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RPI 02-28-2016 05:53 PM

Is Shortwave Radio listening worth it today
 
hi

When I was a teenager I've listened to shortwave radio as a hobby and I felt like a spy listening to communications around the world that a typical average day radio couldn't pick up.

It's been more than 35 years since I used a shortwave radio. I was planning on revisiting my hobby, but I read shortwave radio stations are more difficult to pick up today than it was 30+ years ago. Mostly to high volume of noise from RF devices like computers, monitors, microwave ovens and other devices and it's worse in large cities.

They can theoretically still picked up weak signals due to propagation if you have a less noisy area away from RF interference and a good antenna.

Do you have a shortwave radio today and what is your experience with it? Is it worth getting one or not?

michaelk 02-28-2016 06:37 PM

Yes to all, but I am somewhat biased since I have an Amateur Radio license. We are on the backside of the sunspot cycle so listening to DX stations will be getting more difficult. There are still many shortwave stations out there although not as many as there were 30 years ago. Broadband over power lines can make listening very difficult if it used in your area but in most cases radio interference problems can be solved with misbehaving electronics.

frankbell 02-28-2016 10:38 PM

I'm not a ham, mostly because when I had the urge to be, you still had to learn Morse code to qualify for a license. If you are interested, you might want to listen to a few episodes of Linux in the Ham Shack.

RPI 02-28-2016 11:51 PM

Ham radio is a good hobby but it is not for me. I live in the city and in an apartment. Usually ham operators need an outdoor antenna for optimum reception and long range listening and communication.

I don't mind just ease dropping on Ham operators via the SSB band on shortwave radios.

I might invest in a shortwave radio for less than $100 with SSB, digital PLL/DSP and see how well shortwave listening is today. If it fails, I just request a refund and my hobby in shortwave listening has come to a sad end.

Pastychomper 02-29-2016 08:21 AM

I'd be interested to read how you get on if you do. My shortwave receiver has never been the same since I drove away with it on top of my car, but I've been thinking lately about replacing it, maybe with something a bit more capable.

RPI 02-29-2016 04:15 PM

When I was a teen, I never had a tabletop shortwave receiver. That is what I always wanted. They looked cool and intimidating at the same time. All those buttons, switches, knobs, LEDs, LCD panel, antenna meter looked like a cockpit of a small plane.


Instead, I had one of those small portable shortwave radio from radio shack. Which was OK, but nothing to brag about.

Until I decide on a model to get, I am using a couple of android apps that play some popular stations you hear on a shortwave radio like BBC, NPR, VOA and a few others. It's kinda cheesy, but it works for now.

Right now, I am pondering to get either the Tecsum PL680 or Eton Grundig Satellit 750. They both had good reviews.

Doug G 02-29-2016 07:21 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Lots of knobs & stuff like my old Hammarlund?

RPI 02-29-2016 08:38 PM

That's really cool. Still intimating as of today. I notice the vacuum tubes. Is this from the 60's or 70's?

Does it still work?

Sorry for the questions, I'm acting like an eager kid in a candy store.


I was researching the Eton Grundig Satellit 750, and it looks even more intimating

https://www.google.com/search?safe=o...70.O15uIU-CbHk

It appears to be more cheaper than other table top models out there.

Doug G 02-29-2016 11:02 PM

Quote:

That's really cool. Still intimating as of today. I notice the vacuum tubes. Is this from the 60's or 70's?

Does it still work?
This receiver is from sometime in the 1950's. I got this one from my Uncle but used a similar receiver when I was a ham in the early 1960's.

This receiver worked last time I turned it on about a decade ago, but when I moved I never got around to putting up an antenna, and what with all the computers around all I get is rfi noise without an outside antenna.

RPI 02-29-2016 11:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug G (Post 5508277)
This receiver is from sometime in the 1950's. I got this one from my Uncle but used a similar receiver when I was a ham in the early 1960's.

This receiver worked last time I turned it on about a decade ago, but when I moved I never got around to putting up an antenna, and what with all the computers around all I get is rfi noise without an outside antenna.

Hammarlund was a big name in it's day.

I am also worried the amount of RF noise today as I mentioned my first post. I just miss shortwave listening and I just got to give it one more try. Thanks for sharing your pictures and your experience with shortwave.

sundialsvcs 03-01-2016 09:43 AM

Amateur radio is both a fun hobby and a practical one. For instance, when my wife and I take a cruise or are at any sort of gathering place, "we can talk directly to one another," with two pocket-sized "2-meter" radios that are both set to an agreed-upon "simplex" frequency. Unlike the "personal" radios that you buy at a department store, it is most likely that we will have this chosen frequency all to ourselves. We don't rely on any third party, any repeater, any cell-phone system, etc.

RPI 03-01-2016 03:30 PM

I've been thinking of going to amateur radio. I was looking at some youtube videos on ham radios the types of classes. Someone recommended http://www.arrl.org/online-courses to learn the trade.

Also, one person said that morse code is not required for today's tests.. I can't say I agree or not because I am not a ham operator to debate that.

I have a two stupid questions. Is ham similar to shortwave radio? Can I pick up radio stations with a ham radio or receiver?

Do I need a ham license to buy a portable ham radio, the ones that look like walkie talkies?

I'll probably get the answers somehow by researching it, but if you or anyone knows, I would appreciate it.

michaelk 03-01-2016 03:58 PM

Ham Radio HF bands are a subset of shortwave radio. Many Amateur radios include general coverage receivers so you can listen throughout the entire HF band. I would check to see if there is a store in your area that sells Ham gear. They should be able to lead you to local clubs which will "show you the ropes"

To legally transmit on any Amateur Radio Frequency you need a license. Whether the store asks you to prove you have a license is another story. The walkie talkies (hand held radios) are typically 2M (144 MHz) or 70cm (440MHz) radios that are about 5 watts and depending on environment have about a 10-15 mile straight line range. Repeaters allow mobile and low power radios to communicate throughout a large area buy having their antenna's very high. Can be on towers several hundred feet.

There are some portable HF radios that operate on low power and almost look like handheld radios but still require a decent antenna to transmit.

Morse code is not required anymore for any license.

FYI there are several LQ members that have Ham licenses.

OregonJim 03-01-2016 04:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RPI (Post 5508613)
Is ham similar to shortwave radio? Can I pick up radio stations with a ham radio or receiver?

Similar, yes. The Ham bands and the shortwave bands overlap each other (for the most part), so a general coverage receiver will allow you to pick up both. Some cheaper receivers don't have an SSB mode, so stay away from them if you want to listen to ham bands. Shortwave is AM, Ham is mostly SSB below 30MHz.

Quote:

Originally Posted by RPI (Post 5508613)
Do I need a ham license to buy a portable ham radio, the ones that look like walkie talkies?

No, but you are not allowed to transmit without a license. Only listen.

Quote:

Originally Posted by RPI (Post 5508613)
I'll probably get the answers somehow by researching it, but if you or anyone knows, I would appreciate it.

Here is a good place to start:

http://www.arrl.org/

RPI 03-01-2016 04:20 PM

Thanks michaelk and OregonJim for your knowledge on amateur radio. Now, I know a little more.

I'm happy that morse code is not required for today's test. I don't hate morse code, it's just to hard to remember those dots and dashes for each letter. But it is good to learn for emergencies like if you are stranded and you need to signal a SOS and you have no electronic gears, but a mirror and the sun to signal a SOS to a plane, ship or someone who knows morse code. :)


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