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Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:40 am
by allfalldown
Just wondering if there are any others that are purely shortwave radios listeners about? I've been an SWL since about 1992 and my usual rig is a Grundig Satellit 800. She's a beauty but the new SDR radios and software will destroy it on sensitivity, rejection and options with the same antennas I use!

I have a Wellbrook ALA1530LP made in the UK. I also have homebuilt long wire/random wires with 9:1 baluns to match.

I live in the Seattle area and would not mind getting together with other likeminded radio nuts to scan the bands. I like listening to pirates and DX mainly.

Pacific Northwest, USA

Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:40 am
by g1hbe
Hi Adam. I've been trawling the bands since I was about eleven years old in 1964. In all those years the hobby never really changed, despite better radio design, the arrival of noise all over the bands and the slow demise of international SW broadcasting. Still we kept listening.
But now SDR has come along and suddenly we can 'see' what's happening just up & down the bands. For me it has put new life into the hobby, and I find I spend lots more time in my shack.
I got my Ham Radio licence in 1984 BTW.
Merry Christmas.


Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:34 pm
by dsalomon
Adam -

Welcome to the group. I've been a radio scanner and HF enthusiast since high school (1973-1977), where I belonged to the high school run radio station, WMTH (a whopping 10 watts :-).

My primary interest is digital. I love to search for and if possible, identify and decode digital signals. Despite the constant technology improvements, there are still many digital signals to find on the bands, interleaved with everything else on HF. You'd be amazed at how much various military organizations still use HF for. While satellites and other encrypted terrestrial communications are widely used, the HF band and encrypted data via radio on HF is used because the receiving end communications target requires lightweight equipment, i.e. an SDR radio and laptop, tablet or phone. When it comes to communication in the field, it's hard to beat HF radio for easy reception, quick equipment setup and portability.

There's plenty to listen to above HF as well, but it's more for short distance communication. These newer SDRs, like the RSP, provide the ability to listen up there as well. I have several SDRs that cover HF up through the low GHz range (e.g. Ettus B200: 70MHz - 6GHz, Lime SDR (to be shipped soon): 100KHz - 3.8GHz, Airspy V2: 24MHz - 1.8GHz, and finally the RSP V2). I also have a few HF/VHF SDRs (e.g. WinRadio G33DDC, RFSpace NetSDR, Afedri 822x dual-channel).

I knew SDR technology was going to change the radio world, even when it was simply only 24-bit wide IQ data using a crappy sound card for decoding. I exchange / upgrade my SDR collection as new radios become available. There are few SDRs that I haven't tried or owned over the recent years.

Your QTH is EXCELLENT for pirate and DX work. I'm envious of your general radio location. I live just outside Atlanta, in a very small town about 30 miles southwest of Hartsfield airport, Senoia, GA. It's not the ideal location for radio monitoring, but there are still lots of signals to hear.

BTW, your receiving setup is FANTASTIC! The Wellbrook antenna can't be beat for noise reduction compared to most other antennas. I had something similar for many years, the Pixel Technologies PRO-1B loop antenna. It's performance is similar to the Wellbrook. While your longwire with 9:1 balun might pick up more signal than the Wellbrook, it will also pick up considerably more noise. I'm guessing that you use the Wellbrook more and the longwire only for those tiny signals that just can't be dug out of the noise on the Wellbrook. Am I right?

Once again, welcome to the group!

Best regards and 73 -

David, AG4F

Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 4:52 pm
by NoelC
I've been an SWL since the 1960s. My first rig was a Heathkit receiver I had built. There were few signals about and electronic interference was minimal. Up to the point where I got the SDRPlay RSP1 I had a Radio Shack DX-390, but it was plagued by having to turn down the RF Gain to be able to reject other signals enough to hear the tuned station.

I'm REALLY glad for all the control the SDRuno and RSP1 give me, and for the sensitivity... I'm quite happy again to be able to tune stations at will, and to be able to SEE the signals... Wow, what a great added dimension.


Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:55 am
by corq
Same, I use it mostly for audio monitoring of signals via linux and as a server for the SDRPlay as a remote via CubicSDR.

Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 3:27 am
by NoelC
dsalomon wrote:My primary interest is digital. I love to search for and if possible, identify and decode digital signals.
That's something that interests me as well, dsalomon, but I have to say, just getting started with it is daunting!

Just the other night I managed to - finally - get a program, fldigi, to decode some CW communications. But I have yet to be able to identify any RTTY-like or other digital signals well enough to be able to punch up the right modes in order to be able to even hope to decode what's being transferred.

How the heck do you even get started?

Being a software engineer I already have fantasies about writing an end-all digital decoding program that would just try decoding signals using every known method and then presenting all (or a culled set) of the results to the user. Computers are certainly powerful enough to do that kind of parallel analysis.


Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 3:50 am
by SWL
Hi Adam,

I've recently been drawn back in to SWL with my RSP1 which is just great. I was an avid BCB listener back in the mid 70's with my Panasonic RF-2900 and long wire.

Great memories of tuning around the various SW bands and catching the local news or topics of interest. It is a hobby that you never outgrow.

Cheers. :D

Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:46 pm
by dsalomon
Noel -

Yes, getting started is daunting. Here are a few links to resources that can help you get started: ... CTE_en.htm

There's no easy way to get started other than to start monitoring and learn what the various modes look and sound like. A few of the references above have examples that show what various modes look like on a waterfall, as well as sound samples.

Re: writing a "do-it-all" decoder - that's a HUGE (i.e. impossible) task. There are numerous software programs available, mostly aimed at government users, that have digital analysis and decoding for many modes. Here are a few:


These three decoders are VERY expensive and are aimed at government/military users.

There are also several programs that support many modes aimed at amateur and scanning users:


These two cover most of the modes you will hear that are non-military.

Good luck and 73 - David, AG4F

Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:13 pm
by SanJacinto
dsalomon wrote:Noel -

Yes, getting started is daunting. Here are a few links to resources that can help you get started:
Good luck and 73 - David, AG4F
^^^^ Excellent information and links. Posts like these are what is bringing me back to the SWL hobby and community. I've been "out in the woods" for many years until I accidently discovered affordable SDR solutions like the RSP. I was very active in the radio hobby as a teenager.

Started in 1978 when I was 12 with a RS DX-160 bought with many weekends of lawn mowing savings, moved to collecting a Panasonic RF 2600 and then RF-4900 and a GE Superadio II, which is still in working condition. The Panasonics and a fair amount of other gear from those days met an untimely end in 1986 with a direct lightning strike to my shack. After that, marriage, children and work curtailed my hobby activities.

Fast forward 31 years, kids are long out of the nest and I've got more free time A few years ago I moved out on to 25 acres (10HA) of very rural property in deep East Texas, 80 miles (130KM) from the nearest BCB AM/FM or TV transmitters. It's a spurious RF "dead zone". No neighbors and horizon to horizon views N, W and E. Perfect for the SWL and radio hobby.

Been spending hours reading the forum, watching videos and exploring the links everyone posts. Really looking forward getting back into the hobby.


Re: Shortwave Radio (aka HF 2000-30,000kHz)

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:05 pm
by robertkoa
Right now I am "purely " into Shortwave but only because of limitations.

I have recently purchased an Eton E1 similar to your Satellite 800 in some ways...designed by Drake etc. and a good Shortwave Receiver.

I am intrigued by your comment that SDR Receivers far outperform your Sat 800...and I am interested in more Bands outside of Shortwave and definitely more Sensitivity.

I should be hearing a lot more Aircraft and Marine SSB Signals and even Amateurs ( HAMs ) where I am located - though I can get lots of HAMs ...there should be hundreds..right ?
So I may try SDR first for Android my Phone has hi end Audio and Converters...if I really like it...may use a Computer ( I use my Android like a Computer now - not thrilled about using a