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Discussion in 'Technical Corner' started by Tarheelpilot, Sep 19, 2017.
http://www.arrl.org/ (American Radio Relay League) is a good place to start.
Stan’s advice on arrl site is good. There’s information there on licensing, operating modes and plenty of posts regarding activities going on in the community. It has been very useful for me. Finding a local amateur radio club near by and going to a meeting would be helpful as well. I have a brother that is my goto guy for lots of the more mundane operational questions.
I encourage you to at least look into the hobby. There are lots of different was to engage yourself and you will find others with similar interests so you have plenty of company.
My only regret is waiting so long to participate. Has been lots of fun.
Yeah, it's still alive, and some aspects are growing.
ARRL is a good places to start - also, some local radio clubs offer licensing classes and a wealth of info on the hobby. 2 or 3 of the local clubs here offer great help in that regard.
You'll find that you'll need to ignore a few lids on the air for whom the old Spin Zone would look like child's play. For the most part, though, it's a friendly and nice hobby, with a lot of folks into DX and contesting.
My first call sign was WN3SBS. I figured if I had a keyer that had a mode that sent three dots at a time it'd be perfect.
Three-round burst mode? Oh, wait... wrong category of equipment.
Rather than start a new thread...
I have a portable shortwave receiver, this model:
I can't remember where or when I got it. I'm pretty sure it was a gift a long time ago.
I dusted it off the other night and played around with it, but without knowing what frequencies to monitor, all I can do is scroll around until I hit on something. I remember when I first got it that I was able to find a couple of stations, but they all seemed to be late night Oklahoma preachers.
I don't know the specs on this, like which frequencies it can tune, but are there any particularly interesting finds out there?
What do you want to listen to? There are shortwave stations broadcasting all over the world. Google can be your friend... lots of lists of stations and frequencies.
I tried that the other night, I guess I wasn't looking in the right place or didn't know how to work the tuning. I'll play with it again either tonight or tomorrow.
That first link was to a site that I was using when I was playing around with this. I couldn't get anything tuned in - maybe the antenna is too limited, maybe I was doing something wrong. I'll see how it goes tonight.
Let us know how it works out. Keep in mind that propagation as a function of frequency changes depending on a number of factors, including time of day, sunspot numbers, etc. These days I'd try lower frequencies, rather than higher ones. Low sunspot numbers, so the higher frequency HF bands are pretty dead.
An external antenna will do wonders......
OK - firing it up in a couple minutes...I have a cat on my lap.
I'll aim for a news station somewhere, maybe one of those time sync signals.
What am I looking at?
I see frequencies like:
9395 RMI Oldies with Bob Biermann English 01:00 24:00 TTTTTTT Okeechobee6100 KW
So I put in 9395 kHz and get static. But if I try hard enough, I *think* I can hear something in the background. There's a SSB on/off switch, I have it off.
What freqs are the S/W freqs? Some of the frequencies in that list look like AM stations.
9395 kHz is correct. But yeah, with a little whip antenna and especially indoors you're not going to get much more than static. Try an outdoor wire antenna -- length is not critical, "as long as you can make it" is good.
I don't know about your house, but mine is a swamp of RFI. It seems every single electrical device in the house has a very, very noisy switching power supply. My ham rigs and even my aviation handheld are utterly useless unless I walk out into the yard. The last time I tried using an HF ham receiver with my attic dipole, the noise floor was about S9 +20. In 2004 when we moved in, it was maybe S2 or S3.
I worked a lot of DX with a 20 meter Dipole strung from one end of the attic to another. My wife drew the line at the feed line running down the stairs. I had to run it through the spare bedroom closet instead.
I had an R7 for a while. Pretty nice for tight spaces. I finally pitched it when I sold that house as I hadn't used the thing in years.
I strung an 80m dipole through trees in the backyard. It wasn't straight and it was only about 20' off the ground, but I worked the world with it and 100W: Australia, Japan, the Falklands, central Russia, Kiritimati,.... Fortunately, I'm on what passes for a hill in Florida. The only thing taller between me and the Atlantic Ocean is the VAB at KSC.
My base rig took a lightning hit a while ago, and then during the hurricane last year I lost my antennas, so I'm 100% off the air until I'm ready to pony up some cash and manhours. I just don't have the motivation at the moment to start over from scratch.
This seems about right. I've had this radio for a long time. When I first got it, I was able to pick up stations - again, not knowing what I was doing, so I was just putting in frequencies to see what I'd get. Since then, with local construction and everything going wireless, there's probably a lot more interference both physically and in whatever RF spectrum I'm trying to use. The whip antenna might not be cutting it any more. But at least I was able to, faintly, pick up enough of something that sounded other than static. The radio takes a bunch of C batteries, so I have it plugged into a power supply right now and that makes it a little less than portable. If I were to take it out on my deck where I have a place to string an external antenna, what kind of wire would I need? I'll have to look at the radio to see what connections it provides. I could hang the antenna on the covered deck along that roofline and then run it indoors through a window.
Don't know what capabilities that radio has - if this radio has a way to hook up an external antenna, but the other guys are right, make an outdoor wire antenna "as long as you can make it." I made mine out of wire salvaged from an old transformer, and just unwound the wire. My transformer had some pretty good, stout wire in it - it might have been 16ga wire, maybe a little smaller. I hung it up in my back yard two years ago, and it's still in one piece and working.
Here are more images:
Ha. I have a 40m dipole up in the attic, with feedline run down to the basement. There was an article in QST about it, in fact (Surviving in Suburbia). It worked great for a couple of years -- I worked Russia QRP, over the pole with it. Then the computer power supplies, TV power supplies, touch lamps, and city-installed stoplight controllers a block away started wiping out HF more and more of the time. For a while my "hobby" shifted from ham radio to RFI chasing. Then we got a steel roof... so much for the attic dipole. I loaded up a flagpole with a remote tuner, which only lived a few months at a time. I considered a ground mounted vertical or a wire loop run through the trees, but in the end it just became too much work and I gave up. Haven't been active in years now.
I do have an FT-817 and a Pac-12 vertical that actually works pretty well. If I really get the urge I can set it up in the back yard and run battery op QRP, but I haven't gotten the urge recently.
If you're using CFL lights in the house, those things are horribly noisy. If I get back on the air someday, I might use candles for shack illumination.
It's not just the shack. Everything in the house pollutes the AC wiring, which radiates everywhere. One source of S9+40 noise I was able to track out of the house and across the yard where the buried AC feed line ran. The power company eventually found a city traffic light controller a few blocks away that was defective and putting a ton of noise on the AC ground. Or neutral, whatever.
We have a few CFLs left, but are mostly switched over to LEDs now. I haven't even checked to see how noisy they are, I'm not sure I want to know.
Some are really quiet, and others are so noisy that you expect it to significantly affect their efficiency.
There are lots of places you can look to get info on how to make up a simple antenna. Here's one:
Thanks. Seems like the simple thing is to get a length of 16ga or so and clip it directly to the end of the existing antenna, or figure out some sort of plug that will fit into the radio external antenna port. I might have 20'-30' of that in the garage somewhere.
I noticed, from the pix, there is a DX/Local switch on the side. I didn't look at that last night, so I don't know what setting it's on.
There's an on-line manual for this radio here:
and according to this manual, the external antenna plug is a 3.5 millimeter or 1/8 mono plug, like you'd find on a pair of earbuds, for example.
Tip or sleeve? Both? Either?
Odds are good that the tip is the active side, and sleeve is the chassis. So if you had a dipole, you would use both, but for random/longwire, connect the tip.
Here's a PDF version of the manual:
CFL was a passing fad. As they die I replace them with LED bulbs now. Still, I've not noticed a whole lot of interference from them. Lots of other horrendous RF sources around. Used to be that people were more careful so as not to interfere with TV reception, but now that TV is all digital and usually not OTA, people are getting a bit more lax.
Shortwave stations generally use highly directional antennas that are intended to "beam" their signal to the parts of the world they're intending to serve. US shortwave stations are usually licensed to transmit to places other than the continental US.
Here's the lineup of antennas for WRMI, along with parts of the world they are intending to serve: http://www.wrmi.net/index.php/about-wrmi/technical-facilities/ All of them are directional, and all but 2 or 3 point to regions that are well outside the US. The program schedule shows 9395 operating with an antenna aimed 355-degrees (practically due north) from Miami/Okeechoee, if you are pretty much due north, it may be skipping over you. If you're in the west or midwest, you're probably outside the main beam of the antenna. Here's the program schedule - antenna orientation is given in Az (azimuth). https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...VpCzjmPAw_SB1r3YOdzQc/edit?pref=2&pli=1#gid=0
I saw that chart the other night. I wasn't specifically looking for that station, it just happened to be on in the US and in English, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I'm in KC, so N/W from Miami. I didn't know the antennae were directional, now I have something more to look for.
I'll get the radio back up in a couple minutes.
Q: Are SW radio stations usually commercial? I guess I hadn't really thought about it before. They intend to transmit to distant locations, so I can understand news and other national broadcasts, like VOA, that would be used to reach locations and spread a particular flavor of news. But something like a Miami based station? I guess they would have been able to broadcast into Cuba and get around Castro news censorship. But I wouldn't think that a commercial for a local carwash would mean much to someone a thousand miles away.
OK - I was able to get WWV (Fort Collins, CO) and check my watch, it's 6 seconds fast.
I found a couple of US based stations:
http://www.wwcr.com : Nashville, TN (can't remember the freq)
http://wtww.us : Lebanon, TN (5085)
I found an English language Radio Cuba news station. There are a lot of Cuban stations, I also found a few in the static but I couldn't make out any words from the noise. I think I was getting a Canadian station, too, but it was really weak.
I think the radio works, now to get on to adding a longer antenna.
Some are government, non-profit, and religious - those are generally not commercial. Some, like WRMI and WBCQ are commercial in the sense that they sell block time to people who want to put a message on the air. You can buy time on those stations & put your own program on.
WBCQ and it's owner have an interesting history.
Cool - I found his info on Wiki.
As long as you are fooling around, you might find this interesting. I stumbled across this about two years ago. It's a short wave radio based in Holland. You can control the radio yourself, and listen to anything the antenna in Holland can pick up, right off your computer. I haven't spent a lot of time on this site, but there's all kinds of things you can listen to, and you don't need an antenna . . . or a radio!
Yeah, as I said, between cell phones and the internet, a lot of the allure of Amateur Radio as a communications means has gone away.
I still remember when one of our neighbors (who we had prior difficulties with) asked if we could relay a message into one of the maritime nets where their daughter was on a sailboat. We got the message through and they stopped griping about things after that.
The shortwave broadcast bands that I've found most interesting are 60 Meters (4,750 - 4,995 kHz) and 49 Meters (5,900 - 6,200 kHz).
WWV (Ft. Collins, CO) broadcasts on 2,500 / 5,000 / 10,000 / 15,000 and 20,000 kHz (2.5/ 5.0/ 10.0/ 15.0 and 20.0 MHz.
WWVH (Kauai, HI) broadcasts on 2,500 / 5,000 / 10,000 and 15,000 kHz.
The WWV and WWVH carrier frequencies are controlled by very accurate atomic clocks and are used internationally as frequency standards.
hum TICK hum TICK hum TICK hum TICK hum TICK hum TICK At the tone 20 hours 53 minutes Coordinated Universal Time ... oooo TICK oooo TICK oooo TICK oooo