Help With Basement Shortwave Listening

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MikeThompson

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Hi everyone, I'm just getting into this hobby. I have an older Grundig 865 radio that I have had some luck with outside. The factory telescopic Arial is a little beat up, but I put a length of wire on it with an alligator clip and strung it outside. I got a few solid signals. I was hooked.

However, I'd really like to set up that radio downstairs on my work bench. I've found that I get nothing down there. I've tried clipping my wire on and running it outside, but I still don't get anything. I have a ton of questions:

1) Found interference from all the electronic devices in the house be interfering with the signals despite the antenna wire going outside?

2) if I plug in an external antenna to this hole on the back, does it cancel out the telescopic one?
84309

Thanks for your help guys!
 

jim202

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First of all, welcome to the board here. You should find a number of people that can come up with answers to questions and problems most of the time.

The simplest HF antenna is just a long wire. The length will be set by what frequencies your looking to listen to. But in general, your looking at something in the order of 50 to 100 feet in length. As your using the antenna for receiving only, the length is not critical. The longer it is, the better it will work at the lower frequencies.

Yes you could use a piece of coax to get your antenna out of the house. From the photo you provided, the antenna should be connected to the port with the Y under it. The one to the right with the upside down triangle figure is the ground.

As for the interference, it will take a bunch of running around to try and locate just what is causing it. I would start with shutting off all computers and their external displays. Next comes any TV sets, especially a flat screen unit. If you have a fish tank with a heater, unplug the heater and see if the noise went away. Don't forget to plug it back in. There have been some rare cases where the transformer for the door bell can be an issue causing static. It should change when the door bell button is pushed. Problem is trying to locate where the transformer got placed.

Those are all the easy noise generators that can be a problem. You didn't exactly state where you lived. Out in the country, a rural area or in the city? Your problem could actually come from another house close to you. Good luck on that.

If your out in the country, then you could be getting a pulse type noise from a cattle electric fence. If the weeds and grass have grown up into the wires, then the pulse noise might have a static sound from the vegetation burning a little each time the fence pulses.

If you have your electric service out on the street on poles with insulators, there could be a carbon track across an insulator that is causing sort of a buzzing sound. It will change with the weather. Less when it's dry and more when it's damp or raining. Then the problem is to track down to which pole it is coming from. A portable battery operated AM radio will help. Use it and tune to a frequency with no station. As you walk around down the street, you should be able to hear the static get louder as you get closer to the source and lower as you go away. If the power company has been lax in trimming the tree branches, there may be small branches and the leaves arcing on the wires. Again the amount of moisture will effect this source. More moisture, more arcing.

Good luck in your noise reduction efforts.
 

MikeThompson

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Thanks for the reply! Yes I'm finding out it will be tricky to get a good signal in the basement, but lugging around the radio and stringing 50ft of wire every time sounds unpleasant to say the least!

But in general, your looking at something in the order of 50 to 100 feet in length
Is having the wire stretched out going to make a difference? Can I wind it around in a loop? Space is somewhat of an issue if I'm going to have a wire outside.

Yes you could use a piece of coax to get your antenna out of the house. From the photo you provided, the antenna should be connected to the port with the Y under it.
I've looked for a connector that will fit into that socket, but haven't come up with any plug that will fit. Does the external antenna hookup work in conjunction with the telescopic antenna?
 

K4EET

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MikeThompson, is this the radio that you have:


And like jim202 said, welcome to Radio Reference! I was interested in seeing what receiver that you had. As you get your feet wet with Short Wave Listening, feel free to ask questions here at radio reference. Use the "Search" function and you will will find many questions already answered. But we are all here to help you out in any way we can. Again, welcome my friend! Dave
 

MikeThompson

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Just shove the bare wire in the hole.
With all the technical terms flying around here, I thought there would be a specialized tool or something. I will try that out and see what happens.

is this the radio that you have:
84363

That's it! It originally belonged to my great-grandfather, and I remember listening to SW when I would visit him in his apartment. When he passed, I got the radio and listened to it for a bit. Then for 20+ years it has just sat. With everything closed down now, I thought I would fire it back up, and well, here I am!

I got about 50ft of speaker wire, clipped it on the Arial and strung it on the side of my house. I got some stations, better than nothing. I am going to split the wire to get 100ft and see what that does. There is an unused phone line going from a pole in my backyard right to my house that I think is just begging to get used to support an antenna wire. I was also thinking about running it under my eaves, but I don't know about interference from the house.
 

MikeThompson

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I just found I was getting a lot of interference from a computer power supply I have running a car stereo on my bench. I turned that off and got reduced static. Every little bit helps I guess.

Still have to throw some wire around this evening and see what I can grab.
 

K4EET

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<snip> There is an unused phone line going from a pole in my backyard right to my house that I think is just begging to get used to support an antenna wire. <snip>
I would strongly recommend using NEITHER the phone line for support NOR the pole for support. The phone line may have induced noise and/or AC ring voltage on the "unused" wires since they are still connected to a telephone company Central Office (CO) possibly miles down the road. Worse yet, the pole probably supports power utility transmission lines running in the kilovolts range and you do not want to be connected to anything connected to those lines for safety reasons. Besides, unless I am mistaken, that telephone wire from the pole to the house is "private property" since it still belongs to the telephone company even though it may not be in service. But still, the bottom line is, stay away from anything utility related. Please...

What you do want to do is to take your wire and string it through the air to a tree or other supporting object far away from the utilities. My first SWL antenna was in my attic run from one end to the other. My second SWL antenna was outside on eave-mounted 10 foot poles so that the wire was about 10 feet above the apex of the house. Even later, I had a long wire antenna run 400 feet out through the woods to an antenna tuner where I would maximize the noise to get the best tune that I could. In the years following, I experimented with more antennas and learned a lot. Learning and experimenting is part of the fun of SWLing.

But probably the most important thing of any hobby is this: Stay Safe!

Let me/us know if you have any questions.

Cheers! Dave
 

MikeThompson

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Funny you should post that. As I found I was getting interference from the computer power supply, I thought I'd get much more interference from anything in the vicinity of that pole. So that was out anyway. Stringing it up on the house is probably my only option.
 

ka3jjz

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Since that portable was made in Germany, it's a decent bet that if there is an external antenna jack, it would be a PAL or KOK type (similar to the jacks used on the Eton E1 before it was discontinued). It would be tough to find here in the States. A Google search might turn something up, but I wouldn't hold my breath on it, and if you do manage to find it, it's likely not cheap....Mike
 

jim202

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Don't know if you have a digital volt meter with banana jack connectors on the wires at the meter end. See if they will fit the hole on the back of the radio.
 

K4EET

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Funny you should post that. As I found I was getting interference from the computer power supply, I thought I'd get much more interference from anything in the vicinity of that pole. So that was out anyway. Stringing it up on the house is probably my only option.
MikeThompson, keep us posted on what you come up with for a receiving antenna. Another "antenna" that I used in an apartment was the gutter downspout. I ran a small, insulated wire from the gutter downspout, through the window and attached the wire to the external antenna port on my receiver. That made a dramatic improvement over the built-in telescopic whip antenna. You can be creative while you search the Internet for better SWL antenna ideas.

One thing you might let us know is what you already know about electricity, electronics and/or radios and antennas. I know you said in your opening post that you were "just getting into this hobby" but your career or life's experiences may have already prepped you in some areas. If you wouldn't mind giving us a little background, then we'll know how much detail to include in our responses.

As an example, if you were to string an antenna above your rooftop, you may want to "feed" it with "coax" and you should consider lightning protection since it will then be the highest point on the house. That brings up the topic of "building codes" and so on. My point is this. I don't want to use terms that you are not familiar with so I need to know what I need to explain. On the other hand, If you currently work as a Building Inspector, building codes will be second nature to you and need no explanation.

Where I am going with this is what I said in my last post. Stay Safe! None of us would want to suggest you do anything that would be unsafe or not per building codes which can adversely impact your homeowner's insurance coverage. There are a lot of threads here that discuss various types of antenna installations. We can discuss you specific installation in this thread.

To avoid some of the lightning and grounding issues initially, you might consider going with an attic mounted antenna. Would that be possible? Do you have a path to route a wire or cable from the basement to the attic? If you do, how many feet would you estimate the cable run would be to the attic? Then once in the attic, how much space do you have from one end to the other? Is it a straight shot, "L" shaped, etc.? You get the idea. Tell us what you foresee doing for an antenna and we let you know if there are any things that should be changed based on our experience. After all, we've already made the mistakes and learned our lessons so you can do it correctly the first time. LOL!

Sooooooo Mike, sorry this got a little long. Just trying to help you out and save you from making any mistakes that I made when I first got started in the SWLing hobby. I hope you are enjoying what you are hearing on your receiver. This would be a topic for another thread, but let us know if you need any help in finding SWL databases that list stations and their broadcasting details, logging software to record what you have heard, software to make "QSL Cards" to send to stations that you have heard giving them signal strength reports and other comments, etc. There is a LOT of exciting aspects to the SWL hobby. It all depends on what you want to listen to and what you want to do with the hobby.

Hope to hear back from you with some thoughts on what you might be able to do for either an indoor or outdoor antenna system.

Cheers! Dave K4EET
 

MikeThompson

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I wouldn't hold my breath on it,
have a digital volt meter with banana jack connectors on the wires at the meter end
Yeah I pretty much abandoned the idea of finding a jack that fits that port. I experimented a little yesterday stringing some wire around the side of the house and picked up some stations with just the wire clipped to the arial. I think that's what I will use. It seems the easiest and most secure.

You can be creative while you search the Internet for better SWL antenna ideas.
oh, so this is one of *those* hobbies where nothing is ever good enough, and there is always something better to get? Haha!

One thing you might let us know is what you already know about electricity, electronics and/or radios and antennas. I know you said in your opening post that you were "just getting into this hobby" but your career or life's experiences may have already prepped you in some areas. If you wouldn't mind giving us a little background, then we'll know how much detail to include in our responses.
no electrical background whatsoever, so please go easy on the technical terms!

Do you have a path to route a wire or cable from the basement to the attic?
No, that would be too easy!

My current idea is to use my 100ft of wire and string it up the exterior of the house, along the eaves and up the side of the roof to the peak. All while staying clear of electrical stuff (for safety and interference) I'm limited somewhat in what I can put up. If I can grab a few strong channels and listen to some interesting stuff I should be good.
 

K4EET

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oh, so this is one of *those* hobbies where nothing is ever good enough, and there is always something better to get? Haha!
Nooooooo... Did I imply that? LOL!

<snip> I'm limited somewhat in what I can put up. <snip>
Sounds like you might have an HOA (Home Owners Association) covenant to abide by. If so, that where "stealth" antennas come in to play. LOL!

<snip> If I can grab a few strong channels and listen to some interesting stuff I should be good. <snip>
You should be able to find some to meet your criteria. Keep us posted on how it works out for you.

Cheers! Dave
 

WB9YBM

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when it comes to antennas, I'n reminded of the proverb "height it might". Even if you only string a wire along the eves of the roof up in the attic (and route that downstairs) you should notice an improvement. (A technique I used in a ranch-style house).
 

WB9YBM

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That's the trick - I don't have a clear path from attic to basement. I'm hoping that a wire along the eaves works just as well.
[/QUOTE

It might be a challenge, but in similar situations I've tried to follow telephone cable wiring...
 
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