Antique Equipment, Boat Anchors, FTA Satellite, Radios, Shortwave, Software Defined Radio, Utility Radio

A Typical Radio Day

04/04/2016

A typical radio day for me usually involves several different aspects of the radio hobby. Granted, I may include things others would not strictly call radio, but for me anything associated with the radio hobby is fair game! Sometimes this can be something as mundane as logging contacts, or checking for QSLs (confirmed contacts with other radio operators or stations), or it can be as exciting as putting some test equipment to work checking circuits or measuring frequency response.

For me anything connected with radio in almost any form is interesting. A typical day (or portion thereof) might involve listening to my police scanners for a bit to see what is happening around the city. This is particular common when I am working on the computer doing things which do not require my full concentration. I might “multitask radio” by reading radio blogs, technical articles, or go to some of my favorite wishlist websites as I drool over radios yet to be acquired.

Since much of my radio time comes in the morning hours leading up to afternoon, I will often check out some of the aircraft frequencies, both military and civilian, for activity. I particularly enjoy monitoring 11.175 MHz USB for EAM training and phone patches. While there is not constant activity, there is enough to keep it interesting for me, and I will often copy down the messages even though they are in code. It is sort of practice in case I would need to copy information down in an emergency. None of us knows when our monitoring services might be requested. (Remember WWII, anyone?!)

I will often start up Multipsk in order to monitor HFDL (High Frequency Data Link) transmissions, which can be decoded by the software (and organized beautifully by the Display Launcher utility program which integrates nicely with Multipsk). HFDL is similar to ACARS VHF transmissions for local planes, but stations can be received on HF frequencies from around the world.

While my Kenwood receiver is being monitored by Multipsk for HFDL traffic, I might also start up my ELAD SDR radio and search for shortwave broadcasts or DRM stations (although I have only heard them come through here well enough to copy a few times). I enjoy listening to the powerhouse stations such as Radio China International or Radio Havana Cuba, but will often go in search of small- or moderate-sized stations for something different. I often catch stations from Japan, Vietnam, Egypt, Brazil, Romania, to name a few. Their cultural differences in music make for especially enjoyable listening.

On other days instead of the SDR I will fire up my trusty Yaesu FRG-7 for some old-school shortwave fun. While the radio requires much more knob-turning and switch-flipping to operate, you really feel like you are in control of the radio.

 

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There is something which speaks of artistry when you work with these older radios, due in part to the analog nature of their designs. So much hardware to put in one place, but all the while maintaining an air of elegance. The quality of the build speaks for itself when such a radio can be as functional 40-50 years later or more, or even some 70 years later as my Hallicrafters S-38 can attest.

A typical radio day involves a mix of old and new technology for me, and I can enjoy them both. The wonders of antique radios will never grow old for me, but neither will I cease to be amazed at technological breakthroughs or inventive ways to send radio signals around the world. My recent entry into the world of FTA satellite is a case in point.

While not strictly radio in the traditional sense, I still find enjoyment and excitement in receiving satellite signals of both TV and radio signals from a satellite dish on top of my garage. There was a good deal of trial and error in setting up the unit, and thanks to some very helpful suggestions from both Mario Filippi and Ken Reitz, I was able to get good equipment recommendations and tips for optimizing my reception. I now receive literally hundreds of TV and Radio signals from geosynchronous satellites within line-of-sight of my dish, and I find it fascinating!

What is a typical radio day for you? I would love to hear comments from folks about what makes for an enjoyable radio day! Who knows? We might just find out about new areas of the hobby from each other which we can enjoy! 73, Robert


 

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