New Years’ Eve Sporadic E-skip DX

New Years Eve here in Melbourne produced a nice opening of FM signals from Queensland. It was a very warm day, so sitting inside a stifling little room wasn’t exactly my definition of fun, but some of the results proved worth it. Despite the fact that I had to pack for a flight to Queensland that night, I spent most of my afternoon by the radio listening and recording these signals.

90.5 4RBL “Rebel FM” Beaudesert QLD

Despite Queensland coming in most summers here in Melbourne, this particular station seems to be a touch rarer. First time reception for me, and as a fan of the music they play on Rebel, I was particularly glad to hear a bit of it.

90.5 2WEB/t Lightning Ridge NSW

An interesting catch, given that this is a low-powered translator of the AM station from Bourke in north-west New South Wales. Received just after the aforementioned Rebel FM reception. Particularly stoked to grab this one as it’s listed in the ACMA book as only putting out 25 watts. A fairly clear ID comes in at the end of the recording.

91.1 4MCY “Hot FM” Nambour QLD

This clip shows what a real mess this frequency was that day. In addition to the permanent ABC radio station from Bendigo (which can’t even be heard here), two DX signals were fighting it out. The clearest one with the American voices was Hot FM from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, with the other ad heard suspected to be Rebel FM from Tara, also in Queensland.

91.3 2NOW/t “Now FM” Lightning Ridge NSW

Nice end to a song with a good promo heard here identifying the station.

92.5 4GLD “Gold FM” Gold Coast QLD

As a high-powered commercial station on the Gold Coast, this isn’t a hugely rare catch, but still interesting. Caught the start of the news with some good clear IDs. The signal strength was something to note as well.

95.1 4RGK “Sea FM” Gladstone QLD

Sadly no clear ID was nabbed here, but I included it as a) I’m 99% sure it was this station (other Rockhampton/Gladstone stations were in at the time), and b) it made a fair effort to get over the permanent local NewsRadio signal from Traralgon that normally sits at 2-3 bars signal strength on the Sony receiver I use. Another first time catch for me.

104.5 4MMM Brisbane QLD

Got a good chunk of the traffic, news and the intro to the first song. All the Brisbane stations were in very well at this stage, as the photo below from Triple M’s sister station B105 will show.

The Sony unit I use is notoriously difficult to use for capturing RDS signals. Even on the semi-local stations it tends to struggle to decode the station name and information. So I was amazed when after a few seconds sitting on 105.3 the unit managed to grab the station name and proudly display it, along with 3 bars of signal. I couldn’t get Triple M or Nova to display their data, but B105 showing up was still pretty impressive.

107.9 4ROK “Hot FM” Rockhampton QLD

One from the top of the dial, literally. I nabbed Brisbane JJJ on 107.7 before this, but getting Rocky on 107.9 just shows how good an opening this was, nothing on the FM dial was missed. The faint signal in the background is ABC local radio from Ballarat that is only a faint permanent signal where I am due to my shielding to the west.

Stupidly, I was too busy mucking around recording to do a proper log, but I can basically confirm that everything between the NSW border and Rockhampton was coming in at at least one point that afternoon. The signals were at times so strong and consistent that I had the portable boom box in the bathroom (the one that can’t even pick up the Geelong stations from here in Clayton) locked on 99.3 4JJJ from the Wide Bay/Bundaberg area, and when I say locked on, I mean barely fading at all for a good 20 minutes.

So funnily enough, I was listening to the Queensland stations all afternoon, and by 7PM that night, I was up there myself listening to them again as local stations. Also worth noting that while up there in Coolangatta on the southern Gold Coast, I received a good block of 91.5 Radio Nouveau Caledonie, my first ever non-English speaking nation reception, and only my second international FM reception. I’m led to believe New Caledonia frequently appears in Coolangatta, and I was aided by being in a 14th floor apartment with views directly to the east, but for my little Tecsun unit to nab that made me very happy that day. It even impressed a few of the local folk too.

MS/AS signals on 96.1

After the shutdown of Melbourne community station Lion FM, I’ve already had a handful of interesting signals on our new blank frequency. Few of them I can identify clearly, but I’ll share them with you anyway

MS ping 1

A fairly clear but short MS ping, this one kinda sounds urban. My guess is “The Edge 96ONE” from Katoomba NSW, or JJJ from Lismore NSW. Can’t really be sure though.

MS ping 2

Even shorter than the first, and also affected by the fact that it had to overcome the blank signal from the local 96.1 that was still broadcasting at the time. My guesses are the same, though this pop piece means Star FM Mt Gambier may also not be out of the question.

AS signal

This one’s a little more developed as it’s not an MS ping – it sounds more likely aircraft scatter (ironic given the lack of aircraft flying in this part of the world at the moment). There are two songs, both by U2 as part of a doubleshot. At about 1:20, there’s an ID which while muffled sounds like it says “suburban doubleshot”. My guesses are Star FM Mt Gambier or perhaps even more likely, 7THE (Radio Hobart) from Tassie.

Either way, some interesting results have come in just hours after DXers got the use of this frequency back here in Melbourne.

Tropo DX on 18-19 May 2011

There’s been precious little DX around here of late, but tonight brought in a few regular suspects at some slightly enhanced levels, plus some slightly more interesting catches via tropospheric ducting. No formal log, but a few little recordings to share with you today.

99.5 3TFM “TR-FM” Traralgon VIC

This reception will make some of the seasoned DXers slightly jealous, as TR-FM is notoriously hard to receive here in Melbourne due to it’s reduced power to the west, and the presence of a very strong signal from Geelong on the 99.5 frequency. I’ll admit to being well-positioned here in Clayton in order to receive this station – I’m closer to Gippsland than much of the city, and my antenna is positioned below roof level on the east side of the house, blocking that pesky signal from Geelong out very well. Caught on this recording is the local weather and a nice ID.

91.9 HPON “Kids FM” Traralgon VIC

Much like the last one, this can be difficult to pick up due to Star FM from Bendigo taking this frequency, and coming in incredibly strong over a lot of Melbourne (it was effectively like a local station at my last location in Camberwell). Again, the permanent signal is weaker here, allowing the weaker Gippsland station to come over the top at times. This reception is very weak, and at the end of this recording you hear Star FM fade in over the top.

106.5 3MRR “ABC Upper Murray” Albury NSW

This one is quite common via troposcatter at times here, but today it was sitting at a nice steady if not strong level. 106.5 is probably the strongest and most common of the Albury stations here, with the commercials on 104.9 and 105.7 struggling more. Unfortunately, all that was heard here was Tony Delroy’s “Nightlife” which is heard all over Australia, so there’s nothing really unique to distinguish it.

PS – as (bad) luck would have it, just moments after I stopped this recording, I heard an MS ping on this exact frequency. I think it sounded like an Icehouse song, but with the burst of sound being so brief it was impossible to be sure. It could have been Mix 106.5 from Sydney, but again, I don’t know. Why oh why didn’t I keep recording for a bit longer?!

107.1 3JJJ Ballarat VIC

This one is permanent reception here, but tonight was particularly strong, nudging 3 bars on the Sony despite my antenna not even aiming at it, and the aforementioned block to the west courtesy of my roof. I posted this because I’ve noticed for some time that 107.1 doesn’t have the same fidelity of sound as most Triple J translators do – it sounds “muffled” if that makes sense. Up until now I haven’t been sure if it was just a poor signal doing that to me, but tonight’s reception has confirmed that it is.

Anyway, that’s it. Hope it was of some interest. Coming soon is a bandscan from my current location in Clayton – but with a difference. You’ll see

Tropo and E-skip DX, 20 January 2011

I was down in Geelong and unfortunately feeling unwell on Thursday, so I didn’t make it in to work. That proved to be handy from a DX point of view, as I got to enjoy one of the strongest tropo openings to Launceston I’ve seen in a long while. Below is a log of the stations I received (bear in mind this was with the Sony tuner hooked up to the household TV antenna which was pointing the wrong way for Launceston).

90.1 7EXX “Chilli” Launceston TAS – 1 bar (click to listen to a brief recording of this one transmitting a test loop)

90.9 7JJJ Launceston TAS – 3 bars

91.7 7NT Launceston TAS – 3 bars

92.5 7PB Launceston TAS – 3 bars

92.9 7JJJ Hobart TAS – 1 bar (first time catch)

93.3 7ABCFM Launceston TAS – 3 bars

94.1 7ABCRN Launceston TAS – 2 bars [1]

106.9 7RPH Launceston TAS – 1 bar (first time catch)

[1]: Received over splatter from adjacent local 93.9 3BAY Geelong and co-channeled semi-local 3WBC Box Hill

The Hobart reception was a first for me. Others in Melbourne have received Hobart FM and even TV in the past, but it generally takes a very strong opening to Tassie to get it. I was a bit surprised to not have received any more of the low-powered Northern Tasmania stations, but it didn’t worry me. I should also mention that local analogue TV GTV9 Melbourne was suffering from co-channel interference from TNT9 Launceston, despite our antenna aimed to block out Tassie and specifically receive Melbourne.

Later in the evening, thanks to a tip-off from a friend and fellow DXer in Brisbane, I noted some sporadic-E FM reception from Queensland. The opening only really lasted for about 10 minutes after I first got to listening, but I noted most of Brisbane’s high-powered FM stations.

93.3 4SBSFM Brisbane QLD [2]

97.3 4BFM “973 FM” Brisbane QLD [3]

102.1 4ZZZ Brisbane QLD

104.5 4MMM Brisbane QLD

105.3 4BBB “B105” Brisbane QLD

106.1 4ABCFM Brisbane QLD

106.9 4BNE “Nova” Brisbane QLD

107.7 4JJJ Brisbane QLD

[2] 4SBSFM was fighting with 7ABCFM Launceston for the frequency. When 4SBSFM faded, 7ABCFM was heard.

[3] Very weak, probably due to adjacent channel splatter from 97.4 3WRB Hoppers Crossing

93.3, 106.1 and 107.7 were much stronger than the rest, probably due to them being much higher powered transmitters. Still, it’s the first definite E-skip reception I’ve had this season. I suspected some reception a few weeks back, but couldn’t confirm it. It would have been really disappointing had this not occurred, and the season finished before I had at least heard something.

For the record, the E-skip season, especially for FM reception, generally winds up towards the end of January or start of February.

Swan Hill FM via Aircraft Scatter: 8 October 2010

This is the first of the logs I’ll be posting here, though in this case it’s only one station. I actually set the computer to record the radio and filtered through the sound file to pick up this signal.

102.1 3MIL “ABC Swan Hill” Swan Hill VIC

(Click on the station name to listen to the recording)

This was received here in Melbourne via a propagation method known as Aircraft Scatter (AS in shorthand). As the name implies, this means that the signal has been reflected off the bottom of aircraft flying overhead, allowing for long distance reception. The recording only goes for about 30 seconds, as once the plane has flown out of the optimal zone for reflecting the signal here, it disappears completely. Often these go missed, but I happened to be recording at the time, so I could pick it out by analysing the recording in a program like Audacity.

Swan Hill is not normally receivable here in Melbourne, it’s just that bit too far away. However, with the assistance of aircraft or the atmosphere, the signals do come in, although in this case only briefly.