Friday, October 9, 2020

CHANDIPORE DXpedition ~ 1982

 For the six of us from Calcutta ( Tripti Ranjan Basu, Babul Gupta, Supratik Sanatani, Sudipto Ghosh,  Asish Kundu and Prodyut Banerjee ) the new year really started with a bang. A time most people (meaning non-DXers) are usually busy wishing each other or licking stamps to send out their greeting card, we were planning out the final

details of our coming DX Camp.The site we choose this time was CHANDIPUR, a newly developed beach resort in the State of Orissa. The zero hour drew in on the 6th of January and we set out loaded with wires, receivers, tons of excitement and of course ouerselves.

LOCATION: Chandipur is about 20 km to the east of Balasore, the latter a small town in the North East corner of the State. Apart from Tourism, the town of Chandipur is also a port for inshore trawlers. Even as we approached Chandipur, the warm, sea-smelling air greeted us-a true feeling of being in the tropies. The beach is one of the best I have seen so far, a wide strech of sand gently sloping into the sea and lined with a belt of knee-deep water !!

We put up at the OTDC Hotel, whose manager Mr.B.G.Mohanty was very helpful in arranging our ideal QTH and understanding our funny requirements. Our room overlooked the Casaurina trees extending into the sea with excellent antenna space and natural support in the direction from North East thru South East.

ANTENNA: For the first day we used a length of 200 metres in the direction of Papua-New Guinea and a small length of 60 metres approx North-South. On the second day we rua out 400 metres length in the direction of Central Japan and for final night we ran out 600 metres (joining our earlier antennas) in the direction of North Philippines and Taiwan. The last antenna was grounded at the far end via a 500 carbon resistor.

Erection of these antennas was a real achievement for all of us and involved lots of acrobatics. I personally thank OM Babul Gupta for his ingenious “Rigging-made easy” ideas and active participation. For supports we used the Casurina trees providing excellent height and direction. We used G.I. wires to keep the wires pulled up and applied PVC piping insulation at contact points.

BUDGET: The whole camp of 6 days worked on a shoe-string budget and still had nothing lacking anywhere. In fact, for all of us it was a pleasant holiday as well. OM Alok Kundu was our financial manager and armed with a small calculator he would monitor each day’s expenses even in paises ! Thank “Big Man”. For each of us the whole 6 days cost only R. 300/- including transport, lodging, food, chicken roasts, fish delicacies, countless cups of tea…. for more details drop a line to OM Alok Kundu !! 

HARVEST:  Our DX catches were quite fantastic for us. Indeed, using not so sophisticated RXs we had achieved quite an amazing lot. This meet was also a great experience in the field of using longwires and their “air-an-shoot” principle.

ACKNOWLEDMENT: We are very greatful to the Orissa State Tourism and especially Mr. Mohanty for his generous help. We also thank the skipper of the Trawler “B.T.” for kindly allowing us to use his boat’s compass. Our thanks also  go out to the people of Chandipur for not being inquisitive of our activities and lastly to all the Tourism minded people for not choosing Chandipur as their abode during this week.

                                                                                             73s de 
                                                                                                    - PRODYUT BANERJEEE


Friday, October 2, 2020

We are back again ...... this time in digital


  • Asian DX Review [ADXR] monthly newsletter from Indian DX Club International is back again. After a long gap, we are pleased to release the digital edition of the much popular newsletter.

    When ADXR last rolled out of the press in 1990, DXing was different. There was no internet. We had to eagerly wait for the DX program like DX Jukebox (later renamed Media Network) from Radio Nederland and other DX program to copy down the tips for DX hunting. Once in a week we would get the sunspot numbers. DX magazine like our ADXR reached people by post. Digital Frequency Readout receivers were already there but they were beyond the reach of the average listener. There were no mobile phones, no mobile phone towers. During sunspot lows the medium waves were full of Japanese regionals on lucky days. The tropical bands were all full of Indonesians in the evening, Africans appeared late evening and night and then the Latins in the early Indian morning. The reception reports were still sent by mail and often with IRCs to facilitate a qsl card. QSL card arrived by post, often with pennant and other goodies like exciting stamps. DXers met in persons over small group gathering, through the land line and through the bulletins.

    Then there was a hiatus of thirty years during which period DXers did go on listening, QSLing, face to face meeting, DXpeds and communicating through land phones .The couple of exciting DXpeditions along Bay of Bengal did keep us enthused about DXing. Then came the internet. It developed slowly but steadily and changed the very face of DXing. DXing was gently turned upside down.

    Where does ADXR digital fit in? It now comes with our own flavor of DX reporting, our small contribution to keep the spirit of DXing alive and to give you a feel of the man between the radios and the signals. We are here to give a life to those frequency lists and schedules and encourage others to speak. Our aim is to keep DX alive and speaking.

    Indian DX Club International (IDXCI) is an informal association of DXers mainly from India. Head Quartered in Kolkata, India, the Club brings out the “Asian DX Review” DX bulletin which is presently an online publication and is distributed free. It has also been active in organizing DXpeditions and promoting the hobby of radio DXing in general.

    Direct download link

    Radio enthusiasts are can send in their logging, feedback, reports, etc to by 25th of every month.

    Indian DX Club International, GPO Box 646, Kolkata 700001, India.

    IDXCI Website

    Join Our Facebook Group



Monday, August 31, 2020


 Dr.Supratik Sanatani, VU3IFB

The super cyclone of October 1999 brought down the antenna 120 m mast of Kolkata A 657 Khz which radiated 2x 100 kw. In the words of an engineer manning the transmitter " we got a phone call that AIR Kolkata A was not audible. When we looked out, the main antenna mast simply was not there !! "The huge mast built of thick gauge metal can still be seen lying in the premises. Portions have been sawed off to make way to the newly installed 120 m mast. This incident caused disruption of Kolkata A transmissions for few days. Transmission resumed only when a new mast was put up.

The new main radiating mast of Kolkata A had a parasitic mast put up few meters down south. It was to act as a reflector and direct most of the radio signals to the north which is the populated part of the State. The southern parasitic mast was to avoid valuable signals getting lost in the Bay of Bengal to the south which is sparsely populated anyway. However, a controversy cropped up in 2011. During a tropical cyclone in July 2011 few fishermen who had ventured out to the sea were lost. There was hue and cry in the media that the disaster could have been avoided if the weather bulletins from AIR Kolkata could be better heard ( The AIR authorities were under pressure when news reports originating from the fishing town of Kakdwip said that Bangladesh Betar weather bulletins were better received over the Bay of Bengal (( The AIR authorities woke up and an engineer was dispatched in a coast guard vessel to measure signal strength of AIR transmissions almost 300 km deep down south in the Bay of Bengal. He found good to strong signals all throughout the test area. However, the authorities decided to disconnect the parasitic reflector mast to put the controversy to rest. The parasitic mast still stands up mournfully though in the antenna field of Chandi some 24 km south of Kolkata.

As if this was not enough, the 120 m mast of Kolkata B snapped in May 2012. This was not due to any cyclone or gale. It was presumed that one of the guy ropes anchoring the mast that snapped and that caused a disbalance. This in turn caused a cascading effect and finally the main mast snapped. AIR Kolkata B 100 kw transmitting on 1008 kHz was disrupted for almost 20 days while a new mast, somewhat shorter in height was put up. This new mast has a loading hat on top and rhombic elements on all sides. Presently this is fed by 10 kw standby brand new RIZ mobile transmitter which is running at 8 kW because one part of the panel is not working and the engineers conversant with BEL transmitters would not risk tinkering with the malfunctioning panel of Riz mobile transmitters which is in the warranty period. They would rather wait for the authorized technicians of Riz transmitters to arrive.

Pilferage is another minor irritation which bugs the antenna fields of Chandi. Even though manned by security guards round the clock,and watch towers in the periphery the precious copper of antenna and feeder elements are prey to the thieves. Most often the pilferages would be minor e.g. one coil of some hundreds of tank circuits in the antenna support wires or few lengths of concentric feeder lines. However, these would disbalance the fine tuning required for that extra last mile for the radio signal !

Yet another element which upsetting the fine tuning is the collapsed old tower which is awaiting bureaucratic clearance for disposal . A mammoth steel structure in the antenna fields is bound to add some inductance here or there and compromise design efficiency. The same applies to the disconnected parasitic antenna mast in the south which is still there completete with the ground radials. This is bound to compromise the design efficiency.

The Engineers at the site were however very upbeat. They are proud that their signals were getting around in spite of all the difficulties and they have faithful listeners tuning in. One engineer who had just completed a stint at Orissa talked about a 90 year old faithful listener who would telephone the station at the slightest fall in transmission quality. However, he would also sympathise with the ground realtites. Talking about ground realities in India, I was reminded of the Engineer at AIR Aligarh HPT who talked about Neel Gai's ( charging into antenna curtains and disrupting transmission.

Report by Dr Supratik Sanatani after a visit to Amtala and Chandi facilities of AIR Kolkata along with Babul Gupta, Sudipta Ghosh & Swopan Chakraborty in July 2012.



 Dr. Supratik Sanatani, VU3IFB

It was an odd combination of fixtures which greeted us as we entered AIR Kolkata transmitting station at Amtala. There was a table tennis table laid out in front of the retired Westinghouse transmitter panels. This transmitter was already decommissioned and we could locate the number plate tucked away at one corner “ 2.5 kW Westinghouse May 1948  DWG NAA11560  So FEZ65900  Westinghouse NP 2145413”. This building had two wings, the one on the left housed the 100 kw MW transmitter and the one on the right housed the 50 kW shortwave transmitter. Soon the Westinghouse transmitter would give way to equipment for DRM simulcast on existing AIR Kolkata frequencies. The bulk of the DRM equipment would be voltage stabilizers and power supplies which would be housed here. In future we would  see neither the table tennis table nor the Westinghouse transmitters!

We arrived while the shortwave transmitter was off the air between morning and afternoon transmissions. This window allowed the helpful engineer to take us on a tour of the transmitter facilities. The water cooled valves gave us a peek into the complexities of handling high power. The power supply area was at the back of the transmitter room which housed large transformers. I could locate at the back of the transmitter the serial no 016 for this BEL HMB 144 make transmitter of year 90-91. In the front panel a number of typed sheets displayed the operating instructions and one paper had the new frequency schedules written on it in pencil where 4820 kHz had replaced 7210 kHz for the 0230- 0410 UTC broadcast. At 0720 UTC the carrier with pure tone was switched on. The frequency counter showed 7.2099982 kHz. Fixed on the front panel was a Sony ICF7600 receiver for monitoring purposes. The change of frequency was through motorized devises attached to thick copper coils. The output power was 40 kw as displayed by the panel instruments.

The medium wave transmitter was located on the left half of the building. This was a BEL HMV 140 transmitter serial no 003 but was presently non functioning. Ever since the 120 m antenna mast connected to this mw transmitter collapsed, transmission had been going on from a 2x10 kW mobile transmitter made by the Croatian company RIZ. The mobile transmitter came in two neat containerized units which were placed at the back of the transmitter building. One container was the power supply and the other one was the transmitter unit control panels and even a crammed up quarter for the personnel. The antenna which came with this unit was commissioned close to the place where the former antenna mast had collapsed in May. The new mast is smaller in height, has a loading hat on top and rhombic elements all around. The older antenna mast had a large room housing the antenna tuning unit at its base. The new antenna had a smaller antenna tuning enclosure. The new Riz transmitter is DRM capable and preparations are under way for DRM simulcast. They were waiting for the new power supply transformers to be installed. Brisk civil construction was already under way.

The antenna field at the back of the transmitter building had the MW mast to the left and the dipoles for the shortwave transmitter to the right. There were two dipoles, one for the 41 mb and other for the 60 mb. To us DXers they were of special interest. The antennas were oriented south southwest. They were suspended from huge towers, for antenna impedance adjustment, the dipoles could be lowered or raised.I guess the height of the antenna also determined its firing angle. No wonder that Kolkata 4820 kHz at 1800 UTC which struggles under China Lhasa at South Kolkata was loud and clear Goa in west coast of India. We were at the Amtala site and from there we could see the Chandi site at distance some 500 m away southwest  on the same Baruipur Amtala road. It is the Chandi site which houses the legendary Kolkata A transmitters .

At Chandi transmitter site we were greeted by a huge dish antenna for down linking signals from AIR studios at Eden Gardens Kolkata. The transmitter building had a FM antenna on top for studio link. Besides these two studio links there was a E2T2 cable link as well as a telephone link through BSNL cables. The Chandi site used the satellite link while Amtala site used the E2T2 link. Both of the sites had very rudimentary studio facilities for playing taped fillers in the event of all link failure from the studios. They were seldom needed nowadays while in the past, during the days of telephone link only, it was no unusual for us to listen to filler music during periods of link failure.

The main building had two parts. The left part housed two 100 kw transmitters running in tandem for 657 kHz Kolkata A. This is the prime radio channel in the whole of this region and one of the oldest. Living up to its reputation, the 100 kw transmitters were running close to 120 kw. The right hand part of the building had the 1323 kHz commercial broadcast transmitter with 20 kW. The technical persons were divided to both part of the building. Apart from us there were another set of visitors – trainees from engineering colleges. They were, however, sulking because they had sit in one part of the building where the ac was malfunctioning. In contrast we were overjoyed that a helpful engineer was taking us through a guided tour of the iconic radio station – something most Bengalis of this part of the world have grown up to be familiar with.

The feeder lines were coaxial fashioned out of a set of copper rods arranged in one inner ring and another outer ring. The outer ring was grounded and was therefore the “shield” The inner ring was the active element. The desired feed line impedance could be obtained by arranging the elements in desired number and desired distribution. Supported on insulators and poles these coaxial distribution of elements ran out to the antenna field to the antenna tuning unit which was housed in an enclosed building at the base of the 120 m antenna mast. That was far cry from the RG 58 coax and a small box of antenna tuning unit we DXers are familiar with.

As we returned to the main transmitter building to take leave, it was late afternoon and through the transmitter monitors we could hear the unmistakable opening tune of the popular women’s programme – “ Mahila Mahal”. I wonder if the helpful Engineer realized how much this visit meant to us DXers,  some of whom have been tinkering with the radio dials for close to  45 years. As young boys we woke up to the signature tune from these transmitters, as hobbyists we saw the tubes , transistors, jammers , DTH and SDR's and now we are here to see the AIR DRM compatible transmitters coming while so many broadcasters such as DW and Radio Nederland are closing shop.

Dr Supratik Sanatani reports after visiting Amtala and Chandi in July 2012 with  three other IDXCI members  Babul Gupta, Sudipta Ghosh and Swopan Chakraborty 

Photo's courtesy


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Indian DXer Enters Limca Book of Records

Jose Jacob from Hyderabad, India has collected QSL from 132 different stations of All India Radio over a period of 42 years. Radio Stations ranging from Short wave, Medium wave,FM to the latest DRM mode. In the process he has achieved the feat of creating an Indian Record of collecting maximum number of QSL of different stations of a radio broadcasters in India.

As a teenage Jose started listening to radio and started to write to stations way back in 1973, when in his school days. Few years later in 1976 he first wrote All India Radio, when his reception report was first verified with a QSL. Over next 42 years, he has used various mediums, ranging from inland letters, post cards to emails, for sending reception report. Currently he has over 2500 QSL from 130 different countries, many of which left the airwaves.

Over the years, with his special interest in All India Radio, he is one key country contributors, from India, of World Radio TV Handbook updating about All India Radio to the directory of global broadcasting.
Jose Jacob, is also a licensed amateur radio operator with call sign VU2JOS currently serving as Asst. Director at the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NAIR)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

IDXCI Henry Island Bakkhali DXped 2019

Everything about Henry Island Dxped II was bright. All spruced up and shining West Bengal Fisheries Resort by the sea beach was our location. The weather was crisp, the propagation was favorable and the enthusiastic participants were eleven charged up Dxers, a mix of new old and even a non dxer xyl coming from far and wide from Kolkata, Delhi to Agartala.

We traveled in three cars: the two cars with most of the gear and eight Dxers started from Kolkata early morning after gathering at 6 am at my Jodhpur Park residence. Debanjan drove a Baleno with Subhendu Das, Sandipan Basu Mallick & his xyl Upamita. The good old Ambassador was driven by me with Babul Gupta, Pradip Chandra Kundu and Sudipta Ghose as passengers 
with accessories like folding table for outdoor Dxing, tent, grounding 
rod tucked up in the carrier and of course the receivers and reels 
and reels of copper wire for long wire antenna. The other Maruti car followed later after Alokesh Gupta and C.K.Raman flew down from Delhi and joined the new participant Kallol Nath who was navigator while C.K.Raman drove the car from 9.30 am onward. The stretch of road from kolkata was excellent for most of the Gangasagar Mela which brings in lakhs and lakhs of devoties to the Sagar Island which was very close to where we were travelling. Travelling on the Saraswati Puja day, the streets were teeming with brightly clad boys and girls sporting their dresses in shades of yellow and we were a lucky to catch the ferry crossing bit before the crowd at around 10.30 am.
This was probably the last time we would be crossing the ferry at River Hatania Doania at Namkhana because the massive girder bridge is almost nearing its completion and we would soon be drive down direct to Bakkhali in three and a half hours.

The first Dxers were at Bakkhali by 1 pm and after finishing the lunch at the West Bengal Government Tourist Lodge settled at Henry Island. This time the personnel at the Fisheries Resort quickly remembered us and were familiar with the "crazy bunch of radio listeners" who string wires all over the resort. The resort had expanded with more bamboo fencing which would serve as our antenna supports and besides there were plenty of bamboo of all
shapes and size lying around to help us to support the antenna which ever way we wanted. In two hours we had two beverages of 200 meters strung and a PA0RDT whip antenna put up. A room was promptly converted into a "shack". The second batch of three Dxers arrived a couple of hours later. 
Part of the "development" of this resort was addition of LEDs over much of the area and one of our beverages traveled right past a brightly lit children park, in the process picking up much of the radio noise. In the coming days we put up two more beverages away from the light sources, one travelling north south and the other travelling east west. The surprise of this Dxped was the performance of the PA0RDT whip we performed consistently better then all of the beverages!!! A commercial Diamond dipole for two of the higher bands was also put up but with the propagation condition with zero sunspot number, there were only hardly any signals.

The Bay of Bengal Pirates which we have logging since our Mandarmani I Dxped days were very much there, more in numbers, and better in modulation. They were still operating between 1000 kHz and 1400 kHz and the odd ones were bellow 1000 kHz. One particular station at 1235 kHz appeared to have more power and transmitted all night. A couple of them had harmonics around 2000 kHz. Now that we had three Perseus and one Airspy SDR, the entire broadcast band of the Pirates were recorded. We are still baffled about their exact location and the revenue model of the pirates because these transmissions appeared to carry very little commercials. 

The change in program content was the appearance of the local Bengali "Disco" beat song with heavy bass. The radio theaters called "Yatra" in local parlance and the odd request program were there. A couple of stations broadcast their mobile telephone numbers too!!!
Babul Gupta, who is really hooked on to Hamsphere set up his station with the call sign: IOHS/AS153 and soon made a number of contacts all over the world in his "virtual" amateur radio. Hamsphere apparently recognizes Henry's Island as an island even though by actual geography it is a piece of land separated from the mainland by a creek with a short connecting road bridge. Nevertheless, there was considerable interest in the Hamsphere community over logging.

This allowed me an opportunity to try out listening from a beverage far away from any light source. I strung a 250 mts long wire away from the leds and set up my ICOM R75 with battery at one end. The result in the first hour of listening were brilliant with a number of long wave stations coming in. The best was Polskei Radio at 255 kHz at around 1800 hrs UTC but Algeria was also loud and clear. However, during the second session of Dxing at around 2100 hrs UTC the propagation was so poor that barely need to put up the tent because the car was a convenient "shack" and the poles of the fisheries ground were the supports.

Philippines DZME 1530 kHz audible through 1300 to 2200 hrs UTC was the surprise because all of our earlier Philippines MW logging were in the short one hour window after they signed on at 2100 hrs UTC. Other Philippines logged around 2100 hrs was 666 kHz DZRH and 594 kHz DZBB. On 12th Feb 2019 PNG NBC Bongenville 3325 kHz coming in with clear audio and little QRM was probably the star of the Dxped and the other PNG NBC was logged on 3260 kHz with poor signals. Later on the same channel we could hear RRI Plangkarya. The sole Latin was Radio Club de Para 4885 kHz Brazil 
which peaked to 333 signal level at 0130 hrs UTC. Solomon Island 5020 kHz with poor signals was noted signing off at 1300 hrs UTC. Japanese MW, which were the star of the first IDXCI Dxpeds at Chandipore in the mid eighties, again reappeared and quite a few of them were logged. The best was American Forces Radio at Okinawa on 648 kHz which was tricky to receive considering the all powerful AIR Kolkata 657 kHz splashing signals from adjacent channel. Other Japanese MW were 549 kHz JOAP and 1413 kHz JOIF. Indonesia Peninsula of Laos, Vietnam and loud and for the first time we could log Luang Prabahang 705 kHz and Khantabouly 585 kHz at around 2300 hrs UTC. Vietnam 675 kHz and 610 kHz with chant or excercise like music during sign on at 2145 hrs UTC. Cambodia Pnom Penh was clear 918 kHz around this time. Around 1500 hrs UTC we could log many of the Nepal MW from Kathmandu 792 kHz, Dhankuta 648 kHz and Pokhra 684 kHz. On the tropical bands, North Koreans stations were all there from Eco of Hope to the other. 
With dwindling transmission in the SW the bands, some of the common stations of yesteryears are now becoming 
rarities. Guiniea Conakry in French at 2110 hrs UTC on 9650 kHz logged by Pradip Kundu with his XHDATA and whip only was indeed a surprise. Other SW such as 9930 kHz WHR Korar Palau with religious program in English at 1530 hrs UTC, TWR Swaziland at 1530 hrs UTC on 9585 kHz, VOA Mopang Hill on 15580 kHz at 1545 hrs UTC, BBS Thimphu at 6035 kHz at 1530 hrs UTC kept the SW hopes alive. It was a pleasant surprise to hear V.O.Greece on 9420 kHz at 2100 hrs UTC both with strong signals.
Sandipan had enthusiastically lined up a bit of coverage in lay press about our meet which coincided with the World Radio Day 13th February 2019. Write ups for the newspapers were finalized, photo shoot before the club banner was completed, audio clipping to be 
mailed to Agartala, Tripura were done in rigged up studio and phone interview with journalists done. The efforts were successful. Two vernacular dailies in Kolkata covered our Dxped. Why are they important for Dxing? Pradip Kundu radio interview to be aired over AIR Agartala FM for World Radio Day and his write up appeared in the most circulated Tripura daily. These articales generate qquite a bit of public interest and many of our now active members were drawn by the artical on Dxing centered around the Chindipore  Dxped which appeared in a popular children's magazine in early 90. 
This Dxped had something for everyone. From the newcomer Kallol trying out different exotic loggings with his XEDATA to the expart C.K.Raman convarsant with all of the lower band frequencies to Babul Gupta with his 
Hamsphere and Pradip Kundu in his more unassuming DX style of quiet listening sitting cross legged on bed with a portable and whip. For Subhendu Das, a professional commercial radio man it was different experience to see the amateurs and their interests at close hand. The Persueus brigade with C.K.Raman, Sudipta Ghosh and Dibanjan had their own approach to "waterfall" screen Dxing and Alokesh with his Airspy matched them. The PARDT whip brought by Alokesh turned out to be the hardware star. The non Dxers Upamita efficiently handled the exotic fooding of the Dxped. Sandipan who got interest in reading about IDXCI Dxped in the interest was organizing one himself this time and felt good that xyl Upamita was convinced that there were several other motivated Dxers around. Kallol a new comer to the hobby wanted some more SW experience and also would have like more session time in discussing the DX techniques.
One whole day our last Dxped in 2016 was washed off by local QRN. This time we had so many angle to our hobby from hardware to software that DX obstacles had no chance. 

                                               ~ Supratik Sanatani (VU2IFB)
                                                   25th February, 2019

Supratik Sanatani - VU2IFB, Kolkata, West Bengal.
Sudipta Ghose - VU2UT, Baranagar, West Bengal.
Babul Gupta - VU3ZBG, Barasat, West Bengal.
Debanjan Chakraborty - VU3DCH, Kolkata, West Bengal.
Sandipan Basu Mallick - VU3JXD, Kolkata, West Bengal.
Subhendu Das - Kolkata, West Bengal.
Kallol Nath - Kolkata, West Bengal.
Pradip Chandra Kundu - Agartala, Tripura.
Alokesh Gupta - VU3BSE, Delhi.
C.K.Raman - VU3DJQ, Delhi.
Upamita - Kolkata, West Bengal.