frequencies are used by either CRI with their blow-torch signal, or the various flavours of CNR, which are the regional Chinese stations. Add to this Firedrake/CRI jammer jamming VOA, RFE and RFA broadcasts among others, it doesn’t leave much room for anything else. But with a bit of digging, and at times, switching to LSB to enable narrow filtering and use of Notch filters, other stations pop out of the noise.

This afternoon I decided to have a tune of the 41m band and found a surprising number of interesting stations. Yes, CRI caused some major ACI at times, but digging out the other stations is all part of the fun and skill of Shortwave! With the DSP filtering on the 450D, it is possible to do this reasonably easily.

And so to the logs:

7310 Khz Germany R Menchen 09:31 UTC Playing 60s and 70s pop. Sudden fade-out at 09:36 SINPO: 43333 2016-12-30

6070 Khz Germany Channel 292 09:45 UTC English. World Deliverance program. SINPO: 33333 2016-12-30

7355 Khz New Zealand RNZI 15:38 UTC English. All Night Programme discussing various items including climate change. SINPO: 22222 2016-12-30

7465 Khz Singapore BBCWS 15:50 UTC English. Sports news. SINPO: 43333 2016-12-30

7475 Khz Thailand RFE 16:00 UTC Tajik. World News. SINPO: 44444 2016-12-30

7510 Khz Uzbekistan Voice of The Martyrs 16:05 UTC Korean. YL announcer SINPO: 22222 2016-12-30

7250 Khz Bangladesh Bangladesh Betar 16:15 UTC Arabic. Music and chat. Severe ACI from CRI 7255. SINPO: 42333 2016-12-30

7445 Khz Madagascar BBCWS 16:32 UTC English. The World – Have Your Say program SINPO: 43333 2016-12-30

 

Christmas Eve logs

I will be spending the evening doing family things (Xmas films and associated good-hearted nonsense), so I decided to get a bit if listening in this afternoon.

When I start a listening session, especially during the day, I usually start with the highest band I think will support communication, and gradually work down. You can soon work out from this what the MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) is. So today, I started on the 17m band, but nothing doing So I moved down to the 19m band. There I found Oman with Pop music and English DJ, so moved on to 15580, knowing that VOA would have their Music Time in Africa program. I love this program as it show cases African music, which covers all genres. At the start, around 15:15, the signal strength was not too good. As time went on, the strength improved until 15:45 when it was very strong. Suspecting a bit of grey line influence, I checked the Grey Line map and sure enough, Botswana was still in daylight, and the UK just in darkness. This is a useful technique to discover which parts of the world you are most likely to hear stations from. The affect only lasts a short time, as by sign off at 15:59, the signal from VOA was starting to fade out again.

Another station heard today was ZBC on 11735, one which I hadn’t heard for a while, usually due to ACI (Adjacent Channel Interference) or same channel interference from CRI. Signal strength was poor though.

Just a few logs, but an enjoyable listening session nonetheless. Listening to Music Time in Africa was a perfect chill-out for me on Christmas Eve afternoon.

Have a really good day tomorrow. You never know, there maybe a new receiver in your stocking!

Logs:

15140 Khz Oman Radio Sultanate of Oman 15:11 UTC English. Pop music. Some QSB SINPO: 33333 2016-12-24

15580 Khz Botswana VOA 15:15 UTC Englis. Music Time in Africa with Heather Maxwell. By 15:45 signal strength improved to 4n. SINPO: 43333 2016-12-24

13680 Khz Zambia Voice of Hope Africa 16:04 UTC English. Religious broadcast. SINPO: 32222 2016-12-24

11625 Khz Madagascar Vatican Radio 16:10 UTC Swahili. Discussion and carols. SINPO: 32233 2016-12-24

11735 Khz Tanzania ZBC 16:13 UTC Swahili. Discussion. SINPO: 22222 2016-12-24

12095 Khz South Africa BBCWS 16:20 UTC Christmas carols service. SINPO: 22222 2016-12-24

Christmas 2016

May I wish readers of this blog (all one of you!), a very happy Christmas and peaceful 2017. Looking forward to fewer CME’s and less noise on the bands.

I am lucky in that I don’t return to work until the 3rd January, so I am hoping to get a good amount of listening and hopefully, post some good logs.

All the best, and Good DX to all.

BITX40 now goes digital

Earlier this year, Farhan of BITX20 fame, released a 40m version of his famous transceiver. The difference this time was it was not just the schematic with detailed instructions, but a full kit, for the princely sum of $45 (about £35 GBP). And this is an almost ready to go kit, with all onboard components already fitted. These boards are assembled by a team of ladies in India, and provides them with employment. All the user has to do is select a suitable enclosure and with some basic metal bashing skills, put together a decent single band SSB transceiver, with 6-7 watts of RF output.

One of the observations of many early adopters of this kit was it suffered from drift, due to the varicap tuning arrangement. Also, tuning with the supplied pot was somewhat critical, and many users purchased a 10-turn pot to overcome these limitations. Yet others have put together Arduino-based VFO’s with digital readout etc.

Farhan has now addressed these comments and produced a version complete with Arduino-based digital VFO + readout for $59! This is a real winner, and I am being seriously tempted to purchase the kit. I have been ‘off-air’ for many years due to the reduced level of conduct on the HF bands, but this kit may just tempt me back. It would provide an ideal back-pack or SOTA rig, powered by a 12v gelcel.

For more details about this kit see the HF Sigs website

Autumnal Loggings

Now that we are slipping into winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, I have started to concentrate my listening on the lower bands. These are those under 10 MHz, so the 31, 41, 49, 60, 75 and 90m bands. And the broadcasters tend to favour these lower bands during the winter months, as the propagation characteristics change. These lower bands can throw up some interesting broadcasts, from stations one would not normally hear, as the propagation changes. They do take some digging out, and are sometimes masked by the ‘big guns’. I am fortunate in having a receiver in the FT-450D which has great filtering via the built in DSP, and in conjuction with using LSB, it is possible to dig out the unusual from the common place. Some highlights over the last few days have been: V O Martyrs from Uzbekistan, V O Armenia, V O Tigray Revolution from Ethiopia, and R Tajikistan. It was also nice to hear R Taiwan without CRI jammer interference for once. Listening at different times of the day, if this is possible, will of course, reveal a range of stations. Current receiver technology is so good that using one of the better portables from Sony, Grundig, Tecsun etc, it will be possible to receive these stations. Just remember, if using a portable with a long wire, its usually better to use some sort of attenuation and/or preselector to reduce overload. An outboard filter used with a portable receiver will also enable a bit of shaping to reduce interference.

To the logs:

7280 Khz Vietnam V O Vietnam 17:54 UTC Vietnamese. Music and chat SINPO: 43344 2016-11-20

5885 Khz Northern Marianas RFA 18:10 UTC Korean. Music and chat SINPO: 32233 2016-11-20

5935 Khz Romania RRI 18:15 UTC English. Discussion about teaching Shakespeare in Romania. SINPO: 54555 2016-11-20

4930 Khz Botswana VOA 18:48 UTC English. Music followed by discussion. Difficult to understand as nasty heterodyne masking the transmission SINPO: 31333 2016-11-20

9315 Khz Tajikistan RFA 13:35 UTC Tibetan. OM with discussion who doesn’t seem to take breath! SINPO: 43333 2016-11-21

9345 Khz Armenia TWR 13:42 UTC Unknown language. OM announcer. FSK interference SINPO: 42333 2016-11-21

9355 Khz Thailand VOA Deewa Radio 13:44 UTC Pashto. OM and YL announcers. Mirrored on 9370 SINPO: 44444 2016-11-21

9430 Khz Phillipines FEBC 13:48 UTC Mandarin. 2 YL announcers with discussion SINPO: 43333 2016-11-21

9590 Khz Taiwan R Taiwan 14:08 UTC Russian. YL announcer. Modulation seems a little low. SINPO: 33333 2016-11-21

7475 Khz Thailand RFE 16:37 UTC Tajik. Magazine program SINPO: 44444 2016-11-22

7510 Khz Uzbekistan V O Martyrs 16:40 UTC Korean. YL announcer SINPO: 43333 2016-11-22

5860 Khz Thailand R Farda 16:50 UTC Farsi. Music and chat SINPO: 43344 2016-11-22

4810 Khz Armenia V O Armenia 17:00 UTC National Anthem, followed by YL announcer in Turkish SINPO: 32233 2016-11-22

5950 Khz Ethiopia V.Tigray Rev.
17:13 UTC Music. Major ACI from VOIRI on 5945 SINPO: 22222 2016-11-22

6195 Khz Oman BBCWS 17:38 UTC English. Program about cigar production in Brazil SINPO: 43344 2016-11-22

4765 Khz Tajikistan R.Tajikistan 23:32 UTC Local music SINPO: 32233 2016-11-22

4850 Khz China PBS Xinjiang 23:40 UTC Local music SINPO: 33333 2016-11-22