Log: AM BCB, October 15th – Cuban stations

I continue to be occupied with AM DXing and related equipment. I still plan to put up a detailed post on tuned loops. My latest “loopzilla” is a 6-foot diagonal wooden loop that is working quite well and I’ve figured out a good way to safely mount it on a tripod. In addition, I played around with sampling rates that I’m using on the RTL-SDR dongle, Ham It Up upconverter combination and that’s helped a lot with “birdie” signals that would sometimes be right next to a wanted AM frequency. Anyway…more on that stuff later, but first a couple of nice catches.

530 kHz is a frequency not used in Mexico, only used for a few low-ish power stations in Canada, and in the U.S. it’s only used for low-power Traveller’s Information Stations (i.e., when you are driving along a road and the sign tells you to tune to 530 kHz for road or travel information).  However, one night with loopzilla I noticed a very faint audible signal there, but couldn’t make out anything that night.  Shortly after midnight local time on the 15th (0700 UT), I had to run a desperate errand for a midnight snack and on the way back I was hearing faint Spanish language on 530 on the car radio.  Hmmm.

I got home and set up loopzilla outdoors and sure enough, I was getting Spanish talking and music.  This webpage lists two Cuban affiliates on 530 kHz, Radio Rebelde and Radio Enciclopedia. The former is a fixture on shortwave at 5025 kHz. That link also gives webpages that work and also have webcasts, which gave me matches for the two stations.  The two stations were fighting it out for superiority for the 2.5 hours I listened (recording during about half that time). When best, someone fluent in Spanish could have easily made it out. On the other hand, I was listening for the words “Rebelde” and “Enciclopedia”. I also was looking for the sorts of things given by Brett Saylor’s website of recordings from Cuban stations.

To make a long story short, this first recording has “Rebelde” in it at the beginning and towards the end:

This second recording has “Radio Enciclopedia” at 0:16 if you listen very closely to the female voice that comes in over the male voice of Radio Rebelde:

Finally, the top of the hour (TOH) at Radio Rebelde at 2am MST, 5am in Cuba (listen for “cinco”) and 0900UT:

So, based on web information, these two stations go into my logs as:

530, CMBQ, Villa Maria (Havana) CU, medium at 2:19am, 10000W, 1980mi

530, CTMO3, Guantanamo CU, medium at 2:28am, 1000W, 2478mi

The first station shattered my distance record, and then the second one did it again!  Depending on the exact bouncing path of the skywave signals, the Gulf of Mexico may have helped this one along.  I don’t know how common it is to get these in AZ, so I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

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