Sub-Zero DX!

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Sub-Zero DX!

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 29 Jan 2015 19:44

I feel inspired when I read Alex Cator's accounts of continental reception when he's driving around certain areasof East Anglia and beyond. I still find it interesting to follow signals when driving and discover where they drop out or are suddenly overtaken by other stations. It reminds me of my earlier times in the hobby when I used to drive around the hills of the Peak District and West Yorkshire. Ah, happy memories! There were so many magical DX memories from those days. It's sometimes easy to forget about things like that and how important they were in shaping the hobby for me.

The Suffolk coastal DX trips around Aldeburgh and Sizewell were among the most memorable of my DX travels and I often remember the late Cyril Willis and being sat outside the tent, drinking some good real ales and chatting about the DX of the day. I also had a flashback the other day, remembering the time when Tim Bucknall and myself tried to use Bolsover in Derbyshire to null out local BBC Radio Nottingham on 95.5, reversing precariously on a tight bend in a road on a very steep incline, just to the the west of Bolsover, successfully removing the local powerhouse to hear BBC Radio Lancashire! I remember many an enjoyable weekend drive to the moors above Huddersfield and Glossop with the sole intention of recording pirates from Manchester and Bradford on my old Sharp ghetto blaster, taking in a spot of DXing too of course. Those were the days.

Back to today, although it didn't occur to me at the time, I think today has been one of those magical radio days and I thought I would share this with you. A spur of the moment drive to Mablethorpe with my wife this afternoon took in a trip on to the cliff car park above the Golden Sands area, just to the north of the town. While we were there we encountered a very heavy snow shower and the skies turned black. The temperature was a chilly -1C and the snow was thick and briefly blocked the view of the sea. The beach was white over. Surely nothing 'continental' was going to get through on the radio in this kind of weather? That was more or less true. The raised car park gives a nice take-off to the continent and usually provides decent continental radio reception, but Egem 98.6 and Ijsselstein 100.7 were barely audible.

With the snowfall quickly covering the roads it was time to drive back down the steep access road to the car park before the car slid down of its own accord, but the sun made an appearance just as we left, creating a striking contrast between the deep blue sky and the dark snow cloud which was beginning to move out to sea.

After a nice latte in the town we drove home, stopping at the Huttoft beach terrace en-route to see if continental reception was any better. Egem was half way to being noise free at this point and a few other Dutch bits and pieces were trying to push through. The dark cloud had now moved well out to sea and the remaining white cloud overhead was turning pink with the setting sun, giving the snow a nice pink tint. Such a shame I didn't have my camera with me.

By the time we were back in Skegness, the clouds had found us again and the sky was looking more like night time. A quick drive to one of the Winthorpe sea front car parks ("The View") found several continental transmitters returning to the band. My main interest today was to see if there was any comparison between the cliff top car park at Mablethorpe and the sea front at Winthorpe. There didn't seem to be any comparison at all! Egem and Ijsselstein were now fully quieting on peak and other Dutch transmitters were appearing, such as Omroep Zeeland from Goes on 87.9 and Slam FM, Hilversum on 91.1. There was even a brief appearance of Radio Rijnmond from Rotterdam on 93.4 but, surprisingly, nothing from BNR on 91.3 - also from Rotterdam. Decibel 97.6 (Rotterdam, again) was almost noise free and there were other vague continental noises here and there, but nothing spectacular. To say anything at all got through today must have been a miracle.

Well, that was quite a lot of waffle, but I hope it was of some interest and I am looking forward to reading more of Alex's reception on his travels and hopefully those of other DXers.

Good DX!

Alex Cator
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Joined: 26 Dec 2014 14:53
Location: East Harling, Norfolk, England (QTH JO02LK)
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Re: Sub-Zero DX!

Post by Alex Cator » 30 Jan 2015 18:33

I did receive Studio Brussel, Radio 2 (East Flanders/Oost-Vlaanderen), and Klara, all from Egem, in the Thetford area. No tropo, in flat conditions. Around the area between East Harling and Quidenham, I can get daily Lille/Bouvigny signals, most obviously France Info on 105.2. Had both Lille/Bouvigny (France) and Dudelange (Luxembourg) on my Tecsun PL-390, at home. I consider my Tecsun to be a hot FM-DX machine, so what was the problem with yours? You said that it was deaf and wide? I don't think of mine as being deaf or wide. I will soon get a Degen DE-1103, so I hope that will be even better than the Tecsun 390.
I am actually in quite a nice DX location. Only thing is the annoying Peterborough, Bury Saint Edmund's and Cambridge locals. Only thing I like from there are the community stations (Cam FM, Cambridge 105 and RWS FM).

Good DX!
Home: Sony ST-SB920 (modified), Sony XDR-S10HDiP, Onkyo T-4970, Ford 5000 RDS, horizontal Triax FM3
Mobile: Ford Fiesta (Style, 2013) and Ford Focus (2012) car radios
Portable: Tecsun PL-390, Grundig G5 (2 x 110kHz), Etón G8

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Joined: 19 Sep 2014 15:55
Location: Skegness, Lincolnshire. JO03dd
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Re: Sub-Zero DX!

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 30 Jan 2015 19:29

Some of those imported Chinese radios were wide, while other's were narrower, yet they were the same radio. The DE1103 is a classic example of this. For whatever reason, it was hit and miss which one you got. I returned my first Degen DE1103 to the Ebay seller, who happily refunded my payment when I returned the radio. I can only assume the Tecsun portables were the same. Some people say how selective they are while other owners say they are wide. It's the luck of the draw, but the Ebay seller "anon-co" provided the narrower version of the DE1103 - and I think "more sensitive too". I am pretty sure I am correct in saying it was the earlier run of DE1103s which were the narrower.

If you are interested Alex, you are welcome to hook up to my setup here via TeamViewer and we can compare reception. We are lucky that we don't live in the Midlands or other populated parts of the UK where the band is solid with signals. I used to live about half way between Nottingham and Sheffield and the band was wall-to-wall strong locals and big UK regionals like Holme Moss, Sutton Coldfield, Belmont and Peterborough, but also factor in other regionals such as Chesterfield, Stanton Moor and Sheffield and there were barely any frequencies left. I had given up on band 2 DXing there and took up 2m ham radio instead.

I am yet to receive a few of the community stations from your area, but Future Radio on 107.8 and Tulip FM from nearby Spalding are heard often here. Seaside FM on 105.3 is slightly better than it used to be lately so I don't know if they have blown the dust of their transmitter. I can receive Cambridge 105 here - just, and Zack FM on 105.3. I wonder what will happen to that now RAF Mildenhall is closing.

Other community stations I can receive here include 96.4 Compass Fm, Grimsby, 99.8 KCFM, Hull, 103.6 Lincoln City Radio, 107.3 Siren FM, Lincoln, 107.4 Tempo FM, Wetherby, plus a few from the Midlands and, surprisingly, a couple of summers ago I had almost continuous reception of Swindon 105.5! This would fade up and down every day but was always painfully weak. This was at the previous address, however, and I have not heard it since moving. The new QTH just isn't as good to the south-west.

I have tried for 103.3 RWS FM on numerous occasions but never heard it. It's the same for Blyth Valley Community Radio on 105.0. I find it just as much fun and challenging DXing these low power community stations.

Alex Cator
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Location: East Harling, Norfolk, England (QTH JO02LK)
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Re: Sub-Zero DX!

Post by Alex Cator » 30 Jan 2015 21:27

Future is patchy around the Breckland area. It is better in East Breckland (Guist, Attleborough, etc.), with weak signal around East Harling, and it can hardly be heard on my DX setup. During tropo, it has been audible, but never with RDS. Similar thing with Style (Norwich 89.4 pirate) as well. My setup cannot grab Cambridge 105 or Cam FM, even though I do have a very weak Zack on 105.3. RWS is weak but audible (mono on the ST-SB920, guessed to be weak stereo on the XDR-S10HDiP), and the XDR can grab Ipswich Community Radio (Suffolk College) on 105.7 MHz, thanks to the DSP. My stock (unmodified) Sony ST-SB920 cannot grab I.C.R. on 105.7, as Kiss is on 105.6 in the Cambridge area (Madingley transmitter). I will keep doing FM DX for years to come, and later it will be in parallel with DAB, DAB+ and DRM+ radio. The nationals, supra-regionals, regionals and large locals will all be digital, and the small locals and community stations will still be on FM, seems like the FM-DX hobby will all be about community in the future, unless countries like HOL (Netherlands), BEL (Belgium), D (Germany), and F (France) keep FM nationals for longer than G (United Kingdom).
I have now installed TeamViewer on my computer. What is your ID for TeamViewer?
Home: Sony ST-SB920 (modified), Sony XDR-S10HDiP, Onkyo T-4970, Ford 5000 RDS, horizontal Triax FM3
Mobile: Ford Fiesta (Style, 2013) and Ford Focus (2012) car radios
Portable: Tecsun PL-390, Grundig G5 (2 x 110kHz), Etón G8

User avatar
John Faulkner, Skegness
Posts: 5031
Joined: 19 Sep 2014 15:55
Location: Skegness, Lincolnshire. JO03dd
Contact:

Re: Sub-Zero DX!

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 31 Jan 2015 01:03

We will have to do the TeamViewer thing at am arranged time as I don't run it all the time. I can send you a PM with the login details. I don't mind giving them out here but more than two connections and I wouldn't be surprised if my computer collapses.

I just hope the UK switch off the analogue signals before Europe do. It will leave a relatively empty band for the DX to roll through. Something tells me we will be the last.

PM me with a time which suits you best over the weekend and I'll do my best to be at the computer. Just bear in mind that the internet connection will cause a degree of interference. Actually, I should set this up on the laptop (wi-fi and therefore no interference) so I'll work on that.

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