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 Three - Program Service
This is the part we are all familiar with from our domestic tuners and car radio's. It can be very useful in DX'ing also when you have a mystery PI code that no one has logged before. A good example of this are the new stations appearing from Serbia and Albania with PI Codes so the PS helps ID the station.
For myself the PS saved the day when Bosnia appeared on 87.80MHz for the first time. The PI Code was FFFF, not much help there. Quite often this is the default the encoder at the transmitter is set to. If the owners do not alter this to their Country preference then it will transmit FFFF. At the time the station was playing music, so no lingo ID possible. Then the PS name came up: BHRADIO1. This then gave the proof it was Bosnia/Herzegovina Radio One.
Quite a lot of European Countries use scrolling PS Displays. This is just one big annoyance to DX'ers but nothing can be done about it. The actual PS contents seems to depend on the station and Country. They can include the complete station name in blocks, the transmitter location, their web address, anything they care to put in. Some stations like Evolution FM from Spain even advertise via the PS Display. Lets look at an example:
Radio Camoldali Stereo from Italy. The Pi Code is 5158. The Program Service's I have received:
"GENNARI*", "CAMALDLI", "*CHIMA*", "*DEERA*", "*PL*5-09", "*STEREO*", "*TUTTI_I", "21.21:22", "ANTIBAS", "CONTAT**".
Sporadic E reception is very variable at times and subject to interference from other stations on the same channel. This corrupts the PS display. So you can have a positive PI Code and a corrupt PS display. The chances of receiving a corrupt display increase when the PS is scrolling. Also a scrolling PS is less helpful in ID'ing the station as can be seen from the above example of Radio Camoldali. After all does "21.21:22" offer much help in ID'ing a station?
From a DX'ers point of view there is not much more to say about the PS name except when it comes to logging and reporting a station. The PS Name is 8 characters in length, always. A space is a character. So as mentioned in Part One any spaces are reported with the underscore character: "_". On a standard RDS display the spaces are shown as spaces, we just use the underscore to show where the space is in our logs. Finally one last point worth noting is that the PS names are case sensitive, again dont forget this when logging.