AM broadcast band DXing with:
Antenna 1: 6-foot diagonal wooden-frame loop (“loop”)
Antenna 2: 23-foot “fishing rod” vertical with MFJ-1020C amplified pre-selector (“vertical”)
Combiner: Quantum Phaser (“phaser”)
Receiver: RTL-SDR dongle, Ham It Up upconverter into laptop
Includes audio of some station identifications, best heard with headphones. All times given in MST and UT; the dates are MST.
So, the “new era” amounts to me using a phased antenna system for routine DXing. You can read more about my antenna experimentations, but the idea is that a phaser can combine signals from two antennas to null (or “phase”) out a strong signal, revealing a weaker signal below. Plus, with a loop and a vertical, the receiving pattern is cardioid, so you get stations the best directly opposite of the station you are phasing out. This is the opposite of the way a loop works, as it has two peaks 180-degree apart, and nulls in between the peaks.
December 13th, 2014
This evening session included more testing of my phasing system, but here I will focus on the new stations logged. I set up at 10:18pm (0518UT). I was working the “X-band” from 1620-1700 kHz because after the FCC opened this up, they changed their minds on full populating the band across the U.S. Combined with only a few stations in Mexico, these frequencies have only a handful of stations each and thus simpler. After some testing on 1700, I ended up on 1660 kHz and phased out KTIQ to the west. It took a while to get an identification, but it was ESPN Radio and there was an ad for a high school football website for central Texas. So, the top-of-the-hour call was no surprise:
1660 KTRI, Waco TX, medium at 10:59pm (0559UT), 1000W, call (new; phaser), 915 miles
The audio is pretty clear, and includes identifications of all of their translator stations as well:
KSMH out of Sacramento CA tends to dominate 1620 kHz, with WTAW out of College Station sometimes coming through. I was able to phase out a strong signal from KSMH to the northwest, and was getting tropical sounding music with occasional English speech. This is one of the stronger AM frequencies for Radio Rebelde out of Cuba, but it took a while to get a clear signal on 1620 and their shortwave outlet on 5025 kHz to get a confirmation. But, that finally happened, for my fourth AM BCB frequency of Rebelde:
What you are hearing in the recording is a few seconds on 1620, then I switched to 5025 for a few seconds, then back to 1620.
December 15th, 2014
This was an pre-dawn session starting at 4:22am. I had the day off and decided to DX for a while before going hiking. I was generally trying to phase out things in the 1100s, but wasn’t getting anything new. KSL on 1160 is one of the strongest stations I receive that sends out a digital broadcast. Unfortunately, despite being blatantly against the usual rules, the FCC allows significant interference on adjacent channels from this. It’s apparently okay because you aren’t supposed to be listening to frequencies that aren’t in your own city, so it’s no big deal if a station 400+ miles away interferes with a station 100 miles from you that’s not even on the same frequency. It’s yet another “follow the money” type of thing, the laws of Physics that dictate radio wave propagation be damned. The insidious part of this is that you really don’t know why there is interference unless you have an SDR and can see the digital signal pattern. Thus, only a few people know that the interference is being caused by something where a government agency was apparently bought off so you can get talk radio in slightly higher fidelity. (The whole goal of IBOC, as it’s called, is to improve sound quality, but oddly enough on AM it’s almost never used by stations that broadcast anything that is actually improved by better sound quality, like, you know, music.) Anyway, I’ve found that another good use for a phaser is to knock down strong stations on an adjacent channel, which also knocks down their digital hash. Thus, I was able to pick up a new Mexican station on 1170:
1170 XEIB, Caborca SO, medium at 5:19am (1219UT), 1000W, slogan and city (new; phaser), 265 miles
This was a marginal log because I couldn’t get a webcast. But, in addition to their “Radio Visa” slogan, they also mentioned “Caborca, Sonora”, so there’s really nothing else it could be.
With KSL screwing with 1140, 1150, 1170, and 1180, after getting the one catch, I lost interest in this frequency range. I decided to try phasing out something else. KGO San Francisco dominates 810 kHz here as it’s a fairly empty frequency otherwise. I was able to get it phased out, leaving two Spanish-language stations. I got a webcast match for the music station, but talking was still coming in. But, only a couple minutes later, I got the “Radio Mexicana” slogan for the log:
810 XESB, Santa Barbara CH, very weak at 5:46am (1246UT), 1000W, slogan and webcast (new; phaser)
Some sources list this as Hidalgo del Parral. Mexico lists Santa Barbara, the FCC lists both, with the most recent information saying Hidalgo del Parral. Mexico lists the ownership as “RADIO SANTA BARBARA, S.A. DE C.V.”, but they have the station as daytime only.
December 16th, 2014
Another pre-dawn session starting at 4:55am. I decided to try phasing out 760 KFMB San Diego to try for KJR out of Detroit. This is the most likely station I would be able to receive from Michigan, but 1600+ miles is a long distance. I just ended up getting Spanish music, which was probably XENY Nogales which I’ve logged before. But no sign of anything more distant. I also tried Indiana’s most likely catch, 1190 WOWO, but there wasn’t even really anything to phase out, let alone a WOWO signal.
I don’t even remember why I ended up on 1270 kHz, but almost immediately after getting there, I got “CBS Sports Radio, Reno” off just the loop aligned N-S. I decided to try to phase out Spanish music, presumably from Mexico, to get a more conclusive ID for Reno. However, it was fading out a lot, and I ended up with a religious station coming on strong at 5:27am (1227UT). Nobody identified at the bottom of the hour, so I kept listening. At 5:41am (1241UT), the sports station was back and I caught “96-1 and 12-70, CBS Sports Radio” an ad for event in Elko NV. I decided that was all good enough:
1270 KBZZ, Sparks NV, weak at 5:41am (1241UT), 5000W, slogan and local ad (new; phaser), 526 miles
However, the religious station wouldn’t quit. I thought I was hearing country music, but it might have been religious. In any case, I caught their ID “Living Water Radio, K-J-U-G A-M, Tulare-xxxx-xxxx-Fresno”:
1270 KJUG, Tulare CA, medium at 5:49am (1249UT), 1000W, call (new; phaser), 398 miles
It’s not very common that I pick up two new stations on the same frequency in less than 10 minutes! And, I got a recording:
I stuck with the frequency, and heard some kind of identification for the Mexican station at 6:03am! But, I couldn’t make out enough to actually identify it, so I’ve put out an APB on that one to see if somebody else can understand. Here’s the audio again:
[Added later: this turns out to be 1270 XEGL, Navojoa SO, weak at 6:03am (1303UT), 1000W, call (new; phaser), 546 miles]
On 1300 kHz, I was phasing out a presumed Mexican station and heard “BBC World Service” at 6:06am. This was probably KPMO Mendocino CA, a Jefferson Public Radio affiliate. But this didn’t stick around very long and country music started bubbling up. The signal was mainly off the loop, and after the next song, I got “Merry Christmas from Cowboy Country, K-C-M-Y”, into a Dolly Parton song:
1300 KCMY, Carson City NV, weak at 6:11am (1311UT), 500W, call (new; phaser), 513 miles