National Defense Authorization Act passes House, now moves to Senate

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:

This just came to my attention. It seems that William McClellan (Mac) Thornberry, the Republican representative of Texas’s 13th congressional district and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, proposed an amendment to H.R.4909 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 that would revamp how the Voice of America, RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, etc. are managed:
https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/1018/actions

Text of amendment is here:
http://amendments-rules.house.gov/amendments/GECv3517161723182318.pdf

It appears the amendment was accepted by the House and the House passed the amended H.R.4909 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and it has moved on to the Senate:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4909

Central Alaska: Paul shares photos of his listening post

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who writes:

You’ve posted shack photos before from other readers.

I guess this is a shack, so here’s mine. By the banks of the thawed and now flowing Yukon River.

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Paul braves some pretty cold weather in the winter to snag elusive DX from this very listening post in Galena, Alaska. He’s shared photos and a video of the frozen Yukon before–click here to check it out.

And, once again, thanks for sharing a little part of your world, Paul!

Photos of the new Elecraft KX2

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One of the benefits of being an inside exhibitor at the Dayton Hamvention is the ability to visit with vendors and exhibitors on Thursday, prior to all of the traffic that happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Elecraft’s booth is always epically busy during the Hamvention–and this year will be no exception, I’m sure. It was nice to visit and get one-on-one time with the KX2 with no crowds.Elecraft-KX2-6

Many thanks to the staff at Elecraft–especially David Shoaf–who gave me a quick tour of the KX2 and allowed me to take a few photos.

The KX2 is smaller than it even appears in most of the photos Elecraft has published. It’s roughly the size of the KX1, but somehow manages to fit the same backlit display of the KX3. They’ve done a pretty good job of designing this rig to accommodate a lot of features–but to be clear, it doesn’t have as many features of it’s “bigger” brother, the KX3.

 

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The KX2 is actually much smaller than the KX3.

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I am very tempted to purchase a KX2 for review, but may hold out for a few months. I would like to review it after my summer travels, though.

In truth, I love my KX3 and it serves me well: since I like the KX3 form-factor, it covers more bands than the KX2 and has a great general coverage receiver with AM mode for SWLing, I have no need for the KX2. The price point for a KX2 is a tough one, as well: after adding an internal ATU and paying taxes, you’re staring at $1,000 US.

Still: if you want almost all of the features of the KX3, yet something even more compact–something that can even be operated as a handheld!–the KX2 will serve you well. It’s certainly a clever piece of kit.

I will plan to review the KX2 later this year. Click here to download the Elecraft KX2 spec sheet.

National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations today

IMG_20160519_105823050_HDREn route to the 2016 Dayton Hamvention, I’m doing a few National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations with my my buddy, Eric (WD8RIF).

Eric is currently the number one activator in the state of Ohio.

NPOTA is a great excuse to get outdoors and play radio.

For me, it’s a great excuse to test the LNR Precision LD-11 and my new QRP Ranger portable power pack.

The QRP Ranger (left) and LNR Precision LD-11 transceiver (right)

The QRP Ranger (left) and LNR Precision LD-11 transceiver (right)

I am loving the new QRP Ranger power pack–it is the solution I decided on after publishing this post a few weeks ago. It’s a little pricey, but it’s built like a tank, very lightweight, includes a charge controller made specifically for the LiFePo cells, and made here in the USA. It also had a very readable LED display that my buddy Eric says is, “reminiscent of the displays on the Apollo 11 module.” He’s kind of right!

It’s so nice to have both a volmeter and ammeter on the front panel.

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We just finished activating the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (I’m writing this post while Eric drives us to our next activation). I made 12 contacts running SSB at 8 watts. Eric made 16 contacts via CW at 5 watts.

We have planned two more activations this afternoon:

  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument at 16:30 UTC
  • Dayton Aviation Herital National Historical Park at 21:00 UTC

I’ll be calling CQ on 14.290 MHz and 7.290 MHz +/-.

Please hop on the air listen and/or answer my call if you’re a ham!

Of course, tomorrow through Sunday, you can find us at the Dayton Hamvention in booth SA0359 in the Silver Arena.

Hope to see you there!

A Raspberry Pi touchscreen case

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Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Ken (N2VIP), who writes:

I was at Microcenter.com the other day and saw a case for their 7″ touchscreen for the Raspberry Pi, it includes a ‘bump’ in the back of the case to hold a Radpberry Pi.

http://www.microcenter.com/product/462657/Raspberry_Pi_Touchscreen_Case_-_White

Very cool, Ken! Load this up with a Raspberry PI, touchscreen and attach a Pi-compatible SDR (like the SDRplay RSP), and you could have a neat portable SDR kit.

I’m curious if the RSP Pi app would work well with a touchscreen. Has anyone tried?

From the BBC Archives: The first 21 years of the World Service

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andrea Borgnino, who shares a link to the excellent archived radio documentary, The first 21 years of the World Service, via the BBC World Service‘s online audio archives.

The recording/broadcast dates from December, 18 1953. Here’s the description of the recording:

The first 21 years of the World Service: how it began in 1938, its important role in WW2 and its aftermath, including historic moments as they were first broadcast by Churchill, de Gaulle, Eisenhower.

Click here to listen to the documentary via the BBC World Service.

VOG Interval Signal

I learned an interesting fact in this documentary: I had no idea that the BBC used the Greek radio interval signal for their Greek language service while Greece was occupied in WWII. After liberation, the BBC Director General “solemnly” handed the famous interval signal–“the sound of shepherds’ pipes mingling with the bells of their flocks”–back to Greece. Amazing.

The Greek radio interval signal is one of my all-time favorites. Indeed, my mobile phone’s ringtone is the VOG interval signal:

If you would like to add this ringtone to your mobile phone, check out this post from 2013.