NASWA Journal Columns · Listener’s Library, February 2000

T.J. “Skip” Arey N2EI • P.O. Box 236 • Beverly, NJ 08010 tjarey◊

Listener’s Library, February 2000

Well I hope everyone is making their calls to the Kulpsville Holiday Inn to join in the fun at this year’s Winterfest. Further details and information can be found in another place within the Journal.

Each new year brings us a new edition of:

2000 Edition
Lawrence Magne Editor in Chief
592 pages
ISBN 0-914941-45-3
International Broadcast Services, Ltd.
Box 300
Penn’s Park, PA 18943

I sometimes wonder what is left for me to say about Passport other than buy it because you really need it to do this hobby right. But each year Larry Magne and his minions come up with new ideas and information worth noting here in Listener’s Library.

One of the things that Larry really doesn’t get enough credit for is Passport’s ability to bring new people into the hobby. To some degree, Passport has always had enough introductory information that a person could take it down from a bookstore shelf and go home and enjoy shortwave listening. Oh they’d need to get their hands on a shortwave receiver but all the information needed for this can be found in each edition of Passport as well. This latest edition’s “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Started” Could be distributed as a separate pamphlet to get folks hooked on our hobby. For those of us who are already well involved in the shortwave world, these pages could be used to explain our obsession to spouses, signifacnt others, bosses who wonder why you wander in an hour late and all bleary eyed, etc.

This year’s edition includes a series fine feature articles authored by Manosij Guha that concentrate on the Central Asian radio, especially in the areas of Afganistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and Kazakstan. Personally I have not been a big Central Asian DXer but these articles have me tuning around with aroused interest. The socio-political and religious issues of this region bear watching. One of the greatest things about our hobby is that when folks at our jobs begin to talk about a news event, chances are we have already been following it. Much of our ability to do this in part thanks to books such as Passport to Worldband radio.

This years reviews of portable and desktop receivers continues in the high standards of years past. There appears to be a growing trend toward vest pocket sized shortwave rigs. Also there is a breakout section for what Passport calls “Portatop” receivers such as the Drake SW8 and the Lowe HF-150. Another great feature is the first large scale coverage of the “black box” PC controlled receivers. This is a growing market and innovations in both the areas of hardware and software are worth following by any serious enthusiast. Also examined is the growing market of “Emergency” radios, many with alternative power sources.I was also pleased to see coverage given to the Ten-Tec Model 1254 kit receiver. Home built receivers may be wanting in some levels of performance but it is still fun to put something together and have it work when you are done. Larry and his staff help sort out style and substance on every class of receiver that a new or experienced listener might be interested in so the reader can make an intelligent purchase.

Next comes the section of the book I probably use most throughout the year. “What’s On Tonight is truly a shortwave hobbyists “TV Guide”. Passport’s selections point the listener to programming that is always a cut above the average. This, along with the “Worldwide Broadcasts in English” section will provide any listeners with hours of fun and entertainment.

If you enjoy the QSL game you will find this year’s “Address Plus” section to be very comprehensive with many good tips and suggestions. There is a section on “Tips for Effective Correspondence” that helps the reader learn how to use proper international etiquette when writing to station.

Finally, we come to one of the best tools a DXer can have, the Passport “Blue Pages”. Every year one of the first things I do when I get my new Passport is to go through the Blue Pages working out my “Hit List” for those countries that I want to add to my log. The Blue Pages are also a great tool for trying to ascertain what a signal might be during a band scan or random tuning.

Now we come to my favorite part of my annual Passport review. By long standing tradition I go misogynist for a few brief moments (when my spouse is out of the room) to pick Passports Prettiest Person for the 2000 edition. This edition bought about a number of problems. Given the heavy coverage of the political issues surrounding radio in Central Asia there was an overabundance of pictures of bearded men. Further, there was a noticeable paucity of redheads among the females shown throughout Passports pages. This again can be attributed to the Asian angle of this edition I think. Still, I am a man of duty. Page 61 has a wonderful picture of Deutsche Welle’s “Inside Europe” producer Helen Seeny. In the absence of red hair I’ll go for blue eyes every time!!!

Regardless of if you are a beginner or an expert in the shortwave hobby, your use of Passport and all your other resources is going to improve significantly if you pay a certain amount of attention to your antenna system. Our brothers and sisters in the amateur radio community put a lot of thought into effective antennas and the listening community can always take this information to it’s own purposes.

by Edward M. Noll W3FQJ
159 pages
ISBN 1-891237-05-5
MFJ Publishing Company, Inc.
Starkville, MS 39759

MFJ Enterprises continues to do a great service to the radio hobby by republishing key radio books that have gone out of print. Ed Noll’s classic 1970 antenna design book is now back in the hands of experimenters everywhere. Ed Noll know more ways to string wire than anybody I have ever run across. Regardless of the size or shape of the piece of real estate you have access to for antenna projects, this book has a number of excellent antenna strategies. One of the books major themes is that wire antennas can be configured for directionality. For anyone trying to grab a rare signal from the other side of the planet, putting up the right configuration of wire can make all the difference. Also, quad or triangle loop antennas structures can cut down on noise to help you pull in those really weak signals that barely come up above the noise floor. Another interesting design idea for somebody who really wants to point there antennas toward the DX is the use of phasing principals to get a number of antennas to zero in on those hard to hear stations. While these designs are a bit more complex, the ability to steer your signal capturing is really amazing.

Ed’s specialty throughout all of his antenna books is to get the most bang for the buck. All of Ed’s designs require common inexpensive materials available from most any home center or hardware store. Why spend hundreds of dollars on an antenna system when you can obtain similar performance from a few dollars worth of well strung wire? Along the way Ed go into great detail explaining the how and whys of his designs. This is always done in a very readable way.

Ed also includes an number of design’s for antenna tuners. While these are of primary interest to those of us who also like to transmit as well as receive, study of these designs can further the readers overall understanding of antenna theory.

Ed Noll’s classic book would make an excellent addition to any serious antenna experimenter’s bookshelf.

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