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December 2005 - Fish Hoek QTH and
January 2006 - Noordhoek DXpedition

by Gary Deacon

My QTH in Fish Hoek is situated in a favourable location for AM dxing, 1km from the False Bay coast to the east and about 9 km from the Atlantic side to the west. However the local neighbourhood electrical noise has increased quite substantially during recent years, to the point where dxing all but the strongest stations has been virtually impossible. Fortunately, a recent purchase of an ALA1530 loop antenna has improved the reception from home quite dramatically!

ALA1530
The ALA1530 suspended form the cupboard door at home in Fish Hoek.

Some general obsevations with the use of the ALA1530:

1) An effective reduction of local neighbourhood noise sources;

2) The ability to reduce/null some of the Brazilian stations in favour of the USA, a surprisingly fine tuning process with just a slight turn of a few degrees;

3) A "visual" directional confirmation with the alignment of the loop;

4) Despite the relative small signal capture area of the antenna, some interesting long-haul reception occured, especially during the dawn enhancement peaks;

5) I can dx from home again!

Local Topography

I seem to experience some signal attenuation from the North due to the mountain range in front of us, an obvious advantage so far as interference from the Africans and high power Europeans are concerned.

By additional good fortune I receive Canada/USA through a gap/lower part of the range towards the North West (over the dip of Ou Kaapse Weg) and Australia/Far East is in the clear on the opposite South East side.

TA signals from North America

Chapman's Peak Caravan Farm
Chapmans Peak Caravan Farm Entrance - 2km from the Atlantic.

I concentrated on reception from North America which has not been heard that frequently here in South Africa during recent years.

However, encouraging openings from that part of the world were noted during December 2005 and January 2006. Stations from the USA would usually appear from around 0100 UTC. However, the period from a half hour before to a half hour after local sunrise (approximately 0300 UTC to 0400 UTC) provided the best results.

Noordhoek Dxpedition

During the first half of January, I took the family on a camping holiday to Chapmans Peak Caravan Farm, Noordhoek. Although only a few kilometres from home, the location is really scenic and quite different from Fish Hoek. One might as well have been 1000 kilometres away! The camp site is situated approximately 2 km from the Atlantic.


Daughter Nicole and a thirsty duck at the pool

The reception from North America is similar to what I experience at home except for the fact that local electrical noise levels are less noticeable. The 2km distance from the Atlantic also provides a slight advantage.

The receiver, as usual, was the ultra quiet FRG7 with the ALA 1530 looop antenna.

The following stations were received during an intense series of dx listening sessions from Fish Hoek (24th December 2005 to January 5th 2006) and Noordhoek (January 6th to January 15th 2006).

North America:

650 0545 WSM Nashville TN w mx - poor 27/12

660 0323 WFAN New York NY w "WFAN 20-20 Sports" id jingle and sports scores incl "Tiger Balm" ad - fair w good peak 9/1

670 0336 WSCR Chicago IL (presumed) w ad for "Cadillac" and phone-in - poor 9/1

680 0306 WPTF Raleigh NC w id as "Newstalk 6-80 WPTF" - very poor 15/1

680 0350 WRKO Boston MA w ads and id as "6-80 WRKO" - fair - most dominant station 15/1

680 0106 WCBM Baltimore MD w id as "Talk Radio 6-80 WCBM" - poor 26/12

690 0337 CINF Montreal QC (presumed) in FF w discussion - poor 13/1 (A personal first)

700 0331 WLW Cincinnati OH w news, id as "News Radio 700 WLW" and ads - poor/fair 9/1

710 0355 WOR New York NY w id jingle "Radio 7-10 WOR" and ads - fair w good peaks 13/1

750 0245 WSB Atlanta GA (presumed) w phone-in - poor 10/1

Oscar
Oscar -the friendly ostrich

760 0342 WJR Detriot MI (presumed) w talk - poor 8/1

770 0240 WABC New York NY w talk - poor 11/1

780 0214 WBBM Chicago IL w id - poor 11/1

790 0229 WNIS Norfolk VA w health px "1-800 548 Talk" and promo for "Ask The Expert Show on WTAR " - poor 9/1/06

800 0319 CKLW Windsor ON w id and px promo "Waking you up week day mornings 5 to 9, It's 'The Morning Drive' on AM 800 CKLW" followed by wx forecast - fair peak Pleased about the appearance of this station which had to compete with Brazil and TWR Bonaire. (A distance of 8 288 miles/13 337 km).

810 0308 WGY Shenectady NY (presumed) w talk - poor 11/1

820 0332 WBAP Fort Worth TX w sports comm - poor 5/1

840 0403 WHAS Louisville KY w id - poor 15/1

850 0402 WTAR Norfolk VA w ads and wx at 0405 UTC - fair and consistent w good peaks 14/1

870 0323 WWL New Orleans w talk - poor 5/1

880 0329 WCBS New York NY w wx - fair/good 5/1

Tent
The radio tent

890 0357 WLS Chicago IL w talk - good peak 15/1

900 0303 CHML Hamilton ON w id as "Home Town Radio AM 900, Hamilton's News-Talk and Sports Leader" followed by
Old Time Radio Program - poor but consistent with fair peaks 11/1

940 0133 CINW Montreal QC w ads and id as "The New 9-40 Montreal" - poor 11/1 (A personal first)

940 0343 WKGM Smithfield VA w tentative "KGM" id - very poor 13/1

950 0312 WPEN Philadelphia PA w sports comm - poor 11/1 (A personal first)

990 0343 UNIDENTIFIED w sports comm. - very poor 6/1

1000 0351 WMVP Chicago IL w talk including mention of "The Chicago Bulls" and "The Bulls Radio Network" - poor/fair - 8/1

1010 0305 WINS New York NY w news, frequent id's and time checks - good - 9/1

1020 0247 KDKA Pittsburgh PA (presumed) w sports comm - very poor 15/1

1040 0114 WHO Des Moines IA w id - poor/fair 9/1

1050 0303 WEVD New York NY w id as "10-50 ESPN Radio, on the air at 10-50 AM and on line at 10-50 ESPN Radio.com" followed by "Game Night" - very good peak 8/1

1060 0214 KYW Philadelphia PA w wx - poor 10/1

1080 0205 WTIC Hartford CT w id as "News-Talk 10-80 WTIC" - poor 10/1

FRG7
The FRG7 receiver and preselector

1090 0248 WBAL Baltimore MD w phone-in - good 11/1

1100 0347 WTAM Cleveland OH w id as "News-Radio WTAM 11-00, Cleveland" - poor 9/1

1110 0319 WBT Charlotte NC w ads - poor 11/1

1120 0345 KMOX St.Louis MO w time check for "9:45" and phone-in - poor 24/12

1130 0236 WBBR New York NY w Bloomberg.com announcement - fair w good peaks - 12/1

1140 0150 WRVA w religious px - good consistent signal - 9/1 (religious px heard on Monday mornings in South Africa)

1160 0333 KSL Salt Lake City UT w "KSL News-Radio" id and sports comm. - fair 6/1

1170 0331 WWVA Wheeling WV w religious px - fair w good peaks - 11/1

1180 0332 Radio Marti Marathon Key FL in SS - poor w fair peaks - 6/1

1180 0131 WHAM Rochester NY w id as "Rochester's official weather station - News Radio 11-80 WHAM" follwed by sports comm - poor but clear 12/1

Camp site
Our camp site under an old oak tree

1190 0203 WLIB New York NY w ad for Accu weather.com and id as : "Air America Radio Traffic and Weather on 11-90 WLIB" followed by New York traffic report - good peak - 9/1 Most consistent signal of the USA stations heard here with surprising peaks.

1200 0345 WOAI San Antonio TX w talk and id at 0347 UTC as "News Radio 12-00 WOAI" - fair 14/1

1300 0402 UNIDENTIFIED w sports results and "ESPN 13-00" id poor 12/1

1310 0301 UNIDENTIFIED w sports news - poor 9/1

1360 0325 WKAT Miami FL w highlights from the Dennis Prager show, also SRI news at 0353 and id as "News-Talk WKAT" at 0359 UTC - fair (personal first).

1460 0337 WZNZ Jacksonville FL including ESPN id as part of a px promo "The show is called 'The Rumble'. It's simply big, bad, mean and nasty. It's 'The Rumble'. Weekdays 3:00 to 6:00 on Jacksonville ESPN 1460". poor (personal first)

1500 0158 WTOP Washington DC w id as "WTOP News Time. 8:58. Traffic and weather together ... " - fair 12/1

1510 0331 WLAC Nashville TN w id as "News-Radio 15-10 WLAC - fair 30/12/05

1520 0110 WWKB Buffalo NY w oldies mx and id as "KB Radio 15-20 remembers the class of 1958 ... " - fair 12/1

1530 0159 WSAI Cincinnati OH (presumed) w ads - poor 12/1

1540 0219 WPTR Albany NY w Blue Jays vs Panthers basketball - poor w fair peak - 12/1


ALA1530 Loop_Antenna suspended from the old oak tree

1600 0355 WWRL New York NY w ad - poor w fair peaks 7/1

1660 0300 WWRU Elisabeth NY w id and musical interlude "October Morning" by "Fourplay" - fair 7/1

1660 0109 WCNZ Marco Is FL (presumed) w ann - very poor under WWRU - 7/1

1700 0302 KVNS Brownsville TX (presumed) w news - poor 7/1

The Caribbean:

800 0245 NETHERLANDS ANTILLES TWR Bonaire w religious px - good 1/1

820 0344 ST. KITTS Radio Paradise w religius px - fair 8/1

1400 0055 GRENADA Harbour Light of the Windwards Carriacou w religious px - fair 26/12

1540 0325 BAHAMAS ZNS1 Nassau w "Christmas in the 1800's" - good peak 25/12

1610 0310 ANGUILLA Caribbean Beacon The Valley w religious px - poor 9/1

1620 0256 AMERICAN VIRGIN IS WDHP w ads - poor 26/12

United Kingdom:

A brief opening to the UK was noted around LSR on the 7th January :

1215 0335 Virgin AM Various locations w id, "London Calling" by "The Clash" and "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zep - fair peak

1458 0336 Sunrise Radio London w id - fair peak

1548 0325 Capitol Gold London w mx - good peak

Receiver: FRG7
Antenna: ALA1530

Conclusion

It was great to experience some good openings from North America, including a few of the old favourites from the 70's and 80's. There were at least four or five mornings with NA stations across the band which reminded me of the "kid in a candy store" experience as decribed by our dx friends in Australia!

It's quite comforting to hear that some of the US stations like 1010 WINS and 1170 WWVA have still managed to retain their identity and format after all these years. It's also interesting to note the inclusion of Old Time Radio programs on 900 CHML, and the oldies format on 1520 WWKB, a pleasant change from a dxer's point of view, from the large sport and news-talk networks which seem to be incorporating more stations into their respective formats.

(published on January 30, 2006)

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