The Listener's Guide - WWW VersionBy Bob EllisThe right of Bob Ellis to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by himin accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Feel free to use theinformation anywhere but please credit the source.INTRODUCTIONThis book started out as The Lowe Listeners' Guide, first written as a place to dump alifetime of radio thoughts and experiences. In its original form, first with a yellow coverthen updated with a technical supplement by John Thorpe under grey covers, the printrunwas over 15,000. It got a tremendous response and is still used today. Among thereviews was this one from the Fine Tuning group in the USA:"Packed along with each Lowe receiver is a little gem of a book called The LoweListeners' Guide, which serves as an introduction to DX'ing without attemptingto provide one of those frequency lists that's invariably outdated. This littlebook covers an awful lot in its 60 odd pages, and does it with a dry, refreshingwit. I've been DX'ing for more than 40 years, yet I found things in the littleLowe book that I'd never tried. It begins with some pointers on antennas, thenmoves on to a guide tour of the spectrum from ELF through 30 MHz. Here's asample of what you'll find "off the beaten track""If you really want to frighten yourself, a couple of transistors and a few largecoils can be cobbled into an ELF receiver. Around 10 kHz or so the action ofstatic discharges anywhere in the atmosphere, coupled with hanges in theearth's magnetic field, create "Whistlers", not unlike the cry of a rough whale.Very eerie all this. All worthy of John Carpenter..."While it's written from a European perspective, with a distinctly British accent,the information contained in Lowe's wonderful little Listeners' Guide is perfectlyvalid anywhere on earth. Like the receivers it accompanies, The Lowe Listeners'Guide is for short-wave connoisseurs. Priced at only £1.95 (about $3.50) itwould make an ideal stocking stuffer for any short wave aficionado".Top DX'er Gordon Bennett saw it as "44 pages of very useful and comprehensiveinformation presented in a light-hearted fashion," but he admits he never made itto the end....The Listeners Guide is out of print now but after that kind of comment plus a steadystream of feedback received since I left the industry, here we go again.Only the name has been changed to protect the innocent:THE HF GUIDEIf, for some unaccountable reason, you decide to read these notes in one sitting and ittakes you day to do it, the world will have spent $3,400,000 on getting its message toyou. That's only transmission costs for broadcasting stations. Add to that productioncosts, salaries, all the other usual commercial overheads and you can safely double it.Add in the utilities, the marine, aero and tactical, the number stations and everythingelse we hear between the broadcast bands and I reckon, speaking very generally, thatthe world's HF operations don't get much change out of $20M a day. If there is that levelof investment in sending the stuff, we owe it to ourselves to listen to it. Or at least someof it...The word Radio to us means "radiation and detection in order" or possibly "radiation andaudio", the earliest definition I can find. Those were the buzz-words of the time, an era -so if they don't seem relevant today, remember only the technology changes, themechanism that gets a station to us is locked in The Laws of Physics.It hasn't changed.As this is, after all, a commercial venture supporting the drive toward a better class ofreceiver, we will reiterate that money has to be parted with in the hope of goodperformance. The writer's pedigree takes him back to The Classic Collins and the world
enowned AR88D. Those who follow my column in SHORTWAVE MAGAZINE here inEurope will have seen my features showing how getting to grips with these militarygiants gives you the best push up the radio design learning curve. And it is with all creditto AOR that I remind you that what follows is a personal view.THE PRESENTIn which we finally decide that the past is another country, they did things differentlythere. Let's face it, it's a jumble out there...When it came to review The HF Guide for this Edition, we decided to take a freshapproach. The world of radio communications and international broadcasting is changingalmost daily. Some have already given up on short-wave, moving up onto satellite toreach the target country.They will tell you this is the only future for radio.Some continue to invest in short-wave, moving to higher frequencies to make the best ofwhat will be improving conditions for radio for many years. They know that in underdevelopedcountries the investment in even the simplest of portable radios takes a vastproportion of available income, so to suggest the village elders cough up for a satellitedish is out of the question.They will tell you this is the only future for radio.Some will continue to invest in AM Radio or medium-wave, moving against the rush forFM and DAB because these are the only frequencies becoming available for new radioformats.They will tell you this is the only future for radio.So what can we expect? The truth is when it comes to home entertainment, we havebeen spoiled rotten. We expect digital quality sound from our CD hi-fi, NICAM stereofrom our televisions, surround sound in our cars with the value-added luxury ofMegaBass and all our favourite radio stations in glorious FM Stereo. Transmitterprocessing will have left us with false perceptions of loudness and tonal balance. We cansay from the outset that short-wave will not live up to this. Reception will vary from thequality of the worst international phone line right up to what we have come to expectfrom a pre-recorded cassette - if that is a good example - stopping at all points inbetween.It's not all gloomy.Recent developments in radio design can get the best out of steam wireless. Point-topointcommunication channels that once required the constant attention of a radiooperator are easy pickings from a favourite armchair, thanks to the receiver designer'scommitment to synthesizer and detector design. My generation remembers TonyHancock and would like to think his outlook is, at last, quite redundant. Or is it?They say that travel broadens the mind. Now, for about the cost of an airline ticket tosomewhere half decent, a radio can be bought that will take you almost anywhere on thesurface of the globe. If you can live without the Air Miles, the world can be your oyster.A modern receiver can have the capacity to deal with the specialised transmissions usedin air traffic control, coastal radio, navigation and ship-to-shore communications. For afew extra pounds, the world is your whelk.World travel without the airport delays. If there are any, you'll hear about them first.Armchair travel broadens the behind. (My therapist advises it is best, at this early stage,to let me get these old gags out of my system.)So, who is listening?The broadest range of people imaginable. From the new listener who has just heardMoscow for the first time on something marked "SW1" on his ghetto-blaster, to theprofessional monitor reporting back world events to his government.Ex-patriots wanting news from home while reading a four-day old copy of The Daily Mail.People on ships, on expeditions or on holiday. World leaders and policy makers wantingto know how the world sees them and how they see the world.The armchair traveller who wants to know just a little bit more.In oppressed countries where media is strictly controlled, short-wave can be the onlysource of uncorrupted news. It can also be the catalyst that sparks the revolution.In India and Africa where one radio serves an entire community.And the just plain nosey. If you have ever felt the need to mute the sound on the TV tocheck up on the unholy row going on next door, then this is the hobby for you...If you already have a radio, The HF Guide is designed - if that isn't too grand a term - tobe used as the colour supplement to your Instruction Manual. If you are new to the
hobby, we hope this Guide will give you a valuable insight into the radio world that livessomewhere between the AM and FM bands on your average ghetto-blaster and if iteventually causes you to call an radio outlet, all the better. There is a downside toeverything - we did say this is a commercial venture...Siting The SetIf you are taking the traditional route to the hobby, the radio room - or shack, inHamspeak - should be warm, dry and out of direct sunlight as the Manual advises. Peoplealso perform well under these conditions, the microprocessors and logic lines thatoperate a modern wireless objecting to cold and damp, just as much as we do.A base station radio will usually mean an outside antenna, so site it where the downlead- a bit of wire or coax used to make the connection between set and aerial - is as shortas possible. Not only will this keep the losses down, but that bit of wire is also acting asan antenna to any interference radiating from the house. We now have many clever waysto get a "clean" signal to your radio via low-loss cables and matching baluns, but moreon this later.PLAY SAFE: All receivers have the correct power connector for the destination country.If making any changes to power cables, seek qualified advice. When replacing the fuse inthe plug, the UK standard 13A fuse will offer no protection. A 2 amp fuse brings safetyand peace of mind. If the radio is part of a transmitting station, pay special attention tothe fuse values suggested in the Book of Words. Radio manufacturers and engineers -especially this one - know what they are doing - this Guide upholds all that is writtenthere on the subject of safety.During the writers chequered career as an engineer with a once-respected radioengineering company in the Derbyshire Peaks, he would stand back in amazement at thestate of the plugs fitted to sets requiring servicing. Loose cord grips, loose or badlyoxidised fuses, loose pin screws and cracked casings lead to a rash of reportedmicroprocessor "crashes", violent intermittent interference and a range of "it only does itonce a month" faults that caused the guys in Service to age three years for every onespent in a normal environment. When we can get them out of therapy, they will lend alittle reassurance that receivers and their Owners require the least attention compared tothose who transmit."Our text today is it is better to receive than to send..."AERIALS, ANTENNAS AND EARTHSWe are on shaky ground here. Rain forests have been lost for paper to print the endlesshallowed textbooks on the subject so we don't feel we should add to the debate. Havingsaid that...Your first point of reference is The Manual. The antenna stages of your radio will exhibitsome kind of electrical characteristic. This is a Complex Impedance, usually edited downto "impedance" - the resistance offered to the radio signal - for the sake of commonusage. If you follow the suggested designs in the instruction manual, then the burden ofthought rests with the set maker and the aerial will be a good match. This has little to dowith dating agencies - our "good match" is the best transfer of energy from the aerial tothe radio which is all we are trying to achieve. This can also be done without the slightestknowledge of the radio's input impedance, offering more reassurance to the beginner.You will note the writer can't make up his mind on what term to use, "antenna" or"aerial." They are interchangeable - your commentator being a dear old-fashioned thingtrying to make a point. Current designers working in the white heat of new technology doseem to loose touch with the fact that the basic physics remain the same, only the "toplayer" of jargon follows fashion.And now, over to Smug Corner...Welcome to a new feature of your HF Guide. This is a chance to score points off yourelders and betters who inhabit a land where so much money has gone over the counter,they have "Receivers," not "a radio" and have a bad case of the Rhombics for an antennawhere we have got a bit of wire. If we have a portable radio we won't even have that.
Users of portable radios and scanners, those with a reasonable RF performance, get anearly chance to visit Smug Corner. Even the small telescopic or helical antenna willdeliver a signal, albeit at a changeable - usually high impedance and at a low level, theinput stages designed to cope with all this. No antenna wires leave you free to listenanywhere, locations near windows giving best reception without the screening effectsfrom any metalwork used in the building.Portable users are strongly recommended to use a mains power supply when listening athome. This saves a fortune on dry cells and provides an earth path for unwanted signals.One of my sweeping generalisations is to state that DC battery power is up to 200 timesmore expensive than using the AC adapter.Using ni-cad rechargeables is a debatable saving as the convenience of not buying drycells is negated by the lower voltage available. A radio expecting to see 6 volts from fourAA cells will only get 5 volts from a set of ni-cads, a loss of 16%. Not much in real terms,but enough to affect the RF performance of one of the better portables. If you haveupgraded, the losses may degrade the new set to the level of the one just replaced.Remember; performance is such these days that each new model only brings anincremental increase in spec...If the portable has an antenna connector, short pieces of wire can be tried, but don't goto any great lengths - pun intended - to put up big aerials for portables. Too much signalcan cause more problems than too little.For those of us who require an outdoor aerial - by far the best for general reception aswe get away from electrical interference inside the house - we always recommend TheLong Wire.The Traditional Long-WireThis, as its name implies, is a simple single length of wire of a thickness strong enoughto support its own weight, insulated or not, as long and high as the local geographyallows. Technocrats will call this an "Inverted L" as the longer limb of the capital letter Lis the bit that runs down the garden, the shorter limb swinging down to form thedownlead to the radio. Technophobes will say it is easy to put up. Simply use insulatorsat each of the three points of the L and you are away. If you feel this prose is labouringtoward a "what the 'L" punchline, then there it is, with all the feeling of inevitability...Try to form the aerial and downlead in a single unbroken length of wire. This will avoidmaking connections outside and the possible future effects of corrosion affectingreception. If you are out in the country, a long wire can be very long offering someadvantages at lower frequencies.Keep it away from any overhead powerlines as their throbbing 11,000 volts will do littlefor the radio or your hairstyle. They are also the transmitters of electrical noise at thevery frequencies you thought you were gaining some advantage by "going for the bigone."Life is like that.Connect all long-wires great or small to the WIRE point on the back of the radio. Whileyou are there you may see a large coaxial connector. This is for specialist antennas thatachieve resonance - that is, a maximum efficiency at a single or narrow range offrequencies - a characteristic of them being a low impedance that may be carried by coaxcable.The advantage of a coax feed is the screening effect the cable has against localisedinterference, no special care has to be taken in the handling of the cable and, providedsome effort has been made to "match" the coax at both ends, then the antennas can beremotely sited away from noise sources. Our traditional long-wire will also be a lowimpedance at some frequencies so don't hesitate to experiment. You can calculate atwhat frequencies this will happen if you feel the need to. We prefer the "suck it and see"method as no amount of sums can argue with a higher signal meter reading...Readers of the previous editions will note that so far we have stayed out of The Snug Barof our village inn, The Duck and Fruitbat, a tribute to a great radio voice here in the UKwho got your scribe "shambling around in the early bright" most mornings on BBC RadioTwo's Early Show, the much missed Ray Moore. Radio DJ's are only special to their localaudiences, Ray's name will mean little to this WWW readership. Every reader will have aradio name they grew up with...The Snug is a place we went to hide from Management (the wife, that is), life in general,a place for the quiet contemplation of our hobby's technical issues. We can hide nolonger.
Wired?Coax-fed antennas have become law during the development of the latest generation ofradio sets. The Duck and Fruitbat is quiet of a lunchtime this days. In one corner, theradio hams talk of antennas as religion. In our corner, we still believe radio is fun as longas you follow the "ground" rules - puns being a cheap form of journalism - the mostimportant being the efficient transfer of energy from aerial site to radio set.Single-ended antennas, whether they be a short whip, an end-fed wire or an MF "TEE",will only approximate a resistive match at odd multiples of the frequency at which theantenna achieves Quarter Wave Resonance - and then only if the termination is withrespect to a common ground, both for the feedline and the antenna itself. At all otherfrequencies such an antenna looks like an impedance in series with a resistance.Coast Stations use them. Ships use them. Intercept Stations use them. Casual listenersuse them. They are also found on military radios and the slower aircraft, being used forcommunications and for receiving Electronic Navaids - in fact they are almost universaland because of this they receive no more than a passing glance in the grand scheme ofthings. Truly, familiarity has bred contempt. In the good old days, when receivers hadreal front-ends and the price of copper was reasonable, this was of little consequence.The end-fed antenna was simply brought in directly to the receiver terminals via ahealthy piece of copper tubing through a hole drilled in a plate-glass window. Low loss?Virtually no loss in practice.By understandable means to us old-timers, including the use of warmly glowing, EMPimmuneglass bottles filled with excited electrons, the flow of which was deflectedsomewhat by the energy from the antenna, this lot used to be converted into anintelligible signal, the translation of which would be transcribed by the Operator in thesoft, comforting light emanating from the internals of the receiver.But then Three-legged Fuses came along to replace warmly glowing, EMP-immune glassbottles; they called them Transistors. An epoch had ended. So what else was new?Co-ax was almost new. In their haste to exhibit their understanding of co-ax and theThree-Legged Fuses, ignoring the basic antenna theory they ought to have learned attheir mother's knee, engineers used it everywhere, willy-nilly. Antennas were designedfor it. Three-legged fuses had impedances that matched it; new problems arose whichwere further compounded by broad-band front-ends (or total lack thereof). This was thedemise of Performance and Immunity. The demise of the Vale Four-gang VariableCondenser! The black art of tracking a superhet is lost!But what about images and IPs and overloading? That was what the front-end was allabout, was it not? So, to eliminate the images, up-conversion was born - andSynthesizers and low-pass filters. Three-legged fuses proliferated, interbred andmutated. Now there are 32-legged fuses, possibly even larger numbers of legs exist, Igave up counting long ago! Time was when we could afford a receiver, now you need amortgage to get the down-payment together. But we digress…All this is Progress, we are led to believe but antennas are still the same, more power tothem. Engineers are not. They understand the multi-legged fuses and the up-conversiontechniques and their intellects are overloaded with digits and Op-Amps and Bragg Cellsand Fast Fourier Transforms. There is no room left to understand the Antenna - the onlymeans that exist to collect the signals they need so that they can exhibit their fantasticabilities.Luckily, there are few of us old-timers left, we know where the priorities lie. We mustremind you. Co-axial cable is a low-loss conductor of RF energy only when it isterminated in something like its nominal impedance, usually 50 or 75 ohm, which is avery low value in terms of the natural impedance of a non-resonant antenna. No matterhowclever you are, you can't successfully feed an end-fed, non-resonant antenna directlyinto a piece of Co-ax.Why not?Well, regardless of Progress and Education, you still can't beat the laws of physics. Unterminatedco-ax cable is VERY capacitive. UR67 or example, has a capacity of 30Picofarads per foot - that's about 99 Picofarads per metre for the Metricated types. Atypical MF TEE antenna may look like 200 pF in series with 6 ohms - and site layout maywell make it necessary to feed it via 100 Metres or more of UR67. Would YOU feed a 50ohm receiver input via a capacitive divider of 2/99, all but a 2% transfer?A ten-metre whip on a building might have a capacity of 5pF and a resistance of 2 ohm,fed via 8 Metres of co-ax. This gives you a similar capacitive divider of 25/800, not quite
so bad as the MF TEE, but not much better! Yet, without thinking, you do it all the timeand there is no recognition of the problem I have revealed, because nobody wants evento admit that there is a problem.When an antenna is "short" (less than 90 electrical degrees in length), as is normal inCoast Station use at MF, or in many Transportable and other applications at HF, theantenna "looks" like a small number of Ohms in series with a capacitance. This obtains atany frequency at which it is shorter than an odd multiple of 90 degrees and longer thanan even multiple of quarter-wave resonances.At all other frequencies (except at odd multiples of Quarter Wave Resonance, where thenatural termination of the antenna is, almost, purely relative) the appearance of theantenna at termination is of a capacitance in series with an inductance. Now we mustgive a little credit to those clever young engineers who design modern receivers but don'tunderstand antennas. They have pushed the thresholds of sensitivity down to levelsunheard-of in the good old days, albeit in 50 ohm to match their beloved co-ax. Thanksto their ingenuity we ought to be able to get a usable signal at a much lower threshold.And so we can! Trouble is, some of these lads have read CCIR Report 322 and decidedthat sensitivity below 2MHz is of little consequence because the amount of noise downthere will defeat the signals anyway. In part they are right, but if a signal can be weanedfrom all that noise, facility should be provided to do it.And it is below 2MHz that the non-resonant, single-ended antenna is most likely to beused, simply because the physical size of a resonant antenna at these frequenciesprecludes its use except in very special circumstances and at great expense, both for thephysical structure and in terms of real-estate.Is there a practical solution? Within limitations, yes, there is. In order to reduce thecapacitive divider problem the co-ax must be terminated in some sort of load which iswithin reasonable shooting-distance of its nominal impedance. We are not worried aboutVSWR or power-handling in this case, the strongest signal we are going to get will be inthe order of a couple of volts or so.The problem of terminating a single-ended antenna into co-ax has long been recognised.We have seen a special, pretty little box to do this. It has a nice little feed-throughinsulator on one end and a Type "N" Connector on the other. Inside, there is nothingexcept a small ferrite ring, sixteen turns primary, four turns secondary to get theGENERALLY HIGH impedances seen at a long-wire down to the GENERALLY LOWimpedances needed by a modern receiver and it only costs the customer a few quid. Or ahell of a lot more if that customer is depending on his dealer to cover his basic lack ofknowledge or interest in antennas...Allowing for the credit we gave the youngsters for pushing down sensitivity thresholds ofreceivers, we can neglect a true impedance match when we terminate the antenna. Nowthis, as far as the MATCH is concerned, consists of the R component of the antenna plusthe Loss Resistance of the Antenna System including its associated ground system, andyou can measure as many as you like, you will find the R component varies between2000 and 20 ohm. Put bit of capacity and some inductance in series with that and youwill find that the impedance works out to be well within shooting distance of 400 ohm. Ifwe accept that we are not worried about VSWR (although it will contribute to loss;hopefully, the increased sensitivity of these modern receivers will have compensated) wecan tolerate say, 100 ohm at the top and 10 ohm at the bottom of our scale; a chunk ofsuitable ferrite wound with a 4:1 ratio, the low winding to the co-ax, high to theantenna feed, common earth, makes a remarkable difference.If you use a toroid, it can be auto-wound and tapped, in practice a toroid of 20 turns Bifiliarwound with an additional 20 turns on the Antenna side (40 on the antenna, 20 onthe co-ax) seems to work pretty well anywhere. Better still, you can use a compensatingRC network on the antenna side. Either solution is certainly better than leaving the co-axopen and trying to contend with the amazing losses of the capacitive divider!There is a worthwhile benefit, too.With this sort of termination on the antenna, any static build-up short of a directlightning strike has a leakage path to ground; vulnerable solid-state front-ends andmulticouplers of whatever gain some free protection (which we never really needed withvalves and heavyweight tuned copper coils in the front-end). Now we have donesomething about it, why don't you! It helps our customers to receive signals and to gettheir money's worth!Better now? The "EMP-immune glass bottle" is a radio valve. An ECC189 in cascade, anEF183, EF80, EF50 or 6K7G, depending on your generation, provided the amplification inthe radios of yore. Some of these are still kept on as they are less affected by
ElectroMagnetic Pulse, an after-effect of a nuclear strike - an important consideration forreception in the professional sector. IP's are intermodulation products, the direconsequences of strong signals on different channels mixing in the early stages of a radioto spoil our enjoyment with extra noise and reception of stations that do not exist. All Iam preaching is that to get anything useful out then try to get a reasonable signal in.The rapid growth of the accessory market brings us antenna tuning units (ATU),preselectors and matching transformers - baluns, to you - low loss cables andconnectors.They WILL make a difference!There is an awful lot going on in the world of wireless, many thousands of transmissionsall seeking our attention, some weak, some very strong, all likely to interfere with eachother. By using an antenna that favours the frequencies we want to hear, it will go someway to discard those of less interest and reduce the chances of IPs - intermodulationproducts - spoiling the fun.So where do all the rejected stations go?Down the GROUND wire into God's good earth. In many instances, this is via the earthlead in the mains cable and the plugs third pin.THIS LEAD IS FOR ELECTRICAL SAFETY AND SHOULD NEVER BE REMOVED.The problem is this path is shared by every other electrical appliance in the house, someof which will be fitted with suppressors which will now be using the same path to earthelectrical noise. Nobody has ever taken the time to have a word with this interference,suggesting it should only go to earth without seeing your radios ground lead as a wayinto the set where it now finds itself in series with the aerial signal and so a part of it.Hence, more noise...The answer is to add extra earthing as per the suggestions in the instruction manual.This will often shorten the earth path and make it more effective. After a wet Saturdayafternoon doing manic Dracula impressions with large earthing stakes, you may feel yourattempts at getting a good earth are better than the bloke who wired your house and astrong desire to cut the earth lead in the plug.NEVER DO THIS. THERE IS A LEGAL REQUIREMENT FOR SAFETY EARTHING.Some have found using a piece of coax left over from the antenna installation as anearth lead has some advantages.A Co-Axial EarthThe wire core and the outer braid are connected together at the earth spike outside. Inthe radio room, only the inner core is connected to the GROUND point on the radio. Aswe have come to the sorry conclusion our earth lead is actually a part of our aerial, anyinterference picked up in the earth path is conducted to ground by the outer braid,leaving the centre core path "in the clear".If we have problems with mains-borne interference, one answer is to allow our signalearth and our safety earth to ground in separate paths. If we are to maintain theintegrity of our safety earth we can build in a high impedance "barrier" at signalfrequencies in this path and take our station earth to ground from the radio side. This isnothing new. They were using isolating transformers as an end to common-mode noiseback in the Thirties. These devices are now back in the accessory market. Forgive thewry smile of the old timer - the more things change to improve, perhaps, the more theystay the same.Actively Seeking Signals...Over in Smug Corner sits the owner of a portable receiver. He knows - and we have toadmit - that the performance of these sets is on the up. Flat-dwellers can forget all thathas gone before and not bother about the politics of outdoor antennas and buy aportable happy in the knowledge that it will perform very well. They can also see if this isthe hobby for them or check out local interference by getting one of the many entry-levelsets coming out of China and still have FM stereo to fall back on if the bands are quiet.Don't you just hate it when that happens!Yet they still enjoy their listening without all the discussion and installation of any specialaerial array.How do they do it? The telescopic rod antenna on the portable is all they are using...
Remember what we said about any length of wire or rod antenna acting as an aerial aslong as you can match its end-impedance to the tuning circuits in the radio? This is whatthe portables have done for years. The telescopic whip and the impedance transformingelectronics form the basis of The Active Antenna. This is already a part of the portable,but if we separate them to allow the whip to be sited for best reception, if we go for puredesign with less thought for cost and power consumption to improve IP performance, westart to have a real solution for those who do not have the space for a conventionalantenna. If you are rowing the Atlantic in a dingy this year, your dealer can supply anactive antenna to receive from, but not send to, dear old Blighty.If you have the space for any kind of wire aerial, then do it.Experiment to your hearts content, but just do it. To get an active antenna to turn in areal performance equal to our much maligned "bit of wire" can lead to an investmentnear to the cost of the radio itself. Circumstances alter cases, so with the wide range ofactive devices available now, performance will not be compromised too much for thespatially-challenged. But do choose carefully…Meanwhile in the snug of The Duck and Fruitbat, your scribe relaxes with several pints ofOld McReekie's Intestinal Purge ready for some real radio. Just what are the Wild Wavessaying?The set is bought and installed by the book, the neighbour is already on to a legal beagleafter seeing the antenna. But no matter. Time to turn on, tune in and drop out with theNew Zealand fatstock prices.PropagationIn which we learn The Sun provides The Mirror for all the news we will hear;Engineers can place the blame many millions of miles away. As the seminal work, TheHitch-hiker's Guide to The Wireless, the one true reference puts it;"In the innermost reaches of the Galaxy, near the unfashionable Western armof Ursa Minor, lies a small unregarded little yellow sun. Some ninety millionmiles from this, in an orbit whose shape after several thousand millennia is theprototype for the rugby ball, sits a much smaller blue-green planet called Earth.The sun sends its warming rays, so God says, to ionize the rarefied upperatmosphere into layers for two carbon-based ape descendants, Mssrs Appletonand Heaviside to discover. Long after this, just after the invention of Rugbyfootball, Marconi found that if you chuck enough radio energy at one of theselayers, some of it will come down at a tremendous distance, so giving birth toshort-wave radio. All this served to do no more than upset God a deal, since itwas His idea in the first place..."So there you have it - with all due credit and apology to Douglas Adams.The current radio conditions are an Act of God. If this sounds like a cop-out, then we canonly blame the insurance companies who have used the line for years.In addition to the daily and yearly life of the sun as we see it from Earth, it also has a lifeof it's own. This is the eleven year long sunspot cycle. Without getting into heavyphysics, the radiated energy from the sun rises and falls in this period causing acorresponding rise and fall in the ability of our ionosphere to act as a mirror reflectingfar-away stations to our radio sets. In the guidance notes for ship's radio officers, itgenerally accepted that the cycle will see three years of rapid growth followed by eightyears of gradual decline - rather like the economy. It's interesting to note that a ships"sparks" - a radio professional - has this trained into him in one paragraph. The hams -radio amateurs - find the topic all pervading, the subject of nearly every net and bulletinboard. If you were just about to mail me at email@example.com to say that as a radio ham Iam generalizing again, I write this as the holder of an amateur radio callsign; G8YQL -see you further down the log. Much further...This is the twenty-third cycle since records began - the sun has been at it a little longer -and conditions are making a good recovery. The mean sunspot count, the mostunderstandable indicator of solar activity is rising steadily - back in the hundreds as Iwrite this. Add to this effects caused by solar flares, a storm on the sun and not aSeventies fashion statement, storms in the Earth's magnetic field and you have a recipefor a radio disaster or great listening. Conditions are that variable. But for the casuallistener, you and I dear reader, there is but a shift of emphasis to higher frequencies andthe ionospheric quirks that annoy the professionals so, become our interesting catches.
NOTES TO THE FREQUENCY LISTSThe frequency lists that go with this text can be found at the end of The Guide. This way,you can keep it updated. As a listener in Western Europe, it will show an obvious bias tomy corner of the world. Let's hear what you hear to firstname.lastname@example.org.Every observation from here on in was made in the last two years on a range of radioswith a "traditional" long-wire antenna running out about 20 metres. The list is compiledin ascending frequency order as this is the first prompt the listener gets from his set. Allfrequencies are in kilohertz.The station name is the one the station was using at the time the observation was madeon that particular frequency. World politics and international border changes means wehear of a station name change every two weeks, so this or any other frequency guide isonly correct at the time of going to press. This is, after all, only a guide….All stations listed are standard AM, the normal broadcasting mode:AMAmplitude Modulation, AM, is made up of two parts. The radio frequency part thatdetermines where the station will be on the radio dial and how strong it will be. It is thispart that moves the Signal Meter, if you have one. Not having one does not make you abad person. The other part is the audio frequency that we eventually hear after the radiohas recovered it from the RF, the radio frequency part sometimes called "the carrier".Dealing with SSBTry this as a concept. Imagine you are able to stand on the carrier and look up and downthe radio band. You will see the audio has produced two identical sidebands on each sideof you which hold what we want to hear. It is the radios ability to deal with thesesidebands which will determine our listening enjoyment.If we go back to the idea of standing on the carrier wave and we are happy that in anideal world the two sidebands are the same, we can save up to half the power by onlysending one. We can make greater savings by reducing or suppressing the carrieraltogether, sending only the Lower Side Band or LSB. The radio will put the carrier waveback in again to render the voices clear.Fine tuning is required for Single Side Band or SSB work, any error showing up as a voicepitch change from Paul Robeson to Minnie Mouse. Some portables may only have an SSBbutton. Use this. The most used mode for point-to-point communications is UpperSideband or USB.Returning to the concept of standing on the carrier wave, the theory is the same for LSBbut here only the upper sideband is being sent, the lower sideband and the carrier beingsuppressed. In reality, there is always some leakage of the unwanted parts of the signal.These are usually only one millionth part of the whole signal, a mere bagatelle dismissedby the professionals and talked about endlessly by the amateurs. With no carrier to holdthe signal meter steady, the needle responds to the energy in the wanted sideband.Accountants cheer when they learn that if we have got rid of half the signal, then we candeliver twice the power in the wanted half. This piece of economics makes USB the modefor all professional communicators.What's ISB?SB is an Independent Sideband transmission with two entirely different services, one oneach sideband. As the radio is expected to work very well in SSB but also receive twostations in less bandwidth taken up by an AM station, ISB is the province of the morecostly receiver. ISB is now mostly a back-up to a satellite feed where two languageservices are sent to the same relay station.Many textbooks have been written on radio theory, our mind-expanding concept ofstanding on the carrier peering into the sidebands tending to generalize large areas ofengineering practice. Remember, if anyone offers you that kind of mushroom again, justsay no.Fax
Although this Guide deals mostly with voice circuits, pressure was put on the writer toinclude some fax frequencies. These are included in a new UTILITIES LISTING. Mostdecoders use the audio output from the radio. They either stand-alone (like the author)or connect to a computer. The receiver offers carrier-insertion, usually USB, to providethe two tones used by the decoder to result in readable text.Careful tuning is needed and your frequency readout may differ from the figures listed atthe end of The Guide. This is due to your configuration of the tone set-up. Getting it rightcomes with experience. As long as the decode is consistent, don't worry about the leastsignificant figure on the display.Radio SeasonsShortwave radio is split into broadcasting seasons. Traditionally, there are two majorseasons, Winter and Summer, with two smaller ones centered around each vernalequinox. We DX'ers love the variable conditions an equinox can bring but to aTransmission Planner, a nightmare.All the stations try to get frequency allocations in all the bands so they can move tolower frequencies in Winter in a desperate attempt to be heard in the target country.Conditions during the compilation of the HF Guide have been so unreliable as to warrantmid-season changes. Like those for Derby County, they have had limited success.The letter shown in the last column provides an indication of the broadcasting seasonand the year the station was heard:M represents March and April.J represents May, June, July, and August.S represents September and October.D represents November, December, January and February.From this we can see that "2000D." is a station heard at eight in the evening UK timeduring a broadcaster's Winter Season and that a "2001D" is a SONY™.Our receiver is an AR7030 based in the English Midlands, so forgive a European bias.Station names are subject to change without notice.Reporting TimeHere in the UK, we have traditionally used Greenwich Mean Time. Around the world, thisis referred to as Universal Time Co-ordinated or UTC, sometimes quoted on-air as just"UT".UTC is the same as GMT which is one hour behind BST. QED.A European Radio ReviewThis section is an anecdotal review of the spectrum as seen and heard by the writer.Starting with a look at the radio spectrum in general, or Who Is Using What:Band Lower Limit Band Upper Limit User9 kHz 14 kHz Radio Navigation (OMEGA)14 90 Various Services90 110 Radiolocation (Loran C)110 160 Military CW Stations160 190 Fixed Service190 415 Nautical Radionavigation Beacons415 510 Maritime Coastal (CW)510 535 Aeronautical Radionavigation Beacons525 1605 North American AM Broadcast Band1605 1800 Fixed, mobile, radiolocation1800 2000 Amateur 160 Meters1900 2000 Radiolocation2000 2300 Fixed/Mobile: Maritime
2300 2495 Tropical Band2495 2850 Fixed, mobile2850 3155 Aeronautical mobile (USB,CW,RTTY)3155 3400 Fixed, mobile3200 3400 90 Metre International Broadcast3500 4000 Amateur 80 Meters3900 4000 75 Metre International Broadcast4000 4063 Maritime Mobile4438 4650 Various Allocations4650 4750 Aeronautical Mobile4750 5060 60 Metre International Broadcast5060 5450 Fixed, Mobile5450 5730 Aeronautical Mobile5730 5950 Fixed, Mobile5950 6200 49 Metre International Broadcast6200 6525 Maritime Mobile6525 6765 Nautical Mobile6765 6795 Industrial, Scientific and Medical6795 7000 Fixed Services7000 7300 Amateur 40 Meters7100 7300 41 Metre International Broadcast7300 8195 Fixed service.8195 8815 Maritime Mobile8815 9040 Aeronautical9040 9500 Fixed Service9500 9900 31 Metre International Broadcast9900 10100 Fixed Service10100 10150 Amateur 30 Meters10150 11175 Fixed Service Mobile11175 11400 Aeronautical Mobile11400 11650 Fixed Services.11650 12050 25 Metre International Broadcast12050 12230 Fixed Services12230 13200 Maritime Mobile13200 13360 Aeronautical Mobile13360 13410 Fixed Service, Astronomy13360 13600 Mobile13600 13800 22 Metre International Broadcast13800 14000 Fixed Service14000 14350 Amateur 20 Meters14350 14990 Fixed Service14990 15010 Standard Frequency and Time Operations15005 15010 Space Research15010 15100 Aeronautical Mobile15100 15600 19 Metre International Broadcast15600 16360 Fixed Service16360 17410 Maritime Mobile17410 17550 Fixed Service17550 17900 16 Metre International Broadcast
17900 18030 Aeronautical Mobile18030 18068 Fixed Service18068 18168 Amateur 17 Meters18168 18780 Fixed Service18780 18900 Maritime Mobile18900 19680 Fixed Service19680 19800 Maritime Mobile19800 19900 Fixed Service19900 20010 Standard Frequency and Time19900 19950 Space Research20010 21000 Fixed Service21000 21450 Amateur 15 Meters21450 21850 13 Metre International Broadcast21850 21870 Fixed Service21870 21924 Aeronautical Fixed Service21924 22000 Aeronautical Mobile22000 22855 Maritime Mobile22855 23200 Fixed Service23000 23200 Mobile Services23200 23350 Off Route Aeronautical Mobile23350 24890 Fixed Service23350 24000 Mobile Services24000 24890 Land Mobile and Fixed Service24890 24990 Amateur 12 Meters24990 25010 Standard Frequency and Time25010 25070 Fixed Service25070 25210 Maritime Mobile25210 25550 Fixed, Mobile25210 25670 Astronomy25670 26100 11 Metre International Broadcast26100 26175 Maritime Mobile26174 28000 Fixed Service26174 28000 Mobile Services26960 27410 Citizens Band27500 28000 Meteorological28000 29700 Amateur 10 Meters29700 30005 Fixed, MobileVLF, the power and the gloryBelow the good old long-wave is a range of frequencies used as National Standard's forfrequency accuracy and time. Nuclear technology has made these very accurate indeedso to convey the pure engineering of these stations, no mathematical shorthand hasbeen used. Down here, we are talking real numbers.The ELF ranges, where the frequencies are so low we could hear them if they werevibrations in air, contain submarine navigation signals. These require antennas so vastthat an entire geological feature such as an atoll is used, soaking up many megawatts ofpower to get a signal through the Earth, not over its surface.Geostationary satellites are today's more economical solution.More Like Old Times.
The writer remembers a Practical Wireless project in the late Sixties for an ELF radio. Thenew Ferroxcube transformer cores formed the base of the untuned coils workingsomewhere below 9KHz. The gain came from three stages of OC71's, an OA47 detectorand my last OC71 to drive the headphones. The thing was alive. Screaming whistles andwhale-like howls tracked the course of electrical storms across entire continents - theyshowed me the magnetic changes brought on by the movement of the Earths tectonicplates could be heard, but by now I was too scared to listen. The Thing was assigned toThe Twilight Zone in the attic.DisclaimerThe comments with the station name are those of the author and do not represent theopinions of the publisher. He writes like this in the hope he will get invited to parties. Wehave taken the Devil's Advocate stand so you can form your own opinions.9KHzSFERICS frequencies allocated to track the electromagnetic effects of thunderstorms. Thereceiver itself is quite a simple device but its portability is rather limited by the 16kilometer antenna. In practice much shorter antennas are used, the figure quoted is afull-size antenna for around a wavelength of 33,000 metres.10.2KHzLower limit of a 3KHz band allocated to The Omega Global Navigational System. Thedays of this world-wide network of super-stations are numbered as Global Positioninggoes up onto the satellites.60KHzNational Physical Laboratory Standard Time and Frequency Service at Rugby. Coloursupplement readers will have seen adverts for Radio Clocks. These use MSF Rugby topick up time data signals to constantly update an otherwise free-running clock. Accurateto one part in 1,000,000,000,000 per day, this adds big science to boiling an egg. Thefrequency is a Standard for the electronics industry, drifting only a maximum of twoparts in 1,000,000,000,000. Well, we promised you real numbers.100KHzLORAN-C Navigation Chain. Using the phase-relationship of a chain of coastaltransmitters to cast a radio grid on the waters for our ships to sail by, LORAN is one ofthe many users of MSF Rugby for standardization. Audible in the UK is the station at Sylt.198KHzBBC Radio 4. The Father of Talk Radio. World Service continues overnight, the carrieralso carries data for Economy 7 switching, the accuracy being a mere two parts in100,000,000,000.252KHzLong Wave Radio Atlantic 252. Seen as operating outside the conventions of UKcommercial radio, this CTL Radio Luxembourg funded rebel without a pause now claimsan audience of five million of those who find FM on the move a trial and want pop radiothey can hear anywhere. The technical arguments on quality seem lost on the averagepop pundit. The downside is Algerian National Radio, who rise in signal strengthovernight and as winter approaches to deny Atlantic most of its inland audience.283.5KHzLower limit for Marine Radio Beacons.315KHzUpper limit for Marine Radio Beacons.396.5KHzPlymouth Marine Non-directional Beacon. This is one of many NDBs dotted around thecoastline. Their large service area means a ship can get a lock on one from quite adistance. Rather reassuring for Jack Tars coming home from the sea.484KHzGKZ Humber Radio. If you are on the way to becoming a fully-fledged radio ham, thissub-band is full of machine-sent navigation and weather information in morse code. Vitalto shipping and excellent revision for the morse test. There is also a rich cocktail ofinterference from our electricity supply industry to give you the chance of reading itunder real battle conditions. We have often wondered if ITV could have endearedthemselves to an extra fifty thousand radio hams by giving Inspector Morse a daughtercalled Dot.518KHzMarine Navtex. A digital error-correcting message system for shipping.525KHzThe lower limit of The Medium Wave or AM Band. In the rush for FM, the fortunes ofsteam radio wax and wane. A perfect vehicle for speech and rolling news, The UK Radio
Authority only see it as a dumping ground for Gold-format - that is, endless golden oldiesplayed by someone who was yet to be born when the record was a hit. Musicprogramming made on the assumption that its audience is too old to appreciate FM.In the early days of commercial radio in the Seventies, one of the contributors to the IBAYearbook suggested they should give away a school pencil with a rubber at one end sothe reader could sketch in all the changes as take-over fever hit the industry. The sameis still true today. The Gold stations do make money but a young management does notknow what to do with them. So, it's all change but everything stays the same.Our American readers can only wonder why we have so many problems in our radioindustry. We, the Brits, need to see our broadcasting as art, whereas in the States it issimply a resource. Our American readers may also like to substitute the word "eraser" for"rubber" in the last paragraph unless you are Howard Stern...545KHzLichfield Aeronautical Non-directional Beacon. Very popular with "P for Popsie" pilots inthe UK Midlands but why is it in a broadcast band? Its placing outside the 9KHz spacingused on this band leaves two channels that can't be developed. Callsign LIC.558KHzSpectrum International. We have been asked what a "multi-ethnic incremental" is.Simply, it is a small station using many languages, quite successfully too.567KHzRTE Radio 1. As this was being compiled, the threat of peace hangs over this troubledcountry. To form a true opinion, free from the rhetoric of career journalists, listen herefor the news and a gentle style of radio we have not heard since The Home Servicebecame Radio 4.612KHzRTE Radio 2. Can pop music be treated intelligently? It can and can be heard as eveninggathers. A useful one to pre-set on the car radio for night drivers.648KHzBBC 648 for Europe. A special service for Europe from Orford Ness with opt-outs inGerman. Essential listening in the south-east for those in the know and the many whohold the more traditional broadcasting values dear. Watch out for time-checks in CET,Central European Time. A listing can be found on CEEFAX Page 648, times GMT/BST.Also in the better broadsheets and on subscription from Bush House and where everbetter books are sold in and around London. End of commercial.Among the yellowing cuttings that form the research - indeed, research was, believe it ornot, done for this Guide - is one from The Guardian that reads, "Friday 1615, Science inActon."BBC World Service can be heard overnight on your local BBC Station. And on Radio 4Long-wave, Radio Scotland and on Astra. If the satellite technology defeats you, you arein good company.In the South-east, daytime World Service can be heard on 648 and for limited periods,on 1296.648 is good enough for in-car reception in Central London, the only drawback being theopt-outs in German and other main European languages. This has some value forlanguage teachers stuck on the M25 marking German homework. Meanwhile, back inGermany they are all teaching English...It's open season for the rest of us. We must resort to short-wave if we wantuninterrupted listening to World Service. Meanwhile, it was one Jasper Carrot whoremarked that the chances of finding a radio station in English after midnight drivinghome from a gig were on a par with a snowball in Hades. The same skip effect thatbrought you Radio Luxembourg from the Grand Duchy is also responsible for the foreignvoices fading in behind the Sony Award winning sound of your favourite local station asdarkness falls. The skip is perfect to bring Central Europe to your door so, as the goodCarrot observed, most night reception seems to German. Looking back, they do seem tohave thrown a towel or two over some of our popular channels.873KHzAFRTS Europe from Frankfurt. The American Forces Radio and Television Service servesa slice of apple pie to the troops in Europe.930KHzCJYQ Newfoundland. One of the benefits of a falling sunspot count, the North AmericanDX season opens up. Stations from across the pond can be heard around midnight as UKlocal radio closes down. Signal strengths can be high enough to allow reception onmodest sets, the problem is the Americans use a 10KHz spacing where we use 9KHz.
This will cause interference in all but the best receivers but the variety of frequencies a9KHz spacing produces gives more interesting work to UK jingle writers.945KHzGEM AM. The all-oldies outlet of Midlands Radio PLC. Don't look away from the monitortoo long or it will have changed it's name along with the other "Gold Format" AMstations. While researching this, I was in touch with the Radio Authority asking for ageneral listing of which contractor is using what frequency. They, the controlling body didnot know - contact National Transcommunications Ltd who run the transmitters. NTL didnot know - they only send it, they don't know what it is. Could I write to each station inturn?Well, not really. But it does concern me that the industry changes faster than itsgoverning body can monitor it.It is difficult to identify Oldie stations as, not only do they sound the same, they are thesame. A feed for up to five transmitters comes from one studio. Digital sampling is usedto insert the local ident in each feed to an area transmitter on a command from the mainstudio.You think you have local radio, but it is only a part of a regional set-up.1215KHzVirgin 1215. Poor old Richard Branson. Those who remember Brian Matthew on SaturdayClub will recall the upstart Radio 1 starting up here in 1967. They called it 247 metres inthose days and even then BBC engineers said this channel had a jinx on it. Louder inHolland than it ever was in the UK, Radio 3 used its experience here as a real case forFM-only during the mid-Seventies. In the meantime, the Radio Authority will have tokeep building Richard AM relays in a vain attempt to beat off the night-time joys ofAlbanian Radio from downtown Lushnje.1296KHzBBC World Service, Orford Ness. Much as 648 but with more English language teachingand mid-European services as above. Less used now, Merlin Communications are lookingfor another European customer for this channel.1368KHzManx Radio, Isle of Man. Listeners on the west coast can hear TT Race commentary. Thisis the UK's first commercial radio station. It may not have been this station but the firstadvert we remember was for Camel Lites, an American cigarette brand. What my fouryear-oldimagination could not handle was the need to ride a camel after dark anyway...STOP PRESS: The Isle of Man to get Pan-European Long-Wave Radio?1386KHzRadio Moscow via Kaliningrad. There's a name off the old station glass...The trend over recent years is to have your message broadcast on the normal AM bandof your target country in the hope of higher audiences than could be expected for shortwave.Bless you, short-wave radio fan, but in the ratings game - the game accountantsplay more part in these days - the figures can be all but dismissed. You can do this byhiring air-time on local radio for a fistful of roubles or you can buy land in your targetarea and set up a relay station. Moscow got in early with this million-watt powerhouse,now audible in the UK.1630KHzWAFE, Baltimore. Our sudden interest in FM is not new. Over in the States, the rate oftake-up of FM frequencies is great, the regulating body - the FCC - is trying to revitalizeAM by extending the band to 1750KHz. Just who will have the radios to hear the newstations we don't know, but on this side of The Pond experimental stations like this oneare real catches.Future experimental stations will have a 2 in the callsign.Soap Box Corner Looks at AM Dx'ingIt has to be said. Sometimes, a portable radio will outperform a communications classreceiver costing up to fifteen times the price, or seem to. True, it will only be at theselower frequencies when the ferrite rod antenna is in use. The ferrite rod only reacts tothe magnetic part of the electro-magnetic radio wave. This component is much lessprone to the interference suffered by a long-wire swinging about in the electrical part ofthe passing wavefront. Most interference has a strong electrical field, so medium-wavelistening on a portable often seems clearer - a better signal-to-noise ratio - than on thebig receiver.
The ferrite rod is directional. This means by the simple idea of turning the radio around,we can favour the station we want and quite literally turn our backs on the interference,or some station arriving from a different direction that we don't want. The long-wireconnected to the receiver has no directional properties so takes on all comers equally.Directional wire antennas at medium-wave are not really practical. We mentioned aRhombic Antenna a little while back. You can treat yourself to an antenna designhandbook and get a handful of wet change from forty quid. From this, spend an evenwetter afternoon working out the dimensions of a rhombic for say, RTE on 567KHz andwhich way to point it. No prizes and not practical...To save you e-mailing in, we do know about loop antennas. Many a specialist book hasbeen written on the subject and they are a great construction project.The Trawler Band.Or so it appeared on the radios of my youth.Bonjour, matelot...So did the great romantic radio names like Daventry and Hilversum but as we leave themedium-wave, radio takes a professional stance and assumes the first traces of industryjargon. Long-wave becomes LF, medium-wave becomes MF and short-wave, HF.Wavelength gives way to Frequency; Low, Medium or High.British Telecom operate a network of Coastal Radio Stations to provide broadcastinformation to ships and radiotelephone services. These are also available by radiodata,but as this requires the uneasy marriage of a radio to a computer and a lot of specialistknow-how in both fields, we'll leave well alone. Just to add that the divorce is usually onthe grounds of "mutual interference" or "the irretrievable break-up of data, M'lud..."Marine Broadcast Services in the North (UK Waters)Time0203GMT0233GMT0303GMT0603GMT0633GMT0703GMT0903GMT1003GMT1033GMT1403GMT1433GMT1503GMT1803GMT1833GMT1903GMT2103GMT2203GMTCallsign, BT Station and Message ContentGPK Portpatrick/GHD Hebrides navigation warnings.GCC Cullercoats, GND Stonehaven and GKR Wick navigation warnings.Gale Warnings.GPK Portpatrick/GHD Hebrides navigation warnings.GCC Cullercoats, GND Stonehaven and GKR Wick navigation warnings.Weather Bulletin.Gale Warnings.GPK Portpatrick/GHD Hebrides navigation warnings.GCC Cullercoats, GND Stonehaven and GKR Wick navigation warnings.GPK Portpatrick/GHD Hebrides navigation warnings.GCC Cullercoats, GND Stonehaven and GKR Wick navigation warnings.Gale Warnings.GPK Portpatrick/GHD Hebrides navigation warnings.GCC Cullercoats, GND Stonehaven and GKR Wick navigation warnings.Weather Bulletin.Gale Warnings.GPK Portpatrick/GHD Hebrides navigation warnings.2233GMT GCC Cullercoats, GND Stonehaven and GKR Wick navigation warnings.The three-letter groups are the Radio Station Callsign. However, tradition seems todictate that ships radio officers refer to the station they need by name. Perhaps it givesthem a feeling of coming home:"BT Blighty. Is there honey still for tea?""Honey's off, dear""Er...thank you, Blighty. Listening two-one-eight-two...Marine Broadcast Services in the South (UK Waters)
Time0133GMT0233GMT0303GMT0533GMT0633GMT0733GMT0903GMT1033GMT1333GMT1433GMT1733GMT1833GMT1933GMT2103GMT2133GMT2233GMTCallsign, BT Station and Message ContentGNF North Foreland/GKZ Humber navigation warnings.GLD Land's End/GNI Niton navigation warnings.Gale Warnings.GNF North Foreland/GKZ Humber navigation warnings.GLD Land's End/GNI Niton navigation warnings.Weather Bulletin.Gale Warnings.GLD Land's End/GNI Niton navigation warnings.GNF North Foreland/GKZ Humber navigation warnings.GLD Land's End/GNI Niton navigation warnings.GNF North Foreland/GKZ Humber navigation warnings.GLD Land's End/GNI Niton navigation warnings.Weather Bulletin.Gale Warnings.GNF North Foreland/GKZ Humber navigation warnings.GLD Land's End/GNI Niton navigation warnings.A general weather forecast for shipping is also carried by Radio Four Long-Wave, astation we have never forgiven for scrapping "Sailing By" before the midnight bulletin.They tell me it's back now, but that's not the point. Is it me? Or was it change forchanges sake?More Notable Frequencies1810KHz160m Amateur Band lower limit. Local calls on lower sideband but to a writer who had aCodar CR70A receiver with the matching AT5 transmitter, it's good to hear AM again. Dothey still do The 1930 Net?Your penman was in the ham radio business for more years than was good for himduring which time he sold many rigs. All these sets produced 100 watts at the push of abutton, yet a very small number of users asked for advice on reducing the power out tothe maximum allowed on this band - a mere tenth of what the transceiver was capableof...Today, Top Band contains a sub-band to allow "full power" operation.2182KHzCoast Station Distress, Urgency and Calling. The listening mode is AM compatible USB.To get the best out of whichever mode is in use, use USB.Much of the general ship-to-shore radiotelephone traffic is now automated so waiting inthe queue for airtime is a thing of the past. Listen here for weather updates, navigationalwarnings and the traffic list, a run-down of ships with calls waiting.Ship-to-Shore Operating NotesOnce a call has been made to the coast station, the operator will assign a clearfrequency. In the golden days of yore, in a time before fishing quotas, the frequencywould be announced in kilohertz.Now they use a simple letter code. Who is on what is listed below, a table to keep handyas it includes the Phonetic Alphabet, a system used by all radio professionals for clearercommunications and by some radio hams to confuse the issue;I must go down to the sea again,To the lonely seas and the skyThey've changed all the numbers for letters,Will somebody tell us why?Ellis after Milligan after MasefieldGo To Phonetic Ship listening Ship sending Operating BT Station
Channel A Alpha 2751 2006 Shetland Radio via WickChannel B Bravo 2840.6 2277 Shetland Radio via WickChannel C Charlie 2604 2013 Shetland Radio via WickChannel D Delta 1659 2084 Shetland Radio via WickChannel E Echo 2705 2524 Wick RadioChannel F Foxtrot 1797 2060 Wick RadioChannel G Golf 1755 2099 Wick RadioChannel H Hotel 2625 2108 Wick RadioChannel I India 1856 2555 Stonehaven RadioChannel J Juliet 1650 2075 Stonehaven RadioChannel K Kilo 1946 2566 Stonehaven RadioChannel L Lima 2607 1999 Stonehaven RadioChannel M Mike 3617 3249 Stonehaven RadioChannel N November 1731 2527 Cullercoats RadioChannel O Oscar 2828 1953 Cullercoats RadioChannel P Papa 3750 2123 Cullercoats RadioChannel Q Quebec 1925 2105 Humber RadioChannel R Romeo 2684 2002 Humber RadioChannel S Sierra 2810 2562 Humber RadioChannel T Tango 2698 2016 Stonehaven RadioChannel U Uniform 2628 2009 Niton RadioChannel VVictor - - Not AssignedChannel W Whisky 2782 2111 Land's End RadioChannel X X-Ray 3610 2120 Land's End RadioChannel Y Yankee 1710 2135 Portpatrick RadioChannel Z Zulu 1866 2534 Hebrides Radio via StonehavenAll of which should make calling as easy as falling off a yacht…When a ship gets to within say, thirty five miles of the coast, or is advised to do so bythe Coast Station, it will use VHF to see it safely to berth."Pertwee! Are you responsible for berths on this ship?""Not as far as I'm a-knowing of honest, Mr. Phillips"The Navy Lark, 1964Meanwhile, back on the bands...2300KHzThe lower limit of the 120m Tropical Band. Allocated for broadcasting as a quieterequivalent to our standard AM band only in the Third World.3200KHzThe lower limit of the 90m Tropical Band. Used in the equatorial regions hoping to missthe worst of the storm static that plagues the standard AM Band.3366KHzGhana Broadcasting. This is an excellent test station to see if this classic DX band isopen. Try around midnight. As we slowly creep up the HF spectrum, signals penetratethe E Layer only to be reflected down again by the F Layer. As this layer is twice theheight of the E Layer, the reflected signal comes to your antenna from a much greaterdistance. This effect is what gives 80m its European coverage by night. By day it remainsThe Great UK Natter-band.3500KHz80m Amateur Band lower limit. A fine example of a shared band, the primary users beingcoastal radio on the upper sideband, the amateurs a secondary consideration on thelower. And never the twain should meet.3650KHzAllocated frequency for GB2RS RSGB UK News. Costing over £5000 a year to run, thefuture of the RSGB News is under constant review. For the writer, the first sideband
station he resolved, for the new generation of radio ham something of an anachronism.Stalwarts only need listen for useful reports of solar activity - if you can understand them- details of Club Events and radio rallies in the summer. The writer has been out of HamRadio for years but still finds himself listening on Sundays at 0930z, frequency variable...A transmission for Europe on 40m is made at 2000z, Sundays3900KHzThe lower limit of the 75m European Broadcast Band. Early mornings and overnight arethe best times for this under-used band. This may be due to it being left off many budgetportables.3955KHzBBC World Service from Skelton. This Winter relay from the main Merlin Communicationssite gives excellent European coverage in the evening and is a DX catch as far as HongKong. Here in the UK, the higher BBC frequencies remain unreliable. The reason is theincreased efficiency of the antennas at our main stations in getting most of the signalinto the ionosphere with very little leakage for the casual UK listener. As the first skiptakes World Service well into Europe, it quite literally goes over our heads. However,nobody can predict conditions at present, so the list contains many BBC World Servicefrequencies for experimentation.The 4Mhz Land/Marine Mobile BandA heady brew of Search-and-Rescue (SAR), out-of-band broadcasters, the RAF speakingpeace unto the nation and the shipping forecast. Includes:4125KHz: Marine Distress International.4138KHz: Arctic Seas Distress4138KHz: Arctic Seas Distress.4220KHz: Arctic Seas Supplementary.4594KHzNumbers station. After years of speculation as to what the endlessly repeated chains ofnumbers mean, it can now be revealed that the codes are for the benefit of "agents inthe field", the decode coming from a "one-time" pad, no doubt to be got rid of in thetime-honoured fashion;"Tell me, Control, would you like your pad off the bone with a little salad and apert white wine?"The return of the number stations may have a lot to do with conditions, but the routinessuggest mere testing of old equipment, a lot of transmissions being in AM.4742KHzRAF Flight Watch: "Architect listening out.."Architect is the Flight Watch callsign. Despite all the new technology, the main enemy tooperations is the weather. This code is given at fixed times and upon request to pilotspreparing to fly between British airbases. From this we will learn that a Wattisham Bluehas little to do with being an all-round good egg while up at University, but "ForeverAmber" is a good status for most of my holidays in Wales. Other flight watch frequenciesare included in the lists. Serious HF airband operation will need one of the betterreceivers with a stable sideband operation and a large number of memories to allowrapid channel hopping.4750KHzThe lower limit of the 60m Tropical Band. Allocated only in the tropics, this band gives upsome musical treats in the late evenings. And its getting better;4770KHzRadio Nigeria. Long todays dance trends set the nations feet to dance to the urgentguitars of World Music via BBC Radio 1, those of us blessed with short-wave could hearthe opium of the people on The Tropical Band without the need for mosquito nets andfunny injections...4882KHzLetter Station. Just as the reviewer sharpens his pencil to have a go at the endlessentries for so-called "number stations", the ionosphere rings the changes with a stationsending five letter groups.This one sends IOBMJ, "India/Oscar/Bravo/Mike/Juliet" ad nauseam.5080KHzEast Coast Control.5095KHzBuchan Control. Examples of Air Defence Radar Units.
The 5Mhz Air Traffic Control Band.An area of listening for the genuine enthusiast, an opportunity for the writer to offloadmore old gags. For example, the last time your scribe was on an aircraft he sat next tothe rear gunner.One of our aircraft is missing...There will be those who have come to our hobby from the Services. There will be pilotsand ground crew who want to keep in touch. There will be listeners, fascinated by whatthey have heard on the airband of the domestic radio and have gone on to a fully-fledgedscanner. They may have something that is bothering them. The Tower gives themclearance for take off, sees them safely into the wild blue yonder then we never hearfrom them again...Don't worry, Chalkie old bean. Our aircraft never die, they simply go trans-oceanic.Aeronautical Mobile HF BandsGoing TransoceanicAs the VHF only provides a local service,they use HF on the long haul Stateside.Having come under control of its nearestATC (Air Traffic Control), the aircraft setsits heading and calls the ACC (AreaControl Centre) before requesting transoceanicclearance via the OACC (OceanicArea Control Centre) on HF. We shall dealonly with this HF traffic in these pages,but for completeness the full chain ofcommand on radio follows this pattern;10005-1010011175-1140013200-1336015010-1510017900-1803021870-2200023200-233502850-31553400-35004650-47505480-57306525-67658815-9040• Obtain take-off permission fromthe Tower and local weather conditions either from the Tower or regional Volmeton VHF.• Establish flight level and heading on leaving our airspace on VHF.• Establish contact with nearest ACC on HF.• On leaving range of ACC, establish contact with OACC on HF.• Request trans-oceanic clearance.• Establish contact with nearest ACC in your country of destination, HF circuits atpresent favouring Atlantic routes.• Establish contact with recognised air lanes over that country via local ATC on VHF• Establish contact with airport tower on VHF.• Request landing clearance and put down on allocated runway.The chosen runway and terminal building are always the farthest from the car and spacedid not allow me to document the six hour delay due to the wrong kind of snow atKennedy in our idealized scheme of things.Aircraft don't fly high enough to avoid the effects of the ionosphere, so provision is madeat 3, 5, 8 and 13Mhz to allow for the daily changes in reception and the longer termseasonal changes.Our most audible OACC in the UK is at Shannon in Southern Eire in the south andPrestwick in the north. Signing as "Shanwick", the 5 and 8Mhz transmissions listed beloware a good starting point during daylight conditions.5450KHzRAF Volmet: "This is Royal Air Force Volmet..." from West Drayton, the RAF WeatherService."Volmet" has its root in French. Literally, an inversion of "meteo en vol" and appearsofficially as Meteorological Information for Aircraft in Flight. These are read by a talkingcomputer around the clock throughout the year. It is not a pure speech synthesis
system, but a playout of real voice samples cued by the computer. It even has anOxbridge accent. When announcing maximum visibility one night, we were halfexpecting:"Moonlight can be cruelly deceptive, Amanda..."Visibility Status Colour 3 Octa CloudbaseThe Other Volmet8Km Blue 2500 feet.5Km White 1500 feet."Shannon Volmet" is a weather 3.7Km Green 700 feet.service. Announced in1.8Km Yellow 300 feet.computerized speech like theRAF service, regular listening 0.9Km Amber 200 feet.will show a fixed pattern to Less than 0.9Km Red Below 200 feet.these broadcasts. Temperature,Hazard!Blackdewpoint - the temperature atwhich water vapor condenses back to water - wind speed and direction are followed byQNH. This is the ground setting for the altimeter.Cloud cover at fixed flight levels are given in "octas".Consider, if you will, the pilots field of vision to be from the centre of a large cake splitinto eight slices. Then "three octa" would be three eighths cloud cover at that height.Stable weather conditions will be reported as "No-Sig" at the end ofthe bulletin. This is short for No Significant Change.The catchy heading of "Information in Plain Language Concerning Certain MeteorologicalPhenomena" or SIGMET is usually given in a single word, "Snow", "Rain", "Sleet", aplague of boils or what have you.Some frequencies:5505KHz: Shannon Volmet.5598KHz: Shannon ATC. Secondary calling on 8906.5616KHz: Shannon ATC. Secondary calling on 8864.5649KHz: Shannon ATC. Secondary calling on 8879.5658KHz: Shannon ATC.5680KHz: Kinloss Rescue.5900KHzThe lower limit of the 49m Broadcast Band. The major European broadcast band. Goodduring the day, the darkness hours should see reducing interference as those used tohigher frequencies move back up the bands as conditions improve as we approach thesunspot maximum.5955KHz: Radio Netherlands Network Europa.5995KHz: Radio Canada from BBC Skelton, UK.6035KHzThe Voice of America. This may be just another anecdote, but the boys at VOA assureme there is a sign on the wall of the transmission planning department that reads,"I shot a signal in the air, where it landed we know not where."6065KHz: Radio Sweden.6155KHz: Radio Austria.6165KHz: Swiss Radio International.6175KHzRadio France International. Innovation is alive and well and living in France. The new RFItransmitters at Allouis are sited underground, directly below the antennas they feed. So,very low feeder loss to the very directional rotatable antennas. A future for short-wave?6195KHzBBC World Service from Skelton/Rampisham. From 1800. Recent correspondence withBBC Transmission Planning shows they have all but given up on frequencies torecommend for the UK.Take heart, mon brave, this is some use to us - although in the winter months, theevenings bring a curious echo as delayed signals arrive from Antigua or even Kranji.6200-6500KHzHobby Pirates. Looking back over previous paper editions of The HF Guide, we alwaysfound it necessary to mention radio piracy. If there was any real fun in being a threat tonearby Distress frequencies, then new Europe-wide laws have put paid to all that. Withnew radio services filling the gap left by Radio Caroline and the like, hobby pirates spendtheir Sundays lost in nostalgia for a cause already lost. Perhaps we are older and wiser
now. My only trace of rebellion these days is to sit meekly in restaurants wearing a smallbadge that reads:"Red wine with fish"Some examples of stations affected by pirate activity:6211KHz: Northern Seas Supplementary Distress.6215KHz: Marine Distress.6224KHz: Thames Control.Many Sunday Pirates have moved to the 75 Metre band.6300KHzRussian number station. "Golly, Control, you don't think they are at it again?"No, we don't. The modulation quality suggests some very old plant is just being given anairing. They tell us the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, so you never can tell...6622KHzShannon ATC. Secondary calling on 8831. A cause for concern and a sad reflection onamateur radio. The average modern ham radio set is so highly developed it can beinstalled and forgotten about. This lack of intervention from the user was supposed tofree him from technical responsibilities to enjoy open communication. Not so.Modifications to allow equipment to work outside the ham bands are the new currencywith dire consequences for other users. This new allocation for air traffic control sits inthe middle of a range of frequencies "taken over" by European pirates using modified andtherefore illegal, ham gear.7000KHz40m Amateur Band lower limit. Another ham radio tradition. The lower part of theallocation is CW, these days including AMTOR and computer packet modes, the upperpart being telephony albeit on the lower sideband.As this band gets you into Europe, watch out for some undiagnosed cases of acutexenophobia as night falls.7100KHzThe lower limit of the 41m Broadcast Band. Across Europe and into the States in theearly mornings.7265KHzSudwestfunk, Baden-Baden, Germany. Real radio as a public utility. Nothing but a richmix of pop and rock from albums, news, weather and travel information. Listen for thepulse of RDS data that switches over a million German radios to this network for thelatest update.7325KHz: BBC World Service, Skelton and Rampisham.7860.5KHzArmy Signals. "That man there! Absolute shower!"Terry-ThomasThe 8Mhz Marine and Air Traffic Control Band.Including:8228KHz: Ostende Radio.8291KHz: Marine Distress.8634KHz: Ships Survival Craft.8737KHz: Cyprus Maritime Radio Service.8764KHz: Portishead Radio. Traffic and Weather on the hour.8825KHz: North Atlantic Control.8846KHz: New York Radio. Secondary calling on 6577.8864KHz: Shannon ATC.8879KHz: Shannon ATC.8891KHz: Shannon ATC.8957KHz: Shannon Volmet.9032KHz: RAF Flight Watch and Gibraltar Forward Relay.9251KHz: "The Lincolnshire Poacher". Classic English number station.9400KHzThe WRAC 92 lower limit of the 31m Broadcast Band. Granted a recent extension toallow the out-of-band broadcasters above some protection, this band is the great allrounder;9410KHz: BBC World Service from Skelton, Rampisham and Woofferton.9535KHz: Swiss Radio International. Remember Swiss Short Wave Merry-go-round?9575KHz: Radio Medi 1, Morocco. East meets west in this excellent commercial venture.
9830KHz: Croatian Radio. News heard at 0800.10000.0KHzCalibration Beacon. Many countries compete to provide a Reference Standard, so muchso that 10000 is merely the middle of a standard's sub-band. The one you find could beup to 5KHz away from what you take to be 10000 leaving you to question the accuracyof your radio. Chances are that if it was made in the last decade of synthesizer design,then all will be well. Standards can confuse as well as assist...10051KHz: New York Radio.10100KHz: WRAC Amateur Band lower limit. From here to 29700KHz, upper sidebandtakes over for Ham radio.10150KHz: WRAC Amateur Band upper limit.11176KHz: USAF Operations Net.11234KHz: RAF Control.11600KHzThe WRAC 92 lower limit of the 25m Broadcast Band. One of the bands tipped to be themost crowded as the major powers, both political and radiated, fight for frequencies.11620KHz: All India Radio.11990KHz: Radio Prague.12095KHz: BBC World Service from Skelton and Woofferton.12290KHz: Marine Distress.12392KHz: Marine Worldwide Calling and Distress.The 13Mhz Long Distance Marine and Air Traffic Control Band.The major world-wide mobile communications band;13146KHz: Portishead Radio. Traffic and Weather on the hour.13270KHz: New York/Gander Radio.13570KHzThe WRAC 92 lower limit of the 22m Broadcast Band. Reflecting in the upper regions ofthe F Layer, this band will get you as far as we can go. Soon to be extended as thisworld-wide band proves its worth as conditions improve, the broadcasters have yet torealise it is only included on the more expensive radios like the AR7030. This means thepoorer nations who have the greatest need for uncorrupted news will never hear;13620KHz: Radio Kuwait13635KHz: Swiss Radio International13640KHz: Zagreb Radio. Croatian Radio News heard at 1300.13710KHz: VOA Africa from Botswana Relay.13730KHz: Radio Austria.13830KHz: Zagreb Radio. Croatian Radio News at 2100-2110.14000KHz 20m Amateur Band lower limit.15100KHz: The WRAC 92 lower limit of the 19m Broadcast Band.15205KHz: VOA, Tangier, Morocco.15225KHz: VOA, Ascension Island Relay.15325KHz: Radio Canada International.15395KHz: UAE Radio, Dubai. Worth it for the weather reports...15400KHz: BBC World Service from Ascension.15450KHz: Radio Austria.15575KHzBBC World Service. This sender in Cyprus is suggested by Bush House as good for the UKduring the day. Good around mid-day, subject to deep fades.15800KHzThe WRAC 92 upper limit of the 19m Broadcast Band. Something to bear in mind if youhave yet to buy your radio. Some budget sets tend to "leave out" the out-of-bandsections of these higher broadcast bands, the same frequencies now being developed bynewer voices to short-wave. There is nothing more frustrating to find the new channelannounced by your favourite station is 75KHz above the cut-off frequency of your shinynew wireless. Check yours is general coverage....16420KHz: Marine Distress.17480KHz: The WRAC 92 lower limit of the 16m Broadcast Band.17640KHz: BBC World Service from Ascension.17875KHz: Radio Canada.18068KHz: WRAC Amateur Band lower limit.
18168KHz: WRAC Amateur Band upper limit.18900KHzThe WRAC 92 lower limit of the new 15m Broadcast Band. Coming on-line at the bestpossible time for reception, at a frequency not available on many a budget radio, it yieldsup but one brave broadcaster;18930KHz: WEWN.19020KHz: The WRAC 92 upper limit of the new 15m Broadcast Band.21000KHz: 15m Amateur Band lower limit.21450KHz: 15m Amateur Band upper limit.21450KHzThe lower limit of the 13m Broadcast Band. Very variable and prone to suddenionospheric disturbance, best when the sun is at its highest;21455KHzHCJB, The Voice of the Andes. We can't work out why they do this. The aim of a religiousbroadcaster must be to reach as many people as possible in the hope that The Word willstay with some of them. Define a minority by using short-wave radio, a best-kept secretto most, then define a minority within a minority by using a transmission mode unknownto all but the dedicated listener and there you have it. An audience rushing towardsdouble figures. Engineering types and radio hams can test sync detectors but themessage will be lost on those poor souls...Having said all this, it is good to hear the Andean weather for mountain climbers. Evenas I write this, in the corner I can see my Sherpa, tensing.21605KHz: UAE Radio21660KHz: BBC World Service from Ascension.24890KHz: WRAC Amateur Band lower limit.24990KHz: WRAC Amateur Band upper limit.25600KHzThe lower limit of the 11m Broadcast Band. The real engineers band. Propagation only onthe North/South path even in the best conditions, this was the easy way to get intoSouth Africa and back again. Low usage meant engineers could send studio qualitywithout interference. If they use it this season, a real chance to enjoy real radio.Here's where R&D will pay off in the years to come.26100KHz: The upper limit or the 11m Broadcast Band.27600KHzThe lower limit of the UK CB Band. Whatever happened to the great white hope ofpersonal communications?If you have an FM button, try it here.28000KHz: The upper limit of the UK CB Band.28000KHz: 10m Amateur Band lower limit.29700KHz: 10m Amateur Band upper limit.NOTES AND QUERIES.In which we learn that in spite of a BBC Radio Production course, your scribe can't thinkof enough linking material to cover the great range of topics below. So, we present TheListener's Charter;No matter what radio you have, there will seem to be a thousand and one outside factorswhich seem to affect reception. So, under a general heading of "rules are made to bebroken", here are a few more observations. If you have noticed something notmentioned here, do get in touch on email@example.com) All point-to-point operations on land, sea and air use USB.2) All Ham Radio traffic below 10Mhz use LSB.3) Therefore, all Ham Radio traffic above 10Mhz use USB.4) Attempt to tune sideband stations slowly and steadily. Those with a musicalbackground will find getting the final voice pitch correct is easy. Advances in receiveraccuracy mean most sideband transmissions are "near enough" on the change of the lastkilohertz digit. Portable radio users may only have an SSB button that they must use forUSB and LSB and they may find final tuning is more critical than on communicationsclass receivers.5) If you have an AGC switch, always select the slowest rate for SSB.6) Some older radios seem to be anything up to 3KHz off frequency when correctly tunedto a sideband station. This is not a fault, simply the way the radio measures frequency.The correct way to record the frequency of a sideband station is to state the frequency of
the carrier, if only it had one, the actual transmitted energy being a nominal 1.5KHzabove the carrier for USB and the same amount below the carrier for LSB. Themicroprocessor controlled radio has offsets for each mode programmed in, something ofa little white lie to conform to convention, since both modes use the same filter. In thevery expensive professional sector, separate filters are designed for each sideband,giving textbook - not this one - performance and a "correct" display. Those radios thatseem badly off channel in the sideband mode are measuring the frequency of the localoscillator needed to tease a signal through whatever filter system they have.Filter selection in the AOR AR7030 scans the bandwidth of the installed filter and sets theoffset. As this varies from filter to filter. a 7030 user can rest assured they are gettingthe best resolution from each set bandwidth. And they can test it themselves.7) Keep a log book - that is, a written record - of all you have in the memories. Mostmodern memories are secure, but a radio is subject to "spikes" on the mains supply andvia the antenna during storms. So with so many memories it is but human to forget whatyou had in there. If you have a back-up battery in your radio, the life of these can be solong that they quietly fail and you say so long to your best programming efforts, so;8) Celebrate your radios birthday each year with a new memory back-up battery. It willlove you for it...Expect five years from a back-up cell - longer in the latest models.9) When you have filled the memory capacity of your radio, audition every channel andplace your Top Ten Most Listened To in the channels running from the default setting.This will give you the chance to clear the decks for new findings and leave fewer quietchannels to upset any memory search facility you may have. We are always interested inwhat people listen to on our sets, so you may like to put you Top Ten on a postcard. Thesenders of the most original lists may even find themselves on these pages.10) Try to keep an easily recallable memory channel free to act as a notepad for someunexpected station. It can then be called up from time to time, usually on the hour, untilit identifies itself. Many of the frequencies in this Guide were tracked down by allocatinga block of memories for this purpose. It works, too...11) Unless you are a radio engineer, do not use the Time and Frequency Standards as areference for internal adjustments to your radio. Some are allocated frequencies in asub-band around a well-known channel so you may find yourself adjusting error in ratherthan taking error out. Some standard's carry phase-modulated data which can maketuning difficult. Some standard's are for propagation checking only and are not accurate.Like society, standard's vary - but we don't foresee ANY adjustments being necessaryduring the life of a modern product. In any case;12) DO NOT ATTEMPT ANY INTERNAL ADJUSTMENTS TO YOUR RADIO.If it was made in the last ten years, it will use a technology that is accurate enough. If itis older than that, swallow your pride, check your credit limits and have it set upprofessionally. Never complain about the cost, you are buying the engineer's experienceand the support of his Company. You are also subscribing to a team of techniciansdwindling in number as no formal training in Higher Education exists for the wide rangeof disciplines found in a modern communications receiver. All training is "hands-on" andtherefore expensive even though it plays on a genuine enthusiasm for his subject by theengineer designate. You are also buying access to spares, many of which will be specialto your radio. Test equipment costs are very high and cannot be written off. As radiodesigners, if we are to maintain the level of development and support you the customerhas come to expect, then the test gear will always have to be an order of magnitudebetter than the best receiver we expect to sell. This requires constant investment andresearch. If he will not offer a warranty on his work, then he is either not sure of what heis doing or your Ol' Faithful radio is about to fall off the twig. If your radio has passed itsListen By date then it is likely to be of an age during which many new ideas will havecome in to play, so see it not as a death but a new beginning where you can rethink whatexactly you use the radio for and look for the best new features that address yourchanging needs. Then call us.13) Please learn how to complain. Check that what you see as a fault has not some othercause. Check and double-check the manual. Be concise in correspondence andreasonable on the telephone. The person on the other end is quite likely to be as keen onradio as you are and like you, is quite human.14) PLEASE DO NOT RANDOMLY PRESS BUTTONS IN THE HOPE THAT YOUR RADIO WILLDO FUNNY TRICKS. It came as quite a surprise to your scribe - who will get off hissoapbox after this one - to see how much processor programming is taken up with failsafesand how grimly determined a certain type of user is to find a key combination the
designer has not thought of, in the sole pursuit of locking the whole thing up. A resetusually means a loss of memory settings, so best leave alone.15) Never be afraid to detune an AM station slightly into one or the other sidebands toget best fidelity. The downside is a display which reads irritatingly off channel with say,the World Service coming up on 12097 for example, but you can't have everything.16) In cases of extreme interference an AM station can be treated as two sidebandstations "back-to-back" and tuned in very carefully in either LSB or USB, picking off thesideband with the least interference. Be a gas at parties by telling your host this is theExalted Carrier Selectable Sideband mode or ECSS. She will spontaneously reply that thenew generation of receivers offer even higher fidelity by phase-locked detection in thismode and make mental note to save on Christmas cards next year.17) All AM broadcasters are now using some form of audio processing to improve thesignal-to-atmospheric noise and interference-ratio. There was a time when the quality ofthe sound from your radio was determined by how much you were prepared to pay for it.Now, in world radio, audibility is the key. And, to be honest, it can sound dreadful.No, the problem lies in the audio processing that has slowly changed the sound balancesince Abba were in the charts.It started with wide-band compression. The BBC lead the field with a limiter that gentlyreduced the dynamic range of all audio frequencies present by the same amount, givingan overall impression of loudness enough to counter reasonable domestic noise. Thencame the active systems. A bank of filters carve up the audio into anything up to sixpass-bands. These are then compressed at different rates preset by the broadcaster, thereconstituted audio then going for transmission. In pop radio, some DJs can set their ownprocessing at the desk leading to "double compression" effects which, as they have nomusical analogy, can lead to listener fatigue simply due to the saturation of the sound.Engineers say processing is here to stay. Radio marketing men will tell you that he whoshouts loudest gets the largest audience and so gets to keep the grant-in-aid. That's fineup to a point but with the CD and Digital Audio Mass Storage setting new standards forsource programming and radios improving markedly with each generation - this must bethe time for the broadcasters to reassess their use of processing to allow the final level offidelity to align with the listeners level of investment in equipment. In other words, you'llget what you pay for. With so much choice now in radio, isn't it time to move thetechnical goalposts?18) Broadcasters can change their schedules up to four times a year in the running battlewith the ionosphere. Lower frequencies are preferred in the Winter, moving up a band ortwo to get the best coverage in the Summer.19) Your favourite station is just dying to hear from you. If you let them know you areout there hanging on their every word, they will put you on the mailing list forprogramme information and the latest frequency releases.Dying to hear from you?Yes. If a station can't prove to its government that it has an audience by analysis of itslistener correspondence then that station ends up in our Where Are They Now? feature,coming soon...20) Lower frequencies are better at night, higher ones better in the hours of daylight.21) DX, the real long distance stuff, can be heard at dawn and dusk.22) Advertising copywriters will remember the "If you see SID, tell him" campaign forBritish Gas. If you hope to tell him via short-wave radio, then he won't hear you. In ourfield, SID is a Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance and it can take out the entire spectrumfor short periods of time. Go as low as you can in frequency to steer around him, but noionosphere means no reflected signals and radio silence. You may hear a faint BBCcontinuity announcer apologising for this effect. Only Bush House would apologize for anAct of God....23) With this in mind, get to know the kind of signal meter readings you would expectfrom your favourite stations under good conditions. By reviewing who is strong and whois not, you can soon get the feel of what areas of the world are open to you at the timesit is possible to listen.24) With an outbreak of something near world peace, jamming is less of a problem thesedays. However, there seem to be nations that will always be professionally peeved anddon't want you to hear what someone else is saying. If all the tuning tips so farsuggested in your fatwa-free Guide have not worked, then try the station another time.The jamming may be getting to you on a different path and may fade to leave clearreception. The same rule can fade the station you want, but this is life's rich pageant.
25) Just because you know the dictionary definition of an attenuator, don't feel it is anact of defeat to use one. With two million watts used by some European broadcasters, weare getting signal strengths that can light small torch bulbs. If you are getting a "60 over9" on the signal meter then by all means record it in the log, then switch in the ATTN tobring it down a bit, This will drop the surrounding stations by an equal amount givingclearer reception and bring the fades of the wanted station into the AGC range of theradio.26) In Article 5 of this section, we mentioned AGC time constants. If you have one, theAGC switch can be experimented with as a buffer to the rapid fading found on higherfrequencies.It is not a cure, it simply can make listening more pleasant.27) SEX, LIES AND AUDIOTAPE: Most radios we have encountered so far have a RECORDjack. If yours has some form of phase-locked detection, then a bit of coax to the LINE INon the music centre - dear old fashioned thing that I am - can do wonders for dear oldAM. Then being able to make cassettes is about the best log you can keep."Lies" refers to the extremes of propaganda you could record, so far off the mark thatthey become funny."Sex" is another Guide by Masters and Johnson. We never understood why it took two ofthem to write it...28) PLEASE DO NOT GO LOOKING FOR SPURIOUS SIGNALS. YOU WILL ONLYFIND THEM: This is the latest sensation to sweep the nation. You spend an arm and a legon a radio, short-circuit the antenna socket - the clever ones will do this with a carbonresistor of equal value to the impedance presented at the socket - then tune very slowlythrough the entire range of the set in USB, listing every whistle you can hear.And we admit it. There are signals to be heard. A manufacturer worth his salt will reportthe "worst" of them in the manual. A synthesized radio works by constant comparison ofthe frequency you are tuning to a reference signal - a crystal or fast VCO - actually insidethe set.This creates a little signal of its own. The processing required to make that comparisonand make the radio easy to operate also produces lots of little signals all their own. If wewant our radio to have the range to cover the whole HF spectrum then yes, there will bepoints on the dial where it will "hear itself".Modern design and layout has reduced these to a level equal to the noise floor so infairness to the designers, I no longer regard them as a problem.29) DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOMEModify equipment at home? Please don't.We have over twenty years product development experience since the days when ashort-wave radio meant an ex-Service receiver that needed extensive mods to make itwork in a domestic environment. Over twenty years in compiling research in what isneeded in a changing market and delivering it at a reasonable price.See ITEM 12 for some idea of development costs and support. We do feel that due to thechanges in all the technologies used in a modern radio, modification at home will lead tomore problems than the original "idea" set out to "solve". If you want to be a part of theradio revolution, use the radio for a little while, think long, hard and reasonably aboutwhat you feel could be improved and write a concise letter to the set maker. The pen isfar mightier than the soldering iron and cheaper, too.30) I THINK THEREFORE I SCAN.Or not as the case may be. Some portables give the impression that "tuning around" is athing of the past. They have adopted clever scanning systems that seem to do away withthe tuning knob once and for all. It pains your writer to admit it, some work very well,but pre-set scan levels can mean they "scan over" the low level DX stuff.So, for real band searching - go manual. They are good for checking general bandconditions, however.31) Most modern radios will decide as a part of the Mode selected, which is the best filterfor the job. Some may have a WIDE/NARROW switch. Wide is best for broadcast speechand music, narrow for SSB use. You may have a range of bandwidths to allow you tofilter out what you can as conditions deteriorate. Filters are the last bastion ofexperiment in radio, so do not hesitate to talk to your dealer about the options if yourradio is designed to take them.32) In a very informal review of all the stations heard during the compilation of thisGuide, only about 18% are in English at any one time.33) The format of an English transmission by an international broadcaster usuallyconsists of News on the hour followed by a topical commentary then a feature
programme. Once this "rhythm" becomes familiar, along with interval signals and stationIDs, then identification while in a foreign language becomes easier.34) A debating point from many years at the Human/Receiver Interface. In spite of allthat has gone before on the ionospheric effects on reception, the effects of localisedweather systems seem to go unreported. Users of the Astra satellite already know howheavy precipitation - rain and especially snow - can affect their reception of Bart Simpsonby screening the dish. Over many years your observer has seen how cloud-filledbarometric "lows" seem to improve reception up to about 7Mhz in the area affected,returning to the norm for the season as the weather improves.Debate please on firstname.lastname@example.orgINTERFERENCE.The White Man's Burden...Our sub-title is for real radio aficionados only. It is a play on a Goon Show title last heardin the late Fifties.Interference has a working definition of "any disturbance in reception that spoils theenjoyment of a broadcast programme." We can do little about barking dogs, the motherin-law,cellphones in restaurants and social workers who have defined the worddifferently, our interference is of an electrical nature.And there is a lot to choose from.At long and medium waves where the radio has a long-wire antenna, this is most likelydue to direct radiation from over-head power-lines, the higher the distribution voltage,the more of it there is. The wetter the weather, the more humid the atmosphere, themore of it there is - as any report on 80m through the Stygian gloom of a November fogwill tell you.Every effort is made by the power companies to limit this where it occurs in the main AMbands, happy in knowledge that a domestic radio is a lot less sensitive than what we maybe using and the average Walkman has a ferrite antenna which, in working only with themagnetic part of a radio signal, neatly avoids the noise-bearing electrical part.Most mains-powered radios have a delta-suppressor, the three points connected to line,neutral and MOST IMPORTANTLY the earth. This will reduce the chances of mains-borneinterference getting into the set, but with receiver sensitivities on the increase, the effectappears to be marginal. The legal requirement for suppression is that reasonable carehas been taken with the appliance to reduce - not kill off completely - any noise whichmay be heard on a domestic radio below 1600KHz and above 88Mhz. The suppressionwill have some effect on frequencies between these limits - short-wave radio frequencies- but does not have to be effective here.You can experiment with the "spike-killers" used by computer enthusiasts, but if there isa PC in the house - like this one - then you will have special interference problems allyour own, most of them without a cure. To be fair, the computer industry has done a lotof late to clean up its act on the Electromagnetic Compatibility front, but to suppress atall frequencies adds cost and no accountant will stand for it in such a competitivemarket-place.Experience shows us the worst offender in the home computer set-up is the monitor.Seen by many as just another "must-have" in the system, most go for cheapness ifgraphics are not important and in so doing, throw out time-base and inverter noise to thefar-flung corners of the radio speculum. Sorry about that. The Editor expects it of me.Depending on the type of printer used, these can be a tremendous source of noise. Apartfrom the nuisance factor, they usually are only in intermittent service so less of aproblem to us. If the computer is your own, the answer to the problem is timemanagement.Allocate some time to radio, some other time to computing.If the computer is the decoding element in some form of Data-by-Radio system, then allwe can suggest is meticulous earthing as per User Guides and a coax-fed antenna withthe receiving part - the business end - as far as possible from the terminal.Most standardOffice packages now have a Sound Recorder. Record the recovered audio so you can finetune the decoder over several playbacks.Add to this heady mix multiplex noise from anything in the house with a digital display,thermostat clicks from fridge, freezer and central heating with a squeeze of timebasenoise from the TV and there you have it. The noise cocktail below 10Mhz. Serve slightlychilled with liberal wide-band noise from the microwave to taste.
Those who have a noise blanker - the NB button - will note, or indeed may have alreadywritten in to say, that theirs has no effect on the interference dealt with so far. Quitetrue.These are usually designed to be proof against "impulse-type" noise such as may beheard on an AM radio in a car. These wide-band products mix so well with the wantedsignal that they become a part of it. And that, sadly for us, is how the radio sees them.The latest generation of English receivers has their noise blankers "in" all the time. So, ifyou can hear it, it means the radio can't deal with it, thus saving the frustration ofswitching the noise blanker in and out to see by just how much the poor thing cannotcope.Above 10Mhz there may still be the odd car on the road with a dying ignition condenser -your NB works well here. There may be the nth harmonic of yours or your neighbour'sfridge thermostat - your NB works well here.Its All Quiet on the Eastern Front for a while yet, but as we climb out of this radiorecession, they will start using OHRs again. The Russian Over-the-Horizon HF radar gotthe pet name of "The Woodpecker" in its heyday at the turn of the decade. Sounding justlike that noisy bird, some NBs can deal with it, but with its long complicated phaserelatedpulse chains don't expect too much. And don't believe all you read in the specsheets. Some manufacturers claim they - and only they - have the technology to dealwith Woody Woodpecker. We will believe it when we don't hear it.Not forgetting the computer. It will be making its own special contribution to carpetingthe noise floor. What to do about it?Not a lot, really. By the time the interference is in the air winging its way to destroyAFN's football coverage, it is already too late.The cause of the problem must be suppressed at source. Hamlet, always one for a goodlaugh, expressed it thus;Find out the cause of this effect;Or rather say, the cause of this defect,For this effect defective comes by cause.By all means use a portable radio to track down the problem, but on finding theoffending appliance TAKE NO ACTION YOURSELF. Refer the fitting of suppressors to aqualified electrician. Suppression is the appliance of science.AND NOW, THE NEWS HEADLINES TO THIS HOUR..."Nation shall speak peace unto nation".So it says in the entrance hall to Bush House. Fair enough, but as you tune around theshort-wave bands you will hear different cultures, sometimes radically differentideologies all stating their case - very firmly and very loudly. They all think that they areright and that we should agree and support them, just as we think we are right. Andnever the twain shall agree - at least not in our lifetime.The only way to deal with the wealth of propaganda available to you is to adopt theattitude of the gold prospector sitting on the bank of the river panning for nuggets.Nobody can tell him how much silt he will have to sift through, nobody can say how longhe will have to be there or if he will come away with new-found riches, or what wealth hemay have missed in the passing current.All he can do is place a value on what little he finds. Sift through the propaganda, setwhat you hear against you own values, and you still may not like it.By tuning in to the politically sensitive areas of the world, you can get the news firsthand, biased by that country's ideology. Tune into the other side's radio and you willhear another view biased by a different ideology. Strike a balance and you have aworking base for your own news-gathering - coloured only by your values which are, ofcourse, correct. Remove the bias if you can and you have hit upon the work of radiomonitoring stations like BBC Caversham near Reading.All the main stations listed in the HF Guide carry news on the hour. Take time out tolisten, the order of the main stories, the wording of the copy, the placing of stresses bythe newsreader and you will beat any newspaper or TV bulletin for speed of reporting.And you will know how to feel about it long before the local networks have added theirown brand of sensationalism to sell the advertising time in the middle break.During the compilation of this Guide, the writer was in close contact with the Voice ofAmerica and through them, the American Information Agency. On sifting through it allwe found this, adopted by The United Nations just after The Second World War;
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This rightincludes freedom to hold opinions without [political] interference and to seek,receive and impart ideas through any media regardless of frontiers".The brackets are mine. Taken a different way and this statement gives carte blanche toall kinds of radio piracy. Every major country will have some form of broadcastingsystem, financed by the State by grant-in-aid, by licence or subscription fee. By virtue ofthis it may strive to be impartial, but to some it will always be the Voice of theEstablishment and therefore something to rebel against. If the State Radio has a politicalstance, people will be quite prepared to go against the law to air the opposing view.Prosecution is only an occupational hazard.To find a pirate station, listen for countries where the latest news stories are breaking.Somebody there will have always have other ideas.MY SIGNAL METER IS BIGGER THAN YOUR SIGNAL METER...Never get too pedantic about signal meter readings. These must be the most talkedabout topic on the air. True to say the figures "over nine" lend importance to a reportand the graphic use of red in some designs make the listener feel something reallyspecial - even somehow dangerous, possibly harmful to the set - is going on, but theyare for the most part only a guide. Have fun with them by all means but please do nothold them up as gospel.Only in a few classic designs has the law on which the S Meter scale is based been fullyinterpreted. Even then the antenna has to be an EXACT match to the input impedance ofthe set with no compromises. Radio hams exchanging signal reports should realise thatto be of any value, the two operating stations must be identical from the ground up.Quite literally, as soil conductivity around an antenna is a vital part of its characteristics.Having said all that, what kind of voltages exist at the antenna socket?S Meter reading Antenna Voltage, PD SINPO Perceived StrengthS9+60dB 50 millivolts 5 Acutely strongS9+50dB 16 millivolts 5 Acutely strongS9+40dB 5 millivolts 5 Extremely strongS9+30dB 1.6 millivolts 4 Extremely strongS9+20dB 500 microvolts 4 Extremely strongS9+10dB 160 microvolts 3 Extremely strongS9 50 microvolts 3 Very strongS8 25 microvolts 3 Strong signalsS7 12 microvolts 2 Moderately strongS6 6 microvolts 2 Good signalsS5 3 microvolts 2 Fairly good signalsS4 1.5 microvolts 2 Fair signalsS3 0.8 microvolts 1 Weak signals, DXS2 0.4 microvolts 1 Very weak signals, rare DX!S1 0.2 microvolts Barely usable signalsWhere the signal is acutely strong, report the level but listen on the attenuator. Withsignals this strong, there is no need for the real performance of a communicationsreceiver so avoid overload distortion with a prod at the ATTN button.The SINPO levels are my invention. They are "marks out of five" for Signal strength,Interference, Noise level, Propagation path and an Overall rating. Your scribe onlyreports "fair", "good" or "excellent" since the modern radio memory system is the stationlog and whatever is held in there has to have some entertainment value.However the hobby seems to demand lots of numbers, so here are a few more in amarks-out-of-five rating for readability;
So, a "five and nine" report is an R Readabilityexcellent signal, something like aR5 Perfectly readable"one and two" isn't worth staying upfor. We do enjoy hearing reports of R4 Readable with little difficultyones and twos on 80m, the chap R3 Readable with considerable difficultygoing on to say, "but I don't care R2 Barely readable, occasional words audiblewhat the meter says - I'll give you aR1 Unreadablefive and eight because I heard everyword!".And Finally...And that's it. Before the end-credits, a last dose of nostalgia;Whatever happened to......Radio Fax, the all-day radio information service on 6205....the Laser Radio organisation who were anything but organised when it came to runninga radio station. Laser 558 changed UK pop radio for the better....Radio Caroline, the best audio on the air during its 963 era....the legendary voice of Radio Caroline, Peter Philips....Airport Information Radio, taking "narrowcasting" to a margin so slim it could notsurvive life in the taxi lane at Heathrow....LBC, the first commercial station in the UK, the first to try the "all-news" format....the IBA?...the 2.5Mhz calibration beacon. An essential check for your scribe's 19 Set back when awireless was anything but....Capital 539, the Lots Road transmitter for Capital Radio, London. A Tee antenna swungbetween the chimneys brought the new sound of commercial pop radio to an eagermetropolis until the new site was ready. Dave Cash and Kenny Everett brought the basisof the Zoo Format to England fifteen years before anyone had heard of Steve Wright....Radio Three on AM. Reception was rather indifferent, but at least it stayed there asthose who fight with FM in the car will tell you....Radio Two on AM. Sunday drives in the country with Benny Green telling me why Ishould hate the bloke who wrote all those songs I love so well....Radio One on AM. Your correspondent knows why all these services have had to leavethe steam radio, but a new FM car radio is the answer, the price a part of the question.RDS is the key for me, so I can read what station I'm not hearing clearly as I drive along....Virgin Radio at night?...Radio Nova from Ireland, one of the few stations to treat pop music intelligently....Radio North Sea International. On 6215 during the time I should have been revising forO Levels, this rocker shook the AR88D and is the reason why I now do this for a living....Radio Luxembourg on the great 208 and the oh-so 6090. Quietly reborn as Atlantic252....the wonderful concept of a Light and Home Service, with all the values they evoke....classic comedy on World Service. The rush for news forces gentler entertainment outof the schedules....Trent 301 and Kid Jensen....the new Radio One in 1967, so frightened by what the upstart Kenny Everett may say,they put him on at 6.45 in the evening opposite The Archers....Grace Archer....radio comedy, full stop....Beacon 303, the first real try at rock radio....Les Ross and Fiona on Radio Birmingham....legal CB radio, now pushed to the back of the set....the real characters on 80m, teaching not complaining....the 1930 Net on 160m. 1930KHz at 1930GMT, a group of traditionalists who felt goingover to sideband enough of a compromise - the only net I could hear on my CodarCR70A....clear AM, before OptiMod defined what the radio would sound like before the radio hadhad a try....VOA Europe on short-wave....VOA Europe on medium-wave now Virgin has taken 1197....Radio Veronica, now stylized into mainstream Dutch radio....Laser 730 with the famous antenna balloon....the great Laser voices of David Lee Stone and Rick Harris....World Mission Radio.
...Charlie Wolf after he walked out on his top-rated Atlantic 252 breakfast show....Voice of America audibility in the UK on 6040....BBC World Service daytime reception, if satellite is not your Dish of the Day....Radio South Africa, the You and Yours Request Show on 25790....studio quality Voice of America on 26040....ol' cardboard shoes himself, Keith Skues....The Voice of Peace, scuppered in the sea off the coast of Israel after twenty years, herwork done....the voice of Radio Luxembourg, Bob Holness who signed off every night with;"Whether at home or on the highway, thanks for tuning my way". Bless him…And as the sun rises on Cycle 23, we roll the credits and thank;All at the Voice of America.BBC Broadcast Coverage, Bush House.BBC Caversham.Richard Hillier at AOR UK and Zoe at Short Wave Magazine for column inches.Joe Wilson, Official Keeper of The Guide Archive.John Vodenik at the VOA Bethany Relay Station for the laughs.AOR UK for the use of the AR7030Portishead Radio.(C) 1982-1999All Rights Reserved.A Hope in Hades Production by Bob Ellis