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Shortwave & DX Radio
Listening & General HF Radio Information

Many thanks to Peter Parker VK3YE for the information found on this page. Some info may be dated but the art of listening on the airwaves is still fundamentally the same...


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Shortwave listening is a popular activity whose participants specialise in receiving radio signals from around the world. Signals may include international broadcasters (eg BBC, Voice of America, Radio Japan, Radio Australia), maritime and aircraft communications, pirate broadcasters, military operations and amateur and CB radio activity.
Unlike the normal medium wave (AM) or VHF (FM) signals from local radio stations, shortwave signals can travel worldwide.

However to hear them, a special receiver, capable of tuning frequencies between 2 and 30 MHz is required. Details of suitable equipment are provided later.

What can be heard on shortwave?
The following are a few of the uses for shortwave (or HF) radio.

International broadcast stations

The shortwave bands are filled with broadcast stations different from those transmitting on the AM and FM bands. Most countries have an international broadcasting service. Religious groups and private organisations also operate shortwave stations.

There 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.

Listening 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.

Amateur and CB radio
Amateur 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..

Marine and outback communication
HF 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.

Outback 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.

Further details appear on the Outback/Marine communications page.

Military and 'Utility' stations
Utility 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.


HF frequency allocations in Australia (not complete)

1.8 – 1.875 MHz 160 metre amateur

2.182 MHz Marine distress

2.0 – 2.4 MHz Fixed and mobile

2.3 – 2.5 MHz 120 metre broadcast

2.500 MHz WWV/WWVH time signals

2.628 MHz AXM Weatherfax

3.2 - 3.5 MHz 90 metre broadcast

3.5 – 3.8 MHz 80 metre amateur

3.8 - 4.0 MHz 75 metre broadcast

4.0 – 4.1 MHz Fixed and mobile

4.8 – 5.1 MHz 60 metre broadcast

5.000 MHz WWV/WWVH time signals

5.1 – 5.7 MHz Fixed and mobile

5.100 MHz AXM Weatherfax

5.410 MHz Alice Springs RFDS

5.455 MHz Australian National 4WD Network

5.7 – 6.2 MHz 49 metre broadcast

6.8 – 7.0 MHz Fixed and Mobile

7.0 – 7.3 MHz 40 metre amateur

7.1 – 7.5 MHz 41 metre broadcast

7.535 MHz AXI Weatherfax

9.4 – 9.9 MHz 31 metre broadcast

10.000 MHz WWV/WWVH time signals

10.1 – 10.15 MHz 30 metre amateur

11.030 MHz AXM Weatherfax

11.6 – 12 MHz 25 metre broadcast

13.6 – 13.9 MHz 21 metre broadcast

13.920 MHz AXM Weatherfax

14.0 – 14.35 MHz 20 metre amateur

15.000 MHz WWV/WWVH time signals

15.1 – 15.5 MHz 19 metre broadcast

15.615 MHz AXI Weatherfax

17.6 – 17.9 MHz 16 metre broadcast

18.068–18.168MHz 17 metre amateur

20.000 MHz WWV/WWVH time signals

20.469 MHz AXM Weatherfax

21.0 – 21.45 MHz 15 metre amateur

21.45 – 21.8 MHz 13 metre broadcast

24.89 – 24.99 MHz 12 metre amateur

25.6 – 26.1 MHz 11 metre broadcast

26.965-27.405MHz 27 MHz CB

27.62 – 27.98 MHz 27 MHz marine

27.880 MHz Marine distress

28.0 – 29.7 MHz 10 metre amateur

Amateur Radio Prefixes
List of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) amateur radio prefixes.
A2 Botswana
A3 Tonga
A4 Sultanate of Oman
A5 Bhutan
A6 United Arab Emirates
A7 Qatar
A8 Liberia EL
A9 Bahrain
AH1-AH0 USA Pacific Islands KH1-KH0
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
BV Taiwan
BV9P Pratas I.
BV9S Spratly Archipelago 9M0
C2 Nauru
C3 Andorra
C4 Cyprus 5B
C5 Gambia
C6 Bahamas
C9 Mozambique
CE Chile
CE0 Easter I.
CE0 San Felix and San Ambrosio Is
CE0 Juan Fernandez Is
CF-CK Canada VE
CN Morocco
CO Cuba
CP Bolivia
CT1CQ-CT2 4-8 0 Portugal
CT3 CQ-CS3 CT9 Madeira Is
CU Azores
CX CV CW Uruguay
CY CZ Canada VE
CY9 St Paul Is
CY0 Sable I.
D2 D3 Angola
D4 Cape Verde
D6 Comoros
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
E3 Eritrea
E4 Palestine
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
EK Armenia
EL Liberia
EM EN EO Ukraine UR
EP Iran
ER Moldova
ES Estonia
ET Ethiopia
EU EV EW Belarus
EX Kyrghyzstan
EY Tajikistan
EZ Turkmenistan
F France
FG Guadeloupe
FH Mayotte
FJ St Barthelemy (French St Martin) FS
FK New Caledonia
FK----/C Chesterfield Is
FM Martinique
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
HA Hungary
HB Switzerland
HB0 Liechtenstein
HC,HD Ecuador
HC8,HD8 Galapagos Is
HE Switzerland HB
HF Poland SP
HG Hungary HA
HH Haiti
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
HS Thailand
HT Nicaragua YN
HU El Salvador YS
HV Vatican City
HZ Saudi Arabia
IS0 IM0 Sardinia
J2 Djibouti
J3 Grenada
J4 Greece SV
J5 Guinea-Bissau
J6 St Lucia
J7 Dominica
J8 St Vincent and the Grenadines
JA JE-JS Japan
JD 7J Minami Torishima
JD 7J Ogasawara Is
JT JU JV Mongolia
JW Svalbard
JX Jan Mayen
JY Jordan
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
KL Alaska
KP1 Navassa I.
KP2 US Virgin Is
KP3 4 Puerto Rico
KP5 Desecheo I.
L2-L9 Argentina LU
LU LO-LT LV LW Argentina
LX Luxembourg
LY Lithuania
LZ Bulgaria
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
NH1-NH0 US Pacific islands KH1-KH0
NL Alaska KL
NP1-NP5 US Caribbean Islands KP1-KP5
OD Lebanon
OE Austria
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
OX Greenland
OY Faroe Is
OZ Denmark
P2 Papua New Guinea
P3 Cyprus 5B
P4 Aruba
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.
PZ Suriname
R1A Antarctica
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
S2 Bangladesh
S4 Ciskei ZS
S5 Slovenia
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
SU Egypt
SV SX-SZ Greece
SV�/A Mount Athos
SV5 Dodecanese Is
SV9 Crete
SV0 Non-nationals in Greece or on Greek Is SV SV5 SV9
T2 Tuvalu
T30 West Kiribati
T31 Central Kiribati
T32 East Kiribati
T33 Banaba
T4 Cuba CO
T5 Somalia
T6 Afghanistan YA
T7 San Marino
T9 Bosnia-Hercegovina
TA Turkey
TD Guatemala TG
TE Costa Rica TI
TF Iceland
TG Guatemala
TI Costa Rica
TI9 Cocos I.
TJ Cameroon
TK Corsica
TL Central African Republic
TM France including overseas Territories and Departments F
TN Congo
TO France including overseas Territories and Departments FG FJ FM FP FR FS FY
TP Council of Europe-Strasbourg F
TR Gabon
TT Chad
TU Cote d'Ivoire
TX France including overseas Territories and Departments FK FO FW
TY Benin
TZ Mali
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
V3 Belize
V4 Federation of St Kitts and Nevis
V5 Namibia
V6 Micronesia
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
VP2E Anguilla
VP2M Montserrat
VP2V British Virgin Is
VP5 Turks and Caicos Is
VP6 Pitcairn Is
VP8 Antarctica
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.
ZX0 4K1
VP9 Bermuda
VQ9 Chagos Is
VR2 Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong
VU India
VU Lakshadweep
VU Andaman Is and Nicobar Is
VX VY Canada VE
VY1 Yukon Territory VE
VY2 Prince Edward I. VE
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
XU Cambodia
XV Vietnam 3W
XW Lao Peoples Democratic Republic
XX3 Madeira Is CT3
XX9 Macao
XZ XY Myanmar
XZ5 XZ9 Karen State XZ
YA Republic of Afghanistan
YBYC YE-YH Indonesia
YI Iraq
YJ Vanuatu
YK Syria
YL Latvia
YM TurkeyTA
YN Nicaragua
YO YP-YR Romania
YS El Salvador
YU YT Yugoslavia
YV YW-YY Venezuela
YV0 Aves I.
YZ Yugoslavia YU
Z2 Zimbabwe
Z3 Macedonia
ZA Albania
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
ZP Paraguay
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
3A Monaco
3B6 Agalega Is
3B7 Cargados Carajos (St Brandon) 3B6
3B8 Mauritius
3B9 Rodriguez I.
3C Equatorial Guinea
3C0 Annobon I.
3D2 Republic of Fiji
3D2 Conway Reef
3D2 Rotuma I.
3DA0 Swaziland
3E-3F Panama HP
3G Chile and Islands CE CE9 CE0
3V Tunisia
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
4L Georgia
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
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
5A Libya
5B Cyprus
5C Morocco CN
5H Tanzania
5J 5K Colombia and Islands HK HK0
5L Liberia EL
5N Nigeria
5P Denmark OZ
5R Madagascar
5T Mauritania
5U Niger
5V Togo
5W Western Samoa
5X Uganda
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
6Y Jamaica
7J-7N Japan JA
7O Republic of Yemen
7P Lesotho
7Q Malawi
7S Sweden SM
7X 7W Algeria
7Z Saudi Arabia HZ
8A 8B 8E 8I Indonesia YB
8J Japan JA
8O Botswana A2
8P Barbados
8Q Maldives
8R Guyana
8S Sweden SM
9A Croatia
9G Ghana
9H Malta
9J 9I Zambia
9K Kuwait
9L Sierra Leone
9M2 Malaya (Malaysia)
9M6 Sabah (Malaysia) 9M8
9M8 Sarawak (Malaysia)
9M0 BV9S 1S DU Spratly Archipelago
9N Nepal
9Q 9R Democratic Republic of Congo
9U Burundi
9V Singapore
9W Malaysia (including Sabah & Sarawak) 9M2 8
9X Rwanda
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.

The 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.

To 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.

The 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.

If 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.

Compared 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.

Operating 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.

Long-distance broadcast listening
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.

The following are some broadcast frequency allocations used in Australia:

AM broadcast 531 kHz … 1602 kHz in 9 kHz steps

AM narrowcast 1611, 1620, 1629, 1638 up to 1701 kHz approx

FM narrowcast 87.5 – 87.9 MHz approx

FM broadcast 88.1 … 107.7 MHz in 200 kHz steps

Apart 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 Projects Page.

Those 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 one frequency.

Low frequency listening
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).

In 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

Amateur Radio Band Characteristics. Sourced from www.hamuniverse.com

160 Meters
1.8-2.0 MHz.
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
3.5-4.0 MHz.
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.

60 Meters
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.

40 Meters
7.0-7.3 MHz
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.

30 Meters
10.100-10.150 MHz.

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.

20 Meters
14.000-14.350 MHz.

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!
17 Meters
18.068-18.168 MHz.

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!

15 Meters
21.000-21.450 MHz.

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

12 Meters
24.890-24.990 MHz.

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.
10 Meters
28.000-29.7000 MHz.
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!

Listening Links

ACMA website
Australian Radio DX Club
Civil HF Air Frequencies

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Original site content Greg Weir VK4GDW

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