A site about the radio listening hobby and my activities therein - longwave, mediumwave, shortwave, FM, and television DXing. A site about the radio listening hobby in all its forms, or at least the forms that interest me.

I am also a licenced amateur radio operator, callsign VE3LXL. Information about my amateur radio station is found on my station website.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Loggings on Highway 7

I drove back to Toronto today from Ottawa and DXed the AM band while I drove. Car DXing is simple enough - leave the car radio on some frequency while one drives. If something worth logging pops up, pull over, then note down the details. The pulling over and stopping isn't necessary if one uses a voice recorder to make notes, but I don't.

Conditions on the AM band were great today. Occasionally, around the time of the winter solstice, some amount of skywave propagation can remain in effect all day. Normally there is no skywave propagation on mediumwave frequencies during daylight hours because of the ionizing effect of the sun on the D layer of the ionosphere. This layer absorbs signals at these frequencies, preventing them from propagating further. At night, the D layer disippates, which allows signals at mediumwave frequencies to pass through it to the higher F layer, which reflects them back to earth. This is the reason for long distance propagation on the AM band at night. However, around the time of the winter solstice the days are the shortest of the year, and the sun is at the lowest elevation in the sky. So the D layer does not get as strongly ionized and skywave propagation on mediumwave doesn't entirely disappear during the daylight hours. I would expect this phenomenon would be stronger, more frequent, and occur over a longer period of time at more northerly latitudes. Here in southern Ontario I've only ever seen it happen within a couple of weeks of the winter solstice. And it was happening today.

I logged the following stations. I heard more stations than this, but as I was driving I didn't think it was worth stopping to log stations I knew I'd heard before. Four of them turned out to be new catches, which is a fantastic haul. Combined with the three new ones I caught in Ottawa earlier, I got seven new stations on mediumwave today. I can't remember the last time I got so many new ones. This brings the overall mediumwave log count to 963.
  • WPNI, 1430, Amherst MA at 1810 UTC (2:10 p.m. local time) with fair signal. 5 kW. Playing folk music. ID as WUMB. WUMB is the University of Boston FM station on 91.9, WPNI is carrying its programming at the present time. First time logging. Received in Ottawa, ON.
  • WENE, 1430, Endicott NY at 1815 UTC with fair signal. Sports. ID as "The Team" and gave location as Binghampton. Received in Ottawa. Relog.
  • WEOK, 1390, Poughkeepsie NY at 1835 UTC, poor signal. 5 kW. Heard ID and frequency. Received in Carleton Place, ON. First time logging.
  • WNIO, 1390, Youngstown OH at 1858 UTC. Fair-poor signal. 9.5 kW. Sports talk, ID as "The Sports Animal". ESPN. Callsign ID on the hour. Received in Carleton Place. Relog.
  • WROW, 590, Albany NY at 2015 UTC. Poor signal. Christmas music, ID as "Magic 590". Relog.
  • WHBL, 1330, Sheboygan WI at 2100 UTC, around sunset local time. Poor signal. 5 kW. News with items about local events in Wisconsin. Mentions of Sheboygan. Received on Highway 7 in central Ontario. First time logging.
  • WIGN, 1550, Briston TN at 2130 UTC with poor signal. 35 kW. Religious. Several IDs and location heard. Received in Havelock, ON. First time logging.

Loggings in Ottawa

Dec. 29, 2010: My last day in Ottawa and I found some time to tune the radio dials today. Had the portable Kaito KA1103 with me. It always seems that radio reception is far better when I'm out on a trip than when I'm at home, probably because I'm not inside a steel frame box and am away from the electronic noise of hundreds of neighbors. Here's what I heard today:
  • On 507 kHz at 0233 UTC, I heard a Morse code beacon: WE2XGR/6. This is one of the experimental amateur stations operating on the proposed 600 metre band. This one is located in Penn Yan, NY. Signal was good.
  • WDEV 550 kHz, Waterbury VT, at 0240 UTC with sports program "The Score", mixing with co-channel WGR. Fair signal.
  • WMAC 940 kHz, Macon GA, at 0300 UTC with news, weather, and clear ID. Poor signal.
  • Unidentified station or stations in Spanish on 690 kHz heard at 0248 and at 1130-1145 UTC. Talk, Cuban-sounding music. No ID heard. There are several possibilities of what this station could be. If it is a Cuban, then most likely it is CMBC, the 20 kW outlet of Radio Progreso in Jovellanos. That would be a relog for me, as I logged it many years ago.
WDEV and WMAC are new stations, so that brings the overall mediumwave count to 959.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Two Stations on 690 kHz

While driving up to Ottawa this afternoon, I had the car radio on 690 kHz and caught two new stations. I was on Highway 7 between Perth and Carleton Place, Ontario at the time.
  • WELD, Fisher WV at 2140 UTC with fair signal. Faded out after a few minutes. Oldies music, ads, and ID. 3 kW.
  • WZAP, Bristol, VA at 2145-2201 UTC with a fair signal. Religious programming. ID on the hour with callsign and location. 10 kW.
This was around dusk, but before these stations would have switched to their night powers (a measly 14 watts in both cases).

This brings the count in the overall mediumwave log to 957.

WWVH 5000 kHz, Radio Enciclopedia 530 kHz, and WNNZ 640 kHz

December 26, 2010: While in Harrowsmith, in eastern Ontario (north of Kingston about 20 km) I spent a bit of time tuning the bands on the Kaito KA-1103, my usual travel radio, using its built-in antennas. Made three noteworthy catches:
  • WWVH, 5000 kHz at 0509 UTC. WWVH is the time-and-frequency station in Kaui, Hawaii. I heard it under WWV in Colorado. The two stations transmit the same format, but WWVH is identifiable because it uses a female voice for the time accouncements, while WWV uses a male one. WWVH also announces the time before WWV. Signal was poor but clear. I've logged WWVH on 5000 kHz before, but it is seldom audible here, and I don't think I've ever caught it on a portable receiver with no outdoor antenna before.
  • Radio Enciclopedia, CMBQ, 530 kHz, Havana, Cuba, 0545-0601 UTC. Radio Enciclopedia transmits cultural programming across Cuba. I caught them playing so-called "beautiful music" tonight - e.g., the theme from the 1940s movie "Laura". Musical numbers with announcements between them in Spanish by a female announcer. ID and location on the hour. Didn't catch the ID but did catch the location. Fair signal in null of CIAO in Toronto. New station for my overall log.
  • WNNZ, 640 kHz, Westfield, MA, 1320-1340 UTC. Morning (after sunrise) logging. Fair to good signal, strongest on frequency, in null of Toronto's AM 640. Carrying NPR program "All Things Considered". 50 kW. Logging a 50 kW station from Massachussetts isn't unusual here, but this is my first reception of this station. Normally the frequency is blocked by my local AM 640.
  • I also did a scan for WiFi WAPs using my netbook computer, running inSSIDer. Found four WAPs, all probably local. I don't know if there's any point to doing this sort of WiFi DXing - it's a good way to add quantity to the logbook, but there seems to be no way to know where the WAPs are so there's no way to distinguish between routine local receptions and DX. But they are radio "stations" of a sort, so there must be some way to turn this into a branch of DXing.
The two mediumwave stations were new, so this brings the count in the mediumwave overall log to 955.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

CIQW 99.3 FM, Quinte West, Ontario

Added a new station to the FM log. I was driving to Eastern Ontario today and while stopped in Trenton, I caught a new FM station: CIQW, 99.3 MHz, from Quinte West, Ontario (which makes it a local station where I heard it). This is Quinte West Information Radio, an automated station broadcasting information of interest to residents and visitors: Environment Canada weather information, public service and community announcements, highway conditions, etc.

This is the 320th station in my overall FM log.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

2010 ARRL 10 Meter Contest

The 2010 ARRL 10 Meter Contest was on today and I spent some time making contacts with amateur stations that were taking part in it. The band was open and conditions were good. I kept a log of all the stations I heard. I was listening between 1630 and 2145 UTC. Mostly I was logging stations operating in Morse code (operating from 28.0 to about 28.05 MHz) plus a few in SSB (around 28.5 MHz). Logged stations from the United States, Canada, Belize, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. 10 Meters is interesting. It's closed much of the time, then opens and easily supports global propagation at modest power. Sometimes it opens to one particular part of the world. Today, from here, it seemed to be open only to part of South America - I didn't hear stations from very many countries, but I did log six Brazilians, all from the southern part of the country, plus one Argentinian from the same general region.

I've said this before but will repeat it. DXing amateur stations is something SWLs should consider doing more often. With shortwave broadcasting on the decline, there are many parts of the world that you may only be able to hear on shortwave on the amateur bands.

Sunday Morning Nortown Net

Every Sunday morning from 11:00 to 11:30 local time (16:00-16:30 UTC) the Nortown Amateur Radio Club here in Toronto (North York) has a net or roundtable on 28,300 kHz in the 10 metre band. I occasionally check into this net despite not being a member of that club. 10 metres is good for local communications when long-distance propagation isn't happening there (which is a lot of the time) but most amateurs don't use it for that - the VHF and UHF bands are used instead. Today I heard three stations in the net, all located in Toronto: VA3AAD - John the net controller, VE3ENA, and VE3BKA. It's a nice, relaxed net, worth checking into if you're a radio amateur in the GTA area.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Some Routine Shortwave Loggings

Did a bit of tuning about the shortwave broadcast bands during the afternoon today. Just a few routine loggings:
  • Radio Exterior de España on 17850 kHz at 1910-1940 UTC in Spanish from relay in Costa Rica. Fair signal.
  • Radio Nederland on 15315 kHz at 2220-2224 UTC in Dutch from relay in Bonaire. 250 kW. Poor signal.
  • WYFR, Family Radio, on 11740 kHz at 2225-2256 in English from Okeechobee, FL. Fair signal. Religious.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

NMG 12788 kHz

Tuning around 12 MHz today and came across a station broadcasting a marine weather forecast. This was NMG in New Orleans, LA, a U.S. Coast Guard station that broadcasts marine weather and other information of interest to mariners. The forecast was read by a computer-generated male voice - I think they call it "Iron Mike". Details: Dec. 5, 2010 21:50-22:12 UTC on 12788 kHz in SSB with poor signal.

About an hour earlier (20:15-20:35) I was also listening on the 20 metre amateur band to radio amateurs - heard several in a roundtable discussion on 14245 kHz and heard lots in a huge pile-up on 14205. But nothing exotic or noteworthy heard.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

2010 TARA RTTY Melee

Today found me logging amateur stations participating in a radio-teletype contest: the 2010 TARA RTTY Melee. Logged 12 stations, all on 20 metres (around 14.1 MHz), all in the U.S. or Canada. Decoding software used: MMTTY. Not much else to report.

Monday, 15 November 2010

70 cm Repeater VE3VOP

Ok, this isn't DX. But for me part of the DXing hobby is about exploring the radio spectrum to see what's there, and about exploring new aspects of DXing. Since I've spent very little time on the UHF band, and very little on the 70 cm amateur band (440 MHz), anything I hear there is new. I spent a bit of time listening to the 70 cm band today (Nov. 15) and I heard some talk in an unknown language on 443.325 MHz. I didn't catch the callsigns of the stations, but at one point I heard a Morse code ID. The hams I heard were talking on a repeater, and the Morse code ID was the repeater's automated ID. This was VE3VOP, the repeater of the Mabuhay Amateur Radio Club. Time was 00:23 UTC. It's a local repeater, located here in Toronto. Signal was excellent, as you'd expect from a local.

Catching a local repeater isn't much of an achievement. But it does show that hunting for amateur radio repeaters is another possible facet of DXing. There are unusual propagation conditions that allow VHF and UHF signals to travel long distances, so this could be another niche of DXing.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


My DXing activities on Nov. 14, 2010 were about logging stations in an amateur radio contest: the DARC (Deutscher Amateur-Radio-Club) Worked All Europe RTTY Contest. I was on the air making contacts and kept a log of all the stations I heard. I was only on two bands (20 and 40 metres) and logged 21 stations. And even though this was a European contest, radio conditions were not so great so all the stations I caught were in North America - one in Canada, one in Mexico, and the rest in the U.S. And I only actually worked seven of these on the air. The Canadian station was VY2SS in Prince Edward Island. The Mexican one was 4B1EE, in Queretaro, Mexico.

Monday, 8 November 2010

WGNY-AM 1220

This morning I caught a station on the AM band I've never received before: WGNY-AM on 1220 kHz from Newburgh, NY. Until recently 1220 was pretty effectively blocked by semi-local CHSC in St. Catharines, Ontario. But that station shut down at the end of September leaving the frequency clearer, although it is still partly blocked here by WHKW in Cleveland, Ohio. CHSC's departure made the reception of WGNY possible.

Details: Nov. 8, 2010, 1220-1230 UTC (7:20 local time), playing oldies. Also heard report of current weather conditions, and slogan "Fox Radio" and station URL foxradio.net. Signal fair-poor, mixing with and usually under WHKW. Received on the Kaito KA-1103 portable and also tuned in on the Eton E-100 so I could add the logging to the ultralight log. This is ultralight logging 339.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Amateur Radio DXing - 2010 ARRL CW Sweepstakes Contest

On Nov. 7, 2010 I spent some time making contacts in the 2010 ARRL CW Sweepstakes contest. I also kept a log of all the stations I heard. I heard 37 stations (and worked 20 of them) on the 40, 20, and 15 metre bands. All were in North America, except one, CX/N3BNA, in Uruguay. CX/N3BNA wasn't actually participating in the contest but he was on 15 metres at the time of the contest, so I worked him on the air.

All the other stations were in the continental U.S. or Canada, except for NP2X in the U.S. Virgin Islands. One Alaskan station was also heard, KL7AF, which is located at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

This shows one reason why SWLs should consider DXing the amateur bands. As far as I know, there are no shortwave broadcasters left in Uruguay or in the U.S. Virgin Islands. So if you want to hear those countries on the air, the amateur bands are really the only practical option.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Amateur Radio DXing - 2010 CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB

On the weekend of Oct 30/31, 2010, I spent some time on the air, at my amateur radio station VE3LXL, making contacts in the 2010 CQ Magazine Worldwide DX Contest (SSB). It occurred to me that I should also keep a log of the stations I heard, even the ones I failed to work on the air. I am already in the habit of logging amateur stations when tuning around the bands, so it only makes sense to also do this when I'm operating my station.

It also occurs to me that this is a form of DXing that SWLs should consider doing more often. It's no secret that shortwave broadcasting is in trouble these days, with shortwave broadcasters dropping like flies. But there is still plenty of activity on the amateur bands, especially on weekends of major contests. And there are many countries that are difficult or impossible to hear on the shortwave broadcast bands that have active amateur stations. If you're an SWL, give it a try. You can find a list of all the upcoming amateur contests at WA7BNM's contest calendar.

I did all my listening on the 15, 20, and 40 metre bands. I won't list all the stations I heard this weekend - there were over 90 of them. But I will list the countries I heard: Antigua, Argentina, Azores (Portugal), Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire (Netherlands Antilles), Brazil, Canada, Canary Islands (Spain), Cayman Islands (U.K.), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, England, France, Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), Germany, Madeira Islands (Portugal), Mexico, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Slovak Republic, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands (U.K.), U.S. Virgin Islands, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

WiFi DXing

I am wondering if it is possible to turn the search for Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) Wireless Access Points (WAPs) into a branch of the DXing hobby - WiFi DXing. Wireless networks communicate by radio, using two bands in the 2.4 and 5 GHz range. Each network's base station can be thought of as being a tiny, micro-powered radio station. By scanning for wireless networks with your computer, you can get a list of the nearby stations of this type. So is there a form of DXing possible here? Is it possible that under certain conditions signals can propagate long distances, becoming DXable targets?

As an experiment I used software called inSSIDer 2.0 that I installed on my station computer to scan for wireless networks in my neighbourhood. The network card has a small antenna on the back of the computer; I didn't try augmenting it. Since I live on the 12th floor of an apartment building I have the advantage of height. There are also other apartment and condo towers nearby, and two main streets with office buildings and businesses, which gives the potential for numerous wireless networks. The advantage of using inSSIDer is that it gives you the number of the channel the WAP is using, which allows you you to know the exact radio frequency. That's not really important for most purposes but it's something you'd want to know if you use a frequency-based logging system.

The results of this experiment were interesting. I did a single scan at 16:36 UTC on Oct. 24, 2010. InSSIDer listed 66 WAPs nearby. Clearly there's no shortage of targets. It's safe to assume all are within a few hundred metres of here. InSSIDer tells you the network's name, the type of device and the network speed it supports. What it does not tell you is where the WAP is actually located. (Or maybe it does - inSSIDER does seem to have an option for attaching a GPS to it, so maybe it can identify the network's location if you do that. But I don't have a GPS). Without knowing the WAP's location, there's no way to tell if a new network you're seeing is a DX reception or just a new nearby network.

I think there's potential to this, although clearly it's not radio DXing in the conventional sense. There's nothing for you to listen to, and you use the computer's wireless card as the receiver, not a conventional radio.

Shortwave Loggings

Some interesting things heard on shortwave today, Oct. 24, 2010:
  • AFRTS (American Forces Radio and Television Service) feeder heard on 12133 kHz at 0505 to 0518 UTC, in USB with weak signal. Programming was talk, sports talk, and army announcements. Station location: Saddleback Keys, Florida.
  • Unidentified utility station on 12120.5 kHz at 0520 with high-speed digital traffic. Strong signal.
  • Radio Nacional da Amazonia, Brasilia, Brazil, heard at 0525 UTC on 11780 kHz with fair signal. Brazilian music and talk, in Portuguese naturally, between songs. 250 kW.
  • Radio New Zealand International, Rangitaiki, New Zealand, hear at 0534 to 0602 with poor signal. Tentative - no ID heard but programming was typical of RNZ. Stupidly, I forgot to record the frequency but it was in the 25 metre band.
  • Unidentified utility station on 12014.5 kHz at 2030 UTC with fair signal carrying high speed digital traffic.
  • WEWN, Vandiver, Alabama, heard at 2120-2140 UTC on 12050 kHz with good signal carrying Catholic religious programming in Spanish.
  • WYFR, Family Radio on 12055 kHz at 2140 UTC with talk and music in English. Interval signal at 2200 then off air. Weak. This was not from WYFR's usual site in Florida but was instead being relayed from Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. To central Africa.
  • BBC World Service, from Ascension Island, on 12095 kHz at 2210 in English with poor signal. Talk and news. Interference from a Spanish language station on the same frequency - may be Radio Damascus in Syria, which is the only station listed as operating in Spanish on this frequency at this time. However, nothing was heard that could identify it.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Dominican Republic and Brazil on 10 Metres

The 10 metre amateur band is dead much of the time, but today (Oct. 23) it came alive for a bit and I heard two DX stations. Details:
  • HI3B, Dominican Republic, heard at 2110 UTC in Morse code (CW) on 28028 kHz working various stations. RST: 379.
  • PY2XC, Sao Paulo, Brazil, heard at 2133 UTC on 28018 kHz in CW working several stations. RST 479. The only station that worked PY2XC that I was able to hear was VE3IN here in Toronto.

Friday, 22 October 2010

30 Metre Beacon

Today: my first reception of an amateur radio beacon on the 30 metre band. WA4SZE/B, Manchester, TN, USA, heard from 1210 - 1250 UTC Oct. 22, 2010 on 10148.6 kHz with a fair signal. The beacon was sending a continuous stream of dash-dot beeps with a "WA4SZE/B" ID in Morse code every few minutes.

Shortwave Broadcast Loggings

Some shortwave broadcasters heard this morning (Oct. 22, 2010):
  • Voice of America, 9885 kHz at 1155 UTC with fair signal. Talk/news show in Spanish.
  • Radio Vatican, 9830 kHz at 1158 UTC with strong signal in Spanish. Religious programming. Transmitter location unknown, but given its strength is likely from Sackville, NB relay.
  • Radio Marti, 9805 kHz at 1201 UTC in Spanish. Fair signal. News/talk show. Broadcasting from Greenville, NC, USA.
  • KBS World Radio, 9650 kHz at 1203 UTC via Sackville, NB relay. Excellent signal in English with news from Seoul, South Korea.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Navtex DX Session

Results of an overnight DX session: 0310 to 1150 UTC Tues. Oct. 19, 2010. I left the receiver on overnight tuned to 518 kHz, hooked to the computer with Navtex Decoder running to see what would come in. Here's what came in. No new stations.

1. NMG ($04G), New Orleans, LA:
  • 0310-0320: Navigation warnings.
  • 0700-0740: Weather forecasts, two satnav messages, and some navigation warnings.
2. VCK ($04C), Sept-Iles-Riviere-au-Renard, QC, Canada:
  • 0418-0425: Navigation warnings.
  • 0523-0525: Meteorlogical warnings - gale warnings.
  • 0610-0612: Meteorlogical warnings - gale warnings.
  • 0655-0655: Meteorlogical warnings - gale warnings.
  • 0818-0820: Weather forecast.
3. NMF ($04F), Boston, MA:
  • 0510: Navigation warnings.
  • 0844-0910: Navigation warnings and one satnav message.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Radio Cultura do Para, 5045 kHz

A new logging of a tropical band broadcast station tonight. From 0305 to 0331 UTC I heard a weak station playing Latin music on 5045 kHz in either Spanish or Portuguese - it was too weak to determine the language. No ID. Three hours later, when I was having trouble sleeping, I came back to it - from 0645 to 0725 UTC (that's 0245 to 0330 AM local time). Now the signal was stronger, although with a lot of interference from Radio Rebelde, Cuba, on 5040 kHz. It was playing Brazilian or Portuguese pop music with talk in Portuguese. Finally at 0725 I heard an ID "Radio Cultura" and a mention of "Amazonia, Brazil". This is Radio Cultura do Para in Belem, Brazil. 10 kW.

Back in the old days I used to enjoy tropical band DXing and logged a fair number of broadcasters on the tropical bands. Sadly, most broadcasting activity on these bands has ceased now. So it was a nice surprise to actually log a new one today.

Another HF-FAX Reception

I made a second reception of a station transmitting weather maps via HF-FAX today. This was actually part of the same DX session that netted the reception of NMF yesterday, but two hours later, when the UTC date had already changed. Details: NMG, New Orleans LA, on 8503.9 kHz at 0030 to 0100 UTC Mon. Oct. 18, 2010. Fair to poor signal. Weather maps for the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Lots of interference (noise) but readable.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Three Unidentified Utility Stations

Rounding out today's loggings are three unidentified utility stations and some shortwave broadcasters. The utility stations:
  • 9030 kHz, 2248 UTC: High speed digital signal, maybe some type of RTTY.
  • 4805 kHz, 2330 - 2337 UTC: Station with "sweeping" sounding signal. May be a coastal radar station.
  • 4820 kHz, 2338 UTC: Another station with the same type of "sweeping" signal as heard on 4805.
The shortwave broadcasters:
  • WWCR, Nashville TN on 9350 kHz at 2100 UTC with show "Prison Planet" hosted by Alex Jones.
  • WTJC, Morehead City NC on 9370 at 2217 UTC with gospel music.
  • WBCQ, Montecello ME on 9330 kHz at 2225 UTC with religious preaching.
  • Radio Cairo, Cairo Egypt, on 9305 kHz at 2226 UTC in Arabic with Arabic music and talk by a woman.


An interesting amateur radio logging today as well: TO3GA on the French island of Martinique in the West Indies. This was a DXpedition station operated by a German amateur, DL3GA. He was operating in CW on 40 metres (7026 kHz) at 2320 UTC Oct. 17, 2010. He was working lots of stations in quick succession. The only one I heard was DF1AL in Berlin, Germany.

HF-FAX Reception on 9110 kHz

Something new today. I was tuning around 9 MHz on shortwave to see what I could discover and I came across a strong digital signal. I started up MultiPSK to attempt to decode it and quickly discovered that it was an HF-FAX signal, with a transmission of weather maps of the North Atlantic and the Carribean. This is my first reception of an HF-FAX station ever. Frequency: 9110 kHz. Station: NMF. Location: Boston, MA. Time and date: 2230 - 2244 UTC Oct. 17, 2010. Signal quality: good.

This is one thing I enjoy in radio - exploring what's out there and discovering hitherto unknown types of transmissions and stations.

Useful links here, here, here, and here.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

WGBW 1590 DX Test

WGBW 1590, Two Rivers, Wisconsin, held a DX Test between 0500 and 0600 Z on Sat. Oct. 16. I listened to 1590 from 0515 onwards trying to catch it. Usually stations doing DX tests use distinctive tones and, sometimes, Morse code IDs, to ensure they stand out. I heard nothing from them for the entire time of the DX test. The channel was dominated by WAKR in Akron, Ohio, and by noise. That is, I heard nothing until 0559, when WAKR faded momentarily and the noise abated, and I heard faint but clear "...WGBW AM 1590 Two Rivers, Wisconsin...". It's certainly odd that the only thing I heard from the DX test was the station's full legal ID at the top of the hour.

Another new station for both the Toronto log and the overall log. I've not received this station before.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Thanksgiving DXing

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I was in the village of Harrowsmith, Ontario, near Kingston. And as I usually do when I'm up there, I did some DXing. I'm always impressed by how much more I can hear there than from home, even though I'm just using a little portable shortwave receiver with its built-in antenna when I'm there. The reason for the great reception is that there is so little interference. There is very little electrical noise on the bands, and I'm not in a steel frame building there.

I was tuning around on the lower shortwave frequencies, and here's what I heard. Date: Oct. 11, 2010. Receiver: Kaito KA-1103 on its telescopic whip antenna.
  • 3485 kHz: Gander Radio, Gander Newfoundland, 0257 - 0300 UTC, with aviation weather.
  • 3476 kHz: 0302 - 0310 UTC, weak station in English with Irish sounding accent with air traffic control transmissions. I think this is Shanwick Radio, an air traffic control station in Ireland.
  • 3476 kHz: Gander Radio, Gander NL, 0310 - 0314 UTC. On after the preceding station went off. Air traffic control for North Atlantic from Gander airport in Newfoundland.
  • 3350 kHz: Radio Exterior de Espana, broadcasting from Costa Rica, at 0317 to 0335 UTC.
  • 3320 kHz: Radio Sonder Grense, Meyerton South Africa, from 0336 to 0042 UTC. With music and talk in Afrikaans.
  • 3395 kHz: 0402 - 0403 UTC. Unidentified utility with strange pulsing sound: 3 harsh mid-tone beeps and one deeper one, repeated, with each cycle taking about 2 seconds.
  • 3185 kHz: WWRB, Manchester TN, at 0405 UTC. Christian broadcaster. 100 kW.
  • 3885 kHz: Ham radio roundtable in AM mode aty 0411- 0425 UTC. Stations heard include W2NBC in Oak Ridge NJ, WB2CAU in Dix Hills NY, and N1HCI in Concord NH.
  • 3880 kHz: KG2IR, Greenlawn NY at 1320 UTC. Another amateur in AM mode.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

And Even More Navtex DXing

I did an overnight Navtex DX session on Oct. 9. I left the computer on decoding what came in on 518 kHz and then checked it the next day. Here's what put in an appearance:
  • NMF ($04F), Boston MA, 0447 - 0510 UTC, good signal with marine weather forecast for northeastern U.S. waters and four navigation warnings.
  • VCK ($04C), Sept-Iles-Riviere-au-Renard QC Canada, 0601 UTC, good signal with meteorological warnings, reporting gale force winds in the Cabot Strait, Northumberland Strait, Gulf Magdalen, Chaleur-Miscou, Anticosti, etc.
  • VCK ($04C), Sept-Iles-Riviere-au-Renard QC Canada, showing up again at 0654 UTC with more meteorlogical warnings.
  • NMG ($04G), New Orleans LA, 0700 - 0735 UTC, fair signal with marine weather forecast and navigation warnings.
  • NMF ($04F), Boston MA, 0854-0856 UTC, good signal with navigation warnings.
  • XLJ895 ($04P), Thunder Bay ON Canada, 1032 UTC, good signal with marine weather forecast (for Great Lakes).
  • NMG ($04G), New Orleans LA, 1102-1113 UTC, good signal with marine weather and navigation warnings.
All of these are relogs, except for XLJ895 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is a new station for me. As usual, I used Frisnet Navtex Decoder 2.1.5 to decode the signals.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

More Navtex DXing

Another Navtex DX session and two stations received, both of them relogs. Frequency: 518 kHz, date: Oct. 7, 2010, decoding software: Frisnet Navtex Decoder 2.1.5.
  • NMG ($04G), New Orleans LA, 0305 to 0315 UTC, fair signal with marine navigation warnings.
  • VAR-9 ($04U), Saint John NB, 0321 to 0330 UTC, fair to good signal with marine navigation warnings.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Navtex DXing

Last year I briefly tried out Navtex DXing, but then didn't keep it up, despite the encouraging results of that first experience (for instance, receiving the first station I've ever heard from Greenland). Today (Oct. 6, 2010) I decided to come back to it. Here's what I found:
  • 0420 - 0425 UTC, VCK ($04C), Sept-Iles-Riviere-au-Renard, Quebec, with navigation warnings. Good signal.
  • 0426 - 0436 UTC, NMA ($04A), Miami FL, with navigational notices. Weak with garbled messages, but station identifier clear.
  • 0445 UTC, NMF ($04F), Boston MA, with marine weather forecast for northeastern U.S. waters. Good signal.
All these stations were logged on 518 kHz, just below the bottom end of the AM broadcast band. VCK and NMF are relogs, but NMA from Miami is a new one for me.

Navtex is transmitted in a mode called SITOR-B. To receive Navtex, you need a receiver that supports SSB reception, and a computer to decode the signal. I use a software application called Frisnet Navtex Decoder to do the decoding.

Navtex stations on 518 kHz all broadcast in English. The world is divided into regions called Navareas. The stations within a Navarea take turns transmitting according to a predefined schedule. Each station in a Navarea identifies itself by a single letter (e.g., "A"). William Hepburn, at his DX Information Centre site, has a comprehensive list of the stations in each Navarea, with their identifiers and transmission schedules.

Navtex DXers identify stations using the format $NNI, where "$NN" is the Navarea number and "I" is the station's single letter identifier. For example, $04F is station "F" in Navarea 4, and from Hepburn's station list you can see this is station NMF in Boston, MA.

I also heard an aircraft navigation beacon on 516 kHz at the same time (0420 UTC): YWA in Petawawa, Ontario, with a fairly decent signal. This station is a regular visitor here in Toronto.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

One New Mediumwave Station

The only thing worth noting for September, and even this is barely worth noting, is that I heard WTNY 790, Watertown NY, on my car radio on Sept. 26 at 2030 UTC (that would be at 4:30 pm local time). This is a relog (it's a sem-local station from my old home town of Kingston, Ontario), but this is actually the first time I've heard it here in Toronto so it's a new one for my Toronto log.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Sony CRF-5100 Earth Orbiter

RadioIntelligencer has an interesting article about the Sony CRF-5100 Earth Orbiter, which Sony produced in the 1970s. This receiver covered shortwave, mediumwave, and longwave; the FM band; the air band; and the "public service" band on VHF. This was a good radio. It was my father's purchase of an CRF-5090 Earth Orbiter in 1975 that got me interested in radio (the 5090 is the same radio as the 5100 except that it lacks the public service band). That 5090 is long gone, but I now own a 5100 I bought used last year. It was an enjoyable radio to use in 1975 and it still is today.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

FM Loggings

Several new stations logged on FM this month. First up, three stations received while I was at the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area near Warsaw, Ontario, on Aug. 16. These were heard on a portable radio, the Grundig G5:
  • CKYM, 88.7, Napanee ON, at 2148 UTC. Slogan: "My FM" playing soft rock. Fair signal.
  • CKOL, 93.7, Campbellford ON, at 2150 UTC. Playing adult standards music. Fair signal.
  • CFFF, 92.7, Peterborough ON, at 2155. This is the Trent University campus station. Excellent signal (expected, as I was close to Peterborough).
I also logged four new stations two days later, on Aug 18, when I was in Hamilton, Ontario, parked at the top of the mountain:
  • CJIQ, 88.3, Paris ON, at 2055 UTC. "Rock 88" playing, not surprisingly, rock music. This is a 4 kW station. Excellent signal.
  • CBLA-2, 89.1, Paris ON, at 2057. CBC Radio One, carrying CBC Toronto. 5 kW. Good signal.
  • CJBC-2, 89.9, Paris ON, at 2101. Radio-Canada (French language CBC) carrying same programming as on 90.3 Toronto. 7.14 kW.
  • CFWC, 93.9, Brantford ON, from 2101 to 2125. "Power 93" with rock music and ads for Simcoe county businesses. Fair-poor signal. Their power is 250 watts.

Mediumwave Loggings

Two new mediumwave loggings this month, one of which also gets to go into the ultralight log.

On the evening of Fri. Aug 17, WTIC on 1080 in Hartford CT went off the air for a few hours for maintenance. WTIC normally dominates this channel at night. I took the opportunity to listen for some new stations and was rewarded with two new ones.

First up was WOAP, Owosso, Michigan, which I heard from 0340 to 0413 UTC (which makes the date Sat. Aug. 28 in UTC terms). They were playing oldies and identified themselves by the slogan "The Big 1080" and referred to themselves as "Michigan's Best". This station is listed as 1 kW, daytime only, so I don't know why they were on the air this late in the evening. Maybe the listing is out of date. This was first logged on the Drake SW8, and then I tuned it in on the Eton E-100 to qualify it as an ultralight logging. This is ultralight logging 338, and is also the 380th station in my Toronto log and the 950th entry in the lifetime mediumwave log (stations logged anytime, anywhere).

After logging WOAP I set things up to record 1080 on the Drake and went to bed. When reviewing the recording, I heard a second new station: WKJK, Louisville KY, which is a 1 kW talk station. Plenty of IDs, talk, and CBS news. This is station number 381 in the Toronto log, and 951 in the overall log.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Fresh New Look!

Greg's Radio Logbook - now with a fresh new look! And the same old stale content you've come to love! But soon there will be new content so check back soon.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Update for July 2010

In addition to the things I've already posted about for July, here are some of the highlights from my radio logbook for July 2010:

1. 128.8 MHz, July 5 at 0225 UTC: Logged Toronto Pearson Airport Departures - Air Traffic Control working aircraft departing the airport.

2. 132.8 MHz, July 5 at 0232-0240: Heard various aircraft in contact with Toronto Pearson Airport. This is a frequency for incoming aircraft.

3. Logged W1AW, the ARRL HQ station in Newington CT, transmitting Morse code practice bulletins on several frequencies. July 9 at 0249 UTC on 3581.5 kHz, July 13 at 0245 UTC on 1802.5 kHz, July 14 at 0222 UTC on 7047.5 kHz, and July 15 at 2346 UTC on 14047.5 kHz.

4. Logged various amateur stations on the HF bands.

5. Heard various shortwave broadcast stations. Nothing new.

6. Heard a pirate radio station on 6925 kHz on July 14 at 0240 UTC. He was playing music, but no ID was heard and he disappeared after a few minutes.

7. Heard New York Radio (air traffic control for NYC) on 6586 kHz working various aircraft. This was on July 14 at 0415 UTC.

8. On July 24 I managed to hear CBC Radio from Kingston, 107.5, on my car radio. This was in the morning when I was down at the Lake Ontario shore.

9. Did some listening for local utility communications on VHF.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Pearson Airport Arrivals - 132.8 MHz

One thing I like to do with radio is to explore new types of signals - discovering new things to hear on the radio bands. I haven't spent much time on the frequencies above 30 MHz, except for the FM and TV bands. But there is another VHF band that many radios include, the VHF air band that runs from 108 MHz (right at the top end of the FM broadcast band) to 137 MHz. On July 4 I spent a few minutes listening to 132.8 MHz, which is one of the frequencies that aircraft use to communicate with Toronto's Pearson International Airport when they're approaching the airport. If you sit on this frequency you can hear different flights checking in with the airport. Between 2215 and 2223 UTC I heard three flights contacting the airport here, Exec Jet 937, Air Canada 590, and Eagle 4441.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Numbers Station - 5898 kHz

On July 3 when I was tuning around the bottom end of the 49 metre broadcast band, I happened across a station on 5898 kHz that was transmitting in Morse code, sending text in 5 character groups at a fairly rapid clip. This was at 0505 UTC (around 1 a.m. local time). This is probably one of those spy stations you read about in the news, where some country's intelligence service sends encrypted messages over shortwave to their agents abroad. A lot of these stations apparently operate from Cuba. I obviously have no idea where this station was from or what message it was transmitting. But even when you have no idea what the station is or is sending, it is still fascinating to run across these sorts of stations. Another example of the unusual sort of thing you find on the radio bands.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Radio Ronin Shortwave

One aspect of radio DXing that appeals to some listeners is the search for "unofficial" stations - stations that operate without a licence in defiance of the rules that govern broadcasting in their home country. These are usually known as pirate radio stations. I don't normally go looking for these, but when I hear them I log them. In North America these stations often operate around 6925 kHz on shortwave.

On July 1, I caught a broadcast by one such station, Radio Ronin Shortwave, from 0210 to 0224 UTC. The signal was poor but I was able to copy it. They were playing oldies pop songs from the late 60s and 70s by bands like the Moody Blues, ELO, and the Eagles. There were also IDs and an email address to contact them at (radioroninshortwave@gmail.com). The station appeared to go off the air at 0224. Shortly after that more pop music was audible, but I think it may have been a different station - Radio Ronin was in AM mode and the subsequent signal was SSB.

Another example of the amazing variety of signals you can find on the radio bands.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Update for June 2010

I didn't do much DXing in June. Just a couple of things worth mentioning:

1. On June 28, heard Radio Cairo on 9305 kHz at 0235 UTC. Talk in Arabic, with some type of Arabic music at 0300.

2. On June 30, I heard an ID for "The Big Talker 1580" under semi-local CKDO. This is WHFS in Morningside, MD. This was at 0025 UTC (7:25 pm), sometime before local sunset, so they were most likely on their day power of 50 kW, not their night power of 270 watts. This was on the Honda radio in my car. This is a "new" station for the overall log and the Toronto log. I put "new" in quotes because I've logged this station once before, back in 2007 when it was WPGC. This is the first logging of it under its new WHFS callsign.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Update for May 2010

Still catching up on my radio logbook recordkeeping. Here are the highlights from May:

1. Added one station to the ultralight log: WRIE, 1260 kHz, Erie PA, on May 1, 2010 at 0130 UTC. Ultralight count is now 337.

2. Added one new station to the FM log: CHLK-FM, 88.1, Perth, ON, "Lake 88" on May 23, 2010 at 1916 UTC. This was received in Harrowsmith, Ontario (north of Kingston).

3. Did a lot of listening on the amateur bands and logged a bunch of amateur stations.

4. Did one new thing this month. I came across a couple of frequencies used for long-distance air traffic control - 5616 kHz for Gander Radio, and 5598 kHz for New York Radio. Listened for a while and heard them talking with aircraft crossing the Atlantic. This was on May 25 at 0330 to 0400 UTC.

5. Did a bit of shortwave broadcast listening, but didn't log anything particularly noteworthy.

6. Logged two maritime channel markers on May 10 around 0250 UTC: WLO in Mobile, Alabama on 4213 kHz, and TAH from Istanbul, Turkey on 4216.

7. Logged two VOLMET weather stations on May 26: Shannon VOLMET from Ireland on 5505 kHz at 0345 UTC, and RAF VOLMET from England on 5450 kHz at 0350 UTC.

8. Logged several longwave beacons on the afternoon of Sat. May 29 on a Grundig G5 portable, at the Limehouse Conservation Area in Limehouse, Ontario. This was after a hike in the area. Nothing new, but I was surprised to get YGK, 263 kHz, all the way from Kingston, Ontario - surprised as it was probably 300 km in the middle of the afternoon.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Update for April

Here are the highlights from my radio logbook for April 2010:

1. Logged one new AM station. WGVA, 1240 kHz, from Geneva, NY. April 2, 2010 at 1800 UTC. This is a talk station in the Finger Lakes News Network. Heard it on my car radio while driving near Port Hope, Ontario.

2. Did a lot of listening on the amateur bands and logged numerous stations. The highlights are:
  • K4S, April 11 at 0027 UTC, 14248 kHz. Special event station for the Venice Shark's Tooth Festival in Venice, Florida.
  • SP2GWH, April 15 at 2030 UTC. CW from Wloclawek, Poland. 14013 kHz.
  • LZ19HR, April 15 at 2145 UTC. PSK31, 14072 kHz. Special callsign for HQ of the BFRA, for the 19th annual Hobby Radio Expo. Kazanlak, Bulgaria.
  • Also logged a lot of U.S. and Canadian amateur stations.
3. On April 21, at 0402 heard the US Coast Guard station NMN from Chesapeake, VA, on 4426 kHz, with marine weather and ocean conditions. On the next day at 0345 heard another broadcast on 4316 kHz which was parallel to 4426, so I assume it was also NMN.

4. Did some listening for shortwave broadcast stations but didn't log anything noteworthy.

Nothing to report for March.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

February Update - One New Ultralight Logging

The only thing to report for February 2010 is that I added one new station to the ultralight log:
  • 910 WSBA PA York - 01-Feb-2010 1250 UTC - ID as "News Radio 910 WSBA". Heard callsign several times. Talk segment with comment by Rush Limbaugh. Mixing with a music station. Sangean DT-400W. Relog in overall log. (Poor).

This puts the ultralight count at 336. This is also new for the Toronto mediumwave log. I'd logged this station before but that was in Kingston, Ontario.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Update for January 2010

I fell behind on my logbook recordkeeping, but I'm starting to get caught up now. Just finished going through the loggings from January 2010. Here are the highlights from January.

1. Two noteworthy loggings of shortwave broadcasters:
  • RS Makadonias, Athens Greece, on 3-Jan-2010 at 2228 UTC on 7450 kHz in Greek with a fair signal.
  • Glas Hrvatske, Croatia, via transmitter site at Wertachtal, Germany on 10-Jan-2010 at 0015 UTC. This was in Croatian on 7375 kHz. Good signal.
2. Two loggings of utility stations: New York Radio, from New York City, and Gander Radio from Gander, Newfoundland, on 6604 kHz. These were at 2217 and 2220 UTC on 4-Jan-2010. These are aviation weather stations. Not new and not particularly rare, but the only utility stations I logged this month.

3. Logged a lot of radio amateurs on shortwave, mostly on the 40 metre band. All were stations in the continental United States.

4. I also made three loggings of amateurs on VHF. These are worth noting:
  • VA3WLD, Downsview, ON. 23-Jan-2010 at 1945 UTC on 2 metres (144.215 mHz) in USB, in ARRL VHF contest. Noteworthy because this was the first station I've logged on 2 metres in SSB, and the first station I've ever worked on the air on 2 metres. I only recently got set up to operate on VHF.
  • VA3WLD, Downsview, ON. 23-Jan-2010 at 1954 UTC on 50.130 MHz. He was working stations in the ARRL VHF contest. Worth noting because this is the first amateur station I've heard on the 6 metre band.
  • VE3UBL, Pickering, ON. 23-Jan-2010 at 2226 on 50.058 MHz. The first 6 metre beacon I've logged.