Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Configuring SDR Radio v2 with Climax Digital DTV300 USB Dongle

Note: New software versions have been released since this article was written and so the following may not be 100% applicable if you use newer software versions than those mentioned below.

Please note that some of the links have changed or are no longer used. I do not plan to update this article. "This is an ex-article. It has ceased to be", as the great Monty Python might have said.

I have been asked to detail the installation procedure of my Climax Digital DTV300 USB dongle and the SDR-Radio v2 software. My own experiences may be different to other people's, but this is the way I got it to work, after a lot of trial and error.

My knowledge of driver installation could be written on the back of a postage stamp, so if there is anything amiss with my explanation below, my apologies - I would appreciate feedback or corrections if so.Some of this is from memory but I have checked through each step as much as I can.

The SDR Radio software has been designed to operate several makes of dongle and so needs to be pointed in the direction of the appropriate drivers. In my case, I needed the "RTL USB" drivers for my Climax Digital DTV300. Detailed instructions can be found here, though this did not work for me to begin with. These instructions told me to copy three dll files (page) into the SDR Radio directory in Windows. I did this but it was unsuccessful. I hadn't realised initially that Windows was unable to install the drivers by itself.

The solution was to obtain a programme called "Zadig", an alternative driver installer to the one used within Windows. Zadig uses Gzip compression and so needs to be expanded to your computer. I believe most decompression tools are capable of expanding .gz files, but if you don't have one, use the 7zip software as I did.

Unfortunately for me, the necessary "zadig.exe" file was not present in the folder once extracted. I found this file by accident when trying to install SDR# software. Step-by-step instructions on how to install SDR# with the RTL USB drivers can be found here. So, the whole procedure for me was as follows:

    Download and install SDR Radio software. I used Preview 6 (build 1279)

    Copy these three files (page):
  • libusb-1.0.dll
  • rtlsdr.dll
  • SDRSourceRTL2832U.dll
    into the "SDR-RADIO-PRO" directory (Windows 7 "Programme Files" directory)

    Plug in the Climax Digital DTV3000 USB stick, but do not act on any prompts yet.also make sure
    you do not run the software which came with the DTV300. Uninstall it and restart Windows if
    you already have. 

The next part involved me downloading SDR# software so I could obtain the Zadig software with which to install the RTL USB drivers.

    Download the SDR# "sdr-install" test file here (page)
    Extract the file and look within the "sdr-install" directory
    Run the "install" batch file. This can take a minute or two and appeared to stall

    The file "zadig.exe" will appear in the folder. Run it and follow the instructions here.

    Run SDR Radio Console v2 and in the "Home" menu (top left) press the bue play button. In the
    "Select Radio" window you should see the PROlectrix driver. Select this and click "Start"

With any luck you should now be able to access your DTV300 via the SDR Radio software.

I wouldn't be surprised if you come across a discrepancy or two above, depending on your computer's software, etc. Remember, what worked for me might not work for you, but hopefully there will be something useful in the above. Maybe it might just work first time!

Good luck!

Climax Digital DTV300 & SDR-Radio

I just purchased a Climax Digital DTV300 dongle. Wow! How on earth can an El Cheapo £15 "DVB-T/Freeview/FM Radio /DAB Receiver" do so much and perform so well?

Well, it can if it is controlled by good software. From comments made so far, I understand these units don't cope too well in strong signal areas, however, here on the east coast I don't have that problem, thankfully, so the DTV300 handles very well, but I discovered its capabilities as a worthy VHF band 2 DX machine are very close to those of my Sony XDR-F1HD.

Don't install the software which comes with this USB dongle if you want to get the best band 2 performance. Instead, try using something like SDR Radio or SDR# as these offer much more control than the bundled software. Both of these are free and each have their own advantages. Personally, I like the SDR Radio software as, although rather complicated at first sight, does a lot, lot more.

My interest in these dongles was aroused a couple of weeks ago when I read that they can be used as SDRs (Software Defined Radios) on the the VHF band 2 FM broadcast spectrum, allowing up to 2 MHz of recording bandwidth. I wasn't convinced, initially, until I read some reports on the Skywaves FM Forum stating just how good they actually were. I was advised to get one to have a play, so I did.

To begin with, the installation of the software isn't exactly straight-forward, though there is a lot of help documented on various websites and forums, such as the SDR Radio Forum and the SDR Radio website. It took me a good few hours to work out how to complete the installation as the appropriate drivers were not initially found by the software, which needs to be told where to find the appropriate drivers.

Once up and running, I was blown away by the DTV300's performance on band 2. It was actually as good as that of my Sony XDR-F1HD and with only subtle differences. The DTV300 probably doesn't quite match up to the XDR-F1HD's superb selectivity - even when using the software's fully variable bandwidth, but it wasn't far behind. I was more impressed by the DTV300's gain. The XDR-F1HD has a slight mute on weak signals, but soon opens up once a very weak signal increases in strength. The DTV300 doesn't have this mute when used with the SDR Radio and SDR# software. Or at least you can disable this annoyance if it has. The results were better access and improved audio clarity on very weak signals which is somewhat reduced on the XDR-F1HD. Once the signal increases, then the XDR-F1HD probably wins - but not by much.

I am primarily looking at the DTV300 from a DX perspective, but the audio quality was also good when used with SDR-Radio and SDR#. The DTV300 also has RDS capability. The sensitivity threshold for RDS data is set too high, in my opinion and I wondered if it might be possible to lower this so RDS forms accurately with lower signal levels. If this can be done then you have quite a beast of a DX receiver.

Recording Demonstration:
Click here for a recording, demonstrating the difference in reception between the SDR Radio/DTV300 setup and the Sony XDR-F1HD. The station I used in this demonstration was RTBF La Premiere, Tournai, on 106.0 MHz. I deliberately beamed slightly south of the direction of Tournai so you can hear the splatter of semi-local Kiss FM from Stoke Holy Cross on 106.1 (wide and splattery). I also had the SDR Radio set to its widest IF bandwidth of 192 kHz. The brighter sounding audio is that of the DTV300 via the SDR Radio software, while the more muffled sounding audio is the Sony XDR-F1HD, which starts off the recording. The antenna in use is a Triax FM5, on the roof of the bungalow, beaming south-south-east.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

G1VVP / Skegness DX - Site Reorganisation

I have been paying for domains and hosting since the turn of the century ("millennium", actually - doesn't that make me sound incredibly old?!! :O) I got to thinking that this was unnecessary in this day and age as there are so many free online sites where you can host your hobby web pages and store many types of file, each without cost. Why bother paying? When I added together the cost of my domains and hosting packages I worked out that I was paying about £150 per year. "Stop" I told myself.

Things used to be different. For instance, the Skywaves domain and hosting was bought when Skywaves began to embrace online technology around the year 2000 and, reluctantly, ceased to produce its monthly printed bulletin shortly afterwards, running entirely via electronic media on the web. Back then we had a web presence with a club website and there were two Yahoo forums. The move proved to be a good one in some ways. For a start, it encouraged many more members to join and offered greater ease for members to contribute and interact. It was free! Whereas the cost of the Skywaves domain and its hosting was mostly covered by voluntary donations to begin with. These slowly dried up. Personally, I was sad to see the end of the hard copy of Skywaves - something you could actually touch and smell, but that's 'progress' for you and it did turn out to be worthwhile, growing the membership substantially. For me though, it was the same as abandoning your CD or vinyl collection in favour of mp3 files. Sadly necessary in a way, but nowhere near as romantic.

During Christmas 2012 I also decided to begin the transition of moving my own personal and paid-for web pages to a free blog and make use of free file sharing sites. I looked at Wix to begin with, which is an excellent free site-builder, but I quickly opted for something simpler and settled here with Blogspot. I also use various other free filesharing sites such as Box (DX recordings), Mediafire (larger files such as Perseus recordings), Photobucket (photos, obviously) and YouTube (videos). I have also just started to use Google Sites "here" so I can keep an online reference and backup of my personal DX logs and recording links. It makes sense and I really don't see the point in continuing to pay for something simple which is only hobby-related. This whole transition may be a lengthy process though and I will add a few bits and pieces each week.

The only service I feel I still need to pay for is a personal email address, which I find can have a few useful advantages over free email services such as Gmail or Yahoo. Mail forwarding is one of them and this is less than straight-forward with services such as Gmail, though I have to give praise to Gmail for their excellent spam filtering.

So, over the coming weeks and months, I plan to add a lot more media to my "Google Site", including lots of personal DX recordings (I discovered a huge stack of these this afternoon which were previously missing), photos and various other related files.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Good Scatter This Afternoon

Around 15:00 this afternoon I noticed an enhancement to East Anglia, the south-east of England and Lille nationals, the latter of which were at RDS levels. I assumed this may have been a pre-frontal inversion ahead of the snow which is expected here in a few hours.

About half an hour later the enhancement had gone and I began to wonder if the reception had just been via your average jet scatter, but if so it was quite stable. Maybe troposcatter is responsible but I would have thought the weather was too cold with a bitterly cold breeze outside.

What was also a surprise was my first reception here of The Wave on 96.4 from Swansea, SW Wales at 334 km. There was no apparent enhancement in that direction as Wenvoe, in the same area, was weak and fluttery. The Wave was heard only very briefly on a short troposcatter type peak and was in parallel with their web stream.

Signals had returned to normal by 16:30 and transmitters like Wrotham receded back into the noise whereas they had been at a full three bars on the Sony XDR-F1HD an hour earlier. Lille also went back into hiding.

So, conditions have been very changeable indeed this afternoon. At least it shows that scatter conditions are not constantly down, even at this time of year.

Best reception was Big FM, Koblenz on 104.0 (590 km) and SWR4, Donnersberg on 105.6 (657 km). Central France is lacking at the moment. Only getting as far down as Neufchatel (381 km) and Caen (469 km) in the north.

As I type, I have a weak WDR5 from Bonn (538 km) on 88.0 mixing with an even weaker SR1 from Gottelborner Hohe (629 km). Radio Salu, Saarbrucken on 101.7 (628 km) is present but very weak. The Dudelange transmitter in Luxembourg is also coming in noisily on 88.9 and 100.7 (574 km). Still, this is very not bad at all for January. With temperatures peaking at -1°C today and with snow on the ground I cannot possibly be disappointed.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Band 2 Polarisation Flip

With three inches of fresh snow on the ground and a bitter northerly air flow at -2°C (the local Skegness Weather station puts the actual temperature 'feel' at -7°C) I am very surprised to be receiving European scatter.

This was Luxembourg's at 09:05 this morning on the horizontal FM5:

100.7 Honnert Comma Eins, Dudelange, Luxembourg 0907 21-01-13

It was a poor signal but it managed to push through.

About half an hour later I noticed an unusual phenomenon: The signal polarisation from European stations seemed to be all over the place. I have horizontally polarized Langengerg, Germany, for instance, on 101.3 actually coming in better on the vertical FM5, yet the vertically polarised Ijsselstein transmitter in Holland, also on 100.7, actually came in better on the horizontal FM5!

This was what Ijsselstein sounded like - quite a good peak to say it was the wrong polarisation:

100.7 Q Music, Ijsselstein 0925 21-01-13

When using the FM5 vertically I heard this very weak pirate station on 97.0:

97.0 Geweld Uit Enter, Enter (Overijssel) Afternoon 21-01-13

AThere was also a bit of meteor scatter on 97.0, still on the vertical!

Sorry about the scratchiness. This is a bug in my Delta 66 sound card which happens occasionally.

Friday, 18 January 2013

It Shouldn't Happen To A DXer ...

This is an article I wrote for the Medium Wave News, the bulletin of the Medium Wave Circle, during the early 2000s, where it was entitled "The World's Unluckiest DXer!" It looks at the pros and cons of mobile DXing and rolling out huge lengths of wire with the purpose of experiencing exotic, high-latitude DX, the kind which has only been heard on organised DXpeditions to the north-west of Scotland and north-west Wales. I wanted to find out if this kind of exotic DX could be achieved at lower latitudes, i.e. the English Midlands. Having conducted further beverage experiments at my new address on the east coast this article may be worthy of resurrecting. It shows what can go wrong!


Having experienced the excellent high-latitude DX which can be achieved in the far north-west of Scotland, I wanted to try a medium wave DX trip much closer to home, purely to see if the same results could be achieved locally. I could hear exotic west coast North American in the north of Scotland, but could I receive the same stations at my location in the centre of England?

The following may seem extreme, but any other DXers have been known to carry out much more elaborate antenna experiments than those you will read about below!I first had the idea of using a beverage antenna locally in the mid 90''s. Living close to Sherwood Forest has its advantages as there are still large areas of woodland which contain natural beverage supports (also known as trees). Very little of the original forest remain these days but there are a few remote areas to be found which offer several miles of unspoilt forest.

Clipstone Forest
The roads through the remaining parts of the forest are mainly dirt tracks and it is dificult to drive a car through them. I persevered and found a secluded spot about three miles to the east of Mansfield and erected a mile long beverage antenna, laid on the ground. These are also known as BOGs. Ther beverage antenna was almost pointing at my local Clipstone mast. This mast carries two medium wave stations on 1071 and 1584kHzand, as half expected, my AR7030 receiver started to glow with the strong overload and no DX was possible due to the large amounts of signal. Not giving up, I bought an Ordnance Survey map of the area to find other suitable locations within the forest which were further away from the Clipstone mast, but virtually all of them were located close to electricity pylons.

Ransom Wood
Still in the forest, my next listening experiments were conducted in a wooded area close to the village of Rainworth. It was three miles further away from the Clipstone mast and no overload was present here, but I still found it difficult to access channels immediately adjacent to 1071 and 1584kHz. The location was not so isolated but it was possible to erect a discreet wire some 300 metres long, high among the trees and some early morning listening sessions were carried out, sadly unsuccessfully due to poor conditions. One morning, after only a few weeks of trying this spot, I noticed one or two nearby trees being felled and various tractors and heavy machinery appearing around me. Little did I know that his area of woodland was going to be felled to make way for a new dual-carriageway. Grrrr! Another location was necessary.

Should I try and area closer to home? There was a lane which ran ran south-east / north-west at the back of my house. This was when I lived in the village of Huthwaite. The path had a stream running along its length and right through the middle of it and I thought this would provide a good earthing point for the beverage antenna termination. The path only ran for a few hundred feet but I thought it must be worth giving it a try as it was perfectly situated at the back of the rear garden. I could DX from home then!

So I carefully concealed a wire underneath the top of the rear of the neighbour's fences which ran along the side of the path, giving about five feet of elevation above the ground. The wire was terminated in the stream and a reasonable null was achieved, despite the short length. Perfect! Well, until a few days later. I was taking some measurements on the terminating resistor when I was approached by a youth with a crowbar! The crowbar was raised above his head, ready to strike me. He asked me what I was doing and was particularly keen to know if I was working for the police. Little did I know that I had crossed the path of a local drug dealer! He thought I was doing surveillance work for the police and had assumed that the wire was some kind of listening device so I could listen in to their mobile phone conversations! I calmly (Yes, 'calmly'! Don't ask me how I remained so calm) explained to him that I was a radio ham and this was one of my aerials. I also invited him to come and visit my receiving setup if he didn't believe me, just so he could see for himself that I was not working for the police. He seemed to accept my explanation at face value and told me "no worries". We chatted for a while. He then walked away, completely satisfied with my story and I never heard from him again. Phew!

I actually continued to listen for a few more weeks with this short beverage behind the house but it wasn't long before someone pulled it up and left it scattered along the path. It didn't seem to matter anyway as its shorter length was not providing me with quite sufficient signal, but I still believe I heard CFRY Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba on 920kHz one morning. So, off I went again, on my travels to find yet another location for a beverage. I think the bad luck I'd had with the previous locations had only made me more determined to find a better and more reliable location.

No Man's Hill
At last, I found a spot which proved to be the most successful, at No Man's Hill , only two miles from home which ran through a small wooded area close to a busy main road. The dense overgrowth allowed me to successfully erect a north-westerly beverage of around 400 metres which was left there for several weeks. Car parking was ideal and I could get off the main road and settle down to some serious listening without interruption. This location proved to be excellent and many high latitude stations were received during the winter of 1997 which was a solar minimum period. Among the DX heard and recorded at No Man's Hill were ...

  680 CJOB Winnipeg Manitoba
  880 CHQT Edmonton Alberta
  980 KKMS Eagan Minnesota
1010 CBR Calgary, Alberta
1060 CKMX Calgary, Alberta
1130 CKWX Vancouver, British Colombia
1290 CFRW Winnipeg, Manitoba (Presumed)
1390 CJCY Medicine Hat, Alberta (Presumed)
1470 CJVB Vancouver, British Columbia
1510 KGA Spokane, Washington

So, this haul appeared to indicate that Sheigra-like conditions could be achieved at lower latutudes, although probably with less reliability than in the north-west of Scotland. But this wonderful location was not only going to provide me with my best DX from a location close to home, but it was also the setting for the most bizarre chain of events I have ever experienced while on a DXpedition, for a week or so later I was to discover some rather unlikely events in the very wood where I had erected my beverage. Not only that, but I was also about to read about it in the local press soon afterwards.

I was doing some maintenance on the beverage one morning when I became aware I was being watched from a distance by several youths. I was also aware that they had attempted to surround me, so I quickly made my way back to the car and drove off. I returned the following morning to continue my work only this time I took our German Shepherd along with me in the hope this would act as a deterrent, should anything untoward happen. Once again there were various youths seemingly snooping around in the woodland and paying particular attention to my beverage antenna. The dog did indeed serve as a deterrent as they kept their distance from me, but I did not fancy going deep into the woodland to repair a broken section of the wire. I hurriedly abandoned this location. Here's why:

By chance, I was reading through one of the local newspapers a week or two later and I read about the goings on in No Man's Hill Wood. They reported that the woodland had been used as a discrete area for, of all things, gay prostitution! It would appear that the youths who had tried to surround me were, as the local paper eloquently put it, "gaybashers" !! "Beveragebashers" more like! Some gay people had been hospitalilsed after being attacked by the youths. Oh well, off to find somewhere else!

Thieves Wood
Another wooded area only a few hundred metres from No Man's Hill, known as Thieves Wood, provided a great spot for a very long beverage. A 300 metre wire was installed among the densely packed trees in this area. It was also possible to continue this wire another 200 yards and terminate it in a small lake, though I never got this far. It wasn't long before the wood lived up to its name when I found the wire had been 'stolen' as I arrived one morning. Replacing the wire only had the same result a few days later, but there was something else I had overlooked. The parking location, in a small layby just off the main road, was situated only a couple of hundred metres from a local children's nursery! I had assumed this was just an old farm building to begin with. I did not fancy staying around here just in case I was accused of spying on small children, so, yet again, I hurriedly moved on!

Stainsby Common
You might not be surprised at this point when I tell you that I was getting rather low on wire. I was through about half my stock so I needed to be really careful choosing my next location. After more searching and map reading I spotted a quiet location to the west of Tibshelf village, close to the village of Astwith, overlooking the Amber Valley to Matlock and Crich. It was a country lane linking a busy road to a farm track. I didn't see much traffic using it so I setled here and erected another 300 metres of wire in a north-westerly direction. I presume I must have been being watched as I set this up as the following morning when I arrived at the spot at 5am I noticed a lot of activity on this road. The wire was still there, but there were a couple of white vans and a police car parked on the lane. A few people were looking at my aerial wire, scratching their heads. I wondered if they were DTI officials or similar so I didn't stop and just drove straight past. Was this really happening? How many more locations could I find locally? I was running out of ideas.There weren't many more locations worth considering locally, so I decided to look further afield and travel out into Derbyshire. There are large areas of moorland to the west of Chesterfield which looked like they were begging to have beverage antennas strung across them! There were also many roads which ran for a mile or more in the required direction and virtually all of these had wire fences running alongside them.

Big Moor
To begin with I found a road with such a wire and tried an experiment. First, I lay a beverage on the ground (Wasn't that the title of a Billie Joe Spears song? Beverage On The Ground?). Above the wire on the ground was a wire fence! This was unearthed across the length I chose and seemed to be continuous. Beware though - make sure you test the wire for continuity before using it. Also make sure it does not come into physical contact with anything which will earth it, such as metal supporting posts. In the case of the wire fences in Derbyshire, all the supporting posts were made of wood! I compared the gain and directivity between the beverage on the ground and the wire fence above it.. Surprisingly there was no obvious difference! I had expected the wire fence to give poor results due to lesser conductivity but it seemed to exhibit exhibited exactly the same characteristics as the wire on the ground. Both were roughly 300 metres in length. I was now asking myself the question "why bother to run out wires? There just wasn't any need anymore!

Over the coming weeks I continued my beverage experiments, comparing the characteristics of the wire on the ground and one and one resting along a hedgerow. Once again there was no significant difference between the performance of the two. Furthermore, extending the beverage by another two or three hundred metres made precious little difference to the overall gain of the antenna, nor its directivity. My conclusions were that 300 metres was a suitable length, being perfectly resonant in the centre of the medium wave band.

Curbar Edge
Finally, the last in my series of DXing disasters (for now at least!) was to take place on a stretch of road which runs close to the Curbar Edge, a few miles to the west of Sheffield. I had been camping out and listening from my car one morning in 2005. It was 7am and the day was breaking. I was ready to haul in the beverage and go home as conditions had deteriorated substantially since the midnight period. I drove from the layby where I had been parked, up to the end of the beverage and got out of the car. Meanwhile, I noticed a tractor had pulled into the layby so I got back in my car and watched closely. I doubt the wire would have been a problem but I always hate the thought of having to explain to somebody what I am doing. I thought the tractor was going to drive through the gate next to the layby and into the field. Ten or fifteen minutes passed and I could see that some kind of cutting equipment had been attached to the tractor though I could not see what it was. Hopefully it wasn't a hedg ecutter. More minutes past and I heard the sound of something tapping repetitively against my car. I wondered what on earth it was and so got out but of my car and looked around but could I see nothing. Very odd indeed! Since I was out of the car and wasting time waiting for the tractor to go away I thought I may as well start to haul in the wire, so I looked for it in the hedgerow at the side of the road. Nothing! It wasn't there anymore! I looked more closely as it is not unusual to lose the wire. I always use very thin black plastic covered wire which can easily become camouflaged in the twigs and branches. Still nothing! Suddenly, I became aware that the tractor had moved and was moving up the road towards me. I quickly got back in the car as I realised I may have been looking a little suspicious searching through the hedgerow. The tractor drove straight past me and I saw the large hedge cutting tool attached to it, my beverage antenna and several copper earth rods wrapped around it! I suspect this had damaged the cutting tool and the tractor was driving away as he was now unable to cut the rest of the hedgerow. Ooooops! Scarcely able to believe my eyes I hung my head low and drove away quietly. This was very frustrating and I thought I probably shouldn't show my face around that area for a while at least!

Since these minor disasters I have concentrated on improving my setup at home. I have since added Dream IF-DSP software and constructed a very efficient ewe antenna. I have also placed several chokes inline with my antenna cables which has got rid of the awful noise levels which used to wipe out the entire medium wave band. For now at least there is little point in going out into the countryside to DX, but I have to admit it was good fun while it lasted.

I really do feel that it is possible to come close to the kind of reception conditions experienced in more northerly climes, but it is probably not possible to *match* the reception. The site at No Man's Hill would appear to prove this point due to the high latitude reception in 1997, listed above. But generally, the conditions for the times when I carried out the majority of my beverage tests (between 1995 and 2004) were rather poor. Even up in the north of Scotland nothing particularly exciting was being heard at the time.The medium wave band in this part of central England is awash with continental signals at night and these will block many transatlantic channels. This situation is slightly different in northern Scotland where the continental signals, though still present, do not affect transatlantic reception quite so adversely. The north of Scotland will also be the first to experience higher latitude DX in winter, which often needs an extra day or two of quiet conditions before it propagates southward. So it's not all doom and gloom, but the possibilities are reduced in some ways, not least due to finding a suitable location to erect a beverage and actually keep it there!

Happy DXing!

John Faulkner
Skywaves Administrator

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

"Severe Weather Devastates Britain"

It happens ever year around this time and it always makes me laugh (and feel slightly embarrassed at the same time). Our wonderful media publish reports on our "severe" winter weather. Yes, "severe" usually constitutes two inches of snow, which rarely settles on the ground and often melts a few hours later.

On Tuesday 5th January this week, the Skegness Standard, one of our local newspapers, carried the headline "Heavy Snow Hits Skegness" which was a grossly exaggerated statement considering the amount of snow which actually fell. Reading beyond the attention-grabbing headline I read that only "one and a half inches of snow" had actually fallen! "Oh no", I thought, "panic hits the streets! What are we going to do?". 

BBC Five Live gave an equally ludicrous account of the recent snowfall too, stating that as much as two inches had fallen in places with temperatures "plummeting to freezing point". 

Obviously there are people who are vulnerable to such temperatures. It's a pity that our greedy energy suppliers charge extortionate amounts for their services that people die because they feel they cannot afford to turn up the heating.

Only a few days ago I was listening to a weather forecast on a radio station in the Canadian Prairies which casually forecast temperatures were going to fall to -40 degrees C overnight. Maybe it's an unfair comparison but THAT is SEVERE weather. Doesn't it put everything into perspective though? 

Sadly, it won't stop our newspapers and broadcasters attempting to scare the nation with pathetic headlines such as "Britain In Grip Of Sub Arctic Temperatures" (Really?) and "Government Declares State Of Emergency As Two Snowflakes Were Spotted". OK, I made up the last headline but, amazingly, not the first!

By the way, where is this country "Britain" anyway? I live in England.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Wash - Mini DXpedition

This was a productive trip, despite the 380m BOG pointing at 307 degrees, that's slightly south of north-west and not quite the north-by-north-west direction I would have preferred. I was pleased to hear lots of good signals from North America. In particular, the US States and Canadian provinces around the Great Lakes were dominant, together with the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Sadly, the west coast didn't materialise.

Using the cover of darkness, I laid down the BOG during the evening when nobody was around. I hate explaining myself to passers-by as it must look very strange, running out hundreds of metres of wire along the ground. I was set up for local midnight and recorded the top of the hour. After this I returned home to catch a couple of hours of sleep before returning again at 04:00.

My return journey had me set up and recording for 05:00. Conditions were good, but not overly impressive. By 07:00 I noticed Alberta setting in on 1060 with Calgary's country station CKMX. Then the band was alive with plenty of exotic stations. I am still checking the recordings and so a few more stations might be added. Here is the log so far, in chronological order:

 740 0000 CAN CFZM Toronto ON. IDs as AM 7-40  5697 km

 860 0000 CAN CJBC Toronto ON. Premiere Chaine ID & news jingle  5697 km

 960 0000 USA WEAV Plattsburgh NY. ID as WEAV Plattsburgh, Burlington  5233 km

 840 0500 USA WHAS Louisville KY. Id on the hour  6445 km

1040 0500 USA WHO, Des Moines IA. Newsradio Ten Forty WHO ID then ABC News  6649 km

1680 0500 USA WTTM Lindenwold NJ. ID in pile-up mentioning Lindenwold 
                   Philadelphia  5665 km

 740 0700 CAN CBX  Edmonton AB. CBC NEws jingle heard under CFZM  6696 km

 940 0700 CAN CJGX Yorkton SK. GX94 Yorkton ID. Country music. Fair peaks  6366 km

1060 0700 CAN CKMX Calgary AB. Classic Country and AM Ten Sixty IDs  6924 km

1280 0700 USA WNAM Neenah-Menasha WI. WNAM Neenah-Menasha, a Cumulus Station ID  
                   6179 km

1290 0700 CAN CFRW Winnipeg MB. CFRW ID in pile-up  6223 km

1510 0700 USA WLAC Nashville TN. Newsradio 15 Hundred WLAC ID  6685 km

1550 0700 CAN CBEF-1 Windsor ON. Premiere Chaine ID and French CBC news jingle  
                   5987 km

1630 0700 USA KCJJ Iowa City IA. Now ... KCJJ News ID   6546 km

1650 0700 CAN CINA Mississauga ON. CINA ID and Radio India jingles  5682 km

1000 0730 USA WMVP Chicago IL We are ESPN Chicago ID  6322 km

 950 0701 CAN CFAM Altona MB. Presumed with classical symphony
                   6318 km

1640 0730 USA WKSH Sussex WI. Song with distinctive beat, followed by Radio Disney 
                   ID  6237 km

 680 0800 CAN CJOB Winnipeg MB. CJOB call letters heard under CFTR  6230 km

 920 0800 USA KDHL Faribault MN. KDHL, a Cumulus Station and ABC News heard in 
                   pile-up  6438 km

1150 0800 USA WHBY Kimberly WI. WHBY 11-50 WHBY Kimberly, Appleton, Fox Cities, then 
                   CBS News  6177 km

1290 0800 USA WKBK Keene NH. WKBK call letters heard under CFRW  5274 km

1670 0800 USA WOZN Madison WI. Weekdays on WOZN Madisomn ID  6312 km

1680 0800 USA WPRR Ada MI. Public Reality Radio WPRR Ada Grance Rapids ID  6086 km

 920 0801 CAN CFRY Portage La Prairie MB. Country music. Weather (down to -37!). Sung 
                   CFRY jingle  6266 km

1310 0801 CAN CIWW Ottawa ON. Thirteen Ten News ID. Rolling news ID then taken over 
                   by strong spots station  5331 km

1250 0807 CAN CHSM Steinbach MB. Presumed with classical symphony  6231 km

1380 0853 CAN CKPC Brantford ON. Country 13-80 IDs & country music  5766 km

1130 0900 USA KTCN Minneapolis MN. FM 103 ... more talk on the radio (?) and AM KTCN 
                   Minneapolis. Twin Cities ... Talk ID. Tricky in noise  6414 km

1460 0900 USA KXNO Des Moines IA. Presumed. Fox sports with regular G-o-o-o-o-o Now 
                   slogan, then sports news. Difficult in pile-up. Was being reported 
                   elsewhere t the time  6661 km

 730 1609 CAN CKAC Montréal QC. Radio Circulation ID after advert. French  5202 km

Other stations heard but not identified and "tentative" or "presumed" due to conditions and formats, etc. were:

 660 CFFR Calgary AB
 770 CHQR Calgary AB
 960 CFAC Calgary AB
1140 CHRB High River AB

Positively identified while mobile but the ID has so far not been found on my recordings included:

 830 WCCO Minneapolis MN

I have uploaded Perseus files for 07:00 and 08:00 here:

12-01-13 07:00
12-01-13 08:00

Hopefully there might be one or two more to add to this. I will also check for NDBs in due course and add any loggings here.

I would also like to thank Paul Crankshaw in Troon, Scotland for help with identification of some of my recordings:


  960 WEAV Plattsburgh NY 0000 12-01-13
  740 CFZM Toronto ON 0000 12-01-13
  730 CKAC Montreal QC 0000 12-01-13
1010 WINS New York City NY 0000 12-01-13
1680 WTTM Lindenwold NJ 0500 12-01-13
  840 WHAS Louisville KY 0500 12-01-13
  740 CBX Edmonton AB 0700 12-01-13
1040 WHO Des Moines IA 0700 12-01-13
1060 CKMX Calgary AB 0700 12-01-13
1080 WTIC Hartford CT 0700 12-01-13
1290 CFRW Winnipeg MB 0700 12-01-13
1510 WLAC Nashville TC 0700 12-01-13
1650 CINA Mississauga ON 0700 12-01-13
1520 KOKC Oklahoma City OK 0730 12-01-13
1000 WMVP Chicago IL 0730 12-01-13
1670 WOZN Madison WI 0800 12-01-13
1680 WPRR Ada MI 0800 12-01-13
1310 CIWW Ottawa ON 0759 12-01-13
  920 CFRY Portage La Prairie MB 0801 12-01-13
1130 KTCN Minneapolis MN 0900 12-01-13
  940 CJGX Yorkton SK 0700 12-01-13

Some of these recordings will require headphones. I have included one or two of the more regular stations so you can hear the phenomenal strengths they can reach with a beverage.

Good DX!

Location: The Wash, Lincolnshire
Receiver: Perseus SDR
Antenna: BOG (Beverage lying On the Ground)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Medium Wave DX: 10-01-13: MORE WEST COAST!

 700 0500 USA WLW  Cincinnati  OH. ID - News, weather and traffic for 
                   ... 2013,  Newsradio 700 WLW  6292 km

1280 0600 USA WNAM Neenah-Menasha WI. ID - WNAM Neenah-Menasha, a Cumulus station. 
                   Then ABC News  6178 km

 950 0720 USA KJR  Seattle WA. Tentative with sports talk. Fair  7595 km

 930 0723 CAN CJCA Edmonton AB. Religious talk, then mention of AM 9-30 The Light 
                   before religious songs  6687 km

1520 0723 USA KKXA Snohomish WA.  Fair peaks. Nice ID at 0723 "All your classic country 
                   favourites are right here. You've found the oldies. Classic Country 
                   15-20 KXA"  7538 km

1250 0728 CAN CHSM Steinbach MB.  Lively symphony in parallel with 950  6228 km
 950 0730 CAN CFAM Altona MB. Presumed with classical music. Fair and mixing sports 
                   station. Parallel 1250 at times  6315 km

1040 0734 CAN CKST Vancouver BC. Tentative. Sports talk over other English talk 
                   station. Both fair signals 7458 km

1140 0759 CAN CHRB High River AB. Presumed with religion. No CBC news jingle on the 
                   hour on fade so ruling out CBI again. Fair and slightly low in 
                   frequency  6915 km

1010 0800 CAN CBR  Calgary AB. CBC Radio 1 news jingle heard in pile-up  6920 km

Two peaks of reception overnight. The first seemed quite well-defined between 07:10 and 07:40, then another around 08:00. Some of the signal strengths were quite good.

I have listed some of the stations as Presumed and Tentative, but all the conditions, times and formats suggest those stations mentioned. If only we could identify everything we receive!

I was not 100% sure about KOMO on 1000 overnight. It may have been the Chicago station this time as there were no mentions of "Newsradio" and the speech intonation heard through the horrendous 999 splatter didn't say "news" to me but more of a softer sports talk.

I like to list only those stations I have positively identified but once again the conditions were such, i.e. very interesting, that I wanted to give a more complete picture of what was happening. It really didn't feel anything like a traditional east coast night.


1520 KKXA Snohomish WA 0723 10-01-13

  930 CJCA Edmonton AB 0723 10-01-13

CJCA Id's as "AM 9-30 The Light" which you can just hear before the religious music begins. I heard several minutes of Religious talk before the news. The actual ID is rather vague on this recording but CJCA is the only real candidate on 930. The conditions were just right for this reception too.

Good DX!

John, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) 1m ASL

Receiver: Perseus SDR,
Antenna: Flag at approx. 330 degrees
Software: Perseus v4.0c, MESTOR

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Medium Wave DX: 09-01-13: WEST COAST!

1060 0308 CAN CKMX Calgary AB.  Classic Country ID squeezed out of the splatter at
                   03:08:48  6919 km

1140 0336 CAN CHRB High River AB.  Religion over the half hour. Faded down on all toh's.
                   Has to be CHRB. No CBC News jingle on the hour from this on so definitely
                   not CBI. Good peaks!  6915 km

 770 0338 CAN CHQR Calgary AB.  Very difficult in splatter. Finally heard the call letters
                   at exactly 03:48:51. At 03:30 I heard another partial ID ... Calgary's
                   ... good evening I'm (muffled name) on ..QR. Really struggled with this
                   but conditions fit  6934 km

1470 0400 CAN CJVB Vancouver BC. Time pips, ID and Chinese music. Weak to fair signal but
                   muffled and splattered  7453 km

1070 0406 USA KNX  Los Angeles CA. Presumed. Rolling news. Mentions of Southern
                   California and CBS news on the hour but without the familiar CBS
                   News jingle, which came around 15 seconds past the hour, as per web stream.
                   "Ten Seventy Newsradio" heard a couple of times - very weak, KNX muffled.
                   Has to be KNX.  8680 km

1000 0700 USA KOMO Seattle WA. Presumed. Frequent mentions of Newsradio, first noticed at
                   0400. Possible Komo Newsradio One Thousand ID at 04:00. Likely KOMO
                   (WMVP is ESPN)  7592 km

It was a gamble which paid off. I have had my suspicions that my east coast location ought to be good for high latitude DX to North America. The eastern seaboard of North America, on the other hand, is more of a challenge due to being on the 'wrong coast' here for transatlantic reception. Reception here two years ago suggested that my sea path to the north, up over the north pole and Greenland, ought to provide me with reasonable reception of west coast North America should conditions allow. Reception today confirmed that once again, though I still have trouble shifting that extra European splatter which proliferates here.

At last! After hearing precious little from the east coast on my northerly flag, the band opened up to the west coast and Canadian Prairies between 03:30 and 07:00 this morning. Due to the severe splatter I have to accept some of the loggings as "presumed", but conditions were strongly favouring the west coast with nothing at all getting through from the regular east coasters.

I have a few recordings of the action though I recommend the use of headphones as some of the signals were weak and there is the usual onslaught of Eurosplatter to contend with.

Firstly this is 1140 CHRB. No IDs here but listen to the strength on peak:
1140 CHRB High River AL 0336 09-01-13

1070 KNX is a little more difficult. Listen for mentions of Southern California and references to CBS News in the following:
1070 KNX Los Angeles CA 0400 09-01-13
1070 KNX Los Angeles CA 0406 09-01-13
1070 KNX Los Angeles CA 0408 09-01-13

1060 CKMX was easy. Of course the signal usually fades down to coincide with an ID, but this one wasn't too bad:
1060 CKMX Calgary AB 0308 09-01-13

1470 CJVB was a half-decent signal but was splattered to pieces on the hour. The time pips are clear, but the ID is buried. Note the Chinese music afterwards.
1470 CJVB Vancouver BC 0400 09-01-13

All times as per loggings above.

Good DX!

John, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) 1m ASL

Receiver: Perseus SDR,
Antenna: Flag at approx. 330 degrees
Software: Perseus v4.0c, MESTOR  

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Tropo 08-01-13

 88.0 0119  D  SR 1 Europawelle, Göttelborner Höhe (saa)  Relaying SWR3. ID. As web  629km
 88.5 0121  F  France Culture, Bourges/Neuvy (18)  Spanish music, as 98.0. Over Rowridge  672km
 91.0 0123  F  France Musique, Alençon/Mont d'Amain (61)  YL, as 89.8  498km
 89.6 0125  F  France Culture, Villers-Cotterêts/Fleury (02)  Spanish music, as 98.0  474km
 89.8 0125  F  France Musique, Abbeville/Limeux (80)  Classical, as 91.0  364km
 90.2 0126  F  France Musique, Neufchâtel-en-Bray/Croixdalle (76)  Classical, as 91.8  381km
 91.1 0126  F  France Inter, Villers-Cotterêts/Fleury (02)  Acoustic song, as 103.7  474km
 91.8 0128  F  France Musique, Bourges/Neuvy (18)  Harpsichord music, as 92.0. Noise free  672km
100.7 0131 LUX Radio 100,7, Dudelange/Ginsterberg (gld)  Stable/noise free. Jazz as web  574km
 88.9 0132 LUX RTL Radio Lëtzebuerg, Dudelange/Ginsterberg (gld)  Pops, as web  574km
101.0 0133  D  WDR 2, Bärbelkreuz (Eifel) (nrw)  Pops, as web  520km
 95.5 0135  D  SR 3 Saarlandwelle, Göttelborner Höhe (saa)  German pops, as web  629km
105.6 0136  D  SWR4 Rheinland-Pfalz, Donnersberg (rlp)  German song, as 95.5  657km
107.1 0138  D  SWR4 Rheinland-Pfalz, Haardtkopf (rlp)  Soft pops, as 105.6, etc.  593km

Still a few bits of tropo hanging on into the wee small hours.

For the last couple of weeks I have noticed that Dudelange is received better on 88.9 than on 100.7. It has always been the other way around since I moved to the east coast, with 88.9 becoming increasingly difficult to hear at all.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Tropo 07-01-13

 94.2 0011  G  TSOL, London pirate  Slow jamz, as web  
 94.2 0013  F  Europe 1, Saint-Omer/Wisques (62)  OM  YL, as web  299km
 96.5 0927 HOL Station NCR, Rietmolen (Gld)  Dutch music, as web  444km **
103.4 1555  F  France Info, Lyon/Mont Pilat (42)  OM correspondent, as 105.2  917km
 89.2 1622  F  France Culture, Cherbourg-Octeville/Digosville (50)  YL, as 98.0  413km
 88.9 2325 LUX RTL Radio Lëtzebuerg, Dudelange/Ginsterberg (gld)  Lately more reliable
               than 100.7  574km

Tropo continues albeit rather patchy. 

I was really surprised to hear France Info from Lyon on 103.4 as it was just about the only station from this part of France audible, apart from the regular northern French sites such as Caen, Rouen and Lille. Thanks to Mike F for the alert to the Skywaves group.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

First Tropo of 2013

 95.0 1304  G  BBC Radio Wales, Ebbw Vale (WA-BLG)  ID after news  284km ** 
 96.5 1351  G  WBLS Radio, London pirate  Preacher, ID. Almost noise free! **
 87.6 1355  G  Playback UK, London pirate  Club track, as web **
 92.0 1452  G  Desire (Essex), London pirate  Club beats, as web **
 93.9 1835  G  Fresh (Kent), London pirate  DJ and dance track, as web **
107.0 1847  G  Isle of Wight Radio, Chillerton Down (EN-IOW)  ID & School Reunion info  300km **
 99.6 1925 HOL Slam!FM, Hoorn/Electronweg (nho)  Techno, as 91.1 & 95.2  325km
 99.9 1928 HOL BNR Nieuwsradio, Wormer/Alticom Toren (nho)  Presume Wormer tx. See notes.
               Over Norwich  309km **

** Personal Skegness 'First'

Not the tropo we were hoping for so far but several firsts were heard.

I was pleased and very surprised by the reception of the Ebbw Vale transmitter. Last time I heard this was at the summit of Alport Heights in Derbyshire where it briefly in during a tropo one day. Every other time I was at Alport Heights there was nothing on 95.0. Considering there was no real enhancement to South Wales at the time, i.e. Wenvoe was its usual fluttery self, I was amazed Ebbw Vale got through at all. It was stable for a few minutes and an ID appeared as soon as I had tuned on to the frequency. I had to check the web parallel to confirm as I thought my ears were deceiving me.

BNR Newsradio on 99.9 had me fooled as they were playing a pop song! A check with 95.4 (Gilze) confirmed it was indeed BNR Nieuwsradio. It wasn't long before they returned to their usual business talk format. Not that there are two other BNR Nieuwsradio transmitters on 99.9: Ugchelen, 3kW and Dedemsvaart, 1.1kW. Had this been Ugchelen, which I had initially presumed, I would have likely also been hearing Radio Gelderland on 103.5, which I wasn't. 99.9 was noise free too so I would have expected something. Instead there was just a very weak Essex which had no indication of any QRM at all. I therefore presume I heard the more powerful Wormer transmitter with 26.9kW.

Lots more of my regular Dutch transmitters were heard but I left them out this time in favour of reporting on the less common stuff.

Good DX!

John, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) Approx. 1m ASL

Sony XDR-F1HD (tropospheric)
Kenwood KT6040 (sporadic E & meteor scatter)
Icom IC7000 (OIRT)
Conrad RDS Manager

Rooftop Triax FM5, 8m AGL
Yaesu G-5500 azimuthal/elevation rotator

RDS Spy v0.99

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Beverages In The Wash!

It's not the best video, filmed without using a tripod to so expect the worst! For best quality, click on the HD option in the main YouTube page and go full screen.

This video shows one of the many excellent locations in the area suitable for running out large antennas such as the Beverage, or BOG (Beverage On the Ground). The location above is close to the village of Friskney, mid-way between Skegness and Boston. There are often many dog walkers use this area (not doggers this time, thankfully) so I have to be careful where I run the wires.

Already, this location has produced some good signals from the far east on medium wave, including a plethora of Chinese stations, most of which are still to be identified. I have yet to try a beverage to North America from there but plans are already afoot.

The is the largest estuary system in the UK and is roughly shaped like a square with 15 miles on each side. It separates he curved coastline of East Anglia from Lincolnshire. I will quote below from the Wikipedia page which gives a brief decription of The Wash but click here to read more about this beautiful and tranquil location. There are some better photographs in this article

The Wash varies enormously in water temperature throughout the year. Winter temperatures are brought near freezing from the cold North Sea flows. Summer water temperatures can reach into the low 20s degrees C (about 70 degrees F) after prolonged high ambient air temperature and sun. This effect, which typically happens in the shallow areas around beaches, and often only in pockets of water, is exaggerated by the large sheltered tidal reach. 

The Wash is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under European Union legislation. It is made up of very extensive salt marshes, major intertidal banks of sand and mud, shallow waters and deep channels. The seawall at Freiston has been breached in three places to increase the saltmarsh area, to provide an extra habitat for birds, particularly waders, and also as a natural flood prevention measure. The extensive creeks in the salt marsh, and the vegetation that grows there, helps dissipate wave energy thus improving the protection afforded to land behind the saltmarsh.

To the northwest, the Wash extends to Gibraltar Point, another Special Protection Area. On the eastern side of the Wash, one finds low chalk cliffs with their famous stratum of red chalk, at Hunstanton, and lagoons at Snettisham RSPB reserve, which are an important roost for waders at high tide. This SPA borders onto the North Norfolk Coast Special Protection Area.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Years Dishonours List

Ah, it's great having a blog. I can say what I like, when I like! Well, within reason of course. You can have a good rant about the little things in life which really irritate you and get them off your chest. Hey - I've been making a list! :O)

Call me Victor Meldrew (there are similarities, but not in appearance) but during 2012 I had the misfortune of having to deal with some really annoying and incompetent organisations. They were so bad I think they deserve a mention!

HMRC (Her Majesties Revenue & Customs):
These come top of my New Years Dishonours List. Ask ten members of staff the same question and you will get ten different answers. The individuals i spoke to were clueless regarding my query and their telephone answering system has to be the most irritating multi-menu 0845 charging machines we have in this country.

My experience suggests that there is no interdepartmental communication whatsoever within HMRC. I had to contact various departments myself to pass on simple information you think they would have been able to do themselves. I began my ongoing claim with HMRC on October 1st 2012 and I was advised that the procedure should take "up to two weeks". Three months later I am still waiting. "Mid January" is their latest estimate for completion.

There is no logic behind their advertising rules. It took me a week to get an advert listed. It was legal and everything was in accordance with their guidelines. After placing a paid advertisement with them my adverts were removed numerous times and no valid reason was given. I changed the wording of the advert, replacing the text with a complaint and a breakdown of the problems I had experienced from them. Yes, this was removed and dealt with straight away! All attempts to get a refund failed.

Sky and Virgin Media:
We in the UK know that all our telecommunications companies are as bad as each other. Virgin and Sky, supposedly the lesser of all the telecomms evils, caused us some big headaches in 2012. In fact they were so bad they almost made BT seem like little angels! To begin with, we changed from Virgin to Sky as Virgin did not offer a TV package in our area. Virgin dragged their heels (refused) to release the MAC code to Sky and in the end I had to get OFCOM to force them to do this. It took six weeks of complaining and a large number off phone calls to get nowhere. Once I contacted OFCOM, Virgin responded within half an hour, releasing the code. It's not the first time I have had to involve OFCOM to sort out Virgin.

Sky just kept helping themselves to two or three times the monthly rental charge out of our bank account when they felt like it.

Never trust companies who offer freebies and reductions for the first few months. There are sure to be catches around every corner. Sadly, that's the way all companies operate these days. "Special offers" and "New Customer Discounts". One big con!

O2 signed me into a mobile phone contract I hadn't actually signed up for! This one was rectified quite quickly, but the depths these corporations stoop to never ceases to amaze me.

I could mention the incompetence and rudeness my wife has had at the hands of our local health service too, which includes Boston's Pilgrim Hospital where even the hospital staff have asked us to make complaints concerning the neglect inflicted on my wife from certain medical 'professionals'. Our local doctor's surgery can be incompetent too, once taking thirteen months to send out an urgent prescription we knew nothing about at the time. Am I making this up? No, but trust me, I haven't even started.

Rule number 1: "Web hosting companies are all as bad as each other". This has always been the general rule of thumb. My previous hosts were dishonest to the point of refusing to allow me to renew because they could make more money if they stole it back and re-sold it.  My current hosts, Dataflame, have been little better. They are extremely helpful when you want to upgrade services but ignore you when it comes to downgrading, despite telling you that you can do so. I have had several problems with them over the last few years, the main one was losing all my data due to their server being hacked. Something they later admitted to but blamed me for! I was unaware of the situation until I checked my website one day and discovered it had turned into a fake Lloyds TSB Login!

The previous web hosting company I used, Web Mania, tried to steal my domain name. I had to get Internic to force them to release it.

Grrrr! Back to some radio.


// It's now almost 2015 and I just looked back at this blog entry. I had quite a chuckle and corrected some of the grammar. I think I wrote this page in haste (as usual) so a few bits and pieces needed to be changed. But it's been interesting to look back and recall these experiences, but also to add that, by today's standards here at the back end of 2014, these seem very minor compared to the problems we have had during 2014! Big corporations really do not care about the customer anymore. It's money, money and more money.

Our biggest problems in 2014 have been with several energy and utility companies, some of which we haven't even subscribed to, yet they have demanded large amounts of money from us. Thankfully we still have organisations who can help people with these kind of problems. Full marks though go to EDF Energy and N-Power, basically for demanding money which wasn't owed at all.

Finally, we are up against the worst of the worst. The damn BBC and their evil TV Licencing department. We'll see them in court. But I'll tell you this ... they won't win.