[Oops, this should have been titled “December 18th-19th”, the other two days will be posted later]
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.
December 18th, 2014
This was another early morning session starting at 3:44am (1044UT). The first order of business was to log a nearby station that has recently moved from the highly crowded “graveyard” frequency 1450 kHz to 1470. They get to use a higher daytime power, but a much lower nighttime power. But, I quickly picked them up anyway:
1470 KZSL, Show Low AZ, weak at 3:47am (1047UT), 87W, call (new; loop), 143 miles
I got the call letters almost immediately after tuning, so I didn’t get a recording. I listened to a few 70s and 80s songs before decided to wait until some other time to get a good recording of an identification.
One of the uses for a phased antenna system is to null out a local “pest” station enough to pick up other stations. I have a 24-hour station on 1450 just 1.8 miles away, so there are potentially a bunch of stations available if I can get rid of the local and this was the first time I’ve seriously tried with the phaser. First, I was getting “First Light”, a Westwood One program, and based on the presumed cardioid receiving pattern pointing west from phasing out KNOT, this was probably either KZNU St George UT or KTIP Porterville CA. But, I didn’t catch any identification at the bottom of the hour and then this faded out.
The good news is that by 5am (12UT), two other stations faded in. First, I was barely able to eke out a call for KQTE:
1450 KQTE, Helendale CA, very weak at 4:59am (1159UT), 250W, call (new; phaser), 278 miles
The call included a rather ridiculously inclusive list of cities and I didn’t catch all of them, “K-Q-T-E, 14-50, Palmdale, Apple Valley, Victorville, xxxx, xxxx, and Barstow”
A few seconds later, I may have had a call for KVEN Ventura CA, but it just wasn’t clear enough to be sure. I definitely need to work this frequency more often with the phaser, but it is a bit of work to twiddle the knobs to get a good nulling of such a strong local signal.
The final catch of the morning was distant enough to truly be consider “DX”. Right before the 6am (13UT) top of the hour, I thought I heard “Dallas-Fort Worth”, but right at 6am I couldn’t make out a call. After that, a religious station bubbled up for a while, presumably KIHP Mesa AZ. But, with just the loop antenna W-E, I was still getting the sports station, which identified as “The Ticket”. At 6:15am (1315UT), they gave a traffic report for Dallas, and a few minutes later “SportsRadio 1310 & 96.7 The Ticket”. That was enough to call it good:
1310 KTCK, Dallas TX, weak at 6:18am (1318UT), 20000W, slogan and city references (new; loop), 899 miles
It was after sunrise there, so they were presumably on daytime power and this was a classic pre-sunrise pickup of a station to one’s east.
December 19th, 2014
My main goal here was to try to hear the call letters for KSAZ out of the Tucson area and I didn’t even bother to set up the vertical and phaser, just the loop this evening. KSAZ is a Spanish-language station that is audible in the daytime up here on groundwave and it identifies as “Radio Ebenezer”. It’s not hard to hear, but I’ve never caught it at the top of the hour to hear their English identification until now:
580 KSAZ, Marana AZ, medium at 4:00pm (2300UT), 5000W, call (new; loop), 160 miles
I tried several other frequencies of un-logged stations in Arizona. I did catch a “Radio Casa” slogan on 1540, which was almost certainly KASA Phoenix, but I needed more to go on. I decided to see what I could get with the loop on 1190. I have a semi-local KNUV out of the Phoenix area, but it’s not a strong nighttime signal. I was getting another Spanish-language station over presumed KNUV with the loop pointed NW-SE, probably XEMBC Mexicali, one that I’ve been after for a while. However, an English-language station started fading in, and it was religious. My SDR software sometimes fails at recording audio if I make certain adjustments when trying to get the best signal, and that caused me to miss a possible log of KXKS Albuquerque. I thought I heard it at 5:25pm (0025UT) under one of the Spanish stations, but wanted to go back to the recording to be sure, and the recording wasn’t there!
That Spanish station suddenly cut power at 5:30pm (0030UT) and disappeared. That’s a common thing this time of the evening as many stations are mandated to go to lower nighttime power near sunset to avoid interfering with other stations at night when signals travel further. What was intriguing was that this revealed alternative rock music. Another station I’ve been hoping to get is 1190 KVCU Boulder CO. I was more of a KBCO-FM listener when I lived there around the turn of the millennium, but did sometimes listen to the KVCU webcast for non-mainstream music. There ended up being a long-ish interview with a local band and some talk about the Denver-Boulder music scene, so I knew my ID must be correct. But, I wanted to get something more log-worthy. So, I hung around until 6pm, and so did KVCU. They have to drop power at night, but also can run a fairly high power during “critical hours” near sunrise/sunset, so that’s what I’m presuming:
1190 KVCU, Boulder CO, medium at 6:01pm (0101UT), 5000W, call (new; loop), 547 miles
They had a little technical glitch and repeated their pre-recorded ID, and you can hear another station coming in underneath: