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?
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.
I saw one page with no graphics at all. That one has me puzzled, so if you see it, know that I saw it.
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.
Thank you to those UTC surfers who come here and stay for a while. Why are you on my site when you ought to be working ??? I'll tell your boss...unless, of course, you ARE the boss! And hello from surfers from the University of Hartford or the ARRL who may be here on their lunch breaks. Welcome!
Also thank all of you who come here from FMTunerinfo for the tuner mod info. What you see there is probably all you'll get since I don't see much reason to modify tuners anymore. Of course, I said that before and ended up with two NAD tuners which I modified, so who knows. I might just run into something cheap at a flea market. I still look.
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.
_______________________________OTHER INTERESTING STUFF_________________________________
Ray Dees RDS Converter (May 18 2012)
Now since the old Conrad RDS Managers are hard to find, FM Dxers need something to decode RDS PS and PI codes, either in stand-alone method or by connecting to their computer by USB cable. This will do the trick. READ MORE
Get PI Codes from Your XDR-F1HD
It's a little board you need to purchase and wire into your Sony XDR-F1HD. Takes a while and is not for one with a shaky hand, but if you're okay with soldering three leads, give it a try. READ MORE
New FM antennas (May 18 2012)
Try looking for a new FM antenna. The APS13 is discontinued and Antennaperformance is gone. The Magnum Dynalab MD-10 is history. Winegard still might have one model. Radio Shack might. So if you want a really good high gain, directional antenna you may be out of luck. However, there's a company in the UK called Innovantennas that has begun production of three versions: an 8 element, an 11 element and a huge 14 element FM yagi. They are NOT inexpensive. They will ship to the US. You can check them out at this website.
The manufacturer says they are well built. They say the specs are great. Perhaps k6ski might model one of these. If it's going to cost me over $300USD for one, it had better be good.
©2013 M. Bugaj No reprints of any page on this site without permission.
Comments? Email me at