Monday, 28 November 2022

HELPING UKRAINE

UKRAINE APPEAL

I have never agreed with bringing politics into Ham Radio, and I still don't. This isn't politics though - it's about helping innocent people to fight invading terrorists in any way that you can. As tax-payers, we already support Ukraine by supplying them with incredibly expensive weapons to help defend themselves, along with many other forms of support. That's all good.

But how else can we help? Well our local radio club (Bolton Wireless Club) started a "UKRAINE APPEAL"; we were asked if we had any surplus equipment that we could donate - receivers, transceivers, antennas, coax, connectors - anything!  Members donated all sorts of stuff, amounting to over 10 boxes of equipment ready to be shipped over to Ukraine via official channels.  

Personally, I thought I'd send my Baofeng UV-9R with desk-charger. It's been sat in my garage for 3yrs not doing very much and just might help someone over there. I also decided to send my Kenwood TH-F7E.  Again, it's not much of a sacrifice is it?

I post this in the hope that some of you visitors might encourage your radio clubs to do something similar. We've all got unused radio equipment around the shack that we never use. Even if it's a few PL-Plugs, adapters, chargers, rubber-ducks, etc.



Best regards,

Tom, M7MCQ.


Monday, 21 November 2022

ALINCO DX-10 DX-135 UK MINI REVIEW

ALINCO DX-10 & SIRIO GAIN-MASTER HW

I've been aware of this radio for quite a long time and weirdly enough, it's always been the appearance of it that has caught my eye, first and foremost. I guess it reminds me of the old CB's that were around back in the 80's like the President Lincoln, etc. Not that I was a massive fan of CB - to be perfectly honest, I grew tired of it pretty quickly because I was only using FM and there were a lot of plonkers around (including me probably). I hung around for a couple of years and then got more interested in Ham Radio and general ShortWave listening.  Anyway, 30-odd years later, I'm a licensed ham with radios to cover HF, VHF and UHF, with interest in DATA, SSB, CW, DSTAR, DMR and FUSION.

So where does the DX-10 come in? Well I quite like the idea of exploring radio outside the norms of Ham Radio. A friend from the local Radio Club has spoken often about the fun he's had on 10 and 11M. I'm not talking about all the local belchers and barkers on UK-40, but more DX in nature.

Not wishing to modify any of my existing radios, I looked at the Alinco DX-10 (also known as the DX-135). Many people don't know what the difference is between the DX-10 and the DX135 : well the answer is nothing! It's just a model number change for different markets, just as Honda call the UK 'VFR800' the 'Interceptor" in the USA. It's a radio which covers 28 to 29.7MHz in standard form, but with some programming software it can be opened up to include 11M. It is not Type-Approved for 11M in the UK, so I'll only be using that band to listen, not transmit, wink wink.

Alinco DX-10 / DX-135

The DX-10/135 has a typical mobile form-factor (it should actually fit inside most car-radio apertures) and provides easy access to all the frequently used controls with straightforward and clearly labelled buttons and rotaries (some of them concentric). The display is simple and clear and there's a secondary tuning display to the right, which can also be used to step through 'channels'.

The overall construction of the radio seems quite good and it has that "Japanese Quality" about it, which I like. I have owned a few Alinco radios and have always been more than happy with them. Let's not forget though, that this is a cheap radio, so don't expect Elecraft performance. 

In use, the radio works well once you’ve got used to the tuning arrangements and pretty soon I got my first 10M SSB contact - IU3OXX in Venice

Later, I bagged an American station W2YP, a Swiss operator, HB9DSP and a German  DO1KRT. The band was very poor on the first day of testing, with LOTS of QSB, so I did struggle a bit. Plus, the antenna was in a VERY compromised location.

To get the radio working on 11M just requires you to hold down the "FUNC" and "LED OFF" button while powering up. You can then move between 10M and 11M using the Channel Selector.

The audio from the internal speaker is certainly good enough for general use, but if you were to operate the radio in a noisy environment such as a vehicle, you might want to fit an external speaker instead.

The illuminated readout can be adjusted in terms of colour - seven in all - including a rainbow effect (something which Alinco seem to like, LOL). You can't however, adjust the brightness which is a shame, because it's not that readable in bright daylight.

Power output of the DX-10 is 1-12W on AM/FM and up to 0-25W on CW/SSB. Power is nicely variable throughout each range. Thankfully, the radio will shut down the PA if your SWR is too high, offering a comforting level of protection from those ham-fisted moments when you forget to switch antennas (or even connect one) 😂. There's also over-voltage protection too.

So do I like this radio? Yes! It's one of those simple, old-fashioned, "just get on with it", type of rigs that does exactly what it's supposed to do. There's no frills with it and in addition to being quite sensitive on 10M, it also does a great job on 11M. I much prefer using something like this than having one of my expensive Ham Radios widebanded and potentially devaluing it. 

If you find a second-hand DX-10, you'll have a bargain on your hands and will get a lot of fun from it. I throw mine into a plastic storage box in the back of the truck when not being used and I don't worry about it getting scratched or marked. It's tough and won't come to any harm - other than cosmetic. I'm not looking to keep it pristine to sell it later for a lot of money - it never cost a lot of money in the first place!

So what's the down side? Well I guess the only negative is that I don't use 10/11M too often. The band has been in a terrible state for a long time and has only just started to really open up. BUT, when it is open, it's an absolute hoot!!

Recommended? Yes!!

 

SIRIO GAIN-MASTER HW

The antenna I chose for using with the Alinco DX-10 DX-135 is the Sirio Gain-Master Half Wave. I'll be perfectly honest and admit that I was fooled by the marketing images of the antenna, which make it look incredibly small! Even the technical spec showed it as being just 11ft long, but the truth is, it's over 18ft long! 😡😡😡

That's a bit naughty as far as I'm concerned. I've written to them to point out the misinformation, but you have to wonder if it's a "convenient" mistake to bolster sales (I'm such a skeptic, lol). Each of the 3 supplied sections measures 6ft 6" which is nothing like what I expected - I thought I'd be sticking 4ft sections into the boot of my car for portable work, but there's no way on God's earth these will fit in there 😣

 

Anyway, let's not dwell on that rather 'large' negative start too much - if the antenna works well, then it'll go some way to putting things right. I tested it initially while on holiday at our static caravan on the edge of the Forest Of Bowland. Because of restrictions, I had to mount it ridiculously low to the ground, but it still worked surprisingly well.


The noise-floor around here is very low, but occasionally, someone in a nearby caravan will switch something on which introduces unwanted noise, but thankfully, they're not up here as often as I am.

Sat inside a parasol-base, the Sirio can be located anywhere in the garden without needing any guying as long as it's not very windy. This is obviously only a temporary erection, since the Holiday Park don't permit permanent antennas.

With a short length of coax to the caravan decking, I can be up and running very quickly with no fuss at all and with no trip-hazards (if I erect a dipole, I end up with all sorts of potential hazards and untidiness).

I didn't use any counterpoises or radials and to be honest, I didn't need any - it worked fine without them. The SWR hovered around 1.7 but moved a little higher at the extremities of the 10 band. 11M needed a tuner. Bear in mind though, that most people would have this antenna mounted high up above the roofline of their homes where it will no doubt perform much better.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, getting contacts was not a problem and I managed to get as far as America and Eastern Russia from the UK, so there's no cause to complain. Unfortunately, the rain clouds started to drift over and spoiled play - it started to BOUNCE DOWN so I decided to call it a day.

I'm quite happy with this little setup and I'm especially pleased that the antenna worked so well at floor level. It's easy to slide it under the caravan when not it use, where it will stay nice and dry, ready for the next playtime.

If you fancy trying a bit of DX on 11M, you will need to get yourself a Call. Being in the UK, I got mine from CHARLIE TANGO DX.

 
If you have any comments, please write them below and try to include your CallSign.


Kind regards,

Tom, M7MCQ.

Thursday, 17 November 2022

HAM KARMA

I was trying to find a particular connector for my (tr)uSDX and soon realised that it was not a standard or common item - it basically had to be 3D Printed. I then had to source the right style of TRS jacks to fit properly in the connector (another PITA). After a lot of messing around, I found someone who agreed to print a connector for me and when I opened the package, he'd actually done 3 for me and even included nuts and bolts to clamp the two halves together. Excellent!

So in the spirit of Ham Radio, I decided to post a message on the (tr)uSDX Group Page to say that the spare connectors were available free of charge to anyone who sent a SAE. Both items were quickly snapped up.

A few days later, the envelopes arrived and inside one of them, I found a couple of gifts - a UniBalun 2022 V1.1 PCB and K6ARK Audio Adapter PCB!


 
These were sent to me as a thank you from Dave G8SNR in the UK - thank you! Now, none of these items (including the stuff I sent out) is high value, but they are difficult to get hold of, so it's very rewarding to be able to help out one another.

As they say, what goes around, comes around :-)

73, Tom, M7MCQ.


Monday, 14 November 2022

A SUCCESSFUL WEEKEND

TOO POORLY FOR SSB

I had a few things planned for this weekend, but on Friday night I started to feel unwell with cold symptoms, so I had an early night in the hope of feeling better Saturday morning. Unfortunately, I just felt worse and started with a sore throat too.

So I went into the Shack and started on a job that's been hanging over me for a good few days now - putting together a speaker-mic for my (truSDX). A kind soul had 3D printed a special connector for me so it was time to fit it.


I tested it briefly on SSB and using just 0.5W and a 9V PP3 battery on the radio, I managed to get a 55 report (albeit from a UK station G0OOQ). I also received an email from M7PJD (Patrick in Westcliffe-On-Sea) to say that he also heard my 0.5W transmission very well. 

I then tested the mic using the HackGreen WebSDR, which is a very useful site for me. It all sounded pretty good, so I was pleased with the outcome. The Retevis speaker/mic is a bit on the large size, but it has great volume which is adjustable with the dial on top.



The bands were very much in full swing this weekend and although I wanted to do some SSB work, my croaky voice wouldn't really permit it, so I switched to FT8 and managed to work seven bands! 10,12,15,17,20,30 and 40M.  I also tried 80M but there was no one on during the day and I couldn't be bothered during the evening, due to feeling grotty.


I was particularly pleased with my -09 report from Indonesia 7,500 miles away! Thanks YB1APD. I was using my simple EFHW antenna which is only 20ft up in the air. The transceiver was the wonderful QRP-LABS QDX - a beast of a machine for FT8 work.
 

People think that FT8 is robotic and laughably easy, but I certainly don't think so - certainly not at QRP levels. It can often be very hard work to complete a QSO for the log, involving multiple attempts. But that's also what I like about it - the chase - the fight.

Thanks for visiting my blog! If you have any comments/tips, leave a comment below with your CallSign.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

Saturday, 12 November 2022

ColibriNANO REVIEW

COLIBRINANO by EXPERT ELECTRONICS

Some time ago I had an Expert Electronics MB1 and it was fabulous. I especially loved the software. But the radio broke and so it went back and was replaced with something else.

I miss the ExpertSDR software very much - it was really very good and so I was looking into ways of getting access to it without spending thousands on another EE radio. They do manufacture a number of options but the only one that is reasonably priced is the one that look like a cheap USB Dongle! Except it's not cheap. 


£250 seems like an awful lot of money for a USB receiver, but then again, you can pay much more than that for an ancient secondhand superhet receiver. This baby is brimming with SDR loveliness and high-tech wonders. And then there's the brilliant software. And then there's the REMOTE OPERATION capabilities!

UNBOXING>>>

Well the usual thrill of unboxing your latest toy and sifting through all the manuals, cables, bits and bobs is not what you're going to get here. It's a bit of an anti-climax - especially for a £250 product 😂.....


 
Okay, so what is the ColibriNANO exactly? Well for those who have been hiding under a rock for the past few years, it's an SDR receiver which uses your computer to do a lot of the hard work, such as signal processing. Instead of having a big box of electronic components to handle things, it uses the power of your PC to do a lot of it, via some very clever software. All the usual buttons, knobs and dials of a receiver are laid out onscreen instead and can be accessed by mouse, keyboard or touch.

The Nano is a 14-bit,  0.1~55MHz Direct Sampling, high quality, wideband SDR receiver with 3MHz sample-rate, in a very compact USB Dongle form factor. It's also incredibly tough thanks to its milled-aluminium casing which (apart from the strength benefit) provides fantastic RF Shielding. There's also a high level of ESD protection built into the device.



- Operating modes: LSB / USB / DSB / CW / AM / SAM / NFM / WFM
- Frequency range: 10KHz - 55MHz 
- Frequency range in undersampling mode: 10KHz- 500MHz 
- Sampling rates with 24-bit resolution: kHz 48, 96, 192, 384, 768 (visible spectrum width) 
- Sampling rates with 16bit resolution: kHz 1536, 1920, 2560, 3072 (visible spectrum width)
- Sensitivity: 0.35uV - Dynamic range: 110dB - Operating voltage 4.5 ... 5.5V 
- Power consumption: 0.41A - 14bit ADC - ADC clock frequency: 122.88MHz 
- Stable local oscillator with +/- 0.5ppm - attenuator / preamplifier in 0.5 dB steps adjustable from 
-31.5 to + 6dB - Antenna input with 15 kV ESD protection 
- SMA antenna connection 
- Dimensions L x W x H: 90х25х17mm 
- Operating temperature: +45 ... + 50 ° C 
- Weight: 43 grams
 
Apparently, it can actually operate at much higher frequencies than the specified 55MHz ceiling (up to 500MHz) but I shan't be bothering with that option because I have no interest in it as sensitivity drops significantly. The Nano has a L
ow Pass RF-filter on 55 MHz to protect from strong FM transmitters, which is very important to me, since I live very close to Winter Hill Transmitting Station which provides TV & Radio signals to over 6,000,000 homes in the North West UK.


The Nano has a clock-rate of 122.88MHz and nine IQ Sample Rates ranging from 48kHz right up to 3MHz. Choosing the right rate can provide you with the perfect frequency span on your bandscope. Frequency stability is quoted as +/-0.5ppm which is pretty good considering that the aluminium USB body temperature can change from very cold on startup, to really hot during extended use! 
The USB connector is Type-A and is USB-2. Although the device is very sturdy, I would not like to leave it hanging out of a laptop connector, preferring instead to connect via a short USB lead. I also connect the antenna to the Nano with a short SMA~SO239 pigtail.

In addition to the operating software, the ColibriNANO has some free Client/Server software for download which means that you can setup the device in an electrically-quiet location and access it from anywhere in the world through your PC/LapTop or even Phone. This is a massive feature as far as I'm concerned and more than compensates for the £50 extra cost over some of its competitors.



To operate remotely, you simply need to run the Remote Server software using something as simple as a Raspberry Pi. I'm going to try this on my Pi-3 at my sister's house. She has a 300ft long garden with a large wooded area at the end of it. Hopefully I will be able to create a temporary installation just to prove that it works before working on something more permanent. Needless to say, such an installation needs the radio, an antenna, a Pi/PC and a WiFi connection.

The Nano's software can be  demanding on a PC and but it runs well on either my i5 laptop of my i5 Surface Pro. There's no stuttering unless you try to run other demanding software, but that can change if you select the 3MHz sample-rate (but then who wants 3MHz on the scope? Not me). Up to now I've only used ExpertSDR2, but I wonder if V3 can be coaxed into playing with the Nano? I believe that you can also use SDRsharp and HDSDR.


There's a different version of ExpertSDR for each of the radios that EE sell and obviously, some have more options available according to the radio's feature set. There's no point for example, having a wide range of TX options on display for a receive-only unit like the Nano.

Once everything's connected and you have the software running, it's pretty easy to work out how to use it. As soon as you hit the START button, the bandscope and waterfall spring into life and signals are popping up everywhere. 
 
4k Display Option

One thing I like about ExpertSDR is the Attenuator Slider which allows you (in 0.5dB steps) to adjust the incoming signal from -30dB to +5dB instead of the usual On/Off switches. And whenever you do adjust the strength of the attenuator, the S-Meter reading retains its accuracy thanks to built-in compensation algorithms. Neat! 

The software includes the EiBi Database, so all the Broadcast Stations across the world are shown as blue spots across the top of the scope and holding your mouse over one of them tells you which station it is. Click a blue-spot and it instantly tunes the Nano to that station.  After setting up a DX-Cluster, any spots are displayed (CallSigns) on the scope and clicking one will instantly tune it in. It works amazingly well and regularly surprises me.

Audio quality is pretty good depending on the speakers you use. In the video below, I used a mobile phone to record a QSO on 40M, with the sound coming from the laptop. It’s infinitely better with a separate amplified speaker.
 


Noisy signals are easily cleaned up with ExpertSDR’s Noise Reduction options and the Noise Blockers (there are two) are just superb! There are a string of BandWidth buttons plus a Custom option. There’s something on my TS-590SG which I wish was on every other radio (including the Nano) and that’s the Beat Cancel function, which works incredibly well with some of the local noise I get.

Operating the Nano is just pleasurable! There’s no other software (that I’ve come across) that just lets you get on with having fun on the radio like ExpertSDR does. There’s no thinking about things, you just do it. This is in contrast to other 3rd party apps - to be honest, I even prefer it to SDR UNO - and that’s great software! The thing with UNO is, it feels very disjointed - some might call it modular, but the truth is, it can sometimes feel like hard work. Having said that, SDRPLAY are working on something altogether new.

UPDATE : EXPERTSDR3

I installed ESDR3 and it worked superbly. I managed to get it synced with my Kenwood TS-5900SG too, using OmniRig. ESDR3 is far more CPU-Efficient than V2. Just need to configure it to suit my personal and operating tastes. And then learn how to configure Remote Operation.





UPDATE > HEATSINK!
The NANO runs very hot in use and although it's designed to use the enclosure as a heatsink and everyone tells you it's perfectly normal, I was worried about longevity if I should choose to keep it running remotely 24/7.

I found some 20x20mm heatsinks on Amazon and thought I'd try them on the NANO. Sure enough, it now feels much cooler! I'm quite pleased with this cheap and simple mod. You can attach the heatsinks using some quality adhesive heat-transfer pads, but to be honest, I simply applied a tiny spot of Gorilla glue to each corner and lightly clamped them. Works a treat.



If you have any comments, please post below and remember to leave your name/callsign.


73, Tom, M7MCQ






Wednesday, 26 October 2022

IC-705 REVIEW UPDATE

IC-705 TWO YEARS LATER

Two years ownership of the ICOM IC-705 have passed and I thought it might be an idea to take another look at it to see if it still rules the roost for Portable Radios in 2022. In this 'look back', I'm only going to focus on what I've been doing and how well the 705 has worked for me. My original review is >>HERE<<

What should I compare it to?  Well I originally had an Elecraft KX3 but ended up selling it. You can tell yourself all day long that the KX3 is the king of portables (I did), but reality soon hits you in the face when you start to add desirable accessories which increase the cost of the radio to a staggering £2,800 and you still haven't got a fraction of the features of the Icom.

But has the Elecraft not got the better receiver? Yes of course - there's little to beat the KX range in terms of outright performance, that's a given! If you want to hunt down the very faintest, weakest signal, then you stand a better chance of success with a KX. It's a stunner!

But for the other 99% of the time, when you've driven, walked, hiked to the perfect take-off spot and set up your antennas, there will be virtually no difference between a KX and the 705. Or between a 705 and an 817. In fact, my $89 (tr)uSDX will probably get you as many QSO's in the log as the others!

Over the last couple of years I've relied almost exclusively on my IC-705, using it outdoors, on hillsides, in the back garden, in a park, at the caravan, by the seaside and even at home as a base station. It's been utterly reliable and surprisingly tough even though it's not been wrapped in cotton wool. Unlike my Elecraft, I've never really worried about it - I guess I look upon it as a bit of a workhorse. If it gets a little scratch or a ding, it doesn't really matter. I don't believe it would substantially affect its resale price either.

The notable difference between the IC-705 and other radios  is flexibility, features and what I call 'friendliness'.... 

The Icom IC-705 is more feature-rich than any other portable radio. It puts together such an awfully good package that you don't have to buy anything else (assuming that you use resonant antennas). You can operate throughout HF, 6M, 2M and 70cm on LSB, USB, CW, AM, FM, DV and DSTAR. 

With the radios built-in server, you can operate remotely. With the built-in WiFi you can tether to your mobile phone and operate Digital Modes out in the field. Thanks to the built-in GPS, you can even ensure accurate timing for FT8, etc. 

 
Forgot to take a pen for logging your QSO's?? Don't worry - you can record all QSO's onto the SDCARD and run back through it later to get the callsigns - it even records the time and date of each individual QSO!! How good's that??

After using it so frequently and for so long, I'm now in that happy place where I know I just need to grab my small rucksack and head off outdoors for some radio fun. I don't need to carry a million bits of ancillary items - it's just my radio, my antennas and my iPad. If I'm just going out for a couple of hours, then I rely on the Icom battery, but if I'm out for the day I will take a 13.2V LifePO too.

Up on a hillside, I tend to stick with 5W and there's little need for more. Usually, the take-off is excellent and my SotaBeams Dipole works amazingly well - enough to have SSB chinwags across to America from the UK. In fact, one of my favourite chats was from a beach to two hams in America using only 2.5W (KE5EE and WD4NGB).

If I'm struggling to get a response to my CQ calls on 5W, I might move up to 10W, but once I establish contact with someone, I ask them to let me drop to 5W and get another report. If the report is very good (it often is) then I'll ask for another at even lower power. Needless to say, I don't want to make the QSO hard work for the other operators, but most people are happy to experiment with me and they often end up dropping their power to me too and because they've been so used to knocking out 400W+ for years, they've forgotten how far they can get on a tiny fraction of the power. All very entertaining (to me at least) 😂 

I have to admit that it's easier to answer someone elses CQ Call than it is to get a response to your own CQ Call at QRP levels. But patience often does reward. I find that using the IC-705's TX Memories makes light work of repetitive calling. I have a Long and a Short CQ Call recorded in memory and it's easy to set a TX-Loop going. The call is repeated over and over with a small pause inbetween to allow you to listen for any responses. 

Once I've finished with SSB, I tend to briefly switch to the 705's CW TX-Memories and put out a "CQ TEST"  for a few minutes on various bands to see how far I get on the Reverse Beacon Net before switching over to DSTAR depending on how close I am to a repeater. The IC-705 comes with a comprehensive list of repeaters already programmed in and thanks to the built-in GPS it can quickly determine which repeaters are the closest to your location and list them in order of distance (showing you the distance of each one in miles or kilometres).

After DSTAR I might switch to FT8 which gives me a chance to grab a drink and a sandwich. 

The IC-705 has proven to be a true all-rounder and can seemingly do it all, without any fuss or alterations or expensive plugin modules. The only thing that isn't included is an ATU, but neither does the KX3 come with one (unless you pay almost £300). Most of my portable antennas are resonant, so I usually have no need for a tuner, but if I want to use a multi-band end-fed, then one is required. 

I own two ATUs - the LDG Z100PLUS and the Elecraft T1. My favourite is the Elecraft T1. It's compact, light and incredibly good at finding a match - quickly!! And finding a quick match is very important when it comes to QRP equipment because many QRP Transceivers don't seem to have a very robust PA, resulting in blown transistors during long tuning sessions.

Thankfully, the 705 is pretty strong in this respect and I've never had a problem when tuning up using any of my tuners.

The success of the IC-705 in the marketplace has led to much third-party and community support. One of the most useful addons for the 705 is Marcus Roskosh's SDR-CONTROL app which not only provides remote-control operation, but also provides a host of other tools which make the 705 (or 7610 or 9700) an absolute dream to work with. It's a game-changer.

SDR-CONTROL is available on IOS or MAC and I personally use it with my iPad 11. It performs flawlessly with virtually no lag between the readings on the radio and the readings on the iPad. It's all very fluid!
 

All the functions of the radio are available on the software display and the bandscope and waterfall are superb!! It's nice and easy to adjust the bandscope to increase the signal-peak display size and the ratio of scope to waterfall. The meter is nice and clear but I was hoping for an analogue option which isn't there (in the current version). Long-pressing the "TUNE" button sets the power to 10% (adjustable in menus) and transmits in AM mode so that any attached tuner will activate safely. Long-pressing the PTT button will allow you to choose between the radio's mic or the iPad's mic.


VFO A and B are visible onscreen and it's easy to switch between the two. Everything is very intuitive and there's never a struggle to figure anything out. Take FT8 for example - you can switch to it and be making contacts within seconds! No fiddling around with cables, no special drivers or VACs - it just works. Simple!
 

Any FT8 contacts that you make are logged automatically and that brings me to the next feature in the SDR-CONTROL toolbox - the LOGBOOK. Yes, there's a logbook built-in and it has an easy export function to transfer your contacts to your QRZ, etc.


By clicking on a button, you can see the full contents of the ToolKit which includes some very handy features such as the DX Cluster. This can show you active signals on the bandscope, allowing you to quickly spot and engage desired DX. There's also a BandPlan, a set of CW Macros, QRZ LookUp and PSK Reporter. 

There's lots more to this amazing App and it adds so much to the already pleasurable IC-705. I suggest that you go read the manual by clicking on the image below to find out much more about it...

Click me to read the SDR-CONTROL Manual


So, as you can guess, I've been very happy with my 705 - probably more so than any other radio I've owned (and that's saying something). It does pretty much everything I want and it does it all simply, effectively and without fuss. I can play on all the ham bands, in all the modes, I can do analogue and digital and I can enjoy fantastic support from third-parties and a knowledgeable community.

What do I dislike?? Not much really - in fact it seems a bit churlish to complain when a radio offers so very much. If I had to be Oliver Twist and ask for more, then.... I'd ask for CW Decoder instead of the RTTY Decoder. Having said that, the 705 interfaces very easily with my PreppComm Morse Encoder/Decoder....  

 
I do believe that the IC-705 is genuinely the best portable transceiver ever to hit the market. It offers such great value for money and has so many features and functions. And it's not just about the specification list - it's about how everything works - it's incredibly intuitive. Everything falls to hand and makes sense.

There's so many features which make life easy for the operator and where some radios end up looking like a bowl of spaghetti when trying to do something different, the IC-705 often does it wirelessly via WiFi or BlueTooth. Even small things like getting a pair of AirPods working - I've come across so many radios which have BlueTooth but then fail to connect to BlueTooth headsets! The Icom even works with Yaesu's headsets! The very fact that you get a server built into the radio to enable remote operation is pretty darned amazing - especially when you consider that even Yaesu's £3,100 Flagship 101 doesn't have such a feature 😮.

And yes, the £45 SDR-CONTROL software significantly adds to the richness of the 705 which some might say is down to Marcus Roskosch and not the radio, but the fact that the Icom is flexible enough to permit such interaction/connectivity is something that should be applauded.  There's no similar software for the Elecraft - to get a panadapter working with the KX3, you'd have to invest in a PX3 which is around £800 and you'd still only have a panadapter!



Okay, so what about something other than a KX3 or 705? Let's say you bought an FT818 or a G90 or a TX-500?

Well for a start, I wouldn't even give the Russian-built TX500 a second thought because I wouldn't want to support the economy of the disgusting terrorist Putin. Although the HF TX-500 is a very visually appealing transceiver and is around 2/3rds of the price of a 705, it lacks most of the features that I personally value. 

The G90 is a fabulous budget HF transceiver which offers lots for little, but at the end of the day, it's a cheap Chinese radio which I could never consider to be my 'forever radio'. Like the TX-500, the G90 lacks valuable features.

The FT818 is an old favourite of most hams. It's been out there for over 20 years and at half the cost of a 705 is always going to be the QRP radio of choice for people who are happy with the basics. But let's face it, it's old technology and looks like a dinosaur compared to the 705. A rugged, reliable shack-in-a-box but limited in a modern world.

So in summary, I am still over the moon with the Icom IC-705 and I'm glad I invested in it. In the past, radios have 'come and gone' but this one has stayed with me and I can't imagine a time when I would swap it for something else. Maybe Yaesu will bring out something to compete, but I can't imagine how they'd actually make something better! If they do, I'll be all over it 😁


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Please remember that these are just the opinions of an M7 operator. My goals, desires and requirements will be different to yours. I'd be interested to hear about them. Please feel free to leave a comment below and include your CallSign if possible. 73, Tom. 





Wednesday, 12 October 2022

ShortWave Listening

UK  ShortWave Listening

My interest in radio started as a child. I was off school due to illness and my Mum brought an old AM transistor radio into my bedroom to ward off the boredom. She had it tuned to a pop-music station and that was fine, but it wasn't long before I started to spin the tuning dial in search of something else. 

During that time stuck in bed, I discovered many new sounds and languages. People talking from foreign lands, strange musical instruments fading in and out of the radio. Nigh-time brought in stations that hadn't been present during the day. I was fascinated by it all and although I didn't know it at the time, this would become a life-long hobby.

So for the next 50-odd years I have enjoyed a bit of occasional SWL and continue to do so. In 2019 I decided to get my ham license to expand my radio activities and now regularly come into contact with people from the hobby. 

It seems to me that there's a lot of people out there who have an interest in SWL but they're not quite sure what's available to listen to. Sure, the passing years have seen a considerable fall in the amount of radio broadcast stations, but there's still lots available and these can be supplemented with other listening activities, such as NDB's (Non Directional Beacons), AirBand, Marine, Military, Amateur, etc.

Let's look at 11 of the Bands where you can tune around and expect to find activity. Please bear in mind that these bands aren't "open" all the time and may be unpredictable. If you tune around a band one day (or night) and hear nothing, try again on a different day (or night). 'Band conditions' change all the time, so be aware of that and look out for those occasions when signals are BOOMING in from far off lands. There are lots of free indicators on the internet, like the one shown below....

The bands which most people tune around for broadcast stations are the ones listed below..... 

BROADCAST BANDS

90 metres 3.200 – 3.400 mHz
75 metres 3.950 – 4.000 mHz
60 metres 4.750 – 5.060 mHz
49 metres 5.850 – 6.200 mHz
41 metres 7.200 – 7.450 mHz
31 metres 9.400 – 9.900 mHz
25 metres 11.600 – 12.050 mHz
21 metres 13.570 – 13.870 mHz
19 metres 15.100 – 15.800 mHz
16 metres 17.480 – 17.900 mHz
13 metres 21.450 – 21.850 mHz

Don't forget though, that unless you're sat on top of a hill, you're not going to hear very distant stations clearly unless you use a decent antenna. You don't have to go crazy and buy a multi-element Yagi, but a long wire outside from your house to a tree or other support will transform your listening.

If you're serious about SWL, then you'd be well advised to buy a copy of the WORLD RADIO & TV HANDBOOK from online. Don't worry about getting one a couple of years old - it's no big deal. This publication will not only help to identify incoming signals, but will also help you to go in search of them.


 
You might also want to get familiar with a website called Short-Wave.Info which will tell you what's playing right now! This is useful if you've tuned into a station which you can't readily identify. Simply type the frequency in the "Find stations broadcasting on" box and it will show you all the Radio Station names which are broadcasting at that moment. Some will be highlighted in red and you will have to decide which one is the one you're listening to. Maybe there's 3 listed and one's in German, one's in English and the other's in Chinese. You should hopefully be able to tell the difference between those languages LOL.


On top of the Short-Wave.Info site, you may also want to look at the EiBi website. This lists a comprehensive ShortWave Broadcasting Schedule which is changed twice a year (Summer & Winter). You can download this list and some SDR software will allow you to import the database so as to provide you with "Spots" onscreen. 

Another great addition to your SWL arsenal is a Matching Unit or ATU. Too many people think that "tuners" are strictly for use with Transceivers, but that's not the case. Your receiver will almost invariably have a 50ohm antenna socket and the antenna wire that you connect to it may well present a 300ohm (or much, much more) load. If you can cancel out this mis-match, you'll find that your background noise goes quieter and the desired signal goes louder!


Something like the AT-1000 Coupler above can make all the difference to the readability of the incoming signals. They can quite often be found on eBay for very little money.

As for antennas, the simplest solution is a long wire as mentioned previously. You can make this yourself from whatever you have around the house such as speaker wire - basically the longer the better, but a 66ft length is a great start. Or you can buy a commercial wire to suit the space available in your garden or loft, such as an EF-SWL. 

If you don't have space for a long wire, you could consider using a high quality Discone antenna. These are surprisingly good despite their early reputation. I have one made by DIAMOND and it regularly surprises me! They're not fantastic below 25MHz though.

Another option would be a HF Vertical. There are lots on the market with really wide coverage such as the cheap GPA-80 which covers 80M to 6M. Now bear in mind that reviews of antennas like these are always based on their transmission capabilities and not their ability to receive stations. You can get some surprisingly good DX using one of these - especially with a good ground.


 
If you live in an electrically noisy area and if space is at a real premium, you might wish to consider a Magnetic Loop. These are amazing at dealing with local noise from LED's, solar panels, etc, but they're not usually cheap and they have an extremely narrow bandwidth, so you need to keep tuning them as you change frequency. Loops can be used very succesfully indoors and are quick to pack away when not being used.

For those looking for a “single antenna solution”, I guess my all-time favourite 'fixed' SWL antenna is the AOR SA-7000 because it is incredibly compact, covers a massive range of frequencies and can easily be mounted. Perfect for scanner users. With the advent of wideband SDR receivers, this antenna really comes into its own, covering 30kHz - 2000MHz.  It's not cheap of course, but you get what you pay for. Needless to say, you should spend most of your SWL budget on your antenna(s). Depending on your listening habits, you may well need multiple antennas.


 
Speaking of SDR receivers, it seems almost silly to use anything but one! I still use my old AOR AR-3000A and my ALINCO DJ-X2000, but the fact is, modern SDRs like the SDRPLAY RSP1A and RSPdx are just incredibly good and offer far more functions and features as long as you have a decent computer/laptop.

Personally, I get great pleasure warming up the old AR3000A, pressing those wobbly buttons and spinning the tuning dial, but I fully appreciate (and enjoy) the technical marvel that is the RSPdx. Once you've experienced colours screens with large scopes and waterfalls, it's hard to go back to the old tech, apart from a bit of reminiscing.


There's a bunch of free software out there for SDR Dongles and it's great fun to download them and experiment. My own personal favourite has to be SDR UNO from SDRPLAY. This is very fully featured software and can be a tad intimidating when you first try it, but you soon get used to it, especially as there are lots of video tutorials for it.







Other software includes HD-SDR, SDR CONSOLE and more depending on your chosen hardware...








What about receivers?

Well personally, if I was just setting out I would start cheap and buy an SDRPLAY RSP1A. You can sort of "dip your toes in the water" without getting burned. They cost under £100 and offer  outstanding  performance! If you enjoy it and want to go further then you could easily sell the RSP1A and upgrade to the amazing RSPdx which has the best receiver of all the SDRPLAY models. A further upgrade would be to add an external Tuning Dial like the ELAD TMATE2 show next to the laptop in the image above. These make an incredible difference to the enjoyment of an SDR dongle.

There's lots of SDR Dongles on the market and I recommend that you search out reviews of them all before buying, but I personally don't think you can beat the SDRPLAY products - not just in terms of performance, but also in terms of Support from both the manufacturer and the community.




If you don't want to be tied to a computer, you will probably be looking for a more traditional receiver. Again, there's loads on the market and you can pay £100 to £5000. Some of them act as standalone radios and some offer standalone AND computer connectivity.  Don't be afraid to buy second-hand radios! I've had some amazing bargains by monitoring selling sites such as Ebay and MarketPlace and dropped in some really cheeky offers for gear and 90% of the time I've been told to go away in no uncertain terms. But every now and then, someone will accept my cheeky offer and I end up with a bargain buy like this fantastic DJ-X2000.



One of my favourite HF receivers is the truly outstanding BELKA DX. This is a really compact high-performer that will bring a smile to your face every time you switch it on. Sadly, it doesn't doesn't go below 1.5MHz, so you miss out on Long Wave. 
In addition to being a great receiver, it also has an IQ-OUT socket!

The little Belka comes from Belarus, so right now they're almost impossible to order new due to Putin's disgusting acts of terror. If you want one of these little gems, you're probably going to have to save a search on eBay.

If you're looking for something that will serve you as a SWL Receiver and double up as a family radio, then you really do have a massive choice! There are scores of great portable radios out there and my own choice up to now has been the TECSUN PL-680 and its big brother the S2000.



The PL-680 includes AirBand and that's why I chose it above many of its competitors. It's very annoying when you look at some manufacturers flagship radios, only to find they don't include this popular band.

The big S2000 is quite a lump and you're not going to be slipping that into your pocket any time soon! It is though, a great performer and includes two built-in antennas and ports for external antennas. The sound on this bad boy is rich and entertaining. Neither of the Tecsuns are shining examples of receiver technology, but they're both very capable and remember that they both double up as family radios around the house and garden.

If you don't want to spend too much on a portable radio, then I'd strongly recommend the cheap but sensitive XHDATA D-808. It's at the lower end of the price range but it's pretty big on performance for the money and it covers LW, MW, HF and AIRBAND. 

There's little point in me discussing truly higher-end receivers because they're not for beginners. They cost a lot of money and your first concern should be that SWL is for you, before spending the family pension fund. Try one of the radios mentioned above and if you find yourself eager to go further, then you can start researching high-end equipment from the likes of Elad and Icom, etc.

So which frequencies are regularly used? Well as I said previously, you'd do well to buy the WRTH book but to start off right here in the UK, see how many of these stations you can pick up...

UK MW STATIONS

558: Spectrum Radio (AM)
585: BBC Radio Scotland (Dumfries)
603: Gold (East Kent)
603: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (Newcastle)
630: BBC Three Counties (Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire)
630: BBC Radio Cornwall (West Cornwall)
657: BBC Radio Cornwall (East Cornwall)
657: BBC Radio Wales (North East Wales)
666: BBC Radio York (York & Surrounding Areas)
693: BBC Radio 5 live
720: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (London)
720: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (Lisnagarvey)
720: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (Londonderry)
729: BBC Essex (Colchester)
738: BBC Hereford and Worcester (Worcester)
756: Radio Hafren
756: BBC Radio Cumbria (Carlisle)
756: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (West Cornwall)
765: BBC Essex (Chelmsford)
774: Gold (Gloucester)
774: BBC Radio Kent (East)
774: BBC Radio Leeds
774: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (Enniskillen)
774: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (Plymouth)
792: Gold (Bedford)
792: BBC Radio Foyle
801: BBC Radio Devon (Barnstaple & North Devon)
810: BBC Radio Scotland (Central and Southern Scotland)
810: BBC Radio Scotland (Aberdeen)
810: BBC Radio Scotland (Northern Scotland)
828: Gold (Bournemouth, Luton)
828: BBC Asian Network (Wolverhampton)
828: Magic 828
837: BBC Radio Cumbria (Barrow-in-Furness)
837: BBC Asian Network (Leicester, Nottingham & Derby)
846: Seaside Hospital Radio (Southlands Hospital)
855: Sunshine 855
855: BBC Radio Norfolk
855: BBC Radio Lancashire (Central & South)
855: BBC Radio Devon (Plymouth)
873: BBC Radio Norfolk (King’s Lynn)
873: BBC Radio Ulster
882: BBC Radio Wales (North West Wales/Anglesey)
882: BBC Radio Wales (South Wales)
909: BBC Radio 5 live
936: Gold (West Wiltshire)
936: Fresh Radio (Hawes)
945: Gold (Eastbourne, Derby)
945: Radio Nightingale (Rotherham General Hospital)
945: Canterbury Hospital Radio
945: Hospital Radio Reading (Battle Hospital)
945: Hospital Radio Basingstoke
945: Rookwood Hospital (Rookwood Hospital)
945: Portsmouth Hospital (Queen Alexandra Hospital)
945: Radio Northwick Park
963: Asian Sound Radio (Blackburn)
963: Buzz Asia (London)
972: Buzz Asia (West London)
990: Gold (Midlands) (Wolverhampton)
990: Magic AM (South Yorkshire) (Doncaster)
990: BBC Radio Devon (Exeter & East Devon)
990: BBC Radio 5 live (Tywyn)
990: BBC Radio Scotland (Aberdeen)
990: BBC Radio nan Gaidheal
999: Magic 999
999: Gold (Nottingham)
999: BBC Radio Solent
999: B1000
999: Whitechapel AM
999: Radio Brockley
999: Radio Heatherwood
999: Radio King’s
1017: Gold (Midlands) (Shrewsbury & Telford)
1026: Downtown Radio (Greater Belfast)
1026: BBC Radio Cambridgeshire (Cambridge)
1026: BBC Jersey
1035: Northsound 2
1035: West Sound 1035
1035: BBC Radio Sheffield
1035: Kismat Radio
1053: Talk Sport
1071: Talk Sport (Nottingham)
1071: Talk Sport (Newcastle)
1089: Talk Sport
1089: Talk Sport (Dartford Tunnel – Relay)
1107: Talk Sport (Merseyside)
1107: Talk Sport (West Sussex)
1107: Talk Sport (South Kent)
1107: Talk Sport (Torbay)
1107: Talk Sport (The Wash)
1107: Talk Sport (Hampshire)
1107: MFR Two
1116: BBC Radio Derby
1116: BBC Guernsey
1125: BBC Radio Wales (Mid Wales)
1134: IC Radio (Wye campus)
1134: BFBS Gurkha Radio (Sandhurst Barracks)
1134: BFBS Gurkha Radio (Gamecock Barracks)
1134: L&D Hospital Radio
1152: Gold (Norfolk, Plymouth)
1152: Gold (Midlands) (Birmingham)
1152: Clyde 2
1152: LBC News 1152
1152: Magic 1152 (Tyne and Wear)
1152: Magic 1152 (Manchester)
1161: Gold (Swindon)
1161: Tay AM (Dundee)
1161: BBC Three Counties (Bedfordshire)
1161: BBC Sussex (East Sussex)
1161: Magic 1161
1170: Gold (Portsmouth, Ipswich)
1170: Signal 2
1170: Swansea Sound
1170: Magic 1170
1197: Absolute Radio (Torbay)
1197: Absolute Radio (Merseyside)
1197: Absolute Radio (Nottingham & Derby)
1197: Absolute Radio (Brighton)
1197: Absolute Radio (Bournemouth)
1197: Absolute Radio (Oxford)
1197: Absolute Radio (Cambridge)
1197: Absolute Radio (North Kent & Thames Estuary)
1215: Absolute Radio
1215: Absolute Radio (Dartford Tunnel (Relay))
1233: Absolute Radio (Sheffield & Rotherham)
1233: Absolute Radio (Northampton & Corby)
1233: Absolute Radio (Colchester & Ipswich)
1233: Absolute Radio (Swindon)
1233: Absolute Radio (Reading)
1242: Gold (West Kent) 1242: Absolute Radio (Teesside)
1242: Absolute Radio (Stoke-on-Trent & Stafford)
1242: Absolute Radio (Dundee)
1242: Absolute Radio (The Wash)
1251: Gold (Bury St. Edmunds)
1251: RaW 1251AM
1251: The CAT 1251
1260: Gold (Bristol, Bath)
1260: Gold (Wales) (Wrexham and Chester)
1260: Absolute Radio (South Kent)
1260: Absolute Radio (Eastbourne & Hastings)
1260: Absolute Radio (Surrey)
1260: Sabras Radio
1260: BBC Radio York (Scarborough & Surrounding Areas)
1278: Pulse 2 (Bradford)
1278: Trust AM (Bassetlaw Hospital)
1278: Crush Radio 1278am
1278: Palace Radio
1278: BFBS Gurkha Radio (Shorncliffe Barracks)
1278: Radio Royal (Forth Valley) (Falkirk Royal Infirmary)
1287: 107 Garrison FM (Bassingbourn)
1287: 106.8 Garrison FM
1287: Insanity
1287: Surge
1287: Radio Redhill
1287: BFBS Gurkha Radio (Invicta Park Barracks)
1287: BHR 1287
1287: NH Sound
1287: VRN 1287
1287: Hospital Radio Gwendolen
1296: Radio XL 1296 AM
1305: Gold (Wales) (Newport)
1305: Magic AM (South Yorkshire) (Barnsley)
1305: Premier Christian Radio (London) (North London)
1305: Premier Christian Radio (London) (South London)
1323: Smooth Radio (Brighton)
1332: Gold (Peterborough)
1332: Premier Christian Radio (London) (Central London)
1332: BBC Wiltshire
1341: BBC Radio Ulster (Lisnagarvey)
1350: RamAir 1350am
1350: URY 1350AM
1350: URN (University Park Campus)
1350: Air3 Radio
1350: LCR
1350: UKCR 1350AM
1350: Radio Nightingale (Rotherham General Hospital)
1350: GU2 Radio
1350: Livewire 1350AM
1350: Kingstown Radio
1350: Frequency
1350: Hospital Radio Pulse
1350: Hemel Hospital Radio (Hemel General Hospital)
1350: Mid-Downs Hospital Radio (The Princess Royal Hospital)
1350: Radio Cavell
1350: Range Radio 1350am
1350: Hospital Radio Yare
1359: Gold (Chelmsford)
1359: Gold (Midlands) (Coventry and Warwickshire)
1359: Gold (Wales) (Cardiff)
1359: BBC Radio Solent (Dorset)
1368: Manx Radio
1368: BBC Surrey (East Surrey/North Sussex)
1368: BBC Radio Lincolnshire
1368: BBC Wiltshire (Swindon)
1377: Asian Sound Radio (Manchester)
1386: Blast 1386
1386: Anker Radio
1386: Carillon Radio (Loughborough Hospital)
1386: Carillon Radio (Coalville Hospital)
1386: 1386AM HCR
1386: VI Radio
1404: RED Radio
1404: Radio Rovers
1413: Fresh Radio (Skipton)
1413: Premier Christian Radio (London) (West London)
1413: Premier Christian Radio (London) (East London)
1413: BBC Radio Gloucestershire (South)
1413: BBC Radio Gloucestershire (North)
1413: Manchester United Radio
1431: University Radio Falmer
1431: Gold (Southend, Reading)
1431: Fresh Radio (Settle)
1431: Xtreme Radio 1431AM
1431: Chichester Hospital Radio
1431: Apple AM
1431: Radio Sonar
1449: BBC Asian Network (Peterborough & Cambridge)
1449: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (Aberdeen)
1449: 1449AM URB
1449: Hub Radio
1458: Gold (Manchester)
1458: Sunrise Radio (London)
1458: BBC Newcastle
1458: BBC Radio Cumbria (Whitehaven)
1458: BBC Radio Devon (Torbay & South Devon)
1458: BBC Asian Network (Birmingham)
1485: Gold (Newbury)
1485: BBC Sussex (Brighton)
1485: BBC Radio Humberside
1485: BBC Radio Merseyside
1485: BBC Radio 4 (LW) (Carlisle)
1503: BBC Radio Stoke
1503: 1503 AM Radio Diamonds
1503: Betar Bangla
1530: Pulse 2 (Halifax & Huddersfield)
1530: BBC Essex (Southend-on-Sea)
1548: Magic 1548
1548: Gold (London)
1548: 1548 Forth 2
1548: Magic AM (South Yorkshire) (Sheffield & Rotherham)
1548: BBC Radio Bristol
1557: Gold (Northampton, Southampton)
1557: BBC Radio Lancashire (North)
1566: County Sound Radio 1566 MW
1566: BBC Somerset
1575: JamRadio
1575: Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
1575: Radio Tyneside
1584: London Turkish Radio
1584: Tay AM (Perth)
1584: BBC Hereford and Worcester (Tenbury Wells)
1584: BBC Radio Nottingham
1602: BBC Radio Kent (West)
1602: Desi Radio

Depending on conditions, you'll be surprised at how many you can hear from the other end of the country. Bear in mind this will alter virtually every day though. 

Here's some LW stations...

153 Alger Chaine 1Bechar2000
153 Romania ActualitataBrasov Bod1200
153 DeutschlandfunkDonebach500
153 R YunostTaldom300
153 NRK EuropakanalenIngoy100
162 France InterAllouis2000
162 TRT-4Agri1000
162 GRTK Taymyr / R RossiiNorilsk150
162 Uzbek Radio 1Tashkent150
164 Mongolyn RadioKhonkhor500
171 R Mediterranee Int'lNador2000
171 R Chechnya  Tbilisskaya1200
171 R RossiiBolshakovo600
171 GRTK Tomsk / R RossiiOyash250
171 NVK Sakha / R RossiiYakutsk150
177 Deutschlandradio KulturZehlendorf500
180 TRT-4Polatli1200
180 Chitinskaya GRTK / R MayakChita150
180 GTRK  R RossiiPetropavlovsk150
183 Europe 1   Felsberg2000
189 GRTK Amur / R RossiiBelogorsk1200
189 RikisutvarpidGufuskalar300
189 R RossiiBlagoveshchensk150
189 Gruzinsloye RTbilisi100
189 Sveriges RMotala20
198 Alger Chaine 1Ouargla2000
198 BBC Radio 4Droitwich500
198 R MayakAngarsk250
198 Polskie R 1Raszyn200
198 R MayakKurovskaya150
198 R MayakOlgino75000
198 BBC Radio 4Droitwich 400
198  BBC Radio4 Westerglen50
198 BBC Radio 4Burghead50
207 D eutschlandfunkAholming500
207 RTM AAzilal400
207 R MayakTynda150
207 Ukrainske Radio 1Kyiv125
207 Iceland RikisutvarpidEidar100
209 Mongolyn RadioDalanzadgad75
209 Mongolyn RadioChoibalsan75
209 Mongolyn RadioUlgii30
216 R Monte CarloRoumoules2,000
216 Azerbaijani Radio 1Gyandza500
216 R RossiiBirobidzhan150
216 Tsentr Rossii / GRTK  Krasnoyarsk150
225 Polskie Radio P1Solec Kujawski1200
225 Khanty GRTK YugoriyaSurgut1000
225 TRT-GAP / TRT-4Van600
227 Mongolyn RadioAltai75
234 RTLBeidweiler2000
234 GRTK Magadan / R RossiiArman1000
234 Radio 1Gavar500
234 Irkutskaya GRTK / R RossiiAngarsk250
243 Primorskoe R / R RossiiRazdolnoe500
243 TRT Erzurum R / TRT-4Erzurum200
243 DR  danmarks Radio   Kalundborg  50
252 Alger Chaine 1 & 3Tipaza1500
252 RTE Radio 1Clarkstown100
252 R RossiiKazan150
252 Algeria (2 trasnmitters)    1,500
252 Tajik RadioDushanbe150
261 R RossiiTaldom2500
261 R Rossii / Chitinskaya GRTKChi   150
261 R HorizontVakarel60
270 Cesky rozhlas 1Topolna650
270 R Slovo / GRTKNovosibirsk150
279 GRTK Sakhalin / R Rossii1000
279 Belaruskaye Radio 1Sasnovy500
279 GRTK / R RossiiUlan-Ude150
279 GRTK / R RossiiYekaterinburg150
279 Turkmen Radio 1Asgabat150
279 GRTK Altay / R RossiiGorno-Altaysk50 

SPECIAL : March 2022 : The BBC said that the two new shortwave radio frequencies – 15735 kHz and 5875 kHz – will broadcast WORLD SERVICE news in English for four hours a day. These frequencies can be received clearly in Kyiv and parts of Russia, but you might not hear the broadcasts from the UK (but you might if conditions are right).

📻 BBC WS : 15735 kHz 16:00 – 18:00 GMT +2 📻 BBC WS : 5875 kHz 22:00 – 00:00 GMT +2

You will (hopefully) notice that there are a number of stations listed for the same frequency. Obviously they will be many miles from each other and wouldn't normally interfere with one another but it's easy to find yourself with a stronger signal from the furthest away transmitter than the closest one due to propagation variances. On 252 for example, you'll hear an Irish accent one night and an Algerian the other  night 😵


AIRBAND HF FREQUENCIES

If you want to explore the HF Aeronautical Frequencies, try these. If your radio has memories, it might be an idea to input some of these into search bands and just start a scan until you hear something.

Aeronautical HF Bands...

10005 - 10100kHz

11175 - 11400kHz

13200 - 13360kHz

15010 - 15100kHz

17900 - 18030kHz

21870 - 22000kHz

23200 - 23350kHz

2850 - 3155kHz

3400 - 3500kHz

4650 - 4750kHz

5480 - 5730kHz

6525 - 6765kHz

8815 - 9040kHz

 

VOLMET SERVICE

Automated weather service for aircraft and if nothing else, you can use it to gauge local conditions. If you listen to it regularly, you get an idea of how it sounds at its best and how much it varies according to conditions. Make a note of S-Readings, best and worst.

5450 kHz RAF Volmet

5505 kHz Shannon Volmet 

5598 kHz Shannon ATC. Secondary calling on 8906 

5616 kHz Shannon ATC. Secondary calling on 8864 

5649 kHz Shannon ATC. Secondary calling on 8879 

5658 kHz Shannon ATC 

5680 kHz Kinloss Rescue 

6622 kHz Shannon Volmet and Gander


COASTGUARD STATIONS

1644 Malin Head Coast Guard Radio. Listening on 2069. 

1743 Stornoway Coastguard. Listening on 1743. 

1746 Valentia Coast Guard Radio. Listening on 2090. 

1752 Milford Haven Coastguard. Listening on 2096. 

1770 Shetland Coastguard. Listening on 1770. 

1880 Falmouth Coastguard. Listening on 1880. 

1883 Belfast Coastguard. Listening on 1883. 

1925 Humber Coastguard. Listening on 1925.

2182 International Marine Calling

2226  Aberdeen Coastguard and Hebrides Range Control.

2670 Falmouth Coastguard. Listening on 2670.

3023 Search & Rescue Night

4023 Search & Rescue Night

4125 International Marine Distress

4146 Primary Ship-Ship Channel-A

4149 Primary Ship-Ship Channel-B

4718 UK Rescue Night

5680 UK Rescue

5699 UK Rescue Secondary

8291 Marine Distress International

11253 RAF Volmet

12290 Marine Distress International

16420 Marine Distress International


AMATEUR RADIO BANDS

Listening to ham radio operators can be great fun too. People from all walks of life, with different outlooks, kings to gardeners, estate agents to astronauts!!

Amateur band – 160M Top Band. 1.8-2.0 MHz.
Closest broadcast band – Medium wave

Day or Night (best at night)

Amateur band – 80M 3.5-3.8 MHz.
Closest broadcast band – 90 metres and 75 metres

Best at night

Amateur band – 40M 7.0-7.1 MHz.
Closest broadcast band – 60 metres 49 metres 41 metres

Day or Night (good at night)

Amateur band – 30M 10.100-10.150 MHz.
Closest broadcast band – 31 metres 25 metres

Day or Night (good at night)

Amateur band – 20M 14.000-14.350 MHz.
Closest broadcast band – 21 metres 19 metres

Day or Night (variable)

Amateur band – 17M 18.068-18.168 MHz.
Closest broadcast band – 16 metres

Day or Night (variable)

Amateur band – 15M 21.000-21.450 MHz.
Closest broadcast band – 13 metres

Day or Night (very variable)

Amateur band – 12M 24.890-24.990 MHz.

Day or Night (very variable)

Amateur band – 10M 28.000-29.7000 MHz.

Day or Night (very variable)


Well, hopefully that's enough to get you started! There's much more to do in the hobby of SWL and then maybe you'll want to move into ham radio if you're not already licensed.

If you've anything to contribute to this topic, please leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting the blog.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.