Maximum Usable Frequency > 21 Mhz

     I am currently receiving a station in the Chinese language on 21550.00 Khz varying in strength between -76 dBm and -88 dBm (s7-s9) while my propagation widget is telling me 160 meters is fair and everything above that non-existent. 

     There are some deep fades and very bad selective fading that occasionally renders the signal unintelligible even when the signal is strong. There are some quite strong signals above 17 Mhz.  Given that it’s almost midnight local time this is somewhat unusual, especially given the relatively weak solar cycle.

     There is another station receivable on 21690.00 Khz but it is -90 dBm or less in strength and although I can tell there is a male voice, I can only hear it during peaks and there is too much noise to even discern the language.

     I scanned higher and found nothing and in ten minutes time 21690.00 Khz is no longer receivable, not even detectable.  The station on 21550.00 Khz is also gone.  Nothing above 19Mhz is receivable now.  There is a very strange periodically recurring signal between 18990 Khz and 19001 Khz that is almost like they’re trying to create an image in a spectrograph.  Check it out.  Tell me that isn’t weird.  It repeats about every 30 seconds or so.

19mhz

     This is one mysterious weird signal.  Now 17,985 is the lowest frequency I can receive any voice transmissions on.  The propagation has changed dramatically in half an hour.  Time for me to call it a night.

Art Bell – Retaking the Night

     Art Bell opened his show with Midnight In The Desert, “Taking Back the Night”.  It badly needs to be taken back!

     One of the really cool things about this show is that not only can you listen to it via streaming media but that includes an AAC stream.  AAC is a lossless compression, the audio is absolutely perfect.  There were some odd clicks on the first night but that was resolved by the next show.

     It is SO refreshing to see something done in radio by someone that actually cares about audio quality as well as content.

     Tonight they have Linda Moulton Howe, one of the very few remaining investigative researchers and reporters.  She is always an interesting guest, especially when you have a host that asks intelligent questions.

Anybody Remember the Loran Navigation System?

     On a “marine band” radio, these were radios that used to cover roughly from 1.6 Mhz to 3.6 Mhz, you could receive a sound around 1.8 Mhz that was the sound of the arrival of radio pulses from various Loran Navigation system transmitters.  It was a fairly broadband signal with a distinctive sound that selective fading would do weird things to.

      They discontinued those transmitters in 2010, they’ve been obsoleted by GPS systems.  However, this year eLoran is being brought online as a replacement.  Satellite GPS is accurate but it can be spoofed, jammed, and it doesn’t penetrate some areas such as canyons or inside some buildings.

      I have not been able to find much information on eLoran, can anybody tell me what frequency it will operate on?

      Also, if anybody has an audio recording of the old Loran signal as it sounded on an AM receiver, I would much appreciate it, especially if captured during a period of significant selective fade.

Wideband Web Software Defined Radio

Software Defined Radio PC

     This is the coolest radio related thing I’ve seen on the web. It is a wideband web based software defined radio operated by the ETGD Amateur Radio Club at the Faculty for Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science at Twente University in Enschede, Netherlands.

     It allows multiple users to listen to different frequencies simultaneously.  Right now, as I am using it, there are 137 other users listening to different things.

     It covers basically from 0 Khz to 30 Mhz, the lowest audio signal I was able to find was on 126 Khz in the long wave portion of the space, and right now the maximum usable frequency is around 15 Mhz, so beyond that can’t really receive anything at present.  Right now I’m listening to a station playing opera type music at 153 Khz in the long wave band.

     You can dial in the type of modulation, SSB (USB / LSB), CW, AM, and FM, the frequency, and the bandwidth.  It is quite extraordinary.

     The hardware is home brew and the circuit board work is incredible.  The software allows each web user to individually tune and listen to different things at the same time.

Hello LPFM, Goodbye DX

     13 licenses have been granted to new low power FM stations in the Seattle area. Happy to see that the FCC is allowing LPFM to become a reality.

     The bad news? Almost all the frequency assignments have high power FM stations that are presently using those frequencies and have a signal that is usable here in Seattle, most are Canadian, one is a station in Wenatchee. These stations happen to be my favorite radio stations to listen to in the car. Won’t be for long. Not a happy camper.

    The side effect is that these low power FM stations will be very limited in range even if you own a good receiver and antenna because of the existence of high power stations on the same frequencies.

     My take on this is that it was the FCCs way of giving these new LPFM stations a back-handed bitch slap.  They knew the public and congress overwhelmingly support LPFM, so they couldn’t deny it outright, so instead they chose to assign it to already populated frequencies to minimize the reach of low power FM stations and maximize the interference they will cause to traditional broadcasters.  This is an old tactic for getting people to agree to what you want, create a reason for them to want it, which is to say no LPFM because it’s not usable or because it interferes with something you want to use.  This will of course get the NAB up in arms and cause them to ramp up their opposition to LPFM.

     I can’t say there is much of anything the FCC does that I agree with. In particular, the choice of digital systems here in the United States destroys two adjacent channels, so now one high power commercial station essentially occupies three frequencies. If they had gone with Radio Mondale instead of this horrid IBOC they chose to use here in the states, we wouldn’t have destroyed the two adjacent channels with digital hash and those would then be usable frequencies, the audio quality would have been better and the usability in low signal areas would have been better.

     Fortunately, most stations are online now and can be listened to from anywhere but not the case for the car until some form of affordable mobile Internet becomes available.

Censorship

I’ve always been opposed to censorship, even when I find the ideas being censored unappealing.  I think it’s a slippery slope that leads to a complete lack of novel ideas needed to move society forward.

I also think a lot of otherwise good music is ruined because lyrics contained a word or idea someone didn’t like.

One thing I liked about KISW before Iheart Radio ruined them is that they used to not censor.  They’d play a song as it was written, damn the FCC fines, but no more.

On that note; here is a nice extrapolation of censorship taken to the logical end.

 

Pirate Radio 107.3 FM North Seattle

Picked up a pirate radio station operating on 107.3 FM.  It was strongest near 145th St. and Aurora Ave N.  Barely receivable at 175th and Aurora and all but gone by 185th.  They would have gone farther if they had picked a vacant frequency but 107.3 is already occupied by two distant commercial stations.

The first clue that it wasn’t a commercial station was the ultra horrid audio, just slightly better than telephone quality but not much below 300Hz or above about 5Khz.  Modulation pretty random, obviously no compressor or limiter, and about every third word was an F-bomb.

I really hate to see pirate radio done this way, poor quality and just pretty much there to offend with absolutely no sense of responsibility.