Saturday, October 20, 2018

KONG37 - Day Two

Overnight reception from North America had strong signals, alas the usual dominants were too dominant, so, sofar, nothing spectacular. We did review recordings from a few days ago though, and several new Texas stations were spotted from the Mount Loran beverage. What a magic antenna it is.

Tonga-1017 came early today, and around 1300Z we had a small rush from New Zealand, but probably nothing new. We did note Star on 657 and 1494 in passing. But we  haven't reviewed the recordings yet.

Dinner today: Bruschetta from fresh sourdough bread for starters, followed by woked salmon with onions/carrots/ginger/whatever, woked with sour cream. Chocolate pudding with custard, and Grappa, for dessert.

Weather today was excellent; light clouds, dry, light winds, a max of 5 Celsius. A few pictures below from the DX HQ today to illustrate.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we will have a special visit from a very special guest star. Stay tuned!

And here is one of the less unusual Texan stations





Friday, October 19, 2018

KONG 37 - Day One

Arrival day! Ole arrived at around 09:30Z, while OJ Sagdahl and TJ Bråtveit showed up at 12:30. Overnight was not too interesting, but when we reviewed last night's Loran C recordings, there were some interesting stations, among them WFLF Pine Hills FL 540 at 01:00. Unfortunately, due to lack of hard drive space, the recordings stopped at 02:30.

DX towards Asia was uninspiring. Nice to to notice that one-watt K9FD showed up with five spots on 630 meter wspr.

The first KONG dinner was fish soup; carrots, celeriac, potatoes, ginger, leek and lots of fish. For dessert we enjoyed a chocolate pudding and custard, with some Amarone.

Weather today was very nice; calm, mostly dry and a max of 6 Celsius. Sorry that I forgot to take any pictures. Today's radio link is a not too common station on 870.

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 DXing.info. OJ Sagdahl will also publish on www.kongsfjord.no. 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: http://arcticsdr.proxy.kiwisdr.com:8073/. 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.


Sunday, September 09, 2018

KONG36 - Day Four

Last day! Unfortunately, Ole had to leave us this morning. He'll be back in October! Today we prepared the unattended Perseus facility at Mount Loran, which will hopefully run continously, save weekly battery replacements, until October 18.

Nothing really spectacular to hear, but great signal strengths both in Kongsfjord and Mount Loran.
Stealthy Monitoring Site

There were "complaints" yesterday that we hadn't mentioned any beers we had tested. Well, sorry about that - at any rate here are two of today's top picks, our old favourite, the Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA, and the Norwegian Grünerløkka Geriljagress (guerilla grass, sorry, no idea what it means but it's a superb beer)




Weather was absolutely fabulous today. I'm preparing for the Oslo half-marathon the coming Saturday, so I enjoyed a 14-km jog in sunny and calm weather. Temperatures up to 10 Celsius. Photo below is from the former Loran C site (named Mount Loran by us), overlooking the Kjølnes lighthouse.


OJ and TJ will leave Monday morning, but will return in less than six weeks for more radio listening, beverage testing and good food.


Saturday, September 08, 2018

KONG36 DX-pedition - Day Three

Another beautiful day with 11 Celsius maximum, dry and sunny spells. The photo below was taken in the afternoon, showing a flock of goosanders (or common mergansers) in my bay.


Final internal preparations for the coming winter were done, as OJ, Ole and TJ set up their PCs, SDRs and hard drives in the living room. Overnight recordings from Mount Loran were collected, and showed clear improvement over the previous night. Brief checks revealed stations like WSFC Somerset, KY 1240 and WROK Rockford IL 1440.

Before dinner, we enjoyed specially imported exquisite chocolate from the UK (courtesy TJ).



For dinner we had baked salmon and pesto, with pasta carbonara. Chocolate pudding with custard for dessert, and a specially purchased aquavit from Gudbrandsdalen, Ole's home turf.

To end off this report, a photo of a setting sun over the 70-metre KongSDR internet receiver antenna.

Friday, September 07, 2018

KONG36 DX-pedition - Day Two

The Mount Loran Perseus recordings were collected today, and as expected, the noise levels are very much lower than Kongsfjord, allowing for more stations to be heard. Nothing really spectacular this time, but several not-so-usual stations were noted. Signals from North America only started to fade up after 00:30 UTC, and sunrise was at 02:40. Last signals faded out around 03:30.

In the afternoon and evening, the usual mix of Australian stations were audible, such as 594, 729 and 891, and even 5AU Adelaide 1242. Philippine stations were very strong.

The 340 degrees beverage turned out to be extremely noisy. A possible culprit was an un-un on the feedline. At any rate, by-passing the un-un seemed to get rid of the noise.

Dinner today was reindeer steak with a paste of root vegetables. The steak was not quite as good as expected, but no leftovers. A very nice selection of cheese were

Weather today was a bit cooler than yesterday with 9 Celsius maximum, but little wind, and dry.

Today's picture is from one of the beverages. Strong supports are needed if the antennas are to survive the fierce arctic winter.




Testing Changes To The KongSDR Remote Receiver

Today I have preliminary implemented changes to the KongSDR, to allow more users. The original KiwiSDR could only supply four tuneable audio/waterfall receiver channels. Two of the original channels have been traded for six audio only receiver channels. The total number of channels are increased from four to eight.

Recently added features, such as the TDoA service, WSPR Autorun, configuration forWJST-X and DRM are channel intensive. When these kinds of connections are made, channels RX2 to RX7 (audio only) will be used first. RX0 and RX1 will be available for normal browser connections where it's desirable to view the waterfall.

While it is always cool to see the waterfall, in many cases it's not really necessary. Please email me if you have comments to this setup. It is always reversible. Below is how an audio-only display is shown.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

KONG36 DX-pedition in Progress!

Twice every autumn, the KONG crew, OJ Sagdahl, Ole Forr, TJ Bråtveit and Bjarne the host, meet in Kongsfjord for antenna work, DX-ing, eating good food and drinking good beer, not necessarily in that order.

This mini-DXpediton will last from Thursday, September 6 to Sunday (or rather Monday morning). Antenna works today.  OJ and Ole took on the challenging task of erecting the 1000-metre experimental beverage at Mount Loran, together with the necessary hardware and remote control setup.

In-house setup is challenging as well, with four DX-ers wanting continous access to four beverage antennas. But we've done this a few times before (35 to be exact), so it's mostly routine.

While OJ and Ole were away, I replaced supports for the 340-degrees beverage, and also elevated it. Stunning September weather. The picture below is looking southwest from near the end point of the 340 beverage. Nice, huh? Today was calm, sunny, maximum of 13 Celsius.

Afternoon conditions were relatively uninspiring, except Philippines showed up on somewhat unusual frequencies, like 1440.


As always (almost) on the first day, the host tries to impress the gang with home-made fish gratin, and they say they approve. It's an easy dish with super-quality haddock, bacon, macaroni, chopped carrots, fresh ginger, onion and chopped leak in basic white sauce. Generous amounts of nutmeg for flavour.  Baked for 45 minutes at 200 Celsius. For dessert we enjoyed Tartufo, a delicious Italian-style chocolate mousse.

We tested a few beers: Dead Cat double IPA from Graff in Tromsø (approved), Twine Ball double IPA from Kansas (approved), and Stockholm Style IPA from Sweden (not approved). And as always, Amaretto is approved.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

The Kongsfjord Antenna Park - Differences in Noise Levels

Three out of four beverage antennas are now up:
500 meters, 50 degrees, towards East Asia and most of the Pacific.
570 meters, 80 degrees, towards South East Asia and Australia
225 meters, 310 degrees, towards eastern North America, and South America.

We have yet to put up the dual 340 degrees beverage, towards western North America. Half of it has been rolled out, but not connected.

Directions and lengths only approximate

All have loooong DX-Engineering feedlines into my shack, where they first enter a DX-Engineering preamp, followed by a 1:8 MiniCircuits splitter and then distributed to the four radio operators.

There are some interesting differences in the antenna's noise levels. So I set up a test during daytime, when there were no signals on the MW band, to illustrate this. I used Perseus SDRs at 2 MHz sampling rates, centered on 1000 kHz, and SDR Console v. 3.0.3.

First off, the oldest "design" of them all, the 310 beverage aimed for North America. It points directly towards a wind park, comprising 15 Siemens turbines each with a capacity of 3 MW. The noise below 800 kHz is typical for these turbines, this "fingerprint" is also noted by Swedish DX-er Stefan Wikander. I suspect the peak on just below 1400 to belong to the same noise source.

310 beverage, Perseus SDR

Generally, the noise level is quite high, and a lot higher than at our test site Mount Loran, where we put up a temporary 1000-metre beverage at roughly the same direction.

The 50 beverage is very quiet. When we first erected it several years ago, we heard absolutely nothing when we tested it. We thought we had forgot to connect it. We hadn't. Since then, increase in general noise levels have affected it a bit, but it's still very quiet. We can see the wind turbine noise on the spectrum, but the antenna is grounded on its back end, and pointing slightly away from the turbines, so the effect isn't too bad.

50 beverage, Perseus SDR

The 80 beverage was new last year, and is somewhere in between, with regards to noise. The wind turbine RFI is clearly visible from 700 kHz and downwards. Apart from that, I don't really see why it should be so much noisier than the 50 beverage, so we might have to look into it.

80 beverage, Perseus SDR

And while we're in measuring mode, we might as well check the 70-metre, N-S longwire for the KongSDR . It is placed some 30 meters from the house:

N-S longwire, Perseus SDR

It's nice and quiet in the LW band and lower MW, but otherwise not particularly quiet. It should be noted though, that the longwire is connected to a 13-dB Wellbrook splitter/preamp. And on the SW bands, as should be expected from a longwire, the noise level is around -120 dBm, which is quite good. The longwire certainly "hears" more on SW than the beverages do.

One would expect, or at least hope, that a super-rural area like this would be super-quiet as well. But just 4 km away is a major grid hub with several 20 kV, 66 kV, and 132 kV lines going in many directions. The wind park makes its own noise. And although we are on constant red alert regarding in-house appliances, we may have undetected noise sources here as well. Or maybe our neighbours 200 meters away.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

QSL: 5CC Port Lincoln, SA 765

Due to my northerly location, there isn't much real DX to hear until the last days of August. But a few Aussies have been heard already, and yesterday on August 28 I was chasing one that my DX buddies at Kongsfjord had nailed already. 5CC was mostly under the interference on 765 kHz, but surfaced now and then with fair levels. During one of those fade-ups, I got a nice ID liner, and I sent a report literally minutes later.

Just in time for my morning coffee, a kind response from the station was in my inbox, the first QSL this season. It was heard on the 580-metre, 80-degrees beverage antenna.

The station is 5 kW, 14,189 km away, and located here:


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Comparing Real-Life Noise Levels on Some SDRs

The coming DX season is only a week away here in the frozen north - if in any way a maximum summer temperature of 32.8 degrees Celsius is compatible with the term "frozen".

The 500-metre, 50-degrees Asia/Pacific beverage was set up, or rather "laid out" to avoid complications with remaining reindeer, yesterday. Noise levels seem to be fine, and today I decided to compare three of my 1.5 MHz+ sampling SDRs on a basically signal-free MW band.

I used both the Cloud-IQ and the RSP1A with SDR Console V3.0.2. I didn't want to go through the hassle of setting up Perseus for SDR-C only for this test (I use Jaguar at all times), so I decided to use its native Perseus software instead.

I used a reference signal on 468 kHz, and adjusted gain levels so they read the same signal level, in this case -68 dBm in AM mode, 6 kHz bandwidth. In the case of the RSP1A, this meant RF Gain 9, IF Gain -35, Visual Gain 15. The Perseus however measured -63 dBm. I used the same sample rate on the Cloud-IQ and the RSP1A (1536 kHz alias-free), and the 2000 kHz (1600 kHz alias-free) sample rate of the Perseus. Center frequencies were 1100 kHz.

All SDRs were connected to the 500-metre beverage via a DX-Engineering preamp and a 1:8 Mini-Circuits splitter.

So, how did it go? First off, the Cloud-IQ:
RF Space Cloud-IQ Noise Level, 500-metre beverage antenna
Then, we take a look at the RSP1A:
SDRPlay RSP1A Noise Level, 500-metre beverage antenna
And finally, the Perseus:
Microtelecom Perseus Noise Level, 500-metre beverage antenna
Taking into account the different scale on the Perseus, there isn't much variation. The RSP1A is the most noisy of the three, but not by much.  A few spikes may indicate USB noise. I used ferrite clamps on the USB cable. Although the pics above indicate otherwise on 1224 kHz, the RSP1A's noise level was generally 1-3 dB higher than the Cloud-IQ.

Mind you, this is an empty band, so any sensitive radio with even the most fragile front end would do well. As I experienced last winter, the problem with the RSP1A is with high signal levels. You can always reduce RF Gain, but not when you're doing automated recordings. So, you either risk saturation, or not hearing the weakest signals.

I will have all three SDRs connected to the beverage and do some recordings in the evenings when there are signals in the band. Weak signal readability is what we're after.

And finally, we could take a look at how the KongSDR with a 70-metre longwire compares:
KiwiSDR Noise Level, 70-metre longwire antenna

And I saved the best for last. Too bad the Airspy HF+ has only 660 kHz bandwidth. A performance like this with full MW coverage would be stellar. Roughly 7 dB better than the Cloud-IQ! (Visual Gain reduced to show same signal level as the others on 468 kHz). But the trade-off compared to one SDR covering and recording the entire band is too huge.
Airspy HF+ Noise Level, 500-metre beverage antenna





Friday, August 10, 2018

HDSDR Version 2.80 Public Beta

When July ends, our Arctic nights are not sunlit anymore. A sign that it's time to think about the coming MW DX season. For those who want updated SDR software, it may be worth noting that HDSDR has now come in public beta. As per now, beta no. 9 is available on their website hdsdr.de.

I have followed the work on version 2.80 with suggestions and alfa- and beta testing, and version 2.80 is indeed an improvement over the latest release version 2.76a. Both visually (see below) and with regards to functions.  I have written a combined changelog (though not guaranteed to cover every change that was made) and a review of the changes.

Version 2.80 (left), vs. 2.76a - Graphical User Interface

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Remote Control Of My SDR PCs: Another Change

In February, 2016 I moved away from long-time favourite LogMeIn Pro to Teamviewer. LMI was charging more and more, and Teamviewer had a free account for non-commercial customers. For me, it was a no-brainer. You can read more about it here.

I would live well with the regular and rather persisting calls to buy a license, like everytime I closed a session. But then one day, Teamviewer informed me that they had "discovered" that my account was in commercial use. So they stripped my access to one minute per session. "Pay up, or get lost". Well, they didn't put it quite like that, but I got the message. A license covering my PCs would be around USD 800 a year, around the same as LogMeIn Pro. What it was they discovered was "commercial" is beyond me. I suspect that the algorithm was: "Many PCs, surely a business!"

Message of doom from Teamviewer: "Upgrade to a professional licence to continue"

Time to look around for alternatives. I tested a few, and to cut a long evening short, I ended up with Splashtop. It's not free, but control of 10 PCs (I have 8 all in all) is only USD 60 per year. It has good quality audio, contrary to many competitors which have no audio at all! The user interface is good, almost on par with Teamviewer and LMI, and no worries about IP addresses and firewalls. Splashtop offers a 7-day trial with full functionality, so no wasted money should you find out that Splashtop doesn't meet your needs. Regrettably, I spent USD 7 for RemotePC only to find out it was mute.

Initially, Splashtop seems more complicated than their premium-priced competitors, in that you have to install two software packages: First Streamer, which takes care of the server bit in the remote PC, and then Splashtop Business, which is the interface you work with to connect to the remote PC. After installing Streamer you can more or less forget about it after checking and/or selecting some settings.

Streamer. Review and/or edit the parameters, and forget about it.

Splashtop Business is installed in the PCs you use to access remote PCs. This could be a single PC, or all of them, depending on your need. Like LMI and Teamviewer, this interface lists the PCs you have in your account, and the status - offline, available or connected.

The link between you and your remote PCs.

When a PC is selected (like the one above), connection takes a few seconds (a bit more than Teamviewer), and this is what you see:


Some basic controls (far fewer than Teamviewer) are in the red rectangle on top. Audio quality is very good, comparable to sitting in front of it except a little loss in the below 100 Hz spectrum, which is really an advantage. Audio latency is very low, and without the pops and occasional high (up to 2 seconds) audio latency I had with Teamviewer. Video quality is good, but not quite on par with Teamviewer and LMI. However, if the remote PC has a GeForce Nvidia graphics board, Streamer will utilise this to present excellent video, comparable to sitting in front of it! There is a downside here though, because if you are using SDR Console, you need to disable CUDA to prevent Console from freezing. They use the same resources. Alternatively, you can disable GeForce from Streamer.

Splashtop has received mixed ratings, mostly because of limited functionality. However these limitations do not apply for the dedicated DX-er, so for our use I'd say this is as good as it gets for the price tag. I am still on my 7-day trial, but I will buy. Even if Teamviewer accepts my appeal.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

FM DX With the SDRPlay RSP1A, or: My Debut As an FM DX-er

Admittedly, I'm a MW DX-er, and have done very little FM DX in my 47 years as a DX-er. However, when I got my RSP1A with up to 10 MHz sampling rate in late 2017, I decided that I wanted to test its FM capabilities this summer. I had already noticed that it seemed to be quite sensitive on the FM band.

I set up a three-element FM antenna in the attic in my DX HQ in Kongsfjord, pointing south. Now, FM DX is a lot more common on lower latitudes than my 71 degrees north, so to be fair I didn't have hope of receiving much. I monitored the FM band to and from every day from mid-May, but I had forgot to check when FM-DX ace Ole Forr messaged me on the evening of June 25.

When I connected to Kongsfjord via Teamviewer, it was the start of an E-skip stint which would evolve into a super evening!

I had set the RSP1A to 8 MHz sampling because 10 MHz seemed to be to much for the software or hardware to handle. Still, 8 MHz covers quite a bit of the FM band. I used SDR Console to record the IQ stream into an 8 TB hard drive, and changed centre frequencies so I could cover the entire band at one time or another. It soon emerged that every 100 kHz had at least one signal, many had three or four.

At one point, the combined signal levels were so high, I had to throttle back a bit on the RSP1A's gain to avoid overloading.

After reviewing the recordings, I ended up with a log of 200 FM stations. Most of them ID'd by RDS, a few by announcements since the RDS wouldn't lock.  13 countries were logged: Russia, Belarus, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Faroe Islands. Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Lithuania dominated the log. Stations from 908 til 2411 km away were heard, and the lowest powered were 100 watts. The FMLIST map below shows all stations logged. I did hear two unidentified German stations, and one with an Austrian accent, so more countries were there.

The RSP1A performed very well. Of course, I don't know how it would compare to a dedicated FM tuner, but on the face of it, it seems to be a very capable FM receiver.  And no dedicated FM tuner will ever listen to an 8 (or 10) MHz of spectrum at one go! SDR Console also worked well, and RDS data with the all-important PI code showed up with little delay, even for signals not in the clear.
FM e-skip from Arctic Norway on June 25, 2018.

Friday, June 08, 2018

AM Stations in Major Canadian Markets


Numeris, which monitors Canada’s media landscape, recently published their spring ratings in major markets, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. I took a look at the numbers, to see how the AM stations fared. Only commercial and CBC stations are listed, so a religious station like CJCA Edmonton 930 is not there.

Vancouver:
AM listening seems to be «alive and well», all things considered, with CBU-690 and CKNW-980 on the top two spots with 16.0 and 11.6 % share respectively. On the bottom though is 50-kW CFTE-1410 with 0.2 %. CKST-1050, CHMJ-1320 and CISL-650 don’t do too well either, 1.8, 1.0 and 1.2 %.

Calgary:
Not much difference from Vancouver. Two AM stations top the list, CHQR-770 with 9.4 % and CBR-1010 with 9 %.  CKMX-1060 is at the bottom of the AM list with 1.8 %.

Edmonton:
More FM dominance here. CBX-740 is no. 3 with 7.5 %, CHED-630 no. 4, 7.4 %. CHQT-880 seems to struggle with only 1.3 %.

Toronto:
It seems like the further east, the worse AM performance. CFRB-1010 is no. 5 in the Toronto market with a share of 6.6 %. The high-powered CHUM-1050 can’t make much money with a 0.4 % share.

Montreal:
AM is all but dead among the French-speaking listeners, as even the two English-speaking AM stations CJAD-800 and CKGM-690 have higher ratings than the French-speaking stations! CHRF-980 is the best French-speaking AM station in the French market with 0.3 %, CKAC is 0.1 %. Will they survive? In the English market, CJAD-800 has a stunning 30.6 % market share, while CKGM-690 has only 2.1 %.

The news stations mostly seem to do well in these markets. The sports stations however, is a sad story. But I suppose they may be cheaper to run.

Potential death list, ratings 2 % or lower:
Vancouver: CFTE-1410, CHMJ-1320, CISL-650, CKST-1040.
Calgary: CKMX-1060.
Edmonton: CHQT-880.
Toronto: CHUM-1050.
Montreal: CKAC-730, CHRF-980.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Will We See The RFSpace CloudSDR This Year?

The excellent 0-56 MHz Cloud-IQ has been out for quite some time, and will likely have HDSDR support in not too long, along with the NetSDR. Its "big brother", the CloudSDR, was expected to arrive not much later, but apparently has been delayed. Recent tweets from RFSpace may indicate that it may be on its way. Their web page state Q4-2018 for release.

The CloudSDR uses a 122.88 MHz ADC for the HF part up to 56 MHz, and a silicon tuner above, up to 1000 MHz or more. It may look like the HF is part is just another Cloud-IQ, but its spurious-free dynamic range is 7 dB better, and it has 3 dB better SNR. Sensitivity claims are identical.

The I/Q sampling on the tweet images is 2048000 Hz, a bit more than the Cloud-IQ which stops at 1807058 Hz (1536 kHz alias-free). I guess VHF DX-ers would love to be able to sample a lot more. but there is no indication of that so far.

There are separate antenna inputs for HF and VHF/UHF use. I  have been wondering if the CloudSDR would offer the same dual-antenna, software-selectable input as the Cloud-IQ has. The latest 3D model may suggest such a solution, as an "Aux RF" input has been added. It would be very cool to be able to change antennas via software

There are two other inputs as well, one for 10-MHz reference, and one trigger input, neither found on its smaller brother.

Input voltage will be 5VDC, and preliminary specs suggest that it needs 1.3mA, a little less than the NetSDR. The Cloud-IQ can be powered from a USB 3.0 port (even a good-quality USB 2.0 port), which makes it a perfect SDR for a mobile setup with a PC connected to a 12VDC battery. I hope that the CloudSDR's final design will require a little less current.

The MSRP is USD 999. We'll see if it ends up there.
All images from RFSpace.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

QSL: WLIK Newport TN 1270

"WLIK, The Smokies Oldies!"  This was the surprising announcement mixing with WXYT one morning in early January on Smøla island. A most friendly email response was received today, thanks OJ Sagdahl for v/s info.


Upcoming HDSDR Support For The RFSpace NetSDR

HDSDR has evolved into a flexible and powerful SDR interface, yet easy on your PC's CPU and memory. While I use Jaguar almost exclusively together with my four Perseus SDRs, I tend to want to use HDSDR for my other SDRs. However, the RFSpace range of SDRs have been unsupported. But that is about to change.

During the first days of May, German programmer Hayati Aygüen worked on the ExtIO dll, and I tested the dlls on my NetSDR. After a few versions, it was rated good enough for Hayati to publish the dll on Github. It's not finished yet, but it does work, with 21 different sample rates from 2 MHz to 12.5 kHz. It will likely be fully developed this summer.

Hopefully, it will be possible to make a dll for the Cloud-IQ as well. And maybe for the CloudSDR, when it enters the market.

The picture below shows the NetSDR sampling 1 MHz . The poor signal levels was propagation, not the radio...


Monday, May 07, 2018

QSL: WMCA New York NY 570

WMCA is heard from time to time at Smøla island. An early January log was sent off to the CE, who confirmed my reception this afternoon.

QSL: 2SM Sydney NSW, 1269

This 5-kW station had a great signal one April evening in 2017. It was a bit difficult to find someone who would find interest in my report, but I received a very friendly email response today.

Friday, April 27, 2018

QSL: WRMN Elgin IL 1410

There are some strange radio formats in the US. One is Beatles-only (KJME 890), and then there is the radio shopping format, found on KHSP 1400 (heard in 2013), and also on WRMN. Everything for revenue, I suppose.
WRMN was heard the last day in March, and a brief but friendly email  confirmed my reception today.