Tag Archives: Shortwave Radio

Adam’s Andes DXers International certificate

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Adam Smith, who shares the following certificate and writes:

I was going to share a piece of history I just came across going through some of my shortwave radio boxes. Lots of QSLs but this its a membership in ANDES DX Club!

Good times!

Thank you for sharing this bit of shortwave radio nostalgia, Adam! Any others in the SWLing Post community belong to the Andes DXers International? Do you still have your certificate? Please comment!

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Yet another mystery utility signal to solve–!

Back by popular demand!

On our quest to solve UNID utility signals, SWLing Post contributor David Crawford, is asking for help again to ID yet another interval signal. David writes:

Here’s yet another memorable utili-tune from the deep archives here, again not my recording, origin uncertain.

This one has a date, time and frequency on the filename [19670811-2347-15910-VM unID] and therefore would have been 1967. I heard this one myself occasionally also, which would have been sometime during the mid-to-late 1970s. It would have overlapped with the same time period during which CTNE was using the 14985 kHz tune previously provided, so despite the broad similarity I would assume it wasn’t them. Unless of course they used different tunes for different circuits:

Readers: Can you positively ID this interval signal? If so, please comment!

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Dean solves second interval signal mystery

(Image source: Madrid.org)

In response to our second mystery interval signal challenge, SWLing Post contributor, Dean Bianco replies:

Mystery solved!

This is the “interval signal” (more accurately, a placeholder with a musical station identifier) for the Compañía Telefónica Nacional de España (CTNW) from Madrid, Spain.

They were a point-to-point HF radiotelephone terminal that provided overseas telephone and telegraph services in the days before satellites became common.

As a young SWL, I would receive all manner of strange musical identifiers for these utility stations. Most of these HF telecommunication services had gone to satellite by the early 1980’s. The HF bands were chock-a-block with signals, whether they be broadcast or utility services.

Glad to help!

To verify his claim, Dean shares the following embedded audio file made by Willi Passmann in the mid 1970s (via the excellent UtilityRadio.com website):

Well done, Dean! Thank you once again for coming to the rescue!

In case you didn’t know, dear readers, Dean Bianco is a force to be reckoned with in the shortwave radio world. 🙂 This year, he won the 3rd Annual Fest Trivia Quiz at the 2020 Winter SWL Fest! An impressive accomplishment, indeed. Not only that, but Dean’s an incredibly nice guy, great friend, and always willing to help out those new to the hobby!

Thank you, Dean!

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Let’s solve another interval signal mystery!

Last month, we published a post asking SWLing Readers to help Brian (W9IND) identify an elusive interval signal. Turns out, the interval signal belonged to the Voice Mirror of the PTT Habana, Cuba station.

This month, SWLing Post contributor, David Crawford is asking for help to ID another interval signal which likely belongs to a utility station. David writes:

In follow-up to the La Habana utility mystery, here’s another one from the same era, 14985 kHz or thereabouts. Somewhere along the line I came to the conclusion that it might be El Salvador, but I don’t remember what led to that. The [recording embedded below] isn’t my own recording of it.

The tune is composed of individual DTMF tones, and when I was a bored youth I discovered that it could be played on an AT&T desk touch tone phone by pressing two keys at a time to remove the second tone. This one would repeat for hours at a time, interrupted by manually patched telephone calls.

Readers: Can you positively ID this interval signal? If so, please comment!

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Radio Waves: Plant-powered Satellite Comms, BBC Pips, Filter Basics, and Replacing Shortwave

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Marty, Dennis Howard, Dennis Dura, Kris Partridge and Richard Langley and for the following tips:


Plant-powered sensor sends signal to space (Phys.org)

A device that uses electricity generated by plants as its power source has communicated via satellite—a world first.

[…]The device can inform farmers about the conditions of their crops to help increase yield, and enable retailers to gain detailed information about potential harvests.

It transmits data on air humidity, soil moisture and temperature, enabling field-by-field reporting from agricultural land, rice fields or other aquatic environments.

The extremely low power device sends signals at radio frequencies that are picked up by satellites in low Earth orbit. It was developed by Dutch company Plant-e and Lacuna Space, which is based in the Netherlands and the UK, under ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).[]

The eccentric engineer: a tale of six pips and how the BBC became the national arbiter of time (Engineering and Technology)

This edition of Eccentric Engineer tells the story of the BBC Time Signal and how, over the years, it has just got more complicated.

Every engineer needs to know the time, if only so as to not miss lunch. Since 1924, many Britons have been checking their watches against the BBC time signal, known affectionately as ‘the pips’.

The history of the ‘pips’ is almost as long as the history of the BBC itself. The first transmissions from what was then the British Broadcasting Company began in late 1922 and soon afterwards there were suggestions of broadcasting a time signal under the control of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich – then the arbiter of time in the UK.

No one seems to have seen a need for this degree of precision, but early broadcasts did use their own ad hoc ‘pips’, marking the 8pm and 9pm news programmes with a time signal consisting of the announcer playing the Westminster chimes on a piano and later a set of tubular bells. This proved rather popular with listeners, who could now adjust their clocks and watches daily, so the BBC decided to invest in some more high-tech clocks from the Synchronome Company. These provided audible ‘ticks’, which the announcer then simply counted down.[]

What Is Replacing Shortwave? (Radio World)

A joint effort is necessary to bring the digitization of radio to a successful end

Analog shortwave will celebrate about 100 years of existence in 2028 when many hope 5G will have been properly defined, tested and applied, though broadcasting is low on its long list of perceived advantages.

It’s true that shortwave was typically a medium of the Cold War that peaked in 1989 and that afterward its listenership dwindled. Many international broadcasters gave up on it as the post-war transmitters got rustier and the energy bills kept mounting.

After all, when budget cuts are needed, no transmitter will go on strike or write to the press, as happened when the BBC World Service tried to unsuccessfully close its Hindi shortwave transmissions in 2011. In 2020 these broadcasts stopped, when committed BBC Indian listeners, writers and thinkers who opposed it in 2011 did not protest too much.

The slow death of shortwave has been blamed on the internet and satellite. As technology and content are inextricably linked, shortwave created its type of content that is no longer favored by the savvy FM listener, internet user and cellphone obsessed.[]

Filter Basics: Stop, Block and Roll(off) (Nuts and Volts)

A casual observer might think that wireless systems consist primarily of filters connected by the occasional bit of circuit! Block diagrams of transceivers often include as many filters as any other function. This is true at the system level, just as it is at the circuit level — and many circuits behave in a filter-like way, whether intended to be a filter or not! That makes understanding filter basics important for wireless success.[]


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Help Brian identify this 1970s era interval signal

[Mystery solved! Click here to read the update.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian (W9IND), who writes:

I want to thank you for stirring a memory that I never thought I’d relive – even though it still doesn’t solve the mystery of what the heck I was listening to in the first place!

Back in the early 1970s, I was a teenage SWLer with a curiosity for the worldwide signals that emanated from the speaker of my shortwave radio. Bitten by the SWLing bug after stumbling across Radio Nederland’s Bonaire relay station, I spent many a happy hour twirling the dial in search of fresh game to hear and QSL.

But on one such occasion (I’m going to guess it was in 1971), I was surprised and fascinated by what sounded like a snake-charming horn playing notes at random. Stranger still, the transmission would seemingly go off the air for a couple of seconds and then return to play the strange melody again. I chalked it up to one of the countless beeps, hums and other electronic noises that often appeared on utility frequencies in those days.

I never recorded it, I never had a clue what it was, and I never heard it again.

Until recently. On the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

A couple of weeks ago, while looking for old shortwave interval signals from the 1970s, I saw a recording marked “Unidentified interval signal 1” listed right after the interval signals of Deutsche Welle and Radio Nederland.

“OK,” I thought. “Sounds like a challenge. Maybe I can even help figure out what it was.”

Then it played … and I almost fell off my chair! I literally sat with my mouth open as the long-lost sounds of the “snake-charming horn” played again. Could it indeed have been an interval signal – and if so, for what station?

I wanted to contact the person who recorded it, but then I learned the sad news that Mr. Greg Shoom is no longer with us.

So I remain mystified, probably forever. But it sure was fun hearing that weird recording again! Thanks for the memories.

Let’s see if an SWLing Post reader can help, Brian!

I know of at least a dozen readers who are experts on all that is interval signals, so hopefully someone can listen and ID this one.

I’ve embedded audio from this SRAA recording below. Note that the unidentified interval signal can be heard between time marks 1:27 – 2:07 in the following recording:

Can you positively ID this interval signal?  If so, please comment!


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