Tropo fade-ins: 2 new FM logs

Local 95.5 WPGC Morningside, MD’s HD Radio broadcast has been off-air most of March 11 and 12, freeing 95.7 FM for normal DXing.  In the past 11 years since IBOC debuted locally, I can’t recall a time where WPGC-HD was turned off.  In its absence, the usual visitors on 95.7 pre-IBOC days came in frequently: 95.7 WVKL Norfolk, VA and 95.7 WBEN Philadelphia, PA.  But at 7:23 AM, a new station came in and stayed for most of the 7, 8, and 9 AM hours: 95.7 WPIG.  This station was unexpected, given its signal in SW New York had to cross the Appalachian Mountains completely to be received in Virginia.


95.7 WPIG Olean, NY, 241 miles

I also logged a new translator on 93.5 FM on March 12, 93.5 W283CD.  Local 93.3 WFLS Fredericksburg, VA’s IBOC signal has been off-air for several weeks.  W283CD seems to be a new signal, relaying a DC-area AM signal.  It is very weak at my house under normal reception and seems easily overcome by moderate Tr or Es, however, this now means I can’t utilize 93.5 FM for unattended recordings when WFLS-HD is off, unfortunately.


93.5 W283CD Silver Spring, MD, 28 miles

My DX Log and Audio Files pages have been updated with the above loggings and recordings.

FM modulator DX: You never know what you’ll hear

gpsLocal 93.3 WFLS’ HD Radio signal has been off for the past day or two, and in its absence, I have been monitoring 93.5 FM, a frequency that is usually occupied by WFLS’ IBOC interference.  As I live close to a major interstate and several main roads, I often get bits and pieces of audio from motorist-based FM modulators.  These are usually easy to spot, given the audio is often much quieter than a normal FM broadcast.

At 4:37 PM, I picked up something quite intriguing: a turn-by-turn navigation, presumably from a nearby motorists’ cell phone hooked up to an FM modulator on 93.5 FM.

Based on the mileage noted in the clip, the car must’ve been up to 2 miles away from my radios.  Pretty impressive.

Tropo fade-in: 1 new FM log across the mountains

2016-post-trI’ve written a lot about local 96.3 WHUR’s IBOC signal off-air this past week.  The unexpected absence of an HD Radio signal is a blessing for DXers since it allows signals otherwise permanently blocked away from reception to possibly be heard.  WHUR’s IBOC has since resumed broadcasting, but while it was off-air on February 5, I logged one new station, 96.1 WMAX.  On February 6, I logged another new signal, 96.5 WPEL.

At 232 miles away under deadband reception conditions, logging WPEL was a total surprise, much like it was when I logged 92.9 WEGX Dillon, SC at 318 miles in 2013 without any type of atmospheric enhancement.  96.5 FM, when not affected by WHUR’s HD Radio sideband, is usually always occupied by either WKLR Ft. Lee, VA (92 mi away) or WTDY Philadelphia, PA (144 mi away) and absolutely no other signals.  But at 7:59 PM, WPEL faded in just long enough for a generous slam-dunk station ID.  Listen:


96.5 WPEL Montrose, PA, 232 miles

wpelIn the image to the left, you can see my location (Woodbridge, VA) and WPEL in Northeastern PA.  The light green is my usual tropo range, while the dark green area is where usual signals from the once-every-few-years tropo duct into the northeast comes from.  WPEL’s signal made it through the Appalachian Mountains down an uncommon signal path into Virginia.

The above audio file has been added to my Audio Files page.  I’m in the process of reformatting my DX logs, so although the stats are updated, WPEL will be added to my FM log very soon.

The effect of HD Radio interference on an analog FM signal

For the past few days, local 96.3 WHUR Washington, DC’s HD Radio signal, which airs on 96.1 and 96.5, has been off-air.  Usually, 96.1 and 96.5 are extremely difficult to DX since WHUR’s digital sidebands are strong at my Northern Virginia home.  However, with WHUR-HD turned off, both of its adjacent frequencies were open to distant reception like they were prior to 2006 when HD Radio debuted on WHUR.  At 8:50 PM February 8, WHUR’s IBOC sidebands resumed its broadcast.

whur_iboc
The above chart shows a waveform of 96.5 FM from 8:49-8:50 PM February 8.  In the beginning, you can see a fairly strong analog signal from 96.5 WKLR Ft. Lee, VA, 92 miles away.  At the 0:05:00 mark, WKLR’s signal decreases as WHUR’s HD revs back up.  at 0:09:50, WHUR’s 96.5 digital sideband is at full-power, and WKLR abruptly disappears without a trace.

Listen to the corresponding audio file to the graphic above.

House hunting and FM reception: An unlikely hurdle to finding the perfect home

pexels-photo-106399We’ve all seen the house hunting shows on TV.  Often, potential buyers balk at gaudy paint colors or dated shag carpeting.  While those can easily be changed to suit the new homeowner, there are many things in a new home that affect a DXer that are permanent, forcing the DXer to do their homework before signing an offer.

I am currently house hunting and in the process of moving out of the home that I have lived in since 2002.  I hope to do so within the next few months.  I plan on staying in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, and I do not foresee moving in closer to the local FM transmitters, which would adversely affect DXing capabilities.  However, since I have been in the house hunting process since late last year, I thought I’d share my findings as to what it is important to look for in a home as a DXer while moving.

Ideally, as a DXer, one would move into a home where they can erect a huge antenna array on par with the great one seen at DXFM.com.  Unfortunately, for most of us, having a roof antenna at all Continue reading

Meteor scatter DX: 1 new FM log

2016-post-newsI noticed while doing a dial scan on February 4 that local 96.3 WHUR had its IBOC off-air, rendering both 96.1 and 96.5 open for DXing.  In fact, at the time of writing the next day, WHUR’s IBOC is still off.  Later that night, unattended recordings netted a new FM signal, 96.1 WMAX, with a perfectly-timed meteor scatter ping:


96.1 WMAX Holland, MI, 534 miles, “ESPN Radio”

On top of WMAX, the usual regional Tr ‘pests’ located within 70-200 miles that are heard when 96.3 WHUR’s IBOC is off (Norfolk’s 96.1 WROX, Eastern PA’s 96.1 WSOX, and Richmond’s 96.5 WKLR) were received, along with ultra-rare station 96.1 WKST Pittsburgh, PA @ 187 miles.  In almost 20 years of DXing, I’ve only received WKST once, in 2006.

This isn’t the first time 96.3 WHUR’s IBOC being off allowed me to log a new station.  In October, the station’s IBOC was off-air for about a day, allowing me to log new station 96.1 WCTO Easton, PA.

The above audio file has been added to my Audio Files page.  I’m in the process of reformatting my DX logs, so although the stats are updated, WMAX will be added to my FM log very soon.

Baltimore’s 95.1 WRBS adds HD Radio signal

2016-post-trWhile doing a routine dial scan on January 22, I found 95.1 WRBS from Baltimore has turned on HD Radio service for the first time.  WRBS is a strong, almost local-grade signal at my home, even at 51 miles away.  However, the fact their digital signal decodes is a mystery.  WRBS’ HD Radio sidebands–the frequencies in which it actually broadcasts its digital signal–are 94.9 and 95.3 FM.  At my home, 94.9 also houses local 94.7 WIAD’s IBOC sideband, while local 95.5 WPGC’s IBOC sideband is on 95.3.  The below screenshots from WRBS have been added to my HD Radio/RDS Screenshots page.

wrbs-hd1 wrbs-hd2 wrbs-hd3
95.1 WRBS Baltimore, MD, 51 miles away

UPDATED: ‘Tis the season for new translators. 1 new FM log.

wol

WOL

UPDATED 12/5/16: I have added an audio file from 95.9 W240DJ to my Audio Files page.  Click on the audio player below to hear this file.

In accordance with a recent trend where new translators and LPFMs have popped up in multiple places on my FM dial in recent months, I have found another new translator, thanks to a news posting about it at DCRTV.com.  While 15 miles NE of my home in Springfield, VA on December 1, I heard The Tom Joyner Morning Show on 95.9 FM, mixing with local 95.9 WGRQ Fairview Beach, VA @ 31 miles.  At home, WGRQ is local-grade, however, in Springfield the signal is slightly weaker, to the point where the unidentified 95.9 signal started to mix in with WGRQ’s signal.  Knowing Tom Joyner is broadcasted on nearby 95.9 WWIN Glen Burnie, MD @ 52 miles, I figured that was what I was getting.  However, since WWIN is only heard during strong tropo events and there were none happening, I decided to listen for a short while.  During a local weather report, the station IDed as “NewsTalk 1450 WOL,” confirming a positive log for the translator W240DJ.  According to DCRTV, the translator is a recent sign-on.  My FM DX Log has been updated to reflect this new logging.

New log:

95.9 W240DJ Washington, DC, “NewsTalk 1450 WOL” – talk, 15 miles from car radio location in Springfield, VA

Audio section revamped, updated with new content

logo_whiteThe Audio section of this blog is now fully updated and revamped with a much easier-to-use interface.  The page has been dormant since this summer, when I started on a project to remove the cumbersome tables (that were hard for me to update) to a more easier layout.  In the meantime, I had been posting new audio files to the blog, but I was not been adding them to the audio section.  The page has now been fully updated with all content from this summer until today.  To hear an audio file, you can now click on the “listen” icon next to a station listing, as seen below.

audio

New HD Radio/RDS decodes from two relogs added

2016-post-trWhile in Manassas, VA on November 24, I received RDS for the first time from 102.5 WUSQ and HD Radio reception from 106.9 WWEG.  IBOC interference from local 106.7 WJFK drowns out WWEG at home to the point where typical analog reception, let alone an IBOC decode, from WWEG is impossible.  However, WWEG came in with HD reception and WUSQ came in with RDS 15 miles west of my home in Manassas.  My HD Radio/RDS Screenshots page was updated with these new screenshots.

Relogs received:

wusq
102.5 WUSQ Winchester, VA, “Q102” – country, 65 miles

wweg3
106.9 WWEG Hagerstown, MD, “106.9 The Eagle” – classic hits, 60 miles