Last week I wrote about how I didn’t have remote access to the computer in Ardmore anymore because of the storm. That has now been restored – I asked our IT service to help me, and it works now and everything is back on track.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I thought that my originally chosen frequency of 101.7MHz may have been too weak to detect and so I decided to change to a stronger frequency. This is showing up some results! Currently I am tuned into 91.3MHz, which is the ZM radio station in Christchurch. The way that the software records the signal is that it records the whole bandwith that I can see on my screen (from about 90.8MHz to approximately 91.4MHz), and not just the 91.3MHz frequency. That means that while I’m recording 91.3, I am also recording 91.0, which is ZM in Auckland (ZM plays current pop music), and 91.4 which is Radio Concert (which is classical music) in the Waikato area, as my antenna can easily pick up the radio stations from there.

What is interesting, is that sometimes, when I detect a signal at 91.3MHz, there is also a peak that shows up on the 91.2MHz frequency.
To help explain better, here is a screenshot from a signal that was recorded on 07/21/2015  at 04:14:07.

A screenshot of one of the signals I detected at 91.3MHz

A screenshot of one of the signals I detected at 91.3MHz

Here, we have the Auckland ZM station on the left, at 91.0MHz, and we have the Waikato Radio Concert station on the right at 91.4MHz.  In between, there is a signal at 91.3MHz, which is ZM in Christchurch (and I will explain why I’m so sure of it shortly), but there is also an unknown signal at 91.2MHz. Looking at the list of radio stations in NZ, I saw that a possible radio station at this frequency is Radio Concert in Nelson. Looking at the map of NZ, we can see that Nelson is between Auckland and Christchurch and so it is possible that if a meteor (or something else) happened to fly between us and Nelson, it could have reflected both frequencies from Nelson and Christchurch. Although, I still have to prove this to myself geometrically, rather than assume that it can happen.

Okay, so at first I was a little bit skeptical, as it seemed a little bit too good to be true – that I can actually detect two frequencies that have reflected off something in our atmosphere seems a bit lucky. However, these signals are so strong that you can actually hear the music. So when I played the signal I detected on 91.3MHz, I heard a part of a Miley Cyrus song that was recorded, and when I tuned into the 91.2MHz, I heard classical music. This was my initial confirmation that I have detected ZM from Christchurch and Radio Concert from Nelson. Now I needed confirmation that what I recorded actually came from those stations. Assuming that all transmitters of the same  radio station play the same stuff at the same time (except maybe the ads), I listened to the 91.0MHz frequency I recorded, (which, as I said before, is ZM in Auckland) and it was the exact same part of the song  that was recorded on 91.3. Then, I tuned into the 91.4MHz frequency, (which is Radio Concert in Waikato) and I heard the part of the piano that sounds exactly the same as what was recorded on 91.2MHz.

I checked the list of all the radio stations again, and saw that there is no other ZM station in NZ that is being broadcast at 91.3MHz, and no other Radio Concert station in NZ that is being broadcast at 91.2MHz. All of these reasons led me to conclude that I have actually recorded two signals from the South Island, that have been reflected off something in our atmosphere because they are both too far away to be received directly.

This still seems too good to be true to me. It just happened, by luck, that I can record all 4 radio stations and compare the recorded signals to the actual signals that I definitely know were being broadcast at the time of recording.

I have emailed one of the radio stations to confirm that they play the same songs at the same time everywhere in the country. Now, what I have left to do is to actually figure out how to interpret these signals.

How do I find out that these signals were reflected off a meteor? Well, that’s a post for next time 🙂

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