Sunday, October 22, 2017

KONG35 - Day Nine

KONG35 is over! Odd-Jørgen, Ole and Torgeir left today at 07:30 local. The day before was rather uneventful with regards to North America, although signals were present well into the afternoon.

A little better towards the Pacific though! A short opening brought quite a few NZL stations. One worthy of particular mention was 2 kW One-Double-X from Whakatne 1242 which dominated over 100 kW JOLF quite a while. Myself I haven't heard it since 2007. We have also been waiting for Fiji to show up after their MW transmitter upgrades, and they did!

A couple of low-power NHK outlets were also identified in the afternoon and the evening.

Our last KONG meal is always reindeer tenderloin. For starters, we had the Swedish Västerbotten pie. With the loins we had a "stew" of fried onions & creme fraiche, and a paste of carrots, celeriac and potatoes. A worth wine companion was the Felton Road Pinot Noir from New Zealand. Dessert: Home made Créme brûlée!

The SDRs in Kongsfjord will now run throughout the winter, remote-controlled. Hopefully, we will see (or hear) good openings in the months ahead.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

QSL: KMDO Fort Scott KS 1600

OJ Sagdahl spotted this one during freak conditions on October 16, surfacing long enough to give a nice ID. Brief email confirmed my reception yesterday. 530 watts days and 27 nights, so a nice catch. Thanks OJ! Kansas # 25.


QSL: KLTI Macon MO 1560

KLTI True Country was heard on October 15 during a freak opening when the normal dominants (such as KKAA) were absent. Friendly email today with some station info, such as below.

Fourth Missouri station in a row.


KONG35 - Day Eight

Only one day left!

Conditions towards North America mostly followed the trend from previous days, so nothing much of interest. However, we finally got a decent opening towards New Zealand! Most welcome. So far we haven't sorted out what might be hiding in the recordings from Australia, but Gold MX in Albany, WA had a very strong signal on 1611 for quite a while on the 80 degrees beverage, so maybe there's hope for new WA stations.

Strong signals towards Japan in the evening resulted in  a couple of new ones.

As usual, when we near the end of a KONG expedition, we head over to Kongsfjord Guesthouse for a meal. This year, we also enjoyed their new sauna! As usual the dinner was excellent, this year we had smoked lamb with potatoes, waldorf salad and a carrot paste. We then headed back home for a Boulevard Tank 7 and more DX.

The weather's not been nice to us today. Windy, and with (too) frequent showers of sleet. Temperatures around 1-2 Celsius. It cleared up a bit in the evening though. Below is Ole's Škoda in the morning hours.

Friday, October 20, 2017

KONG35 - Day Seven

We had hoped that the K-index would sink to a 0-2 level. Alas, it was not to happen. Signal strengths were ok for most of the night, but it was mostly the usual dominants. Asia conditions were also late to recover, and the intermittent noise was back to our 50 degrees beverage. A few Aussies were noted in the afternoon. Nothing spectacular from Japan either.

Still checking the Mount Loran files from October 16 though, and still finding new stations!

Thursday was also time for the KONG signature dish, king crab (kongekrabbe in Norwegian). Super quality crab was purchased from the Norway Seafood plant in Berlevag, baked on a salt bed and served with carbonara. Excellent wine selection: Calles Riesling Spätlese Trocken Mittelheimer Edelmann 2013.

Weather update: Just above freezing, wind, snow, sleet, rain. We're very happy we don't have to do any antenna repairs! Archive photo from when the weather was better (like July).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

KONG35 - Some Pictures

Only three full days left of the KONG35 DX-pedition, so maybe time to take a few pictures.

Mount Loran stealth listening position: Battery, Intel NUC, Perseus SDR, mobile broadband, 1000 metre beverage antenna

View to the northwest from my house.

View to the east, my house to the left.

Neighbours.


To the northweste - wind turbines

My house pt. II.

The hamlet Kongsfjord, to the southwest



King crab being prepared for tonight's fiesta.

KONG35 - Day Six

K-indices were more or less back to normal today, but the ionosphere is still a bit "bumpy" - with some surprising results. Trans-Atlantic signals began to appear a while before 01:00, and they didn't really fade out until the afternoon - although the stations heard then were common. There was a rush towards the south around 0300 to 0400 UTC with some remarkable signals from Mexican stations. Super signals noted from stations as XERE-920, XEOY-1000, XERDO-1060 under a massive XEEP, XESP-1070 and XETUL-1080.

The ionospheric changes also enhances European stations, so splatter is more of a problem now.

NAs noted were KMBZ-980, KERN-1180, KIRX-1450 and KDCC-1550. Looks like it's all about Kansas and Missouri in this period.

Quite OK conditions in the afternoon with some NZL (1035, 1106, 1296) and AUS (630 very strong) signals, and also some interesting stuff from Japan like JOTC NHK-2 1521

Dinner was tapas & sausages for starters, served with home-made flatbread (special delivery from Ole's wife Kari). Main course was a quite spicy fish soup, and we rounded off with chocolate pudding with custard.

Weather: Until late evening very much the same as before. Overnight the temperature dropped to 1 Celsius and rain turned to sleet. It should stay above freezing the coming days, but only barely so.

QSL: KGMY Springfield MO 1400

Another Missouri station confirmed reception overnight!  KGMY was heard with a signal that certainly didn't need headphones, and a friendly email came in return. Thanks Ole Forr for v/s.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

QSL: KILK Jefferson City MO 1240

Today's second Missouri QSL arrived as I received an email response for a strong and clear reception this morning at 04:00 UTC.


QSL: KDMR Kansas City, MO 1190

KDMR was heard a few days ago with a weak but readable signal. Email confirmation received today.


KONG35 - Day Five

Finally, ionospheric condtions normalised, however conditions overnight were downright depressing. Only brief appearences from stations like KRWB-MN 1410 and KOVC-ND 1490. Later on, KTWG Agatna Guam surfaced on 801, and we even heard the ABC Majestic Fanfare on 1602, so hopefully, things are improving.

There is still lots of interesting stuff to be found on previous days though.

We collected 10 kg of King Crab at the Norway Seafoods plant in Berlevåg for Thursday, and prepared a very late reindeer dinner as our special guest of honour, Torgeir Nyen, arrived close to midnight.

The story about the Mount Loran beverage has been told before, but here's a picture taken today when we replaced the hard drive. It's rather stealthy in an area where few if any trek. Inside, there is a 12V battery, an Intel NUC PC, a 500 GB SSD drive, a Perseus SDR and a mobile 4G modem.

Weather: Much of the same; calm, 5-6 Celsius and some rain.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

QSL: WIBW Topeka KS 580

WIBW was alone on 580 when it was heard off the Mount Loran beverage, rather weak but after the news they faded up nicely during a lengthy weather report. Friendly response today, along with the studio recording of the same weather report.

QSL: WBRT Bardstown KY 1320

Exceptional signal levels on the Mount Loran beverage on October 16, quick response today. A very nice catch!



KONG35 - Day Four

This was departure day for TJ Bråtveit, who left for Trondheim in the morning hours.

We're still very much under the influence of the effects of the Coronal Hole, but we're slowly moving towards better times. Overnight the propagation shifted rapidly, and there were some spots where very interesting stations could be heard. Some not yet disclosed, a few of the others were WIBW-KS 590, WBAA-IN 920, KBUF-KS 1030, WBGW-IN 1330, KGMY-MO-1400, WASK-IN 1450, WDLR-OH 1550. Missouri and Kansas stations have been very audible the past few days, so I recorded a full-hour ID of the excellent signal from KCMO Kansas City MO 710 for a Facebook posting. I got an immediate response from a gentleman who said he was in that studio at that time! Small world. The red line to the left on the overnight spectrum shows how the signal levels fluctuated. The minutes around the 01:00 spot were particularly interesting.



Unlike previous days, when signals disappeared at sunset, they actually returned with fair levels with mostly western North America past midday. Some Hawaiian stations also audible. In the afternoon, there were a few Australians audible, though to be honest we haven't monitored too closely. In the evening, the back lobe of the Asia/Pacific beverage had strong signals from Spain and the UK, like Sunrise-972 and Free Radio 80's on 1017.

And then suddenly: Dinner time! Our menu said salmon sashimi as a starter, we had a little inventory error as only the salmon was there, so we had to improvise a bit. However, with soy sauce, a bit of reasonably fresh rosemary and a blowtorch it ended up quite nicely.

Lamb steak as main course, with a paste of potatoes, carrots and celeriac, sauce and nothing more. It turned out as exceptionally tender meat, so we were quite lucky on that one. With the food we had Tyler, a 2014 Pinot Noir from California. Actually a left-over from last year's KONG33 DX-pedition - the extra year spent in the Arctic didn't do it any harm. We were supposed to have dessert, but we ended up with another Kansas City, Missouri catch, the Boulevard Tank 7 - arguably the best beer ever enjoyed here.

Weather is still quite nice for October, 4-5 Celsius and relatively calm. Light rain in the afternoon.




Monday, October 16, 2017

KONG35 Day Three

The effects of the coronal hole continues to hammer down on our battered DX souls. It's not all bad though. Short periods are in fact DX-able, and interesting stations to hear. Last night had a short peak towards mostly central US and Mexico peaking just before 01:00, and another, weaker peak around 05:00. Stations noted in passing were KPOF-CO 910, KDMR-MO 1190, KUBR-TX 1210, KBIZ-IA 1240, KLIK-MO 1240, KLWN-KS 1320, KCLN-IA 1390, KLTI-MO 1560. Some of the Mexicans heard were XETUL-1080, XERED-1110, XECD-1170 and XEBS-1410.

In the afternoon, the season's first NZL station finally surfaced with a good signal as we heard Newstalk ZB on 1035. Nothing else of interest from Asia or Pacific though.

However, dinner is always interesting here. For starters we had roasted artichocke hearts on roasted slices of sourdough bread and pesto (the latter was a mistake but quite a tasty one). Main course was woked salmon with woked vegetables and bacon and sour cream. Dessert was grilled pineapple slices with chili. The wine selection was simple but well chosen, a Condes de Albarei from Spain.

Mentioning sourdough: OJ Sagdahl is a certified (by me) world class sourdough bread maker, and this is yesterday's creation.

Weather has been good to us the past few days, dry and not too much wind. Temperatures from 2-6 Celsius. The days ahead will bring more wind, and some rain, according to the weather service.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

KONG35 Day Two

Dreadful conditions today, under the influence of the coronal hole. A few stations were heard on the Loran C beverage overnight, like KLMS-1480 and KXRB-1140. Time was spent to maintain the Loran C beverage, and to replace a faulty part of the dual-340 beverage. Conditions towards Asia in the afternoon proved to be uninspirational.

So! We enjoyed a few beers before dinner, such as Venusian Pale Ale from Garage Project. For dinner we had bruschetta for startes, followed by tenderloin and sirloin from lamb with piperade, and a paste made of potatoes, carrots and seleriac.

For dessert we enjoyed a selection of cheeses, such as Stilton, Papillon Roquefort, Parmesan, Gruyere, Chaumes, and Austavind.

Weather was nice: Dry, a little windy, mostly overcast and +5 Celsius.

But it's going to be another shitty night. Propagation-wise, that is.

Friday, October 13, 2017

QSL: RFC Radio Fukushima; JOWW Iwaki,1431, JOWR Fukushima, 1458

Another two of RFC's five MW transmitters were confirmed today, both are 1 kW. Only one station left to hear, but the most tricky one, 100 watts on 801 kHz. Not impossible though, I've heard several 100 watt stations from Japan here. QSLs as jpgs came as email attachments. I am most grateful for excellent service.

About To Start: The KONG35 DX-pedition

Chilly overnight in Kongsfjord, but the gear is ready for this year's DX-pedition; 10+ SDRs, 4 beverage antennas, 250+ TB hard drive capacity and all the other necessities. The rest of the crew will arrive during Friday.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

QSLs: All India Radio Kolkata, 1008; Bengali Service Chinsurah 594

Two new emails from the AIR Spectrum Manager this morning confirmed AIR Kolkata's English Service on 1008 kHz, and the Bengali Service from Chinsurah on 594 kHz.

Both were heard during the second half of September. If you want to hear how AIR Kolkata's English Service sounds 6300 km away, click here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

QSLs: All India Radio Kolkata, 657; Siliguri 711

The extremely auroral conditions around autumn equinox were favourable for signals from south-east Asia, including India. 20-odd stations were logged with relative ease during a few afternoons, and this morning I received two emails from AIR, confirming Kolkata 657 and Siliguri 711 kHz.

Monday, October 02, 2017

QSL: KZNU St. George, UT 1450

There was a brief opening towards western North America last night, and KZNU surfaced with a good signal on top of the hour with IDs for KZNU FM & AM and also for KAZZ 1400. Quick response to my report this afternoon.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

QSL: JOWE RFC Wakamatsue, Fukushima 1395, #100!

When responding to the JOWO QSL below, I noticed that I had another RFC station from October 2016 in my audio files. JOWE with 1 kW was mixing with JOCE Radio Kansai on 1395, and a very good ID was sent off to RFC's engineer. Email response this morning for my #100 from Japan on MW. Three more RFC frequencies to check out this season.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

QSL: JOWO RFC Koryiama, Fukushima 1098

With 5 kW, this RFC station is not too difficult to hear. A friendly letter, QSL card and promo stuff received in the mail today.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Wellbrook ALA1530LF Loop vs. The KongSDR Longwire Antenna

As a first-time loop buyer (!), I was curious to how the Wellbrook loop would compare to larger antennas. So, during Saturday, I set up a test scheme for LW, MW and SW. If you are as curious as me, you should click this link.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

QSL: 6RN ABC Radio National, Wagin WA, 1296

We erected our new, 80-degrees beverage last weekend aiming to hear more from central and western Australia. And we did! On September 9, during a lull in the solar storm, we had a couple of hours with good signals, including this one which is new for me.

Email QSL yesterday. Only my second confirmed West Australia station, but I expect the number to rise during the season.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

KONG34 DX-pedition - In Preparation For The Coming Season (Pt. 4)

Yet another sunny, but at times quite windy day in Kongsfjord. Temperatures maxed out at 9 Celsius. Tomorrow is departure day for OJ Sagdahl, TJ Bråtveit and Ole Forr. And for me too, but not quite as early.

Today was used for checking recordings from the day before, when conditions to central and western parts of Australia and India, were good. We also did some antenna maintenance, but most of the time we just chilled out and had a few beers.

Today's dinner was a roast leg of lamb, with potato/carrot paste, sauce with onions & garlic, and fried broccoli. OJ picked a superb wine to go with a superb lamb, the 2013 Fontodi Chianti Classico.

We had some hopes for this evening's DX, but at 17:00 an X flare wiped out the Mediumwave, so no new loggings for us today.

The weather forecast says rainy and windy on Monday, so this picture from tonight at around 9 pm is possibly the last clear-sky picture from this DX-pediton.


The KONG DX Site - Our Gear

With four blokes wanting to use four antennas, there's a bit of logistics to take care of. Here's how the living room in Kongsfjord looks like during the DX season.

First, we have my PCs and SDRs, on the shelf at the back. One Dell Optiplex, Micro Form Factor, and two Intel NUCs control my three Perseus. Each have an 8 TB hard drive. The Diamond 30A power supply powers the hard drives and one of the NUCs. My KiwiSDR is powered by a lab-grade 5VDC PSU, which also feeds two Perseus (a NUC powers the last one). A web-based antenna switch is on the right, because I use four antennas but only have three SDRs.

On the table in front are four DX-Engineering preamps for the beverage feedlines coming through the wall. They are fed by a separate, 13.8VDC PSU (under the bed). From each preamp goes a coax to four splitters. The three to the left will be replaced by Mini-Circuits 8-port splitters like the one on the right.



The KiwiSDR is connected to an 80-metre longwire in N-S orientation. The feedline is amplified with a Wellbrook splitter/preamp. The Cloud-IQ on the table is also connected to the longwire. Other SDRs in my shack is the ColibriNANO and the Airspy R2/Spyverter R2.

Moving to the other end of the living room are Ole Forr's and OJ Sagdahl's gear; five Perseus in all, plus preamps and a number of 8 TB hard drives, also two web based antenna switches. The PCs are hidden from view. The Tandberg Huldra 11 receiver now serves as a front end for my DAB+ receiver on the shelf above, partly hidden.



Finally a peak at TJ Bråtveit's setup, Perseus, Winradio G33DDC and Elad FDM-S2, two PCs and 8 TB hard drives, and a web-based antenna switch.


Linear power supplies is a must, and we have four of these 30A beasts, plus a few small ones. The voltage knob is removed for equipment safety reasons.


There are two mobile broadband networks. The main network is a 4G Telia network with a 200 GB/mo cap. We have remote control of our equipment through this network, using Teamviewer or LogMeIn Pro. The other network is a Telenor 3G (soon to be 4G) network with a 40 GB/mo cap. This is the KiwiSDR network. We have line-of-sight to the transmitters 3 km away so the speed is very good. All internal connections are cabled.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

KONG 34 DX-Pedition - In Preparation For The Coming Season (Pt. 3)

Another sunny, but a bit windy day in Kongsfjord, with temperatures reaching 10 Celsius. Time to put up our new 560 meter beverage at 80 degrees. This should enable better reception of central and western parts of Australia. This antenna has a 285 meter coax feedline. The antenna and feedline are roughly described below.


Hundreds of goosanders were having a party in the bay just outside my house today. Maybe they were discussing the flight plan for the migration.

'

Today's dinner was reindeer stew with a paste made of potatoes, carrots and celeriac, and lingonberry jam from berries picked underneath the 310 beverage a couple of hours earlier. The wine was an excellent Cotes du Rhone.

And imagine our surprise when South Australia was noted with excellent signals duriing the meal! The new 80 degrees beverage delivered on its first day, despite the terrible conditions. Great signals on 729 and 891.

Friday, September 08, 2017

KONG 34 DX-Pedition - In Preparation For The Coming Season (Pt. 2)

Today was noise hunting day. One possible source for our intermittent noise was the wind power facility at Raccucærro. The site manager invited us in to do measurements with a Cloud-IQ and a Wellbrook 1530LF loop. Preliminary results are that the windpark is not responsible for the noise, however when we were out the noise disappeared, so we're still a bit inconclusive. Great site though.

Other things we did was to finish the 340 beverage and prepare for the roll-out of the 80 beverage.

For dinner we had premade fish gratin, consisting of first class cod, carrots, ginger, leek, celeriac and spices. Assorted cheese for dessert.

Today's picture is of course from the wind park, at 400+ masl. No vegetation at all, and lots of wind.

KONG 34 DX-Pedition - In Preparation For The Coming Season (Pt. 1)

As usual in early September, the KONG crew meet for an oval weekend to set up the gear for the coming winter. This includes to finish and secure the three usual beverages (50, 310 and 340 degrees), plus setting up another beverage at 80 degrees.

We're also on a noise finding mission, so equipped with a Wellbrook ALA-1530LF loop we will use the weekend to track down the noise source, or sources, which have pestered our low signal level MW reception.

With solar conditions like today we're not expecting to hear anything. We do have a nice selection of beers to test though, so we'll manage. We did get hold of what seemed to be the last stock in Norway of Death from Above (Garage Project), and got a nice taste of Tohki-Shu from Toccalmatto/Nøgne Ø

Thursday's dinner was fresh salmon loins from Lofoten, fried on one side then put in the oven to rest a bit, and carbonara. Chocolate pudding & custard for dessert. Nicely accompanied by a 2014 Donna Margherita. It was a left-over from last October.

Amazingly, almost no aurora has been visible so far. The picture was taken at 3:30 local, 75 minutes before sunrise. The twilights are long in the Arctic. The noise hunting mission starts at 7:30. More as it happens.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

QSL: WEZS Laconia NH 1350

WEZS was heard in September last year just before they switched to night power. From a reminder yesterday came a long and friendly response from the General Manager.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Quick Look At The Elad FDM-S2

Seasoned FM DX-er Ole Forr lent me one of his FDM-S2s a few days ago, and I have shared some very brief impressions here. The short version: Good radio. Original software is not to my liking, but SDR Console V3 and HDSDR work well.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Revised ColibriNANO Review - Doesn't Team Up With Teamviewer

I had to add a paragraph to my ColibriNANO review. The case is that when the Nano loads, in ExpertSDR or in HDSDR, Teamviewer CPU load goes all the way up 60-70 %, from its normal 5-15 %. Add the SDR program CPU load, and the processor is banging its head against the roof.

This is an important consideration if you plan to run the ColibriNANO with Teamviewer.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The MS-S7-Web Remote Antenna Switch

You can either have one radio for each antenna, or use an antenna switch. Antenna switches are found in any HAM store, but if you run remote, you need to be able to switch antennas remote as well.

Enter the MS-S7-Web Remote Antenna Switch. I first heard about it when it was introduced as an extension to the KiwiSDR. I had no plans to use it with my KiwiSDR, but the KONG crew has plans of erecting another beverage antenna in Kongsfjord, and I didn't really want to add another SDR + PC to the shack.

I bought the MS-S7 from Bulgaria in the beginning of June, but haven't had the opportunity to test it until now. If memory serves me right, I paid around EUR 170.

The package consists of an in-house antenna selector, which can be controlled via web, or manually. It is connected to an outdoor (which can of course be used indoor) antenna switching box with seven antenna connector in additon to one connector for the receiver. The antenna selector connects to your router or switch (or PC I presume, not tested), and it needs 12 VDC.
From the eBay ad

The antenna selector has green LEDs for each antenna. Also there's a blue power indicator LED. The green LEDs are quite dim and easy on the eyes. The blue LED is anything but! I feel tempted to replace this one, if not I do need to cover it somehow.

The device works via an Internet browser (Firefox and Chrome are recommended). It can be set up with a static IP (which is better than DHCP in this case), and the Device Settings will look similar to that below.

There are two tabs in the user interface, and the other is the contol panel, on which you're supposed to click on the "ON" labels to change antenna. You will hear two clicks, one to disconnect from one antenna, and one to connect to the other. Or so it's supposed to work.
Web based control panel

Web based config panel


But I often need to click an extra time to get the second relay to connect. This may make problems if you are running a script-based automated antenna switching schedule. If you do, it may be wise to program double-click instead of single-click. I've always managed to change antenna when I double-click.

So what about signal leakage from one antenna connector to the other? The short answer is: There isn't any. I was rather taken aback by this. I connected a signal generator to one port, and a longwire antenna to the other. I set the signal generator up to maximum (99 dBu which equals -6 dBm), and there wasn't a trace of a carrier on the frequency I had chosen to monitor on the longwire antenna port. So was the case with the other connectors - although I admit I didn't put a 50 ohm load on them.

I also checked for insertion loss. It must be close to zero, because I wasn't able to detect any difference.

I did however notice that the switch makes its own noise, despite being fed from a linear power supply. It raises the noise floor of our super-quiet 500 meter beverage from around -135 dBm to more than -130 dBm. It also produces spikes every 8 kHz at levels around -120 dBm to -110 dBm. Admittedly, most DX-ers won't notice this, and only we will notice on certain parts of the day. But those certain parts happen to coincide with super-weak signals from the Pacific coming in. So this is not good.
Via antenna selector

Bypassing antenna selector








So, apart from the gruelling blue lazer-like LED and the somewhat unpredictable antenna selector procedure, this is indeed a good product for many DX-ers.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Do You Want To DX In The Arctic?

You can! And you don't even need to pay an airline ticket!



Friday, July 28, 2017

Do You Want 10 MHz Spectrum Available?

Then, the ad says, "look no further". Pieter Ibelings at RFSpace connected his new Icom IC-R8600 receiver's IQ output to a PC, and fired up SpectraVue. Here's his tweet:



Now, with this presumably excellent new wideband receiver selling at USD 2600, you may have reason to look a bit further after all. You could for instance look for the Airspy R2 + Spyverter R2 which will offer you 9 MHz alias-free spectrum at less than 1/10 the cost. I'm not saying that the Airspy will do everything the Icom does just as well, but in normal situations my guess is that you won't notice much difference.

I do have to say though, as an Icom fan, it's a stunner.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ColibriNANO SDR: Test of the RF Noise Blanker

Intermittent broadband noise, possibly from high voltage lines, periodically pests the MW band here. In fact it covers most part of the SW band up to 8 MHz as well. Unwelcome as the noise is, it still gave me the opportunity to test the noise blankers issued with ExpertSDR2. They are also available in the dll for HDSDR.

Short version: The RF noise blanker works, and works well! It is possible to adjust the effect of the noise blanker. Easily available in HDSDR, a bit convoluted in ExpertSDR2. This turned out to be quite important in order to find the best balance between noise level and audio quality.

The two jpgs below show the MW band with (above) and without the NB algorithm activated.
Admittedly there is a range of a 100 kHz or so with no noise, where the NB is not very efficient, but the overall impression is very good. An audio example from 999 kHz is quite convincing.


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Airspy R2/Spyconverter R2: After a Few Days of Testing

Interesting days with my second mini-sized SDR! I am preparing a comprehensive evaluation, from a MW DX-ers perspective, of the Airspy. Hard-core MW DX-ers have had a preference for Perseus and RFSpace SDRs (and also the Elad FDM-S2), so there are a couple of interesting questions here: We're unfamiliar with these kind of devices, and the manufacturers and prorammers may be a bit unfamiliar with how MW DX-ers use our radios.


Some observations:

  • Its 0.5 PPM TCXO gives excellent stability when using SDR#, but SDR Console V3 (preview version) and HDSDR have some strange intermittent offsets, up to 500 Hz. Simon Brown, the owner of SDR Console is aware of the problem and I'm sure it will be addressed.
  • SDR# has limited IQ recording functionality. I hope this can be resolved, by native software or by plugin. SDR Console V3 does this very well, except a bug which is being addressed.
  • For best gain vs. protection from overloading, it's necessary to pay attention to the gain controls. I remember this being an issue also with the 12-bit Afedri SDR-net.
  • Audio quality in SDR# is very good.
  • Sensitivity isn't measured, but compared to the KiwiSDR in an A-B test on threshold signal levels. The Airspy is apparently marginally less sensitive on a MW test I did. I couldn't hear any difference when I did the same test on SW. Mind you there are many factors that determine sensitivity, not least how the AGC is used and gain settings. True DX situations late summer/early autumn will give me more answers.
  • The Airspy has a fixed 10 MHz sampling rate. Smaller bandwidths are made by decimation of the sampling rate. The more decimation (smaller bandwidth), the better performance. I'm using 2500 kHz (of which 2000 or more kHz are alias-free) for my MW tests.
  • Apparently very good sensitivity on FM. Both SDR# and SDR Console V3 have RDS decoding.
I'm looking forward to doing more work with the R2 in the weeks to come, and I hope that I can make some contributions to software and plugin programmers. There's a bit of work to be done before I would recommend the R2 for hard-core MW DX-ers. The hardware part is good though.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

QSL: HLQH KBS-2 Daegu, 558

This KBS station is heard practically every day when conditions allow, but I hadn't sent a report until now. I received a KBS World QSL card, and a short note from the technical  department at KBS Pohang.

KBS-2 is the drama and entertainment channel of KBS.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Airspy R2 + Spyverter R2

This interesting wide-band SDR arrived with personal delivery from the USA yesterday. Actually a friend took it with him so I could save VAT.

Just had time to see it play with SDR# and SDR Console V3.
SDR Console V3

SDR# without Spyverter, FM & RDS

SDR#

Saturday, June 24, 2017

ColibriNANO Test Run - And Some Thoughts

Read my impressions here. Could it be a winner? It hangs by a thread!