Online SDRs You Can Tune and Listen To

Anthony Luscre, K8ZT

One of the problems with setting up a new HF radio station is the need for an adequate antenna. Although we now have HF radios that can fit in your pocket, the antennas still usually need to be both big and outside to work best. The second issue is that most portable Shortwave HF receivers do not include SSB reception which is necessary to receive Amateur (Ham) Radio voice communications. So what do you do when you just can’t put up an antenna, don’t own an HF receiver or maybe you are traveling and just want to tap into ham radio? Well, if you have Internet access you can get on the air to listen. Although you can both receive and transmit with a remotely controlled station, that is beyond the scope of today’s project-- simply listening to the ham bands.

Unlike transmitting through a remote station, listening requires no license or special access to closed and/or paid remote stations. Fortunately, there are a number of free and open SDRs (Software Defined Radios) that you can control, tune and listen to with your laptop, phone, Chromebook, tablet, etc. as long as you have Internet access.

There are links to over 75 such remote receivers listed on the web sdr website

                        www.websdr.org

One of my favorites listed is at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

 http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl

 

This site lets you tune the HF bands and unlike some non-ham sites, even receive using SSB. I will use this site to give you a guide to using these remote receivers. Although there are some variations on other sites, these general guidelines will get you started.

Below is a quick guide to getting started. For additional help on using SDRs visit www.websdr.org/faq.html

Help Guide

  1. Click button to start audio
  2. Allow keyboard control
  1. Keyboard Commands
  1. j,  k,  4,  , →  freq down/up (+shift/ctrl/alt faster)
  2. u, l, c, a, f  - Mode selection- USB, LSB, CW, AM, FM
  3. W, w - Filter adjustment Wider / narrower
  4. g - Enter frequency
  5. m - mute
  6. V, v - volume up/down
  7.  t T -  VFOs, toggle A/B, set A=B
  1. Waterfall Zoom (keyboard command z,  Z )
  2. Filter settings- change to 2.4 for SSB, 0.5 for CW, 9.0 for AM, 16.0 for FM
  3. Speed & Size
  4. Frequency- suggested frequencies for ham bands in red & for more see below

Here are a few other SDRs to try

http://www.globaltuners.com    www.globaltuners.com      

   http://farnham-sdr.com 

http://livehams.com/         http://livehams.com

Here is some good information on Shortwave Listening (SWLing)   

               http://swling.com  

Suggested Frequencies   

      www.arrl.org/band-plan

    www.textfiles.com/hamradio/FREQUENCIES

Finding stations. HF radio signals are affected by the time of day, atmospheric conditions and the sunspot cycle. The study of the variations in radio signals is called propagation. For more information visit www.k8zt.com/propagation. Unlike commercial AM, FM and SW stations, which have set frequencies and schedules, ham radio operations can take place any time on the allocated frequencies. To let others know what stations are currently on the air and their frequencies, hams use “DX Spotting” sites.

      http://www.dxsummit.fi/#/

                  www.dxscape.com


Amateur Radio Bands

Band

Mode

Filter

Frequency

Best

Notes

160 M

CW

0.5

1800 - 1835 kHz

Night

Typically better Fall to Spring

160 M

LSB

2.4

1860 - 1990 kHz

Night

80 M

CW

0.5

3500 - 3600 kHz

Night

Typically busiest bands for statewide and regional contacts, with longer contacts at night

80 M

LSB

2.4

3600 - 3999 kHz

Night

40 M

CW

0.5

7000 - 7070 kHz

Both

40 M

LSB

2.4

7125 - 7300 kHz

Both

30 M

CW

0.5

10100 - 10130 kHz

Both

20 M

CW

0.5

14000 - 14070 kHz

Both

Typically busiest band for long-distance contacts

20 M

USB

2.4

14150 - 14350 kHz

Both

17 M

CW

0.5

18068 - 18100 kHz

Day

Usually best during higher points in the sunspot cycle. We are currently at a low point in this multi-year cycle

17 M

USB

2.4

18120 - 18168 kHz

Day

15 M

CW

0.5

21000 - 21070 kHz

Day

15 M

USB

2.4

21200 - 21450 kHz

Day

12 M

CW

0.5

24890 - 24915 kHz

Day

12 M

USB

2.4

24930 - 24990 kHz

Day

10 M

CW

0.5

28000 - 28100 kHz

Day

10 M

USB

2.4

28300 - 28600 kHz

Day

6 M

CW

0.5

50080 - 50100 kHz

Day

Actually a VHF band. Typically more activity during summer

6 M

USB

2.4

50110 - 52500 kHz

Day

For more information on the different modes visit:

If, after listening to Amateur Radio communications, you are interested in obtaining your FCC Amateur Radio License so you can both listen and transmit visit www.cfarc.org and click on the bright green “Get Your Amateur (Ham) Radio License” button.