Category Archives: Funny

Video: J R R Tolkien on Wireless

RCA-Portable-DialMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor Eric (WD8RIF), who shares this (quirky!) animated video set to a British Library Sound Archive of “Wireless” by J R R Tolkien.

This animation was produced by students at the University of the Arts London:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Playing music with computer-emitted interference

RFI-Sony-7600GSWLing Post reader, Chris Smolinski, writes:

Here’s my Mac Book Pro (2010 model) playing Mary Had A Little Lamb over the radio, by modulating the RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) produced by it and other computers. As picked up on a Sony 7600G receiver. I found the best reception was on the long wave band, although I could continue to hear it well above the AM (medium wave) band, past 1700 kHz. The signal was pretty much everywhere, no matter where I tuned, in 1 kHz steps.

Picking up radio emissions from computers is one method that can be used to spy on them.

I used the source code available here: https://github.com/fulldecent/system-bus-radio

If you want to see some radio related software I’ve written, please visit http://www.blackcatsystems.com

Click here to view on YouTube.

That is fascinating, Chris. While I was well aware that computers and mobile devices (of all stripes) produce RFI, I had no idea that it could be used for spying. I love how you’ve manipulated this interference to play a tune! What a creative hack!

From the Archives: Yes, there is a shortwave…!

Note: Jeff Murray and I posted this last Christmas–I thought it would be fun to dig it out of the archives for this Christmas as well.  Enjoy!


Virginia letter Dash

Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no shortwave. Uncle DX Dash! says, “If you see it on the SWLing Post, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a shortwave?

Virginia E. Layer
330 Independence Ave., S.W.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a digital age. They do not believe what can’t be heard or seen on their smart phone. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by Google. They seek credit cards, not QSL cards.

Yes, Virginia, there is a shortwave. It exists as certainly as sound and circuits and tubes exist, and you know that these abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no shortwave! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no heterodynes, no band openings, no propagation to make tolerable this existence. It would be a world without London Calling.

Not believe in shortwave! You might as well not believe in the ionosphere. You might get your papa to hire men to listen to all of the wi-fi radios of the world, but even if you did not hear shortwave, what would that prove? The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see ground waves dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can casually conceive or imagine all the wonders there are heard and unheard in the listening world. For that, you must wear headphones.

No shortwave! Thank goodness! It lives, and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, shortwave will continue to make glad the hearts of listeners.


Happy Holidays from your friends at Dashtoons and the SWLing Post!

With apologies to The New York Sun.  Our tongue-in-cheek editorial borrows from the timeless classic, “Is There a Santa Claus?” printed in the September 21, 1897, issue of The New York SunClick here to read the original

Time station CHU in The Empire Strikes Back

Fullscreen capture 12202015 40448 AM

Earlier today, I published a post noting that I thought I heard the time station WWV in a scene of The Empire Strikes Back.

SWLing Post reader, RadioGeek, quickly corrected me: that’s Canadian time station CHU‘s data pips I’m hearing, not circa-1980s WWV.  Cool!

Listen for yourself

Here’s the clip from The Empire Strikes Back, Battle of Hoth: listen at 25 seconds and at 40 seconds (the clip starts at 23 seconds):

Now listen to the recording of CHU I made only moments ago–note the tone and duration of the data pips:

No wonder I mixed up CHU and WWV; I’ve listened to both for propagation since I was a kid.

I wonder which of the Lucas Film sound engineer(s)/artist(s) chose CHU for this scene? Anyone know, by chance? Or can anyone find out?

No doubt, that sound designer is an SWL or ham radio operator. Perhaps this may also explain the SSB-esque radio dialog between fighter pilots throughout the Star Wars films:

Please comment!

The Empire Strikes Back: Is that WWV I hear?

Fullscreen capture 12202015 40448 AMWith all of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens hype going on, I remembered that, as a kid, I thought I heard WWV in a scene from The Empire Strikes Back.

I looked through some video clips of the movie online and discovered it again this morning: I heard the WWV-like sound in the Battle Of Hoth scene. [Update: RadioGeek suggests this may actually be CHU’s date pips.]

This video clip will start around the :23 second mark; start listening for the metronomic tick in the background around :25 seconds and then again at :40 seconds:

I may be mistaken, but I believe that sounds like 1980s era WWV. Has anyone else noticed this?