Category Archives: Books

Hospitals and RF noise: FM and HD radio’s strong suit

The Sangean HDR-14 AM/FM HD radio

For the past week, I’ve been away from home spending time with my mother at the hospital while she recovers from a surgery. I’ve got a number of reviews and evaluations in the pipeline, but thankfully no shortwave or HF radios on the table this week (although the ELAD FDM-S3 and CommRadio CTX-10 are just around the corner). Listening to shortwave (or even mediumwave) in a hospital room can be an exercise in futility–there are just too many devices emitting noise and the buildings are built like bunkers with incredibly thick walls to attenuate signals.

I’ve had the little Sangean HDR-14 with me, however, and have been very pleased with its ability to snag FM stations both analog and digital. I’ve also had fun discovering a surprisingly diverse FM landscape in this metro area. I haven’t snagged an AM HD station yet, but my hope is one evening I might DX one (fingers crossed and not holding my breath).

The Sangean HDR-14 (left) and CC Skywave SSB (right)

At the end of most days, I’ve been able to catch a little shortwave action with my CC Skywave SSB (pre-production) portable at the guest house where I’m staying. The evenings have been surprisingly peaceful here with only the occasional popup thunderstorm to insert a little QRN in my listening sessions.

Last night, while listening to jazz on FM, I finished reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (affiliate link).

We’ve mentioned this book before and I know of at least dozen SWLing Post contributors and friends who’ve personally recommended it to me.

It is a superb novel and will, no doubt, tug at the heart strings of any radio enthusiast or WWII history buff. Highly recommended!

Indeed, last night I couldn’t fall asleep until I finished the book around 12:30 AM!

And mom? She’s recovering quite well and we hope will be discharged from the hospital soon.

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James recommends “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, James Hukill (K7NEO), who writes:

So I just about wrapping up reading a new book that has morse code mentioned as a part of the plot in darn near 80% of the book. Well and not in a cheese demeaning way.

[Stephenson] is one of my favorite authors and popular enough to not be obscure to most folks.

Anyways, thanks for all your hard work.

My pleasure, and thank you for the book recommendation, James! I read through the synopsis and–being a sci-fi and dystopia fan–it does sound like a fascinating read indeed! Putting this on my wishlist.

Click here to view on Amazon.com (affiliate link).

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WRTH 2018: A look inside

I received my copy of the 2018 World Radio and TV Handbook (WRTH) directly from the publisher yesterday, just prior to my Christmas holiday travels. As I mention every year, I look forward to receiving this excellent staple radio reference guide–and this is their 72nd 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.

WRTH broadcast listings are incredibly thorough and informative

The first article always features a WRTH contributor:  this year, they feature Torgeir Woxen who is the contributor for Norway and editor of the Asia & Pacific frequency list. Reading about how Woxen became interested in radio and DXing reminds me of how I–and many of my radio friends–got their start as well.

The second set of articles is always my favorite: WRTH receiver reviews.

This year, WRTH begins with a review of the Icom IC-R8600 wideband tabletop SDR receiver.  They also review the Tecsun PL-880, Tecsun S-8800, Expert Electronics ColibriNano, SDRplay RSP2, and the new AOR AR-DV10 wideband handheld

(Photo: Cross Country Wireless)

Besides radio reviews, WRTH also includes an evaluation of the Cross Country Wireless Active Loop.

I must admit: the Cross Country sounds like an effective and affordable portable mag loop antenna. I might need to grab one in the future to use on impromptu travels and DXpeditions.

The following article features WRTH contributor, Brian Clark, and his travels from New Zealand to the geographic antipodes of his home: Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Of course, enjoying diverse radio broadcasts was an integral part of his journey!

I was pleased to find that the following feature article, entitled Receiving Noise, explores the radio interference that plagues our hobby. The article mentions several common sources of noise and some of the antennas that most effectively mitigate RFI. Sadly, radio noise/interference is an important topic for most radio enthusiasts.

Following this, WRTH writer, Hans Johnson, features an article on Radio Romania International. RRI is one of my favorite shortwave broadcasters, so this was a treat to find indeed–Johnson’s piece sheds light on the past, present and future of the station.

Next, in A New Voice of Hope in the Middle East, Founder and President of the Strategic Communications Group, John Taylor, writes about setting up a new mediumwave station in Israel.

The following article features Dr. Martin Hadlaw, a former advisor to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC), who explores the history of broadcasting in the South Seas.

Next, WRTH feature their Digital Update which assesses the state of digital broadcasting and–this year a special note about–Digital Radio Mondiale.

The final article–a tradition–is the WRTH  HF propagation report/forecast by Ulf-Peter Hoppe. Always an informative read and this year he ends on a positive note despite the fact we’ve hit the solar rock-bottom!

The 72nd is another fantastic edition of the World Radio TV Handbook. As I say every year, I’ve never been disappointed with WRTH. Their publishing standards are such that the quality of their reviews, their writing, and (most importantly) their broadcast listings are simply unparalleled.

My WRTH 2018 and Digitech AR-1780 fit perfectly in my Red Oxx Lil Roy and are ready for holiday road travel and radio fun!

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.

Purchase your copy of WRTH 2018 directly from WRTH’s publishers, or from a distributor like Universal Radio (US) and Amazon.com (US), Radio HF (Canada), or BookDepository.com (International).

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The 8th Edition of the Worldwide Listening Guide

I’m very pleased to have received the 8th edition of John Figliozzi’s Worldwide Listening Guide (WWLG), the latest, most updated version of the excellent guide I’ve often reviewed.

SWLing Post readers know that I’m a huge fan of the Word Radio TV Handbook (WRTH); it’s my go-to guide for radio frequencies and schedules.

Figliozzi’s Worldwide Listening Guide is my go-to for programming and content, not only helpful on the shortwaves, but especially handy when tracking online content.

Indeed, the WWLG is a unique guide–there’s nothing quite like it on the market. As I’ve said, you may want a copy of the WWLG in your shack, especially alongside your computer or Wi-Fi radio.

WWLG: The Content DXers Guide

Like many SWLs, I’m something of a “Content DXer:” I love chasing obscure programming––news, documentaries, music, and variety shows, anything the broadcasting world has to offer.  For this, I often turn to Wi-Fi radio.  Wi-Fi radio offers the discerning listener the ability to track down fascinating regional content from every corner of the globe––content never actually intended for an international audience.

Digging into local content via a WiFi radio isn’t nearly as challenging or fun (for me, at least) as scanning the shortwave bands in search of elusive weak signal DX or pop-up pirate radio station. Though my WiFi radio offers an easy and reliable way to “tune” to online content, the actual content discovery part is quite difficult.

Truth is, there’s so much content out there–tens of thousands of stations and shows–it’s hard to know where to start!

This is where the WWLG comes in: Figliozzi exhaustively curates more than 4,000 programs (!), indexing their airing times, stations, days of broadcast, program types, frequencies, and web addresses. Additionally, he sorts the programs by genre:  arts, culture, history, music, sports, and more. And Figliozzi also includes a well-thought-out directory of at least forty genres.   In short, this directory has helped me not just locate, but identify, programming I would never have known about otherwise.

Frankly, I’m not sure how Figliozzi manages to curate such a vast assortment of programming.  But I’m happy that he does, and especially, that he offers it for the SWL’s benefit––!

As I’ve said many time before, the WWLG  has become a permanent reference book in my shack, alongside my trusty WRTH. There’s a surprising amount of information packed into this slim, spiral-bound book…enough to keep even a seasoned content DXer happy for years.

The 8th edition of Worldwide Listening Guide can be purchased here:

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Greg recommends “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gregg Freeby, who writes:

As a regular reader of the SWLing Post I wanted to share with you a book I came across recently that your readers might be interested in reading. Shortwave radio provides the backdrop of this Pulitzer Prize winning story that takes place during WWII. You can search Wikipedia or other websites for a summary. While the story isn’t specifically about radios, Nazi radio propaganda as well as clandestine numbers stations run by the French resistance and Nazi attempts to locate and destroy them very much figure into the plot. I found it a very compelling read and thought perhaps you and your readers might too.

Many thanks, Greg. I actually purchased this book a few months ago on the recommendation of a friend who owns a local book store.  It’s in my “read me” stack now, and though I haven’t gotten to it, I very much look forward to reading it soon.

Check out All The Light We Cannot See on Amazon (affiliate link).

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