Radio Waves: FM CB, Radio Listeners in Zimbabwe, Tom Clark SK, and SAQ Grimeton UN-Day Transmission

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!

Biggest change for CBs in four decades as FM mode gets approved by FCC (CCJ Digital)

The biggest change for CB radios in the U.S. since the late 1970s is coming and it looks to be a good thing for improved voice quality and cutting through frustrating background noise common at the peak of day.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved FM to join alongside AM and single-sideband (SSB) modes on CBs. It’s a big change to old technology that offers some clear advantages.

On the plus side, FM will provide users with improved audio quality and greater ability to circumvent background signal noise typical on CB’s long-standing AM side. The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at U.C. Berkeley reports that FM will provide an “improved signal to noise ratio (about 25dB) with regards to man-made interference” over AM. That kind of reduction in background noise could prove popular with truckers who remain among the top users of CBs in the U.S.

“This is going to bring a lot of good things for professional users of the CB radio band like truckers because a lot times when the skip’s really rolling and the [solar] cycle is at its peak, sometimes it can interfere with truckers communicating up and down the highways. FM is really going to cut that down,” amateur radio expert Matt Kaskavitch explained in a video that went viral on a YouTube channel named for his ham radio call sign K0LWC. [Continue reading…]

Forget TV and the internet. Radio is how you reach Zimbabweans (TechZim)

As a Zimbabwean living in an urban area I find I always overestimate the usage of the internet. It is quite entertaining watching trolls from the different political parties duke it out on Twitter. The noise Twitter users make is quite astounding.

To the mind, it feels like everyone is participating in this discourse. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Only 4.2% of mobile phone users use Twitter. That is because only 50.1% of Zimbabwean households have internet access.

Contrast that with the 62.7% that have access to radio. It appears to be just a 12% difference but we shall look at why it’s significant.

These figures were taken from the 2020 ICT Access by Households and Use by Individuals Survey by ZIMSTAT.

The percentages in actual numbers

Like I said, that 12% difference is much more significant than it looks. Let us look at absolute numbers and not percentages.

  • All households = 3,734,464
  • Households with internet access at home = 1,870,316
  • Households with access to the radio = 2,341,509

So the difference is 471,193 households. With an average family unit of 5, that translates into 2,355,965 individuals. That is a significant number, considering that there are only about 14 million individuals over 3 years old. However, that is not the impressively significant part.

The internet

There are 1,870,316 households with internet access and of that number:

  • 1,043,757 live in urban areas (74% of all urban households)
  • 826,559 live in rural areas (only 35.6% of all rural households)

So while three quarters of urbanites have access to the internet, only 36% of rural households enjoy the same. When we consider that two thirds of Zimbabweans live in rural areas we realise that rural folk are underrepresented. [Continue reading…]

Tom Clark, K3IO/W3IWI, TAPR Founder Deceased (TAPR)

Tom Clark, K3IO (formerly W3IWI), became a silent key on September 28. Tom was one of TAPR’s founders and served as Executive Vice President (1987-1989) and Director (1983-1993) of our organization. Tom was also a former AMSAT-NA President and ham radio satellite and digital pioneer. He died after a short illness and hospital stay.

From The ARRL Letter:

An ARRL Life Member and ARRL Maxim Society and Diamond Club member, Clark’s accomplishments are legendary, and he left a lasting footprint on the worlds of amateur radio satellites and digital techniques.

“His longtime technical achievements, mentoring to others, and technical leadership will be missed by his many peers and friends the world over,” said Bob McGwier, N4HY.

To honor Clark, AMSAT has rebranded its upcoming annual gathering as The 2021 AMSAT Dr. Tom Clark, K3IO, Memorial Space Symposium and Annual General. It will take place on October 30 via Zoom. (AMSAT members may register to attend via AMSAT’s Member Portal.) The event will be livestreamed on AMSAT’s YouTube channel.

A founding member of Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR), Clark was a cofounder of the TAPR/AMSAT DSP Project, which led to software-defined radio. He was a leader in the development of the AX.25 packet radio protocol. Clark served as AMSAT’s second president, from 1980 until 1987. He also served on the AMSAT and TAPR Boards.

In concert with McGwier, Clark developed the first amateur DSP hardware, including a number of modems. He developed the uplink receivers and the spacecraft LAN architecture used on all the Microsats (Oscars 16, 17, 18, 19, 26, 27, and 31). McGwier said it was Clark who convinced him in 1985 that the future lay in DSP.

“We started the TAPR/AMSAT DSP project, and it was announced in 1987,” McGwier recounted. “We showed in our efforts that small stations with small antennas could bounce signals off the moon, and using the power of DSP, we could see the signals in our computer displays.” This led to the software-defined transponder (SDX) for satellite work, including ARISSat and AMSAT’s Phase 3E.

Clark received a doctorate in astro-geophysics from the University of Colorado. He went on to serve as Chief of the Astronomy Branch at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and was a Senior Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he was principal investigator for the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) activity.

In 2005, he became the first non-Russian to be awarded the Special Medal of the Russian Academy of Sciences for his contributions to the international VLBI network. He is a member of the 2001 class of CQ Magazine’s Amateur Radio Hall of Fame.

In 2016, ARRL awarded Clark with its President’s Award, to recognize his 60 years of advancing amateur radio technology. On that occasion, McGwier said, “There would be no AMSAT to inspire all of this work without Tom Clark. Tom…saved the organization and inspired all of us to look to the future and aim for the stars,” McGwier said.

Clark was a Fellow of the American Geophysical Society and the International Association of Geodesy. [Click here to read on the TAPR website.]

SAQ Grimeton UN-Day Transmission on October 24th, 2021 (SAQ Grimeton)

On United Nations Day, Sunday October 24th, 2021, the unique and historical Alexanderson alternator in Grimeton Sweden, with call sign SAQ, is scheduled to send out a message to the whole world on 17.2 kHz CW.

Program and Transmission Schedule:
15:30 CET (13:30 UTC: Information about World Heritage Grimeton for visitors at the Visitor’s Center
16:00 CET (14:00 UTC): Transmitter Hall visit for visitors.

Transmission & YouTube Live stream:
16:25 CET (14:25 UTC): Live stream begins.
16:30 CET (14:30 UTC): Startup and tuning of the Alexanderson Alternator SAQ.
17:00 CET (15:00 UTC): Transmission of a message from SAQ.

YouTube Live Stream:
17:20 (15:20 UTC): Live music concert from the transmitter hall. More details to follow on our website.

We are proud to announce that this year’s message has been composed by the Swedish human rights lawyer and sustainability expert Ms. Parul Sharma.

Test Transmissions
We are planning to carry our some test transmission on October 22nd, approximatley between 13:00 CET (11:00 UTC) and 16:00 CET (14:00 UTC). SAQ will be on air shorter periods of time during this interval, when we will be carrying out some tests and measurements. Your comments are welcome to [email protected].

Live Video from World Heritage Grimeton Radio Station
The event can be seen live on our YouTube Channel or by following the link below.

QSL Reports to SAQ
QSL reports to SAQ are most welcome and appreciated!
For guaranteed E-QSL from us, please report using our ONLINE FORM.
We can not guarantee that reports by Email / mail / bureau will be confirmed.
The online form will be open from October 24th until November 14th.

Amateur Radio Station SK6SAQ
The Amateur Radio Station with the call “SK6SAQ” will be QRV on the following frequencies:
– 3.535 kHz CW
– 7.035 kHz CW
– 14.035 KHz CW
– 3.755 kHz SSB
– 7.140 kHz SSB

QSL-reports to SK6SAQ (NOT SAQ) are kindly received via:
– Email to [email protected]
– or via: SM bureau
– or direct by postal mail

Two stations will be on the air most of the time.

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One thought on “Radio Waves: FM CB, Radio Listeners in Zimbabwe, Tom Clark SK, and SAQ Grimeton UN-Day Transmission

  1. Richard Langley

    I knew Tom Clark. My Ph.D. research was on VLBI and I continued to work in the field a bit during my post-doctoral work at MIT and when I first got to the University of New Brunswick back here in Canada. He was THE VLBI guru. I can remember visiting him at his lab at the Goddard Space Flight Center in the early 1980s and feeling inspired by his passion for the technology and the engineering and science advances that VLBI provided. A number of the VLBI advances were reported in leading journals such as Nature and I was proud to be a member of the VLBI fraternity. Factoid: Which country first demonstrated a VLBI capability? Canada! Not bad, eh?


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