Monday, September 08, 2014

Arctic DX Summit - Day Four (Departure Day)

This morning finally a glimpse of trans-atlantic stations, faint and distorted signals from Brazil and probably Peru 1570. Proton levels still very high, so this was a bit surprising.

Monday is departure day, and all antennas, receivers and PCs are up and running. Yesterday's dinner was cantaloupe with ham and a light touch of fresh oregano for starters. The main course was reindeer steak with potato pate (with carrots & garlic) and a mushroom sauce. Chocolate pudding with vanilla custard for dessert. A new red wine was introduced to Kongsfjord this time, the South African Allesverloren. Everything was definitely not lost with this one as it turned out to be a very nice wine indeed. We also enjoyed the good old Miss Harry from Australia, for some strange reason still not available in Norway.

Partly cloudy and some sun today, 7 Celsius this morning.

We'll meet again, as the old song says, for the KONG24 DX-pedition starting October 11.

Below some pictures from the past few days.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Arctic DX Summit 2014 - Day Three

Not much happened on Saturday, except quite a few problems with Windows network settings for a couple of the guys. The proton levels continued to be much too high for any DX, but this morning it seems to finally having started a slow descent back to normal.

We were out for a stroll in the afterooon, and actually spotted a minke whale, a rare sight this close to shore. It was elusive enough to avoid our cameras, however I caught a lot less elusive OJ while he was waiting for the whale to resurface.

Yesterday's dinner was a nice treat: For starters bruschetta with ham, tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil. The main course was fried salmon slices on a bed of woked vegetables and boiled/fried (!) tagliatelle. Very nice indeed. Strawberry jelly with real custard (not vanillin) for dessert. Wines: Chianti Classico for the bruschetta, Kim Crawford for the main course.

I engaged the 340 beverage for a couple of full hours this night, hoping for Africa on its back lobe. With the exception of the superpowered Jil FM 531 from Algeria, there was practically nothing. Sunrise at 02:37, so at 03:00 the band was empty as you can see from the spectrum below. 657 is the semi-local Radio Rossii, Murmansk.

Sunday morning weather is breezy, a little rain and 8 Celsius.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Kongsfjord Radio Show

By popular demand (aka Allan Helm), here is a more detailed description of our equipment.

On the latest count, there are six Perseus SDRs, one NetSDR, one Winradio G31DDC and two Winradio G33DDCs. There are around 20 hard drives (mostly Seagate and Western Digital) from 2 to 4 TB each.

The boxes on top of the Perseus in the picture are preamps. The boxes below are antenna switches.
Photo: OJS

We also have three Telenor 3G internet modems with typically 17 MBPS down and 3 MBPS up for remote operation. 3G is a vast improvement over the previous 450 MHz ICE internet connection. All internal network connections are cabled, no wifi.

The PCs are everything from large desktop to small desktop to micro desktop (Intel NUC) and laptops. They range from very new processors to at least two years old. OS is mostly W7-64 but also W8.1-64. Mostly the hard drives are connected through USB 3 ports.

We want to avoid cheap, noisy, switching PSUs, so all the hard drives are powered by amateur-grade linear PSUs (mostly Diamond). Everything save the PCs are using 12VDC. The Perseus and NetSDR are powered by USB 3 from a PC or (mostly) separate linear 5V supplies. The original PSUs are not used.

Arctic DX Summit 2014 - Day Two

Saturday! Protons! Caffè Latte! Cappuccino! Pop-Quiz on NRK!

Yesterday we erected the dual 340 beverage, although far-end ground termination is not yet in place. We also set up all the gear for this winter's DX; below is Arnstein's and OJ's SDRs and hard drives.

The 1974 Tandberg Huldra 11 (US version is TR 2025) has been reduced to being an SDR support.

Yesterday's dinner started off with  fried bits of salmon and butter sauce, with fried ham, accidentally reduced to mostly carbon.

The main course was chicken fillets, marinated in Provence-type spices, butter sauce (OJ made a lot) and mashed potatoes. Assorted cheese for dessert.

We tested a few new wines and one old: The latter, Calle's Riesling went well with the salmon while a bottle of La Vieille Ferme 2013 was considered appropriate for the chicken. A Trerose 2012 kept it company. A Gigondas 2011 tasted well with the cheese (or the other way around). A Ron Zacapa rum, supplied by TJ, rounded off the dinner.

Weather is quite OK, 9 Celsius, light winds but occasional rain.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Arctic DX Summit 2014 - Day One

So, it's that time of the year again!

OJ Sagdahl, TJ Bråtveit and Arnstein Bue arrived at Kirkenes yesterday at noon; we met along the road and after a short detour to Finland to buy assorted wines & beers we arrived in Kongsfjord at 16:00 local.

Most of the afternoon and evening was spent setting up PCs and drives, new internet modems, taste beer and elevating the 310 and 50 beverages from BOG level to normal height. 12 Celsius, dry & light breeze in the evening.

As is usual on day one, dinner is premade fish gratin. A new Kiwi red wine was chosen, the Sileni Teeri from Hawke's Bay. We had chocolate pudding with custard for dessert, and a Chatau d'Aqueria Lirac to go with it.

Early this morning at 06:00 my guests were still asleep so the "radio room" is still empty.

Today's work is erecting the dual 340 beverages, secure proper end termination on all beverages, and set up the radios and cables. To be fair, we really don't have to worry, because the display in the background of the picture above has this dreadful jpg:

While our motto is "expect the unexpected", proton levels like this are discouraging to say the least. Maybe we can check for back-lobe Africans after we set up the 340 beverage.

Weather is relatively mild for September, 8 Celsius this morning, calm and light rain.

Monday, September 01, 2014

August 2014 Verifications

WLBN Lebanon KY 1590
KLBB Stillwater MN 1220

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Another Season Coming Up - Preparations

The midnight sun had its last display on July 27, so evenings are getting darker even if the time span from sunset to sunrise is only 7 hours - and it still doesn't get completely dark at local midnight. However, from this time onwards, Australians are possible to hear if propagation is right, so today was getting-out-the-500-meter-50-degrees-beverage-day. It will be a BOG until I'm sure there are no reindeer around.

This beverage is very directive, and dead quiet. I have often wondered if there was something wrong with it. 50+ MW stations from New Zealand over the years is proof enough there's nothing wrong. Below is a comparison with a makeshift 55 metre L-antenna I've had up this summer. The Perseus on top displays the waterfall from the L-antenna while the SpectraVue display below is the beverage. Almost no signals on the beverage! Which is according to plan because the L picks up Middle East and eastern European stations while the beverage doesn't. For example, IRIB 1449 was measured 20 dB weaker on the beverage than on the L-antenna this afternoon.
L-antenna Perseus on top, 50 degrees beverage SpectraVue below.
A new PC in Kongsfjord this year is the Intel NUC, a desktop PC as small as it gets. Actually it uses Intel's laptop CPU line. It was bought for remote operations only, using LogMeIn Pro - however there were some unexpected obstacles to this setup. To make a long story short it isn't designed for "headless" operation, i.e. remote operation without it being connected to a display or audio peripheral. So I had to 1) buy a dummy video adapter with enough resistance to fool the video driver into believing there is a display at the other end, and 2) make a dummy audio jack for the same purpose (30 ohm resistor over the center and ground leads). That done, it works very well indeed. The 19V external, switching PSU is quiet.

It has four USB 3.0 connections, two video connections (mini-DVI and mini-HDMI). It can be equipped with an SSD of your choice, and has two RAM slots plus one Wifi/bluetooth slot (which I didn't bother to fit since I run cabled network). Basically you have to buy the PC barebone, plus the necessary boards and OS, and install the lot yourself. And then download all the drivers from Intel to make it work properly.
Intel NUC. On the left from above: Power plug, video output (to dummy adapter), USB peripheral. On the right from above: dummy audio jack, USB output to external HDD.

Another great improvement over previous years is internet! The past several years we have had to rely on a wireless internet provider which could only supply 0.5 to 1.3 MBPS down and a little less up. This summer, the largest mobile phone company in Norway (Telenor) set up 3G in this tiny village. We are now enjoying a comparative luxury of 15-20 MBPS down and 3-5 MBPS up. And the connection is much more stable too. This will make remote operations a lot easier.

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 2014 Verifications

JOCG NHK-1 Asahikawa 621

JOCG NHK-1 Asahikawa, Enbetsu relay 792

JOCG NHK-1 Asahikawa, Wakkanai relay 927

JOCG NHK-1 Asahikawa, Rumoi relay 1161

Thursday, May 01, 2014

April 2014 Verifications

KSYC Yreka CA 1490
WQLE259 TIS Prudhoe Bay AK 1610 (10 watts)
KVOC Casper WY 1230
KMIK Tempe AZ 1580
WMFJ Daytona Beach FL 1450 (North America # 1000)
KWLC Decorah IA 1240
XECO Cd. Mexico, DF 1380
XEKH Queretaro, QE 1020
KMAJ Topeka KS 1440
WPGG Atlantic City NJ 1450

HJAH Emisora Atlantico, Barranquilla 1070

Several: Thanks OJS and ABU

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 2014 Verifications

WGL Fort Wayne IN 1250
WMAN Mansfield OH 1400
WMAX Bay City MI 1440
KPRL Paso Robles CA 1230
KBCV Hollister MO 1570
KLNG Cedar Rapids IA 1560
WATW Ashland WI 1400
KRPL Moscow ID 1400, # 800 from USA
KGRZ Missoula MT 1450
WHIR Danville KY 1230
XEAP Cd. Obregón, SON 1290, thanks Henrik Klemetz
YVRM BBN Radio, Caracas 1260, thanks Gert Nilsson
WDER Derry NH 1320
KIKC Forsyth MT 1250
WAKI Mcminnville KY 1230
CJRS Montreal QC 1650
KQTY Borger TX 1490
KCKM Monahans TX 1330 (DX test)
KLXX Bismarck-Mandan ND 1270
WPHY Clayton NC 1590
WDXY Sumter SC 1230
WNWI Oak Lawn IL 1080
KREL Norman OK 1400
KATH Frisco TX 910
KOBB Bozeman MT 1230
KGND Vinita OK 1470
KYAL Sapulpa OK 1550

Several: Thanks OJS and ABU