I own an SDR (model "SDRPlay RSP1") and I have a fully working HDSDR software system installed on my PC. I can successfully use this to tune-in to my local airport's radio traffic and identify individual transmissions from specific aircraft that I can follow on the FlightRadar website (although the audio quality is fuzzy and indistinct for all but very close aircraft).
I am using a fairly cheap, portable discone antenna, which sits inside the front window of my house (I cannot put it on the roof for about 47 reasons I won't go into).
I am currently studying for my Ham licence in the UK and I'd like to get some experience listening to some "normal" Ham traffic (voice and CW would be of main interest).
I am having a great deal of difficulty actually finding anything to listen to on the air. I have used the RSGB band plan (2017) to attempt to find radio users communicating on a lot of different frequencies, but I'm rapidly realising that I must doing it all wrong.
Things that I think might be wrong with my setup:
- Poor location for the antenna (upstairs bay window, no good solid ground plane near it). It's sitting on a wooden windowsill in a brick building.
- User error in operating the system. I'm a newbie, but I can understand that I need to set my RX bandwidth to match the modulation and band type that I'm interested in. I understand the waterfall graph and how to size the bandwidth to encompass the full extent of the transmission.
- Is the UK simply not very active in Ham bands? (doubtful)
Finally, the questions:
It seems like there's nothing to listen to, apart from FM national radio (obnoxiously loud and clear), Airband (sporadic, weak, garbled and frankly a bit boring) and the occasional walkie talkie on the building site over the street (highly entertaining but not likely to improve my Ham skills).
Is the problem likely to be the lack of a real physical ground-plane for my antenna? Is it an unsuitable antenna? Or is it my lack of skill in driving the HDSDR software? Or something else? Perhaps my house is a pretty decent Faraday cage.
EDIT After a few days of nothingness, I finally managed to find a rag-chew on 432,121 kHz FM. I was hearing both sides of the conversation (a fascinating discussion on the relative merits of Japanese vs Norwegian winter driving regulations). The accents were familiar to me as locals. The audio was pretty dire quality, a lot of hiss which I was able to mitigate somewhat by messing with the bandwidths and applying NR filters. Managed to get the names of both people and one of the callsigns. Looked up the callsign and he's based about 10-15 miles from me.
I thought that was pretty awesome, even though it's not exactly a DX :)
But the band has gone quiet again. I'm starting to think that my antenna placement is no good.