Sunday, July 31, 2011

SSTRAN Low Power Medium Wave Transmitter Kit

I thought I would take a break from the usual short-wave broadcast and short-wave receiver reviews to   chat a bit about the SSTRAN Low Power Medium Wave Transmitter Kit (AMT3000-9KSMNT - 9 kHz frequency increment). It's a 100mW transmitter kit that has been on the market for a while and one that can be readily purchased over the Internet. 

Shortly after the kit arrived by mail, I opened the box and found several electronic components, a pre-printed PC board and an instruction booklet. At first it looked to be a formidable challenge, but I soon discovered once soldering iron and manual was in hand assembly went quickly and easily. In total it took me approximately nine hours to complete. Don't misunderstand me, you do need to have some rudimentary electronic and soldering skills. Aligning the ICs to the IC sockets was the most troublesome aspect, but with a little patience and dexterity the components were eventually seated.

Once fully assembled I toggled the DPS switches to a clear frequency -- anywhere from 522 to 1710 kHz -- then powered it up. To tweak its maximum transmission power I tuned the antenna trimmer by setting a volt meter at its T1/T2 points. Once this was done, I adjusted its compression, modulation and gain controls. And to my surprise, I received a wonderfully warm tone with near FM quality broadcasting over the Medium Wave band. 

What is its transmission range like? First, let's be realistic. To be FCC compliant, the antenna length must be restricted and  the transmitter power must be no more than 100mW, which means ultimately that the range is limited.  Using the supplied 10 foot random wire aerial and ground wire, I have adequate daytime coverage for my entire household and yard (which is less than a 100 feet); at night, the range at its weakest point is about an 1/8 of a mile.  This is sufficient for my use, since my intention is merely to broadcast Internet radio broadcasts and music files from my computer around the house and yard.

I also want to express my gratitude to Paul -- the engineer and seller of this fine product -- for the excellent customer service I received. On numerous times I contacted him about purchasing a UK power adaptor (US power adaptor is included for North America) compatible for this product, and each time he responded promptly with advise and an explanation. 

All in all, this is a very well-engineered product, the manual is well written and easy to follow. I wouldn't hesitate in purchasing another one. 


AMT3000 Specifications
Frequency Coverage:
530 kHz - 1700 kHz in 10 kHz steps or 522 kHz - 1710 kHz in 9 kHz steps, depending on order option
Frequency Selection Method:
8-position DIP switch
Frequency Tolerance @ 25ÂșC:
±.003%
Modulation Type:
Amplitude Modulation (AM)
Maximum Modulation Level:
100%
Power Input to Final RF  Stage:
100 mW
Antenna:
118” wire (supplied with kit)
Antenna Matching:
Tunable pi-network.  Matches high impedance antenna  to low-impedance RF output stage.
Output Tuning:
4-position DIP switch selects inductance combination, adjustable ceramic trimmer capacitor peaks resonance.
RF Output Metering:
Test points on circuit board provide DC voltage to user-supplied 10 megohm/volt voltmeter.  Measured voltage is maximum at resonance.
RF Grounding Options:
Jumper plug options for including/excluding RF isolation inductors in power supply and audio source ground paths.
Audio Response:
20 Hz to 20 kHz ±1 dB 
Audio Treble Boost:
+8 dB, boost midpoint at 2 kHz.  Jumper plug option.
Audio Distortion:
Less than 0.5% THD through audio stages.
Minimum Audio Input Level:
200 mV RMS for 100% modulation (input gain control at max).
Audio Compression:
Compression ratio adjustable from 1:1 to 5:1.  Attack time less than 1 ms.  Medium release time suitable for both voice and music. 
Audio Limiting:
Adjustable threshold.  15:1 compression above threshold.
Front Panel Controls:
Audio input gain, modulation level, compression ratio.
Rear Panel Jacks:
2 RCA audio in jacks, RCA antenna/ground jack, 2.1 mm power input jack.
Power Consumption:
120 VAC, 2 watts
Circuit Board:
5”W x 3.9”D x .062”H FR4, two layers, 1 oz. copper, top and bottom solder masks, top silkscreen.
Enclosure:
6.1”W x 4.2”D x 1.5”H ABS plastic.  Drilled and labeled front and rear panels.

Website:
www.sstran.com/

E-mail:
info@sstran.com

Mail:
SSTRAN
3053 Griffith Rd.
Eagleville, PA  19403
USA

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Denge Mezopotamya

Denge Mezopotamya (The Voice of Mesopotamia), the clandestine station for the Kurdistan Democratic Partybroadcasting from  Mykolaiv (Nikolayev), southern Ukraine was heard on 26 July 2011 from 14.00 to 20.00 UTC (monitored from 14.30 to 16.00 UTC ) on 11.530 kHzSignal (SINPO) at 14.30 UTC was 45544. At 15.15 UTC reception worsened to 45333 due to increased QRN and fading.

Programming is a mixture of Kurdish songs and commentary in the Kurdish language, which is intended for the Kurdish people at large.

Reception reports have been sent in the past with no reply. The email address provided at their website has failed to be delivered. A form letter with my nemae and address was sent, but addressed to a Mr. Pirvan. This arrived in the mail from Belgium on 21 March 2012.

Website:
www.denge-mezopotamya.com/

Email: 
info@denge-mezopotamya.com (Delivery failure at this email address, although it is stated at website)

Furusato No Kaze (Wind of Hometown) -- Japan / Taiwan

Furusato No Kaze (Wind of Hometown), a special-interest station targeting Japanese abductees held captive in North Korea, transmits daily from Tainan, Taiwan. Sponsored by the Japanese government this station was monitored on 27 July 2011 from 16.00 to 16.30 UTC on  9.780 kHzSignal (SINPO): 43444 -- some interference from a station (Radio Portugal International suspected) broadcasting on the same frequency, but speech was strong and  clear. 


This thirty minute broadcast entailed mostly commentary in Japanese, sound effects between reports and brief pieces of music. Programmes are designed to trace the whereabouts of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea and eventually secure their release. 


I have read QSL cards are not issued, but the station does acknowledge with a newsletter on the abductees. I received a verification letter on 5 September 2011, along with a couple of newsletters highlighting  the Japanese abductees and the objective of the Japanese government.
Newsletter

Address: 
Secretariat of the Headquarters 
for the Abduction Issue 
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, 
100-8968 Tokyo, Japan 

Email: 
info@rachi.go.jp


Website:
www.rachi.go.jp/en/shisei/radio/index.html

Deutsche Welle Relay Stations

Deutsche Welle in Kranji, Singapore was heard from 09.00 to 10.00 UTC on 23 July 2011, broadcasting in English at 15.640 kHzSignal (SINPO)  throughout the  broadcast was 35344 -- a clear and audible signal, despite moderate static. QSL arrived in the mail on 5 August 2011.

DW relay: Kranji, Singapore 


Deutsche Welle in Sines, Portugal was received from 02.00 to 03.00 UTC on 26 July 2011, broadcasting in German on the frequency of  9.440 kHzSignal (SINPO) at 02.15 UTC was 25222 -- weak transmission despite fading and QRN. At 02.40 UTC signal was barely audible and degraded to 15111. QSL arrived in the mail on 4 August 2011.
DW relay: Sines, Portugal


Deutsche Welle in Talata-Volondry, Madagascar was logged from 03.00 to 04.00 UTC on 26 July 2011 with programming in English on 15.595 kHz. Signal (SINPO) was 55445 throughout the duration of the broadcast. QSL arrived in the mail on 5 August 2011.

DW relay:  Madacascar
It is significant to take note of these relay stations considering Deutsche Welle will discontinue broadcasting from them and other relay stations after 1 November 2011. For more on this development, see Deutsche Welle's report at www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6529299,00.html. Only transmission from Kigali, Rwanda will continue. 



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Voice of Korea Freebies

Lapel pin
Radio Pyongyang Pennant
Voice of Korea (VOR) in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) sent a few freebies along with a QSL card for a reception report submitted in April 2011 (see blog entry for 11 April 2011). These items included a news magazine entitled "Korea Today", "The Pyongyang Times" newspaper, a Radio Pyongyang pennant and lapel pin. Interestingly, the newspaper now features colour photographs which were not present the newspaper when I first received it in 2007.

"The Pyongyang Times" Newspaper
"Korea Today" magazine

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Voice of Russia -- Vladivostok

Voice of Russia in Vladivostok, eastern Russia was received on 20 July 2011 from 04.00 to 05.00 UTC This VOR transmission for Asia was heard on 15.585 kHzSignal (SINPO) was 44434 -- fair signal strength with slight interference from an adjacent station and some fading. Despite this, speech was clear and discernible. Signal quality was slightly degraded around 04.50 UTC to 33433, but generally still audible and clear.

Programming in English featured "Travel in Russia", "In-Between", Russian cuisine as well as news.

While I have logged Voice of Russia many times, I am now monitoring their various transmitter sites -- like other international broadcasters -- located in different regions of their country or elsewhere in the world. 

Reception report was sent by email. Again, within a matter of a few hours I received a prompt reply from VOR's Elena Osipova with regard to my reception report, stating: "We have checked it and have found it to be correct. A QSL card verifying it will be sent to you by the regular mail." True enough, I received a QSL card on 10 August 2011.


Email:
world@ruvr.ru



Radio Republik Indonesia Makassar -- Sulawesi, Indonessa

Radio Republik Indonesia Makassar (Pro 1) in South Sulawesi, Indonesia was heard on 19 July 2011. Broadcast was monitored from 11.00 to 12.15 UTC (normal broadcast hours: 07.45 to 16.00 UTC). This 20kW station was heard on 4.750 kHz. Signal (SINPO) at 11.00 UTC was 15211 -- a weak but clearly audible signal. At 12.00 signal was 23221 -- still weak but audible despite increasing interference from Bangladesh Betar. By 12.15 UTC signal was difficult to separate from Bangladesh Betar. 

Programming in Bahasa Indonesia consisted of light Indonesian pop music, news and an Islamic topic during the time their broadcast was monitored.

Reception report was submitted by post. Letter was composed in bahasa Indonesia and 1 IRC enclosed. QSL is pending their verification.  This Letter of Verification from RRI-VoI was emailed on 16 July 2013.

Address:
Radio Republik Indonesia Makassar 
Jalan Riburane, No. 3   
Makassar, 90111 
Sulawesi Selantan
Indonesia 

Website:
www.rrimakassar.com

Monday, July 18, 2011

Voice of Russia -- Krasnodar Krai

The Voice of Russia  Pashto/Dari broadcast from Krasnodar, Krasnodar Krai, southern Russia was heard on 17 July 2011 from 12.00 to 14.00 UTC on 15.510 kHz. Signal (SINPO) at 12.10 UTC was 54545 -- clear and audible speech  with slight transmitter modulation and fading. At 13.45 reception was degraded to 44334 -- still clear and audible, but weaker signal, increased QRN and fading. 

Programming comprised mostly regional music interspersed between  news and current event commentaries. The music was quite unique and enjoyable, well worth the listen.

A reception report was submitted by email,  for which I received a prompt reply from Elena Osipova, Letters Department, World Service in English, Voice of Russia, stating that my report had been "forwarded to the Middle East section of the Voice of Russia for verification."


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Radio Sultanate of Oman QSL update

Radio Sultanate of Oman in Muscat, Oman finally acknowledged my March 2011 reception report with an email, today, thanks to a tip from a fellow short-wave listener in Brazil. 


The correspondence states: "Thank you for the email and for the nice report that you sent. I will try to send you the QSL card as soon as possible."


This has been a difficult station to get a verification from, but after four attempts it looks like this one can be added to the collection. Hopefully the QSL card will be forthcoming. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Elusive QSL Cards to Date

While it is perhaps premature to judge some of the following short-wave stations for 2011, it is interesting to note several stations have not acknowledged reception reports with their QSL 

Submitted in April Submitted in March 2011
- RTV Tunisia 
(2nd attempt)
- Voice of Armenia
Submitted in May 
- Radio Uganda

Submitted in June 2011 
- HFD Radio Station (JG2XA) (Japan)

- La Voix du Sahel (Niger)
- Voice of Tajik
- Radio Djibouti


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Radio Rossii -- Russia

Radio Rossii in Moscow, Russia was received on 12 July 2011 and monitored from 19.15 to 20.05 UTC (normal broadcast hours 17.19 to 21.00 UTC) on 7.215 kHzSignal (SINPO) at 19.15 UTC was  24432 -- fair signal strength with minimal interference. At 19.30 UTC, interference from the Voice of Islamic Republic of Iran degraded signal to 23422. At 20.00 UTC, strong interference from China Radio International degraded reception further to 12421, making their broadcast extremely difficult to receive.

On this date and time segment, Radio Rossii featured what sounded like Russian folk music and early 20th century Russian music.


Reception report was submitted by email.

Address:
Radio Rossii
State Broadcast Company
19/21, 5 Yamskogo Polya Street
Moscow 125 040 Russia


Website:
www.radiorus.ru/

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Xi Wang Zhi Sheng (Sound of Hope) -- Taiwan

Xi Wang Zhi Sheng (Sound of Hope), a clandestine station operating in Taichung, Taiwan, was received on 10 July 2011. It was monitored from 03.35 to 04.15  UTC (broadcast hours 21.00-17.00 UTC) on 17.920 kHz and 18.200 kHz. On 18.200 kHz signal (SINPO) at 03.35 UTC was 25422 -- when audible signal was very clear;  at 03.45 signal suddenly faded away and was barely audible. 0n 17.920 kHz signal (SINPO) at 04.00 UTC signal was 11211 -- audible reception with some attempts to jam transmission. Actually this station broadcasts on many frequencies outside the international short-wave broadcast bands and with transmitters purportedly no more than 100 watts, according to World Radio TV Handbook 2011.

Chinese language news and current events can usually be heard when it is not being jammed by the Peoples Republic of China. Rather than commonly used buzz saw jamming, you will hear continuous crash and bang music, otherwise known as "Firedragon" or "Firedrake" music. Typically it is traditional or folkloric Chinese music which is looped and played continuously during the broadcast. On this particular day, I briefly heard the station without the annoying jamming.


Reception report was submitted by post and email. QSL card was received on 29 July 2011.


Address: 
Sound of Hope International
6-4, Lane 84
GuoTai Street, 
North District
Taichung 404 Taiwan (R.O.China)


Email:
contact@soundofhope.org
allenz@soundofhope.org


Website:
www.soundofhope.org


Friday, July 8, 2011

Bangkok Meteorological Radio -- Thailand

Bangkok Meteorological Radio, a 1 kW station operating in Bangkok, Thailand, was monitored from 16.40 to 17.00 UTC on 9 July 2011. The station was received on 8.743 kHz in USB mode. Signal (SINPO) was reasonably strong and clear at 45544. The station also transmits on 6765.1 kHz.

Weather reports for Thailand, station ID,  frequencies and address in Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia, English and English were observed, then demarcated by a station interval tune. The English voice-over had an almost mechanical quality. Transmission ended at 17.00 UTC. 

Reception report was submitted by post and email. QSL card is pending their verification.
video
Address:
Bangkok Meteorological Radio
Telecommunication Division
4353 Sukhumvit Road, Bangna
Bangkok 10260 THAILAND



Email:
info_service@tmd.go.th


Website:
www.tmd.go.th/index.php