Old Hobby Meets New Technology! Amateur Radio, SWL’ing & Podcasts

Well after being MIA for awhile, I got a chance to jump in and write about something I find to be an interesting subject. This time it’s a mixture of hobbies; namely Amateur Radio, SWL’ing, computers, the Internet, iTunes and Podcasts.

After upgrading my copy of iTunes (7.6.x) the other day, I started poking around for the first time in the “podcasts section” of the iTunes store. Just for fun I entered “Amateur Radio” in the store’s search box. Needless to say I was somewhat surprised to find that there were about 20 Amateur Radio and/or SWL related podcasts. I apologize to those of you that already know about these cool information nuggets. For some of you folks out there in the cutting edge of “Technoville” I imagine that I am coming from behind in this article. This subject does get me to percolate a bit more than normal because I find the blending of old and new “techno-stuff” to be an interesting subject to “talk” about. In any case I do hope you will take advantage of at least some of the information contained in this article. iTunes is a free download from apple.com. There are versions for both OS X (of course) and Windows XP & Vista. Other than many of the new features of iTunes like movie rentals, there are a ton of free podcasts available on many subjects. I have not tried to download / export or convert any of these podcasts to other formats (like .mp3) just yet. I must admit that I do not own an iPod but I would consider that irrelevant for the purpose of writing this article.

My first Ham-Podcast experience is called DXPodcast which is narrated by Brent Taylor, VE1JH. Brent openly admits that he is not an engineer, designer or antenna guru. Brent is a teacher and has a great way of conveying technical information. Brent went into just enough depth to explain the the workings of the Northern lights or Aurora Borealis and how it affects radio communications in his corner of the world.

Since he is from Canada, Brent briefly explained how the Ionosphere is getting charged up again and that we are in the beginnings of the next sunspot cycle for good HF communication. (Hey… maybe it’s time to dust off that old 10 Meter mobile rig lying under the pile of shoes way in the back of the closet!) Brent also provides fun DX clips from radio stations he encountered during the ionization process in his area. I won’t spoil it for you but his recordings are rather interesting and as Brent claims some of these AM-DX stations have not been heard in his area for over 30 years. Brent’s take on this phenomenon is that this will be one of the very best Sunspot Cycles for HF use.

At the conclusion, Brent provided a URL of interest to us Hams/SWL’ers. It is www.am-dx.com. The site is about the distant AM station reception hobby. (150kHz to 1800kHz). It also contains a boatload of other useful information. I plan to go there to check the site soon. Stay tuned, (no pun intended), more Ham podcast reviews are on the horizon.

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