Is there anything more fun than listening to E Skip? Or staying up all night logging long haul tropo, or going to bed at 4am and getting up for work at 8?
NOTICE: THIS SITE NO LONGER UPDATED.
Some people were looking for some web pages that were removed from this website. I found them and I rebuilt the site. For the most part this site now looks as it did in 2013. Many of the articles here are outdated but this may end up being the only place online where you can find information on some of the subjects written about on these pages. So thanks to the requests of one or two people, it has returned.
I am still DXing TV and FM. I've moved from using analog FM tuners to software defined radios, also called SDRs. I did many tuner mods over the years to increase selectivity in the tuners I was using but that's not necessary with SDRs. I have two SDRs and I'm having loads of fun with them. I have the Elad FDM-S2 and the SDRPlay SDR. I love them both.
In my opinion, 2014 was lousy for DXing with an almost non-existant Es season and a very poor tropo season. 2015 was a little better for skip since we did have two good weeks for it at the end of June. But May and July seem to be a bust. I caught around 30 new FM skip loggings and that was mostly due to the fact that I recorded the opening of June 29th and played back about 45 minutes of it over and over and found many logs that I would have missed had I been DXing the old fashioned way. I saw some Mexican skip on the same day. I saw a skip station on ch4 with "Trece" in the upper right of the screen which is Mexico. I have no idea who it was, and due to a new computer I couldn't record it. I saw two or three digital stations via E skip.: WMC-5, WHBF-4 and one on ch3 from South Dakota. Those have all been seen here before. Nothing new.
I will add to this as time goes on but for the time being feel free to wander around and check out all the areas of this site. Thanks for stopping by! -Mike
Here's a screengrab of Buena TV ch50 in New York City seen here on the 4th of July, 2015. This stations runs less than 2kw power and for some reason decoded here around 9am along with the other NYC VHF and UHF channels.. The calls are WBQM-LD with 1.7kw and the distance is about 100 miles.
Here's an oddity. This is WJLP ch3 in New Jersey on July 7th. Normally the callsign will show (WJLP displays METV instead) but this time I saw this instead:
July 10, 2013
The 2013 E-skip season is halfway gone and it has been so bad that there is almost nothing to show for it. Skip got into fm for a few minutes on the 27th of June, then two longer openings on July 3rd and 5th in the early evening. All in all, there were a total of about 3 hours of MUFs up to 108mhz. That is really terrible. I'm tempted to say, why even bother.
As far as digital TV, I've seen KHAS-5(NE), WMC-5(TN), WTVF-5(TN), WOI-5(IA) and WHBF-4(IL). These are regulars via skip in the summer and no big deal at all.
On the analog side, I've seen XEFB-2 in Monterrey, NL again (1850 miles), and on May 27th I got a minute of video that I researched a few days ago and after Ed Phelps thought he saw a Caracol bug on the lower right of the screen, I went to the Caracol (Colombia) website and came up with a match including the same presenter as in my video clip. Here are two photos; one from the website and a still from the video I saw. It's a match.
What this station turned out to be is HJBH-4 in Santa Marta, Colombia, about 2120 miles south of the state of Connecticut. At the time of reception the 6m maps were showing a contact or two to the Dominican Republic and maybe one or two into South America (I don't think Colombia was one of them.) I started out hearing a video carrier buzz on ch4 from due south on the scanner, which I stayed with. Eventually it was strong enough to show video on the computer's TV card. For a minute or two it was strong enough to show some decent video. I forgot about this video until early July when I decided to try to find out who the video belonged to.
The video, by the way, is over on my YouTube channel (Grump46). You can watch it there but it is not even near the quality of the video I recorded. But that's YouTube for you.
June 24, 2013 - Skip and OTA DTV
Skip season started off weak here in May with only one good skip opening and a few openings consisting of just a handful of stations on FM. We expect this in May. But June is turning out to be a disaster here in the Northeast. There has been almost no skip (TV or FM) at all since the first of June. None. On the 23rd, there was an afternoon opening of around 30-40 minutes duration on FM. Obviously the POS (providers of skip) must be on strike this summer.
What is "normal" for DTV reception? That depends quite a bit on terrain. Here in Connecticut you'll be doing well if you can get regular DTV reception at 60 miles from the transmitter. My view towards New Haven is fairly flat from here. I get WTNH (10) excellent but WCTX (39) hardly in the winter and perhaps 70% of the time in the warmer months. I need an inversion to get anything (12,13) from Providence, because the path is too hilly. If you are receiving DTV from, say, 70 miles or more, then you are receiving it either from an inversion or some tropospheric bending, which may last a few hours and disappear. It doesn't matter what antenna you use or what preamp you have. If your elevation is above average (400 feet or better) you may see more stations. Some might decode 24/7 and some may not. All bets are off for consistant DTV reception for distances over 60 miles, at least in this part of the country. If you can do better I'd love to see your antenna installation and a picture of your location. I may move there.
March 28, 2013
A week or so ago I picked up one of the very last Winegard HD-5030 VHF antennas available at Starke Electronics in Worcester, MA and yesterday I put it up. What the HD-5030 replaced was a Hi-Band ten-element Winegard YA-1713 yagi, which itself is a pretty good antenna for channels 7-13. But I wanted something that would do both low and high band, and this is it.
What sits on top of everything is a Winegard HD-8800 8-bay antenna for UHF. I've used this and the Channel Master 8-bay (original version) and, in my opinion, they both perform the same but the Winegard antenna is not nearly as heavy.
I needed to get the 8800 up higher, to put more distance between the two antennas for less interaction, so what I did was secure the 8800 to some standard 1.25" masting and use two vent clamps to secure the smaller diameter mast to the 1.75" pipe that goes into the rotor on the top (and also from the bottom to the tripod.) I think I have about 5 foot separation now, which should be enough. In the process I also changed an F connector or two that didn't look good plus two baluns.
The HD 5030 is one of the last VHF (Ch 2-13) antennas being sold today. Winegard has discontinued manufacture but it is still available online at a few places. If you are going to get one, do it now and be ready for the 2013 skip season. There's some great double hop TV from Central and South America that might make it to your house this summer.
March 11, 2013
March is not a month known for tropo but tropo happened anyway. I was hearing FM stations from the Norfolk, Va area and coastal North Carolina on the evening of the 10th out to 550 miles, and on the morning of the 11th I saw DTV from Philadelphia, Baltimore and Richmond, my most distant catch of the morning. Here's a screengrab of WTVR on digital r.f. channel 25. WTVR is about 400 miles down the coast.
March 2, 2013
These pictures are hanging on pegboard down in my work area. I still look at them and am amazed. It was the only time in my life I've ever seen F2 reach 55mhz, and it happened here in CT. I just thought I'd post them. This will never happen again.
January 29, 2013
For those of you who may be into building your own FM antennas, I've added five actual pictures of my Channel Master Stereo Probe 9 for you to use as guidance. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I just saved you 5,000 words by showing the pics. So click on CM 4408 Probe 9 Specs and take a look. I guarantee you there aren't very many of these in near-mint condition anymore.
And on the Onkyo T450 RDS page I noticed that the pictures of the board with the filters was missing. I managed to find two of them and they are back. Once again, 2,000 words saved.
November 4, 2012
Every once in a while, somebody wants to know of a radio that's really good for FM DXing. I recommend the radio on the left. It's a Grundig G8 and it's been around for a while but you can still buy it.
Maybe it appears large in the picture, but it's just about 3 1/2" by 6". It takes three AA batteries and has a whip antenna that's about 22" long,
It's not the perfect radio. It beeps at me when I turn it on and when I turn it off. That's annoying. Dials control the volume and the tuning and they both work backwards. For example you turn the dial CCW to tune up the band and you turn the dial clockwise to decrease the volume. That's also annoying. The speaker is tinny but you get stereo with the headphones plugged in.
But the FM selectivity of this thing is amazing! This thing is a DSP radio (digital signal processing) and the selectivity rivals the famous Sony XDR-F1HD. You can't get much better. And the sensitivity on FM is really good. Picking up FM stations at 200 miles (troposcatter or aircraft scatter) will happen with this radio.
The G8 also tunes shortwave and longwave. Medium wave reception is okay, I suppose, but nothing special. I can't comment on shortwave since I'm really not into SW at all.
This radio is small enough that you can get it through customs with no trouble. Take it to the Caribbean and DX with it. I have and have some nice receptions as a result.
It's a fun radio. If you like FM, you will like it. Read more about it here.
Beware of imitators! There's another radio out there that looks like the G8 called the Jwin JX-M122. The FM is pretty close to the G8 but the rest of it is not. I would not recommend it, especially for AM(medium wave) reception. I needed to max out the volume in order to hear my local AM stations. That's not good. Sensitivity on AM is just plain bad.
2012 DX Season At A Glance
Skip season was a bust. There were too few openings and what we got ended too soon. Sometimes I wonder why I bother with it. Trying to wean me off of this hobby must be like trying to quit smoking.
During the summer there were two really decent openings on TV. One brought in ch2 from Managua, Nicaragua and the other brought in ch4 in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Those are pushing 2,000 miles and viewing these is my main reason for still doing analog TV DXing. I'd like to see more South American TV before S.A. goes digital and I want to see how deep into South America I can get.
I caught some new DTV signals by tropo in September 2012. I'm up to 125 DTV stations seen from here in Enfield. Realistically I think I may top off at 150, maybe less, because too many channels being blocked by local TV stations. Most DTVs from Boston and NYC I will never see because of Hartford stations on the same channels.
Sept 17, 2012 Realtek RTL2832 E4000 USB TV Tuner
This is what I've been playing with lately. It's a dongle costing around $20USD. It's a DTV tuner made for the European DTV system and it doesn't work for DTV in North America.
Someone hacked into it and found that you could make a pretty good radio out of it by plugging it into a USB port in your computer and adding some software so you could turn it on and tune it. E4000 is the name of the tuner chip that's inside. This chip tunes from around 50mhz up into the gigzhertzes.
I bought one of these on eBay (sold on amazon.com also) and I use it for listening to FM, aircraft calls, NWS weather broadcasts and the local medical services and cops on the 460mhz band.
For many people this radio is as close to a Perseus that they'll ever get. No, it does not cover LW or the AM band (540-1700khz) or shortwave, but it covers everything above that. What else can do that for 20 bucks??
This radio is ideal for laptops or notebooks. Take your laptop, dongle and antenna to the mountaintop or rest area of your choice and do some FM Dxing or make a bandscan.
This radio will work with the HDSDR interface (with a little effort) but works easily with the newly developed SDR# (SDR Sharp) software, which has a spectrum analyzer and waterfall display. Really cool.
I've just ordered another dongle having the R280T tuner. This tuner is now supported by SDR# software and has a lower tuning limit (~45mhz) so will tune 6 meters and all of the old analog TV video frequencies.
At just $15 USD, how could I lose? I'll report on this one when it arrives.
For a good discussion of this tuner, go here.
For SDR# info, go here.
For RTL2832 info, go here.
And have fun!
May 5, 2012 E Skip to Cuba
It began around 3pm and lasted until around 5pm EDT with best signals around 3:30pm. The stations are channels 2 and 4 from Havana. Here are some pictures. These are some of the strongest signals I've seen up here from Cuba. Havana is just shy of 1,500 miles.
And here are two more. Looks like Fidel in one of them.
The test pattern was on ch2 around 4:30pm, so whatever was on before went off the air in the meantime. The lady and the Canal Educativo slide were on channel 4. Both are Havana.
The antenna used is a standard VHF antenna, 15 feet off the ground, used with an outboard analog TV tuner, the D100 from the U.K. The TV is a plain, old, ordinary CRT type Sylvania color set. Nothing special.
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