Sunday, April 28, 2013

Grunge 3, VOA Radiogram 0

Southern California is called "The Land that Short Wave Forgot" for a reason.  Europe is too far most of the time.  The East Coast goes to sleep earlier, and wakes up before we get propagation.

That leaves Asia and the Pacific.  Asia is far away, and much of it is trans-auroral.  The Pacific has many little islands, most with radios, but the rest is salt water.  The fish couldn't transmit even if they wanted to.  They're on audio frequency.  The boats transmit, but mostly up into space.

What does this have to do with VOA Radiogram?  Plenty, especially this past weekend.  Basically, in plain non-technical language, the reception sucks on a good day and this week it sucked worse.

We open our tale of woe on 17860.  We are told that this frequency uses a venerable SWBC transmitter with something like 80 kW output to a mighty curtain array aimed towards Europe.  Given the good reception in Europe, and the truly abysmal reception in California, I have no reason to doubt this spec.

17860 kHz, 27 April, 1600 sked, MFSK/Flamp demo:

File : VOA_PhoneSats_FlampX2.html
<MISSING 80 0B64>{69D6}3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 

Not good.

Typically, 5745 kHz saves the day.  I get a nice clean SDR recording, and I'm off to massage data.


This week was not typical.  All went well until almost the exact second the MFSK128/ Flamp demo started.  That's when SailMail in San Diego had some traffic to move, a few kHz down.  While North Carolina is not a good path on 5 meg at 0255 UTC, San Diego is a very good path.  The resulting waterfall looks like a losing game of Space Invaders.

Also losing was the MFSK/ Flamp demo:

File : VOA_PhoneSats_FlampX2.html
<MISSING 68 06DE>{69D6}1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 15 16 17 18 20 22 23 25 26 27 28 29

Better, but uhhhhhhhh...... no.  That's a "PSE RPT ALL ALL BK" in anyone's mode.

And so, for the first time ever, we dropped back and punted to the third schedule.  Sometime around sunrise on a Sunday morning, a great time to hear Asia, an SDR came awake and tried to hear North Carolina instead.

The playback shows that Asia won.  Big.  KBS World Broadcasting, Korea, was 20 over S9, with a female announcing dismal pop ballads in English.   Everything else was adjacent-channel splatter.  VOA Radiogram was not there AT ALL.

There's probably no point in bothering with the last sked either.  

Well, fans, I gave it the college try.