Monday, 22 October 2018

Planning a Portable Ultralight DXing Session

Planning a Portable Ultralight DXing Session
Written - August 2012
Last Updated – October 2018 

For some people this would seem as easy as grabbing a radio as you head out the door; I have found that more planning is required to get the most from my portable Ultralight DXing session.

When I am planning a portable Ultralight DXing session, my first step is to arrange a suitable day and time. I am happily married and we have a couple of children, so ensuring the domestic front is happy goes a long way to ensuring I can have a good time. I like to try and arrange my outings around times when my wife won't be home or is busy; this makes it easier to be away from home. Only you know your own domestic situation and can assess the best way to do this, too often I hear of domestic situations where one person’s hobbies or interests have a negative effect on the household as a whole. Normally I aim to have at least one portable Ultralight DXing session a week if I can, normally a Saturday afternoon or one night during the week, however this can change based on the above. Of late I have been taking my children for more walks and quite often I take my Ultralight DXing kit in the bottom of the pram in case I find a suitable location.

Once a suitable day and time has been found the next step is to check the weather forecast for that day. In the past when I was involved in the Ultralight DXing/ amateur radio / radio DXing hobby I used to undertake quite a bit of out and about scanning / sitting on hill tops / lookouts / mountains, from doing this I learnt two VERY important lessons:
- Sitting in the sun for hours at a time is not fun and this reduces your enjoyment.
- Sitting in the cold for hours at a time is not fun and this reduces your enjoyment.

Based on this I like to make sure the weather will be suitable. While the cold can be overcome with extra clothes, being too hot is much harder to control and in extreme cases this can be quite bad for your health (dehydration, sun stroke and so on). Storms and other weather extremes are also not fun to be out in so I like to try and avoid these if possible. During our Australian summer, bush fires are a very real risk and given most locations are prime fire spots, the fire danger rating (FDR) and a safe access / escape are very important to consider. The local sunrise / sunset are also checked and this helps with planning a suitable time to leave home to be at the chosen location to maximise any advantage from these different times of the day.

Next is to decide on a location, I like to have a mix of new locations and some proven ones. Some are quite close and others are quite a distance to drive. The things I consider when deciding on a location are:
- Distance to drive (The cost of fuel is a factor in this, as is the amount of time I have)
- Access (some areas are locked after hours)
- RF profile (Some locations are better due to distance from high power transmitters)
- Comforts (Shops, toilets, etc)
- Personal Security / Safety (See notes below) 

Of these points, all are fairly easy to assess except for personal security, yet this is the most important. The city I live in is fairly safe and crime it is not always the first thing I think of, yet personal security and safety is very important. Sitting in your car or walking in the bush with multiple radios, by yourself, after dark, in locations such as lookouts or hill tops, beaches, parks or car parks can expose you to an increased risk to your personal safety. These locations at times can be used by people for a number of reasons which may not be legal or which may cause you to witness things you don't want to witness. Some of these locations are used for drug dealing, exchanges or people meeting others whom they are not married to in a "lover’s lane" type situation. Generally locations with a good level of passing traffic or close to houses are better than isolated spots.  Good lighting is also a benefit as is having multiple entry and exits points. The best advice is to keep your doors locked if in your car and to be aware of your surroundings both in your car and while on foot. If you feel unsafe or uneasy it is better to cut your session short than get caught up in somebody else's problems or risk your personal safety. Having a torch and a mobile phone plus telling somebody where you will be and when you will be home are all good safety tips. Some larger torches can be used as a weapon is the most serious of situations.

Recently I was undertaking a portable Ultralight DXing session in a park on the edge of the CBD, it was around 9:30PM on a Saturday night. I was sitting at a picnic table when a large group of young women (who I assume were on a hen’s night) came past and attempted to start talking to me. They asked what I was doing and I gave them some answers but given the state they were in from what I assume was a large amount of alcohol, they were not making much sense. One of them placed their hand on the table and almost knocked off my radio. While this would have been an accident, I am now going to be much more careful about keeping an eye on anybody who comes close to my radios.

My planning really starts the night before or early in the morning when I prepare everything I am going to take, charge batteries and pack up my gear. My normal kit consists of this:
- Receivers (1, 2, 3 or more in my bag / carry cases)
- Batteries (Fully recharged and also some spare alkaline AA's)
- Head phones (I prefer the ear bud type and these are easier to carry)
- Log book / sheets and pen + spares
- Torch (Now using my phone / torch in my radio)
- List of all frequencies
- Multi-tool
- Blanket (if it is cold)
- Spare jacket / vest
- Digital camera (now using my phone)
- Food and drinks
- Band-Aids and a small towel
- Mobile phone
- Identification such as a driver’s licence (which you should be carrying anyway if you are driving)

In the past I have used digital camera bags and hard ABS type cases, these types of cases / bags each have advantages and disadvantages. ABS cases standout and make it look like you are carrying expensive equipment, which might not be a great idea in some remote locations. Soft cases on the other hand don’t provide enough protection in some circumstances. I have created a custom daily carry case which I can easily place inside a backpack if I need to or which I can just as easily carry by itself.

Before leaving home, I check my kit and confirm I have everything I need. When I arrive onsite I do a quick recon of the area to make sure it is safe, no dodgy people around and I feel comfortable. Then I do a quick scan of the bands and check for the normal stations, now I can sit back, relax and get serious about logging. I also try to eat something and drink to keep my fluids up. I like to also get some photos each time I go out for the report on my blog. If I am going portable I like to try a few different spots and also interact with anybody I see, even if this is just a passing hello on a track. On returning home I make sure I spend some time with my wife and children before checking my loggings and entering these in to frequency database.

Tested / Researched Ultralight DXing Locations - Tasmania

Cataract Gorge / Gees Lookout
Distance from Launceston CBD: 10 minutes + 10 minute walk
Facilities: None. Nearest public toilet are Gorge grounds or CBD.
Notes: Access is via a rough dirt / gravel track. Lookout has a weight limit and grated open floor so you need to be careful not to drop items down.

Freeland’s Lookout - Trevallyn
Distance from Launceston CBD: 9 minutes. You can park at the very top.
Facilities: Sealed parking area and viewing hut. Gates locked after sunset but able to park on the road and walk in. Nearest public toilets are at Cliff ground, Lions park or Riverside Woolworths shopping centre.
Notes: One of my regular Ultralight DXing locations, this site has good access and views of the CBD and Tamar valley. Some UHF commercial two way equipment in a hut and close to a FM broadcast station so these bands do have issues at times at this location.

Newstead Reserve (off Amy Road)
Distance from Launceston CBD: 10 minutes. You can park directly out the front.
Facilities: Large open space and children’s playground. Nearest public toilet is Punchbowl reserve or Newstead shopping centre.
Notes: Being in the middle of a residential area this is fairly heavily used. Some paved areas but mostly open grass.

Punchbowl Reserve
Distance from Launceston CBD: 12 minutes to main car park.
Facilities: Very large bushland park with children’s playground, duck pond and lots of walking tracks. Public toilets located near BBQ area over a foot bridge. My preferred location is the bottom park behind the duck pond.
Notes: Excellent location and offers multiple possible spots. Top of the cliffs can be accessed via Blamey Road or a walking track. During summer snakes are a common sight.

Talbot Road Lookout
Distance from Launceston CBD: 10 minutes
Facilities: Car park and lookout tower. Nearest public toilets is Punchbowl reserve or Newstead shopping centre.
Notes: Views from the lookout tower are amazing towards Mt Barrow and down the Tamar River.

West Tamar Trail
Distance from Launceston CBD: 5 minutes
Facilities: Multiple walking tracks. A viewing platform over the Tamar River. Nearest public toilets is Tailrace Park, open during daylight hours.
Notes: Very busy track and well known for snakes in summer.

Tailrace Park
Distance from Launceston CBD: 7 minutes via West Tamar Road
Facilities: Car park, playground, BBQ, public toilets (open during daylight hours), boat ramp, multiple walking tracks, a viewing platform over the Tamar River.
Notes: This park is very busy during summer and offers many possible locations.

Queechy Lake
Distance from Launceston CBD: 10 minutes
Facilities: Car park, small playground and seats. Nearest public toilets is Punchbowl Reserve or Newstead shopping centre.
Notes: One of my favourite locations growing up. Has good Ultralight DXing potential which is yet to be fully explored.

Brady’s Lookout:
Distance from Launceston CBD: 20 minutes via West Tamar Highway + 5 minute walk.
Facilities: Public toilets open during daylight hours. BBQ and seating area. Multiple seats around the lookout and at the top viewing platform.
Notes: One of my preferred locations, a good distance from town but still easy to access. Highway noise can be an issue so headphones are recommended.

Mt George / Georgetown

Distance from Launceston CBD: 45 minutes via the East Tamar Highway
Facilities: Car park and lookout tower. Nearest public toilets are in Georgetown.
Notes: Steep drive to car park and then a short steep walk to lookout towers. Good views from the top. A number of mobile phone, commercial two way and FM broadcast stations have towers at this location.

Low Head
Distance from Launceston CBD: 52 minutes via East Tamar Highway and Georgetown.
Facilities: Car park and light house, extensive walking area around this and down to the rocks / water’s edge. Nearest public toilets are in Georgetown.
Notes: Most northerly point on East Tamar side of the river. Has a good take off towards mainland Australian. Gates locked after 6pm.

Mt Barrow
Distance from Launceston CBD: 1.15 hours via A3
Facilities: Small hut at the very top. Nearest public toilets are Myrtle Park hall.
Notes: One of my all-time favourite locations. Road is 4WD only but passable when not snowing in a 2WD with caution. An amazing Ultralight DXing location. A number of commercial two way, UHF Television and FM broadcast stations have towers at this location on South Barrow Peak and North Barrow Peak.

Devonport Bluff
Distance from Launceston CBD: 1.15 hours.
Facilities: Multiple car parks, beach, playground, Light house. Public toilets and a cafe / shops are close by.
Notes: I have only undertaken one day time Ultralight DXing session from near the light house, this was very enjoyable.

Round Hill Burnie
Distance from Launceston CBD: 1.40 hours
Facilities: Two lookouts and a climbable lookout tower with views towards Bass Straight and mainland Australian. Nearest public toilets are in the Burnie city area.
Notes: A number of mobile phone, commercial two way, UHF television and FM broadcast stations have towers at this location. I have only undertaken one day time Ultralight DXing session from this location, weather conditions meant I had to cut it short.

Table Cape - Wynyard
Distance from Launceston CBD: 2.05 hours
Facilities: Two lookouts, sealed car parking, walking tracks, Light house. Nearest public toilets are at Wynyard or Boat Harbour Beach.
Notes: An excellent Ultralight DXing location, I have only undertaken one day time session from this location. Transmitter for 7BU on 558KHz is located close by.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 20/10/2018 - Royal Park

09:45 PM
Royal Park, Launceston Tasmania
531KHz - 3GG: 4
540KHz - 7SD: 5
549KHz - 2CR: 5
558KHz - 7BU: 2
585KHz - 7RN: 2
621KHz - 3RN: 5
693KHz - 3AW: 5
747KHz - 7PB: 2
774KHz - 3LO: 3
885KHz - 3CR: 2
900KHz - 7AD: 2
954KHz - 2UE: 3
1008KHz - HPON LTON: 5
1080KHz - HPON HBT: 2
1116KHz - 3AK: 3
1179KHz - 3RPH: 3
1224KHz - 3EA: 3
1260KHz - 3SR: 4
1341KHz - HPON GELG: 2
1377KHz - 3MP: 4
1395KHz - 5AA: 2
1440KHz - 1SBS: 2
1503KHz - 3KND: 3
1593KHz - HPON MELB: 3
Tonight I spent a little while after dark at Royal park, here I undertook a long term ultralight DXing project session. This was my first serious session at this location after dark. I logged most stations at a much improved level to my last day time session at this location. Both 7BU and 7AD were down in signal level by a few points to normal, the same with a couple of Hobart stations.

Generally the Melbourne stations were much improved, the difference between groundwave and skywave propagation was clear. 2UE was down on what I would expect, of late it has been MIA during the day, tonight it was a solid 3 but in the past it would be an easy 5 almost every night.

This location worked well and will keep it in mind for future night time sessions, the lighting from the car park was enough to see and fill out my log sheet.

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 20/10/2018 - Ti-Tree Park

DATE: 2018-10-20
TIME: 04:00 PM
LOCATION: Ti-Tree Park, Rocherlea, Launceston Tasmania
531KHz - 3GG: 2
540KHz - 7SD: 5
549KHz - 2CR: 1
558KHz - 7BU: 4
585KHz - 7RN: 4
621KHz - 3RN: 3
693KHz - 3AW: 4
747KHz - 7PB: 5
774KHz - 3LO: 5
885KHz - 3CR: 2
900KHz - 7AD: 5
954KHz - 2UE: 1
1008KHz - HPON LTON: 5
1080KHz - HPON HBT: 3
1116KHz - 3AK: 1
1179KHz - 3RPH: 1
1224KHz - 3EA: 2
1260KHz - 3SR: 1
1341KHz - HPON GELG: 2

1377KHz - 3MP: 1
1395KHz - 5AA: 0
1440KHz - 1SBS: 0
1503KHz - 3KND: 0
1593KHz - HPON MELB: 1
NOTES: Late afternoon session in our local park. I took the kids for a walk and play, I also took my Ultralight DXing kit with me under the pram and had a session while they were playing.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 19/10/2018

DATE: 2018-10-19
TIME: 11:00 AM
LOCATION: Tailrace Park, Riverside Launceston Tasmania
531KHz - 3GG: 3
540KHz - 7SD: 5
549KHz - 2CR: 1
558KHz - 7BU: 1
585KHz - 7RN:4
621KHz - 3RN: 5
693KHz - 3AW: 5
747KHz - 7PB: 4
774KHz - 3LO: 4
885KHz - 3CR: 3
900KHz - 7AD: 4
954KHz - 2UE: 0
1008KHz - HPON LTON: 5
1080KHz - HPON HBT: 3
1116KHz - 3AK: 1
1179KHz - 3RPH: 0
1224KHz - 3EA: 0
1260KHz - 3SR: 0
1341KHz - HPON GELG: 2
1377KHz - 3MP: 1
1395KHz - 5AA: 0
1440KHz - 1SBS: 0
1503KHz - 3KND: 0
1593KHz - HPON MELB: 0
NOTES: Session in the late morning from this location. Weather was overcast with recent rain, it started to rain again as I was packing up. The spot I set up at is near the front car park and has a table a bench to sit on. Overhead high voltage power lines are close by but don't appear to have caused any issues.
I will add this spot as a future location, with some planning I hope to use this for sunset / night time DXing sessions.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


Recently I have been looking for a "better" way to store my loggings as a part of my "Long Term Ultralight DXing Project". I have used a spreadsheet in the past and also developed my own custom program but I was not 100% happy with either solution.

In the past I have used Portabase for other tasks and thought this might be a good way to keep everything together. Over the weekend I spent some time designing a suitable database and I migrated all my logs across to this.

So far it is working very well and allows me to both quickly enter my logs and also add photos and other information as I need to.


Friday, 12 October 2018

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 12/10/2018

531KHz - 3GG / 3
540KHz - 7SD / 5
549KHz - 2CR / 1
558KHz - 7BU / 4
585KHz - 7RN / 4
621KHz - 3RN / 4
693KHz - 3AW / 3
747KHz - 7PB / 5
774KHz - 3LO / 4
885KHz - 3CR / 2
900KHz - 7AD / 5
954KHz - 2UE / 0
1008KHz - HPON LTON / 5
1080KHz - HPON HBT / 2
1116KHz - 3AK / 1
1179KHz - 3RPH / 0
1224KHz - 3EA / 1
1260KHz - 3SR / 1
1341KHz - HPON GELG / 0
1377KHz - 3MP / 2
1395KHz - 5AA / 1
1440KHz - 1SBS / 0
1503KHz - 3KND / 2
1593KHz - HPON MELB / 2
[Location] Home, Launceston Tasmania. - Session at 17:45. Compared to session on 10/10/2018, most signals were around the same level. The biggest difference was 1341KHz HPON Geelong, this has been a solid 4 of late but tonight was 0, no signal heard at all on that frequency.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 10/10/2018

Date : 10/10/2018
Frequency : 531KHz - 3GG / 2
Frequency : 540KHz - 7SD / 5
Frequency : 549KHz - 2CR / 1
Frequency : 558KHz - 7BU / 5
Frequency : 585KHz - 7RN / 5
Frequency : 621KHz - 3RN / 5
Frequency : 693KHz - 3AW / 5
Frequency : 747KHz - 7PB / 5
Frequency : 774KHz - 3LO / 4
Frequency : 885KHz - 3CR / 3
Frequency : 900KHz - 7AD / 5
Frequency : 954KHz - 2UE / 0
Frequency : 1008KHz - HPON LTON / 5
Frequency : 1080KHz - HPON HBT / 3
Frequency : 1116KHz - 3AK / 1
Frequency : 1179KHz - 3RPH / 0
Frequency : 1224KHz - 3EA / 1
Frequency : 1260KHz - 3SR / 0
Frequency : 1341KHz - HPON GELG / 4
Frequency : 1377KHz - 3MP / 1
Frequency : 1395KHz - 5AA / 0
Frequency : 1440KHz - 1SBS / 1
Frequency : 1503KHz - 3KND / 0
Frequency : 1593KHz - HPON MELB / 1
Notes : [Location] Brickfields Reserve, Launceston Tasmania - Portable session in mid afternoon. Signals were as I would expect. Doing a direct compare with yesterdays results shows that every signal was within a point of yesterdays session. This is a very nice spot and I will use it again in the future.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 9/10/2018

Date : 9/10/2018
Frequency : 531KHz - 3GG / 2
Frequency : 540KHz - 7SD / 5
Frequency : 549KHz - 2CR / 0
Frequency : 558KHz - 7BU / 5
Frequency : 585KHz - 7RN / 5
Frequency : 621KHz - 3RN / 4
Frequency : 693KHz - 3AW / 5
Frequency : 747KHz - 7PB / 5
Frequency : 774KHz - 3LO / 5
Frequency : 885KHz - 3CR / 3
Frequency : 900KHz - 7AD / 4
Frequency : 954KHz - 2UE / 0
Frequency : 1008KHz - HPON LTON / 5
Frequency : 1080KHz - HPON HBT / 4
Frequency : 1116KHz - 3AK / 1
Frequency : 1179KHz - 3RPH / 0
Frequency : 1224KHz - 3EA / 2
Frequency : 1260KHz - 3SR / 0
Frequency : 1341KHz - HPON GELG / 4
Frequency : 1377KHz - 3MP / 1
Frequency : 1395KHz - 5AA / 0
Frequency : 1440KHz - 1SBS / 0
Frequency : 1503KHz - 3KND / 0
Frequency : 1593KHz - HPON MELB / 0

Notes : [Location] Royal Park, Launceston Tasmania - Session in a local park on my lunch break. Much the same signals as logged yesterday, the bottom end of the band was again providing good signals and the top end was again mostly dead.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 8/10/2018

Date : 8/10/2018
Frequency : 531KHz - 3GG / 2
Frequency : 540KHz - 7SD / 5
Frequency : 549KHz - 2CR / 0
Frequency : 558KHz - 7BU / 5
Frequency : 585KHz - 7RN / 5
Frequency : 621KHz - 3RN / 4
Frequency : 693KHz - 3AW / 5
Frequency : 747KHz - 7PB / 4
Frequency : 774KHz - 3LO / 5
Frequency : 885KHz - 3CR / 3
Frequency : 900KHz - 7AD / 5
Frequency : 954KHz - 2UE / 1
Frequency : 1008KHz - HPON LTON / 5
Frequency : 1080KHz - HPON HBT / 4
Frequency : 1116KHz - 3AK / 1
Frequency : 1179KHz - 3RPH / 1
Frequency : 1224KHz - 3EA / 2
Frequency : 1260KHz - 3SR / 0
Frequency : 1341KHz - HPON GELG / 2
Frequency : 1377KHz - 3MP / 0
Frequency : 1395KHz - 5AA / 0
Frequency : 1440KHz - 1SBS / 0
Frequency : 1503KHz - 3KND / 0
Frequency : 1593KHz - HPON MELB / 0
Notes : [Location] Talbot Road Lookout, Launceston Tasmania - A mid day session at the Talbot road lookout. Signals were excellent in the lower area of the band but above 900KHz they dropped off quickly with only 1341KHz (HPON Geelong) showing any signs of a signal. 

Funny Radio Picture

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 7/10/2018

  Date : 7/10/2018
 Frequency : 531KHz - 3GG / 4
 Frequency : 540KHz - 7SD / 5
 Frequency : 549KHz - 2CR / 4
 Frequency : 558KHz - 7BU / 4
 Frequency : 585KHz - 7RN / 3
 Frequency : 621KHz - 3RN / 3
 Frequency : 693KHz - 3AW / 5
 Frequency : 747KHz - 7PB / 2
 Frequency : 774KHz - 3LO / 4
 Frequency : 885KHz - 3CR / 3
 Frequency : 900KHz - 7AD / 3
 Frequency : 954KHz - 2UE / 3
 Frequency : 1008KHz - HPON LTON / 5
 Frequency : 1080KHz - HPON HBT / 2
 Frequency : 1116KHz - 3AK / 4
 Frequency : 1179KHz - 3RPH / 4
 Frequency : 1224KHz - 3EA / 5
 Frequency : 1260KHz - 3SR / 5
 Frequency : 1341KHz - HPON GELG / 4
 Frequency : 1377KHz - 3MP / 3
 Frequency : 1395KHz - 5AA / 2
 Frequency : 1440KHz - 1SBS / 2
 Frequency : 1503KHz - 3KND / 3
 Frequency : 1593KHz - HPON MELB / 2
 Notes : [Location] Home, Launceston Tasmania - Session started around 22:00, slightly later than I had planned. I also did a scan of the band and was able to log a couple of stations of note, 603KHz - 2RN Nowra and 972KHz - 2MW Murwillumbah. Both of these stations were coming in at a solid 4. I noticed during this session that signals at the top of the band were down on what I am normally able to receive. All stations from 1341KHz up were down 1 or 2 points from normal. Comparing these to my session on the 28/9/2018 which was at the same time (corrected) shows the difference. Stations from 531KHz to 1080KHz were the same or better than what I logged then.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Introduction to Ultralight DXing

Shortwave Bands

Metre Band
Frequency Range
120 m
2300–2495 kHz
tropic band
90 m
3200 – 3400 kHz
tropic band
75 m
3900 – 4000 kHz
shared with the North American amateur radio 80m band
60 m
4750 – 5060 kHz
tropic band
49 m
5900 – 6200 kHz

41 m
7200 – 7600 kHz
shared with the amateur radio 40m band
31 m
9400 – 9900 kHz
currently the most heavily used band
25 m
11,600 - 12,200 kHz

22 m
13,570 - 13,870 kHz
19 m
15,100 - 15,800 kHz

16 m
17,480 - 17,900 kHz

15 m
18,900 - 19,020 kHz
almost unused, could become a DRM band
13 m
21,450 - 21,850 kHz

11 m
25,600 - 26,100 kHz
may be used for local DRM broadcasting

Methods of Storing Loggings

I am just in the process of trying to find a better way of storing my radio related loggings. This is both my full band log and also my long term ultralight DXing project results. So far I have tried the following. I am keen to hear what other people do to record this sort of information.

Excel Spreadsheet: Good for “static” information such as my overall log but not as practical for my long term ultralight DXing project as my notes for this can push off the side of the screen and it does not easily copy across to my blog or forums / groups.

Access Database:  I built a few databases at college and in my early years of employment, I have not done as much with them over the past few years. I built a database last year which works well but again storing large amounts of notes is an issue and exporting information for my blog and groups / forums does not work easily.

Portabase: Better than Access for my needs and is easy to add / edit information.  Exporting information for my blog and groups / forums does not work easily and I need to spend a lot of time on the formatting of this.

TablePro: Much like Portabase, some good features but exporting information for my blog and groups / forums does not work easily. I have also had some bugs with this program.

DB4LTULDXProject: This is a custom database program I have written using Just Basic. In about 800 lines of code I have programmed this to do what I want to log, the results of my long term ultralight DXing project. It is the best for posting to my blog and forums / groups but does lack a spell checker and as it is something I have custom designed and written it does have some bugs and quirks. I still use Excel to store my full band loggings.

Hobby or Passion or Interest

What is the difference?
Is there a difference?

Is your hobby also your passion or has your passion become your hobby? Does it matter? What about interests, where do they fit in? A lot of people think that your hobby is your passion and that you have to have a hobby you are passionate about; I disagree for a number of reasons.

What is the difference between a hobby and a passion? One definition I have heard is this: “A hobby is something you choose to do when you have a little spare time, but a passion is something that you consider fundamental to your life”

Expanding on this and relating it back to radios and me I have some thoughts this. A lot of people are involved in the radio hobby for a number of reasons. Some people have this as an extension of their professional work or volunteer work, for others it was a hobby passed on to them from family or friends. The main difference to me between a hobby, passions and interests is both how you feel about and also how other people see it.

I first became involved in the radio hobby as a teenager listening to distant radio stations on the AM broadcast band of a night time, as I grew older I became involved in electronics at college and this grew to an interest in another radio related area which was radio scanning, this was about 20 years ago. Over the past 20 years while I have mostly been involved in radio scanning I have a couple of times tried by hand at shortwave and medium wave listening with mixed success. In all these cases this was as an addition to the radio scanning hobby, now I have totally removed myself from the radio scanning hobby and I am concentrating on the broadcast bands, mostly medium wave Ultralight DXing.

The reason I decided to make this change after 20 years is based on a few things:
- The public perception of radio scanning is not as good as shortwave listening or AM BCB DXing, most people know nothing about radio scanning and when you try and explain it to them either they think it should be illegal or they look at you like you are some sort of weirdo. Radio scanning is not really the sort of hobby that you can talk to other people about easily. When I was involved in the radio scanning hobby I was more interested in the technical / procedure details and less about the content which is different to most people who only care about finding out what was going on.

- The cost of equipment is less and it is easier to source locally. Whereas a scanner can start at $150 and go up in to the thousands, ultralight broadcast band receivers are much cheaper and unless you want to get very serious a basic $60 radio will do 95% of what you need.

- After 20 years the radio scanning hobby has to me lost some of the appeal, you can only hear so many taxi drivers calling for jobs or rubbish trucks talking about bin pickups before you get sick of it.
As I work during the day my scanning time is limited to a night time or of a weekend, while you can sometimes hear interesting things during these times most of the radio traffic I am interested in happens during the day, while I am at work. As medium wave broadcasting is a 24/7 business at any time of the day or night I can be comfortable that I will be able to pick up something of interest. 

- I have recently become active in the Ultralight DXing hobby and I am finding this to be a good match for my time, skills and equipment. What you hear on a scanner can vary a lot based on your location; even 25km can make a huge difference. With the Ultralight DXing hobby you can hear something of interest no matter where you are. This is becoming a passion of mine.

Going back to my original question of the difference between a hobby, passion and interest I have some thoughts, I will use fishing as an example but this can be related back to almost anything.
If you go fishing a couple of times a year when you go away to the coast then this is an interest.
If you go fishing a couple of times a month and maybe read a magazine or two this is a hobby.
If you go fishing as often as you can, read magazines and books, maybe be a part of a club and plan things around fishing then this is a passion.

The second part of this is around other people and what they see of you from your interest, hobby or passion. I work with computers as my job and while I enjoy the work it is not really a passion, it is what pays the bills. Some people I know work with computers but also play games, build websites and build computers outside work, this then becomes a passion for them. Sometimes when I am talking to people they are surprised to find I don’t have a huge computer at home and that I don’t play games much. A lot of people get defined by other people because of their work where as in a lot of cases that is not all that is important to them. I would much rather talk about radios than computers for example.

Something to always be mindful of is that your interest, hobby or passion does not become to the determent of your work, family, friends or relationships. I have on more than one occasion seen how destructive having a single focus can be to relationships. Balance is the key; however, you should not let somebody try and change you to suit what they perceive as being right or better. 

My goal over the last 6 - 12 months has been to learn as much as I can about the shortwave and medium wave Ultralight DXing hobby, I have really enjoyed this and have got to know (online) a number of very interesting people. My interest became my hobby and now my passion.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Bargain Battery Charger

Today I was in the CBD when I called past Target Launceston, I noticed they had these battery chargers for $5. I needed some AAA recharable batteries so this seemed like a good way to get them, getting a battery charger and two AA batteries for free.

Link - Old Radio and Electronics Magazines

I love being able to look back at some of these older magazines and see where the radio hobby started out.

Video - 711KHz 7NT - Old Kelos Radio Towers

Below is a video I found online of the old 7NT radio towers at Kelso being taken down recently. They moved to the FM BCB many years ago, leaving 4QW from Queensland as the only active station on this frequency in Australia.

An Introduction To Ultralight MW Radio DXing

What is Ultralight MW Radio DXing? 
Ultralight medium wave (MW) DXing is a sub-group of the almost century-old hobby of Medium Wave DXing. Practitioners of that hobby use a wide variety of receivers and antennas to attempt for hear as many stations as possible from as far away as possible. Although MW radio is, like FM radio and TV, thought of as a local or regional medium, MW DXers hear stations from a thousand or more miles away on a routine basis. Coastal DXers often hear transoceanic MW signals. Ultralight MW Radio DXers have all of the same goals as more “normal” MW DXers but intentionally limit the capabilities of their equipment to increase the challenge and to highlight DXing techniques and knowledge. The startling DX capabilities of some small “pocket” AM radios was discovered by accident by Gary DeBock of Puyallup, WA in late 2007. 

After Gary shared his enthusiasm for these little radios with several friends, an active specialist hobby group rapidly developed. Formal definitions for Ultralight radios were established, reception distance records were kept and a DX Awards program was established. Two of the more important developments the establishment of a ULR Article Library by Canadian DXer Colin Newell at his website and the establishment of ultralightdx, a Yahoo e-mail group moderated by John Bryant, to foster communications about this surprisingly enjoyable new aspect of the radio hobbies. Links to these sites are found at the end of this article

What is an Ultralight Receiver? 
The ULR Definition Committee has come up with the following guidelines:

1. It is a simple shirt pocket-sized radio of not more than approximately 20 cubic inches.
2. It is an entertainment-grade radio, as opposed to enthusiast’s radio. As such, it will usually not have selectable filters, AM synchronous detection or SSB clarification.

3. It is readily available to the hobby in new or used markets at the time of its approval.

4. It costs no more than $100 retail at the time of approval.

5. It is primarily a radio. While it may have other features as well (MP3 recorder, etc.), the design and function should have radio reception as its focus.

6. It is not a "novelty radio" such as Coca Cola Can radio, Mr. Potato Head, etc.

Receivers are reviewed and approved on an individual basis, and new models are coming out of Asia every year. A full list of those models currently recognized as Ultralights can be found in the Ultralight Gallery and Compendium which is found in the extensive Ultralight DXing Library at both and yahoo’s Ultralightdx.

Why DX with an ULR? 
What makes ULR DXing both unique and rewarding is the fact that the DXer is only using a small, modest receiver. In general, the receiver will have lesser sensitivity and selectivity than larger portables, and modern communications receivers with advanced features and external antennae are in a completely different class. The Ultralight receiver therefore presents an artificial handicap, which emphasizes knowledge, skill, luck and persistence. With this added set of challenges, the rewards of hearing a distant station are even greater, and many long-time DXers have discovered a renewed interest in the DX hobby through Ultralight DXing. An added benefit is that the cost of a typical ULR receiver can be literally orders of magnitude less than a top-of-the-line communications receiver and its associated gear and antenna, making Ultralight DXing an inexpensive hobby that nevertheless provides ample opportunity for learning and fun.

Which ULR Model Should I Use?
There are several good ULR models available today. Rest assured, these are NOT the transistor radios of years gone by. There are many examples to choose from which offer excellent sensitivity, selectivity, nulling ability and other important attributes. They are generally manufactured overseas, and are available through on-line mega-retailers (eBay, Amazon, etc.) and electronics outlets, as well as at brick and-mortar stores.

To help determine the one that is right for you, Gary DeBock holds regular “Shoot-Outs” in which he compares and contrasts the top models, evaluating new models as they hit the market and making clear which are “Turkeys” that should be avoided. All of the Shoot-out Results are available for download, and will provide you with detailed information on the performance of difference receivers. You can also download the Ultralight Gallery and Compendium, which is a pictorial gallery and compilation of the features and comparative performance of all the popular ULR receivers.
In addition, there are reviews focused on a particular receiver, such as the Sony SRF-59 Sourcebook and others. No single ULR receiver is the best in every category, but there is ample information available to evaluate which one (or two...) would work best in your situation. Making These Receivers Even Better In addition to using the receiver “barefoot” (i.e., just as it came from the manufacturer), many DXers have done strange and wonderful things to stock units, and these experiments are also documented in the Ultralight DXing Library at both and the Yahoo “ultralightdx” group.

Once certain types of modifications are done to an ULR, it enters the “Unlimited Class”, and the resulting performance enhancements can be truly amazing. For instance, “The Slider,” a popular modification to the Eton e100 (right), adds a large “slider” ferrite loop stick antenna and, optionally, a narrow IF filter, making it the hottest portable receiver around, far better than even the vaunted Sony ICD-2010. To improve the selectivity of models such as the Sangean DT-400W, inexpensive filters are available that keeps the same footprint of the receiver but significantly increase its ability to separate closely-spaced signals. Guides to these and other modifications are available for download.
Other Gear and Techniques for The ULR DXer in addition to the basic ULR receiver, there are several other types of equipment that may prove valuable. Articles in the ULR Library include:

• Using Passive Loop Antennas to improve the sensitivity and selectivity of an ULR receiver, or any other portable receiver for that matter. Examples of passive loops you can easily build at home may be found in Building A Passive Loop stick for your Ultralight Radio and The Crate Loop.

• Ultralight – Adding an Antenna Port illustrates direct attachment methods which allow a ULR to be used with a variety of external antennas, much like a communications receiver.
• As with all DXing, a recorder is a good accessory to have to verify that you heard a given station, and Recording Audio from Ultralights is now available.
• The Guide to Audio Phasing provides a way to dig out new stations underneath strong local stations. New articles are added regularly, so check back at the ULR Library sites from time to time!
What Other Opportunities Are There for ULR DXers? To share information and encourage each other, we strongly recommend becoming an active member of Yahoo’s UltralightDX

Like many groups, Ultralightdx has daily posts from many DXers with equipment news, reception tips and general discussion of ULR-related topics. The discussion forum at also has several venues in which ULR and other DXers share information. As DXers hear more and more stations, their logs continue to grow, and the Ultralight Awards Program recognizes the many different milestones a DXer might reach. These awards, all given for “Stations Heard” in many categories are available to any Ultralighter world-wide, via the Internet and free of charge.
The Ultralight Records files memorialize the firsts and farthest received stations that are achieved in various categories and are kept separately for North American and World-Wide records. Information about each of these programs is available in the ULR Library files at both locations.

There are also periodic DXing Contests which are organized by a standing committee of Ultralighter. Information about these Contests is widely available in many MW DX club bulletins and and Ultralightdx a more personal level, there are periodic get-togethers of DXers in various locations, as well as groups of individuals in particular parts of the country or world who combine their loggings into a regional master log. 

There are also frequent DXpeditions in which DXers head out to the ocean beaches or open countryside to hear targets that would otherwise be impossible in urban areas; ULR receivers are ideally suited to this activity, since the gear fits into the glove compartment!
Where Can I Go for Further Information? For those who have not been involved in MW DXing in recent years, the websites of Medium Wave Circle of the UK ( and the Ontario DX Association of Canada ( both have excellent introductory reviews of the increasingly sophisticated MW DXing hobby.

To help identify what you're hearing and determine what to shoot for next, lists of North American AM radio stations may be found at,, and detailed information on individual stations throughout the Western hemisphere, including antenna patterns and other information, is available through the FCC AM Database at stations in East Asia and the Pacific are available in the highly regarded Pacific Asia Log (PAL)available at and a similar log of European, African and Mid-East AM stations is available at
And Finally: 
Ultralight Radio DXing is first and foremost about having real fun with radio again, “just like the Old Days.” It is such a new branch of the radio hobbies that there are no real mossbacks or true experts in Ultralighting. Come on in and have fun. If you develop questions that are not adequately addressed above, join UltralightDX on Yahoo, speak up and give us a chance to help you out!

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Long Term Ultralight DXing Project - 29/09/2018

 Date : 29/09/2018
 Frequency : 531KHz - 3GG / 1
 Frequency : 540KHz - 7SD / 3
 Frequency : 549KHz - 2CR / 0
 Frequency : 558KHz - 7BU / 2
 Frequency : 585KHz - 7RN / 3
 Frequency : 621KHz - 3RN / 2
 Frequency : 693KHz - 3AW / 2
 Frequency : 747KHz - 7PB / 1
 Frequency : 774KHz - 3LO / 3
 Frequency : 885KHz - 3CR / 0
 Frequency : 900KHz - 7AD / 4
 Frequency : 954KHz - 2UE / 0
 Frequency : 1008KHz - HPON LTON / 5
 Frequency : 1080KHz - HPON HBT / 2
 Frequency : 1116KHz - 3AK / 1
 Frequency : 1179KHz - 3RPH / 0
 Frequency : 1224KHz - 3EA / 1
 Frequency : 1260KHz - 3SR / 0
 Frequency : 1341KHz - HPON GELG / 1
 Frequency : 1377KHz - 3MP / 1
 Frequency : 1395KHz - 5AA / 0
 Frequency : 1440KHz - 1SBS / 1
 Frequency : 1503KHz - 3KND / 1
 Frequency : 1593KHz - HPON MELB / 0
 Notes : [Location] Home, Launceston Tasmania - 15:30.
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