Tool time

The following surplus items of radio equipment are available for private sale from this blogger.


Radio Data System. Digiceiver tuner featuring Sharx adaptive IF bandwidth control. Manual bandwidth control. CD naming. 4 x 25 watts power output. 4 x 45 watts maximum.

Auxiliary input cable included. Harness included.

Pre-amp out cable is required for optional connection to amplifier. Available on-line.

Purchased in 2011 from Soundmaster Scotland.

Excellent condition. Made in Portugal. No longer in production.

Operating Instructions

BHI NEIM1031 MKII $150

Amplified Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Noise Eliminating In-line Module (NEIM) suitable for removing interference from audio recordings & radio reception. Suitable for voice, unsuitable for music.

Includes operating instructions. Auxiliary input cable included.

12 volt power supply is required. Available at any electronics retailer.

Purchased in 2009 from the official BHI Ebay store in Great Britain.

Excellent condition. Made in Great Britain. In production. Retails for $250 at Andrews Communications.

Demonstration Sound Files

The selling prices include registered postage to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane & Canberra. Items can be returned within seven days of receipt at the buyer’s expense if the item is not in proper working order. Payment via Paypal or Bank Deposit. Photos are indicative of actual item. Actual photos will be uploaded on request. If you are interested simply comment.

Another FM 91.5/95.3 format

This article originally appeared on the now-defunct dbrmuz blog.

You may have noticed the extensive outdoor advertising for 95.3 FM during the Manly-Bulldogs game last night. Yesterday, reported:

The industry rumour-mill is in overdrive that DMG will be relaunching Sydney’s 95.3 FM and Melbourne’s 91.5 FM as Smooth 95.3 and Smooth 91.5 within days. The domain names and have both been registered by a third party, and are presently ‘dark’ awaiting the relaunch of the stations… The new Smooth 95.3/91.5 format is likely to be broadly what the stations are presently airing, or in line with what the stations are currently airing on their evening Wind-Down program. Either position, whilst slightly different in feel, would be best described as Variety AC with a 40-54 female target.

Here is an advertisement for ye olde Vega 95.3 FM incarnation.

Duporth Avenue: Pt 1

Over the Easter holiday of April 7-9, an antenna was erected on the seventh floor of a high rise apartment building in Duporth Avenue, Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. This will be a two part entry.

Part one will focus on the geography of the region. Aside from the aesthetic appeal, the topography (captured by professional photographers) has important effects upon long distance FM reception and even permanent reception! Part two shifts focus onto the receiving system including MP3 recordings, photographs of the antenna system (with the panorama in the background), troposcatter from the north and the visual logbook of signal paths.

Receiving location

Local UHF television and FM radio broadcast sites were situated 23 kilometres south-west and 18 kilometres west of the receiving location. The elevation at the receiving location was 14 metres above sea level according to Hey, What’s That? path profiler. The Sunshine Coast Airport was located seven kilometres north, or a 12 minute drive according to Google Maps.

Within the surrounding few kilometres, the urban high rise strips in Duporth Avenue, Cotton Tree, Maroochydore Beach (high rise pictured), Alexandra Headland and Mooloolabah Beach are likely to have attenuated signals to the south-east.

Perhaps signal attenuation has positive effects. The result is a relatively empty FM band which is potentially far easier for achieving Sporadic E FM reception than another urban city such as Brisbane or the Gold Coast.

Hey, What’s That? theoretical path analysis

Significant path obstructions existed to the south and south-west according to the analysis. Aside from the aforementioned man-made concrete jungle, five kilometres to the south was Buderim Mountain range, pictured.

According to the Centre for the Government of Queensland at the University of Queensland:

…the Buderim formation has an elevation of under 200m and is more a rising plateau which extends for about seven kilometres. It has red soil, impregnated with iron oxide.

Also on the Buderim plateau, nine kilometres west was Kiels Mountain (151 m). Still focussing on the south and south-west, the most prominent terrain obstacles were these volcanic plugs .

The Glasshouse Mountains (pictured above & below) include Mellum (406 m, 26 km), Beerwah (556 m, 35 km) and the Tunbubudla Twins (338 m, 41 km). The D’Aguilar range presented another significant path impediment, including Mount Mee (501 m, 58 km).

The panorama to the north-west was ‘clear sailing’ according to Hey, What’s That? Eight kilometres north is Mount Coolum (207 m), the subject of the three photos below. Much further afield were the mountains of Eerwah (340 m, 26 km) and Cooroy (409 m, 28 km). The summit of Point Glorious was 25 kilometres west.

According to the Sunshine Coast Council:

Mount Coolum is a volcanic plug, 681 feet in height, rising from the coastal plain and with part of its base projecting into the ocean to form Point Arkwright.

Coolum district was the traditional land of the ‘Inabara’ or ‘Yinneburra’ clan of the Undanbi tribe of Aboriginal people, which was in turn part of the larger group known as the Kabi Kabi (or Gubbi Gubbi).

From the location of the antenna on the apartment balcony, the panorama (not pictured in this entry) included Mount Coolum in the distance.

The panorama from the north-northwest to the south-east was free of obstructions courtesy of the Coral Sea! Unfortunately there is no land in that direction to permit troposcatter. The largest islands towards the east are the southern tip of New Caledonia and the northern tip of New Zealand. During summer Sporadic E would be possible from these locations with respective hop distances between 1,435 – 2,208 kilometres according to the FM Scan Sporadic E Index.

Permanent troposcatter from the south

The path analysis suggests that the Buderim plateau may prove an obstruction five kilometres to the south and south-west.

Significant attenuation of signals to the south prevented reception of the Redcliffe community station just 66 kilometres away. Whilst it was very suprising at the time, the explanation now seems clear. The obstructions in the Redcliffe path include the Bribie Island National Park on Bribie Island (pictured) and the Glasshouse Mountains. Gold Coast stations 154 kilometres away were audible via troposcatter from time-to-time. The use of directional antenna arrays may explain why the Gold Coast broadcasts were not permanent non-DX signals. Suburban community stations were audible without issue from the Logan and Wynnum-Manly regions.

Towards the south-south-west and south-west, the Passchendaele and Toowoomba city broadcasters were audible without issue. Not much impedes a 244 km 80 kilowatt ERP national broadcast from Mount Magnus (962 m) near Stanthorpe. Similarly, the Toowoomba city elevation offset the southwest obstructions up to 156 km for the commercial (10 kW) and community (4 kW) broadcasters.

Permanent troposcatter from the west

Significant attenuation of signals to the west impeded high quality reception of CFM Kingaroy (15 watts) broadcasting merely 122 kilometres distant and CFM Dalby (600 watts) 187 kilometres distant. The obstructions to the westerly path include the Conondale National Park (pictured) situated between Jimna and Kenilworth. The Conondale National Park (328 m) is home to a number of beasts including the mountains of Langley (868 m), Allen (593 m) and Gerald.

In addition, the broadcast sites to the west (Kingaroy & Dalby) were obstructed by the volcanic Blackall range situated between Maleny (pictured) and Montville. Blackall range has an average altitude of 500 metres according to the Oxford Student Atlas. This hinterland region averages 450 metres according to Hinterland Tourism.

The attenuation may have been worsened by the highrise building itself. The location of the balcony provided maximum opportunities for eastern paths only. (Again, it must be conceded that there is no land or islands in that direction). However, pointing the antenna west was unlikely to penetrate the concrete and elevators. Improved signals from the west may have been achievable in the car.

Acknowledgments & References

This blogger is indebted to the authors of the following websites or publications which provided data used for the above commentary.

Bonzle Digital Atlas
Cocky Flies
Department of Environment and Resource Management
Explor Oz
FM List
Google Maps
Hey What’s That?
Hinterland Tourism
Oxford Student Atlas of Australia
Queensland Places
Sunshine Coast Council
UBD Street Directory of Brisbane

The copyright holders of photography included on this blog have licensed their works under the Creative Commons for non-commercial use (such as this not-for-profit blog) with attribution. To view more of their work, type the photographer’s name into Flickr.

Killer Sharx

A brand new, boxed Blaupunkt Seattle RDM 169 car receiver is listed on Ebay. Such a rare breed is definitely worth blowing an E-snipe bid point on.

This blogger owns a Munchen RDM 169 which is internally identical. On that receiver, the Sharx adaptive IF algorithm works beautifully. Hard core Manchester-based enthusiast Julian Hardstone bought his Seattle RDM 169 in March, saying:

You certainly will not find a better ‘out-of-the-box’ dx machine, and it seems to equal the best of re-filtered tuners.

Back in 2002, Rod Easdown wrote in the Melbourne Age:

[The] Digiceiver… digitises radio signals and uses DSP technology to enhance them, strengthening weak signals and removing much of the interference. It is the first time anyone has been able to digitise an analogue radio signal and it works on AM and FM.

RN modulation levels compared

Whilst the press secretary at FM DXing Incorporated was waiting for the stir fry on the wok to shrivel to form a delicious plastic texture, a sample was undertaken tonight of three permanent ABC Radio National FM broadcasts. The tuner was manually switched to narrow mode to exaggerate the differences between modulation levels set at different broadcast sites.

Readers will be salivating at the prospect of hearing these recordings. Please exercise patience, the server can only handle a certain volume of traffic at any one time. Beware of the competition, One Direction fans.

ABC Radio National FM 103.1

99.5 MHz Coffs Harbour New South Wales (south east over the ocean, approximately 335 km)

100.9 MHz Biggenden Queensland (north west, approx. 225 km)

90.1 MHz Southport Queensland (south along the coastline, approx. 90 km)

The inclusion of the 96.9 MHz Mullumbimby RN broadcast would have been preferable. Unfortunately, tonight this signal exhibited significant co-channel interference from 96.9 MHz Gympie and no-one wants to listen to that! In addition, a surprise Radio Metro signal was ‘dancing all over’ the 105.7 MHz Bell (Bunya Mountains) RN broadcast.

No signal amplification was used in-line because doing so introduces significant changes to signal levels which, in turn, affects the audio quality.

Disclaimer: Sarcasm is under-rated. The benefits of obtaining at least five hours of sleep per night is under-rated, the effects are clear. 🙂

Samsung Yepp MP3 recorder

This terribly rare species is fantastic for making MP3 recordings via line-in. In addition, playback of the highly-rated aoTuV (Aoyumi’s Tuned Vorbis) Ogg Vorbis files is supported.

If this little blogger didn’t already own the same model (except in the smaller 256 megabyte capacity) the above Ebay offer would be snapped up quickly. This species is extinct.

Here is a photo of the Yepp feasting on a recording. Delicious. Further information can be found here.

A new Yepp T8 (512 megabytes) sells on Ebay for about $130. Like the T7, that species is also extinct.

An activist abroad

Introducing Mr Trenton Oldfield…

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

AFTER Trenton Oldfield bobbed up seal-like in a wetsuit and halted the 158-year-old annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge universities, the Australian’s anti-elitist manifestos rose to the surface just behind him. Mr Oldfield, 35, a year 10 dropout from the prominent Sydney boys’ private school Shore, left a trail of rich-bashing blog posts and evidence of a 10-year career since his arrival in London as activist, project manager and student – all focused on poverty, social inequality and decay in inner cities. A graduate of the London School of Economics, he lists among his preoccupations ”the socio-political history of fences/railings – including when they shifted from keeping things in to keeping things out”.

According to the Telegraph in the United Kingdom:

Boasting a proud sporting tradition, Shore has an enviable reputation as one of Australia’s top rowing schools and Mr Oldfield was a leading crew member during his time there. But despite initially taking full advantage of his privileged start in life, the ardent political campaigner now claims it was his experiences at the much celebrated school that ignited his long held opposition to elitism in society.

Any action against (what the British refer to as) ‘toffery’ is welcome because statistics indicate a clear disparity between the rich and the poor in this country. Trenton’s own privileged background does qualify him to take up the challenge against sham elitism which potentially results in negative outcomes for society as a whole.

However, the choice of his targets is puzzling. Oxford & Cambridge are public universities in Great Britain. The tuition fees historically cost the same as any other public university. These institutions accept enrolments from all applicants based on academic merit including those coming from disadvantaged circumstances. A couple of boys and girls from school went to Oxford University to further their education. The irony is that those individuals were almost anarchistic in their political views. If one believed the tales of their social lives, they lived and breathed cannabis, although never during the exam period because of potential memory effects! They came from rich families which would have fuelled their aspirations against a the rise of a privileged class in society, just like it may have done for Trenton. Surely a private university which has been accused of financial elitism such as Bond on the Gold Coast (photographed below) is far more deserving of derision? The same applies to any institution where a prospective student pays their way to graduate as a lawyer (for example) without gaining course admission based on academic merit alone.

Bond Uni at Night. In HDR.

That aside, protest is important, whether one opposes the imposition of the carbon tax upon polluting industries, coal seam gas extraction or even globalization. As bloggers we are acutely aware of the value of freedom of speech, without the constraints of ‘lead-footed’ moderation or censorship. Many Australians use talk back radio to voice their protest! Doesn’t the fact that people in Western Europe and Australia are now talking about elitism mean that Trenton’s sporting vandalism was worthwhile? Protestors such as Trenton can be annoying, of course. But is there not a bigger danger in saying nothing and expecting the world to change?

Eternal damnation at Point Glorious

Today’s task was to travel to Cooloolabin Dam in Queensland’s most-populated South East coastal region. According to the Bonzle Digital Atlas, the dam occupies approximately 160 hectares of land. The signs nearby proclaimed the virtues of a lookout called Point Glorious, situated west of Yandina in the Mapleton National Park.

Cooloolabin damnation

In all honesty, the hobby of long distance FM reception was not intended to play any part in today’s proceedings. However, since a greater Rockhampton district (Mount Hopeful) powerhouse broadcast was audible in the carpark at the dam, a feat which was entirely unexpected, a trip to Point Glorious seemed like a good option. Cooloolabin Dam’s carpark has an estimated altitude of 301 metres above sea level and is located approximately 21 kilometres from the coastline, according to the Bonzle Digital Atlas. Not bad elevation for a carpark!

Cool change at Cooloolabin

Obviously, a lookout respite also provides an opportunity for some pretty pictures to put on the blog. Sure, scantily-clad women would be preferable for many readers. Unfortunately, no willing candidates were found, despite an exhaustive search today, just these photos.

The unsealed road to Point Glorious offers a steep uphill mountain bike ride lasting 45 minutes according to the official guidebook from the Sunshine Coast Council and Tourism Queensland. Unfortunately, the mountain bike was not readily available for the trip. Even if it had been brought along, this blogger’s calves were aching from the treadmill session the night before. The video below documents this trip as undertaken by snake expert Ray Cam 01:

The Dabbler’s Dream™ is kept readily on hand for bush exploration attempts just like a water bottle. Point Glorious lookout is nine kilometres from four 20 kW ABC broadcasters and 15 kilometres from three 20 kW ABC broadcasters. Why so many? For overseas readers, all you need to know is that wasted spectrum and overlapping reception areas are something the publicly-funded ABC broadcaster specializes in!

Where Bundaberg’s rum distillers should have been on the band, loud ABC talk stations occupied the frequencies. In this blogger’s experience, the radio is a write-off 15 kilometres from a major 100 kW broadcast site so this was expected. These Silicon Labs’-based radios are still the king of strong signal performance in the portable world, such that few enthusiasts dare not to own one.

Take the long way home

Instead, the factory radio and antenna provided with the vehicle above were called into service. The antenna was a short helical whip design. Typically such designs incorporate a FM pre-amplifier to compensate for the lack of efficiency at the resonant frequency.The Japanese-made factory radio featured Digital Signal Processing much like every modern FM car radio. Selectivity seemed to be roughly the same as the JVC HS-IVi tuner which offers a step up in performance from a conventional radio that usually incorporates 3 x 180 kHz ceramic IF filters. Like fellow blogger Dbrmuz, when confronted with an unfamiliar car radio, one soon realizes how nothing on the market comes close to Blaupunkt’s SHARX IF filter designed for the congested German band. But the phrase ‘any port in a storm’ comes to mind!

Point Glorious

Point Glorious lookout has an elevation of 400 metres and predominantly faces northwards. Scribbly gums and grass trees adorn the lookout according to the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management. But as athlete Neil Ennis’ photograph above shows, mist and smoke haze may sometimes obscure the view. Travel proffers the critical statistics:

A 100 square km area around Point Glorious has an aproximate population of 149,178… and an average elevation of 148 meters above the sea.

Point Glorious perspective

2.49 km north east of the Point Glorious lookout is a bloated belly of a mountain called Eerwah which has a sharp peak of 379m above sea level accessible to hikers only. Eerwah is a difficult three hour climb, according to Aussie Bushwalking. 4.06 km south west is another towering beast called Mount Bottle and Glass according to Travel This panorama shows significant obstructions at the lookout from the south-east all the way to the north-west.

Point Glorious lookout

Let’s finish with a relaxed bandscan, which was taken in flat conditions according to Mr Hepburn’s prediction, archived below. The bandscan will provide azimuth and distance details so readers can more readily grasp the signal paths involved upon the Sunshine Coast.

Willie forecast

The view of this blogger is that any bandscan should be representative of permanent troposcatter reception at a lookout. Please note that a few uncontrollable factors meant that the Point Glorious bandscan was not ideal. Firstly, the stop was hurried, with a maximum of 10 seconds spent listening to each frequency. Secondly, images were present on a number of vacant channels which may have masked the reception of very weak troposcatter or jet-reflected signals. Thirdly, the receiving equipment itself was a limiting factor for the reasons mentioned above. This bandscan was a lot of fun but certainly not an exhaustive scan. Let’s get cracking!

Rockhampton stations (80 kW) were crystal clear to the north-northwest at 389 km. ‘How clear?’ you may ask! Well, here is what News Radio on 105.5 MHz sounded like.

Bundaberg stations (3 kW) were strong from the north at 190 km. Further west, Rebel FM Biggenden (1 kW) was strong at 143 km.

Hervey Bay & Booral stations (500 watts-10 kW) were permanent from the north at 126-132 km. Based on the terrain, it seems likely that Hervey Bay commercial stations are regular reception on the Sunshine Coast.

Southport stations (25-26 kW) were permanent from the south at 167-174 km. These Gold Coast stations can be heard driving around the streets of Maroochydore as long as one is well away from the high-rise strips. High rise attenuates FM signals much like a mountain range does.

Beaudesert stations (200 watts-5 kW) were clear from the south at approximately 155 km. The factory radio permitted easy separation of Breeze FM 92.1 next to local station 91.9 Sea FM, which broadcasts from a site only 33 km away.

Warwick stations (80 kW) were strong from the south-southwest at 250 km. The dam was in that direction which probably would have made this path far easier.

Kingaroy & Wondai stations (5-15 kW) were strong from the west at 103-114 km despite the terrain obstruction in the path.

X-trail 4WD vehicle

Portable recordings were undertaken on the Samsung Yepp using 192 kbps constant bitrate MP3 with the internal monophonic microphone. The factory radio was housed inside a 2011 Nissan X-trail, as photographed by Garro 9.2 above. FM Scan was used for all azimuth and distance calculations with the exception of Beaudesert where As the Cocky Flies was used.

Additional photography of this region

Tony Elmer

FM DXing

Neil Paskin


Andy Wizma

Subjective comparison of Recording Methods

DVD Recorders

– quickest transfer times to computer
– when using XP mode (256 kbps MPEG AC3 stereo recording), the best digital recording quality is achieved
– can record overnight using LP quality (192 kbps AC3)
– fully automated timer recordings
– full editing capability without using computer

– trans-coding compressed AC3 files to MP3 is unavoidable for easy internet distribution
– DVD recorders are expensive
– media damages easily (excluding DVD-RAM) so backups are mandatory
– time consuming to learn programmes for transferring such as Virtual Dub Mod

Cassette Deck

– only method that can user can control recording levels to avoid clipping
– when using Dolby C noise reduction & metal tapes (or Dolby S with a signal-to-noise ratio of 87 decibels)  the best analogue recording quality is achieved
– simple

– time consuming to transfer recordings (real time copying)
– cassette decks are expensive
– full length cassettes will only permit two hours recording
– best blank media (chrome & metal position tapes) are harder to find than DVD blanks

MP3/WMA Portable Recorders

– for recordings lasting over an hour, it may take a long time to decompress & load files (depending on computer processing speed)
– full battery charge may only permit three hours of recording (Zen V Plus)
– a charger is a necessity (must be purchased separately for Zen)
– Creative Zen models have well-publicized durability flaws

– inexpensive
– only portable method, tiny footprint
– never run out of media supplies as blanks are not required
– plenty of space for recording storage on models with at least one gigabyte of storage
– quickest method for ‘one-off’ recordings, e.g. 10 minutes
– simple
– very few audible digital artifacts are typically evident when recording at the highest quality available (e.g. 192 kbps MP3 & 160 kbps WMA)

Hifi VHS

– time consuming to transfer recordings (real time copying)
– companding system inherent in the FM azimuth recording technique may result in analogue compression artifacts
– potential tracking problems on poor quality machines (incompatibility between machines)
– VHS media are harder to find than DVD blanks
– fast access to the start of recorded sections may be difficult

– can record overnight using E240 videotapes on LP quality
– fully automated timer recordings
– Hifi VHS video recorders are inexpensive
– a large percentage of households may own one already

Talk to me. What is your favoured method for recording? Why do you prefer it?