Getting Started in Shortwave Listening

Have you ever listened to your own local or national radio stations and wondered what similar stations are like around the world? Maybe you’ve listened to news bulletins in the US and wondered what was being reported in the UK about the same events. These days, it’s easy to get the information we need over the internet, and I’m often asked why I bother listening to radio when I can just stream the audio online. Those of an older vintage will know that receiving radio signals from around the world was a normal and everyday experience, and that listening to radio has a certain “quality” that online digital audio streams simply can’t provide.

This is where shortwave listening comes in, and you won’t believe how easy it is to get started with it. You don’t even need to spend lots of money, and it’s very likely that you already have all the equipment you need in your home already! Continue reading

EI6GSB Radio Store

I’ve just set up an Amazon Associates Radio Store. You can access it by clicking on ‘Radio Store’ on the top menu, or by clicking here. I’ll be adding more categories and individual recommended products as time goes by, but if you are on this website and are looking to buy some new radios or equipment, please do consider making your purchase through the Radio Store or any of the links dotted in some of the posts: I will get a small commission from your purchase, which will help me pay for the maintenance and upkeep of this website.

Happy listening and 73s!

Kolster-Brandes BR40 Restoration: Part 2

I finally got round to disassembling the BR40 to inspect the electronics inside. The main thing I wanted to check at first was the mains transformer, to see what condition it was in and if I could find a make and model number so I could get a schematic for it. The outward-facing part of the transformer looked to be in bad condition so I will likely need to find a replacement for it.

Mains transformer

Mains transformer

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Building the PA0RDT Mini-Whip Antenna

The PA0RDT Mini-Whip Antenna is a small and compact active antenna that acts as a full-size antenna for bands ranging from VLF to HF. It’s ideal for cases where you can’t put up a large antenna or are restricted on space. Most of the feedback on the design I found online was quite positive, so I decided I’d get one and try it out for myself.

A few weeks back I bought a Mini-Whip active antenna kit from a seller on eBay. While I could have built it completely myself, I liked the idea of having a neat and tidy antenna on a printed circuit board, so this was great, and I was able to put it together in about half an hour.

PA0RDT kit

PA0RDT kit

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DCU TechWeek: Hacking Radio

Thanks for coming to my talk; I hope you enjoyed it and that it gave you some ideas on how you can play with radio. The fundamentals of radio are pretty straightforward, and apply to all radio transmitters and receivers, no matter how complex they are otherwise. Knowing these basic building blocks are often enough to get you started in building your own radio circuits or hacking stuff together to make radio do what you want it to do. Radio was built on people tinkering with stuff!

If you want any tips or have questions please grab me and I’ll try to point you in the right direction. I’m on Redbrick chat (lithium) so feel free to poke me. Continue reading

Kolster-Brandes BR40 Restoration: Part 1

Over Christmas I had a notion to investigate some vintage radios and how much money I’d expect to pay for one, with a view to restoring it. I wasn’t looking for any brand or set in particular so I took to the internet to see what I could find. After browsing for an hour or so I found a Kolster-Brandes BR40 – released in 1947 – being sold quite close to where I live, so I did a little research on the radio before making an offer. The seller accepted my offer of €35 and I collected it this week, and thus began my very first radio restoration project. Continue reading

Tecsun PL-600: First Impressions

My Tecsun PL-600 arrived yesterday in the post at work, and I couldn’t wait to get home and fire up the bad boy. I had been thinking about getting this radio (or one of the similar models) for quite a while as I was using an inexpensive SilverCrest receiver for a couple of years as my main SWL radio.

Overall, I’m delighted with my new radio, and I’ve only just being using the included external antenna so far; I hope to get a multiband dipole antenna built for even better reception. I have no doubt that the Tecsun PL-600 will do me for years to come, so if you’re on the fence about buying one, just take the plunge and get it! Continue reading

Testing Dipole Antenna and Radio Mod

Not content with just modding my radio today to give it an external antenna socket, I had to go and build an antenna to try it out!

The washing line in the garden seemed like the most obvious place to put it as it’s quite high off the ground. This gave me about 13m to play with for a dipole, with an effective frequency of about 23MHz. Since my current radio doesn’t go as high as that, I instead used the antenna as a halfwave dipole, where it becomes useful at around 11.5MHz. This was quite a rough-and-ready experiment so I didn’t bother with matching or baluns or anything like that; I just plugged that bad boy in. Continue reading

External Antenna Modification


I recently ordered a Tecsun PL-600 to go to the next step of shortwave listening. It has lots of cool features that my current receiver – a SilverCrest Digital World Receiver I got in Lidl for about €15 some years ago – doesn’t have. So, I took this as an opportunity to improve the SilverCrest without fear of causing permanent damage to it. For years I’ve been using a simple random wire clipped to the whip antenna on the receiver to listen to stations from around the world. The method has served me well so far, but I wanted to be able to connect a proper antenna fed with a coaxial cable. I decided to add an RF socket to the SilverCrest.

This modification can be applied to any similar portable radio: all we’re doing is connecting the centre conductor of the RF socket to the whip antenna, and the outer shield connector to the battery ground. The whole process probably won’t take more than 30 minutes.

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