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  #1  
Old 09-23-2016, 08:53 AM
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musichal musichal is offline
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New To AM DXing, Portable

I wasn't sure where to post this, or for that matter, even whether to post at all. However, as that as never stopped me before...

...and because I ain't skeert of appearing stupid... here goes

This may just be totally boring to amateur radio fans, like something you did when you were young, but graduated into the world of ham radio, about which I know zip. But I've read jayallen's fm/lw/mw/sw radio reviews for a couple years or so, and bought a CCRadio-EP and a Sangean PR-D5 am/fm radio based on his recommendations. Just to listen to a ballgame now and then.

Recently I also acquired a couple of Kenwood KT-615 tuners also, for listening to FM. I think they have AM, too, and maybe that section also works. So, I've never been into dxing - just didn't see the point. But those Kennies did one thing - they brought me back to the magic that is radio, which in turn led me to dust off my CCrane, slap in new batteries (at least I knew enough not to try the AC input) and try my hand at a little light dxing.

After discovering the night before last just how ignorant I am about my radio environment, I realized that to make any progress, and not be stuck on confused, I needed to log some stations, and learn more about the frequencies and transmission power of local stations, as well as some of the 50k stations surrounding me for about 500 miles or so. And thus I've begun that journey.

I logged (yes, received) the following, mostly 50kw stations:

KMOA St Louis 1120khz 50kw 465 miles clear signal
KFAB Omaha 1110khz 50k 425 mi pretty clear, slight fading
WOAI San Antonio 1200khz 50k 405 mi clear
KRLD Dallas 1080khz 50k 175 mi not as clear as I'd have thought, but ok
KOA Denver 850khz 50k 520 mi pretty clear
KSL Salt Lake City 1160khz 50k 875 mi noisy, but understandable
WSB Atlanta 750khz 50k 750 mi noisy, as above
WGN Chicago 720khz 50k 700 mi clear
WBBM Chicago 780khz 50k 700 mi pretty clear
WLW Cincinnati 700khz 50k 760 mi pretty clear
WWL New Orleans 870khz 50k 565 mi pretty clear

and somehow WGNU St. Louis 920khz with a whopping 500W and 465 miles away came in clearly for 20 minutes when I quit listening and moved on.

So, there has to be better descriptions than clear/ pretty clear... tips abut that? Any standard descriptors?

What other facts should I log, if any?

Next I will make a list of other 50w stations to seek out, and learn more about my locals. I think I did okay my first night, with the goal of figuring out what is where so that I can recognize a great catch if I stumble upon one. I get now why it's fun, you learn all kinds of things. Gotta keep my grey cells busy while the synapses still fire fairly well.

I was surprised and excited about how tightly packed the stations are at night, and impressed with the EP's selectivity and sensitivity. Seems pretty good for a portable. Any comments, pointers, or heckling is invited, since I am such a noob.
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Old 09-23-2016, 09:31 AM
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If any of your radios have a tuning meter that is anything beyond a single light it can be good to note it's reading... If you were working with tube radios I'd tell you to attach a DMM to the AVC system and use AVC voltage as a measure of signal strength...Unfortunately I would not know how to point you to that in a SS radio with out a good schematic.

Where do you normally listen from? Home in a neighborhood perhaps? There are lots of 120VAC appliances that put hash into the air any place in the vicinity of power lines. Ever tune a local AM station in the car and have it drowned by static driving under power lines?...Well expand that noise zone several fold for weak DX hits. If you can escape the grid by a couple miles, you will get less noise. A long-wire antenna (75'-200') between trees will increase the signal to noise on weak stations greatly too.
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Old 09-23-2016, 01:07 PM
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Some use the old "RST" scale for reporting signal quality... of course "T" only applies to morse code, but "R and S" are useful indicators.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/RST_code

You might find this site of day and night patterns for AM stations useful:

http://www.nf8m.com/patternmaps.html

Or for more technical detail on a given station, the FCC has it here:

https://www.fcc.gov/media/radio/am-query

Enhanced propagation can occur along the "grey line", around sunrise and sunset, so the gery line map is a useful tool:

http://dx.qsl.net/propagation/greyline.html

I agree with EM about finding a quiet spot or using an outside antenna, but a lot can be gained towards making your residence quieter, by using a small portable to track down the worst offenders and turing them off or installing ferrite line filters.

Radio jayallen has a wonderful site, and I tend to agree with his findings... it is interesting that some very vintage radios rate quite well, holding up favorably in comparison to the latest hot offerings from Sangean and others.

have fun!
jr
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Old 09-23-2016, 01:57 PM
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musichal musichal is offline
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Yes, I am very much aware that getting away from my house and neighborhood would cut out a lot of RFI noise, but due to my health issues that isn't really an option. Power lines run across the back of my lot, and the house is full of wall-warts, ceiling fans, Wi-Fi, cordless phones, and other offenders. So I have found two comfortable spots in which I have to orient the radio a certain direction, and keep it in contact with my body for best results.

My "clear" does not indicate the absence of noise, of course, but means that I can easily hear every word spoken. 'Pretty clear' means I miss some words, but not many, whether from increased noise, fading, pumping, etc. Occasionally it means very little to virtually no noise.

I saw someone else mention but not explain "the old RST method" so I will be looking at that link soon, as well as them all. I realize there are folks out there who would say, "just stream it", which is why I wanted to post in this forum rather than the AK where I usually post. I find no fun in streaming, but do use it sometimes for music in the bedroom during sleep - I sleep better that way.

I wish my radio did have a signal strength indicator, but I'm pretty happy with its performance. What other models might I consider that would include such an indicator? I don't really see me buying anything more than a couple hundred bucks or so, and less is always better. Though you never know.

I do also have a Panasonic RB-40 multi-band, double conversion (or something like that) but don't find enough stations on SW to keep me interested. I haven't tried it for MW dxing yet, since I've found the CCrane-EP's 8"-long ferrite bar antenna with the strange adjustment knob so useful and effective.

I doubt a longwire is in my future since I can't diy it and it's hard (and pricey) to find folks to properly install most any type antenna.


EDIT: The links are very helpful. Thanks again!
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Last edited by musichal; 09-23-2016 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 09-23-2016, 07:00 PM
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Household electrical devices are a killer for shortwave and AM listening. I was listening to my Tecsun PL880 a few weeks ago when the power went out.....the noise floor (which was at S3) completely went away and it was amazing how well everything was coming in.
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Old 09-23-2016, 07:10 PM
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G'day all, a tuned loop is my favoured 'external' antenna for AM dxing. Superb directivity and very good low noise performance. Regards, Felix (vk4fuq).
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Old 09-23-2016, 07:25 PM
Titan1a Titan1a is offline
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AM DXing? Try using an 80 year old Philco 9 tuber with a CC Radio dual-coil antenna! Even with my neighbor's noisy HPS alley light I can really dig out stations. In the daytime I can receive up to 150 miles away. BTW This is the beat-up old radio Walter Beers said should be trashed! Walter did it up right!
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Old 09-23-2016, 08:18 PM
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Yeah, you COULD go w/an R-392... They're SORTA portable..But, I NEVER gotten mine to do as good a job as one of its Stationary cousins, R-389, R-390 or 390A... They DO make a good, toasty warm campstools, however..
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Old 09-24-2016, 12:27 AM
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G'day all, just on AM broadcast band receivers, I've always considered the GE Superadio mk2 as not only having superb RF performance, but is one of the best sounding radios around.

Having external antenna inputs makes it perfect for broadcast band DXing. They are no longer being made sadly, but if you can find one second hand in good condition, they are highly recommended! Regards, Felix (vk4fuq).

Last edited by catman; 09-24-2016 at 12:29 AM. Reason: Grammar.
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Old 09-24-2016, 04:21 AM
Titan1a Titan1a is offline
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I also use the powerful Panasonic RF-2200 upstairs in my bedroom.
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Old 09-24-2016, 09:12 AM
kf4rca kf4rca is offline
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Get yourself a select-a-tenna. My noise floor goes down after midnight when the neighbors turn off their plasmas, lcds, etc.
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Old 09-24-2016, 11:13 PM
Titan1a Titan1a is offline
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I have one. Used for C-Quam.
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Old 09-25-2016, 01:04 AM
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musichal musichal is offline
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OK, guys... visit AudioKarma, you subscribers, and check out my thread "musichal's poetry" in the (Subscriber-only) Reading Room, because I just announced a prize!

Prize: Realistic DX-390 MW/FM/LW/SWwSSB Radio!! (Identical to Sangean ATS-818.)

It's a shameless attempt on my part to attract more readers, I freely admit.

How to Enter: To enter, read some (or all) of my poems and give the one you hate the least a "Like." That's it, you're in. Drawing to be held and winner announced Nov 1. After winner responds with address, I ship it on my dime.

I just purchased two of these neat radios via Barter Town, and will give one of them to the lucky winner, assuming they make it here intact, which seems very likely. Seller says both work without issues. So read my poetry and hold your nose while giving one a Like if you need to do so. Poetry not your thing? Look 'em over, I may surprise you - you might find one or two entertaining.

Ship to continental US only.
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  #14  
Old 09-25-2016, 06:06 PM
zeno zeno is offline
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First is join NRC http://www.nrcdxas.org/
Then order the AM Radio Log. It shows every US & Canadian AM
station by freq. Also format, power, hrs of operation,
address & more.
They also have a forum & DX alert.
Log them how you like !
Built in loop ant is best antenna most the time.

DX the locals during the day. A few freqs will have more than one.

Next hot time is sunset. Many stations to your west will come in
before they sign off or reduce power but locals have.

Opposite at sunrise. Listen for the east signing on.

When there is a heavy aurora it will kill most stations to the north,
enhance ones to south. In NH a good aurora gives you DEEP
south stations & tons of Cubans & other S. Americans.

73 Zeno
LFOD !
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Old 09-25-2016, 06:12 PM
kf4rca kf4rca is offline
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I wish we had a CQUAM station. Can you believe it. Major market Atlanta GA. has no CQUAM. I suppose we're lucky to have some RDS FM stations.
I heard WLS runs CQUAM at night. But the programming is mostly talk. Receivable here when the Cubans aren't swamping them.
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