From approximately November 11, 2020 to November 26, 2020 a voluntary, ten question
user survey was open to users of the Northern Utah WebSDR:
Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's survey!
The purpose of the survey was to determine if we were properly
determining the needs and desires of the users of the Northern Utah
WebSDR and it is only by feedback from our users that we can possibly
know what it is that we are doing right, doing wrong, or (perhaps) ought to
consider doing in the future.
What follows below are the questions themselves, the results,
and brief discussions. If you have additional
use the "contact information" at the bottom of this page. Where
applicable, the corresponding results from the 2019 survey (statistics only - not the text responses)
are presented. You may read the 2019 survey results here.
questions, more than one answer could be selected so totals may add up to more than 100%.
#1: "Why do you use the Northern Utah WebSDR?"
As a general-purpose remote receiver
For spotting DX
For Geographical Diversity
My QTH is too $@^! noisy!
I don't have an HF station of my own and I like to
listen to the bands
Other (please specify - 100 char, max.)
The #1 answer this year - "As a general-purpose remote receiver" -
displaced the second choice, "Geographical Diversity".
Some of the "Other" answers included:
To check my own transmitter - signal level and audio quality."
"To analyze and compare my
"To aid with some of the nets in
which I participate."
"To listen from outside the U.S."
"It's sometimes easier/more
convenient to listen to the computer/tablet/phone than the radio in the
and development interest." (Tell us more!)
"Recording Shortwave radio
programs". Remember: There is a "Record" tab below
the volume control that allows you to record and save the audio to
which you are listening to your own computer.
"SSTV transmissions" I
get occasional correspondence from WebSDR users who receive and decode
SSTV by piping the receive audio into their favorite SSTV program.
The most "unfortunate" reason for using WebSDRs has got to be the
problem that many users have where they simply can't hear much due to
the lack of a good antenna (limitations
of HOAs, perhaps), the local noise - possibly due to nearby
electronic devices, switching
supplies, light, solar electric system, etc.
Alarmingly, the percentage of those who use the WebSDR to escape local QRM seems to have
increased a bit, but we hope that this is really due to more people in
those situations discovering the WebSDRs rather than their situations
Question #2: "What other WebSDR systems do you use?"
KFS (Half Moon Bay, CA)
KK3EF (Milford, PA)
NA5B (near Washington D.C.)
University of Twente (Netherlands)
Others WebSDR systems? (100 chars. max)
New in 2020: The addition of
the questions about the KiwiSDR and W7RNA.
The top answer, "KFS", is not surprising as it is "close" (geographically speaking)
to the Northern Utah WebSDR and in many cases, between the two WebSDRs,
one can hear stations that might fall into "dead zones" where other
stations may simply be too close to your
station - or a WebSDR - to be heard.
Added this year to the survey was mention of the KiwiSDR network:
There are five such receivers at the Northern Utah WebSDR that cover (pretty much) from the AM broadcast
band through 30 MHz, continuously - and there is a large network of
such receivers that can be found at kiwisdr.com.
A few other answers included:
W5ZNA, N8MDP - A couple
of users mentioned this WebSDR
Europe - It makes sense
that users outside the U.S. would often use WebSDR systems closer to
#3: "To what bands do you most often listen?"
AM Broadcast Band
Shortwave broadcast bands
Longwave Bands (2200 and/or 630 meters)
Other bands? (Really? How?)
last year, 40 meters is the clear winner - but 20 meters has replaced
80/75 meters as the #2 answer - possibly due to the increasing solar
activity improving propagation on the higher bands.
Some comments from the "Others Bands" entries:
"I use it for MARS (Military Affiliate
Radio Service)". A
number of respondents mentioned MARS or similar service - often on the
Shortwave Broadcast bands.
"I switch between the general
and specific receivers to see where the MUF is and if I hear anything
interesting." - With the awaking of the sun's solar activity it
will be interesting to see how the WebSDR - and other tools - may be
used to monitor propagation.
#4: "Which Northern Utah WebSDR do you use most often?"
WebSDR #1 (Yellow)
WebSDR #2 (Green)
WebSDR #3 (Blue)
WebSDR #4 (Magenta)
As expected, most of the activity is still centered around WebSDR #1 -
which makes sense since most nets and roundtables use the 40 and 80
meter bands. It will be interesting to see how this usage
distribution changes over time, and as the propagation improves on the
higher HF bands.
We are gratified that our newest server (WebSDR #4) is seeing so much use!
The percentages add up to more than
100% because I forgot to set this question to permit only one answer.
Question #4: "What band(s) are missing to which you might be
interested in listening?"
This was a "fill in the blank" question - and most respondents said
"none", but here are a few of the other answers:
portion of the "11 meter" (CB) band is covered via the 10 meter band,
but certainly not all of it - but the KiwiSDRs cover this range in its
Again, remember that the Northern Utah WebSDR site is in a
rural area and
unless there is "skip", you will likely not hear too much other than
those motorists passing by on the Interstate about 12 miles to the east.
"40 meters". I must
admit to being a bit puzzled by this answer as 40 meters is covered
both on WebSDR #1 and on its back-up server, WebSDR #3. Remember:
The Northern Utah WebSDR has four
servers that cover all
U.S. amateur bands from 2200 through 2 meters.
and millimeter wave satellite activity." This is
a tall order given the nature of these bands and frequencies. Perhaps related, we are looking
into the possibility of interfacing with the "SatNOGS" project -
but we have only limited time and resources.
"More shortwave broadcast bands"
or "8-9 MHz" or "More 30M". While
the WebSDR system covers many of the shortwave broadcast bands - and
some frequency ranges adjacent to the amateur and broadcast bands - the
KiwiSDRs cover continuously from LF through 30 MHz - see KiwiSDR.com for a
list/map of available receivers - including those at the Northern Utah
"I'd like to see 70CM."
It's worth remembering that the Northern Utah WebSDR's receive site is
about 80 miles (120km) from
the main population center - which places it at a significant distance
from many of the repeaters and the vast majority of simplex operation,
making it difficult to monitor this band from this site. We are
considering the addition of another receive site - for 2
meters and the repeater output portions of 70cm - in the Metro Salt
"2 meters is really deaf".
As mentioned, this site is rural, a long distance (about 80 miles/130km)
from most 2 meter
repeaters and well away from the main population centers in which
simplex activity might occur. Nevertheless, we have recently
improved 2 meter
reception by attenuating some of the noise generated by the gear in the
building - and we are planning to raise the height of the 2 meter
antenna by putting it partway up the tower that carries the HF
beam. Finally, as mentioned in the
previous discussion, we are looking into the possibility of locating
site in the Salt Lake metro area.
"The VHF marine band".
This might be better for a WebSDR that was near a busy ocean
port, within radio range of boat traffic. While we have the Great Salt Lake nearby, but there's not a
lot of activity that occurs on this band.
"The upper portion of 6 meters".
This is a possibility for a future expansion of VHF/UHF reception.
#6: "Would you consider donating to help keep the Northern
Utah WebSDR online?"
Yes - PayPal is fine
Yes - I prefer direct donation (e.g. check)
Is there another method of support other than the
above that you have in mind?
Yes - I've not done it yet, but
I'm still considering doing so
I would like to, but I can't do
so at this time
I would do so, via Patreon
The good news here is that most
respondents would consider donating to keep the Northern Utah WebSDR
online. As of lat 2019, we make a concerted effort to acknowledge
donation - no matter how small - see the "Donations" page for a list of
benefactors. Those who send us money the "old fashioned" way (check, cash in the mail) will also
get a thank-you card in the mail.
Some of the responses to the question about "another method of support"
"When I have
the money." "If I could volunteer time." and "I have very limited income."
We thank you for the consideration - and if, at the present
time, you don't feel that it is practical for you, we certainly
understand! If you are in the Northern Utah area and are
available to donate some time, drop us a line via email (address at the bottom of this
page) and let us know
what you have in mind.
"How about a method of
pay-as-you go - and what might be a suggested amount?" We have
some users that do this via PayPal, many automatically sending around
$5 each month via PayPal - but as you can see from the question, we are
also considering using Patreon, a platform specifically set up for this type
of support. It's worth noting that either PayPal or Patreon will
take their "cut" - usually a combination of a flat fee and a percentage
- which means that numerous, small donations will cost you a bit more
than a single donation - but the convenience may be worth it.
look into Patreon." This is on our "to do" list
- but perhaps we should make this a higher priority.
"When I donate I'd like 100% of
the proceeds to go to you, not a middleman, while still being easy?"
The best suggestion for this is to send a check, money order (or
whatever you prefer) directly to us - the contact information being available on
the "Donate" page link - the link to this page being also being along the side of the Northern Utah WebSDR's web pages.
"The Air Force Flyer's net has
donated to Northern Utah... and to KFS... and find them useful". Again,
thanks for the support, and thank you for using the WebSDRs!
"I could donate some equipment - what do you need?" We have added a section to our donate to the Northern Utah WebSDR page that has an (incomplete!) list of items that we can use - take a look and see if you can help.
#7: "What is your Amateur radio license class?"
Not licensed - I just like to listen!
Licensed in another country - what class?
Not surprisingly, most of the respondents indicated a license class
that included HF privileges. We hope that more of those that
"HF Curious" - but don't have a license that offers wide HF privileges
will "discover" and use the WebSDR and get inspiration from it,
eventually getting an appropriate license and get on the air: We
are pleased that those who "just like to listen" are using the
WebSDR: Be sure to spread the word!
Responses in the "Other Country" class indicated a few of our Canadian,
European and Indian friends - and a few people who also use the WebSDR
as a bit of a "utility" - perhaps to check the signal quality of
shortwave broadcast stations or other types of HF operations.
#8: "Do you find useful some of the features that we've added to
the Northern WebSDR servers (DSP noise reduction, notch filter, 'High
Earlier in 2020, we introduced these DSP functions to the original
WebSDR code and since then, we have shared this with many WebSDRs
around the world - and it would appear that most people like them.
A few comments about these filters other than "Yes, they are great!"
"Tried filters on CW and they
don't seem to work.". The DSP noise reduction is,
unfortunately, best-used on wider (voice)
signals. In testing, they do seem to work on strong signals - but
this is probably not when you need such a filter. We are
considering the addition of a "peaking" filter just for CW as may be
found in some modern radios, but we have yet to try it to see how
practical it would be.
"Larger meter displays".
Something to consider!
"Tried them but the lack of site
noise means they didn't seem to make a lot of difference, and in some
cases actually made reception worse!" As you have
discovered, there are some instances where the filtering doesn't
actually help - furthermore, some people just don't like the artifacts
that these filters necessarily produce.
#9: "What new
feature(s) would you like to see implemented at the Northern Utah
WebSDR? (We can't promise anything - we're just curious, but
we'll see what we can do!)?"
This was a "free form" question and most answers were along the lines
of "None - it works
great for me!". Some of the other answers include:
"A noise blanker would be useful
at times". The WebSDR itself does have noise blankers
active on all bands to take the "edge" of the sharper pulses (e.g. lightning) and the times at
which our nearby powerline gets noisy, but this is a "fixed" settingh and not under user
control Unfortunately, a user-configurable noise blanker is a bit
tricky in a system like this as it is best-applied before any
narrowband (SSB, CW)
filtering, which means that it can't be added on the audio stream that
is sent to your computer and its addition would need to be done within the WebSDR's server code - which is not open-source.
"Better user interface".
This is a comment about the (admittedly)
cluttered web page that sometimes makes it difficult to keep track of
where one is tuning, the band one is on and how the page is laid
out. There are other web interfaces out
there for the WebSDRs - a perusal of a few systems listed at websdr.org
will give you a view of these - and some of these may work better on
some devices: Let us know what you think about some of them and
we'll see what we can do about adopting some of the nicer features.
"Better mobile interface".
This is a tricky one: Some mobile devices seem to be capable of handling all of
the bells and whistles of the desktop interface just fine while others
can barely handle the relatively simple and lightweight mobile
interface - so where's the happy medium that will work for all types of phones?
"My favorite stations don't
follow from one computer/browser to the other". Sorry
about that, but that's because these are stored as cookies on your
computer/browser combination. Unfortunately, there's no easy way around this that
isn't either complicated, or a bit risky from the standpoint of
"How about a TRUE RF gain control?"
We'd like to add this, but the base code of the WebSDR itself - for
which we don't have the source code - doesn't support this - here's
hoping for that feature in a future version.
"How about an 'A/B' VFO
function?" Good idea - we'll look into this!
"CW Decoder"or "FT8 decoder". These would be a bit
too "heavy" and complicated to be run on the WebSDR - or even
Some alternatives include trying the CW decoder on the KiwiSDR,
or - better yet - run such software on your own computer, routing your
speaker audio (from the WebSDR)
We have been looking into what it might take to run a "CW
Skimmer", but the equipment and power overhead is still a bit greater
than what we are comfortable with adding.
FT-8 decoding can also be done by routing the WebSDR audio on
your computer into the WSJT-X program. We are looking into the possibility of having a web page
that displays decided FT-8 signals, but this is only in the preliminary
"Synchronous AM detection - like
that on the KiwiSDRs." For the moment we are stuck with
the KiwiSDRs: Adding Synchronous detection will require the
author of the WebSDR software itself to add this to the code (e.g. a newer version.)
"Squelch." I'm not
sure about this as there is a "Squelch" box just above the volume
control that can be ticked to enable it. Perhaps there is
something that you'd like a future version of squelch do that the
current does not?
- This is certainly "do-able" - but remember that this sort of
"animation" will take a bit more computer processing power to do this.
There aren't any analog stereo broadcasts on the bands that the
Northern Utah WebSDR covers: The closest thing is the "SAS" mode
on the KiwiSDRs accessible by clicking on the button to the right of
the "AM" mode button several times that will yield left/right audio
channels from the lower/upper sidebands.
"I'd appreciate page layouts
without the need to scroll. The wordy stuff we read once should be
below the waterfall, not above it, IMHO. Also, the control boxes
themselves are very wordy and cluttered. Would it be possible to just
give us labeled buttons, with all the explanatory stuff available in
links?" There is a fine balance at work here:
We discovered that if they didn't have to scroll past it, many
people would never see/pay attention to news, announcements and
comments and we'd get bombarded with questions for which the answers
were on the main web page.
Based on correspondence, a surprising number of people don't
even scroll below the waterfall/frequency display - either that, or
they don't look at it - and are shocked to learn that the Northern Utah
WebSDR has bands other than the one that they
normally use - despite the fact that buttons for these bands are
this year were any comments about having issues with audio on Apple
devices or when using the Chrome browser. We worked hard to
remedy these issues or provide work-arounds in late 2019/early 2020 and
widely shared this information with other WebSDR operators and we are
pleased that these efforts appear to have paid off.
#10: "Did you
know that there are pages with FAQs (frequently-asked
technical information and news about what's going on at the Northern
In response, 67% percent said "Yes" and 33% said "No" (it was 57% and 43% in 2019).
noting that links to these "other" pages may be found along the right side
of the landing page andall
of the WebSDRs themselves.
In case you missed it, here are some of the many
pages on this web site that include a wealth of information:
- The pages here likely have more technical information than you will
ever want about the gear used at the Northern Utah WebSDR - including a
few pictures and some schematics.
and known issues
- This is a "log", ordered chronologically, about pretty much everything
that is happening and has happened at the Northern Utah WebSDR, whether
or not it
has affected service.
Northern Utah WebSDR
- Have a question about something related to the Northern Utah WebSDR?
You might find it here - but if you can't, there's always the
This survey was conducted using Survey Monkey which
severely limits the access to the results for the "Free"
version, allowing visibility only to 100 of the responses. If I
wish to pay $25/month (for a minimum
of a 12 month
subscription) I could get all
of the data -
but that isn't going to happen as we have more important things to
spend money on - like maintaining a WebSDR!
What this means is that there were actually three
surveys, all with the same questions, to accommodate the anticipated
volume of responses. While most survey responses were recorded,
math indicates that some of them were missed when the surveys weren't
"changed" before the count exceeded 100.
If you wish to find out how you can contribute to this project, or if
you have any questions/comments that weren't answered on the "latest
info" pages, you may
send an email to the following address:
Alternatively, you can send email/snail-mail to KA7OEI
using the information found at QRZ or the FCC database.
If you wish to contact us,
avoid using an email
service that has one of those "Please fill in this form to reply" type
of SPAM filters.
If you really
want a reply, please have the courtesy to allow us to do so without
having to fill out a form and supply extra personal
information to who knows where, etc. - I wasn't planning to sell or
give out your
email address, anyway!