So I have had a real blast with my Software Defined Radio as of late, especially now that I have a fairly decent shortwave antenna and reciever for it. Getting stations from as far away as South Africa is always exciting for me, even if the internet has made that really easy to do without 70 foot antennas strung around rooms. It's a hobby called DXing, something I've had for a long time, even if I've never really succeeded at it until recently.
It all started in 1984. Around that time, the local CBS Station, KENS-TV dumped about half of their Saturday cartoon line up. No more Saturday Supercade or Dungeons and Dragons. Except one morning, there was.
I had a little 3 inch portable TV with a sliding tuner on it, and was going up and down the dial looking for something to watch on a Saturday morning when I picked up Pole Position. Thikning it was a new station, I watched it and Dungeons and Dragons for the first time in a long time. The station, though, showed up as KIII, out of Corpus Christi. It showed up that day, and the next Saturday, then went away.
It looked an awful lot like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na-H_B7f0E0
I told Dad about it, and Dad, who was a radio man in Vietnam as well as a Modern Day truck driver with a CB Handle of "Rooster," told me about "skip." This was when a signal would bounce off the atmosphere and broadcast down into areas really far from their intended areas. I'd picked up something from 150 miles away, because it was an extraordinarily couple of sunny days. Around the same time, Emily picked up a station from Colorado City in Victoria, BC! O_O
I learned a lot about trying to recieve signals like that from far away, but I actually never picked up any other TV Stations like this ever again. The closest was using what I learned to pick up KBTC from Tacoma in Seattle to watch Doctor Who (and that was only 40 miles away from Bellevue), and that ended when KBTC went digital.
Instead, I began getting into Shortwave Radio for DXing. I had a boom box that, for some reason, picked up Shortwave frequencies ( https://www.thebboyspot.com/culture-icon-the-lasonic-trc-931/
), and I could tune into radio signals from around the world on a whim. I'd listen to stuff from around the world, got my first numbers stations. It wasn't TV from other cities, but it was radio from around the world.
Once I moved to Seattle, even shortwave dried up for me. Lots of research online showed that shortwave propagation out here was horrible, and I even gave up for a time, deciding to just listen into the local hams, police bands, and baby monitors (those things are public, don't you know).
It wasn't until a last ditch effort to make a super long 70 foot antenna strung around my room did I start actually getting shortwave signals again. Yeah, propogation sucks - but if you can unspool an antenna far enough, you can get over that, for the most part. Come summer, I plan to extend that antenna to possible 100 feet, with thirty feet outside my room to pick up even more.
It's nice to get back into DXing again. Plus, having the extra frequencies for snooping into Ham Radio bands and police bands and radio monitors fulfilled another hobby of mine that came from that same TV. "Listening to things I'm not supposed to." But I'll write about that some other time.