Friday, June 25, 2021

Spanish radio station on 88.8 MHz heard across the Atlantic in Newfoundland, Canada - 21st June 2021

Back on the 21st of June 2021, Paul Logan in the north of Ireland confirmed that he had heard a FM radio station across the Atlantic near Quebec City in Canada on 90.7 MHz.

I can now confirm that Larry Horlick, VO1FOG in Newfoundland, Canada managed to hear RNE-R5 Todo Noticias in the north-west of Spain on 88.8 MHz on the same day!

This is I believe the very first reception of a European FM station station on the 88-108 MHz band in North America.

It looks as if the signal came from the 80 kW transmitter near Zamora in Spain and the distance was in the region of 3780 kms.

I have two recordings which Larry very kindly sent on. The first one is at 11:46 UTC...

In the above recording, the cities of Zamora, Segovia and Burgos are mentioned. It would seem as if this is from the Castilla y Léon regional news bulletin which runs from 13:10 to 14:00 Spanish time.

This is the second audio recording at 11:50 UTC...

This one is a bit more noisy but the distinctive little 'jingle' between the news items can be heard.

Credits: I must thank Paul Logan in Ireland and Jorge Garzon in Spain for confirming that these were  indeed recordings of the RNE-R5 Todo Noticias radio station and that the transmitter site was near Zamora. Both are very experienced FMDXers and it's great to have their expertise to call on to make sure there was no mistake.

Newfoundland: On the receive side, Larry Horlick was using an ICOM IC-R8500 receiver with a centre-fed vertical dipole at 18m above ground level, cut for the lower end of the VHF LO TV band (essentially, non-resonant on Band 2).

Larry has only been listening seriously on the 88-108 MHz bands for a few weeks and he has already managed an incredible reception report. As well as being in a relatively quiet location (FM wise), he does have the advantage of being at the most eastern pat of Canada. 

It also helps that anything that Larry hears on the 88-108 MHz band is likely to be in English or French so any other language really stands out.

Propagation Mode: It seems very likely that this was a case of double hop Sporadic-E at 88.8 MHz.

The above diagram shows the signals 'bouncing' off Sporadic-E clouds at about 110kms above ground level and being reflected off the ocean at the mid way point. It's possible that this was also chordal hop with the signal going directly between the two Sporadic-E clouds without hitting off the Earth.

Note that the angles and height of the Sp-E cloud in the above diagram are greatly exaggerated. In reality, the angles are very shallow and are probably just a few degrees above the horizon.

This is another diagram showing the suggested path and the two Sporadic-E regions.

Paul Logan in the north of Ireland reports that he was hearing FM radio station from the Azores Islands for about five hours that day which he says was highly unusual. The MUF went up as high as 104 MHz.

It's likely that the Sporadic-E region responsible for the Azores to Ireland path was also responsible for the eastern first hop of the trans-Atlantic path between Spain and Newfoundland.

It's seems as if this eastern Sp-E region was present for several hours and it just required one Sp-E path at the right spot on the western part of the path to complete the 2 x 1890 km circuit.

In Conclusion: This really is an amazing reception report and is part of radio history in that it is the first proven reception of a European FM station on Band 2 in North America.

It also raises some interesting questions...

1) If someone in Newfoundland can hear a FM radio station in Spain then why can't FM radio stations in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Maine be heard in Spain and Partugal?

2) If a Sporadic-E cloud in the western part of Atlantic can support a signal at 88.8 MHz then can it reach 144 MHz at times? And if so, could it couple into a tropo duct of say 1500 kms to complete the path to Spain or Portugal?

A double hop Sporadic-E trans-Atlantic path at 144 MHz is highly unlikely but a mixed Sp-E / Tropo propagation mode is much more likely.

The best thing about this trans-Atlantic reception report is that it now 'opens the door' on what might be possible. My hope is that it now raises awareness and more people will now listen for trans-Atlantic signals on the 88-108 MHz and 144 MHz bands.

Larry, VO1FOG informs me that he is building a 10 el K6STI Yagi for 88-108 MHz so hopefully we will get to hear of some more trans-Atlantic signals.

Addendum: This is a photo of the vertical Band 1 dipole that was used for the reception.


Anonymous said...

have you ever heard b2 in EA CT it is full with hardly any free spaces , you can see this when Es hit the uk , also there is not many b2 dxers from EA CT you would need hams to do it

John, EI7GL said...

No matter what country it is in Western Europe, Band 2 appears full but there are always gaps.

Photon said...

Wow! That really is amazing, especially considering one receiver is a 'mere' vertical (which almost certainly confirms the notion it was Es). Everybody deserves a good round of applause, really; a testament to dedicated individuals with a niche interest revealing phenomena others would miss.

At 144MHz, I still don't see anyone in Newfoundland regularly on FT8. It's not the best mode to use, but it may be the most likely to make the crossing, given it has the greatest user numbers. I see people appearing for a few minutes, then giving up when they hear nothing. They also have a strong tendency not to bother in the evenings or night time. I guess that's where constant commerical transmissions have the edge - always there, waiting to be picked up.

Anonymous said...

Amazing i am spanish and crazy listening that from Canada, big applause

Unknown said...

Wow this is amazing but I’m not too surprised as Spain is ideally located for TransAtlantic propagation and Newfoundland is just within range and the frequency is clear enough to hear as there are no stations on 88.8 mhz in North America I live on the coast of North eastern Florida have been listening to the lower portion of theFM band but it is still crowded even on the lower portion I did manage to hear Puerto Rico as high as 104 mhz around 20 years ago for several hours ! I am convinced a 2 meter Qso is possible the major problem is not enough active 2 meter stations in these coastal locations on both sides , no common frequency to monitor and we would need a near 24/7 automated monitoring system maybe FT8 or WSJT modes or CW beacons placed at intervals on mid Atlantic Islands say the Azores or Bermuda or the tips of Greenland or Iceland or the tip of Eastern Brazil to aid in early prop warnings on 2 I think it’s only a short matter of time it will eventually happen. Great catch. best of Dx and 73 George Clement KF4ZKU .

Paul said...

What makes this even more remarkable is the IC-8500, it's shockingly bad on B2 when compared to a dedicated FM tuner. Love mine to bits but wouldn't dream of using it for FMDX.

As he is investing in hardware to pursue more DX he should either go SDR if local conditions allow, pick up a used Sony XDR-F1 or as a cheap project build something based around the TEF6686 tuner module. Both of these tuners can be PC controlled and have similar excellent performance.

I'm happy to offer advice if he wants to go the 6686 route having built a number of them now. In fact I have one blank PCB here, a track got damaged but just needs a link wire adding from one component to ground. He's welcome to have it as it's only a couple of quid to post out.


Unknown said...

Yes! This is our regional news program for Castilla y Leon aired M-Su from 11'30 to 12'00 UTC. M. Molano (RNE-Salamanca).

Unknown said...

5 kW transmitter. M. Molano (RNE-Salamanca).

John, EI7GL said...

Re M Molano: The signal was on 88.8 MHz (Zamora). RNE R5 TN (Salamanca) is on 102.2 MHz.

Unknown said...

Yes. When I said "our regional news program for Castilla y Leon" I want to say that the recording is of our common program aired by all R5 stations in our region. So, we at Salamanca aired this very same news output and I can recognize easily the voices of our coleagues at Valladolid, the capital city of this region where that program is produced with the contribution of the 10 stations forming this regional network. The tx. at Zamora-El Viso is a 5 kW unit operated by Cellnex for us. M. Molano (RNE-Salamanca).