If the whole SDR (software defined radio) side of the shortwave radio hobby isn’t something you’ve experienced yet because buying and setting up the equipment isn’t for you, there’s a simple way to enjoy what SDR brings to the table without jumping on that new tech learning curve.
One of the many things the Internet does well is stream audio files and this makes workable online SDR receivers a possibility. Unlike the Internet controllable hardware receivers of the past that were limited to one user at a time, online SDR receivers allow a high number of simultaneous users to control and access the output.
The early online SDR feeds required you to download a small client to run on your home computer but much as SDR itself has improved recently so has the ease of accessing SDR via the web. Now all that’s needed is what you already have on your computer to surf the net and a half decent web connection.
One of the better SDR portals is over at websdr.org, with a good selection of frequency coverage and locations plus an easy to use control interface, it’s a good introduction into using Internet based SDR.
Why Use The SDR Feeds
There’s nothing like the feeling of bagging a great bit of DX with the physical equipment you’ve put together but these feeds do offer some things that can’t deliver.
Easy Signal Finding
Being able to view a huge chunk of radio spectrum at once makes finding transmissions very easy and if you’ve ever used a decoding program that displays data in a waterfall format you’ll feel right at home using SDR.
All the propagation charts in the world can tell you what should be happening with the bands but the ability to actually hear what’s being received in any part of the world gives a clear indication of band conditions.
Worldwide SWL Listening
What you receive at your shortwave antenna is dependent on so many things that your not guaranteed to hear a particular signal at any given time (and then some). By using a network of receivers spread throughout different countries you can check out transmissions that rarely reach you or you’ve no hope of ever hearing.
A SDR Taste Test
The one thing SDR feeds do give above all else is the chance to see what’s possible with software defined radio, giving you a chance to understand how it all works and maybe create the urge to get some of your own SDR radio kit up and going at home.