People can say what they will about our shortwave hobby’s future, but I’m here to tell you that interest in is far from dead. Indeed, it is dynamic, alive and well!
This morning, I took a look at our web statistics via Google Analytics for the month of December 2016 (not including today).
It’s hard for me to believe we’re averaging about 6,790 daily pageviews!
And the secret sauce in surpassing 3,000 posts and healthy numbers? Our amazing contributors!
Thank you so very much!
As I’ve mentioned before, I had no aspirations for the SWLing Post to become a popular destination for shortwave and amateur radio enthusiasts; it was mainly a site where I could jot down things I found of interest to me and keep tabs on the radio and international broadcasting industry. I was simply making my bookmarks and thoughts public, perhaps a little in advance of the social media outlets that now exist for shortwave radio and related topics.
As we move into 2017, I’d like to thank you all for reading and contributing to the SWLing Post community!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Trevor, who shares this link to a blog post from Daniel Estevez describing the characteristics of HF OTH RADAR:
Most amateur operators are familiar with over-the-horizon radars in the HF bands. They sometimes pop up in the Amateur bands, rendering several tens of kilohertzs unusable. Inspired by Balint Seeber’s talk in GRCon16, I’ve decided to learn more about radars. Here I look at a typical OTH radar, presumably of Russian origin. It was recorded at my station around 20:00UTC on 8 December at a frequency around 6860kHz. This radar sometimes appears inside the 40m Amateur band as well.
Above this post you can see a waterfall plot of the radar signal. It’s the wide red signal. It is 15kHz wide and pretty strong, but severely affected by frequency-selective fading. Looking at the IQ recording in Audacity, it is clear that the radar uses pulses with a 50Hz repetition rate. This explains the characteristic sound of this radar when received with a conventional SSB radio. It sounds similar to AC hum (here in Europe, of course).
We begin the new year with some new and recent recordings we received during 2016, and our special guest is Leonardo Pérez, Director of Cuarteto de Cuerdas Amadeo Roldan, who will be sharing a little of Una Mecánica Diferente, which was nominated for a Cubadisco in Concert and Chamber Music in 2016, during each of the next several weeks. This week will have a tasty blend of concert, Jazz and dance music.
Also, our Saturday transmission moves to 1200-1300 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 KHz to escape from interference from the Voice of Turkey.
Three options for listening on shortwave:
WBCQ, 7490 KHz, Tuesdays 0100-0200 UTC (8pm-9pm EDT Mondays in the Americas)
Channel 292, 6070 KHz, Fridays 1100-1200 UTC (1200-1300 CET) and Saturdays 1200-1300 UTC (1300-1400 CET)
Our Facebook Page has more information.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock (N7EKX), who shares this video and notes the following on YouTube:
This is the new 3.5 inch (89mm) “Baby FSL” antenna, designed to provide a powerful DXing gain boost for Ultralight radios (or any other portables) despite its very small size. It has 32 Russian surplus 140mm x 8mm ferrite rods and 31 turns of 1162/46 Litz wire. In the demonstration video it provides a daytime DX gain boost for 750-KXTG (Tigard, Oregon, 50 kW at 160 miles) from inaudible up to about S7 on the Eton Traveler III Ultralight radio.
Gary is certainly a first-rate DXer and an ambassador of our radio hobby. Gary shows us here that, with a little ingenuity, we can take a $50 radio and turn it into something exceptional! Homebrewing at its best. Thank you, Gary!
Also, I had never considered that a high-gain FSL antenna would require very precise placement of the receiver for proper inductive coupling. It makes sense, though. This loop is tuned for razor-sharp precision!
Here’s a timely reminder for all you would-be revelers out there: Be careful with your countdowns this New Year’s Eve. There will be a little extra time to bask in the glow of a retreating 2016 — or curse its name, as the case may be.
Whatever your inclination may be, one thing is certain: Before the year is out, the world’s foremost authority on time will be adding one more second to the clock.
In a bulletin released this summer, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, or IERS, said it would be necessary to introduce a “leap second” at the end of December. Timekeepers use this added second much as leap years are used — to bring the world’s atomic clocks in sync with the Earth’s own distinctive rhythm, which in this case is determined by its rotation.
This leap second isn’t the first. Since 1971, the world has added leap seconds with some regularity — typically every two to three years — and the latest leap second was added only last year, in June.
Last year, I recorded the 2015 Leap Second via WWV–click here to read that post. Though such a subtle change, it is fun to hear that extra second added. I plan to record the full 31 meter band New Year’s Eve–hopefully, I’ll also catch the 10,000 kHz WWV Leap Second!
I received my copy of the 2017 World Radio and TV Handbook (WRTH) directly from the publisher last week, just prior to Christmas holiday ravels. As I mention every year, I look forward to receiving this excellent staple radio reference guide–and this is their 71st edition!
WRTH’s team of noted DXers from around the world curate frequencies and broadcaster information by region; while I’m not sure how they orchestrate all of this, the end result is truly a symphony of radio information. In addition to broadcaster listings, WRTH’s radio reviews, feature articles, and annual HF report make for excellent reading.
But the WRTH isn’t just a frequency guide: the publication always devotes the first sixty or so pages to articles relating to various aspects of the radio hobby. Following, I offer a quick overview of these.
The first article always features a WRTH contributor: this year, WRTH’s International Editor, Sean Gilbert, tells us what sparked his interested in the hobby and what lead to his career with WRTH which started in 2000.
The second set of articles is always my favorite: WRTH receiver reviews.
This year, WRTH begins with a review of the Icom IC-7300 general coverage transceiver. They also review the Reuter Elektronik RDR55D, and re-visit the SDRplay RSP1. Following radio reviews, they evaluate the excellent Wellbrook ALA1530LNP magnetic loop antenna and the Bonito AAS300 3 way active RF splitter.
The following article focuses on one of my favorite shortwave broadcasters, The Mighty KBC. WRTH contributor, Max van Arnhem traces the broadcaster’s history and gives us a little insight about the people behind this music powerhouse. If you’re a KBC fan, you’re in for a treat!
I was very happy to find that the following feature article explores the world of Remote Reception. No doubt, remote listening is becoming one the most accessible ways many of us discover and enjoy our hobby today–especially as it can be difficult for some of us to fight urban radio interference.
Following this, WRTH writer, Hans Johnson, features an article on CKZN St. John’s Newfoundland. In this short article, Johnson covers the history and mission of this shortwave relay, dating back to the days when Newfoundland was a British dominion. Looking forward, Johnson notes that the CBC intend to not only continue this service directed at Labrador’s most remote areas, but it intends to replace their 1 kW Elcom Bauer transmitter in the coming years. This pleases me to no end as I’ve always loved snagging this particular relay of CFGB from my home here in North Carolina.
Next, DXer Rob Shepard writes about his travels in South America and the Pacific. Being an avid traveller myself, I love reading about others’ adventures across the globe with radio. Shepard even notes some catches from the Queen Mary II. I’ve never had the chance to do DXing while maritime mobile, but I hope to someday.
The following article features Danish radio enthusiast, Vagn Fentz, who has collaborated with WRTH since one of its very first editions. His radio history starts back when he was a schoolboy in Denmark during WWII, listening to the radio in secret. His story gives us insight into both his own world and that of the WRTH over the years.
Next, Michael Pütz outlines the progress, so far, of setting up an HF disaster relief radio network: the IRDR Project. If you haven’t heard of the IRDR project, this article makes for a great primer and also speaks to the potential future of a radio network that could have major positive impact over vast regions in the wake of disaster.
The final article–a tradition–is the WRTH HF propagation report/forecast by Ulf-Peter Hoppe. Always an informative read (despite the fact we’re heading into a solar minimum).
The 71st is another fantastic edition of the World Radio TV Handbook. I’ve never been disappointed with WRTH, in truth. Their publishing standards are such that the quality of their reviews, their writing, and (most importantly) their broadcast listings are simply unparalleled.
For DXers who collect QSL cards, you’ll find that broadcaster contact information in WRTH is often more up-to-date than a broadcaster’s own website. When readers contact me asking for QSL information from an obscure broadcaster, the first place I search is the current WRTH. Remember: their information is based on volunteer contributors who specialize in specific regions of the world–the most knowledgeable regional DXers keep this publication accurate.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor TomL, who shares the following guest post:
Illustration 1: Main contents
Backpack-Shack radio listening
So, the Car Shack idea was good, but I felt constrained by lack of access to better locations to listen to shortwave radio. I took most of the original equipment and stuffed it into a photo backpack I was not using and now I have a portable listening station. Now I can listen in my car or in the field fairly easily.
LowePro350AW – The backpack has three main compartments, integrated carry handles, nice padded waist belt, and a couple of ways to stick a 3/4-inch PVC pipe into external tripod or water bottle pouches. My homemade 14-inch loop antenna with Wellbrook amplifier is light enough to be attached to a 3-foot PVC pipe attached to the backpack. The Palstar preselector (active antenna) and KIWA BCB filter are still part of the portable setup. I added a Daiwa two-position switch to cut out the KIWA BCB filter so I can listen to mediumwave. Power for all these devices are Powerex AA’s for the Sony 2010 and two 12V power packs made from three sets of XTAR 14500 lithium batteries + one dummy AA. I have mounted the electronics and wires using large cable tie-wraps to a 14×10 inch polypropylene kitchen cutting board (sturdy and easy to drill through).
Illustration 2: The electronics board fits neatly into the laptop section of the backpack
Illustration 3: Backpack Shack in operation
Here are some recordings from two test outings around 2100-2200 hours UTC. A local county park (“Forest Preserve”) purposely has few man-made structures (just a trail, picnic shelter made of wood and an outhouse). It is about 15 minutes drive from where I live; the reception is notably clear of local noise. There is an occasional wide-band noise that comes and goes but nothing else I can identify as detrimental noise and it is mostly just a nuisance.
A big downside of the Forest Preserve, like most parks now, is that it is ONLY open from sunrise to sunset and strictly enforced. So, my personal quest for nighttime access to an RF-quiet location continues (I guess I will have to buy/build my own)! It begs for an even more portable setup than this one. That means buying an SDR (with control via a tablet), miniaturizing the antenna, and modifying the lithium power packs to fit in a very small backpack or fanny pack.
If I can miniaturize it enough, I will be able to use common parts of this setup at home, in the car, and at field locations for either mediumwave or shortwave listening. I could then pre-install the unique parts in those situations and just plug-and-play, so-to-speak!
It could be that the continuing tech wave of small, powerful, wide-band equipment is causing a revolution in general. A type of radio revival may be at hand where regional radio starts to take a foothold, catering to a multi-state area and not just to one local metro area – with its one-city mindset and control (Do I really care that the Big City is installing a downtown-only, 12 million dollar bike and jogging connection + hearing endless whining about how bankrupt pensions are putting that County at risk when I never go there and don’t care to?). Portable wide-band radios allow for hours of listening to various types of broadcasts!
An example could be to use digital broadcasts over longwave (somewhere from 150 kHz-500 kHz) which allows ground wave signals to travel hundreds of miles reliably during the day or night without depending on variable skywave propagation. Digital would enhance the listener experience in stereo. It would probably need a narrower type of digital modulation since the current “HD Radio” standard is really too wide and splatters everything at adjacent frequencies. Pure wishful thinking but the technology is available to make something NEW happen!!
Cheers from NoiZey Illinoiz,
Thank you, Tom! You certainly have the right idea: taking your radio to the field! Keep us informed about your progress and updates. No doubt, over time you will discover a year-round spot to play radio in the field!
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