SWL a Dying Hobby?

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tes151

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I'm curious if the hobby of listening to short wave radios is a dying deal. The reason I ask, is that I have been looking on the web for SW sites that may give me some information, but it seems like most of the sites are either shut down, or haven't been updated/tended to in a long time.
 

ka3jjz

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Is the hobby dying? No but it is changing a lot. Sad to say that the Internet and Live Audio streaming has killed off many of the major broadcasters, but there's still lots to be heard. You just need to understand where to look, when and why. Certainly if the last Winterfest was any indication, the numbers were down somewhat due to the economy, but we still had a ton of folks there....

We have TONS of links in our wiki...

HF - The RadioReference Wiki

Specifically what are you looking for?

73 Mike
 

rankin39

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Actually, for DXers the advent of FM networks, satellite broadcasting and internet radio may be a good thing. It tends to get the powerhouse propaganda broadcasters off of shortwave leaving the weaker local broadcasters that are still important means of communication in Africa, Asia and South America in the clear and easier to hear. I don't know about the various websites; there should be at least a couple that stay up to date. Find those and you're in business. I started listening in the early 1950s and it has remained a great lifetime hobby. Good luck!

Bob
 

kb2vxa

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While SWLing never was all that popular in the US it was for a very long time THE way for people in other countries to get news and information both regionally and worldwide. There was a whole lot of music and cultural programming as well, THE way of learning about other people at a time when direct communication was lacking. With the development of far more cost effective, efficient and reliable means, international shortwave broadcasting is nearly at an end now that the flamethrowers that could be heard on any cheap portable have shut down.

Oh it ain't dead yet, there are still broadcasters out there but using lower power aimed at different target areas plus the huge increase in interference from crap consumer electronics they're just a bit harder to hear. BTW one of my pet peeves is it is no longer possible to know just where signals are transmitted from even when the point of origin is well known. Rather than broadcasting from home like they used to now they use remote relays linked via satellite or internet (linked, not an internet broadcast). There's another reason why the flamethrowers are gone, the mileage is covered by other means.

Last but not least is the simple fact there always was a whole lot more on shortwave than broadcast and it has grown tremendously. The focus has changed perhaps for the better since listening to Indonesian fishing boats is a challenge of your equipment and skills where back in the day you could hear Radio Moscow on the fillings in your teeth.

One last, last thing, I'm an old fashioned guy who never bothered with internet sites for such information so I don't care if they haven't been updated since the Stone Age. I just tune around to see what's out there as always although I no longer keep a log. Why? Now I'm showing my age, I come from a time of big steel boxes having glowing glass bottles inside and sending log information through the mail to be published in monthly club newsletters was the only way to share information. Computers? Internet? Cummon kid, you're either high on something or you've been reading too many Dick Tracy comic books, there ain't no such thing as a two-way wrist radio! (;->)
 

ka3jjz

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The original question remains, and a few of you have danced around it to some extent - what are you trying to hear? Not everyone is looking to hear that flea powered station out of Latin America or Asia; most folks starting off would rather hear some of the powerhouses like the BBC, DW. Netherlands or some of the others. They're just getting their feet wet, so to speak. There are still many stations you can hear, even with a relatively inexpensive portable (listening to Iran is always amusing...).

For a good summary of stations-major broadcasters and some others too- Dan K4VOA's super spreadsheet is worth its weight in gold. It's available from the site below. You will need a good unzipper (WinZip, 7zFM, among many others) and Excel (or a program that can read spreadsheets, like that found in Open Office) to use it.

SHORT WAVE STUFF

It's updated every few days, so be sure to check it regularly if you use it. Personally I don't know how Dan keeps up with it, but he does :.>>

Something else, I think, tends to scare away potential listeners - HF isn't open 24 hours a day. Some freqs are open during the day, others at night, and patterns can and do change around the times the seasons change, not to mention where we are in the Solar Cycle (most seem to agree that we are on the verge of starting 24). This is a very different way of thinking, unlike scanner stuff, which is often around day or nite. I believe that this is a difficult topic for some to understand. I've said this many times before, but it bears repeating - this is a topic you must understand (even at the basic level) if you are to be successful in this game. You don't need to be a geophysics major to get by; we do have several links that can tell you more in our wiki.

The question remains - what do you want to hear? 73 Mike
 

k9rzz

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Bottom of the solar cycle? Great! Tune low.

Is shortwave listening dying? You get out of it what you put in.

Did TV DXing die with the digital TV conversion? Nope, now that all those pesky Stateside stations are gone, if the band opens you get to see Canadians, Mexicans, and South America! Whoot!

Big shortwave blow torches shutting down? Darn, now I'll have to chase those low powered Indonesians or Brazilians. Yeah, but there's no English programming! Hey, music crosses all language barriers.


Every hobby changes with time. You've just got to change along with it.
 

raisindot

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Bottom of the solar cycle? Great! Tune low.

Is shortwave listening dying? You get out of it what you put in.

Big shortwave blow torches shutting down? Darn, now I'll have to chase those low powered Indonesians or Brazilians. Yeah, but there's no English programming! Hey, music crosses all language barriers.


Every hobby changes with time. You've just got to change along with it.
Good for you! Someone needs to keep this dying hobby alive!

As for me, I find myself listening to SWL less and less these days. The novelty of foreign language stations wore off long ago. The reduction of English language broadcasts to a handful of stations means SW no longer offers the global perspective that made it attractive. The infestation of crazy fundie stations rapidly saps my enthusiasm. Even with my expensive receiver and long antenna I still can't pick up the tropical stations. And even if I did that novelty would wear off quickly.

If it wasn't for some of the aircraft transmissions of SSB and the thought that someday I might try decoding faxes and whatnot, I would have sold my equipment long ago.

Jeff
 

k9rzz

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IMO there's plenty of variety out there to listen to besides just Brother Stair. Digital, numbers stations, international air, military, not to even mention the ham bands which will continue to improve the next 5 to 6 years. Plenty of RF flying around up there for everyone.
 

brandon

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Besides aero and military comms, some of the most interesting things on HF are the oddballs such as pirate radio, number station, fishermen/bootleggers, etc. Never really got into SW broadcast DXing myself, but last week I decided to tune around for the hell of it and picked up KCBS Pyongyang on 2850 and Voice of Iran on 9860. Even if we can't understand a word they say, there are interesting things to be heard for broadcast station bands as well .
 

mikepdx

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...I have been looking on the web for SW sites that may give me some information,
but it seems like most of the sites are either shut down, or haven't been updated/tended to in a long time.
Technical information or programming information (or both)?

just a couple sites I look at - recently updated:

Shortwave Central Blog
Glenn Hauser's World of Radio

The people out there claiming the shortwave bands are dead,
should tune lower (as previously stated),
unplug your computers, monitors, routers, touch lamps, dimmers,
flat screen TVs' and every other source of offending QRM.
Even better yet, go camping in the woods with your receiver.
You're missing a great deal of the world of SWL.

Noisy microprocessors in everything from a
coffee maker to an alarm clock are not the SWL's friend.
 
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RadioDaze

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I bought a PAR Electronics "EF-SWL" longwire antenna system, and I'm using a rain gutter for an antenna instead of the supplied wire, at my RF-noisy condo. Grounded to a 3rd floor cold water spigot. Now I have a noise level of 0 or 1, and I'm hearing a ton of cool stuff. I had forgotten how much there is to hear, and I'm enjoying the hobby again with a Kenwood R-600 that I bought nearly 30 years ago. Mike is right; when we address the weak links in our listening environments, the bands come alive again. Can't wait to take the new antenna on a field trip. (Well, I'll use the wire, not the rain gutter.)
 

a29zuk

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It depends on what is your cup of tea. If you like just powerhouse English shortwave stations.. yeah it's dying. If you like to pull in the weak ones and the utes it's still alive and kicking. As others have mentioned, take your receiver out to the park with batteries or plug it into the vehicles cigarette lighter and roll out some wire out on the ground. You'd be amazed at how quiet it is and what you can pick up. Stations barely moving the s-meter are easily heard. I like to take the dog and my radio to a nearby park in the late afternoon and tune away for two or three hours. Listening to your receiver away from the noise is like looking at the stars out in the sticks as compared to trying to looking at them in the city.
 

KD0LWU

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It certainly isn't what I remember it to be 10-15 years ago! I just recently decided to try it again, so I dusted off the old Radio Shack DX-390. Hmmm, not much at all in English! No BBC? I got on the net, nope, BBC no longer shoots NA.
A little more digging, no more "Passport to world band radio" REALLY? Then I started pricing out the 2009 copies, $128? WOW! Without Passport there is no way I could have gotten into it as good and happily as I did!
I thought it would be nice to get a small portable to stow away in a BOB, but I think it would be pretty much useless in a situation like that!
It's really sad times to see this go this way, no I get religious and extreme right wing broadcasts, with little else I can understand.
 

DE8MSH

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No, no, no.

I'm curious if the hobby of listening to short wave radios is a dying deal. The reason I ask, is that I have been looking on the web for SW sites that may give me some information, but it seems like most of the sites are either shut down, or haven't been updated/tended to in a long time.
Uhm, no. SWL isn't dying if you are doing the broad mass of possibilities of yout hobby. Look at

DE8MSH *** German Shortwave Listener Station

I'm listening to many of the broadcasts on (or off) ham bands. To me it's still fun!

73
DE8MSH
 

k9rzz

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The bands are JAMMED with stations. Whether or not you choose to listen to them is up to you, just as it was 20 years ago, but there is still plenty out there to hear.
 

DPD1

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It may not be as easy as it was with BBC booming in and all that. But I think it will always be a viable, relatively cheap option for communications. There are still millions of people in the world living in the middle of nowhere, and they aren't going to have a sat dish on their shack or grass hut. It will always serve as a good, basic, long distance communication method. Most countries are still running stations. The military will always keep a network going, because it;s one of the most basic fallback systems you can have. As long as there's radios, people can talk. The same can't be said for satellite and phones. And what lacks in big stations, will be made up for by low level clandestine stuff.
 

ka3jjz

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It certainly isn't what I remember it to be 10-15 years ago! I just recently decided to try it again, so I dusted off the old Radio Shack DX-390. Hmmm, not much at all in English! No BBC? I got on the net, nope, BBC no longer shoots NA.
A little more digging, no more "Passport to world band radio" REALLY? Then I started pricing out the 2009 copies, $128? WOW! Without Passport there is no way I could have gotten into it as good and happily as I did!
I thought it would be nice to get a small portable to stow away in a BOB, but I think it would be pretty much useless in a situation like that!
It's really sad times to see this go this way, no I get religious and extreme right wing broadcasts, with little else I can understand.
The WRTH for $128?? Where did you get ripped off getting quoted a price like that? Universal Radio has the 2010 version for $30. Yes, Passport closed its doors just recently; the price of publishing and competition with the Internet is, I suspect, what really killed the publication. Unlike the WRTH (which just issued a PDF based update for its schedules, by the way) Passport didn't - and that tended, I think, to limit its usefullness over time. It was a great resource for receiver reviews - Larry Magne's well known bias toward Drake products notwithstanding - and its website had even more stuff with reviews, and personally I think that was its greatest strength.

As mentioned by others, you need to broaden your horizons and decide what else on HF you want to hear. There's so much out there I can easily see a newcomer being overwhelmed with the number of things you can hear, even if you're just using a small portable radio. For example, if you speak another language, or even learned one in college or high school (some states now require that you take a certain number of hours in another language for graduation) this is a very good way to keep your ear sharp and in practice. Easy exposure to other cultures is one of SWBC's strengths.

73 Mike
 
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