Amateur radio, ATV & DATV, Digital Modes

Radio on the Edges

12/20/2018

Radio on the Edges can mean a number of different things, depending on one’s perspective. For me, at the moment, it means distance. It means reaching the edges of where a signal can go.

One of the more intriguing aspects of radio is just how far a signal will travel. I have been a DX chaser for years, starting with AM Broadcast signals when I was a kid. The further the station, the cooler the signal in those days.

Then of course there was Shortwave radio. Now that was cool! That was real DX! Hearing countries from around the world was just the best! Well, that is, the best until I became an amateur radio operator and could send signals around the world! Whoo-Hoo! Hot Dog! Oh yeah, baby!!

Still to do on my DX list is to bounce a signal off the moon. Technically my signals have already gone into space, to the ISS and to orbiting satellites. But the moon so far has eluded me. Well at least, confirmation of bouncing off the moon back to myself or to another amateur has so far eluded me.

But Radio on the Edges also means a different kind of DX. Every radio signal has its limitations. This is determined by a number of factors, but we’ll stick with a signal’s frequency for the purposes of this discussion. The higher the frequency, the shorter the distances the signal can travel. So even DXing can mean different things for different parts of the radio spectrum, and for different modes used within that same spectrum.

I have recently become interested in Amateur TV, or ATV, as well as Digital ATV. Whilst I am only in the beginning stages, one of the more apparent obstacles to overcome is distance. ATV generally begins in the 70cm band, and goes up from there. As you likely know, signal distances are fairly short at that frequency, and as you go up into the GHz range, the distance traveled by radio signals is short indeed.

To achieve longer distances beyond “line of sight” one must use repeaters/relays, special/abnormal atmospheric conditions, or the Internet. (Taller towers are merely forms of extending line of site, just as operating from a mountaintop extends line of sight.) Also, since we are not typically able to bounce signals off the atmosphere in a repeatable fashion, we are also limited by natural and man-made objects.

As I explore amateur Analog and Digital TV I am acutely aware of Radio on the Edges. Rather than a discouragement, however, I see these limitations as another form of working DX. DXing is always a challenge, regardless of the mode or area of the spectrum. For those bitten by the DX bug, there is always the challenge to see how far one can push the limits.

ATV/DATV is one of my challenges for the new year, as is Radio Astronomy. That is another form of Radio on the Edges. I want to hear storms on Jupiter, radio signals from a nearby constellation, and even listen to the Sun rise and set. Naturally this also ties into my interest in astrophotography, and so I will be exploring visual and audio wavelengths throughout the year.

Talk about Radio on the Edges!

What are your plans for the coming year in Radio?

2 Comments

  • Reply Mitch 01/06/2019 at 11:39 am

    Great post! I’m brand new to Ham, SWLing, MWDXing etc. I found the hobby later in life and find it very fascinating. When I heard Radio New Zealand from my home in Buckeye, AZ I was blown away!

    All the best

    Mitch
    KJ7CAT

  • Reply Robert 01/10/2019 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Mitch,
    And welcome to the world of Amateur Radio and to SW listening, MW DXing, and all the rest!
    Congratulations! I almost envy you getting to experience this all for the first time. You are entering the Radio world at an incredible time, especially when you consider the lower cost of equipment, the technological advances, the connection with computers and the Internet, and all the various forms of radio.
    I would highly recommend you check out a publication called The Spectrum Monitor (www.thespectrummonitor.com). It is a great publication which has all kinds of information on almost every facet of radio each month. Can’t recommend it more highly.
    Please stay in touch, and let me know of your radio adventures! Cheers! Robert AK3Q

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