Should web-based SDR loggings be included and shared in regular logging columns?

Operating a KiwiSDR in Iceland from my vacation spot in Québec (circa 2018).

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who writes:

Radyo Pilipinas is one of those English language stations that are not very likely to make to my Pennsylvania location, even under excellent conditions, simply because propagation of their frequencies wouldn’t reach eastern North America when they’re on the air.

Web tunable SDRs change all that…I caught them today from 0315 to their 0330 signoff on 15640 and 17620, in English, with a chatty travelogue program.

I was listening via an Indonesian Kiwi SDR located in Jakarta.

I’m left wondering — is there interest in reporting logs like this? We wouldn’t normally include them in the regular Loggings column in the NASWA Journal, because I’m not tuning my radio, I’m in front of a computer screen tuning half a world away.

FWIW, Radyo PIlipinas broadcasts in English daily from 0200 to 0330 on 15640, 17700 (announced but not heard) and 17620 kHz.

73 – Richard Cuff / Allentown, PA (virtually in Jakarta, Indonesia…)

Wow–what a great question, Rich.

I suspect some DXers have very strong feelings about WebSDR loggings, both for and against.

In terms of loggings columns with various radio clubs and organizations, I suppose it’s up to the governing body to decide. As you say, I suspect it will come down to whether or not remote radio operation counts. With a KiwiSDR, for example, you’re controlling a remote receiver–one that is physically located in a known geographic spot–and the audio is being piped over the Internet. I know it wouldn’t be in the spirit of the thing if you submitted logs implying you’d logged Radyo Pilipinas from your home receiver and antenna. If, however, you disclose that you were using a remote RX station in Jakarta, the logging would be accurate. Whether or not it’s allowed is a separate issue.

Anyone care to share their constructive comments? What do you think about WebSDR loggings? Please comment.

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36 thoughts on “Should web-based SDR loggings be included and shared in regular logging columns?

  1. Zacharias

    I ve seen this article quite late and leave me put my opinions as DXer and radio monitor
    Many stations today cannot be heard in my shack in Thessaloniki partially die to the local noise that kills poor signal reception or just because they cant reach my place. There is a huge noise level on the 3-5 and 8-11 MHZ bands (around -80dbm )coming from the VDSL router and sometimes prefer to switch it off it in order to do some better band DXing

    As i am a technical radio monitor offering info extracted from the SDRConsole proving that (spectral screenshot, and waterfall , audio rec etc ) i also mention the remote SDR (mostly kiwi SDR or kSDR ) with a screenshot that includes the SDR’s web page so the person in charge to know exactly the conditions of reception

    In my logs web page i always show which of my logs come from kSDRs which are posted in facebook , made by non SDR receiver _ i use an Airspy or the backup RSP1a – and also which re posted in Youtube

    Hope that it helps
    A 50 years SWLer and DXer

    Reply
  2. Sheldon Harvey

    I think this all comes down to the difference between shortwave listeners vs. DXers. The DXer is going to want to hear the station on their radio, with their own antenna(s). The shortwave listener will be more interested in the content and would probably be happy to know how and when to go about hearing a station via a remote receiver that they would most likely not be able to hear from using their home-based equipment.
    Perhaps it’s time to segregate things in radio club publications. Perhaps a “loggings” column for reports of stations heard from home locations using a radio and antenna. Then perhaps a separate column providing listings of shortwave stations that are generally very difficult to hear. In the listing, a choice of suggested locations of online receivers that could be used to listen to them.
    Time for clubs to survey their members to see what best serves them.

    For the QSL hunters, there are a few factors to consider.
    a) Do stations that issue QSLs want reports from people who heard their signal on a remote receiver?
    b) If stations that do accept reports from people using remote receivers, and will issue QSL cards, is the DXer satisfied with that, or do they only want to receive a QSL for a report hear from home with their own receiver and antenna?
    c) If a station in question doesn’t want reception reports, and doesn’t QSL, then the questions are moot.

    Reply
  3. Ray Robinson

    From the perspective of a broadcaster, our policy at Voice of Hope for the past few years has been NOT to issue QSL cards for reports to our stations where reception has been made via a webSDR (or online webstream). To earn a QSL, a listener must have received one of our stations using their own equipment (receiver and antenna), whether at home or in the field.

    Ray Robinson
    Voice of Hope World Radio Network

    Reply
  4. Tom

    I tend to be somewhat “old school” about web SDR loggings as well.

    For SWL’ing they’re fine. It’s nice to comfortably listen to interesting foreign program content or music without much fading, noise & interference. Any loggings reporting these receptions should include all information as to how and where they were heard.

    For DX’ing my opinion is they should never be used. After all, “DX” stands for “Distance Reception” & for many (including me) that is what the thrill of this hobby is all about. Digging out a signal from some distant part of the world is infinitely more satisfying than listening to the same signal blaring out of a web SDR located not far from the transmitter. As an example I really enjoyed Dxing the Papua New Guinea, Indonesian regional RRI & Chinese PBS regional stations as the grayline moved across their countries around 22-2300 UTC here on the east coast of N. America. Signals were often not very good but I didn’t care. Logging a new country or station from your home QTH is what DXing is all about. As to the question of using a web SDR to confirm what you’re hearing on your receiver, I wouldn’t do that myself. I would keep on trying to get an ID or confirm in some other way what I heard. But as long as someone heard the station first on their receiver & then confirms it through a web SDR, I guess that is a valid use for many.

    For QSL’ing, web SDR’s should never be used for contests, heard lists, awards ..etc. As for the value of QSL’s gotten through web SDR’s, that depends on the individual. For me personally the value would be low. For example, back in 1990/1991 I have 3 tentative loggings of Bhutan. On one of them I was 99.9% sure it was them based on fade pattern, music played, their use of frequent music bridges between stories & language but I never got a clear ID so it remained tentative. To me that log would be much more satisfying that getting a Bhutan QSL through a web SDR located in say Nepal or northern India.

    Those are my thoughts on the topic but the bottom line is that everyone should enjoy this great hobby however you decide log or listen.

    Tom Daly (aka Tom DXer WPE2QED)

    Reply
  5. Edward

    They were of broadcast origins picked up at somewhere and re-propagated through worldwide web. Perhaps their reports belong on it’s own dedicated weblog since it is not origin to endpoint listener (shortwave transmission) but an historical capture of an event archived on a website.

    Reply
  6. Leslie Polt

    I concur that WebSDR loggings are acceptable so long as the site of the actual receiving radio is disclosed. A related issue, primarily with utility monitoring, is submitting a log merely consisting of hundreds of HFDL or ADS-B aviation data bursts that were recorded on an SD card. The digital IDs of various aircraft may have a following, but IMHO should not be mixed in with conventional reception reports.

    Reply
  7. Bob Sillett

    I have remote logs dating back 15 years or so, even before the SDR days where I used my own software to remotely control radios via the serial port and have the audio streamed back by the Windows Media Encoder or Icecast/Shoutcast. (Remember those days?) Today the web and SDRs make remote tuning so much easier.

    I always have a location/QTH in my logs. So I just would put “Remote: Jakarta, Indonesia” in for the location.

    Reply
  8. Bob Colegrove

    1. In ancient times it was not unusual for SWLs and hams alike to have large world maps on the wall with pins stuck in locations where there had been actual point-to-point communication. During the golden age this quickly became impractical with the large number of stations available and limited space on the map. Perhaps we’ve reached the point where this might again be a feasible aspect of the hobby.

    2. WEB SDR sites at different locations are useful to compare signal levels and occasionally confirm a station that might be barely intelligible at your own location. I have found one nearby, well-equipped site to be a very helpful standard with which to evaluate my antenna experiments.

    Bob Colegrove

    Reply
  9. Eric Fetters-Walp

    I tend to be “old school” about loggings, but I agree with others here that as long as you make clear where you’re listening from or where the SDR is that you’re using, a logging is a logging. I’ve used an SDR in South America to listen to and verify the Antarctica station, and I often use SDRs to hear and report on HFUnderground.com about various pirate stations that are difficult to hear from my own QTH near Seattle. For contests and the like, however, I can’t imagine using loggings of stations heard via an SDR rather than from my own radio.

    Reply
  10. Carlos Latuff

    I have my personal definition for this topic.
    Listening to a radio station using your own receiver/antenna it´s like going to the countryside for fishing.
    Listening to a station via Web/Kiwi SDR it’s like buying the fish at a market.
    It’s up to you.

    Reply
    1. David Shannon

      I agree with your fish analogy. I wouldn’t consider hearing a station via a WebSDR as being a true catch. It fulfils a need to hear something that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to. If people want to log WebSDR catches all they need to do is make it clear that they were listened to that way and don’t include them for any DX contests. Good DX to you. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Adam Ebel

    Most people who want to use Web SDR and Kiwi SDR does not have access to a good short wave radio receiver or a antenna with a good RF ground. Sometimes people are far away from their home receiver that they cannot listen to any short wave station. It should not matter where you listen to via Web SDR and Kiwi SDR if you receive a distant station via Web SDR and Kiwi SDR just include where you’re listening from. Most hams use Web SDR and Kiwi SDR to hear their contacts in a remote location just to see how far their signal went. I use Web SDR here at home just to see if WTWW-TN did reach in Europe and another continents. I also use Web SDR and Kiwi SDR to listen to stations that are totally unreachable in my home listening location such as the stations in China that are not totally audible here in my home location due to propagation limitations.

    Reply
  12. Matt Todd

    This is a hobby that we do for fun. No one is keeping track of who has the most SWL loggings, to my knowledge. If someone wants to log a webSDR hit that’s their choice and I don’t really care. If it were an amateur radio contest it would be a different story as that’s really not in the spirit of it. For me, I ‘m not really into webSDR’s as I like to see what I can hear from where I’m at with my own equipment. What’s great about this hobby is there are so many different things that you can do that we can all take such different roads down the same hobby.

    When it comes to posting loggings that one hears in general I think they should always include the location of ones station, including if it was a webSDR from some random location. Logs are kind of meaningless to me without a location so I can know whether I have a chance of hearing what they have heard.

    Reply
    1. Don Glocka

      Well stated, Matt. DX’ers who post loggings without displaying their QTH may be satisfying to the logger but is essentially meaningless to the rest of us.

      Reply
  13. Bill Brown

    To me, there is a big difference. My challenge is to hear a station from many miles away using my home-made antenna and knowing that this signal made it all the way to my radio room. If I called the station on my cell phone or downloaded their program on Youtube, what satisfaction is that?

    Reply
  14. Bob Colegrove

    In these remaining days of a long decline, when copyable signals during prime hours can be counted on the fingers of one hand, I find it interesting to see who is still broadcasting, even though I will likely never hear them. Keep the logs coming, regardless of the mode.

    Will the last SWL in the room please turn off the radio?

    Bob Colegrove

    Reply
  15. DanH

    I have no interest in shortwave broadcast loggings from web SDRs. I listen to shortwave with a radio and an antenna at my location and rarely use web SDRs. I listen mostly to broadcasts so If I want specific information about shortwave stations I use WRTH, https://short-wave.info/ or http://eibispace.de/.

    Neither am I very interested in shortwave radio reception reports unless they are specific to radio reception in my region: Northeast Pacific / Western North America.

    Regarding Radyo Pilipinas… I can receive it in Northern California: https://youtu.be/Ef1TeINkRsc

    Reply
  16. Robin Spalding

    Only if such a listing is qualified “via web sdr” or some other such wording, and maybe placed apart from standard radio reports. You could be getting a flood of “via web sdr” reports – useful to confirm transmissions, but shouldn’t be confused with proper reception reports which also confirm propagation conditions.

    If there is some shorthand way to include the location of the web sdr used that might be helpful too.

    Reply
    1. James Fields

      This was my thought – a column indicating geographical location of the receiving station, or a column to indicate websdr.

      Reply
  17. Jim Tedford

    This is probably the oldest question in the DX world – what’s a valid reception? For me, if it’s an RF signal you’ve captured somehow, it’s valid, and should be reported. It might help another listener figure out what they were hearing.

    I remember back in the day using a video recorder (VCR) to monitor a specific frequency for hours and hours. I also can’t tell you the number of times I’ve listened to a web feed simultaneously with an over-the-air signal to make a positive ID. Were those valid loggings? I don’t care – it’s part of the enjoyment of my HOBBY.

    Anyone with a problem with that needs to get some perspective. And a life

    Reply
  18. Ken Hansen

    The question to ask is: “what is the purpose of publishing SWL logs?”

    Do you publish SWL logs to brag about the rare/difficult station you heard at your QTH, or do you share to publicize that the broadcaster was on the air at a certain time on a certain frequency?

    Personally, I always assumed the latter, to note existence of station/signal, because I never take note of the location of the receiving station.

    I can see if the goal is to boast/share accomplishments, a web SDR could be seen as ‘cheating’, but if you note the location of the websdr in your log, it seems reasonable. The ‘accomplishment’ of picking up Radio Jakarta from a web SDR in Jakarta is a trivial feat, but hearing Radio Jakarta from a web SDR in Europe is something to share.

    As long as the location of the webSDR is published with the RX report, seems fine to me.

    Reply
    1. Jim Tedfrd

      Yes! Bragging rights and reporting tallies aside, the purpose in publishing logs is to help other listeners figure out what they are hearing. For whatever purpose they want.

      When you a report a log, you have to report all the specifics: date, time, frequency, mode, details of what you heard. And how you logged it. The radio in your shack; with a portable/mobile set parked at the the beach, sitting in a park. Or a radio you tapped into on the internet.

      Report all the details. You’ll help your fellow hobbyists figure out what they are heating.

      Reply
  19. Vince

    My previous comment was regarding logging the station, claiming a ‘point’, and/or requesting confirmation using a third party owned remote SDR.

    From a listening only point of view, i.e. not DXing, remote SDRs are great. I like the University of Twente SDR very much, and use it from time to time. Never ever logged any reception through it, and therefore no confirmation requests were ever made.

    I do not, or extremely rarely, use other remote SDRs. Reason being, they are limited resources, and I tend to listen to programs, rather than making quick ID checks.

    Bottom line is, it’s your hobby, enjoy it any way you see fit. Please keep in mind that when you ‘go outside’ of your listening post with those loggings, there may be ‘unintended’ consequences. One was already mentioned by Bjarne.

    Reply
  20. Rob G

    My thoughts are pretty much along the same lines as others. For DX purposes, those types of loggings might be trivial if the receiver is nearby (and maybe not trivial if the receiver is far away), but would still provide information for someone that is in that region. For example, someone in Indonesia (or nearby, local or traveler) might find it useful to know that Radyo Pilipinas is coming in.
    But I think another more useful aspect would be that Radyo Pilipinas is receivable! This information might be very appreciated by a Filipino living abroad anywhere in the world that might like to hear a familiar voice from home.

    Reply
  21. Don Glocka

    My feeling has always been that as long as the logger reports the reception as SDR’d its a valid (but uniquely separate) DX . I pretty much ceased QSL requests when international broadcasters started sending out E-QSL’s – they’re just not the same. However, even if I did still QSL card request I wouldn’t request one solely on a remote SDR reception – it seems somewhat tainted but to each his own.

    Reply
  22. Warthog

    With shortwave stations that are available from overseas to the USA waning the past few years I’m still of the opinion logging an SDR Web Based App as DX catch is a no go as you didn’t actually receive it on your shortwave radio/SDR and antenna! Having said that I’ve seen WOR logs constantly referring to Web Based SDR reception on their computers as valid log catches, and some DXers stating they sent in reception reports and received QSL cards. A notable example is Antarctica!

    Reply
  23. Vince

    I personally don’t see the value of a third party owned remote SDR logging, except as research. Much less sending for a QSL card based on that.

    That said, it is what it is. At a minimum, it should be clearly noted. Ideally, it should be published in a separate remote SDR reception only column.

    As crazy as it may sound, I consider a remote SDR owned by the logger a different situation. It’s like the logger’s second home or DX-Camp. The logging should still be clearly marked though.

    Reply
  24. Bjarne Mjelde

    As long as the location of the remote receiver is given, why not? Unfortunately, this is sometimes not the case. I know of at least one reliable verifier for very attractive stations has contemplated to stop QSL-ing because of reports that are obviously cheating.

    Reply
  25. Mike Westfall N6KUY

    Do what you want. They’re you’re loggings.

    As for me, I would keep a separate log for each distinct listening location (including remote locations, like Web SDRs), and distinct logging totals.

    But whatever the case, when submitting loggings to the community, I would certainly be clear about the listening location.

    Reply
  26. Tha Dood

    Well, I’ve certainly used web based on-line SDR’s for various DX catches. I’d say, log them, but note what you are using, and where.

    Reply
  27. Bob Steele

    Hi Richard,
    My wife grew up in Allentown. Her dad owned and operated Shoen’s furniture store in downtown Allentown for 50+ years. We got married in Bethlehem and while working for Boeing, I did management consulting for Bethlehem Steel back in the ’80s. Like the song says: It’s a small, small world.
    Regards,
    Bob Steele
    W4EGJ

    Reply

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