I’m looking at getting into shortwave radio. Where do I start?

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Xavierbsa

Joined Dec 28, 2017
1
I am a high school student from the Pittsburgh area. I’ve done small circuitry with breadboards and resistors, LED’s, caps, transistors, and the only ic I’ve worked with is a 555 timer. Where do I go from here. My ultimate goal is to build a shortwave transceiver and get my HAM license. I’m also a dreamer of attending MIT, so I’m trying to get a basis in electronics. Thanks in advance for all help.
 

BR-549

Joined Sep 22, 2013
4,928
Buy an old short wave radio receiver to keep you interested. Or an SDR dongle. Cause you have a lot of reading to do.

You might want to study Tayloe detectors/mixers. The output can be fed directly into your computer aux/in audio line.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
6,586
My advice would be to seek out any local Ham Radio Clubs in the Pittsburgh area. This may lead to you finding a good basic receiver to begin with.

Ron
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,398
I am a high school student from the Pittsburgh area. I’ve done small circuitry with breadboards and resistors, LED’s, caps, transistors, and the only ic I’ve worked with is a 555 timer. Where do I go from here. My ultimate goal is to build a shortwave transceiver and get my HAM license. I’m also a dreamer of attending MIT, so I’m trying to get a basis in electronics. Thanks in advance for all help.
There are, to my thinking right this moment, three things about ham radio that might be captures and hold people's interest. The first is ham radio itself -- things like talking to people all over the world and helping out in times of need or providing support for community events. The second is the electronics associated with ham radio. The third is the sense of camaraderie and fellowship you find with others that share an interest. There are plenty of people that really only care about one of these three and don't really care much about either of the other two. Then there are people that are heavily invested in all three. And of course a whole range of people in between.

Which do you think is YOUR major attraction? The electronics? If so, then you might enjoy starting with the most basic crystal radio and working yourself up in tiny increments. It will be a long time before you are talking on the air to anyone, but maybe that's fine if your interest is primarily electronics. If you main attraction is the ham activities themselves, then you are probably best to buy some used entry level equipment to get on the air quickly and work on the electronics side of it over time.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
I am a high school student from the Pittsburgh area.
You'll need a design, components, PCB, a power supply (13.5 volt and a few amps) and an antenna. Some understanding friends and family helps -especially if they have tools.

Are you in the city of Pittsburgh or a suburb? I'm way in the Northern Suburbs. Let me know if you need parts.

Here is a Transistor application note with an amplifier design and PCB layout.

http://www.seboldt.net/k0jd/mot-an762.pdf
 
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MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,145
Get a copy of the ARRL Handbook. It doesn't have to be the latest edition. Every one is a goldmine and a pleasure to read through.



You can download a pdf version but I would rather have the paper version in front of me. There is just way too much reference data in there.

Secondly, get a Short Wave radio. Grundig makes some great radios.
I have this inexpensive Pulser FM/MW/SW1/SW2 portable radio that is fine for starting out:




I also have a RS DX-160 that does a great job for SW and HAM receiving. I built a digital frequency readout for it so now I know exactly what frequency it is receiving.



Finally, get a copy of the WRTH (World Radio TV Handbook) which lists every radio and TV station, frequencies and transmission times, from around the globe.



Happy SW DX listening!
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,536
I am a high school student from the Pittsburgh area. I’ve done small circuitry with breadboards and resistors, LED’s, caps, transistors, and the only ic I’ve worked with is a 555 timer. Where do I go from here. My ultimate goal is to build a shortwave transceiver and get my HAM license. I’m also a dreamer of attending MIT, so I’m trying to get a basis in electronics. Thanks in advance for all help.
Along with all the other advice - if you want to dabble on homebuilding, the regenerative receiver is a popular starting point. a single transistor design will be useable with a medium to high impedance ear phone.

The regen is used just on the brink of bursting into oscillation - this increases both gain and selectivity. Its worth buffering the antenna input with a grounded gate JFET to minimise radiation if the set is incorrectly adjusted.

There are (or were) AM IF subsystem chips that form the bulk of a conventional superhet with the minimum of IFT alignment.

Tim Walford who writes for Practical Wireless has developed various SW set kits, you may be able to order photocopies of past articles - I'd recommend the Knapp receiver as a starter project. Probably no kits left, but can't hurt to ask.
 
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