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Heatwave, Tropospheric Wealth and Sporadic-E Dearth


In the last of their traditional monthly DXTV surveys, Keith Hamer and Garry Smith experience good tropospheric signal enhancement

In the last of their traditional monthly DXTV surveys, Keith Hamer and Garry Smith experience good tropospheric signal enhancement but little Sporadic-E propagation during this summer’s unusually hot weather.


Sporadic-E TV

On July 6th at 1535 UTC, Tom Crane (Hawkwell) identified Russia (Rossija-1) on channel R1 (49.75MHz) by its РОССИЯ 1 logo. The exact frequency measured was 49.758MHz, which suggests the signal originated from Globokoye.

There was a path into Ukraine on the following day. At 1122 UTC, Simon Hockenhull (Bristol) identified signals on R1 by the 1+1 logo.

There were some lengthy openings too. For instance, on July 21st, R1 signals were evident by 0800 UTC. Most images were too weak to be identified and periodically rode in and out of the noise for much of the day.

Stephen Michie (Bristol) witnessed unidentified activity on both R1 and R2 (59.25MHz) on the same day from 1300 UTC. At 1801 UTC, Ukraine (INTEP) was identified on R2 by the evening news and a large Cyrillic logo.

On the 14th, Niels van der Linden (Épinal, France) identified Moldova (2Canal) on R1 (Cahul), Russia (1TV) on R1 (Twer) and Russia (Telekanal5) on R3 (77.25MHz) from St. Petersburg.

Meanwhile, five years ago, analogue still ruled; to celebrate this, we are featuring a picture of Hungary (RTL KLUB). It was captured in July 2013, on R1, by Derrick Buckles, Market Drayton (Fig. 1).


Tropo TV

An enhancement on July 4th provided Sandy Heath multiplexes on D24 (ITV/D3&4) and D27 (BBC A) for Stephen Michie (Bristol). Crystal Palace on D30 (BBC B) was also present. On the following day, Sudbury D41 (D3&4/ITV) was received, along with Sandy Heath. Stephen works with an indoor Triax wideband grid aerial and a Fringe Supreme amplifier feeding a domestic set-top box.

On the 8th, Niels van der Linden received Danish multiplexes on D51 (MUX2) and D53 (MUX1), both København Vest/Hove, and D25 (MUX1) from Tommerup.

Tom Crane (Hawkwell) submitted an impressive tropospheric log, captured during the recent hot weather and during the associated anti-cyclonic conditions. This included Dutch regional stations. This is reminiscent of analogue days when the various regions would fade in and out as the ‘lift’ varied over a period of time.

There were probably some of the new German HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) multiplexes propagating too, but Tom has no means of decoding them now. In analogue times, north German transmitters would show when northern Dutch outlets were present. Tom received multiplexes on no fewer than 19 days throughout July, usually early-morning encounters, and sometimes between 0300 and 0600 UTC. Tom uses a vertically-polarised Triax-52 antenna, fed into a domestic set-top box.

Table 1 shows some typical channels and multiplexes from Dutch, Belgian and French outlets.


Sporadic-E FM

Sporadic-E propagation during the late evening of Sunday, July 8th opened transatlantic paths and high MUFs (Maximum Usable Frequencies), which breached the FM band. At 2135 UTC, Paul Logan (Northern Ireland) identified CBC Radio 1 on 88.50MHz from Newfoundland, Canada. Such high transatlantic MUFs are rare but FM reception has occurred in the past.

Many FM signals encountered by Simon Hockenhull (Bristol) were either too weak or affected by co-channel interference for the RDS to activate. On the 5th by 1919 UTC, the FM band was crowded with Italian stations.

By 1135 UTC on the 7th, the FM band was awash with North African, Iberian, Italian and Balkan transmissions. At 1100 UTC on the 21st, very weak Balkan stations were heard up to 89MHz.

On the 22nd at 1550 UTC, Portuguese stations arrived; on 87.70MHz, there was RTP Antena 1 from Mendro, on 88.40MHz RTP Antena 2 came in from Guarda and, on 88.90MHz, RTP Antena 1 came in, originating from Foia.

For George Garden (Inverbervie, Scotland) some highlights, on July 4th from 1000 UTC, included Croatia (HRT 2) on 97.50MHz from Stipanov Grič, with 5kW ERP (Effective Radiated Power).

On the 7th (from 0810 UTC until 1049 UTC) an intense Sporadic-E opening produced an unknown Luxembourg transmitter on 102.30MHz. Many Spanish transmissions occupied the band at the time; more intrusions occurred on the 22nd.

A station on 105.10MHz was identified as Canal Sur Radio (RDS: CANAL SUR), originating from Seville, Andalucia, in southern Spain.


Tropo FM and DAB

An opening on July 4th produced Dutch DAB signals for Stephen Michie (Bristol). The multiplexes received were 6B (6B Oost-Noord NL) and 8A (8A Randstad NL). Omroep Zeeland (Netherlands) was also heard on 87.90MHz.

The 6th produced Irish stations on Simon Hockenhull’s car radio, while he was parked at the University of Bath. This is a good site, as it is just over 182m above sea-level. At around 0700 UTC, signals were heard from Mt. Leinster; they included RTÉ Radio 1 on 89.60MHz, RTÉ 2FM on 91.80MHz and RTÉ RnaG on 94.00MHz.

George Garden reports an impressive amount of tropospheric FM reception throughout July from UK transmitters. July 25th was the best day; at 2037 UTC, George received BBC Radio Norfolk on 104.40MHz from Great Massingham (4.2kW) and BBC Radio York on 104.3MHz from Woolmoor (0.5kW vertical).

Better still, there was an emergence of a Norwegian DAB multiplex on block 13F.


Service Information

Gösta van der Linden (DXR, Netherlands) advised that HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) compression is to be adopted by KPN/Digitenne in the Netherlands for future terrestrial transmissions.

In Belgium, the VRT will end DVB-T terrestrial TV broadcasting from 1st December. VRT Sporza, which airs via the één network, has just introduced a new logo, captured by Gösta van der Linden (Fig. 2).


ITV Anniversary

Southern Television opened on August 30th, 1958, which made this the sixth area of the United Kingdom to be able to receive ITV broadcasts. The station provided the commercial service from 1958 until 1981 and Roger Bunney (Romsey) worked there for many years (Fig. 3).

The transmitter at Chillerton Down (Isle of Wight) was the first ITA transmitter to use Band III channel 11 (204.75MHz vision, 201.25MHz sound). As with previous ITA transmitters, vertical polarisation was employed.

The 1971 EBU list shows the ERP (Effective Radiated Power) as 100kW.


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Satellite News

Sándor Rottenbacher (Hungary) submitted a selection of test patterns captured on various satellites. A couple of examples are featured this month (Figs. 4 and 5).

A new bouquet has opened In the RTL SD (Standard-Definition) packet via Astra 19.2°E on 12.188GHz (horizontal polarisation, 27.500 Symbol Rate, and 3/4 Forward Error Correction).

RTL Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein broadcasts 12 television channels, which are all unscrambled.


Changes to this Column

To reflect the new-style RadioUser, our regular column is taking a ‘break in transmission’ over the winter months. We will be back with a different schedule – including quarterly DXTV, FMDX, and Satellite reports – next April.

In the meantime, this writing duo will be exploring some new topics such as the BBC Weather Service, the start of Channel Five, and the out-of-this-world story of the Telstar Satellite. Stay tuned!


Keeping in Touch

Please keep sending your TV and FM reception reports, news, comments, and photographs to Garry Smith, 17 Collingham Gardens, Derby DE22 4FS. These will all feature in our next DXTV roundup. Garry’s e-mail address is at the head of this column.


Further Information

Some of the items which initially appeared on our original DX-TV and Test Cards websites can now be accessed as a PDF (portable document format). Check out:


Table 1: Channels and Multiplexes from Dutch, Belgian and French outlets.


France:                    Channel D24V (F3 Nord/ Pas-de-Calais, Weo)

                                D24H (France 2)

                                D27V (MUX R7 Datasystem)

                                D36V (GRAND LILLE TV)

                                D42V (F3 Nord Pas-de-Calais, GRAND LITTORAL TV)

                                 D42H (France 2)

Belgium:                  D22H (ÉÉN)

                                D25H (VRT)

                                D55H (BX1)

                                D56H (RTB: F)

Netherlands:             D21H (NPO1, TV Rijnmond)

                                D24H (Veronica)

                                D29H (NPO1, TV West)

                                D29H (Fox)

                                D32H (Veronica)

                                D35H (Nickelodeon)

                                D42H (NPO1, TV Gelderland)

                                D49H (RTL) Rotterdam-Waalhaven 10kW Vertical

                                D52H (NPO1, TV West)

                                D57H (Fox)


This article was featured in the October 2018 issue of Radio User

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