Short Wave Listening коротковолновое радио
Introduction to Short and Medium Wave Radio Listening
Short wave radio listening was a childhood passion and I enjoy being an SWL just as much today and log at least 800 hours of SWL per year. There seems to be many web pages devoted to construction of radio equipment for the amateur radio experimenter but relatively few for the shortwave radio devotee. I decided to expand this web site to include projects for the SWL Homebuilder in 2005.
My favorite bands are 49 meters (5.9 - 6.2 MHz) at night-time and 19 meters (15.1-15.8 MHz) during the daylight hours. I also listen to medium wave DX around 1400 - 1600 KHz.
Why Listen to Analog Short Wave Radio?
Is analog short wave radio dead? I think not.
No doubt, short wave radio has passed its prime and is slowly dying, however, it's still fun and/or relevant to some.
World band radio: Almost 1/2 of the world's population lives on $2.00 USD or less per day. The Internet (the main alternative to shortwave radio) poses a luxury to many poor people living in lower-income countries — experienced travelers or those who support people in developing countries will understand this statement. In some countries now, ranking in the middle class just means you have a full-time job. In addition, oppressive governmental regimes may limit foreign media and Internet access: LW, MW and SW radio can break through obstacles such as natural or man-made disasters, borders, poverty and censorship.
For SWL hobbyists, analog shortwave radio entertains, informs and best of all, provides opportunities to analyze propagation and experiment with real radio topics including static, solar flares, QRN, antennas, grounding, baluns, coax, and wire. SWLing poses an adventure — it's unpredictable, challenging and increasingly difficult as stations decrease and QRN increases. I've built many antennas and even some noise cancelling circuits just to pull in a few Dx stations. The sport of SWL lies in making DX contacts: a theme shared with Ham radio.
What About Internet Radio?
Radio by definition is the transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves of radio frequency; but perhaps blue-tooth or Wi-Fi reception from a hot spot qualifies as radio in the modern era? Just as peanuts aren't nuts, Internet server or webcasted radio is not RF broadcasted radio. I think Internet radio is great, but fundamentally a very different medium from that enjoyed by SWL fans
Internet radio involves a radio player decoding a stream of compressed bits fed from a Internet radio station or virtual receiver. In some cases, the material originates from a real radio station that also broadcasts an AM or FM signal. For example, you can tune FM station Rooskie Radio "Русское Радио" in much of Slavik Europe or play them on a computer device anywhere you can get an Internet connection.
For lovers of foreign content, listening to Internet radio makes sense; providing convenience, a good signal when bandwidth is high and 24 hour per day listening on 1 IP address. Internet radio offers a much cheaper way for content providers to beam their news and music services around the globe — we've seen numerous large broadcast radio services such as the BBC World Service reduce or drop analog SW and add Internet radio, satellite and digital SW transmissions for their customers.
The exciting growth of independent and niche Internet radio stations increases personal freedom of choice and provides opportunities for unique interest providers and consumers to find each. Media streaming companies and manufacturers of Internet radio players and their worldwide distributors benefit too.
This technology is a far cry from tuning the SW bands with a homebrew or commercial radio frequency receiver and a length of wire slung in a tree. Perhaps, the greatest advantages of Internet radio are that you don't have to get up early, or stay up late to pull in some rare Dx, nor do you need any radio skills or special equipment — perfect for the majority of listeners. But we're SWL radio hobbyists: people who listen for both content and because we love radio propagation and gear.
There is nothing wrong with Internet radio, or any of the modern data streaming techniques however, SWL aficionados driven by skill, the thrill of Dx and love of their experimental hobby share a special bond that Internet radio doesn't give them.
Assembling a station The most important component in your radio shack is your antenna. Don't hesitate to safely experiment with the many antenna designs available on the world wide web. Your sure to find a commercial unit or home brew antenna design that suits your real estate and budget.
Your next task is to find a receiver. It is difficult to recommend any one receiver because there are so many excellent commercial receivers to choose from. If you are thinking about purchasing a used receiver, you might consider checking eBay to find a receiver or to learn the going price for used gear. The ultimate SWL experience in my opinion is to build and operate a receiver on at least 1 band.
Favorite SWL and SWL-related Web Sites
Wikipedia-Shortwave Bands A good description of the bands and their general propagation.
Canada's SWL-DXer website Hard core Canadian web site dedicated to SWL. Thanks gentlemen!