AM DX'ing, the hobby of listening to radio signals from far away...

Picture of AM DX'ing, the hobby of listening to radio signals from far away...
In this instructable we'll teach you the basics of AM broadcast DX'ing and provide some basics on choosing a radio.

DX'ing is a radio term for looking for radio signals from far away. AM broadcast DX'ing is the hobby of trying to "catch" as many far away AM radio stations as you can. AM broadcast signals by nature can carry for hundreds, if not thousands of miles at night. Radio hobbyist have been DX'ing since radio was first invented over 100 years ago. Many DX'ers keep journals of all the stations they have heard.

This is probably the most rewarding low dollar radio related hobby there is. The stuff you need to get started is probably already in your home. Even if you have none of the items required, you can pick up everything you need to get started for under $10 at the local thrift store. How's that for low buck hobby?

You might be saying...
"I can listen to whatever I want on the internet."

Yes you can. Listening to far away stations via radio though requires skill, some understanding of radio waves, luck, and no dependency on a middle man (the internet). It's just you and the broadcaster with nothing but air between the two of you.

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ke4mcl (author) 1 month ago
you asked about shortwave stations. shortwave broadcast have diminished but theres still stuff to listen to. the biggest problem is not the reduced number of broadcasts but modern tech.

lithium battery chargers are notorious noise makers. lithium batteries are in everything from power tools to ipods. some CFL lamps are also quite annoying. the noise these makes are a buzzing noise. with CFL's it's consistent, with chargers it's an annoying pulse usually. this is why taking the radio outside makes a world of difference.

I live in South Florida and have been getting AM reception lately that seems like it's out of the twilight zone. It happens from 1am till about a bit before sunrise. The station I'm listening to fades out and other stations start drifting in to replace it. I get to hear songs I haven't heard on the radio for years. So earlier this morning I did some investigating with my ears and found I was receiving stations from Philadelphia, Detroit, and Boston, among others. I got to hear "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me" (Mac Davis,1973) from a station in Pennsylvania. I learned that snow blowers were sold out in Boston and the current temperature in Detroit was 8 degrees. All on a regular radio! By the way, you can identify what station you are hearing by tuning in just before the top of the hour. FCC rules dictate that they must give out the call letters at that time. Also, many stations include local news, traffic, and weather at that time, along with the national news.

ke4mcl (author)  RichardWHayden1 month ago
What you are getting is called "skip". Radio waves are bouncing off the atmosphere from far away places and just happen to be "landing" in our area. I am also in south Fl and have been taking advantage of this.

We recently had a cold front come through. Generally big weather changes cause strange things to happen with propagation (skip) and you'll get stuff coming in from all over the country on AM and even far away stations on FM.

Take your radio outside away from all the electrical noise in the house and you'll be rewarded with signals from far away.

Yeah, I know it's called "skip", but I thought it was mostly a thing of the past since rules years ago (I think) had many stations cutting off their signal at 6pm to lessen interference. In any case this thing has been happening here where I live in West Palm Beach for weeks now. I don't have to even bring a radio outside to experience this.enhanced version of DXing. In the meantime, I can hardly get anything on shortwave anymore. Do you or anyone else have any feedback on this?

andy.knote2 months ago

Cool. As a kid I scrolled through the AM stations at night listening to far away stations. My favorite was KOMA out of Oklahoma City, 780 miles away! They played Golden Age programming a couple hours every night.

Ranie-K1 year ago
These are other people's' copyrighted pictures. Please use only your own pictures.
ke4mcl (author)  Ranie-K1 year ago
some pics did indeed come from google however none had any copyright marks or watermarks.
Phil B1 year ago
This is very interesting. I have been a little dismayed, though, that nighttime programming is largely the same nationwide with things like Art Bell's Coast to Coast AM or Gary McNamara's and Eric Harley's Midnight Trucking. Although it is fun to hear that you got a signal from a station across the continent, some of the appeal is lost when the programming is the same as what is playing on a local station. Thanks for all of the technical detail.
ke4mcl (author)  Phil B1 year ago
Syndication can work to your advantage. Say you hear Coast to Coast radio followed up by an ad for a restaurant in Philly but you never catch the station's call letters. You look on the Coast to Coast website and see what stations carry their show. This can help you figure out what station you heard.

This type of detective work is sometimes required when you're using a vintage radio with an inaccurate dial.