Monthly Archives: November 2014

Logs using the Tecsun PL-600

I usually use a venerable Yaesu FRG-7 for the majority of my listening, but prior to having this, when I first started back listening to the shortwaves, I purchased a Tecsun PL-600. For a sub £100 portable, this is extremely capable. It even includes SSB, although it has to be said SSB transmissions come through a bit distorted. It’s listen-able but not for too long. However, for AM SW broadcast listening it is very good. So for a change I decided to use this tonight and try it on (mainly) the 41m band with my external antenna connected. I was pleased to say I didn’t hear many images, which is quite surprising as 41m is a heavily used band, with some very high power stations, especially CRI. This is the only bug bear with 41m as CRI has a multitude of channels and do tend to bleed over adjacent stations. Anyhow, the following is what I managed to catch tonight, not a bad log for a cheapish portable and a 15m external antenna. I connected it to the ‘600 using the homebrew coupler described in a previous post.

6970 Khz Taiwan Sound of Hope 21:45 UTC RFA relay, Taiwan. Male announcer. SINPO: 21122 2014-11-30

7240 Khz Tibet PBS Xizang 21:50 UTC Non-stop Chinese pop music. Lhasa relay SINPO: 44444 2014-11-30

7310 Khz Taiwan R. France Intl 22:10 UTC Chinese. Male and female announcers. Taiwan relay. Heavy ACI from CRI on 7315 SINPO: 43333 2014-11-30

7410 Khz Phillipines Vatican Radio 22:15 UTC Chinese. Talk and chanting. Phillippines relay. SINPO: 33333 2014-11-30

7470 Khz Tajikistan RFA 22:19 UTC Chinese. Male announcer. Jingles and announcements at 22:20. Dushanbe relay. SINPO: 43344 2014-11-30

7520 Khz Sri Lanka R. Farda 22:25 UTC Playing Elton Johns ‘Your Song’. Male announcer with ID at 22:26 followed by more music. Iranawila relay SINPO: 43344 2014-11-30

So don’t be put off if you only own a portable. Get it coupled to an external antenna and you never know what you will hear. Good luck.

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Some logs from 28th November 2014

I managed a small listening session last night and stuck to 49 metres. Propagation was generally good. This and the 41m band does tend to be dominated by CRI on multiple channels, but there are other interesting stations amongst them.

5865 Khz Kuwait R.Farda 21:35
UTC Farsi. Music with male voice overs. ID at 21:36. Kuwait relay SINPO: 43333 2014-11-28

5980 Khz Turkey V.O. Turkey 21:42 UTC Turkish. Middle Eastern music.  SINPO: 54444 2014-11-28

6080 Khz Botswana VOA 21:50 UTC English. ‘Music Time in Africa’. Some great music. Moepeng Hill relay. Sign-off at 22:00 SINPO: 54444 2014-11-28

6155 Khz Belarus R. Belarus 22:08 UTC Belarus. Rock music. ID at 22:13 followed by Sports news. Followed at 22:20 by Jazz music. SINPO: 54444 2014-11-28

R. Belarus was a new one for me. The music was very good so I will be tuning in to some more of their programs in the future. They do have some English language output so I will try to dig that out.

Listening next week I will have no time at all for listening as Lincoln hosts a Christmas Market, from Thursday through Sunday. My wife has a shop where the market is and I run a food stall outside it over the period of the market. So its 16-18 hour days for the 4 days. Tiring, but good fun.

Some logs from the last week

9395 Khz USA Global 24 21:03 UTC English. Talk about Australian economy and politics, followed by a discussion about the G20 meeting. This was followed about the RBA and world currencies especially US and AUS dollar.  Followed by an Ebola outbreak in Thailand and how it is being managed. A convicted murderer and sex offender escapes from NZ.  There is concern in Australia about Aboriginal suicides especially among the young. ‘Focus Asia Pacific’ programme. Details of the program at 21:27, qsl info etc. (Original PCJ broadcast details) SINPO: 43333 2014-11-17 Reception report sent 17/11 E-QSL from PCJ International received 18/11

7475 Khz Kuwait RFA 21:45 UTC Russian. RFA relay from Kuwait SINPO: 54444 2014-11-17

7585 Khz Sri Lanka R. Farda 21:52 UTC Farsi. Music and chat. Sri Lanka relay. ID and details at 22:00 SINPO: 43333 2014-11-17

9395 Khz USA Global 24 22:06 UTC English. Glenn Hausers World of Radio. Until 22:30 Followed by ‘Wavescan’ program. SINPO: 43344 2014-11-19

9575 Khz Morocco Medi 1 22:50 UTC French. Pop music with some chat. SINPO: 54444 2014-11-19

9390 Khz Thailand R. Thailand 19:30 UTC English. Speech about healthcare and its funding in Phillippines and S.E. Asia. Also how education is the key to improved health and welfare. Part of Radio Thailand News. Followed by ‘Businesss News’.  until 19:45 SINPO: 54455 2014-11-21

6060 Khz Cuba R. Habana 06:15 UTC English. Male announcer discussing new American immigration plans. Part of the ‘Commentary Viewpoint’ program. This was followed by diet and obesity problems in the US. ID at 06:24UTC  followed by Sports News. Difficult to hear after 06:30 UTC SINPO: 33333 2014-11-22. Report sent 22/11

9465 Khz USA Global 24 19:30 UTC English. ‘Rockpile’ program. Very heavy QRM at times. Until 20:00 SINPO: 33333 2014-11-22

9590 Khz Sao Tome VOA 19:58 UTC French. Female ann in discussion with male guest. Sao Tome relay. Followed by sign-off with ID at 20:00 SINPO: 43333 2014-11-22

Beginners Guide to Shortwave Listening

Beginners Guide to Shortwave Listening

Introduction

The following is a distillation of my experience of being an SWL and Amateur Radio Operator over a number of years. I started shortwave listening when I was 14, having built my first short wave radio. This was a simple TRF design using one valve (or tube). Back in the early seventies, there were 1000’s of stations on the air and even a simple receiver pulled in many hundreds. So I was ‘hooked’ for life. There have been a number times when I have had to give up the hobby due to family, work etc., but I have always returned! Be aware, shortwave listening becomes a life-long passion! The following is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a start.

Where to start

So where does one start in the hobby of shortwave listening? There are a number of ways and as in most hobbies, it can be reasonably cheap or expensive. The least expensive route is to purchase one of the many capable and inexpensive portable receivers which incorporate shortwave bands on them. There are a number to choose from, with the better ones coming from Tecsun, Sony, Eton and Grundig. In the case of the Tecsuns, these can be purchased directly from China at very reasonable cost, or you may find good second hand models on the internet. If you aren’t bothered about a portable receiver, then many of the older communications receivers can be bought at reasonable cost from Ebay or other outlets. Models from Yaesu (FRG-7, FRG-7000), Trio/Kenwood (R600, R1000) and a number of others are all worth having. But to work well, these receivers require an external antenna, so this may affect your choice.

The other part to starting out is reading. Read as much as you can about listening and logging stations, what frequency bands there are, the best times for listening etc. There are numerous websites, Facebook, and Yahoo groups which have information covering these topics and more, along with very knowledgeable people who can guide you as well. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question! There is a list at the end of this article giving links to some of these places.

If you already have a small portable radio with shortwave bands on it, extend the telescopic antenna and get listening! The higher frequency bands tend to be better during the day, with those lower being better at night. Details of the bands will covered later in this article. Be patient, you may not hear anything straight away, or what hear may not be in a language you can understand. But after a while, it will start to make sense and you will realise that there are broadcasters with big signals on at the same time each day, which are easily logged. If your first language is English, then there are many of these to choose from such as the BBC, VOA (Voice of America), DWL and RRI (Radio Romania International) to name a few. After a while, you will learn to hear the sounds of other languages and be able to log these too.

The Shortwave Bands – where are they and what are they

The High Frequency (HF) extend between 1800 khz and 30000 Khz. Within this range of frequencies there are allocations, or ranges of frequencies, for various services. So if we look at the International Broadcast allocations these are as follows:

120m band – 2300 – 2495 Khz

90m band – 3200 – 3400 Khz

75m band – 3900 -4000 Khz

60m band – 4750 – 5060 Khz

These four bands are known as the Tropical Bands are they are used by a number of low-power stations within the Tropical regions, including South America and Africa. Recption on these bands is best at night time and during the winter. Most of the stations on these bands do not use English but will be in the local language as they serve a relatively small area near the transmitters. Some listeners dedicate their listening to logging these stations.

49m band – 5900 – 6200 Khz

41m band – 7200 – 7450 Khz

31m band – 9300 – 9900 Khz

On these 3 bands between day and night time you will be able to log stations from the major broadcasters from all over the world. 31M is the most heavily used especially during the day. The 49 and 41m band tend to be better at night.

25m band – 11600 – 12100 Khz

22m band – 13570 – 13870 Khz

19m band – 15100 – 15800 Khz

16m band – 17480 – 17900 Khz

15m band – 18900 – 19020 Khz

13m band – 21450 – 21850 Khz

11m band – 25600 – 26100 Khz

All this set of bands gives better listening during the day, and for the last four, especially in summer. The 11m band, unfortunately, is seldom used, which is a shame as it could give world-wide listening during certain times.

Interspersed with these broadcast bands are a whole host of other allocations for Governments, Aircraft Communications and Amateur Radio. Amateur radio consists of enthusiasts who buy or build their own equipment and, after passing a test and being issued with a unique callsign, can use their equipment to chat to each other. Most Amateurs (or Hams) use SSB or CW rather than AM. It is possible, to hear hams from all over the world, even though relative to the commercial broadcast stations, their power output is low. Amateurs are allocated a dedicated set of bands as follows:

160m band – 1800 – 2000 Khz – not heavily used within the UK and communications are restricted to local mainly. During certain conditions world-wide communications are possible.

80m band – In the UK this is 3500 – 3800 Khz, in the US it is 3500 – 4000 Khz. Again used mainly for inter-country contacts but can give world-wide communications under the right conditions.

60m band – 5258 – 5403 Khz in the UK. Other countries have slightly different allocations.

40m band – 7000 – 7200 Khz in the UK, in other countries this extends to 7300 Khz

30m band – 10100 – 10150. This is restricted to CW (Morse) only. Can provide world-wide communications

20m band – 14000 – 14350 Khz. This is known as the ‘DX’ band as it supports world-wide communications both day and night. (DX is a short-hand for long distance or unusual contacts).

17m band – 18068 – 18168 Khz

15m band – 21000 – 21450 Khz Again another good DX band when conditions allow

12m band – 24890 – 24990 Khz

10m band – 28000 – 29700 – The largest Amateur band allocation at nearly 2000 Khz. This is an interesting band as it is on the edge of the HF spectrum and therefore can exhibit all sorts of conditions. Sometimes this band operates more like a VHF (i.e. local) band, at other times it supports world-wide communications.

Radio amateurs can use a plethora of operating modes which include CW (Morse), SSB, Data, Television and many more.

Summary

This guide has by no means been exhaustive but I wished to give some basic introductory information to get the user started. Shortwave listening is a fascinating hobby with a multitude of facets. No ‘Beginners Guide’ can ever hope to cover every aspect but I hope this has given a start and a flavour of what can be heard. There is no substitute for listening, listening and more listening. Soon you will get used to how the bands operate, what is best for day-time or night-time listenign etc. You will probably find some favourite stations you listen to regularly and build up a rapor with that station.

Alternatively, you may find your interests are more for the Amateur radio side, and all the fascinating aspects of that form of communication.

Links to information

If you prefer getting data and information from a book, the you can do no better than the World Radio and TV Handbook. This is available from a number of outlets including WRTH themselves. It gives full listings of all the International Broadcasters from around the world, along with schedules, contact details etc. It really is the ‘Bible’ of Shortwave listening.

There are a number of Facebook and Yahoo groups as mentioned earlier:

Facebook –

ODXA – The Ontario DX Association. Although Canadian based, they have members world-wide. Some very experienced and knowledgeable people on here and you will always get a friendly reception.

Shortwave Listeners Worldwide

CumbreDX

On Yahoo there is SWSKEDS which has schedules for world-wide broadcast bands. This is updated on at least a daily basis and a downloadable excel list is available. This is an extremely useful document which I use all the time.

Other information links:

HCDX – Hard Core DX. They have a weekly newsletter with logs. – http://www.hard-core-dx.com/

SWLing Post – for news and information – http://swling.com/blog/

There are of course many number of forums etc on the internet devoted to Shortwave Listening. Google is your friend!

Clubs and Societies

RSGB – UK organisation for Amateur Radio

ARRL – Ditto for the US

ISWL – International Shortwave League – the only society which embraces Broadcast Band listening as well as Amateur.

Have great fun with your shortwave listening. With everything that goes on on the bands there is always something to listen to. Good Luck!!

Good listening on Global 24

I tuned into Global 24 this evening at 22:00 especially for Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio. The signal was good (SINPO 43344) and the program, as ever, very informative. I also like Glenn’s little asides on various topics. I do receive a copy of this via the HCDX mailing list but it is good to hear it on the radio.

This was followed at 22:30 by ‘Wavescan’ program from AWR. This featured the results from a competition held during the year which finished in September. The program also featured interesting QSL cards sent in by a numerous listeners.

Tuning up the band a little, to 9575 Khz, I picked up Radio Mediterranee International, or Medi1, from Morocco. The signal was very good tonight (SINPO 54444). This is always a good station for music and I wasn’t disappointed tonight. I listened until 23:00, when there was a news bulletin, but the laptop battery was due to give up, so no more listening tonight.

Global 24 was certainly better reception tonight than on Monday, although tonight was an hour later which could have made the difference. They have a full schedule of there programs now on the website and its well worth a look. A very eclectic mix.