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Messages - BoomboxDX

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UncleJohn, MW DX has been less than it was early last decade, like SW it began to dip around 2016.

MW still has a lot of DX, but it will pick up as the new solar cycle progresses, so don't lose hope on hearing some good catches. The guys who get the best catches now have beverage antennas or big loops with amplifiers.

In 2011-2014 I was hearing all sorts of stations on my MW DX radios that I don't hear now. Cuba's Radio Rebelde on 1180 (behind a regional station and KOFI Kalispell, used to be heard many nights, although I had to listen through the other signals to ID it. I even heard it on a Realistic TRF with no extra antenna.

Rebelde, unfortunately, hasn't been heard here in 5-6 years on MW. KVNS Brownsville on 1700 used to be a regular, although it would mix with XEPE (Baja California). I haven't heard KVNS in a while, either. Periodically, I get a new station, so not all is lost. But yeah, there is a lot of talk and ranchero music on the MW. I'm just glad the signals are there. SW sometimes is mostly empty.

As for choice of radios, I prefer my Superadios or my Panasonic RF-B45, sometimes with a tuned loop next to them, as the slightly wider selectivity (around 6 khz I think) helps ID stations. My PR-D5 has narrower selectivity but it sounds a little muddy, and sometimes you need to hear a bit more to ID a station, even if there is more splash. It's always a flip of the coin, I guess.

If you've got an R8, you probably have all the radio you need. Most of the broadcast DX activity is on MW, and the Drake R8 is the standard for MW. SDRs have a fancy display and a few features the R8 might not have, but an R8 is hard to beat.

SW has been mostly half-dead since the solar cycle dipped about 5-6 years ago. Some nights and mornings there is still much to hear, and if you're in the PNW (WA, OR, etc.), you'll hear Asia many (if not most) mornings on 41, 49, and 31 meters -- reception of those stations, of course, will vary because of the low solar cycle. But aside from the occasional nights where SW is actually working well, MW is the place to be for DX.

"SDR", technically, is "software defined radio". In other words, a chip in the radio has software inside it that acts as a radio processor -- these chips that contain this sort of software are also often called "DSP chips". They replace the analog IF chips in radios which were standard from the mid 1970s to the late 2000s. My Sangean AM-FM radio (a PR-D5) that is playing South Asian music from 100-200 km away right now as I type this, has a DSP chip inside. The processing of the signal I am hearing wasn't done via the superhet, analog method that IF chips used. The DSP chip instead is doing all that via digital processing software.

Your average DSP radio chip has an RF amp inside, along with an analog to digital converter; software that tunes, filters, decodes, etc,; which then goes into a digital-to-analog converter, which is sent to an audio chip.

An "SDR" in usual parlance is a computer program that runs on a laptop or desktop computer that uses the same sort of chip but has an interface that puts it all up on a fancy looking screen with virtual buttons and a 'waterfall' display.

Hope this helps in some way.

Propagation / Re: Solar cycle 25 . Very interesting? I have my doubts.
« on: September 21, 2021, 0121 UTC »
As far as I can tell, more than halfway through 2021, prop still is sucking poorly. MW isn't much better than SW.... There are still distant stations to hear, but it's nowhere what it was ten years ago.

Maybe next year will be better. Who knows.

RE: MeTV: the station in Chicago played mostly music and even got ratings. The radio industry crowd seems to call them Franken-FMs, because they're technically broadcasting on TV audio frequencies.

RE: Brazil: Power to them. I hope they also have some initiative to get FM radios capable of tuning down that low in the hands of consumers. I know most DSP chips will tune down that low -- but it depends on the microprocessor operating the radio in many cases, and how the DSP chip itself is programmed in others.

My Sangean PRD14 and Grundig G2 can tune down as low as the Eastern European OIRT band. Was able to get them to do it with a couple menu clicks.

^^^^^ You make some good points. As the years progress, even if the sunspots improve it will take more of an antenna setup than would work in 2011 to hear much SWBC, if only because most of the activity is on the other side of the globe from the US. 

Ham radio may or may not be much better, except during contests, when they tend to light up the bands with activity.

General Radio Discussion / Re: Mail from Cuba
« on: June 22, 2021, 0828 UTC »
Awesome. I'm still waiting for an email back from Eva Barajas. She used to be the sexy voiced announcer on Radio Havana's English service during the night up until around 2015 or so. Then she disappeared. Curious, I found her email was still at the Radio Habana site. So I sent a hello, asking if she was still on the air.

Interesting, in depth reviews of the various radios.

DeBock's done these Ultralight MW radio shootouts before, but I think a couple of the websites where they were published no longer exist.

When I was last monitoring the ham bands' SSB sections (I stopped about four years ago), I don't know if I was encountering 'dirty' transmitters but yeah, a lot of the guys push the power when they don't really need to -- especially during contests. CW not so much...

On some of the ham forums, there have been suspicions mentioned of guys using more power than legal during such contests. Whether that's true or not, I have no way of knowing, but ever since I've monitored the ham bands, I've encountered lots of ham stations that splatter 10 khz to either side of a target frequency. I just counted it up to my receivers.

And, ironically, if another ham gets on the channel and complains about a splatter master, the inevitable retort is "get a better radio, old man!"

General Radio Discussion / Re: Frequency schedules list
« on: April 21, 2021, 0213 UTC »
Short-wave.info is my go to database, and if that isn't producing results Eibi's LW-MW-SW frequency list text file works on my computer and also on my tablet (using a browser -- I don't use my phone on the net).

Radio has lost maybe 50-60% of their revenue (when accounted for inflation) since 2005. The corona economic impacts have only cut in to what revenue is left.

Expect a lot of changes all over. It isn't just IHeart that has had cuts. Some Hubbard, Sinclair, Salem and Entercom radio stations have also seen some cuts. Now that Entercom has changed names, I would expect that somewhere down the line other changes are in order as well.

Consolidation has its negatives, but it can keep marginal stations on the air. After Dereg 1996, when a company owned 'clusters' of stations, marginal stations usually were programmed with formats that weren't super popular (classic country, oldies, classic hits, sports talk networks, alternative talk, standards, etc.) just to keep the stick on the air, and they'd market the station as an add-on for commercial sales, as usually another station in the cluster was making the big money.

Cool. Something to DX for during the summer season. I already can receive at least three of those stations regularly (KIRO, KNBR & KOA). Will have to try for some of the others.

Thanks for posting the list.

General Radio Discussion / Re: Brother Stair Dies
« on: April 06, 2021, 0146 UTC »
He used to cover the SW at night, and gave the domestic (and some foreign) SW broadcasters a lot of business.

His death, along with covid, and the teetering state of the economy, and the bad propagation we've had since 2016 or so, and the slow disappearance of SW broadcasting in general, all are portents that we are entering the days of 'log 'em before they go off the air'.

Amateur Radio / Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
« on: April 06, 2021, 0143 UTC »
Not a ham, so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt....

I'd bag the 2M SSB idea, as even the ham forums don't talk much about DXing SSB on 2M.

Maybe put the time, effort, and money into 6 meters instead? Besides, when 6 meters is in, it seems that guys sometimes get worldwide contacts. Not so on 2M. Even 2M FM is mostly MIA in my metro. Tune across the band with a good multibander and it's hiss. In 1990 it would have been 2-3 QSOs heard at least, even well into the evening.

The most poignant thing in the article was the mentioning that radio is declining in cultural significance, with less radio stars.

It makes me want to embrace whatever radio we still have left. Overall, the industry seems to be going more and more automaton. The pandemic seems to have accelerated that trend.

A couple of these "franken FM's" apparently get ratings, especially the one in Chicago. I guess they'll have to look elsewhere for a means to transmit.... maybe an HD2 FM channel.

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