Thursday, December 31, 2009

RHODESIA RBC Bulawayo 683 kHz QSL



The Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) was heard in Pinelands at 1700 UTC on the 1st August 1974. The 2 kw transmitter from Bulawayo used to operate on 683 kHz and was received via the Siera and 20 metre longwire antenna.

I was fortunate to receive a QSL card signed by E. McKenzie in 17 days after posting a reception report to the station. The back of the QSL card revealed the interesting change in the station's previous broadcasting history. "The Southern Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation" was printed on a sticker which in turn covered the initial designation of "The Federal Broadcasting Corporation Of Rhodesia And Nyasaland".


The Federal Broadcasting Corporation was formed in 1958 and the Pearl Assurance House pictured on the front of the QSL was completed in 1959. This would suggest that the card was probably printed soon afterwards, making it the oldest QSL card in my collection.

RHODESIA BROADCASTING CORPORATION - A SHORT HISTORY


During the fifties, the Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was created, consisting of present-day Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. The Federal Broadcasting Corporation was set up in 1958 and was modeled on the BBC. It existed until the end of 1963 when the Federation was dissolved prior to the independence of Malawi and Zambia. Southern Rhodesia then became a separate country, and the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation was formed.

In 1968, the RBC expanded its services further with a number of local community stations. The first of these was known as Radio Jacaranda in Salisbury, named for the purple-blossomed trees that line its streets in September and October. This was followed by Radio Matopos in Bulawayo. The Matopos is a hilly area near the city, and also the site of Cecil Rhodes' grave. The last local station, Radio Manica, was located in Umtali, a picturesque town situated on the Mozambique border.

Zimbabwe gained independence on the 18th April 1980 when the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) was created.

The Victoria Falls as seen from the "Rain Forest", photographed in 1968 during our family holiday to Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ZAMBIA Radio Zambia Lusaka 818 kHz QSL



Radio Zambia was heard in Pinelands at 1600 UTC on the 18th July 1974. The 250 kw transmitter from Lusaka used to operate on 881 kHz and was received via the Siera and 20 metre longwire antenna.

Peter Landan Masuba kindly verified my reception report with a QSL card which arrived 73 days later.


A panoramic view of the Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya), from the Zambian side near the Knife-edge bridge (Click onto the image for a higher resolution).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SWAZILAND Swazi Music Radio 1376 kHz Ruler

The transparent ruler from Swazi Music Radio served to promote the station with the "Music Is Our Message" logo and indicated the two broadcasting frequencies (Click onto image for a higher resulution).

Two transparent rulers arrived in the post from Swazi Music Radio in response to a letter I sent to the station sometime during 1973 - 1974.

Although not exactly a verification, I was fortunate to receive the souvenirs as an acknowledgement and promotion from ledgendary radio announcer "Long" John Berks who was the programme director for SMR up until September 1974.



Swazi Music Radio (SMR) was a South African radio station which used to broadcast from Swaziland between 1972 and 1978. It was initially established as Swaziland Commercial Radio but was soon taken over by the South African entrepreneurs Issie and Natie Kirsh as a competitor to LM Radio which broadcast from nearby Mozambique.

The studios were based in central Johannesburg and the transmitters were located in Sandlane, Swaziland, just across the eastern border of South Africa. Programmes were recorded in Johannesburg and the tapes taken by road to the transmitting station for broadcast the next day.

The insert for Swazi Music Radio appeared in the 1974 edition of the WRTH. SMR used to broadcast on 1 376 khz mediumwave and 6 155 khz shortwave.

It had been hoped that the medium wave transmission would reach the Johannesburg area during the day. However long distance medium wave propagation in the former Transvaal province was poor during the daylight hours and only really effective at night.

Monday, December 28, 2009

SWAZILAND R Swaziland Mbabane 881 kHz QSL

Front and Back of the QSL folder.

Inside of the QSL folder (Click onto the images for a higher resolution).

Radio Swaziland was heard in Pinelands at 1600 UTC on the 8th July 1974. The 10 kw station used to operate on 881 kHz and was received via the Siera and 20 metre longwire antenna.

The interesting QSL folder arrived in the post 15 days later.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

LESOTHO Radio Lesotho Lancer's Gap 899 kHz QSL



This is the first post featuring my initial collection of mediumwave QSL's from 1974 onwards. Many of the verifications, particularly from the 1970's, may be considered to be of historical interest too.

Radio Lesotho was heard in Pinelands on 899 kHz via the Siera receiver and 20 metre longwire antenna at 1535 UTC on the 6th July 1974.

The 10 kw signal used to make it through regularly to Pinelands over a distance of 998 km.

I sent off a report to the station and was pleased to receive my very first mediumwave QSL in the mailbox 8 days later !

AUDIO * Available on the right hand side of the web page

The recording of the end of a newscast and station id was made almost exactly 31 years later at Sunnyside on the 29th June 2005 via the FRG7 and 80 metre BOG.

The picturesque receiving location of Sunnyside, located north east of the Lesotho border, 127 km from the Lancer's Gap transmitter (Photograph Gary Deacon).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Early Years Of A Dxer In South Africa - Part 4

The Realistic DX150A Communications Receiver - Fun to operate and a sensitive performer on shortwave (Photograph Gary Deacon).

REALISTIC DX150A RECEIVER

My first communications receiver was a Realistic DX150A, obtained in 1974 from HAMRAD (A popular electronics store in Cape Town at the time). The set was a single conversion analog reciever with good looks and a sensitive performer on short wave with a quiet noise floor. Signals could also be peaked with the antenna trim control which worked well with a modest longwire antenna. The performance on the mediumwave band was attenuated though. The Siera radio remained the receiver of choice for mediumwave reception at the time.


THE LISTENING POST AT PINELANDS IN 1974

Top Shelf L to R : Hitachi Cassette Recorder and Toshiba Reel to Reel Recorder. Bottom Shelf L to R : Akai Headphones, Sony Microphone, Siera Valve Receiver (MW Reception) and Realistic DX150A Receiver (SW Reception).

TRANS ATLANTIC MEDIUMWAVE RECEPTION

Encouraged by the 1974 SADXC reports of trans Atlantic reception of mediumwave stations from the U.S., I decided to try listening out for signals from that part of the world. The length of a basic outdoor longwire antenna was increased to 20 metres. I also managed to increase the height of the antenna by another metre or two.

A few mornings later while tuning across the mediumwave band with the Siera receiver, I stumbled across a station broadcasting news reports from an announcer with an American accent. The station turned out to be WINS New York NY on 1010 kHz at over 12 558 kilometres away !

The excitement of hearing my first trans Atlantic mediumwave station from the U.S. was repeated with the reception of WRVA Richmond VA on 1140 kHz soon afterwards ! 1010 WINS and 1140 WRVA became good indicators for TA reception from the U.S.

MEDIUMWAVE QSLs

I posted my first mediumwave reception report to Radio Lesotho on the 8th July 1974. It was exciting to receive a QSL card from the station in only 8 days !


My first QSL card was received from Radio Lesotho , broadcasting on 899 kHz in the mediumwave band.

This marked the beginning of an interest to try and obtain a few more verifications from stations operating in the mediumwave band. A conservative total of 13 mediumwave reception reports were sent out in 1974. The return percentage was encouraging with a positive response from 11 radio stations.

QSL highlights received from the U.S. that year included 820 WBAP, 1010 WINS, 1110 WBT, 1140 WRVA (a record distance), 1520 WKBW and 1530 WCKY.


My first TA QSL card was received from 1010 WINS in 1974.

QSLs also serve to preserve a little bit of broadcasting history. Many radio station logo's and formats have changed over the years and are reflected in the verifications. Radio stations from Ascension Island, Zimbabwe and Zambia no longer broadcast on mediumwave. QSLs from these countries are quite historical and certainly worth preserving.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Early Years Of A Dxer In South Africa - Part 3

This 1960's Siera valve radio produced good mediumwave reception.

MEDIUMWAVE DXING

One evening during 1973 I decided to tune across the mediumwave band on the family Siera valve radio. The sensitivity of the set proved to be quite good on mediumwave and I was pleasantly surprised to hear and identify Radio Botswana (50 kw) on 971 kHz for the first time. The signal was remarkably clear and marked the beginning of a search for other stations operating in the mediumwave band.

During the next few evenings I managed to hear and identify Radio Mozambique on 737 kHz (50 kw), Radio Swaziland on 881 khz (10 kw) and Radio Lesotho on 899 kHz (10 kw). Part of the fascination of listening to stations on the mediumwave band was the content of the programming which included local news and announcements - an interesting change from the external service shortwave broadcasting of the day.

DX PUBLICATIONS

A few dx publications helped to futher my knowledge while providing inspiration and enthusiasm for the hobby.

HOW TO LISTEN TO THE WORLD (1972)

























I purchased a 1972 edition of "How To Listen To The World" from Technical Books for R3.70. Interesting chapters included : "How To Live With A Budget Receiver" by Gordon Nelson & Russel Edmunds and "Intercontinental Mediumwave Listening" by Richard Wood.

WORLD RADIO TV HANDBOOK (1974)

























The "World Radio And TV Handbook" remains a valuable source of information for today's dxer. I purchased the 1974 edition of the handbook for R5.80.

DRAKE RECEIVERS

Although it would be quite a few years before I would be able to locate a classic second hand R7, I used to read about the ledgendary range of Drake Communications Receivers with great interest.


This advertisement for the Drake DSR1 receiver appeared on page 45 of the 1974 WRTH. The receiver included an innovative digital synthesiser display with an accuracy of up to 100 Hz - an awesome facility for a dxer in 1974 ! The advertised price in the 1974 Popular Electronics Communications Yearbook was 2 295 dollars U.S.

The Drake SPR4 was also advertised and proved to be a well built, top performing set. It has since achieved the status of a classic receiver. The 1974 retail price was a somewhat more affordable 579 dollars U.S.

SHORT WAVE WORLD

The 1974 Wednesday April 24 edition of The Argus "Short Wave World" column dealt with the bandspread capability of receivers available at the time.

"Short Wave World" was a weekly newspaper column written by respected South African dxer Gerry Wood. Readers were invited to write in with their dx questions. The column, which appeared in the Argus during the early 1970's, also served to promote the dxing hobby and the South African DX Club (SADXC).

THE SADXC



I joined the SADXC in 1974 and received my first copy of the SA DX News. I was astonished to read about the remarkable loggings of experienced and dedicated South African dxers at the time.

The front cover of the SADXC Magazine and the first page of the August 1974 edition of the "DX Logbook" column. Many of the reported stations were heard fairly regularly in South Africa via modest receivers and random longwire antenna. Click onto the image for a high resolution.

The mediumwave loggings especially caught my attention. Various mediumwave radio stations got through from Africa and Europe with good signals. The trans Atlantic reception from the U.S.A. (heard in Cape Town) and trans Indian Ocean reception from Australia (noted in Durban) was intriguing and almost unbelievable to say the least !

Monday, December 21, 2009

1973 Radio Netherlands 6020 kHz QSL



My first shortwave QSL card received in 1973 from Radio Netherlands' Madagascar relay on 6020 kHz was quite appropriate and promoted "World DX Friendship Year".

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Early Years Of A Dxer In South Africa - Part 2

This vintage Pilot 293B radio was manufactureed in the U.S.A. in 1936 and was one of the first radios to include a "magic eye" tuning indicator (Photograph Gary Deacon).

1930's PILOT RADIO

My interest in radio was enhanced as a 12 year old while visiting a friend next door. An interesting looking vintage 1930's Pilot radio (similar to the pic above) used to occupy a corner of their garage. My friend's older brother used to listen to LM radio from Mozambique with the vintage valve receiver.

I recall being quite fascinated with that radio, especially the foreign radio locations displayed in the classic circular glass dial which seemed to indicate what one might expect when tuning in !


A wide choice of interesting radio stations from the Eiffel Tower to Drummondville as indicated in the glass dial display of the Pilot 293B.

DXING FOR THE FIRST TIME

In 1972 at the age of 14, I decided to try and tune in to foreign radio stations with the family transistor portable receiver. I set up a basic 10 metre longwire outdoor antenna along the side of our house and simply connected this to the receiver's whip antenna. I was pleasantly surprised to hear many foreign radio stations for the first time despite a certain amount of overloading !

DX JUKEBOX
























I gained valuable information by listening to Radio Netherlands' excellent programme for shortwave listeners and dxers entitled "DX Jukebox" which used to air on Thursdays. I was also fortunate to receive a few of their free publications including a booklet entitled "Give Your Antenna Some Air" (pictured above).

A few overseas radio publications used to include a monthly shortwave column which I read with great interest. The reported reception of distant stations from exotic locations such as Ghana, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea really fired up my dxing enthusiasm !

RADIO NETHERLANDS QSL CARD
















I first heard about QSL verification cards in 1973 when Radio Netherlands issued a special QSL card in order to promote "World DX Friendship Year". I sent off a reception report for one of their relay transmissions from Madagascar and was rewarded with my first shortwave verification / QSL card pictured above.

VINTAGE RADIO BLOGSITE
















Visit http://www.caperadio.blogspot.com/ for photographs of a few more vintage radios which I've collected from a bygone era.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Early Years Of A Dxer In South Africa - Part 1

My earliest recollection of radio began at our home in Pinelands, Cape Town, South Africa. This photograph, taken in October 1958, shows our new home with Devil's Peak and Table Mountain in the background.

As an introduction to a series of chronological posts regarding the dxing experience, I thought that I would share a few early memories of my fascination with radio.

LOCAL RADIO IN SOUTH AFRICA

I was fortunate to grow up during the golden years of radio broadcasting in South Africa (Radio was the main broadcasting entertainment available in South Africa up until 1975 when television was introduced).

I was apparently drawn to the sound of the radio as a toddler. I searched through our family photographs and discovered a 1960 pic of yours truly as a 2 year old in front of an interesting looking 1950's "Global" mediumwave radio :


A subliminal interest in radio probably began with music and announcements from the family mediumwave receiver behind me !

SPRINGBOK RADIO


Springbok Radio was a popular local radio service which operated in South Africa from 1950 until station closedown in 1985.

Like many of my school friends I used to look forward to listening to "No Place To Hide", featuring the adventures of Mark Saxon which was broadcast at 7:15 pm every week night during the 1960's. "Squad Cars" was broadcast at 7:30 pm every Friday night a few years later and used to capture the imagination of the entire family too !


This 1963 photograph suggests that as a 5 year old, I was practising my drumming along with music from the "Siera" family radio. The same modest valve receiver would eventually be used to hear exotic Trans Atlantic dx in the 1970's !

RHODESIA

A family visit to Salisbury, Rhodesia in December 1968 included a memorable tour around the country. Apart from a highlight of being able to watch TV for the first time as a 10 year old, I recall listening to the local radio services which included the RBC (Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation) and Radio Jacaranda.


This photograph of the family was taken at a rest camp near Victoria Falls. My guess is that the "Normande" portable radio was tuned to the RBC for a news update.

LM RADIO







Lourenco Marques Radio or "LM Radio" broadcast from neighbouring Mozambique. In the late 1950s the station underwent a major format change in order to target the younger generation in South Africa.

An attempt to listen to the "Top Twenty" hits from LM radio as a 12 year old in 1970 marked the beginning of an interest in distant radio reception. Two years later in 1972, I discovered the fascinating world of dxing !

WEBSITES

Two excellent websites worth checking out :

* The internet radio service of Springbok Radio at
http://www.springbokradio.com/ includes a 24/7 rebroadcast of some of the fascinating radio programmes of a bygone era.

* The LM Radio Museum and Sound Archive at
http://www.lmradio.org/ records the history of Radio Clube de Moçambique and Lourenco Marques Radio.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sandbaai 1985 - A Sea Gain Dxing Experience !

An appropriate road sign is held up by my dad, standing in front of the Sandbaai dxing cottage in 1985 (Click onto the image for a high resolution).

It would have been my father Arthur Deacon's 85th birthday today. As a tribute to the memory of my dad and his great sense of humour I thought I would introduce this post with a photograph of Arthur holding up an important dxing road sign.

Looking towards the south from the front veranda of the cottage. The bearing of New Zealand lies ahead at the point where the sea "meets" the right hand edge of the house on the left.

Sandbaai (Sandy Bay) is a rustic coastal village, situated 90 kilometres south east of Cape Town. The "champaigne air" town of neighbouring Hermanus is known as the best land based whale watching destination in the world.

A pair of Southern Right whales frolic within 50 metres from the Hermanus coastline.

Situated 100 metres from the coast, the cottage at Sandbaai provided a great dxing opportunity to take advantage of what has become known as the "Sea Gain Effect".

Many interesting distant mediumwave radio stations made it through to this seaside location for the first time during an active period of dxing from 1985 to 1991.

DXING IN 1985

I used to visit my folks at their seaside retirement cottage on a fairly regular basis. I would take along the FRG7 and connect a modest 30 metre longwire antenna to the set via a home-built preselector. The resulting variety of mediumave dx was always a real treat.

ASIA AND THE FAR EAST

Asia and the Far East would fade up just before sunset (March to September). It took me a while to try and identify some of the many stations that used to get through from that part of the world.

AUSTRALIA

It was sensational to hear Australia on mediumwave for the first time. I nearly fell off my chair with disbelief when stumbling onto 1206 kHz one evening. The station turned out to be 6KY Tuart Hill WA which became a benchmark for reception from Australia despite the modest 2 kw output.


SOUTH AMERICA

South America dominated with strong, clear signals across the entire mediumwave band later in the evening and continued right through dawn and past sunrise with the sun quite high up in the sky at times !

CENTRAL AMERICA

Central America made it through around local dawn.

THE CARIBBEAN

The Caribbean got through with surprising levels during the early hours.

THE U.S.A.

The U.S.A. made it through on a few occassions around local dawn.

DX HIGHLIGHTS IN 1985 :

FREQ (kHz)

535 GRENADA Radio Grenada (10 kw)

560 GUYANA GBC Georgetown (10 kw)

610 TRINIDAD NBS Port of Spain (50 kw)

750 NICARAGUA Radio Sandino Managua (50 kw)

790 BARBADOS VoB St. George (20 kw)

790 PANAMA Southern Command Network Fort Clayton (10 kw)

825 ST. KITTS Radio Paridise Basseterre (50 kw)

830 BELIZE Radio Belize (20 kw)

1060 DOMINICA ZGBC Roseau (10 kw)

1206 AUSTRALIA 6KY Tuart Hill WA (2 kw)

1206 PHILPPINES DWWA Quezon City (10 kw)

1242 PHILPPINES DWBL Manila (20 kw)

1425 ECUADOR Radio Portena Guayaquil (500 watts)

1485 ASCENSION ISLAND BBC Relay English Bay (500 watts)

1510 ECUADOR HD210A Guayaquil Time Signal Station (500 watts)

1540 BAHAMAS ZNS1 Nassau (20 kw)

1548 ST. HELENA Radio St. Helena Jamestown (500 watts)

1548 TAIWAN International Community Radio Taipei (10 kw)

1555 CAYMAN ISLANDS Radio Cayman (10 kw)

1600 ECUADOR Radio Union Quito (5 kw)

1602 ASCENSION ISLAND Volcano Radio (1 kw)

Receiver : FRG7 and preselector

Antenna : 30 metre longwire

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

St.Helena Radio St.Helena 1548 kHz QSL & Audio


The QSL letter received in 1985 from Station Manager Tony Leo was detailed and informative. Click onto the image for a high resolution.

Jamestown, St. Helena (Photograph Lin Thorsen).

Another memorable highlight from the South Atlantic was the reception of Radio St. Helena on 1548 kHz. The station was heard at the coastal resort of Sandbaai on the 15th May 1985. The 500 watt signal made it through over a distance of 3 220 km / 2 000 miles via the FRG7 and modest 30 metre longwire antenna.

Station manager Tony Leo kindly verified my reception report with a friendly and detailed QSL letter. Tony was impressed with the accuracy of the report and included a two page copy of the local news items which he announced over the air. He added a generous comment at the end of the letter :

" ... We have received several reception reports in the past. However, may I say that your report really outshines any other report we've received ... "

A reflection of being fortunate to listen from a great, quiet coastal location with the benefit of the "sea gain" effect and the superb reception conditions experienced at the time !

Another view of Jamestown showing Jacobs Ladder - a steep climb of 699 steps ! (Photograph Lin Thorsen).

A copy of the actual page from which local news items were announced over the air on Radio St. Helena on Wednesday 15th May 1985. Click onto the image for a high resolution.

Page two of the local news items announced over the air on Radio St. Helena. You'll hear the actual announcement at the beginning of the second Radio St. Helena audio clip.

AUDIO CLIPS

AUDIO CLIP ONE




Station sign-on with a trumpet callsign and part of "Life On The Ocean Wave" followed by the BBC news signature tune. Recorded at 1959 hrs UTC on the 7th June 1985.

AUDIO CLIP TWO



Local news items read by Tony Leo, followed by "Radio Bingo" and "Evening Shuttle". Recorded at 2015 hrs UTC on the 15th May 1985.

Both edited recordings were made during reception at Sandbaai via the FRG7 and 30 metre longwire antenna.

SANDBAAI

Google Earth Image showing the location of Sandbaai (78 km south east of Fish Hoek) and the arrival bearing from Radio St. Helena.

Looking south from the dx location at Sandbaai, situated approximately 100 metres from the coast. Apart from Radio St. Helena, many other distant mediumwave stations were received here for the first time during the 1980's.