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Listening to Short Waves.... it's not dead!

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KK4NSF, Jan 19, 2020.

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  1. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Over the last few years, and especially during this time of relatively poor propagation, many folks have declared that Shortwave Radio is Dead. Like most such proclamations, this one is wrong. Shortwave is not only not dead, but it's still going stong. Over the last month, I've listened to broadcasts in English from the following countries:

    Romania, Turkey, Slovakia, Cuba, Canada, USA, Great Britain, China, Vatican Radio, Germany, Austria, Japan, S Korea, Vietnam, India, Liberia, Oman, Kuwait, Thailand, Spain, Australia, Ascension Islan... plus three Pirate stations, two different "Numbers" stations, one RTTY News feed, and the creepy "Chanting Children" station ....and that does not include the religous programming!

    If you take the time to listen, you'll be amazed at what you can hear! There are news events that never make it to our US News outlets (or the Internet), opinions and viewpoints you never hear on our heavily politicized AM broadcast band, music of all types, stories about day to day life in other parts of the world, and a whole lot more. And yes, God is well represented on the Shortwave bands especially from US Broadcasters. There is one "ministry" that is on five or six different frequencies at any given time..... but don't let that fool you into thinking that SW is just about Evangelism. There is a lot more out there than just Holy Rollers..... including the Budhist "Supreme Master Radio" which preaches peace, love, kindness to animals, and veganism. (it reminds me of a commune from the 1960's)

    Fortunately for us, most ham tranceivers have a General Coverage capability which is perfect for SWL, AND most of us have antennas that will do the job. If you don't, a simple receive-only antenna can be built quite easily (even simple wires will work for the louder stations). All most of us really need to do is tune in. If you don't already have a general coverage receiver, they can be had at quite reasonable prices on the used market.

    To get the best out of SWL using your ham gear, there is one tip to keep in mind: you need to listen when and where the broadcasters are. Unlike yesteryear when all of the stations broadcasted at prime time in the US and Europe, today's broadcasts are scattered out during the day. To make it easy, there are several SWL Listening Guides on the Internet that list the times and frequencies. Just keep in mind that the stations often shift their times without notice, and conditions are always changing.... so just because the BBC is listed at a certain time that does not mean they are guaranteed to be there. The guides are just a start. Here is a good list:

    So.... what is the BEST Shortwave Radio / Antenna to use? It's the one you already have in your shack! OR an R-390 :D

    KX4O, W4ZD, KC2XU and 4 others like this.
  2. KT1F

    KT1F Ham Member QRZ Page

    Radio Australia has gone so I wonder what you heard from Australia. Was it one of these? They seem to be quite low power with wire antennas. I think they're intended for Australian listeners in the outback.

    I wonder if you meant New Zealand. RNZ International is still going and reasonably easy to hear even though they only beam to the south west Pacific region.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
    KK4NSF likes this.
  3. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Cool Dave, I do listen around a bit but have been stopping on WBCQ mostly, 7490 and some of Allan's programing when its not the religious broadcasting, especially when they discuss the new transmitter. I did look for a bit of pirate radio but not so much recently. I thread just of late had been discussing vintage radio AM listening which kind of ended up leaning a bit toward the shortwave spectrum. Id sure take note if you care to share any of your favorite frequencies with us for a try. Thanks, Rich
    KK4NSF likes this.
  4. KC1NY

    KC1NY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do shortwave stations still send out QSL cards if you send them a signal report?
    KK4NSF likes this.
  5. N4DJC

    N4DJC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Many of them still do, takes some time though.
    KK4NSF likes this.
  6. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    It has always taken some time to get a QSL card from a shortwave broadcaster. Even back in the 1950s, when shortwave broadcasting was in its "heyday", it would take several months from the time you sent a report until the card arrived.

    Glen, K9STH
    F8WBD, N4DJC and KK4NSF like this.
  7. KC3SWL

    KC3SWL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good to see others listening to shortwave stations.
    You can use any cheap portable up to a several hundred dollar rig with general coverage.
    I myself would prefer the original R390 with the lc inductor filtering, much fuller sound than the mechanical filters used in R390a.
    I use the TS430,TS870,TenTec RX320 and the SDRPlay RSP1A. The antenna is my 139 ft OCFD. It works well enough to hear Ethiopia, Eritrea, and others. I really get a kick out of ham ops on 7205 trying to beat out Sudan Radio to be heard. Then complaining of the interference... :D
    KK4NSF likes this.
  8. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    No... it was HCJB. They now have a transmitter in Kunnunurra, beaming NW on 9765. I haven't gotten anything in NZ yet... but I hope to add them to my log.

    By the way, I used to love Radio Australia. It used to be quite easy to find early in the morning here.
  9. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I may have to do that... Dave's Shortwave Report! :D I'll let you know if I do
  10. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    you and me both!
    I use my R-808, which is similar to the R-392, and it is very good..... but doesn't have quite as fine filter complement as the R-390 or R-390A.

    BUT that is going to have to wait. Right now I'm working on an antenna array, and that is taking up much of my "radio funding" for now.

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