An evening of short wave listening

A few weeks ago, my wife Marija bought me a Tecsun S-2000 short wave receiver and antenna/s for my birthday.  So on Saturday night, for the first time in a long long time, I gave broadcast short wave listening a go.

In a couple of hours of listening, I logged the following stations:-

  • Radio New Zealand, NEW ZEALAND
  • China Radio International, CHINA
  • Voice of Vietnam, VIETNAM
  • National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Madang, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
  • Reach Beyond Australia, AUSTRALIA
  • Radio Romania International, ROMANIA

My receiver is a Tecsun S-2000.  It covers AM, FM, shortwave, longwave and VHF Air Band broadcasts.

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Here is a review of the Tecsun S-2000 by PCJ Radio Network Plus.

My antenna is a Tecsun Shortwave and AM Outdoor Antenna covering 0.5-30 MHz.  It is based on a longwire antenna design but provides significantly improved reception over a longwire because the the Tecsun Shortwave and AM Outdoor Antenna utilises a matching transformer that acts as a balun with a ratio of 10:1.  At the moment the antenna is in a temporary position, just 1.5 metres off the ground (and that is being kind…probably less).  But it does the job.

I have attached below some info and video on the stations I logged.

Radio New Zealand.

I tuned in to Radio New Zealand on 9765 khz.  This was a broadcast to the Pacific, and not surprising, the signal was strong.  Radio New Zealand was launched in 1948.  Radio New Zealand broadcasts to its neighbouring countries in the Pacific from transmitters located at Rangitaiki, near Taupo, in the North Island.

China Radio International.

I also tuned in to China Radio International on 15210 khz.  China Radio International (CRI) is the broadcaster for the Peoples Republic of China.  It was founded in 1941 as Radio Peking.

Voice of Vietnam.

Next was the Voice of Vietnam 0n 9840 khz.  It is the national radio broadcaster of Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  The first Vietnamese-language radio transmission was made on 2 September 1945, when the President Ho Chi Minh read out the Declaration of Independence.  Prior to 1945, the Vietnamese were banned from owning radio receivers, and broadcasting was under control of the French colonial government, which established the first radio station in Vietnam, Radio Saigon, in the late 1920s.

National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Madang, PAPUA NEW GUINEA.

I then tuned in to the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in Madang in PAPUA NEW GUINEA.  Madang is the capital of Madang Province and is a town with a population of 27,420 on the north coast of Papua New Guinea.  The NBC is Papua New Guinea’s state owned broadcaster.  Its head office is in Boroko, Port Moresby, and has approximately 20 locations around the country.

Reach Beyond Australia.

I then tuned in to Reach Beyond Australia on 11865 khz.  This station was previously known as HCJB Australia.  Since 2003, it has been broadcasting from Kununurra in far North West Australia using short wave radio.  The station now broadcasts programs in 29 languages, including 17 South Asia languages.

Radio Romania International.

My final broadcast station for the evening was Radio Romania International on  15460 khz.  Radio Romania International is owned by the Romanian public radio broadcaster Societatea Română de Radiodifuziune (SRR, the national public radio in Romania) that broadcasts abroad. Prior to 1989, the station was known as Radio Bucharest.

I also had a look to see what the receiver’s SSB capabilities were like.  I recorded a little snippet of a QSO between Mike VK2BXE and David HC5DX in Ecuador, and Otap YB7TUU in Indonesia.

Overall I had a lot of fun.  I really had not done any broadcast listening on short wave since the 1980’s.  I was also quite pleased with the receiver’s performance and that of the antenna, which currently is very low to the ground.

 

Some VKFF stats

It is so pleasing to see so many amateurs enjoying the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program here in Australia.  The program has been steadily increasing popularity since its inception in Australia in March 2013.

The graph below shows the steady increase in the total number of activations per year.  In 2013, a total of 171 VKFF activations were undertaken.  This had increased to 1,582 activations in 2018.

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The graph below shows the increase in number of QSOs logged by the activators.  In 2013, activators logged a total of 4,085 contacts.  In 2018, this had increased to 58.505.

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The graph below shows the growth in the number of VKFF activators who have taken part since 2013.  In our first year, a total of 18 activators took part in the VKFF program.  By 2016 this had increased to 86 activators.  It fell off slightly in 2017, back down to 74.  But by 2018, there had been an increase to 87 activators.

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The graph below shows the stats for the Top VKFF Hunter.  An award is issued each year to the amateur who logs the most unique VKFF references.  In 2013, the Top VKFF Hunter, worked a total of 39 different VKFF references.  By 2018 this had increased to 894 VKFF references.

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The graph below shows the stats for the Top VKFF Activator.  An award is issued each year to the amateur who activates the most unique VKFF references.  In 2013, the Top VKFF Activator, activated a total of 25 different VKFF references.  By 2018 this had increased to 139 VKFF references.

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I would like to thank all hunters and activators who have taken part in the VKFF program since its inception in 2013.  I hope that everyone has enjoyed themselves along the way, and I hope to see the popularity of the program increase even more in the coming years.

2018 Top 44 WWFF Activator certificate

Tonight I received my Top 44 Activator certificate. It is issued for placing at number 38 in the world for activations during 2018 (activations must have reached the 44 QSO threshold).
 
A total of five VK’s featured in the Top 44 this year, which is terrific to see.
 
Number 14 – Gerard VK2JNG (121 activations / 139 for VKFF).
 
Number 15 – Bill VK4FW (112 activations / 112 for VKFF).
 
Number 24 – Gerard VK2IO (75 activations / 78 for VKFF).
 
Number 34 – Rob VK4AAC (66 activations / 76 for VKFF).
 
Number 38 – Paul VK5PAS (58 activations / 96 for VKFF).
 
 
Thankyou to Pit YO3JW, the Awards Manager for this particular award.
 
SP5UUD in Poland came in at number one with a staggering 380 activations, with all 380 of those reaching 44 QSOs.
 
vk5pas certificat top 44 2018 reference

Mount Lofty VK5/ SE-005 and Cleland Conservation Park VKFF-0778

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all. 

Today being the 1st day of January 2019, means another New Years Day SOTA event.  It has become custom now in VK & ZL to head out to activate a summit on New Years Day, and take advantage of activator points either side of the UTC rollover for the two calendar years.  And also plenty of Summit to Summit opportunities.

A few times now Marija and I have headed north to activate Mount Bryan in the Mid North of South Australia.  We have stayed overnight in Burra on New Years Eve, and activated the summit bright and early on New Years Day.  But this year we were not sure what time Marija would get off work on New Years Eve, so travelling to a summit we had not activated in 2018 was not going to be an option this year.

So at about 8.45 a.m. on New Years Day, with no hangover,  we headed to our closest summit, Mount Lofty VK5/ SE-005.  Marija and I had both activated Mount Lofty during 2018, so we wouldn’t pick up the 4 SOTA points until after the UTC rollover.

Mount Lofty is just a short 15 minute drive down the road from home.  The summit is located about 17 km (by road) south east of the city of Adelaide, and is located within the Cleland Conservation Park VKFF-0778.  It is in the Mount Lofty Ranges ‘ Adelaide Hills’.

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Above:- Map showing the location of Mount Lofty.  Map courtesy of Open Topo map.

Mount Lofty is worth 4 SOTA points and has been activated a total of 82 times.  Not surprising that it is so popular, as it is in very close proximity to the city of Adelaide, and is very easily accessible.  It was first activated by Andy VK5AKH in November 2012.

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Above:- Map showing Mount Lofty, in close proximity to the city of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Open Topo map.

Mount Lofty is the highest point in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges.  Its elevation is 727 metres above sea level.  Mount Lofty was named by the explorer Matthew Flinders on the 23rd March 1802 during his circumnavigation of the Australian continent.  But the summit was not climbed until 29 years later in April 1831, when the explorer Collet Barker climbed to the top.  This was six years prior to the settlement of Adelaide.  Barker was speared to death later that year after swimming across the Murray Mouth.

In 1855 an obelisk replaced the old stone cairn at the summit, which was originally used to mark the trig point.  In 1902 the obelisk was named the ‘Flinders Column’.

A cafe-restaurant and gift shop can be located at the summit, which is incredibly popular with tourists as it offers spectacular views of Adelaide and across Gulf St Vincent to the Yorke Peninsula.

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Above:- An aerial view of Mount Lofty summit.  The arrow indicates our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps

We parked just inside the gates leading to the summit and walked about 500 metres down the Heysen Trail and set up in our normal spot.  This is within the activation zone, but away from the hoards of tourists.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the summit, showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of google maps

We were set up and ready to go just before 9.15 a.m. local time (2245 UTC).  I called CQ on 7.100 and first in the log was Sid VK4/ZS5AYC and Adele VK4/ZS5APT who were activating Tennison Woods Mountain VK4/ SE-177.  It was a great way to start the activation with a couple of Summit to Summit contacts.  Next was Andy VK3AJA, Chris VK3PAT, and Nev VK5WG.  It was soon evident that the 40m band was in good shape, with good strong signals.  And absolutely no man made noise on the band.  One of the many reasons I enjoy working portable.

A little pile up soon ensued which I was very pleased with.  I logged a total of 39 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, before swapping the mic with Marija.  Summit to Summit contacts logged were as follows:-

  • Sid VK4/ZS5AYC – Tennison Woods Mountain VK4/ SE-177
  • Adele VK4/ZS5APT – Tennison Woods Mountain VK4/ SE-177
  • Peter VK3PF/2 – Great Yambla Ridge VK2/ RI-018
  • Leigh VK3SG/p – Mount McKay VK3/ VE-007
  • Malcolm VK3OAK/p – Blue Mountain VK3/ VS-015
  • Gerard VK2IO/p – Mount Elliot VK2/ HU-093
  • Brian VK3BCM/2 – Mount Black Jack VK2/ SW-010
  • Compton VK2HRX/p – Mount Loch VK3/ VE-005
  • Andrew VK1AD/2 – Mount Mundoonen VK2/ ST-053
  • Hugh VK5NHG/p – Hallett Hill VK5/ SE-003
  • Hugh VK5/M6OVY/p – Hallett Hill VK5/ SE-003

Park to Park contacts logged were as follows:-

  • Peter VK3PF/2 – Benambra National Park VKFF-0029
  • Mike VK6MB/2 – Clyde River National Park VKFF-0102
  • Malcolm VK3OAK/p – Landsborough Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2129

It was pleasing to log a number of South Australian stations.  Close in propagation has been pretty patchy for quite some time now, so I was very pleased to hear 5/9 plus signals from Nev VK5WG, John VK5MJC, & Hugh VK5NHG/p in the Mid North, Les Vk5KLV at Port Augusta, Rob VK5TRM, Rob VK5TS & Ivan VK5HS in the Riverland , Rick VK5VCR & Dave VK5LEX south of Adelaide, Sue VK5AYL on the Fleurieu Peninsula, and John VK5NJ in Mount Gambier who was QRP with around 4 watts.

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With about 25 minutes before the UTC rollover, Marija started calling CQ on 7.100, after we had lowered the power down from 40 watts to 10 watts PEP, to abide by Marija’s licencing conditions.  First in the log for Marija was Phil VK3BHR, followed by Leigh VK3SG/p on Mount McKay VK3/ VE-007, and then Hugh VK5NHG/p on Hallett Hill VK5/ SE-003.

Marija logged a total of 15 stations before the UTC rollover, including the following Summit to Summit contacts:-

  • Leigh VK3SG/p – Mount McKay VK3/ VE-007
  • Hugh VK5NHG/p – Hallett Hill VK5/ SE-003
  • Hugh VK5/M6OVY/p – Hallett Hill VK5/ SE-003
  • Ian VK5CZ/p – Mount Gawler VK5/ SE-013
  • Matt VK1MA/p – Yellow Rabbit Hill VK1/ AC-039
  • Compton VK2HRX/3 – Mount Loch VK3/ VE-005
  • Col VK3GTV/p – Mount Macedon VK3/ VC-007
  • Ian VK1DI/p – Mount Taylor VK1/ AC-037

And the following Park to Park contacts:-

  • Col VK3GTV/p – Macedon Regional Park VKFF-0972
  • Ian VK1DI/p – Mount Taylor Nature Reserve VKFF-0854

I also logged some of the above stations who I did not already have in the log.

Marija continued after the UTC rollover and logged a further 8 stations including the following Summit to Summit contacts:-

  • Ian VK1DI/p – Mount Taylor VK1/ AC-037
  • Leigh VK3SG/p – Mount McKay VK3/ VE-007
  • Allen VK3ARH – Mount Saint Phillack VK3/ VT-006
  • Andrew VK3ARR/p – Mount Saint Phillack VK3/ VT-006

And the following Park to Park contacts:-

  • Ian VK1DI/p – Mount Taylor Nature Reserve VKFF-0854

I also logged these stations.

I then jumped back on the mic and logged a further 31 stations, including the following Summit to Summit contacts:-

  • Peter VK3ZPF/p – Mount Toorongo Range VK3/ VT-026
  • Malcolm VK3OAK/p – Blue Mountain VK3/ VS-015
  • Compton VK2HRX/3 – Mount Loch VK3/ VE-005
  • Matt VK1MA/p – Yellow Rabbit Hill VK1/ AC-039
  • Al VK1RX/2 – Livingstone Hill VK2/ SM-093
  • Brian VK3BCM/2 – Mount Black Jack VK2/ SW-010
  • Gerard VK2IO/p – Mount Elliot VK2/ HU-093
  • Alan VK3ALN/p – Mount Donna Buang VK3/ VC-002
  • Ian VK5CZ/p – Mount Gawler VK5/ SE-013
  • Ron VK3AFW/p – Mount Matlock VK3/ VC-001
  • Nik VK3ZNK/p – Arthurs Seat VK3/ VC-031
  • Peter VK3PF/2 – Great Yambla Ridge VK2/ RI-018
  • Col VK3GTV/p – Mount Macedon VK3/ VC-007
  • Craig VK3KLR/p – Mount Macedon VK3/ VC-007

And the following Park to Park contacts:-

  • Malcolm VK3OAK – Landsborough Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2129
  • Alan VK3ALN/p – Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-0556
  • Nik VK3ZNK/p – Arthus seat State Park VKFF-0750
  • Peter VK3PF/2 – Benambra National Park VKFF-0029
  • Col VK3GTV/p – Macedon Regional Park VKFF-0972

I then decided it was time to try the 20m band.  I changed bands on the transceiver and was monitoring 14.310 as I was lowering the squid pole and removing the 40m links.  I could hear Andrew VK1AD/2 calling CQ, so I hoisted the squid pole up with haste, but found that Andrew had gone.  I had however, heard John VK6NU/p trying to get through (unsuccessfully) to Andrew.  So I logged John who was activating SOTA peak VK6/ SW-039.

I then moved up to 14.315 and logged a total of 18 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and New Zealand.  This included the following Summit to Summit contacts:-

  • Andrew VK1DA/2 – Mount Bowning VK2/ ST-042
  • Peter VK3PF/2 – Great Yambla Ridge VK2/ RI-018
  • Nik VK3ZNK/p – Arthurs Seat VK3/ VC-031
  • Andrew VK1AD/2 – Mount Mundoonen VK2/ ST-053
  • Alan VK3ALN/p – Mount Donna Buang VK3/ VC-002
  • John ZL1BYZ/p – Puketutu ZL1/ WK-158
  • Sid VK4/ZS5AYC – Tennison Woods Mountain VK4/ SE-177
  • Adele VK4/ZS5APT – Tennison Woods Mountain VK4/ SE-177
  • Matt VK1MA/2 – Yellow Rabbit Hill VK1/ AC-039

And the following Park to Park contacts:-

  • Peter VK3PF/2 – Benambra National Park VKFF-0029
  • Nik VK3ZNK/p – Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750
  • Alan VK3ALN/p – Yarra Ranges National Park VKFF-0556

John ZL1BYZ was my first New Zealand Summit to Summit for this activation, so I was very pleased to get him in the log, albeit a little bit of a struggle.  I also logged John’s wife, Jacky ZL1WA, who was operating from home.

A few stations had mentioned that 15m was open, so Marija and I lowered the squid pole, and replaced the linked dipole with the 15m 1/2 wave dipole.  I called CQ on 21.250 and it wasn’t long before I had my first 15m caller, John VK4TJ.  What followed really surprised me.  A steady flow of callers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK7, and New Zealand.  I logged a total of 36 stations including the following Summit to Summit contacts:-

  • Nik VK3ZNK/p – Arthurs Seat VK3/ VC-031
  • Gerard VK2IO/p – Mount Elliot VK2/ HU-093
  • Ron VK3AFW/p – Mount Selma VK3/ VT-013

And the following Park to Park contacts:-

  • Nik VK3ZNK/p – Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750
  • Mike VK6MB/p – Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371
  • Mark VK4SMA/p – Moogerah Peaks National Park VKFF-0326
  • Peter VK3ZPF/p – Crossover Regional Park VKFF-0965

Some of the signals on 15m were exceptionally good.  It was so great to see this band open.

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I encouraged Marija to get up on 15m and I think she was pleased I did, as she does not normally make a lot of contacts on that band.  Marija ended up logging 25 including the following Summit to Summit contacts:-

  • Gerard VK2IO – Mount Elliot VK2/ HU-093
  • Nik VK3ZNK/p – Arthurs Seat VK3/ VC-031
  • Ron VK3AFW/p – VK3/ VT-013

And the following Park to Park contacts:-

  • Mark VK4SMA/p – Moogerah Peaks National Park VKFF-0326
  • Nik VK3ZNK/p – Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750
  • Mike VK6MB/ – Murramarang National Park VKFF-0371
  • Peter VK3ZPF/p – Crossover Regional Park VKFF-0965

To complete the activation I put out a few final CQ calls on 21.250 and logged a further 8 stations from VK2, VK4, VK7 and New Zealand.

Our final tally for the day:-

Paul VK5PAS

  • number of QSOs – 142
  • number of Summit to Summit – 46
  • number of Park to Park – 18

Marija VK5FMAZ

  • number of QSOs – 48
  • number of Summit to Summit – 16
  • number of Park to Park – 7

TOTAL QSOS – 190

TOTAL SUMMIT TO SUMMIT – 62

TOTAL PARK to PARK – 25

During the activation we were also visited by John VK5FLEA.  John, who is a new ham, has become a very enthusiastic parks activator.  He also activated Mount Lofty, and this was his first ever SOTA activation.

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Marija worked the following stations before the UTC rollover:-

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Marija worked the following stations after the UTC rollover:-

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I worked the following stations before the UTC rollover:-

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I worked the following stations after the UTC rollover:-

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References.

Wikipedia, 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lofty>, viewed 1st January 2019