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fartness
computersoc dot com
Premium
join:2003-03-25
Look Outside

Better DX with USA OTA gone?

I used to be into DXing back in the day in terms of picking up far AM/FM/TV stations. This was in the 90's before all this digital crap we have now for TV. If I were to hook up an old antenna and not hook any digital stuff up, would I have a better chance of picking up some crazy skip from another part of the world? I remember when I was younger and my parents would tell me their stories of TV stations that are today real popular would not always be on 24/7 and they could pick far away stuff up after they'd shut off for the night. Obviously the whole USA has gone to digital for OTA TV, so it might make for interesting times. Has there been any recent documentation on the net about people trying since OTA died? Have most other countries switched to digital also?

Back when I used to always see what I could pick up, these were my farthest catches:
Farthest AM: Cuba (from NY)
Farthest TV: Nebraska (from NY)
Farthest FM: Miami (from NY)

I have the cards I used to send out to stations too. I should find them and scan a few.


SmokChsr
Who let the magic smoke out?
Premium
join:2006-03-17
Saint Augustine, FL
That's hard to say if it's going to be better. Considering that most of the now digital stations are operating 24hrs a day. They take up the entire 6MHz of each channel. That makes lots of blanketing noise in the air. I know in the pure analog days, when the bands would open, with a decent antenna I cold start on Ch2, and go well up into the 30's before I found an open channel. Now that would be filled up with a mass of digital noise. You might be about to DX it with a digital TV, but if you getting 2 different stations, rather than a ghost, now all you'll get is a blank screen.

The one advantage might be that most of the TV stations migrated to UHF leaving some open space on VHF.


fartness
computersoc dot com
Premium
join:2003-03-25
Look Outside
So the former bands that analog stations used are now being used (at least in part) by the digital stations?

Sounds like my idea of having a 100% analog setup wouldn't work too well then.


SmokChsr
Who let the magic smoke out?
Premium
join:2006-03-17
Saint Augustine, FL
said by fartness:

So the former bands that analog stations used are now being used (at least in part) by the digital stations?

Ohh yes, the spectrum didn't go empty. Many channels shifted but the bands are still pretty darn busy. Put your Zipcode in the link below and you'll see..
»www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=90


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to fartness
The FCC is not going to let any spectrum go to waste, unless it was sold to their best buddies who just sit on it while whining for more.


burner50
Proud Union THUG
Premium
join:2002-06-05
Fort Worth, TX
kudos:1
reply to fartness
said by fartness:

So the former bands that analog stations used are now being used (at least in part) by the digital stations?

Sounds like my idea of having a 100% analog setup wouldn't work too well then.

Not entirely, but Yea... there is still OTA...
--
I'm tired of killing stupid people just trying to do my job and go home!


IllIlIlllIll
EliteData
Premium
join:2003-07-06
Hampton Bays, NY
kudos:7

1 recommendation

reply to fartness
you remind me of the days i would use a giant hi-gain VHF antenna with an amplifier on a rotator.
those were the fun days having analog tv & fm stations from extreme distances come in on your receiver.
from NY, the common channels 3, 6, 8, 10 & 12 would come in perfect during 'skip'.
i also used the antenna to receive the old 46Mhz cordless phones which worked extremely well with the rotator being that tv channel 2 is 55.250Mhz visual, 46Mhz should work just fine.

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQEgI9fbTL4

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fbbKmar-8Y

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fartness
computersoc dot com
Premium
join:2003-03-25
Look Outside
That video reminds me, when I picked up the Miami stations, I was getting a lot of Florida and Alabama stations that same day. I was in the car using the car antenna. I can't imagine if I used a roof antenna like I had for the TV. I picked up Nebraska loud and clear with the roof antenna on a separate day and a few other un-identified stations that weren't as good. I remember the local channel 2 was almost unwatchable that day OTA. Must have been some other channel trying to get through.

I live by one of the Great Lakes now, so water makes radio DXing not as much fun since I'll get 3 things on the same frequency most of the time from across the lake or whatever is near-by.


IllIlIlllIll
EliteData
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join:2003-07-06
Hampton Bays, NY
kudos:7
said by fartness:

That video reminds me, when I picked up the Miami stations, I was getting a lot of Florida and Alabama stations that same day. I was in the car using the car antenna. I can't imagine if I used a roof antenna like I had for the TV. I picked up Nebraska loud and clear with the roof antenna on a separate day and a few other un-identified stations that weren't as good. I remember the local channel 2 was almost unwatchable that day OTA. Must have been some other channel trying to get through.

I live by one of the Great Lakes now, so water makes radio DXing not as much fun since I'll get 3 things on the same frequency most of the time from across the lake or whatever is near-by.

at times, i would see 2 or more different tv stations on the same channel "mixing" with the current station as if it was a race to see which one would "overpower" the other lol.
the situation would exasperate should a commercial jet airliner pass overhead.
what i always wondered why though, say CBS channel 2 is V 55.250Mhz, A 59.750Mhz, why a distant station from say Philly, on the same channel, their frequency may be 2.5/5/10Khz +/- off center (most times i observed stations being 10Khz +/- off), what is (was) the purpose to be slightly off center frequency ?
this type of situation is not permitted on AM broadcast (for obvious reasons).
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DrStrange
Technically feasible
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join:2001-07-23
West Hartford, CT
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2 edits

1 recommendation

reply to fartness
I used to run co-phased 12-ft fringe antennas with a mast-mounted preamp [and Belden 8213 coax]. I could receive everything [that wasn't covered up locally] between Boston and NYC. On summer mornings, I used to see ch. 6 from Philadelphia and ch. 6 and 13 from Portland, Maine.

When there was an Es opening, lots of stations from the South and Midwest would fade in and out. The picture quality was good enough on analog that it's possible there might be in-and-out reception in digital mode. If there are double-hop openings, or if the Es cloud is far enough north, I'm assuming we'd see Canadian and Mexican TV.

Via F-layer propagation, over 30 years ago [at the peak of Cycle 21; MUF was over 100MHz and aurora that night was amazing!], I saw Midwestern and Southern US TV from central Quebec on a stock back-of-set telescoping antenna with a 12VDC 5" B/W TV. The fade was a lot slower than Es propagation, allowing several minutes of clear reception [MS Public TV, notably] at a time. The local ch. 2 was buried by DX. If there were local ch.'s 3, 4, 5, or 6, they would have been swamped as well. Digital signals probably have a better chance at reliable skip propagation via F2 than via Es. So if the MUF ever gets that high again, keep an eye out.


fartness
computersoc dot com
Premium
join:2003-03-25
Look Outside
I think I remember a NY station being picked up by someone in Ireland in the 1990's too. Would that have been via F layer? I know that one will give the best skips.

It also seems with digital, the signal will "ID" itself if it's coming in, so there's no guess work or waiting until the top/bottom of the hour for the FCC required station ID.

Any idea when there might be giant skips again? I know they happen every certain amount of years.


DrStrange
Technically feasible
Premium
join:2001-07-23
West Hartford, CT
kudos:1
NY to Ireland could be either Es or F2, but a signal propagated via the F2 layer would tend to fade in and out less than Es.

If the data I found is what you heard of, it was Es:
On June 26, 2003, Paul Logan (Lisnaskea, Northern Ireland) was the first DXer to receive transatlantic Sporadic E at frequencies above 88 MHz. Stations received included 88.5 MHz WHCF Bangor, Maine (2,732 miles / 4,397 kilometres), and 97.5 MHz WFRY Watertown, New York (3,040 miles / 4,890 kilometres). David Hamilton from Cumnock in Ayrshire, Scotland received CBTB from Baie Verte, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada on 97.1 MHz on this day also.[10]

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TV_and_FM_DX

Might happen this year, if the current solar cycle ever gets going. So far, that's been a flop.


SmokChsr
Who let the magic smoke out?
Premium
join:2006-03-17
Saint Augustine, FL

1 recommendation

reply to IllIlIlllIll
said by IllIlIlllIll:

what i always wondered why though, say CBS channel 2 is V 55.250Mhz, A 59.750Mhz, why a distant station from say Philly, on the same channel, their frequency may be 2.5/5/10Khz +/- off center (most times i observed stations being 10Khz +/- off), what is (was) the purpose to be slightly off center frequency ?
this type of situation is not permitted on AM broadcast (for obvious reasons).

The reason for the shift in frequency was to help prevent the two stations from interfering with each other in the area between the 2 stations. The main objective was to prevent rolling of the picture.


fartness
computersoc dot com
Premium
join:2003-03-25
Look Outside
reply to DrStrange
Yes, that was it! I knew it was late 90's or early 00's. It was on the news where I lived (not far from the station in NY).

So when I picked Miami up (~1400 road miles away), it was probably an E-skip rather than F2 since it was loud and clear with no fading? The signal was almost too good, like it was a local station.

I remember when I picked up Nebraska TV, we had a rare mini-tornado (never seen one in NY before) and the sky looked golden pink (never seen it that color). I figured I'd give the TV a try and it ended up being worth it. That was coming in nice and clear but fading in and out at times.


DrStrange
Technically feasible
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join:2001-07-23
West Hartford, CT
kudos:1

1 recommendation

If you had a crystal-clear signal with no fading [especially given the locations involved], it was probably tropospheric ducting. Es fades in and out. F2 fades in and out, but less dramatically.

Nebraska from NYC was probably Es.

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropospher···pagation


n1zuk
making really tiny tech things
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join:2001-10-24
Malta
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Tropo is more typically seen propagating north-south. Having done a lot of 6M DX to northern Great Britain, E-skip can get you there in 2-3 hops (depending on locations) and stay stable at 50MHz for a considerable time (several hours). An uptick in the MUF could make TV signals stable.

6M DX'ers have used TV reception as a propagation beacon for decades.
--
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IllIlIlllIll
EliteData
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join:2003-07-06
Hampton Bays, NY
kudos:7
reply to fartness
i remember seeing propagation as high as 800Mhz one time many years ago, it was not very stable though.


DrStrange
Technically feasible
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join:2001-07-23
West Hartford, CT
kudos:1

4 edits
reply to n1zuk
Thanks for the Es info. Haven't done a lot with 6M. One of these days...

EDIT: I did a bit of research and it seems that TV signals propagated via single-hop Es don't tend to change phase and might not fade for some time. That was my reasoning for guessing tropo, so you've persuaded me to change my guess to 'either tropo ducting or Es'.

Tropo ducting tends to follow coastlines.

Was thinking FL-TX across the Gulf. Considering the tropo conditions in that area and the shape of the coastline, E-W ducting could, and probably would, happen.

We get E-W tropo propagation [not ducting; ducting is NE-SW, following the coastline] on 11M through 70cm and up in New England [generally in late summer and fall], though it's usually only a few hundred miles. Tropo ducting generally doesn't affect frequencies below the FM broadcast band.


n2jtx

join:2001-01-13
Glen Head, NY
reply to fartness
I used to love DX'ing TV stations. My late father told me how in the 1950's when there still not many TV stations, he could sometimes see stations in the channels 2 to 6 range from the mid-west in Syracuse, NY when conditions were good. I used enjoy the sporadic-E skip in spring that would bring in channels 3 and 6 here to Long Island mostly from Florida and down south. From my old log:

WEDU 3 Tampa, FL 5/25/1986
WEAR 3 Pensecola, FL 5/22/1981
WLBT 3 Jackson, MS 6/3/1983 2001-05-28 8:14EDT
KYTV 3 Springfield, MO 6/3/1983
KIMT 3 7/21/1986
KTBS 3 Shreveport, LA 7/14/1986
WISC 3 Madison, WI 7/21/1986
KTVO 3 Kirksville, MO 5/17/1986
WREG 3 Memphis, TE 5/17/1986 2002-08-13 21:00EDT
KMTV 3 Omaha, NE 5/18/1986 2002-06-14 19:21EDT
KDLH 3 Duluth, MN 7/25/2000
KSN 3 Witchita, KS 2004-12-29 7:00EST

WCIX 6 Miami, FL 5/25/1986
WPVI 6 Philadelphia, PA 3/28/1986
KOTV 6 Tulsa, OK 6/6/1976 #
KWQC 6 Omaha, NE 2002-06-14 19:14EDT

Later on in the 1980's, UHF TV became really exciting as that was when use of that band really started taking off and UHF stations were popping up everywhere like weeds (many were pay TV in the evening). I installed two high gain UHF reflectors from Radio Shack (with seven foot booms) and I could receive down to Virginia and DC when the tropospheric ducting was good (according to my log, April 1, 1986 was one of the best evenings ever).

These days, it really isn't that great anymore. More stations packed into less spectrum such that there are very few unused local channels that are being used elsewhere. Plus it is not as easy to search the TV band with a modern TV like it was with an analog TV. Now you have to stop on each RF channel and “scan” for a digital signal. With analog it was just a matter of stepping through each channel and seeing if there was a picture where there normally wasn’t one.
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