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Radio Armadillo

»the unsung hero of the shortwaves«

written by the Pirate Chat Editor


Armadillo Studio

About 12 years ago a radio station hit the airwaves for the very first time. It was broadcasting on the FM waveband and probably only covering a few hundred yards. However, this was the beginning of Radio Armadillo, a now regular international broadcaster who is certainly one of the unsung heros of the shortwaves.

The operator of the station first became involved as many others, Simply listening to pirate broadcasters on the FM scene. The year was 1983 in this instance and within only a short time, he was on the air himself. The Free Radio interest had progressed to shortwave by late 1986, and looking back ten years, Mr. Armadillo recalls his favourite station as being Radio Orion, an influence readily detectable in his programmes nowadays.

Many people will probably never have heard Radio Armadillo, despite the station having been on air since November 1992. That first broadcast was made on 6292 kHz with about 15 watts of power into a longwire antenna. Signals four years ago were not the best, aerial height of only a few feet probably explaining the reason. However, a lack of letters and far from ideal broadcasting conditions have never deterred Mr. Armadillo. In the early days, programmes mainly consisted of a diet of rock music, although this has steadily changed to what could now be described as a diverse music selection. Anything from Kermit the Frog to Metallica might appear on Armadillo! Humour is also something for which the station is famous!

One of the broadcasts that sticks in Mr.Armadillo’s mind is a QSO he had with Live Wire Radio in December 1992. Prior to this, he had received no letters and was unable to say whether or not his signal was getting out at all - now though, he knew that all was working. 1993 brought more success with a handful of letters - Radio Armadillo was fully functional.

From the listening days of 1983 to the progression of getting on the air had taken about ten years. Using a more or less standard type of Free Radio shortwave transmitter, the Armadillo set-up runs at around the 20 watt output with famous 807 and EL84 valves.

 

Armadillo Tx

The last four years have seen various changes as far as the transmitter is concerned - some valves have been removed and other ideas have been experimented with. Currently, Radio Armadillo is active on the 76 metre band after becoming disillusioned with 48 metres.

One thing Mr. Armadillo did try in-between was some transmissions on 5.8 MHz - these were heard quite well in the United Kingdom, but because few listeners check this part of the spectrum, the idea had to be abandoned. Although a great deal of 76 metre band broadcasts over the past couple of months have hardly resulted in sacks full of mail, the station is being heard quite well by those who tune in. A new half-wave dipole antenna was recently constructed and the audio and modulation have consistently been worked upon in an attempt to improve. If you've never heard the station, now is the time to try. The best time to hear Radio Armadillo is around 0030 British time on more or less any day of the week, but always on 3947 kHz.

Even if he's not broadcasting, you can be sure that Mr. Armadillo is listening to the bands, making him one of the few people who really knows what's going on. Asked about plans for the future he laughs and breaths a heavy sigh - Mr. Armadillo is being heard but would desperately like some letters! Apart from wanting your mail, other plans for the station are to increase power to somewhere in the region of 50 - 100 watts. This should take place some time during the late summer and should certainly help in your reception of "The Medium A". A new antenna mast is also a possibility for the future as a higher aerial really would prove advantageous. providing a marked improvement on the current height situation.
Radio Armadillo is one of a new generation of stations - he will broadcast at any time on any day and is always interesting to listen to. If there is anything new to be tried, he will try it. How many others will make the effort to come on air on a Wednesday night or a Friday afternoon in addition to the more recognised times of Saturday night and Sunday morning?

 


Pirate Chat magazine, July 1996

 

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