Trying out shortwave

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SDavis90

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After doing some research I just purchased a Sangean ATS-909X in black, w/ wire antenna on Amazon.com...

I just wanted something to pick up news and information outside the U.S. and also want to see what I can pick up in HF utility monitoring. I know this obviously isn't a "serious" receiver like some kind of tabletop set-up, but I think it will get me started in that direction.

Just curious if anyone else has this receiver and if they like it much...also interested in any experience listening to HF utility stuff on this, and whatever other input is out there.
 

ka3jjz

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Here are a few places to start... once again the wiki on receiver reviews comes to the rescue;

Sangean ATS 909X Receiver Product Reviews

RadioIntelligencer

Sangean ATS-909X « radiojayallen

You would also do well to check out this sticky...

http://forums.radioreference.com/hf-mw-lw-general-discussion/171179-combined-skeds-spreadsheet.html

A better antenna will be all the difference, but don't go too overboard - a 40 or 50 foot inverted L is likely to work quite well with this radio. Too long and you will likely feed too much into the front end, causing overloading. This is easy to spot - if MW stations start showing up in the HF bands, that's one possible cause. There are other antennas that are a bit more involved to build...

best regards..Mike
 

K9WG

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Something that might be of interest. the CQ Worldwide SSB DX Contest is this weekend (10/29/2011 - 10/30/2011). Listen on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10meters. If conditions are good (10-meters has been very good) you should hear hams from all over. (160, 80, and 40 meters LSB. 20, 15, and 10 meters USB)

WA7BNM Contest Calendar: 8-Day Calendar
 

SDavis90

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A better antenna will be all the difference, but don't go too overboard - a 40 or 50 foot inverted L is likely to work quite well with this radio. Too long and you will likely feed too much into the front end, causing overloading. This is easy to spot - if MW stations start showing up in the HF bands, that's one possible cause. There are other antennas that are a bit more involved to build...
The antenna thing sounds complicated. Unfortunately I can't have anything outdoors...but I want to do something for sure. I've watched a few videos where people recorded different broadcasts and it just seems fascinating.
 

SDavis90

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Something that might be of interest. the CQ Worldwide SSB DX Contest is this weekend (10/29/2011 - 10/30/2011). Listen on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10meters. If conditions are good (10-meters has been very good) you should hear hams from all over. (160, 80, and 40 meters LSB. 20, 15, and 10 meters USB)
I wish I could check this out, but it's not going to arrive until 10/31.
 

K9WG

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I wish I could check this out, but it's not going to arrive until 10/31.
Well when it arrives 10-meters has been really good lately. Europe in the mornings, South America in the afternoon, Pacific/Asia in the evenings. Listen around 28.300 to 28.900 USB. Also 29.600 FM has been active.
 

SDavis90

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UPS tracking says I'm getting it today. I'm blown away by this, since I ordered it yesterday and selected standard ground. So looks like I will be up and running tonight hopefully.
 

ridgescan

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Good luck and use it in good health! We'll guide you if you want with all the hotspots. You are helping keep this SWL hobby alive:) always good to see continued interest.
 

AC9BX

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I cannot speak for the 909X but I own its predecessor, the 909. Technically it's the Radio Shack version, the DX-398, the identical radio. It has served me very well for many years. The 909 is a long-time favorite of HF enthusiasts and among the very best performers for portables, arguably better than some table-top units. However, reviews I've read on the new 909X are mixed. It seems that while the DPS does a very fine job at cleaning up the audio the radio is a bit deaf, lacking in sensitivity compared to less expensive portables. It seems this issue may be related to particular production runs. Although I don't personally have experience with the 909X I can tell you the 909 is remarkable for a portable HF radio. It will go through batteries like crazy. I use NiMH rechargeables. They are superior to alkaline in this radio. You can of course plug it in with an adapter which I highly recommend.

To get the most out of this HF radio like any other you need a good antenna. The built-in whip will be fine for the most powerful broadcast stations. But if you try listening to anything else you'll need a lot more signal. I find with most all such radios just clipping the antenna lead to the whip works better than the external antenna jack, especially with an unbalanced antenna.

Antennas do not have to be complicated, although they can be. A simple piece of wire stretched out somewhere and clipped to the radio is as simple as it gets and can produce dramatic results. If you can't have a wire outdoors you can try an attic antenna if you access to an attic. Clip a wire to an eaves trough, seriously. You can try something more complex such as a tuned loop. The tuned loop requires a small space compared to the long wire with good results. The enemy of HF reception is noise, noise from fluorescent lights, light dimmers, computer monitors, computer network routers, and cheap switching power supplies. Carry the radio around the house and listen as you move closer to various objects. You'll soon discover what that noise is. Finding a clean listening environment can be difficult.

You'll of course want to try listening to WWV at 2500, 5000, 10000, 15000, and 20000, and CHU at 3330, 7850, and 14670. This will give you a general idea of what frequency ranges are useful at that time and how your noise level is. Then you can move on more difficult stations. Before long you'll be tuning in to Trenton Military Base weather, numbers stations, pirates on 6925, KOL in Israel, and amateurs.
 

SDavis90

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I got it home around 4pm and started getting familiar with it. I'm impressed so far. It came with a wire antenna that I can unreel and hook to something. That seems to help.

Just listening off the whip antenna, I managed to hear RCAF VOLMET on 15.034MHz at 1625 Central Time...I Googled the frequency and it made sense I was hearing Thule (pronounced Tulee) weather observations. Radio Havana in english is a full signal.

The thing I am trying to figure out...do you just skim across the frequencies until you get a strong signal, and then check LSB or SSB until you can clear it up? This is what I've been doing, and seems to work for me.

I've been writing down my finds and noting the times and such...try to pick up callsigns too. I just realized I've been forgetting to note LSB or SSB where applicable.

Pretty neat stuff though..
 
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AC9BX

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There's a number of ways you can search for things. One method is to use side band, set the step for fast giving you the 1kHz resolution, and turn the knob. The SSB oscillators will beat with an AM carrier, off frequency slightly, so you get a tone when you land on something. This is helpful for finding weak signals. If you're in AM you might not notice there's a carrier there but with SSB you get the tone. Then you can try to fine tune it from there. Searching in SSB is also helpful to locate amateurs. Typically LSB is used below 10000kHz and USB above.

It's likely the radio is not tuned perfectly. Such tuning changes a bit over time, with temperature, battery voltage, etc. For example if everything is set just right you should be able to go to a known "perfect" signal like WWV at 10000. Switch to LSB and USB between 45 and 52 minutes when there is no tone, and there would be no beat note, it should sound the same as in AM. It likely wont, which is an indication the radio is not tuned up perfectly. That's not all bad as long as it isn't too far off and you know how to compensate.

There isn't as much to listen to from international broadcasters as there once was. Many countries have ended their HF broadcasts. But there are some left. Friday is a good day to monitor WBCQ at 7490. There's Behavior Night at 5PM Eastern with Sir Scratchy and music from the 20's and 30's. Fred Flinstone at 7PM is fun, and Allan Weiner Worldwide is on at 8PM. If you're into Christian radio the available programming is endless. There is still some English programming from Egypt, Cuba, Russia, and others. I particularly enjoy hearing the pirates.
 

K9WG

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The thing I am trying to figure out...do you just skim across the frequencies until you get a strong signal, and then check LSB or SSB until you can clear it up? This is what I've been doing, and seems to work for me.

I've been writing down my finds and noting the times and such...try to pick up callsigns too. I just realized I've been forgetting to note LSB or SSB where applicable.

Pretty neat stuff though..
Rule of thumb. Commercial aka 'Utility' (aircraft, maritime, government, etc.) will be on USB. Amateur (ham) on 160, 80, and 40 meters will be on LSB, 20 meters and up will be USB. (10 meter ham will also be on FM from about 29Mhz up. Shortwave broadcast will be on AM.
 

ridgescan

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Go here
S H O R T W A V E S T U F F
clik on the link "A11 combined .."<<the date there changes every time they update
then follow open prompts
when the NASWA page comes up clik "combined" at lower left
when spreadsheet comes up you can scroll to desired freq and look up desired time of your catch within that freq
very valuable tool for SWL
note-majority of broadcast stations are situated on evry 5khz I.E. 15110,15120, 17495, 17645, 17795 etc with a very few exceptions like WWRB on 5051khz or station WTWW on 9479khz to answer your question about centering stations:) you're gonna have fun!
 
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SDavis90

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Thanks! I appreciate the advice, and it will help me tremendously.

Also like the spreadsheet. Now I can figure out what I'm hearing when it comes to the broadcasts.
 
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