On the technical side, a shortwave radio is a receiver that can receive radio transmission on frequencies between 3 and 30 MHz. The main characteristic of these frequencies is their ability to "propagate" for long distances, making possible such world-wide communications as international broadcasting and coordination of long-distance shipping.
The primary reasons people own and use shortwave radios are personal enjoyment and keeping up with local emergency channels. From a social point of view, shortwave radio is a method of enabling world-wide transmission of information and opinion, and a way to find out information and opinions from around the world. Many countries broadcast to the world in English, making it easy to find out what a given country's position is on those things that it finds important. Shortwave radio can also provide a way to eavesdrop on the everyday workings of international politics and commerce. You can hear news and other programs from a wide range of sources, and you can get emergency information by listening to amateur radio broadcasts including Single Side Band (SSB) transmissions. You also have Longwave (LW) band for Ship-to-Shore calls. FM and Medium Wave (MW) are commonly called AM.
Shortwave listening is a hobby with thousands of participants worldwide, and all you need to know to begin is how to tune a radio. There are no special knowledge or skill requirements; however, as you gain experience and develop special listening techniques, your listening enjoyment increases accordingly. These skills include keeping up on local and non-local issues which affect the broadcast, knowing how to troubleshoot your radio and antenna installation and maintenance. The basic equipment you would need is a radio and a list of frequencies. In most cases, you can receive many stations using the antenna that comes with the radio; however, to receive more distant stations, you can use an external long-wire antenna.
Shortwave radios are distinguished from each other by tuning method, size, and frequency range. A comparison of the shortwave radios we carry is given below:
|RadioShack Shortwave Radios||Features|
|Model DX-396 (Cat. No. 20-226)||Tuning: Digital
Size: 4 3/4 x 7 1/4 x 1 3/8"
Antenna: Rod Only
AM, FM, FM Stereo
|Model DX-402 (Cat. No. 20-230)||Tuning: Digital
Size: 5 x 8 1/2 x 1 3/8"
Antenna: Rod Antenna and External Antenna Jack
LW, AM, FM Stereo
|Model DX-398 (Cat. No. 20-228)||Tuning: Digital
Size: 5 x 8 1/4 x 1 1/2"
Antenna: Rod Antenna and External Antenna Jack
LW, AM, FM, FM Stereo
There are several things you can get which will affect your listening enjoyment:
Antennas pull in more distant and/or
Headphones allow you to focus on the transmissions without outside interference
External Speakers allow you to improve on the built-in speakers
Listening Guides and Reference Books give you information on stations, frequencies and using your equipment
The last and most important "accessory" is Experience. Time spent working with your shortwave unit teaches you the skills and information to get the most out of shortwave listening, such as the best times in your area for reception and how to best use your equipment.
|Portable Shortwave Antenna
Cat. No. 278-1374
Designed for travel or home. This antenna clips over receiver's rod antenna and extends up to 23 feet. The insulated wire stores on the reel when not in use.
|Outdoor Antenna Kit
Cat. No. 278-758
Includes Instructions, 70 feet of antenna wire, 50-ft. of insulated lead-in wire, insulators and a window feedthrough strip.
|Full-size Monaural Headset
Cat. No. 20-282
This closed-cup headset is ideal for scanner or shortwave listening, particularly in noisy areas. It is great for air shows, car races, events, because the comfortable earcups seal out noise. It has a 1/8" plug and comes with a 1/4" adapter.
|Lightweight Monaural Headphones
Cat. No. 20-210
This is a comfortable, lightweight monaural headset for your shortwave radio. It has a 1/8" plug and comes with a 1/4" adapter.
Cat. No. 40-1404
Compact magnetically shielded stereo speakers include speaker wire and brackets for mounting. Extended bass adds exciting depth to multimedia programs and games.
Size of each speaker: 5-1/16x3-7/16x3-5/8".
Add 4 "AA" batteries in each speaker. Can use an AC adapter Cat. #273-1770, or a DC adapter Cat. #273-1815.
Cat. No. 40-1405
Ported enclosures and Bass Boost for solid sound. New 3D surround effect adds real depth to stereo image. 5 watts per channel. 150-20,000Hz. 4" woofer/2" tweeter. AC powered.
Amplified Speaker System (Pair)
Cat. No. 40-1406
Amplified speakers with Extended Bass AMX-19. 2-way speakers with surround sound add another dimension to your system's sound. Extended Bass for deep, rich lows. Magnetically shielded for interference-free use near a monitor. 4" woofer, 2" tweeter. Frequency response 150-20,000Hz. 7" high. Requires 8 "C" batteries or adapter: AC #273-1779/M, DC #270-1534.
21/4 " PC Speakers (Pair)
Cat. No. 40-1407
Magnetically shielded. Bass/treble boost controls. 21/4" full-range speaker. 500-12,000Hz frequency response. Small (4x2-1/2 x2-7/8") size - easy to take along. Requires 4 "C" batteries or DC adapter.
|Amplified 4" Full-Range
Cat. No. 40-1408
Magnetically shielded. 4" full-range speaker. Bass and treble boost controls. 100-12,000Hz frequency response. 61/2×47/16×47/8 ". Black finish. Requires 4 "C" batteries or adapter: AC #273-1770 or DC #273-1815.
Cat. No. 40-1409
This pair of magnetically-shielded, compact amplified stereo speakers add super sound to your PC monitor, TV, stereo or portable CD player. Convenient 3-way power-plays on home AC or car DC with optional adapters, or 8 "C" batteries, optional. The separate bass, treble and volume knobs give you control the sound quality. The sleek, contemporary design for a timeless look that complements any décor.
|Antennas - Selection and Installation
Cat. No. 62-1083
Here's everything you need to know in order to choose and install the best possible antenna system. It discusses antennas for TV, FM, CB, cellular telephone, satellite and shortwave. Deals with the problem of TV and FM reception in fringe areas. Clear meaningful illustrations and easy-to-read text. 112 pages.
|The New Shortwave
Cat. No. 920-0073
By George Jacobs. This book is a necessary tool for radio amateurs, shortwave listeners and radio communicators of all types. Discover the most productive uses of the radio spectrum.
A band is a group of frequencies. Sometimes, bands are grouped according to their wavelengths, in meters. The tuning locations of a station can be expressed as a frequency (kHz or MHz) or a wavelength (meters). Amateur radio operators generally refer to the frequencies they operate on using the frequency's wavelength. For example, the 19-meter band refers to the range of frequencies with waves about 19 meters long. You can use the following equations to convert kHz, MHz, and meters.
Certain bands are set aside for specific purposes; these are called the band allocations and are listed below:
Amateur Radio Frequencies
International Commercial Frequencies
Ship and Coastal Station Frequencies
Time Standard Frequencies
The AM band is between 520 kHz and 1720 kHz and is used for commercial radio broadcasts.
The FM band is between 87.5 MHz and 108 MHz and is used for commercial radio broadcasts.
Aircraft on international routes sometimes use SW. Most transmissions are in SSB, although you can still hear some MW transmissions. Here are some bands where you might hear aircraft communications.
Amateur Radio Frequencies
Amateur radio operators in the US operate mostly in LSB (Lower Side Band) mode. Morse code operators are generally found in the lower areas of each band. The amateur radio operators with the most advanced classification are found in the upper areas of each band.
Tuning to the amateur radio frequencies can be interesting and helpful, because amateur radio operators often broadcast emergency information when other means of communication break down. Portions of these bands are set aside for continuous wave (CW) Morse code communication or for single sideband (SSB) voice communications, as shown below.
1,800 - 2,000 kHz: SSB
3,500 - 3.800 kHz: CW
3,800 - 4,000 kHz: SSB
7,000 - 7,150 kHz: CW
7,150 - 7,300 kHz: SSB
10,100 - 10,150 kHZ
14,000 - 14,200 kHz: CW
14,200 - 14,350 kHz: SSB
18,068 - 18,168 kHz
21,000 - 21,250 kHz: CW
21,250 - 21,450 kHz: SSB
21,990 - 24,890 kHz
25,000 - 28,500 kHz: CW
28,500 - 29,700 kHz: SSB
Note: These ranges are not precisely observed everywhere in the world.
International Commercial Frequencies
International commercial broadcasts are found in the following shortwave bands. Programs (often in English) usually contain news, commentaries, music, and special features reflecting the culture of the broadcasting country. Reception for this range is best between 6:00 PM and midnight (your time).
|120 meters *||2.300 MHz to 2.495 MHz|
|90 meters *||3.200 MHz to 3.400 MHz|
|75 meters *||3.850 MHz to 4.000 MHz|
|60 meters *||4.750 MHz to 5.060 MHz|
|49 meters||5.900 MHz to 6.200 MHz|
|41 meters **||7.100 MHz to 7.350 MHz|
|31 meters||9.400 MHz to 9.990 MHz|
|25 meters||11.600 MHz to 12.100 MHz|
|21 meters||13.500 MHz to 13.870 MHz|
|19 meters||15.100 MHz to 15.800 MHz|
|16 meters||17.480 MHz to 17.900 MHz|
|13 meters||21.450 MHz to 21.750 MHz|
|11 meters||25.600 MHz to 26.100 MHz|
* These bands are reserved for stations in topical areas.
** Interference is heavy in the 41m band (7.100-7.300 MHz) because amateur radio operators and international stations share this range.
The 150-519 kHz range is known as the longwave band. Most stations in this range serve as beacons for aircraft and marine navigation by continuously transmitting their call letters. Reception for this range is best between 6:00 PM and midnight (your time).
Some ships also use this range, wit 500 kHz set aside as an international distress and emergency station.
Most stations in this range use CW (Morse code), although some use AM voice transmission for weather broadcasts.
Ship and Coastal Station Frequencies
Most transmissions from ships and coastal stations are in SSB and CW. You can hear these transmissions in the following bands:
* The Coast Guard and small boats use this band, with 2,182 kHz set aside as the international distress and emergency channel.
Time Standard Frequencies
The following frequencies announces the exact time of day at specified intervals.
WWV in Fort Collins, Colorado
CHU in Canada
VGN in Australia
4,500 and 12,000 kHz
The following list contains some of the more frequently heard stations. All stations broadcast in English unless otherwise specified. You can hear these stations throughout North America. However, reception varies bases on the season, time of day, and a number of other conditions. This information is subject to change at any time without notice.
|3,265||Radio Mozambique||Maputo, Mozambique|
|3,300||Radio Cultural||Guatemala City, Guatemala||Religious Programs|
|3,380||Radio Iris||Esmeraldas, Ecuador||Program in Spanish|
|3,285||FR3||Cayenne, French Guiana||Programs in French|
|3,396||Radio Kaduna||Kaduna, Nigeria|
|4,750||Radio Bertoua||Bertoua, Cameroon|
|4,755||Imo Regional Radio||Imo, Nigeria|
|4,777||Radio/TV Gabon||Libreville, Gabon||Programs in French|
|4,795||Radio Nueva America||La Paz, Bolivia||Programs in Spanish|
|4,820||Radio Paz y Bien||Ambala, Ecuador||Programs in Spanish|
|4,832||Radio Reloj||San Jose, Costa Rica||Programs in Spanish|
|4,855||Radio Clube do Para||Belem, Brazil||Programs in Portugese|
|4,890||National Broadcasting Commission||Papua New Guinea|
|4,915||Voice Kenya||Nairobi, Kenya|
|4,920||Australian Broadcasting Commission||Brisbane, Australia|
|4,945||Radio Colosal||Neiva, Colombia||Programs in Spanish|
|4,965||Radio Santa Fe||Bogota, Colombia||Programs in Spanish|
|4,980||Ecos del Torbes||San Cristobal, Venezuela||Programs in Spanish|
|5,020||Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service||Honiara, Solomon Islands|
|5,057||Radio Gjirokaster||Gjirokaster, Albania||Programs in Albanian|
|5,950||Guyana Broadcasting Service||Georgetown, Guyana|
|5,954||Radio Casino||Puerto Limon, Costa Rica|
|5,960||Radio Canada International||Montreal, Canada|
|5,980||Radio RSA||Johannesburg, South Africa|
|6,025||Radio Malaysia Kuala||Lumpur, Malaysia||Programs in Chinese|
|6,045||Radio Australia||Lyndhurst, Australia|
|6,055||Nihon Shortwave Broadcasting Company||Tokyo, Japan||Programs in Japanese|
|6,060||Radio Nacional||Buenos Aires, Argentina||Programs in Spanish|
|6,075||Radio Sutatenza||Bogota, Colombia||Programs in Spanish|
|6,090||Radio Luxembourg||Ville Louvigny,Luxembourg|
|6,095||Polskie Radio||Warsaw, Poland|
|6,105||Radio New Zealand||Wellington, New Zealand|
|7,140||Trans World Radio||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|7,170||Radio Noumea||Noumea, New Caledonia||Programs in French|
|7,300||Radio Noumea||Tirana, Albania|
|9,475||Radio Cairo||Cairo, Egypt|
|9,515||Voice of Greece||Athens, Greece|
|9,525||Radio Korea||Seoul, South Korea|
|9,530||Spanish Foreign Radio||Madrid, Spain|
|9,535||Swiss Radio International||Berne, Switzerland|
|9,540||Radio Prague||Prague, Czech Republic|
|9,570||Radio Bucharest||Bucharest, Romania|
|9,575||Italian Radio and Television Service||Rome, Italy|
|9,610||Radio-TV Algeria||Algiers, Algeria||Programs in Arabic|
|9,620||Radio Berlin International||Berlin, Germany|
|9,645||Radio Norway||Oslo, Norway|
|9,720||Radio Iran||Tehran, Iran||Programs in Farsi|
|9,770||Austrian Radio||Vienna, Austria|
|9,800||Radio Kiev||Kiev, Ukraine|
|9,835||Radio Budapest||Budapest, Hungary|
|10,040||Voice of Vietnam||Hanoi, Vietnam|
|11,655||Israel Radio||Jerusalem, Israel|
|11,690||Radio Kuwait||Kuwait City, Kuwait|
|11,705||Radio Sweden||Stockholm, Sweden|
|11,720||Radio Moscow||Moscow, Russia|
|11,725||Radio Sofia||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|11,745||Voice of Free China||Taipei, Taiwan|
|11,815||Radio Japan||Tokyo, Japan|
|11,825||Radio Tahiti||Papeete, Tahiti||Programs in Tahitian|
|11,835||4VEH||Cap Haitien, Haiti|
|11,845||Radio Canada||Montreal, Canada|
|11,850||Deutsche Welle||Cologne, Germany|
|11,890||Voice of Chile||Santiago, Chile|
|11,900||Radio RSA||Johannesburg, South Africa|
|11,930||Radio Havana Cuba||Havana, Cuba|
|11,935||Radio Portugal||Lisbon, Portugal|
|11,945||Radio Beijing||Beijing, China|
|11,955||Voice of Turkey||Ankara, Turkey|
|11,980||Radio Moscow||Moscow, Russia|
|15,038||Saudi Arabian Broadcasting Service||Riyadh, Saudi Arabia||Programs in Arabic|
|15,084||Voice of Iran||Tehran, Iran||Programs in Farsi|
|15,135||Radio Moscow||Moscow, Russia|
|15,205||All India Radio||New Delhi, India|
|15,265||Finnish Radio||Helsinki, Finland|
|15,275||Radio Sweden||Stockholm, Sweden|
|15,305||Swiss Radio International||Berne, Switzerland|
|15,310||Radio Japan||Tokyo, Japan|
|15,320||Radio Australia||Melbourne, Australia|
|15,430||Radio Mexico||Mexico City, Mexico||Programs in Spanish|
|15,465||Radio Pakistan||Islamabad, Pakistan||Programs in Urdu|
|17,720||Radio France International||Paris, France|
|17,825||Vatican Radio||Vatican City|
|17,860||Austrian Radio||Vienna, Austria|
|21,495||Israel Radio||Jerusalem, Israel|
|21,525||Radio Australia||Melbourne, Australia|
|21,625||Israel Radio||Jerusalem, Israel|
|21,645||Radio France International||Paris, France|
|21,735||Radio-TV Morocco||Rabat, Morocco||Programs in Arabic|
|25,790||Radio RSA||Johannesburg, South Africa|
The standard antenna type for shortwave reception is a long-wire antenna, so called because it uses a single long wire for reception. The 278-1374 and 278-758 antennas above are both examples of long-wire antennas. The 278-1374 is a portable antenna which has a cap to clip over the tip of your existing antenna and a loop to secure the extended wire. This compact reel allows up to 23 feet of antenna when fully extended.
The 278-758 is for permanent installation and requires a radio with external antenna terminals, such as the DX-402 and DX-398.
NASWA -- North American ShortWave Association, member of ANARC (Association of North America Radio Clubs)
DXing.com -- Distant Station Listening
We have provided a short list of common abbreviations and terms you may encounter. You can find a much more extensive list on-line at the Federal Standard Telecom Glossary at http://www.its.bldrdoc.gov/fs-1037/
|AM (Amplitude Modulation)||ANARC (Association of North America Radio Clubs)||ARRL (American Radio Relay League)|
|BFO (Beat Frequency Oscillator)||CW (Continuous Wave)||DX (old telegraph code for distant)|
|FM (Frequency Modulation)||FSK (Frequency Shift Keying)||GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)|
|HF (High Frequencies)||LSB (Lower SideBand)||LW (Longwave)|
|MCW (Modulated Continuous Wave)||MW (Medium Wave)||PLL (Phase Locked Loop)|
|SSB (Single SideBand)||SW (Shortwave)||UHF (Ultra High Frequencies)|
|USB (Upper SideBand)||VFO (Variable Frequency Oscillator)||VHF (Very High Frequencies)|
Amplitude Modulation (AM): A modulation technique that varies the power output of a transmitter in accordance with the variations in the modulating audio signal.
Balun: A device used with to match an unbalanced feedline, like coaxial cable, to a balanced antenna, like a dipole.
Band: A range of frequencies
Beat Frequency Oscillator (BFO): A receiver circuit that generates a replacement carrier to enable intelligible reception of CW, FSK, and SSB signals.
Continuous Wave (CW): The constant output of a radio transmitter that can be periodically interrupted to send messages by Morse code.
DXing: listening to distant stations (D=distant, X=transmitter)
Frequencies: A band is a group of frequencies. Sometimes, bands are grouped according to their wavelengths, in meters. The tuning locations of a station can be expressed as a frequency (kHz or MHz) or a wavelength (meters). Amateur radio operators generally refer to the frequencies they operate on by using the frequency's wavelength. For example, the 19-meter band refers to the range of frequencies with waves about 19 meters long.
Frequency Steps: Lets you set the frequency increment for tuning or scanning.
Longwave (LW): Radio signals 300 kHz and lower in frequency, although this term is often used to mean any radio signal lower than 540 kHz.
Lower SideBand (LSB): The sideband lower in frequency than the transmitters carrier.
Medium Wave (MW): Radio signals from 300 to 3000 kHz, although this term is often used to mean any radio signal in the AM broadcast band (540 to 1700 kHz).
Shortwave (SW): frequencies between 1.7 MHz (1700 kHz) and 30 MHz
Sideband: A signal equal to the bandwidth of the modulating frequency found above and below the carrier frequency in an AM signal.
Single SideBand (SSB): A modulation technique that suppresses one sideband and the carrier and transmits only the remaining sideband.
Ultra High Frequencies (UHF): The frequency range from 300 to 3000 MHz.
Upper SideBand (USB): The sideband higher in frequency than the transmitters carrier.
Very High Frequencies (VHF): The frequency range from 30 to 300 MHz.
Copyright© RadioShack Corporation 2001. All rights reserved.