Category Archives: Updates

LF Closure in Ireland Postponed Yet Again

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In yet another reversal concerning the fate of Longwave in the UK, this was reported in Radio Survivor Oct 10:

Ireland’s Longwave Station RTÉ 252 Spared from Imminent Closure

By on October 10, 2016 in International, Radio Bands

Listeners located in the U.K. who enjoy Ireland’s RTÉ 252 radio service are breathing a sign of relief. The planned 2017 closure of this longwave station has now been put on indefinite hold, according to Independent.ie.

An Irish diaspora in the U.K. is the primary audience for RTÉ 252, which broadcasts programming from the Radio 1 nationwide news and talk service. As Paul Bailey explained in a post this past June, the cost and complexity of maintaining the large LW transmitter and antenna amid budgetary pressures, along with the perceived obsolescence of the service, were the cited reasons for retiring the station.

There was public outcry in the wake of the original decision to shut down RTÉ 252, which resulted in delaying the date two years. That was followed by research from a group called Irish in Britain that argued the station helped listeners in England, Scotland and Wales keep up to date with matters at home and retain a “sense of Irishness.” A survey the group conducted showed that 92% of respondents listened to the station most or every day. Apparently, that added up to enough pressure on the Irish state broadcaster to keep RTÉ 252 going for the time being.

 You can read the full article here.

I have been watching this issue for some time and am encouraged to see people fighting for LF radio, indeed any continuation of broadcast radio. The key element in my mind being the many people who do not live within a regional broadcast area should not be discarded, or forced into services which which cost them significantly more money.

Here in the states people are still struggling to deal with reduced service areas due to the digital switch over of OTA television. With our “digital revolution” we are trying to force people into a “one size fits all” box, and there is no one box which can fit everyone.

The future is quite uncertain, as these reversals have shown, but I wish the Irish listeners well in their ongoing battle – they have accomplished more than most!!

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 SDRplay RSP now has gapless coverage

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Jon Hudson with SDRplay has just informed me that they’ve released the latest version of the SDRplay RSP’s API and EXTIO which, among other things, removes the previous frequency gap between 380 MHz to 420 MHz. This is brilliant news for those of you who need continuous coverage from 100 kHz to 2 GHz.

RSP owners can download the new API and EXTIO on the SDRplay website.

Click here to read about other improvements, included with this API/EXTIO update, on the RTL-SDR blog.

Click here to read our recent review of the SDRplay RSP.

SWLing Post DXpedition at PARI is all systems go!

DSC_0884Some of you may recall a post I published last year regarding a shortwave and medium wave DXpedition at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), a 200-acre radio astronomy observatory and former NASA tracking station located deep in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Since this is the first event of its kind, we’ve been working closely with PARI staff to put the DXpedition together.  And come together, it has.

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve now received the official go-ahead: we’re clear to launch the (first-ever!) 2015 SWLing Post DXpedition, which will take place Friday, October 9, through Sunday, October 11.  Come join us!

PARI will soon post the official registration form on their website; of course, I’ll post an update when this form is ready.

Meanwhile, those of you who may be interested in attending, keep reading…and do join our dedicated email discussion group (more info below).

A few DXpedition details…

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As I mentioned last year, PARI has agreed to handle all of the event’s arrangements, and will even provide a limited number of basic shared dormitory rooms to the first registrants who request them. An event fee will pay for facilities and PARI staff (see below); modest profits, should there be any, will benefit PARI’s worthy science education mission.

We are fortunate to be sharing the beautiful PARI campus with with a larger party of amateur astronomers, aka, a “star party,” taking place the same weekend; the DXpedition will benefit from this in terms of expanded facilities access. An additional benefit is that we can share our passion for radio with members of the star party, while learning a little about astronomy from their members.  And for those of us who enjoy both, all the better.

Costs

The costs associated with the event are as follows:

Registration fee: $100

Lodging: On campus, the fee is $50 per night, per person, in a shared dormitory room; or $20 per night, per tent or travel trailer (no hook ups, though electricity is available). Want to come along, but not interested in roughing it? You’ll find numerous comfortable hotels and inns within a 30-40 minute drive of PARI’s mountain campus.

Meals: Catered meals will be provided for a modest charge to be determined (PARI is working with local food services to arrange our meals currently). Of course, you can always bring your own food and prepare it on-site, as well.  The campus has a lunchroom with a microwave.

The PARI campus and accommodation

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PARI was formerly a NASA tracking station, and following that, a Department of Defense monitoring facility.  Because of the remote nature of the campus, basic on-site dormitories were built; scientists use these throughout the year as they conduct their research, and the shared rooms are available upon request.

Typical PARI dorm room (click to enlarge)

Typical PARI dorm room (click to enlarge)

The dormitories are conveniently located in the heart of the 200-acre campus, and sleep about four to each room.  These are simple facilities, and no private rooms are offered. Bathrooms (with showers) are shared, and separate buildings house men and women; thus the dormitories may not be the best option if you plan to bring a spouse, a large family, or young children.

Of course, if you enjoy camping and/or star-gazing, you can pitch a tent (just $20/night), or park your travel trailer on campus (also just $20/night). Note that this is not a travel park, thus hook-ups for travel trailers are not supplied, although power is available.

For those who prefer not to camp or stay in a shared room, the nearby mountain town of Brevard, NC (approximately 35 minutes from PARI by car) is a charming small town offering numerous hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and other comfortable private accommodations. PARI often recommends the Hampton Inn in Brevard, NC. Hotels.com and AirBnB offer alternatives.

Receivers, antennas, and other radio equipment

DSC_0904DXpedition participants should bring their own receivers, antennas, and accessories. If you wish to bring an SDR or tabletop receiver, there are quite a few places on campus where you’ll have access to power. At least one main listening post will be set up under cover, as well, for our participants.

Feel free to bring any type of receiver you like. A few potential participants have noted that they plan to bring a portable receiver only, and that’s absolutely fine–this is your DXpedition, your chance to sit back and listen to your radio without distraction, so any radio you choose to bring is the right one.

Of course, a few SDRs, tabletops, and portable receivers will be available for participants to try out, so if you can’t bring your own receiver, please let me know in advance; I’ll try to reserve a time slot for you to use one of the available rigs.

SWLing Post DXpedition email group

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We have created an email discussion group for the DXpedition. If you are seriously considering joining the DXpedition, click here to become a member of the group as this is the place where we’ll organize and make further plans.

Since this is the first time the SWLing Post and PARI have sponsored a DXpedition, we’re certainly trail-blazing here. My sincere hope is that this event will lead to future DXpeditions…not to mention, real friendships among our readers and fellow SWLers.

Looking forward to the DXpedition–we’ll see you at PARI in October!

DXpedition at a radio astronomy observatory: Want to join me?

PARI-WestYesterday evening, prior to my presentation at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), I took the opportunity to do a little portable shortwave listening on the PARI campus.

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One of the great things about listening to shortwave, mediumwave or longwave at a radio astronomy site is the blissful absence of any radio noise. Radio astronomy requires seriously RF-quiet conditions, and all the better for SWLing, too. My little Tecsun PL-380 receiver easily detected most everything on the 31 meter band; All India Radio (and the Voice of Korea on the same frequency), for example, was as strong as a local station.

DX among the radio telescopes:  Sound fun–?

Next year, in October 2015, I might just organize a radio listening DXpedition at PARI. It would be a wonderful opportunity to DX in an RFI-free environment in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina, on the 200+ acre campus of an active radio astronomy observatory and former NASA tracking station. (Really, how cool is that?!?)

PARI has agreed to handle all of the arrangements, and even provide some dorm rooms and camping space to the first registrants. There will be a fee for the event (to pay for the facilities and PARI staff time) but any profit would benefit PARI’s science education mission. The fee would be based on the number of attendees and how many nights we operate–I’d aim for two nights, on a Friday and Saturday (October 9 & 10, 2015).

If you would be interested in a shortwave listening DXpedition at PARI in Rosman, North Carolina, USA, please contact me or comment below.  Click here to track the distance to PARI.

Note: the autumn foliage, for which the NC mountain region is famed, will be at or near its peak during the time of the DXpedition.

PS–Bonus: A dish in motion

As I departed the PARI site late Friday, an astronomer programmed the rotation of the East radio telescope, an awe-inspiring 26-meter parabolic antenna.  I snapped a couple of shots with my iPhone.  It was truly impressive, this massive radio telescope slowly turning to some distant star or galaxy to acquire new data.  See for yourself (for a sense of scale, see the fence at the base):

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The SWLing Post Podcast

podcasticonThanks to SWLing Post reader, Michael, I have set up our RSS feed for podcasts.

This means that if you enjoy listening to our shortwave radio recordings, you can now easily subscribe and download all of our audio automatically. This is not edited material–no introductions, nor host–simple shortwave radio recordings.

If you would like to subscribe to the SWLing Post Podcast, point your favorite podcasting application to our RSS feed:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheSwlingPost

In iTunes, for example, go to the “File” menu and select “Subscribe to podcast”–then, simply paste our RSS feed address in the url field.  Other podcast applications will have a similar approach.

Thanks, Michael!