Mystery Signal! Are You Ready For Your Mystery Signal?

Like many people [Dan Greenall] spent a lot of time in the 1970s listening to shortwave radio. While you often think of that as a hobby involving listening to broadcast stations, some people like to listen to other communications such as airliners, ships, military, and even spy stations. These days, if you hear a strange signal you are probably only one internet search away from identifying what it is. But back then, you had to depend on word-of-mouth or magazines to figure things like that out. [Dan] found a recording of a mysterious military-like signal he made in 1971 on 14.85 MHz. He decided that maybe now, all these years later, he could finally identify it.

The operator in the recording is counting and mentions “Midway Island,” famous for a World War II battle and part of the Leeward Islands in the Pacific. Thanks to the internet and the law of six degrees of separation, [Dan] found [Chuck Kinzer] who was a Midway Navy vet.

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Review: XHDATA D-219 Short Wave Radio Receiver

As any radio amateur will tell you, the world of radio abounds with exciting possibilities. Probably the simplest pursuit of them all is that of the SWL, or short wave listener, who scours the airwaves in search of interesting stations. SWLs will often have fully-featured setups with high-end general-coverage communications receivers and tuned antenna arrays, but it can start with the cheapest of radios at its bottom end. Such a radio is the subject of this review, the XHDATA D-219 is a miniature portable receiver that costs under ten dollars, yet is currently the talk of the town in SWL circles. This interest is in no small amount due to its being an especially low-price way to get your hands on a shortwave radio using one of the SIlicon Labs integrated software-defind radio receiver chips. We don’t often review a consumer radio here at Hackaday, but with an avid eye for unexpected gems at the cheaper end of the market this one’s worth a second look.

What Do You Get For Your Tenner?

A picture of the radio on my bench
This form factor is very typical for cheap “world band” radios.

I ordered my D-219 from the XHDATA website, spending about £10 including the postage from China. The usual wait ensued before the package landed on my doormat, and inside was the radio in its box with an instruction leaflet. It’s a small unit about 135 mm x 75 mm x 30 mm, and it follows closely the form factor of other similar radios.

On the top is the extensible antenna with an on-off switch and sockets for headphone and 5 V power, on the side are side-on knobs for tuning and volume, while on the front is the speaker and old-style multi-band tuning display.

On the back is a flip-up stand and a hatch for a pair of AA cells. There’s a band switch covering AM, nine different shortwave bands from 4.75 MHz to 22 MHz, the east Asian FM band from 64 MHz to 87 MHz, and the international FM band from 87 MHz to 108 MHz. The tuning indicator is very old-school, a vertical bar that moves across a frequency scale with the tuning knob. Continue reading “Review: XHDATA D-219 Short Wave Radio Receiver”

Cache Shortwave Signals For Later With This SDR Spectrum Grabber

Shortwave listening has always been a mainly nocturnal hobby. To get the real DX, one had to wait for favorable ionospheric conditions after sunset and spend hours twisting knobs while straining to pick voices from half a planet away out of the noise. But who has time for that in today’s world? And what of the poor city-dwelling SWL, with antenna limitations and often elevated noise floor in the urban jungle?
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BST-1 Car Shortwave Receiver

Commuting is a pain. Luckily, nearly every car has some sort of radio or other audio player to while away the hours stuck in traffic. However, most of those radios sport AM and FM bands, along with a weather band and–maybe–a long wave band. What if you prefer shortwave?

[Thomas] posted a review of the BST-1, a car-friendly shortwave receiver. The device is made to mount out of sight–presumably near an external antenna. It beams the shortwave signal to the car’s FM radio. The control is a small key fob and even if you aren’t interested in the radio itself, the user interface design is somewhat interesting.

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