What am I doing wrong?

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Hey guys,

I don't know if I'm doing something wrong or what the deal is, but I seem to be lost in the whole "shortwave thing"

A friend of mine bought a radio a few months ago, a Grundig Satellit 750 and told me he was disappointed with the short wave hobby and gave it to me. So, I get this radio a few months ago and start playing with it, I thought it was really cool at first. I start playing with it and come across stations from other countries in different languages, so I thought that was neat. After a couple of weeks I notice two things:

1.- It's always the same station, nothing new
2.- like 4 out of 5 stations are religious. My room mate said he didn't know shortwave radio was a religious thing (LOL)

So, I start digging up and decide to build a few different types of antenna, with various success. I find that I start getting more stations, which was neat, even heard Australia. Then again, the same repetitive stuff over and over again, plus even more religious stuff. At that point I decide to experiment, and start digging up some frequencies and listening to obscure stuff, this is what I find:
- Hams repeating "whiskey papa kilo charley tango" over and over
- Hams having personal conversations
- airplanes communicating
- Military messages (more whiskey papa kilo charley tango)

So, I decide to get the shovel out and dig some more, seeing what the deal with shortwave is.
- I find that hunting for pirate stations, which wasn't my original intent, was actually kinda cool. Few come on and they are so weak you can't just turn the radio on and "enjoy," you have to screw around with knobs the whole time
- DRM radio: looks exciting, doesn't seem to be going anywhere. There are no receiver except for SDR radios and, if I have to hook up the radio to a computer then I might as well listen over the internet.

Then to top it all off, seems like a lot of shortwave stations are dropping off (except the religious ones)

I'm starting to see why my friend just gave me the radio, but I can't help feel there has to be something I'm missing. I go online and I see that there are Antennas being sold for like 400 bucks and radios at even higher prices.

Can somebody tell me what the deal with Shortwave is? What kind of enjoyment is there for the lay person who doesn't really understand "whiskey papa kilo charley" stuff?
 

svenmarbles

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It may be that shortwave just isn't for you. I hear you about the religious stuff. I think the thrill for most in the hobby is the hunt for the QSL that is rarely heard. It's not so much the sort of thing that you can expect to just tune right in, sit in an armchair across the room and listen to it like it's the local AM sports radio station. It is indeed a lot of fiddling and knob tuning, and in fact that's what we like about it. To tune into a radio signal coming off of a transmitting antenna in Korea and hitting your receiving antenna in Chicago, it's supposed to take a little work. We don't want it to be like cable TV, or an internet radio station. It's about physical radio waves moving through the air from one side of the planet to the other. It's about solar activity, and winter nights with prime propagation conditions. With the same logic, why do hams operate ham radio? Why don't they just pick up the phone? Why do cyclists ride bicycles across country? they could get there faster on a plane. It's about an appreciation of something other than the end result.

How about numbers stations? Do you know that those are clandestine broadcasts intended for relaying information among international spies? That's not cool?

Hey if you're looking to unload that 750 for a good price, hit me up on PM.
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
7
It may be that shortwave just isn't for you. I hear you about the religious stuff. I think the thrill for most in the hobby is the hunt for the QSL that is rarely heard. It's not so much the sort of thing that you can expect to just tune right in, sit in an armchair across the room and listen to it like it's the local AM sports radio station. It is indeed a lot of fiddling and knob tuning, and in fact that's what we like about it. To tune into a radio signal coming off of a transmitting antenna in Korea and hitting your receiving antenna in Chicago, it's supposed to take a little work. We don't want it to be like cable TV, or an internet radio station. It's about physical radio waves moving through the air from one side of the planet to the other. It's about solar activity, and winter nights with prime propagation conditions. With the same logic, why do hams operate ham radio? Why don't they just pick up the phone? Why do cyclists ride bicycles across country? they could get there faster on a plane. It's about an appreciation of something other than the end result.

How about numbers stations? Do you know that those are clandestine broadcasts intended for relaying information among international spies? That's not cool?

Hey if you're looking to unload that 750 for a good price, hit me up on PM.
Thank you for the response. I'll keep in mind the offer to sell the 750, but right now fiddling with dead equipment to hand make stuff is fun, so not yet...

So, ok, a few more questions:

First and foremost, considering my casual listening/fiddling with old junk laying around, am I better off sticking with the 750 rather than buying something better?

As far as antennas, I got up on my roof once, I'm not doing that again (I do not like heights one bit). I've been looking into buying an indoor antenna (active antenna) and I have seen some models that look promising. I understand that active antennas also amplify noise. My question here is: should I forget about active antennas?

I saw an active antenna online that seems to get good reviews, it is a loop and the brand name is AOR or something like that, but it is 500 bucks. Needless to say I am scared to drop that kind of money, what are my options?

How do you know what signals are harder to catch than others?

Number stations, hams, military stuff, and things like that aren't my thing because I can't relate to it like I can relate to, say, a traditional shortwave broadcast or a pirate. I have to say that, if I stick with this hobby, pirate radio would be my main interest.
 

svenmarbles

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Joined
Jun 7, 2014
Messages
80
Location
Chicago
Shortwave antennas are tricky because as you say, noise is the true adversary of the shortwave bands. It's not always a case of needing an antenna to improve shortwave reception. It really depends on your situation and the RF environment that you're in. If you're in an urban area in an old house with old wiring and CF bulbs in all of your lamps, you can spend $500 on an antenna and all it's going to do is really make that noise a lot louder lol. The only time I'd consider an active antenna is if I literally had my setup in a shack in the middle of the wilderness with an incredibly low noise floor on all the bands. For me I can't justify using anything more than a 20ft piece of wire, and sometimes I even have to attenuate that.

It funny that we're on this topic though because I'm leaving in the morning for Gatlinburg Tennesee, in a remote cabin in the smokey mountains. I'm bringing my shortwave and long wire along and I'm going to see how things are in an almost silent RF environment. I'll log my catches in the log thread.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
First and foremost, considering my casual listening/fiddling with old junk laying around, am I better off sticking with the 750 rather than buying something better?
It depends on how much you're willing to invest. Unfortunately, a lot of people spend $2,000 on a dSLR camera and shoot 10 pictures with it and never use it again. Generally, they didn't do any research and just bought whatever their photography friend has and/or what the salesperson pushed at the time.

The 750 is a decent "desktop" portable in the sense that it can take more signal than an average portable; however, it's still a portable and can only do so much. You're paying extra for the higher quality front-end and better filtering components. It's sort of like choosing your transportation. Probably 98% of us can get by with a moped which may cost $1000 -- so why do we spend $40,000 (and go into massive debt) on a fancy vehicle?

I saw an active antenna online that seems to get good reviews, it is a loop and the brand name is AOR or something like that, but it is 500 bucks. Needless to say I am scared to drop that kind of money, what are my options?
AOR is a company that loves to charge higher cost for their products. It's a long story as to why they do this...

Active antennas are great and have a bad reputation because of all the existing crap out there. People think they can buy this tiny box and tiny loop and stick it right next to their Plasma TVs! Then they expect to hear every SWL station around the world because they spent $500.

A quality active antenna requires a 1m loop (or larger loop with wire) but they can still be mostly invisible. The best part is that they don't require height like traditional antennas. Even at 5ft off the ground, they can do wonders.

You will need to put it outside for decent results. With all of the RFI that is generated by our computers, TVs and other digital components, the antenna needs to be outside and (ideally) away from the house. There is really no point in SWL if you cannot get an antenna outdoors.

Your radio (the 750) *should* be OK with using a quality loop. That being said, your radio wasn't really designed for this signal level. Again, this is why you pay more for a higher-grade radio depending on what you want to listen to... Your radio has an attenuator built-in and you may need to engage this feature if the signal is too strong.

How do you know what signals are harder to catch than others?
Years of experience.

Number stations, hams, military stuff, and things like that aren't my thing because I can't relate to it. I can relate to, say, a traditional shortwave broadcast or a pirate. I have to say that, if I stick with this hobby, pirate radio would be my main interest.
It sounds like you're on the right track and again, you'll need to decide how much $$$ you'll want to invest. Pirate radio stations are generally available on the weekends around a certain frequency. Depending on your location, you may be able to pick up some from Europe.

You'll also need to decide if you're goal is to "listen" to the shortwave stations or just "catch" them. A more expensive radio/antenna can do wonders but in some cases, it may take some extra effort to actually hear/understand these distant stations. If you're thinking of broadcast AM quality then you might as well quit the hobby now.

A couple of additional areas of interest to check out is the HF aero and HF fishing industry. They can be hard to catch but generally have certain frequencies to monitor. You said you were not interested in the military, but USCG SAR (Search and Rescue) operations do happen quite a bit. Things can get interesting during the hurricane season.

A web site to check out shortwave desktop radios:

Shortwave Communications Receivers

You might take a look at the Alinco R8 and Icom R75 models. The ICOM is a little aged but still a decent desktop receiver. The Alinco R8 offers some newer features and has the DRM capability you mentioned earlier.

Here are some HF antennas that are cheaper than active loops. Performance may be acceptable given their lower cost. Remember that wire antennas will definitely benefit from height.

Shortwave Antennas

A couple of loop antennas to check out:

RF PRO-1B Loop Antenna

Active Loop Antenna ALA1530S+ Imperium NA

(I prefer the Wellbrook loop myself but both would serve you well.)
 

PrimeNumber

Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2011
Messages
280
Location
MS Gulf Coast
Can somebody tell me what the deal with Shortwave is? What kind of enjoyment is there for the lay person who doesn't really understand "whiskey papa kilo charley" stuff?
The only thing I listen to on SW on a regular basis is an electric blues show "Last Radio Playing" on WWCR. Yeah, it's one of the religious stations, but they put that aside a few times a week while one of their engineers spins records. Unfortunately there are a lot of re-run shows, but it's still entertaining and I've found some good new music there. It's on Tuesday evenings (tonight!) at 6pm CDT on 9.350 MHz. Also on Thursday at 5, Saturday at 2, Sunday at 7, etc., but on many different frequencies. Go to their web site and download the schedule to find times that suit your schedule. And remember, the show times & frequencies change with the seasons.

After that... Radio Havana is cool for few minutes sometimes. (And if people think NPR is left-wing, whew, they ain't heard nothin' yet.) It's easy to get on 6.000 or just above there. Pulling in BBC West Africa is a fun challenge, but it's usually some soccer results I could not give a rat's rear about. Radio Australia is pretty easy to get if I'm up before sunrise (CDT here). Look on the web for their scheds.

After that it takes a light touch and a big antenna, but everything I've listed above I can pretty easily get on a Tecsun 660 and either some random wire in the living room or a 50' piece of random wire out in the yard. Your 750 can easily do as well, maybe even better.

If you have a smartphone, some of the digital modes are pretty easy to decode. Slow scan TV images are occasionally sent, like at the end of the pirate station Wolverine Radio's weekly broadcast. Also you can decode PSK31 digital signals pretty easily, but that's ham stuff. No computer interfacer needed with any of this, just start the software and hold your phone near the speaker.

After that... it's mostly just ham chatter. Ah well, 73! de Kilo Foxtrot Five Sierra Quebec Foxtrot.
 

WB4CS

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
900
Location
Northern Alabama
To really enjoy Shortwave listening, you'll need to find a time machine and go back in time at least 30 years. Maybe 50 years.

Today's shortwave bands are pretty much what you've already found: ham radio operators, military and utility, pirate stations and numbers stations, and a handful of broadcast stations that are mostly religious. Long gone are the days of several music and news stations.

Why? The internet. The internet is now mostly available in many areas that once relied on shortwave radio to get their news and entertainment. It's also vastly cheaper for a station to stream over the internet than it is to have a broadcast facility to maintain.

I do miss the days of real shortwave radio. There's still a few gems out there, but they are getting harder and harder to find. Happy hunting!
 

ridgescan

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Joined
Apr 1, 2008
Messages
4,710
Location
San Francisco, Ca.
To really enjoy Shortwave listening, you'll need to find a time machine and go back in time at least 30 years. Maybe 50 years.

Today's shortwave bands are pretty much what you've already found: ham radio operators, military and utility, pirate stations and numbers stations, and a handful of broadcast stations that are mostly religious. Long gone are the days of several music and news stations.
English BC stations I get here on a daily basis:
Voice Of America (I have them on right now 1424utc on 12110kHz out of Philippines)
BBC (just tuned to them now 1425utc on 9740kHz out of Singapore)
Radio New Zealand
Radio Australia
Voice of Vietnam
Voice of Korea
Radio Romania
Deutsche Welle
China Radio Intl.
Radio Japan
Radio Taiwan
Channel Africa
there are a few more I cant think of off the memory-
all of these examples are transmitted from overseas, and without that SW antenna up on my roof, I'd never know they were out there, especially given my RF environment. I know this because I also have several SW portables here that I could fire up and not hear but maybe a couple of those based on propagation off the whip.
Which goes to what Nick stated "there really is no point in SWL if you cannot get an antenna outdoors"
My analogy is SW signals are light little fluffy butterflies fluttering about up there and you need a better net if you want to catch more of them.
Of course, I base these opinions upon OP's complaints of no joy for his friend and himself. There ARE folks who are in radio propagation/low RFI heaven, who actually can catch stuff pretty good off the radio's whip. I've read this.
But bottom line is the outdoor antenna is always better, particularly in OP's case where apparently his environment calls for better antennage.
I highly recommend an active loop. They work off the magnetic side of the electromagnetic field and reject most of the hash from the electro side. That makes this particular active type antenna a good one.
 

k9rzz

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Joined
Dec 12, 2005
Messages
3,164
Location
Milwaukee, WI
I might add that everybody I have ever known in shortwave/ham radio goes through cycles of interest. One year they are in it 100% full tilt then they slowly loose interest and stop for a year, then OH MAN! it's back on full gas again. What you find boring this time around may interest you later down the pipe. It's all good. If it doesn't float your boat now, it may later. Maybe not. :^]
 

Boombox

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
925
I'll tell you what's fun about Shortwave radio, what the 'deal' is, for me:

Listening to 9420 khz one evening and hearing some of the coolest sounding music (and also some of the saddest music at time) from Greece. Listening to Iran or one of the other stations from the Middle East when the ionosphere is cooperating and hearing cool music from over there, phasing its way over the airwaves.

Listening to Radio Australia's play by play of Australian Rules and Rugby League football games, even though I don't understand the games all that well. Hearing news and weathercasts from Radio New Zealand. Hearing folk music through my headphones on Radio Nacional da Amazonia on 11780 and 6180 most nights.

Listening to hams from all over the world during one of the ham contests. In one afternoon you can hear stations from Europe, all over South America, Asia, the U.S. and Canada, and even the Middle East and Africa.

Listening to Mexican and South American outbanders chatting to each other in Spanish on 27445 khz. If the band's up, you can hear numerous states in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico -- all talking sometimes with people from Florida and Texas, in Spanish, but you can usually tell where they're from. Noticing the different accents.

And the radio I use most is a Realistic DX-390 with 15-20 ft. of wire -- technically the radio is not as advanced as a Satellit 750.

Maybe some of it would be boring to other people, but I find stuff like that interesting. I find it more interesting then hearing the same 200 hits repeated non-stop on FM.

From reading the OP's post, I'm not sure he knew what to expect. It seems that he expected an experience more like international internet radio?

The Shortwaves are more similar to astronomy with a telescope -- sure, you can get clearer pictures of a planet or galaxy on the internet, but there's a magic to using a simple piece of equipment to see (or hear, in the case of SW) the real thing.
 

Token

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Jun 18, 2010
Messages
2,162
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Mojave Desert, California, USA
As far as antennas, I got up on my roof once, I'm not doing that again (I do not like heights one bit). I've been looking into buying an indoor antenna (active antenna) and I have seen some models that look promising. I understand that active antennas also amplify noise. My question here is: should I forget about active antennas?

I saw an active antenna online that seems to get good reviews, it is a loop and the brand name is AOR or something like that, but it is 500 bucks. Needless to say I am scared to drop that kind of money, what are my options?
Indoor antennas of any kind, simply put, are a pain in the butt and typically do not work well. Of course, if that is the only option, then you have to make things as good as you can. But moving an antenna outside, even if you can’t get it up high, often improves things dramatically. The further you can get it away from noise sources, like TVs and such inside a house, the better things typically get.

Physically small active antennas are hot button topic at times. Do they work as well as a full sized, properly installed, passive antenna? In general no, they do not. However there are certainly conditions and events that make them shine.

They typically are easier to install, the advantages there are obvious. They typically are broader banded, meaning one antenna might do well across a range that might take several larger antennas to cover as well. Certain types, like loops, can be used to actually reduce noise problems.

In general, and for urban environments, I do not recommend small active whips. The noise issue is often just going to kill reception. On the other hand an externally mounted active loop, like the Wellbrook ALA1530 / Pixel Pro 1B / similar units, can often be turned so as to null the greatest noise sources. It may not kill it all, but typically you can reduce it with such a loop. Remember, all active antennas are not the same.

I am NOT a fan of physically small active antennas at all, however the loops I mention above do work quite well in many situation. But they ain’t cheap.

If you can put a wire antenna up outside, even if not high in the air, give that a try. You can often build one very cheap, maybe free, and then you can mess around with different configurations until you find something that works, or at least better, for you. Be sure not to get too wrapped up in peoples opinion or in theory. Theory might say something will not work, and yet you find it perfectly acceptable. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

How do you know what signals are harder to catch than others?

Number stations, hams, military stuff, and things like that aren't my thing because I can't relate to it like I can relate to, say, a traditional shortwave broadcast or a pirate. I have to say that, if I stick with this hobby, pirate radio would be my main interest.
There are many “traditional” shortwave broadcast stations on the air. It is true that the numbers are in decline, but they still exist in fair numbers. The important thing here is to know when they are on (they generally are not 24 hours a day on one frequency) and to have a basic understanding of propagation, so that you can get an idea of if you might be able to receive your selected station, or if you are wasting your time. For example trying to hear an Australian service on 49 meters if you are a North American listener and it is midday local time is going to be a waste of time, you will not hear that station, despite the fact it is transmitting just fine.

So a good, and current, listing of SWBC station schedules is a must. These stations typically change their schedules several times a year, and some more often than that.

To usably understand propagation (how radio waves travel from the station to you) you do not need a degree or decades of experience. A basic understanding is really all that is needed for SWBC work (weaker signal types will benefit from a bit deeper understanding). But you have to remember that conditions at the transmit location, your receive location, and the entire path from them to you, all have to be considered. For example, if a frequency range requires dark path (night time operations) but there is broad daylight in any of those areas, the propagation is probably not going to favor your reception. As a good general rule (use it loosely) frequencies below 12000 kHz are evening looking to the east / nighttime all around / morning looking to the west, the lower you go the more nighttime oriented they become. Frequencies above 10000 kHz are more evening looking to the west / daytime all around / morning looking to the east oriented, with higher frequencies doing better during daylight.

Notice there is an overlap in what I said above, 12000 kHz and down is nighttime and 10000 kHz and up is daytime. That is because there is indeed an overlap, things change all the time and season to season, a frequency combination and time that works well in the summer might not work at all in the winter, and because it is just a rough guideline, not a hard, fast, rule.

Pirate radio can be a tough haul, depending on your location. For example I am in California, but the majority of Pirates appear to be eastern seaboard. Combine that with the most popular Pirate SW bands and how propagation works and it ends up I have some very limited times when I can hope to catch Pirates.

Not sure why you dismiss the “other” stuff on shortwave though. Sure, I know, to each his own. But people are driven away from potentially interesting signals on SW because they do not understand what they are. Once they learn, for example, that you can hear military aircraft / ships / forces in exercises and actually understand what they are saying, then the interest sometimes shifts. Things like Vampire calls (inbound missile attacks) on Navy ships always seem to peak my interest, but it is indeed not everyone’s cup of tea.

Shortwave antennas are tricky because as you say, noise is the true adversary of the shortwave bands. It's not always a case of needing an antenna to improve shortwave reception. It really depends on your situation and the RF environment that you're in. If you're in an urban area in an old house with old wiring and CF bulbs in all of your lamps, you can spend $500 on an antenna and all it's going to do is really make that noise a lot louder lol. The only time I'd consider an active antenna is if I literally had my setup in a shack in the middle of the wilderness with an incredibly low noise floor on all the bands. For me I can't justify using anything more than a 20ft piece of wire, and sometimes I even have to attenuate that.
Many people have found exactly the opposite and that active loop antennas do a World of good in reducing urban noise issues. I am fortunate enough to not have much noise here in the desert, but if I lived in a city I might very well adopt an active loop as one of my early antenna attempts.

T!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
7
Indoor antennas of any kind, simply put, are a pain in the butt and typically do not work well. Of course, if that is the only option, then you have to make things as good as you can. But moving an antenna outside, even if you can’t get it up high, often improves things dramatically. The further you can get it away from noise sources, like TVs and such inside a house, the better things typically get.

Physically small active antennas are hot button topic at times. Do they work as well as a full sized, properly installed, passive antenna? In general no, they do not. However there are certainly conditions and events that make them shine.

They typically are easier to install, the advantages there are obvious. They typically are broader banded, meaning one antenna might do well across a range that might take several larger antennas to cover as well. Certain types, like loops, can be used to actually reduce noise problems.

In general, and for urban environments, I do not recommend small active whips. The noise issue is often just going to kill reception. On the other hand an externally mounted active loop, like the Wellbrook ALA1530 / Pixel Pro 1B / similar units, can often be turned so as to null the greatest noise sources. It may not kill it all, but typically you can reduce it with such a loop. Remember, all active antennas are not the same.

I am NOT a fan of physically small active antennas at all, however the loops I mention above do work quite well in many situation. But they ain’t cheap.

If you can put a wire antenna up outside, even if not high in the air, give that a try. You can often build one very cheap, maybe free, and then you can mess around with different configurations until you find something that works, or at least better, for you. Be sure not to get too wrapped up in peoples opinion or in theory. Theory might say something will not work, and yet you find it perfectly acceptable. Don’t be afraid to experiment.



There are many “traditional” shortwave broadcast stations on the air. It is true that the numbers are in decline, but they still exist in fair numbers. The important thing here is to know when they are on (they generally are not 24 hours a day on one frequency) and to have a basic understanding of propagation, so that you can get an idea of if you might be able to receive your selected station, or if you are wasting your time. For example trying to hear an Australian service on 49 meters if you are a North American listener and it is midday local time is going to be a waste of time, you will not hear that station, despite the fact it is transmitting just fine.

So a good, and current, listing of SWBC station schedules is a must. These stations typically change their schedules several times a year, and some more often than that.

To usably understand propagation (how radio waves travel from the station to you) you do not need a degree or decades of experience. A basic understanding is really all that is needed for SWBC work (weaker signal types will benefit from a bit deeper understanding). But you have to remember that conditions at the transmit location, your receive location, and the entire path from them to you, all have to be considered. For example, if a frequency range requires dark path (night time operations) but there is broad daylight in any of those areas, the propagation is probably not going to favor your reception. As a good general rule (use it loosely) frequencies below 12000 kHz are evening looking to the east / nighttime all around / morning looking to the west, the lower you go the more nighttime oriented they become. Frequencies above 10000 kHz are more evening looking to the west / daytime all around / morning looking to the east oriented, with higher frequencies doing better during daylight.

Notice there is an overlap in what I said above, 12000 kHz and down is nighttime and 10000 kHz and up is daytime. That is because there is indeed an overlap, things change all the time and season to season, a frequency combination and time that works well in the summer might not work at all in the winter, and because it is just a rough guideline, not a hard, fast, rule.

Pirate radio can be a tough haul, depending on your location. For example I am in California, but the majority of Pirates appear to be eastern seaboard. Combine that with the most popular Pirate SW bands and how propagation works and it ends up I have some very limited times when I can hope to catch Pirates.

Not sure why you dismiss the “other” stuff on shortwave though. Sure, I know, to each his own. But people are driven away from potentially interesting signals on SW because they do not understand what they are. Once they learn, for example, that you can hear military aircraft / ships / forces in exercises and actually understand what they are saying, then the interest sometimes shifts. Things like Vampire calls (inbound missile attacks) on Navy ships always seem to peak my interest, but it is indeed not everyone’s cup of tea.



Many people have found exactly the opposite and that active loop antennas do a World of good in reducing urban noise issues. I am fortunate enough to not have much noise here in the desert, but if I lived in a city I might very well adopt an active loop as one of my early antenna attempts.

T!
I think you hit the proverbial nail right on the head when you said I didn't know what to expect. I suppose I expected what the "old timers" said about their SWL days, which is sadly just not there.

At some point I had about 75 feet of wire outside and I could pick up cool stuff, and it is neat to think that I am picking up a transmission that is coming from thousands of miles away and not intended to reach me. I had some cool catches including Australia, and I heard Voice of Iran a couple of days ago just with the whip. It is cool for sure, but there's been some disappointments.

At this point I don't really know if the hobby is or isn't for me, I am experimenting (hey, I got a free radio and I've build some stuff for pennies). I just don't know if it is for me because I would, generally speaking, be considered the "average" listener. See, I'm the kind of guy who wants to grab the radio, pull up the whip antenna, and listen to what the "old timers" talk about. It seems some of that stuff can be had still, but with complicated outdoor antennas and such.

I thought about an indoor antenna because it gives me a little more freedom to move the radio (Vs. having to listen in one spot). What really put me off is the price of an active loop antenna, I'm not sure I want to drop that kind of money (but that's not SW's fault). 500+ for an active indoor loop seems a little excessive for me considering the technology is as old as the dinosaur (you know these guys are making these antennas for pennies)

So, yeah, with all due respect I don't think this hobby is going to be something for me to do long term considering my choices are to either get up on the roof or buy an indoor active antenna that doesn't work.

One last question: What can you tell me of a radio performance with the whip alone if I go to a remote location? would it make much of a difference?
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
Your doing nothing wrong, look at the HF- MW - LW monitoring post's, and when you have some time read some of the post's past and present .Those who have responded to you, and others who have posted in the past have a wealth of info. You can sit and spin the dial and hear nothing, or experiment with location, inside, outside, ocean, higher elevation. You can try homemade antennas, wire, pipe window sills, copper or metal. I can't believe I haven't blown this PL660 up yet, it's been put through, well I can't say that here, give it a spin !
 

k9rzz

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2005
Messages
3,164
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Also there is a lot to be said for just plain experience. I can watch guys on Youtube demonstrating such and such radio that they just bought, and they tune right across stuff they don't even seem to notice. Just like any other hobby the more you do it, the more you'll get out of it. (just like my new hobby of birding - I'll go out for 2 hours and struggle to identify 20 species, while others will hit 40 in half that time)
 

SCPD

QRT
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Location
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Experiment and dedication, you hit it K9rzz ! That's what it's all about. It might bring result's not pleasing, but success has it's rewards.
 

Token

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Location
Mojave Desert, California, USA
One last question: What can you tell me of a radio performance with the whip alone if I go to a remote location? would it make much of a difference?
In general yes, a remote location with low noise will make signals you can never hear in an Urban environment pop up, even with a modest antenna. That does not mean they will be power houses or arm chair copy, but it often means things you never heard before are now very usable. But you still need to know when and where (frequency) to listen to them.

T!
 

w2xq

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Burlington County, NJ
Just some thoughts, in no particular order.

Many international broadcasters tend to have their most broadcasts to target areas in the target's evening prime time hours. You have to find a frequency that strikes a balance between the day and night areas the signal has to travel to get to you. One easy example: the Africa targeted-signals from BBC transmitters in the UK usually make it to NA, off the back of the beam, in our afternoon hours.

The Latin American and African tropical band broadcasters make for interesting listening. Try the 60 m first. Fall and winter are usually quieter than spring and summer. Africans can be heard signing off starting during the late afternoon hours, and signing on around sunrise at the transmitter site. LA stations tend to stay on late or overnight for Christmas. Otherwise the sunrise terminator makes for interesting DXing as the angle shifts over the course of the year.

The terminator (grayline) can provide interesting opportunities as it crosses your area and the anti-podal area of the globe. Signals otherwise non-existent will rise out of the noise, peak for 10-20 minutes, and fade back down. The effect is most noticeable in the 120 through 60 m broadcast bands.

The above propagation logic also applies to listening to HF aero routes.

Experience, reading and references are great resources. Recognize you won't learn everything overnight.

Do some reading on propagation and the effects of solar maximum and minimum. Maximum usable and minimum usable frequencies vary daily, seasonally, and the nominal 11-year solar cycle. Do some reading on the effects of the D, E and F layers as the frequencies are affected along single and multi hop path. Read about signal path absorption along and through the changing auroral zones.

Just some ideas to consider. HTH.
 
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Jun 16, 2014
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Along the same lines, let's talk about simpler, uber-low tech antennas.

I took 15' of cable, attached it to my radio whip with an alligator clip and the other end to the curtain. I am getting some stations that I was previously unable to get with outside wires and some other stuff I built. Specifically, I am getting Radio Argentina Exterior (I understand it can be tricky to pull in South Americans) as well as Radio Sultanate of Oman, Radio Kuwait, and Radio New Zealand.

From this catches, I am making some assumptions, please tell me if I am off base:

- Propagation is cooperating
- my RF Environment is not suitable for longer wires or more powerful antennas
 

ridgescan

Member
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Apr 1, 2008
Messages
4,710
Location
San Francisco, Ca.
From this catches, I am making some assumptions, please tell me if I am off base:

- Propagation is cooperating
- my RF Environment is not suitable for longer wires or more powerful antennas
Not off base:) but on the right track.
1-propagation is good
2-like was said earlier, you have a radio that is tuned and staged to use a nominal hunk of metal for antennage and anything too big antennawise will load it up with local RFI (buzz, crackles tec)
so the next thing to do is follow the route you have started by increasing the wire to say 25-30' and switch its orientation (eastwest is best) and just experiment.
You got some nice catches whose transmitters are overseas. Imagine how you could increase reception with a little more wire and higher up. The higher the better! Also try a "sloper" angling one end upwards.
 

mancow

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Database Admin
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Feb 19, 2003
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Location
N.E. Kansas
I think people tend to get shortwave and HF confused. They are the same thing technically but operationally they are very different.

A Grundig Satellit will NOT hear the same things an Icom/Yaesu/Kenwood/etc... HF radio will. You will get the powerful nutball shortwave religious broadcasters just fine with the Grundig. To get the HF aircraft and military stuff you really need a decent HF rig. If you are interested in the more operationally oriented military and commercial type comms you need something more substantial.
 
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