My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Lightning Strikes Again

Waste of money?
After dinner last evening, I was watching the news on the big TV set and BAM! – there was a lightning strike very nearby. The big TV flashed white and when the picture returned, it displayed the "No Signal" message, Uh oh!

The TV in the kitchen seemed fine even though it is part of the same Xfinity Comcast installation.

I spent over an hour monkeying around trying to diagnose the problem. I figured that either the TV or set-top box had been damaged.

I swapped TVs and the kitchen TV worked fine with the suspect set-top box, but the big TV would not work with the kitchen connection.

Next, I connected the big TV to my laptop and the big TV mirrored the computer's desktop. Finally, I connected the big TV to its original set-top box connection and now it worked fine!

Did the TV heal itself?

I was relieved that the TV and set-top box were working, but the vintage VCR and new DVD player that were connected to the set-top box would not power up. The DVD player's wall wart was outputting 12 volts DC, but the DVD player would have none of it.

All the equipment was connected to AC via a high-end GE surge protected power strip that had the following guarantee:  In the event that a power surge or spike occurs while equipment is properly connected to the surge protector, the manufacturer will repair or replace any equipment damaged up to the maximum value of $400,000.

But their guarantee does not cover lightning hits!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

1710 Mystery Station


Mike, KA3JAW, asked, "Do you hear a multicultural station on AM 1710 that also comes in during the day time at about  the same signal strength?"

I replied, "I have never heard it during the day. I do hear it occasionally at night (maybe once every two or three weeks). I thought it might be a pirate. If you are hearing it during the day, it is probably a lot closer to you than me."

That exchange started a weeklong quest to figure out what we were hearing. 

The only other stations I hear on 1710 are the Springfield (MA) Armory TIS and WQFG689, the Hudson County (NJ) TIS. I usually hear one or both each night, but the mystery station is a little rarer.

For about one week, I monitored 1710 whenever I had the radio on at home and in the Subaru. This is what I discovered:
When the station shows up, it is usually around sunset for 15 to 30 minute appearances. One time, I also heard it very briefly on the car radio at sunrise.
One evening, I was able to receive it very weakly on the directional antenna (a C.Crane Twin Coil Ferrite on a turntable). The signal peaked to the southeast/northwest, approximately 135/315 degrees. There is not much to the southeast... just some small towns in southeastern Connecticut, the eastern tip of Long Island and then the AtlanticOcean. The northwest is more likely the source... Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, NY and Toronto and Hamilton, ON.
Mike mentioned that he thought he heard Canada mentioned a few times, so perhaps it is a Canadian station.

The station remains a mystery... maybe a little less mysterious, but still a mystery.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Conservative Logging - Part 2

Radio Algerienne's logo – An Algerian longwave
station I have heard regularly throughout this
winter on 252 kc with audio!
In yesterday's post, I wondered about logging the transatlantic carriers I hear on LW and MW. Do I log them as new stations when I am pretty sure I know who they are despite the fact there is nothing on-the-air, call sign or otherwise, to confirm their identity?

So far, I had been taking a conservative approach and not logging them as new stations even though I am 99% sure that the carrier I heard on 1215 kc is Absolute Radio out of the UK.

Curious about how other LW and MW DX'ers handle carriers, I posed this question on the International Radio Club of America (IRCA) e-mail list and received nine replies. The consensus was to take the conservative approach and not log a carrier unless you hear audio with contents that confirms the station's identity.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Conservative Logging

Moorside Edge transmitter site of BBC Radio 5 Live 909 kHz, Talksport 1089 kHz and Absolute Radio 1215 kHz. (Source: MediumWave.info)

Conditions on the AM band seemed pretty good this morning on the stock radio in my Subaru as I drove to work at the crack of dawn. The French Canadians were strong and WSB and WGY were so strong that you would think they were locals. But there was nothing new to enter in the log.

Last week was a good week for transatlantic DX'ing. Thursday evening, I heard weak audio on 171, 198, and 216 and weak carriers on 183, 252, 531, 549, 684 and 693. Friday evening there were weak carriers on 549, 684, 693, 855 and 1215.

The stations between 171 and 252 were already in the log. Everything in the AM band was not. Do I log carriers as new stations when there is no way to identify them to a certainty? It is likely that 1215 was Absolute Radio out of the UK, but without hearing any audio to confirm that fact, I don't log it as a new station.

Am I being too conservative?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

seventy-seven double-you aye bee see


When I was a teenager, I was an avid listener of AM radio station WABC in New York City. Day and night, it was loud and clear in Waterbury and my radio was tuned to 770 kc most of the time.

Awhile back, I purchased a DVD titled 1960’s WABC Radio Airchecks. In addition to airchecks, the DVD contains 75 hours of pure nostalgia from 77 WABC including “Actual Broadcasts By Big Dan Ingram, ‘Cousin Brucie’ Bruce Morrow, Ron Lundy, Scott Muni, Chuck Leonard & More,” like the Cousin Brucie theme song sung by The Four Seasons or the old Palisades Amusement Park commercial.

Seventy-five hours is a little much to listen to in one sitting, so I loaded the contents of the DVD into my iPod (by way of iTunes) and I hear random selections during my daily commute.

A 16-minute segment from October 7, 1964, with Dan Ingram spinning the platters was very entertaining and enlightening.

Here are some items of note from the broadcast:

đŸ“¶   Telephone numbers still used two-letter alphabetical prefices, for example, "PL 5-1516" instead of "755-1516" (in this example, the "PL" was short for "plaza").

đŸ“¶   Mailing addresses still used one or two-number postal zones instead of ZIP Codes, for example, "Waterbury 6, Connecticut" instead of "Waterbury, Connecticut 06706."

đŸ“¶   Firestone advertised snow tires: $24.24 for a pair.

đŸ“¶   During the broadcast, Dan Ingram announced score updates from the World Series. On the air, he admitted rooting for St. Louis (against the hometown Yankees). Can you imagine an on-the-air personality rooting against the hometown team today? (I can’t.)

đŸ“¶   This broadcast was during the height of Beatlemania and there were two commercials in a row: one for a contest to win a Beatles poster, followed by a commercial for the Beatles' appearance on Shindig! Both commercials used snippets from the Beatles’ hit She Loves You. Following the commercials, Ingram says, “Well, I guess it was inevitable” and the next song you hear him play was She Loves You.

Fun, fun, fun!