Tropospheric reception in September 2017

NOTE: The table below is fully sortable please click headline (i.e. Station) to sort the table.

(T) stands for a tentative log. Sometimes in the recording title, you’ll see DV or LH letters. That represents antenna/position. DV stands for (FM) Dipole in Vertical and LH stands for Cubical Quad Loop in Horizontal. Other combinations are possible.

Hover over the station name to see remarks. All data is relevant to the reception date.

QTH: Hatfield, Herts, 78m ASL, DX indoors
Grid locator: IO91VS
Aerial: FM folded dipole, FM Cubical Quad Loop antenna
Receiver: Sony ST SA3ES

September 2017 was not as good as I was expecting regarding tropospheric ducting. Comments on Yahoo group and post on SkywavesDX forums raised my hope about a good lift that may happen in September. Although I wasn’t DXing in previous years, September was always exciting regarding tropo.

Why is that? I think, it is because temperature inversion is much more likely to happen during the Autumn months rather than in summer, but there are of course exceptions. So I was patiently waiting for some decent tropo.

19 Spetmeber 2017, 0900 UTC

Hepburn’s predictions for 19th September 2017

Unfortunately, for the first two weeks of September conditions weren’t good. The first improvement was noticed on 19th of September when I received stereo signal of 96.0 BBC Radio Cambridgeshire from Cambridge. It’s a semi-local station with transmitter located 53 km away from Hatfield. I have been receiving this signal in the past, but never with stereo. Although, it’s a weak stereo signal, it’s still the best reception of this station so far.

In the same day, I also received (with full RDS) 99.1 BBC Radio 1 and 101.3 Classic FM from Oxford transmitting station. Both these stations are semi-local. Transmitter is located 65 km from Hatfield. Both stations are high powered, however, only achievable with RDS during tropo enhancement.

I also received one non-local station. It was 104.5 BBC Sussex from Heathfield. The signal was strong enough to reach stereo level. It was also the first time when I received this station in stereo. Heathfield transmission station is located 99 km from Hatfield.

It seems like the conditions from 19th September developed within next days. On 20th September, two non-local stations were received. It was 94.5 BBC Radio 4 from Morborne Hill in Peterborough and 97.9 BBC Radio 1 probably from Sutton Coldfield transmitting tower. 94.5 BBC Radio 4 signal was received with full RDS. 97.9 BBC Radio 1 sounds like tropo scatter. The signal was bouncing, on occasion reaching clear reception without fading.

22 September 2017, 0900 UTC

Hepburn’s predictions for 22 September 2017

Two days later I had another DX session in the morning. Seeing the maps with a blue and purple colour over the UK, I sat by the rig shortly after 0815. Another day with high hopes, but in reality, nothing major happened. I did have some good DX though. First surprise is just after 0830 local time. I received fluttering stereo signal of 96.3 Heart Essex from South Benfleet. Also, PI code was received. By far, this is the best reception of this station that I had in 2017.

Just after 0900 I received a clear stereo signal of 91.7 BBC Radio 3 from Oxford in Oxfordshire. There was no RDS, however, the PI code was received. It’s also the first time when I received this signal in such a good quality. 45 minutes later another surprise – 95.3 BBC Essex from South Benfleet is received and a PI code is displayed on the laptop screen. This is a semi-local station with transmitter located 61 km from Hatfield.

95.3 BBC Essex from South Benfleet tower is present here more often than 96.3 Heart. Both antennas are on the same transmitting tower. Generally, I need a good tropo to propagate Heart signal to reach Hatfield, so I assume that it must have been a lift in this area. Also in 96.3 Heart recording, short weather forecast is present with predictions of a Sunny day with highs of 17 Celsius. In the same day, I also received flattering stereo signal of 104.6 BBC Surrey from Guildford.

Forecast 24 September 2017, 0600 UTC


24th September was more interesting regarding distances. DX session began before 0900 local time. The first station that I received was 88.5 BBC Radio 2 from Rowridge transmission tower. Sadly no RDS, but the PI code was displayed and a clear listenable signal was heard. Rowridge transmitting station has high power output (250.00kW), so surprise here.

Another station received was 89.7 BBC Radio 2 from Tacolneston. Again, only PI code was displayed. Soon after 91.7 BBC Radio 3 from Oxford (with full RDS this time) was received following by 91.9 BBC Radio 3 from Tacolneston.

At 0916 local time 100.5 Classic FM signal was recorded. It’s an unknown location. Given the propagation path I would speculate that it could be from Belmont (175 km distance). The same day, I also received a new pirate signal. It was 95.2 Emek Rdyo, which I presume came from London area? I could be wrong though. I only received this station once. A full RDS data was received too.

Tropospheric conditions continued for next days. On 25th September, I received 91.9 BBC Radio 3 from Tacolneston. This time reception with full RDS. Also, 102.9 Heart from Hannington was received with full RDS. This is not a local station. The transmitter is located slightly over 87 km distance from Hatfield.

Last, but not least, recorded signal from 25th September was 97.7 BBC Radio 1 from Manningtree. It’s also the first time when I receive this station with stereo. Other signals present here that are not mentioned in the log:

-103.1 Heart from Bluebell Hill, full RDS
-104.1 BBC Radio Berkshire from Hannington, PI: C71A

On 26th September, I received 102.6 Heart signal along with another Heart signal mixing in the background. It sounds like two signals were received together. There are two 102.6 Heart transmitters nearby. One is located in Oxford and the second one in Chelmsford. A map below shows the location of these two transmitters.

102.6 Heart


Later that day, I also received 104.2 BBC Radio Northampton from Northampton. It’s a semi-local station located 72 km from Hatfield. In normal conditions, it’s impossible to receive it at my QTH. This was also first-time reception of this station.

On 28th September, I was receiving signals from Swingate (near Dover) transmission tower. It seems like, that very evening, a very nice temperature inversion occurred in this area. All Swingate signals were received in clear stereo. There was also one surprise though… A faulty relay of 102.8 Heart Kent from Canterbury was recorded. It’s amazing because 102.8 Heart from Canterbury is not a local station, but relay must have been faulty at that time. Heart signal sounds like someone is listening to music on an old computer and the computer couldn’t handle it due to overload. I remember, years ago I had an old Microsoft Windows 98 computer that shows the same symptoms when overloaded.

Tropospheric signals received in Hatfield, Herts (AL10 area)

Date UTC ITU MHz Station Location kW Pol. PS PI Mode Km Play
19/09/2017 0654 G 99.1 BBC Radio 1 Oxford 50.00 M Radio_1_ C201 Stereo 65 Play
19/09/2017 0701 G 101.3 Classic FM Oxford 46.00 M Classic_ C2A1 Stereo 65 Play
19/09/2017 0816 G 96.0 BBC R. Cambridgeshire Cambridge 1.00kW M Stereo 53 Play
19/09/2017 0827 G 104.5 BBC Sussex Heathfield 10.00 M Stereo 94 Play
20/09/2017 0800 G 94.5 BBC Radio 4 Peterborough 40.00 M BBC_R4__ C204 Stereo 83 Play
20/09/2017 0805 G 97.9 BBC Radio 1 Sutton Coldfield 250.00 M Mono 143 Play
22/09/2017 0732 G 96.3 Heart Essex South Benfleet 01.14 M C364 Stereo 61 Play
22/09/2017 0807 G 91.7 BBC Radio 3 Oxford 50.00 M C203 Stereo 65 Play
22/09/2017 0827 G 104.6 BBC Surrey Guildford 04.00 M Stereo 65 Play
22/09/2017 0845 G 95.3 BBC Essex South Benfleet 01.14 M CF13 Stereo 61 Play
24/09/2017 0800 G 88.5 BBC Radio 2 Rowridge 250.00 M C202 Stereo 145 Play
24/09/2017 0803 G 89.7 BBC Radio 2 Tacolneston 250.00 M C202 Stereo 126 Play
24/09/2017 0806 G 91.7 BBC Radio 3 Oxford 50.00 M BBC_R3__ C203 Stereo 65 Play
24/09/2017 0809 G 91.9 BBC Radio 3 Tacolneston 250.00 M C203 Stereo 126 Play
24/09/2017 0816 G 100.5 Classic FM Unknown Stereo Play
25/09/2017 0812 G 102.9 Heart Thames Valley Hannington 03.40 M Heart___ C361 Stereo 87 Play
25/09/2017 0831 G 91.9 BBC Radio 3 Tacolneston 250.00 M BBC_R3__ C203 Stereo 126 Play
25/09/2017 0849 G 97.7 BBC Radio 1 Manningtree (T) 05.00 M Stereo 93 Play
26/09/2017 0822 G 90.5 BBC Radio 3 Sutton Coldfield 250.00 M Stereo 143 Play
26/09/2017 0836 G 102.6 Heart Unknown Mono Play
26/09/2017 1103 BEL 93.7 VRT R.2 Vlaams-Brabant Sint-Pieters-Leeuw 50.00 V Mono 330 Play
26/09/2017 2147 G 104.2 BBC Radio Northampton Northampton 04.00 M Mono 72 Play
28/09/2017 2224 G 92.4 BBC Radio 3 Swingate 11.00 M C203 Stereo 129 Play
28/09/2017 2236 G 102.8 Heart Kent Canterbury 01.00 M Mono 99 Play
28/09/2017 2239 G 104.2 BBC Radio Kent Swingate 10.00 M Stereo 129 Play
28/09/2017 2246 G 90.0 BBC Radio 2 Swingate 11.00 M Stereo 129 Play
28/09/2017 2249 G 94.4 BBC Radio 4 Swingate 11.00 M Stereo 129 Play
28/09/2017 2259 G 99.3 BBC Radio 1 Tacolneston 250.00 M Stereo 126 Play

Pirate radio signals received in Hatfield, Herts (AL10 area)

Date UTC ITU MHz Station Location kW Pol. PS PI Mode Km Play
24/09/2017 0840 G 95.2 Emek Rdyo ? ? ? EMEKRDYO CF52 Mono Play

Maps screens thanks to
Prediction maps thanks to

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