by Gary DeBock of Puyallup, Washington, U.S.A.
From December 17-20 I had the chance to chase Pacific island and Asian DX from an ocean side beach alongside my motel in Kona on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. My DXing gear was a new 7.5" (19cm) loopstick C.Crane Skywave SSB Ultralight radio and a TSA-friendly 5" (13cm) diameter "Frequent Flyer" FSL antenna. This was a compact FSL specifically designed to fit in hand-carry luggage, and pass easily through airport security checkpoints. Despite the compact size, it provides inductive coupling gain roughly comparable to that of a 4 foot (1.3m) air core box loop. The modified portable was able to track down several "big gun" TP's all by itself at S9 levels, but the 5" FSL made all the difference in digging out the weaker stations. Because of RFI in my motel room all my DXing was done at an ocean side lounge area on the Royal Kona Resort property—a somewhat curious arrangement that drew some stares from those who had never been fortunate enough to get hooked on ocean beach transoceanic DXing.
Of course Hawaii is much closer to several exotic Pacific island stations than the North American west coast, so checking out the signals and formats of stations like 540-2AP in Samoa, 621-Tuvalu, the newly rejuvenated 846-Kiribati on Christmas Island, 1017-A3Z in Tonga, 1098-V7AB in the Marshalls and 1440-Kiribati on Tarawa was a high priority. All of these are routine DX catches in Hawaii, although during December they usually had only a couple of hours after our local sunset before getting hammered by overwhelming signals from the Far East.
The term "chase DX" was a little misleading for this trip, since I was pretty much swamped with huge Asian signals from 0730-1030 UTC every evening-- to the point where sunrise TP-DXing was foregone because my digital recorders were already becoming maxed out. The stampede of Asian signals every evening resulted in pretty wild snarls with the Pacific Island DU's, as well as potent mixes of Japanese, Chinese and Korean stations. South Korean "Beehive" jammers added to the confusion on 801, 819 and 855, while two Chinese stations and the NHK1 Synchros were fighting it out on 837. Trying to sort out and identify all the Chinese stations was impossible in the confusion, and even the idea of sending out some type of coherent daily TP-DXing summary seemed impossible because of the large number of wild Asian recordings. Several frequencies were so snarled that even the recordings didn't help. The only strategy that could work was to "record like mad" in Hawaii, and then upon return home write up a detailed summary after extensive file review.
After all the dust had settled, the overall results from this lightweight DXpedition went well beyond expectations, with reception of several Asian stations which apparently hadn’t been heard on the west coast of North America for quite a few years-- and a few which don’t seem to have been heard there at all (the South Korean jammers on 801 and 855, and the relatively new 1611-DWNX). The freedom of DXing with a highly portable FSL antenna allows a DXer to quickly set up almost anywhere to follow exceptional propagation-- and the west coast of the Big Island certainly delivered it during this trip! Even though the “Frequent Flyer” FSL is relatively compact and lightweight, Hawaii’s ocean-boosted propagation kicked in like a turbo boost, making it seem like I was on the east coast of Asia at times. After carrying my portable DXing gear down to the ocean beach each evening, I enjoyed three of the most exciting TP-DXing sessions anyone could ever hope for.
The loggings and recordings listed below include several powerful stations which maxed out the Ultralight portable's bar-graph S-meter, which are identified with a double asterisk (**). For anyone feeling bored with his AM-DXing hobby, I strongly recommend a trip to Hawaii as the ultimate, permanent cure!
540 2AP Apia, Samoa (5 kW) Christian worship music at a fairly good level through the T-storms at 0751 on 12-17, but not nearly as strong as in April https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/bgnooywkpnt3et7vcnxz0wmx3gdin1o2
558 UnID Japanese-sounding intonation for a few seconds at 0933 on 12-18, but a little too much Maui splatter to be sure https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/7mijy4ayyz2xpjjl9e893i46ud31l38z
603 HLSA Namyang, S. Korea (500 kW) Modest-level Korean male conversation and American classic pop ("I'd Love You to Love Me," by Lobo) at 0922 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/0wc2ljb23siw9xalnrsdqk5mtt70p900
612 JOLK Fukuoka, Japan (100 kW) Japanese male and female speech at 0920 on 12-20, but not a good performer for the power level https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/6hefy6p87kc8hrm69wai6lo2wncwc40x
612 UnID Female-voiced English speech and unusual music at 0904 on 12-18; Chuck and Mauno have suggested ABC (4QR) as a possible source, and although no other Australian stations showed up during the trip, that seems like the most likely possibility https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/wap9svgfchami7n4s1iop4z2z5cjjgki
**621 China (Heilongjiang?) This prolific station was one of three powerhouses (along with North Korea and Tuvalu) which made the frequency a snarling mess on most evenings. It seemed to get a major boost whenever it was competing with Tuvalu, such as at 1002 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/w4ulfpkb1dbwou2rrjg3ncpnar56mrar When it was all alone it was somewhat more sedate, as at 1010 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/7yjilvl4v0vbp8fqskagxtz48ql62e5t
**621 Pyongyang BS/ Voice of Korea Chongjin, N. Korea (500 kW) The buzzing transmitter of N.K.'s Japanese service had serious power, snarling both Tuvalu and China at times. The usual North Korean music was played, with robotic Japanese announcers voicing adulation of Kim Jong Un and his ancestors. This typical music was at 0850 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/rhfksf381csgtohluxt3e97tjf79fshm
ID in Japanese by lady at 0951 on 12-20, followed by the usual ancient music https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/7cz1yookph18wqi0o9ycckz135eypc50
**621 R. Tuvalu Funafuti, Tuvalu (5 kW) This station had very strong signals until around 0800 on most evenings, when it began to be pestered by Chinese and N. Korean co-channels. It also came down with a garbled audio issue on December 18th, which continued to get progressively worse until I left Hawaii. Sign off time is still around 1006, but by that time it ran the gauntlet of powerful Asian co-channels during the December propagation.
Local employment offers read by the usual lady announcer at an S9 level at 0750 on 12-18. This was the last undistorted audio signal recorded from the station during this trip; after this the audio went "south" https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/8w8ht0f9k2j87dok77ho23msxoidqgy6
Guest speaker in Japanese-accented English, followed by local island-type music at 0835 on 12-18-- the first sign of audio distortion https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/izdocq942897mvdxoa0xjksufztnh46d
Full Radio Tuvalu sign off routine at 1003 on 12-18, but with some China QRM initially. Tuvalu's signal prevails during the national anthem, but the audio distortion is quite noticeable. The carrier apparently stays on for over a minute after the audio stops https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/2po3xafysydiwa6suvpljn0xau5i31uq
630 UnID While trying for the Cook Islands (Rarotonga) I came across this weak Christmas music with English speech at 0742 on 12-17. This could just as easily be a west coast domestic station playing the "exotic" to fool a hopeful DXer, though. Walt says this station is a notorious underperformer https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/53olvqc33py6081jy17qrjwy0ms9mn5c
**657 Pyongyang BS Kangnam, N. Korea (1,500 kW) The usual west coast N.K. big gun was often troubled by Honolulu splatter but pretty strong when it broke through, as at 0857 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/unaxxl72uzejpa59plxo2w3sonzdfoqx
**666 JOBK Osaka, Japan (100 kW) Predictably strong with Japanese male conversation // 675 at 0918 on 12-20; because 594 was covered with Honolulu splatter, this and 729 were the strongest NHK1 stations https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/5sm6pogm45wuukbggvhb8q9i8klpyqh5
675 NHK1 Synchros Hakodate/ Yamaguchi, Japan (5 kW/ 5 kW) Very good signal for these lower-powered relays at 0915 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/kz267eu3w8ev2a0vodqxuc9iw4927y94
675 UnID-TP Asian language co-channel mixing with NHK1 synchros at 1003 on 12-19; sounds like Chinese or Vietnamese https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/l7jxb9q34pgeslfn8ftn5rpbhikxofxr
729 JOCK Nagoya, Japan (50 kW) Very good signal with Japanese female speech at 0856 on 12-20; slight trace of a Chinese co-channel was heard underneath at times https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/5huzbw1mmbc2jyf8gx5hojjyqb577ppi
**747 JOIB Sapporo, Japan (500 kW) This was the strongest Japanese station overall, usually with local-like signals and never any co-channels. These NHK2 English lessons at 0913 on 12-19 were at typical strength https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/5v5byw2vzvw7azxhzrgsz6j591qwtxyv
**774 JOUB Akita, Japan (500 kW) Plenty strong, but not quite up to its 747 parallel's level. This Japanese stock market report at 0833 on 12-18 was at its usual strength https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/p9aiqrhx4ji22gwc7nehalybl46cetj0
783 China (Voice of Straight?) Good signal with Chinese opera every night around 0900. This female-voiced opera was at 0916 on 12-19 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/2fajh29wb6givv89f0sl30iwzsqmuz9l
Male-voiced opera at good strength at 0914 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/6hg82m62pvgryla5fw7cyrwv0ezdaipq
801 UnID-TP (Guam?) During a fade in the Pyongyang BS/ Jammer signal this apparent Christian-format female vocal music was received at 0931 on 12-18, but there was nothing definite to determine identity https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/26c2k3bqxnv0s0qhabsg9xx8518jukdd
801 Pyongyang BS Kimchaek, N. Korea (500 kW) This was the weakest of the five North Korean stations received, and it was often pestered by the South Korean "Beehive" jammer on the frequency. It was strongest at 0842 on 12-20 with this ancient vocal music https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/e4kr0asg24d1ujyk74zztcbdl8aepazh
801 Jammer South Korean "Beehive" jammer mixing with Pyongyang BS' female vocal music at 0928 on 12-18. This was the usual strength of the N. Korean station (pretty anemic), and also the usual strength of the jammer https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/dlc8dtzzm38x43fva84wcsy1bkl5lf4r
**819 KCBS Pyongyang, N. Korea (500 kW) Far and away the strongest North Korean station, and one of the top three Asian signals on the band each evening (along with 747-JOIB and 981-CNR1). Bizarre, ancient music and stern monologs were common, along with weird girl-group choral numbers at overpowering strength [like this one from the Moranbong Band ("Your Bosom is the Best")* at 1035 on 12-19] https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/gj2deffl7mjuzqr5tocsro100sfhqll9
"Let's Defend Socialism," originally by the Pochambo Electronic Ensemble** (another girl group) building in strength at 0823 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/h0gksa2xxmb8ql3ofqalo7j9o4yt1y3q Ancient music, ID and 3+1 time pips at 0930 on 12-20 (both the country's TOH and the time pips are on the half hour) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/v7q9eniu9qq1f27rbq97v4c9zbni2eha
(* Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nVEo-R38-I
** Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIoOPH7kpCs Thanks to Chris Kadlec for the information and links)
819 Jammer South Korean "Beehive" jammer mixing with KCBS in between songs at the 22 second point (just after the female vocal music) at 0853 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/1ueov463q72ht02yq6zi5kcyidnwc4n9
837 China Mix Two Chinese stations were fighting it out on this frequency almost every evening, such as at 0937 on 12-20. Occasionally they were joined by the NHK1 synchros https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/biyl925kesbxsgwhij39x149lsv7xjs6
837 NHK1 Synchros Female Japanese speech mixing with Chinese at 0946 on 12-18 around the 2:00 point in the recording https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/euzbecedflx35p4qz3z5l2l3dypv20bh
846 R. Kiribati Christmas Island, Kiribati (10 kW) This newly rejuvenated station had awesome signals, and was overall the strongest Pacific island station received. Of all the Pacific island DU's it faded in at the earliest time after sunset, and maintained its strength even during strong Asian propagation -- as long as it managed to transmit without its signal dropping out. Unfortunately this seemed to be a pretty common occurrence while I was in Kona.
Island-type music at typical S9 strength at 0735 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/7sb6luietjmx0fdghwqedi9x5splos1n
This segment at 0620 UTC on December 17th features 6 signal dropouts within one minute https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/shqpg3c3yuhz4fzvnhkhkvgzamg4s6do This segment at 0944 UTC on December 18th is even worse-- 9 dropouts in 90 seconds https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/vxzwv9x8wc9hwqgj4xye2b12fzbtbtsk After a prolonged 846 transmitter dropout it seemed like the programming time delay between the distant 1440-Kiribati on Tarawa Island and the new 846-Kiribati on Christmas Island would change. On December 17th I recorded two different time delays-- 19 seconds, as in the following recording (the MP3 starts out on 846 at 0635, switches to 1440 at the 1:02 point, then switches back to 846 at the 1:34 point, with a 19-second time delay evident between the 1440 and 846 programming (846 lags behind) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/leyyz3kj8aarsu4gwp24czdwp0onbk22 Later on the same evening there was a 36 second time delay between 1440 and 846, with this MP3 starting off on 1440 at 0645, and switching to 846 at the 11 second point https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/0w1an6509xvgow2aq9i7lxfyfhx1gend
855 Pyongyang BS Sangwon, N. Korea (500 kW) Medium-strength N.K. station playing the usual ancient music and stern monologs, complete with its own South Korean jammer at times. This female Korean speech was at 0832 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/34r4oayh63kxxigc6hisu3t5bfhz1yeb
855 Jammer South Korean "Beehive" jammer having the edge over Pyongyang BS' ancient music at 0948 on 12-18; this was the most prolific S.K. jammer in Kona, although not anything close to the old 1053 noisemaker https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/tzaes67fcgw8rdymhdh9n93mmt7x7r3k
864 UnID TP-Mix Apparent mix of Japanese male and Korean female (KBS?) speech at 1017 on 12-19, but nothing definite to nail down either one https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/is6djygeafwu3ny04em5a97ce8sskb6t
873 JOGB Kumamoto, Japan (500 kW) A rather modest performer for the power level, it had a weak Chinese co-channel at times, such as during this Japanese stock market report at 0904 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/bgkiq9nkxhs4exoeu0izd45n1cwg7nbl
891 HLKB (KBS) Busan, S. Korea (250 kW) The strongest South Korean station, but usually in a snarling mix with NHK1's JOHK, as at 1023 on 12-19. KBS usually had the edge, however https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/9189zf266ul3qwkw59n7inbyzrms33ym
891 JOHK Sendai, Japan (20 kW) Good performance for the power level, but broadcasting on an already occupied frequency (snarling with KBS in Busan) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/9189zf266ul3qwkw59n7inbyzrms33ym
**909 UnID-Chinese Bizarre chanting by children in apparent Chinese at a very strong level at 0956 on 12-18; Chris Kadlec says this may be from CNR6 (1000 kW) in the Hakka dialect https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/0siovz0ojkty9ocy0gzl40bnfrp7qxpo A somewhat extended version of the above recording is linked below, with various other TP's mixing in at times https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/ze1djtse64rzemp4q0aeehqlw24n6xg4
918 China Shandong, China (200 kW) Half hour time pips (4+1?) and Chinese ID at 1:00 into the recording at 1029 on 12-19, but generally mixing with an UnID Japanese station https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/6vo2vgwdev2jzm6vnovu2ddkucaxwojm
918 UnID-Japan Japanese intonation by female speaker at 1029 on 12-19, but nothing definite to determine which one of four Japanese stations is in the mix with Shandong https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/6vo2vgwdev2jzm6vnovu2ddkucaxwojm
**981 CNR1 Synchros Changchun/ Nanchang, China (200 kW/ 200 kW) This was one of the three strongest Asian signals during the trip (along with 747 and 819), with awesome strength every night after about 0800. It was easily capable of running S9+ on the modified Ultralight alone, and never allowed a trace of any co-channel.
Top of the hour CNR ID and Chinese news at S9+ strength at 0900 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/ajtu6lmchs7e8fjgom3bg6lsbclrc0s6 Chinese news and conversation at local-like strength at 0955 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/x00iyrjgtt216zew0ckcsmcc3jgmcphh
1008 JONR Osaka, Japan (50 kW) Fast-paced Japanese conversation by man and woman at 0857 on 12-19 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/9a7d2m5wj3v5i1gypcapb8b8j7jy0hwm
1017 A3Z Nuku'alofa, Tonga (10 kW) Female native language speech at a very good level at 0858 on 12-19 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/j6n0mh0afz5h35cpspcbym2p8xsma4e7 Somewhat weaker through the T-storms on 12-17 at 0734 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/hyusuqyu12t8gyxh75goxxwkw5xt7u8r
1053 China (Hubei?) One of the stronger Chinese stations, capable of hitting S7 at times. It would usually snarl with JOAR, occasionally dominating the frequency https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/4a36b4o75jryao2oxpzpdgi6t89nw9vd
1053 JOAR Nagoya, Japan (50 kW) This Japanese commercial stations was one of the stronger ones (after 1134 and 1440), but almost always in a mix with China https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/18ogwd1ov669aioso0npchc759xu77x8
1098 R. Marshalls (V7AB) Majuro, Marshall Islands (25 kW) This station was very strong in Kona with its island music every night, and rarely had any Asian co-channels.
S9 Island music and native language speech (and possible ID) across the 0700 TOH on 12-17 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/plc05sfu6nffulhpaq64v4nzs2jzm7ow
Equally strong island music and native speech at 0813 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/9se2sxv5nx0x56hja0hy4h9l1vwdmd61
**1134 JOQR Tokyo, Japan (100 kW) Far and away the strongest Japanese commercial station, this broadcaster ran roughshod over the presumed KBS co-channel. Fast-paced conversation and rock music was at S9+ strength at 0945 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/vuz44h2ei0bxrl2e006jg1q2em27mduz
1134 UnID (KBS?) Weakly audible under the Japanese big gun at times, such as at 0943 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/2y4m3s7afd80lhjp80qh0pboovcj6fi5
1143 JOBR Kyoto, Japan (20 kw) Japanese male speech at 0941 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/r3bmd1326uzyskhztajp714p786qr1up
1143 UnID-Chinese Chinese female speech in a mix with JOBR at 0942 on 12-20; unable to check 738 for Taiwan parallel (Maui semi-local on 740) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/o5gfabu4quvb71zw0hn1rkgs494w25pf
1386 NHK2 Synchros (4 stations) Very good level Japanese female speech at 1033 on 12-19 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/byfpni35jh5trm6gk8zq1quqq7bur60u
1431 UnID-TP A fairly strong Asian station was on this frequency at 0855 on 12-18, playing vocal music in apparent native language at first, before switching to English for “O Holy Night” https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/c387erhd4d60nvwoo6s6yzmm47it5m3z
1440 R. Kiribati Bairiki, Tarawa, Kiribati (10 KW) Somewhat weaker than its rejuvenated 846-Christmas Island parallel (which has variable programming delay times, as explained above), this home transmitter could hold down the frequency until around 0800 every night, after which it was usually hammered by JOWF in Sapporo. Despite this it often put up a good fight until its new sign off time of 1009, and it continues to use the loud 1000 Hz tone right before the power is cut (an awesome aid for DXers hoping to ID the station through heavy QRM).
Typical island language speech and strength level at 0830 on 12-18, just as it is starting to get jumbled by JOWF (a Japanese female "Sapporo desu" ID is at 25 seconds) https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/7kc0bmbzt0beglp6saca5xc6cb6sipi2
Full sign off routine at 1005 on 12-19, including the National Anthem and the 1000 Hz tone before the power is cut. The tone gets through the JOWF QRM like a DXer's dream https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/79v68rumi2mcmamxgu1vy5rwn989z4bp
1512 UnID-Chinese At least one female-voiced Chinese station (and possibly another) is in this mix at 0913 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/4lynixbrlq1ffq96j52h35jewckn3jzi
**1593 CNR1 Changzhou, China (600 kW) After 981 this was the strongest Chinese station, but it could never quite shake off its pesky NHK2 co-channel. This Chinese female speech was mixing with NHK2 English lessons at 1003 on 12-20 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/py5yq9vhrbu8bryhhahjdl2de84peljz
1593 NHK2 Synchros Matsue/ Niigata, Japan (10 kW/ 10 kW) Surprisingly strong for their power, these stations often jumbled up CNR1’s programming. This Japanese stock market report was at 0845 on 12-19, before the usual CNR1 fade in around the Chinese sunset https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/9y99u05zu54vprn71p0c0o95woe8jn1z
1602 NHK2 Synchros (multiple 1 kW stations) Japanese stock market report at fair strength (with slight echo effect) at 0849 on 12-19 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/trh3tmo2jqrir5ya7tbs13gf6rksjomp
1611 DWNX Naga City, Luzon, Philippines (5 kW) (Thanks to Hiroyuki Okamura, Satoshi Miyauchi and Mauno Ritola for ID help) Received at 0855 on 12-19, this station was a mystery until the Japanese friends matched the advertising format with that of a new, unlisted station which just came on the air in the Philippines. The propagation apparently got a major boost during sunset at the transmitter https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/s12yozghmuy3bwm9ionb79gfev85bjsa