Saturday, 4 December 2010

A Mystery...

Ever since I was 10 (and that was 42 years ago) I've heard this sound on shortwave radios. It occurs at lots of different frequencies here in the UK - for example, 3.39 and 4.57 MHz. I've just listened to a remote German radio on 3.39 MHz, and its there as well, so it isn't that local. Sometimes it fades in and out - like everything else on shortwave radios, but I've never known it to disappear completely while I've been listening. It seems to be ever-present. I have tried listening to a remote Canadian radio - and I'm not sure if I can hear it there or not.

What on (or off) earth is it?


Shortwave Sound by Dominic Rivron

8 comments:

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

It's an old locomotive caught in a time-warp?

It's secret code meant to be played back at a different speed, and/or backwards?

It's jumbled up voices from the after-life?

Seriously, I have no idea but it's an interesting mystery. Could you pursue it somehow?

patteran said...

I'll go for all of Natalie's suggestions as much more interesting and appealing than what will probably turn out to be the correct identification.

Which, I regret, I can't make. I'm familiar with the sound, having heard it on AM broadcast frequencies myself. It's characterised by a rapid pulse and phasing and at times it seems simply to be an unmodulated carrier wave containing bits of random QRN. Have you noticed it operating within modulated carriers behind the broadcast? And have you ever heard it on SSB? If it's really bugging you (and it's beginning to bug me!) your best bet might be to ring the RSGB and hope to find a nerd manning the 'phones.

Dominic Rivron said...

Natalie: I'm now trying to imagine a Dr Who-like scenario in which it could be all three.

How to pursue it? Dick suggests ringing the Radio Society of Great Britain, which is an option. However, they might come to up with an answer too quickly! I'm rather enjoying the adventure of trying to find out for myself. I have tried googling the frequencies on which it occurs, but have had no luck so far.

patteran: Funnily enough, it doesn't bug me. It has always enthralled me. The strange sounds you hear on shortwave radio were what first drew me towards it.

I seem to remember that switching to SSB just changes the tone quality a bit.

Gwilym Williams said...

Dominic, have you had a listen to a website called www.smeter.net
your noise sounds a bit like their nasa recording of jupiter L bursts,
also other jupiter noises and some saturnian and earth noises on there - one lovely one like warbling birds in a bush

Gerry Snape said...

Oh that...that was a very important part of Radio Luxembourg as far as I was concerned. It meant that it was definitely in Europe and far awy and made everything much more exotic!
Was I wrong?!!!

Kat Mortensen said...

Should I call you Orson, from now on?

I'm thinking Area 51.

Kat

Are you joining me on the Poetry Bus this week?

e said...

This reminded me of a cute movie about a band of short wave radio users in the UK called Making Waves, with Robert Hardy. It is relatively recent. Let us know what you find out.

Titus said...

Definitely the Tardis.