Saturday, 31 October 2009

Guide to Shortwave Radios

People all over the world use shortwave radios to communicate news and opinions. This fun, informative and growing hobby is a great way to talk with people all over the globe that share interests. Plus, using a shortwave radio is as easy as turning a dial and tuning in. Below you will helpful information for selecting a shortwave radio and accessories to enhance your listening experience.
What is shortwave radio?
A shortwave radio is a radio receiver that can receive the frequencies between 3 and 30 MHz. These frequencies are used for long-distance, worldwide radio broadcasts because the short wavelength enables the signal to propagate for long distances. Shortwave works well for this purpose because of two characteristics: Shortwave frequencies tend to follow the curvature of the earth, which allows them to bend around the horizon rather than going off into space. Shortwave frequencies can be bounced off of the ionosphere, which also allows the signal to be sent past the horizon.
Longwave frequencies tend to travel in a straight line and are more likely to keep going though the ionosphere than they are to bounce off and return to earth. Two communications types that use shortwave because of the distances allowed are international broadcasting and coordination of long-distance shipping.
Why would I want or need a shortwave radio?
The primary reasons people own and use shortwave radios are personal enjoyment and keeping up with local emergency channels. From a social point of view, shortwave radio is a method of enabling worldwide transmission of information and opinion, and a way to find out information and opinions from around the world. Many countries broadcast to the world in English, making it easy to find out what a given country's position is on those things that it finds important. Shortwave radio can also provide a way to eavesdrop on the everyday workings of international politics and commerce. You can hear news and other programs from a wide range of sources, and you can get emergency information by listening to amateur radio broadcasts including Single Side Band (SSB) transmissions. You also have Longwave (LW) band for Ship-to-Shore calls, FM and Medium Wave (MW) or AM.
How do I use a shortwave radio?
Shortwave listening is a hobby with thousands of participants worldwide, and all you need to know to begin is how to tune a radio. There are no special knowledge or skill requirements; however, as you gain experience and develop special listening techniques, your listening enjoyment increases accordingly. These skills include keeping up on local and non-local issues which affect broadcasting, knowing how to troubleshoot your radio and antenna installation and maintenance. The basic equipment you would need is a radio and a list of frequencies. In most cases, you can receive many stations using the antenna that comes with the radio; however, to receive more distant stations, you can use an external long-wire antenna.
You can hear a difference.
Shortwave radios can be distinguished from and compared to each other based on six primary characteristics:
• Number of Bands and Modes
• Tuning
• Audio Type
Power Options
• Antenna Type
• Physical Characteristics
Number of bands and modes
The greater the frequency range, the more stations the radio can potentially receive. Generally, shortwave radios can receive both shortwave radio frequencies and standard broadcast radio frequencies. The common frequency bands received by shortwave radios are given below.
• Shortwave Radio: 120, 90, 75, 60, 49, 41, 31, 25, 22, 19, 16, 15, 13, and 11 Meters
• Standard Broadcast Radio: AM, FM, FM Stereo
Some shortwave radios also offer SSB (Single SideBand) monitoring.
Tuning and display
The type of tuning affects how well the radio can access the signal, while the type of display determines how precisely the radio can be tuned.
Analog tuning is less expensive, and will generally include a fine-tuning knob to allow for more accurate tuning.An analog display is less accurate and harder to tune to a specific frequency.
Digital tuning is more accurate and allows you to enter the frequency you want to monitor. A digital display indicates exactly which frequency you have tuned.
Audio type
The audio type indicates whether the radio has only a built-in speaker or a mono earphone jack. With an earphone jack, the radio can be connected to an earphone, headphones, external speaker or interface with an existing audio system.
• Built-in Speaker Size
• Earphone Jack (Mono Audio Out)
Power options
The power options cover how the radio can be powered. Basic shortwave radios may only offer replaceable batteries as an option; desktop or home units generally also offer at least a DC power jack to allow it to be powered from an adapter.
"Emergency" radios may offer a built-in generator, which allows you to power the radio via a hand crank.
• Replaceable Batteries
• Rechargeable Battery Pack
• DC Power Jack
Built-in Power Generator
Antenna type
There are three antenna options available for shortwave radios. Shortwave radios will have at least a telescoping rod antenna, and many will also have a built-in antenna. Some radios offer an external antenna jack or connection point, which allows connection to a secondary antenna for greater reception.
• Telescoping Rod Antenna
• Built-in Antenna
• External Antenna
Physical characteristics
This final category covers the mechanical aspects of the radio (size and weight) as well as any other physical features, such as waterproof or water-resistant, or a backlit display.
• Dimensions
• Weight
• Waterproof
• Illuminated (Backlit)
What's your favorite band?
A radio band is a group of frequencies which are all described by a given characteristic, such as the purpose of the band (Aircraft Bands), a given wavelength (120 meter band) or a given frequency range. For example, amateur radio operators generally refer to frequencies according to their wavelength, with the 19-meter band containing the range of frequencies with waves about 19 meters long. The frequencies are measured in either kilohertz (kHz) or megahertz (MHz). You can use the following equations to convert between kHz, MHz and meters.
• To convert MHz to kHz, multiply by 1,000. For example: 9.62 MHz x 1000 = 9620 kHz
• To convert kHz to MHz, divide by 1,000. For example: 2780 kHz divided by 1000 = 2.780 MHz
• To convert MHz to meters, divide 300 by the number of MHz.
For example: 300 divided by 7.1 MHz = 42.25 meters To convert meters to MHz, divide 300 by the number of meters.
For example: 300 divided by 42.25 meters = 7.1 MHz Frequency

kHz MHz Wavelength (meters)
2300 to 2495 2.300 to 2.495 120
3200 to 3400 3.200 to 3.400 90
3900 to 4000 3.900 to 4.000 75
4750 to 5060 4.750 to 5.060 60
5730 to 6295 5.730 to 6.295 49
7100 to 7600 7.100 to 7.600 41
9400 to 9900 9.400 to 9.900 31
11,650 to 12,100 11.650 to 12.100 25
13,570 to 13,870 13.570 to 13.870 22
15,030 to 15,600 15.030 to 15.600 19
17,480 to 17,900 17.480 to 17.900 16
18,900 to 19,020 18.900 to 19.020 15
21,450 to 21,850 21.450 to 21.850 13
25,670 to 26,100 25.670 to 26.100 11

Certain bands are reserved for specific purposes; these are called the band allocations and are listed below:

Frequency bands by range

  • AM Band
  • FM Band
  • Longwave Band

Frequency bands by usage

  • Aircraft Frequencies
  • Amateur Radio Frequencies
  • International Commercial Frequencies
  • Ship and Coastal Station Frequencies
  • Time Standard Frequencies
Station List
The following list contains some of the more frequently heard stations. All stations broadcast in English unless otherwise specified. You can hear these stations throughout North America. However, reception varies based on the season, time of day, and a number of other conditions. This information is subject to change at any time without notice.

kHz Station Location Program Type

3223 Radio SR Swaziland

3265 Radio Mozambique Maputo, Mozambique

3300 Radio Cultural Guatemala City, Guatemala Religious

3380 Radio Iris Esmeraldas, Ecuador Spanish

3285 FR3 Cayenne, French Guiana French

3396 Radio Kaduna Kaduna, Nigeria

4750 Radio Bertoua Bertoua, Cameroon

4755 Imo Regional Radio Imo, Nigeria

4777 Radio/TV Gabon Libreville,Gabon French

4795 Radio Nueva America La Paz, Bolivia Spanish

4820 Radio Paz y Bien Ambala, Ecuador Spanish

4832 Radio Reloj San Jose, Costa Rica Spanish

4855 Radio Clube do Para Belem, Brazil Portuguese

4890 National Broadcasting Commission Papua, New Guinea

4915 Voice Kenya Nairobi, Kenya

4920 Australian Broadcasting Commission Brisbane, Australia

4945 Radio Colosal Neiva, Colombia Spanish

4965 Radio Santa Fe Bogota, Colombia Spanish

4980 Ecos del Torbes San Cristobal, Venezuela Spanish

5020 Solomon Island Broadcasting Service Honiara, Solomon Islands

5057 Radio Gjirokaster Gjirokaster, Albania Albanian

5950 Guyana Broadcasting Service Georgetown,Guyana

5954 RadioCasino PuertoLimon,CostaRica

5960 Radio Canada International Montreal,Canada

5980 Radio RSA Johannesburg,South Africa

6005 CFCX Montreal,Canada

6025 RadioM alaysia Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Chinese

6045 Radio Australia Lyndhurst,Australia

6055 Nihon Shortwave Broadcasting Company Tokyo, Japan Japanese

6060 Radio Nacional BuenosAires, Argentina Spanish

6075 Radio Sutatenza Bogota, Colombia Spanish

6090 Radio Luxembourg VilleLouvigny, Luxembourg

6095 Polskie Radio Warsaw, Poland

6105 Radio NewZealand Wellington, NewZealand

7140 TransWorldRadio MonteCarlo, Monaco

7170 Radio Noumea Noumea, NewCaledonia French

7300 Radio Noumea Tirana, Albania

9475 Radio Cairo Cairo, Egypt

9515 Voice of Greece Athens, Greece

9525 Radio Korea Seoul, South Korea

9530 Spanish Foreign Radio Madrid, Spain

9535 Swiss Radio International Berne, Switzerland

9540 Radio Prague Prague, Czech Republic

9570 Radio Bucharest Bucharest, Romania

9575 Italian Radio and Television Service Rome, Italy

9610 Radio TV Algeria Algiers, Algeria Arabic

9620 Radio Berlin International Berlin, Germany

9645 Radio Norway Oslo, Norway

9720 Radio Iran Tehran, Iran Farsi

9745 HCJB Quita, Ecuador

9770 Austrian Radio Vienna, Austria

9800 Radio Kiev Kiev, Ukraine

9835 Radio Budapest Budapest, Hungary

10,040 Voice of Vietnam Hanoi, Vietnam

11,655 Israel Radio Jerusalem, Israel

11,690 Radio Kuwait Kuwait City, Kuwait

11,705 Radio Sweden Stockholm, Sweden

11,720 Radio Moscow Moscow, Russia

11,725 Radio Sofia Sofia, Bulgaria

11,745 Voice of Free China Taipei, Taiwan

11,815 Radio Japan Tokyo, Japan

11,825 Radio Tahiti Papeete, Tahiti Tahitian

11,835 4VEH Cap Haitien, Haiti

11,845 Radio Canada Montreal, Canada

11,850 Deutsche Welle Cologne, Germany

11,890 Voice of Chile Santiago, Chile

11,900 Radio RSA Johannesburg, South Africa

11,910 BBC London, England

11,930 Radio Havana Cuba Havana, Cuba

11,935 Radio Portugal Lisbon, Portugal

11,945 Radio Beijing Beijing, China

11,955 Voice of Turkey Ankara, Turkey

11,980 Radio Moscow Moscow, Russia

15,038 Saudi Arabian Broadcasting Service Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Arabic

15,084 Voice of Iran Tehran, Iran Farsi

15,135 Radio Moscow Moscow, Russia

15,165 HCJB Quito, Ecuador

15,190 ORU Brussels, Belgium

15,205 All India Radio New Delhi, India

15,260 BBC London, England

15,265 Finnish Radio Helsinki, Finland

15,275 Radio Sweden Stockholm, Sweden

15,305 Swiss Radio International Berne, Switzerland

15,310 Radio Japan Tokyo, Japan

15,320 Radio Australia Melbourne, Australia

14,400 BBC London, England

15,430 Radio México Mexico City, Mexico Spanish

15,465 Radio Pakistan Islamabad, Pakistan Urdu

17,720 Radio France International Paris, France

17,825 Vatican Radio Vatican City

17,860 Austrian Radio Vienna, Austria

21,495 Israel Radio Jerusalem, Israel

21,525 Radio Australia Melbourne, Australia

21,625 Israel Radio Jerusalem, Israel

21,645 Radio France International Paris, France

21,735 Radio TV Morocco Rabat, Morocco Arabic

25,790 Radio RSA South Africa

Receive more information.

There are several websites dedicated to shortwave listening. The list below is provided as general information and is not intended to be a complete list. This information is subject to change without notice.
  • Distant Station Listening
  • DX Zone Distant Station Listening
  • NASWA North American Shortwave Association (member of ANARC, the Association of North America Radio Clubs)
  • ODXAOntario DX Association For more sites you can search the web.
  • Google - Shortwave and DX Listening Directory

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