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Okay, something a bit different today:

The internet grew up relatively unrestricted, but now governments are blocking it ever more tightly. Putin blocks Tor, for example.

We perhaps need a "Plan B" for following world events, just in case things go really bad.

I'd like to introduce you to

Before the internet and satellite, used to be the most popular way to follow the whole world's media in real time. Every country had its own transmitter, and the dial was full of place names (see the attached photo).

Most services shut down due to the internet, but some are coming back. The BBC just reactivated its shortwave Ukrainian service, for example.

Shortwave radios are very simple and low power, they need just a couple of AA batteries, some even have handcrank power. A basic model costs about €30 / $30, and lets you pick up broadcasts from around the globe.

I'd suggest getting one and putting it in storage. You never know when it might be useful.

p.s. If you are storing electronic equipment long term, remember to take the batteries out and store them separately, in case they leak.

@feditips yes! And, the bbc said they are starting up shortwave broadcasts into Ukraine and russia. In addition, people can get rtl-sdr dongles and listen to shortwave on their computers (with software and some tinkering)

@feditips
> I'd suggest getting one and putting it in storage. You never know when it might be useful.

put it in a metal enclosure so that there is at least a chance it works after an EMP.

@feditips
If you're into electronics, building one is also a fun project.

@feditips I almost picked up a shortwave receiver a couplefew years back, mostly to hunt for numbers stations or see if I could hear Zimbabwean rock n roll, but the whole emergency thing was a shiny selling point, too

@feditips Shortwave is different from normal radio's right? So small community radios are shortwave or the normal one? Sorry for the ignorance.

@Napo

Shortwave is used by international stations. You can pick up shortwave stations in different countries because shortwave transmissions travel very long distances.

Nowadays radio (including community radio) is usually FM or AM, but they only travel a much shorter distance.

If you want to receive shortwave, you need to buy a shortwave radio. (Most shortwave radios also have FM and AM radios built in.)

@feditips i think i might go buy a shortwave radio or SDR(?).

@ConfuSomu

SDRs are more complicated and not as suited for emergency situations as a normal shortwave radio.

But if you're interested in radio for its own sake, SDRs are more flexible.

@feditips Thank you for the information. I don't really have knowledge in radio but it would be useful to learn, and possibly broadcast things. Though I might need a license for the latter.

I'll start with a shortwave radio.

@feditips I'm having flashbacks to reruns of The Munsters and The Addams Family (although maybe that was HAM radio? I know nothing lol)

@feditips I want to clarify something here, which is easy for newcomers to the shortwave radio hobby to get confused.

FM and AM here, I feel, must refer to the U.S. commercial bands by these names. But, these terms are also used to mean the modulation method as well. For example, the 10m shortwave band frequently has FM-modulated signals, while the 160m band, which lies outside of the AM broadcast band, also has a number of AM-modulated stations.

Please note that nearly all shortwave radio stations today use either AM as their modulation method (analog) or DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale; digital as its name implies. Not directly related to digital rights management.).

Some stations have also been known to use single-sideband (upper-sideband, or USB, or lower-sideband, or LSB), but this is extremely rare (pirate stations?). LSB and USB tend to be used by amateur radio operators primarily.

So, please remember to be clear when using the terms "FM" or "AM". If you are confused, please consult with a local amateur radio club or representative.

Also, I'd like to clarify that just because it's shortwave, it doesn't mean you're guaranteed to receive the station. First, the transmitter has to actually be on at the time you're listening. Second, space weather conditions influences the ionosphere in ways that can cause a station to fade in and fade out over time. That time can range from seconds to days, or even longer. And, third, it really, really, helps if your antenna is built to optimally receive the station you're tuning into. A poor antenna can mean the difference between hearing something buried in the noise and hearing intelligible speech or music.

Please note I'm not saying these things to counter what @feditips is writing about; rather, I'm just attempting to manage expectations. It is so easy to "get on the air" as we ham radio operators say, only for you to find the band completely dead, but your neighbor's radio is hopping with all sorts of stations. It's finicky!

@vertigo

Thanks for that!

Just to make clear, I am definitely not talking about people broadcasting, or of them listening to unusual/amateur stations.

I'm only discussing people using simple shortwave radios to listen to major stations, like BBC is sending to Ukraine and Russia etc. Hopefully other major broadcasters have also got access to shortwave transmitters as a backup.

Shortwave is not perfect, the sound quality is not great and interference may be overwhelming, but in certain situations it may become the only way to easily and privately listen to international news sources.

The ability to hear outside news sources may be very important if a government starts getting too repressive, and pretty much any country is at risk of repression if the wrong people get into power.

It would be nice to keep the door open for shortwave news broadcasts, as a contingency plan. To do this, we need as many people as possible to have receivers at home stored in a cupboard somewhere.

@feditips Best I have is a pocket FM radio, but I should probably start thinking about an AM / SW radio as well. I think my dad's old boombox had both of those, although I never managed to tune anything in SW

@feditips Found out the hard way with my beloved Xbox 360 controller. :P Oh well, I have a wired controller now, and it's sweet!

@feditips

You guys can remove the batteries in your electronics?

@feditips that and a lot of modern products are poorly designed and will slowly drain the batteries even when "off"

@feditips

When talking about emergencies, in the USA it can also be useful to look for a radio with NOAA weather alert bands.

weather.gov/NWR/nwr_receivers#

The alerting standard includes weather alerts like hurricanes and tornadoes, but can also supports things like fire evacuation warnings.

@feditips

Getting one is also a great opportunity to practice soldering skills. Kits to build your own receiver are rather affordable too. Building one was the first real thing I made after practicing on old, trash board first of course.

@testman

I don't know anything about them, but those seem to be internet services?

The original post is just about normal shortwave radio, nothing to do with computers or the internet.

@feditips if we just beat oligarchs with shovels they can't compromise the next thing we switch to escape them :blobcatenjoy:

@feditips

I keep a portable one in my car for emergency winter weather/storm weather broadcasts... it has a little power crank thing on the back!

@demonicprincess @JulieSqveakaroo

Weather radio and shortwave radio are two totally different things.

Shortwave radio is effectively an international broadcasting system where you can listen to foreign countries' radio stations. The emergency I'm posting about is if governments start restricting access to foreign news services (which is what is going on in Russia right now, they've effectively banned lots of foreign TV news channels from reporting there and blocked lots of foreign internet sites). Shortwave radio would let you get past those blocks and hear news bulletins transmitted directly from foreign news stations.

Weather radio means local frequencies set aside for weather warnings, but according to Wikipedia they're not used in Europe. Weather warnings are just on normal radio stations as part of their news bulletins.

@feditips Ah. Well, I wonder where I can find a SW radio reciever in the UK, that doesn't involve Amazon.

@demonicprincess

Hmm...

Maybe look up the reviews/details on amazon, and then buy it off ebay from a reliable seller?

I'm not a fan of ebay either but that might be least worst option?

@demonicprincess @feditips

a very basic analogue one (which is enough to receive most public service broadcasters on HF) is often sold in Tesco for about £10 (although it appears to be out of stock at the moment)

@JulieSqveakaroo @feditips the hand-crank and solar types are great, particularly so you don’t also have to worry about sourcing batteries if in a pinch.

@feditips The CBC closed down their shortwave service a few years back due to budget cuts, and the transmitters and building have sat unused ever since.

@feditips For 1 to 1 communication a technic called meteor scatter is another interesting possibility. Combined with some kind of packet radio it can reach persons far away. electronics-notes.com/articles

@feditips just wanted to remind you that USSR blocked foreign radio stations (by transmitting a much more powerful noise signal on the same frequency).

Didn't hear anything about Russia blocking tor yet, though.

@feditips Do you have information on how Putin blocks Tor? This may be possible to an extent, but presumably it is difficult and not wholly achievable?

@feditips Here's some information on this; the public www site itself is blocked, the service however is in a kind of cat and mouse game, so never really wholly blocked

@feditips I would add "get one that can receive single sideband (SSB) and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) if you can afford it." You can listen to an AM transmission (most SW broadcasters) in SSB mode if the carrier fades (you get that "Donald Duck" sound) since SSB mode replaces it with an internal carrier.

And definitely get a good antenna to go along with it; that makes a bigger difference in what one is able to pick up than the radio. And turn off as many noise-generating devices as you can.

@feditips the little handheld ones like radioshack used to sell are only strong enough to pick up maybe a 500km radius, slightly more on a clear night. so a USian can basically only hear canada and latin america

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