Band i
Low VHF DXing
 

As the solar cycle move on and the sunspot count increases so radio conditions in the higher HF bands and further up beyond 30MHz into VHF start to propagate long distance signals. I've always been aware of the potential of these frequencies but it was listening to the stream from the late Ivan Artner that inspired me to invest in good equipment to monitor them including the purchase of my Log Periodic. Ivan (known as xBr) was one of the users on the old #monitor IRC chatroom and with his good location was able to monitor and stream the military communications from Iraq during the Gulf War.

My equipment is basically the same as I use to monitor TV carriers, the LogP feeds the R8500 via a two way switch so I change between the HF and VHF inputs. For recording I use a stereo cable into the PC, one side is connected to the line out on the front of the radio and the other is connected to the discriminator output on the rear. By recording everything in stereo I can monitor both the voice signal as well as detect any CTCSS frequency using an ancient but excellent little programme called Wintone.

October 2010
Things still haven't really got going this cycle, I've caught a handful of signals above 30MHz including Israel, Russia and the US but most of the activity has remained in HF. A good indicator that conditions are on the up each morning is the present of a lot of Russian sounding voices on CB, specifically female voices affectionately known collectively as Olga, usually on FM and anywhere between 26-29MHz! Most sources suggest they are Russian or Ukrainian business users like taxi companies. Another useful indicator are the various GlobeWireless base stations around the world. A short audio sample of the Bahrain station sounds like this. If you'd like specific frequencies please looks here.
 
There are some other signals that can be heard to the east, above the 10m amateur band from 29.7 - 30MHz FSK data can be heard and is suspected to be Russian. My source suggests it is a 'composite system with data in the the lower sideband and S4B (Yakhta) analogue voice scrambler in the other sideband.'
 
The other type of signal that appears absolutely everywhere is on site paging which unfortunately tends not to carry plain text so is very difficult to ID.
 
Heading south there is very little if anything other than CB and amateur radio to listen to at these low frequencies, even when the bands have been open to South Africa I've yet to hear the Jo'burg GlobeWireless (GW) station.
 
The path to the US has been open for a few weeks now from around 1300z, generally the first frequency to appear is 27.025MHz AM, this is ch6 on the US CB system and is known as 'the Superbowl'. Imagine a big linear, in fact a very big linear and a big aerial, then let it loose on a CBer, You have to hear it to believe it but it can be funny, especially with their southern accents. Two interesting signals I've been copying regularly for a couple of weeks now are the broadcast links situated in Cedar Hills, Dallas. Both these are used by the travel reporters for cueing and each one runs 300w ERP. WBAP is on 25.91MHz and KSCS is on 25.99MHz FM, both use 85.4Hz subtone.
 
There are a number of 10m ham repeaters in the US and when these are strong it's worth checking above the ham band for PMR signals, these were heard while the Manhattan repeater was S9, first this one on 29.77MHz and this on 30.88MHz.
 
Most evenings the band is open to South America, as well as the usual CB and ham traffic a useful marker is on 25.375MHz FM consisting of on site paging that appears to originate from São Paulo, Brasil. Moving slightly higher up between 26.5 and 27MHz you can find fishing bouys, typically these will transmit a carrier for around 30 seconds then switch to a 3 letter CW ID, often with a certain amount of instability. Earlier in the year I logged a harmonic from Radio Argentina's external service on 30.690MHz.