I Am An FM And TV DXer Who Tries To Receive Signals That Aren't Typically Receivable, Currently I Have Received 15 States On FM And 4 States On TV From Northwest Alabama And Northeast Mississippi, AMA
I have been interested in radio / TV and radio / TV reception most of life and for the past several years I have been DXing on a regular basis. As of right now I have received FM radio stations from 15 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wyoming) in addition to Mexico and Honduras. I have also received TV stations from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Over the next few days I will try to answer as many questions as I can.
Proof: Here are links to 2 of my other accounts where I have posted videos (of 2 of my Mexico catches) and a photo of 1 of my Illinois catches.
Edit, for those of you interested in seeing an entire FM bandscan I have done, I have recorded a view of these for my Twitch channel: https://www.twitch.tv/collections/26kOy29riBUAoA
This is the most important question.
Long story short I look for signals on the FM radio dial and the UHF and VHF TV dials that are not local to my area and therefore are not typically present. The process of doing that is called "DXing".
DX is a radio term for distance.
Dating myself, but in the citizen band (CB) world we used to call it working a skip. RF bouncing off the ionosphere is probably a bit different then this, but I worked a skip once half across the country for about 30 seconds. Still feel the thrill!
u/LordGalen is right, this is similar. My Grandfather has talked to people from all 50 US States on ham radio some of which came in through the same skipping that caused me to pick up Mexico and Honduras on FM.
Do you have a method of, or tool for, tracking ionospheric conditions that will allow you to pick up signals from far-flung places?
Great question! I use the website http://www.dxinfocentre.com/tropo.html but other than that I have to rely on patterns.
On the nights have I had shorter distance DX openings this website has typically predicted them.
For example, the night I received 88.1 WUWF and 104.1 WDLT in Florence, AL that website reflected enhanced conditions over the Birmingham, AL and Montgomery, AL area, about half way between Mobile, AL / Pensacola, FL and Florence, AL. Typically that website will either end up showing you the half way point between where the opening will take place or it will show the stations received are coming from.
For longer range DX openings that website isn't as good. The day of my first Mexico opening that website showed no enhanced conditions. The day of my Honduras opening I believe it got it right but it predicted it 3 hours off of the actual time I received Honduras, and if I had just gone by it I would have missed the opening.
I also go on patterns (and reports from other DXers). There is 1 DXer who lives in the Nashville, TN area and another who lives in the Mobile, AL / Pensacola, FL area and if I get a report from 1 of them of good conditions, I half of the time will also experience good conditions. I also go on patterns of the past. For example I know my best chance to receive another country (Honduras, Mexico, etc.) is between 3:00 PM and 5:30 PM local time between May and August, so I check around 3:15, 3:45, 4:15, 4:45, and 5:15 to give myself the best chance.
What is DXing? Are you using some kind of super antenna?
A few of us have a crazy setup such as a custom made antenna on a tall tower.
For FM DXing I typically use 1 of my $50.00 Insignia Radios or my comparable Sparc HD Radio.
For TV I have a Clearstream Micron R (about $50.00) and a GE Pro Yagi Antenna (about $40.00).
Basically for $150.00 you can do what I do. It helps to live on a hill, or a 2 story house but neither of those are required to do this.
It would depend on the model of antenna and if it had a connector that could be connected to a radio or TV. A Vertical antenna might work for FM, and horizontal antenna might work for TV, a loop antenna might work for AM but again it depends on the model.
What’s the most interesting thing you have received? Have you received anything you shouldn’t have?
My best catch to date is 90.7 HRXH-15 from Honduras, at roughly 1,400 miles.
I've received Mexico 3 times but 05/24/2017 as of now is my only time to receive Honduras.
I only do this on the FM and TV bands. Other people do this on AM and Amateur Radio bands. These bands are all public bands, if you tried to do this on a non public band, all I can say is it would almost certainly be a bad idea.
Why, what are the non-public bands used for?
Air traffic control at airports, military operations, dispatching for local fire stations and police departments.
I am not looking to risk grounding any airplanes or hindering a fire truck from getting to building on fire.
Due to the lack of TV broadcasts in the Maritimes (Nova Scotia) I often would pick up stations with a simple rooftop yagi UHF antenna (can't remember the exact model now). Most is the time they would come from Boston during tropo season, but generally just all around New England.
The furthest away was New York WCBS, but oddly, I had a hard time receiving stations from Maine or New Brunswick which is sort of sad since I used to receive those in the analog days with just rabbit ears. Anyway, I never got into dxing too deeply but I've always played with it a bit.
So anyway, back on track with ama, curious question have you ever done any playing around with (legal, not pirate) FTA satellite reception and the fun with all that?
I haven't experimented with FTA satellite myself, but I have seen pictures and videos from people who have. I think as satellite signals already cover a large area, that what I am doing is much more of a challenge.
That's interesting about you saying you had a hard time receiving Maine or New Brunswick. 1 thing I am surprised about myself is I haven't yet received a station from North Carolina or South Carolina, but yet I have received Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. I think it may be the Appalachian Mountains are somehow acting as a blocker to those signals but I feel like 1 day I will eventually have success receiving 1 or both of those states.
I enjoyed T.V Dxing in the 90s as a child. I managed to pick up some far-away stations. I think it was easier in the analog days. A few channels, however, I have managed to pick up 50 miles away.
As for radio, I've been successful on FM and AM and enjoy shortwave listening. I imagine you have a roof antenna for both or a tower? I don't unfortunately but would love to someday. I live in a valley and can only imagine the reception I'd get on one of these tall hills around me.
I have a GE Yagi Antenna (which can work for FM) and a 2 story house I can DX from, but the majority of my DX catches have come from the antennas that came with my Insignia and Sparc radios.
Do you use an SDR? What do you think about RTL-SDR?
A SDR is the next thing I am planning to purchase (hopefully this year). I know someone who has one and they sent me a video showing me what all it can do. I think it will be a very useful tool to have if I am able to get one.
Do you guys still get the TV stations to send you certificates in the mail when they send a picture of your screen, or, is that a bygone tradition of the pre-digital era?
Have you learned anything that could be applied as practical advice for regular terrestrial TV owners to get get more reliable reception?
Some of us do, but I haven't pursued these cards. My photographs and videos provide me with the needed proof, and with a lot of stations being part of a network now (AFR, Air1, K-Love, NPR, WAY-FM), I suspect obtaining 1 of these cards depending on which station you received might be a lot harder than it used to be. I hope that is not the case.
I’m also a DXer, check out my setup on my page.
Have you seen any analog stations on TV?
Have you gotten any pirate stations on FM?
Yes I have received analog on TV, assuming you are asking about after the digital transition, W34DV in Booneville, MS stayed analog several more years as it was allowed to as a low power station and I saw its analog signal a few times in Northeast Mississippi.
I may have, during 1 opening into southern Mississippi I received a station called "103.5 The Ultimate Fantasy" never could find any station by that name which makes me assume it was a pirate. I have also received the Galaxy Of Light's Part 15 seasonal station in Huntsville, AL. That station broadcasts Christmas music that goes with the massive Christmas drive through display of decorations and lights on 98.5.
Have you ever tried receiving transmissions from outer space or thought about it?
I haven't tried receiving transmission from outer space. That seems like a fun thing to try but it would be far harder to yield results in the time I have yielded 15 states on FM and 4 states on TV.
Are you into ham radio too?
My Grandfather was, I haven't really pursued ham radio but I have left that possibility open for the future.
Are you a weather geek? This seems incredibly prescient for following a storm across the country.
I am not really a weather geek but I do keep track of when cold fronts and warm fronts pass over my area, right before or right after a front has a higher likelihood of yielding DX catches.
Do all radio stations transmit in HD? Would an HD radio help me pick up signals from stations that are hard to pick up on fm?
No, not all radio stations transmit in HD, in fact the majority of radio stations do not transmit in HD just because of how expensive the equipment needed to do that costs. https://hdradio.com/stations/ lists the stations in your area that have purchased the equipment needed to broadcast in HD.
The answer to your second question is yes but only during DX conditions. I'll give you an example that actually happened to me to help you understand how this works. Under normal conditions the HD signal will travel less than the regular signal because HD signals do not transmit more than 10% of the power of the regular signal. However during DX conditions if there are 2 stations on the same frequency (WEGR in Memphis, TN and WWFA in Florence, AL both are on 102.7) then what can happen is the HD signal of 1 of the stations can come in but yet you are hearing the regular signal of the other station. This happened to me where 1 morning I was hearing WWFA's regular signal but WEGR's HD signal. WWFA does not broadcast in HD, so it didn't have a HD signal which gave WEGR's a path to get through.
Why Do You Type Like This?
I typed the title that way to distinguish it from my much more detailed original post and replies.
Is this "hobby' as boring as it sounds?
It depends what you consider boring, if you are willing to devote 30 minutes of your time to this a couple times a month and know what the patterns are you have a good chance of receiving something that isn't local.
Do you speak English?
WTF is a DXer?
Yes I speak English.
Please see my reply to u/pick-axis for the answer to your other question.
You're a what?
View HistoryShare Link