Today, my Tecsun PL-660 radio takes the stage!
This is my go to radio for all of the delights that broadcast in single sideband on the shortwave dial.
What is single-sideband?
In radio communications, single-sideband modulation (SSB) or single-sideband suppressed-carrier modulation (SSB-SC) is a type of modulation used to transmit information, such as an audio signal, by radio waves. A refinement of amplitude modulation, it uses transmitter power and bandwidth more efficiently. Amplitude modulation produces an output signal the bandwidth of which is twice the maximum frequency of the original baseband signal. Single-sideband modulation avoids this bandwidth increase, and the power wasted on a carrier, at the cost of increased device complexity and more difficult tuning at the receiver.That's a mouthful! It means the signal carries further with less power and bandwidth.
What can you hear in single-sideband?
Airplanes, ships, pirate radio stations, amateur radio and more!
I listen mostly to amateur radio. These are conversations being broadcast out over public airwaves that do require a special radio (that is pretty widely available) to hear so for the most part, you don't hear anything too nuts. But on rare occasions, you do and that's just a bonus.
I listen because I am trying to log all of the states and provinces in the US and Canada. When I hear an amateur broadcaster announce their ID, I write that in the log book and when I am done listening I look those up and log the locations. Then, I fill out any new locations on the grid of pages I have glued into my log book.
Is this a weird hobby? Maybe but it beats mindlessly scrolling on the iPad in my easy chair each night.
Last night, I logged Alberta and Nebraska for the first time since I started doing this. Sure, I probably heard many of these locations way back when I was listening all the time but I have started over from scratch!
Enough of that. Here is my Tecsun PL-660. I wanted the silver color. You press the SSB key to turn on single-sideband for either LSB (lower-sideband) or USB (upper-sideband). I do most of my listening around 7 megahertz so that is LSB.
The good/bad news about this radio is that I bought it on eBay a few years ago and when I received it, instead of being in great shape as listed, it was out of alignment on FM and the Air band. This is a common problem with these radios and never versions have a calibration function built in. This is not a newer version. Since I wanted it just for shortwave, I asked for a partial refund that brought the price down to $25 shipped. Not bad for a radio that is easily the best shortwave radio I have ever owned and also the second best AM radio I have owned!