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Old 04-05-2017, 11:57   #1
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BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Just this week, while doing some work on-board, listening to my Icom M-802 (as usual), and when taking a break from working, I wanted to check propagation....so I spun the dial around to see what was coming thru this afternoon...
And, as I passed WeFax (out of Boston and New Orleans) looking for GYA (out of Northwood, UK), I clicked thru some Shortwave channels as well...and to my joy heard the old familiar BBC, on 12095!

Yes, since a few years back the BBC stopped beaming their Shortwave broadcasts at the "Americas", I only occasionally tuned-in to them, but still have 3 or 4 BBC freqs programmed in, just to take a listen....
And, this one quick listen prompted me to tune around a bit, and yep the BCC is still alive on Shortwave (and even though not beaming directly at us in N. Amer, Caribbean, etc., they are still strong here!)
Later that day and again the next, I found the BBC on a few different freqs, at various times of the day!

{I found myself listening to the reports of opioid addiction in the US and especially in Huntington, WV (where they report that 10% of the population may be addicted!)....and then later that day, while watching the BBC World News on TV (from our local PBS TV station here in Florida), I saw the same report that had been on the Shortwave earlier!!}

With the recent discussion here about Radio Australia shutting-down their Shortwave (HF) broadcast, I though maybe some here might want some good news!!!
And, so the impetus of this posting!


So, then I thought instead of just posting that "I heard 'em", how about telling you a little bit of the "where" and "how"???
Well, here goes:

1) For those in areas not directly served by BBC Shortwave (HF) broadcasts, nor much in the way of English-language SW broadcasts (such as the US, Caribbean, "Americas", EU, etc.), understand that just because the broadcast might not be directed to your location, the signal can still get there (and still be strong, in some cases)....
This has always been the case for nighttime lower frequency broadcasts (such as 5875, 6005, and the venerable 6195), but don't discount the daytime higher freqs as well, especially 12095 and 9915, and even 15400 (9915, 12095, 11770, 11810, 13660, 15400)...

As examples, for those in the eastern US, Bahamas, Caribbean, etc. we have good signals from both the UK and Ascension Island transmitters, when they're beaming to Africa....and I suspect that those of you in the EU and Med will have similar signals, and even better then we do here for signals to east Africa or middle east??


2) Those looking for better reception, in addition to ridding your boat of on-board RFI, simply switching to USB (rather than AM) can improve things significantly....this gives you a narrower rec bandwidth, improves S/N...
(just be sure to zero-beat if your radio isn't too freq accurate)


3) Those looking for sources of info on-line, there are plenty....
But, here are a couple that found useful...

BBC World Service on Shortwave
BBC - Global Short Wave Frequencies

BBC World Service - Radio Frequency Guide


BBC West Africa / Central Africa schedules (that work well for those of us in eastern US, Bahamas, Caribbean)
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldserv...requencies.pdf

BBC World Service - West and Central Africa Frequencies



And, a really cool site I found last night....that allows you to enter some criteria (such as broadcast language, times, etc.), and you get a listing of all stations scheduled to be transmitting the language, etc. at the times you specified...
AND...
And, for those outside of the broadcast area, looking to gauge whether or not these signals would be strong in their area, do understand the nature of HF radiowave propagation and look at the beam heading (AZ) of the broadcast, to see how far off-boresight you are (80* to 100* off, might be no signal at all....but 30* to 60* or 150* to 180* off, might be good)

Short-Wave Radio Frequency Schedule for BBC in ENGLISH


4) While I know a few words / sentences in French....I never studied it, so it's English (or some Spanish for me)....just thought some may be surprised to know that RFI (Radio France Internationale) does do some English language broadcasting...
And, they also use some transmitters here in the US...(actually in C. Florida)

Of course, it ain't the BBC, but there is always the VOA...Voice of America...
Have a look at some of their schedules and you can easily tune them in almost anywhere...


5) And, while it's not "Shortwave", those heading across the Atlantic (or down island), don't forget the nighttime reach of US AM Broadcast stations (MW BC)....
You can listen to WCBS (880khz), WABC (770khz), and some of the other NYC and east coast stations, too, every night, as you sail across the Atlantic...and some other US 50KW, "clear channel" stations also have quite a range...(I hear WWL, WSM, and WSB, frequently thru the Caribbean)




I hope this helps some of you out....not trying to say Shortwave radio is thriving, but just that it isn't dead!

Fair winds...

John
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Old 05-05-2017, 09:00   #2
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Just this week, while doing some work on-board, listening to my Icom M-802 (as usual), and when taking a break from working, I wanted to check propagation....so I spun the dial around to see what was coming thru this afternoon...
And, as I passed WeFax (out of Boston and New Orleans) looking for GYA (out of Northwood, UK), I clicked thru some Shortwave channels as well...and to my joy heard the old familiar BBC, on 12095!

Yes, since a few years back the BBC stopped beaming their Shortwave broadcasts at the "Americas", I only occasionally tuned-in to them, but still have 3 or 4 BBC freqs programmed in, just to take a listen....
And, this one quick listen prompted me to tune around a bit, and yep the BCC is still alive on Shortwave (and even though not beaming directly at us in N. Amer, Caribbean, etc., they are still strong here!)
Later that day and again the next, I found the BBC on a few different freqs, at various times of the day!

{I found myself listening to the reports of opioid addiction in the US and especially in Huntington, WV (where they report that 10% of the population may be addicted!)....and then later that day, while watching the BBC World News on TV (from our local PBS TV station here in Florida), I saw the same report that had been on the Shortwave earlier!!}

With the recent discussion here about Radio Australia shutting-down their Shortwave (HF) broadcast, I though maybe some here might want some good news!!!
And, so the impetus of this posting!


So, then I thought instead of just posting that "I heard 'em", how about telling you a little bit of the "where" and "how"???
Well, here goes:

1) For those in areas not directly served by BBC Shortwave (HF) broadcasts, nor much in the way of English-language SW broadcasts (such as the US, Caribbean, "Americas", EU, etc.), understand that just because the broadcast might not be directed to your location, the signal can still get there (and still be strong, in some cases)....
This has always been the case for nighttime lower frequency broadcasts (such as 5875, 6005, and the venerable 6195), but don't discount the daytime higher freqs as well, especially 12095 and 9915, and even 15400 (9915, 12095, 11770, 11810, 13660, 15400)...

As examples, for those in the eastern US, Bahamas, Caribbean, etc. we have good signals from both the UK and Ascension Island transmitters, when they're beaming to Africa....and I suspect that those of you in the EU and Med will have similar signals, and even better then we do here for signals to east Africa or middle east??


2) Those looking for better reception, in addition to ridding your boat of on-board RFI, simply switching to USB (rather than AM) can improve things significantly....this gives you a narrower rec bandwidth, improves S/N...
(just be sure to zero-beat if your radio isn't too freq accurate)


3) Those looking for sources of info on-line, there are plenty....
But, here are a couple that found useful...

BBC World Service on Shortwave
BBC - Global Short Wave Frequencies

BBC World Service - Radio Frequency Guide


BBC West Africa / Central Africa schedules (that work well for those of us in eastern US, Bahamas, Caribbean)
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldserv...requencies.pdf

BBC World Service - West and Central Africa Frequencies



And, a really cool site I found last night....that allows you to enter some criteria (such as broadcast language, times, etc.), and you get a listing of all stations scheduled to be transmitting the language, etc. at the times you specified...
AND...
And, for those outside of the broadcast area, looking to gauge whether or not these signals would be strong in their area, do understand the nature of HF radiowave propagation and look at the beam heading (AZ) of the broadcast, to see how far off-boresight you are (80* to 100* off, might be no signal at all....but 30* to 60* or 150* to 180* off, might be good)

Short-Wave Radio Frequency Schedule for BBC in ENGLISH


4) While I know a few words / sentences in French....I never studied it, so it's English (or some Spanish for me)....just thought some may be surprised to know that RFI (Radio France Internationale) does do some English language broadcasting...
And, they also use some transmitters here in the US...(actually in C. Florida)

Of course, it ain't the BBC, but there is always the VOA...Voice of America...
Have a look at some of their schedules and you can easily tune them in almost anywhere...


5) And, while it's not "Shortwave", those heading across the Atlantic (or down island), don't forget the nighttime reach of US AM Broadcast stations (MW BC)....
You can listen to WCBS (880khz), WABC (770khz), and some of the other NYC and east coast stations, too, every night, as you sail across the Atlantic...and some other US 50KW, "clear channel" stations also have quite a range...(I hear WWL, WSM, and WSB, frequently thru the Caribbean)




I hope this helps some of you out....not trying to say Shortwave radio is thriving, but just that it isn't dead!

Fair winds...

John
John,
My wife and I work on a OSV in the Gulf of Mexico and we have two Furuno hf/ssb radios at our GMDSS station. Every time I see a thread like this I try to tune into the stations mentioned but I rarely pick anything up. I picked up a Pacific rally check-in once that was fairly clear, though it was the middle of the night. Another thing is that I'm sure the installs on our vessel isnt the best and I think without a doubt that we have a lot of RFI. On top of our bridge is every antenna and sensor known to the marine industry. So I doubt I'm getting good reception. It's usually mostly static, if not completely static, day or night.

That said, is there any Caribbean or US or elsewhere stations that I can tune into for news, music, talk shows, etc that will have good reception in the GOM? I don't need news per say because we do have satellite Internet access but it's more for the practice and curiosity of using the HF/SSB.

Regards,
Ronnie
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Old 05-05-2017, 10:50   #3
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Ronnie,
You should be able to receive BBC, Rad Fra Int, etc....I will get back to you tomorrow with some details...I'm on my way out in a few...

But, until then...
a) Both on-board RFI and radiowave propagation play a big role in HF radio reception....(but, I'd assume that in order for your vessel to be IMO compliant / GMDSS certified, your station console's installer would've proofed the system, and removed RFI sources???)
{have a listen to the USCG SSB Voice weather broadcasts as well as those from WLO (and their hourly station ID and traffic lists)....and see how well you copy WLO, NMN, NMG, and especially NMC (from Pt. Reyes, CA)...if these come in loud and clear (they should), then you might not have too much RFI...
I am familiar with the Icom M-802, M-710, and M-700, etc...but sorry, I'm not familiar enough with the Furuno's receiver's S-meter to tell you how many segments illuminated (what "S" reading) would be normal band noise (static) and what would be indicative of RFI....}


b) You can thank the political clout of the US radio broadcasters in the 1920's and 1930's, as well as the continued clout of the National Assoc of Broadcasters, for getting the US gov't to outlaw commercial domestic shortwave broadcasting, way back then!
(yes, religious broadcasting on shortwave in the US is allowed, as are commercial broadcasts beamed overseas and not receivable domestically...but, not commercial domestic shortwave broadcasts....haven't been legal since before WWII)

c) The growth of infrastructure in the 1st world and developing world, has lead to the serious reduction in Shortwave broadcasting aimed / beamed in our direction....
But, some still exists...



More later..

Fair winds..

John
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Old 05-05-2017, 10:58   #4
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

I don't think I can get the BBC at all in the PNW - makes me sad
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Old 07-05-2017, 02:59   #5
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Radio New Zealand and Radio Australia can be heard.

But there is a lack of variety on the shortwave bands these days for english listeners. The shortwave band seems to covered from one end to other with endless chinese propaganda stations both internal and external.

Quote:
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I don't think I can get the BBC at all in the PNW - makes me sad
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Old 07-05-2017, 03:38   #6
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Yes, China operates something like 500 shortwave stations. A few are in English but they don't have a lot of news you can use.
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Old 09-05-2017, 22:20   #7
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Ronnie,
1) As I wrote a couple days ago, you should be able to receive Shortwave (SW) broadcasts (in English) with some news and info...but understand that these are almost always a few hours at a time, on a specific freq, and then on another freq for a few hours, etc., they are not like US AM/FM broadcast stations...look at the schedules, freqs/times....and know what freqs will work at various times, for signals from different areas of the world, coming into your location...
Remember that, in addition to reading the various SW broadcast schedules, you will need at least a cursory understanding of HF radiowave propagation (which of course is not necessary for HF-DSC comms / GMDSS)...


2) While I cannot tell you exactly what freqs and times, since I don't know where you might be located at various times...
In general, Offshore rigs off the Texas / Louisiana coasts are 600 - 900 miles from me, so your reception of overseas SW broadcasts should be similar to mine, and you should be able to receive US transmitted SW relays of various broadcasts (as well as various US religious SW broadcasts)....

I can't type out every broadcast that's on the air...as there are 100's....but in addition to telling you to try the BBC on 12095 (and other freqs) on the schedule I posted the link to earlier....
BBC - Global Short Wave Frequencies

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldserv...requencies.pdf

As well as, I can tell you to try 9395khz (on air 24 hrs a day) from Central Florida beamed north, as well as 4840khz in evenings/nights (from Tennessee, but beamed away from you)...
{FYI, I get the BBC just fine....but, I'm really too close to receive the 9395 signal reliably, but I do get it....however, I'm hearing 4840 loud and clear right now, even though they're beaming the opposite direction!}

BUT...
But, since I don't know if your Furuno GMDSS console is receiving HF Voice comms well at all (did you check WLO, KLB, NMN, NMG, NMC, etc. ???), I can't say whether you will have good results from the above stations...

BTW, I cannot receive Radio Australia at all, and assume this is because they have ceased their SW broadcasts as described earlier, but I do get the Aus HF marine weather broadcasts (12.362 and 12.365 in afternoons and 8176 in evenings, from 9000 to 10,500 miles away)....and I haven't had a chance to look this week for Radio NZ...

For lots of stations on the air, please have a look at this website, which is updated regularly!!
https://www.primetimeshortwave.com/

Here's a list, showing stations/signals/times, for "the Americas"....
https://www.primetimeshortwave.com/america.txt

And, here's a list, sorted by freqs...
https://www.primetimeshortwave.com/freql.txt



3) Now, when you say that you don't need the news per se, but...
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailRedemption View Post
it's more for the practice and curiosity of using the HF/SSB.
In addition to telling you that I receive the BBC right here at the dock, as well as listening to other SW broadcasts, right now as I type this....I'm also getting USCG WeFax from NMF (in Boston), station ID / traffic list from WLO, etc., right now, as well as Hi-Seas Voice weather broadcasts out of NMN...

But, I can also point you to some Youtube videos that might be of help...

Maritime HF communications (showing cursory explanation of HF radiowave propagation as well as examples of normal band noise / static / natural noise, versus a couple minor examples of RFI, etc...)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y

HF-DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX



I hope this helps...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 10-05-2017, 01:01   #8
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Wow, thanks John! I don't think our station was set up that great, more like functional. I couldn't pick up much of any USCG stations near or far. I get off the ship in the morning so it will have to wait until I get back on In a month or so. Until then, I'll try to watch some of your videos and learn more. I'll try to take a picture of our station and above the wheel house to show you how many antenna are so close to each other.

Ronnie
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Old 10-05-2017, 14:38   #9
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Glad to hear about the BBC stations, I'll give those a listen and see if I can tune them. I'm in a noisy marina but managed to tune Radio Slovakia on 5850 kHz . another that always comes in loud and clear is Radio Havana on 6mhz. the band comes alive after 9pm it seems, as that's when I can pick up the furthest signals. I can pickup WLO sometimes, and the cg transmissions are hit or miss at times. I think once the boat is further away from all the RFI coming from nearby Andrews air force base and the city it'll be better reception. Have had no luck tuning cruising nets or chris parker broadcast. but I'm pretty far away. Went the laziest route and installed KISS ground and GAM split lead, Icom 710 and AT-130. So far pleased with the results. Would like to experiment attempting to connect with others along the east coast to check our rigs against each others signals. Anyone up for attempting contact? Radio is still so new to me, any opportunity to learn is welcome!
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Old 11-05-2017, 11:03   #10
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Mathias, Ronnie, et al,
I didn't intend to write a bunch of stuff here about Radiowave Propagation and RFI....but...
It appears I should write something...
{And, FYI...in addition to studying the subjects of radiowave propagation and antenna system design/construction since the early 1970's, I have also spent quite some time over the past 35 years teaching seminars (and using these antennas, on-land and at sea!) on these subjects, mostly to my fellow ham radio operators...
So, I do understand that these subjects are not commonly understood by laypersons and there is no reason they should be...
AND...
And, this is why I'm regularly stating that these are things that every offshore sailor / long-range cruiser will need to learn, just like they need to learn navigation, piloting, boat handling, sail trim, anchoring/docking, sail/rigging repair, diesel maintenance, head/plumbing repair, energy-budget considerations, etc. etc. etc...
And, finally, is my surprise that so many sailors new to HF radio, fail to grasp that these are simply things they will need to learn... }


Now, please know that you don't need some super-special, whiz-bang radio, nor some overly-hyped / BS-marketed antenna....
To receive most of these signals (Marine HF-SSB Voice, and especially SW Broadcasts), you just need a radio and a piece of wire!!!
And, when talking about SW broadcasts, remember these are designed to be received by laypersons in far remote locales...although, these locales don't have the plethora of electronics that cause so much of our receive RFI issues!!
Now, of course, for HF-DSC operations, you will of course need an HF-DSC-SSB radio (such as Icom M-802, Furuno FS-1575/2575, Sailor 6310/6320/6350)...
(Yes, for transmitting, antenna placement, length, proper tuning/matching, RF/Antenna ground, etc., etc. are very important to the antenna's efficiency and effectiveness, but not usually of importance in receiving, except for high RFI environs, where good RF grounding is important!...)

Even sitting at the dock, with a couple large motor-yachts within 50 yards of me, I don't have much on-board RFI at all...(some battery charger noise and occasional refrigeration noise, from these other boats, but most of the RFI that I have is from land-based sources, right on-shore, within a few hundred yards)
Actually with the exception of my AB Cold Machine refrigeration, which uses a multi-phase motor, driving the compressor (like ALL Danfoss-based refrigeration systems), which I shut-off if ever needed....and a cheap small inverter, that only used on rare occasions...I don't have any on-board RFI at all...
I can switch-on all my electronics, run a laptop, charge batteries, etc. etc., and still use the HF radio, without issue....
And, all it takes is make sure you buy/install the right stuff (not the cheapest stuff off ebay or imported without any real testing)....and in some instances, using < $50 of ferrites...

Those of you wondering what all this "RFI" nonsense is about???

Well, I'm not alone in my reprehension for all the this truly crappy electronic / electrical stuff on the market these days...
How about COSPAS-SARSAT??
Yep, the international organization that designed and runs the worldwide 406mhz EPIRB system!! Yes, they are seriously concerned about this (as is INMARSAT!)
COSPAS-SARSAT did some serious research in the past couple of years and found staggering results!!
They found a 10 - 15db rise in terrestrial VHF background-noise / noise floor over the EU and Mediterranean (and 15 - 20db rise, in the Far East/Asia)!! This is versus the ~ 1db rise in VHF background noise over the US....
These increases in the terrestrial VHF background noise / noise floor is compared to that measured in the late 1980's and early 1990's, when the current COSPAS-SARSAT system (and the GMDSS) was designed and implemented!!
These are the measured noise floors of terrestrial background noise (from us on earth), measured from space....and while, except for military and surveillance, many terrestrial VHF users haven't found significant increase to be detrimental, those involved in uplink / downlink comms (earth-to-spacecraft and spacecraft-to-earth), have found these increases to have effected them!!
COSPAS-SARSAT designed significant margins into their system, and thru use of newer satellites (with on-board processing) they are planning on maintaining the current capabilities...BUT...
But, they have recently been cautioning how important proper EPIRB deployment is, and proper antenna positioning when using PLB's is paramount! I touched on this a couple years back...I'll see if I can find the reference...but, until then, have a look here...
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/epirbs-are-not-dead-epirb-activation-what-happens-how-to-improve-rescue-odds-146617.html

And, COSPAS-SARSAT has been working with the UN, ITU, and IMO, to attempt to get UN / ITU / IMO signatory nations to actually require real testing of all radiating equipment (which is just about all electronics made these days, and most electrical devices)...
This is of course a requirement in the US, but not in most developing countries, not in most of Asia, and even in the EU, where "self-testing" / submitting of self-test results, is allowed...and of course you then ad in the weaker economics of 3rd world/developing-world nations...and you can quickly see why there are such significant increases in the terrestrial radio noise floors, and hence why COSPAS-SARSAT is so concerned...
{btw, once you move 400 miles offshore from EU and the Far East/Asia, the background noise that the LEOSAT satellites sees is seriously reduced....so, as long as you don't have an emergency there, at least your Doppler-position would be good to go, just not your GPS-encoded position... Okay, bad joke....not really a joking matter, sorry! }

Oh, and a further fyi....INMARSAT has an entire engineering group working on how to maintain / improve their systems in the modern world of continued RF spectrum pollution!! And, remember we're not talking VHF there, but rather L-Band microwave!! (no, as of right now, INMARSAT haven't publically announced that they've experienced any reduction in service/capability, but they are worried enough about it to have a whole engineering group studying it!!)

Now, multiply these "VHF background noise" increases by some factor as you decrease the frequency....and you can start to recognize the scope of the issue!!
RFI / Radio Frequency Interference IS a big deal, and IS getting worse...
BUT...
But, the good news for us is two-fold!!
a) the inverse-square-law means the father away you get from the sources, the better you are!!! (feet/yards are better than inches....and 1/4 mile is great!!)
b) you can choose the equipment on-board your own boat, where you can't move away from the sources (like you can in "a"!)

Also, allow me to address a "myth"...
While antennas in close proximity to each other (especially if for similar freq bands) can de-tune each other and effect their efficiency (as can any metallic structure that runs parallel to an antenna for any significant length of the antenna), except for some pattern skewing, the overwhelming effect is on the transmitting, not much effect on receiving!!
(although the RFI that is usually present with many other devices / equipment is a significant effect on HF receiving.....and a very minor additional effect from some of that RFI that might be re-radiated thru these other antennas....but usually this is minor and certainly overshadowed by the abundance of RFI emitting devices on-board...)

For those that wish a brief, ancillary, demonstration of some basics of radiowave propagation and RFI....
If you have a vehicle with a radio, get in your car, switch on the radio, tune in a AM station (that's MW, for those in EU, Asia, etc.) that is not too strong....it's best to use a station that is a little weak, but completely readable, you know "goldilocks" / not too strong nor too weak....
Then drive around a bit....during the daytime, this will be only local groundwave propagation, but you'll get some idea...
As you drive around, you'll see how the signal fades in/out, stronger/weaker...and notice the noises as you pass by some stores/businesses, etc., as well as the noises from electrical power lines!
You'll notice the significant increase in noise and loss of your radio reception when you pass under some high-voltage transmission lines...and, loss of signal as you pass under bridges/overpasses on highways, etc...
{btw, there is one sign construction store a few miles from my house, that even interferes with VHF FM radio!, so there are some serious RFI polluters out there!}
(if you do this later at night, and tune into a distant station, one that is 100's or 1000+ miles away, these will be skywave signals, and you'll see how they fade in/out, even when you're not moving, but you'll also see how the noises from some locations can completely wipe out their signals...)

If you do this quick drive around, say take the time to drive out to dinner, in sunlight, and return after dark...and you can experience both local groundwave propagation (which will be of virtually no use to you on-board for HF comms, but is damn simple easy to experience with local AM broadcast stations when driving around), and distant skywave propagation (which is what 99.9% of what HF comms on-board is)..
But, most if what you should gather from this demonstration is:
a) the effect that noises (RFI, etc.) have on your reception of radio signals..
b) how radio signals fade in/out...

Now...
Now that you've done that, please have a look at some of the YouTube videos that explain some of what we're talking about here...

These 2 playlists will give you a fairly decent understanding of on-board HF communications, designed for the layperson sailor who is new to HF radio comms...
Maritime HF Communications (in general)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2nPNdApNsZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y

HF-DSC Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2n3z5nlv-ga2zYuPozhUXZX


And, especially have a look at these 3 videos, showing real-world, live demonstrations of HF radiowave propagation on various frequencies...and some live, real-world examples of radio noise/static (natural "band noise"), versus man-made interference (RFI)...

Examples of Radiowave Propagation
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfvoice.htm
http://www.shipcom.com/frequencies.html




A few specifics....
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailRedemption View Post
Wow, thanks John! I don't think our station was set up that great, more like functional.
I'm surprised...as a GMDSS station on an inspected vessel should be set-up perfectly, AND should be regularly used by the crew...(actually, regular "routine" use of the GMDSS station is highly suggested by the IMO and specifically stated in the GMDSS rules!!
(their reasoning is multi-fold, both allowing crew familiarity with the whole system, and allowing any issues to be quickly recognized and repaired...)

I couldn't pick up much of any USCG stations near or far.
This is very surprising, but perhaps you were tuning in using the wrong freq / wrong time??
Please have a look at the videos referenced above and check the broadcast schedules...
USCG HF Voice
http://www.shipcom.com/frequencies.html

I get off the ship in the morning so it will have to wait until I get back on In a month or so. Until then, I'll try to watch some of your videos and learn more.
Drive around in your car for a bit, listening to the AM radio, as I write above, and experience the fading and noises, etc.....and then watch the videos...

I'll try to take a picture of our station and above the wheel house to show you how many antenna are so close to each other.
That would be cool....but, it's highly doubtful it's the "many antennas" that's causing the issues on-board...

Ronnie
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathiasben View Post
Glad to hear about the BBC stations, I'll give those a listen and see if I can tune them. I'm in a noisy marina but managed to tune Radio Slovakia on 5850 kHz . another that always comes in loud and clear is Radio Havana on 6mhz. the band comes alive after 9pm it seems, as that's when I can pick up the furthest signals.
Here is where more experience with radiowave propagation will come in handy...

I can pickup WLO sometimes, and the cg transmissions are hit or miss at times.
Here again, is where more experience with radiowave propagation will come in handy, as well as more info about RFI...
As, you should be able to pick up WLO and NMN, etc. extremely well....just depends on time-of-day and frequency choice...and, of course the radio noises you have...


I think once the boat is further away from all the RFI coming from nearby Andrews air force base and the city it'll be better reception.
RFI in big cities (and military bases?) can be significant...BUT..
But, unless you're tied to a dock on the base, or are right next to industrial areas, you're sitting in similar surroundings as everyone else...
And, it is the distance away from these sources that is your friend!!
Simply a few hundred yards is usually all the distant needed....unless it's a serious RFI source.... (many times, just moving a few yards further away is all that's necessary)

Although, you could have RFI on-board that's the real issue???
How many segments of your M-710's S-meter are illuminated when you're not receiving any radio signals, just "noise"???
During the day...If it's more than one segment on 8mhz, or two or more segments on 4 or 6mhz, then you are receiving some RFI (whether from shore or on-board your own boat)...


Have had no luck tuning cruising nets or chris parker broadcast. but I'm pretty far away.
???
You are in the DC area, yes??
Then, you should have no trouble at all with Cruiseheimer's (0830 ET) and Doo-Dah (1700 ET) on 8.152mhz USB, daily....or the venerable Waterway Net (0745 ET) on 7.268mhz LSB, daily...

As for Chris Parker...(please note that you can get all the same info/forecasts 4 times a day from the USCG, and 6 times a day from WLO, all for free...but...)
As for Chris Parker, his primary customers are not in your area, and hence he doesn't beam that direction too often, but at specific times....
(except for an early morning 4mhz omnidirectional signal, which you are probably too far away to copy, he uses direction antennas on 8mhz and 12mhz, pointing to where most of his customers are, at those specific times of the day...and I think the only times you're likely to get good copy on him would be on 8137 and 12350, from 0730 ET to 0830 ET, and possibly "after 0900 ET"...but times will vary according to his customers' locations/schedules and radio propagation...)


Went the laziest route and installed KISS ground and GAM split lead, Icom 710 and AT-130. So far pleased with the results.
This statement is confusing???
You haven't had any decent results, but are "pleased" with that???
Hmmm??
Oh well....
Just my opinion here....but...you should be able to turn on the radio, spin the dial, and within 30 seconds be able to raise a shore station or other vessel, day or night, in port or at sea...(yes, much harder to have easy / noise-free HF comms at the dock, but is do-able)
So, if this isn't happening, then I'd advise making some changes...

Now, please excuse the bluntness here!!
a) But, why the GAM split-lead antenna??
Yeah, backstay insulators are pricey, but...
You could've rigged a simple wire antenna for almost no cost at all, or a serious heavy-duty "alternative backstay antenna" for a few dollars, or a home-made "rope-tenna" for a few dollars more...any of them would've saved you hundreds of dollars, versus the GAM antenna...(and most probably pick-up less on-board RFI than the GAM, and be a more efficient antenna overall)

b) And, why in the world the KISS???
You could've made your own in less than 5 minutes, for free!!
And, one that would work much better, too!!
Or, you could spend half the cost of the KISS, and run one wide copper strap to a close-by bronze thru-hull, attach properly, and you'd have a real improvement in RF Ground / Antenna Ground...


Either of these approaches would save you money and improve your system...But...
But, learning about Radiowave Propagation and RFI sources (and mitigation) will allow you to improve your system even more!!! Remember that you are part of the system!!


Would like to experiment attempting to connect with others along the east coast to check our rigs against each others signals. Anyone up for attempting contact?
Check out Cruiseheimer's and Doo-Dah nets...(as well as the ham nets, if you have a ham license??)


Radio is still so new to me, any opportunity to learn is welcome!
Read all the above, AND read this thread here...
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)

And, watch the video playlists referenced...
Maritime HF Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


HF-DSC Comms
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY


And, then get on-the-air....Cruiseheimer's, Doo-Dah, etc...

I hope this helps...

fair winds...

John
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Old 11-05-2017, 11:26   #11
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Wow John, what a great thread. Thanks for all the information.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
You can thank the political clout of the US radio broadcasters in the 1920's and 1930's, as well as the continued clout of the National Assoc of Broadcasters, for getting the US gov't to outlaw commercial domestic shortwave broadcasting, way back then!
(yes, religious broadcasting on shortwave in the US is allowed, as are commercial broadcasts beamed overseas and not receivable domestically...but, not commercial domestic shortwave broadcasts....haven't been legal since before WWII)
Interesting. I've frequently encountered Alex Jones' show "Infowars" on shortwave (WWCR), and it's not exactly religious radio (oh wait, maybe it is, sort of ) and it even has ads for prepper stuff... so I wonder how that gets allowed.

Again, thanks. I still have a couple of tube shortwave radios to build or restore; I'd hate to run out of interesting test signals.
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Old 11-05-2017, 11:57   #12
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
Wow John, what a great thread. Thanks for all the information.



Interesting. I've frequently encountered Alex Jones' show "Infowars" on shortwave (WWCR), and it's not exactly religious radio (oh wait, maybe it is, sort of ) and it even has ads for prepper stuff... so I wonder how that gets allowed.

Again, thanks. I still have a couple of tube shortwave radios to build or restore; I'd hate to run out of interesting test signals.

WWCR is a pay for play station. Send them money and an audio program and they will play it in most cases if they have available air time. Also there is WBCQ on shortwave which has a similar setup. They are allowed to broadcast on shortwave as long as they are primarily targeting listeners outside the US.

The US radio broadcasters cannot get nationwide coverage on MW (AM) or VHF (FM) like shortwave
can. So they lobbied congress to stop shortwave in the US and ran afoul of some international treaties. But they found a way around that by restricting shortwave in the US to only target listeners outside the US. So it's allowed to have a commercial (or religious) shortwave station in the US. They just can't target US listeners.
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Old 11-05-2017, 12:25   #13
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by plebian99 View Post
Radio New Zealand and Radio Australia can be heard.

But there is a lack of variety on the shortwave bands these days for english listeners. The shortwave band seems to covered from one end to other with endless chinese propaganda stations both internal and external.
Good luck with Radio Australia

ABC opposes bill to restore Pacific shortwave service | Radio New Zealand News

The SWLing Post | Here we play radio: shortwave, mediumwave, longwave, amateur/ham radio, pirate radio, utilities, digital modes, scanning and more. We share radio reviews, broadcasting news and anything we radio geeks enjoy. Welcome to the SWLing Po

My daily listen is the BBC African service out of Ascension Island on 15400 for a few hours each afternoon ... I am becoming something of an expert on African soccer results....
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Old 11-05-2017, 16:45   #14
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

Dan, Lake-Effect, et al,
If you think organizations like the NRA or AARP have clout these days, think of publishers, RCA Corp. and the radio broadcasters in the 1920's and 1930's....they make the NRA look small-time!

FYI, here's a bit of US Broadcast trivia for 'ya:
Back in the mid-1970's, (1975, I think) there was an FCC proposal to establish 6 to 12 higher-power "Clear Channel" AM (MW) Broadcast licenses...(somewhere, I've even got the old Eimac ad/spec sheet about that huge transmitting tube!)

These new licenses would allow 750KW (vs. the current 50KW), that's 12db of transmitter gain...and stations along the coasts would be "allowed" antenna directivity, to maintain the current signal levels offshore / internationally, but allow significant antenna gain into CONUS, gaining another 6 to 12db of ERP domestically....that could mean 20+db more ERP, and if they were really "clear channels", they'd be heard nationwide...

This was initially to be to allow ABC, NBC, and CBS radio networks (WABC/KABC, WNBC/KNBC, WCBS/KCBS) and a couple others to establish a nation-wide coverage....
The "networks" loved the idea, and the FCC came close to approving it....but, when the actual costs of construction and operation of multiple "almost Mega-Watt" transmission facilities were brought up by the bean-counters, there was little push for the proposal, and it fell to the way side...

And on a side note, at this similar time, the broadcasters were also VERY VERY interested in getting access to the 1605khz to 1750khz band, that was being vacated by the old LORAN A stations, and when the costs involved in 750KW stations were weighed against simply adding more stations (where there would be local advertising revenue to subsidize things), we never got "nationwide" broadcast services from one station...


Now, in our modern 21st Century world, this all seems like ridiculous trivia...but, at the time (decades before the internet, GPS, smart phones, etc.) and still to this day in some parts of the developing world, the use of SW broadcast (or MW broadcast) is viable!!



Fair winds...

John

{P.S.
In reality, there wasn't much "lobbying" going on in the 1920's and 30's....it was all done with a few meetings in the smoke-filled rooms, by rich/wealthy white guys...this was before the days of modern lobbyists...this was still the days of the old-money robber-barrons....you know their names...the ones that made money (and used their money) in steel, oil, mining, transportation, manufacturing, publishing, media,....and now were into 20th Century and looking at broadcasting....
While many of them weren't really "good guys", by any standard, and certainly our modern standards were pretty ruthless...but...
But, please take note that in their own times, these weren't evil men, but damn powerful ones....heck some of them had their own private "armies" / private police forces....they wanted something done, they got it done...}
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Old 11-05-2017, 17:21   #15
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Re: BBC (and other) Shortwave Braodcasts, still on-the-air (and stong in Florida!)

I just use a little Sony. My biggest surprise is I find myself listening to CRI (Radio Beijing) more and more. Their news service is surprisingly good. The irony is when I was at sea in the sixties Radio Beijing had the worst propaganda going, it was laughable. I remember all the jargon re American running dogs and paper tigers Times have certain;y changed.
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