Thursday, October 18, 2018

KONG37 - Day Minus One

KONG37 is about to start! I arrived in Kongsfjord with the last batch of food this afternoon after meetings in Båtsfjord, just as the sun set. Ole Forr is scheduled for arrival Friday morning after a 1000-km drive from Andøya. OJ Sagdahl and Tore Johnny Bråtveit are due in the afternoon. 

King crab, reindeer tenderloin, salmon, haddock, cod, lamb and veal will be the main ingredients in the main courses we will be making. And the odd bottle of beer and wine... But DX-ing is the main priority! Four antennas in Kongsfjord and one 1000-metre antenna at Mount Loran will hopefully provide memorable moments. 

Updates here, on Twitter and on Facebook at OJ Sagdahl will also publish on Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How Do You Copy a 5-watt MF Signal 14,000 km Away?

You do it with a KiwiSDR and a beverage antenna!

For quite some time I've had some interest in monitoring low-band WSPR signals with my Kiwi. I have been restricted to 180 meters, because the most wanted 630 meter spectrum was covered with local PLC noise. Until recently. The band has now opened, so a few weeks ago I started monitoring the band a bit off and on, and noted Greece (5 watts) at 3,700 km as the most distant spot.

But I wanted to hear further away! The ultimate for me would be to hear what I hear on MW: Pacific. I was advised that Roger, VK4YB, just outside Brisbane, QLD, might be the best bet for hearing Australia. So we exchanged some emails, and he wanted very much to be heard in Europe as well. But then the computer part of my KiwiSDR broke down, so I had to postpone the project.

On Thursday though, the KiwiSDR was up and running again, connected to the 500-metre Asia/Pacific beverage. And today, at 1500Z, I logged three spots from 14,075 km away! And propagation was nowhere near outstanding.

So, what's next? Japan? Hawaii? If I want to improve my personal record, I need to hear stations further south in Australia, or in New Zealand.

And maybe, it might be worth exploring LF (136 kHz) as well?

Friday, October 12, 2018

My KiwiSDR Is Up And Running Again (With A New Name)

It's almost two weeks since my KongSDR refused to cooperate. After some fault-finding, including input from the excellent kiwisdr community, the conclusion was that the Beaglebone, the computer that runs the actual SDR, had failed. Unfortunately, that board does have a fail rate.

I eventually orded a replacement (two, in fact) from Mouser  which arrived at my home on Monday. After I had replaced the Beaglebone everything was fine again, and yesterday I set it up in Kongsfjord, with a new name and link: This is also selectable on the link panel to the right.

So! Fingers crossed and all that. The current Kiwi configuration has double capacity with up to eight receivers, but only two will see the spectrum. No other functionality is reduced or removed.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

QSL: WTAX Springfield IL 1240

"...CBS News update, on Newsradio 1240, and 93.5 FM"

This is what I heard last night at Midnight UTC. Despite stormy geomagnetic conditions, there were short openings, and with interesting stations at that. Enter WTAX, with a surprisingly strong signal. Friendly response this evening and a little chat about DX-ing in our youth.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Spotting Tonga in the Afternoon

Tonga Broacasting Commission, A3Z, recently extended their broadcasting schedule to 24 hours. In Kongsfjord, the station has been a frequent guest on 1017 kHz early in the day for many years. However, it requires good conditions to come that early at this time of the autumn, and this year in particular the early hours have been eerily silent.

Today, the 10-kW transmitter  with its roughly +5 Hz offset was noted with a weak carrier at 11:30 UTC, and snippets of audio at 12:30. The Jaguar spectrum followed the signal at  mostly very low levels throughout the day. Then, prior to 17:00 the signal suddenly increased significantly. At the full hour their BBC World Service news bulletin was indeed very strong, and dominating over the usually strong Asian stations on 1017. Was I surprised? Very! Then a few minutes after, the signal started to fade, and eventually disappeared.

But Tonga sunrise today was at 17:38, and pre-sunrise signal enhancement is a well known phenomenon especially among radio amateurs. So a peak like that is really what you might expect, or at least hope for.

Curious if this was a one-day only event, I scrolled back the Jaguar spectrum a few days. And yes, although weaker due to propagation, the Tonga signal had the same characteristics several days back.

Below is the 1017 spectrum from 11:00 to almost 18:00 UTC, showing the Tonga signal level from fade in to fade out.

And to give you a perspective of Tonga in relation to Kongsfjord, and more importantly, the sunrise, see below.

But this "news" about a late Tonga peak might not be news at all. According to the Pacific-Asian Log, the previous sign-on time for Tonga was 16:50. So, we should have noted the signal before they went 24 hours. But since they were so "easy" to hear before close-down, we never bothered to check, did we. Or maybe someone did?

QSL: KWRT Boonville MO 1370

Another catch from the short spot opening on Septemer 25 (see WSBC below) was KWRT, which surfaced both at 02:00 and 03:00 UTC with their legal ID "KWRT 13-70 AM, K254DE 98.7 FM – Boonville, Missouri." Brief email response. As usual it was OJ Sagdahl who spotted it first!

QSL: WSBC Chicago IL 1240

During disturbed solar weather on Sept 25, there was a nice and concentrated peak towards a rather small area around Illinois and Missouri. WSBC surfaced on 1240 with a readable station identification. Email verie received later that day.

750 was heard a couple of years ago. As for 850 - well nothing is impossible during a good daytime opening!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

QSL: 6PNN ABC Newsradio, Bunbury WA 1152

Heard one afternoon a couple of weeks ago with BBC World Service programming. An audio file was sent off to the v/s who confirmed that it matched their off-air logger. He further explained that the BBC service they relay is specially provided by the BBC from New Zealand. It is often different to World Service and has different latency, so even when the programme content is the same as World Service, they are readily identifiable.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

QSL: WKTP Jonesborough TN 1590

Heard with a weak signal during stormy geomagnetic conditions (see post below) last night. Not at all common, and a first for me. It was "94.3" and "ESPN Tri-Cities" announcement that caught my attention. They are three stations, 1400, 1490 and 1590; FM 94.3, 98.1 and 97.7 respectively. Quick email response this evening.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Stormy Radio Night With a Twist

Last night, K-indices rose to around 6, or a G2 Geomagnetic Storm. The MW band was dead most of the time - except an hour or so between 01:00 and 02:00 UTC. The Jaguar spectrum below illustrates very well how the band woke up from nothingness to many stations on each frequency for a short period.

So, even during solar storms, you should check your radio! Unfortunately, on 1570, the usual dominant CJVL wouldn't give way to other stations.