Since the dawn of time, there is, there was, and there always has been…the Shipping Forecast. We set our clocks by it. Despite the complexities of our planet–war, famine, daytime television–the Shipping Forecast has been there for us. Our steady friend amid the choppy seas of life. Our rock of Gibraltar…our security blanket.
Regardless of our diverse beliefs (or unbeliefs), it seems we all believe in the Forecast. We somehow find ourselves regularly returning to its altar, taking comfort in its soothing ministry. And why should we not? It’s been there, without fail, for ninety years.
That is…until this morning.
This morning, BBC Radio 4, who produces the Shipping Forecast experienced some technical difficulties. These, alas, led to a failure to broadcast the Forecast for the first time in, yes, ninety years. Andy Sennit shares this article from The Guardian:
It was early-morning chaos and warnings of impending armageddon when BBC Radio 4 failed to broadcast the Shipping Forecast for the first time in more than 90 years.
The BBC radio service is something of an institution, metronomically broadcasting four forecasts a day since 1924, a routine which failed for the first time at 5.20am on Friday.
A technical glitch meant the BBC’s World Service was played in its place, a gaffe that prompted listeners to take to Twitter to voice their bewilderment.
Kirsty Connell said: “Eep. The shipping forecast didn’t get broadcast on @BBCRadio4 this morning. Isn’t that the sign of impending nuclear armageddon?”
Jordan Rowland added: “No shipping forecast? If UK submarines don’t get shipping forecast, don’t they launch nuclear attack?”
The BBC was only able to resolve the issue at 5.40am when it cut back to the Radio 4 programme. Friday morning’s Shipping Forecast eventually aired 6.40am.
A previous eQSL from Wolverine Radio. Try decoding the one at the end of this recording!
For your listening pleasure: 1 hour, 20 minutes of the pirate radio station, Wolverine Radio–recorded May 26, 2014 starting around 1:20 UTC.
Wolverine was broadcasting on 6,950 kHz in the upper side band. Typical of Wolverine, lots of music variety which spans the decades and no commentary other than station ID throughout.
At the end of this recording, you’ll hear an SSTV QSL card being transmitted.
Try decoding the QSL image from this recording–it’s quite easy! I usually decode Wolverine’s SSTV QSL with Chris Smolinski’s SSTV app for iPhone, but there are other programs to do this. The eQSL above came from a broadcast about two weeks ago and was submitted by SWLing Post reader, Steve Yoth.
If you’ve ever commented on the SWLing Post (or almost any other website, for that matter), you’ve no doubt been challenged by a CAPTCHA code before your comment could be published. The CAPTCHA system saves this blog from hundreds of bogus comments each day so it’s a necessary tool.
For those of you not familiar, CAPTCHAs look like this:
While the CAPTCHA code above is relatively simple, many are not and require several attempts before you can prove to CAPTCHA that you’re a human and not a SPAMbot. In this sense, CAPTCHAs can be rather annoying.
How to get around CAPTCHA on the SWLing Post
If you’re a regular here on the SWLing Post and would like to comment without a CAPTCHA moderation, I can register you for a subscriber account on the SWLing Post. I’ve made it so that CAPTCHA will skip any SWLing Post account holder who is logged in at time of comment.
Because of SPAMbots and Malware, I don’t make registration open to the public; I manually create each account.
“Sorry I missed your table at Dayton. Managed to add 4 old 1940’s 1950’s era broadcast band radios to my collection, had a great time. [Here is a] picture of my 1938 Wards dial tone with tuning eye, $35.00.”
“Found this GE-P780 at an estate sale last weekend $20.00, fantastic working condition!”
“Recently purchased this Philco console, 1938, with the Philco ‘cone-centric tuning dial system.'”
Many thanks, Jerry, for sharing these excellent finds! If I had a bigger house, I would certainly fill it with 1930’s era console radios!
“Grandma! Is that Cyndi Lauper buried in the static?”
For your listening pleasure: about 20 minutes of pirate radio station, Hot Legs Radio–recorded May 25, 2014 starting around 1:55 UTC.
Hot Legs Radio was broadcasting around 6,925 kHz in AM.
Hot Legs was rather weak and somewhat over-modulated during this broadcast. Indeed, in regular AM mode, I couldn’t make out the station ID at all. Fortunately, by turning on the WinRadio Excalibur‘s AM synchronous detector and selecting the less noisy lower sideband, I dug the signal out of the noise. AM sync also helped compensate for the over-modulation.
You’ll hear me re-tune a couple of times in this recording. Hot Legs’ signal was a bit of a moving target. I don’t think it would have been as noticeable in standard AM mode (which is more forgiving of drift), but in AM sync, you’ll hear a tone when the frequency shifts.
Still, I’m quite happy to have caught Hot Legs Radio–a new pirate logging! Hope to hear them on again soon.
I’m a sucker for old military gear, like this Signal Corps BC-221-AL signal generator. (Click to enlarge)
This year, at the Dayton Hamvention, I spent more money than I ever have. Though the Hamvention is a showcase of innovations and flea market treasures, I typically walk away with a few connectors, cables, or maybe some handy accessories; I rarely spend more than $100, though I budget much more.
But this year was an exception. I walked away with a few bigger-ticket items I found irresistible. Buyer’s remorse? Nope.
SWLing Post reader, Mike, asked what I purchased, so instead of sending him an email with the tally, I thought I’d post my finds here.
I already have an SX-24, but this one is cosmetically superb for its age. The seller told me that she “lights up” but has no audio; it was an estate sale item. I assume that it has a bad capacitor or two (or more). No doubt, it can be fixed and will fill my radio room with warm audio in due time. At least, that’s the theory!
I purchased this Hallicrafters SX-24 for $60.00
Signal Corps BC-221-AL Signal Generator
This is a working BC-221-AL signal generator that will more than pay for itself each time I align my BC-348-Q (or any of my boat anchors, for that matter). It, too, was in excellent shape and I couldn’t pass it up at $30.00 (great price as the seller was ready to part with it on the final day of the Hamvention). I love the fact that its reference book and log, with schematic, are fully in tact. Bonus: it has that great vintage military electronics smell.
The photo above is enlarged: the actual unit is very small (2.75 x 1.5 x 1 inches). Since my whole DC system is based on Anderson Powerpole connectors, this simple meter will help keep tabs on voltage. I think Universal sold out of these at the Hamvention, but since they build them in house, you can order online.
Side KX panels and cover
I like traveling with my Elecraft KX3, but I worry about the faceplate being damaged in transit. In the past, I’ve used dense foam to protect the front of the radio, but it’s an imperfect solution.
This year, Gems Products was selling their Side KX panels at Elecraft‘s booth in the North Hall. The Side KX handles protrude a good 1/8″ beyond the height of the KX3’s knobs, thus protecting the rig even if turned upside down. I also purchased the clear Lexan cover which fits perfectly on the radio. Now when I travel, I can throw the KX3 in my backpack and not worry about the face being damaged.
At a Hamvention discounted price of $60 with tax, it was no minor purchase, but the investment to protect a $1,200 portable radio was well worth it. I must say, the fit is excellent and installation took perhaps 5 minutes.
Sony TFM-1600W portable radio
This Sony was a late Saturday flea market purchase. The vendor–who attends annually and is well known for his gorgeous display of antique tube radios–had this solid-state Sony sitting at the back corner of the booth. It quickly attracted my attention and that of my buddy (and radio enabler) Mike (K8RAT).
Originally priced at $65.00, the vendor was kind enough to let me talk him down (“beg” is more like it, right Mike?) to the $40.00 cash I had left in my pocket.
Once we got it back to our lodging we confirmed what we had suspected: this Sony has incredible audio fidelity and great sensitivity. No big surprise here: in the 1970’s, Sony was a brand well-known for superb audio fidelity.
This Sony will need a little work–the pots and band switch need a thorough cleaning. Also, the tuning needle somehow came dis-lodged from the fly-wheel mechanism. All of these things can be fixed, though, and I’ll have a superb receiver that should last a few more decades. For a radio built in Japan in 1971, I’m very happy with its condition.
Palstar SP30B Speaker
I’m a sucker for hand-crafted gear. While perusing the flea market, I looked for an affordable vintage speaker for my BC-348-Q, but I couldn’t find one. Inside, however, I spotted this beautiful speaker at Palstar’s booth in the East Hall. I’ve owned a Palstar R30C shortwave receiver before and know how much they care about audio fidelity and overall quality. The SP30B was originally designed for the R30 series receiver.
The wood speaker cabinet on the SP30B is built by a wood worker exclusively for Palstar; the finish is amazing.
The SP30B retails for $99.95 at Palstar.com. I was able to snag this one for only $75 as it was a display and Palstar’s last one with cherry finish.
I purchased a few additional accessories and supplies: