As if listening to 75 meter AM from the US West Coast on the train going to work in Melbourne, Australia wasn’t entertaining enough, I googled to discover other WebSDR receivers, thinking an ear in central Europe or the UK might make for an interesting contrast. Websdr.org lists some of the world’s active online Software Defined Receivers. One that looked promising was a station on the wonderfully named Hack Green in Cheshire UK. Hack Green turns out to be a regional Cold War nuclear bunker, established in the 1950s and declassified in 1993. Now the site hosts a popular online SDR.
Here I found out what 160, 80 and 40 meters sounds like in a country with a population of 64 million people and in a region of 740 million with a correspondingly high portion of active amateurs.
There is an amusing bunch of UK amateurs who get on 1933kHz for a late night round table. They are there most mornings at around 8am Australian EST, so 10pm UK time. Their use of VOX makes it sound like you have a microphone on a table of mates at a cosy English country pub. The accents remind me of some of the characters I grew up with on the many BBC TV shows screened by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) in the 1970s. Recommended listening.
Another thing I noticed is how the view of WebSDR listening browsers, identified by supplied callsign or IP address, becomes a kind of popularity analysis that allows you to gauge how interesting the program material on each frequency is. Below, the chatter on 1933kHz is clearly the most popular show on air (attracting 15 of the 19 sessions).
This brings a sense of being able to ‘see’ emergent crowd behaviour to radio. First, SDR gives us the waterfall that shows us the spectral purity and relative intensity of the signals across the band. Now, WebSDR has given us a kind of popularity view — we can also see which of the QSOs is retaining the highest number of listeners. SDR has profoundly changed how we use radio.