09 February 2007

the allure of shortwave

This article, by a shortwave radio enthusiast, was previously posted to Radiointel.com and the rec.radio.shortwave newsgroup. It provides a simple and effective summary of what lures people to the shortwave hobby. Here's the first paragraph:

"The first time I heard a shortwave radio broadcast was on a winter night in the mid-1960s. I was a Boy Scout, visiting my scoutmaster to work on a merit badge. But before I left, he showed me a radio on a shelf above his basement workbench. He turned it on and played with the dial. Suddenly, I heard a voice declare that I was listening to Radio South Africa. ..."

Full article: A signal heard round the world


LinuxSense said...

Good read.

I gotta say though that I have a hard time with just 'sw as a hobby'...for me its pretty much 'rf as a hobby'. SW is cool but its just such a small slice of the pie....just another tool in your kit....so many interesting freqs to monitor.

Firestarter5 said...

I agree with Linuxsense. I was listening to scanners long before my first SW radio was purchased. SW has it's moments, but when you can listen to a Police Officer yelling into his radio while running after a suspect, I'm afraid it doesn't get much better than that.

LinuxSense said...

Yea, scanners can be great fun in urban areas. I am in Orange County and with my external antenna I can get CHP from the Mexico boarder all the way up last LA into Ventura county. I can also monitor LA Sheriff, all the LA 'media', ORCO and LA Fire, tons of interesting stuff. A lot of the law freqs in So Cal are digital and encrypted these days, which sucks, but you can still find tons of freqs worth listening in on. FWIW: RatShack has the Pro-97 scanner on sale for $149 right now...great analog scanner for the money. If you have never owned a scanner (or at least a properly programmed one) you would have a really good time with that little toy ;-)

Not to take anything away from SW..its fun to monitor...but I am on the scanners about 9:1 over the SW radio.

Firestarter5 said...

I agree. Now with trunking and all the scrambled channels it's more difficult to listen in. However, the best thing I ever did was get a c-mod for my PRO-46 handheld so I could pick up on cell phone conversations. That, dear internet, is worth the price of admission!

LinuxSense said...

Do you still get many analog cell conversations on your pro-46? AFAIK everything around here is all digital now.

Trunking sure makes the scanners harder to setup, but once its programmed correctly its no problem, you just really need PC based software to setup some trunked systems properly. Some trunk tracker scanners are better than others...the pro-97 certainly works very well with all the analog trunked systems I have monitored. I have a pro-95 and a pro-2051 and the 97 kills 'em both. Gotta have something like scancat or 'win9x' software for them...really lets you get the most out of the hardware.

I would like to get a digital scanner, but they are a bit expensive right now and I am not sure I want to invest in one until after the long awaited 'rebanding' of 800mhz happens...at least thats the excuse I am using to keep me from spending $500 right now ;-)

Firestarter5 said...

You'd be surprised the number of cell calls you can still get. Just listening to some of these girls talking with their boyfriends makes me want to jam rusty forks into my eyes.

weatherall said...

Ouch, that reminds me, I need to go get that tetanus shot.

Linuxsense said...

Just to follow up on the scanner thread that started here:

I recently purchased a Uniden BCT15 scanner (ebay $219US new) and its a very impressive receiver. Picks up all the aviation/military/TV/FM broadcast as well as the usual public safety freqs. I use software by Butel to control it (and log and record) and to program it and its a powerful combo. If any of you are looking for something new...pick one of these up...its an impressive piece of hardware for the money.

Sean said...

"You'd be surprised the number of cell calls you can still get. Just listening to some of these girls talking with their boyfriends makes me want to jam rusty forks into my eyes.''

Yeah, that really sounds enlightening. One can get all the moronic domestic drama and police chases one needs from just listening to the neighbors or watching 'Cops' re-runs. Surely one doesn't need to buy a scanner just to hear more of that!