Thursday, 4 December 2014

more HF and MF Marine LOGS

1533 1650khz CROSS Gris Nez signal romping in on Tecsun 660 on the cliffs with my loop
2003 2182khz UNID ann. to QSY 1876 171x etc EE
2003 1713khz Vestmannaeyjar Radio, Iceland Icelandic. Excellent signal. PL660 and loop.

1111 16528khz Amateur Radio QSO onboard ship with another ship's captain
HJ    16540khz numerous conversations on this intership channel

1149 22720khz Olympia Radio Greece with press bulletin for mariners in Gk
1600  8728khz  Monaco Radio FF/EE schedule

1741 8183khz interesting conv between SS Fisherman mentioned 50 canisters of Pescadilla 
                       (Whiting), 5 canisters of "Tupo?" and Barcelona plus the weather forecast
1800 4405khz Istanbul Radio too weak to copy but scheduled WX broadcast in EE //8812 13128
                       (later in week heard 13128 at 1000UTC good EE signal but impossible to understand!)

Saturday, 22 November 2014

HF Marine Logs and MF Marine Logs

0610 4369khz Mobile Radio (Alabama) High seas weather bulletin
0635 1680khz Floro Radio (Norway) end of bcst/Norwegian
0709 1677khz Machichaco Radio nav wng re the Muros and Noia Estuary Light (Galicia)

1649 2182khz Cruiser Sunseeker 115 (callsign MCBA) wkg Ostende Radio in a flap about his DSC radio test!

0652 HF channel 803 activity heard in unid language 8725khz/8201khz
1010 8764khz USCG Chesapeake (Virginia) weather bulletin
1141 8707khz simplex conversation (sounded like a ship to ship with engine noise.....

1333 12365khz Charleville, South Australia with marine weather

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

MF Marine Logs and HF Marine Logs

0633 2182khz Rogaland Radio announcement to QSY wkg channels
2133 1704khz Lyngby Radio (Skamlebaek tx)
         1734khz Lyngby Radio (Blavand tx)
         1758khz Lyngby Radio (Skagen tx)
         2586khz Lyngby Radio (Ronne tx) all good sigs nav wngs EE and Danish

1939 2720khz Witowo Radio WX EE and Polish
1943 2656khz Rome Radio (Ancona tx)
         2680khz Rome Radio (Cagliari tx)
         2719khz Rome Radio (Porto Torres tx)
         2624khz Ome Radio (Trieste tx) all with comp generated voice weather bcst

1440 13101khz Tallinn Radio sig booming in "this is Talinn Radio listening 8237, 12254 and 16477khz

1433 2182khz Tallinn Radio with ann.
1433 3310khz Tallinn Radio EE and Estonian gale warning

0633 1665khz Tjome Radio EE nav wng "we have no traffic on hand"
0635 1641khz Torshavn Radio (pro "Torshung") with nav wng for a new light Danish Lighthouse list #6584 established at entrance to SANDS harbour N61 49.84 E006 48.30 signal weak but mostly readable using DX394 and homemade 30cm passive loop pointing north)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Medium Wave MF Marine Logs

0533 1704khz Lyngby Radio
0603 2182khz CROSS Corsen
0623 2761khz Ostend Radio ("listening 2709 and ch16")
0703 1698khz Finisterre Radio (weak)
0703 1707khz La Coruna Radio (weak)
0703 1677khz Machichaco radio (strong!)
1912 1743khz Stornoway CG
1935 2182khz Witowo Radio
1935 1755khz Palma Radio
1935 1767khz Cabo de la Nao Radio

0633 2182khz Valentia CG
0710 2182khz Shetland CG
0730 2226khz Aberdeen CG
1910 1880khz Falmouth CG (barely perceptible copied only 15secs of bcst!)
1950 1925khz Rome Radio (computer generated voice bcst - weak)
2010 1883khz Belfast CG
2103 1888khz Civitavecchia Radio (computer generated voice bcst)

1933 3673khz Netherlands CG (superb signal and ID)
1933 1650khz CROSS Gris-Nez

2106 2656khz Ancona Radio (comp generated bcst good signal but QSB)

I have put these logs in particular on the blog from my logbook as there is so very little information on the net about maritime MF/HF broadcasts and as an Island nation I am guessing there are many of you out there who might be interested in side of the hobby. 73 Adam

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Penhale Sands Transmitting Station, Cornwall

I have just returned from a holiday to Holywell Bay in Cornwall, and on the cliffs above the valley lies the old MoD training camp "Penhale Sands". I understand it has been sold by the MoD but is still used to train military personnel. But my own interest in the camp is the huge array of aerials up on the cliffs. I read on the UDXF Yahoo Group that Penhale Sands is one of a number of European transmitting sites for the UK DHFCS ALE network. If you scan the freqs with PC-ALE or MultiPSK you get TWS messages with the code "XSS" (there are other codes and some people have heard flights req weather info in digital format). So I was extremely interested to see the antennas and thought I would post one or two of the photos. (I did wonder if I was allowed to do this, it being a military installation, so wouldn't be surprised if the photos get removed, but anyway, here they are:

Flight "Ascot 6986" on 9016 khz

I was scanning around the milair bands this afternoon when I heard some activity on 9016 KHZ. It was ASCOT 6986, a Royal Air Force transport aircraft requesting weather information for Nice and Akrotiri. I didn't even know this was an RAF frequency, but I do now! It is part of the TASCOM network.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

FM RDS DXing 1068miles to Sveg, Sweden

On 2nd July I got an email alert telling me there was an Es opening, so I switched on my radios and sure enough the FM band was alive with stations towards the east. Here is a video of those captured moments.

This morning, of course, the band is closed again, and all I can hear is Radio 2 and Radio 3!

Eton G3 Review

I've called this a review so that google users might more readily find it, but it is not really a review at all, but more of an opportunity to hear for yourself how cool the Eton G3 actually is. I found when I was considering purchasing it for FM RDS DXing, that there was not a whole lot of info out there about this radio. Sure, there were the early, detailed reviews that banged on about its poorly implemented sync detector and other early production teething problems, but I saw very little about how the radio actually performed NOW, how the sync worked, and how sensitive it was on FM and at FM RDS decoding.

I sold my Sony 7600GR, as I've said elsewhere on this blog, because of its ridiculously useless battery indicator, which to my mind was a crucial feature in a portable radio. It continually annoyed me, having taken it out for the day and it having worked perfectly the previous evening with no signs of battery drainage, to get to the top of said hill and get the battery flat indicator flash at me. I swapped it for the Tecsun PL660. And I was delighted. See elsewhere for my detailed comments about the PL660.

But then I decided to give the Eton G3 a try as I wanted to use it for the sporadic E season of FM DXing, particularly trying to decode the RDS signals from these distant broadcast stations. I found nothing on the net really except for a few youtube videos of people rushing through the entire FM band with their G3 and which did nothing to illustrate to me the sensitivity of the radio as far as RDS decoding was concerned. Here is my Youtube Video of my early experiences of its RDS capability. Boy, is it one cool radio for this aspect of the hobby! With a little patience, I found it can decode quite weak stations, and bear in mind that the Eton is especially sensitive anyway on the FM band, so what is a little weak on the G3 could well be practically inaudible on other radios. I have since tried an RTL SDR Dongle for FM RDS decoding using SDR#. but the Eton beats it hands down, every time.

It is good on SW as well. This morning I was listening to WHRI, World Harvest Radio Intl, on 11635khz and recorded a short video for you to show you how well it smooths out audio that is otherwise very tiresome to listen to.


One other thing I want to mention is MW and LW reception. The Sony 7600GR was exceptionally good on these bands with a terrific ferrite bar antenna and neither the Tecsun PL660 nor Eton G3 match its performance here. BUT, with the Tecsun AN200 AM loop or my homebrew MW loop, and with my homebrew loop for the LW NDB Beacon band, both the PL660 and the Eton G3 perk up dramatically to a point that compares favourably with the Sony 7600GR using those same antennas. What I am trying to say is that standalone on its built-in ferrite antenna, the 7600GR is quite a lot better. But put a small loop next door to these three radios and you'll be hard-pushed to tell which is the better performer. I would say the PL660 and Eton G3 perform pretty much equally on these bands. Here is a short video of my Eton G3 this morning, picking up MLX (Morlaix) NDB beacon in Brittany, just across the channel from my QTH in Devon:

I hope these videos and posts are useful if you are considering a purchase, and please feel free to contact me via the comments if you would like any advice or want to ask me any questions.

Friday, 20 June 2014

FM RDS DXing - My First Experiences

This is a short video showing my new Kenwood FM/RDS car radio capturing RDS IDs from 4 stations during a short FM band opening this morning. I think it's really cool to get a text ID of the station before you've even looked it up in the WRTH and I am interested in pursuing this aspect of radio DXing in more depth.

I think I may use some birthday money to put towards a Grundig G3 as I have seen Youtube vids of it capturing RDS data from really quite weak stations and was mightily impressed. It would also be nice to do a bit of portable FM DXing when out and about locally and on holiday.

I may also build a basic dipole for this band.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

5455khz French Naval Air Station Lorient

I thought it might be helpful to post about some activity in French I have come across on 5455 khz. The callsign is "Lorient Ecole" and it is the French Naval Air Station training school in Brittany, Northern France. Signals come in loud and clear to my QTH just across the Channel and it has been very active the last few mornings around 06-08UTC. I will try and send an email to Photavia Press in the hope it may get an inclusion in their next publication.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Monitoring POCSAG Pager Messages on 138.150

1705452  14:29:43 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   LAMRT One of the spare radios is missing from mob 1. Please check your bags and return it as soon as possible. Steve 14:29hrs 19-04-14
0271905  14:37:49 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   EMCS WOULD LIKE TO CANCEL A CALL OUT


1981006  15:26:02 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   LLMRT Ref. R057744 12 YR OLD LAD HAS NOT BEEN SEEN FOR 2 HRS HAS WATER AND ON THE  LLANBERIS PATH 07714957260 15:25hrs 19-04-14 L @

1981006  15:38:15 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   LLMRT R057744 Continue to stand by no contact with informant John Grisdale 15:37hrs 19-04-14

0940412  15:45:30 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   KSMRT   tl taking call. Kath 15:45hrs 19-04-14

0944132  15:57:20 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   KSMRT   FT Call out . Ankle injury poss Yarlside. Respond to base or Cross Keys RV with Kendal Team. Adrian 15:57hrs 19-04-14

1999084  16:44:52 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   16.39 BMRT snatch incident @ Windgather Rocks. Vehicles required. Respond to  01298918918. Ta Janette

1999084  16:44:49 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   BMRT standby inc windgather. All mobs en route. Thanks Rob S

 0951348  17:53:11 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   KSMRT STAND DOWN CASUALTY ALL SORTED AND WITH NWAS 17:52hrs 19-04-14

0303562  17:59:41 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   PLS CONTACT BRIXHAM COASTGUARD 01803 882 704

0945873  18:01:29 19-04-14 POCSAG-4  ALPHA   1200   St John Ambulance Cumbria On-Call Team, Daily Test Message.

LAMRT Langdale/Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team
LLMRT Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team
KSMRT Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team
BMRT Buxton Mountain Rescue Team
EMCS East Midland Central Station (Alarm Monitoring Station in |Nottingham)

All monitored on 138.150MHz

I have just completed the easy discriminator modification on my Uniden Bearcat 9000XLT. I say easy,  the soldering to the PCB at point TP3 had me nervous as it was out of my comfort zone, having been used only to more basic soldering and I was worried about damaging the radio. But I wanted the discriminator tap so much that I figured even if I had to buy a new radio I was prepared to take the risk of possibly damaging this one. I turned off my mobile phone and house phone so as not to be disturbed, but even with shakey hands and a wide tipped soldering iron it was OK and I would do it again no problem. Like all things, it is mostly a case of confidence and being prepared to accept responisibility for any possible damage you may do!

Two tips: get a narrow-tipped soldering iron. If I did it again, I wouldn't use a wide-tipped one. And obvious really I suppose, tin the wire well before you attempt to solder it to the TP3 point.

Phew! With that out the way the world of VHF data decoding is at my fingertips and I have had hours of fun so far. Firstly with AIS using MultiPSK:

Then I experimented with POCSAG pager decoding, using the freely available PDW decoder software, the selected results being at the top of this entry.

I am only just uncovering the wide variety of pager users, and the mountain rescue teams really catch my interest.

I have also built a small line level adjuster, comprising a variable resisitor mounted inside a box with two 3.5mm jack plugs for the input from the scanner's discriminator socket and the output to the laptop, as I wanted to bring the RX level down to a more manageable level, but it functions OK without it if you can't be bothered with any more soldering.

So far I have only sat on 153.15 and the much more interesting 138.15mhz, so there are many more frequencies to try.

73 for now, M6RDP