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Author Topic: Just got first SW.  (Read 4264 times)

jmb

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Just got first SW.
« on: October 17, 2012, 11:34:18 PM »
I am happy to have found this forum.  It appears you guys aren't afraid to answer some very basic questions that must bore you to death.  Like several posts I have read, I also think communications should be a part of everyone's SHTF planning.  I am concerned about being able to communicate after the traditional methods are either out of commission or taken control by our older sibling and maybe not be reliable any longer.

I figured I'd begin by just listening.  I bought a Grundig G3. Seems to have most of the recommended bells and whistles.  I have tried to build a few antennas from scratch with no luck.  I have been unable to locate an antenna online that covers a very large range of frequencies.

So, I guess my questions relate antennas.  Is there one available that will allow me to listen far and close by?  Anyone heard of a ground stake driven four or more feet into the ground?  How about a 200 foot zip line stretched between two trees aiming N-S?

Obviously I don't know enough to even ask questions.  But I really want to get started and hope to eventually get into HAM.  I appreciate any advice given.

gil

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Re: Just got first SW.
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 12:05:35 AM »
Hello jmb, and welcome aboard. I was looking at that radio too, and might even buy it for traveling. It has very good reviews.

As far as an antenna, a long wire should do fine. You don't need to invest in an expensive antenna. I would try a 66ft. wire, which is a half wavelength for 40m (7MHz) and should work well for everything. I use a slingshot with a 1oz fishing weight and 14# fishing line to shoot wire up tree branches... 200ft. would certainly work!

Gil.

raybiker73

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Re: Just got first SW.
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 12:08:11 AM »
Welcome to the world of shortwave listening (SWL)! That Grundig is a nice little set, and the SSB tuning will let you listen in on a lot of ham radio stuff as well.

As far as SWL antennas, bigger isn't always necessarily better. The best all-around SWL antenna (in my experience) isn't very big at all. It's a homemade job, called the Broomstick, and will probably cost you about $20 in parts, plus a broomstick and a couple aluminum pie plates. I built one of these in 1998, and 14 years later it still works great, even without a tuner.

Here's a link to the build instructions.

http://www.hard-core-dx.com/nordicdx/antenna/special/bromstik.html

It's designed by Arnie Coro, who used to be on Radio Havana Cuba. I'm not sure if Arnie's still around, but his antenna certainly is. I found out about it because I used to listen to RHC on a regular basis (they had great music), and I heard him talking about it on his show. I emailed him, and he wrote back with instructions, and we had a nice back-and-forth conversation for several emails. I printed them out and kept them, and I still have them in my old binder full of shortwave QSL's. Ha, with the Patriot Act and all that, I'd probably be in prison if they caught me emailing antenna information with a guy in Cuba today, but in 1998, nobody knew and nobody cared. :-) I'm glad to see his antenna instructions are now available online for everyone.


jmb

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Re: Just got first SW.
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 09:35:44 AM »
Thanks for the help.  Hey, Ray, I have tried the broomstick.  What do you use for the aluminum hat?  The article said a pie plate. This doesn't seem to work so well.  I also did not wind the wire as neat and together.  This might be important.  I have not had luck with it and I tossed it in the garage and gave up.  I will get it out and add some wire to get the wrapping tight together.

I like the single long wire up a tree.  I can do that.  Is the length that important?

I do want to listen to ham operators.  I will try again in the SSB.

Thanks for the info.  It has helped immediately.

WA4STO

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Re: Just got first SW.
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 10:20:34 AM »

I do want to listen to ham operators.  I will try again in the SSB.


Listening in is a fabulous way to pique your interest in ham radio even further, JMB.

Back in the 60s, I was fond of sending reception reports to hams.  I managed to "Work all States" on Morse Code and I found that the guys I was listening in on were astounded that I didn't already have my license and they would invariably try to coax me on.

It's much the same today.  Here.  We love to talk about ham radio but more to the point, we love to help others get going.

Here's one very important point that I hope you'll take to heart:  We have gone to an immense amount of effort to craft the regulations so as to make it easier (much much easier!) to get your ham radio licenses.  We no longer require you to show proficiency in Morse code.  And we publish ALL the questions and ALL the answers to the exams.  Doesn't get much easier.

And for that effort, what do you get?  Access to millions and millions of frequencies, all up and down the spectrum, an amazing amount of power output capability, and the ability to participate in -- or create your own -- local or world-wide networks to share prepper-related data and information with those of your choosing.  Doesn't get much better.

Got more questions?  Fire away!  We're all here to help you.

73 de WA4STO


gil

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Re: Just got first SW.
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 11:07:05 AM »
Hello jmb,

The length is not as important for listening as it is for transmitting. For transmitting, you often have to be within a few inches. I mentioned 66ft because it is a half wave on 40m and a quarter wave on 80m. It should however work well on all HF frequencies. If the radio has a ground plug, or the antenna plug has an outer ground connection, you might want to try another length of wire connected to that. I am not experienced in SWL, so I am just guessing at what would work. Other people here would know more. Also keep in mind that]depending on the bands and time of day of your listening, you might not hear much! Below 10MHz, listen at night. Above 10MHz, listen during the day. Go to arrl.org and look for the Ham frequencies band plan, it will tell you where to listen. I would suggest the SSB parts of 40 and 20m: 7100-7300kHz and 14100-14350kHz...

Gil.

cockpitbob

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Re: Just got first SW.
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 04:49:48 PM »
Hi JMB,

I'm a real fan of end-fed 1/2 wave antennas.  No ground needed, just a short counterpoise.  They hang vertically from one end, so you only need to throw 1 line up a tree, and the coax is short since the connection is at the bottom.  And they work.  One with a great reputation is the Par End-Fedz SWL.  You can get them for $73 at Universal Radio.  It is just a 45' long piece of wire with a match box at one end.
 
Welcome to the world of radio.  Start looking into getting your Ham license.  There are 3 levels of licenses.  The first mainly gets you VHF/UFH frequencies so your not going to talk around the world.  The 2nd level gets you most of the HF bands.  Not to brag, but my son got the 1st and 2nd levels when he was 11.  But then, at that age he could remember anything and he just kept doing the practice tests over and over.

raybiker73

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Re: Just got first SW.
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 04:59:39 PM »
Thanks for the help.  Hey, Ray, I have tried the broomstick.  What do you use for the aluminum hat?  The article said a pie plate. This doesn't seem to work so well.  I also did not wind the wire as neat and together.  This might be important.  I have not had luck with it and I tossed it in the garage and gave up.  I will get it out and add some wire to get the wrapping tight together.

I like the single long wire up a tree.  I can do that.  Is the length that important?

I do want to listen to ham operators.  I will try again in the SSB.

Thanks for the info.  It has helped immediately.

Mine is 3 or 4 pie plates taped together around the outside edge, works a lot better than just 1.

Radio Preppers

Re: Just got first SW.
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 04:59:39 PM »