Adventures in DXing

Sangean ATS909X Multiband Receiver

Shortwave, long wave, medium wave, and FM — bands of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be tuned in with my new Sangean ATS-909X multiband receiver. I’ve decided to give radio monitoring a go.

The receiver arrived yesterday from Durham Radio in Whitby, Ontario. I chose the Sangean for its reputation as a decent, mid-level receiver with the enough features to satisfy the demands of multiband listening, and especially DXing.

The abbreviation DX stands for “distance” in radio circles and DXing is the activity of trying to log distant radio signals. This can be done on the medium wave, or AM, band on any home radio. A receiver with good sensitivity and selectivity make it a little easier. DXing is also done on shortwave and FM frequencies.

So far I’ve discovered two things: that shortwave reception is rather poor in my house and that I picked the worst time of year to begin this hobby. I’d already guessed shortwave reception could be dodgy. The house is surrounded by trees and there are tall apartments to the south that block signals. What I overlooked is the time of year. DXing takes place mostly after sunset when radio signals skip great distances by bouncing off the ionosphere. As we approach summer solstice, I have to stay up quite late to do any monitoring. Winter is the ideal DXing season.

Those things aside, I fiddled around with medium wave (AM) DXing last night and with a little help from the Internet to help identify stations, I logged stations in Buffalo (no surprise), Almherst, New York City, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Nashville. Not bad for the first night ever.

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About Gene Wilburn

Gene Wilburn is a writer ~ photographer ~ humanist
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11 Responses to Adventures in DXing

  1. Jamie Pillers says:

    Gene,
    Good to see your blog entry. Always a pleasant surprise when they pop up in my inbox.

    By next year, I’ll expect to see a photograph of your house sprouting several many-meters-high radio antennae. :-)
    Cheers,
    Jamie

  2. WeeDram says:

    A somewhat high power station here is WHAM @ 1370 KHz ( KC for our generation!) … if you can tune it in you might not care for the content. ;)

  3. Gene Wilburn says:

    Jamie, thanks for the read. I hope to keep my backyard free of antennae :-)

    Earl, I picked up a weak signal at that frequency but haven’t confirmed yet.

  4. Peter says:

    A relative of mine was deep into DXing and ham radio. He had piles of radios and several antennae.
    Port Credit being kind of low, you may have some trouble pulling in some stations, but you should be able to get some of the powerful U.S. stations no problem.

  5. Gene Wilburn says:

    You’re right, Peter. Port Credit is not positioned well for a lot of signals. It should be good for those that travel over water though.

    My aim, if I can stick to it, is to keep this hobby kind of minimal, in terms of gear. Already though I see an active antenna on my wish list. They can be used indoors to boost signal strength of incoming frequencies.

  6. Nathan says:

    Saw your pic of the Sangean on Flickr & decided to stop by. I recently got into this hobby myself when I purchased a Grundig G6. Having a lot of fun so far! Now I need to fix up my Dad’s old tube SW radio & see what kinds of signals I can get from it!

  7. Gene Wilburn says:

    Hi Nathan, your Grundig G6 looks a lot like my Sangean. Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you can get your dad’s old SW radio going!

  8. bg says:

    I explored shortwave radio back in the early ’80s. I was excited to pick up taiwan’s english broadcasts until they mentioned they were sent from a repeater station in florida. With the help of a booklet from Radio Shack strung a 30M antenna on the roof and my reception increased fantastically. That was in Iowa. Back in Chicago I did the best I could and found that I could optomize the antenna to pick up KDKA-AM Pittsburgh during the day even! I’d be curious to see what’s out there nowadays.
    Good to see your post!

  9. Gene Wilburn says:

    Bob, thanks for dropping by. Sounds like you had some really good antenna setups. I had a similar experience with Voice of Vietnam. How cool, I thought, until I found out it was a repeater station in Sackville, NB.

  10. Julio F says:

    Gene, that is a nice hobby. I was an avid DX listener for many years, even built my own vacuum tube radio, and listened to transmissions from all over the world.

    You really need an antenna, though. Even a basic one will do wonders, just a long length of insulated copper wire in your roof.

    Stations such as Radio Nederland, BBC World Service have good enough programming that you can get used to listening regularly!

  11. Joe says:

    That Sangean is a beauty. I’ve been tempted to get one myself, as my pocket shortwave radio, as nice as it is, has severe limitations.

    If you want to look up frequencies, I can recommend a site I use all the time: http://www.short-wave.info/ It permits one to look up stations, languages, and can help you find out who’s transmitting now. One can also look up frequencies as one comes across them if you don’t hear them announce themselves.

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