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New User / Getting Started Forum - The place for new users to discuss how to get started, and generally feel safe from the rest of the rabid technical community. If you just got your first scanner, this forum is for you. Please note: Posts are only moved from this forum by OP's request only.

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Old 09-17-2017, 1:44 AM
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Default New, Hello, and Help

Hi. I'm totally new to shortwave radio and totally lost. I've bought SW radios in the past and never could figure them out. Today someone bought me the RadioShack Compact Portable AM/FM Shortwave Radio and it seems to be in MHz. All I know is I can never hear a thing but static. Every single radio I've gotten, the same thing happens. Am I doing something wrong? Do I live too near to interference? I've looked at tutorials but they're radio specific usually and this one seems hard to figure out - the user manual is no help at all. I'll scan the stations but other than going a half step at a time, there's just nothing going on. Any help is appreciated. Kim PS the URL is https://www.radioshack.com/products/...hortwave-radio
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Old 09-17-2017, 3:05 PM
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WWV operates time stations in Colorado and Hawaii that broadcast using AM mode on Shortwave frequencies. Try tuning into 2.500, 5.000, 10.000, 15.000, 20.000, and 25.000 MHz

You almost certainly will hear a signal on at least one of those with a ticking sound, a beep every minute, and occasional time announcements. The first two freqs will probably only work at night for you. The last two will probably only work during the day for you.

It's an easy first step.
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Old 09-17-2017, 4:26 PM
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Shortwave is a very fickle thing! Daytime the best frequencies are high, evening and nighttime they are low. Most of people's problems are as you described - you don't know where to listen and when and what for! Attached to my post in this topic are a couple of charts called "HF Bands A & B" which will tell you where to listen frequency-wise and what the bands are on your radio. The sun is not helping much at the moment either with active solar storms sometimes obliterating any shortwave radio! You may be having a bit of local interference too, from those blasted wall-wart power supplies - unplug as many as you can find! Get out in the open too. Read through the entries in our topic here...

https://forums.radioreference.com/hf...al-discussion/

and my charts are in here, quite a way down...

https://forums.radioreference.com/sh...-location.html

Don't let it get you down, we've all been there.
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Old 09-17-2017, 6:51 PM
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Welcome to the forum! You'll find those of us that hang around here have, literally, hundreds of years of cumulative experience in the shortwave listening hobby. That said, knowledge is your best friend. The more knowledge you have, the more you will enjoy the hobby without the frustration. Tutorials that are radio-specific will not be helpful. Instead, you'll find a great deal of more generic help online both on RadioReference and elsewhere.

There are many different variables to consider when hunting elusive shortwave signals. Some things you can impact, and some you can do nothing about. Given your current radio, try listening after dark, and focus on frequencies around 6 MHz. Be aware that the type of siding on your house can reduce signal levels. Brick and aluminum siding are the worst, and will absorb or reflect signals. As such, you may try attaching a 30 foot piece of thin, plastic-coated wire to your radio's antenna using an alligator clip. Extend said wire horizontally any way you can, maybe even outside the house if you can.

Be aware that no matter what you do, or what kind of receiving equipment you have, you won't be able to make up for poor ionospheric conditions. The sun's eleven year magnetic cycle greatly impacts what you can or can't hear. Right now, the cycle is at it's lowest point, which translates to poor reception. For example, I use an Icom R71A into a 70' long wire outside my house. Lately, I'm lucky if I receive any Ham Radio operators from Europe here in upstate New York. Just three years ago, it was not uncommon for me to be listening to Hams from all parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and even the South Pacific. The good news to this is that once the solar cycle starts to improve, shortwave reception will too.
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Old 09-17-2017, 8:16 PM
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Default Thank You All

Thank you all so far. I know I have a cheaper radio, which I got only because in the past I could not hear anything either so I figured I'd try again but not spend a lot. I'll try all of the suggestions. I did hear clicking on the stations suggestion (one of them) so that's somewhat of a start. I think I need to get out of the house with it and try the antenna too. I'll keep trying. and hanging out and reading. Again, thank all of you for your suggestions.
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Old 09-18-2017, 4:53 AM
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What are you interested in listening to? Have you checked for their schedule, if it is a broadcaster, to know when they are broadcasting your general direction?

You will want a bit more antenna than the whip provided on your radio. Someone gave a good suggestion, however there can be issues with static discharge damaging your radio's input amplifier. (Static can be from wind, or a lightning strike withing a few miles.)

Start out with trying to pick up WWV and CHU. Those will let you know that your radio and antenna work. Then you can work on improving signal quality.

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Old 09-18-2017, 5:48 AM
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Default Listening to...

I want to be able to scan and just hear anyone or anything. When I was young, I had a transistor radio. On the AM stations I could pick up stations from around the country and it was soothing - static and all. I just want that peaceful feeling of listening to some foreign voice from thousands of miles away. I may be strange but it's just peaceful in a way, if that makes sense. I have no desire to broadcast - just listen.

I'm wondering if I should get a SW radio with a dial too - something that I can do slower. I've input the stations but not hearing anything but the ticks and beeps once. I'll do the antenna thing since that seems to be a suggestion from anyone.
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Old 09-18-2017, 7:50 AM
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Here's a great website you can use for both researching shortwave listening, and determining broadcaster schedules: Short-Wave Radio Frequency Schedule for BBC in ENGLISH. (The site covers many more broadcasters than the BBC.) Just make sure to drag the red dot on the map to your home location. That will personalize the website so the broadcasters expected signal levels are more accurate for your location.
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Old 09-18-2017, 9:26 AM
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I'm glad that you were able to hear the clicks. I see that you have added your location and my second suggestion is something that I am able to easily hear in Florida.

Radio Havana Cuba has broadcasts on shortwave that are sometimes in Engligh and aimed in our direction. You can find their schedule here Radio Habana Cuba, Periodismo, Informaciones del acontecer nacional y extranjero

At this time of year, our local time in Florida is - 4:00 hours from UTC. If the RHC schedule shows a transmission in "Ingles" on 11670 KHz from 20-21 UTC that would be from 16-17 local (4pm-5pm). Shortwave broadcasters use Universal Coordinated Time in their schedules so you will have to convert it to your local time to make sense of things.

Also 11670 KHz is the same as 11.670 MHz The difference is whether the frequency is written as thousands of hertz or millions of hertz. The conversion is as simple as moving the decimal 3 spots to the left.

Listening to RHC in Florida should be an easy second step.
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Old 09-18-2017, 2:08 PM
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Okay, I used the site where you drag the red dot and it gave me lists of frequencies - yay. However, when I try to input them into the radio it reverts back. For example, if I input 7445 it'll read ERR and go to 8.91. What the heck am I doing wrong?
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Old 09-18-2017, 7:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundogkim View Post
Okay, I used the site where you drag the red dot and it gave me lists of frequencies - yay. However, when I try to input them into the radio it reverts back. For example, if I input 7445 it'll read ERR and go to 8.91. What the heck am I doing wrong?
It appears that you have to press the "enter" button both before and after entering the frequency. This is probably so the radio distinguishes between your pressing a memory location, and direct-entering a frequency.
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Old 09-18-2017, 7:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob550 View Post
It appears that you have to press the "enter" button both before and after entering the frequency. This is probably so the radio distinguishes between your pressing a memory location, and direct-entering a frequency.
I've been doing that yet it does the same thing.
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Old 09-19-2017, 4:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundogkim View Post
Okay, I used the site where you drag the red dot and it gave me lists of frequencies - yay. However, when I try to input them into the radio it reverts back. For example, if I input 7445 it'll read ERR and go to 8.91. What the heck am I doing wrong?
Try entering 7.445

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Old 09-19-2017, 5:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundogkim View Post
Okay, I used the site where you drag the red dot and it gave me lists of frequencies - yay. However, when I try to input them into the radio it reverts back. For example, if I input 7445 it'll read ERR and go to 8.91. What the heck am I doing wrong?
For this model radio you have to press the ENTER key before and after the frequency. Also you have to enter a 0 first for any frequency under 10 MHz (since there is no decimal key).
Try this sequence for 7.445 MHz: ENTER 07445 ENTER

I really like this little radio but it has some drawbacks. When tuning with the + or - key, it takes about a second after the keypress before you hear audio. This makes it slow to just search up or down for a station. Also the built-in antenna will only pick up fairly strong stations. You really need to attach a long wire antenna to it for better reception. There is a lot of good advice above for listening to shortwave broadcasts.
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Old 09-19-2017, 5:36 AM
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A few tips.
Make sure the SENS slide switch on the right side is pushed up to the DX setting.
When using the speaker, the volume control has to be all the way up to hear shortwave. Earphones help when listening to weak stations.
Don't touch the antenna while holding the radio. It reduces the signal.
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Old 09-19-2017, 10:39 AM
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You all are super helpful; I won't give up. I will try the wire to the antenna next. I do have it on DX setting, which I read about.
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Old 09-19-2017, 10:45 AM
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What I may do is post a video (link to it) showing how I'm inputting the frequencies just so maybe someone will see what I'm doing wrong and tell me. I cannot find a decimal point on this radio and still get error messages even when entering first, then the numbers, then enter again.
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Old 09-19-2017, 12:34 PM
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Could you have the keypad lock switch engaged (the up position)?
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Old 09-19-2017, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundogkim View Post
What I may do is post a video (link to it) showing how I'm inputting the frequencies just so maybe someone will see what I'm doing wrong and tell me. I cannot find a decimal point on this radio and still get error messages even when entering first, then the numbers, then enter again.
This model radio does not have a decimal point key. Because of that you have to enter a 0 as the first digit for any frequency you enter that is under 10 MHz. You also have to press the ENTER key before and after the frequency.

Try the following key sequence to tune to 7.445 MHz. The first 0 is important since this frequency is under 10MHz:

ENTER 0 7 4 4 5 ENTER
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Old 09-19-2017, 1:45 PM
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Most radios are sensitive enough, what they lack is selectivity and noise reduction. I would suggest you stick with the 'stock' antenna and just keep going. First try your 'local' AM radio stations -are they clear or noisy? If noisy, you may have a lot of RF 'noise' around you-a bigger antenna will just make it worse. If the 'locals' come in good, the next step out in range is next - Radio Havana Cuba would be a good choice given your location another 'test' would be WWCR in Nashville -mostly religious programming close to you, After that try the time stations WWV at 2500,5000,1000, and 15000 kHz or CHU (Canada) at 3300, 7850 and 14670.

Get a shortwave schedule (several on the web). remember higher frequencies in daylight and lower frequencies at night (both you and the station). Propagation has been poor lately but should get better-winter is quieter for the lower frequencies.

If noise is not an issue, then get some wire up- at shortwave frequencies more (longer) is generally better (at least up to 100 feet or so).

Other than the above tune around the bands (get a list of the broadcast bands ( list here Short-wave frequencies and bands used for radio broadcasting) and realize it will take time to learn.

Have fun
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