Sunday, October 31, 2021

My Grace Digital GDI-IR2600 is now a paperweight.

I apologize in advance: this posting has a lot of links, because so much of this information had already been posted on the 'net. But I also wanted to capture my experience with this radio.

My Grace receiver:

I think the radio was made around 2012. I bought mine at Goodwill for $10 in 2017. I soon found out why it had been discarded - the main tuning encoder had started to fail, making it difficult (but not impossible) to program in stations and operate the radio. Fortunately the discreet preset buttons still operated. 

That tuning knob also had developed a case of the "yucky stickies" similar to the rubbery coating on the famous Eton E1 - touching it became pretty repulsive. 

I used the wifi radio as a replacement for hearing the stations I used to listen to on shortwave - among them BBC, Radio Australia, RNZI - many of which were gone from "real" radio by that time. I also programmed in a few jazz streaming channels. The radio sat on my home office desk and offered a reasonable replacement for listening to radio stations via shortwave. 

A few years later I picked up the Grace remote for that radio from ebay which allowed me to operate the radio without the failing tuning knob, so the receiver was fully usable at this point. 

Grace used an "aggregator" service called Reciva to provide the content for the radio. Reciva was apparently bought by Qualcomm and subsequently shut down in 2021. You can find links to this with a Google search:

Several of the manufacturers of radios affected by this shut-down related the fact that this situation was similar to how older computers can't run newer operating systems (like Apple and Microsoft). They neglected to mention that Apple and Microsoft don't "brick" your PC when they stop supporting an older operating system. My 90 year old Zenith radio still works today as it did when it was first sold. My Grace radio no longer works. Big difference.

I did a hack back in April 2021 that involved setting up a local IIS web server to provide the URL's to my radio presets - that allowed the Grace GDI-IR2600 to continue to operate (albeit without the built-in database of stations).  But this worked and I was able to continue to listen to the BBC and RNZI Internet streams by pressing a preset button on the remote.

Without the aggregator service, the radio isn't able to look up station URL's. I had to find streams that worked myself and program those into my local web server. Apparently the Reciva service also provided some kind of "heartbeat" information to my radio because, since Reciva shut down their servers, my Grace radio shuts off every 30 minutes or so, requiring a resetting process to reconnect to my wifi network. Workarounds have been provided by users on the Internet, but going through that process every half-hour is too much bother, and it also doesn't work all the time.

There apparently are some projects to update the firmware on some of these older wifi radios but a cursory glance showed it wouldn't be a trivial task. Hence, my Grace Digital Receiva-powered wifi radio is now sitting on a shelf in the basement.

Companies affected by the Reciva shutdown (like Grace) graciously offered users the opportunity to buy a new wifi radio (which uses a different aggregator, also subject to being shut down some day) at a "discount" but I declined. Some manufactures (like C Crane) offer the ability for users to log into their radios and program the presets directly in the event of an aggregator shut down. 

My Sangean WFR-28 wifi radio suffered an issue in 2019 with its aggregator Frontier Silicon - this served as a wake-up call that wifi radios built on third-party aggregators will always be at risk. The Reciva situation confirms this. 

My Logitech Squeezebox wifi radio from 2009 (which uses Tunein as the aggregator) is still working like a champ, knock on wood.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Penn State kiwiSDR is permanently off the air - for now

Due to perceived security concerns, I took my kiwiSDR offline last year (2020). Subsequently it was revealed that the developer had placed a "back-door" into the Linux computer running the kiwiSDR software:

Even though I do not believe this "feature" was intended to be malicious, it was a security hole that should not have been present in the code (at least without divulging its presence to the owner).  The code that created this hole has supposedly been removed in updated versions of the software (which should automatically load onto the kiwiSDR computer when it goes online) but I will not be putting my Penn State kiwiSDR back online until I figure out a way to safely isolate it from all other computers on my network. If ever. 

For an update (2022) on why the kiwiSDR is a dangerous device, and why I will never put the kiwiSDR back on my home network please see this posting:

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Penn State kiwiSDR radio off (for now)

Due to the recent changes by the owner of (like putting up a login screen and limiting access to radio amateurs) I've taken down my Penn State kiwiSDR radio for now. Another concern is the open-sourcing of the software that runs on the BeagleBone PC without any obvious security measures for owners who, in many cases, are running the system inside their firewalled networks. Once these issues are addressed I'll bring back the radio but, for now, it's offline. There are still a lot of other radios on the kiwiSDR network and you can get around the questionable barrier on by going to the site to access all the same radios.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Penn State radio is now on

My SDR is now part of the growing network of worldwide software defined radios. Check out to listen live.

Many years ago I had my Icom IC R-75 receiver on the Globaltuners radio network. I always found that system to be cumbersome, and for a while, it was hard to get support. It required a dedicated Linux computer to control the radio and only one person could listen at a time. For its time it was a fantastic resource, but now with the advent of software defined radios it's much easier to put a receiver online and share it with the world. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Extracting audio recordings from Perseus wideband SDR files using AutoHotKey script language and TotalRecorder

One of the issues with using a wide-band SDR to record swaths of spectrum is finding the time to review the large amount of resulting recordings. I have attempted to automate some aspects of the review process by using AutoHotKey to script TotalRecorder to record the audio from the Perseus wave file as it plays back and automatically saving the resulting MP3 files with date, time and frequency of the recording. Through this script, for example, I can step through every frequency on the medium wave band from 540 to 1700 kHz and record, say, the one-minute top-of-the-hour of each frequency to it's own MP3 file. Then I can download those files to my iPod and listen to them while I exercise or work around the house rather than be chained to the computer listening via the Perseus interface. While any recording software can be made to work using this technique, I chose TotalRecorder due to its popularity in the radio hobby.

Here is the script (lines are commented to indicate things that I would have to edit each time I process a new Perseus file). I have commented the actions to describe what's happening.


; This script has ability to record when TOH is split between two different Perseus Recordings

; this script presumes that Perseus is running and mode (USB, SAM, etc), audio level and audio bandwidth set to desired values

; this also presumes that Total Recorder is running and File | New was executed to start a fresh recording

; sleep commands added to account for delays in responding to operations; increase if problems caused by delays occur
; sleep 1000 = one second delay

; Use AutoIt3 Window Spy program to verify button locations for mouse clicks - may change depending on screen resolution

  SetDefaultMouseSpeed, 10

;  WinGet,hwnd,ID,Perseus            ;get the Perseus windows handle
;  WinGet,TR_hwnd,ID,ahk_class TotalRecorderWndClass      ;get the TotalRecorder window class
;  MsgBox, %ID%

;Set the windows to the upper left corner to avoid hidden buttons

  WinMove,ahk_class TotalRecorderWndClass,,0,0 
  Freq:=530     ;set freq to start at bottom of MW band [change this if a different start freq is desired]
  Mouseclick,,63, 520     ;Put Perseus in Wav input mode if not already there
  sleep 1000


  MouseClick,,140,520                ;Perseus File open button
  Sleep 500
  SendInput {Raw} 1_000.wav          ;send Perseus wav file name [edit this for actual file name]
  Sleep 500
  Send {ENTER}
  Sleep 500
 ; MouseClick,,521,602               ;Advance playback bar to desired time mark [edit only first number in this] or leave commented out if desired to start at beginning of Perseus wav file
  Sleep 500
  MouseClick,,100,245,2              ;double click frequency to bring up frequency dialog
  sleep,1000                         ;wait until it is ready
  WinActivate,Frequency     ;get it active if it is positioned outside
  WinMove,Frequency,,10,200          ;Set the window to the upper left corner to avoid hidden buttons                         
  MouseClick,,12,202     ;Click into the input window
  send,%Freq%                        ;Set the center frequency
  MouseClick,,60,190                 ;click kHz
  sleep,500                          ;and wait for frequency adjustment
  MouseClick,,100,190                ;click close

  ;MouseClick,,65,595     ;press play (not needed if starting at beginning of file since Perseus autoplays new files)

  WinActivate,ahk_class TotalRecorderWndClass
  MouseClick,,480,315     ;start TotalRecorder recording

  sleep,90000                         ;sleep 90 seconds (1000 = 1 second) [edit this]

  MouseClick,,450,315     ;stop TotalRecorder
  sleep 500
  Send {ALT}     ;File
  Send F
  Send S     ;Save
  sleep 1000
  Filename = %Freq% 0000 UTC 9-12-2012`n    ; Template for naming files [edit this]
  sleep 1000
  ;msgbox %Filename%
  Send %Filename%
  sleep 1000
  ;Send {Enter}
  ;sleep 1000

  Send {ALT}              ;File
  Send F      
  Send N                              ;New
  sleep 500
  MouseClick,,25,595     ;press stop

  ;MsgBox %Freq%

  if Freq > 1700     ;if 1700 here then the last freq recorded is 1710 (1700 + 10 kHz step)
    MouseClick,,480,315     ;stop TotalRecorder
  Freq:= Freq+10                   ; step up 10 kHz
  ;MsgBox %Freq%



Copy the text between the snips, save it as a text file in Notepad or another text editor with the .ahk extension, then start both Perseus and TotalRecorder programs. Then run the AutoHotKey script to kick off the process. I caution that, while I made this work on my computer, running it on your system *may* result in some unexpected results - your system's screen resolution may be different so the location of buttons, etc. may not correspond to those in my example. Also, there is no "escape" from the script - if you want to stop it, you must actually terminate the AHK executable. I highly recommend using the AutoHotKey Spy program to view specific details like screen coordinates of button locations on your system.

In other words, this is not yet a turn-key solution.

I made a rather blurry YouTube video to demonstrate the process:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pro-2006 and CE-232 Interface

This may be a very retro radio, but I recently bought a Pro-2006 scanner with an internal "aftermarket" RS-232 interface called the CE-232 that was marketed by the well-known scanner hacker Bill Cheek back in the early 1990's. The Pro-2006 is one of the most famous scanning radios of all times, and I've always wanted to have one.

I've started a blog to keep track of my experiences using and programming the radio over at I hope you'll stop over and check it out.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Perseus SDR - First Six Months

Thanks to my friend Chuck R's willingness to part with his Perseus SDR last year, I made the plunge into the next generation of software defined radios. There are lots of other places dedicated to this great radio (see sidebar link to Guy's "Five Below" blog and other links found on his site) so I won't go into details here. Suffice to say this little box, about the size of a Hayes Smartmodem of the 1980's (anyone remember those?) has once again changed how I "do DX."

For example, at the Long Beach Island DXpedition this year, I used both the Perseus and the SDR-IQ to simultaneously record from different antennas throughout the 3 day event. Most notable was that I was less concerned with “rushing” to every new station before it disappeared. Knowing that my SDR would be recording the entire long and medium wave band both nights, I felt less pressure to search out as many stations in real-time as possible, and could spend more time ferreting out the details on an interesting channel, trying different antennas or phasing to get a better signal. I brought both SDR and conventional receivers, and let the SDRs act as DX “vacuum cleaners” all weekend while I tuned real-time on my Drake. I filled about 750 GB of disk space that weekend, enough to give me months of listening opportunities back home. In just the first week back after LBI, we had identified seven new stations and one new country on just a single ½ hour-long SDR file. It's definitely a paradigm-shifting way to approach the radio hobby.

The Perseus is a true "DX Vacuum"

The LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen as a DXing Tool? An Early Look

Photo from

I'll admit up front that I'm a gadget hound. I also love DXing. Over the years I have adopted a number of new technologies, from hard-disk recording to computer logging programs, in order to make the time I spend listening to the radio more efficient. Until now, though, I haven't had much luck in resolving this love for technology with the fact that I still prefer to use pen and paper to keep track of what I hear. I have a dozen paper notebooks containing over 30 years of loggings from both home and remote DXpeditions, and it's always fun to page through those paper-based records and relive the time spent listening to interesting DX catches.

The latest technology to catch my eye was the LiveScribe Pulse “smartpen”. The Pulse is a computer embedded in a pen-sized package that records both what you write and what you hear at the same time. Using a small sensor in the tip of the pen, the Pulse records whatever text or graphics you write in ink on their specially encoded paper while simultaneously recording audio from an internal microphone or stereo mics embedded in the earbuds of the included headphones. The pen links the writing and audio together in its internal memory, allowing you to then play back the audio from any point in time by simply tapping the page where you were writing. You can also upload the contents of the pen's memory to your computer, viewing your notes digitally on-screen and playing back the audio that was captured by clicking on the text. The pen is targeted at students and people who take notes in meetings, situations where having the original audio source can be a useful augmentation to handwritten notes. This capability seemed like it could also be useful for a DXer, so when I saw an open-box Pulse for half-price at my local Target store I decided to try it out.

To test the pen, I conducted a listening session where I took notes in real time as I listened to the radio at local sunrise. In order to capture the audio, I first inserted the pen's microphone/earbuds in my ears then wore my headphones (AKG 240 over-the-ear model) over top of the earbuds; in this way, the pen would recorded everything I was hearing. There was no noticeable degradation to the sound by wearing both headphones together, and it was not uncomfortable having both on at the same time. I started the pen's recording mode by touching the “Record” icon printed on the bottom of the notebook page with the pen tip. Then I wrote the date and time at the top of the page (see picture). As I listened, I jotted down notes about what I heard (such as frequency, full or partial call signs, and any program details) as I would normally do when logging my receptions. After about 15 minutes of listening, I tapped the “Stop” icon at the bottom of the notebook's page. The pen gives an audible “beep” when it starts and stops recording, letting you know it's operating. It also features a small LED screen that shows the length of time into the recording.
To play back what I had heard, all I needed to do was tap the notebook page at the spot where I wrote the note – for example, when I tapped “CFCO ID” on the page, the pen played back the audio of the ID I heard at the time I wrote it down. Amazing! After several minutes of tapping on the notebook page to review my catches, I decided to upload the data to the computer. I slipped the pen into the provided USB dock, it magnetically “clicked” into place, and immediately started to upload the contents to my computer. Once in the laptop, I could review the notes on-screen, and again click any spot on the page to listen to the audio. When playing on-screen, the color of the text changes from light to dark green as the audio advances, showing where the writing matches up with the audio. The software also indicates the elapsed time since start, which is handy for calculating the actual time of a logging.

This early test of the Pulse smartpen has me excited about its potential as a serious tool for logging and archiving of listening notes. I am anxious to see how it performs at our yearly trek to the Long Beach Island DXpedition, where I typically scribble fast and furious for hours at a time while listening to trans-Atlantic and Latin American stations. In the past it's always been a big challenge to match my notes against the recorded audio; with the Pulse, I think it will be a breeze to quickly scan through the recording, checking for missed ID's and making notes for reports.

The Pulse comes in 1 GB and 2 GB models (for 100 or 200 hours of recording time) and is available both on-line at and at Target department stores. One downside is that you must use their special paper to record your writing; however, their desktop program lets you print out your own paper sheets on a Postscript laser printer. Refill notebooks and pen cartridges are also available on the web and at Target stores.

I'll be anxious to see if the Pulse system catches on in the DX community.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

DX Tuners RIP - Again!

Well, for a second time, the DX Tuners network has gone silent. Once more I received the ubiquitous "your radio cannot be reached" email message, and after several rebooting attempts I went to the website and saw this image.

Fortunately, the is not the end of the global network of shortwave receivers that started life as "Javaradio" - the new "owner" of the network, Ivo Smits, has rechristened the network as "Global Tuners" and opened this new website,

Moving to the new network is an opportunity for me to change to Ivo's new Windows-based server software, moving away from the Linux software that the old network used. Hopefully the move will be painless. However, this may mean that there will be turmoil and loss of users during the transition period. We shall see!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sharp Digital DJ DRW-V2 Ultralight Radio

I recently purchased this small radio from a seller for about $16 on eBay...

The specs are listed as follows:

# AM /FM Stereo Radio
# Digital Tuning for enhanced radio listening experience
# High Resolution Large Backlit LCD Screen
# Indigo LCD Backlit
# Built-in Speaker and audio jack for external headphones.
# 15AM/15FM User Presets
# Works with 2 AAA batteries, DC input power Jack. Allows to power unit with external power supply
# Functionality : Clock Timer , Alarm , Calendar , AM Receiver 560 - 1600 Khz , FM Receiver 87.5 - 108 ,Mhz STEREO
# Packages Include: Digital DJ , Manual (in English) , Stereo headphones , Mini Stand

What's neat about the radio is that it was developed as a data receiver for a radio service that is no longer in existence. It had the ability to receive stock quotes, traffic reports and news via an FM radio station's transmissions. It has a GUI interface that's similar to a PDA for setting up the radio, adding stocks to track, running the calendar, setting timers, etc. It originally had a list price of $200 plus a monthly fee for the service, but apparently the technology never caught on.

Searching on the web I found the press release that's at the end of this posting. Also, another Blogger posted his experience on this radio:

I think it's a great example of the nexus between radio and computers, albeit one that never succeeded in the marketplace. But we can learn from failures, too.


Company Press Release
Source: Digital DJ Inc.
Digital DJ Inc. Brings Real Time Stock to the Corner Store
Real Time Stock Quotes and Customized Information Available on America's First Wireless High Speed Data Receiver & AM/FM Stereo Radio

SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Digital DJ Inc. launched three subscription-based services available on the Digital DJ Wireless High Speed Data Receiver and AM/FM Stereo Radio developed by SHARP and Digital DJ Inc. Now the individual investor can purchase continuous real time stock quotes on America's first high-speed data receiver integrated with a high quality back-lit LCD AM/FM Stereo Radio. This marks the first time in the United States that real time stock quotes are available in retail stores. Wireless Wall Street(TM) is one of three subscription-based services that will be available on the Digital DJ receiver which will be sold at reputable cellular/audio retailers around the San Francisco Bay Area. Subscribers to this real time stock service can now access their portfolio as quickly and easily as making a cellular phone call.

The Digital DJ receiver is the first high speed data receiver and AM/FM stereo radio to be marketed in the United States. The receiver downloads data from radio station's FM Subcarriers and allows the subscriber to customize a real time stock portfolio, sports scores, as well as receive traffic information, news, weather, and local city information. Digital DJ provides a new value added service for radio stations to provide their listeners with information and keep them tuned in longer. The transmission of the data does not interrupt the audio reception. Digital DJ Information Providers Include: AP (Associated Press), UPI (United Press International), S&P Comstock (providing real time stock quotes from Nasdaq, Amex, and NYSE Exchanges), Sports Ticker, and Shadow Traffic. Three subscription Services include:

* Wireless Wall Street(TM) (Real Time Stock Quotes)
* Uptown Update(TM) (20 minute Delay Stock Quotes)
* SportFolio(TM) (Real Time Sport Scores)

Currently Digital DJ Inc.'s Wireless Information Network in the Bay Area includes six radio stations subcarrier frequencies for maximizing coverage in the bay area. The frequencies include 105.3 (KITS), 99.7 (KFRC), 106.1 (KMEL), 97.7 (KFFG), 103.7 (KKSF) and 104.5 will be added shortly. This local network allows the subscriber to receive data virtually anywhere in the bay area. Digital DJ plans to launch in Los Angeles and Atlanta in early September and services will be available in the top ten markets by June of 1998.

The Digital DJ receiver features: AM/FM Stereo Radio, Alarm Clock, Monthly Calendar, Low Battery Alert, Text and Graphic Capabilities, High Resolution LCD with Backlight, 15 AM and 15 FM station presets, simultaneous radio listening and reception of customized information, Multiple Channels of Information, and headphones with built in antenna and external speaker.

Price & Availability

Digital DJ's receiver and subscription based services are available for order on line at or through select Bay Area retailers including Star Cellular, Cellular Link, and Monne'y Car Audio. For a limited time the receiver will sell at an introductory price of $199.00 (MSRP), which include registration and activation. As a special introductory offer subscription services are priced as follows: Wireless Wall Street, $49.95 per month (plus exchange fees); Uptown Update, $14.95 per month; and SportFolio, $4.95 per month. The unit alone may be purchased for $179(MSRP) and can receive free information including real time traffic reports and local, regional, and national news.

About Digital DJ Inc.

Digital DJ Inc. was established in 1991 and began research and development of advanced high speed FM subcarrier applications. In July 1993, Digital DJ and NHK Engineering Services, Inc. formed a Technical Alliance and jointly developed specifications for the FM Subcarrier High Speed Data Transmission System for the worldwide market. Digital DJ manufacturers include: OKI Electric Industry, Sanyo Semiconductor Corporation, Sony Corporation, Sharp, Shibasoku, and Nichimen Corporation. Digital DJ Inc. Investor Partners include: Nippon Enterprise Development, ORIX Capital, Daiwa Business Development, Sanwa Capital, Fujigin Capital, and National Enterprises (Panasonic Group).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

DX Tuner Toplist

DX Tuners continues to grow as a no-fee, invitation only site. Several thousand user accounts have been issued, I understand. My Pennsylvania DX node, running on an Icom R-75, has been working well since I replaced my router. As seen in the about snapshot, it ranks #2 in total visits this week (Dec 13 2007).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

DX Tuners Returns

It's back! About 6 months after closing down the network, Kelly Lindman of Sweden brought the network back to life. Now run as a no-charge private network, many of the radios on the system are back again. Currently Kelly has capped the membership to the network, but expects to open it back up in the future.

My node, the Pennsylvania DX radio, is back - this time with an Icom R-75 receiver replacing the former IC-718 transceiver which I plan to use for ham radio purposes.

Welcome back!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

IBOC - Night 3

What a difference two days makes. This SDR-IQ plot shows the entire 695-865 kHz wide band filled with the tell-tale white bands of IBOC digital hash. Compare to my previous post which showed a relatively open spectrum the first night of IBOC, Sept. 14 2007.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Start of Nighttime IBOC

At 12:01 AM Eastern last night, full nighttime IBOC broadcasting began in the US on the medium wave band. Above is an example of the spectrum from the SDR-IQ receiver showing the digital hash from 700 WLW and 710 WOR extending to stations +/- 15 kHz from their carrier. On this band segment those two stations were by far the most notable IBOC signals. It's not certain whether any other stations were broadcasting on IBOC in that range last night.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Scheduled Recordings with Spectravue

I love using my new SDR-IQ radio to record 190 kHz of spectrum. But, the program that controls the radio (SpectraVue) only accommodates a single event recorder which can repeat once per day. I like to do repeated top-of-the-hour recordings during the night while I sleep (from, say :58 to :02) to review for IDs later in the day. Until the author of SpectraVue adds that capability, or others add the feature via a separate application, I needed another way to do it.

Once SpectraVue is running and configured to record, pressing the "start" (F12) key starts the recording and automatically saves the resultant data into a uniquely-named file. Pressing the "stop" (F10) key stops the recording. Each time you start the recording, it automatically creates a new data file with a date and time stamp. I hit upon the idea of using a macro program that sends key presses to the program to do this.

I found the free program AutoHotKey through a Google search. Using its built-in scripting language, you can send the commands to start, wait a programmable period of time, then send the command to stop. Here's the simple script I wrote and saved as a text file:

WinActivate SpectraVue 2.21
WinWaitActive SpectraVue 2.21
Send {F12}
Sleep, 240000
Send {F10}

As you might guess, the first two lines make sure the SpectraVue program is active, the next line sends the F12 command to start, the program waits 240,000 milliseconds (4 minutes) then sends the F10 command to stop. Now all that's needed is to run the macro script on a schedule.

To create a scheduled event in Windows XP, go to the Control Panel and click "Scheduled Tasks." Double click "Add Scheduled Task" then browse to the AutoHotKey script file you created. Specify the start time, and make it a daily event. AutoHotKey will run with that script every time it's scheduled, and send the keystrokes to SpectraVue. Once the event is created, right click the event in the Scheduled Task window, click "Properties", then click on the Schedule tab then "Advanced". This lets you repeat the scheduled event every hour throughout the night.

This process provides an hourly schedule execution for SpectraVue recordings, and lets you enjoy nighttime top-of-the-hour ID chasing during the saner hours of daylight!

Monday, June 18, 2007

SDR-IQ Image Reception

I received the SDR-IQ over three weeks ago and have been having a lot of fun with it. The ability to visualize the spectrum really changes the way I listen to the radio.

One thing I noticed, though, is that my two local AM stations (1 kW @
1 mile, 5 kW at 3 miles) both show up as "images" at +/- 196 kHz from the fundamental frequencies. These images are down about 60 db, but that puts them at about the same signal level (-90 to -100 db) as most of the other stations I can pick up.

I posted a message to the SDR-IQ group on Yahoo but haven't heard from anyone else whether my experience is unique. More on this if I uncover anything new.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Look of IBOC

Several stations seem to be broadcasting IBOC at 8:30-9:00 pm local (EDT) on June 14, as seen in the above graphic of the band from Spectravue as captured on my SDR-IQ.

The image shows 2 IBOC noise bands, one on either side of 760 WJR's carrier. As you can see, 760 itself is clean, but on the "far sides" of 750 and 770 carriers (e.g. lower sideband on 750 and upper on 770) the audio is "white" with a noise band 5 kHz wide. You can also see the same effect, albeit not as strong, around 840 (WHAS?).

What is slightly encouraging is that the sideband opposite the noise (e.g. lower SB on 770, upper SB on 750) are not as polluted by the IBOC noise; they are actually listenable despite the their other sideband being wiped out. The other thing I see is that the noise bands fade in and out at different levels from each other (sometimes only one is visible). Not sure why that is.

Anyway, this is what we will be looking at in the very near future on the US medium wave band.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

SDR-IQ Day 2 Experiences

OK, I figured out what I was doing wrong when I play back recorded SDR-IQ RF files in Spectravue... you need to explicitely tell the program what frequency the recording was centered on when playing back. If the "Center Frequency" in the spectrum was 620 kHz, then you need to tell the program that on playback. I also noticed that, for some reason, the "Invert Spectrum" option was defaulted 'on' every time, so the frequency of the stations in the 190 kHz of displayed spectrum were inverted (e.g. if I was centered on 970 kHz, the next higher station would be 960 rather than the expected 980 kHz). Once you play with Spectravue for an hour or two, everything makes perfect sense.

I did several top of the hour recordings to see exactly how this all works. It was great fun to be able to go back and listen to the TOH IDs of 19 different AM stations as many times as I wanted, and adjust the bandwidth and mode (AM/USB/LSB) for each one. I fired up Total Recorder, and by picking the "software" audio input was able to record each of the stations' audio, as I listened, to an MP3 file.

I noticed some interference-like stuttering in the audio at various times, which seems to go away when I cut the spectrum down to 150 or 100 kHz from 190 kHz. I am using a 4-year old 1.8 GHz Dell desktop, and I am presuming that I might be taxing the processor/bus a little too much at the high setting.

(Update 6/17/07 - I moved over to a newer Compaq 3100+ Sempron machine and there are now no stuttering or gliches)

I'm happy with the SDR-IQ!

To learn more about the SDR line of radios, join the Yahoo Groups SDR-IQ or SDR-14

Friday, May 25, 2007

New SDR-IQ has Arrived!

(5/25/2007) I just received my new SDR-IQ software-defined radio from Universal Radio - it seems like they got a small shipment in, and I had been monitoring their website for the announcement. The version I purchased was just the bare board, not the complete unit mounted in a case (those seemingly are still waiting for FCC approval). Cost was $399, quite reasonable considering its capabilities.

The current link to the radio on their web site is: SDR-IQ

[UPDATE 5-26-2007: Universal announced they are sold out of the boards, and would have more later]

[UPDATE 9-7-2007: The Universal site no longer lists the bare board version anymore, but appears to have the complete SDR-IQ with case available on their web site]

I will be writing more about the SDR-IQ in the future, but was very impressed by its operation the few minutes I spent with it tonight. Most exciting is the ability to see the spectrum across 190 kHz of bandwidth in real-time, and the ability to record that spectrum to hard disk for later listening (as if it were live). I had a small glitch with the included Spectravue software on playback of an RF recording, as the frequencies of spectrum displayed were different from what I had recorded. But, I presume this is due to "pilot error" on my part, and I will work more with it in the coming days to see how it all works.

Friday, April 27, 2007

DX Tuners, RIP

This past week I received a sad email from Kelly Lindman, founder of DX Tuners (formerly know as Javaradio) in Sweden:

Dear DX Tuner Site Operator.

As you may be aware I founded and have operated DX Tuners with various people’s assistance for over 10 years with much satisfaction and fulfilment.

Regretfully, recently due to other business and personal commitments, I am unable to dedicate as much time or find as much inspiration as before in running the network and it is with much sadness and sincere regret that I have decided to wind up my business over here.

This has been a very difficult and emotional decision for me to take, having made many friends over the years, but after a good 20 years in the IT-business I feel the time is right to move on and try something else.

So basically I have two choices as I see it:

1. Get someone to take over the system including server and management.

2. Scrap it.

The second choice is not very appealing to me or anyone else, is it?
So...Is there anyone out there who you know would be able to run this system?
I will be more than happy answering any questions you may have.
I can give you a full description of the system upon request. Just email

Today I have removed the ability to subscribe to the network. Hence there are no more subscriptions made. Also the Google advertising is removed.

New account creation works however and users get full access from day one as of now. The old subscribing system can easily be hooked on again if we find a new organisation for DX Tuners.

Please hang in with me as I hope we can find someone to take over the network as soon as possible.

Thank you for your consideration.

Kelly Lindman
DxTuners founder

That letter was followed, several days later, by this one:

Dear DX Tuner Site Operator.

I have briefly been looking for a replacement administration for DxTuners and I have gotten a few offers. Thank you! However, I have found the platform too complex running without my help, so it is with much sadness and sincere regret that I have decided to close down the network.

You are free to shut down your hardware at any point. There will be no stand alone solutions provided by me or my company as we are winding up the business.

I would like to thank you all for contributing to the network over the years. 10 years is a long time and some of you have been with me for most of that time.

Again thank you very much.


Kelly Lindman

My node DX-Pennsylvania (running an Icom 718) went off line on April 20. Since then I have reformatted the hard disk of the machine that was controlling the radio (which was running Fedora Core 5 Linux) and have closed the firewall port to that machine.

If you want to see what DX Tuners was all about, use the Way-Back Machine and check out the site prior to shutdown:

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Samsung YEPP: Another MP3 recorder for DXers?

It seems like it's getting harder to find solid state flash-based MP3 players that also include line-in recording capability. Recent posts on the AM DX email lists have focused on the iRiver models (see my posting on the T30). One unit I have used for portable DX recording is the Samsung YP-MT6. It is very small (less than 1" square, and 2.5" long), barely larger than the AA battery that powers it.

On the side of the unit there is a very nice LCD display with bright backlighting, and the controls (multi-functional, as on most electronics today) are easy to master. The unit features a built-in mic, handy for making field recordings, and a line-in encoding jack (which is unfortunately a small 2.5 mm size plug, not the standard 1/8 inch mini plug one would expect) means you can connect it to a radio for portable recording (I'd recommend using an attenuation cable if the line out of the radio causes overloaded recordings). It also has an FM receiver which, while not super-sensitive, will pick up most local stations in stereo or mono. One very nice feature is the ability to record what's heard on the FM tuner to the player's memory as an MP3 file. That makes it a lot of fun for recording FM stations while travelling. Finally, the unit can be connected to a computer via USB and the recordings transfered as it they were on a memory stick.

Oh yes, it also plays MP3 files quite nicely.

Check eBay, they tend to run in the $15-30 range for 512MB and 1GB sizes.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Total Recorder Tip #4 - Lost Recordings?

If you use Total Recorder for overnight, top-of-the-hour or DX test recordings, eventually you'll run into the case where the PC decides to reboot or accidentally turns off in the midst of a recording session (mine did during the Big Sky DX Test night, thanks to Windows Automatic Updates). If that happens, don't worry... more than likely you will be able to recover your recording fairly easily - just follow these steps:

1. Locate the TR "temporary" directory; by default in Windows XP it's in your user profile, and on Windows 98 it's likely c:\Windows\Temp. To check, in Total Recorder go to Options|Settings, click "Open/Save" and see what folder is set for temporary files. For example, on my system it is in c:\Documents and Settings\Local Settings\Temp (if you can't view the contents of that directory, in a Windows folder go to Tools | Folder Options | View and make sure "Show Hidden Files and Folders" is selected).

2. Look for some files of the form ~TRxx.zzz where xx is a letter/number combination and the file extension zzz matches your recording format. For example right now I have several TR sessions running and I see ~TRr1.mp3 and ~TRr2.mp3 since I am recording in MP3 format. If you were recording to "wav" format, the files would end in .wav. When you press the "stop recording" button in TR, or TR abnormally quits, these files stay in that directory with all the audio recorded up to that point. They don't get erased until you say File|New and choose not to save the existing recording (once you do that, though, they're gone).

Update 10-17-2009:

If you do accidentally hit "File|New" without saving your recording, all is not lost. The file still exists on your hard drive but the name has been changed to indicate it is a "deleted" file. DO NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE ON YOUR COMPUTER AT THIS POINT! Any actions you take (even surfing the web) can create files that will overwrite your recording.

Go to another computer and download an "undelete" utility that is compatible with your computer's operating system. I use NTFSUndelete which is a free application. Follow the program's instructions EXACTLY and, as long as nothing has overwritten the TotalRecorder temp file (which again will look something like "~TRr1.mp3") you will likely be able to recover the recording.

3. Rename the temporary files to something that makes sense (like 1460 kHz WXYZ Test 0200 EST 1-2-2006.mp3), and move them to a permanent location. You can listen to them like a normal audio file.

I would say I've had reason to resurrect lost recordings this way a half dozen times in the past year, once due to a family member being "helpful" and shutting my PC down before going to bed, several times due to power failures, and once (and only once on each PC!) due to Windows Automatic Update choosing to reboot my machine in the middle of the night after downloading the most recent updates!

Added 12-16-2007:

I found the following information on the High Criteria web site concerning lost recordings:

My computer suddenly shut down (locked up, re-started) while I was recording with Total Recorder. How can I restore the recorded audio from Total Recorder temporary files?

Go to Options => Settings => Open / Save. Now look in the folder assigned for temporary files. If the temporary files in this folder have .wav or .mp3 extensions it usually means that they are proper audio files.

If the temporary file has ".tmp" extension, it means that you cannot securely extract all recorded audio information from it. This happens because during recording process some information is stored in this file and some information in the PC's RAM.

However it is usually possible to recover most of your data which is stored in this .tmp file in PCM format. This file doesn't have a proper header so you can use our free application TRTmpRecovery (~65 Kb) to add a header. This program allows you to playback any file as a PCM file at different parameter settings (sample rate, 8/16 bit, mono/stereo), select the most appropriate parameters (if the file actually contains audio data) and add a proper header to this file. Once a header is added, this temporary file becomes a valid .wav file.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

iRiver T-30: Partial Review

I picked up an iRiver T30 MP3 player/recorder on sale at Circuit City with some Christmas money this week; recent posts on the DX email lists, initiated by Bill Harm's request for advice on hard disk recorders, got my interest piqued. I thought the unit might be useful for portable DXing or DXing on the road. I had read review of the T30 online that mentioned this unit was worth considering. For $45, I felt it was worth a try.

Features: The T30 has 512 MB of memory, USB 2.0 connectivity, and works with Microsoft's orphaned Play For Sure DRM scheme (this was of no interest to me since I use an Apple iPod for my music listening). It will play MP3, OGG and WMA format files. It can record with a built-in mic (useful for lectures or conferences) and most importantly will record audio from a radio with a line-in input. This was my primary interest for DX recording. Unlike similar units it does not have a built-in FM receiver. My previous experience with FM radio MP3 players is that they are generally poor in sensitivity, so I did not see this as a detriment.

Form: The T30 is about the size of a pack of gum, 3" X 1" in a triangular shape, and came with headphones & USB cable, but no carrying case. It does have a wrist strap. Lack of a case was a concern, since the front of the unit is mostly a clear plastic display which I could see scratching easily - I found a case from an old USB hub that fit the T30 perfectly. The T30 uses a single AAA battery and reported having a 24 hour playing time on one battery. It can use alkaline or rechargeable batteries, and features a menu setting to chose which was in place.

Function: This is where I wish this report was complete, but I ended up returning the unit (hence the title "partial review".) The first time I plugged it in, it worked flawlessly - I could transfer files to and from it like a USB memory drive. I listened to some of my radio recordings from my PC with no problem. However, the second time I plugged it into my PC, the player froze up and I couldn't find any of the MP3 files on it. The only way I could reset it was to remove the battery. Every time I plugged it into the computer it froze again. I did not try to record to it, so I cannot report how well that worked. Whether this problem is unique to my PC or a more pervasive problem with the unit, I don't know.

Hopefully, there are other portable units that might fit this price/form factor in the future. If anyone has any suggestions, please post them in the comments. Maybe the new year will bring another MP3 recorder for consideration??

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Total Recorder Tip #3 - Simultaneous recordings using same input device

As related in TR Tip #2, you can't record from two inputs on the same sound device (e.g. Line In and Mic) simultaneously. However, as related in TR Tip #1 it is possible to run two (or more) instances of Total Recorder simulataneously and it will record the same audio input device with different instances of the TR program. For example, if you have a scheduled timer set to go off at the top of the hour for the sound card Line In, but you are already recording audio from that input using the program, the TR Scheduler will fire off at the appointed time and capture the same audio; no conflicts will occur. This is nice since occasionally I accidentally leave TR running while I have the radio set up to capture overnight top-of-the hour IDs. Yes, I get two copies of the audio, but at least I don't lose anything.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Big Sky Montana DX Tests (Part 2)

(continued from Part 1)

Before I went to bed I did a level check on all the inputs from the radios to make sure the signals into the sound cards would be high enough to yield good recordings without overdriving. Nothing worse than a completely distorted recording to ruin things (on Total Recorder, I like to set the inputs so the VU meter level comes up 25-30%, never going into the yellow).

Since I was going to start the recordings when I went to bed (rather than fool around with setting the timers to automatically start the recordings) I checked to make sure there was enough free hard drive space to hold the recordings. For the length of these recordings (about 8 hours each) I figured I would need about 100-150 MB of space per recording. Across the three computers this wasn't a problem.

I wish I could have stayed up all night to listen live and chat on the #mwdx IRC chat on the Starchat network. Apparently there was quite a group gathered there, exchanging real-time reports. This is especially useful when DXers close to a target station can report what they are hearing - it can give those further away clues on what to listen for, and possibly pick out the target from interfering stations. Email lists like the IRCA, ABDX, AM-DX and DXHUB also were buzzing with real-time reports as the tests unfolded.

What became obvious the next morning, after reviewing the overnight email traffic and IRC log, was that KEIN, KLCY, and KGVO did not participate in the test. As a result, I did not review those recordings, although I still have them and may review them some point in the future to see what other interesting DX I may have picked up. The two most widely heard stations appear to have been KKGR on 680khz, and KERR on 750khz which did not run any Morse Code or sweep tones. I reviewed my recording of 750 but only heard WSB Atlanta which dominates that frequency from my location plus occasional Spanish that I assumed was Cuba. Had I been DXing live, I may have been able to phase them out to hear KERR. Bill Harms, who lives about 150 miles from me, was able to ID KERR several times. While 580 KANA was heard by some DXers with sweep tones, they didn't appear to make it to my area so I didn't check that recording, either. That left 680 KKGR as my only hope.

Imagine my horror when I went to the computer which had been recording the Icom R70 tuned to 680, only to see the Windows XP login screen rather than the desktop with Total Recorder running. What had happened???

(to be continued...)

iSound WMA/MP3 Recorder Professional - an alternative to Total Recorder?

Mark Connelly, well-known DXer in the Northeast US, recently posed a question on one of the MW DX email lists wondering if anyone had ever used the iSound recording software from Abyss Media for radio recording. I had never heard of it, so I downloaded WMA/MP3 Rec Pro yesterday and did a quick test drive. I find it to be very similar to Total Recorder, with an updated user interface. The scheduler works in a very similar manner as TR's. One slight difference is that the interface of WMA/MP3 Rec Pro displays the line in audio level all the time, as opposed to TR which only shows line levels while recording. WMA/MP3 Rec Pro did not require configuring MP3 recording, so that made installing a bit easier.

BTW, Corey Deitz reviewed Total Recorder Pro at
as well as iSound at

I'd say WMA/MP3 Recorder Pro a reasonable alternative to Total Recorder, and they both have a reasonable registration fee ($18 for TR vs. $30 for iSound). I did not try to configure iSound to record from multiple simulatneous sources so I cannot vouch for whether it's as flexible as TR in that regard. But, it appears to be worth trying out the free demo version.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Total Recorder Tip #2 - Simultaneous recordings from different sound card inputs

You cannot record from two inputs on the same sound card at the same time with Total Recorder - for example if you try to initiate a recording from both the line input and the microphone input of the same sound card, you will receive an error when the second recording attempts to start. The only solution is to schedule the recordings from those inputs to occur at different times, or to use multiple sound cards in the computer (see Total Recorder Tip #1).Link

Total Recorder Tip #1

I highly recommend Total Recorder as the hard disk recording tool for DXers. The ability to schedule unattended recordings and literally fill your hard drive with hours of DX audio makes it indispensable. I've used TR for about four years and have upgraded (for free) to each new version.

You can have more than one instance of Total Recorder running simultaneously on your computer; this is handy for recording audio from two or more radios at once. To do this, you must have multiple sound card devices on your PC. This is easy to do in Windows XP - I use the motherboard sound (called "Intel Integrated Audio" on my Dell 4400), an ESS Maestro PCI sound card, and a Creative Labs external USB sound device called the MP3+. Since each is a different manufacturer's card, they all co-exist at the hardware and driver level.

Run Total Recorder as many times as needed; on each program click the "Recording source and parameters" button, make sure "sound board" is highlighted, and choose the appropriate sound board device. Also make sure you choose the correct input next to the "Use this line" button - I usually use "Line" input. Finally, you can save the various sound card input settings as presets, making it easy to select the one you want at any time. Just click the "save as" button next to the preset name, create a new preset, and save.

I typically have three Total Recorders running at any one time, with inputs from three different radios. This allows me to monitor one radio while recording from two others - very handy when the DX is hot and heavy.

Total Recorder costs $18 and is available from

Monday, November 20, 2006

Big Sky Montana DX Tests (Part 1)

Like many medium wave DXers, I tried for the recent (19 Nov 06)
Big Sky Montana DX tests (link at web site) coordinated by Les Rayburn for IRCA/NRC and made possible through the efforts of the many people mentioned at the link. Over the past year I've added stations like 1340 WWNH-NH, 1360 WNJC-NJ and 1230 WODI-VA to my logs courtesy of these tests.

Since I like to mostly sleep at night, I will usually set up my computer to record the audio out of my radio using Total Recorder, a great little utility from High Criteria. That way, I can review the recordings at a more reasonable hour of the day and (hopefully) hear the station. Over the past few years I've used this automated unattended recording technique to add literally hundreds of medium wave and FM stations to my logs, without losing a wink of sleep. The older I get, the more appealing this becomes :-)

The recent "Big Sky" test presented an opportunity to hear Montana, which would be a new state for me at my location on the East Coast of the US. It also presented a challenge - how would I configure enough radios and computers to monitor several hours of broadcasts from *six* stations, all broadcasting simultaneously? The schedule of stations for this test was as follows:

KANA 580 kHz, 2am-4am EST
KKGR 680 kHz, 2am-4am EST
KERR 750 kHz, 2:05-2:58am EST
KLCY 930 kHz, 2am-4am EST
KGVO 1290 kHz, 2am-4am EST
KEIN 1310 kHz, 2am-4am EST

The first step in the process, which turned out to be the easiest, was to assemble the six radios needed. Since all the tests would be broadcast at the same time, I could not have a single computer-controlled receiver hop to the different channels. So, I dug around in my basement and found some extra receivers and ended up with the following lineup:

Realistic DX-394 on 580 kHz
Icom R-70 on 680 kHz
Drake R-8 (the "workhorse") on 750 kHz
Yaesu FRG-7000 on 930 kHz
Ten Tec RX-320 on 1290 kHz (my "graveyard monitoring" setup - more on that another time)
Icom R-75 on 1310 kHz

Out of the six radios, three are computer-controllable via RS-232 connections. However, for this test, I only had to actually control the RX-320 since it needs software to tune and adjust the output volume. All the others were controlled "by hand", set to their respective frequencies, then left on all night.

The next step was to figure out how to record six radio's outputs. Since I didn't want to get up in the middle of the night and turn on recorders, I used the Total Recorder software mentioned above. One my Dell 4400 WinXP desktop I have three sound cards - the internal motherboard audio, a PCI soundblaster compatible card, and an external Creative MP3+ USB soundcard. Total Recorder will recognize each as a separate sound input, allowing independent and simultaneous three-channel recording. I typically use the 32 kBit/sec, 22050 hz mono MP3 settings which give quite satisfactory recordings that take up about 300 kB per minute of recording.

For the next two radios I used an old Dell laptop running Win2000; I connected the left channel of the motherboard audio line input to one radio, and the right channel to another; I recorded this one in stereo. For the last radio, I dug up an old Dell 500 MHz desktop running Windows 98 and piped the audio to that computer. Finally - six inputs ready to record!

(to be continued...)


Computer DX Nexus is my little corner of the web where I intend to explore the nexus or "connection" between computers and radio listening. My personal interests cover medium wave, shortwave, FM and TV DXing as well as utility listening, but currently am focused on using computers to automate and augment my medium wave ("AM band") DXing.

Some areas I intend to cover include:

  • computer control of radios
  • computer recording of radio audio
  • software of interest to the radio enthusiast
  • useful online tools and websites

Stay tuned!!

Brett Saylor