cool photo of nostalgic "on the air" sign

Here are some editorials about EXTREME DX.

They are presented here for your education and entertainment.

Surely one of the people who "invented" (or at least popularized) the DX hobby back in the 1950's when TV's became widely available, was Bob Cooper.  Bob has been around WTFDA since it started (as the AIPA), and has given us permission to reprint his correspondence below.

Following that, our TV DX expert Doug Smith answers the question, "Is it possible to hear all 50 states from one location?"  (Click here to jump to that text.)


Q: Way back when, KHON-2 (Honolulu, HI) was reportedly seen on the east coast of the US.  Is it possible today?

A: The recent postings concerning KHON-2 Honolulu being received on "east coast of USA" and the web site that says it was received in Florida during the fabled 1957 sunspot cycle (19) moves me to make some retrospective comments.

As some know, from 1955 to 1960 I edited the Radio Electronics TV (later & FM) DX Column. I took this over from an early mentor of mine, Edward P. Tilton, amateur W1HDQ, who was at the time the 
VHF Editor for QST - the amateur magazine.  Prior to 1955, from 1953 or so, I had while in high school created and published the original AIPA Bulletin (copies of any issue of which I would LOVE to have in my files!).

There was a climate at the time which is difficult to describe - especially in the 1957-1959 era when F2 was at its peak for at least my lifetime. With each issue of Radio Electronics, the boundaries seemed to be pushed further and further.  Robert Seybold in Dunkirk, New York was a true pioneer in long haul TV at the time. There were others of equal skills and enthusiasm, notably Bedford Brown in Hot Springs, Arkansas.


I had cause recently to refresh my memory relating to that era by going back through my carefully preserved collection of Radio Electronics and Radio TV News for the 1950s and refound a number of 
very interesting loggings reported.  In light of what we know today about Es, tropo and that curious 
marriage of F layer plus Es, I do not think it out of line to reconsider some of the reports of that period. In fact, to not do so is irresponsible. And while some might suggest "it was a once in a lifetime
occurrence" (referencing a specific logging), with the advantage of hindsight and our now 60 years of accumulated Es knowledge in particular, I must suggest that many of these older "legacy loggings" very much stretch the bounds of credibility.


Let me start with one that no-one knows better than I - my reported logging of a channel 2 station from Brazil while I was living in Lafayette, California. This one has bothered me for decades. And I recall it with the clarity of the day it happened. From Lafayette (30 miles east of San Francisco, prior to KTVU there becoming operational) and later in Fresno where I did much more DXing before heading off to UC Berkeley, there were numerous instances of long haul multi hop Es to places like Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Venezuela.   Most of those were verified in writing at the time, a few with photos 
long since mis-placed.  It has always bothered me that while the "reception" of the Brazilian station was very marginal, that I placed almost all of my logging facts on the language of the audio which was, I decided, Portuguese. Against this "logging" was that the video, always very distorted, did not have the expected look of a non-standard NTSC signal on a NTSC set. In fact, while I was taking high school Spanish at the time and could at least identify that language quickly, I had about as much experience with Portuguese as I now have with Swahili.  


In short, while my enthusiasm at the time was keen, in retrospect I did not have sufficient detail to make a logging claim as has perhaps unfortunately withstood the test of time - largely I suspect 
because it was "me" and not someone else who claimed it.  The time of reception would today fit very well what we know about Es linking to TEP or even later afternoon (at mid-point) F2. The solar cycle was correct for such a thing to happen.  I knew all of this at the time, although more than 40 years later with the added value of four decades of additional solar MUF experience, we know it even better today.  But for this logging to be held up as the "longest TV DX of all time" (or some similar statement about it) is I must confess overly cast in concrete. What we do know, now, is that late afternoon 
F layer across the equator which gradually merges into early evening TEP is very common at frequencies well above 60 MHz during peak solar activity years. We also know that from central California down the Mexican peninsula towards Mexico City, E, EE and even EEE is not unusual either during June and July from mid-day onward.


In my own mind, the most dramatic TV DX logging of all time, involving E or E + F layer, was experienced by one Ronald Boyd of Truro, Nova Scotia - also in the 50s. Ron received the same Brazilian signal(s), but had enough logging information to obtain a written verification from the TV station (the letter was published in my TV DX column in Radio Electronics). Along the way, Bob Seybold, Bedford Brown and others made similar claims of Brazilian reception. Bedford also claimed reception of some high band Venezuelan signals as well, an event which falls slightly below my own "logging" of Brazil in California in my mind - as for accuracy. Bob and Bedford were good - VERY GOOD - at what they did in an era that will never be revisited because of CCI challenges, longer TV station operating hours, and most of all - the end of the era when TV stations transmitted test patterns with call letters vividly displayed for hours every day.  


The point of all of this is that although many very unusual loggings have been claimed through the decades, and some are obvious attempts at deceit (such as high band reception from Los Angeles in North Carolina) and others are mistaken but honest - an uncomfortable number of those we "revere" today do not stand the test of time, expanded knowledge about propagation, and critical examination. Someday I intend to review these starting back in the 1937 era F layer reception from 
the BBC and Germany in the USA. But for now let me close by suggesting, "caveat emptor" which normally translates to "buyer beware." In this case, "logger beware."

Regards, Bob Cooper

Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 
Subject: Bob Cooper talks about the Early Days of DX

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Q: I was wondering if anyone has managed to get TV or FM stations from all 50 states? Also wondering if anyone in the lower 48 has received Alaska or Hawaii. Bring on the skip!!

A: To my knowledge nobody has logged all 50. A number of people in the central part of the country have logged all of the lower 48 on FM. 

I know Mike Cherry in southwestern British Columbia has logged both Alaska and Hawaii on TV. I don't know of anyone on the mainland logging Alaska or Hawaii on FM, but it's definitely possible. (and DXers in Hawaii have logged the mainland on FM; indeed the current tropospheric DX record belongs to Sheldon Remington on the Big Island, who logged some FMs on Mexico's western bulge.)

Logging all 50 on FM/TV will be a VERY difficult task. Tropospheric propagation doesn't cross the Rockies, so DXers east of the mountains need E-skip to log the West Coast states, and vice-versa. E-skip propagation does not exceed about 1,400 miles on the first hop, and multiple-hop skip is extremely rare. (especially in the broadcast bands because it's usually masked by stronger single-hop stations.) Since the country is about 2,000 miles wide, it is impossible to log all the lower 48 from either coast without extensive use of multiple-hop skip. 

The Midwest is within single-hop range of all the lower 48. However, they're three (long) hops from Hawaii - and have strong interference from the West Coast at the first hop. They're also at least two hops from Alaska. The upside of that path is that the first hop falls into lightly populated areas of Western Canada - the downside is that the closest stations in Alaska (in the Juneau/Sitka area) are of rather low power - and usually have their antennas *below* average terrain. It's another hop to the high-powered, reasonable-tower stations around Anchorage and Fairbanks. 

Alaska is within single-hop range of the Pacific Northwest. Hawaii is within tropo duct range of the West Coast, though it's pretty rare for the duct to move as far north as the Portland/Seattle areas. Hawaii is within two E-skip hops of the West Coast, and because there's no other land between Hawaii and the coast, there's no interference from single-hop signals. Unfortunately, here the problem becomes logging the East Coast states - especially the small ones like Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

To my knowledge, nobody has logged the lower 48 on TV. The problem here is that there are no low-band VHF stations in New Hampshire, Delaware, or New Jersey. Thus, except in the unlikely case of high-band skip, these states are off-limits via Es. They could theoretically be logged by tropo from the Midwest, but it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opening.

Personally, I do believe that one day, someone in the area between Minneapolis and Kansas City *will* log all 50. I think it will be someone who already has 48. 
 
Doug Smith W9WI
Pleasant View (Nashville), TN EM66

Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000 08:39:48 -0500
From: Doug Smith <w9wi@bellsouth.net>
Subject: Re: [AmFmTvDx] All 50 States

Above material used with permission of the authors.  Copyright reserved.

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