Monthly Archives: July 2021

FTIOM & UBMP August 1-7; Special Broadcast July 29


From the Isle of Music, August 1-7:

This week, our guest is Manolito Simonet, producer/participant in the album Al son del caballero by the Alianza Musical de Cuba. This tribute to Adalberto Álvarez won a Grand Prize, the Producer’s Prize, and one of the Popular Dance Music prizes in Cubadisco this year.
1. For Eastern Europe but audible well beyond the target area in most of the Eastern Hemisphere (including parts of East Asia and Oceania) with 100Kw, Sunday 1500-1600 UTC on SpaceLine, 9400 KHz, from Sofia, Bulgaria (1800-1900 MSK)
2. For the Americas and parts of Europe, Tuesday 0000-0100 UTC on WBCQ, 7490 kHz from Monticello, ME, USA (Monday 8-9PM EDT in the US).
3 & 4. For Europe and sometimes beyond, Tuesday 1900-2000 UTC and Saturday 1200-1300 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 kHz from Rohrbach, Germany.
Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/fromtheisleofmusic/
Our V-Kontakte page is https://vk.com/fromtheisleofmusic
Our Patreon page is https://www.patreon.com/tilford

Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, Àugust 1-7:
In episode 228, we enjoy some excellent rock jazz from 1970s Bulgaria.
The transmissions take place:
1.Sunday 2200-2300 (6:00PM -7:00PM EDT) on WBCQ The Planet 7490 kHz from the US to the Americas and parts of Europe
2. Tuesday 2000-2100 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 kHz from Rohrbach, Germany for Europe.
3. Saturday 0800-0900 UTC on Channel 292, 9670 kHz from Rohrbach, Germany for Europe with a directional booster aimed eastward.
Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/UncleBillsMeltingPot/
Our V-Kontakte page is https://vk.com/fromtheisleofmusic
Our Patreon page is https://www.patreon.com/tilford

Perú le canta a las Américas (Peru Sings To the Americas)
Date/Time: Thursday, July 29th, 0300-0400 UTC**
**(Wednesday July 28 2200-2300 Lima Time/CDT)
WRMI 5800 kHz
In honor of the bicentennial of Peru’s independence, a special hour of Peruvian music hosted by Luis Alejandro Vallebueno with guests Estefania Rivera and  “Uncle Bill” Tilford will air on WRMI, which is  sponsoring the program.   It will be in Spanish and directed towards Central and South America, but the back end of the transmission should be listenable in much of North America.  The music will be a combination of world-famous artists and others probably not known outside of Peru.  There will also be some items regarding history, customs and shortwave in Peru.

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This Noyce Joyce radio kit features IN-17 Nixie Tubes

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jeff McMahon, who shares a link to a Nixie Tube radio kit via the retailer Shop Simo. We’ve no clue how well the radio might perform, but it covers AM/FM, can play from an SD card and is, of course, Bluetooth as well. The radio requires no soldering–instead, it appears to be a modular snap-together kit. Here’s the manufacturer’s description:

Noyce Joyce introduces a new generation of electronic kits.
The whole kit is made of printed circuit boards (PCBs).
With a simple snap-fit connection, you get a fully functional product. In this case a battery-powered radio/Bluetooth speaker.
Our radio is [truly] unique thanks to the used miniature IN-17 nixie tubes.
These nixies stopped production 50 years ago.
For this reason, this product will be available only be in limited quantities of maximum few hundred pieces.
Right now you can buy the first 100 pieces in advance for half price.
These pieces will be delivered at the end of July.

Of course, you wouldn’t buy this radio for the performance–you’d but it for the Nixie tubes!

Thanks for the tip, Jeff!

Post readers: Please let me know if you purchase one of these! I’d love a guest post about the built and your thoughts about its functionality.

Click here to check out the Nixie Radio via Shop Simo.

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Radio Waves: 20K Hz & The Buzzer, Cuba Jamming, Rugby Radio Station soon a school, HRO Opens a store in FL, Police Use Morse, Tool Box Spy Radio, and “Einstein Listened”

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 Paul, David Goren, Pete Polanyk, Ulis Fleming, Troy Riedel, Tracy Wood, Dan Robinson, and Kris Partridge for the following tips:


The Buzzer (Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast)

This episode was written and produced by Olivia Rosenman.

Since World War I, countries around the world have been broadcasting mysterious numerical messages via shortwave radio. Though concrete evidence is hard to come by, the general consensus is that these coded messages are meant for undercover agents operating abroad. And one particular Russian station may have an even more sinister purpose. Featuring computer engineer Andrus Aaslaid, historian Maris Goldmanis, and documentary photographer Lewis Bush.

Cuba Jamming Ham Radio? Listen For Yourself (IEEE Spectrum)

A public SDR network triangulates the island as the source of mystery signals

By Stephen Cass

As anti-government protests spilled onto the streets in Cuba on July 11, something strange was happening on the airwaves. Amateur radio operators in the United States found that suddenly parts of the popular 40-meter band were being swamped with grating signals. Florida operators reported the signals were loudest there, enough to make communication with hams in Cuba impossible. Other operators in South America, Africa, and Europe also reported hearing the signal, and triangulation software that anyone with a web browser can try placed the source of the signals as emanating from Cuba.

Cuba has a long history of interfering with broadcast signals, with several commercial radio stations in Florida allowed to operate at higher than normal power levels to combat jamming. But these new mystery signals appeared to be intentionally targeting amateur radio transmissions. A few hours after the protest broke out on the 11th, ham Alex Valladares (W7HU) says he was speaking with a Cuban operator on 7.130 megahertz in the 40-meter band, when their conversation was suddenly overwhelmed with interference. “We moved to 7170, and they jam the frequency there,” he says. Valladares gave up for the night, but the following morning, he says, “I realize that they didn’t turn off those jammers. [Then] we went to [7]140 the next day and they put jamming in there.”[]

New school at home of former radio station on track for autumn launch (Coventry Telegraph)

Houlton School, where Rugby Radio Station once stood, is set take its first influx of pupils in September

Plans for a new school at the historic former home of Rugby Radio Station are being fine-tuned and remain on track for a September start.

Houlton School, which will be named after the town in America that received the first transatlantic voice broadcast from Rugby Radio Station in 1927, will take its first influx of 180 Year 7 pupils this autumn.

The school, which forms part of the 6,200-home urban extension in Houlton, east of Rugby town centre, will take a new year group of 180 pupils every 12 months.

Michael McCulley, the school’s Principal Designate, said: “Whilst building a fantastic £39m new school during three lockdowns has had its challenges, we are also acutely aware that we have had a completely blank page from which to develop our exciting curriculum and pastoral programme.

“This freedom has been important as we have needed to evolve to the changing needs of our first group of students.[]

Ham Radio Outlet to open store in Florida (Amateur Radio Newsline)

Ham Radio Outlet, the nationwide amateur radio retailer in the US, has announced that its ongoing expansion plans will include a store in the state of Florida. The new store will join 12 already open in such states as California in the West, where the company is based, to Delaware in the East, Arizona and Texas in the South, New Hampshire in the North. The company’s announcement on social media set off a wave of speculation about the new location, especially on Instagram where the company wrote, “We’re not telling yet! We’re open to suggestions.” The closest Ham Radio Outlet to Florida is in Atlanta, Georgia. The company, which calls itself the world’s largest supplier of amateur radio equipment, is also known for shipping internationally.

Old is gold: In times of satellite & internet, Pune cops keep Morse Code in use as a robust stand-by communication mode (The Indian Express)

Every Sunday, an operator with Pune Police’s wireless wing sends a Morse Code message to the office of the Director General of Police, Maharashtra.

IN THE era of satellite communication, which involves transmitting signals into space and back, and internet based systems transferring gigabytes of data in a flash, police have kept alive the age-old system of Morse Code – a primitive method of sending messages in the form of dots and dashes.

Every Sunday, an operator with Pune Police’s wireless wing sends a Morse Code message to the office of the Director General of Police, Maharashtra. While this is their way of paying tributes to one of the earliest modes of telecommunication, it is primarily a way of maintaining a robust stand-by mode of message delivery in case all other means of communication fail.

Pune City police have recently started a series of tweets featuring the communication systems used by the police and their evolution till date. On Sunday, Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta tweeted, “As an ode to the beginning of wireless communications, the Commissioner’s Office still uses Morse Code to transmit Messages every Sunday.”[]

Antiques Roadshow: Spy radio disguised as toolbox found in garden shed worth huge sum (The Express)

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW saw a World War II spy radio which was disguised as a toolbox fetch a huge valuation when it travelled to Kenilworth Castle.

Antiques Roadshow’s expert Mark Smith marvelled at the ingenuity of a spy radio which was used in World War Two in a recent episode. The item, from the outside, was made to look like a toolbox but when opened, displayed a detailed radio which could be “powered by any source”. So how much was it worth? Mark put a £10,000 to £15,000 price tag on it.[]

Einstein Listened (WNYC)

Former WNYC director Seymour N. Siegel suggested that WNYC once received fan mail from Einstein. As I continue to look far and wide for evidence of this alleged bit of praise, I can’t help but wonder, what broadcast prompted the great man to write? Alas, so far, the document has eluded me. But, we do know that the father of the theory of relativity was a subscriber to both the WNYC and WQXR program guides. And we have no less than Erwin Panofsky, the noted German-American art historian and friend of Einstein’s, to thank for that.

It all began when the distinguished gang at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey decided to chip in and build the Nobel laureate a “high-fidelity” radio for his 70th birthday. The 1949 gift included subscriptions to the WNYC, WQXR, and WABF program guides.[]


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Five Beeps: Can you identify Carlos’ mystery signal?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Carlos Latuff, who writes from Brazil:

[Please check out this] audio sample of a signal I heard today (July 20, 2021) around 07h17 UTC on (at least) 4 different frequencies, simultaneously:

– 16166 kHz
– 16716 kHz
– 16747 kHz
– 16839 kHz

Always the same. Five beeps repeating in intervals of 30 seconds. 
Another mystery to be solved by your readers.

Thank you for sharing this, Carlos. Hopefully, a reader can comment and ID these beeps for us!

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Santiago spots a Soviet-era portable in “The Queen’s Gambit”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Santiago Roland (CX1DR), who writes:

Hi Thomas, I’m a reader of your blog since 2015 and i was looking for movies showing shortwave radio models. I ended up in your blog again, lol, and decided to write to you and tell you that your blog is awesome. I read it many times and gathered lots of information about different topics.

The other day I was watching the last chapter of the Netflix Series Queen’s Gambit and I spotted an old classic, the Soviet VEF 206 shortwave radio. It gets a full frame cameo and it is beautiful.

The radio appears in the scene because (no spoilers) the American girl is playing chess with the world champion in the USSR and the people outside is listening the match with this radio. I send you the caption so you may add it to your collection of radios in cinema.

Oh wow! Thank you for sharing this, Santiago! That screen shot is beautiful–the Soviet VEF 206 has some serious nostalgic appeal!

We’ll add this to our ever-growing archive of radios in movies. Thank you!

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Malahit DSP-2 Review Update: Dan recommends holding off until issues resolved

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


UPDATE: Malahit DSP-2 (July 24, 2021)

RECOMMENDATION: Hold Off Until Issues Are Resolved

I thought it important enough to write this update to my earlier extensive review of the Malahit DSP-2, the second version of the Russia-made receiver. Earlier incremental updates can be seen on the main article.

In concluding my main review, I spoke about being on the Malahit “train” and “roller coaster” – and my experiences since have shown that to be true.

As noted in one the updates, further testing confirmed the observations of Malahit users that when voltage of a 18650B battery drops below 3.7 v the receiver did indeed shut down. And the battery icon was still showing 50%.

Georgiy at the Malahit team confirmed this as a software bug, and in a test firmware update, the voltage issue was, according to him, corrected. The result, in a test firmware upgrade (2.10) could be seen with remaining voltage displayed in the battery icon itself. But I was unable to confirm that this actually resolved the issue of inaccurate voltage displayed before yet another problem emerged.

After performing the update from 2.0 to 2.10 Test firmware (more on that a bit later)
I thought things were fine until I noticed that all signals had vanished from the Malahit. This applied to the strongest signals from U.S. religious broadcasters, and down through FM.

In a combination of Telegram and Skype chats, Georgiy was extremely helpful – we went over seemingly every possible cause for this problem and focused on the SMA cable which from observing conversations online appears to be an issue in some units.

We went to the point of disconnecting the SMA from the PCB to test if anything brought back any level of signal, which it did not. With my basic knowledge of electronics, I believe that some problem may have developed on the PCB – whether that is directly related to the firmware upgrade process remains unknown.

On the firmware, the Malahit-recommended PC app is SMT32CubeProgrammer, which is easily downloadable, and instructions for the firmware update are on the Malahit You Tube channel. The process and app look difficult at first.

But things get interesting, as they always do, in using these Bootloader apps as I have found on several occasions in trying to upgrade my AFEDRI LAN-IQ.

Instructions on the Malahit You Tube channel direct you to power off the radio, then plug in a micro-USB cable to the receiver and to your PC. The rough Russian translation says push in and hold both main and smaller encoder knobs, and then press power either once or 3 times, and then watch for the LED to go off. The LED actually doesn’t really go off– in the process of the firmware update, flashes on and off.

I managed to get through the process of upgrading – it was quite smooth. The test 2.10 firmware according to Georgiy is supposed to correct the issue with voltage readings, though again I was unable to test this fully because my DSP-2 quite literally went quiet over its entire range.

As of now, and despite the best efforts of Georgiy which I appreciate, I have a dead DSP-2. Whether signal loss was due to some issue with the SMA connector, or whether the firmware process (I reverted back to 2.0 after noticing the signal loss) itself caused something on the PCB to fail, remains unknown.

Given all of this new information, and though I had made no BUY recommendation on my original review, I would have to advise anyone considering a DSP-2 to hold off for a while until the Malahit team is able to thoroughly iron out all the hiccups with the receiver, whether in firmware or hardware. This includes the question of the SMA connector, and the issue of voltage monitoring.

Based on the conversations that were taking place on Telegram, I would also be urging Malahit team to quickly come up with a clear English translation of the Malahit manual, and to review instructions contained in You Tube videos showing the firmware upgrade process.

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Additional Hidden Feature of Tecsun PL-368

For potential Tecsun PL-368 owners, this is an exciting update! I just received the email below from Anna at ANON-CO:

Hello Robert,

I just wanted to let you know that we are expecting to receive our PL-368 radios around the middle or end of next week. It turns out that these radios will have one (hidden) feature that was not included with the “final” version that you receive in June, and that is a calibration feature for SSB.

If you have any questions please feel free to let me know.

Best regards,
Anna

This is a feature in some of the latest Tecsun models, and seemed odd to not be included in the PL-368, so this is good news indeed!

Cheers, Robert

Robert Gulley, K4PKM (formerly AK3Q), is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. 

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