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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Listening HAM Bands On Shortwave Radio

Few days back responding to my request in Facebook a great and worldwide respected Dxer from South Asia Mr. Victor Goonetilleke wrote this very useful article on listening HAM bands via SW radio. With prior permission from the writer I am publishing it here for the greater interest of DX community. (Curtsey: Indian DXing Corporation Forum in Facebook)


Was it Prithiviraj who wanted to know about listening to the radio hams? Just a few points. Much information is available if you just click, Amateur Radio, HF Amateur Bands etc. I am limiting myself to Short Wave or HF High freqs here. These days to listen to Radio Hams-I will use hams instead of Amateurs as its shorter to type!-you need a receiver with can tune LSB/USB. The most active bands for a beginner SWL, is to try between 7100-7200(40m.b.) 14000-14350 and 21100-21450 kHz. On 7 MHz band switch to LSB(Lower Side Band) position of your receiver and 14 MHz and above USB and slowly tune up and down. 

When you hear a signal, initially it sounds garbled-like ducks quacking!!, slowly tune moving very slightly up and down till the signal starts to get clear-we call it demodulating SSB(single side band).
Radio Hams will not announce their country often. It is in their Call Letters(Call signs). A call sign has a prefix and suffix. i.e VU2JOS Jose Jacob's call, the prefix is VU2 and in there is the country code VU-India and JOS is his personal part- the suffix. I am 4S7VK- 4S=Sri Lanka. Download a list of country prefixes and you are in business. Like the WRTH there is a Call Book or on the net a site QRZ.Com. When you go to it there is a small window to type in the call sign and then hit enter- then that hams details will pop up. Just try it.

Radio Hams use nothing more than a 1 kW or 2 maximum. Usually the average common power is about 100 watts which is equal to about 100kW in the Broadcasting field. So the telescopic whip might not get you more than a few signals. Adding a wire outside helps, but a dipole for the particular band even 15 feet off the ground makes a huge difference. For receiving you don't have to match it unlike for transmitting. The internet will give you dimensions, designs etc.

QSL cards-almost every ham has a QSL card and most will send you a QSL card if you send a reception report. Usually you might send an IRC or self addressed envelope with some return postage. Local hams will be happy to send his/her card, just enclose a SASE as a mark of respect.

Best time to listen is in the morning on 7 MHz and evenings on 7, 14 and 21 MHz. Sri Lankan hams use 7060 between 7.30 a.m. and 8.15 a.m. There is an Indian net on 7080 starting at 7.00 a.m. Anyway just tune around and you will get the hang of it.
When two or three hams talk they will use their call signs and of course address them by a short name, the first name usually. The one who is about to turn over (as he finishes talking,) to the other, will first give the call of the person who is going to pick up and the person just finishing will give his callsign last. i.e I will say VU2JOS to take it and my call sign 4S7VK. When Jose picks up the microphone from me, he will say Roger 4S7VK, VU2JOS returning.. or something like that. Just try it and sooner than later you will get the hang of it.

73 Good luck with SWLing the Radio Amateurs. de 4S7VK.

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