Copyright © 1999-2011 by Harold Melton KV5R. All Rights Reserved.
Shortwave Radio Spectrum Users
The shortwave spectrum runs from the top of the AM broadcast band at 1.7 MHz, to 30 MHz. Within that range various “bands” of frequencies have been allocated (by international treaties) for various purposes. There are several main user types scattered throughout shortwave. They are:
- Utility Stations
- Marine (ships)
- International Aircraft
- Government and military
|1.8-2.0||160 M Ham||Late Night|
|2.3-2.4||120 M Bc||Late Night|
|3.2-3.4||90 M Bc||All Night|
|3.5-4.0||80/75 M Ham||All night|
|4.75-5.07||60 M Bc||All Night|
|5.9-6.2||49 M Bc, P||All Night|
|7.0-7.3||40 M Ham||Eve, Night, Morn|
|7.1-7.4||41 M Bc (foreign)||Eve, Night, Morn|
|9.4-9.9||31 M Bc, P||Morn, Day Eve|
|10.1-10.15||30 M Ham||Morn, Day, Eve|
|11.65-12.05||25 M Bc, P||All day|
|13.6-13.8||21 M Bc, P||All day|
|14.0-14.35||20 M Ham||All day|
|15.1-15.6||19 M Bc, P||All day|
|17.55-17.9||16 M Bc, P||All day|
|21.0-21.45||15 M Ham||All day|
|21.45-21.85||13 M Bc||Not used much|
|25.67-26.1||11 M Bc||Not used much|
|26.965-27.405||11 M CB||Lots of noise|
|28.0-29.7||10 M Ham||All day, sometimes|
Broadcasting is one-way radio, aimed at the general public. Broadcasters run high-powered transmitters (usually 100,000 watts or more) and are trying to reach an international audience. They are usually run by governments (“official” propaganda), or commercial shortwave providers that sell broadcast time to various individuals and organizations who have something to say. Most are religious or news programs. Some are “alternative” shows, focusing on unfiltered news, anti-establishment sentiment, doomsayers, and even outright hucksters. Some are fascinating, so beware of getting sucked into bogus “health” products, financial “opportunities,” or extreme views. With shortwave, you’re your own news editor. If you have led a sheltered life (TV brainwashed), you are in for a few shocks. You’ll hear both good truth, and things too good or too bad to be true.
Amateurs (“Hams”) are private, licensed radio operators who conduct two-way communications with other Amateurs, worldwide, for hobby, and sometimes emergency assistance, purposes. Amateurs may transmit in several radio modes, using power up to 1500 watts. Amateurs are not CBers, and vice-versa. They must master many radio-related topics, and pass exams, to receive their licenses. When you get tired of just listening, you may want to get your Amateur license and start talking to people around the world. However, Amateurs may not broadcast — that is, make one-way transmissions to a general audience. If you want to broadcast, you can buy time from a shortwave station.
Utility stations may be one-way (like weather reports to ships and airplanes), or two-way (like radiogram messages to/from ships and airplanes. Some utility stations send coded messages to armies, or guerillas, or dope runners (assuming they’re not the same). Many utility stations use radio teletype and FAX instead of voice. Some shortwave listeners make seeking out utility stations the main focus of the hobby. An interesting utility you will want to use is WWV, the national time standard — on 5.0, 10.0, and 15.0 MHz. If you change your clocks twice a year, use WWV to get them exactly right. It’s fun to keep your watch set to one second accuracy!
During major emergencies (like hurricanes), shortwave traffic will greatly increase on certain frequencies. Many Amateurs maintain emergency power sources and provide vital communications when public utilities are down.
Ships at sea, international airline flights, and governments also use parts of the shortwave radio spectrum.