Probably not a lot of us shortwave junkies out there. That being said there are several ways to listen.
- Portable shortwave
- Tabletop shortwave with external antenna
- Internet based SDR
Probably missing something but those are the ways I can do it at Castle Hagensieker. And while I own many, many portable shortwave radios……………
I have pretty much two preferred ways to listen.
UPDATE: I’ve been catching a little heat for this review. I have gotten several emails explaining very succinctly to me why this antenna is not very good and I’ve been slammed for promoting a Chinese knock off. However, know this……….It is INEXPENSIVE. Like China or hate China, because this loop is a fraction of the price of other loops for sale it is going to get some attention. Also, I’m sorry, I don’t care what the specs say…………The antenna receives pretty good. Is it the end all, be all…………….no. God no. But it’s not that bad and it doesn’t cost $300.
I live in an HOA which limits what kind of an antenna I can use for Short Wave Listening. There are a few options of which one of the best is a Magnetic Loop antenna. It has a relatively small profile and can even be kept below fence level and still perform wonderfully.
One of the problems with a Magnetic Loop is that they are fairly expensive. Like in the $250 or higher range. Most old timers or skilled antenna builders will tell you there is $60 worth of parts in the $250 antenna and that you should just hunker down, get smart, and build one yourself.
Enter the Chinese made MLA-30 MegaLoop and damnit this is my blog so it’ll from here on out be known as the MAGALoop. That’s what I’m calling it.
I’ve had my SDRPlay RSPDuo for a few weeks now and I’m prepared to talk about it a little bit.
First let me preface this by saying I also own an RSP1 and an RSP2 and while I think they are both fine radios I’ve always had a tiny beef with the SDRPlay devices.
Beef #1 is that to really pack a punch with an RSP device you need SDRUno which is a Windows program. With every fiber of my being I despise Windows. Don’t like it don’t trust it.
And while you most certainly can use an SDRPlay on Linux weird shit happens. Let me also preface this by saying that if you install the Non-Windows Workflow as they say in that Lego movie………..”Everything is Awesome”. Yeah, well, I’m not that guy. I have every SDR known to God and Man and I build the gr-osmosdr stuff by hand to try to use other devices such as PlutoSDR and LimeMiniSDR.
I just bought an RSPDuo from SDRPlay and I wanted to see if I could hook it up so I could access it from the network just like I do my Airspy HF+ on SpyServer.
So you dig around on Google and you find out that sure enough you can however it wasn’t as easy as it appeared. Believe me, it never is. I am running my RSPDuo from an Ubuntu 18.04 laptop. In SDRPlay’s defense they have a Raspberry Pi image on their downloads page and this stuff may already be configured. I won’t swear to that though. Laptops have a hell of a lot more OOMPH than a Raspberry Pi though and I just like messing around in Linux.
Lets get started:
Ahhhh Shortwave radio. If you’re my age you probably remember it fondly in the 70’s and 80’s. Every home probably had at least one World Band radio. If you are my kids age you may not even know it exists or if you do ………… what exactly it is.
Everyone knows what AM radio is. What most don’t know is AM Radio is actually called Medium Wave (MW). The frequencies BELOW AM are called LONGWAVE. So it stands to reason the frequencies on the other side of AM are called “SHORTWAVE”.
Shortwave kind of fell out of popularity mostly due to the big old orange ball in the sky firing solar storms at us. The sun works in cycles and sometimes shortwave listening is really really good and sometimes it is really really pointless to try.
First of all let me say that I own just about 25 portable shortwave radios and probably almost as many SDR radios. I absolutely love shortwave listening. I also love the various modes on shortwave such as DRM, WeFAX, Numbers Stations, etc. Also you never know what you are going to hear.
Somewhere along the line I decided I wanted to get a dedicated tabletop receiver. Some of the old military grade stuff really intrigues me. Some of that stuff costs big bucks. The government seems to have pretty high standards for HF radios and that type of radio is highly desirable.
OP25 is my FAVORITE police scanner program. I track two trunked radio systems with ONE software defined radio. My Uniden Police Scanner that does that costs $800. This way costs about $30.
Anyway, I’m reading through some OP25 stuff today and I found out it has a web interface. SAY WHAT? Looks like this.
So sometimes a really good technology just never really takes off. A USB TV Tuner is just one such technology.
It should have taken off. Just about everyone who has a laptop should have one of these. I have three.
So what would you use it for? In my case I live in a Hurricane zone and in fact got blasted by Hurricane Florence last year and had no power for several days. (Actually I had power because I have a full house generator). Anyway, due to a concern for the amount of fuel I had on hand I shut down at times and THIS is how I got my news during those times.
AirSpyHF+ on Spyserver on Raspberry Pi
What is a Spyserver and why do you NEED one? A spyserver takes an RTL-SDR software radio and allows it to be used over the network or controlled from the internet if you allow.
For this project I’m using the AirSpyHF+ ($199 USD). The AirSpyHF+ is probably the BEST HF SDR radio you can get. This project will let us operate from about 9kHz to about 31 MHz where AM radio, and Short Wave Radio reside.
Did you know a lot of people still used pagers? I had no clue. Did you know that all that pager traffic and all those messages are sent unencrypted and can be easily decoded? All you need for hardware is a $10 USB SDR radio stick with a cheap indoor whip antenna.
NOTE: Reading pager traffic is NOT against the law, however retransmitting it or acting on any information you learn from it is. Decode for good. Not evil.
And much like any other Linux techie project I’ve ever done following the directions somewhere else DIDN’T WORK. Oh, it mostly worked but something is always missing. This page is for the first timer trying to figure this out. And for me to recreate this once I screw it up or my computer dies.
Doing this on Windows is easiest and the directions I found here DID WORK. This will be a tutorial on Ubuntu (Or LinuxMint) Again most everything worked but the actual decoding process didn’t until I changed a thing or two. Also one major step was left out that almost caused this to epic fail for me. YMMV. Depends on the Decoder your system is using.