Most of us don’t think of much when we hear the word radio. The radio is what we use to listen to local radio stations – to hear some music and to get the news – often with somewhat poor reception!
But this is a very limited and limiting view of what radio really is. Because in fact, radio is an incredibly versatile tool that allows the vast majority of the digital technology we rely on daily to work. Not only that, but if you have a little know-how, you can use it to partake in all kinds of exciting and often competitive activities. You can try your hand at HAM radio and use it to broadcast your own brand of entertainment. You can use a police scanner to listen in to all kinds of messages from Marine VHF Radio and other exciting sources. You can bounce messages off the moon. Or you can enter competitions and radiosports, like ARDF.
In this post, we’ll be looking at one of the most interesting things that a
So essentially, DXing is the practice of receiving and identifying radio signals that have travelled a long distance. This can also include television signals, and in some cases it will also involve making two-way radio contact with that station – including Ham radio.
DXing first began life arising from the earliest days of radio broadcasting. Back then, listeners would mail their reception reports to stations with the intention of demonstrating their prowess in picking up these stations, and hopefully to get some kind of acknowledgement. This acknowledgement would come in the form of QSLs or ‘veries’ which of course is short for verification.
DX meanwhile is the telegraphic shorthand for ‘distance’.
Types and Early History
There are numerous different types of DXing and these depend on the type of signal being picked up, the overall objective of picking up said signal, and the tools involved.
For instance, early radio listeners would use crystal sets and long wire antennas in order to pick up stations. Back then, most broadcast bands were relatively uncrowded, meaning that it was relatively common for a signal to travel hundreds of miles to its destination.
Weaker signals however of course would require more precise mechanisms and more tuning.
Come the 1950s and 70s, it was common for ‘clear channel stations’ which broadcast their messages far and wide (including KDKA, WLW, CKLW and others), to be enjoyed from hundreds of miles away.
Shortwave broadcasting works slightly differently however. Whereas longwave signals are capable of bouncing around the atmosphere, shortwave radio is limited by the curvature of the Earth. This type of signal will only travel in straight lines, meaning that when it hits the horizon, it will continue travelling into space.
There are ways to pick up these bands across distance however, such as by reaching higher look out points. During wartime, the reception of international broadcasters over shortwave bands has been a popular hobby. This is something you can still enjoy today with simple digital police scanners.