RADIO LISTENING (SWL)
radio hobby that requires no license is short wave radio listening.
All that is required is a short wave receiver (or an internet connection)
and some time. The short wave receiver can be a simple kit from
Radio shack or a sophisticated desktop commercial radio costing thousands
of dollars. Generally the majority of short wave listeners have
modest receivers and antennas. The typical radio receiver will be a
portable ($50-$150) or desktop AM/FM/SSB/CW receiver($100 - $300) and
possibly a BFO that will allow single side band and CW Morse Code
reception. Listening to CW, facsimile, teletype or wire photo
signals is little more than a curiosity at first. Later these
signals can add further enjoyment to your SWL hobby. To get started get
yourself a receiver capable of tuning to 3 to 30 MHz. A new one from
Radio Shack or a used one from a local hamfest will do just fine.
Add a long wire (approx 50 feet of insulated stranded wire) antenna
preferable installed high up as possible outdoors. Be very careful
to keep it well away from any electrical power cables. Never place
(in any circumstances) an antenna over, under, or near a power line.
Start tuning up and down the dial and listening to what ever stations you
can hear. The best time to listen is at night after dark.
Later you will want to obtain listings of foreign broadcast stations so
you can see if you can hear them. There are books and web sites
where you can obtain the frequencies and times the stations are on the
air. For example perhaps you are interested in listening to
The Voice of America, the BBC or a radio station in Germany. After
this, you are an official DX'er (D=Distance, X=Unknown) meaning you
listen to long distance radio stations often of unknown origin. Make
a detailed log of all your listening including the time, date, and
frequency and exactly what you heard. Also record your radio type
and antenna used. Have fun! DX'ing also (loosely) includes
listening to distant AM broadcast stations. Although this is not
technically short wave radio listening it still is thrilling to see if you
can hear distant AM broadcast stations across the country at night.
Don't have the money for a radio? Then listen
for free on the internet. wmbr.mit.edu/stations/list.html
Wave Radio Frequently Asked Questions
OD5SK's Amateur Radio Guide