DRM radio over the AMAZON

The People of the Amazon will soon be covered by DRM shortwave as National Radio of the Amazon orders a 100 kW BT transmitter

The vast area of the Amazon known as the Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical ecosystem in the world, with rainforest covering roughly 40% of South America, stretching over ten countries in South America, and is almost as large as the United States! The rainforest is home to both large and small communities in very remote areas, some harvesting crops along the rivers and others in more secluded villages deep within the forests.

As you can imagine communication to these areas can be difficult so it was no surprise when at the end of last year, testing of DRM technology began using a transmitter of 2.5 kW with the digital power of just 1 kW.

Despite this low power of the transmitter supplied by BT Transmitters, recordings were reported from different regions of the country and even from North America and Europe.

As a result of these tests, the National Radio of the Amazon decided to use DRM shortwave transmissions to serve indigenous populations in the northern Amazon region.

At the sizable cost of $650,000 USD. Public broadcaster Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC) ordered a 100 kW BT transmitter to broadcast in DRM at 11,780 kHz in the 25-meter band, an existing shortwave channel used by Rádio Nacional da Amazônia.

This is considered to be the first domestic DRM installation on a locally produced transmitter in Latin America.

AMAZON radio map

Information from The Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium.

Image via https://amazonaid.org/ 

troubleshooting your shortwave

You just got your new radio. You excitedly unbox it and put in your Tecsun batteries, you turn it on, and there’s the sweet sound of….. Silence 🙁

What could be wrong? Is my radio broken?

Chances are it is not broken, here are several things it may be.

The first one may be noise, yes noise!  Unfortunately, every single electrical item in your home emits a frequency, particularly modern items, especially if you live in a densely populated area. There may simply be too much noise dominating your area.

If you have a portable radio you could try troubleshooting it yourself. Simply walk around the home to find where you receive a signal and also where it is being interfered with. We had one customer just the other week who did this and realised the light dimmers were creating interference, light dimmers!! Sometimes it’s the microwave, sometimes it’s a power outlet.  Radio signals cannot penetrate the metal walls of your shed, nor the foil-lined roof of your house! Taking the radio outdoors to try and receive a signal is one way of eliminating the effects of interference. If this is successful, the next step is to investigate an external antenna.

The Tecsun outdoor Shortwave and medium wave antenna is one solution. This gets the receiving ‘element” further away from the noise source, it is then matched to the transmission line and the radio is then fed with a coaxial cable. Compared to a straight piece of wire of the same length, this antenna offers a huge improvement in received signal level. If you do not have room for an external antenna, an “active loop” antenna might be your solution. These can be erected on a balcony or even fixed to a window.

Another reason you may not be receiving shortwave is the time of day. Unless the specific broadcast is aimed at  Australia, most international shortwave broadcasts will occur during daylight hours for the listening audience.  So depending on the broadcaster, this might be in the middle of the night for us shortwave enthusiasts. Check some of the available shortwave radio schedules on the internet to see who is broadcasting when you are listening. In Australia, at this time of year there are many shortwave stations operating around 9Mhz most mornings,  by mid-afternoon, many have shifted to 13-18Mhz for the evening.

Time signals are one reliable signal source. They are on air constantly 24 hours a day. Their signals on 10.00Mhz and 15.00Mhz are easiest to hear, and this will confirm the correct operation of your receiver. These signals are also ideal for comparing reception results between antennas. It is also possible to check the signal of a shortwave broadcaster using the Tecsun Radios online SDR. Click here for access.

Perhaps during the time you are tuning there is a geomagnetic storm or a solar flare that may be causing a temporary weakened signal.

It may be that a setting on your radio needs changing. Many radios have a button for “local or DX”. If your switch is on local it may not receive weaker stations.

Experiencing issues setting up your shortwave radio ? Garry at Tecsun Radios Australia is here to help guide you through the troubleshooting process if needed.

It is all part of why we are different here at Tecsun Radios Australia.

In fact with every radio purchase from Tecsun Radios Australia, you receive a listeners guide which includes a very comprehensive and practical guide to locating sources of AM and HF interference! You can view this guide here

The main thing to remember is dont give up ! Shortwave listening is like fishing, you never know what you are going to catch! Equipping yourself with a good receiver and antenna, are the first steps towards being able to regularly enjoy shortwave listening, the only live source of international news and events.

One of our most popular portable shortwave radios is the Tecsun PL880. It comes in both the original and the deluxe edition with a stylish and durable hard case to keep your radio safe, shockproof, and moisture-free in storage or whilst traveling.

The top features of the PL880 are digital signal processing on the HF band (in all modes), a quantum leap forward for the reception of weak signals. Further, the Tecsun PL880 Radio offers 9 user-selectable IF bandwidth settings and a new long-life lithium-ion battery.

The receiver covers the entire shortwave range (100-29999KHz), Longwave, FM and AM broadcast bands. Receiver sensitivity on HF in the SSB mode is typically less than 1uV. Upper Side Band and Lower Side Band are individually selectable, and there are multiple user-selectable bandwidth settings available for each band.* The receiver is equipped with an external antenna socket to allow connection of an external antenna for the Shortwave bands for enhanced reception.

Speaking of External antennas. To improve your reception we highly recommend the Tecsun shortwave and AM outdoor antenna.

The Tecsun Shortwave and AM Outdoor Antenna significantly enhances the reception of signals in the medium wave (AM) and shortwave antenna bands covering 0.5-30 MHz. The Tecsun Shortwave and AM Outdoor Antenna is based on a 10 metre longwire antenna design but provides significantly improved reception over a basic longwire because it utilises a matching transformer that acts as a balun with a ratio of 9:1. This provides an optimal match between the 500 ohm impedance of the antenna and the 50 ohm impedance of the receiver, greatly increasing the amount of signal provided to the tuner. 

shortwave antenna

The MLA-30+ The MLA-30+ Shortwave Loop Antenna is an affordable active loop antenna that allows people without the luxury of a large backyard, to use an external antenna to boost the performance of their Shortwave Radio radio and increase the number of radio stations and broadcasts that can be received. The MLA-30+ Shortwave Loop Antenna can be mounted indoors on any non-conductive rod or tube, such as PVC conduit or fibreglass rod (not metal). The loop element of the MLA-30+ Shortwave Loop Antenna has a diameter of 60cm and is connected to the active amplifier housing by two stainless steel wing nuts. For portable operation, the MLA-30+ Shortwave Loop Antenna can be powered by a standard USB powerbank.

shortwave radio antenna

 

 

Halloween Radio 2021Picture this, a family huddled around the radio on Halloween, the sun is going down and a spooky story unfolds, everybody listens intently, imagination is working overtime, a bell chimes, there is a scream…. 

Before television, radio was the entertainment of choice in homes across Australia. During the 20th century,  radio broadcasts varied greatly, with something for everyone including music shows, talks on politics, gardening and various topics, sporting event coverage, news, and of course serial dramas! 

One of the most popular genres broadcast was serial thrillers! Not too dissimilar to many of the thriller podcasts that are popular today. Instead of reading a book one could go about what they were doing while being entertained by this gripping episode broadcast across the airwaves.

Having gained huge popularity in the USA, many thriller scripts were sent over to Australia and adapted locally, featuring well known Australian actors of the time like Ruth Cracknell

On “All Hallows Eve” 1941 A witch’s Tale was broadcast to Australian audiences. 

A witches Tale was written especially as a Halloween broadcast and adapted for Australian radio.

The original American series of The Witch’s Tale was significant as the earliest horror program produced for radio. It was first heard in May 1931 out of radio station WOR in New York City.

The opening sets the tone of the episode, with the chiming of a bell, an eerie voice informing you that you will hear tales from Nancy the witch of Salem and her cat Satan accompanied by sinister music and sound effects.

The Brisbane Telegraph described the program in 1947 as ‘not the sort of radio program the timid would enjoy listening to when alone in the house after nightfall.

In fact, Newspapers began to receive letters from outraged listeners protesting the broadcasts of such horror and the damaging effect it had on young people.

‘Do parents realise the serious damage that may be done to the minds of their children by the horror story of the radio? One serial broadcast from a local station between 6 and 7pm for children could cause untold mischief to many an innocent child … This mental cruelty is worse than punching a child in the face’ – CT Turnbull, Assistant Secretary of the Newcastle Young Men’s Christian Association, Newcastle Morning Herald, 6 June 1941.

Since we are so close to Halloween, want to hear that very tale from 1941 yourself? You are in luck!!

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia have provided some Samples of these thriller podcasts/ Click here to listen to A Witches Tale broadcast in 1941 (program duration 26 minutes).

Information courtesy of the NFSA.