Saturday, March 31, 2018

Global HF Weekend: Saturday 3/31/2018

Last night, I heard DORM Radio and Clever Name Radio. I also had the carrier for Key Channel Radio on 6915 kHz around 0400 UTC. I set the recorder on for 3 hours last night & we'll see if it caught any audio. Also, I had Laser Hot Hits (6205) and Coast FM (6285) earlier. My antenna is still on the ground from the Nor'easter from the weekend of the Winter SWL Fest and we've been busy with family for Easter weekend, so what I hear is not the best gauge for what's on the air.

I heard yesterday that word of the Global HF weekend was passed along to the New Zealand DX League and the Australian Radio DX Club and that some of the members will be listening after 0500 UTC tonight.

2236 update: I've been away most of the day, but I did hear KOOT early in the afternoon on 6925 kHz. Overall, everything's been going really well with the Global HF Weekend. A relay of Lupo Radio was reported in North America in the late morning on 6973 kHz. Bryan Clark in New Zealand didn't hear any North American pirates last night, but he did hear Key Channel Radio on 6915 kHz between 0530 and 0600 UTC.

2320 update: If you're in Europe, tune to 6960 kHz USB now! I can hear Wolverine Radio on the Twente SDR, so I know it's audible in Europe.

2335 update: We have family visiting, but I snuck up to the radio room for a few minutes. Wow, good DX everywhere. Wolverine Radio with a HUGE signal on 6960 kHz USB, and carriers from Radio Batavia on 5830, Radio Enterprise on 6310, one of the South American stations on 6935, and Lupo Radio on 6973 kHz!

0237 update: Ran up to the radio again & I'm hearing Renegade Radio now for the first time in probably close to year. Wow, a lot of stations have been on in the past three hours!

0254 update: Renegade Radio signed off a few minutes ago (thanks for the shoutout). Tuning around & I'm hearing carriers on 6935 and about 6950.5 kHz. Not positive who these are.

0301 update: I checked out the Twente receiver to see what might be audible in Holland. I'm not hearing any pirates on shortwave period right now, But the medium-wave band is hopping with Eastern European stations. No idea who they are, but I'm hearing a strong one on 1650 + others on 1660, 1680, 1690, and 1700 kHz. My guess is that these are all from either Greece or Serbia, but I don't know which one, let alone what stations these are.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Global HF Weekend begins: Friday, 3/30/2018

Here's an update with schedules for the weekend:

Station 1, "various times and frequencies," 3/31 and 4/1
Station 2, 6915 or 6920 kHz, 3/31 0700 UTC to 4/2 1300 UTC sign off
Station 3, 6973 kHz, 1800-2100 or 2200 UTC sign-off, 3/30 to 4/1

Also, I received the following e-mail:

We would like to join the global HF Weekend.
We are a licensed station from Germany. Both frequencies are from 10:00 to 22:00 UTC. Currently our schedule is as follows:
6160 kHz: 12:00 to 18:00 UTC
3975 kHz: 16:00 to 22:00 UTC
It seems propagation conditions improve for the weekend, especially on 6 MHz. We are licensed to broadcast until 22:00 UTC, as I said. However, it would be interesting if we could reach the US at 20:00 to 22:00 UTC. We will switch on the 6160kHz transmitter during the weekend at that time. There might be the chance, our on/off time switch is malfunctioning on 6160 kHz. ;-) So, watch out for us. 

I'll update more schedules as I receive them.

Also, I was listening to the Twente SDR earlier today and heard Coast FM on 6285 kHz. It looks like it'll be on the frequency throughout the weekend, as well as Laser Hot Hits on 6205 kHz

Laser Hot Hits: 6205, 3/30, 1700+ Herman's Hermits song going out by request

Coast FM: 6285, 3/30, 1700+ '80s music by Survivor, Peter Gabriel, Asia, Irene Cara, Madonna, etc. + ads for cellphone companies, a British goods outlet, etc. 

Weekend Propagation Outlook: 43 meters

43 meters has been the hot frequency range for even long-range testing over the past few years. And I've already received a few scheduled tests broadcasts for the Global HF Radio weekend  . . . and all of these are for frequencies in 43 meters. I'll use 80 watts of SSB again, although many more stations, at least in North America, have been using AM-mode transmitters (such as the LuLu and Corsair) in the 10- to 20-watt range. Of course, these will have significantly less range.

One of the best times for hearing Dutch stations on 43 meters in North America this weekend appears to be around 0300 UTC, where it appears that there will be a weak opening to the West Coast:


Interesting also is the propagation prediction for 43 meters from Harrisburg, PA. At 0700 UTC, it should put a decent amount of signal into western Europe and also a weak band into eastern Europe:

I compared this to the prediction for the same time and other specs from the last Global HF Weekend and the results are significantly better!



Thursday, March 29, 2018

Weekend Propagation Outlook: 19 meters

Propagation maps are looking bleak between Europe and North America. That said, actual results have been good between about 2200 and 0300+ (I'm not sure about the end time because I haven't seen loggings past this time).

I used the VOA propagation models at http://www.voacap.com/. The images depicted here all come from that site. Feel free to go to the site and check propagation for your region. For transmission power and mode, I used 100 watts of SSB because that seems like a pretty standard baseline for North American pirates & for at least some of the European pirates who might want to be testing specifically to reach across continents.

For the first image, I used Harrisburg, PA, as the location because it's the closest one to my location and that way no one will feel like I'm giving away their location. Here is 100 watts into a dipole about 30 feet above the ground on 14.1 MHz (essentially the same for either 13900-13950 kHz or 15010-15090 kHz) at 1500 UTC.

As you can see, this time/frequency/power combination could put a very good signal into the West Coast and a decent one into many of the populated areas of Australia and possibly Japan.

Next is 2000 UTC using the same specs:

There's a possibility of South Africa, Spain, British Isles, Sri Lanka, Japan, and southeastern Europe. Of course, most of North America is solid, plus all of north Africa, Central America, Angola, Mexico, the Caribbean, Cuba, and the northern parts of South America, but I never see reports from these areas.

Turning to Europe on 14.1 MHz, I've chosen The Netherlands for my target country. Here's that frequency with the same 100 watts in SSB at 1400 UTC:

Not great for reaching North America, but it looks like a decent signal should be getting into New Zealand and Japan, possibly also into the Mountain Time Zone in North America. Moving the time out to 1600 UTC helps a lot for reception in the North American Southwest, but nowhere else:

From the Netherlands, at least, it looks like 13.9-15 MHz will provide some real opportunities to reach Australia and New Zealand, but only spotty chances to make it to North America.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

1935 Wards Airline 62-123 Console Restoration Page

This past week, a classified ad popped up on one of the classified ad groups for "Radio." It was an interesting-looking console with a very Art Deco skyscraper style. The cabinet's a bit on the cheap side, unlike the Philco 87 or the Stromberg Carlson corner console that I picked up a few years ago. Still, I thought it had some potential. 

I sent a message to the seller & asked if the radio was still available, the make and model number, and if I could see it. He said it was a Montgomery Wards Airline 62-123. Much to my surprise, he also sent a video of it playing a local AM station loud and strong! Pretty good for a 1935 console in fairly average unrestored condition.

I drove about 45 minutes to an hour away, out into Pennsylvania farm country. The owner had the radio in his garage. He said it was his father's mother's radio and he estimated it to be at least 100  years old (actually, 1935). He said that she's still alive, in a nursing home, and 105 years old! He also said the his aunt or uncle told him that the grille cloth had that big hole in the front for as long as he or she could remember.

The owner had asked for $50. I offered $40 and he seemed anxious to sell it. I loaded it into the back of the car and drove off. I wonder why he was in such a hurry to unload a piece of family history? I guess people don't value old radios or family history as much as I do.

Now, the radio itself. This is a 7-tube radio that covers from 530 to 1740 kHz and 5800 to 18300 kHz in two bands. Seven tubes isn't bad and I love the fact that it has a large SW band and covers 43 meters. Knob twiddlers will appreciate that on the front panel are dials for volume and tone. Very cool. I don't know who manufactured this receiver or if the chassis is identical to some other model of radio.

The dial cord is slipping badly and the radio can presently only be tuned by hand through the back of the cabinet. The power cord was replaced. The former owners covered the back of the cabinet with a sheet of cardboard decades ago, so the chassis is nice and clean. I haven't yet checked to see if the shortwave band works.

And now some photos of the radio:


I'm a bit disappointed that the front panel doesn't have as nicely burled veneer as some of the 62-123s that I've seen online.

Tuning in the center, volume of the left dial and tone on the right.
A view of the make-shift cardboard back
The name "LESTER" scratched into the cardboard
A nice-looking chassis


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Saturday updates

I have a few things to update over the next week or so. As you know if you follow this blog, the next Global HF Weekend is coming up next weekend. A couple things that I want to write entries about this week are some propagation maps and also some comments about the pirate radio bill that's in Congress right now.

I've received a few e-mails from stations who plan to be on the air for the Global HF Weekend, so listening is looking up already.

I picked up a 1935 Wards Airline 62-123 console this week and want to start an entry about that radio. Now, we'll see how long it takes for me to actually restore it! I have a lot of other projects waiting ahead of it.

I heard UNID Radio last night and also KOOT this morning. Also heard someone throwing carriers on 6925 kHz and the carrier from a different station on 6955 kHz. Not sure I'll post any loggings tonight or tomorrow, but maybe.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Calvin Coolidge

HF Underground was reporting that Dave Valko heard a station on 9025 kHz that was playing a repeating clip of a Calvin Coolidge speech. On Sunday, the station was logged by a number of listeners on 9025 with the same clip repeating.

The last time that I heard something like this, it was the Aggressive Policeman station, which played the short audio clip for hours.

These types of stations tend to disappear quickly & no one logged Coolidge in the past two days, so I thought I missed it. I remembered to turn on the radio this morning before work & I let the recorder run. Just checked the recording. Around 1300, the Coolidge clips started to come through & lasted for about an hour before fading out. The mast of my inverted V got taken out in the first Nor'easter this month, so I'm sure it's not working optimally. Signal was fair at best.

I assume that whoever identified this station must have typed in some phrases that matched up the correct speech. Or maybe someone's a huge Calvin Coolidge fan and has been listening to his old speeches in the car when commuting.

Skipmuck posted a link to what he believes is the exact audio source used for the file. I didn't hear it well enough to verify if this is it but it could well be.

Lots of people have speculated about these types of stations, going back to at least the Yosemite Sam station from 2004 and 2005. But the databurst and use of multiple frequencies in DSB were tip offs that this was a military operation of some sort. Aggressive Policeman & Calvin Coolidge seem less like military stations, but they could well be.

The great thing is that they're all complete mysteries with odd, random "programming."