June-July wrap

On the east coast of Andy Murray‘s United Kingdom (Murray is technically a Scot), the summer of long distance FM reception is rolling along beautifully. G1VVP writes in praise of the ‘propagation gods’:

Personally, this has been the best sporadic E season I have known on the FM broadcast band… The main factor has been the almost daily occurrence of E skip reaching 88 MHz and above.

In stark contrast, on the east coast of the United States, things are not quite right. David writes:

Except for an 8-minute opening with a MUF of 90.7 FM on June 7, there has been no FM Es observed in Northern Virginia since June 1. Other regional DXers and those elsewhere in the US have had FM Es in the past week and a half, so I’m sure I’m due for a good opening any time now. European FM DXers have received 144 MHz MUF openings seemingly most days this month, of which me and many other US DXers have been envious of.

Equivalent of Racket & Balls © 2013 FMradioDX at WordPress

It’s been a busy month for this little blogger, whose vacation was such a disaster it has been dubbed ‘hell’. It was an expensive waste of time, courtesy of accommodation booking problems and troubles with multiple cars which may take weeks to resolve. A day trip to Nightcap National Park and Mullumbimby was one of the few highlights.

On a more optimistic note a new television and abdominal bench were purchased which take some time to learn to use. Guilt has already set in about these purchases. Fortunately a new laptop has also made life easier in the last month, although setting up operating systems and software is always tedious and time consuming. Surely anti-virus software must be the most time consuming software of all time!

Since it is winter, there has been a sporting feast to devour in the last few months. These have included the French Open, Wimbledon,  British Irish Lions Tour and State of Origin Series.  In addition, some mildly entertaining soccer qualifiers were played.  Soccer is the football code played by this blogger for over a decade but it is rarely consumed in large quantities, except when at a venue. Even the final day of a golf tournament tends to have more thrills. Whoops, I’m joking…

When watching live tennis there are typically two options to choose from to preserve one’s sanity.

  • Suffer lack of sleep and watch the games live at home or in a bar; or
  • Ensure there is adequate hard drive space on the PVR. Try to anticipate how many sets (and accordingly the number of hours) each match will go for. It is difficult sometimes.

Lisicki & Stosur at Wimbledon © 2011 Carine06

Regardless of trying to manage the time differences, Wimbledon was exhilarating viewing this year. The ‘upsets’ meant that many of the more egotistical players were absent. With success comes ego, but some sportspeople take this too far and become a source of irritation for spectators rather than a source of potential idolization.

The mens and ladies finals were riveting, but sadly one-sided affairs. This blogger’s pick for the match of the tournament was the nail-biting semi final featuring Sabine Lisicki (Germany) versus Agnieska Radwanska (Poland). Please click on the photo below to see Mike Grice’s detailed photos. It is always refreshing to see new faces succeed in any sport.

Wimbledon - Independence Day 2013 - ladies semi finals day

Congratulations to relative newcomer Marion Bartoli who was unstoppable and Murray for tenaciously silencing his critics. Notably, the sportsmanship at the Championships was first class throughout.

Shortly, there is a little historical tour called the Ashes to be played where the participants are obviously trying to play baseball on a lawn balls ground… but got confused! But the most significant entry on any lazy fat bastard’s sporting calendar is the much anticipated Origin Decider in Sydney. It shall be magnificent.

Melbourne radio screenshots

The stills below illustrate a substantial skip opening to the regions of Melbourne, Ballarat & Bendigo heard on Sunday during unpleasant humid weather conditions.

Light FM - Melbourne's Positive Alternative

Light FM - A Hell of a mundane playlist

Melbourne's Smooth FM - Your Euthanasia station

Melbourne's Smooth FM - Music to slit your wrists to

Bendigo's 3BO FM 93.5 - Your Perspiration Station

News blander… than today’s thunderstorm

Welcome to another instalment of News Blander, the column where the trivial is celebrated almost as much as the Olympic Games! In fact, it is a column so boring that this blogger forgets to run it in regular instalments. Today’s Blander covers long distance FM reception & car audio.

Long distance FM radio reception rarely makes the mainstream press. But let’s face it, even FM radio announcers rarely make it… perhaps unless they are courting controversy.

Journalist Ben Beagle reported the following in the New York state electronic publication Daily News Online in his article ‘Atmospheric anamolies bring distant radio signals to area’…

Listening to your radio on the drive home Tuesday afternoon you may have thought your ears were deceiving you. Did the radio just say Tampa? Florida?

It’s OK, you can cancel the doctor’s appointment.

An especially strong e-skip brought distant radio stations onto the local dial, interfering with local stations’ broadcasts.

“Yesterday was one of the biggest e-skip openings in a few years,” said Scott Fybush, a radio industry observer and editor of Northeast Radio Watch, an online publication that tracks the radio industry.

For example, just before 5 p.m. Tuesday the broadcast of WFLK-FM (93.3) in Rochester was interrupted by a brief burst that sounded like nothing more than static. Until, after a couple of seconds the interference cleared long enough to hear a radio promo that clearly identified “WFLZ-FM in Tampa Bay.”

The top 40 station in Tampa also broadcasts on 93.3 FM and is more than 1,300 miles from Le Roy, where the signal was received.

Read the full report.

Let’s close the festival of the mundane with a video featuring the Blaupunkt Bremen MP74 Twinceiver employing a Dual Diversity Antenna system. Apparently at some point the bandscan even features a Dutch pirate playing classic eighties band Alphaville, responsible for the cult classic ‘Forever Young’. The band’s 2001 remix was a huge hit in the nightclubs. The track was covered by Australian indie band Youth Group.

Thank you to Günter Lorenz & Peter Wilson for drawing this blogger’s attention to these gems.

Clip FM Central Pt Moresby

My preamplifier was utilized to lift today’s lone Es signal to stereo levels. Gain was reduced slightly to 13 decibels. As there are nearby stations on this particular antenna azimuth, reducing the preamplifier gain to as low as 10 decibels minimizes mixing products and/or intermodulation distortion created by the presence of strong signals in the tuner.

This is a bilingual recording lasting 11 minutes.

Download audio here

Clip Queensland

Today’s Sporadic E was from northern, central, western Queensland and Noumea. Dozens of stations were received including a SBS broadcast on FM 94.3 and 4TAB broadcasts on FM 87.6, FM 90.0 and FM 103.3. The only one listed is 103.3 from Mount Isa.

A few of the clearer commercial stations were recorded such as:

  • Mount Isa’s Hot FM 102.5
  • Townsville’s 4TO FM and 106.3 FM
  • Cairns’ Sea FM 99.5
  • Mossman’s Sea FM 88.5
  • Mareeba’s Hot FM 97.9 and
  • Tully’s Kool FM.
  • These stations do not propagate into the city all that frequently. Interstate enthusiasts seem to log these quite regularly so these clips might be interesting if only to compare relative signal strengths. More clips to follow.

    Townsville 106.3 FM logo

    Hot FM Mt Isa logo

    4TO Townsville FM

    Hot FM Mareeba logo

    Sea FM Cairns logo

    Kool FM logo

    Sea FM logo

    Radio Tab logo

    6 hours of power

    From 1:35 pm AEDT, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Cairns and Townsville were heard, in order of appearance. The Clipsal 8 element FM antenna was facing eastwards. The notoriously irrepressible North Queensland stations were booming in on a null for at least an hour.

    By 5 pm AEDT, I couldn’t continue listening due to other commitments. Audio of 90.0 Radio Nouvelle Caledonie from the Yamaha TX-540 (narrow bandwidth, blend and frequency lock selected) was recorded via timer recording. The hope was to hear 90.0 Laef FM Vanuatu. Today, I played back the DVD in 15 minute increments, courtesy of the auto chapter function. A cursory inspection reveals 90.0 Caledonie was still solid at 7:15 pm AEDT when the recording finished! 😮

    Hot hot hot!

    Has an enthusiast brought Melbourne temperatures to accompany his presence in the city?

    Update: The following day, Monday turned out to be the hottest day in almost two years, according to Weather Zone.

    A weak seabreeze helped to regulate temperatures along the coast but the River City still managed to peaked at 33.8 degrees which is four above average and the hottest day of summer so far. Redcliffe hit 32.5 and Acherfield 35.7 which was four and six degrees above average respectively and the hottest day in nearly two years (sic). This heat was coupled with high humidity which made it feel three to four degrees hotter at times.

    Update: But it got worse! Wednesday was hottest summer day in almost four years, according to Fairfax newspapers.

    ..the city’s temperature gauge hit 37.1 degrees just before 4pm. That made Wednesday the hottest day since February 23, 2008, when residents sweated through a top temperature of 40.2 degrees.

    Clip FM 89.9 PNG


    First clip off the rank is Papua New Guinea. Full details of the recording are below, for those who like that sort of useless information! An excerpt appears in the player below. I will try and add some more from Norfolk Island, New Zealand, South Australia and North Queensland that have been recorded over summer. If nobody provides feedback, ‘no more clips for you’ says the Audio Clip Nazi! 🙂 If that expression makes no sense, it’s not my fault you aren’t a Seinfeld fan.

    PNG photos

    TIME: 5:25 pm AEDT
    DATE: 30 December 2011
    ERP: N/A
    PATH: Mostly over land
    ANTENNA: Clipsal 8 element FM Yagi
    AZIMUTH: North West
    RECEIVER: Yamaha TX-530
    PEAK SIGNAL STRENGTH: Narrow mode, less than 38 dBf
    SOURCE RECORDER: LG DR386D via Line-In
    SOURCE COMPRESSION: 2 channel Dolby Digital audio AC-3 MPEG2 256 kbps
    TRANSCODING SOFTWARE: MPlayer and Total Recorder
    TRANSCODING PATH: AC3 -> Windows Media Audio
    CLIP DESCRIPTION: Gloria track, Ads mentioning Kina currency/PNG location, Foreign language sweeper, Rick Astley track, Abba track
    CLIP LENGTH: 12 minutes

    Photo from Dmscvan.

    Coasts awash with Es

    Thank you to the friends who have provided me, via SMS, with details of the openings encountered in coastal regions of South East Queensland over the last week. For example, on January 2nd 2012, an enthusiast stationed in Coolangatta (pictured) reported hearing Sporadic E from New Caledonia.
    Image attribution: Free Australian Stock Images. Tough life, hey? Listening to long distance FM reception from the Gold Coast! Best wishes to all enthusiasts listening in the region!

    New Zealand makes a good skipper

    I knew Jamie would hear New Zealand broadcast FM sooner or later. Last week, I heard Es with Jamie’s local station Magic 93.1 Riverland mixing with 93.1 Classic Hits Greymouth (NZ SI). A nice 10 minute clip was recorded. This of course, meant that NZ would likely have been reflected into Jamie’s region… if not for that blocked local station! I’m guessing Jamie’s Trans Tasman 2Es were being reflected from Southern NSW Riverina region! Supporting this view is the fact that of those stations Jamie logged, only the Auckland & Hamilton stations have been heard in South East Queensland. Hope that amateur analysis makes sense. 🙂

    I am looking forward to downloading the clips when I can get reliable internet access. This is a truly well deserved achievement considering the time Jamie has invested & the attributes of sportsmanship that have consistently been adhered to.

    Read the details at Jamie’s blog. Photo of Palmerston North by Amber Pierce.