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PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

paulmccord.net - PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

Oklahoma City Area TV Stations

Digiwave ANT7285

 

Since American TV stations made the conversion to digital back in 2009, most of the stations abandoned their VHF signals for new UHF signals.  In fact, in Oklahoma City, only two stations remain on the VHF band, KOCO 7 (virtual 5) and KETA 13 (virtual 13).  The rest of them, while claiming to be channels in the former VHF are actually now on UHF but using the virtual channels they use to be on.  KFOR use to be channel 4 but now on channel 27 and KWTV use to be on channel 9 but now on channel 39.  Recently I bought this eight bay UHF antenna to see what I could tune in.  I was surprised by how many channels there were over the air these days right here in Oklahoma City.

I turned the antenna to a direction that I thought most stations were located and managed to pick up 52 channels right off the antenna.

52 channels in OKC 9/22/2014

Another thing that surprised me was the number of channels that were in Spanish.  More than 20 of them were in Spanish.  We have been considering dropping our satellite simply because it is more than $90.00 a month.  We don’t watch that much anyway and since we have Netflix, and a Roku, many things are already available online. I like to watch the “This Week in Tech (TWiT)” podcasts that is also free.

There are some negatives to the digital conversion and that is the loss of sporadic “E” DX propagation that we use to enjoy during the summer months. I really use to enjoy the occasional channel two signals that would come in from great distances, up to 1,500 miles away.  Those were some fun times. I only wish that we had digital cameras, both still and video back then so we could have captured those memories.  Also, we use to be able to receive many stations in Tulsa, 115 miles away and now we need a tropospheric ducting situation to receive any of them.  On occasion, we will have an inversion where the air is warmer above ground than it is on the ground and we can have some good tropospheric propagation.  Those are fun times when we get them.

Modern Methods of AM Radio DX

Setup used to capture distant stations on video and the uploaded to YouTube.

 

Back when I was a kid in the early 1980’s a friend and I would sit at night listening to night time DX stations on AM radio. We would document the times and dates, research the station and then mail them a letter requesting a QSL card. These were the days before I became a ham radio operator.  I have not done this for years until recently.  I’ve regained contact with my old friend and continued this practice.  We even created a Facebook Group for our activities.

Things have changed in recent years due to the Internet and the fact that most stations stream their audio online.  Today, it is easy to hear stations all over the world on the Internet so a letter telling them what was playing at a specific day and time is no longer sufficient proof that you received their signal.  You could easily listen to their streaming audio online and then just tell them you received their signal.  My friend came up with a way to prove it was indeed over the radio, and also keep a record of the event.

He started making videos with his tablet and then  uploading them to Youtube, creating a visual proof of the event.  Then he emails the station and attaches a link to the video.  He’s had such great success that I am doing the same.  In the picture above, you can see how I have put a camcorder in front of the radio to make the video that is later uploaded onto Youtube.  You can see my videos here.  I just have a couple for now but I plan to add more.

In this video, you can see where last night I was listening to KFAB, 1110 KHz from Omaha, Nebraska.  This is right off the AM radio with no special antennas installed.

It may seem strange to be a licensed amateur radio operator and be focusing on AM station instead of other amateur stations.  Well this is not in exclusion of other amateur stations, but rather another hobby. There are only so many AM stations and many of them are low power.  I received a 28 watt station that was more than 300 miles away on AM radio.  I thought that was pretty cool.  We have a 50,000 watt AM station here in Oklahoma City (KOKC 1520 KHz) that is very powerful.  Fortunately for me, the station has a directional night time pattern toward the North and West and South.  It nulls out the East and I just happen to live about 15 miles toward the East of the station. At night I can barely hear them at my house and so I have been hearing some weak signals coming in on that frequency.  My next goal is to get a contact with a station on that frequency while inside the Oklahoma City limits.  Since KOKC is weak at night at my house, I believe I can null out their signal enough to be able to get the other station.

This really is fun because you  can find many stations on the same frequency by nulling out the other station.  You can build external loop antennas to strenthen one station while nulling out another.  My friend and I started doing this in 1982 and believe it or not, he still has his original log and QSL cards from back then.  I’ve moved many times since then and so I lost my logs.  Now that I am back home in Oklahoma City, I have begun receiving these stations again.  If you are into distant stations, ham or CB operator, you should give it a try. It is really fun.

One Last Post for August

Tonight I spent some time listening to the AM radio and seeing what stations I could receive. It has been many years since I have done that and it was pretty cool.  The good thing about doing it in recent years is that most stations have web sites where you can hear the audio so you can verify what station you are hearing without having to wait until the top or bottom of the hour for the station identification. That gets a little old after a while if they only ID at the top and bottom of the hour.  Since I have all of my ham radio gear taken down, this gives me an opportunity to do some DX work using nothing more than an AM radio. It is still fun to this day.

I still heard the regulars like WLS, WWL, WOAI, KRLD, KFAB, WHO, WSM, KMOX but I heard a rare station called KATZ from St. Louis, Missouri and they are only broadcasting 3,500 watts. That is very unusual and made it worth it.  I also picked up KKOW from Pittsburgh, Kansas.

More TVFool.com

Home FM

 

A few days ago I posted about TVFool.com and their ability to put together a chart where it shows all of the TV stations and their proximity and distance from you based on your address.  I just discovered that it also does this for FM radio.  I just created this image on their site that shows the FM radio stations in the Oklahoma City area.  I live on the far East side of the city so I expected most of the stations to be in one general direction so I was surprised to see by this graphic that I have stations in all directions from me.

It shows the close ones in green while they turn pink, orange and so on as the stations get farther from me.  I love that you can do this and also love that it allows you to save the image for future reference.  You just input your address and how tall your receiving antenna is and it makes calculated measurements on the distance, signal strength and direction from my particular location.  This is very cool and I would recommend people giving it a try.

With satellite and cable bills getting out of control, antenna TV is looking better all the time.  With digital TV now in existence, most stations have sub-channels with more programming. Even here in Oklahoma City, we have more than 40 channels right off the antenna. There are just as many FM stations coming in from all around us. Now that the FCC has allowed all these low powered FM (LPFM) stations, the entire FM band is filled with stations. I have to really search to find an empty place on the FM dial where I live.   Oklahoma City metro area only has 1.3 million people so I am surprised to have this many stations.  When I was a kid, there were about 15 FM and about 8 AM stations and only 4 TV stations. You should go to this web site, enter your address and then save the image for your records.

I would imagine that every few months, you would need to create another one simply because these low power stations as well as the sub-channels on TV change so frequently. Every time I think I know all the stations, I come back after a couple of months and many have changed.  As a ham radio operator and someone that loves radio on virtually every form, I really think this is cool and worth taking advantage.

Tropospheric Ducting

Tropospheric ducting 8/9/20104

 

Wow!  Last night would have been a great time to have my ham radio gear and my old tower. How I miss my tower.  When we moved out of Del City, I had to sell my 70 foot tower.  This image shows the signals picked up on the VHF portion of the band last night.  As you can see, there are stations hundreds of miles away from Oklahoma City that were coming in. This is made possible by a temperature inversion where the air is warmer a few thousand feet above the ground than it is on the ground.  Yesterday was a perfect time for this because we had the hot and humid day followed by a warm night.  When these conditions arise,  you can receive FM radio stations from hundreds of miles away.  I use to love to tune across the dial and pick up these stations when I was  young.  My dad had an awesome huge antenna back then that could receive them making it even better. Now I don’t have my equipment but I can still pick them up in the car radio.

Thanks to a Broadcast Engineer friend of mine for sending this URL…

http://aprs.mountainlake.k12.mn.us/

This site was put together to map real time APRS signals received and where they were received.  I will go into what APRS is on another post.  I am expecting company in the next hour so I have to cut this post short.  It is a ham radio tool that is involves computer packet transmissions.  We’ve had a lot of these “tropo” ducting instances lately so if you are in the Oklahoma area around sunset or a bit after, turn on your FM radio and listen across each frequency. If you hear stations you’ve not heard before, keep listening because FCC rules require that they give their station ID at the top and bottom of every hour. You can find out where these stations are coming from.  You will love it.

My New Scanner

Uniden BCD536HP Scanner

About a month ago, I bought a new police scanner, a nice and expensive one.  I bought the Uniden BCD536HP scanner.  I often like to listen to the Del City police and had noticed in recent days that my old scanner, a Radio Shack Pro-2051 was quiet most of the time.

PRO-2051 Victim of Rebanding

What I hadn’t known was that the FCC had rebanded the 800 MHz spectrum, forcing people, businesses and public services to change frequencies to meet the new 800 MHz frequency spectrum.  What it did was make my old scanner obsolete where I could not hear many of the trunking systems.  Many newer model scanners had the ability to be reprogrammed to match the rebanding but not this model. It was essentially obsolete with respect to anything in the 800 MHz band.  That meant that I was out of luck because virtually every trunking system in the Oklahoma City area uses the 800 MHz band.

While this new scanner was expensive, I justified it with the idea that I will get more than 10 years of service from it.  My last scanner was over 10 years old already.  After having a scanner for so many years, it is hard to go without one.  I can sit here and listen to police, fire and emergency systems from as far as 50 miles away. Many local businesses and public service organizations are also on there.  It is a really cool hobby to have.

This scanner has some amazing features being pre-programmed with thousands of frequencies from the RadioReference.com database. It updates the frequency database weekly and also allows you to create your favorites lists.  It has wifi capability to allow you to control and stream your scanner remotely via a wireless phone.  Of course these features are not yet available as of the posting of this blog post.  I definitely love this scanner and think it is worth the expensive price tag if you are a scanner enthusiast.  It has more than  enough features to make it a good purchase.

Simplex IRLP Node 7734

IRLP Node 7734

Today I replaced the node computer for my Simplex IRLP node 7734.  Above you can see it fully assembled. Forgive the vintage 1932 model monitor. It really doesn’t need a monitor since I administer the node remotely.  On top you can see the DC power supply and the link radio.  It is currently hooked up simplex but can be set up on repeater at a later time. This would involve hooking the control and audio directly to the repeater controller.

IRLP Node 7734

In this picture you can see that it is not very complex. Just an old computer that use to run Windows XP and now runs Debian 7.1 (Wheezy). as shown below…

IRLP Node 7734
I just downloaded this Debian iso today so it is the most current as of this time.  Right now the node is in a basic setup with no custom scripts of any kind. I will add some over time but today I just wanted to get it up to speed.

IRLP Node 7734

 

This picture shows the back of the computer with nothing attached.  I mainly took these pictures so that later I could reference them remotely when the computer is out of my hands and I have to tell someone over the phone or over the radio what is connected to what :).

IRLP Node 7734

 

In this picture you can see the cables connected.  This way the person physically at the site can have a visual reference of where things should be connected.  By having this available online, the pictures can be seen from the phone at remote locations.  Right now you have to be pretty close to the node as in a couple miles to be able to use it.  It is currently located behind the Thunder Travel Plaza (Pilot) truck stop at I-40 and Choctaw Road.  It is on simplex 445.95 MHz with a PL tone of 162.2.  I installed it mainly so that I could reach our repeaters in Del City with an H.T. from inside my house. Since I moved so far to the East, it is difficult to reach with an H.T.  You can use it if you are close enough to reach it.  All of the functions that are on the other two repeaters/nodes will be added to this one as well.  This node uses my own call sign, K5GLH, instead of the club call W5DEL because it is a remote node several miles away.

I plan on installing a Twitter script that will tweet status updates and if it works well, I will install it on the other two nodes as well.

Oklahoma City FM Radio

Every time I turn on the radio here in Oklahoma City I am confused because there is another station on the air.  Being an amateur (HAM) radio operator, I tend to think that we are having a tropospheric episode bringing in distant station but my ears are not fooling me.  It appears that our local stations are experimenting with creating HD1, HD2 and HD3 stations that are rebroadcasting their stations on low power stations around the metro area.  One of the highest profile stations to do this recently was KRXO 107.7.  They have taken their high power classic rock station and turned it into a new sports station called The Franchise.  They have taken their classic rock station and moved it over to 107.7 HD2 and simulcasting it over on the analog 104.5 on a much lower signal.

It looks like they now have an HD3 station called Generation Now 96.5 playing hit music.  This is another low power station that does cover the metro pretty good considering its lower power.  They play the same type of music as KRAV-FM in Tulsa so it was only natural that I would think we had Tulsa booming in this morning.  Also I’ve noticed a couple new stations on 92.1 and 92.9.  The 92.1 seems to be simulcasting KRMP Heart and Soul on AM 1140.  The 92.9 station is simulcasting KEBC, the comedy station on 1560 AM.  In each of these cases, the stations are owned by the same company, Tyler Media.

I like the new additions and hope they last.  I am really liking the new 96.5 station.  I live out in the far eastern part of the metro and still able to receive all of these stations in the cars and in the house.  Since I live so far on the East side, I get many of the Tulsa stations as well so the FM band is completely filled.  I sure wish car manufacturers would start installing HD radios stock so that people will get use to the extra stations.  I also wish that portable and home stereos would come with them stock.  I’ve run across people that have no clue what HD radio is.   I will scroll across the band and document what is available as I have time.

The FM radio band is a constant, ever changing place so putting up a list of all stations becomes obsolete nearly as soon as you do it.  Also you have to deal with low power stations all around the metro giving you a false impression.  You may be hearing a powerful station on one side of town and be weak on the other side.  Once you get to the other side of town you hear a whole list of other stations that are weak on my side.  It is a good thing that I find this sort of thing interesting or I would get frustrated making these lists :).

Strange Start To The Morning

What a morning. We got up early so that we could get some things done.  We had to go clean an office and then my wife had to go to work. My son had four people spend the night and they all parked their cars in front of our garage where we could not get either of our cars out. They had not been to bed yet so we asked them to move the cars.  One of them ran off the side of the driveway into the ditch blocking the driveway. There is a concrete ditch that runs across the front lawns of all of the houses on our street.  It took a hour to get that car out of the ditch.  Now I am sore and all scratched up.  Oh well… it has been a while since I have been that young where I didn’t have a care in the world.

The thought of staying up all night just makes me cringe because I get up at 4:00 AM.  We did stay up late last night to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs.  That was an exciting night for sure.  I wanted to get up this morning and take down my ham radio push up pole antenna on the back of the house, and replace some coax with some higher grade and then run it through the attic into the “shack” (office).  I am not sure I have the energy after that crazy morning.  I can tell that it is going to be a hot and humid day and I am not sure I want to get up in the attic now that we have wasted a couple of hours.  It may be a project for next weekend.

Shortwave Radio

My Shortwave Ragio

We have been living in limbo for the last year and a half while we worked on our house and then sold it.  We will not be moving into a new house until the end of 2011.  For this reason all of my ham radio equipment is still in storage.  As a ham radio for 28 years, I have been missing be able to get on the air.  I bought the Grundig Satellit 750 shortwave radio for just this sort of thing.   I cannot talk on the air but I can listen to stations from all over the world with this radio.  It is a very nice radio that has AM or medium wave, FM broadcast, Airplane band, and shortwave, 1.7 MHz to 30 MHz..

I have been very pleased with the performance of this radio.  It has single side band (SSB) capability, narrow and wide band features to prevent interference from interference on adjacent frequencies.  One of the interesting and useful features is the ability to turn the AM ferrite antenna on the top to achieve the best signal.  This saves the user from having to turn the radio to get the best signal the way a person would have to on a normal AM radio.  The sensitivity on this radio is better than average.  While we are living in an apartment we do not expect too much as far as performance because there is no room for antennas and the building is surrounded by metal.  This has not been as much an issue as we thought because this radio has such a great sensitivity.  The radio allows the user to scan with small and large steps for fine tuning.  As most people know, a shortwave radio can be slow to tune on a fine tuning mode.  This radio has fine tuning and it also has a fast scan where it scans five KHz steps.

I know this is a very nice radio that is worth every bit of the money that it costs.  You can still find it on Amazon.com for $249.99 for free shipping.  If you are in to shortwave listening, I would certainly recommend this radio.  If you live in an apartment complex or a place where you are not allowed antennas, this radio will fulfill your needs.

 

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