You Need to Hear Shortwave Stations
As you read in the introduction, a
shortwave receiver is a necessity if you want to receive international
shortwave radio broadcasts. You will also need to consider the antenna
used to pick up these signals. But you may be surprised at how easy it
is to begin without a major investment to hear these interesting voices
Which Receiver to Buy?
can begin this interesting pastime with a rather inexpensive receiver
and test the waters. However, with the low priced receivers you will
mainly receive the major shortwave stations that have strong signals and
clear channels. This would include stations such as the BBC, Radio
Canada International, Voice of America (VOA), and Deutsche Welle,
Germany. You will also hear stations such as Radio Japan as they often
use the transmission facilities of other stations.
To receive some of the weaker stations
you will need a mid-priced receiver. And to go for the really rare ones
a top of the line communications receiver may be just the ticket. So
there is something for everyone's budget. Here are some examples of
radios in each category.
Yacht Boy 305
Grundig Yacht Boy 400
Sangean ATS 606
Radio Shack Realistic DX-375
Radio Shack Realistic DX-392
Yacht Boy 500
Grundig Satellit 700
Radio Shack Realistic DX-390
Japan Radio NRD-535D
Lowe HF-225 Europa
Figure 1. Selected Shortwave
We are not recommending any specific
receiver but just giving some ideas about what is available. There are
many other receivers available, especially in the compact and portable
area, so shop around before making a commitment. You might also pick up
a copy of Passport to World Band Radio, an annual publication that has
an excellent section of radio reviews. Passport is available from all
major book sellers.
What About Antennas?
Except for tabletop radios all shortwave
receivers come with a built-in whip antenna. This antenna will suffice
for listening to the major broadcasters but at some point you may want
greater capability. If you have a tabletop receiver then an external
antenna is a must.
There are basically two types of external
antennas. One is the outdoor wire antenna and the other is an active
antenna which is an amplified whip antenna. Either type can provide all
the signal you may need but the active antenna is especially useful for
apartment dwellers or someone with restricted space to construct an
An outdoor antenna can be easily
constructed by stringing up a wire between two trees or the house and a
tree. 15 meters (50 feet) or more of wire is preferable. Each end needs
to be insulated from the wire that attaches it to the tree or house.
Then at the end nearest your receiver connect an insulated lead-in wire
that runs to your receiver's antenna input. Radio Shack provides a
simple kit that makes it easy to construct such an antennas. Other
outdoor antennas designed specially for shortwave listening are
available from Grove, The Antenna Supermarket and Alpha Delta.
Active antennas are especially useful for
apartment dwellers although anyone can benefit from one. These antennas
are essentially a whip antenna with an amplifier although some will have
more features that allow tuning to specific bands, noise reduction, or
selecting from more than one antenna. Even with an active antenna,
getting the whip outdoors, such as on a balcony, will improve reception.
One disadvantage of an active antenna is that while it is amplifying
shortwave signals it also amplifies noise. Still it can be a big
improvement over a receiver's built-in antenna. Active antennas are
available from MJF, Datong, and McKay Dymek.
Finally, if your budget doesn't allow one
of these antennas there are still other solutions you can try. One
method is to dangle an insulated wire from your balcony when you are
planning an evening of shortwave listening. Then pull it in after you
are finished and no one will be the wiser. Or string up the wire inside
your listening room, preferably near a window. Often just a short piece
of wire will be all you need to improve your catches.
Now that you have the equipment get
started by looking at the page When
and Where to Listen. There you
will find the hints and information needed to find your first shortwave
Text © 1999 Don
You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org