Kongsfjord - 70°43'N 29°21'E

Frequently Asked Questions

What is DX?

”DX” is radio amateur abbreviation for ”Distance”

 … and …?

“DX-ing” is trying to listen for radio stations that are not normally heard at the DX-ers location.

That description fits my local radio station

Ah, yes, but unlike your local radio station, these stations may be located thousands of kilometers away, in another country of even another continent. Hence the term “DX” for “Distance”.

I don’t see the purpose. Can’t be much of a signal to listen to?

Usually not. DX-ers don’t go for program content or signal quality. For a radio station to be heard outside of its normal coverage area, the signal has to be reflected by the ionosphere, an electrically charged layer 100-250 km up. Also, the DX-er needs a receiver that is extremely sensitive, and dedicated antennas.

Where does my kitchen radio fit in?

In the kitchen. Sorry. Ordinary domestic radios with a built-in antenna or whip won’t hear much. It’s a bit like looking at the stars without a telescope. If you use a telescope, it will receive more light and it will see more stars. A “DX receiver” connected to a “DX antenna” can receive signals that are far weaker than your domestic radio can.

 That radio must be huge to get all those weak signals!

No, the radio is only transforming the signals into speech. It can be as small as the palm of your hand. However, the antennas, which act as the DX-er’s “ears”, need some space. Depending on the wavelength you listen to, it can be anything from 1 meter in circumference to several hundred meters in length.

That was another new word. Wavelength?

Or frequency. When you listen to your local radio stations, you are probably using the FM band. This has a frequency range of 88-108 MHz  (that is megahertz, which is 1000 kilohertz). Most DX-ers are using the Mediumwave or Shortwave spectrums, which range from 0.5 to 1.7 MHz and from 1.7 to 30 MHz. If you live in North America, chances are that you have heard “AM stations”; they are what we Europeans call “Mediumwave stations”.

I don’t live in North America

OK, sorry then. But if you did, you would know that during nighttime, the signal of your local AM station reaches much farther than during daytime. This is because of skywave (or ionospheric) reflection, see our 4th answer. Sometimes, the ionosphere has properties that enable it to reflect such a signal over a very long distance. This is also the case on Shortwave. On Shortwave we not only find local (or “domestic”) broadcasters but also international broadcasters, stations who use SW to transmit programs to other countries and continents. These are often monitored by SWL’s.

Not another abbreviation!!!

SWL = Short Wave Listener. They are mainly interested in program content, but even they are dependent on a good antenna and receiver configuration.

Are the DX-ers and the SWL’ers enemies?

A DX-er and an SWL uses different approaches to the radio hobby. An SWL often listens to the same international broadcasters regularly, while a DX-er often find himself chasing new exotic stations. Very often though, there is only marginal difference.

I’d prefer to collect something

Well, we do. We write “logs” of what we have heard. If you check the log section of this page, you will get a hint. We share these logs with other members of the DX-ing community, and seek help or information if we hear a station that we can’t identify. Also, many of us collect QSL’s. Since you would probably ask anyway:  A QSL is radio amateur abbreviation for “Confirmation”. We try to authenticate to the station in question that we have heard it – such as listing program content we heard while listening to it, or submitting a recording of a station identification, and then ask for a confirmation - or a QSL. Some of us even collect radios!

Is it an expensive hobby?

It is what you make of it. A good receiver and antenna need not cost more than, say 200-300 Euros if you buy a used receiver. Very good quality used receivers sell for 400-1000 Euros on Internet auctions. New receivers are anything from 500 Euros up to infinity.

Can I DX everywhere?

Yes – and no. Weak signals tend to be masked by interference from other devices that also emit radio waves, such as dimmers, TV’s, PC’s etc. So if you live in the city, don’t expect to hear the weakest signals. If you live in a rural area, interference sources are often fewer or at least more controllable. A garden, even modestly sized, will permit you to erect antennas with excellent properties.

OK. Now let me out of this silly FAQ and into some real information

It was you who started this. Please check our Links page if you want to learn more about DX-ing. 73’s!