TARGET HF3 AM/SSB COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVER "There is no greatness where there is no simplicity." (Leo Tolstoy)
I am often asked what would be a good H.F. receiver. There are quite a
number to choose from and having previously owned a Lowe HF-150 which
has now sadly been discontinued, I think that the Target HF3 could now
make a very interesting proposition. I particularly admire the
simplicity of its appearance. As Leonardo da Vinci noted; "Simplicity is
the ultimate sophistication."
Spectrum Communications are the dealers for the Target HF3 receiver
(2012) and Tony Nailer comments: "This is a masterpiece of RF
engineering covering the entire spectrum between 30KHz to 30MHz. The
receiver is supplied with a comprehensive instruction manual, which
includes a list of useful marine frequencies. Controls on the front of
the receiver change reception mode, from a narrow filter for SSB
reception to a wide filter, which enables high quality AM signals to be
received from broadcast stations around the world. They also control ten
memory channels to store your favourite frequencies. The receiver uses a
45MHz first IF and has a high side fully synthesized local oscillator
providing exceptional stability. A large, clear liquid crystal
display shows the precise receive frequency. It has a fixed level
audio output to connect to a computer sound card. Supplied with a basic
wire antenna and 12 volt power cable." To conclude I will recall
Albert Einstein who noted: "Everything should be made as simple as
possible, but not simpler."
Some other previously available short wave (HF) radios:
Sony ICF SW
Above - The excellent Sony and Roberts radios are neat portables
suitable for Short Wave listening and a spot of MW, LW and VHF DX-ing
too. Both models offer many facilities and very good reception.
The Palstar R30 Communications Receiver
is for the serious Short Wave Listener who wishes to catch some exotic
DX, it's easy to use and offers high performance and excellent value
money! Click HERE to find out more.
Above are the Lowe HF-150 and HF-255
communications receivers, high quality classics that will be sadly
missed now that Lowe Electronics have recently discontinued production
of radios in Britain. The excellent little HF3 was, until 2003,
produced by AKD Products of Stevenage. AKD Products produced the
HF3 receiver together with a number of other communications products
such as RF filters, but have now ceased trading. The rights to
AKD range have been aquired by Garex Electronics www.garex.co.uk
who will be marketing some of the former AKD products and, perhaps, the
now you have your radio - What is DX-ing and why?
DX-ing is the long distance reception of
a distant radio station or transmitter that is not usually intended for
reception at your own locality.
Despite the advent of DAB digital radio and radio delivered by
satellite there is is still much fun to be had with long distance
reception ("DX-ing") of long-wave, medium-wave and short-wave radio
stations and even v.h.f/FM too.
DAB certainly gives a good choice of some of the mainstream stations
but, in the main, listeners can only receive what the authorities
us to hear. A DAB multiplex uses a Single Frequency Network
to carry the signals to the listener. The single frequencies are
used and re-used all over the country to obtain a wide coverage, unlike
traditional AM and FM broadcasting which must use a different frequency
for each area or region to avoid interference.
The Single Frequency Network of DAB provides rubust reception, but does
not generally allow DX-ing since the frequency of the local multiplex
may be the same as the multiplex that you wish to hear 50 or 100 kms
away and so is effectively blocked.
With analogue AM or FM if you are bored of your local radio station
chances are that you can tune into an alternative distant radio station
(given a suitable aerial) since it is likely to be on a completely
different frequency to your own local station, this is often not so
Chances are that if you live in the Midlands you could tune into local
stations in Manchester or London or other areas. This can
sometimes be because you want to hear the programme material being
broadcast on a different distant station and often because it is just
great fun to pluck a weak and interesting station out of the ether.
Post" Including HF Receiver and Scanner for VHF & UHF
[Click on the picture to see some more
ideas about aerials on the Lowe HF-150 page!]
What do you need for long distance
reception - DX-ing?
Medium Wave & Long Wave DX-ing:
special is initially required, though as you become absorbed into the
hobby bigger aerials and a better radio may be desired, but to start
with just a reasonable quality portable radio from a good radio name
such as Roberts, Sony Grundig, Sangean or Panasonic may be all that is
required to pick up very distant medium wave and long wave radio
stations. A decent portable mw/lw/fm radio will cost about
£30-£40 and will allow long distance reception especially
You will also require an
suitable for distant reception, the best, easiest and smallest being a
LOOP AERIAL. See the page Loop Aerials and ATU's for details on
how to make a simple Loop Aerial that will allow some good DX-ing even
with a modest portable radio.
Eventually as listeners become more involved in the DX hobby a better
communications receiver may be desired, such as a Palstar R30 or AOR
AR7030. A long wire aerial can be employed, strung around a loft
or down a garden to grab those really weak and far-flung stations, and
bigger and better directional loop aerial could be made. Again
the LOOP AERIALS and ATUs pages.
VHF / FM DX-ing:
you also want to get into VHF/FM (Band 2) DX-ing from 87.5 MHz to 108
MHz then it is handy if the radio you use has an external aerial socket
so you can connect an external DIPOLE AERIAL or YAGI that can be
positioned in a loft or preferably outside. Even better will be
obtain a 4 or 5 element VHF Yagi aerial mouted on a rotator outside so
that it can be electrically moved and pointed into any desired
direction. During good reception conditions such as 'Tropospheric
Lift or Ducting' and 'Sporadic E' that occur periodically during the
year reception of stations at unimaginable distances can be
experienced. An external aerial can often be plugged
into a portable radio that is fitted with a suitable socket and
can offer surprisingly good results. A hi-fi system that
includes a good quality VHF / FM tuner can be used to obtain some great
'DX' during the good 'lift' conditions when connected to a quality
external aerial. It is important that the tuner has quite narrow
IF filters to separate out the croweded stations, and some tuners offer
different IF filter settings, so when DXing always choose the narrowest
one. Check in the instruction book. The quality
of tuners is quite variable, the 'separates' hi-fi tuners are usually
very good, whereas the tuners that are built into a mini or midi stereo
system or 'music centre' can often be quite poor, being noisy,
insensitive and having wide IF filters that give poor selectivity -
are surprisingly good, however, so it's always worth a try.
During periods of good reception it is often possible to hear
transmitters and local radio stations from hundreds of miles away and
even European stations can be received at such high strength that the
RDS (Radio Data System) information is decoded and displayed on those
tuners that have the RDS facility.
A high quality
Sony STSA50ES Tuner
Other VHF and UHF
A scanner, such as the one seen in the
picture of the 'listening post' above, will provide reception of
frequencies above the Short Wave bands right through the VHF (Band 2)
broadcasting bands and beyond - right up to UHF (Ultra High
Frequencies). The actual frequencies that a scanners will cover
depends upon the model, but frequencies from approximately 25 MHz (the
top of the short waves) to 1300 MHz are typical. Some scanners
offer this in one continuous band, but others omit certain small ranges
- so check that the scanner you intend to obtain includes the
frequencies that you wish to monitor!
This wide range of frequencies can enable monitoring of Amateur Radio
Operators and other utility services using Narrow Band FM (n.b.f.m.)
sometimes narrow AM modes of transmission. The newer encrypted
digital modes of transmission will not be heard as anything other than
'mush', it must be noted.
The scanner can continually monitor a set range of frequencies -
scanning through the range every few seconds. Alternatively a
hundred, and usually many more memories are provided to memorise the
favourite or most frequently used frequencies. The scanner can
then be set to scan all or some of these memories only stopping on a
memory channel when the frequency is active and a signal received.
A scanner requires a specialist aerial that can cover the enormous
range of frequencies - a DISCONE is the most popular choice and is
arguably the most effective, although there are alternative aerials
available - both passive and active. Some of the alternatives
like white plasic sticks and these have the aerial elements inside,
include an active remeotely powered wideband RF amplifier - these are
known as Active Aerials. Active aerials work well when the
listener is away from a town or main conurbation, but can be easily
overloaded if situated near to an active transmitter of which there
be many in a town or city. It is often best, therefore, to use a
passive type unless signal strengths are particularly weak in the area
where the scanner is located.
more about the radios
Tuning to ShortWave can reveal many stations from all around the
globe. Many of the stations heard will be from International
broadcasters wishing to make their own country's views heard the world
over. Additionally Amateur Radio operators can be heard chatting
on the short wave bands, which can often prove very enlightening,
especially if you are after some technical tips.
The short waves range from 3000 kHz to 30,000 kHz are used since
they are reflected off a layer in the earth's atmosphere known as the
Ionosphere. The ionosphere lies at a height of between 50 and 400
miles above the surface of the earth. This means that signals
may have otherwise been lost as they travelled straight out into space
are reflected by the ionosphere back down to earth many hundreds, if
thousands of miles away from the transmitter site for distant audiences
to tune into.
Sometimes high frequency radio signals can be bounced several times
through the ionosphere before returning to earth, or even bounced back
off the surface of the earth and again off the ionosphere to enable
reception on the opposite side of the globe.
There are portions of the short wave band
that are reserved for broadcasting and these are usually referred to as
the short wave bands. eg 49meter band (6MHz) , 41meter band
and 31meter band (9MHz). See "THE
BANDS" table below. Some of more inexpensive 'dial and
pointer' analogue radios tend to separate these into distinct
ranges, missing out the wavelengths in between. Digitally tuned
radios may cover everything from 4MHz to 26MHz continuously without
switching, many cover everything from 1.6 MHz right up to the top of
band at 30 MHz without missing out any frequencies.
Not all of the short wave band is used
for 'broadcasting' programmes. There are many frequencies in
between these broadcast bands that have, in the past, been used
for 'Utility' stations which carried Morse Code, FAX, RTTY (Radio
Teletype) from newsagencies and other modes of transmission such as
AMTOR. These all make strange beeping noises but can be decoded
with special hardware decoders or by using software on a
Have a look in Short Wave Magazine for more details. Much of this
utility traffic has gone now, replaced by internet, computer and
satellite. However there is still much voice traffic.
Much of the voice traffic will be from military sources - army, RAF,
USAF and Navy - and from commercial aircraft and shipping and from
coastguard and rescue services. If you refer again to THE BANDS
table below you will see that Amateur Radio operators have specifically
designated band on which they are allowed to operate, these bands are
often buzzing with conversation. Remember that in general most of
these voice transmissions will be in Single Sideband mode (SSB).
And as a rule of thumb the frequencies below 10MHz (10,000KHz) use
Sideband, while the frequencies above 10 MHz use Upper Sideband
(USB). You may sometimes have to listen for a while before
anything as not all the frequencies are active all the time.
Have a look at the SOME
INTERESTING FREQUENCIES notes at the bottom of this page for
ideas of where to tune into.
Why do some frequencies
appear to be completely dead?
As a very rough guide, and from my own experience, frequencies between
12MHz to 30MHz work better during daylight hours, due to the way the
ionosphere propagates the radio waves. During the night they will
usually seem very quiet or completely dead - especially as the
broadcasters, knowing that propagation at this time will be very poor
they will switch their transmitters to other frequencies.
At night time frequencies below 12MHz tend to be propagated more
effectively by the earth's ionosphere, so broadcasters will use these
more extensively during darkness and they will usually appear to be
active at night. The 49 meter band (6MHz) and the 41 meter band
(7MHz) are usually the best, though the 75 meter band (4MHz) and 31
meter band (9MHz) are often good night time choices too.
More about radios:
To obtain the short wave bands a
more expensive radio than the average mw/lw/fm portable will be
rquired. Some inexpensive portable analogue (dial and pointer)
radios offer one additional short wave band, usually the 49 meter band,
that will enable reception of many of the main international broadcasts
from around the globe on a simple telescopic aerial and this can be a
good introduction to the world of short wave. For the more
ambitious a dedicated shortwave / worldband portable, such as those
pictured at the top of this page will be more desirable, and indeed
necessary if you wish to tune into the SSB transmissions.
So, moving up the radio market a little there is a good choice of
digitally tuned portables that offer very accurate tuning and much
and continuous coverage of the short wave bands. Again a radio
from a good manufacturer will be needed for satisfactory results, as
very cheap radios that are often labelled 'world band' that can be seen on
offer in discount stores or your local market will prove very
unsatisfactory as they are poorly designed being very unselective
meaning that they cannot adequately separate one station from another
the crowded short wave bands.
These cheap radios can be had for as little as £20 but will also
prove to have very inaccurate tuning dials, so you just won't know to
what frequency you are tuned. They are often insensitive which
will mean that the weaker stations will not be heard and always suffer
from a poor image rejection ratio which manifests itself as stations
appearing not only at the intended position on the dial but also at
several other positions causing much unwanted interference and noise.
The best bet for an introduction to good short wave reception is to buy
a portable radio manufactured especially for the purpose which uses a
digital readout for accurate tuning so you always know to which
frequency the set is tuned along with continuous coverage of short
wave. Popular manufacturers for such sets are Sony (eg ICF-SW35 or ICF-SW7600), Roberts (eg R9921, R881 or R861), Grundig (eg YB400 or Satellite 800)
and Sangean (eg ATS 404 and
909). See O'Gormans Radio for some examples.
The higher specification, and therefore more expensive, communication receivers that are
dedicated to mw/lw and sw are produced by Palstar (i.e. R30), AOR (i.e.
AR7030), ICOM, KENWOOD and YAESU (FRG-100) amongst others.
Satellit multiband radio
No matter how good your radio it must
be fed by a good antenna!!
For Medium Wave and Long Wave
Portable Medium Wave Loop
Long Wave Frame Aerial
most effective aerial for mediumwave and longwave DX-ing is probably a loop aerial. A loop aerial is useful
because it is often easier to use than having to string up a large
long-wire outdoor aerial. A loop aerial is very discriminatory in
that it is both Directional
and Selective. The
can help null out unwanted interfering stations and the selectivity
prevents overloading of the radio because the loop is tuned into the
frequency of the desired station, rejecting all others. A long
wire aerial can easily overload the tuning circuits of a radio and the
directional and selective characteristics of a loop avoid this.
When I constructed my first medium wave loop aerial I was utterly
amazed at its performance - pulling in stations that I had never heard
previously. I still think, even considering its simplicity, that
the loop aerial is best piece of equipment I have ever made!
Traditionally such an aerial is wound around a large wooden frame often
100cm x 100cm and connected directly to a receiver using the external
aerial socket. A typical example is seen in the centre photograph
above. For portability and for effective use
with a portable radio a smaller loop can be constructed so that a
typical portable radio can sit in comforably in the centre and the
signals received by the loop aerial coupled to the radio's internal
ferrite rod aerial.
An Aerial For Short
Aerial [Click on the picture
to see some more ideas about aerials on the Lowe HF-150 page!]
obtain good short wave reception it is absolutely essential to have a
large enough aerial placed as high as is practical and positioned as
away from any sources of electrical interference as possible.
The easiest and therefore most common aerial for shortwave reception is
simply a length of wire suspended as high as possible and as far as
possible, often referred to as a 'long wire', it is more correctly
termed a 'Random Wire' since
its length is not cut to be resonant with any particular
wavelength. A random wire may be 10 to 30 meters long and be
strung around the loft or down a garden slung from poles or trees, or
even around all four walls of the listening room. (This long
random wire aerial can also be used for medium and long wave reception
though I still prefer to use a loop aerial for these bands.)
This random wire aerial could be connected directly to the receiver's
aerial socket if it has one. If the radio has no aerial socket
then the aerial could be clipped directly onto the telescopic rod with
crocodile clip, but both of these options could overload a portable
radio's tuning circuits and while not harmful it will cause much
undesired noise and interference.
It is usually much more effective to indirectly couple the aerial to
the radio: Wind the last few centimeters of aerial wire into
6 to 20 turns around a paper tube and slide this over the telescopic
aerial and adjust its position along the rod until the best signal
coupling is found. Sometimes even better results are obtained by
connecting the free end of the wire to earth.
shows a method of coupling a wire aerial to a radio with no aerial
A better option is to connect the aerial to a portable radio's antenna
socket via an ATU - see below
If a communications receiver is being used then the long random wire
aerial can often be connected directly to the set's antenna terminals,
as many receivers of this type can handle the strong signals
present. Even better is the use of an ATU (Antenna Tuning Unit)
this will help with better signal transfer:
Connecting a long aerial directly to the telescopic aerial of a
portable radio, in particular, can cause serious overloading of the
radio's 'front end' (the
circuits) producing lots of unwanted noise and interference.
An Aerial Tuning
better method of coupling a long random
aerial to a short wave radio that has an
antenna socket is
to use an Antenna Tuning Unit that also incorporates an attenuator to
reduce the signal if neccesary. An ATU
can help match the widely varying impedence of a random length of wire
to the fixed 50 ohm impedence present at the input of the radio.
By better matching the aerial to the radio more of the signal collected
by the aerial will be transferred to the radio.
However should reception conditions be very good and signal strengths
are very high then too much signal could swamp the radio's tuning
circuits. In this case an attenuator
will be very useful, giving the ability to gradually reduce the
signal. A simple attenuator consists of a variable 1k resistor
which can be incorporated into the ATU circuit.
For more information on LOOPS, AERIALS and ATU's and some useful
circuits have a look at the LOOP AERIALS
and ATUs page.
Receivers: often have signal meters marked 1 to 9 followed by
decibel readings, the chart below provides a conversion to the
terminated voltage (in microvolts) at the radio receiver:
Note how relatively small changes in
voltage at the lower end of the scale ( in the S1 to S8 range) produce
quite noticable swings in the readings, while really quite large
changes in signal voltage at the higher end of the scale ( S9 to S+50 )
produce quite small variations in read-out. This non-linear
quite intentional: Increases in signal strength from S1 to S9
produce dramatic improvements in the received signal to noise (S/N)
radio while above around the S9+10dB signal level the receiver is
approacing the best acheivable S/N ratio and further large increases in
signal strength will make less if any improvement to the audible S/N
ratio, so the S Meter does not really need to reflect these changes in
such minute detail.
The signal meter is invaluable when
making aerial adjustments and comaprisons as well as being useful for
comparing the strength of various transmissions.
RECEPTION REPORTING using
the S I O code:
With reference to a signal meter on a typical communications receiver,
the table below plots the indicated signal strength against the correct
= The Signal Level I= The amount of
interference O = The
(rather subjective) overall quality of the signal. The S and the
I parts are indicated below:
as reported in the SIO code
as reported in the SIO code
to 3 (v. weak to weak)
to 7 (fair to good)
to 9 +10 (strong to very strong)
to 9 +30dB (very strong)
9+60dB (extremely strong)
(Overall Quality) is then given as: 5 =
Excellent 4 =
Good 3 =
Fair 2 =
Poor 1 = Very Poor
THE S I N P O
The SINPO code adds a little more detail by including values for N =
Noise and P = Propagation Disturbance.
Tuners: Often some older analogue hi-fi radio tuners included
a swinging needle type signal meter to aid tuning on VHF / FM
stations. These basic meters provided a rough guide to signal
strength, but from experience of various hi-fi tuners that I have used
over time the chart below can give some idea of the actual terminated
voltage at the tuner's aerial input. The chart below gives a
(vhf / fm)
Strength For Acceptable FM Stereo Reception: A top quality
HiFi FM tuner will often produce a signal to noise ratio of 60 dB when
receiving about 200 microvolts, less than this and reception will be
unacceptably noisy. So a deflection on the signal meter of 4 or
above is really needed for good stereo. A reading of less than 4
will normally indicate that the tuner should be switched to mono for
less noisy reception this is because FM stereo requires up to ten times
more signal strength than mono reception to obtain the same signal to
noise ratio. To obtain full quieting of around 70 dB, i.e. the
best signal to noise ratio, most good tuners would need 300 to 500
microvolts and cheaper tuners and average all in one stereo micro and
mini systems etc may need even more than this if little attention has
been paid to the tuner circuits. [NB CD audio can achieve 90 -
100 dB signal to noise ratio.]
With digital dB (Decibels) Read-out:
Some Hi-Fi tuners, Sony is one example, have a signal strength read out
in dB and while total accuracy cannot be guaranteed, this type of
indication will be much more useful than a swinging needle or five
LEDs. This readout will give an indication of the Terminated
Voltage. To convert the dB figure given in the readout to the
actual voltage you will need to use the table shown below:
VOLTAGE dB = 20 x
Log of Voltage
(e.g. 20 x Log of 158uV = 44 dB)
below shows results that are reference to 1 microvolt **)
A Note About Calculating Field
you wish to know the actual field strength in dBuV/m at the point where
the aerial is situated you will need to add in some other factors:
Feeder Loss in dB: e.g. a
certain type of 75 Ohm coaxial aerial cable my have a loss of 10dB per
100 meteres, so if your aerial installation uses 10 meters of coaxial
cable then you will have to factor in a 1dB loss.
Aerial Gain in dB: A simple
dipole may be considered to have zero gain i.e. 0dB, a three element
Yagi may have 3dB gain wheras an omnidirectional horizontal circle type
aerial could be considered to have minus gain - e.g. -3dB. This
figure needs to be taken into account.
to be 6dB
Example: The terminated voltage at the tuner is 500uV (Log 500 x
20 =54dB) so the field strength when using an aerial with 3dB gain is:
54dB Terminated Voltage -3dB Ae Gain +
0dB Eff Length + 6dB Term Loss + 1dB D'Lead Loss = 58dB Field Strength
(i.e. The field strength where the aerial is sited is approximately 794
uV, so there has been a 294 uV loss in the receive aerial system.)
[ I always find
it useful to remember that when dealing with Voltage that a 6dB
increase represents a doubling of the voltage, whereas when dealing
with Power a 3dB increase represents a doubling of power - as can be
seen in the table below: ] Transmitter powers are
usually quoted in Watts, but occasionally they are given in dBW
(reference to 1 Watt **).
The chart below converts dBW figures to Watts.
[For example if a radio station quotes a
output of 38 dBW just multiply the 30dBW figure (i.e. 1kW) by the 8dBW
figure (i.e. 6.4): 1kW x 6.4 = 6.4 kW or if the quoted
is 49 dBW then 10kW x 8 = 80 kW ]
Example calculation (provided by Mark Timlin):
To find the power in milliwats for a dBm figure of 62:
62 divide by 10 = 6.2
Antilog 6.2 = 1584893 milliwatts
1584893 x 0.001 = 1584.8 watts
**The Decibel measurement is purely a ratio, it is not an absolute power
or voltage. For a decibel reading to be meaningful it must be
referenced to a certain voltage or power. If we know that the
Decibel measurements are reference to 1 Volt (for example) then we know
that 0 dB = 1 Volt and so we therefore can calculate that 6dB = 2 Volts
and that 20dB = 10 Volts etc.
Similarly with power, if the dB readings are reference to 1 Watt (for
example), then we know that 0dB = 1 Watt and therefore that 6dB = 4
Watts and 20 dB = 100 Watts etc.
RF-3100 Short Wave H.F. Antenna Installation and Propagation Advice:
Above: Panasonic RF-3100
Short Wave H.F. Antenna Installation Advice
Loop Aerial &
ATU Constructional Pages - Make your own reception aids!
Lowe Electronics HF
series of Communications receivers
Just a short email to express my appreciation of a very interesting
site. I am a recently early retired radio enthusiast, having picked up
radio as a ten year old, and now, at 65 years of age, I have to say it
is getting b---dy heavy, but I still won't put it down.
My British Army tour of 1964 to 1971 as a Regular, and my Reserve
Service of 1972 to 1984 saw me continue this interest, and all at
someone else's expense! Neat, huh? I particularly enjoyed your clip on Number Stations
[see below] as I belong to ENIGMA 2000, a Group which specializes in these and
other Military and Intelligence related communications modes. They are
still alive and well, although not so prolific as in recent years, the
Cold War in particular.
They abound in CW (Morse), voice, and various data transmission modes.
If you wish, I will send you a frequency prediction list which is
produced by Ary Boender, one of our members. [Shown below]
I also enjoyed your various radio receiver reports. I have a Yaesu FRG
7700 with a long wire aerial into a FRT 7700 aerial tuner and
FF5 notch filter. I use my desktop PC for recording, but it is daisy
chained into a cassette recorder and a reel to reel tape recorder for off
air recording. (I know, it sounds like Marconi's coffin in this shack!) I
also have a Grundig Yacht Boy as a stand by and portable rig.
trying to bring an old R1155N back to life, but the Force is not as
strong as once it was!
Well, some short email, but I did love the
site, and will be back.
Very best wishes to you and the family, and Best
73 de Gary."
[January 31st 2012]
Thanks for all the information Gary, it's all absolutely fascinating. Much appreciated, Mike
More from Gary.....
Today I took delivery of my brand new Eton Satellit 750. Got it up and
running in the shack as I type. Really does make the winter seem a bit
more bearable. (Yeah, well, I know that is an exaggeration!)
Hope you get some joy with the number stations. The stations marked as X
or XPA are data transmitters. One of the guys has written a program to
decrypt it into numbers/letters, but as you know, decrypting the actual
message is a complete no-hoper. We think the numbers and/or letters must
be for one time pads or a derivative of them. A book code is possible,
given the amount of literature is knocking about the world.
As an Intelligence Corps sergeant said to me; "Just because the message
is sent in English, German or whatever, only proves the sender and
receiver understand enough to send numbers/letters in that language."
This was circa 1966 and all was black and white to me then! I had just
said something like; "If this is a German message, must be for a German,
huh Sarge?" Oh foolish youth!!
Let me know how you get on.
If you want some other frequencies, USAF have a worldwide HF net and 11175 USB is a good one to listen out on.
There are more, but my addled brain needs a book to refresh it! If you
get a string of NATO phonetics, it is an EAM or emergency action
message. Another one they send is "Skyking." Both are in the deepest of
encryption, so no chance of cracking that either! Just as well, a lot of
my family are American, and I have no wish to see the other side of
Cuba! (As in Gitmo Bay!)
Best DX and 73 de Gary Hagermann"
RECEPTION OF BBC RADIO FOUR IN CENTRAL FRANCE
Hello, I found
your website when I was trying to source information on how to make my
old valve radio work more efficiently. It was my grandfather's and as
it was in very good condition I took it with me to France where I live
some of the year. I tune the radio in to the Long Wave to listen
to BBC radio 4.The problem is that reception is very bad. Only
occasionally do I hear the station clearly. Often there is fading and
also every kind of crackle in the world drowns out the station.
We are situated in the middle of France near Brive. Can I improve
the reception? If I took an aerial out on to the roof would this
help? Or am I trying to make an old radio work in conditions that
are hopeless? I fully understand that I could buy a modern
radio,( we have one). I can also at any time listen to any
station I want via satellite and on my laptop, but that isn't the
point. I would like to receive the BBC on my old radio - which I
may add, looks rather grand. If you would be kind enough to give
me any advice I would appreciate it very much. Peter Laing
Possible Aerial Solutions
Given a weak signal then there is always something
that one can do to
improve the situation with regard to a better and more efficient aerial
If the radio set has an input for an external wire aerial then running
a length of insulated wire, say 10 meters or so, outside should improve
the strength of the signal. String the aerial wire around a
yard if possible, or suspend it from wooden poles fixed to either end
of the house so that the wire is a meter or two above roof level.
One has to bear in mind that a big aerial can produce large signals
from your nearby medium wave and long wave transmitters that may
'swamp' the radio's tuning circuits (RF overload) and produce more
noise and different problems. It is worth a go though, and if
are no close by transmitters then an aerial of between 10m and 30 m
could be tried. It is always worth experimenting with different
locations and orientations to find the best results.
However if you are suffering noise in the form of 'every kind of
crackle' then obtaining good, or at least better reception can become a
little more difficult. Generally a better aerial will not only improve
the signal from the required radio station but also proportionately
increase the strength of the interference sources. So you will still
suffer with the interfering crackles.
If the source of the interference is within the house then connecting
the aerial to the radio via screened, coaxial, cable may help reduce
the amount of interference being delivered to the radio. This
only be of use if the radio has both aerial and earth connection
terminals: (Beware of older valved radios - don't try connecting
internally to the chassis - these radios often have a chassis that is
at mains potential and serious electrical shock or death could result.)
Connect the inner, centre conductor of the cable to the aerial/antenna
input of the radio and the outer braided conductor of the cable to the
earth/ground terminal. Run the coaxial cable from the radio to a
outside the house/building several meters away from the boundary of the
building. This keeps any interference originating from inside the
house away from the aerial. Then connect 10m to 30m of pvc
wire to the centre conductor of the coaxial cable and place it high up
away from the house. The outer braid of the coax cable can be
connected to an earth stake a few feet long that has been driven into
some damp soil - this may help take any interference picked-up inside
the house on the braided part of the coaxial cable down to earth.
The use of an ATU may help with matching the aerial and coaxial feeder
to the radio, as might the use of a matching transformer at the
junction between the aerial wiore and its point of connection with the
coaxial cable. See the ATU page HERE.
The other possibility is to use a large frame aerial. Make a
aerial about 1meter square or larger if possible. The advantage
frame aerial is that, although it does not pick up as much signal as a
long wire aerial, it is very directional and can be rotated to either
give the highest signal from the wanted station or to reduce to a
minimum (null out) an interfering station or source of noise.
A frame aerial can be extremely effective for reducing interference,
however if the source of the interference is from within the house then
it made carried and radiated by internal wiring and could come from all
sorts of different directions and the directional properties of a loop
may not be so useful. It is still worth a try though, so see our
loop/frame aerial page HERE.
I found your
interesting site whilst browsing the web looking for information on
getting better quality MW and LW radio reception whilst travelling
around W and C France. I spend quite a lot of time near Bordeaux
and would really like to be able to pick up british stations on these
frequencies. My existing portable radio is now pretty dead after
many years of use.I was
wondering if you had any suggestions on which models could make a good
Many thanks, Jon
Long distance stations
will certainly come in better at dusk, night and early morning. I
listened to Capital Radio from London many many years ago in central
France at these times.
I cannot guarantee that
you would get medium wave stations from the UK during the day, but the
use of a loop aerial may be well worth a try. I would certainly expect
to be able to get Radio Four on Long Wave during the day using a loop
aerial in central France.
general advice would be to use a good quality
receiver from a well known manufacturer, i.e. Sony, Panasonic, Sangean
/ Roberts (Roberts re-badge Sangean radios and tend to be more
expensive than the Sangean equivalent.) and just as
importantly, is to use an effective aerial. I would recommend a loop
aerial of approximately 14 inches in diameter for travel use. Rather than buy a new
radio first off, I would make the loop aerial. However you cannot buy
them, but if you are quite good at using a screw driver, pliers and saw
etc and think that you could turn your hand to some easy soldering
(i.e. a bit of very simple DIY) then it should not be very difficult to
make a loop aerial - well two aerials actually would be more effective
- one that will tune across the medium wave band and another that could
be fixed to 198 kHz long wave for BBC Radio Four.
Short Wave Radio - Amateur Radio and
Citizens Band Radio Under Threat
From "HomePlug Networking" Broadband by Powerline Devices SHORT WAVE (H.F.) RADIO,
INCLUDING AMATEUR RADIO, IS THREATENED WITH MASSIVE AMOUNTS
OF INTERFERENCE CAUSED BY British Telecom's BT HomeHub / Vision
PowerLineAdapters & OTHER SIMILARLY UNNECESSARY
'B.P.L' & 'PLT' PRODUCTS.
interference from BT Home Hub / Vision PowerLine Adapters and other
similar devices could also
broadcast radio reception with vast amounts of radio
FOOTNOTE: SOME INTERESTING
in an old Lowe Listeners Guide.
Some of them can still reveal very interesing results particularly in
Marine or Air communications. Most of these frequencies lie
outside the general Broadcast Bands so many will use the Sideband mode
of transmission. Usually Lower Lideband (LSB) for frequencies
below 10MHz and Upper Sideband (USB) for frequencies above 10MHz.
to general broadcast programmes then consult THE
BANDS table above, but before you go there just have a tune around in
the space between those broadcast bands - it can be fascinating, but
don't expect to hear something immediately and do remember that this is
now a very old list.......
Ghana Broadcasting. This is an excellent test station to see if this
classic DX band is open. Try around midnight. As we slowly creep up the
HF spectrum, signals penetrate the E Layer only to be reflected down
again by the F Layer. As this layer is twice the height of the E Layer,
the reflected signal comes to your antenna from a much greater
This effect is what gives 80m its European coverage by night. By day it
remains The Great UK Natter-band.
Allocated frequency for GB2RS RSGB UK News. Costing over £5000 a
year to run, the future 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
listen for useful reports of solar activity - if you can understand
- details of Club Events and radio rallies in the summer. The writer
been out of Ham Radio for years but still finds himself listening on
Sundays at 0930z. We miss you, Fred G2CVV..
4Mhz Land/Marine Mobile Band
Marine Distress International.
Arctic Seas Distress
return of the number stations may have a lot to do with conditions, but
the routines suggest mere testing of old equipment, a lot of
transmissions being in AM.
callsign. Despite all the new technology, the main
enemy to operations is the weather. This code is given at fixed times
and upon request to pilots preparing to fly between British airbases.
From this we will learn that a Wattisham Blue has little to do with
being an all-round good egg while up at University, but "Forever Amber"
is a good status for most of my holidays in Wales. Other flight watch
frequencies are included in the lists. Serious HF airband operation
need one of the better receivers with a stable sideband operation and a
large number of memories to allow rapid channel hopping.
The lower limit of the 60m Tropical Band. Allocated only in the
tropics, this band gives up some musical treats in the late evenings.
And it's getting better;
Radio Nigeria. Long today's dance trends set the nations feet to dance
to the urgent guitars of World Music via BBC Radio 1, those of us
blessed with short-wave could hear the opium of the people on The
Tropical Band without the need for mosquito nets and funny
Letter Station. Just as the reviewer sharpens his pencil to have a go
at the endless entries for so-called "number stations", the ionosphere
rings the changes with a station sending five letter groups.
one sends IOBMJ, "India/Oscar/Bravo/Mike/Juliet" ad nauseam.
East Coast Control.
Buchan Control. Examples of Air Defence Radar Units.
Northern Seas Supplementary Distress.
Sunday Pirates have moved to the 75 Metre band.
Russian number station. "Golly, Control, you don't think they are at it
we don't. The modulation quality suggests some very old plant is just
being given an airing. They tell us the price of freedom is eternal
vigilance, so you never can tell...
Shannon ATC. Secondary calling on 8831.
Sudwestfunk, Baden-Baden, Germany. Real radio as a public utility.
Nothing but a rich mix of pop and rock from albums, news, weather and
travel information. Listen for the pulse of RDS data that switches over
a million German radios to this network for the latest update.
Army Signals. "That man there! Absolute shower!"
8Mhz Mobile Band
Ships Survival Craft.
calling on 6577.
RAF Flight Watch and Gibraltar Forward Relay.
English number station.
Calibration Beacon. Many countries compete to provide a Reference
Standard, so much so that 10000 is merely the middle of a standard's
sub-band. The one you find could be up to 5KHz away from what you take
to be 10000 leaving you to question the accuracy of 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...
example: Callsign RWM from Moscow is the strongest SFS station in
and can be heard on 4996, 9996 or 14996kHz throughout the 24 hours. It
sends five minutes of unmodulated carrier, five minutes of one second
pulses and five minutes of one tenth second pulses. The latter have to
be unfiltered with a sharp leading edge for precision purposes, which
results in key click splatter being heard around the world. For
frequency calibration and propagation checking purposes these SFS
stations are ideal, but don't forget that radio signals take around one
seventh of a second to travel around the world. The timing is, however,
sufficiently precise for meteor scatter schedules.
111660KHz: Radio Australia (recprion
from about 3pm in England - added 2005 by Roger Sharp).
13Mhz Long Distance Mobile Band
major world-wide mobile communications band;
Weather on the hour.