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.

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 %.

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 %.

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 %.

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.

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.

QSL: WONE Dayton OH 980

WONE was noted with excellent signal levels one night during our Mount Loran remote stunt last October. Quick and friendly response from their CE last night. #15 on 980.

Monday, April 23, 2018

QSL: WPGR Monroeville PA, 1510

WPGR was heard with "We Are One Body" Catholic programming one evening in early January, while still on daytime power. Friendly response from the Operations Manager this evening. Thanks OJS for info.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

MW DX Season Is Over - Time To Tidy Up!

Mid-April is rarely an exiting time for DX in my latitude. And with the current solar disturbance, there was really no point in doing another week. So, starting this weekend, gear will be packed away, and the beverages removed. What will remain is the 70-metre longwire and of course the KongSDR.
It's been an unusually snowy winter, and the first one where I simply didn't find the starting point of the 310-degrees beverage! Let's hope for a quick thaw.

Propagation has not been outstanding. Especially the first, often exciting part of the season got hammered with corona holes. Still, quite an amount of new stations. I'm especially satisfied with finally hearing a good ID on Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, 1035 kHz, and the new Radio Kiribati outlet on Christmas Islands, 846 kHz.

Where is it???

A few cables & stuff to put away...

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

QSL: KFMO Park Hills, MO 1240

First heard in 2016, but heard again with a better signal today. Very swift email response this evening for my #1300 North American station.

QSL: WWTX Wilmington DE 1290

Late March was a good time for NA DX-ers, at least for those with radios at Smøla island. OJ Sagdahl detected this first, and alerted me to listen to 1290. That was a jaw dropping experience. Another one from Delaware, the most elusive state of all??? The "Fox Sports 1290" ID was indicative but not conclusive, however every internet search pointed towards WWTX. And yes, WWTX confirmed this was their announcement, and that they had been running at night power! 32 watts! Third Delaware verie, the second in 2018. Happy days!

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

QSL: WTPS Petersburg VA 1240

March 31 was an interesting night for NA DX, and WTPS is no common station on 1240. Very good signal on top of the hour though, and I received an email response after just three minutes. My contact mentioned he got one report from Sweden the week before, but "Your reception was clearer however." I can live with that!

Sunday, April 01, 2018

KongSDR Finances - March

As it's only a month and a half until we see the midnight sun, MW gradually loses momentum - although we're still hearing interesting DX from North America and Asia/Pacific.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Revised Sensitivity Measurements Table

I've been measuring MW sensitivity on most of the receivers I've owned - and some I've borrowed. The new document is updated with measurements made by friends of mine many years ago. So now, the list comprises 41 receivers. From the super-affordable to the hyper-expensive, from early 1950's to 2017, and from 110 grams to 55 kg. And quite a few with legendary status!

Apart from extending the list of receivers, I have also sorted them by name and made some minor layout changes.

I hope I have the opportunity to extend the list as time goes. And you can have a look here.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

QSL: 3RN ABC Radio National, Melbourne VIC, 621

Aussie conditions haven't been quite what we had hoped for this season. A couple of weeks ago, 621 was heard, rather briefly, but with the Majestic Fanfare quite clear under the Chinese. Email confirmation today.

Friday, March 23, 2018

QSL: HLKQ KBS-1 Cheongju, 1062

KBS World responds to reception reports, but it's quite a different story when it comes to their domestic stations.  However, this morning, 10 months after a snail mail report, there was a QSL card and one other image (below) in my email inbox, and obviously the sender had taken some time to make a proper QSL for HLKQ!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

QSL: WLIE Islip NY, 540

This one was obviously running on day power one night in mid-February, and apparently heard several places. Including Smøla island. After a while, OJS (thanks!!) found a valid verie signer, and a friendly email arrived this evening.

QSL: WMFN Peotone IL, 640

OJ Sagdahl detected WMFN with a good signal mixing with CBC in January. A brief email response came today. A Smøla island logging.

Monday, March 12, 2018

WDTK Detroit MI, 1400

First time I heard WDTK was in January 2016, but very weak. I didn't even send a report at the time. Two years later though, an excellent signal for a 1-kW station. Email responses from two of the staff this evening, one commenting: "...amazing that it could travel to you, especially when our nighttime signal isn’t even listenable at my home 20 miles from here."

WDTK is a Salem station, which also runs the far more common WLQV 1500.

QSL: WBOW Paris, IL 1440

WBOW was heard last Christmas. The super dominant Saudi station was holding its breath just before the full hour, and a clear "1440 WBOW Paris" was heard, part of a longer full-hour announcement starting with WIBQ Terre Haute IN 1230. WBOW actually changed call letters to WIBU the day after (which was one hour after I heard them!), so this was likely the last WBOW announcement on 1440.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

QSLs: 6BE ABC Kimberley, Broome 675, 6DB ABC Kimberley, Derby 873

These two stations from Western Australia, 5 and 2 kW respectively, were heard during a good opening to SA and WA in the end of February. Graham confirmed these today, and says he's been inundated with reports from Europe this winter. Australia # 40 (and 41) on MW. Thanks OJ for notifying.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Icom IC-7610: Early Impressions

Excellent receiver! But some functionality issues for the broadcast DX-er. Read more here.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Weekend Test: The Icom IC-7610

LA9VFA Olav kindly lent me his new IC-7610 for testing this weekend. I already have one excellent Icom transceiver, the IC-746Pro, modified for optimal MW performance, so I thought it would be a good idea to put them together.

Later on I will measure the 7610's sensitivity and do some comparisons with the 746Pro and my SDRs. However, it took me less than 10 seconds to find out: It has better threshold signal readability than the 746Pro! On MW! I'm looking forward to this...

Thursday, March 08, 2018

KongSDR Finances - February

A bit delayed - here's the current status for the KongSDR. Thanks all, this month especially Kai ;-)

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

QSL: WITK Pittston PA, 1550

WITK was heard at the same time as WSYB 1380 (see below), with a local weather update before the full hour. Friendly response today, for my third Wilkins Radio station. 22 to go! USA # 1100.

QSL: WNRS Herkimer NY, 1420

WNRS was heard at Smøla island late in the morning in mid-February, probably already at their 1000-watt daytime power. A Facebook report to the station was awarded with a short confirmation. WNRS' main market is Utica, which at 60,000 inhabitants is six times the size of Herkimer. They also have a 250-watt FM reflector in Utica.  NY QSL # 60.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

QSL: WSYB Rutland VT, 1380

I heard WSYB in a "daytimer opening" at 22 UTC one evening in January with decent full-hour ID, and also with local announcements after network news. Very friendly response yesterday! Reception from Smøla island.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Revised SDRPlay RSP1A Article

I finally got round to do sensitivity measurements (no surprises), and I have also checked a bit on VHF and UHF. Revised article is here, or look at the "DX-related stuff..."-section to the right.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

QSL: KPRM Park Rapids MN 870

First time I heard KPRM was in the early 2000s, apparently running day power overnight. No response at the time, despite a number of reports. In November 2017 another good signal, and another report was sent. After a couple of follow-ups, a brief response came last night.

Monday, February 26, 2018

QSL: WARR Warrenton, NC 1520

WARR surfaced briefly through WWKB one evening in early January, probably running their Critical Hours power as it was 45 minutes after Warrenton sunset. It took a while for a confirmation to show up, but then I received a brief email today.

Friday, February 23, 2018

QSL: WADO New York, NY 1280

This Spanish-language NYC station is heard from time to time, and I got a nice ID one morning in January, fighting with the Puerto Rican. Friendly response from the CE today, thanks Patrick Willför for v/s.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

QSL: WWMI St. Petersburg FL 1380

WWMI "1380 The Biz" surfaced with a very good signal one morning in mid-February at the Smøla island location. Short but friendly email response today.  Florida # 25.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

QSL: WDOV Dover, DE 1410

January 19 was a good day for east coast US stations at Smøla island. Mixing with other stations on 1410, WDOV surfaced with a legal ID. Delaware is the most elusive of all US states in our area, and it was a great pleasure to have another DE station confirmed (WILM-1450 a few years ago). Thanks OJ Sagdahl for spotting it.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

KongSDR Finances - January

Thanks again to those who support the KongSDR. The reason why the Costs column vary, is that I swap between capacity subscriptions depending on usage.

Friday, February 02, 2018

QSL: WKLQ Whitehall MI 1490

"Thanks again for your email. You made our day!!"
This was the response from WKLQ  "Big Talk 1490" to my reception report. Heard in the end of January with quite a good signal level at the top of the hour ID.

QSL: CBGY Bonavista NL 750

The last of the CBC Newfoundland stations was confirmed today. Heard with local morning programming produced in St. John's, but aired in the Bonavista area roughly 100 km to the north of the province capital.

QSLs: More All India Radio MW stations

Another QSL received today with the following stations confirmed:

AIR South, Vijyayawada 837
AIR West, Indore  648
AIR North, Jalandhar B  873
AIR South, Cuddapah 900

So, that makes eight AIR stations confirmed in two days. Total MW count from India now is 23, up from one at the start of the season (AIR Bhuj 1310, in 1976). 41 years with not a single AIR MW report. I'm catching up quite well.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

QSL: WSTX St. Croix, Virgin Islands 970

It was a long-awaited catch in January, and a much appreciated QSL today! The signal was quite weak, but I got two distinct "WSTX" announcements, and that was enough. I sent along a picture of me at the Smøla island beach, and got a Virgin island beach in return. Guess which is which!

QSLs: AIR Suratgarh 918, Lucknow 747, Najibabad 846, Ahmedabad 846

I logged these stations with good signals during auroral conditions in early September.  All with local ID at around 17:40 UTC.

QSL card with all four stations listed was received today.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

QSL: CBY Corner Brook NL 990

This CBC station is "always" heard, but I wanted to have a local broadcast to report (and indeed the CBC v/s requires it). I got a nice recording of the Corner Brook Morning Show with audio from Bernice Hiller on January 18, and a friendly conformation today.

The Airspy HF+: A Very Competent SDR

Almost four weeks into my ownership of the Airspy HF+, I think it's time to give my impressions from a MW DX-er's point of view. More here.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Airspy HF+: Testing, testing, testing...

There was a thread in the Airspy reflector in early January concerning sensitivity in the LF (and especially VLF) part of the spectrum. There were also intermodulation products on the LF band. I didn't really pay much attention to it. It turned out however that the solutions (a firmware update and a hardware modification) had significant impact on the receiver's performance in general.

I had noted that sensitivity appeared to roll off much higher up than in the LF band, and Roelof Bakker kindly measured the 1000 kHz sensitivity and found -95 dBm (AM, 6 kHz, 30% modulation, 400 Hz tone). Which is good, but not outstanding. Roelof also confirmed that sensitivity was rolling off.

The solution to the LF problem was a simple "bypass operation" as illustrated below. It not only solved LF sensitivity, but sensitivity in general. Roelof noted an improvement to -110 dBm, which is truly outstanding in the SDR world. Together with a firmware update this seems to not have compromised performance in any way, probably the contrary as it seems that the intermod problems are gone.

I did the firmware update and R3 bypass on Saturday in less than half an hour. The improved sensitivity is indeed notable in my setup when noise levels and signal levels are low.

I'm mostly using HDSDR with the HF+ now, because it's easy on remote connections and to set up recordings. Works well with SDR Console V3 and SDR# too. More to come.
Original photo: Nils Schiffhauer

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Airspy HF+: HDSDR Support

HDSDR is a favourite SDR software for me when I use other SDRs than Perseus. It's light on system resources, and has a huge selection of keyboard shortcuts which makes it very quick and efficient. Andrea Montefusco, IW0HDV has made an ExtIO for the Airspy HF+, the latest version came yesterday. Below is how the Airspy HF+ works via remote connection on a morning with fair conditions towards North America.

Monday, January 22, 2018

QSL: CKGA Gander NL 650

CKGA with its VOCM programming is common at our Smøla island location, but to get a QSL, one must report! I had hoped to hear their local programs which start at 6.00 am NST or 0930 UTC, but the Greenland station is totally dominant at that time. A video report, required because otherwise I couldn't authenticate which VOCM station I was listening to, was confirmed today. Newfoundland #15.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

QSL: WWBC Cocoa FL 1510

"Daytime conditions", i.e. skywave propagation from stations still in North America's sunlit zones, have been fair the past several days. One of the stations heard by many DX-ers in this region is WWBC, and with the Boston station silent it's been even easier to hear. My reception on Jan 12 was 45 minutes before their sunset.

The owner John Harper was known to me before, because another of his stations, then-WMEL 1300 was heard and confirmed a few years ago. Another email overnight confirmed WWBC.

Somewhat confusing perhaps that his network is profiled as "The Talk To Me Station WMEL", because the WMEL call letter no longer exists on MW.

Friday, January 19, 2018

QSL: KUFO Portland OR 970

I heard KUFO almost a year ago but have had little luck with the QSL part. Until today, when one of their engineers sent me a full-data QSL letter in a Word file!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

QSL: YVQX Radio Nueva Esparta, Porlamar 920

I rarely chase Latin American stations, my total QSL count is embarrasingly low. When tuning around late on the 17 I caught a nice ID from Radio Nueva Esparta, and sent off a Facebook report. I received a friendly response within minutes. We exchanged a few messages after that.

QSL: WCCM Methuen MA 1570

Smøla island is an excellent spot for logging eastern North American stations, and for a few days signals propagated into the EST daytime zones, both in the afternoon and the morning. Excellent signal from WCCM one evening, and a quick response to my report. The new, 700-metre beverage at 290 degrees performs admirably.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The RSP1A - Some Conclusions

After a few weeks of use in Kongsfjord and Smøla island, here are my impressions of this inexpensive, but quite able SDR.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

QSL: JO-- NHK-2 Nagano Relay, Matsumoto 1512

Every now and then, a frequency dominant fades and gives room for less common stations. Like late October when the usual JOZB NHK-2 Matsuyama gave way to the 1-kW relay of NHK-2 Nagano in Matsumoto. A custom-made QSL, obviously printed on an inkjet printer, was received today.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

QSL: CBQT Wrigley NT 1280

"This is CBC Radio One. 98.9 FM in Yellowknife" was the rather unexpected announcement on 1280 kHz one evening in November last year. CBQT Wrigley is one of CBC's low-power repeater stations, and the only one on 1280. An email from CBC North confirmed my reception, thanks to Ole Forr who first spotted it. The distance is 4975 km, so even 40 watts can travel great distances when propagation is right.

Wrigley has around 130 inhabitants, and is the end point of the Mackenzie Highway. There is even an air strip at the east bank of the Mackenzie River. Canada MW verie #220.