Category Archives: DX

My Radio History

Well it’s been a long time since I’ve updated! Autumn, Christmas and Winter 2015 have been and gone, and I am really looking forward to some sun and warmer weather! My DXCC totals have been progressing quite nicely – now have 282 worked and 247 LOTW confirmed. I managed a QSO with the mega-dxpedition K1N to Navassa Island – a dxpedition that unfortunately did not deliver all that it promised.

Here’s a few words on the radios that I have owned over the years.

I was not really into valve radios and my first real radio (12th birthday present?) was a Pye transistor which had the short wave bands on. Armed with an old copy of the WRTH from the local library I was started on a journey which was to cost me tens of thousands of pounds lol. My first real receiver was the Uniden CR2021 – . This cost £100 in 1984 when I was at university but it had a digital read-out!!! That was a large sum of money in those days (still is) and I paid for it by eating nothing but cheap baked beans for a fortnight.

I then moved on to the AOR7030 in the 1990s though I always wanted a JRC NRD535D but could never afford it (close to £2k with all the bells and whistles). Couple of years ago I picked one up off eBay for a few hundred pounds – did I need it? No. Did I want it – hell yes!!

In 2002 I got into amateur radio taking the Foundation exam and receiving an M3 call sign. Six months later I took the last but one RAE examination and got my full license. I’d define myself these days as an amateur HF dxer and my Icom 7600/Acom 1000/Cushcraft MA5B are my favourite toys. They cost a bit more than the old Uniden but I have such fond memories of that rig – it gave up the ghost quite a few years ago though I still have my Sony 2001D (another venerable classic) which I bought in the late 1980s to replace the Uniden. I have memories of listening to Peruvian and Bolivian tropical band (60m) stations in the dead of night on both the Uniden and Sony at different times in my life.

The Sony XDR-F1HD – what can I say… It simply enables Band II dxing in London and nothing beats its selectivity. I’m glad I picked two up when they could be had for sensible prices -below £100 all in. Scanner wise I splashed out on an AOR AR5000 in late 1990s which I still have and use nearly every day. Cost a bomb in its day as well and 2nd hand prices are still up above £800.

The Perseus SDR – again what can I say? It redefined MF dxing – just completely changed the parameters. Recording the entire MW band TOTHs and BOTHs overnight without having to be physically present!! Dxing NA/LA MF DX in the middle of the day by playing back the recorded files in pseudo-real time. Incredible.

Times move on though and the Perseus FM+ was such a disappointment though it’s great to see the Elad FDM-S2 performing so well and the developers interacting with the dx community rather than the customer unfriendly antics of the Perseus and Studio 1 crews. The rtlsdr dongles have been a revelation in the last few years and the authors of SDR# and SDR Console (the great Simon Brown) have given so much to dxers it’s not true.

If we can keep our bands as free as possible from QRM and QRN then we can carry on dxing with our valve rigs and dongles, Elads and Icoms for many a long year yet.

Sporadic E Season

It’s the Sporadic E ( season at the moment. The season in the northern hemisphere is generally accepted to start 1 May and finish 31 August. However it possible to hear Sp E in April and (more rarely) other months. However this four-month summer season is generally accepted to be “The” season.

This year in the UK it started quite slowly and you had the usual culprits on Skywaves bemoaning the awful season – some people just don’t understand the meaning of sporadic I guess. However that all changed the last couple of days with a sustained opening to Eastern Europe Monday 2 June and a smaller Scandinavian focused opening 3 June.  The previous 3-4 years I have wasted too much time doing Band I Tv dxing. My urban location in the London ‘burbs mean that there’s an awful load of muck in the video passband and getting good video is practically impossible (i.e. I have a S9 baby monitor on 49.850 Mhz and various carriers, data signals etc).

So this year I decided to focus on getting my 6m scores up. I like to set targets in my dxing and this season I determined I should reach 50 DXCC on 6m and 200 locator squares. Thanks to this superb opening I am now at 54 DXCC and 199 squares – new countries worked on 6m include SV9 Crete, EA8 Canary islands and ZA Albania.

Given the complete lack of F2 propagation on 6m this sunspot cycle high (sic) I think a final target of 60 DXCC and 250 squares on 6m should be achievable with 3-4 years.  For 6m I use my Icom 7600 into a Sandpiper 3 element up at about 10m on the Tennamast or the Diamond V2000 triband co-linear- the beam being far superior of course.

I could not quite resist doing a bit of TV and OIRT dxing. The morning of 3 June saw some very strong Band I TV carriers – I view the audio output from my AOR AR5000 into Spectrum Lab on the PC. So i fired up the separate PC I use for TX dxing – this has a flyvideo 3000 card inside with the saa7134 chip. I feed my HS Pubs  VF1004 4 element (45-70 MHz) into a 4-way tv distribution amplifier from Maplin (brand NIKKAI). One output goes to the AR5000, another to the Sony XDR (see below), the third to my JVC 610 tv and the fourth to the HS Pubs D100 narrow bandwidth converter whose output is fed into the Flyvideo TV card. I then use dscaler and freerun to view on the PC.  So this morning I was watching Ukrainian 1+1 TV on channel R1 on the JVC, 1+1 on channel R2 on the PC, listening to OIRT stations on the Sony XDR and monitoring TV carriers in Spectrum Lab.

After doing the Konrad GTK mod on the Sony XDR it can now tune the OIRT frequencies where its performance is not too bad at all though I do get images from the strong BBC Band II stations. You can see my OIRT loggings at

As I mentioned it’s very hard to get decent TV DX video here – despite the S9 signals. However i did make three small videos:

Ukraine 1+1 R1

Ukraine 1+1 R2