Category Archives: Preparedness

Preparing for Your Next DXpedition – New Videos

Regular readers of the SWLing.com blog will be aware that I am passionate about going portable/mobile with my radio listening hobby. There’s just nothing like communing with both nature and a bunch of electrons whizzing along the wire!

As a follow-up to an article I wrote several years ago, I have now prepared two new YouTube videos entitled Preparing for Your Next DXpedition – Parts 1 and 2.  

Part 1 covers:

– why we should even think about bothering to go portable with the radio

– the goals to consider when undertaking a DXpedition

– planning your listening depending on the time of day and time of year

– the all important decisions regarding location


Part 2 discusses:

– choosing the right radio for portable operations

– your options for powering the radio

– the antennas you could consider including on the trip

– handy auxiliary equipment

– references and notes to take along with you

– the importance of operator comforts while away

– developing a checklist…..so that you don’t forget to take something important!

These videos will be of interest to shortwave radio listeners and new amateur radio operators. Hopefully, they may be able to assist you in further enjoying our great hobby. They are embedded in this blog post below. You can also view these and other videos on my YouTube channel at Rob Wagner’s YouTube Channel

 

As always, thanks for watching and your comments are always welcome. 73 and good DX to you all,

Rob VK3BVW

Rob Wagner, VK3BVW, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. He also blogs at the Mount Evelyn DX Report.

No power, but radioactive–!

My CommRadio CR-1a, with an internal lithium battery, is the perfect off-grid radio companion.

Monday night, the remnants of Hurricane Irma moved through western North Carolina. Because the SWLing Post HQ is at a high altitude compared with the surrounding area, we received higher than forecast winds. Still, we made it through fine and feel pretty darn lucky.

Yesterday afternoon, even though we maintained power throughout the storm, the utilities company cut power to our road due to a tree that had fallen on a pole that also supported a transformer. It’s a tangled mess. Since there are about 17,000 without power in our rural area, it’ll be some time before power is restored to our road–likely late Friday evening or sometime this weekend.

Loss of power isn’t a major problem for us since our refrigerator and freezer are off-grid and solar powered 100% of the time anyway. We also have a propane stove to cook on and plenty of charged battery packs and flashlights (and at least half a dozen HumanaLights in service).

On the plus side?  Even though our house is pretty RFI free, when the power is cut, it’s amazingly radio quiet.

I listened to RRI last night on the CommRadio CR-1a (see above). Later, I sat in bed with the pilot run CC Skywave SSB and tuned through the 31 meter broadcast band, the 40, 80 and 160 meter ham bands and the mediumwave broadcast band. Happy to say that the Skywave SSB did an amazing job–and propagation was decent. Reception was so good, it felt like I was camping in a national forest. Just makes one realize how all the devices in our home add to that RFI noisy environment.

We count ourselves lucky as news from all of the areas that took the full impact of Hurricane Irma is simply gobsmacking.

This morning, I listened to a few HF nets on the 80 and 40 meter bands with the Digitech AR1780–I noted no less than five hams reporting that they were operating on generator power. I believe this hurricane has caused one of the largest power outages we’ve ever had in the US due to a natural disaster.

Note that since I don’t have power at home, I also don’t have Internet service–keep this in mind if you attempt to contact me this week.  I will post quick updates to the SWLing Post while I’m in town, however I will certainly fall behind on correspondence. Thanks for understanding.

The C. Crane Skywave SSB: A sneak peek!

Tuesday afternoon, I took a number of portable radios to the field: the Tecsun S-8800, Tecsun PL-880, Digitech AR-1780, C. Crane CC Skywave and the new C. Crane CC Skywave SSB.

Last week, I received a pilot run (pre-production) CC Skywave SSB from C. Crane to test and provide feedback. My unit, of course, is still subject to cosmetic changes and engineering tweaks.

Since this is not a final iteration of the product, I won’t comment or review performance other than to say that if you like the original CC Skywave, you should love the new CC Skywave SSB.

C. Crane has kindly given me permission to post a few preview photos.

CC Skywave SSB Photos

First thing you’ll notice is that the CC Skywave SSB is essentially identical to its predecessor in size and shape.

Indeed, the CC Skywave SSB fits the original Skywave’s carry case perfectly. If you’ve purchased a custom protective case–like this one— for the original Skywave, it’ll fit the CC Skywave SSB like a glove.   As you can see above, the front panel design has changed, though. The CC Skywave SSB accommodates four additional function buttons and sports a re-designed speaker grill (similar to the CC Pocket Radio).  Nice touch! C. Crane thought to use that little piece of real estate behind the backstand.

As many of you know, I’m a one-bag-traveler-kind-of-guy who never leaves home without a shortwave radio. On one bag travels, of course, I only carry one full-featured portable. Space is too precious to carry two.

Listening to the 2016 BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica while traveling in Canada with the CC Skywave.

The original CC Skywave has pretty much been my go-to travel radio since it was released. I’ve taken it everywhere.

I’ve also taken the amazing Sony ICF-SW100 and the full-featured Grundig G6 (which even includes the AIR band) on trips when I wanted access to single sideband mode–something the original CC Skywave lacked. (Note that both of these radios are now discontinued.)

But when traveling in North America or by air, I really appreciate the Skywave’s excellent NOAA weather radio and access to aviation frequencies on the AIR band. Very handy features for the traveler who likes to stay informed.

By adding single sideband mode to an already capable ultra-compact travel radio, C. Crane has created a welcome radio traveling companion indeed.

Hurricane Harvey: Mike stresses the importance of local AM radio

Earlier this week, I received a message from my good friend, Mike, who lives south of Houston in Galveston County, Texas. Mike noted:

Here in Texas, we’re still dealing with the impact of hurricane Harvey.

[…]The absolute best hurricane information came from AM 740 KTRH Houston. A 50,000 Watt AM transmitter that covers a major portion of the gulf coast.

I’m learning that the Corpus Christi AM news station was evacuated and secured operations. KTRH kicked in and served the listening public very well.

I haven’t heard from Mike in a couple of days and, since then, Harvey has caused unprecedented levels of flooding in south Texas. I hope he’s doing okay and hope to hear from him soon.

Indeed, I hope SWLing Post readers in the affected area, their friends and family have all made it to safety.

Click here to listen to KTHR via iHeart Radio’s portal.

Hurricane Harvey: How to monitor Hurricane Watch Net observations via shortwave radio

As Hurricane Harvey makes its slow trek through toward Corpus Christi, we’re watching what might become one of the most damaging storms this decade in the States.

Each hurricane season, I receive emails from readers asking about frequencies to monitor as the storm approaches.

Hurricane Watch Net (HWN)

hwn-hurricane-watch-netThe Hurricane Watch Net is a group of amateur radio operators who are trained and organized “to provide essential communications support to the National Hurricane Center during times of Hurricane emergencies.” The HWN focuses on “ground truth” observations (much like SkyWarn nets).

The Hurricane Watch Net is activated when a hurricane is within 300 statute miles of expected land-fall. The HWN covers the Caribbean, Central America, Eastern Mexico, Eastern Canada, and all US Coastal States.

The HWN operates in both English and Spanish, and is active on 14.325 MHz (upper sideband) during the day and 7.268 MHz (lower sideband) at night. The HWN is known to operate on both frequencies if propagation allows.

Please keep HWN frequencies clear

If you’re an amateur radio operator, please avoid using 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz anytime the HWN has been activated.

Monitoring hurricane frequencies

If you have a shortwave radio with a BFO/SSB mode–and you live within the propagation footprint–you can monitor the Hurricane Watch Net.

Note that you’ll need to use upper sideband on 14.325 MHz and lower sideband on 7.268 MHz.

You can also monitor the Hurricane Watch Net via the following web stream: http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/20970/web

Click here to view the Hurricane Watch Net website.