Monthly Archives: October 2015

Final day: Share a photo of your shack or listening post for a chance to win a Grundig G2

John's shack features the CommRadio CR-1a, RFspace SDR-IQ, Winradio G33DDC Excalibur Pro, and the Grundig Satellite 750.

John’s shack features the CommRadio CR-1a, RFSpace SDR-IQ, Winradio G33DDC Excalibur Pro, and the Grundig Satellite 750.

Today is the deadline for our latest contest!

In exchange for sharing a photo of your favorite listening post or your radio shack with the SWLing Post community, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a Grundig G2 portable radio/recorder and player! The choice will be made by random selection, so everyone has an equal chance of winning.

Click here to read a full description of the contest and how you can participate!

Many thanks to our friends at Universal Radio for sponsoring this contest!

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Tony’s homebrew mag loop antenna and amplifier

Fullscreen capture 10312015 115110 AM

Yesterday, Tony (K3DY), shared a video (via Twitter) demonstrating his new home brew loop antenna and amplifier.

This is actually a great demonstration of how even a relatively simple, inexpensive loop antenna can improve reception in locations with heavy radio interference. Tony includes the following notes with his video:

“Testing a new receiving loop antenna that I built today. It uses a pre amplifier based on deferential setup of two 2N5109 transistors. Loop is made out of coaxial cable, only the shield is connected to the circuit.

Quick demo on 31 meters, lots of stations at sunset time. No time for further testing but I observed a pronounced directivity below 7 MHz. 75 meters is so quiet that it makes me forget I live in a townhouse. As a comparison, my noise level on 75 meters is at S8 on an end fed [antenna].

I will use this loop primarily for SWLing purposes but I may use it as a separate receiving antenna with my amateur radio equipment.

A lot of fun, loops are fascinating and efficient!

Indeed, Tony! And perhaps the icing on the cake is that loop antennas are so portable, low-profile and easy to deploy. They’re ideal for those living in restricted areas and with picky home owners’ associations.

Inspired by my buddy Vlado (N3CZ), I’ve actually been collecting the pieces to build my own mag loop antenna this winter. I doubt the parts for my loop will exceed ten dollars as I plan to use the shield of some heavy coax for the primary loop and a little PVC for support (much like Tony’s loop).

Tony’s video is inspiring me to go a step further and also build a simple amplifier. Any suggestions or schematics for doing so are most welcome!

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Hackaday: “Secret Radio Stations by the Numbers”


(Source: Hackaday via Andrea Borgnino)

One thing has stayed with the James Bond movie franchise through the decades: Mr. Bond always has the most wonderful of gadgets. Be it handheld, car-based, or otherwise, there’s always something to thrill that is mostly believable.

The biggest problem with all of those gadgets is that they mark Commander Bond as an obvious spy. “So Mr. Bond, I see you have a book with many random five character groups. Nothing suspicious about that at all!” And we all know that import/export specialists often carry exploding cufflinks or briefcases full of unknown electronics in hidden compartments.

Just as steganography hides data in plain sight, the best spy gadgets are the ones that don’t seem to be a spy gadget. It is no wonder some old weapons are little more than sticks or farm implements. You can tell a peasant he can’t have a sword, but it is hard to ban sticks.

Imagine you were a cold war era spy living in a hostile country with a cover job with Universal Exports. Would you rather get caught with a sophisticated encryption machine or an ordinary consumer radio? I’m guessing you went with the radio. You aren’t the only one. That was one of the presumed purposes to the mysterious shortwave broadcasts known as number stations. These were very common during the cold war, but there are still a few of them operating.

Continue reading at Hackaday…

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Tune in: Halloween weekend is a pirate radio playground!


Halloween is typically the most active day of the year for shortwave pirates…so, here are three things you’ll want to do this Halloween:

  1. Listen for pirate radio stations this weekend!  Turn on your radio anytime this weekend, but especially around twilight and tune between 6,800 – 6,990 kHz. Pirates broadcast on both AM and SSB; you’re bound to hear a few. For a comprehensive primer on pirate radio listening, check out this post.
  2. Note what pirate stations are being logged–in real time–on the HF Underground pirate radio forum. This is a very active community of pirate radio listeners; I often check the latest loggings to discover frequencies where stations have surfaced. Click here to view the HF Underground pirate radio forum. Posting to the forum requires registration and approval by the moderator (so do this in advance!).
  3. Check out Andrew Yoder’s pirate radio blog with its deceptively simple title, the Hobby Broadcasting blog. Andrew is the author of the Pirate Radio Annual and a guru on shortwave pirate radio. He’s already logged a few mid-week, pre-Halloween pirates. Bookmark his site while you’re at it!

Happy Halloween to all! 

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The Spectrum Monitor 2015 Radio Buyer’s Guide


If you’re a subscriber of The Spectrum Monitor (TSM) magazine, you’re in for a treat this month: the November issue is the TSM annual Radio Buyer’s Guide.

Many SWLing Post readers know that I write occasional features and reviews for TSM. Since the November issue will feature my shortwave radio buyer’s guide, I was sent a draft of the November issue. After double-checking my review, I thought I’d glance through some of the other articles–what a rabbit hole that was! Two hours later and I’m still reading. Since I’m primarily a shortwave guy, TSM expands my horizons with articles about parts of the spectrum I seldom explore. That’s a good thing!

TSM Publisher and Managing Editor, Ken Reitz (KS4ZR), has done an amazing job collecting a group of writers who are not only experts in their respective fields, but are effective writers as well. These two qualities do not always go hand-in-hand.

At $3 per issue or (especially) an annual subscription for $24 ($2/issue) I think TSM is a bargain. When the November issue is posted on the TSM website later today, you’ll be able to read through the table of contents online.

It’s hard to believe TSM is almost in its third year of publication–this TSM writer is wishing it many, many more!

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PCJ special broadcasts to Europe and SE Asia

UPDATE: Frequency has changed.  Please read this update.

(Source: PCJ Media Press Release)

pcjOctober 29, 2015

Beginning November 14th, 2015. PCJ Radio International will offer a series of special broadcasts before the end of the year for listeners in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Time: 0900 to 1000 UTC
Frequency: 17825khz

November 14th – Say It With Music
November 21st – Call it Ukraine
November 28th – Rockin’ with Raoul
December 5th – Classics with David Monson
December 12th – Special Jazz For The Asking
December 19th – European radio during WW2 (documentary)
December 26th – Special listeners programs

Each of these special transmissions will have a special E-QSL.

Good Listening!

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The BaoFeng UV-5R is tougher than the $25 price tag implies


I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a handheld radio snob.

I don’t own many HT transceivers, but the ones I do own are manufactured by the “big three”–namely, Yaesu, Kenwood and Icom. For ages, these three companies dominated the handheld radio market.

A few years ago, several Chinese radio manufactures (BaofengWouxun, TDXone and TYT to name a few) started flooding the market with inexpensive handheld transceivers–radios that literally cost a fraction of those produced by the “big three.” Where a Yaesu dual band handheld might cost between $150-250 US, a Baefeng model might cost $25-50 US.

As one might imagine, these inexpensive transceivers gained quite a following in the ham radio community and with preparedness/communications enthusiasts.

I’ve read that many of these ultra-cheap transceivers are difficult to program and I’m sure that’s one of the factors that has kept me from purchasing one.

I also assumed that a $25 radio must be very poorly constructed. Seems I’m incorrect at least on this point.

Many thanks to Dave (K4SV) for sharing the following video from Chris (K5CLC), who put the popular Baofeng UV-5R through an “extreme” field test:

The Baofeng UV-5R is available at for a mere $25.80 US shipping included.

UV-5R accessories. Click to enlarge.

UV-5R accessories. Click to enlarge.

The UV-5R even comes with a number of accessories:

  • a ANT5 SMA-J flexible antenna,
  • BL-5 Li-ion battery (7.4V 1800 mAh),
  • belt clip,
  • wrist strap,
  • AC adapter (8.4V 600ma)
  • and drop-in charger.

Frankly, it’s hard to believe you get so much radio for the price.

Curiosity is getting the best of me and I believe I very well may purchase a UV-5R in the coming days. I’ll probably purchase the USB programming cable as well [UPDATE: several readers suggested this proper FTDI cable as a much better option].

Click here to view the Baofeng UV-5R on Amazon: I encourage you to read the numerous reviews–many of which sing its praises, others do not.

Readers: if you have the UV-5R, please post your comments about this little radio. I’m curious if you find it easy to use and if the battery life has held up over time.  Any tricks for programming it?

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