Monthly Archives: September 2018

IEEE Spectrum: “Long-Running U.S. Federal Radio Stations, Beloved by Hams, in Danger of Shutdown”

A WWV Time Code Generator

(Source: IEEE Spectrum Magazine)

Several public radio stations that have broadcast the time of day continuously for nearly 100 years are on the chopping block

By Julianne Pepitone

Starting in May 1920, the U.S. federal WWV radio stations have broadcast the official time without fail. For ham radio fans, hearing the friendly “National Institute of Standards and Technology Time!” announcement is a comforting old refrain. For others, it’s a service they’ve never heard of—yet in the background, it’s what keeps the clocks and appliances in their daily lives automatically ticking along on time.

But after 98 years, this constant companion could soon go off the air. The proposed 2019 U.S. presidential budget calls for a 34 percent cut in NIST funding; in response, the Institute compiled a budget-use plan that would eliminate the WWV stations.

At first blush it might sound like the natural end to a quaint public service from a bygone era. Do we really need radio-broadcast time signals in an era of Internet-connected devices and GPS?

Many would argue: Yes, we really do. More than 50 million devices in the United States—including wall clocks, wristwatches, and industrial appliances—keep time through the signal from NIST’s WWVB station, operating from a site near Fort Collins, Colo., where it reads the time directly from an atomic clock. These radio-equipped clocks are permanently tuned to WWVB’s low-frequency 60 kHz signal.

“WWVB is the pacemaker for the world around us, even if we don’t realize it,” says Thomas Witherspoon, editor of shortwave radio news site The SWLing Post. “It’s why factory workers and schools don’t need to drag out the stepladder every time we switch between Daylight and Standard Time. Without WWVB, these devices won’t magically update themselves.”[…]

Click here to read the full article including comments from WWVB’s Station Manager.

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Arcing can produce nasty broadband radio interference

On this trip to Québec, indoor listening has been more productive than listening from our balcony.

I mentioned in a previous post that, this year, QRM levels here at the condo in Québec are higher on our balcony than they are inside the building.

I think I found the source.

A couple weeks ago, on my morning walk, I passed underneath some high voltage power lines about 1 km from the condo. I noticed the sound of arcing coming from a pole nearby. No doubt, something metal–a staple, a cable, a pin, etc.–is the culprit.

I pulled out my smart phone and made this short video. If you turn up the volume, you might hear the noise especially at the end of the clip.:

I took a portable radio back to the site later and heard the same broadband noise I heard from the condo.

Although we only rent this condo a couple months a year, I’ll try to report the noise to the Hydro Québec. I know that our utility company in the States must follow up with requests like this and do their best to eliminate unintentional sources of RFI. These issues can also be an indication of something in the system failing, so power companies can actually be quite grateful for the feedback.

If you have persistent broadband noise at home, check out some of the trouble shooting tutorials at K3RFI’s website for a little guidance.

Despite all of this noise, I’m pleased I can still receive a few of my favorite shortwave stations. And, of course, escape to the KiwiSDR network and hit the field from time to time!

No worries, though, I’ll be back at my home station soon and can once again enjoy a relatively RFI-free radio space!

Post readers: Have you ever been plagued with power line noise? What did you do about it? Any tips? Please comment!

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Cryptocurrency transactions over solar-powered shortwave radios

(Source: @nixops)

(Source: The Next Web via Kim Elliott)

Devs used solar-powered radios to complete first ‘off-grid’ cryptocurrency transaction

Could blockchain help after disaster strikes?

A group of developers claim to have performed a solar-powered cryptocurrency transaction, using shortwave radios and blockchain tech. While it might not be the world’s first radio-transmitted cryptocurrency transaction, the devs insist it is the first one to be completed entirely off-grid.

They managed to do it with just a portable hard drive, a solar battery pack, a shortwave radio, and, of course, some technical know-how.

In addition to these gadgets, the developers used open-source cryptocurrency Burst to conduct the experiment. For the record, the transaction was recorded on Burst’s blockchain without the need for any mains power or data connections.

One of the developers, Daniel Jones, has since teased an image of the improvised setup on Twitter:

Click here to read the full article on The Next Web.

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QSL information for Wantok Radio Light

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kanwar Sandhu, who shares the following QSL information from Wantok Radio Light:

Wantok Radio Light is a Christian Radio Station operating in Papua New Guinea. We broadcasts 24 hours, seven days a week on 93.9 FM in Port Moresby, 105.9 FM in other provinces and short wave on 7325 kHz throughout PNG and overseas. Papua New Guinea Christian Broadcasting Network operates as Wantok Radio Light. It is a non-profit, non-commercial Christian ministry. Its operation is supported by faithful listeners Christians and corporate organizations who share the ministry’s vision and mission.

Our main duty is proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ throughout the airwaves in order for our listeners to be saved, encouraged and blessed. We do this through our daily broadcasting of preaching and teaching programs, radio drama and gospel music

Send Us Your Confirmation

Postal Address
Wantok Radio Light
P.O. Box 1273,
Port Moresby,
National Capital District
Papua New Guinea

Email
wantok@wantokradio.org

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The Icom IC-7200 has been discontinued (yet again)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Dave Zantow (N9EWO) and Larry W who both note that the IC-7200 has been discontinued once again by Icom. Universal Radio has even listed it as discontinued on their website and doesn’t appear to have any in new inventory.

You might recall that Icom discontinued the IC-7200 in early 2016 and re-introduced it exactly one year later in 2017.

I consider the IC-7200 to be one of the best general coverage transceivers for broadcast listening under $1,000 US. Used IC-7200s can be found for excellent prices–I’ve seen many at hamfests for $650 (like new) and much less.

Spotted at a local hamfest earlier this year: The IC-7200

It appears that GigaParts and Ham Radio Outlet still have the ‘7200 in stock and shipping for $749.95 US after rebates. Of course, you can also find them on eBay.

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