Why Shortwave Radio and Morse Code?
While shortwave radio reached its peak of popularity a couple of decades ago during the World Wars, many people still enjoy it today as a hobby (which can also be useful in emergencies). Access to a shortwave radio, particularly in combination with knowledge of Morse Code can provide the opportunity to be connected to almost any foreign language and world-wide news. But shortwave radio has another dimension than what you can find through online newspapers or the 6-o'clock news. HAM radio operators and shortwave radios also give the user and listener the ability to communicate with other ordinary citizens, to hear opinions of private citizens beyond what the media or government are advertising. Morse code offers the chance to travel the world and interact with all its people from the comfort of your home and at relatively low cost (compared to flights, hotels, food, tour guides, etc.). With an antenna, tuner, key, and battery you can hear the inside scoop of any situation in the world.
The Information Exchange:
And all this information trading goes both ways. A HAM radio operators' presence on the airwaves gives other HAMs outside America (or even those in a different part of the US) an inside look and understanding for others into the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, a perspective they also cannot get from television or the world wide web. Speaking or using Morse Code to communicate with someone so far away, suddenly makes things more personal for parties on both sides of the conversation. It brings lands and people that are on opposite sides of the globe (literally or figuratively) together, in a way. Those willing to communicate through Morse Code, those who take the time to key out each letter of a word to form a sentence, to engage in a full conversation, gain insight into current affairs and other cultures.
Cost vs. Quality:
These shortwave radios can be a very inexpensive hobby. An AM/FM/SW radio can be bought for around $20. Of course, like any hobby, if you are willing or wanting to spend more, there are plenty of more expensive options. But for the beginning HAM, especially one who may still be a little unsure about the prospect of learning Morse Code, a cheaper version won't affect your ability to reach the world through dits and dahs. For the frequent traveler, there are also many miniature versions that will allow a HAM to reach far-away countries and places like Venezuela, Alaska, Russia, Norway, Thailand, or Australia. Your only limitation: sun spots and solar flairs, which will affect any and all rigs, from a "home-brew" to the top of the line digital radio. These relatively small pieces of electronic metal wiring and soldering hold huge possibilities.
Just as you would in learning about any new culture a great place to start for the inexperienced HAM and shortwave radio operator is to just turn on your new radio and then sit back and listen to the airwaves and broadcasts.
About the Author
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Frequently Asked Questions...
what is the shortwave radio frequency to listen to the bbc world service from Japan?
There is no one frequency, as propagation varies by time of day and frequency. You may listen online at bbcworldnews.com or bbc.co.uk has the schedule