Friday, March 26, 2010

WIZZ Greenfield MA 1520 - The Greatest Music Memories

I have been trying to pick up this one for many years on 1520 kHz. Although I have heard, every now and then, the nostalgia tunes and oldies songs on 1520 kHz around 21:00-23:00 UTC I have never been lucky enough to catch a proper identification - not until now. During ENOX19 last December I finally succeeded in capturing a legal ID “15-20 WIZZ Greenfield” in spite of the WWKB's huge signal around the same time on the top of the hour. At the time WIZZ played the fine NOS tunes including a couple of great Christmas songs like "Jingle Bells Rock".

In addition to the fact that WIZZ was hard to identify for me I had also problems to reach WIZZ with my several mails. When I emailed my report and mp3 by using my regular email server I didn't get any feedback from the station. However, at once I sent my report by using gmail WIZZ's chief engineer verified my report in a few hours...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Testing the SDR-IP

As there has been earlier posts about the SpectraVue´s approach to listening and measuring the frequencies (see posts on the KingsVillageDX-blog) this is not discussed here rather we try to make a summary of the listening tests by TuA in Lapland, some comparisions by listening to mw-band at Muhos (about 1000 m beverage to the West)on March 5-6th and the analysis of the recorded files by TK afterwards.

General impressions by TuA at ENOX and at Muhos:

TuA tested already IP and compared it to SDR-IQ & 14 during the ENOX DXpedition in Lapland at the end of February. According to these tests no significant differences were found during listening with the IP and SDR-14/IQ but the dynamic range seemed to be better on the IP - there were no problem in clipping with the IP when using amplified antennas (about 1000 m beverages with at least 10-15 dB amplifiers). So when the "clipping lights" were active with the smaller SDRs and the attenuation should be put on (-10 dB ?) the IP had no problem. Tuomo used a dual-core 2.66 Ghz pc, where he had the IP recording at 2 Mhz, one SDR14 doinf the recording + he was listening to the earlier recorded files as well without problems. One strange issue was noted by Tuomo, however - the listening to IP while recording at sample rates of 1.33 Ms/s and 1.143 Ms/s had some problems. According to manufactures it should be ok and the problems should be when using the computer set up there. However, the very same problem occured also at Muhos. Acc. to RF-Space they will check this issue which could be due a “wrong” firmware. Otherwise the tests at Muhos were very simple: we just recorded certain time spans of signals on mw using both the SDR-IP and Perseus receivers at the same time (splitted antennas). The bandwidth was 2 MHz covering the mediumwave bands. Afterwards I listened to a few Top-of-the-hour segments and compared the results.

I tested also IP with my small HP-laptop just to see how it work with minor set-ups. Otherwise a tapletop computer of Pentium4 (2.8 Ghz/1Gb) was used. It took some time to make my small HP-Laptop to begin to work as you have to configure the Ethernet connection. After that it worked but did have some problems as the processor was only a Celeron 1.86 Ghz (1 Gb memory). Also with the P4 2.8 Ghz there was pretty high load when using the IP with 2 Mhz sample rate showing the load around 70-80 %. Usually this big load means problem with USB-connections as it has been noted with the Perseus,but it seems the connection with Ethernet works better. The both computers had XP-operation systems. Afterward listening was done using a tapletop pc dual-dore 3.0 Ghz with 4 Gb memory, which of course has no problems with the load.

The summary of observations at Muhos:

- listening by IP or IQ shows no significant differences when listening with no high RF environment, but using long beverages and/or amplification there are problems with SDR-IQ/14-environment as well as on Perseus (need to use attenuation) while IP seems to work OK without the attenuation
- IP needs a good computer of modern standards, but this is no problem with modern dual core machines (2-3 Ghz speed, 2-4 Gb memory), according to earlier tests by TuA with dualcore 2.6 Ghz pc, a load of about 50 % was noted
- Ethernet connection works flawlessly when configured right and seems to be more reliably than USB
- using modern setups there is no problem using several programs at the same time - however using both the IP and Perseus was not tested now as we did have a bit older pc-setups here
- everything was going OK when recording with the SpectraVue as long as the harddisk was full - just in the middle of morning dxing conditions towards the Western Hemisphere aroud 05.30 utc!
- measuring of exact carrier frequencies was a bit difficult using the P4 2.8 Ghz pc as the 2 M FFTs which is needed for the best resolution did eats a lot of computing power - this can be avoided by listening afterwards by a more powerfull pc - the measurements could be done, but listening at the same time with modest setups is difficult and some stuttering did occur when using the full resolution (at 2 MHz 0.95 Hz)
- trying to listen with full resolution on a HP (Celeron 1.86) was possible, but the load was around 90 % and stuttering did occur
- again it was fun to see all the time the carriers when listening USB/LSB - the fact which has been dissussed earlier compared to Perseus logic not to show the center frequency but sidebands (see earlier posts on blogs)
- it seems the current default file size about 2 Gb means a 4 minute IF-recording (2 Mhz span), which seems to be a bit small although the files can be linked when listening by SpectraVue afterwards – this issue is being developed by the manufacturer though.
By the way, we changed the unit´s small PSU to a bigger one - it seemed the one provided with the unit is not noise-free.

Listening afterwards of recorded spectrum files:

Listening to a IP-file (2 Mhz span) was easy with a Pentium dual-core 3.0GHz/4Gb pc (the load was around 30 %) as was expected.After some comparisions by listening to files at 0200 and 0300 UTC with some common NA and Latin stations some observations were made:

- generally "by ear" there were no differences when listening to stations like CBC 1140, a South American (and Puerto Rico) on 1230 or Boston 1510
- on some channels however, the sound of IP sounded cleaner (like Haiti on 840), although not many comparisions are made so far - this could mean that the dynamic range of the IP seems to be better, overall the DR sounds better on the IP than IQ/14 or Perseus – no measurements, but the IP needed no attenuation
when others did
- Listening with SpectraVue is done as usual either on USB or LSB, but with Perseus it can be done using the AM or SAM when there was no interference near by (for example 1470, but on 1510 it is better to go to LSB)
- on Perseus however you can adjust easily the sidebands of audio spectrum (changing the bandwidth - independently both sides) on the small window as much you want , on SpectraVue it is not that easy as you have the steps of 100 Hz in the band width
- on SpectraVue using USB/LSB you always see the carrier frequency which is not possible on Perseus (measurements has to be done on AM/SAM; the issue widely discussed earlier but not been "corrected" on Perseus yet)
- it seemed the sensitivity of both receivers was rather equal, but this is not the big issue on MW as both are very sensitive receivers
- it sounds that the shape factor of DSP-based bandwith of Perseus is better but that can not easily be confirmed by ear

All in all, both receivers did well on every channel, a conclusion which was already expected beforehand.

Finally I made a file format change by using a nice piece of softaware "sv2perwav" and converted the recorded IP-file (2 MHz span at 02 utc, 4 minutes long file) into a Perseus file. By listening to that the noise blanker, noise reduction and what is most important, the excellent notch of Perseus could be used! There seems to be a bug (?) on this software as it seems to loose the correct time information by not showing the right recorded time on the time bar. As can be seen on the picture(where two processes are going on simultaneously, one demodulating the converted IP-file and another demodulating a Perseus file at the same time on 1580) both receivers shows a bit different frequencies: it seemed that the IP was calibrated showing about 1-2 Hz too much while Perseus showed about 1 Hz too small values depending a little bit where on the band you were. It seemed that IPs “error” was rather same on the different side of the spectrum and Perseus shows a bit different frequencies on the lower and the higher frequencies.

Well, the biggest difference of these receivers is the current price! The IP seems to be more than 2000 euros, so you can get almost 3 Perseus at the prize of it. So from a medium wave dxer´s point of view, the "hobby IP" could have fewer of the options it currently has and just the basics for serious mw-enthusiasts with a bit more developed software with possibly notch and some other usefull features, the Ethernet connection + the ability to record the spectrum (maybe 1.2 MHz is enaugh?) for later analysis. As the manufacturer says the IP is more intended more to business / governmental etc use, not for dxers. RF-Space has informed us that they will be releasing a lower cost option of the SDR-IP with similar high performance later this year using Ethernet, which we welcome of course. They will also look into the current software and develop the demodulators more and some of these improvements have already been done to SDR-Radio software. This program already works with SDR-14/IQ and support the SDR-IP now.

Thank you for RF-Space to let us test the fine IP!

Thanks for the testing team and our host Jari (JPR) and another Jari (JSN) for the food!

73 TK

PS: Want to test a (big) SDR-IP File?
I will have a file available (1,74 Gb zipped, so be prepared for a long download if you do not have fast speeds) for those who want to get the feeling of listening to a 2 MHz IP-file (center frequency 1290 kHz). By using the latest SpectraVue-software (3.07 at the moment) you can listen to it with a modern pc. It is recorded around 03 utc for 4 minutes at Muhos on March 6th and it contains common Trans Atlantic signals and the Europeans on the MW. You can get the link to the file by sending me a personal message to tk (dot) sdxl (dot) org. The file will be available for about 2 weeks.

WNZS Veazie ME 1340

WNZS on 1340 kHz has been a pretty rare catch in Finland. So I was amazed since this one surfaced strongly in the middle of the night on ENOX21. The ID on the half on the hour was loud and clear: "Newsradio 1340, WNZS". Before that WNZS run a couple of local spots and after the ID it had "Dennis Prager Show" programming.
WNZS verified shortly with email and v/s even promised to send me an official QSL card and some photos later on.

KZNW Wenatchee WA 1340 - Fox Sports Radio

KZNW 1340 was one of those stations that faded in just when I was already leaving for home on ENOX21. KZNW is nowadays A Fox Sports -station and it belongs to the Cherry Creek Radio that runs many FM and AM stations in CA, CO, AZ, MT, UT, TX, ND and WA.
KZNW had earlier Spanish Mexican format and it has been heard every now and then in Scandinavia. For me this was the first time to capture KZNW and station's CE kindly verified my report and MP3 -audio.
KZNW became my WA #80.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

KOUU Pocatello ID 1290 kHz was finally heard on ENOX19

KOUU had been on my hunting list for many years. Finally back in last December on ENOX19 KOUU was heard very late in the afternoon, almost in the evening Finnish local time, with a loud and clear signal. KOUU ran it's FM station KZBQ FM 93.7 Country programms and identified almost after every song they played.
My emails and especially MP3s had problems to get thru to the station because of KOUU's effective spam filters. However, finally station's PD received my email and quickly responded with an message including a complete verification.
KOUU became my Idaho #33.

WNYY Ithaca NY 1470 -Progressive Talk

WNYY came in all alone on 1470 kHz on ENOX21 one night. It had a fine TOH ID followed by the CNN News and the "Finger Lakes Forecast". Earlier WNYY was a NOS -station but nowadays it airs Progressive Talk -shows.
The station Manager verified nicely my report and listened to the MP3 I sent. She got me back in a few hours.
It was way back in 2005 when I picked up WNYY with the nostalgia tunes for the fist time. However, the reception was so faint back then that I didn't send any report to the station at the time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

PUDXK Winter Meeting: Meeting the IP !

The test crew is welcoming the sn n:o 0000 SDR-IP here (TuA holding the box) and toasting to this season´s great mw conditions (and the IP) at Muhos.

Impressions of SDR-IP will be reported soon ...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

WGNS Murfreesboro TN 1450 - “Rutherford County’s News Leader“

WGNS 1450 kHz became my third verified station from TN. Tennessee is not very easy state when you think about how many stations can be "easily" heard from this state. The most usual catches are naturally WSM 650 kHz and WLAC 1510 kHz. But after capturing them it is getting quite difficult...
WGNS surfaced on ENOX21 with legal ID following the ABC news: "“Rutherford County’s News Leader, WGNS, Murfreesboro. We cover Rutherford County - ABC News covers the world”. The brand new SDR-IP picked up the signal nicely on the top of the hour.
Station owner verified my report with en email. He mentioned among other things:
"I have been in the broadcast business all of my life, and am still amazed at how medium wave signals skip. Your MP3 recording of a portion of the broadcast is adds also to the wonderment of WGNS' signal making it from the 100-meter self-supporting tower that's in the center of our 105,000 resident city to your home in Finland."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

KXLE Ellensburg WA 1240

February 27, 2010 was a fine day for NA -dxing on ENOX21. So far I have found a couple of rare AMs from California, a Tennessee station on 1450 kHz and KXLE from Ellensburg, Washington on 1240 kHz.
This was the first time for me to pick up KXLE. I captured a nice TOH ID "This is Newstalk 1240 KXLE, Ellensburg”. A brand new receiver, SDR-IP from RFSpace made its first appearance in Finland on ENOX21 and it did a very good job. Definitely a great receiver! TK will write more about SDR-IP tests soon on this blog.
KXLE's station manager verified nicely my report after listening the MP3 I sent to him.

Monday, March 08, 2010

KVEC 920 kHz - Hometown Radio in San Luis Obispo, CA

Hearing KVEC 920 kHz was a pleasant surprise on ENOX21. I was amazed when it surfaced just on the top of the hour over the dominant KXLY with a complete ID. As far as I know this was the first time this station has been picked up in Scandinavia. The signal was pretty loud and clear and KVEC was heard for a couple of minutes after TOH ID with Fox Radio News.
KVEC's Program Director got excited when receiving my report and mp3 and they played the mp3 -audio live on their talk show next afternoon. PD mentioned that one of the KVEC Talk Show hosts is from Finland.
KVEC verified kindly with three emails.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

KLFF Arroyo Grande CA 890 - a Christian talk station

This was the second time KLFF was heard in Finland. Last October HN picked it up in Lemmenjoki with a huge signal. This time KLFF came in nicely in Enontekiö as well and luckily just on the top of the hour with a complete legal ID. CJDC mixed up wih KLFF later and earlier but actually KLFF was audible about for a half of hour.The station's management verified quickly with an email. KLFF became my CA #60.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

PUDXK Winter Meeting 2010 - "Muhos-Zembalot 2"

It was nice indeed to visit JPRs famous DX-QTH at Muhos on 5-6th March. During this winter meeting we had special guests not only from Finland (HN) but also a brief visit from the USA: the SDR-receiver SDR-IP serial n:o 00000 was tested during the nightly dx-session with some listening, good eating (like flamed salmon for the main course - thanks to the Chef JSN of Wasa) and hot Sauna.
The start of updating this text is done on a train (which seems to be on time now - thanks to the Finland´s railroad company VR) somewhere between Kokkola and Seinäjoki.

To be continued soon, see also KingsVillageDX Blog & DX-culinary-Blog !

73 TK

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

WNEM Bridgeport MI 1250

WNEM faded in and out with "Joy 1250" in Enontekiö when I captured this "Newsradio 1250" signal . The TOH ID was clear and it was easy to record an MP3 and send it to the station. After a few hours WNEM's Vice President answered me with a kind e-mail including a complete verification.
WNEM became my MI #34.