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.