Introduction to Utility DXing


English: A QSL card sent by United States (NIS...

English: A QSL card sent by United States (NIST) radio station WWV to a listener who confirmed reception of WWV from in July 1940. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is a utility? The KNLS website gives a good definition “Shortwave, and radio in general, developed first as a communication tool. It was called wireless and immediately was put to use in ship to shore communication. Communication stations of all types followed: International telephone, marine and air navigation and two-way stations, military and amateur radio operator communication, program relays and facsimile and radio teletype stations. Facsimile is the transmission of still pictures to special devices connected to the receiver. Radio teletype, also abbreviated RTTY, is the transmission of text which will be typed out or displayed on a computer screen at the reception point. These stations are all utility stations. Some utility stations broadcast one-way transmissions. That would include Coast Guard stations issuing weather reports, standard time and frequency stations like WWV in the U.S and JJY in Tokyo, and some news agencies operating radio teletype or facsimile stations. Utility DX provides a unique set of challenges. The transmitters are relatively low power, particularly those in mobile operation. They can be more difficult to identify without up to date listings, they often operate erratically on an as-needed basis, and in the case of ships and aircraft are heard by chance depending on their locations. Also the Dxer must be able to tune single sideband for voice transmissions and understand Morse code for others. And special equipment is needed to copy some transmissions, such as radio teletype and facsimile. The face of Utility DX is always changing. Satellites, digital transmission and computers are taking over many two-way, radio teletype and facsimile circuits. Gone are the overseas telephone transmitters that once transmitted their markers between conversations. Also gone is the use of morse code by the U.S. Coast Guard, discontinued in 1995 after over 80 years of use. Some utility stations verify reception reports with their own QSL cards. There are clubs and magazine sections devoted to the utility Dxer.”


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