After 14 days of no Sporadic E observed during the usually fertile month of July, E-skip finally returned on July 21, albeit briefly. Skip was first heard via unattended recordings set to 92.1 FM at 6:57 PM for about 5 seconds. While in my car at 7:15 PM, I found skip up to 98.1 FM, with relogs 98.1 KFGE and 97.7 KBBX in with strong signals and RDS. 92.9 KTGL and 97.7 KPOW came in weak soon after. As with all openings this year, the July 21 opening’s signals were brief. Although the skip ended at 7:29 PM, Sporadic E was only in FM for about 3 minutes total due to deep fades and a yo-yo MUF. Even with this shortcoming, today’s opening allowed me to get RDS from KBBX for the first time. I added the screenshots below to my RDS/HD Radio Screenshots page.
Relogs and unIDs:
92.1 unID country
92.9 KTGL Beatrice, NE, 1044 miles, “92-9 The Eagle” – classic rock
97.7 KPOW La Monte, MO, 860 miles, local ads for Sedalia, MO
I 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.
A well-placed meteor scatter reflection from 92.9 KGRC Hannibal, MO was heard in Virginia on Nov. 8. The station, which was previously heard several times since 2004 via Sporadic E, made it for the first time via meteor scatter at 5:29 a.m.
92.9 KGRC Hannibal, MO, 11/8/13, 760 miles (“Real 92-9”)
KGRC’s audio file has been added to my Audio Files page, where you can find hundreds of other DX audio recordings.
I’m not sure if this is meteor scatter, airplane scatter or tropo. Below is a clip from relog 92.9 WEZF Burlington, VT @ 465 miles at 9:42 a.m. Oct. 9. In it, you hear a mention of Della Mitsubishi in Plattsburgh, NY, followed by an ID of WEZF as “Star 92.9.” Typically, I’d consider this meteor scatter due to the distance and a very rough signal path via tropo due to mountains. WEZF has also been received via meteor scatter several times in the past month, so picking them up is nothing new. However, the continual fading sounds a lot like airplane scatter or tropo. Click on the player below to hear the file:
There have been reports on the WTFDA email list of tropo from NJ into SC at over 500 miles at about the same time on Oct. 9, so there is a slight chance a freak tropo duct could’ve opened up from Vermont to Virginia for a very brief amount of time. It is highly unlikely, but not impossible. Regardless, I’m not 100% on considering this tropo due to the lack of any other signals (other than common relog 92.9 WVBW Suffolk, VA @ 132 miles) in at about the same time as WEZF. If it was tropo, WEZF would become my furthest FM tropo log, unseating 99.9 WQRC Barnstable, MA @ 420 miles, first logged on 9/7/05. Without confirmation on the propagation mode, I unfortunately cannot update this FM statistic.
I received a perfectly-timed FM meteor scatter ping from 92.9 CFLT Dartmouth, NS, “Lite 92-9” during the early morning hours of Oct. 2. Although this is the first time I have received CFLT via meteor scatter at 813 miles from my Virginia home, it was first logged via Sporadic E on 5/31/10. Click on the player below to hear yesterday’s logging of CFLT.
During a very productive night of meteor scatter, I received a fairly strong FM meteor scatter ping from 92.9 WJXA Nashville, TN, “Mix 92.9” In the clip, which you can hear below by pressing play in the audio player, you can hear the station’s slogan “Your Live, Your Music.” WJXA is a relog, having first been received by meteor scatter in Virginia on 8/10/13.
92.9 WJXA Nashville, TN, 561 miles, 10/1/13 (“…92.9, Your Life, Your Music…”)
For fun, I decided to record a portion of WJXA’s webstream to further confirm this is what I picked up. Click on the player below to hear the identical station slogan heard off WJXA’s webstream, recorded on 10/2/13:
It seems that location and quality of equipment isn’t everything when it comes to getting the most and best-quality DX. The elevation of your home, from my experience, seems to be the be-all-end-all determinant of how well your radio can receive distant FM signals. Your height above sea level could mean the difference between getting a strong tropo duct FM or static.
For a small-scale experiment of how height can affect DX, perform a dial scan of the local FM band with an indoor radio in your basement, then do another dial scan on the top floor or attic, if accessible. I’d predict that you would receive many more signals (or a better-quality signal from the same stations) at the higher altitude.
I live in a fairly hilly portion of Northern Virginia, about 60 miles east of the Appalachian Mountains. It is not uncommon to find hills that are over 150 feet tall next to rivers at zero feet nearby. During my first three years of DXing, 1999 to 2002, I lived in a home about a mile west of my current location. The home was 243 feet above sea level, high atop a steep hill. In comparison, it was 67 feet above sea level at the bottom of the hill about 80 feet away. While in this older home, I experienced great tropo with paths into areas such as Harrisonburg, VA, Roanoke, VA and South Carolina, all received with indoor whip antennas and without a preamp.
I saw a major difference in FM reception when I moved to my current home in 2002. My street has a hill that is 62 feet above sea level at the top and 49 feet at the bottom where my house is located. The hill, which thankfully is to the west where I wouldn’t get many FM signals from anyway, due to the nearby mountains, is high enough to have a ‘horizon effect’, in other words, the peak of the hill acts as a Continue reading “The pitfalls of DXing at the bottom of a hill”→
While going over unattended radio recordings yesterday, I heard the following on 92.9 FM at 3:15 p.m.:
“…game from the Hoosier Lottery…”
The Hoosier Lottery is the state lottery for Indiana, meaning this could’ve been one of two signals: relog 92.9 WNDV South Bend, IN @ 514 miles, 20kw or 92.9 WSKL Veedersburg, IN @ 553 miles, 4.5 kw. Since there’s no true ID in the clip, I can’t claim it to be any of the aforementioned signals, but it is good to at least know what state unidentified meteor scatter pings come from!
This is the first article in a series I’ll be writing over the next few months introducing new people to various aspects of the DXing hobby. This article is based on the advice and opinions of myself and is in no way presented as an authority on the hobby.
Several times a year, stargazers gather in remote locations far from the hustle-and-bustle of city life to look up at the sky.
Armed with binoculars and telescopes they see, if they are lucky, hundreds of shooting stars zoom across the night sky. But what some may not know is that the same bright light (which is a tail of ionization) that accompanies the meteors they see can act as a mirror and reflect radio signals, allowing DXers to log new radio stations.
To date, I have received 60 stations via meteor scatter from signals largely within the 300-800 mile range. My furthest signal received by meteor scatter is 92.9 KTGL Beatrice, NE, at 1044 miles away and my closest Ms signal is 92.9 WBUF Buffalo, NY @ 284 miles. Click here to view my DX log. Meteor-reflected signals are listed in the log with a blue background.