(Now a bi-weekly program)

October 15, 2013

Shortwave Listening ... a Fireside Chat

A casual discussion of the SWL radio sport ... from radios, to frequencies, to stations, to approach and technique



Okay, time to 'fess up: How many of us really enjoy "listening" without the bother (sometimes) of ensuring the transmitter and antenna are tuned, or the worry (sometimes) of getting engaged in a protracted QSO that extends beyond the time we have available in the shack on any given night?  My hand would be the first to go up!   But when this situation is present I often turn on the general coverage receiver to allow me to tune across the shortwave bands looking for an elusive AM station from a far-away land, or a foreign news station with "another perspective", or just some strange and exotic-sounding tunes undulating through the ionosphere.

Whatever your reasoning and justification of this shortwave radio playtime, it is indeed fun and educational ... even for technologists and homebrewers like us!  In this CWTD episode #62 we will be exploring the history, the commercial and hobbyist-oriented radio gear, the plethora of shortwave stations on the air at any given hour of the day, and the techniques (and even contesting!) that we engage in while SWL'ing.

73, George N2APB & Joe N2CX

Audio Recording ... (Listen to the MP3 podcast)

Discussion Notes:

<20:04:45> "Ray K2ULR": <http://www.google.com/search?q=heathkit+ar-3&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=A9hdUrTYFtf_4AOX8YDIDw&ved=0CDwQsAQ&biw=1044&bih=673&dpr=1>
<20:17:34> "Pete - WB2QLL": My first swl rcvr, bought by my dad in NYC radio row, it's an OSS spy rcvr: http://www.campx.ca/SSR-5-B-DG.jpg
<20:18:14> "George - N2APB": Do you still have it?! (Or another like it?)
<20:18:23> "Pete - WB2QLL": Built at the end of WWII, I played with this in the early 60's. Still have it, too. Five 1 volt tubes.
<20:21:59> "Joe N2CX": Ray I just checked the link you sent - wow old Heath receivers! I got the QF-1 later...
<20:26:30> "Rick K3IND": Yup, Tecsun 380 still ~$40 on Amazon!.
<20:28:21> "Pete - WB2QLL": DRM with a soundcard. TT sells direct only.
<20:28:26> "John KB5NJD/WG2XIQ": there is one on ebay now
<20:30:24> "Pete - WB2QLL": Someone made a Palm OS controller for it.
<20:32:44> "Pete - WB2QLL": http://www.globaltuners.com
<20:33:25> "Mike KD4SGN": K2SDR in US
<20:34:47> "Ray K2ULR": http://websdr.org/
<20:37:45> "Ray K2ULR": Here's a broad band web receiver: <http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/>
<20:38:43> "Pete - WB2QLL": Popular Communications has swl articles.
<20:59:26> "John KB5NJD/WG2XIQ": I use K9AY loops for MF/LF
<21:05:21> "Pete - WB2QLL": Kiwa Loop?
<21:10:37> "Pete - WB2QLL": They're still called QSL cards.
<21:16:30> "Pete - WB2QLL": Has anyone here operated a numbers station transmitter?
<21:21:28> "George - N2APB": Numbers station transmitter??
<21:29:04> "Frank N3PUU": shoutcast.com  is a good place to start looking
<21:29:51> "George - N2APB": Check this out, for starters ... http://www.internet-radio.com/
<21:31:06> "George - N2APB": Radio South Africa streaming online .... about 100 stations on the first page alone! ... http://www.surfmusic.de/country/south+africa.html
<21:33:06> "George - N2APB": http://www.ngolaradiofm.com/  ... interesting Mu Congo music
<21:34:33> "David KC4ZVW": My first good shortwave radio was green : R-392

Shortwave Basics

What is Shortwave Radio Listening?

SWLing (Shortwave Radio Listening) is one of the most popular radio activities in the world. Even with the advent of the world wide web, SWLing stands apart because it provides some of the best "unfiltered" news and content to be found. The joy of SWLing is that you don't need expensive equipment, a connection to the internet, an elaborate antenna, or even AC mains power. To pick up most broadcasts, a few batteries and an inexpensive pocket-sized shortwave radio are all you need. This is simplicity at its best, and the reason there are so many people SWLing today. Of course, once you've mastered the basics of SWLing, you may also be interested in DXing (searching for more distant stations) which will require an upgrade from your pocket-sized radio; however, even then, you may be amazed at how little it takes to put together a good DX-chasing set-up.

Why Shortwave Radio
The best source of global information continues to be shortwave radio. Throughout the world, shortwave remains the most readily available and affordable means of communication and information. It lets you listen to voices from around the world. You'll also learn about the lives and concerns of people from all walks of life, from soldiers, to farmers, to retired scholars.

What You'll Hear
On a national level, shortwave can fill in when telephone service is down. During an emergency, ham radio operators, the unsung heroes of emergency communications, use the shortwave single sideband to help coordinate, aid and pass vital information on to local authorities.

Great overview on HamUniverse ... http://www.hamuniverse.com/shortwave.html


Sample news audio on 6.135mhz from the BBC recorded live at night off the air! (Long download) This recording was made before they stopped transmitting to my area.

Sample....Radio Netherlands from 9845khz Short simple station ID

Propagation Basics

Q: Why Do AM Radio Signals Coming From A Distance, Seem Much Stronger At Night; Especially When Cloudy And Why Do FM Signals Seem Stronger In The Early Mornings?


Earth's atmosphere changes how radio waves travel. Out in space they zip along at light speed and travel vast distances: from Earth to Pluto, for example.

Here on Earth, when a signal travels in a straight line from transmitter to receiver, Earth blocks the signal at the horizon. Viewed from eye level, the horizon is about 2.5 miles away but, from the top of a 500-foot transmission tower, it's about 100 miles distant. Line-of-sight signals, thus, go about 100 miles.


When we pick up an AM signal from farther than that, a cloud-like layer of ionized particles in the air (called the ionosphere F-layer) bent the radio wave down to reach us. The drawing at the right shows this. When a radio wave enters the F-layer air, it slows down and therefore bends to a new direction. A soda straw in a glass of water appears bent due to the same phenomenon.


The ionosphere bends signals best at night because the Sun is no longer ionizing the atmosphere then. That's why you pick up distant AM signals at night. An AM signal can hop all the way around the world at night, bending down from the ionosphere and reflecting back up from Earth: hopping in that fashion and ultimately going vast distances.


On the other hand, FM radio waves go right through the ionosphere. Consequently, most FM signals are line-of-sight.


Water in the atmosphere weakens all signals but the higher frequencies more than the lower ones. For this reason, water reduces FM strength much more than AM since FM frequencies are about 100 times greater than AM. In fact, AM is not much affected even by rain. This argues against AM signals being stronger on cloudy nights. However, it may explain why you pick up FM signals better in the morning.


"FM repeater stations, which rely on long distance pick up of an FM signal, often experience reduced signal level during the hotter summer months..." says Lewis Downey, engineer at KUER FM in Salt Lake City, Utah. This may be due to more moisture in the air during summer, which weakens FM signals. The morning, however, has cooler temperatures and less water vapor in the air. Consequently, the air contains less water to disrupt the FM signal. Thus, the FM signal is somewhat stronger in the cool of the morning.


Shortwave Radios

So what constitutes a "SWL radio"?  Certainly any general coverage receiver can fit the bill -- anything from your Collins R-390 to an Elecraft K3 with the continuous filters option installed -- but there are some lower-cost and more-portable radios that are especially nice for taking out on a picnic, or to the beach, or to use while sitting back in your easy chair with a pair of headphones while the grandkids run around playing cops and robbers.

A great summary of SWL radios on the market can be found at SWLing.com (http://swling.com/Radios.htm), whose comments we mention in this section.

Grundig G3 Globe Traveler

The Grundig G3 Globe Traveler is an innovative portable radio covering long wave, AM, FM (stereo to earphone jack), continuous shortwave plus the VHF aircraft band. It features dual conversion AM/SW circuitry for exceptional sensitivity and image rejection. It offers S.S.B. - Single sideband reception. It has an large 700 channel memory system with memory scan and auto tuning storage. Memories may be labelled up to 8 characters. Unlike other portables in it class, the Globe Traveler offers Synchronous Detection. This special feature addresses the issue of selective fading and adjacent channel interference on shortwave. RDS (radio data system) shows FM callsigns, artist, song title and messages when available. Other enhancements include: Wide/Narrow selectivity, Local/DX switch, direct frequency entry, signal indicator and 24 hour clock with four alarm timers. External antenna jack for shortwave, FM, VHF air band. The right side of the radio has a 3.5mm Input/Output jack. Requires four AA cells (not supplied). If four NiMH AAs are inserted, they may be recharged inside the radio. 6.62 x 4.13 x 1.1 inches. Supplied with manual, protective pouch and AC adapter/charger. The G3 is easily our best selling shortwave radio.
  • $169 from Universal Radio (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/portable/4033.html)
  • AM/FM-stereo, FM RDS, Aircraft Band and Shortwave (1711-29999 KHz)
  • 700 programmable memory presets
  • Full-featured world time zone: clock, sleep timer
  • Internally recharges Ni-MH batteries
  • AC Adapter, indoor antenna line and case all included
  • Single-sideband reception



Sony ICF-SW7600GR

The Sony® ICF-SW7600GR is a compact, dual conversion, microprocessor-controlled, frequency synthesized general coverage portable receiver. Direct access tuning is provided along with a multifunction LCD digital readout for unsurpassed convenience and accuracy (1 kHz step tuning on longwave, medium wave and shortwave). Just press the numbered keys to match the frequency you want to hear. Manual and automatic scan tuning plus memory scanning is provided. 100 memories are featured for your favorite stations. These memories are non-volatile and therefore will not be lost during the changing of batteries. The ICF-SW7600GR tunes from 150 to 29999 kHz for solid coverage of longwave, medium wave and shortwave. Smooth Single Sideband (SSB) and Morse code reception is available through a switch with separate LSB and USB positions plus fine tuning thumb-wheel. A special Synchronous Detector circuit reduces fading and annoying "beat" frequency interference from adjacent stations as well as distortion due to fading shortwave reception. FM stereo (87.6 - 108 MHz in 50 kHz steps) is provided to the mini stereo headphone jack. A record output jack is included for taping off the air. Advanced features include: dial light, continuously, variable attenuator, 9/10 kHz MW step, "Tune" indicator, keypad lock, 1/5 kHz step tuning, flip-stand, tone switch and external antenna jack. There is also a Sleep function which can be set for 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. The side-lit dial light will illuminate the LCD green for 15 seconds when the dial light switch is pressed. This radio has a 24 hour digital quartz clock with dual timer. You can set the radio audio to come on with Timer A and Timer B. The current time is displayed when the radio is off. To view the time while the radio is on simply press the [EXE] key. The time will then display automatically for 9 seconds. Please click here to view left and right sides. Click here to view front controls.
  • AM/FM-stereo, medium wave and shortwave (150 to 29999 kHz)
  • MY-memory tuning memorizes and scans up to 100 frequencies
  • World clock and dual clock functions; built-in timer
  • Label presets with 6 alphanumeric letters
  • Single-sideband reception
CC Crane CC-Radio-SW

The CC Radio SW [CSW] tunes AM, FM and shortwave bands [1711-30000 kHz]. Thanks to the built-in Twin Coil Ferrite™ AM Antenna, this masterful radio has AM reception in the same class as the legendary CCRadio+.

The CCRadio-SW comes with a large, easy-to-read LCD display and all the adjustments necessary for excellent performance under various conditions. C. Crane provides a clear, straightforward manual to get you started. Here are some of its outstanding features: RF Gain Control, Bandwidth Control, Bass and Treble Controls, Fast and Slow Tuning, 50 Memories, Lighted Buttons, Clock Radio with Snooze Alarm, Stereo Line Output and Headphone Jack, IF Output for Input to Computer. Runs on four "D" size batteries or four backup "AA" batteries (not included). Built-in charging circuit will recharge optional NiMH batteries right inside the radio-saving you both time and money. AC Adapter and two KOK PAL antenna connectors are included.

  • $129 from CC Radio ... http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/portable/2678.html
  • AM/FM/Shortwave [SW1, SW2, SW3 (1711 - 30,000 kHz)]
  • Controls include: RF Gain, Bandwidth, Bass and Treble, Fast and Slow Tuning
  • 50 Memories
  • Clock Radio with Snooze Alarm
  • External connections: Stereo Line Output (RCA type) and 1/8" Headphone Jack, IF Output for Input to Computer, External Antenna Connections.
  • Runs on four "D" size batteries or four backup "AA" batteries (not included)
  • Built-in charging circuit
  • AC Adapter and antenna connectors included.


Tecsun PL-380

The Tecsun PL-380 is my favorite radio under $60. The PL-380 has a DSP (Digital Signal Processing) chip that gives this ultra-portable excellent sensitivity and selectivity. Indeed, the DSP bandwidth can be adjusted to 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 kHz. The PL-380 is even marginally better at weak signal DXing than the PL-310. The PL-380 is my favorite radio for travelling--I even wrote a post about this on our blog. You can also click here to listen to an audio clip of it being compared to two lesser radios. Take note, however, that like the PL-310, the PL-380 does not have a single-side band mode.
In short, the Tecsun PL-380 is a superb value and excellent listening companion!
  • $40 from eBay ... http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-IN-BOX-TECSUN-PL-310-FM-MW-LW-SW-RADIO-/261174229583?pt=US_Portable_AM_FM_Radios&hash=item3ccf327a4f
  • FM : 87 ~ 108MHz (Russia 64 ~ 108MHz, Japan 76 ~ 108MHz, USA 87.5 ~ 108MHz)
  • MW : 522 ~ 1620kHz (USA 520 ~ 1710kHz) with 9kHz / 10kHz tuning step selectable
  • LW : 153KHz to 513KHz
  • SW : 2300KHz to 21950KHz.
  • With Silicon Labs Si4734 Micro-chip – High Sensitivity & Selectivity
  • Noise Limit sensitivity: FM band < 3uV @30dB, MW band <1mV/m @26dB, LW band <10mV/m @26dB, SW band < 18uV @ 26dB.
  • AM IF bandwidth : 1, 2, 3, 4, 6kHz.
  • LCD Display Screen
  • Six tuning mode selectable: 1) Jog dial manual tuning 2) Auto scan tuning for FM, MW, LW & SW 3) Pre-setting manual scan tuning 4) Memory pre-setting auto scan tuning 5) Memory pre-setting address direct entry tuning 6) Frequency direct entry tuning
  • Auto Tuning Storage function (ATS) for FM, MW , LW & SW band.
  • 500 Preset Memories (100 memories for each MW / FM and LW, 200 memories for SW)
  • Multi-functions Digital Display for Frequency, Signal Strength, S/N ratio, Clock & Alarm, Temperature (°C or °F) & Battery Consumption.
  • Digital clock function with 12/24 Hour Format
  • Alarm by radio or “buzz”, and with the automatically alarm stopper within 1 – 90 minutes
  • Highly intelligent On / Off switch : allow to set the sleep timer from 1 – 120 minutes, or turn the power on / off directly
  • FM Mono & Stereo
  • Light & Snooze function – 5 minutes, repeated three times
  • Key lock function
  • Volume Knob with maximum 30 sound levels
  • Vertical Back Stand
  • Built In DC 5V USB jack, Earphone Jack, FM & SW Antenna Jack
  • Built-in Charging System to charge the Ni-MH rechargeable battery
  • Power supply : USB 5V/250mA external adaptor (not included) / 3pcs AA size batteries
  • Unit size 141 x 87 x 30 mm (L x H x W)
  • Net Weight :187g
  • Original accessories : 1pc stereo earphone, 1pc carrying pouch and English manual (printing format)
  • Specs source: eBay.com
CommRadio CR-1

The CommRadio CR-1 communications receiver offers interesting capabilities, not previously available. The CR-1 is a true SDR (software defined radio), but does not require a computer. Enjoy the benefits and performance of state-of-the-art SDR, but in a conventional radio package. The CR-1 SDR is independent of a host PC, using embedded digital signal processing technology that provides a degree of portability and performance previously unavailable to the radio enthusiast. Coverage includes: 500 kHz-30 MHz, 64-260 MHz and 437-468 MHz in AM, SSB, CW, WBFM, NBFM modes. (Longwave 150-500 kHz available with reduced performance). 64 memories (8x8) are available. Memory and spectrum scanning are available on HF. The incredible performance is combined with exceptional portability and ease of use. The radio may be powered via USB or 6-18 VDC input (2.1 x 5 mm diameter - center pin-positive). In both cases the optional Li-ion battery will be recharging, even when the radio is in use. The USB port is also available to update the firmware over the Internet. All this top-shelf American technology and capability is housed in a solid, but compact, metal case measuring 5.64 W x 2.43 H x 6.10 D inches that weighs 1 lb., 12 oz. This radio comes with a DC cord and printed Owner's Manual.

~$600 from Universal Radio ... http://universal-radio.com/catalog/commrxvr/2001.html



Ten-Tec RX-320D

Ten-Tec RX-320D
Do you crave more receiver performance and versatility than you can get from your portable radio, but don't have the cash for a big high-end rig? If so, and if you have a PC, the Ten-Tec RX-320D will offer you the best performance for your money. The RX-320D is a wiz of a radio, and offers a performance that rivals table-top receivers that cost hundreds of dollars more. What's the secret? The RX-320D is PC-controlled--thus, it cleverly and efficiently uses a bit of your computer's horsepower to run the receiver. This does mean that this "little black box" of a radio needs to be connected to your computer to operate--but if you are someone who spends a great deal of time in front of your computer anyway, you will love its small footprint, instant access, and exceptional versatility. To give you an idea of what I mean, it can run in the background while you're surfing the net, yet requires very little of your PC's resources. The RX-320D comes with 34 filters, covers from 100kHz-30MHz, uninterrupted, has an almost unlimited number of frequency memories, and is one of the few radios on the market that is DRM (Digital Radio Mondial) ready (this means you only need a program like
DREAM to decode).
  • Full general coverage
  • Modes: AM (for broadcast listening), Single-Sideband (selectable USB, LSB and CW for morse code)
  • 34 IF-DSP bandwidth filters built in
  • External antenna jack and indoor telescoping whip
  • Digital Radio Mondial-ready
  • Software requirements: Windows 3.1, Windows 95/98, Windows XP
  • ~$200 Used (Hard to find because so popular)


See ... Shortwave Radio Product Reviews, from C|Net ... http://www.cnet.com/topic-reviews/internet-radio.html


A Vintage SWL Radio ...  Zenith Transoceanic ... circa 1952


The popular classic Drake SPR-4, as recommended by CWTD podcast listener Villi TF3VS ...


There's a long list of "every shortwave radio currently in production" at this site ... http://swling.com/db/ ...

                            (Sample of the links for the radios ... See the website http://swling.com/db/ for more)

Internet Shortwave Radios ... A short sampling

CC WiFi Internet Radio w/ Clock, Alarm & 99 Memory Presets

About $99 from CC Crane

Most people get a wifi radio so they can listen to their favorite stations with perfect clarity. With the CC WiFi Radio the stations are always clear, no matter how far away they are and you can also be able to pick up stations on the CC WiFi that are difficult to get on a computer. Sometimes you have to register with a station to get their audio stream but the CC Wifi can get your station direct without you having to give out personal information to get it. Whatever your interests are, you can find 10 or maybe 100 times more news and music with the CC WiFi than any other type of radio. For example you have about 500 stations each of Jazz or Classical to choose from. With the radio you can access these stations from any place in the world where high speed internet is available. The CC WiFi has good audio for its size and it can be connected to your stereo system directly for superb audio.



  About $199 from Logiteck

Plays Internet radio and digital music files
Tune in to thousands of Internet radio stations from all over the world, discover new music from services like Rhapsody, Slacker, and Pandora, or listen to your personal digital music collection - all without wires.
  • Connects with Facebook
    Share your music recommendations and see your friends' recommendations right on your Squeezebox Radio.
  • Plays virtually any digital music file
    Listen to the content you love in just about any format including MP3, FLAC, WMA, WMA Lossless, AAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, and AIFF.
  • Big sound
    Get room-filling sound with very low distortion thanks to a multi-driver design and support for high-resolution encoding.
  • Start listening within minutes
    It's easy to get connected, browse Internet radio stations, and sign up for online music services.
  • Support for Wi-Fi and Ethernet networks
    Seamlessly integrate Logitech Squeezebox Radio with your existing home network.
  • Auxiliary input
    You can connect iPod and other portable music players that have a 3.5 mm stereo jack.
  • Color screen
    Album art, track and station information, visualizes, and screen savers look great.
  • Automatic brightness adjustment and alarm
    Logitech Squeezebox Radio is an ideal bedside companion.


Antennas for SWL'ing

WOW!  You want Shortwave Antenna design examples?  Take a look at these! ... http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Antennas/Shortwave/


And here are some oldies, some simple ones, and our favorites ...


A Long Wire ... http://www.hamuniverse.com/shortwaveantenna.html 

The simplest multiband shortwave antenna for shortwave listening is probably the longwire for most newcomers to building antennas. It is literally, a random long length of wire stretched out from the shortwave receiver antenna connection and attached with some form of an insulator on the opposite end.
No bells or whistles and usually very easy to do.
Your shortwave radio probably has either a short telescoping (pull-up) antenna and or a connection point for an external antenna usually on the rear.
A very simple method of drastically increasing the signal strength to your shortwave radio is to simply add about 50 to 70 feet or more of insulated wire of small diameter, (size not critical, it must support it's own weight), attached to either the telescoping antenna with an alligator clip or a suitable connector to the rear external antenna connection and stringing it out across or from the house to the appropriate support as high as possible on each end with some form of insulator along the entire length, (a non-metal device that will not pass electricity). In other words, don't run it along a water pipe, conduit, metal house siding, rain gutters, etc. It can be tacked along the ceiling or snaked up into the attic or around the roof. Just don't run it close to metal. Use your imagination. Make sure that you have removed the insulation when adding the connector or alligator clip.


A multiband LongWire Antenna ... N4UJW ... http://www.hamuniverse.com/shortwaveantenna.html

This antenna is end supported and designed to receive the major shortwave bands between 90 meters and 16 meters. It uses only 4 wires and a unique antenna property called harmonics to get 8 bands using only 4 wires! Again, it is a compromise but an excellent performer....the perfect antenna does not exist. We "Hams" are working on it constantly!

After construction, this shortwave antenna should be stretched out in a straight line as high as possible as in the long wire antenna above, and about 140 feet straight out from the house! Don't fret! If you cant', you can't. Utilize your existing space. More supports may be required for a zig zag layout but performance may suffer a bit. Don't worry, it will certainly outperform that built in poor excuse for an antenna!

It consists of 4 separated insulated wires, (measurements below), all connected (soldered) on one end, leaving the opposite end unconnected and insulated at the support. If you do not know how to solder, then scrap all the coating from the wire down to bare copper and tie the ends together using several knots. You really should learn to solder though!. This will make for a more permanent and much better electrical connection.
The soldered end must be between an insulator and the radio for mechanical strength.
You don't want much stress on the soldered connection other than the coax leading to the radio. The end that has all wires connected should be soldered to the center wire of a suitable length of 50 - 75 ohm coaxial cable leading to the short wave radio with a suitable connection. A ground wire is soldered to the shield only of the coax at the same end that you soldered all the wires together and attached to a ground rod driven into the ground near the house. Seal and tape all outdoor connections from the weather. This antenna is called an end fed half wave antenna.
See picture, formula and wire measurements for bands below:
(The lengths are not extremely critical, but try to get them as close as possible.)

Wire 1 (LONGEST WIRE) 3.25 MHz (90 meter band) 09.75 MHz (31 meter band 3rd harmonic)
468 divided by 3.25 = 144' 0"

Wire 2 3.95 MHz (75 meter band) 11.85 MHz (25 meter band 3rd harmonic)
468 divided byi 3.95 = 118' 6"

Wire 3 5.10 MHz (60 meter band) 15.30 MHz (19 meter band 3rd harmonic)
468 divided by 5.10 = 91' 9"

Wire 4 (SHORTEST WIRE) 5.90 MHz (49 meter band) 17.70 MHz (16 meter band 3rd harmonic)
468 divided by 5.90 = 79' 3"

Attic Antennas

In-Room Antennas

Random-Length Antennas

Pixel Technologies:  Active Antenna for 100 kHz-30 MHz ... RF Pro-1B ... http://www.pixelsatradio.com/product/shortwave-magnetic-loop-antenna/

  • Very low IMD, 30 dB Low-Noise Preamp insures good performance in both strong and weak signal environments
  • Up to 30 dB rejection of locally radiated noise compared to whip antennas
  • Figure eight directivity and deep nulls to further reduce interference
  • Primary coverage range: 100 kHz to 30 MHz
  • Rejects power line noise
  • Rugged construction, easily mounts to a pole or flat vertical surface, 1m dia. aluminum loop, supplied with LNA, power inserter and DC power supply
  • No manual tuning necessary
  • No Home Owners Association problems; low profile, easy to camouflage and works at ground level
  • Modular design for easy installation and maintenance
  • Adjustable output level to optimize output for your radio
  • Internal Transmit / Receive Switch disconnects Antenna / Preamp from your receiver when transmitting
  • Made in the USA
  • Download Frequently Asked Questions
  • About $400 from Pixel Technologies


Homebrew Your Own! ... The K1RST Magnetic Loop Antenna ... http://www.kr1st.com/magloop.htm

From K1RST ...

I built this antenna when I lived in an apartment complex which does not allow antennas and where I had no real estate to play with.

Recently I also built a receive only magnetic loop, just for shortwave listening. This loop covers a frequency range of about 5 MHz to 22 MHz and is built from readily available parts. You can find my How-To article on this loop on My Magnetic Loop For Shorwave Listening (SWL) page. A sound sample is included showing the dramatic difference between the magnetic loop and the built in whip on a portable shortwave receiver.

The magnetic loop is small, reasonably efficient even close to the ground, has a low take off angle and it has a deep null on each side which lets you null out interference. The antenna also displays directivity characteristics similar to that of a dipole when mounted vertically. The only disadvantage I've experienced so far is that you have to retune quite often because of it's narrow bandwidth, especially on the lower bands. On the other hand it also means that the antenna acts somewhat as a pre selector which might just prevent your receiver front end from overloading because of strong (broadcast) stations.

I built mine from 10 feet (3 meters) of 1/2 inch (12.5mm) coiled copper pipe that I purchased at a local hardware store. The support structure is made of 3/4 inch schedule 40 PVC pipe. The base is made from a new (hey, they're only $10 these days) torchiere light. When you get one make sure the 3/4 inch support pipe and a 1/2 inch threaded PVC cap will fit inside tube of the torchiere. The reason for this is that a PVC cap makes an excellent bearing. Simply drop the cap in the tube before you put the antenna with the 3/4 inch PVS support pipe in the base. You'll see that the antenna rotates very smoothly this way.

And his fully-detailed, step-by-step plans ... http://www.kr1st.com/swlloop.htm



Shortwave Radio Frequencies and Stations

Shortwave Listening Tips:

Courtesy of the CC Crane website ... http://www.ccrane.com/shortwave-frequency-list.aspx

Country: Frequencies:
ALASKA 6150, 6950, 7355, 9920
ALBANIA 6115, 7425, 7450, 7465
ARGENTINA 9690, 11710, 15345
AUSTRALIA 2310, 2325, 2485, 4835, 4910, 5025, 5995, 6020, 6080, 7240, 9475, 9560, 9580, 9590, 9660, 9710, 11650, 11880, 12080, 13630, 13670, 15160, 15230, 15240, 15515, 17715, 17750, 17775, 17785, 17795, 21725
AUSTRIA 5945, 6155, 7325, 9870, 13675, 13730
BELARUS 7360, 7390, 7420
BULGARIA 7400, 9400, 9500, 9700, 11700, 11900, 15700
CANADA RCI 9610, 9755, 9770, 13650, 15365, 17740
CANADA CBC 6160, 9625
CHINA 5960, 5990, 6005, 6020, 6040, 6080, 6115, 6190, 7285, 9570, 9580, 9690, 9730, 9785, 9790, 9870, 11885, 11900, 11970, 13675, 13740, 15230, 15240
CROATIA 7285, 9470, 11690
CUBA 6000, 6060, 6180, 6300, 9505, 9550, 11760
CZECH REP 5930, 6200, 7345, 7385, 9400, 9430, 9435, 9890, 9955, 11600, 13580, 15710
ECUADOR 6050, 7385, 9745, 11700
EGYPT 4680, 7270, 9990, 11885, 15375, 17835
ETHIOPIA 7165, 9560v
FRANCE 5920, 7315, 9720, 9765, 9805, 9865, 11615, 11725, 13680, 11995, 15160, 15275, 15605, 21620
GERMANY 5905, 6140, 6180, 7225, 7240, 7280, 7285, 9565, 9735, 9755, 11690, 12045, 15275
GHANA 4915
GREECE 7475, 9420, 9935, 12105, 15630, 17525
GUYANA 3291, 5950
HUNGARY 5980, 6025, 6035, 9525
INDIA 7410, 9425, 9445, 9690, 9705, 9910, 9950, 11620, 11645, 11715, 11935, 13605, 13710, 15020, 15075, 15155, 15235, 17510, 17670, 17800, 17895
INDONESIA 9525v, 11785, 15150v
IRAN 6010, 6120, 6250, 7160, 7320, 7330, 9855, 11695, 15460, 17660
ISRAEL 6280, 6985, 7545, 9345, 15640, 15760, 17535, 17600
ITALY 5965, 6010, 6035, 6090, 6120, 7170, 9760, 11800
JAPAN 5975, 6110, 6120, 6145, 7230, 9505, 9535, 9875, 11690, 11695, 11715, 11730, 11740, 11935, 11970, 13650, 15195, 15355, 17685, 17810, 17825, 17845, 17870, 21610, 21670
JORDAN 11690
KOREA, N 3560, 4405, 6185, 6285, 7570, 9325, 9335, 9345, 9730, 9850, 9975, 9990, 11535, 11545, 11710, 11735, 12015, 13650, 13760, 15100, 15180
KOREA, S 7275, 9560, 9570, 9640, 9650, 9770, 15575
LAOS 7145
LIBERIA 4760, 5470, 9525
LIBYA 7320, 17725, 21695
LITHUANIA 7325, 9710, 9875
MALAYSIA 7295, 9750, 15295
NEPAL 5005
NETHERLANDS 6020, 6040, 6165, 7120, 9345, 9795, 9895, 11655, 11675, 12065, 12080, 15315, 15525, 15595, 17725, 17810
NEW ZEALAND 3935, 5950, 9765, 9870, 11725, 13840, 15720, 17675
NIGERIA 7255, 7275, 7380, 15120
OMAN 15140
PAKISTAN 6215, 7530, 11570, 15100, 17835
PAPUA NEW GUINEA 3385, 4960, 7120
PHILIPPINES 11720, 11885, 15190, 15270, 17665, 17720
POLAND 7130, 9525
ROMANIA 6055, 6115, 6150, 7105, 7145, 7180, 9515, 9610, 9640, 9690, 9755, 11895, 15105, 15135, 17745
RUSSIA 6240, 7150, 7250, 7350, 9840, 12010, 12030, 13665, 15425
SINGAPORE 6080, 6150
SLOVAKIA 7230, 9440
SOLOMON IS. 5020v, 9545
S AFRICA 3345, 7240, 7390, 9685, 15235, 15255, 17770
SPAIN 6055, 6125, 9680, 11625, 11680
SRI LANKA 6005, 9770, 11905, 15745v
SUDAN 4750, 7280, 9525, 9660, 9840, 13720
SWEDEN 6010, 7420, 11550, 15240
SYRIA 9330, 12085, 13610
TAIWAN 5950, 7130, 7445, 9355, 9680, 9785, 11550, 11850, 1995, 15215, 15465
THAILAND 5890, 9535, 9680, 9725, 9805, 9810, 13770
TIBET 4820, 4905, 5935, 6050, 7170, 7240, 9490
TURKEY 5960, 6020, 6055, 7240, 9525, 11735, 12035
UGANDA 4976, 5026
UKRAINE 5820, 5830, 9925
U K 5875, 5975, 6005, 6040, 6130, 6195, 7130, 7160, 7320, 9410, 9480, 9660, 9740, 9750, 11675, 11750, 11765, 11920, 12095, 15105, 15285, 15360, 15400, 15575, 17640, 17830, 17885, 21470
UNITED NATIONS 9565, 17810
USA AFRTS 4319-USB, 5446.5-USB, 5765-USB, 6350-USB, 7811.5-USB, 10320-USB, 12133.5-USB, 12759-USB, 13362-USB
USA VOA 4930, 4960, 5960, 6080, 6105, 6110, 7125, 7175, 7205, 7405, 9645, 9760, 9785, 9885, 11655, 11885, 11890, 11975, 12015, 12150, 13600, 13640, 13710, 13735, 13755, 15150, 15185, 15205, 15290, 15445, 15580, 17640, 17715, 17730, 17895
USA KAIJ 5755, 9480
USA WBCQ 5110-LSB, 7415, 9330-LSB, 18910-LSB
USA WEWN 5810, 5850, 7560, 7570, 9450, 9955, 9975, 15785, 17595
USA WRMI 7385, 9955
USA WWCR 3215, 5070, 7465, 9985, 12160, 15825
VANUATU 3945v, 7260v
VATICAN 4005, 5885, 6185, 7250, 7305, 7360, 7365, 9310, 9610, 9635, 9645, 9660, 9755, 11625, 11740, 11850, 13765, 15595
VIETNAM 6175, 7285, 9840, 12020
YEMEN 9780v
ZAMBIA 4910, 5915, 6165


The "Sport" in SWL Radiosport

So after you've got a nifty SWL radio, and a broadband longwire antenna (or whatever) up in the backyard, and you've tuned around and heard some of cool places in the world that perhaps you've never heard of before ... what ELSE can you do?


Finding Stations on the Air ... http://shortwaveschedule.com/

Pirate Radio Stations

Thanks to US shutdown, pirate radio activity reaches an all-time high ... http://swling.com/blog/2013/10/thanks-to-us-shutdown-pirate-radio-activity-reaches-an-all-time-high/

As frustrated as many are over the US government shutdown, it nonetheless offers one unique benefit to the shortwave radio community, and to pirate radio in particular––no FCC enforcement.

As we mentioned earlier, the FCC’s enforcement arm was shut down along with all other FCC activities that weren’t directly connected with “the protection of life or property.”

The result? Pirates––lots of pirates––on the air! The Jolly Roger flaps in the breeze…

Pirate radio activity since the shutdown has truly been at a record high, with pirates taking to the airwaves throughout the week, and especially on the weekends.

Case in point: this past weekend, the North American “pirate radio grounds” of 6,920-6,970 kHz were packed with pirate radio stations. There were even crowded band conditions; at one point I tweeted that there were no less than three pirates broadcasting simultaneously in just a small chunk of bandwidth on AM. Indeed, there may even have been a fourth that I couldn’t quite detect…An unusual occurrence, to say the least. And with pirate radio’s favorite holiday, Halloween (think War of the Worlds), fast approaching, there’s likely to be more such unusual activity.

WebSDR ... Shortwave Listening via SDR connected to the Internet

You don't even need a radio to listen to Shortwave broadcasts these days!  A WebSDR is a Software-Defined Radio receiver connected to the Internet, allowing many listeners to listen and tune it simultaneously. SDR technology makes it possible that all listeners tune independently, and thus listen to different signals; this is in contrast to the many classical receivers that are already available via the internet.

More background information is available here. Questions and comments can be sent to PA3FWM, the author of the WebSDR software and maintainer of this site; but please check the frequently asked questions first.

==> Visit http://websdr.org/ to see more than 70 different WebSDRs that you can dial into for listening to the spectrum! 

Here's one maintained by the University of Twenke in The Netherlands ...

Shortwave Listening Resources


  • Broadcast listings
    • ShortwaveSchedule.com- My favorite online source of shortwave broadcasts. Clean, easy interface to find listings by the hour.
    • Prime Time Shortwave - This site has an extensive listing of English shortwave broadcasts in easy-to-print text listings.
    • Eike Bierwirth - This website is useful because it contains full, comprehensive, SW broadcast listings in downloadable formats. When I go to this site, I either download the schedules as a PDF of Word document. The site design is a bit distracting and you may find that the text listings come out garbled. This site is mostly in German, but is quite easy to find frequency guides.
    • DXing.com - This page (sponsored by Universal Radio) has the most comprehensive listing of shortwave bands. Frequency ranges are given for each band increment. They also list what content you can expect to find and best times to listen.
    • Monitoring Times Hot 1000 HF Frequencies- This list, maintained by Larry Van Horn (N5FPW) of The Monitoring Times, is my favorite frequency guide for military, aviation, government and other utility stations on the SW bands. Note that you will need a radio with Single Sideband capabilities as almost all of these stations broadcast in SSB.
  • DXing
    • The DX Zone - This is a very comprehensive site with thousands of links. This link, though, takes you directly to their shorwave section.
    • Glenn Hauser's World Of Radio - World of Radio shows are informative and highlight all of the current activity and news reported on the SW bands. Any DXer worth their salt tunes in every week to hear his shows. For those of you who don't have a radio yet, World of Radio is also available in mp3 form to download and listen to at your leisure. Also, full text versions of his shows are available here.
  • Only On Shortwave
    • Spy Numbers Stations
      • What are Spy Number Stations? - Wikipedia has a nice, concise overview of Spy Numbers Stations. Read this to better understand the history of Spy Numbers.
      • Black Cat Systems' Spy Numbers Portal- This website is the best resource for Spy Numbers on the Internet. They have links to forums where users post real-time locations of Spy Number Stations.
      • Spy Numbers in the Media - There have been several articles written in the past few years that have brought Spy Numbers to the popular press. Follow these links to articles in Esquire, Salon.com and Wired.
    • American Forces Radio Network - The AFRN broadcasts news, information and entertainment programming to military and government workers across the globe. Though much of their TV and Radio programming has gone to satellite, the AFRN still broadcasts on shortwave. Their programming, though US-centric, has quite a bit of variety including networks like ABC, CNN, AP and even NPR. Check out their schedule, then find the best frequency for your location and time of day. You'll need to use the single side-band function on your radio in order to hear AFRN broadcasts. Don't be discouraged if you have trouble hearing the AFRN on your portable radio--try listening at different times on different frequencies. Keep in mind that the AFRN's broadcasts are targeted for professional, military-grade shortwave receivers.
  • Shortwave History
    • Wikipedia- This is the Wikipedia entry for shortwave radio. It briefly touches on many aspects of shortwave listening.
    • On The Shortwaves - This is my favorite SW nostalgia site. It is loaded with interesting articles and links. Nice site design, too!
  • Shortwave News
    • Glenn Hauser's World Of Radio - World of Radio shows are informative and highlight all of the current activity and news reported on the SW bands. If you listen to his show and seek some of the interesting stations and broadcasts he mentions, you will become addicted to SWLing, I promise you that. This show keeps its finger on the pulse of shortwave radio better than any other. The WOR broadcast schedule highlights where and when you can find shows with your radio. For those of you who don't have a radio yet, World of Radio is also available in mp3 form to download and listen to at your leisure. Also, full text versions of his shows are available here.
  • Shortwave & Other Radio Websites
    • Ears To Our World - a shortwave radio distribution project for classrooms in the developing world.
    • Radio Intelligencer - this site has tips, excellent reviews and a comprehensive list of links.
    • RadioReference.com - is a wiki-based site with lots of radio information and links. They also cater to scanner enthusiasts with comprehensive frequency listings based on geographic region. They have a subscription based service, though much of their info is free.
    • Hong Kong Radioer - this site is maintained by a radio enthusiast in Hong Kong. He has a lot of reviews (though some may need translation--he provides a link) and includes many cool obscure rigs.
    • Phil's old Radios - an excellent resource for anyone wishing to purchase an antique radio or simply learn more about one they currently own. Phil's Radio Beginner articles are simply the best vintage radio resources on the internet.


  • ANARC- The Association of North American Radio Clubs (ANARC), hosts radio pages for radio hobbyists around the world. This is the place to go to find various radio clubs in North America. All of these clubs publish informative newsletters at least quarterly. The following are some ANARC member clubs:
    • NASWA - The North American Shortwave Association has been active in the business of sharing information about shortwave radio since 1961. They focus on domestic and international broadcasts on shortwave frequencies between 2 and 30 MHz. Their SW Listening Guide is my favorite online. They also sponsor the popular yearly Winter SWL Fest, where monitoring hobbyists of all stripes, from DC to daylight, gather for a weekend of cameraderie and talk about radio. Their club motto is“Unity and Friendship.” Can't beat that!
    • LWCA - Want to check out frequencies a little lower down? The Longwave Club of America was organized in January, 1974 to promote monitoring and experimentation on frequencies below the AM broadcast band.
    • ACE - The Association of Clandestine Radio Enthusiasts (The A*C*E) is an association of individuals who find pirate, clandestine, covert, and micro'casting communications. The primary existence of the Club revolves around the publication of a monthly newsletter called The monthly A*C*E. The newsletter reports on the activities of pirate, clandestine, covert, micro'casting, and other unexplained broadcasts. Readers are also provided with other available materials concerning motives, explanations, and theories behind these various broadcasts and broadcasters. With a good shortwave radio, you can hear many of these broadcasts.


  • Monitoring Times - A full-spectrum monthly magazine for the radio listener, Monitoring Times covers scanning, shortwave and other radio topics from below 500 kHz to 900 MHz and above. Presented in an easy-to-understand style by experienced writing staff, MT will help you get the most out of your time and your equipment with practical listening tips and frequencies. Their staff is friendly and helpful. I once dropped in for an unannounced visit in their Brasstown, NC headquarters. They were all very hospitable and treated me as if they had been expecting me. What I like most about the MT is its "grassroots" feel--information based on experience.
  • Popular Communications - "Pop Comm" is also a great magazine to enhance SWLing. Like the Monitoring Times, they have radio reviews, frequency guides, articles, and devote a great portion of their content to the shortwaves. Since their parent company also publishes CQ Magazine, Pop Comm covers ham radio topics as well.


Shortwave Antenna Design References & Projects ... from DXZONE ... http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Antennas/Shortwave/

Most Popular
  • Longwire Antenna Instructions- Instructions for Putting up a Long-Wire Antenna
  • AM Antennas- The ultimate AM loop antenna article. It is the only article that includes the calculations and detailed plans
  • Longwire antenna basics- basic notes on building longwire antennas for medium waves
  • Grounding is key to good reception- Guidelines to groundings.
  • Magnetic Loop antenna- Why is an Magnetic Loop antenna so special, this antenna is picking only the magnetic part of the elektro magnetic radio wave. The big advantage of this antenna is that the electric interference from the big city have no influence on the received signal
  • A Small Wire Loop Antennas for 160 meters- Low noise, receive only coax loop antennas for 160 - 10 meters HF bands
  • Roofspace Antennas- How to build a roofspace antennas and get them to work. Explains how to build an effective antenna in your roof. Very interesting if you don't have possibilities to setup an antenna in your roof.
  • SWL home made antennas- Short guide to home made antennas for shortwave reception, in pdf format
  • Balun for HF wire antennas- Schema of a self made balun used to match randmon wire antennas, mainly for shortwave listening pourposes, in italian
  • Choosing wire for an antenna- One of the most asked questions when it comes to antennas is what kind of wire should I use
  • Inverted L antenna- The ever-popular inverted L antnna, a fast to implement and setup shortwave antenna project by Arnie Coro C02KK
  • The Carpet loop indoor antenna- High performance indoor shortwave antenna, the Carpet Loop II is an ideal step upward for the listener who wants something better than a random wire but doesn't want the expensive dice roll of an active antenna.
  • Beverage Antenna Information- The Beverage antenna was invented in the early 1920s by Dr. Harold H. Beverage