Category Archives: Ham Radio

Photos of a B-17G Radio Operator Position

I had the pleasure of visiting the Champaign Aviation Museum recently and examining their under-restoration B-17G, “Champaign Lady”. Actually, the term “under-restoration” is incorrect. In actuality, the Champaign Aviation Museum is effectively building their B-17G nearly from scratch—quite an undertaking but one that the volunteers are performing skillfully and enthusiastically.

Being an amateur radio operator, shortwave listener, and would-be WWII-radio restorer, I was was pleased to see that Champaign Lady already has a nearly-complete radio-operator position installed, between the bomb-bay and the waist-gun section of the airplane. As a B-17G would have had during the war, Champaign Lady features a BC-348 liaison receiver and morse-code key mounted on a desk on the port (left) side of the bomber and a stack of AM/CW Command Set transmitters and receivers racked on the starboard (right) side of the bomber. In the photos, the top Command Set boxes are the transmitters and the bottom three Command Set boxes are the receivers. Of course, the BC-348 and the Command Set transmitters and receivers are fully tube-type, semiconductors having not yet been invented. During the war speedometer-type cables would connect the Command Set receivers to controls in the cockpit, allowing the pilot and co-pilot to control the Command Set receiver frequencies; electrical cables would have carried the receivers’ audio to the pilot and co-pilot and would have allowed them to change volume-level. The radio operator could transmit using the Command Set transmitters and could also switch the pilot or co-pilot intercom microphones to any of the Command Set transmitters to allow the pilot or co-pilot to broadcast to other bombers in the formation.

"Champaign Lady" radio operator position

B-17G “Champaign Lady” radio operator position; BC-348 liaison receiver on the port (left) side and Command Set transmitters and receivers on the starboard (right) side.

"Champaign Lady" BC-348 receiver

B-17G “Champaign Lady” BC-348 liaison receiver and morse-code key.

"Champaign Lady" Command Set transmitters and receivers

B-17G “Champaign Lady” Command Set transmitters and receivers on the starboard side of the radio room

During the war, the B-17G radio operator was an enlisted man, typically a sergeant or higher in rank. If in an earlier version of the B-17G, the radio operator was also responsible for manning a .50 caliber machine gun located in his section of the airplane. In all versions of the B-17G, the radio operator assisted the navigator by providing position reports based on radio fixes of beacons or radio stations. Additional information about the role of the B-17G radio operator can be found on the B-17 Queen of the Sky website.

And, for those interested, here is what Champaign Lady’s nose-art looks like:

B-17G "Champaign Lady" nose-art

B-17G “Champaign Lady” nose-art, starboard side; the port side features a mirror-image version of the same design

The Champaign Aviation Museum has a beautifully restored B-25J, “Champaign Gal”, in flying condition. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to see if Champaign Gal features a restored radio operator position.

I have a BC-224, which is the 12-volt version of the BC-348 liaison receiver to put back into service as well as a BC-696A Command Set transmitter that I hope to eventually put back onto the air in the 80-meter amateur band. It would be wonderful if I had a B-17G in which to install these items—or even just room to build a replica B-17G radio operator position!


Eric McFadden, WD8RIF

The new Cross Country Wireless HF Preselector

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Cross Country Wireless release HF Preselector

Cross Country Wireless have released a HF Preselector.

It is a passive high Q design that does not use an amplifier or external power.

It tunes from 0.5 to 52 MHz.

It is ideal for use with simple SDR receivers like the RTF-SDR dongle with upconverter or SDRPlay. It can also be used with the new receiver socket modification on the IC-7300.

The web page has more details including network analyser plots showing the selectivity of the Preselector.

The web page is:

Videos of the Icom IC-R8600 in action

Icom IC-R8600

Many thanks to a number of Post contributors who’ve shared a link to links to  bcloyaji’s YouTube Channel where a few videos of the Icom IC-R8600 have been posted.  (Thank you for your patience, as well, as I’ve been traveling and way behind on posting this!)

I’ve embedded a few videos below, but I encourage you to also check out bcloyaji’s YouTube Channel for more:

IC-R8600 operation

Click here to view on YouTube.

Icom IC-R8600 vs JRC NRD-545 Part 1:

Click here to view on YouTube.

ICOM IC-R8600 vs JRC NRD-545 Part II

Click here to view on YouTube.

I’m looking forward to checking out the IC-R8600 at the 2017 Dayton Hamvention and even potentially reviewing it here on the SWLing Post at some point.

Any Post readers plan to purchase the IC-R8600?

Though we have no US pricing yet, I’ve been checking with Universal Radio regularly for any news.

Follow the tag IC-R8600 for updates.

April 7: Decipher an Enigma encrypted message on 40 meters

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Enigma encrypted message to be sent in 40m

In cooperation with Bletchley Park, the Heinz Nixdorf Museum DLØHNF in Paderborn, Germany is hosting a cipher event on April 7

A Google translation of the DARC post reads:

As with the first event of this kind ten years ago, an encrypted message is sent over radio, to which radio amateurs are invited, to follow them and to play with them. This time, however, the message is not generated with a Lorenz machine, but with an enigma and then transmitted in encrypted telegraphy to 40 m from the club station of the Heinz Nixdorf Mueseum, DLØHNF.

DLØHNF will open radio stations with other stations, which also use historical technology and thus recreate a historical radio network, between the transmissions of various encrypted messages – which are specially approved for this event. DLØDM and DLØAFM are also involved. The activities in Bletchley Park go back to the mathematician Alan Turing, who during the Second World War succeeded in decoding the Enigma coded radio spoofs of the Germans with his Turing machine.

In the Heinz Nixdorf Museum you can watch the happenings from 9 o’clock on the spot. Visitors experience encryption with the Enigma, the Morse as well as a live transmission.

A precise frequency for the transmission of the CW transmission from 9:30 is not known. The museum information is at


FCC Approves MF/LF Ham Radio Bands

(Source: CQ Newsroom & FCC)

Hams in the U.S. will soon have two new bands on which to operate, experiment and contribute to the collective knowledge of “the radio art.” In a Report and Order issued on March 30, the FCC approved creation of secondary amateur allocations at 135.7-137.8 kHz (2200 meters) and 472-479 kHz (630 meters), the first amateur bands with wavelengths above 200 meters since the dawn of radio regulation.

The new bands come with lots of strings attached, since they will be shared with “PLC” systems used by electric utilities to control the nation’s power grid. Hams will be limited to fixed station operation, antennas no higher than 60 meters (196 feet) above ground and radiated power limits of 1 watt effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) on 2200 meters and 5 watts EIRP on 630 meters (1 watt in some parts of Alaska). Plus, operation on these bands will not be allowed within one kilometer of electric transmission lines using PLC and advance notice of all planned operation to the PLC network coordinator will be required.[…]

Continue reading at the CQ Newsroom.

Click here to download the full Report and Order from the FCC (PDF).