Summertime, and the DXing is Easy

After a long cold winter, summer has finally reached us here in North America. Time to spend your time outdoors by the grill, or lounging by the pool in the hot sun. It’s also time to bring your shortwave along and enjoy what the bands have to offer this time of year. Sure there’s a lot of noise to contend with on the lower bands, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to hear. In fact, there’s some stations that get stronger with the long daylight hours, and start to fade away with the return of cooler weather.

Here’s a quick list of targets to look for whenever you’re near your radio this summer. If you have a favorite that isn’t mentioned here, please let us know.

Radio Kuwait, 15540 kHz, 1800 to 2100 utc. I cannot think of another government sanctioned broadcaster on shortwave as eclectic as Radio Kuwait. Their afternoon English programming is a unique mix of Islamic oriented programming, Western music that ranges from rap and hip hop to 70s pop, and PSAs encouraging people to drive safely while in Kuwait. While it can be heard occasionally at other times of the year, Radio Kuwait is strongest here in North America from mid April until early October.

Radio New Zealand International, 15720 kHz, 2151 to 0458 UTC. RNZI is a first class operation, with excellent radio dramas, music and some great local, regional, and international news coverage. Their 15720 broadcast is pretty strong here in North America from local evening until sign off just before 0500 UTC. If you’re set up to receive DRM broadcasts, look for them in this same block of time on 17675. DRM can be finicky, but it sounds pretty remarkable when it works.

Channel Africa, 15235 kHz, 1700 to 1800 UTC. If you’re lucky enough to be around your radio around lunch time during the week, check out Channel Africa. This entertaining hour of programming is intended for Western Africa, but can usually be heard in North America as well.

The Mighty KBC, 9925 kHz, 000 to 0200 UTC. Okay, its not exactly a summertime only catch, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than with a couple of cold adult beverages and “Uncle Eric” on the radio. He plays a lot of old school, obscure rock n roll that’s a perfect companion to your Saturday night plans.

The 20m ham band at night. Summer is a great time for 20m, especially at night. As the atmosphere cools down at night, it contracts and turns an otherwise dead band into one ripe with DX targets. The middle east and Europe should start rolling in around sundown, while Asia and Australia can be heard before sunrise. Sometimes you can even hear these stations working North America via long path.

So there you have it, a short list of stations to check out while the living is easy. Remember though, enjoy these catches while you can. Like fresh corn on the cob, these catches won’t be around in the fall.

Recovering from Dayton

A couple of the goodies that "followed me home" from Dayton. So I’ve been home from Dayton for a few days now, and i am only now starting to feel like I’m returning to normal. I guess three days of long drives, eating like crap, hiking through the tailgate multiple times, and sleeping on a couch will take its toll on you.

Of course, I would do it all again tomorrow if I had the chance. It was great to hang out with some old friends, not to mention talk a lot of radio with all kinds of like minded people. All in all, I’d say this was  a great experience, one I’m looking forward to doing again in the future.

As you can see, I didn’t leave Dayton empty handed. (Hey, who does?) The good folks over at  Universal Radio had the Perseus SDR deeply discounted for the show, so I decided to take the plunge and see if it lives up to its rep. I’ve had more than one DXer tell me it’s the best receiver they’ve ever used. I will be letting you know what I think over the next few weeks.

On a completely different side of things is this beautiful Hallicrafters SX-62a. I’ve seen these radios on eBay for about $300, and they looked like they’d been drug behind a truck. This one is clean and seems to work, and it only set me back $175. It’s probably not much of a DX machine, but it will be an awful lot of fun. I can’t wait to hear Radio Nacional da Amazonia played through those tubes!

Besides these finds and a few books, I also ordered a couple of receive only antennas that will be arriving at the home listening post here in a few weeks. The first one is a Pixel Technologies RF-PRO1B magnetic loop, which should be a nice addition to my existing long wire.

The second one is worthy of its own write up, as it is new to the market from Array Solutions. They have taken the foundation laid by the K9AY Loop and come up with what they’re calling the ‘Shared Apex Loop Array’. Not exactly the catchiest of names, but it could be a beast of a receive antenna. It’s four loops can be steered to one of eight directions, as well as omni and bi-directional as well. It also fits into a circle with an 18′ radius, meaning it will fit in a pretty modest back yard. I have been in lust with the K9AY for about 15 years now, so it didn’t take much arm twisting to get me to pick up their latest and greatest. Expect a full write up about this antenna after it arrives sometime early this summer.

So there you have it, my trip to Dayton in a nutshell. If you’ve never made the trip, you really owe it to yourself to make the effort. Your bank book may never be the same, but your radio room will thank you.

Dayton Photos

The madness of the main convention floor on Friday morning.
The madness of the main convention floor on Friday morning.

As I write this, all the radios are disconnected from their antennas as a few spring thunderstorms roll through my part of the world. With every crack of thunder though, I can;t help but think of what happened in Oklahoma today, and just how dangerous life in tornado alley can be from time to time. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in “five land” affected by today’s storms.

The trip to Dayton and the side trip to Toledo (more on that in another post) have left me exhausted. The late hours, the long drive, and the multiple trips through the tailgate have left me ready for bed. Before I do though, I’d like to share some of my photos from the big shindig for everyone who couldn’t make it this year.

The porcupine on wheels.
The porcupine on wheels.
Now THAT is a hat!
Now THAT is a hat!
Bob Heil holding court. His company is coming out with a mic for mobile operators this fall.
Bob Heil holding court. His company is coming out with a mic for mobile operators this fall.
A McMurdo Silver, the antithesis of disposable electronics.
A McMurdo Silver, the antithesis of disposable electronics.
Caution: ham at work.
Caution: ham at work.
Another radio that helped to win the cold war.
Another radio that helped to win the cold war.
Two Hallicrafters looking for a new home.
Two Hallicrafters looking for a new home.
A couple of hams give a nice looking r-388/51J a going over.
A couple of hams give a nice looking r-388/51J a going over.
Two American beauties pose for a photo.
Two American beauties pose for a photo.

And with that, I’m going QRT. Goodnight folks.

Hello, Radio

As I write this, I am in a hotel room in Dayton, Ohio, listening to Radio Kuwait on 15540. I’m not using the internet or satellite, I’m just using a radio and a long piece of wire strung across the floor of the hotel room floor. All in all, it’s not that different from what your grandfather (or even great grandfather) would’ve done to hear the news, a baseball game, or even the Jack Benny show.

Radio has been a passion of mine ever since I was a kid. Whether it was playing with my brother’s Sony Earth Orbiter, or seeing how many radio stations I could hear on a portable transistor radio from the back seat, radio has always captivated me. Even after all of these years, it still fascinates me how 750 AM, usually WSB out of Atlanta, will surrender its grip on the frequency as Radio Caracas fades in. While I may be able to give you some sort of explanation for why this happens from time to time, I have no idea when it will happen again. To the best of my knowledge, no one else can either. Its that unpredictability, that sense of mystery, that has managed to hold my attention for over 35 years now. The equipment has changed, and I’ve got a better idea of when to listen and where, but I’m still at the mercy of a lot of variables beyond anyone’s control.

As the title says, this blog will focus on the HF part of the spectrum. Our focus will be primarily on shortwave, but we’ll also cover the HAM bands too. Just for fun, you can throw in the occasional post about the AM broadcast band as well. We’ll just see where our radios take us. Who is the “us” you ask? Well, right now it’s just me. But if you have a passion for radio, and feel like you have something to say, let me know.

73s and good DX to you all from Tim, WI0H.