Tag Archives: Mediumwave

With switch from AM to FM, some Polynesians now in the dark

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Some inhabitants of French controlled Polynesia are unhappy at the switch over from Medium Wave AM to VHF FM broadcasting

Radio New Zealand reports Radio Polynesie Premiere switched to an all FM service at the beginning of December, leaving pockets of inhabitants in valleys and on remote atolls without any local radio service.

The broadcaster added five FM transmitters to its network of 48 to improve its reach but in an area the size of Europe, the signal fails to reach all communities.

Concern has been expressed that vital weather warnings are no longer heard.

The mayor of Makatea in the Tuamotus Julien Mai said there is a risk to public safety because people have always been advised to have an emergency kit that includes a radio when severe weather strikes.

Source:
http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/321809/loss-of-am-radio-irks-french-polynesia

Fred Lundgren: “What happened to AM radio”

We all read articles about the utility and the demise of AM (mediumwave) broadcasting. In this short article via the Huffington Post, Fred Lundgren (Founder and CEO of KCAA) discusses “What Happened To AM Radio (that’s NOT a question)”:

On Christmas Eve morning, the electricity went off at our house and panic quickly spread among our younger guests.

First, the TV sets went dark. Then, the desktop computers began to die as UPS back up batteries failed. For a while, we were reassured by the sound of familiar alarms, but then suddenly, total silence. Could this be the end times? Is this the onslaught of the apocalypse?

Smart phones were quickly deployed and guests began calling each other from room to room. The panic began to subside when several millennials volunteered communal usage of their wireless data plans. The kingdom would be saved…crisis abated.

[…]As the younger generation huddled around the smart phones with data plans, I began to think of the outage as an opportunity to listen to AM Radio, so I went to my office and dusted off my old RCA SuperRadio III.

I couldn’t remember the last time I replaced the batteries but to my surprise, it came to life with its signature popcorn sound when I pushed its big silver button. “IT’S ALIVE” WOW…the AM band was extraordinarily quiet and responsive.

[…]I scanned across the dial from 610 AM to 1590 AM. All the stations were as clear as a bell. Then, I decided to press my luck. I tuned to KTSA 550 AM in San Antonio and then I moved the dial slightly to the right and heard KLVI 560 AM in Beaumont, Texas. Every station was booming in loud and clear.

I felt like a child with a new toy. I dialed up and down the band, experiencing the clear booming sound of AM Radio without any noise or interference. It was a feast for the senses. It was beautiful.

After a few minutes, one of my daughters walked in and asked about the source of my entertainment. I pointed to my SuperRadio and said joyfully, “listen”. She looked at the big black box and asked “How can you listen with the internet and electricity off?” I responded, “It’s my portable SuperRadio III.” Before I could explain further, she shrugged her shoulders, closed the door and went back upstairs, convinced that her Dad was conducting some sort of high tech experiment.

In a manner of speaking, her assumption was correct. I was listening to AM Radio in a big city without the interference of computers, wireless modems and an overloaded electrical grid. For the first time in my recent memory, the “Senior Radio Band” sounded beautiful. Sadly, my experiment ended with preordained results when the electric power was restored.[…]

Click here to read Lundgren’s full article on The Huffington Post.

Greek mediumwave station on-track to resume operation

Many thanks to our friends at The Greek Radio who share this news:

The medium wave broadcasting center of the Greek Radio in Pachi Megara is likely to go live again after three and a half years, since the procedures for the necessary maintenance and repairs have recently been initiated, with a high possibility that one of the two transmitters will operate again soon. It is worth noting that the broadcasting center, which used to host two powerful mediumwave transmitters (the ones of multilingual “Filia” and of EPA Sport) had been subject to looting by burglars, few days after the ERT closure by the Samaras government, which left the premises unattended. Since then, it has not operated again.

Repairs and maintenance

As revealed by official announcements, ERT is launching a tender for the maintenance of the building and electricity poles with a budget of EUR 18,703, while in December they proceeded with a maintenance of the broadcast center and a cleaning of the 100 KW mediumwave transmitter. In November, a dummy load was installed by a team of the ERT subdivision of structural and electromechanical projects and they checked the generator Nautel, which ensures the continuation of the broadcast in case of power outage. They also installed a new grounding network in the main building of the transmitters.

Alongside, there were other smaller operations required for the safe operation of the facilities, such as the placement of fire extinguishers by a private firm, the restoration of the water supply, the maintenance of fence lighting. In October there was also a visit by a private security company, in response to a tender, whereas data were collected for the water insulation and the lighting of the buildings where the transmitters are placed.

Continue reading at The Greek Radio website…

Video: Gary DeBock’s “Baby FSL” antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary DeBock (N7EKX), who shares this video and notes the following on YouTube:

This is the new 3.5 inch (89mm) “Baby FSL” antenna, designed to provide a powerful DXing gain boost for Ultralight radios (or any other portables) despite its very small size. It has 32 Russian surplus 140mm x 8mm ferrite rods and 31 turns of 1162/46 Litz wire. In the demonstration video it provides a daytime DX gain boost for 750-KXTG (Tigard, Oregon, 50 kW at 160 miles) from inaudible up to about S7 on the Eton Traveler III Ultralight radio.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Gary is certainly a first-rate DXer and an ambassador of our radio hobby. Gary shows us here that, with a little ingenuity, we can take a $50 radio and turn it into something exceptional! Homebrewing at its best.  Thank you, Gary!

Also, I had never considered that a high-gain FSL antenna would require very precise placement of the receiver for proper inductive coupling. It makes sense, though. This loop is tuned for razor-sharp precision!

Some day, when I have a little free time, I’m going to build one of Gary’s FSL designs.

Guest Post: Roland Raven-Hart’s reception of a U.S. broadcaster in South America made headlines in 1923

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Horacio Nigro (CX3BZ) who shares the following guest post which was originally published in his blog “La Galena del Sur” (in Spanish). Horacio recently translated his article into English for us:


1923: The first reception of a U.S. broadcaster in South America.

by Horacio A. Nigro, CX3BZ,
Montevideo, Uruguay, “La Galena del Sur”

On the night of October 30-31, 1923, Engineer Roland Raven-Hart, a British Army Major located in the Andes mountains on the Argentina-Chile frontier, heard  a U.S. broadcast station (and thus an overseas station) for the first time in South America, an event that made the headlines in the specialized press of that time.

It was the first time that the famous KDKA, Pittsburgh, USA, was heard in South America.

Major Roland Raven-Hart was born in Glenalla, Ireland.  He was trained as an engineer, and at the outbreak of World War I he enlisted in the the British Army.  He was assigned to the General Staff, and served on sensitive missions in France, Belgium, Russia, Italy, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Egypt, etc.  At one point he installed an antenna on one of the pyramids of Egypt that allowed him to quickly communicate with the staff.

Ing. Roland Raven-Hart. (1889-1971). Major of the British Army. He was member of the Institute of Radio Engineers and the American Institute of Electric Engineers.

As a consequence of his outstanding performance, several allied governments gave him merit awards, such as Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Croix de Guerre from France, Order of St. Stanislaus of Russia, etc.

When peace was restored, and with the rank of major, he asked to be released to travel for rest and study in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the Pacific Railroad Administration allowed him to study wireless.  This continued after the Trans-Andean railway arrived in the mountain village of Los Andes, where he had installed his famous amateur radio station 9TC.

He had good DX, and on this date, achieved a distance record for broadcast reception between North and South.

In fact, the Argentinian “Revista Telegráfica”, a magazine edited in Buenos Aires, Argentina, reported the following news in its October 1923 edition:

REMARKABLE RECORD

At press time, we get the following report.  The news could not be more sensational.  It has been possible to receive a North American broadcasting station at a distance of approximately 8,300 kilometers!.

It is an event that marks a new era in our modern history of radio.  Using the pseudonym “John English” is a distinguished engineer who deserves our absolute faith.

Indeed, “John English”, pseudonym of Roland Raven-Hart, reported:

Radiotelephony up to 8,300 kilometers. – Reception tests in Los Andes (Chile) and Puente del Inca (Mendoza). – Interesting observations.

In Los Andes (Chile) on the night of October 30-31 I received a complete program from a station announcing as “KDKA – Pittsburg ‘classical music, jazz and comedy, all in English.  I think this must be a record, being a distance of more or less 8,300 kilometers.

The apparatus used is a “Western Electric”, with a high [frequency] amplification, detector and low [frequency]amplification, with a phone of the same brand.

The antenna was 20 meters long and 5 meters high on a zinc roof”.

He does not mention the frequency or wavelength.  The Westinghouse station was operating on the frequency of 920 kHz at that time , but it is also likely that he received it on shortwave via station 8XS, which began simulcasting KDKA mediumwave in July 1923 on the 60 meter band.

KDKA

Raven-Hart was enjoying reception at the time, but from local stations:

During the month of October I have heard the following stations, and will have much pleasure in giving news about the reception quality, etc.  My address for letters:  Supte. [abreviation of Super Intendent], Telégrafos F. C. T. Los Andes (Chile).

Buenos Aires ……. Radio Cultura, Radio Sud América

Montevideo ……… Paradizábal, R. Sudamérica

Tucumán ………….. Radio Club, San Pablo, « R. P. F. »

Rosario ……………. Radio Club

San Juan ………….. “340” , Pekam

Villa Maria ………… Radio Coen .

Bahia Blanca ……… Dr. Cattaneo ( CW . Telegrafía ) .

As promised, I detail the results of my tests at my facilities for October 17- 21 from Puente del Inca ( Mendoza ), with a “Western Electric” receiver, one tube for high frequency reception, detector, and one tube for low frequencies.

The weather was variable, cloudy and snowing on the 21st.  Static was relatively strong on days 17-19, but there was little static on the 20th and 21st.

Radio Cultura and Radio Sudamérica [Buenos Aires] were also heard during the day, the first with the headphones on the table.

Sociedad Radio Argentina, 1100 kilometers away, was received well at night.

From Montevideo, 1300 kilometers, I got Paradizábal and Radio Sudamérica, and also the following:

Radio Club of Villa María (Cordoba ), 650 kilometers;

Radio Club de Tucumán, 850 km;

Station 340, San Juan, 200 kilometers, daytime, and Radio Pekam;

Station 394, Rio Cuarto (Cordoba), (initial number somewhat dubious ), 550 km

Radio Club of Rosario de Santa Fe, 900 km;

Radio Chilena de Santiago de Chile, with headphones on the table and at a distance of 120 meters [sic](1) ;

A. B. C., Viña del Mar (Chile).

My antenna is too long, allowing me to listen to only a few amateurs, but I will try again.

As always, during their conversations various radioamateurs did not give their names.

I think it is interesting to make three observations:  1) there are stations on the frequencies of Radio Sud América, Radio Cultura and Paradizábal, causing heterodynes, so it is impossible to receive one station without the other; 2) several of th smaller stations produce noise from the generator, or the rectified AC, that is louder than the music they broadcast, with horrible results; and 3) several stations produce carrier waves equal to or stronger than that of Radio Cultura, but the modulation is so low that the voice is barely heard.

In my view, there are stations that could double their transmission range if they paid more attention to their modulation than to the current at the antenna.

I do not mention the stations, but I’ll be glad to answer directly to the abovementioned amateur stations if they contact me at:  “Superintendent of Telegraphs. F. C. Transandino. Mendoza.”

 -John English

Broadcasting station HA9, Villa María, Córdoba, Argentina. “one of the best of the countryside”. (1925).

Mr. Raven-Hart, was in fact an active chronicler of the pioneering radio activity that had been developed at that time in the Southern Cone of America.

By the end of May 1926, he returned to Europe, spending some time in Spain and Italy. Then, he travelled to the U.S., where he was received by the organized amateur radio community in this country as a representative of the South American hams, in recognition of the 9TC success.  He returned to Buenos Aires in 1927.

It is worth mentioning his impressions on his European tour.  He summarized the status of radio in Europe in two words:  “Little news”.   However, he commented  on the “new” Loewe brand of vacuum tubes, which he had the opportunity to test, “as detector and dual audio frequency amplification at the same time”, with results that he described as wonderful.  He also found good broadcast programming.  As to the receiving apparatus in use, he considered that it was“inferior to that used in the U.S. and Argentina and much more complicated”.

In 1932 he retired from his engineering profession, and traveled to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to do canoeing.  Actually, he navigated more than 15,000 miles of the rivers in the world, using a folding canoe.

One of the books authored by R. Raven-Hart

During World War II, Roland James Raven-Hart was one of the 766 Argentine volunteers serving the Allied cause.

Roland’s life was undoubtedly an exciting global adventure.  It is said that he was a friend of Colonel T. E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”) working for the Intelligence Department, and he seems to have been at least partly responsible for convincing the famous writer Arthur C. Clarke (author of “2001 A Space Odyssey”), a communications engineer colleague, to settle and live in Ceylon:

En route from Australia the ship docked in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), where Clarke met Major R. Raven-Hart, OBE.  “A remarkable linguist and lover of exotic places, cultures and customs,” said Clarke.  “It was my first introduction to the fabulous Orient.  I’ve been here, more or less, ever since”.

He was the author of several books, especially about his canoeing activities, and he wrote an article in collaboration with composer Lennox Berkeley entitled “Wireless Music”.

In December 1923 KDKA would be rebroadcast in Great Britain, and had even been received in Hawaii, and later, on March 25, 1924, KDKA broadcast entirely in Castilian for the South American nations .

In early 1924 it would be heard for the first time in Uruguay.

Sources:

-Originally published in my blog “La Galena del Sur”, (in Spanish).

-Special acknowledgment goes to Mr. Jerry S. Berg, USA,  for helping with the best translation of the original article.


Amazing story, Horacio! Thank you for taking the time to translate this fine article into English!