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This is my current configuration for DTV watching and TV DXing. It consists of a now discontinued Winegard PR-5030 VHF antenna and a Winegard 8800 8-Bay UHF antenna along with an Alliance HD-73 heavy duty rotor. Also on the mast just below the 8800 is a Channel Master 7775 UHF preamp. Coax is RG-6. I also use a preamp for VHF reception to give the signal from WTNH RF-10 a little boost. I can get solid reception on VHF of WTNH-10 and sometimes WEDN ch9 in Norwich. WTNH is about 50 miles due south. On UHF I get solid reception of New London on ch26 and 90% of the time from WUNI ch29 in Worcester, MA (50mi).
For FM I use an APS-13 on the roof without any preamp. The receiver is an NAD4155. I have no other tuners except for an Onkyo T450RDS which is mainly for listening. I do not have any of the tuners you see in the Reviews and Mods section and haven't for a long while. I use an RDS Converter from Ray Dees to view RDS on RDS Spy software on the computer. My last piece of equipment is a Bolin Phase box used with the 7 element DIY antenna you see in bright yellow letters on the left side of the page. This is needed to phase out local translators and the many IBOC sidebands I have from almost two dozen FM stations broadcasting in "HD".
Since the late 60s I've used half a dozen different FM antennas including crossed-dipole omni-directional antennas, the Finco FM5 and 4G, Channel Master Stereo Probe 9 and APS-13 and probably well over a dozen receivers or tuners. I find nothing enjoyable about HD radio and so I no longer have any HD radios. For a few weeks I used a Yamaha T-85 modified with narrow filters, thinking I'd be able to skirt around the HD sidebands of my local stations and pick up a little DX, or at least some of the NYC FMers I lost due to HD, but even with the fine tuning of the T-85 that didn't happen, so I sold it. The only way to "nuke" HD sidebands and your semi-locals is with a phaser and a second phase antenna. Period. Don't waste your time trying anything else. The NAD 4155, while not the most selective tuner I've ever owned, is my default "best" tuner. I've owned two Sony XDR-F1HD tuners and found that the selectivity was the only feature I liked about them. The sound wasn't that great and the RDS had no PI codes so I sold them. If I had the chance to buy another Harmon Kardon TU920 cheap again, I would. I tend to stay away from software defined radios (except for AM DXing) but I could be convinced to use one for FM Dxing if the price was right and it didn't totally use up my CPU. The ability to record 2mhz of FM spectrum is not a feature to me since I wouldn't have the time or desire to play back the audio.
For TV DXing purposes I use the Insignia NS-DXA1 converter box because of its manual tuning and its ability to "see" weak signals that exist but will not decode. One of my boxes feeds a DTV and the other feeds an analog TV tuner card with software that allows me to capture a picture or record some video if needed.
For analog TV I use a slightly different approach. You can read about that at my TV DXers Corner on this site.
June 24, 2014
So far the skip season has been mediocre with really nothing worth noting. Skip was noted 5/26 from Florida and Newfoundland on FM, 5/26 from Illinois, 6/9 and 6/10 from the Southern states, 6/11 from the upper midwest, 6/12 from the south, 6/15, 6/18 and 6/22 from the Southern states. Most were relogs.
The morning of June 24th brought me my first log of the new KJWP Ch2 in Philadelphia, seen on my LG DTV and my Insignia STB. Here is a photo of it. KJWP is 200 miles south.
May 19, 2014
It was a long, harsh winter, but spring is here and conditions are returning to normal. Even skip is beginning to pop up. Mothers' Day was the first skip event of the season with MUFs well into FM here in New England but I wasn't here to take part in it. Bad timing.
Yesterday (5/18) skip returned but stayed below 88mhz. I saw DTV pilots on ch2,4,5 from the west. These pilots were very strong but produced no video, but when checking the DTV box I noticed that KHAS on ch5 from Hastings, NE had displayed it's PSIP data while I was out doing something else. I estimate the time to be around 7:30pm when this happened. KHAS is about 1,340 miles west my location. Here is a screengrab from yesterday's reception.
Let us go back in time to early October, specifically October 9th. Tropo was in again from the west, and after searching the UHF band looking for stations in that direction, I came across WATM 24 Altoona again around 9:25pm. Here is a screengrab:
Can you believe the second reception of the same station just a couple of weeks apart? This time I got the correct callsign. But wait, there's more. Around 11:20pm this decoded on channel 25.
KDKA is a new logging for me. It's out about 390 miles to the WSW. As luck would have it, this is the only Pittsburgh station on UHF I'm capable of ever receiving. The rest are on channels blocked by my Hartford locals. This reception gives me hope of someday seeing Buffalo, Toronto and Ohio DTV stations. At least the evening wasn't wasted.
September 26, 2013 - Tropo
A little bit of tropo appeared on the morning of Tuesday, September 24th. Nothing at all was noticed on the FM band so I concentrated on TV instead. At about 0930EDT one of my Insignia DTV boxes decoded the PSIP from WATM ch24 in Altoona, PA (320mi.) The signal decoded a few more times yielding some video but all I could get were some fair/poor shots with my digital camera. So instead of that, here's a screengrab from my other Insignia box that could only manage a PSIP ID. By the way, WATM carries WWCP on its HD-2 channel, which this picture shows.
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.
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.
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.
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 was 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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