An Early Morning Spin On 49M With The Sproutie

This morning, my 2 eldest kitties did a real number on me. The senior was the first. At about 5am, she sat on her food shelf (one of 3 shelves mounted on the wall next to my bed, specifically for the cats to hang out on), next to her empty food bowl and began meowing loudly, while fixing me with an innocent gaze. I was able to ignore this for a good 20 minutes until the next eldest, my blind cat Jingles, jumped up on the bed and also began a “feed me” campaign, which consisted of vigorously rubbing her little furry head against my face. The combined effect of both initiatives was too much to easily ignore so as soon as I had fed them, I found myself sitting in front of The Sproutie and thinking that I might as well make use of the fact that I was up at 5:30am, while night-time and grey-line propagation on 49M would be in full swing.

The choice of 49M for this listening session was simply because it was the coil that was plugged in. I listen to Radio Habana Cuba most nights on 6165 and 6100KHz. The 6165KHz signal, which comes online at 6pm local (0100z) has been rather weak recently, but the signal on 6100KHz from 10pm-midnite (0500-0700z) is a powerhouse. I sometimes record the 6100KHz signal but am quite often foiled in my attempts to catch the penultimate hour of programming, due to RHC’s various foibles. Last night, the carrier appeared on 6100KHz at 4 mins after the hour, followed a further 5 mins later by the audio. My plans to record the 1-hour program in English were thus foiled and by the time it was repeated at 11pm local, I was feeling too sleepy to last the whole hour.

When going to bed, I usually leave The Sproutie on 6100KHz so that I can awake to the sounds of KCBS Pyongyang on the same frequency. It is mainly music, with occasional spoken word in Korean. I hear many of the same tunes during their morning programming, and there is great theater of the mind in hearing their slightly kitschy melodies interspersed with the impassioned-sounding commentary in Korean. I hear the same melodies most mornings, and there is a certain appeal to this somewhat exotic “sameness”. I can imagine the members of the elite in Pyongyang waking up to this kind of “inspirational” programming every morning.

Coffee at the ready, I decided to perform a band scan on 49M with The Sproutie. The idea was to log every station I could hear on the band. The excellent site made it possible to quickly ID most stations, before moving on to the next. I didn’t linger for too long on any one frequency, as the goal was to get an overall idea of band activity, rather than to positively ID every single station heard.

Needless to say, I heard a lot of Chinese 🙂  Here’s what The Sproutie and I came up with –

 Freq  Station  Language  UTC
 5830  WTWW  English  1342
 5875  BBC  English  1343
 5915  CRI  Mongolian  1347
 5925  CNR 5  Chinese
 5935  PBS_Xizang  Chinese
 5955  CRI  English  1354
 5975  CNR 8  Korean  1356
 5990  PBS_Qinghai  Tibetan  1358
 6015  North_Korean_Jamming with un-ID’ed station underneath  1401
 6030  CNR 1  Chinese  1404
 6055  Radio Nikkei  Japanese  1405
 6065  CNR 2  Chinese  1406
 6080  CNR 1  Music  1414
 6095  KBS World Radio  English  1415
 6100  KCBS Pyongyang  Korean  1417
 6105  Radio Taiwan International (jammed, but jamming not heard)  Chinese  1418
 6110  PBS Xizang  Tibetan  1420
 6125  CNR 1  Chinese  1422
 6135  North Korean Jamming (w/ music underneath)  1424
 6155  CNR 2  Chinese  1427
 6175  CNR 1  Chinese  1429
 6185  Unidentified station (possibly China Huayi BC. Corp  Music  1431
 6190  PBS Xinjiang  Mongolian
 6195  BBC (jammed, but jamming not heard)  English  1434
 6200  PBS Xizang (or Voice Of Jinling)  Chinese  1436
 6250  North Korean Jamming  1438
 6280  Xi Wang Zhi Sheng (just 100 watts!)  Chinese  1440
 6348  North_Korean_Jamming_with_station_underneath_(presumably_Echo_Of_Hope)  1447

Lots of stations – and loud too, For the majority of the listening session, I had the RF gain on the little Sproutie cranked down to 1/2 or 1 on a 1-10 scale. Another benefit of this band-scan was that I got to fill in a few more calibration points on the dial calibration graph for this coil. The details on this screen grab are a little hard to read but that’s fine, as your calibration graph would be different anyway. Just take a gander at that nice smooth curve though –

Anyway, that’s it. It is now about 9:30am and I am beginning to wish I hadn’t risen so early. However, I blame the cats, and the good side is that I got to take a whirl on 49M before first light. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t use a regenerative receiver for serious SWL’ing. If anyone says that their regen doesn’t cut it for SWL’ing, just tell them that it must be because they didn’t build it properly 🙂

The Sproutie and a cuppa coffee kept me company early this morning throughout my sojourn on 49M.

6 thoughts on “An Early Morning Spin On 49M With The Sproutie

  1. Thanks for the “slice of life” – love the cat stories – sounds just like my dog and cat here – they both conspire to get me up when they are hungry. The dog lays on my head and the cat paws at my nose. Wouldn’t have it any other way!
    Robert AK3Q

    1. You’re a good man Robert – I saw the picture of your pets on your QRZ listing. Our cat and dog companions are the best. I think the importance of animal companionship will only become more important to me as I get older. They are worth every penny and every bit of trouble. As much as I enjoy radio, I would gladly give up all my radio equipment to keep my pets.


  2. I enjoy your eclectic blogs and your recent ones on regenerative receivers reminded me of the radio sets my father used to make for me – which were all regenerative and the later ones even used transistors! When I was an impoverished student in the midlands of England he had made me a medium wave transistorised radio which drove a speaker and was notoriously unstable. When I peaked the regeneration it could rapidly descend into oscillation and my landlady used to either bang on my door handle or look at me coldly in the morning.
    I got him his first transistor as a present in the late nineteen-fifties. It was a ‘Red Spot’ which in those days indicated it was to be used at audio frequencies. It cost ten shillings and I earned only twice that amount per week delivering papers. I also got him a book (which unfortunately I haven’t been able to trace since) on how to make transistors. The book took a pretty coarse approach to the task where you crushed the glass envelope of a germanium diode to expose the Ge bit and then you positioned two slivers of Blue Gillette razor blade (attached to fine but stiff contact wires) close together on the face of the Germanium in a similar way that you would put a ‘cats whisker’ onto crystal of a crystal set. I cant remember how you held the bits of blade in place but they may have used balsa cement which was available then. You then took resistance readings to establish which was the Emitter and Collector. I think the Germanium was automatically the base. I don’t remember whether he ever made a working transistor radio with it bit I still remember the noise of his regenerative receivers at full oscillation literally ringing in my ears.

    1. Great stories Tony. Talking of red spot transistors, I remember the OC71 and OC72. They were germanium types, NPN and PNP respectively. They had a red spot on the body next to the collector lead. Occasionally, I think I’d like to build something with one of them for nostalgia but then I realize that I have a bag of 2N3904’s and 2N4401’s, which cost me a few pennies each, and would each work way better than those old transistors. It’s tempting though.

      Thanks for sharing your memories!

      AA7EE (ex G4IFA and G8RYQ)

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