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Author Topic: SWL is Currently useful to many!  (Read 5536 times)
VK2NZA
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Posts: 14




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« on: August 02, 2014, 09:32:39 PM »

Recently read a thread about 9 pages away that commented on SWL being dead.
I thought I may open up a new thread and give a non European/North American perspective in regard to SW receiving in other parts of the world.
i was a fervent traveller in my 20's and 30s and carried a small Sony analog portable with me wherever I went. Many countries I travelled in were non English or French speaking, (my only two languages) and having a SW radio allowed me to receive news broadcasts from home, New Zealand and later Australia. This gave me some comfort hearing familiar voices but also gave me vital information at times regarding changing geopolitcal situations and allowed me to make an informed choice as to which area to travel to or around!
  The BBC, Radio Australia, were mainstays when travelling in Asia in the early 70's and RSA South Africa ditto when travelling Africa. Other favorites for easy listening content were RCI Canada and Radio Nederlands Hilversum via Nederland Antilles in the Carribean(remember that!)
I was also surprisingly able to receive Radio New Zealands' 2 ex American Army 7.5 KW transmitters in many places including regular reception when living in Chevy Chase Maryland, they did have a brilliant antenna  location with 212 meter masts at Titahi bay on the South Western coat of the north Island. They have since been upgraded to 100Kw units in the late 80's and provide small island states of South Pacific with great programing targeting local news and weather reports .
Here in Australia we have a large landmass the size of the continental USA with a population of only 25,000,000 (compared with 300,000 in the USA). There are  a very diverse range and number of FM and MW broadcast stations although primarily located on the coatal fringes of the Eastern, Southern and South Western areas.   There are large expanses of remote Australia sparsely covered by FM transmitters. Large long range Medium wave transmitters operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) cover rural areas however there are many areas with poor or no coverage, especially daytime. This is where Shortwave stations/frequencies in the 60, 31, 25 and 15 meter bands operated by Radio Australia provide often the only reliable signals in the "Outback" and tropical Far northern areas. They are critical to "Outback communities" for news and cyclone/flood information that can isolate some areas for days sometimes weeks.
Heavy roadtrain drivers and travellers use these services as a work tool. Many 4WD and trucks have tunerCD player that have shortwave bands included manufactured for 3rd world markets and preset the primary SW frequencies into the memory when travelling the tracks or more remote ares.
Interestingly the car tuner manufacturers don't always advertise the inclusion of SW in their units but with the exclusion (in this area at least) of Sony many have SW ability, I have a Pioneer unit in my landcruiser a Kenwood in my Ford Ranger, as well as a JVC in the truck (next time you're in the car audio section play with the head units you may be surprised to find some with SW).
Our RFDS (Royal flying Doctor Service) Radtel (radio telephone network) and VKs737 outback communications service all use SW HF frequencies in order for 2 way communication between travellers and emergency services and Outback Homesteads all monitor local HF channels for communication , school of the air and medical advice. It can be interesting listening monitoring these utility frequencies.
Sadly but effectively satellite phone, broadband and digital streaming is taking over in remote outback areas  however the HF radio networks are still the back up of resort for many located 100's of kilometers from the nearest hopitals or towns. Note: The school of the air is virtually all satellite to remote homesteads and Indigenous communities now.
Now in my 60's I still listen around the shortwave bands on my receivers/transceivers and note that whilst many European stations are signing off for the last time, in this area of the world there has been a proliferation of new stations transmitting on SW in Asia, Indonesia, China and India come to mind. They all offer a unique view into the world of music and culture differing from our own.
Presently I am listening to Radio New Zealands' Pacific service and getting a view not understood by many who don't live on an island, my Icom R71A purchased in 1981 still does great sevice as does my JRC NRD535 for nice analog listening through a BHI audio DSP, although my Icom IC 7410, and IC 7200 sound fine in when set up correctly.
Keep Faith, I suspect that if and when digital service providers have a major systems crash we may be well served by our older technology.
All the best to you all and I trust i haven't bored you!
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KJ6ZOL
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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2014, 02:45:58 PM »

I know that China, for example, has some 900 MILLION peasants in rural areas. The Chinese Communist Party considers SW essential in their control over the people, that's why Tecsun which is the major manufacturer of portable SW radios in the world is owned by the govt of China.

Indonesia has some 200 million people scattered among dozens of little islands, and SW is essential there too. Indonesia has the Radio Republik Indonesia network of stn's, but in reality as long as the little outlying stn's pay their taxes they can do whatever they want, like Mexico in the 50s. As for Australia, they are considered stewards, you might say, of the South Pacific island nations like Kiribati and Vanuatu, and Radio Australia has an external service for keeping the islanders informed.

Then there's Africa, where MW and FM transmitters don't cover vast areas that are under control of warlords and tribal chieftains, and travel is so dangerous that setting up MW/FM tx's is impossible, so SW is relied on there too. You can still hear English and French transmissions in or to Africa, meant for natives who have no common local language, so colonial languages are relied on to facilitate communications. The Cold War it's not, but there's still plenty to hear.

I have found that China doesn't broadcast music much anymore, a lot of their stuff is "radio plays" of the type once heard in America and Europe during the 20s and 30s. Africa can be heard with morning programs (Africa time) in the evenings on the US East Coast, and Asian prime time broadcasts can be heard in early mornings US time on the US West Coast.
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KB3ZIM
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2014, 08:33:18 PM »

Thanks for posting this very detailed and well-written piece.  Your perspective as a "non-European/non-American" is very enlightening.  While one can't deny the continuing disappearance of many of the major SW broadcast services, I've always believed that there's still a valuable role that SW radio broadcasting can play in the lives of millions of people all over the world.  I feel the same about the AM broadcast band (MW) in North America. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to share your thoughts in such detail.  Great read!
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VK2NZA
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Posts: 14




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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 02:55:17 AM »

You're well informed KJ6ZOL, we receive huge numbers of Chinese and especially Indonesian low powered SW broadcasts here in Australia being located so closely to Asia.
 As you mention Tecsun is producing millions of SW portable receivers for a large market. My experience with Tecsun products is generally good finding although not the quality of earlier Japanese Sony/National or European Grundig/Blaupunt products their performance is excellent and the price very reasonable.
My little Tecsum 390 gives me 5 bandwidth choices and a BCL 3000 has very good sensitivity and sound quality. I wonder if and when they'll produce a serious table top receiver?
I found in my travels that societies where oppressive regimes restricted the freedom of information,  people turned to SW radio stations for accurate news and information. The BBC did stand out as did RCI, Radio Sweden, Radio Nederlandt, VOA, Radio Australia and many others. Its hard to forget Radio Free Europe during the cold war etc
Thanks KB3ZIM its good to connect with others interested in this great hobby, ...well its really a continual learning experience on many levels.
   All the best to you both,  regards Ross
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W9ALD
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2014, 06:03:04 AM »

Yes!  I, too, miss the old cold war days of shortwave listening.  Here in the upper mid-west of the USA our foreign shortwave coverage choices are close to nil.  Although, Radio Havana still has a strong presence here.  I try to not miss CO2KK's DXers Unlimited program.  I might note that they must have had some repairs done or some sort of transmitter upgrade recently as their audio is currently much better than earlier this year as is the modulation level.

Radio Canada International was nearby and quite strong most nights.  I even won something in one of their contests once.  They always sent a printed schedule after that when the season changed.

The two Chinas come in quite well most nights as does Korea.  Sadly, Austrailia and NZ do not have a very good path to my location.

HCJB was a favorite hangout in the old days, too.  They always had a big signal here.  And of course, Radio Moscow.  Who could forget the references to imperialist pigs!, etc.

Here is a web site http://www.short-wave.info/php/transmitter-site-map.php? on this one you can see the listings and probable signal strength in your area at the current time.  I am constantly amazed at how accurately they predict this, although a signal you can actually copy needs three bars at my location.  This site is searchable for location, time, frequency, language, etc, and I find it quite valuable.

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VK2NZA
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2014, 07:43:29 PM »

Hi W9ALD, I also remember HCJB, it boomed into the Pacific from Quito and was as strong as local broadcast stations here in Australia. As for R Moscow .. I think they were trying to tell us something but they seem to have changed their mind. A local Russian friend laughs at the media of that era saying they didnt quite get it either.
I looked up the site you mentioned...very interesting, its on the favorites tab on my PC now.
As for Radio NZ you may find 11725khz UTC-1950 or 15720kc ...KHZ! at UTC-1950 a possibility, and R Australia should be available on the 19 meter at 0100-0500 UTC on 15160 and 1300 - 0600 UTC on 15300.  I was able to pick them up at around 2300 EST in Maryland in the 70's not sure about the mid west however.
We receive a multitude of SW stations from the South East Asian area and China here in Eastern Australia, mostly broadcasting in local languages to a local audience. The advertisements appear sometimes to be copying 60/70 western style jingles and can be quite amusing, have'nt figured out the products yet but theyre quite zany!
I live in a rural area about 50 klm from the nearest town and are blessed with no interferences of any sort bar the odd electrical storm, and its great to have contact and feedback with other like minded SWL'ers and amateurs on this forum.
   all the best regards Ross
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K5TED
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Posts: 709




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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2014, 11:06:19 AM »

Reports of the demise of shortwave radio seem to be perpetuated by those who would use the bands for something else.

Example is this "news" release http://www.eham.net/articles/32944 by the Broadcasting Board Of Governors, which, incidentally, is the U.S. "independent" agency responsible for oversight of VOA, RFE, RFA, Radio & TV Marti, and the Middle East Broadcasting Network.

The article notes that shortwave listening is being replaced by other modern medium. I don't disagree with this, but I would note that the decline in listenership of U.S. sponsored SW broadcasts is not indicative of any SW listening trend other than listenership of U.S. sponsored broadcasts.

The areas in which SWL is being replaced by other services is at the pace at which the other services become operational and affordable to the general population. Text messages and smartphone web browsers can't entirely replace broadcast radio for news and entertainment delivery just yet. Equipment and service costs, plus bandwidth constraints, make streaming content delivery in underdeveloped nations unlikely to be adopted or even available in the next decade.

Notice how deftly the "report" dismisses DRM, even as DRM is deployed on a large scale in the second most populous country in the world. Ask Continental Electronics if shortwave is dead.

There's a whole world out there with only Shortwave as a potentially viable and comprehensive vehicle for information dissemination.

The gnashing of teeth and salivation by some hams over the prospect of broadcasters abandoning 40m is a bit much.. There's not really much going on there anyway, what with the internet and cable TV killing off Amateur Radio :-)
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W7ASA
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Posts: 221




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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2014, 11:24:24 AM »

Radio Australia is quite good listening here in coastal Virginia during the mornings in the 9 MHz band and in evening on the 17 MHz band.  It's helpful to get a non-US media perspective, especially these days.   Also, I am able to listen to All India Radio and The Voice of Turkey, both of which are a delightful window into life, music and political commentary from more diverse parts of the world. Most of the time, I get this with a Kaito plastic shortwave on a whip.  On the ham rig and sky-wire, it's very easy to enjoy the broadcasts. For fun, I often use the Scout regenerative receiver ( Hendrick's QRP kits) with a 10' wire for an antenna and listen to most of the above, if they're below 10 MHz.


73 es Good Dx,

de Ray
W7ASA ..._  ._

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KJ6ZOL
Member

Posts: 347




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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2014, 05:08:47 PM »

Radio Australia is quite good listening here in coastal Virginia during the mornings in the 9 MHz band and in evening on the 17 MHz band.  It's helpful to get a non-US media perspective, especially these days.   Also, I am able to listen to All India Radio and The Voice of Turkey, both of which are a delightful window into life, music and political commentary from more diverse parts of the world. Most of the time, I get this with a Kaito plastic shortwave on a whip.  On the ham rig and sky-wire, it's very easy to enjoy the broadcasts. For fun, I often use the Scout regenerative receiver ( Hendrick's QRP kits) with a 10' wire for an antenna and listen to most of the above, if they're below 10 MHz.


73 es Good Dx,

de Ray
W7ASA ..._  ._



I wish VOIRI (Iran) would get their act together and fix their modulation problem, Voice of Justice may actually become copyable. Also, IMO we need more Muslim countries to broadcast in English, you would think that with the problems between America and the Muslims that the Muslims would be falling over each other to broadcast to America in English, the way the USSR did in the 50s and 60s. It's been proven that the NSA is logging every website visited by every American, do YOU want to log onto Press TV or Al Jazeera English only to have it bite you in the butt 5 or 10 years down the road? But the Iranians seem to be the only ones interested. The Chinese are way out in front among semi-enemies of the US, piggybacking on Cuban transmitters to make SURE we hear them. I wish RHC still broadcast "censored" int'l news. I remember listening to the Saudis in the evenings West Coast time with sunrise prayers and Quranic chanting, I believe it was 0300z. Then that broadcast was cut.  Cry Angry
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VK2NZA
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Posts: 14




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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2014, 06:10:35 AM »

Glad to hear Radio " Aussie" is still hitting the East coast W7ASA, incidently I started in amateur radio as a WN3 back in 69
in Chevy Chase MD.
Speaking of Islamic broadcasting the "call to prayer" from ETLF Addis Ababa in Ethiopa, with its huge signal still pervades the SW bands with its 100KW transmitters to not only 83 million Ethiopians but the rest of the Islamic world.
Radio Cairo, Egypt is still on air with its 250 and 500Kw transmitters and the largest Islamic nation of all with a population of 245 million just on Australia's northern coast is Indonesia, again Radio Indonesia transmits in a number of languages including English on its 250kw transmitters from Jakarta. Pakistan pop 177 million doesn't seem to broadcast in English anymore that I know of but still can be heard well here on its 250 kw transmitters in Karachi.
And as in the USA, our govt has been ramping up its survellance techniques to monitor for "terrorist" activities.
Incidentally remember the "Woodpecker", well we have something similar here,  different noise, less often, but is the "Jindalee" Over The Horizon Radar system based in the Northern territory of Australia for defence purposes. At 450KW it appears to have a slower sweep but degrades radio signals on its way around on certain frequencies.
Also as you may be aware we have a major joint Australian/ American operated spy satellite base located at Pine gap in the Northern territory operated by NSA and CIA. Large antennas etc control the spy satellites over approx 1/3 of the world and around 900-1000 american service personell and families are located there. Its no great secret , look up Wikipedia! (Pine Gap, NT).
I digress and looking at the station clock its time for me to turn in
  73's all the best Ross.
 
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