“In the face of the internet, mobiles and instant messaging you might expect the hobby of amateur radio – or HAM radio as it’s also known – to be on the decline.
But in the last three years, the number of amateur radio licences has risen by over 8,000 – with 80,000 currently issued in the UK.
Using designated frequencies, amateur radio enthusiasts communicate with people over the world. Many prefer the relaxed approach of ‘rag chewing’ or chatting at length with people, who often become friends – while at the opposite end of the spectrum ‘contesters’ compete to make as many contacts as possible in a given period.
The hobby is also a public service, with Raynet (in the UK) stepping in during emergencies when regular communication networks fail. Amateur radio enthusiasts are currently contributing to relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.”
I’m not a fan of DAB radio and my bedroom radio aerial has to be positioned just so to get radio 4 FM with cclarity, so I will be disappointed if Longwave eventually gets switched off. That’s not to mention all the people–however many there may be–who don’t have easy ways to get weather info out at sea.”
It has kept sailors safe on the ocean waves for 90 years, becoming just as much a part of national consciousness as cricket, cups of tea and The Archers.
But the days of hearing the Shipping Forecast out on a boat may be numbered thanks to the demise of long wave technology, a veteran announcer has said.
Peter Jefferson, who read the Shipping Forecast to Radio 4 listeners for 40 years, said the “very old” transmitters which worked on long wave could soon be retired.
If that was to happen, he said, anyone more than 12 miles from the coastline would be unable to hear the shipping forecast on long wave, ending a Radio 4 tradition dating back to 1924.
Speaking at the Radio Times Festival, in Hampton Court, Mr Jefferson said the soothing tones of the Shipping Forecast would then be left to its many fans who choose to listen to it from their homes in lieu of a “sleeping pill”.
“Long wave reaches much further than FM, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
“So FM would be totally useless for shipping beyond 12 miles from land.
[…]A spokesman for the BBC said they were no firm plans to end long wave broadcasting, and no date set for when the technology could run out.
The service currently reaches as far as south-east Iceland, and is occasionally picked up as far as 3,000 miles away.
Of course, I haven’t heard the Shipping Forecast on longwave since moving back to the States from the UK. Still, I would be very sad to hear the program and the longwave medium fall silent.
I would like to start adding some Shipping Forecast programs on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive where we also curate select mediumwave and longwave recordings. If you have the means to record episodes on longwave, please consider helping us!
Many thanks to SRAA contributor, Tom Laskowski, who shares the following recording and notes:
A few snippets from my old shortwave tapes that were too short to upload individually. These were made using a GE portable multi band that had poor selectivity, hence the annoying ute during the BBC clip.
Times of individual clips are:
00:00 – 01:59: 1979, July 19 – RCI, frequency announcements in English and french.
01:59 – 09:51: 1979, July 20 – BBC, newscast, bothered by an annoying utility station.
09:51 – 11:38: 1981, August 28 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2
11:38 – 14:52: 1981, August 29 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2
National RF, of California, has introduced a new “semi-kit” receiver: the RF 75-NS-3. Here’s an excerpt from the product description page of the National RF website:
National RF’s 75-NS-3 receiver is a complete super-hetrodyne mini high frequency receiver, designed specifically for the short-wave listener, electronics enthusiast or radio amateur, who wants to use their hands and build a radio. The receiver is offered as a semi-kit in which the electronic assembly is loaded and functionally tested at the National RF facility. The customer must then go to the grocery store (yes…the grocery store!), procure a can of [Spam] lunch meat, eat it or give it to the dog, and then proceed to drill and paint the can, in order for it to become the receiver’s enclosure! […] Detailed drilling instructions and final assembly instructions are provided as part of the kit. All other parts required for completion of the receiver are provided as well. Recognizing that the finished assembly looked somewhat like the fabled Collins receiver of the ‘60s, the 75S-3, (particularly when the can is painted a light gray) National RF engineers dubbed it (with tongue firmly planted in cheek, of course) the 75-NS-3! Although we have had fun packaging this receiver in a lunch meat can, it is nothing to turn your nose at! Its performance and portability will surprise you, and it is an ideal radio to bring with you on any trip!
The receiver architecture is that of a single conversion super-hetrodyne receiver, that is capable of receiving AM, SSB, or CW. The receiver incorporates a dual gate FET as an RF amplifier with manual peaking and gain controls. A ceramic filter is used in the IF section with a front panel switch that controls a broad or narrow IF response. Other front panel controls include audio drive, BFO setting, and a band switch for the HF bands. The 75-NS-3 has internal receive frequency coils that are switched at the front and rear panels. The frequency range of the receiver, over three band set positions, is 3.5 through 12 MHz. This allows reception of several international short-wave bands, the 80, 60, 40, and 30 meter amateur radio bands, and of course, WWV time and frequency standard stations at 5 and 10 MHz.
For those who simply want a lower cost receiver to monitor the shortwave frequencies, National RF offers two variants of the original receiver: the 75-NS-1 and the 75-NS-2. Both are based on the design and circuit of the 75-NS-3, but do not have the band switching and frequency range of the 75-NS-3 receiver. The 75-NS-1 covers between 3 and 6 MHz, including the 80 and 60 meter amateur band. The 75-NS-2 covers between 6 and 12 MHz, including the 40 and 30 meter amateur bands. Both units have the fixed ceramic resonator band width set for about 6 KHz. And, of course, they are both designed to fit in the tasty potted meat can!! All other specifications presented apply to both of these models as well.
Pricing of the 75-NS-x versions:
Type 75-NS-1 Mini HF Receiver Semi-kit (covers 3 to 6 MHz) $189.95
Type 75-NS-2 Mini HF Receiver Semi-kit (6 to 12 MHz) $189.95
Type 75-NS-3 Mini HF Receiver Semi-kit (band switched from 3.5 through 12 MHz in three switched positions) $269.95
Shipping and Handling to within the US $10.00 each