Category Archives: Nostalgia

95 Years: A celebration of radio station 2MT

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jim Salmon, who shares the following press release:

95 years ago on Tuesday 14th February 1922, a small group of young, gifted, charismatic – & perhaps slightly irreverent – Marconi employees turned on a medium wave transmitter in a ‘long low hut’ in a waterlogged field in Writtle, Chelmsford, & began a year long experiment which is now regarded as the birth of broadcasting in the UK. Led by the irrepressible Captain Peter Pendleton Eckersley, the 2MT team broadcast regularly every Tuesday evening, & what started as a request for a station for ‘calibration purposes’ for the fast growing number of radio hams, transformed into an entertainment programme like none before.

A small group of us are celebrating the upcoming 95th anniversary of 2MT – ‘Two Emma Toc’ – with a combination of amateur radio transmissions & an internet radio service. On the 12th & 14th February, members of the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society will be operating a special event amateur station using the callsign GB95 2MT, & these transmissions will emanate from the very same ‘long low hut’ now preserved at Sandford Mill Museum in Chelmsford, UK.

On the 12th, 13th & 14th February, radio enthusiast Jim Salmon will be running an internet radio service ‘Radio Emma Toc’ with radio related documentaries, vintage comedies, & 5 hours of live programming each day including a visit to the long low hut. We are not attempting to re-create 2MT, more a case of having fun, paying tribute & looking ahead to greater celebrations for the centenary in 2022.

We invite radio hams to join us on the bands & listeners to join us on ‘wired wireless’ (Peter Eckersley’s futuristic 1930’s phrase for what we now call the internet) to remember 2MT & pay tribute by having fun on the radio. Email us at Radio Emma Toc with your radio memories during our live programming & we will say hello to you !

For details of Radio Emma Toc including how to listen & our 3 day schedule – www.emmatoc.com

Email us – emmatoc1922@gmail.com

For details of Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society – www.g0mwt.org.uk

Jim Salmon 2E0RMI / Chelmsford Calling Network

Thank you for sharing, Jim–I’ll certainly make time to listen!

Guest Post: Radio Australia, and a sea story

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John Harper (AE5X), who is kindly allowing me to re-post the following article originally published on his excellent blog:


Radio Australia, and a sea story

by John (AE5X)

From London Shortwave: “It’s official: Radio Australia are no longer on shortwave…”

Four submariners on a surface ship (1989-1990)

Nine of my 10 years in the Navy were spent in the Submarine Service – the other year was spent aboard a research ship operating between Perth, Australia and Singapore. Our mission was to make detailed contour charts of the sea floor in that area using precision fathometers and new-at-the-time GPS.

The detailed charts allow US submarines to get navigational fixes by correlating their soundings with the data we had collected without having to come to periscope depth for a satellite fix, thus the need for a small contingent of submariners on a surface ship. Gathering this data required the ship to stay at sea 28 days at a time, going back and forth in straight lines across the eastern Indian Ocean. At the end of those 28 days we would pull in to either Fremantle or Singapore for a week, then out again.

We enjoyed the sunlight, fresh air and the presence of civilian women onboard (oh, the stories I could tell if this weren’t a family-friendly blog!) but what we missed – and missed greatly – was news from the world. Big things were happening at a fast pace in those days as the Iron Curtain began to crumble and we knew nothing of it for long, event-filled month-long chunks.

There is a huge psychological disconnect that comes with being isolated from the world for a month at a time. We starved for news and any kind of connection to the outside world so, during a port call to Singapore, I bought a Philips D2999 shortwave receiver. It was small enough for shipboard life, ran on AC or batteries and even had a BFO for occasionally listening to hams.

After having it for a few days and mentioning to the other crewmembers various things that were happening around the world, their interest grew and I eventually moved the radio from my stateroom to a common breakroom so that anyone could listen whenever they wanted. For a while we even had a printout of news events – a one-page daily newspaper – that we posted in various locations throughout the ship. Many of us were glued to the radio during the week of events in December 1989 that culminated in the Christmas Day execution of Romanian President Nicolae Ceau?escu.

Some of that news came from the VOA, some from the BBC and even from Radio Moscow. All had good signals into the Indian Ocean area at times. But regardless of time of day or ionospheric conditions, Radio Australia was always there, like a beacon – reliable, dependable and with great fidelity due to no selective fading. It was our primarily source of news.

Frequencies of many stations and the best times to hear them were posted near the radio but everyone knew our two main frequencies for Radio Australia without having to look it up. We listened to Radio Australia so much that the announcers eventually lost their accents.

The beauty and utility of shortwave was introduced to people who otherwise would have had no interest in it. Thanks mainly to Radio Australia, we not only knew what was going on in the world, more importantly, we felt more a part of it and less isolated than we had been before.

The end of Radio Australia and so many other shortwave stations marks the end of an exciting era. What an amazing thing it was, in a pre-internet world, to be able to get information on the high seas, thousands of miles from land.

Farewell, Radio Australia and thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.


And thank you, John, for sharing your memories with us!

Post Readers: I encourage you to bookmark John’s brilliant ham radio blog!

Do you have any memorable Radio Australia moments?  Please comment!

Video: Juan touts Panasonic RF-2200 performance & filter shapes

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Juan Pablo Carlino, who writes:

Hi. I own one RF-2200 after buying it in eBay in March 2008. Since then it became my favourite portable radio and as everybody [has commented], its a pleasure to hear MW with it.

I explain this due to the fact that it has a good rotative ferrite antenna and also because the narrow and wide filters have a suitable shape for MW: at least in my country each MW is spaced from the other by 10 KHz, so you don’t need a very sharp filter. The narrow one is not so narrow, just enough to attenuate maybe 6 db the splatter from the louder station and not loosing audio quality.

When you tune around you have the impression that the filter shape suites perfectly for MW, making the audio quality very pleasant. I would never sell it. If you are interested i’ve captured a short clip while playing with it outdoor on 7 MHz band, hearing ham stations on AM, SSB and CW.

Pay attention to how loud and clear i was hearing stations at 400 Km in AM:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts, Juan!

I agree with you completely. At least here in countries where MW stations are spaced at 10 kHz, I find the RF-2200 a mediumwave DX boss!

I’m constantly amazed with the RF-2200’s MW sensitivity and selectivity–and low noise floor. That combo, along with the filter shapes Juan mentions and the excellent built-in full-fidelity speaker make for a proper listening experience.

As I’ve said before, the RF-2200 is a radio with fortitude and purpose.

The only place I’ve ever really searched for an RF-2200 is eBay. I like eBay, because if you receive a faulty unit, you can typically return it or have some sort of recourse (as long as the seller accepts returns).

I would only buy an RF-2200 (or any vintage solid-state rigs) from a seller that has near 100% ratings with a number of radio sales in their past.  That is, if you’re seeking a working unit.

Though the RF-2200 is vintage and thus might eventually need repair. It’s ultimately reparable by a skilled technician, though.  My buddy Vlado, for example, has repaired 2200s in the past–indeed, we cracked my RF-2200 open a few months ago to clean contacts.

Panasonic RF-2200s typically cost between $175-300 for one that’s mechanically and cosmetically sound. Of course, NOS units go for much more and units with faults sell for much less.

I expect my RF-2200 will outlast me!

Click here to search for RF-2200s on eBay.

75 years ago today, VOA started German broadcasts

Voice of America Bethany Relay Station, May 2015

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alexander (DL4NO), who writes:

Hello Thomas,

I just heard a short feature on Deutschlandfunk: 75 years ago today VoA started transmitting – in German.

vy 73
Alexander
DL4NO

Many thanks for the tip, Alexander!

The Deutschlandfunk article, of course, is in German. I found, that Google Translate did an acceptable job translating it into English.

 

End of Radio Australia shortwave service, Mark compares final moments

This morning, I woke up, tuned to 9,580 kHz and all I heard was static.

Other than when the Shepparton transmitting station has been silenced for maintenance in the past, 9,580 kHz is one of the most reliable frequencies I’ve ever know on shortwave. Radio Australia has met me there every morning I’ve listened since I was eight years old.

I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend and certainly a staple source of news on shortwave radio. I know I’m not alone–a number of readers have shared similar sentiments this morning.

Archiving Radio Australia’s final days on the air

Listening to Radio Australia on 12,065 kHz with the Titan SDR Pro.

Since the beginning of the year, a few of us have been making a concerted effort to thoroughly archive Radio Australia’s final days on the air. Mark Fahey, London Shortwave, Richard Langley, Rob Wagner and I (to name a few) have been making both audio and/or spectrum recordings.

At 0100 UTC on January 31, 2017, we heard the “Waltzing Matilda” interval signal for one last time. As I understand it, the crew at the Shepparton site left the transmitter on a few extra seconds extra so their famous interval signal would be, in essence, the final sign-off.

Our friend and contributor, Rob Wagner, from Mount Evelyn, Australia, posted an excellent recording/video of the final minutes earlier today.

Due to propagation and the time of day when the shut down happened, I was unable to make a recording, so I’m pleased others could.

Mark compares shortwave and satellite feeds

Mark Fahey’s Wellbrook Mag Loop antenna.

I’m grateful to friend and contributor, Mark Fahey, who lives near Sydney, Australia, and was also able to record the final moments of Radio Australia as well. Mark recorded the shortwave service and RA satellite feed simultaneously.

Mark shares the following recordings and notes:

Recording 1

This is RA’s final few minutes on shortwave – it was recorded on 17840kHz.
The file picks up the regular program ending, then into a Promo for RA “Pacific Beat” (a Pacific current affairs program), then the classic RA Interval Signal then the transmitter clicks off and the void is heard.

Click here to download the MP3.

Recording 2

The file starts at exactly the same time as the first file, but in this example we are monitoring the Network Feed from Intelsat 18 at 180.0 degrees east (above the equator right on the international date line). This satellite feed is the way Radio Australia gets to the network of FM Transmitters they have scatted around the Pacific Region (which is why they feel they don’t need shortwave anymore for – most populated areas of Radio Australia’s target area now is covered by a network of Radio Australia FM transmitters).

Click here to download the MP3.

Some differences to the first file – Radio Australia is produced in FM quality stereo, though of course DXers only ever heard it in shortwave quality mono. So this network feed is in stereo and has a wider dynamic range that what DXer’s are familiar with from Radio Australia. At the end of the Pacific Beat Promo, Radio Australia goes straight into News, the closing of the shortwave service was not an event that would have been noticed for the typical listeners of RA who now listen via FM in Pacific capitals and major towns.

Thank you Mark for your comparison–I’ve never heard RA so clearly. Only you would’ve thought to simultaneously record the satellite feed! It gives the moment that much more context.

A number of SWLing Post contributors have been sharing recordings this morning. I will plan to collect these and put them on the Shortwave Archive in the near future.

Moving forward

Though senator Nick Xenophon says he will introduce legislation to Parliament to force the ABC to reinstate its shortwave radio service, we have to assume we’ve heard the last of Radio Australia and ABC on shortwave. (With that said, I understand Xenophon is a determined fellow.)

Rest assured: if Xenophon’s legislation gains traction, we will post updates!

No doubt, Radio New Zealand International’s shortwave service has just become that much more important in remote Pacific Islands. Click here to view RNZI’s schedule.