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Old 06-06-2017, 4:48 PM
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Default Shortwave Station based on location

Hello All,

New to the forum/site and this is my first post. Curious if I could get some opinions on why I cant seem to hear any of the shortwave stations that should be broadcasting. I'm all the way up in Alaska, on Kodiak Island which is a few hundred miles southwest of Anchorage. All I can hear is stations out of East Asia. I've looked over the schedules, followed the "rules" about low frequency in the night and high during the day and I cant hear anything bound for North America. Think this is because I'm so far north? I've attached a long wire antenna to the back of my house and it picks up the Asian stations better but that's really about it. Every once in a while I get the time station on 15000Khz.

Tecsun PL-380 is the radio I am using. I know its cheap, but its my first one.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Ryan
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Old 06-07-2017, 2:53 PM
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You're in a very unique position, and unfortunately, mother nature hasn't been too kind to us. We're in a downward spiral of a cycle that has been the weakest in nearly a century of record keeping. Consequently propagation hasn't been all that good. Add to that how close you are to the auroral oval and the Pole, and that adds another level of complexity to the equation. Whenever the sun starts acting up, you're likely to be among the first to notice it.

Broadcasts to North America have declined drastically in recent years; heck, there's hardly anything out of Asia coming our way any more. You can use the various schedule websites listed here (links are always blue) to help, but this is always going to be impacted by propagation across the Pole...

SWL Broadcast - The RadioReference Wiki

WWV Colorado on 15 Mhz is a decent catch from where you are so your setup is working; and frankly, you can hear Asian and Pacific stations that we East Coasters would give our eye teeth for to hear.

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Old 06-07-2017, 5:16 PM
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ka3jjz,

Thanks for the reply. I get really good reception early in the morning, which in the summer time here isn't before sunrise. I can usually see the sun on the horizon even when I'm up between 430-500am. After about 9am I get nothing on SW. The Asian stations are cool to hear but I would like to understand what they saying! I'll look into the solar conditions more like you were saying. I actually caught BBC in English this morning, so that was cool.

Thanks,
Ryan
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Old 06-07-2017, 5:50 PM
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We have several links for propagation here...this is a fairly technical subject when you get beyond the basics, and we still don't know everything there is to know about it..

HF Propagation - The RadioReference Wiki

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Old 06-07-2017, 7:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlaskaListener View Post
ka3jjz,

Thanks for the reply. I get really good reception early in the morning, which in the summer time here isn't before sunrise. I can usually see the sun on the horizon even when I'm up between 430-500am. After about 9am I get nothing on SW. The Asian stations are cool to hear but I would like to understand what they saying! I'll look into the solar conditions more like you were saying. I actually caught BBC in English this morning, so that was cool.

Thanks,
Ryan
This is precisely the same as SW propagation here in California. So it goes to what Mike said about the propagation especially in the past 2-3 months. By the way, neat to read what it's like up there in Alaska.
Here, the Asias just ram in bigtime between 1000-1600UTC and like magic, poof! all gone. From that time until around 2300UTC I literally only get solid copy on WWV on 10-15megs, Brother Stair like he's next door, MWARA and 11175. That's it all day lately. But 0000UTC it all starts gaining strength and becomes full solid copy on tons of stuff worldwide into the evening.
Your reception perception might be more common than you know.
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Old 06-07-2017, 8:03 PM
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Ridgescan, I am hoping to transfer to Petaluma next summer. Maybe by the time I get there it'll be better conditions for listening. I guess it is common for many like you said. Just glad I know my radio is actually working.

Ryan
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Old 06-07-2017, 9:38 PM
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Ridgescan, I am hoping to transfer to Petaluma next summer. Maybe by the time I get there it'll be better conditions for listening. I guess it is common for many like you said. Just glad I know my radio is actually working.

Ryan
Hope you make it here. Petaluma is very nice! Me and my gal are getting the heck out of SFO and moving to Rocklin, Ca. within a year. Cannot wait to set up shack out that way! Your radio's fine as is your wire. By the way, see if you can get 5085kHz between around 0200-0530UTC. It's on now with a ham radio program (0233UTC). This is WTWW out of Tennessee and you might enjoy its music and other stuff. I sure do, every night.
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Old 06-08-2017, 2:07 AM
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Like the others said, what you're hearing is what you're gonna hear.

I get Asia during the a.m. -- that is, when I bother to switch on the radio. During the evening or late afternoon I get Cuba, Brother Stair, and sometimes South Korea's and China's broadcasts to Latin America. Rare occasions, Greece on 9420 kHz (early evenings when/if propagation is working). And I'm in Washington state.

You might try the ham bands from time to time, if you have SSB capability. Sometimes they have activity when nearby SW broadcast bands don't.
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Old 06-08-2017, 1:15 PM
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Boombox,

I've been able to hear Cuba late in the afternoon here in Alaska, which surprised me. I ordered a radio with SSB as a ham operator friend suggested that as well. I'm eager to try it out when it arrives tomorrow.
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Old 06-08-2017, 4:32 PM
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You may want to check for stations with a Canadian audience. Canada even has some domestic services on shortwave to cover the less populated areas. Otherwise you may want to try listening when European broadcasters are 'aiming' for east Asia or the Pacific. They would likely be going 'over the pole' pointed more at you then. You could work out similar situations for other broadcasters-likely nobody is going to be 'pointed' at Alaska due to the small audience.

Other than that, wait for winter. with the long nights, things will quiet down for you and the lower frequency bands will cover a lot of ground.

Good luck
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Old 06-08-2017, 7:34 PM
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As others have said, conditions are not great, and your location combined with time of the year (but in the winter you have an advantage) does not help, however, I am going to chime in with it is probably also because of your equipment. Yeah, that is going to be controversial, and not everyone will agree with me, but let me explain.

Yes, in the mornings things to the west of you and below 14000 kHz will be primarily what you hear, that means Asia, South Pacific, and far east Europe / Russia. Once the sun gets good and up below 8000 kHz will tank, and then freqs above that will be better. In the evening when the sun is getting lower then the east will pick up.

This is flat out the worst time of the year for your location, and in the middle of some very bad conditions. So it will take optimal equipment (radio and antenna) to squeeze what little can be gotten from the situation.

A good antenna, not just a random wire, maybe something cut for a specific band and properly mounted. And a good receiver.

Yeah, as others have said, conditions aren't great, but you can still hear stations. I am in southern CA, so not quite the same conditions as you, but right now is about 3.5 hours from sundown, and I have some usable stations. The following only applies to right now as I write this, and stations that are usably strong. I did not use my Rhombics or beams, this is on a triband fan dipole.

On 31 meters all of these are at usable (but few strong) levels right now:

9265 WINB, Red Lion PA
9350 WWCR, Nasheville TN
9370 WWRB, TN, (Overcomer Ministries ... DOH! )
9395 WRMI, FL, RMI Oldies
9455 WRMI
9475 WTWW, TN
9535 Radio Habana Cuba
9570 CRI, Albania
9595 R. Nikei 1, Japan (odd reception, at this time)

And here is what the spectrum looks like, the vertical lines on the waterfall are stations: I called out only the ones that could be used above, there are several other stations on the waterfall, but they are a pretty tough pull.



25 meters has a similar number of usable stations right now, but more Cuban and less US. 19 meters has some usable traffic on it, but more towards the west, Asia. 41 meters is starting to show some traffic, but anything outside the US is still a bit weak to call usable, give it 2 hours and those will come up out of the noise and Europeans will be usable. However, in your location that might not happen, not sure.

Of those 31 meter stations I listed only 3 can be heard (at a usable level) on my Tecsun PL-660 portable.

Tomorrow morning there will be a lot more traffic to be had. Asia and South Pacific will be booming in, from the tropical bands to 25 meters at least. There will be dozens of strong stations, and many times that number usable but not really strong stations.

Marginal to bad conditions require optimal equipment to really get good use. During better times you can get away with a lower end portable and maybe a short random wire. But the worse the conditions the more effort you need to put into the gear / setup.


T!

Last edited by Token; 06-08-2017 at 8:41 PM..
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Old 06-11-2017, 1:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlaskaListener View Post
Boombox,

I've been able to hear Cuba late in the afternoon here in Alaska, which surprised me. I ordered a radio with SSB as a ham operator friend suggested that as well. I'm eager to try it out when it arrives tomorrow.
For what it's worth, most of my recent loggings/SW stations heard have been on a Grundig G2 (a small, Degen-made portable with a SiLabs IF chip, probably not too different from the circuits in your own Tecsun radio), off its whip antenna.

Last year I was able to hear China's broadcasts to Europe (in the opposite direction from me) from Kashgar (in Sinkiang, Western China) off the same radio, so I think the vast majority of your reception issue is conditions. Although, if you had a very good antenna and a tabletop HF receiver, you would probably have a better chance of hearing things.

RE: Cuba: they always get out quite well, even the Spanish broadcasts. I believe it's partly because they aim their signal North and West towards the US much of the time. There have been times when the only thing I've heard on the air during the evening has been Cuba, and Brother Stair (or a similar religious broadcast coming out of one of the domestic US SW broadcasters).

RE: SSB: that will help with ham band reception. Hams tend to try to contact each other even in miserable conditions, for the challenge of it. And many times I've heard hams on 20 meters when the nearby 19 meter band is kaput.
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Old 06-11-2017, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boombox View Post
RE: SSB: that will help with ham band reception. Hams tend to try to contact each other even in miserable conditions, for the challenge of it. And many times I've heard hams on 20 meters when the nearby 19 meter band is kaput.
To the OP, you can listen to AM stations with the receiver in SSB, but not SSB stations with the receiver in AM.

Also keep in mind that SSB can help when receiving AM stations. Selecting a sideband away from interference (i.e. LSB when there is a strong BC station 5 kHz above the one you want) can be a real help. And sometimes SSB will make a just weak and unreadable AM station copiable even when there is no interference.

I ALWAYS recommend a receiver with SSB, even if the person only wants to listen to SW BC stations. I further recommend the receiver actually have selectable USB and LSB, not just generic SSB with a BFO. The extra few dollars, and generally it is just a few for similar quality, often results in a much more usable receiver.

T!
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Old 06-12-2017, 4:10 PM
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Gentlemen, thanks for all the information. I would love to put up a legit antenna however I currently live in military housing and I don't think they would be too fond of seeing my own equipment strung across the yard. You all got me excited about winter time and seeing what I am able to pick up later this fall.
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Old 06-13-2017, 12:39 AM
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In the meantime, enjoy Asia in the morning. Radio Nikkei (6055, 9595, 3925, 3595 kHz) has some interesting programming overnights / early a.m.'s, although it's in Japanese. You also should be able to hear the BBC out of Singapore on mornings with good propagation (6195 KHz and 9740 kHz).
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Old 06-13-2017, 9:04 AM
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FedEx dropped off my Tecsun 660 yesterday and right now, 1400utc I'm picking up "The voice of the pacific " in English. I don't see it on my schedule but some googling says it is New Zealand. Maybe it's the conditions maybe it's the new radio, either way I'm happy.

Ryan
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Old 06-13-2017, 4:12 PM
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Go to...

http://www.eibispace.de/

...and download the English "Text database" - more information than you know what to do with and very current too. For even more info, join the Yahoo group 'swskeds' to download a huge xls database which will tell you which stations are transmitting at the time you entered in UTC - this database is updated almost daily!

This is useful too...

http://dx.qsl.net/propagation/greyline.html

....as you see I am in New Zealand so the gray line sweeps over me quite quickly but often in the late afternoon I can hear European hams on 40m and broadcast stations in the 49m band as the "other end" of the gray line sweeps over them.
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Old 06-13-2017, 6:03 PM
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Thanks majoco for the links. I'll check them out. As far as ham goes, I read a lot from the users on this forum that they use SSB to reach out to each other, what frequencies are popular if I was to tune in and try to hear some of you guys? Do they have a separate forum they use to meet up before taking to the radio?

Ryan
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:54 PM
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0430UTC the 31 and 30m bands are jumping with Euros on the gray line for me!

SSB is used as it is far more efficient in "talk power" than the AM (amplitude modulation). A lot of power is wasted on AM - you need the carrier and two sidebands, one of which is the mirror image of the other. The carrier has no information other than the frequency and one sideband is superfluous. Also the receiver can have a narrow filter of about 2.7kHz rather than the 6 to 9kHz for AM - meaning less reception noise. However the receiver has to be more stable and more complicated.

The popular ham frequencies are the ones that get greater distances at that time of day and under those conditions! There is a good propagation section in the RR Wiki which will explain everything but whether it makes it any more understandable or not is debatable! I have been playing around with HF radio since I was a kid of 8 years old when I got my first crystal set which a ham friend modified to cover the 49m band which in the 1950's was really jumping with all the cold war rhetoric - and I still don't really understand propagation! It's like fishing - dangle your hook in the water and see what you catch.
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:58 PM
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I should have sent you my handy chart of bands, you'll find the ham SSB people at the higher end of the band - the lower end is for the narrow forms of transmission, morse, RTTY, PSK etc..
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File Type: pdf HF Bands B.pdf (7.1 KB, 17 views)
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