Radio Waves: AM/FM in Teslas, Odd Crosleys, CW Club Membership on the Rise, and 2020 Contest University is Free

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Kim Elliott, Dave Anderson, and Paul Evans for the following tips:


“Infotainment Systems” In Cars Portend Safety, Privacy, And Competition Issues (Forbes)

Almost all new cars include so-called “infotainment systems,” which provide navigation and various sources for music and news. Most companies have begun to outsource these systems to the Silicon Valley mainstays such as Apple, Amazon, and Google. The electric car manufacturer Tesla, however, has developed its own infotainment system that is far more integrated with the car itself.

Tesla recently announced an “upgrade,” which would allow users to watch Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube (when the car is parked). This innovation has a flip side: it removes AM / FM radio capabilities. Tesla and other electric car manufacturers claim they have removed AM radio in many of their models due to concerns over interference. But Tesla’s announcement is peculiar because electric engines do not interfere with FM radio reception.

Former FEMA director Brock Long worries that Tesla’s decision could prevent the government from transmitting crucial information in emergencies. Long’s concerns are valid, particularly in a crisis like the ongoing pandemic, when broad communication with the public is necessary to protect national security. AM/FM radio reach places that television and broadband do not, and that is why the government has invested tens of millions of dollars to ensure radio stations can remain on the air during periods of widespread threat to the public – including the current one. As the coronavirus reminds us, our nation still has public safety needs that no amount of technical wizardry can obviate.

The public safety concerns are real, but Tesla decision to remove AM/FM radio also raise the perennial tech issues of privacy and competition.

Tesla has contracts with tech companies such as Spotify and Pandora, many of which are pay services. These tech companies are no doubt pleased that Tesla is contemplating taking out AM/FM radio, which is still the most listened to audio platform—and constitutes meaningful competition. However, these conflicting interests creates mismatched incentives for Tesla.

Because Tesla’s market share is small, and the upgrade is optional, this conduct likely does not rise to anything close to an antitrust violation. However, the vertically integrated model which Tesla is following raises the same type of concerns as when Big Tech firms pick and choose what apps and services customers can favor. If Google, Apple, and Amazon, which have their own podcast and streaming audio services, begin to demand that auto manufacturers carry their services exclusively, then more serious competition problems will arise.[]

Odd Crosley Radios from the 1920s (Hackaday)

You may sometimes see the Crosley name today on cheap record players, but from what we can tell that company isn’t connected with the Crosley Radio company that was a powerhouse in the field from 1921 to 1956. [Uniservo] looks at two of the very early entries from Crosley: the model VIII and the XJ. You can see the video of both radios, below.

The company started by making car parts but grew rapidly and entered the radio business very successfully in 1921. We can only imagine what a non-technical person thought of these radios with all the knobs and switches, for some it must have been very intimidating.

The model VIII had two large knobs, three small knobs, and a switch. Oddly enough there were very few markings on the knobs, as you were expected to know how to use a tuned RF radio. The large knobs were for tuning capacitors and the switch was for coil taps, while the three small knobs controlled the tube filament supplies.[]

Increase in CW Club membership (G4BKI.com)

The rate at which amateurs are joining CW clubs has gone through the roof with ‘lockdown’.

The fastest growing club (SKCC) has tripled its daily new members rate and is now increasing by 14-15 per day. Information and files can be found at: http://www.g4bki.com/club_call_history.htm

Contest University 2020 will be held online free via Zoom (Contest University)

Contest University 2020 will be held online free via Zoom (Link will be available on May 7th)

Thursday, May 14th 9:00 am EDT

CTU 2020 outline is available on the 2020 Course Outline Page

Click here to read more information.


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2 thoughts on “Radio Waves: AM/FM in Teslas, Odd Crosleys, CW Club Membership on the Rise, and 2020 Contest University is Free

  1. Mangosman

    The Tesla decision only applies to the USA. In Australia they have had to keep the AM/FM/DAB+ radio because the streaming services need 4G coverage. With a continent as big as Australia and once you get out of big cities the coverage is very patchy the streaming function is pretty useless.

    DAB+ and DRM have emergency warning functionality which will wake the radio tune it to the emergency broadcast which not only has an announcement but also a map of the affected area and detailed indexed text instructions on what to do.
    HD radio can wake the radio and show a small map and a small amount of text, but Tesla is not installing that.
    In Emergencies cell phone base stations can easily be overloaded by people downloading the maps and info as well as those trying to find out what is going on. Others could still be streaming music or video. This prevents those in danger from calling for help.

    Reply
  2. Bruce "Cyclone" Jones

    I drive a Tesla Model 3, and have the Netflix/Hulu connection. It does not interfere with FM in any way. Just depends on which source you are listening to/watching. You cannot watch Netflix unless the car is parked.

    One thing I would like Elon Musk to add to Teslas: NOAA Weather Radio. The weather radio chips hardly cost $2 apiece. Dirt cheap. Since the entire roof of the Tesla is glass, I would like to know if the storm I am driving into is going to produce large hail. If it is, I will park under cover and watch a Monty Python episode on Netflix.

    Reply

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