Date   

Re: Radio listening as a career

Paul Blundell
 

That sounds very interesting and something I would have loved to have done.

Paul

On Tue, 31 Mar 2020, 12:12 a.m. Ron Layton via Groups.Io, <micron327=zoho.com@groups.io> wrote:
Just curious to see if anyone else here has made a career of radio listening. I have been doing it professionally for about 40 years. I started out when I joined the US Army Security Agency and trained as an intercept operator, both voice and Morse and years later data intercept. I was stationed in places all over the world and my tours of duty usually lasted from 2 to 3 years so I moved around a lot. My main radio was the Collins R390-A URR. I also was trained on a TRD11 direction finder and some early solid state high tech radios. It was an interesting career. I later worked off and on as a civilian and retired in 2013. It sure played hell with my hearing since we had to turn the radios up so we could try and dig signals out of the QRM and QRN. I loved to listen to AM and was an avid SWL when I was a kid and had a very helpful uncle who gave me a big old Hammarlund HQ-180  for my 10th birthday! I was sure got hooked on DX then!  That's what started it and the rest is history.


--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


Radio listening as a career

Ron Layton
 

Just curious to see if anyone else here has made a career of radio listening. I have been doing it professionally for about 40 years. I started out when I joined the US Army Security Agency and trained as an intercept operator, both voice and Morse and years later data intercept. I was stationed in places all over the world and my tours of duty usually lasted from 2 to 3 years so I moved around a lot. My main radio was the Collins R390-A URR. I also was trained on a TRD11 direction finder and some early solid state high tech radios. It was an interesting career. I later worked off and on as a civilian and retired in 2013. It sure played hell with my hearing since we had to turn the radios up so we could try and dig signals out of the QRM and QRN. I loved to listen to AM and was an avid SWL when I was a kid and had a very helpful uncle who gave me a big old Hammarlund HQ-180  for my 10th birthday! I was sure got hooked on DX then!  That's what started it and the rest is history.


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Ron Layton
 

Thanks for the info, Gary. I just got a very good deal on a GE Super Radio 1 so I'm hoping to get some good DX with it. I know its not UL, but at this point I can't afford to put a lot of money into ferrite and litz wire. I have a PL-600, again, not UL that works fairly well with my home made milk crate loop. My only UL radios are a PL-380 and a Kaito WRX-911. I built a 7.5" ferrite rod antenna and it really pulls in stations with the WRX-911. I'll read your articles on FSL construction and maybe someday bite the bullet and order Litz and rods. Thanks again.


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Gary DeBock
 

Hi Todd (and Michael),

<<<   I never knew how many MW FSL antennas you have stored at home. The development process seems to have gone through multiple iterations. There are enough FSLs to sell online as a business.   >>>

Well, you are probably correct, Todd, but since it's a labor of love I've certainly given away far more FSL's than I've ever sold. Financially there doesn't seem to be a need to do so, although my wife (in her zeal to free up more space) would be the first to agree with you!

<<<   I am still using a 40 inch side length table-top 4-leg style PVC tunable air core box loop with 9 turns. What would be the equivalent size FSL antenna that would offer comparable MW DX gain?   >>>

The 5" FSL antenna full construction project (posted at the link in the previous message) was extensively tested against a 4 foot (48") air core box loop here, and demonstrated equivalent gain, with a slightly better S/N ratio. However, the 5" FSL has much sharper tuning than an air core loop, and takes some DXing practice in order to get the best performance out of it. The new, razor-sharp "384P" variable caps transform the 5" FSL into a tiny little DXing firecracker, but without serious practice most DXers will probably be left longing for a broader-tuning air core loop. The latest 5" FSL antennas will provide exception gain once you carefully tune in the DX, but without practice you will find it tough to even locate the gain peak.

<<<   One possible drawback with the current COVID-19 stay at home guidelines, is increased local QRM. More people staying at home translates to more electrical devices operating. So far there hasn't been a notable increase in MW noise. If anything, electrical storm static last night rendered 558 KHz 6WA Wagin almost unlistenable.   >>>

Definitely true, even here, Todd. With so many families "sheltering at home" there has been an explosion of RFI of all types, as families try anything and everything to entertain themselves... indefinitely. To make matters worse, the Governor has placed all ocean beach state parks off limits-- pretty much locking you into the RFI at your home location.

558-6WA is one of our annual targets at the plunging Rockwork Cliff each August, so I certainly hope the virus will wrap up before then!

<<<   The Australian government today announced a new maximum two person gathering rule. This effectively puts a lid on club DX gatherings. I've been using Zoom software for my local Cong bi-weekly meetings. This software could also be used for DXer meetings. Any large DX club or local DX group could set up a meeting by using an assigned Zoom software log-in number. The audio and video quality is surprisingly good.   >>>

Well, Oz DXer Chris Rogers and I were very fortunate to have our Hawaii DXpedition in November-- before the entire world went into a pandemic meltdown! Come to think of it, my wife was trying to talk me into a luxury cruise about now-- but somehow she never mentions that idea any more.

73, Gary

   
 


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Gary DeBock
 

<<<   I'm really interested in any "exotic" antenna that will work with my PL-600. Any ideas? Whats a ballpark price for the construction of one of the small FSL and are the materials readily available? 73's   >>>

Hi Ron,

There have been several "full construction" articles published for small FSL antennas, with all of them using the Russian surplus 140mm and 160mm ferrite rods (which are still available on eBay).
 
A 5 inch diameter FSL model with a "design price" of $95 (construction parts only) was published in 2012, and is linked at http://www.mediafire.com/file/9ze98h293s85p86/5_inch_FSL.doc/file
That particular model is being upgraded as one of the current design projects, with 1062/46 Litz wire (significantly more sensitive) and a "384P" variable cap from Mike's Electronic Parts (significantly higher Q). Together, the two upgrades provide a big difference in performance.

A 3.5 inch "Frequent Flyer" FSL model was designed (and a full construction article was published) in 2017. It is essentially a shrunken-down 5" FSL with slightly longer ferrite rods and more sensitive Litz wire-- resulting in exactly the same gain. It is a TSA-friendly model designed for overseas air travel in hand carry luggage, and the full construction article is posted at  http://www.mediafire.com/file/pnfm8909c77zjoy/3.5inch-FF-FSL.doc/file
Because of the increased component costs that model will run about $150 in construction parts.

The 5 inch "Frequent Flyer" FSL models that Craig Barnes and I use for Hawaii DXpeditions are built with the lightweight Russian surplus 100mm x 20mm x 3mm ferrite bars, which unfortunately have not been available commercially since 2012. There are very scarce (even among experimenters), so no more articles using them have been published recently. 

73, Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)
 


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Michael.2E0IHW
 

Now we know why many of us are receiving weak signals :
Gary's FSL array is sucking in most of the RF energy :-)

Michael UK

On 30/03/2020 03:45, Todd via Groups.Io wrote:
Hi Gary,
I never knew how many MW FSL antennas you have stored at home. The development process seems to have gone through multiple iterations. There are enough FSLs to sell online as a business.
...
Regards,
Todd
Sydney, Australia


New Sub Group - ultralightdxSocial

Paul Blundell
 

Hi all.

To help both keep the main group "on topic" but also allow some more "social" interactions, especially with how the world is at the moment around COVID-19, I have created a sub group, it can be found here:
https://ultralightdx.groups.io/g/ultralightdxSocial



--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Todd
 

Hi Gary,

I never knew how many MW FSL antennas you have stored at home. The development process seems to have gone through multiple iterations. There are enough FSLs to sell online as a business.

I am still using a 40 inch side length table-top 4-leg style PVC tunable air core box loop with 9 turns. What would be the equivalent size FSL antenna that would offer comparable MW DX gain?

One possible drawback with the current COVID-19 stay at home guidelines, is increased local QRM. More people staying at home translates to more electrical devices operating. So far there hasn't been a notable increase in MW noise. If anything, electrical storm static last night rendered 558 KHz 6WA Wagin almost unlistenable.

The Australian government today announced a new maximum two person gathering rule. This effectively puts a lid on club DX gatherings. I've been using Zoom software for my local Cong bi-weekly meetings. This software could also be used for DXer meetings. Any large DX club or local DX group could set up a meeting by using an assigned Zoom software log-in number. The audio and video quality is surprisingly good.

Regards,

Todd
Sydney, Australia


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Ron Layton
 

I'm really interested in any "exotic" antenna that will work with my PL-600. Any ideas? Whats a ballpark price for the construction of one of the small FSL and are the materials readily available? 73's


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Paul Blundell
 

I can not agree more. I love trying the different areas of the radio hobby and seeing what I can hear. You are an asset to the hobby and always bring new ideas.


On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 7:58 PM Gary DeBock via Groups.Io <D1028Gary=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 01:21 AM, Paul Blundell wrote:
Based on that photos, do you think you have a problem? :)
Thanks Paul,

I've always figured that the best way to keep excited about the radio hobby (and DXing in general) is to constantly push the limits in weird antenna construction, repeatedly attempting to construct something that others think is impossible. 99% of the time "the others" end up being correct, but about 1% of the projects end up being raging DXing successes, proving to be technical breakthroughs that provide a lot of fun and excitement for others. A couple of recent examples are the 7.5" loopstick transplant projects in portable radios, and the lightweight "Frequent Flyer" FSL antennas, designed for astonishing performance during overseas air travel. A similar mindset in exploring ocean coast sites led to the discovery of enhanced transoceanic propagation at plunging ocean cliff sites, demonstrated by exceptional reception of New Zealand MW signals every summer at the Rockwork Cliff in Oregon, and similar exploration at Japan's Cape Taitosaki.


Anybody that really wants to have exceptional fun in this hobby needs to get out of his comfort zone, and try something really new and challenging. DXing with the same antennas at the same place(s) for decades will make anyone feel bored. Constantly pushing the limits in weird new antennas, DXing sites and receiver modification is wild, wacky and thrilling-- but never boring!

Gary


     



--
Paul


--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Gary DeBock
 

On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 01:21 AM, Paul Blundell wrote:
Based on that photos, do you think you have a problem? :)
Thanks Paul,

I've always figured that the best way to keep excited about the radio hobby (and DXing in general) is to constantly push the limits in weird antenna construction, repeatedly attempting to construct something that others think is impossible. 99% of the time "the others" end up being correct, but about 1% of the projects end up being raging DXing successes, proving to be technical breakthroughs that provide a lot of fun and excitement for others. A couple of recent examples are the 7.5" loopstick transplant projects in portable radios, and the lightweight "Frequent Flyer" FSL antennas, designed for astonishing performance during overseas air travel. A similar mindset in exploring ocean coast sites led to the discovery of enhanced transoceanic propagation at plunging ocean cliff sites, demonstrated by exceptional reception of New Zealand MW signals every summer at the Rockwork Cliff in Oregon, and similar exploration at Japan's Cape Taitosaki.


Anybody that really wants to have exceptional fun in this hobby needs to get out of his comfort zone, and try something really new and challenging. DXing with the same antennas at the same place(s) for decades will make anyone feel bored. Constantly pushing the limits in weird new antennas, DXing sites and receiver modification is wild, wacky and thrilling-- but never boring!

Gary


     


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

keith beesley
 

Thanks, Gary, good advice. Look forward to hearing about your latest antenna creations. 

Keith Beesley
(Skyway/Seattle, WA)

On Sunday, March 29, 2020, 01:16:00 AM PDT, Gary DeBock via Groups.Io <d1028gary@...> wrote:


While the Governor of the state of Washington has decreed that all "non-essential" businesses must shut down (marijuana sellers excluded, of course) and all state parks and most ocean beaches are off limits, the "Shelter at Home" situation is actually an experimental bonanza for someone who has always had dreams of many fanatical new antennas-- but never enough time to complete them. Our Maui vacation went up in smoke when Hawaii decreed that all tourists must stay away for 2 weeks, but despite Costco Travel's reluctance to issue a full refund (a common practice in the collapsing travel industry, I understand), weird new FSL antennas that never had a chance of existence are coming out of the woodwork, augmented by funding from the now-aborted Maui vacation (see photo). In addition, the crash course in SDR-DXing that was planned for this month in preparation for Maui has now been replaced by a deliberate, thorough investigation and testing program, so that future sunsets in Hawaii should be fully exploited with spectrum capture of African, South American and Caribbean signals.

My advice to all DXers with a sudden surplus of time is to use the time productively, exercising both your body and mind to keep both in top shape, eager for the opportunities that are sure to come in the future. Nobody has control over the current pandemic, but we certainly have control over our psychological reaction to it. It's kind of similar to what many American DXers faced as teenagers, with the Vietnam War raging, and the draft breathing down our necks. Worrying about a situation beyond our control accomplishes nothing. Use the time productively, and prepare for the future by continually exercising both your mind and body in creative ways, complete with a mindset of determination and optimism. Even though the current situation might seem dire, things will surely turn around, and the future will belong to those who are excited about it!


Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)


Re: "Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Paul Blundell
 

So very true Gary and something I am trying to get across to those around me, this too will pass and we need to be ready for what is on the other side. 

Based on that photos, do you think you have a problem? :)

Paul


On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 7:15 PM Gary DeBock via Groups.Io <D1028Gary=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
While the Governor of the state of Washington has decreed that all "non-essential" businesses must shut down (marijuana sellers excluded, of course) and all state parks and most ocean beaches are off limits, the "Shelter at Home" situation is actually an experimental bonanza for someone who has always had dreams of many fanatical new antennas-- but never enough time to complete them. Our Maui vacation went up in smoke when Hawaii decreed that all tourists must stay away for 2 weeks, but despite Costco Travel's reluctance to issue a full refund (a common practice in the collapsing travel industry, I understand), weird new FSL antennas that never had a chance of existence are coming out of the woodwork, augmented by funding from the now-aborted Maui vacation (see photo). In addition, the crash course in SDR-DXing that was planned for this month in preparation for Maui has now been replaced by a deliberate, thorough investigation and testing program, so that future sunsets in Hawaii should be fully exploited with spectrum capture of African, South American and Caribbean signals.

My advice to all DXers with a sudden surplus of time is to use the time productively, exercising both your body and mind to keep both in top shape, eager for the opportunities that are sure to come in the future. Nobody has control over the current pandemic, but we certainly have control over our psychological reaction to it. It's kind of similar to what many American DXers faced as teenagers, with the Vietnam War raging, and the draft breathing down our necks. Worrying about a situation beyond our control accomplishes nothing. Use the time productively, and prepare for the future by continually exercising both your mind and body in creative ways, complete with a mindset of determination and optimism. Even though the current situation might seem dire, things will surely turn around, and the future will belong to those who are excited about it!


Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)



--
Paul


--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


"Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!

Gary DeBock
 

While the Governor of the state of Washington has decreed that all "non-essential" businesses must shut down (marijuana sellers excluded, of course) and all state parks and most ocean beaches are off limits, the "Shelter at Home" situation is actually an experimental bonanza for someone who has always had dreams of many fanatical new antennas-- but never enough time to complete them. Our Maui vacation went up in smoke when Hawaii decreed that all tourists must stay away for 2 weeks, but despite Costco Travel's reluctance to issue a full refund (a common practice in the collapsing travel industry, I understand), weird new FSL antennas that never had a chance of existence are coming out of the woodwork, augmented by funding from the now-aborted Maui vacation (see photo). In addition, the crash course in SDR-DXing that was planned for this month in preparation for Maui has now been replaced by a deliberate, thorough investigation and testing program, so that future sunsets in Hawaii should be fully exploited with spectrum capture of African, South American and Caribbean signals.

My advice to all DXers with a sudden surplus of time is to use the time productively, exercising both your body and mind to keep both in top shape, eager for the opportunities that are sure to come in the future. Nobody has control over the current pandemic, but we certainly have control over our psychological reaction to it. It's kind of similar to what many American DXers faced as teenagers, with the Vietnam War raging, and the draft breathing down our necks. Worrying about a situation beyond our control accomplishes nothing. Use the time productively, and prepare for the future by continually exercising both your mind and body in creative ways, complete with a mindset of determination and optimism. Even though the current situation might seem dire, things will surely turn around, and the future will belong to those who are excited about it!


Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)


Re: COVID-19 Radio Challenges

Paul Blundell
 

Not a bad idea, or stations that are not talking about COVID-19 at all....


On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 6:29 PM Larry Smith via Groups.Io <larfla2=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

[Edited Message Follows]

Number of individual  stations heard with breathless Wuhan Virus reports/ news items in a UTC 24  hour period?



--
Paul


--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


Re: COVID-19 Radio Challenges

Larry Smith
 
Edited

Number of individual  stations heard with breathless Wuhan Virus reports/ news items in a UTC 24  hour period?


Re: COVID-19 Radio Challenges

Paul Blundell
 

That sounds like a great spot and good idea, hopefully once the world is back to some sort of normal you can get back to it.

Paul

On Sun, 29 Mar 2020, 3:39 p.m. Todd via Groups.Io, <toddemslie=yahoo.com.au@groups.io> wrote:
In recent months, every Monday afternoon I have had the opportunity to travel to Narrabeen, Sydney for a 8 km lake walk, and subsequent evening dinner at the host's home. The host home location is only 10 minutes walk from the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean, hence I have considered taking along a 65 cm diameter PK loop + portable radio for monitoring at the beach during Monday evenings. This has to be done with discretion and planning because the social party are not DXers. This is an opportunity to monitor for TP MW DX from North America, Mexico, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Fiji.

With the recent Australia government regulations attempting to minimise the exponential growth of COVID-19, car pooling is now restricted to two people. Also, the Narrabeen home gathering is up to 10 people in a relatively small house area. So with these recent group number per area restrictions in mind, I have temporarily delayed a portable radio DX trip to Narrabeen beach.

Regards,

Todd

http://home.iprimus.com.au/toddemslie/dx.html


--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


Re: FM Radio Testing x 4

Paul Blundell
 

Thanks Todd. That is some interesting reading and I will also check out your website more. 


On Sun, 29 Mar 2020, 3:22 p.m. Todd via Groups.Io, <toddemslie=yahoo.com.au@groups.io> wrote:
Portable FM radio + inbuilt whip weak signal DX performance is down some 30 to 40 dB relative to a commercially available 8-element rooftop Yagi + sensitive high-end tuner (e.g. Sony XDR tuner). In practice my testing demonstrated that a faint FM signal received on the most sensitive portable radio, translates to a simultaneous noise-free signal on my 8-element rooftop Yagi + XDR-S3HD tuner. This is why I don't use portable radios for FM DXing. However, a portable radio will sometimes produce impressive results in outstanding areas where signal field strengths are massive. But even in these relatively infrequent instances, the portable radio is the weak link in the signal chain. One example is when tropospheric ducting modulates signals to unusually high levels to the extent that New Zealand FM at average 2200 km is received on low gain portable radios.

A portable radio with external antenna input (e.g. PL-390), coupled via coax cable to a collapsible 3-element FM Yagi + portable mast, will produce stronger distant signals.

The medium wave band propagates widely, with some comparisons to the shortwave band. Conversely, the 88-108 MHz FM band is much shorter distance range, and shorter time duration requiring more sophisticated receiving gear. 

Regards,

Todd

http://home.iprimus.com.au/toddemslie/dx.html


--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


Re: COVID-19 Radio Challenges

Todd
 

In recent months, every Monday afternoon I have had the opportunity to travel to Narrabeen, Sydney for a 8 km lake walk, and subsequent evening dinner at the host's home. The host home location is only 10 minutes walk from the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean, hence I have considered taking along a 65 cm diameter PK loop + portable radio for monitoring at the beach during Monday evenings. This has to be done with discretion and planning because the social party are not DXers. This is an opportunity to monitor for TP MW DX from North America, Mexico, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Fiji.

With the recent Australia government regulations attempting to minimise the exponential growth of COVID-19, car pooling is now restricted to two people. Also, the Narrabeen home gathering is up to 10 people in a relatively small house area. So with these recent group number per area restrictions in mind, I have temporarily delayed a portable radio DX trip to Narrabeen beach.

Regards,

Todd

http://home.iprimus.com.au/toddemslie/dx.html


Re: FM Radio Testing x 4

Todd
 

Portable FM radio + inbuilt whip weak signal DX performance is down some 30 to 40 dB relative to a commercially available 8-element rooftop Yagi + sensitive high-end tuner (e.g. Sony XDR tuner). In practice my testing demonstrated that a faint FM signal received on the most sensitive portable radio, translates to a simultaneous noise-free signal on my 8-element rooftop Yagi + XDR-S3HD tuner. This is why I don't use portable radios for FM DXing. However, a portable radio will sometimes produce impressive results in outstanding areas where signal field strengths are massive. But even in these relatively infrequent instances, the portable radio is the weak link in the signal chain. One example is when tropospheric ducting modulates signals to unusually high levels to the extent that New Zealand FM at average 2200 km is received on low gain portable radios.

A portable radio with external antenna input (e.g. PL-390), coupled via coax cable to a collapsible 3-element FM Yagi + portable mast, will produce stronger distant signals.

The medium wave band propagates widely, with some comparisons to the shortwave band. Conversely, the 88-108 MHz FM band is much shorter distance range, and shorter time duration requiring more sophisticated receiving gear. 

Regards,

Todd

http://home.iprimus.com.au/toddemslie/dx.html

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