Proposed amendment to National Defense Authorization Act calls for privatization of VOA

View of the Capitol Building from the roof of the Voice of America on 330 Independence Ave., S.W.

View of the Capitol Building from the roof of the Voice of America on 330 Independence Ave., S.W.

(Source: BBG Watch via Andrea Borgnino)

BBG Watch has learned that a proposed privatization of the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) is widely opposed by Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) federal employees, their union, the independent Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org), and numerous foreign policy and public diplomacy professionals, as well as some former VOA journalists. At the same time, critics of privatization of America’s “Voice” strongly support structural reforms of its ailing federal agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which they blame for VOA’s troubles.

“A decision to reform the Broadcasting Board of Governors merits its own separate bill where both houses of Congress can debate and carefully consider the best course of action,” AFGE Local 1812 union told its Broadcasting Board of Governors members. “It should not be addressed in a stealth last minute amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act,” the union said. The union urged BBG employees to contact their senators and express their opposition to the amendment submitted by Congressman Mac Thornberry and “the offensive language is contained in section 310 (b) of the amendment.” The Senate version of the bill does not have this language, the union reported. Also see an earlier AFGE Local 1812 article, HERE WE GO AGAIN: Another Agency Attempt to De-federalize TV and Radio Marti.[…]

Continue reading on the BBG Watch website.

Ron’s Bluetooth solution for robust shortwave radio audio

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Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Ron Wagner, who writes:

Thanks very much for your informative SWL pages. With the, seemingly, shortsighted, contracting world of SW broadcasters, you keep our interest alive!

Recently, you called attention to Jay Allen’s modification and installment of a new speaker for the Satellit 800. Not quite ready to open up my 800, even with a scratchy volume pot, I setout to find another way, not only for the 800, but for all of those older radios that “SWLers” love.

J-Tech

Walla, a Bluetooth TX/RX device (by JETech Designs) which connects to the headphone or external speaker jack of the radios. Then, with a Bluetooth speaker, put the TX/RX device on TX and pair with the speaker, and your off to an audio improvement in all of your radios.

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Attached, see the TX/RX with my 800, G3 and ICF 7600 and my outdoor Bluetooth speaker. With today’s Bluetooth speakers, you can spend to suit your budget and ears. Now, I’m on my way to find Bluetooth headphones to pair with the Bluetooth transmitter.

What a simple and relatively affordable idea, Ron. I had been considering the purchase of a Bluetooth receiver for the AUX in port in my minivan’s audio system. If I understand correctly, this one unit can both send and receive Bluetooth audio.  Very cool!

I could also imagine someone placing their shortwave portable outside–on a patio or deck–away from indoor radio interference, and using the Bluetooth link to port audio to a speaker inside the house. You wouldn’t have tuning control (and you’d have to remember to bring the radio inside if rain is in the forecast–!), but you would have audio control.

Looks like this JETech receiver/transmitter is available on Amazon or directly from JETech. Thanks again for the tip, Ron!

Tecsun PL-880 rechargeable battery now via Amazon

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

Maybe you already know this, but I only recently discovered the Tecsun PL-880 rechargeable battery is available on Amazon for $9.99 and can qualify for Prime free shipping. I bought one and it seems to work great. There are other battery models on Amazon that may work, but many had comments about inconsistent quality, various countries of origin and even various sizes! I decided to go with this one branded as Tecsun to play it safe and am happy. Just an FYI to your readers.

Click here to view on Amazon.

Thanks, Bill! I have two PL-880 batteries and they continue to do a fine job running the PL-880. They are over two years old now (hard to believe–!), so I’ll keep Amazon in mind. Note that Universal Radio also has the replacement battery for $9.95 (though no free shipping).

One week of Hamvention, Air Force Museum, Wright Brothers and National Parks On The Air

DSC_4449I returned home last night from my week-log Dayton Hamvention trip around 8:30 PM.

The Hamvention actually ended at 1:00 PM on Sunday, May 22, but my buddy Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), his son Miles (KD8KNC) and I stayed Sunday night in Dayton, and Monday night at Eric’s home in Athens, Ohio.

After packing up our Hamvention booth (for Ears To Our World) on Sunday, we made our way to the nearby National Museum of the USAF–the largest aviation museum in the world. We visit the museum every year–and every year I discover something new.

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This BC-348 can be found in one of the museum’s B-29 displays.

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In June, the Air Force museum is actually opening a fourth building which will house an additional 70 aircraft in four new galleries.

If you’re an aviation buff–trust me–the  National Museum of the USAF is worth a pilgrimage to Dayton, Ohio.

NPOTA activations

Monday morning, Eric, Miles and I packed up, ran a few errands on Wright Patterson Air Force Base, then made our way to our first National Parks On The Air activation: the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (HP11) and North Country National Scenic Trail (TR04) “two-fer” at Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center in Dayton, Ohio.

Eric worked CW on 20 meters and I worked SSB on 40 meters using the LNR Precision LD-11 transceiver (which I’m currently reviewing) and my recently-purchased Hardened Power Systems QRP Ranger.

For all of my Monday NPOTA activations, I used the EFT Trail Friendly antenna I purchased at the Hamvention:

EFT-Trail-Friendly-Antenna-QRP

The EFT Trail Friendly Antenna made set-up a breeze: simply throw a line into a tree, hang the end of the antenna, then hook up the other end to the feedline/transceiver. No antenna tuner is needed for 40, 20 or 10 meters once the antenna is tuned for resonance. It packs up into a small bundle that easily fits in my radio go-kit (see photo above).

The LD-11/QRP Ranger/EFT antenna combo worked amazingly well and made for very quick deployment.

LNR-LD-11 and QRP Ranger NPOTA

I can easily fit the LD-11 transceiver and QRP Ranger on a foldable metal chair (my make-shift field table!).

My buddy Eric, I should mention, is typically on the leaderboard for NPOTA as he’s an avid QRP field operator.

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Eric (WD8RIF) operating NPOTA with his field-portable vertical HF antenna.

You can follow Eric’s activations on QRZ.com or his website.

Eric's field-portable HF vertical packs up into this small canvas bag.

Eric’s field-portable HF vertical packs up into this small canvas bag.

We had a tight NPOTA activation schedule to meet Monday, but after packing up from our first sites, we took 30 minutes to stop by the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and The Wright Cycle Co. museum in downtown Dayton.

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Well worth the short visit! Next year, I’ll plan to revisit both museums when I have more time.

Next, we made our way to the second scheduled NPOTA activation site: the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument (MN18).

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Despite not having my antenna very far off the ground (my antenna line fell down one branch in the process of hanging) I still managed to work a pile-up of stations from Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Connecticut, Michigan and Indiana. After Eric and I racked up a number of QSOs, we packed up our site in haste and made our way to the final activation of the day: the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (HP15). We arrived as the Park Ranger was getting in his car to leave for the day!

At Hopewell, I managed to deploy the EFT antenna much higher off the ground. I worked a small pile up of stations from all over the region which, to my surprise, included two radio friends (Ed and Eileen) in Franklin, NC. Eric also worked blogging buddy John Harper, AE5X on 20 meters CW (got your message, John!).

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All in all, it was a fantastic day to be outdoors and on the air.

Of course, a side benefit of doing National Parks On The Air activations is that you get to check out all of these amazing park sites.

Without a doubt, this was one fun-filled and radio-centric Hamvention week! It couldn’t have been better.

NPOTA Log

Part of my log sheet for NPOTA HP11 and TRO4 “Two-Fer” activations. Not bad for such a tight schedule!

Thank you

Many thanks to my friends Eric (WD8RIF), Miles (KD8KNC), Mike (K8RAT) and Christine (KM4PDS) for volunteering to manage our Hamvention booth for Ears To Our World. It was a record year for collecting donations. Many thanks to all of you for the support!

I’d also like to thank the SWLing Post readers who stopped by to visit our new location in the Silver Arena–it was great seeing everyone!

Now that I’m back home, I essentially have one week of emails and comments in my backlog to sort before hitting the road again rather soon. I appreciate your patience as I catch up. If you don’t hear back from me soon, it’s okay to give me a nudge! 🙂

2016 Dayton Hamvention: Inside Exhibits Photos

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Most years I attend the Dayton Hamvention, I take photos of the outdoor flea market. It’s a great opportunity for me to gauge used equipment prices and check out rare finds.

This year, I made an effort to take photos of some of the inside exhibitor booths as well. Here they are, in no particular order:

 

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