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Suggestions - Rethinking the Shortwave hobby

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dnlbrrg

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Well, I've been messing around with a shortwave radio for a while and, I have to admit, it is fun. However, as the days go by, I realize that it is less and less logical for me to mess around with a shortwave radio when most radio stations are broadcasting over the internet with, often, better sound.

So, I pose a few questions to you.

1.- Why keep SWLing? and yes, I get it, when the world ends and societies collapse and all that stuff, shorwave will be the revolution. Yes, I know some countries don't have internet and rely on shortwave and all that. However, I live in the U.S., have access to the internet, and plan to use the SW when society collapses. What I mean is this: even Radio Havana (not my favorite by any means but just an example) is accessible online too, many famous broadcasters (Deutsche Welle and BBC come to mind) stopped the short wave broadcast.

2.- Is there anything left that is fun to do with a SW radio? Besides listening to the hams (and I don't know if this would be considered SWling) or scanning for pirate stations, what else is there to do?

What are your thoughts on the current state of affairs?
 

ka3jjz

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Bowie, Md.
You're missing a very big point indeed, and one us East Coasters might be facing in the next few days. The internet can go down from any number of issues, both natural and man made (as an example of the latter, recall that both Syria and Iraq either blocked or interrupted their online services at some point). HF will still have a chance to get through, propagation permitting.

And while it is quite true that many of the big boys have left or are in the process of leaving, that leaves more room for some of the lesser known stations to be heard. In addition, there's lots in the utility world to be had, if pirates and the smaller HF stations don't interest you.

Time to adjust the view, I think...best regards...Mike
 

pjtnascar

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Sussex County, NJ
Doesn't the idea of tuning in stations over the air interest you? Hunting through the static, catching stations based on atmospheric conditions, etc.? Anyone can listen to anything on the internet, but it's just a wired connection, a stream. If you don't enjoy the radio hobby for the sheer magic of pulling a voice or music out of thin air, then the radio hobby isn't for you.

There is much more to SWLing then just hoping for an internet interruption. For me, nothing beats tuning in a weak signak through the static and whine of radio land. It's even better when you're talking over the air with a far off station. It's the thrill of the hunt, not the content of the programming that makes SWLing fun.
 

ridgescan

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San Francisco, Ca.
Doesn't the idea of tuning in stations over the air interest you? Hunting through the static, catching stations based on atmospheric conditions, etc.? Anyone can listen to anything on the internet, but it's just a wired connection, a stream. If you don't enjoy the radio hobby for the sheer magic of pulling a voice or music out of thin air, then the radio hobby isn't for you.

There is much more to SWLing then just hoping for an internet interruption. For me, nothing beats tuning in a weak signak through the static and whine of radio land. It's even better when you're talking over the air with a far off station. It's the thrill of the hunt, not the content of the programming that makes SWLing fun.
+1
I will add that if you look at our loggings in the thread here
http://forums.radioreference.com/shortwave-broadcast/139118-log-your-sw-catches-here.html

you will see that adding an outdoor antenna to your SW radio will bring a TON of fun stuff, including the very undead BBC out of Thailand, Philippines, Africa, Ascension, Madagascar, etc.. VOA out of the same regions, PLUS a gaggle of English broadcasts from countries like N.Z., Australia, China, Japan heck just about every SW broadcasting country. You seem to have been limited by the whip antenna on the radio. Come join us man!! Only draws an avg. 2 amps of power per hour to hear the furthest reaches of our planet from the comfort of your listening post. The computer is no substitute for your own system of equipment pulling this stuff out of the sky:)
 
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zl2taw

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Mar 16, 2006
Messages
575
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Like whats been mentioned before, I have been listening to HF way before internet came, heck I was using valve receivers (I might add, better sound quality than the solid state stuff), I have access to the net & provide a stream. But there is nothing better on a night listening out for that elusive station, that you have been waiting for years to hear.
Its pure radio magic, which unfortunately the internet has taken away from most...
 

KC4RAF

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Sep 30, 2006
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Davenport,Fl.- home to me and the gators and the s
What the other fine SW listeners posted.

It's the little bit of rush that you get when pulling a station out of the noise! The net doesn't even come close to the warm feeling you get when tuning a good SW radio. IT'S the challenge sir, and don't you ever forget that!!! lol


edit: the net is for people who just want to sit at their computer and listen to one station's programming schedule...
 
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w2xq

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Jul 13, 2004
Messages
1,877
Location
Burlington County, NJ
What to do with the SW radio

Well, I've been messing around with a shortwave radio for a while and, I have to admit, it is fun. However, as the days go by, I realize that it is less and less logical for me to mess around with a shortwave radio when most radio stations are broadcasting over the internet with, often, better sound.

So, I pose a few questions to you.

1.- Why keep SWLing? and yes, I get it, when the world ends and societies collapse and all that stuff, shorwave will be the revolution. Yes, I know some countries don't have internet and rely on shortwave...

2.- Is there anything left that is fun to do with a SW radio? Besides listening to the hams (and I don't know if this would be considered SWling) or scanning for pirate stations, what else is there to do?

What are your thoughts on the current state of affairs?
1. SWBC is the -only- form of mass communication that cannot be turned off by a gatekeeper. Only a solar storm can degrade, not stop, broadcasts. The internet can be shut down by a switch. A satellite can be jammed. A cell tower can be overloaded (think 9/11 and now Hurricane/TS Irene) or lose power. A telephone line can be cut. Look to the Middle East for recent examples. Back in the cold war of the 1950's and 1960's China and the USSR used to run very high powered shortwave "jamming" transmitters attempting to block reception of broadcasts of the VOA. Bottom line, the jammers failed as the vagaries of propagation made mincement of the efforts. Some domestic SWBCers in the 120-49 mb use these lower frequencies to reach citizens in the mountains of CA and SA, the interiors of the Amazon, Africa, and Australia.

2. Use knowledge of propagation to enjoy the music of the domestic tropical broadcasters. It is often native music that one will never hear anywhere else. For instance, Africans can be heard from before sunset here until they sign off. South Americans can be heard all night long. Chinese domestic broadcasters are heard around dawn. Use the gray line path between you and a specific target station/area; typically signals will rise out of the noise, peak at an incredible signal strengh level and fade out in 20-30 minutes. Having both vertical and horizontal antenna wires will mitigate the fading effects of the tilting ionspheric layers.

3. Unfortunately budget cuts have impacted international shortwave broadcasting, as you have noted. Interet and satellite delivery is cheaper than transmitters targeted on NA and wEu. Broadcasts to the third world countries in Africa and areas of conflict (think the Middle East and areas of Africa as examples) continue, but such broadcasts are usually in native languages. I am not to date on the VOA activities but I do recall they shifting broadcasts using high power AM and FM located in countries around the usual protagonists in the Middle East. Search the internet for "Kim Andrew Elliott" who has published many articles on these topics and has a blog; highly recommended.

Hope this helps.
 

hertzian

Member
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
Besides listening to the hams (and I don't know if this would be considered SWling) or scanning for pirate stations, what else is there to do?
You don't have to be a ham to be involved in it! If you find HF propagation fascinating, one can easily be an "amateur swl" - that is not licensed to transmit, but still fun anyway.

I find it fascinating to listen to how much power other guys are running, what type of antennas they use, etc. What? You mean I'm hearing a guy running 100 watts into a dipole up at 20 feet all the way from the southern tip of Chile up here in LA? Once I get that information, and the information from the other end if I can hear it, perhaps then I'll get more detailed information from qrz.com and do a callsign lookup.

Or maybe just local guys within a 500 mile radius - it still isn't a direct shot to me, and one guy is only running 10 watts from his bedroom window. Wow!

I may not stick around for a lot of the content - once I've grabbed the basic info, twist the vfo and see what else is out there.

Go "old school", hang up a map, and stick pushpins into it to start for each station location you've heard.

While this can lead to an interest in becoming licensed, there is no law that says you have to, yet you can still have a good time with it. Of course there are emergency nets and so forth that you may want to tune into - there is a whole world of amateur fun, even if you don't decide to listen to the entire conversation.

And of course, the lack of age, sex, creed, color, religion, financial status etc is a plus since communications between each other takes priority!
 
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