Posts Tagged ‘shortwave’
Over the past few months I’ve spent some time tuning around the international shortwave bands.
I vividly recall how jam-packed these bands were when I first discovered the magic of radio, back in the peak years of Solar Cycle 19. Much has changed in this part of the radio spectrum since then, but after having read so many dire comments describing the demise of international SW broadcasting, I was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered.
Although there are certainly not the large numbers of stations there once were, there is still a large amount of activity to be found throughout the various bands allocated to international SW broadcasting.
Trying to keep track of station schedules and frequencies is a hobby unto itself but now made easier with the availability of so many online information sources. As when younger, I found the best way to stay organized was to keep a SW logbook, eventually settling on a simple ‘diary’ format which is still evolving.
Its next refinement will be an additional notebook having separate pages devoted to each individual frequency within a given SW band. This will allow for updating frequency information from various postings of the daily online ‘heard’ reports.
I’ve always had a great interest in QSLs and collecting cards was one of the things that initially attracted me to SW radio back as a pre-teenaged DXer. For me, not much has changed in the last several decades and I still enjoy QSLs ... the real, traditional cards, as opposed to the now popular e-card. For me, an e-card just doesn’t have much appeal for some reason but for many others, they work just fine.
As I slowly re-learn much of what I had forgotten about SWL’ing, I discovered that there are still many SW broadcasters that will acknowledge a reception report with a real paper card ... just like the good old days!
If you are keen on doing some serious listening, I cannot recommend the WRTH highly enough.
Studying the latest WRTH revealed the QSL policies of most international as well as domestic SW broadcasters as well as contact information. It is a superb annual reference and well worth the investment! With this information in hand, my listening has become more focused on recording and submitting reception reports to those stations still practicing the courtesy of acknowledging reports with a traditional QSL. Many stations also issue an e-card, but these are of little interest to me at present.
With a small amount of spring-summer time devoted to SW listening, I generated and submitted a few reception reports along with linked audio files on my website ... so far, the following QSLs have arrived:
|Radio Exterior de Espana|
|15520 kHz - Noblejas, Spain|
|Radio Free Asia|
|9950 kHz - via IBB on Tinian Island, S. Pacific|
|All India Radio (AIR)|
|9865 kHz - Bengaluru, India|
|DX Clube Sem Fronteiras Broadcast via WRMI 7730 kHz, Miami|
|T8WH - 9965 kHz Palau, South Pacific|
|HSK9 - 5875 kHz Udon Thani, Thailand|
|Radio Liangyou - Hong Kong|
|9275 kHz via Bocaue, Philippines site|
|Radio Romania - 9730 kHz - Bucharest, Romania|
|Radio Nikkei 2|
|3935 kHz - Chiba, Japan|
I’ll do an upcoming blog on some of the great information and online sites to support international SW listening activities.
In the 1990s while living in eastern Montana, I had the amazing experience of reuniting two soldiers that served in the Devil’s Brigade. They both trained near Helena, Montana.
One day, I was operating on the amateur radio shortwave Ten-Meter band, and a gentleman answered my, “CQ, CQ, CQ, this is N7PMS in Montana, Over”. I took notes of our conversation.
The next day, when again I called for any station to answer my call for a conversation, another fellow, from Canada, answered me. I learned something amazing: Both of these two men mentioned that, during World War Two, they both were in the same special forces unit, training near Helena, Montana.
One of these Veterans served in the Canadian Armed Forces, and the other in the American Armed Forces. Listen to my story, for the full details of this amazing experience I had as an amateur radio operator.
Jump to 3:22 if you wish to skip my introduction to the story, during which I give some background on when and so on:
This certainly was one of the most memorable moments in my amateur radio hobby experience! The joy of reuniting friends is good.
The 1st Special Service Force (also called The Devil’s Brigade, The Black Devils, The Black Devils’ Brigade, and Freddie’s Freighters), was an elite American-Canadian commando unit in World War II, under command of the United States Fifth Army. The unit was organized in 1942 and trained at Fort William Henry Harrison near Helena, Montana in the United States. The Force served in the Aleutian Islands, and fought in Italy, and southern France before being disbanded in December 1944.
The modern American and Canadian special operations forces trace their heritage to this unit. In 2013, the United States Congress passed a bill to award the 1st Special Service Force the Congressional Gold Medal.
Thank you for watching, and sharing. Comments are welcome: do you have a memorable moment in your radio hobby experience on the air?
73 de NW7US
I have my opinion on ARRL asking FCC to grant more HF privileges to Technician-class licensees.
I verbalize them in this video:
After you hear my comments, please leave your comments.
Thanks, 73 de NW7US dit dit
|courtesy: K4VRC Group|
Rick, KB2NAT, describes the learning curve in his 'How To Overcome Some Condo Issues' post.
Amateurs contemplating downsizing to a restricted development or those finding themselves in a similar situation to Rick will likely soon be subjected to more noise, less space, more neighbours and an abundance of rules. Hopefully the comments of Rick and others will be helpful if this is your situation.
For many restricted hams, Mag loops appear to be a popular choice and one of the comments points to a good deal of information on building one for yourself. The Villages Amateur Radio Club (K4VRC) group's 'resources' link will provide some interesting ideas for restricted antenna builders. As well, they have put together an informational presentation, full of great antenna ideas for those contemplating ways to get on the air from antenna-restricted locations.
If you live in the USA, the 'Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005' has been used by many antenna-restricted hams, to legally erect their own 'antenna flagpole'! It may be an easy route for a nice antenna system for you as well.
The 'Novice Rig Roundup' Starts Tomorrow!
Just a reminder that 9 days of CW operating fun begins tomorrow afternoon. After last year's most enjoyable event, the NRR is now one of my 'must do' operating activities. You can read all about it here.
|courtesy: California State Parks|
Ron lives in the seaside city of Monterey (CA) and on most mornings he makes the short pre-dawn drive to Asilomar State Beach (CA), a spectacular location on the coast.
After stringing out his 100' wire antenna on the nearby fence posts, Ron proceeds to log and record some truly exotic stuff before heading home.
Early last Fall, before being aware of Ron's daily regime, I had visited his exact location and after watching the big sea lions playing in the surf, had drooled over the location's great DX potential, little knowing that Ron had likely packed his gear up a headed home just a few hours before my arrival! I'm sure you'll be inspired to tune around the SW broadcast bands after checking out theses Group's daily posts.
Here is video footage of the journey to Antarctic Bouvet Island, made by the 3Y0Z amateur ham radio team. This footage caught a few moments on the deck of M/V Betanzos.
As you can see in the last moments of this footage, the weather conditions contributed to the decision to abort the DXpedition, as it was far too dangerous to continue this expedition.
As reported by ARRL:
“Our captain has decided that it is in the best interest of safety and expediency to proceed directly to Capetown, South Africa, rather than Punta Arenas, Chile. We are now heading north to avoid the possibility of encountering ice. Currently, there is no ice in sight or on radar. In due time, we will head easterly toward Capetown. Our entire team is safe. Most are resting in their bunks and in good spirits. We will keep the amateur radio community and our families informed, as we continue our journey.”
In a huge disappointment for the DX community and the members of the 3Y0Z Bouvet Island team, the DXpedition’s leaders announced at 2000 UTC today (February 3) that a decision had been made to abort the DXpedition and head back to Chile.
“During the last 72 hours, we continued to experience the high winds, low clouds, fog and rough seas that have prevented helicopter operations since our arrival at Bouvet,” said an announcement on the 3Y0Z Bouvet Island website. “No improvement was predicted in the weather forecast for the next 4 days. Then, last night, an issue developed in one of the ship’s engines. This morning, the captain of the vessel declared it unsafe to continue with our project and aborted the DXpedition. We are now on our long voyage back to Punta Arenas. As you might imagine, the team is deeply disappointed, but safe. There is already talk about rescheduling the DXpedition.”
Bouvet Island currently is the third most-wanted DXCC entity, behind Kosovo and North Korea. The 3Y0Z DXpedition, comprised of top operators with considerable DXpedition experience, has been in the planning stages for 2 years and had attracted contributions from clubs and individuals around the world.
A dependency of Norway, Bouvet is a subantarctic island in the South Atlantic. The last Bouvet activation was 3Y0E, during a scientific expedition over the winter of 2007-2008.
Video Author: Nodir Tursun Zade, EY8MM
This copy is used BY PERMISSION from EY8MM, given in writing on 23 February 2018
We talk a lot about the band conditions due to the Sunspot cycle. Most of it on Facebook and other places is about how “dead” the bands are at this point. We all can’t wait until the cycle starts to rise and we will be making contacts with little effort. I remember in my conversation with Chuck Adams, K7QO in Episode 58, that he really enjoys operating is “Pigrig”, one watt, CW transceiver on 20 meters. When I asked him, (I liberally paraphrase) “but Chuck, the bands are dead. How does that work for you?”. His reply was that while most hams are listening to the bands, he calls CQ until he gets a reply. Works every time.
My QSO this week is with Tomas Hood, NW7US, who has years of expertise in propagation and Solar activity. He is the propagation editor of more than a few radio magazines and websites. In our post-recording conversation we discussed this phenomenon of listening and not calling CQ. I even had this idea that maybe one of the reasons that the digital modes are so successful is because they “beacon”, as part of the whole digital experience, the same as calling CQ. This is why they make contacts. From what I see, looking at PSK Reporter, hams are making lots of contacts worldwide using the digital modes. While SSB may not be working so well, CW and the digital modes seem to work fine.
I like to work on my bench or make the podcast while listening to the bands. Jeff Damm, WA7MLH, in Episode 177, says that he will put his keyer in CQ mode while he is working on a new radio. Invariably, sometimes after many minutes, he gets a reply. Great idea Jeff!
Episode 184 can be found here: https://www.qsotoday.com/podcasts/nw7us
Highlights of Episode 184:
Tomas Hood, NW7US is the propagation editor of a number of shortwave and amateur radio magazines, and has a wide variety of websites, that grew out of his love for all things radio, and for listening on the bands to far off DX and commercial broadcast stations. Tomas shares his understanding of propagation and the lessons we can learn from listening, really listening to the QSOs and exchanges during contest operation.
All of the QSO Today episodes are great. I enjoy hearing about many different hams. Do check out all of the episodes that Eric has published.
73 de NW7US dit dit
A recent never-ending series of equipment breakdowns, repairs, computer software problems, along with everyday household duties, has kept me away from blogging longer than usual.
However, the recent arrival of a fresh 'off the press' 2018 World Radio Television Handbook (WRTH) has really augmented my rekindled interest in what initially hooked me on the magic of radio ... tuning around the international shortwave bands.
The last time I purchased a WRTH was more than 40 years ago, but other than the information between its covers, the book still looks much the same as it did back in the good old days. There is a lot to digest in this book and although it's likely that a lot of it could be found on the Internet, it would probably take weeks of sleuthing to find it ... there is just a ton of valuable information here to accommodate the varied interests of radio fanatics.
As always, the first section of the book is devoted to technical articles or equipment reviews with the remainder being a quick-find reference guide of maps, frequency lists, broadcast schedules and mailing / e-mail contact info for those that like to gather QSLs. At 672 pages, the WRTH is a valuable tool in your listening arsenal and well worth the cost.
I often read comments on various reflectors of just how few international shortwave stations there are and that tuning through the bands often reveals little to be heard. There is no question that the number of SW stations on the air today is much less than it was a few decades ago, but there are still a huge number of stations to target throughout the various SW bands and a lot of DX challenges yet to be found on the international bands.
For example, one such challenge comes to mind for west coast DXers ... and that is India. Signals on any band, from India to western Canada, have always been difficult. All India Radio (AIR) has 22 shortwave transmitters, operating from a half-dozen different sites ... hearing all sites from here on the various bands would keep one pretty busy for some time. To make it even more interesting, AIR still responds to listener reception reports with a QSL ... and who doesn't like a real 'paper' QSL!
Here is a quick tune through the 31m SW band this morning, at around 10:20 a.m. local time, on my FT-1000mp Mark V and 40m half-sloper. Although approaching the lowest part of a very poor solar cycle (Cycle 24, the weakest in the past 100 years), witness the activity on a day of very poor HF propagation ... there are still a good number of signals to seek out.
With the present low solar flux, it's usually the lower SW bands that really come to life, with the bands bursting with signals from shortly before sunset into the dawn.
In addition to the WRTH, there are several great reference sites on the internet as well as some wonderfully helpful blogs devoted to SW radio listening.
Here are the sites I find myself returning to quite often:
Yahoo Group's Primetimeshortwave
Worldwide DX Club News
Eibi Shortwave Time / Frequency Schedules
Hard-Core-DX Daily News
Mount Eveyln DX Report
The SWLing Post
Bulgarian DX Blog
South East Asia DXing
There are probably more but these ones are good. In addition, there are a lot of great Facebook sites that deal with SW radio and much interesting discussion is available there via a quick search.
Now it's back to the repair bench to hopefully finish everything off for some time, but maybe you can find a few spare hours to have a closer listen to the international SW bands and see what you can dig up.
SHORTWAVE BROADCAST BANDS
2300 - 2495 120m
3200 - 3400 90m
3900 - 4000 75m
4750 - 5060 60m
5850 - 6200 49m
7100 - 7350 41m
9400 - 9900 31m
11600 - 12050 25m
13570 - 13800 22m
15100 - 15800 19m
17480 - 17900 16m
18900 - 19020 15m
21450 - 21850 13m
25600 - 26100 11m