VS: [EladSDR] S3 - 24MHz FM Broadcast Captures for Download
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From: EladSDR@groups.io <EladSDR@groups.io> On Behalf Of Bill Nollman
Sent: Thursday, May 9, 2019 9:42 PM
Subject: [EladSDR] S3 - 24MHz FM Broadcast Captures for Download
As promised here are three 1 minute S3 captures showing great FM DX examples. They are 8GB each. Remember, to play them you must have FDM-SW2 v3.000 or higher and more than likely you won’t be able to get them to play without skipping unless they are on an SSD. Some newer SATA USB3 drives may work for playback only.
1. From Zeeland, North Dakota this past summer. I had an APS-13 FM yagi at 32 feet high very far from civilization. The S3 internal pre-amp was used. This was the peak of an amazing day of Eskip. Easily heard is 97.9 from Rochester, NY and 106.7 has Georgia – at the same time. This map shows some but not all of the places received.
2018-07-10-TUE-317pm-Eskip-SE_035.wav - https://www.dropbox.com/s/avge7f7lfrkh4xl/2018-07-10-TUE-317pm-Eskip-SE_035.wav?dl=0
2a. From the East coast of Prince Edward Island in November (MW DX trip). The APS-13 FM yagi is at 20 feet high, S3 pre-amp is on. This is one of many examples of long Meteor Scatter “trains”. Not the usual ¼ second pings that most people are familiar with but a full 10 seconds of reception across the full FM dial. It’s amazing what an SDR can do in such a quiet location!
2018-11-07-WED-60deg-MS-1054am-Ant-at-20ft_064.wav - https://www.dropbox.com/s/66jq6ogl85xdir1/2018-11-07-WED-60deg-MS-1054am-Ant-at-20ft_064.wav?dl=0
2b. A listing of the 20+ stations identified in this 10 second Meteor Scatter train - https://www.dropbox.com/s/12dvnzfzngnojc8/Meteor%20Scatter%2010%20seconds.xlsx?dl=0
3. And then as a complete opposite of the previous 2 files, my local dial. This is about as bad as it gets for FM DX. The APS-13 yagi at 25 feet, S3 with no pre-amp. I’m within 3 to 10 miles of every Hartford, CT transmitter, all of the HD sidebands, low power broadcasters and even the disaster on 104.1 that spills RF so wide the FCC should do something about it. This is why I love my S3 because it has made FM DX possible again for me!
2019-05-07-Hartford-CT-S3-1-minute_000.wav - https://www.dropbox.com/s/fiugpikxrkts4vh/2019-05-07-Hartford-CT-S3-1-minute_000.wav?dl=0
By the way, RDS Spy is still much better at decoding RDS than the RDS panel in FDM-SW2. However there are times when the FDM-SW2 RDS panel will lock onto RDS that RDS Spy will not. It’s weird. I have both running at all times.
And finally a big thank you to Keith for letting me use his Dropbox account to share these files. And an even bigger thank you to Franco for trusting me to alpha test the S3!
Yes, storage media is a challenge. I have 3 – 2TB SSD’s primarily so that I can fill one (about 3:45 at 24MHz), pull it off the laptop and put it on a second laptop and copy to a 10TB drive while I record onto a second 2TB SSD. I wish bigger SSD’s were available to the consumer market (at work I sell 30TB SSD’s ;-)
Recording is much more finicky than playback. Below shows my I drive – reading at 150MB/s and writing (recording) at 227MB/s. The numbers jump around a lot but expect peaks well above 200MB/s for recording. For playing back some big SATA drives might work ok. I like to use ATTO Disk Benchmark (free) software to test my SSD’s - https://www.atto.com/disk-benchmark/ It is surprising how varied the results can be especially between older and newer SSD’s.
I will upload a few 1 minute 24MHz recordings. At 8GB each Dropbox take an hour or two per file.
Sounds amazing, Bill! Thanks for sharing.
The requirement on storage speed and size will be a real issue with these beasts. I have been able to manage with three S2s on a fast desktop with a stack of 10TB SATA drives. The SSD requirement will lead to continuous copying of recordings. Is it really so that you cannot even play the big files back from a normal hard disk?
A great innovation would be a way to set the bandwidth of a recording on the fly. Especially with Es, the MUF varies quite rapidly and a continuous recording at 24MHz will create a lot of waste.
It would be nice to see and hear some of your captures!
Wow the embedded screen shot looks terrible. Here’s a link to download it - https://www.dropbox.com/s/d74xmaoldx6sciu/S3.JPG?dl=0
The S3 has a hardware pre-amp (so Franco tells me) built into the software (FDM-SW2). In quiet locations it definitely is needed. In high RF areas it is not needed. And yes, I agree both the S2 and S3 do very well with a big outdoor antenna but in some cases can be a bit weak without a pre-amp. So the S3 pre-amp is very welcome! In the screen shot below notice there is also a 10, 20, 30dB attenuator for the opposite problem (upper right corner marked ATT 0dB in the drop down menu). I have been lucky to alpha test an S3 and I can tell you that it performs very well for weak Meteor Scatter, weak Tropo and all kinds of Eskip and local conditions. I haven’t done any extensive A/B testing against S2 or an analog tuner but I’d agree that both the S2 and S3 seem just a small bit less sensitive than my best analog FM tuners (Yamaha T85 and a Denon TU800). Given that you can capture 24MHz at a time I am more than ok with this and actually no longer own an analog FM tuner, sold one of my S2’s and the other S2 has been loaned to a friend.
On your other question about the interface. USB3.1 (works on 3.0 ports, has the wider two level USB end). No Ethernet. Other things you may want to know are that it requires a 12VDC regulated power supply. This was a little disappointing to me as much of my FM captures are done in the car or on top of a mountain and S2 was perfect being USB powered. I have adapted and found there are some laptop battery replacement bricks that work well as a remote power supply for S3. Even a bunch of D batteries correctly wired works fine and make it through the airport without scrutiny.
My FM DX hobby has been completely transformed by the S3 (works great on MW too). In the past I had to run 4 serial captures with S2. With S3 Eskip across the full 20MHz is amazing! Meteor Scatter is just amazing to watch when it hits – sometimes you see the whole band light up, sometimes only select frequencies. The only downside is the hours and hours and hours that I have spent DXing from captures when I should have been doing something more family friendly….
One thing everyone should know about recording at 12MHz or 24MHz – you MUST have an SSD drive to record to. At 6MHz FDM-SW2 writes at about 50MB/sec. at 12MHz it’s 100MB/sec. That can usually be handled by most big 4, 8, 10TB “SATA” drives you can find most anywhere for under $200. However at 24MHz you need at least 200MB/sec and SSD is the only option for that (most SSD go to 500MB/sec). The first 2TB SSD I bought was over $500 a year ago. They are now under $300 although I’ve had mixed results with Micron SSD’s (skipping, what else?) and prefer this Sandisk which is now $240 and both of mine have been reliable. Disk space is also a concern – 8GB per minute at 24MHz!
And finally, if anyone is interested I can upload some S3 captures. I have some amazing Meteor Scatter I captured in super quiet Prince Edward Island and full dial Eskip from quiet North Dakota last summer. I could even upload a local dial capture and you will see why I never DX at home any more. As long as you have FDM-SW2 version 3.00 or later and an SSD drive you should be able to play these files. Just ask and I’ll upload sometime soon.
The S2 has coverage of the FM broadcast band by undersampling IIRC, I know of a few FM-DXers that use it that say it requires a pre-amp to achieve maximum sensitivity because without it it's a bit deaf at Band II frequencies. Is the S3 using the same method for VHF coverage, I don't have an issue with fitting a pre-amp but am curious about the design of the receiver.