I'm new to radios. Just bought the mini Eton which has FM/AM/SW and while FM & AM work I have never received a single station on SW1 (5.9 - 10 MHz) or SW2 (11.65 - 18 MHz). Is that normal? Will shortwave only work in Europe? I'm in Canada now. If it makes any difference I live walking distance to an airport. Does that cause any interference?
Get out of town
It could very well possible that your radio is picking up interference from all kinds of sources around you.
If you can get to a remote spot, at least a couple of miles away from any town/plant/power-line you might receive a lot more.
Once you do, you can build a list of stations/frequencies you can receive, then get back into town, and see if you can receive them there.
At that point you can start experimenting with extending your whip with a long wire, as suggested in other answer and comments, to improve your reception.
and... welcome to the hobby! Shortwave listening is a great way to start your radio hobby !!
Shortwave broadcasting isn't as popular as it used to be, thanks to the internet; the BBC World Service stopped broadcasting to North America in 2001. But there are still many shortwave stations broadcasting to North America. Here's a list of stations and times in UTC. During Daylight Saving Time the Eastern time zone is four hours behind UTC and the Pacific time zone is seven hours behind.
I would suggest to try a bigger external antenna, but the manual for your Eton Mini suggests that there is no external antenna jack. You could always try stretching a long wire out a window to a tree, and attaching the other end to the whip antenna with an alligator clip.
Your nearby airport is unlikely to have anything to do with your reception.
Some general advices to listen to SW inside a city:
- Fully extend the antenna. AM doesn't need to extend the antenna (it uses an internal ferrite core) and FM usually is so strong in cities that the non-extended antenna works fine. SW however requires an fully extended antenna, and orientation may also play a role, so try to move it around.
- Get close to the window/balcony. SW reception is worse inside the house. You can also try in a park or something like that in the city.
- Try to identify any interferences and try to avoid them by moving to another window or moving the antenna around. Electrical interferences are caused by electronic devices (computers, TV...) and motors (A/C units, elevators...). They may sound like a strong buzzing sound that is always present in the whole band or that appears periodically in the band.
- Try different bands at different times. Lot of transmissions are half an hour or one hour long, so you should sweep the whole band every half an hour to catch everything. Also day/night cycle is very important, so try at different times of the day. In particular, lower bands (SW1 in your radio) should be more active at night while higher bands (SW2) usually are more active at day. But there can be stations at any frequency at any time. Lower band travels longer distances at night and you may receive stations not intended for your region.
In my personal experience, the problem in cities or buildings is not usually that the station is weak, but that the interferences are strong and will mask the weak stations. That is why moving to a window may reduce the interferences while improving the signal. Going to a park should give you an idea of what can be heard in a quieter place.
I hope you are lucky with your reception and please share with us your findings.
Growing up in Europe and hanging on the SW dial, there were lots of stations received in cities without even any special antenna gear. At a maximum a totally non-tuned wire thrown anywhere along an inner wall was all that was had. Lots of stuff was received even so. But that was Europe, Europe is crowded and small, and the stations were perhaps less than 500 miles away. I think there is just very little commercial SW radio going on in the USA these days. If you want to hear the hams talk, you need to get a SSB receiver.
I have confirmed my suspicion by using a simple WebSDR receiver http://220.127.116.11:8901/ somewhere in New Jersey. There isn't much going on.