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Spadinator

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Hello all I am new to short wave listening and am looking for pointers. I have picked up a Realistic DX-380 and have made some attempts to listen but haven’t been successful yet. I would like to make an external antenna to improve reception but am unsure what to use to connect to the plug in my radio. Any help would be appreciated.
 
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ka3jjz

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Whoa Nelly! That's a bit too much for someone just starting out. These are much more basic - make sure your Flash player is active to see this site...

Propagation Primer - Flash Movie by AE4RV

This site has several good starter articles...;

Frequency Vs Wavelength

Radio Modes and Modulation RTTY

UTC GMT Conversion

Introduction to Shortwave Listening

Tuning 150 kHz to 30 MHz

That radio is a clone of a Sangean ATS-808A.

A real long antenna is hardly necessary when you're just getting started off with a simple portable. In fact it some cases it may overload the radio, depending on where in the country you are. This will do for a start...

Sangean ANT-60

Be sure to unplug the antenna and radio when thunderstorms are around. Static discharges have ruined many a radio.

That should be enough to get started. Good rule of thumb - listen above 10 Mhz or so during the day, below that at night...Mike
 

spongella

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Check out Universal Radio Inc's online store for shortwave antennas, or you could build a simple one out of wire. Outside antennas work better in general. Also check The SWLing Post for info on shortwave.

KA3JJZ and doctordialtone have good advice. Have fun listening to shortwave.
 

GB46

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A real long antenna is hardly necessary when you're just getting started off with a simple portable. In fact it some cases it may overload the radio, depending on where in the country you are. This will do for a start...

Sangean ANT-60
The AN60 was included with my Sangean ATS-909X. It's handy, increases the signal strength significantly, especially in the 8 to 12 mHz range, and seems to null out some stuff generated by my computer, too. It sometimes brings in much more RFI from other sources, however, especially at night. The antenna is strung horizontally along an outside wall of my top-floor apartment, about a foot below the ceiling. Unfortunately, this positions it parallel with the power lines outside, as I'm virtually surrounded by power lines here, and they're at roughly the same height as my ceiling. I hear little to no RFI with just the whip, maybe due to the whip's vertical orientation.

Oddly enough, plugging in the AN60 actually reduces the signal strength in some cases compared with just the whip antenna. Most of the time I can get by with just the whip, anyway, as long as it's fully extended and I'm running the radio on AC power. The radio is a lot less sensitive running on batteries, even brand-new penlight batteries.
 

kb6hlm

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Oddly enough, plugging in the AN60 actually reduces the signal strength in some cases compared with just the whip antenna. Most of the time I can get by with just the whip, anyway, as long as it's fully extended and I'm running the radio on AC power. The radio is a lot less sensitive running on batteries, even brand-new penlight batteries.
Hello GB46 and welcome to SW :) Its good to see im not the only one out here LOL I have been listening to the SW bands long as I can remember

Just wanted to give you a bit of advice: Don't spend to much attention to (signal strength) but instead listen for quality by that I mean SNR (signal to noise)

For example: you may have lets say 3 antennas all made for the same band you are working ANT A SIG is S-9 and B S-5 and C S-3 however the best one sounds the worse because it has a lower SNR (more noise less signal) all ANT A is doing is bringing in more noise but looks like it has better signals see what I mean ? this could explain why your antenna is acting like that it just needs to be moved outdoors maybe? to out perform the whip

About your radio being less sensitive running batteries this is probably caused by your AC adapter raising your noise floor and again looking like you have better signals when in fact its all just noise !

To prove it hook up a regulated power supply and you with see a drop in noise just like your battery did BTW this is normal for portable radios to do that as they come with cheap unfiltered AC adapters

In my shack I have several antennas to chose from it all the depends on what I'm listening too its really weird sometimes even on the same band just a few KHz off a station I want to hear is under the noise floor or bad interference just switching to another ANT clears it all up but then the other station is in the mud so I have to switch back

Anyway....... you will learn a lot about antennas along the way and how they work it really is fun remember there is no such thing as the best antenna ! chose the one that works best at the time and the funny thing is..... its usually the one you made! :):):):)

73s
 

kb6hlm

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One other thing I forgot to mention GROUND baby GROUND !!! antenna is almost useless without a counterpoise or earth ground its like night and day !! think about it..... its like a flashlight without a reflector ya it will work but not very well!!

Radio should always be grounded of course

Your radio will become alive try it on the AM band and you will be shocked what a difference it makes :)
 

GB46

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@kb6hlm: Contrary to the thread topic, I'm not new to shortwave; this thread was started by Spadinator. I've been into shortwave listening since the late 1950s. Thanks for the welcome, anyway! :)

I know what you mean about the regulated power supply. Those switching adapters are terrible, but in the case of my ATS-909X, which is a portable, its adapter surprisingly outputs 9 volts AC by design. The conversion to DC is done inside the radio by a full-wave bridge rectifier circuit and some kind of voltage regulation. When the radio is running on batteries I can bring it right up close to the adapter and hear no noise from it at all. By the way, I have a regulated supply for my ICOM R-75, but it never helped eliminate any noise. The R-75 is no longer in working condition, but I've already discussed that in another thread.

Most of my RFI problems are from being inside an apartment building full of TVs, surrounded by power lines, and directly across the street from a shopping centre with lots of parking lot lighting, etc. My own apartment is comparatively free of RFI. Putting an antenna outside is virtually impossible here, and it would still be exposed to those external noise sources, anyway.

Yes, I'm aware of signal-to-noise ratio, but on frequencies where there's little or no RFI, I can still hear the difference in the strength and readability of a signal when connecting and disconnecting the radio from AC. There's obviously a difference in voltage, because only 4 batteries are used, hence 6 volts vs. the adapter's 9 volts. I don't use rechargeables, which would give me only 4.8 volts at full charge. My other thought was that the power cord may be acting as an antenna.

Regarding grounding: Understood, but the nearest cold water pipe from my listening post is in the kitchen, which is much too far away. There's also no way I could run a wire to a stake in the ground from inside a third-floor apartment. My landlord would be furious. :LOL:
 
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kb6hlm

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GB46
My apologies Reply was directed to Spadinator who is new to SWL I got you confused with his post LOL and was trying to explain to him in layman's terms without a lot of technical stuff as that would be overwhelming to a someone who is new FB on the 1950s :) I don't go quite that far back but my dad did and I miss his stores about thoses times He is a SK now ( RIP)

Sorry to hear about the noise problems I know the bands have gotten worse throughout the years due to the new digital stuff it just drives me crazy !! and it don't matter what kind of rig you got there is just no why to rid of that junk!!

The new SDR radios are even worse in my opinion they just sound like cheap PC speakers ya a lot of bells and whistles and fancy things to look at but what the heck happen to the audio?

Well that's the digital world we live in now isn't it wonderful ? You know what I mean GB46 but I bet the young lads here have no clue what im talking about LOL

73s

"Newer is not better is just cheaper"
KB6HLM


 

GB46

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"Newer is not better is just cheaper"
KB6HLM
Yeah, despite all the advances in receiver accuracy and stability, using the older radio gear was more enjoyable -- for me, anyway -- partly because of the challenge involved. Nowadays, if I want to listen to Radio New Zealand, I can check the schedules I've downloaded from the internet and simply key in RNZI's frequency at the correct time of day, or press just one button to recall the frequency from memory. Propagation conditions permitting, I can then listen to that station for an hour or so without having to retune to catch up with receiver drift. And no warm-up time, either! But where's the challenge in that?

I guess I must have tuned in my first shortwave broadcast station, the BBC, in 1958 or 1959. That was on one of those big, old console radios.

While on the topic of the "good old days" of radio (the 1960s this time), here's an old thread starring yours truly. The thread is now closed to further posts, but it may be interesting to look at:

http://forums.radioreference.com/threads/a-bit-of-radio-history.375249/page-3
 

kb6hlm

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"good old days"

That was a great read I enjoyed that thank you :)

Boy I could not agree with you more about the modern way of listening I too am using a PC running a Yaesu FT950 /HDSDR /HRD and CSVUserlistBrowser Ya its cool and all to be able to do that but on the other hand it takes all the Mystery out of it when you can just look it up on the internet and sometimes I wonder is my rig even worth the trouble having all those antennas up there when you can just listen to the same station on the internet ?

Its funny sometimes I sit there and decode weather FAX from PT Reyes and think to myself wow this is kinda dumb using all this expense equipment for something that's just a click away with the mouse LOL

Ya I think it was more fun not knowing what it is your picking up and not knowing what the person looks like your taking to and when you get that hand written QSL card in the mail it was exciting it was more personal then just a email or text

FB on the 2 meter AM days that must have been a lot of fun I remember my dad talking about 6 meter AM said he enjoyed working DX however had nothing but problems with the neighbors and the FCC coming out to his house He was within legal limits however never could keep off the TVs LOL and when I told him I wanted to work 6 meters he talked me right out of that mess so I just stuck with 10 meters but I still had the same problems however I was using a old swan 350 and my dad told me not to use that thing on 10m but that's all I had

I also remember none of my dads old gear had AM in his shack so when I was a kid I used to think the SW broadcasters sounded awful since I was trying to tune them in on SSB LOL I was so happy when I got my first rig that had the AM mode man that was a lot better !

The best HAM days of my life was in the late 80s on 10 meters that was the most fun for me and even back then I was out of time using a old swan 350 I remember my contacts asking me to move to another frequency because the band was so crowded back then but I had to find them because i just had a dial and it was hard to see it I also got a lot of complaints from the (new hams) about drifting up and down the band and splattering I really had to watch my mic gain Wow that swan put out about 400 watts and would really get out of control if not tuned properly !

I miss that too it was more fun tuning the rig first and looking at all those meters going You could just feel the power ! lol

Well those days are gone Now I just turn the rig on and look at my monitor go to a frq with my mouse and key the mic not much to talk about anymore I mean really what should I say (im running a Yaesu ft950) and something about my transistors) LOL

Now I know why my dad stopped talking on Ham radio years before he died and to tell you the truth I did not understand why he did that back then it was so sad to see all of his antennas go down

To be honest I think Im done with ham radio as well :mad:


( I understand now dad) :cry:
 

a29zuk

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Yeah, despite all the advances in receiver accuracy and stability, using the older radio gear was more enjoyable -- for me, anyway -- partly because of the challenge involved. Nowadays, if I want to listen to Radio New Zealand, I can check the schedules I've downloaded from the internet and simply key in RNZI's frequency at the correct time of day, or press just one button to recall the frequency from memory. Propagation conditions permitting, I can then listen to that station for an hour or so without having to retune to catch up with receiver drift. And no warm-up time, either! But where's the challenge in that?

Sorry...Delete
 
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GB46

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Ya its cool and all to be able to do that but on the other hand it takes all the Mystery out of it when you can just look it up on the internet and sometimes I wonder is my rig even worth the trouble having all those antennas up there when you can just listen to the same station on the internet ?
My main focus as a SWL was always listening to kinds of music I had never heard before from parts of the world I had little hope of ever visiting. Most of the stations offering that content have since left the air, so to fill that gap I wind up listening to music streams from foreign stations on the internet. Most of them are domestic FM stations, so the announcements are in a language I don't understand, but the music is great, and usually broadcast in full stereo.

Its funny sometimes I sit there and decode weather FAX from PT Reyes and think to myself wow this is kinda dumb using all this expense equipment for something that's just a click away with the mouse LOL
Same here, although I'm too impatient to wait for the completion of an image, and not too good at reading weather charts either, so I eventually give up. I find NavTex more interesting, especially when there are warnings to mariners of hazardous areas in the Pacific (usually due to space debris or rocket launching operations).

Anyway, I always find myself trying to keep my SWL interest alive, regardless of what the internet has done to it. Radio is still in my blood, I guess, because the fascination started so early in life.
 

a29zuk

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Yeah, despite all the advances in receiver accuracy and stability, using the older radio gear was more enjoyable -- for me, anyway -- partly because of the challenge involved. Nowadays, if I want to listen to Radio New Zealand, I can check the schedules I've downloaded from the internet and simply key in RNZI's frequency at the correct time of day, or press just one button to recall the frequency from memory. Propagation conditions permitting, I can then listen to that station for an hour or so without having to retune to catch up with receiver drift. And no warm-up time, either! But where's the challenge in that?

I was in the same boat you are now. In the mid 90's I bought a Grundig Yacht Boy 400 to replace my ailing Sangean ATS803A. No tuning dial, just a keypad and slewing buttons to navigate the bands. I would look up the stations in Monitoring Times and punch in the frequency. I eventually got bored with it and quit listening to MW/HF. That Grundig sat in the closet for years collecting dust.
Fast forward to 2007, I decided to get a communications receiver. I bought a Palstar R30CC. I just liked the simplicity of it. When I started listening to the R30 it hit me. No wonder why I got bored. Even though the quality of the receiver was better, that wasn't what made it more enjoyable. It was the fact that it didn't have a keypad and it had a tuning dial! Now I was band scanning like I did when I first started enjoying HF in the 70's on my Realistic DX-160 and later on with a Collins R390. It's more fun turning the dial and finding something that isn't in a log somewhere.
More recently I purchased a Drake SPR-4 and rebuilt the power supply on the old R390. No keypads or spectrum screens on any of these rigs, I don't want them!

Sorry,I didn't mean to double post, I hit the "quote" button but meant to hit "reply"

Jim
 
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GB46

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It's more fun turning the dial and finding something that isn't in a log somewhere.
My 33-year-old Sony ICF-2002, which still works like new, has just a keypad and up and down buttons, so when I wanted a new portable a year ago I opted for the ATS-909X, which has a tuning dial in addition to the keypad. Still, it's not in the same league as my ICOM R75, which has a nice, smooth tuning dial with tuning increments as small as a single Hertz. That radio no longer works, however. But I can twirl a tuning dial up and down the SW bands from one end to the other these days without making very many new discoveries. Now I mainly use the dial for fine-tuning ham or utility frequencies in SSB mode; but I've known about those frequencies for years.
 

a29zuk

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My 33-year-old Sony ICF-2002, which still works like new, has just a keypad and up and down buttons, so when I wanted a new portable a year ago I opted for the ATS-909X, which has a tuning dial in addition to the keypad. Still, it's not in the same league as my ICOM R75, which has a nice, smooth tuning dial with tuning increments as small as a single Hertz. That radio no longer works, however. But I can twirl a tuning dial up and down the SW bands from one end to the other these days without making very many new discoveries. Now I mainly use the dial for fine-tuning ham or utility frequencies in SSB mode; but I've known about those frequencies for years.

Yes, I've read and enjoyed a lot of your previous posts. I agree it isn't like it used to be. But in SSB mode you can still run into some odd stuff like fishing boats, numbers stations, etc. It's also more fun to dial your way through the ham bands than using the slew button with muting.

Jim
 

TailGator911

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Yeah, sorry, but I just gotta have that speed dimple.

And, time to brew a pot of coffee. By the time the radio warms up and is ready to use, coffee will be done hah. Things were so simple then...
 

GB46

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I agree it isn't like it used to be. But in SSB mode you can still run into some odd stuff like fishing boats, numbers stations, etc. It's also more fun to dial your way through the ham bands than using the slew button with muting.
Oh, yes, if I want to surf the ham bands, I more or less have to use the tuning dial, for the simple reason that fine tuning in the Sangean ATS-909X doesn't work with the up and down buttons, which have a fixed increment of +/- 5 kHz. The tuning dial uses the same increment, unless fine tuning is selected, which changes that to 1 kHz. In SSB mode the tuning dial's normal increment is 1 kHz, with fine tuning allowing for smaller steps. They're not displayed on the screen, so I'm not too sure how small, but I've counted roughly 20 different pitches when fine tuning up or down from a heterodyne to the next whole kHz. Not the pinpoint accuracy of a communications receiver, but it works OK for clarifying SSB voice transmissions, and is also quite acceptable for the few digital modes I monitor. BTW, Sangean's user manual mistakenly states 40 kHz, and I think that error appears in their advertising, as well. Wow! What a great way to lose a sale! :eek:
I think they mean 40 Hz.
 
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