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TUCoPS :: Radio :: frf6_95.txt

Free Radio Forum 06-95 and 07-95

                            FREE RADIO FORUM
                             by John Cruzan

As I had feared, this months deadline sneaked up on me before I knew it. And due to some
personal events and a lot of procrastination, I had not even started on this column. However
when your as lazy as I am, you can always count on your friends to make sure you stay that way.
This month Kirk Trummel submitted a wealth of information for the column, and I really  didn't
have to write anything other than this introduction. I thank Kirk and everyone else who
contributed, I hope you all will help me remain lazy and send in your thoughts and contributions.
Before we get started I have a few announcements:

Pirate Radio Insanity Posters!
I received from an individual who wishes to remain silent, a large quantity of 1995 Pirate Radio
Insanity Posters, they are a collage of QSLs from the participants on a unique colored paper with
lightning bolts in the background. These are not QSLs and I was directed to distribute them to
who ever wanted them. If you are interested in having one of these posters, send me a SASE and
Ill be glad to get one out to you. My address is 3111 Martin Drive, Joplin Missouri 64804.
I wonder if we will ever see the Short Wave Liberation posters??
I just received the following announcement from Dr. Lobotomy;
Formerly WARI / KMRZ, We have dropped all SSB operations and acquired several new AM
transmitters that are being modified.
We will be on the air very shortly.
We operate from a secret location high on a hill somewhere east of the Mississippi.
We will be featuring new music and political commentary. We will mostly be a "Hobby" station
though, bringing new pirate news and information to the masses (Well almost)
We have two AM transmitters, one with 100 watts of power and the other with 65, we have a
very effective antenna system."

Lets all wish Dr. lobotomy the best of luck with his new project.
And now on with the rest of the show.....

 - DXing from the Fringe - By Kirk Trummel
 Not hearing many Pirates even when others are? I am presenting a few  "Tips and Tricks" to
help you ferret-out those weak Pirate signals. To start off, buy the best receiver you can afford!
You'll hear a few stations using a Rat Shack or Sangean or other "Portable" class
 receiver but If you want to catch the Bass ya gotta get the Bass Boat, Fish Finder, Tackle and
Good Poles. The same holds true in DXing of any sort. If you don't have the $$$ for better ears,
there are other ways to improve your DXing set-up. Use an External Antenna.
 Almost ANY external antenna will work better than the built-in whip. Random wires AND a
tuner are great to start with and if you have the space, build yourself a dipole antenna cut for the
frequency range of interest for even better results. It helps to have several different
 antennas to use because in one situation antenna "A" could be the star performer and another
night/station antenna "B" could take the prize. A good pair of headphones is another worthwhile
addition to the shack, especially when you're really trying to dig that weak one out. Become
 familiar with the "Normal" stations that are SUPPOSED to be there. That way, when you tune
across a signal, you won't waste time DXing something that is of no interest. This technique also
makes spotting pirates easier because your possible catch is something that is NOT
 normally there. Watch the loggings section for good times/days/freqs that pirates have used. If
you maximize your efforts using this data you'll catch more stations than just plain random
tuning. It also helps to tune thru the bands about every 15 minutes or so. That way you'll
 catch more stations signing on/fading in at odd times. Make a few friends! Fellow DXers help
Fellow DXers! I owe many loggings of stations that I would have missed, due someone else
catching them first. Also remember to re-pay the favors as well! When tuning thru the bands,
turn your BFO ON or use the SSB position, not only does this increase the sensitivity of your
receiver, but it makes the carriers of the AM stations stick out like a sore thumb. Another
technique I use when I can't really spend a lot of time tuning, is to find a popular frequency and
just "Park" your receiver there, open up the filters on your receiver as wide as they go and turn
up the volume a bit. That way, you can do  other things and still DX a little bit. I hope this stuff
 Good Luck and Good Fishin'!

Frequencies of operation:  By Kirk Trummel

  With all the latest discussion of MUF/LUF/Sun Spots and other scientific  topics, Operators
might want to put the anticipated lousy 43/41 Meter  propagation season to good use by
experimenting elsewhere in the vast  RF Spectrum. While the following bands are by no means
advocated as  the ones to start carving your own niche in, they are presented only  for
informational and I dare say, entertainment purposes only.
  160-190 kHz - NOT a typo guys! This band has been around for a very  long time and it is
LEGAL to run 1 watt into any sort of antenna you  can dream up as long as you also include the
feed line to NOT exceed 50 feet in length. ALL modes are allowed, SSB, AM, RTTY, SSTV etc.
  and some rather astounding DX records have been set by guys known  as LOWFERS who
typically run automated Beacon Stations here. One will  not get the distance like Shortwave
BUT it is a very interesting band  to play with, especially if you have several friends who live
within  a 100 miles or so of the transmitter. The summer static levels will  be horrendous here
but by the time you build/buy a transmitter and  set up a decent antenna, Fall will be just around
the corner!

  1600-1800 kHz - the bottom 50 or so kHz of this range has been used for  pirate broadcasts for
as long as there have been pirates! With the new  expanded AM BCB taking over this segment,
one should find existing users  slowly being moved elsewhere to make room for this bands new
occupants.  If you have ever contemplated using this range, NOW is the time to  think about it
before it fills up with Wall-to-Wall BCB stations. The only  sore spots about this band are the
very long antennas required for good  efficiency, many Amateur class transmitters don't have the
capability  to operate this low and if you operate in the 1750-1800 kHz range beware  of two
things, MARS type operations (Just outside the Ham 160M band) and  possible 2nd Harmonics
that will show up in the 80M ham band (And a VERY  good way to get noticed by the wrong
people!). Again, Summer static levels  will be tough to bear but that's life.....

  2400-2500 kHz - I am not sure if there has ever been any activity in this  range before. While it
is certainly out of the range of most Ham Xmitters  (Barring of course - Modifications) it looks
interesting because of  the little use by SWBC around the world allowing for many "Clear Spots"
  to be identified. While I have not monitored much of this range, it is  at least worthy of a little
"Investigative DXing". Again, Summer static  and very long antennas are the downside.

  3390-3410 kHz - Several broadcasts were done here last year by several  stations and results
seemed to be promising. However, due to the "Lack  of Activity, Lack of Listeners" cycle, usage
stopped. This range is  a bit tricky to navigate because of the complex situation provided by
  SWBC, Utility and Aeronautical services merging here. Go any higher and  you are playing
with fire from the Aeronautical/MARS operations and lower  one starts hitting SWBC and
Utility services. One advantage this range  does hold are the large numbers of SWLs who tune
this range allowing  a Pirate Operator to hit a potential audience that one doesn't get  with 43/41
Meters. Efficient antennas are twice as long here as opposed   to 43/41 meters as well BUT local
and distant coverage are BOTH possible  given quiet band conditions and a decent antenna. A
downside is that again, most ham xmitters won't cover this range without some serious  returning
and/or modifications.

  5800-5900 kHz - This range saw activity as well last year by several   stations and again, results
seemed to be promising. Global propagation  is possible given good conditions and a good
radiator. But as with the  previous range there is a complex mix of SWBC, Utility and SPY#
stations  all merging here. As with any "Uncharted Waters", a little "Investigative  DXing"
should turn-up several "Clear Spots". While antennas are a bit  more manageable for portable
operations, this is a range that is out  of range of the older ham transmitters. Summer static will
be the most  tolerable here of all the bands discussed.

  With all of these bands, They are Night Time bands which means for anything  but local
reception, one must wait for the grey line or darkness to  get the best DX performance from
these bands. The only thing I can add  is, I hope we don't loose ALL of the West Coast listeners
this season!

PC Production: By Kirk Trummel
 Very little info has appeared in the ACE recently concerning show production techniques and
tips, so I thought it would be good to take a bit of space here to talk about some very affordable
production tools available. There has been a push in the PC market for what is known as
multimedia basically consisting of a Sound Card, CD ROM Drive and SVGA Graphics. These 3
elements combined on a 386 or better PC can do amazing things! What we are concerned with in
this hobby are the Sound capabilities and advantages of using a PC based CD ROM drive in the
production of Radio programming. In this first of hopefully many articles on this subject, I'll just
go over the basics of what's required and what to look for/avoid. THE COMPUTER - Now days
a 386 based machine with 4 MB of RAM, 40 MB  Hard drive and a 3.5" High Density floppy
drive is the BARE BONES BASIC SYSTEM MINIMUM it takes to get into PC Based audio
   VGA or better graphics capability is almost required as well due to the demands of some of the
software packages for playing with sound. Anything less, and you are going to spend a lot of
time waiting for the software, not enough storage space or memory to do what you want, etc.
Most of the software written now days and especially in the future will start requiring machines
even more powerful than the 386. With prices falling all the time, 486 based machines are
looking very attractive and especially if you can find an assembled system that will probably
come with everything you need to get started.
 THE SOUND CARD - These plug-in expansion boards come in a wide variety of capabilities
and are manufactured by a wide variety of sources. My first, best advice to a potential buyer of a
sound card is to stick with the "Popular" cards and buy the best one you can afford. With
 sound cards you get what you pay for. The reason for sticking with well-known cards is that
they are the ones that will be supported  by a wide variety of 3rd party software manufacturers.
his gives you a much wider range of software you able to use if you don't like the software that
came with the card. The next thing to look for is the "resolution" of the card be it 8 or 16 bit. 8
bit cards are less expensive than 16 bit cards BUT 16 bit cards are able to digitize more
accurately and just sound better than their older 8 bit cousins. Don't sweat it if all you can start
out with is an 8 bit board, after your transmitter and SW propagation does it's damage to your
audio, the difference in quality will hardly be noticeable to the guy on the other end. Midi
support is becoming a standard feature in cards now days and it's a nice feature to have. There
are a lot of MIDI files out there and can be used on cards that support MIDI without the need of
any other external MIDI devices. The current "Top Dog" cards use what is called DSP or Digital
Signal Processing and they are basically very-fa$t, real-time A to D or D to A converters. These
boards run circles around the older 8 & 16 bit cards but they are also kind of expensive. Other
features to look for in your sound card are CD ROM interface (Handy if your tight for expansion
slots in your PC), Line In and Outs, Speaker Out, Mic In, etc. How difficult is it to install a
Sound card in your PC, very easy. Just put the card in a 8 Bit or 16 Bit expansion slot, and run
the installation disk that came with the card. On MOST systems, the default settings work most
of the time. Unless you have some extra or non-standard hardware, installation is a snap! THE
CD ROM DRIVE - CD ROM technology is growing by leaps and bounds and is becoming
almost a standard format for software distribution. Prices are very low on the drives and the CD's
are even cheaper, How's paying $10 for 600MB of software sound? Almost ALL of the CD ROM
 manufactured for PC's also have the capability to play standard audio CD's in addition to
reading DATA CD's. What you need to look for is the access time of the drive. Currently there
are three speeds, Single Spin (Slowest), Double Spin (Medium) and Triple Spin (Blazing'!) of
 course the faster you go, the more they cost. Single spin drives are falling out of use because
they are not able to deliver the data fast enough for TRUE Multimedia applications. Also the
price difference between a single spin and double spin CD drive is not that much, so  spend a
little extra $ and you'll be glad. Since CD ROM drives typically come with their own interface
cards (plugs into your expansion slots) and software drivers, sticking with a name-brand isn't all
that  terribly important. The only down-side is that you'll need an open 5 1/4" HH drive bay to
install your CD ROM drive into. My PC only had one 5 1/4 bay so I had to take out my 5 1/4
floppy drive and replace it with the CD ROM drive. No big deal as 5 1/4 disks and drives are
seeing less and less use now days. Once the hardware is installed in your system (A bit more
complex than adding a sound card) and the installation software is run, your CD ROM drive will
act just like another Floppy or Hard drive making their use VERY EASY. Special software is
required for playing Audio CD but that comes with the drive and there are A LOT of PD Players
around. The next time, I'll talk about software and what one can do with this amazing stuff. 
Till next time!

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