>From December 17-20 a Mini-DXpedition was conducted in Kona, Hawaii with a 5 inch (13cm) "Frequent Flyer" FSL antenna and a 7.5 inch (19cm) loopstick C.Crane Skywave Ultralight radio. The FSL antenna was a new type designed to easily pass through TSA security checkpoints at airports, and provide inductive coupling gain roughly similar to that of a 4 foot air core box loop. South Pacific island reception was generally good from 0630-0800 UTC daily, but usually became problematic after that when powerful Asian stations tended to drown out the exotic Pacific island stations.
The new 846-Kiribati on Christmas Island was a star performer as the strongest island DU station, with local-like signals shortly after the Hawaiian sunset each evening. Despite this it had an intermittent transmitter dropout issue, including one stretch with six signal dropouts within one minute, as documented in an MP3 linked below. In addition 846-Christmas Island's programming had a variable time delay with that of distant 1440-Kiribati in Tarawa, with both a 19-second and 35 second time delay noted. This may be related to the transmitter cutout issue, with the time delay changing after a major dropout. DXers looking for a parallel with 1440 should keep this programming quirk in mind. Although both 846 and 1440-Kiribati signed off at the usual 0936 UTC time on the first couple days of the trip, they had both switched to a 1009 UTC sign off on the last couple of days. Whether this is a permanent programming change is unknown, but the loud 1000 Hz audio tone is still being broadcast before power is cut, resulting in a very easy way to distinguish the stations at sign off time (even in heavy domestic QRM).
846 and 1440 weren't the only exotic DU's with transmitter issues. 621-Tuvalu came down with distorted audio on December 18th, a problem which got worse and worse on the remaining two days. By the last day it was sounding very garbled, making a bizarre combination with 621-Voice of Korea's buzzing Japanese service transmitter. Whether 621-Tuvalu has repaired its garbled audio is also unknown..
540 2AP Apia, Samoa, 5 kW Christian worship music at a 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
621 R. Tuvalu Funafuti, Tuvalu, 5 kW This station had very strong signals until around 0800 on most evenings, when it usually began to be pestered by Asian QRM (China, N. Korea and NHK1). 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 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/msy64393v8ty1qxq6hi8kixflb32beqx
630 UnID While trying for the Cook islands (Rarotonga) I came across this weak Christmas music with English speech at 0742 on 12-17, although this could just as easily be a west coast domestic station playing the "exotic" to fool a hopeful DXer. https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/53olvqc33py6081jy17qrjwy0ms9mn5c
801 UnID (Guam?) Apparent Christian female vocal music received during Pyongyang BS/ Jammer fade at 0931 on 12-18, but no definite ID clues https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/26c2k3bqxnv0s0qhabsg9xx8518jukdd
846 R. Kiribati Christmas Island, 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
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
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
1440 R. Kiribati Bairiki, Tarawa, 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
1611 DWNX Naga City, Mindanao, Philippines, 10 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
73 and Good DX,
Gary DeBock (DXing at the Royal Kona Motel with a 7.5" loopstick C.Crane Skywave Ultralight+
5 inch (127mm) "Frequent Flyer" FSL antenna (Demo video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRaOnWS-5Ig