A Beginners look at Starting Band 2 DX'ing
The beginners part of the title refers to myself! This is how I started DX'ing on the FM Band.
Part One - Introduction and Clubs
I started Band 2 DX'ing part way through the year 2000, July in fact, right in the middle of the Sporadic E season. Why I did not start earlier I am not quite sure but I think it was pure laziness. I have been Band One DX'ing since May 1982 but it never occurred to me to tune Band 2, I was totally absorbed in DXTV. It was in April 2000 that I realised I needed another part of the hobby to continue to enjoy Sporadic E as in a few years Band One Countries would start to diminish so I started to investigate Band 2 and obtain the kit.
From the onset I knew I needed a tuner, no problem, my old Pioneer F737 would suffice. Then on investigating I realised that RDS and PI Codes was the way. I knew what RDS was but not PI codes. So after reading up on the subject I discovered that any station transmitting RDS also has a PI code and it was this PI code that would help enormously in ID'ing the station.So, how to convert the Pioneer? Again by investigation from people and clubs, (Skywaves), I discovered the Conrad. Good for displaying the PS name but not very fast and it needed a good signal. The next breakthrough was the PC. By connecting the Conrad to the PC and using software all was revealed in the RDS DataStream. The big big plus was that the software logged the station as well as displaying the PS & PI codes. The final breakthrough came when a gentleman from the Czech Republic produced a modification kit for the Conrad to convert it into a super fast PI display, with backward compatibility to display the PS also.
I was now well on the way to Band 2 DX'ing and come July 2000, I had an aerial on the roof, kit all connected and was raring to go. The 11th saw my very first logging with a PI Code of 43B3 and a PS Name of _DRS_3__, this was Switzerland. Then I asked my self why the underscores in peoples logs when the PS display showed none. Etiquette was the answer I discovered. To display a space is quite difficult so using the underscore character solved the problem, except for Greece who actually use the underscore in their PS display. Well there's always an exception to everything.
So in a nutshell that is how I started but as you will appreciate things change with time. The Conrad became obsolete, RDS tuners became one a penny till now, (the year 2008), when good "DX" Band 2 tuners with extra's like IF Bandwidth switching are becoming quite hard to purchase. As I said times change, eBay now exists with an opportunity to purchase good tuners at good prices as people switch to digital equipment.
For some one wanting to take the hobby up now here are some tips I have learnt from my experiences.
Firstly join a club. In the U.K. and Europe that means there are several available via e-groups with free membership. The advantage of e-groups is that info can be swapped within minutes and many operate live DX chat rooms.
The e-groups I am a member of with links to their web pages and e-group information
|The British FM & TV Circle, Skywaves began in 1995 as part of the British FM & TV Circle. There were only a small handful of members then. Membership has grown and there are now in excess of 600 members spread across the groups! Skywaves members come from all corners of the world. Membership is free to the e-Group..|
|British FM & TV Circle|
|Hardcore DX is another good group covering DXFM Radio, DXTV and Shortwave. Use this link to sign up to their DXFM e-group, again free membership from around the world.|
Other groups that might be of interest but not in English include two from Italy and one from Spain. They are Yahoo groups covering DXFM.
Firstly the Italian ones:
Finally the Spanish one:
|Another superb source for information is The FM List. This Site contains all the Country Databases and a whole lot more|
|A Beginners look at Band 2 DX'ing Contents|
|Part Two||PI Codes|
|Part Three||PS Names|
|Part Four||Receivers and Computers|
|Part Five||Aerials and Propagation|
|My Band 2 Home Pages|