Monday, December 23, 2013

Late Night/Early Morning

While waiting for out of town family to arrive for the holidays I found a few minutes to sit in front of the radio. The time was after 9 PM Central in the US on December 22 ( I am in Texas) but early morning in Africa. There was not a plan for this listening session, just burning a little time before the arrival of grandchildren! There was no idea of how much time I would have, so I just started at 3000 kHz on a total whim, tuning in the LSB mode planning to stop on carriers, then try to identify them.

It did not take long until I ran into a really strong one.  It was one of the SABC transmissions on 3320 kHz. Very nice signal, playing an American pop song from the late sixties that I had not heard since playing it myself on the radio in my own early disk jockey days! The signal was about S-7 and fairly steady.

It was a reminder that DX-ing must sometimes take into account time differences, not just for propagation, but for whether a station will even be on the air.  While prop would have been present for some African stations as early as just before dark in Central Texas,  some of the stations might not have been on the air.  East Africa being GMT plus 3, their sign on time might be just about 9 PM my time.  In the case of the SABC, they might have been on all night, but such was not the case in the other good catch of my "night".

After moving up the band and hearing the Canadian time signal station CHU on 3330 at a booming S-9 plus 20 db,  I did not run across anything else in the 90 meter band.

Skipping through the 80/75 meter amateur band rather quickly, I did not find any carriers to indicate broadcast stations lurking there, though I must admit it was a quick trip. Just above the band at 4055 I ran into one my regulars,  Radio Verdad from Guatemala on 4055 at 0338 GMT.  Of course this was evening there and probably single hop prop and they were booming in as always.  They are listed as running only 700 watts, but they really get out well at this distance.  This time they were S-9 plus 20 DB with well processed audio. ( that helps a lot...many short wave broadcast stations seem to scrimp on the one thing that can really help a lower powered station stand out in the crowd: a good peak limiter to hold modulation up high and constant)

Continuing to tune up rather quickly, ran past another regular on 4765 with Cuban jazz at S-9 plus 30
DB at 0344 GMT. Great signal! Then Tarma Peru on 4775, not great but listenable at S-5. Another station that was doing well with low power...listed as 500 watts.

The prize of the night however came at 0348. Good signal with good audio on 4780 with unmistakeable East African music.  It was Djibouti coming in between S-5 and S-7 all by itself on the frequency with great processed audio.  This was during their sign on hour as well. There have been times that this station has been heard in the U-S longpath early in the morning US time, but with nothing like this signal.  I am not sure what kind of antenna they are using,  but as a guess, I would assume something that sends signals out at a relatively high angle to provide close in coverage on the first hop.  These stations are usually more difficult DX targets even when running fairly high power ( I think this one is supposed to be 50 kw). This is because they are not sending out much signal at the lower angles needed for long haul traveling.

It was especially pleasurable to log this one because I have not had Djibouti in my broadcast logs at all previously here at this location.  I have logged utility stations from there, but no broadcast stations. I did hear their stations many years ago during a two year stint in Asmara, Ethiopia ( now Eritrea) back in 1972-73.  Its always good to get a " new one", especially when it drops in your lap without a plan to search it out, like this one.  Maybe that's a lesson that DX-ing can be successful in short bursts taken even when one only has a few minutes before the receiver.  One never knows what one might find!

Tonight's listening was again on the R-75 with sloper antenna.

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