Tag Archives: Shortwave

The ABC of ignoring audience needs

As most people who use short wave radio are aware, ABC Australia pulled all of their short wave services on the 31st January 2017. For those of us around the world who have enjoyed ABC broadcasts over the years, this at least, disappointing and at most, well, disappointing. They had a good range of interesting programs, from in-depth reports to music programs and light comedy. Some of us, me included, also used their Alice Springs and Tennent Creek low-power transmissions as a pointer to how the lower Tropical bands were performing. If you could get Alice Springs on 4835, then you knew the 60m band was holding up well and worth an explore.

But let us now turn our attention to the ranchers and ranch workers who live around the remote areas of Alice Springs and Tennent Creek. These places are literally, out in the middle of nowhere, with ranch sizes being calculated in square miles and not acres. Also the truckers making the long-haul trips via outback roads through some of the most inhospitable country known to man. All these people rely on good communications supplied locally for such items as weather reports/forecasting and anything that could be pertinent from local news. This sort of information can only be delivered successfully over these terrains using short wave. A network of FM stations would not give the coverage over the difficult topology encountered in these areas. A satellite system would have similar problems, and relies on having a ground station at a ranch with all the power requirements to receive such transmissions. If a rancher is fixing a fence several tens of miles from home will not be able to receive these transmissions.

We also need to turn to the needs of those people living on the plethora of Pacific islands which ABC also used to serve using their short wave transmissions. Some of the governments of Micronesia are not, at all times, stable, so up to date news and weather forecast/reports of a timely nature cannot necessarily be relied upon. Indeed, a few years ago, the government of Fiji closed down the local internet so any information supplied by that route was unavailable. This is where the short wave transmissions from Australia were so important through this period.

For all the non-recreational uses mentioned above, these transmissions can literally be the difference between life and death. ABC has mentioned savings as the reason for this move, but I saw a report where this amounts to only 1.9 million for the Northern Territories. But surely this cost is going to be swallowed up by having to supply content delivery via either satellite or expanding FM services.

Fortunately, a lot of debate is currently going on in Australia from community groups, MP’s in government and Union heads. If ABC thought that no-one would notice then they must be severely disappointed already with all sections of Australian society seemingly being up in arms over the decision. I think this will roll on for quite a while and ABC will either be completely bloody-minded or come to some sort of agreement. Maybe the Australian government may step in to save the day. All I know, its not going away in a hurry!

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The last set of logs for 2017

I had an idea today (they don’t happen very often!) of trying to listen to New Year celebrations from around the world. This was prompted by a post on one of the Facebook groups. So the plan was to listen to RNZI just after 11:00 UTC, as New Zealand sees the new year first. And then 2 hours later, tune into ABC Australia for their celebrations and so on and so on. Well, I hadn’t planned it very carefully, and with a mixture of family stuff to do and poor conditions, well, it didn’t happen. So my only resolution for next year is to plan this event properly, by drawing up a list of stations, frequencies and times. And if the propagation is OK, then it should work out. It will certainly make for an interesting listening schedule.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy and Peaceful 2017. Let us hope that the world is a little less fraught next year, and some of the ongoing wars finally come to and end. Thank you to all who use this blog, your support is very valued.

Let us also hope that some of the major broadcasters change their minds about shortwave (ABC I especially mean you!). Quite how the government ‘take over’ of VOA will pan out is any ones guess, but it would be nice to think they will not influence output, and stay in the background as a funding stream only.

Some listening from this afternoon took me to many parts of this wonderful world as usual. Hope you enjoy these and see you next year.

Charlie.

9645 Khz Australia Reach Beyond Australia 13:52 UTC English. Religious broadcast. Faith to Faith program SINPO: 44444 2016-12-31

15140 Khz Oman R Sultanate of Oman 14:20 UTC English. Pop music. SINPO: 44444 2016-12-31

15610 Khz USA WEWN 14:28 UTC English. ‘Agony Aunt’ show. SINPO: 43333 2016-12-31

15825 Khz USA WWCR 14:32 UTC English. Religious program. SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

13590 Khz Thailand VOA Deewa Radio 14:34 UTC Pashto. OM with discussion program SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

13630 Khz Botswana VOA 14:37 UTC Kinyarwanda. Mixture of english and african pop music SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

13800 Khz Germany R Tamazuj 14:44 UTC Sudanese. Music and chat SINPO: 32222 2016-12-31

13800 Khz Madagascar R Tamazuj 15:01 UTC Sudanese. Music and chat. ID at 15:03 SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

13820 Khz USA WWCR 15:05 UTC English. Religious program. SINPO: 44444 2016-12-31

13680 Khz Zambia Voice of Hope Africa 15:07 UTC English. Music and chat SINPO: 32233 2016-12-31

9335 Khz Phillipines VOA 15:52 UTC Burmese. OM and YL announcers with news. Obama mentioned a couple of times. SINPO: 33333 2016-12-31

9345 Khz Phillipines FEBC 15:55 UTC Mandarin. OM with discussion. SINPO: 44444 2016-12-31

9425 Khz North Korea V O Korea 15:58 UTC Russian. Severe ACI from FEBC on 9430 SINPO: 43333 2016-12-31

9525 Khz Java V O Indonesia 16:05 UTC Arabic. Quaran chant. SINPO: 43333 2016-12-31

Updated Beginners Guide to Short Wave Listening

Introduction

The following is a blog post I wrote back in 2014. I felt the time was right to update it in places as things change and further information becomes available.

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), 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. Reception 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. One of the ‘marker’ stations on these bands is ABC at Alice Springs, Northern Territories  or Tennent Creek. The frequencies they use are 2325 Khz, 2485 Khz, 4835 Khz and 5025 Khz. I call these ‘marker’ stations as they only have a 50 Kw signal, but can be very good to show band conditions on these frequencies. It is also interesting to log them during the Grey Line.

49m band – 5900 – 6200 Khz

41m band – 7200 – 7450 Khz

31m band – 9300 – 9900 Khz

25m band – 11600 – 12100 Khz

On these 4 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. I have found that 25m is also very well used and it is a band that can often through up surprises. Australia on 12065 or 12085 Khz is usually a very readable signal through most times of the day on this band.

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. They also frequently operate contests, which enables the listener to log new callsigns and countries much easier than during normal listening. The big contests during the year are CW WW, the International DX Contest and Field Day.

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 Global

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.

BDXC – The British DX Club. Only covers broadcast stations, but covers MW, LW and FM as well as Short Wave.

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

BBC Russian Wants to Expand, But It’s Not So Easy

The BBC, as part of its 2015 Charter Review document, announced proposals to “invest” in BBC World Service. This includes a desire for a “bigger digital presence in Russian through a new digital service on platforms such as YouTube and the Russian equivalent Rutube, together with TV bulletins for neighbouring states. We would also start a feasibility study for a satellite TV channel for Russia.”

These international initiatives, involving target countries of particular current interest to British international relations, may be a maneuver to restore government funding of World Service. In 2014, its income was transferred from a Foreign Office grant to the BBC annual license fee of television sets, which provides most of the money for BBC’s domestic services. BBC faces a likely budget cut, especially with discussion of replacing the license fee with another mechanism. Restored government funding of World Service would relieve the domestic BBC of that burden, and it would pay for much of the international current affairs coverage that BBC can use domestically.

The feasibility of BBC satellite TV for Russia is problematic. Very few Russians have rotatable satellite dishes, surfing the Clarke Belt in search of outside news. About 25% of Russian homeshave fixed Ku-band satellite dishes to receive proprietary domestic direct-to-home services such as TricolorTV and NTV+. Western Russian-language news channels are not included in these channel packages and are unlikely to be invited aboard. Content from Western Russian-language broadcasters, including Voice of America and Radio Liberty, is also legally not welcome on Russian domestic terrestrial television and radio stations.

With satellite and terrestrial television not presently an option, the BBC must maintain its dependence on the Internet to reach Russian audiences. This includes the Internet in all its forms: websites, social media, desktop, and mobile. And, in fact, the Internet is now the only conduit through which the BBC Russian content reaches Russia. BBC could expand and improve the online Russian news coverage it already provides, in text and video formats. And, through research and metrics, it must decide to what extent video, possibly even a 24-hour video stream, is worth the expense. It may be that Russians with Internet access prefer to read their news as text than watch it as video.

So far, Russia has not blocked the Internet content of Western international broadcasters, at least not on a continuous basis. The Kremlin’s repeated denials of any intent to block Internet content suggest that it has at least been thinking about it. And recent press accounts indicate that Russian authorities may even try to ban anonymizers and other methods used to work around online censorship. Circumvention tools would have to become even cleverer, and Russian users would have to be willing and able to use them. In an extreme scenario, Russia could physically cut off the landlines of Internet traffic into the country. Then no circumvention tool within the Internet Protocol would work.

Read the full article at CPD Blog

 

Tecsun PL-600 Review

I have had the Tecsun PL-600 for 2 years now, so I thought it timely to do a review. 2 years gives one a chance to really get to know a receiver, work out it’s foibles etc., etc. This review is therefore from a users perspective and I shall not be covering every available function. Other sites have done an excellent job already on these points.

The Tecsun PL-600 is a portable receiver with LW, MW, FM and SW bands. Out of the box it comes with a nice padded travelling pouch, an antenna on a reel, 4 NiMH batteries, a wall-wart charger, earbud-style headphones and the manual. Everything is packed well and I purchased my particular example from an ebay seller in Scotland.

The specifications for the radio are as follows:

LW 100-519 kHz

MW 522-1620 kHz

SW 1711-29999 kHz

FM 87-108 MHz

So the shortwave bands, which will be the main subject of this review, are well covered with no breaks. In fact there is almost continuous coverage from 100 Khz to 29999 Khz.

I haven’t used the receiver on MW or LW as my interests do not lie in these areas. FM on local and national stations gives very good reproduction through the speaker or in full stereo if used with appropriate headphones.

For a while at this QTH, the main station receiver has been a Yaesu FRG-7, a venerable oldie from the ’70’s. While the ‘Frog’ is very good, I found it increasingly annoying that the dial calibration is not consistent end-to-end (a facet of the square-law function of a variable capacitor), and no narrow filter. The 6 Khz filter is fine for general listening but not useful for either ham-band SSB and CW or removing ACI on the broadcast bands.

So I have been using the ‘600 more and more and find it is now my main radio. Why?

Well, it has digital readout, it has memories, although I seldom use these, and it has a wide/narrow filter. The latter 2 settings I estimate being 6 Khz and 4 Khz. The narrow setting is great for removing ACI and has helped me a number of times to locate a station next to a higher powered one. The narrow setting is also selected automatically when SSB mode is engaged. The receiver also has a 3 position attenuator, which can be useful for strong stations, or indeed to cut down on noise.

Ergonomically, I think this receiver is well designed. It has a tilting attachment at the back which slants the radio at an ideal angle for desk top use. All the controls are easy to find and intuative, with push buttons, a keypad and a knob for tuning. So to select a station, one can either manually tune using the knob, use the up/down keys or directly key-in a frequency using the key pad. Tuning can be set at 5 Khz or 1 Khz, the latter useful for Ham stations or off-standard BC stations. With the SW button, the user can cycle through the broadcast bands, with an indication of which is selected display on the screen. One slightly annoying aspect of this is one can only scroll UP the bands and not Down.

A quick note on SSB reception. On my version, out of the box, SSB reception was distorted on all but the quietest stations. This is a known problem with the ‘600. Fortunately, there are a number of clever folks out in internet-land who have got a fix for this problem. I asked our tech. guy at work to do mine and it consists of adding a 1K resistor between pin 18 and ground of the audio amp chip. This simple mod transforms the audio on SSB. No more distortion and Ham band listening becomes a pleasure. So if you are thinking of or already have a ‘600 then this mod is well worth getting done.

I mainly use my ‘600 with an outdoor antenna, this being a 15 metre long wire fed through a homebrew 9:1 balun. Now some users have reported the ‘600 over-loading easily on an external antenna but I have never found this to be the case. It should be noted that the receiver is extremely capable on the built-in telescopic whip, which brings in numerous stations and I have used it this way for some garden ham-band and shortwave bc listening. The whip also swings round so that if the receiver is being used with the back tilt, the antenna can still be vertical.

There are some timer options available for setting alarms etc but I have never used these so cannot comment on their usefulness or otherwise.

The radio can be charged via the supplied charger, connection being via a power socket on the side of the receiver (not USB). The set of batteries supplied with the receiver were only 900 mAH versions and tended to run down fairly quickly, as even when the receiver is off, certain aspects of the display are still in operation. These batteries finally stopped holding any charge just recently and I switched to Sanyo Eneloop batteries, these being rated at 1900 mAH. These Eneloop batteries have a deserved reputation for longevity and charge cycles. So far the set I installed have lasted for over 2 weeks of near daily use.

So to some up. The Tecsun PL-600 is an extremely capable receiver, which can be used as a portable as well as a desk-top receiver. I think it’s good enough to use as a daily receiver for shortwave dx-ing and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a low-cost high quality radio. No it won’t compete with an Icom R-75, or CommRadio CR-1A but then those receivers are nearly 10 times the price.

 

RNE/Radio Exterior resumes SW today

RNE/Radio Exterior resumes SW today (18 December) The winter schedule is:
1600-2400 on 9620 NOB 200 kW / 290 deg to NoAm Spanish Sat/Sun
1600-2400 on 11685 NOB 200 kW / 161 deg to WCAf Spanish Sat/Sun
1600-2400 on 11940 NOB 200 kW / 230 deg to SoAm Spanish Sat/Sun
1600-2400 on 12030 NOB 200 kW / 110 deg to NEAf Spanish Sat/Sun

1600-2200 on 17715 NOB 200 kW / 230 deg to SoAm Spanish Daily
1600-2400 on 17755 NOB 200 kW / 161 deg to WCAf Spanish Daily
1800-2400 on 17850 NOB 100 kW / 272 deg to CeAm Spanish Daily
1800-2400 on 21610 NOB 200 kW / 110 deg to N/ME Spanish Daily
1900-2300 on 15110 NOB 200 kW / 302 deg to NoAm Spanish Daily

2000-2400 on 9620 NOB 200 kW / 290 deg to NoAm Spanish Mon-Fri
2000-2400 on 11685 NOB 200 kW / 161 deg to WCAf Spanish Mon-Fri
2000-2400 on 11940 NOB 200 kW / 230 deg to SoAm Spanish Mon-Fri
2000-2400 on 12030 NOB 200 kW / 110 deg to NEAf Spanish Mon-Fri
2000-2400 on 15385 NOB 200 kW / 161 deg to WCAf Spanish Mon-Fri

 

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!!