20 years of TV DX

By Wenlock Burton


Actually my first experience of DX reception was way back in London in the late 60's when I would put a fresh battery in my transistor radio, stand in the back yard and listen to France.

It wasn't 'till 1980 that long distance TV reception (TV DX) started for me.

At that time ATV0 Melbourne had changed to channel 10, leaving the channel 0 frequency clear. After hearing that, I purchased a 4 element caravan antenna at the Sunday market, and put it up on a broom pole on a corner of the garage. I ran the ribbon cable overhead to the house and to a 12inch b/w TV. I'd already written to Roger Bunney to report on the changeover of 0/10, and had been put in contact with Robert Copeman. But my very first reception was not at home. I was staying with friends in Douglas Park, a small town just outside Sydney, NSW, when I saw signals on both Ch0 and Ch1 on their old valve (tube) TV. It was early January 1980, and these pictures were evidently from New Zealand. We had a close shave with bushfire just before Christmas

15 May 1980 was my first DX reception of TVQ0 Brisbane, at my home in Melbourne's Northern suburbs. It was weak with no sound, but at least I knew my system was able to receive SpE signals.

A couple more minor receptions followed, then my first strong opening, it was on a Saturday afternoon on 20th July 1980. TV1 New Zealand on NZ Ch1, which was 1 MHz below Australian Ch0. However, my set wasn't yet tuned for NZch1 (45.25 MHz), so I only had sound to start with. Gingerly, I tuned it and there was a strong picture! I still have a cassette tape of the sound, and the reception lasted just over an hour.

Sadly, the midwinter SpE peak is a short one, so I had to wait for November and the summer period. In the meantime SBS TV was announced, and it was to use Ch0! While I waited for Summer, I checked out tropospheric reception, finding ABLV4 Gippsland was a constant signal, as was ABRV3 Ballarat and ABEV 1 Bendigo. Later a ch6 Yagi gave me frequent reception of BTV6 Ballarat. Changing the antenna to vertical polarisation gave signals from GMV6 & ABGV 3 Shepparton. I saw tropospheric reception of ABNT3 Launceston across the Bight for the first time.

Nevertheless, I intended to enjoy SpE before SBS started, and to my surprise found some of the signals so strong they overrode the SBS signal. SBS must have suffered terrific interference at times!

New Year's Eve 1980 was my first logged, FM Sporadic E reception. It was 4MMM-FM Brisbane received in Melbourne, using a '3 in 1' audio system and wire dipole tacked to the wall. I still have the cassette tape of that too!

In 1981, I added the 4/5 inch Philips P45 TV to my equipment, that allowed me to start exploring UHF and watch two signals at once. Now I didn't have to race back and forth between the lounge room and my bench. I'd had a tuneable Ch0 notch filter since the first SpE receptions of course, and it did a good job of reducing the SBS signal for me.

I'd built a rotatable mast using bits and pieces, and that served me until we moved to a newer house, and sadly I could not build another one there. All my antennas were on the bargeboard since that time. Today I use only a standard rooftop antenna, not a great performer, but I still get SpE on it.

In 1984, I jumped at the purchase of the Toshiba C531 5.5 inch Colour receiver/monitor, a sensitive little colour TV that was a great performer for DX

I've never had a lot of money to spare, so I've never owned a rotator, or an array of filters etc, I've often improvised, or built my own. I didn't get a VCR until well after Robert did, and my VCR didn't like DX at all. I've taken a few photos of reception over the years, and a few years ago began using a video capture card on my computer.

Then in 1995, I wrote the first web page for ICDX. It went from strength to strength, but as my finances became meagre, it is now in the care of Todd Emslie, who does a great job on it.

With the coming of Digital TV, I'm not able to look forward to much more TVDX, and these days am increasing getting into Slow Scan TV, which you can hear quite a few Radio Hams using on frequencies like 14236 (USB) on the 20 metre band.

Still, I have photos, audio tapes, and videotapes to look back on, and that's a good thing even if there's little or no analogue TV left to DX in the future.

73 and Good DX,



TV DX and equipment photos

ABRQ3, Rockhampton, QLD received via Es, in Melbourne, Vic.

RTQ0, Toowoomba, QLD received via Es, in Melbourne, Vic.

NBN3, Newcastle, NSW received via Es, in Melbourne, Vic.

TV and FM DX aerials.