are many reasons for people listening to shortwave. People
may wish to hear news from different points of view, gain
greater international understanding or hear transmissions
in a particular language.
can also be an exciting challenge, especially if tuning into
low-powered or infrequent transmissions, such as occur from
clandestine, pirate and military stations. Also the programs
of shortwave broadcasters can make a pleasant change for those
bored with offerings from the local stations.
and CB radio
radio is a non-commercial activity for people interested in
radio technology and the hobby of communication. Amateur Radio communication is worldwide
via voice, morse, image and data modes.
CB radio is ideal for the individual wanting low-cost local
communication. CB Radio does not require a licence in Australia
but is very limited in many respects. It does however have its place and can be an economical
way to stay in touch with the local community. CB Radio can be used for commercial applications
if the reliability and range limits are acceptable..
and outback communication
marine communications include low-power 27 MHz (for the inshore
recreational user) and high-power HF for ocean-going vessels.
The latter mostly uses frequencies between 2 and 16 MHz and
can be heard thousands of kilometres away. HF marine listening
is particularly interesting during events such as the Sydney-Hobart
Yacht Race, during which frequencies can be very active.
communications includes School of the Air, the Royal Flying
Doctor Service, and the Australian National 4WD Radio Network.
RFDS frequencies are within the 'Fixed and mobile' allocations
on the frequency list below.
details appear on the Outback/Marine
and 'Utility' stations
stations can include two-way communication, 'numbers stations',
beacons and more. Reception can be hard as signals are often
weak and do not come on at known times (unlike broadcasters).
A regular column dealing with this aspect of listening appears
in past issues of Radio & Communications, several issues of
which can be found in our Library.
frequency allocations in Australia (not
1.875 MHz 160 metre amateur
MHz Marine distress
2.4 MHz Fixed and mobile
2.5 MHz 120 metre broadcast
MHz WWV/WWVH time signals
MHz AXM Weatherfax
- 3.5 MHz 90 metre broadcast
3.8 MHz 80 metre amateur
- 4.0 MHz 75 metre broadcast
4.1 MHz Fixed and mobile
5.1 MHz 60 metre broadcast
MHz WWV/WWVH time signals
5.7 MHz Fixed and mobile
MHz AXM Weatherfax
MHz Alice Springs RFDS
MHz Australian National 4WD Network
6.2 MHz 49 metre broadcast
7.0 MHz Fixed and Mobile
7.3 MHz 40 metre amateur
7.5 MHz 41 metre broadcast
MHz AXI Weatherfax
9.9 MHz 31 metre broadcast
MHz WWV/WWVH time signals
10.15 MHz 30 metre amateur
MHz AXM Weatherfax
12 MHz 25 metre broadcast
13.9 MHz 21 metre broadcast
MHz AXM Weatherfax
14.35 MHz 20 metre amateur
MHz WWV/WWVH time signals
15.5 MHz 19 metre broadcast
MHz AXI Weatherfax
17.9 MHz 16 metre broadcast
17 metre amateur
MHz WWV/WWVH time signals
MHz AXM Weatherfax
21.45 MHz 15 metre amateur
21.8 MHz 13 metre broadcast
24.99 MHz 12 metre amateur
26.1 MHz 11 metre broadcast
27 MHz CB
27.98 MHz 27 MHz marine
MHz Marine distress
29.7 MHz 10 metre amateur
Amateur Radio Prefixes
List of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) amateur radio prefixes.
A4 Sultanate of Oman
A6 United Arab Emirates
A8 Liberia EL
AA-AG USA W
AH1-AH0 USA Pacific Islands KH1-KH0
AI-AK USA W
AL Alaska KL
AM-AO Spain including overseas Territories and Islands EA 6 8 9
AP AR Pakistan
AT India VU
AX Australia and Islands
AY-AZ Argentina LU
BO Quemoy Matsu BV
BS Scarborough Reef
BV9P Pratas I.
BV9S Spratly Archipelago 9M0
BY China BA BD BG BT BZ
C4 Cyprus 5B
CE0 Easter I.
CE0 San Felix and San Ambrosio Is
CE0 Juan Fernandez Is
CF-CK Canada VE
CL CM Cuba CO
CT1CQ-CT2 4-8 0 Portugal
CT3 CQ-CS3 CT9 Madeira Is
CX CV CW Uruguay
CY CZ Canada VE
CY9 St Paul Is
CY0 Sable I.
D2 D3 Angola
D4 Cape Verde
D7 Korea (Republic of) HL
DL DA-DD DF-DH Federal Republic
DJ DK DP of Germany
DS Korea (Republic of) HL
DU DV-DZ Philippines
DU Spratly Archipelago 9M0
E2 Thailand HS
EA EB-EH1-5 7 0 Spain
EA6 EB6-EH6 Balearic Is
EA8 EB8-EH8 Canary Is
EA9 EB9-EH9 Ceuta and Melilla
EI EJ Republic of Ireland
EM EN EO Ukraine UR
EU EV EW Belarus
FJ St Barthelemy (French St Martin) FS
FK New Caledonia
FK----/C Chesterfield Is
FO Austral Is
FO French Polynesia
FO Marquesas Is
FO8X Clipperton I.
FP St Pierre and Miquelon
FR Reunion I.
FR��/E Europa I. FR��/J
FR��/G Glorioso Is
FR��/J Juan de Nova
FR��/T Tromelin I.
FS French St Martin
FTnW Crozet Is
FTnX Kerguelen Is
FTnZ Amsterdam I. and St Paul I.
FW Wallis and Futuna Is
FY French Guiana
G GX England
GB United Kingdom G GD GI GJ GM GU GW
GD GT Isle of Man
GI GN Northern Ireland
GJ GH Jersey
GM GS Scotland
GU GP Guernsey and Dependencies
GW GC Wales
H2 Cyprus 5B
H3 Panama HP
H4 Solomon Is
H40 Temotu Province
H5 Bophuthatswana ZS
H6 H7 Nicaragua YN
H8 H9 Panama HP
HC8,HD8 Galapagos Is
HE Switzerland HB
HF Poland SP
HG Hungary HA
HI Dominican Republic
HK HJ Colombia
HK0 Malpelo I.
HK0 HJ0 San Andres and Providencia
HL Korea (Republic of)
HP HO Panama
HR HQ Honduras
HT Nicaragua YN
HU El Salvador YS
HV Vatican City
HZ Saudi Arabia
I IA-IH IK IL IN IP Italy
IR IT IV-IX
IS0 IM0 Sardinia
J4 Greece SV
J6 St Lucia
J8 St Vincent and the Grenadines
JA JE-JS Japan
JD 7J Minami Torishima
JD 7J Ogasawara Is
JT JU JV Mongolia
JX Jan Mayen
K KA-KZ USA and US Islands W KC6xx KG4xx KH1-0 KP1-5
KC6 x x Republic of Palau
KG4 x x Guantanamo Bay
KG6 x x Guam
KH1 Baker I. and Howland I.
KH2 ( KG6 ) Guam
KH3 Johnston I.
KH4 Midway Is.
KH5 Palmyra I.
KH5J Jarvis I. KH5
KH5K Kingman Reef
KH6 7 Hawaiian Is
KH7K Kure I.
KH8 American Samoa
KH9 Wake I.
KH0 North Mariana
KP1 Navassa I.
KP2 US Virgin Is
KP3 4 Puerto Rico
KP5 Desecheo I.
L2-L9 Argentina LU
LA LB LC LG LI Norway
LU LO-LT LV LW Argentina
M MX England G
MD MT Isle of Man GD
MI MN Northern Ireland GI
MJ MH Jersey GJ
MM MS Scotland GM
MU MP Guernsey and Dependencies GU
MW MC Wales GW
N NA-NG NI-NK USA W
NH1-NH0 US Pacific islands KH1-KH0
NL Alaska KL
NP1-NP5 US Caribbean Islands KP1-KP5
OA OB OC Peru
OH OF OG OI Finland
OH0 OF0 OG0 Aland Is
OJ0 OF0M OH0M Market Reef
OK OL Czech Republic
OM Slovak Republic
ON OO-OT Belgium
OY Faroe Is
P2 Papua New Guinea
P3 Cyprus 5B
P5 Korea (Dem Peoples Rep of)
PA PB PD PE PI Netherlands
PJ1 PJ2 4 9 Netherlands Antilles
PJ5 PJ6 7 8 Sint Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius
PY PP-PX Brazil
PY0F Fernando de Noronha Archipelago
PY0M Martim Vaz I. PU0T
PY0R Atol das Rocas PY0F
PY0S St Peter and St Paul Rocks
PY0T Trindade I.
R1F Franz Josef Land
R1M Malyj Vysotskij I.
R RA RK RN RU-RZ European Russia UA
R RA RK RN RU-RZ Asiatic Russia UA9
R2 RA2 RK2 RN2 Kaliningradsk UA2
S4 Ciskei ZS
S6 Singapore 9V
S7 Republic of Seychelles
S8 Transkei ZS
S9 Sao Tome and Principe
S0 Western Sahara
SM SH-SL Sweden
SP SN-SR Poland
ST Republic of the Sudan
SV SX-SZ Greece
SV�/A Mount Athos
SV5 Dodecanese Is
SV0 Non-nationals in Greece or on Greek Is SV SV5 SV9
T30 West Kiribati
T31 Central Kiribati
T32 East Kiribati
T4 Cuba CO
T6 Afghanistan YA
T7 San Marino
TD Guatemala TG
TE Costa Rica TI
TI Costa Rica
TI9 Cocos I.
TL Central African Republic
TM France including overseas Territories and Departments F
TO France including overseas Territories and Departments FG FJ FM FP FR FS FY
TP Council of Europe-Strasbourg F
TU Cote d'Ivoire
TX France including overseas Territories and Departments FK FO FW
UA U UA UE 1 3 4 6 European Russia
UA2 U UA UE 2 Kaliningrad
UA9 U UA UE 8-0 Asiatic Russia
UK U8 UJ UK7-9 UM Uzbekistan
UN UN1-0 UP UQ Kazakhstan
UR US-UZ Ukraine
V2 Antigua and Barbuda
V4 Federation of St Kitts and Nevis
V7 Marshall Is
V8 Brunei Darussalam
V9 Vendaland ZS
VE VA-VG Canada
VE0 Canadian /MM Stations
VK VI Australia
VK9C Cocos Keeling Is
VK9L Lord Howe I.
VK9M Mellish Reef
VK9N Norfolk I.
VK9W Willis Is
VK9X Christmas I.
VK0 Heard I.
VK0 Macquarie I.
VO1 VO3 5 7 9 Newfoundland VE
VO2 VO4 6 8 0 Labrador VE
VP2V British Virgin Is
VP5 Turks and Caicos Is
VP6 Pitcairn Is
VP8 Falkland Is
VP8 South Georgia
VP8 AZ1 5 ED0 L South Orkney Is
VP8 South Sandwich Is
VP8 CE9 CX0 ED0 South Shetland Is
HF0 HL5 LUnZx South Shetland Is cont.
VQ9 Chagos Is
VR2 Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong
VU Andaman Is and Nicobar Is
VX VY Canada VE
VY1 Yukon Territory VE
VY2 Prince Edward I. VE
W WA-WG WI-WK USA
WH1-WH0 US Pacific Islands KH1-KH0
WL Alaska KL
WP1-WP5 US Caribbean Islands KP1-KP5
XE XB-XH Mexico
XF4 Revilla Gigedo Is
XJ-XO Canada VE
XQ XR Chile and Islands CE CE9 CE0
XT Burkina Faso
XV Vietnam 3W
XW Lao Peoples Democratic Republic
XX3 Madeira Is CT3
XZ XY Myanmar
XZ5 XZ9 Karen State XZ
YA Republic of Afghanistan
YBYC YE-YH Indonesia
YO YP-YR Romania
YS El Salvador
YU YT Yugoslavia
YV YW-YY Venezuela
YV0 Aves I.
YZ Yugoslavia YU
ZB ZG Gibraltar
ZC UK Sovereign Bases on Cyprus-Akrotiri and Dhekelia
ZD7 St Helena
ZD8 Ascension I.
ZD9 Tristan da Cunha and Gough I.
ZF Cayman Islands
ZK1 South Cook Is
ZK1 Northern Cook Is
ZK2 ZK9 Niue
ZK3 Tokelau Is
ZL New Zealand
ZL7 Chatham Is
ZL8 Kermadec Is
ZL9 Auckland I. and Campbell I.
ZM New Zealand and Islands ZL ZL7 ZL8 ZL9
ZS ZR ZU Republic of South Africa
ZS8 Prince Edward I. and Marion I.
ZV-ZZ Brazil and Islands PY PY0
1A0 Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Rome, Italy)
1C Chechnya Rep. (Russian Federation)
1P Seborga Principato (Italy)
1S Spratly Archipelago 9M0
2D Isle of Man GD
2E England G
2I Northern Ireland GI
2J Jersey GJ
2M Scotland GM
2U Guernsey and Dependencies GU
2W Wales GW
3B6 Agalega Is
3B7 Cargados Carajos (St Brandon) 3B6
3B9 Rodriguez I.
3C Equatorial Guinea
3C0 Annobon I.
3D2 Republic of Fiji
3D2 Conway Reef
3D2 Rotuma I.
3E-3F Panama HP
3G Chile and Islands CE CE9 CE0
3W XV Vietnam
3X Republic of Guinea
3Y Bouvet I.
3Y Peter I Island
3Z Poland SP
4A-4C Mexico and Islands XE XF4
4D-4I Philippines DU
4J 4K Azerbaijan
4M Venezuela and Islands YV YV0
4N1 6-0 Yugoslavia YU
4S Sri Lanka
4T Peru OA
4U United Nations Organization
4U1ITU 4UnITU United Nations Geneva
4U1SCO UNESCO, Paris F
4U1UN 4UnUN United Nations New York
4U1VIC United Nations Vienna OE
4U1WB World Bank Washington D.C. W
4V Haiti HH
4W East Timor
4X 4Z Israel
5C Morocco CN
5J 5K Colombia and Islands HK HK0
5L Liberia EL
5P Denmark OZ
5W Western Samoa
5Z 5Y Kenya
6C Syria YKv
6D-6J Mexico and Islands XE-XF4
6K 6L Republic of Korea HL
6O Somalia T5
6P Pakistan AP
6T 6U Sudan and Southern Sudan ST ST0
6W 6V Senegal
7J-7N Japan JA
7O Republic of Yemen
7S Sweden SM
7X 7W Algeria
7Z Saudi Arabia HZ
8A 8B 8E 8I Indonesia YB
8J Japan JA
8O Botswana A2
8S Sweden SM
9J 9I Zambia
9L Sierra Leone
9M2 Malaya (Malaysia)
9M6 Sabah (Malaysia) 9M8
9M8 Sarawak (Malaysia)
9M0 BV9S 1S DU Spratly Archipelago
9Q 9R Democratic Republic of Congo
9W Malaysia (including Sabah & Sarawak) 9M2 8
9Y 9Z Trinidad and Tobago
Shortwave receivers vary in price from less than $100 to $1000
or more. The cheaper sets are only suitable for receiving
shortwave broadcasts. This is because they may miss non-broadcast
frequencies and do not have a beat-frequency oscillator (BFO)
that is required for single sideband, morse and data communication.
Cheaper receivers also often have poor frequency stability,
dial resolution and can be hard to tune.
main things to look for in a budget receiver are frequency
coverage (at least 6-18 MHz desirable), number of bands (one
or two make tuning difficult), availability of bandspread
(the cheaper receivers achieve this by having seven or eight
bands covering just the broadcast frequencies) sensitivity
and audio quality. Sets with digital tuning do not drift in
frequency, have easier tuning and include 'memories' for storing
often used frequencies.
receive other than shortwave broadcasters a better receiver
is needed. This can either be one of the better portables
or (preferably) a tabletop communications receiver. All of
these receivers have a tuning knob, receive SSB and cover
the entire HF spectrum. When selecting a receiver for this
purpose, choose one with a rotary tuning knob (not up/down
switches) and one where the set does not go silent while you
are adjusting the tuning.
cheapest portables are available from two dollar shops and
have either analogue or (increasingly) digital readouts. They
are really only suitable for broadcast listening as do not
receive SSB. In the middle of the range are portable sets
made by companies such as Sangean, Sony and Grundig. These
have superior frequency stability and may recieve SSB transmissions.
At the top of the range are the communications receivers,
from manufacturers such as Yaesu and Icom. These sets provide
continuous HF coverage, good quality AM and SSB reception
and are used by more serious listeners. They are stocked by
the specialist amateur radio shops. Alternatively, a strong
second-hand market exists, with sets often coming up for sale
at hamfests and online.
The telescopic whip antennas on the more sensitive portable
receivers will receive a range of broadcast signals, but most
receiver will benefit from adding an outside wire antenna.
reception of a single frequency is desired, an antenna called
a half-wave dipole fed with coaxial cable will work well.
Multiband reception is possible on a simple wire antenna brought
straight to the receiver via an antenna tuning unit. In its
simplest form, such an antenna can be a length of wire approximately
10-30 metres long mounted as high as possible. Shortwave antenna
kits with wire, insulators and rope are available from major
electronic retailers. Trees, fences, chimneys and TV antenna
masts are all good mounting points for a shortwave antenna.
Keep wire antennas clear of power lines to reduce interference
and safety risks.
Constructional information on simple antennas and tuning units
appear on Peter Parker's Projects Page.
Shortwave signals bounce off the ionosphere one or more times
between the transmitter site and your receiver. The ability
of the ionosphere to reflect radio signals depends on sunspot
activity and the time of day.
Generally frequencies between 2 and 12 MHz provide best results
at night. In contrast, frequencies between 12 and 30 MHz provide
daytime long distance reception. In Australia, the shortwave
bands are most active in the early morning and around sunset.
At these times strong signals may be heard across both of
the above frequency ranges. The worst time for shortwave reception
is around noon, when signals are usually quite weak.
Higher frequencies are generally better than lower frequencies
for long-distance communications, but tend to be less reliable,
owing to the influence of the 11-year sunspot cycle. Frequencies
between 2 and 4 MHz are best for distances up to about 1000
kilometres at night, while 4 to 6 MHz supports communication
up to about 3000 kilometres. Frequencies above 6 MHz are good
for intercontinental communication. The main exceptions to
this are shortwave broadcast stations, which use more power
and better antennas than most amateur, fixed and mobile stations.
to reception of the local AM and FM stations, which can be
heard on the same frequency 24 hours a day, shortwave reception
is more hit and miss. The stations you'll be able to hear
vary with the time of day, depending on signal propagation,
frequency used, transmitting schedules, interference and other
factors. Thus you cannot expect quite the same sound quality
on shortwave as obtainable from the local AM and FM stations
and may need to change frequency as propagation conditions
change during the day. Also, not all countries have a shortwave
broadcasting service, so if your interested in broadcasts
from a specific country or language, it would be well to establish
that such transmissions exist and the times and frequencies
used are suitable for reception in Australia before lashing
out on an expensive receiver.
a shortwave receiver
A shortwave receiver has a few more controls than a standard
AM/FM radio. As with scanners, learn the basics of being able
to enter a frequency, tune across a band and set the receiver's
mode (if adjustable). Connect an antenna and try tuning some
of the above frequency allocations for activity.
Broadcast listeners concentrate their listening on the AM
and FM radio bands. Others are also interested in long-distance
TV reception. Though AM and FM broadcasters aim for a local
audience, extended range propagation and/or special antennas
can allow long-distance reception. More serious listeners
go on expeditions in an effort to report reception of normally
rare or weak stations.
following are some broadcast frequency allocations used in
broadcast 531 kHz
1602 kHz in 9 kHz steps
narrowcast 1611, 1620, 1629, 1638 up to 1701 kHz approx
narrowcast 87.5 87.9 MHz approx
107.7 MHz in 200 kHz steps
from a few modern receivers designed specifically for quality
AM reception, older transistor radios often perform better
than newer models for long-distance AM reception. However
performance of all receivers can be improved by constructing
a directional loop antenna. One is described on Peter Parker's
interested in long-distance FM can improve reception by building
or buying a directional beam antenna. This should be connected
to the receiver's antenna terminals. Because FM transmissions
take place in the VHF band, a hilltop location will bring
in the distant signals, with the main challenge in densely
populated areas being able to separate two stations on the
Lower in frequency than the AM broadcast band is the low frequency
(or long wave) band. The main use for this part of the spectrum
in Australia is aircraft navigation beacons (NDBs), which
transmit in the 200 480 kHz range. These beacons transmit
their callsign (which is a two or three letter abbreviation
of their location) in slow morse code, with a few transmitting
voice weather information in AM. Hundreds of beacons are active;
during a recent evening listening test in suburban Melbourne,
some eighty were heard, some as far away as Kalgoorlie and
Mt Isa, with just a small ferrite rod loopstick as an antenna.
A list of beacons appears on VK2ZTO's website (link below).
New Zealand and PNG, amateur radio operators have access to
some frequencies below 200 kHz. Though Australian amateurs
do not yet have an allocation, a small number of 'scientific
licences' have been issued to Australian experimenters. The
most regular transmissions come from AX2TAR in Tasmania, but
I have yet to hear them here in Melbourne.
What To Expect From HF Amateur Radio Bands
A GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF EACH HAM BAND
Amateur Radio Band Characteristics. Sourced from www.hamuniverse.com
A neighbor to the AM Broadcast band just slightly higher in frequency, 160 has very similar conditions to what you hear on AM Broadcast, quite localized during the day, with long distance capability at night. During the summer months the long distances at night can be several hundreds of miles and during the winter it can be several thousand miles.
Lots of noise created by static crashes hinder communications in the summer months but very nice in the winter! When there is no static, seems like you can hear.....forever!
80 Meters is very similar to 160 meters but with greater distances especially at night. 80 tends to be a very reliable band less subject to variations of the sunspot cycle and is used a lot for regular net operations and message handling and "local rag chewing".
Again can be very noise prone in the summer static. You will meet lots of "local yocals" and make some very good friends with the "local" gang that hang out here. Various states and groups seem to frequent a particular frequency so tune around.
5.332 - 5.405
Not actually a "Ham Band" but a cluster of 5 frequencies or channels shared with Government users. Many restrictions apply to technical requirements of ham transmitters and antennas. Hams are secondary user of this band, not primary, so we must yield to interference problems with Government stations. 60 meters is much like 80 and 40 meters.
This is many ham's favorite band. It is always open somewhere. During the summer daytime distances of 300-400 miles and night time distances of 1000 miles are very common. Winter days with 500 miles or more are usual and night time conditions bring DX intercontinental communications.This band is shared with short-wave broadcast from countries outside of North America. Between these interfering signals a ham with a reasonable station can work stations worldwide if you can find a clear spot!. Not as affected by the sunspot cycle as 20-10 meters. Many nets frequent 40 meters both day and night.
A lot like 40 meters but can only be used on CW and RTTY. No broadcast interference and has slightly longer range than 40 meters. Daytime ranges of 1000 miles are quite common.
Just about all of the serious DXers hang out on 20 meters!
This can be a VERY exciting band with some of the best DX found on any band. Around the world daytime communications are generally possible and when the sunspot cycle is peaking 20 can be used around the clock! Not likely to be used for short-range communications. The only way to work someone a few hundred miles away would be scatter or possibly "long path". Ground wave signals of about 50-75 miles might be all you would expect. At the bottom of the sunspot cycle, openings to other continents are short, rare and few and far between!
Band conditions are very similar to 20 meters. This seems to be a very popular band when hams go mobile and lots of fun can be expected. You will meet some of the finest Hams in the world on 17 meters. A very cordial band!
A lot like 20 meters but a bit more flakey.. More influenced by the sunspot cycle. Much less night time activity than 20 meters but at the peak of the sunspot cycle, 15 can provide much greater distances!
On the down side, at the bottom of the cycle, 15 may not open for days.
Very heavily influenced by the sunspot cycle. At the bottom of the cycle it is suitable only for very short distance groundwave communications only, for long periods of time. At the peak of the cycle it is capable of communications over thousands of miles with a minimum of equipment. Another nice mobile band when conditions are right.
This can be a FUN band, when it is open!
This is the HF band most heavily affected by sunspots and the sunspot cycle and it can be erratic and exciting at the same time with lots of Dx for the qsl hunter or just as a fun band. Minimum power and simple antennas can bring you a hundred countries in a short period of time when the sunspot cycle is rising towards the peak. Five watts or even less can work half way around the earth!. Ground wave coverage is 25 miles or so. Lots of beacon stations worldwide for you DX hunters. If you can hear beacons that run very low power on 10 Meters, there is an opening to that part of the world.....keep trying!
Radio DX Club
Civil HF Air Frequencies