Radio Waves: Radio Prague Special Broadcast, WNP Marks 100 Years, Ham Interference, and RTE on Longwave

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 David Iurescia, Ronnie Smith, Troy Riedel, Jack Dully, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Radio Prague asks, “Would you like to be featured on our broadcast?” (Radio Prague via Facebook)

Our 85th anniversary is coming up on August 31st! We’re celebrating the occasion with a special broadcast that day and would love to hear from you – our listeners. If you’d like to send us your greetings, please record a message and send an audio file via email (to english@radio.cz) or Facebook. Due to time constraints, your recording should be around 30 seconds long. Please include your first name, where you live, how long you’ve been listening, and what you like most about Radio Prague Int’l.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Sailing Vessel with Ham Radio History Marks 100 Years (ARRL News)

The schooner Bowdoin is a century old this year. Now owned by the Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) as a training vessel, the ham radio history of the 88-foot (LOA) Bowdoin is often neglected. Constructed in Maine specifically for Arctic exploration, the vessel relied on amateur radio for communication during explorer Donald B. MacMillan’s Arctic Expedition of 1923 and on the MacMillan-McDonald-Byrd Expedition of 1925 — thanks in part to ARRL co-founder Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW. The venerable vessel, the official vessel of the State of Maine and the flagship of Maine Maritime Academy’s Vessel Operations and Technology Program, recently underwent a complete hull restoration and refitting and has done a little touring to mark its centenary. Its home port is Castine, Maine.

The longwave transmitters MacMillan used on his earlier missions had proved “unable to penetrate the screen of the aurora borealis,” then-ARRL historian Michael Marinaro, WN1M (SK), explained in his article, “Polar Exploration,” from the June 2014 issue of QST. In 1923, MacMillan turned to ARRL for help in outfitting his next expedition with better wireless gear. Marinaro recounted, “It was enthusiastically provided.” Maxim and the ARRL Board recruited Donald H. Mix, 1TS, of Bristol, Connecticut, to accompany the crew as its radio operator.

M.B. West, an ARRL Board member, designed the gear, which was then built by amateurs at his firm, Zenith Electronics. The transmitter operated on the medium-wave bands of 185, 220, and 300 meters, running 100 W to a pair of Western Electric “G” tubes. Earlier exploratory missions had used gear that operated on longwave frequencies. The shipboard station on board the Bowdoin was given the call sign WNP — Wireless North Pole. [Continue reading…]

The Machines That Built America (History Channel)

In 1893, sending information across America is a time-consuming process. Letters travel slowly by land, and those who can afford it, send telegrams along a limited network of fixed wires. But two rival inventors have the same idea for improving things: wireless communication. Nikola Tesla is one of the most famous and successful thinkers of his day, single-handedly changing the way electricity is supplied and generated. Guglielmo Marconi is a young, uneducated Italian inventor who ignores scientific consensus and goes with his gut. Both want to rid the world of wires and send messages through the air. With millions of dollars on the line, the two men battle to dominate the new market and bring radio to the masses. [Click here to view episode on the History Channel.]

Woman fights to have ham radio operations banned after potential interference with insulin pump (WFTV)

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A Marion County woman is taking on her neighborhood association, in a matter she said puts her health at risk.

Michelle Smith, a Type 1 Diabetic, and a consultant determined that her neighbor’s ham radio hobby might have interfered with the doses of insulin being pushed out from her pump.

The 55+ community where she lives hired that consultant and told the neighbor to shut down his amateur radio station.

But a copy of the community’s rules shows a change was put in place that could pave the way for other similar antennas to be installed.

9 Investigates learned that Smith’s complaint went all the way to the state level.

She wants the Florida Commission on Human Relations to make a determination whether the community’s board and management is doing enough to protect her and others with medical devices.[]

RTE on long wave 252 kHz back on air (Southgate ARC)

RTE carried out essential maintenance of the Long Wave transmitter in Clarkstown, Co. Meath for two months during which period RTE Radio 1 was not available on 252 kHz.

This essential maintenance of the transmitter was due to be carried out in 2020, but was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. For the health and safety of those carrying out the works, the transmitter had to be switched off for the works period. Any overhaul has to be completed during the summer months when there is good light and weather conditions.

Transmissions commenced once again last Monday with an output of 500 kiloWatt during daytime and 100 kiloWatt at nighttime.

During this shutdown, one could receive Radio Algeria transmitting on the same frequency with 1.5 megaWatt during the day and 750 kiloWatt at night, broadcasting a varied program.


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8 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Radio Prague Special Broadcast, WNP Marks 100 Years, Ham Interference, and RTE on Longwave

  1. Michael Black

    Don Mix was long an assistant technical editor at QST. I’m pretty sure the classic one tube transmitter built on a wood board in “How to Become a Radio Amateur”, was written by him.

    Reply
  2. Mangosman

    I was talking to the maintenance technicians for a 90 kW radio transmitting site a long time ago and asked about any EMC incidents.
    They told me of a neighbour who had a pacemaker installed in the days when they only had a single beat rate. The neighbour ended up in hospital complaining that the pacemaker was affected by the transmitter. The hospital supplied another pacemaker which was put on an ECG for 24 hours and located it in the transmitter building. It did not miss a beat. The Doctors then asked the patient what she was doing when she went home. She said she “got stuck into the gardening”. So obviously a higher pulse rate was required for that activity.
    One of the reasons why any medical equipment have high prices is because the manufacturers have to pay a lot for insurance for the possibility of such things as above. So to keep their claims history low Electro Magnetic Compatibility is very important to manufacturers.

    Reply
  3. Ralph

    Here’s a few points I sent to the reporter – correct me if I’m wrong here:

    1) Amateur radio operators are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) . The FCC is a US government regulatory agency who has sole authority to regulate the airwaves within the US. While Michelle Smith may make the request under the Fair Housing Act, ultimately it is up to the FCC and not the State of Florida to grant her request. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 Section 704 states: “No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions”. I would expect her attorney to be aware of that.

    2) All medical devices for use in the United States have to go through an approval process with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for among other things, Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC). This means that the medical device is required to accept a certain amount of radio interference without malfunctioning. There are a number of international consensus standards that the manufacturer can test to to show conformity to the FDA.

    3) Unfortunately, the story doesn’t detail (and I wouldn’t expect it to) on how the outside engineer determined the “amateur radio operator could have produced”. radio frequency levels that exceeded those Smith’s insulin pump is intended to operate in”. “Could” does not sound like any confirmation testing was conducted.

    There are easy tests that can be performed at that location that would either confirm or eliminate that particular amateur radio as the source of the interference and locate the true source of the interference if not the radio. A more formal test with that particular insulin pump could be conducted in an EMI/EMC test facility which would determine whether in fact the medical device meets FDA requirements and over what frequencies and signal levels the insulin pump malfunctions.

    Reply
  4. Jay Bree

    “If you encounter RF interference from a mobile or stationary RF
    transmitter, move away from the RF transmitter that is causing the interference”

    This sounds like the Part 15 excuse.

    Reply
  5. Jay Bree

    More hyperbole from the news media.

    Unless she bought her insulin pump from AliExpress, her problem is likely not with RFI .

    Reply
  6. Steve K9NUD

    I sure hope the ARRL is getting involved. Unless the HAM is sending a KW of FT8, I sincerely doubt that he’s at fault.

    “That engineer determined the “amateur radio operator *could* have produced” radio frequency levels that exceeded those Smith’s insulin pump is intended to operate in.”

    Yeah, so could a nearby UFO. I don’t buy it. Prove it with a spectrum analyzer.

    Reply
  7. TomL

    Good grief, a properly filtered ham radio antenna will not produce enough radio energy to interfere with the UHF signals the insulin pump might use. Interference would more likely be coming from her own LED lights, which is a well-known source of interference. I hope the state helps her understand this.

    From a Medtronic device manual using 2.4GHz, ham radio frequencies are not mentioned, only UHF type devices –
    “1 Special Precautions regarding Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC): This body worn
    device is intended to be operated within a reasonable residential, domestic, public or
    work environment, where common levels of radiated “E” (V/m) or “H” fields (A/m)
    exist; such as cellular phones, WiFi, Bluetooth, electric can openers, microwave and
    induction ovens. This device generates, uses, and can radiate radio frequency
    energy and, if not installed and used in accordance with the provided instructions,
    may cause harmful interference to radio communications.
    2 Portable and mobile RF communications equipment can affect Medical Electrical
    Equipment as well. If you encounter RF interference from a mobile or stationary RF
    transmitter, move away from the RF transmitter that is causing the interference”

    Reply
    1. Don Hall

      I couldn’t argue with any of your points, but who in the world would want to be suspected of such interference, unlikely as it might be? I expect the operator will probably shut down until the neighbor moves or he/she does.

      Reply

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