1944 WWII Hallicrafters Shortwave Radio Promo

WWII-HallicraftersInteresting 15 min. video demonstrating the Army Signal Corps using an Hallicrafters SCR-299.

While certainly a promotional piece for Hallicrafters, this has great footage and captures a bit of the excitement of radio expanding into new frontiers. There is a discussion of how the radio was modified for military conditions as well as some innovations which were implemented to make such a system mobile.

As an aside, it never ceases to amaze me how clear and crisp black and white film technology of the time seems somehow better than the color images which replaced it. But that may just be me — a black-and-white guy living in a colorized world!

There is a second part to this video, as well as other WWII-era videos available on YouTube with a bit of searching, and of course don’t forget to check out the SWLing’s Shortwave Radio Archive page for more interesting shortwave audio old and new!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

The Xiegu X5105: a new QRP portable transceiver in development

Xiegu-X5105

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mike, who writes:

I thought your readers might like to know about the new Xiegu X5105 [HF] transceiver which is being developed by the Wouxun group out of China (the same company who produces an inexpensive line of amateur HTs).

According to YaesuFT817.com, the X5105’s receiver is a double-conversion superheterodyne design and is made portable by way of 3 rechargeable lithium batteries of 1.8 mAh each. Native output of 5 watts.

I’ve read that the price will be around $500 US.

The X-108 forum also has the following message, I assume, from a company representative…

“Xiegu Tech will launch new products. I’m very pleased to share relevant information with you:-)

I. X5105 short wave transceiver

  • X5105 is a highly portable transceiver working at HF+6m band, with a built-in power output of 5W.
  • Technical features: double-conversion superheterodyne, fitted with up to 3 lithium batteries of 18,650mph each.
  • Expandability
  • A standard main unit (embedded with one 8-pole 2.7k-SSB crystal filter)
  • An optional high stability, high precision TCXO module
  • An optional 500Hz narrow band crystal filter
  • An optional plug-in 5W antenna tuner module

II. XPA125 integrated amplifier and antenna tuner

  • XPA125, with a built-in antenna tuner, amplifies the output up to 125W.

Technical features:

  • 125W linear power amplifier + combined LC antenna tuner.

Expandability: 

  • A standard 125W amplifier, An optional 125W automatic antenna tuner.”

Thanks for all of the info, Mike!

That’s an interesting portable design. I like the display–reminds me of the Icom IC-746.

I’ll be very curious how well it performs as a general coverage receiver. I don’t see any specs regarding AM mode or the maximum bandwidth. The price is certainly competitive; nearly half that of the Elecraft KX3. I seriously doubt it could give the KX3 a run for its money, performance-wise, but who knows? Looks like we’ll have more info by the end of the year when the X5105 hits production. Thanks again for the tip!

Chris has developed an easy way to run the RTL-SDR dongle on a Mac

RTL-SDR-001

Many thanks to Chris Smolinski who writes:

I wanted to run SdrDx, and other SDR apps on my Mac with an RTL SDR Dongle. So I wrote this server app, that makes it appear like a networked SDR.

 

No need to install any RTL libraries, or compile any code.

 

Just run the app on your Mac, configure it and your SDR app, and you’re all set.

 

The app is free, and should work with Mac OS X 10.6 through 10.11.

Chris has kindly allowed me to share his full post here on the SWLing Post below–you can read the original at RadioHobbyist.org:


Running an RTL SDR USB Dongle On Your Mac The Easy Way With Cocoa RTL Server

I’ve had a few of the RTL radio tuner dongles for a while. These are USB devices that were originally made for use as TV tuners overseas, but it turns out that you can access the I/Q data stream, and turn them into an SDR (Software Defined Radio). They can be tuned roughly over a range of 25 to 1700 MHz, and sometimes even higher, depending on the tuner IC chip inside the particular dongle.RTL-SDR

 

I previously posted about how to get the RTL dongle working on the Mac here: An SDR for $17 – The R820T USB RTL-SDR DVB-T Dongle and here: An SDR for $17 – The R820T USB RTL-SDR DVB-T Dongle – Part 2. These posts were from 2013, and I did the installation on a Mac running OS X 10.6, using some pre-built libraries.

Fast forward to the present day. I got a new Mac running OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and I wanted to be able to use the RTL dongles with my favorite SDR software on the Mac,SdrDx. Enter Cocoa RTL Server.

Cocoa RTL Server is a stand alone app that interfaces with an RTL dongle. It does not require you to build or install any drivers or libraries. It just works. It’s based off of an open source app called SoftShell, that I heavily extended. Cocoa RTL Server also acts like a networked SDR, following the RF Space protocol. That means it works with SdrDx, as well as any other SDR app on the Mac that supports RF Space SDRs like the netSDR. You can download a copy of the app from the Cocoa RTL Server page. Source code is included, however I am not offering any support for the project or final app.

Here’s a screenshot of the app running:

Chris-Screen-Shot

Getting up and running is easy:

1. Plug in your RTL device
2. Run CocoaRTLServer 2.0
3. Select the device from the popup menu (usually it is already selected)
4. Change the rtl_tcp or tx_tcp port values if needed
5. Click Open
6. Configure your SDR app (set the correct TCP port) and run it

I’ve run it under Mac OS X 10.6, 10.10 and 10.11, It should run under 10.7-10.9 as well.

Using SdrDx, I can tune a large portion of the FM broadcast band, click to view full size:

Chris-Screen-Shot-2

 

In this case I am tuned to 97.9 MHz. To the left of the signal meter, you can see it has decoded the station ID from the RDS data. Yes, SdrDx decodes RDS.

If you look at the lower right corner, you see the scope display of the demodulated FM audio. There are markers for the portions of interest:
You can see the main audio above the green marker to the left.
The stereo pilot at 19 kHz (red marker).
The stereo subcarrier (aquamarine)
The RDS data (orange)
The 67 kHz SCA subcarrier (purple)
The 92 kHz SCA subcarrier (yellow)

Cocoa RTL Server also includes a server that emulates rtl_tcp, so it works withCocoa1090 which decodes aircraft transponders that transmit on 1090 MHz. It should also work with any other app that gets data from rtl_tcp. Here’s a screenshot of Cocoa1090 running:

Chris-Screen-Shot-3


Thanks so much for developing this app, Chris!

I think I might go ahead and pull the trigger on an RTL-SDR as it would be great to run one on my Mac. I think your app will make the process much easier.

Readers: make sure you check out Chris’ blog RadioHobbyist.org.

 

 

Dave notes that the Icom IC-7200 is being discontinued

Icom-IC7200Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Dave Zantow, who notes that the Icom IC-7200 general coverage transceiver is being discontinued.

Dave notes the following on his website:

Icom IC-7200 “Last Call” : It appears that the Icom IC-7200 DSP HF Transceiver is discontinued (or near of being discontinued) and dealers are now selling the last production samples. Information as via the Gigaparts (US Icom dealer) web site. If you always wanted a brand new Icom IC-7200 model , better grab it while you still can. Yes…here we go again, but the model is on the way out for sure this time. […]

Continue reading on Dave’s site…

Readers may recall that I listed the IC-7200 as a transceiver with a very good general coverage receiver.  Check out my article, The best general coverage transceivers for shortwave listening.

Icom-IC-7200

Though I don’t own an IC-7200, I’m a little sad to see that it’ll no longer be produced. I’ve used one on the air before and thought it packed a lot of performance for the price. I think it’s an ideal ham radio club transceiver as it’s easy to use and has virtually no learning curve (for those who are familiar with transceivers)–a very good choice as a field day rig.

Universal Radio still has the IC-7200 in stock priced at $890 US. Gigaparts also has the IC-7200 priced at $895. That’s a good deal for a 100 watt, full-featured HF transceiver.

Thanks for the tip, Dave!

SDRplay shipping the RSP in quantities of 1,000 a month

SDPlay-RSPThis article from Electronics Weekly just popped up in my news feed:

SDRplay of Wakefield, the 18-month-old software defined radio specialist, is now shipping its $149 software defined radio (SDR) receiver in quantities of 1,000 a month

Inspired by the SDR capabilities that even a simple 8-bit TV dongle can perform, SDRplay had the idea of partnering with Mirics to take their 12-bit wideband broadcast chipset and to re-purpose it for the hobbyist market.

At the moment, the hobbyist market for SDR radios tends to be dominated by radio amateurs and ‘short-wave listeners’ and SDRplay’s initial product, the ‘Radio Spectrum Processor’ (RSP) has been well received – winning Ham Radio Science’s RSP ‘Best Bang for the Buck’ rating.

Continue reading at Electronics Weely’s website…

I’m quite proud of the folks at SDRplay as their RSP is truly one of the best receiver values on the market right now.

After (apprehensively) agreeing to review the SDRplay RSP last year, I was simply blown away by this little $149 receiver’s performance. Click here to read the review. Later, I couldn’t bring myself to return the RSP on loan for the review–so I purchased it instead.

I’m glad I bit the bullet!

In fact, last year, at the SWLing Post DXpedition, my buddy, Mark Fahey–who traveled all the way from Australia–forgot to bring the appropriate power adapter for his WinRadio Excalibur, so I let him use mine. I had planned to run the WinRadio Excalibur and Elad FDM-S2 simultaneously on my PC so that I could record spectrum in two different parts of the band at the same time.

Fortunately, I brought the SDRplay RSP, so it took the Excalibur’s place and ran alongside the FDM-S2. It worked amazingly well!

(I should note here that I also believe the FDM-S2 is a great value–at $519 US, it holds its own against receivers that cost upwards of $1,000.)

Shortly after I published my RSP review, I invited SDRplay to become a sponsor of the SWLing Post. I’m happy they accepted. Sponsorship on the SWLing Post is only open to retailers and manufacturers who produce quality goods; those who are well-known in the industry and, often, ones with which I have direct experience. I think SDRplay is a great fit.

So, Kudos to Jon Hudson and his team at SDRplay! I’m very happy to hear how popular the RSP has become.

If you’re an RSP owner, or plan to be soon, make sure you check out the official SDRplay forum and the SDRplay Facebook group: both excellent resources backed by active SDR enthusiasts!

How to decode maritime broadcasts in RTTY, Sitor B, and NAVTEX

(Photo Credit: NOAA)

(Photo Credit: NOAA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN) for the following guest post:


Maritime Broadcasts in RTTY, Sitor B, and NAVTEX.

By Mario Filippi, N2HUN

(All photos below are courtesy of the author. Click each image to enlarge.)

Non-voice high seas weather broadcasts and safety messages to mariners can be found by spinning your VFO dial to 8.472 MHz USB courtesy of WLO from Mobile, AL, which provides these transmissions continuously. Here on the East Coast it is received with regularity due to it’s strong signal.

Those of you who are neophytes to RTTY or just want to dabble then this is the place to be to try your hand at an old and venerable digital mode. The RTTY (RadioTeleTYpe) parameters used by WLO transmissions are 45.45 bauds, 170Hz shift. These are most commonly used by amateur radio ops too. If you’ve roamed the bands for RTTY signals you’ll find that most are encrypted with a few exceptions, one of which is WLO which is transmitting continuously.

Tabletop SW radio set to WLO; SignaLink USB links radio to computer for decoding.

Tabletop SW radio set to WLO; SignaLink USB links radio to computer for decoding.

On 8.472 MHz you’ll receive weather information from different latitude/longitudes, along with other pertinent information to mariners such as high seas pirates (not radio pirates!) and naval maneuver areas that are important for ships to avoid. It makes for interesting copy.

To decode RTTY signals you’ll need a shortwave receiver with a BFO (Beat Frequency Oscillator), a way to pipe your radio’s audio into your computer’s sound card, and decoding software. There are several RTTY software packages out there, free, and my favorite is MMTTY. More info on MMTTY is at: http://hamsoft.ca/pages/mmtty.php . Old timers will find this software a snap to use, but newcomers will have to fiddle with the controls to get the decoding going. Below is a snapshot of MMTTY decoding a typical weather broadcast.

MMTTY dashboard with WX info. Cross-like indicator on upper right aids in tuning signal.

MMTTY dashboard with WX info. Cross-like indicator on upper right aids in tuning signal.

Another software available for decoding RTTY is Fldigi. Again, you’ll have to input the correct RTTY parameters such as baud rate and shift into the program along with adjusting your VFO carefully. It takes practice, but when the decoding is successful you’ll see Fldigi doing it’s thing as shown below. Both MMTTY and Fldigi have waterfalls displaying a visual image of the received signal. With practice you’ll be able to distinguish the different common RTTY shifts just by looking at the waterfall.

Fldigi in action with split screen; RTTY text above, waterfall below.

Fldigi in action with split screen; RTTY text above, waterfall below.

Now to Sitor B (Simplex Teletype Over Radio Mode B), another non-voice mode we can use to decode WLO transmissions. Sitor B sounds a lot like RTTY to the human ear, but requires different decoding software. WLO transmits weather information via Sitor B immediately after RTTY transmissions, switching back and forth, which makes for even more fun! Software that decodes Sitor B is available on the ‘Net as free downloads. One is MultiPSK, the other is YaND.

I like YaND (Yet another Navtex Decoder) which is used to decode NAVTEX (Navigational Telex) transmissions commonly found on 490 KHz and 518 KHz, but it works well for decoding Sitor B. There is a difference in the way messages are processed in NAVTEX versus Sitor B and for further information perform a Google search. But the fastest and easiest way to decode Sitor B transmissions from WLO is to fire up YaND. Below is a recent NAVTEX HF broadcast capture.

WLO HF WX broadcast for NE Gulf on 1/18/16 .

WLO HF WX broadcast for NE Gulf on 1/18/16 .

Well, hopefully some of you will be inspired to check out maritime weather/safety information found on WLO using RTTY/Sitor B/NAVTEX software. However, RTTY can also be found on the ham bands and on shortwave frequencies. Several RTTY stations from Germany are found on frequencies such as 11.039MHz and 14.467MHz. Their weather information format is quite different and will give you an idea of European weather conditions and allow you to practice your German. When not sending weather info they run a RTTY message loop below at 50bauds/425Hz shift.

German RTTY station with message loop. Deciphered via MultiPSK.

German RTTY station with message loop. Deciphered via MultiPSK.

In closing, make sure to also check out the NAVTEX broadcasts found just below the AM broadcast band on 490 and 518 KHz; using YaND or MultiPSK you’ll be able to receive these transmissions, but remember you’re not on HF, you are on MW (medium wave), where signal distances are shorter and present a greater reception challenge. YaND software has a NAVTEX broadcast schedule built in as seen below; you have to identify your specific NAVAREA or navigational area, then look at the times and frequencies to determine when to listen in. My QTH is in NAVAREA 4. Lots of interesting information is passed in these NAVTEX transmissions so listen in and have fun!

YaND NAVTEX schedule for various NAVAREAS.

YaND NAVTEX schedule for various NAVAREAS.

NAVTEX on 518 KHz from station VAR-9, New Brunswick, CAN. Messages begin with “ZCZC.”

NAVTEX on 518 KHz from station VAR-9, New Brunswick, CAN. Messages begin with “ZCZC.

Mario Filippi (N2HUN), is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Click here to read Mario’s guest posts.

First Iranian ham radio contest

Iran-Map

To celebrate 37th anniversary of Iranian Islamic revolution, the first Iranian ham contest is going to be held on February 1st, 2016 and will last for 10 days.

Objective: To encourage and increase contacts (especially DX ones) with Iranian radio amateurs.

Dates:

Contest Period: 10 days (Feb 01, 00:00 UTC – Feb 11, 23:59 UTC)

All modes (CW, SSB, RTTY) can be used on this period.

Bands:

40, 20, 15 and 10 meters

Note: On 20m, the upper limit is 14.250 MHZ

Contact information:

For contest information and any sort of inquiries contact epcontest.2016@gmail.com

Certificates:

Certificates will be awarded to:

1- Top single operator (at least 30 contacts on all modes)

2- Top CW operator

3- Top SSB operator

4- Top RTTY operator

5- Any operator who contacts at least 3 Iranian hams

Getting QSL card:

If you need the printed certificate, you should send 5USD (or equivalent in your          currency) to this address: “P.O. Box 14185-736 , Tehran, Iran”

Please use registered mail to make sure it delivers without problems.

WebMoney and Bitcoin are also accepted. (Contact us for more information)

Misc:

Iranian amateurs will use “/contest” at the end of their call sign for this contest.

The deadline for contacting us for certificate is 3 months after the contest.

List of Iranian participants:

  1. EP2FM  : Abdollah Sajjadian
  2. EP3RB : Reza Batebi
  3. EP3AG  : Ali Ghanbari
  4. EP2FA   : Farman Aghdasi
  5. EP2CM : Jamshid Mansoori
  6. EP4HR  : Hamid-Reza Rahimi
  7. EP3MIR : Mohammad Mobini
  8. EP3CQ : Ali Solh-Joo
  9. EP2LMA : Mohammad Azimi
  10. EP2LSH: Saeed Shokrollahi
  11. EP2HZM : Hassan Zohoorian
  12. EP2HEK : Hekmatollah Rahimi
  13. EP5MKN : Majid Kiani Nejad
  14. EP5ABD : Bagher Mir-Abdolhagh
  15. EP7AHN : Hamed Nahrir
  16. EP4KHA : Amin Kharadmehr
  17. EP4MMM : Mohammad Mirab
  18. EP2MA : Mohammad Ameli
  19. EP2LSD : Sepehr Dalir
  20. EP3EEE: Ehsan Esteki

Mehdi Asgari, the author of this post, is a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Mehdi lives in Tehran and is an active member of the EP2C amateur radio club.