Radio Waves: Radio Martí, SDRs for Ukraine, Military Morse Code Innovation, and RFE/RL Opens Riga Bureau

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Radio Martí news: Migrants land by Keys broadcasting tower promoting Cuban democracy (Miami Herald)

Washington maintains a waterfront radio tower in the Florida Keys to broadcast programming aimed at encouraging democracy and press freedom in Cuba, and on Sunday that area in Marathon was the landing spot for a group of migrants fleeing the island. A boat of 25 migrants arrived on the shores of Sister Creek, home to a Radio Martí transmission station on Sunday morning, said Adam Hoffner, assistant chief patrol agent for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Miami operations. The landing was one of two known migrant arrivals in the Keys on Sunday, with another 28 Cubans arriving on private property in Key Largo. While the government-run broadcasting agency targets Cuban listeners with Spanish programming, Radio Martí reports typically discourage the kind of voyage that reportedly landed some Cubans on or near Martí property, said Tomás Regalado, the former Miami mayor who also recently ran the agency that oversees Radio and TV Martí. “Historically, the migrant situation was something that was treated as news,” Regalado said. “But with the caveat that it’s a very dangerous trip and not recommended.” [Read more here…]

Ukraine Uses Off-The-Shelf Electronics To Target Russian Communications (Forbes)

A nonprofit organization based in the U.S. is supplying Ukrainian forces with advanced electronic warfare gear assembled from simple off-the-shelf components. The secret is a new technology known as Software Defined Radio (SDR) which can locate Russian radio emitters, from command centers to drone operators. Previously this sort of capability required expensive, high-grade military equipment.

Serge Sklyarenko says his organization, American Ukrainian Aid Foundation, based in New York, is supplying Ukrainian intelligence with a number of the versatile SDR radio kits.

“The beauty of them is they are software defined, meaning they can be reprogrammed in the field to suit a multitude of use cases,” Sklyarenko told me.

In a traditional radio set, the signal from an antenna is processed by dedicated hardware – amplifiers, filters, modulator/demodulators and other components. This means that each radio set is dedicated to one particular type of radio signal, whether it is a 5G cellphone, AM radio, digital television or WiFi. In Software Defined Radio, the only dedicated hardware is the antenna. All the signal processing is carried out digitally with a computer. Simply by changing the programming, an SDR can extract the signal for cellphone, radio, Bluetooth, or any other defined waveform. One device can do everything. [Continue reading…]

Innovation on Morse Code for the US Military (SOFREP)

On January 10, 1991, the U.S. Army Intelligence School Devens (USAISD) introduced the Basic Morse Mission Trainer to the 98H Morse intercept operator and 98D emitter identifier/locator advanced individual training courses. This system revolutionized the training of Morse code copying skills for both students and instructors, reducing course attrition, and turning out better trained operators faster.

In April 1985, the deputy secretary of defense had approved the consolidation of all four military services’ manual Morse intercept training at USAISD, located at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. By 1988, consolidated training was in full swing, but instructors struggled with high attrition rates and student burnout in the basic Morse course. Mitigation measures included shortening the training day, standing up a diagnostic laboratory to help identify learning patterns of Morse students, and developing an aptitude test to predict student success in the course.

Perhaps the most significant factor to reducing course failures, however, was the introduction of the Basic Morse Mission Trainer (BMMT) to teach touch-typing and basic Morse code. Developed by Russell Beller and Kevin Mott, two civilian instructors in USAISD’s Morse Collection Department (MCD), the new computer-based system would replace the antiquated Morse Code Trainer (MCT)-4 in use since the late 1960s. The Army awarded a procurement contract to Engineering Research Associates on April 19, 1989 which delivered the new systems in October 1990. Three months later, on January 10, 1991, the BMMT was used for the first time in training. [Continue reading…]

RFE/RL Opens Bureau In Riga With Focus On Russian-Language Content (RFE/RL)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has opened a new bureau in the Latvian capital, Riga, aimed at producing “trusted news and objective reporting” as part of its efforts to counter Russian disinformation and censorship.

RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly expressed gratitude to Latvia, saying “we are excited to be able to work together to tackle Russia’s malign influence and provide hope to those who are still denied freedom.”

Latvian President Egils Levits, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia John Carwile, and other dignitaries were expected to attend the opening of the bureau, which will eventually host facilities for Current Time, a 24/7 Russian-language news platform run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

The Riga office is expected to become one of the company’s largest reporting hubs and will produce Russian-language content, including investigative reports and non-news programming as well as Current Time’s morning show.

It will also produce Russian-language content for audiences in the Baltic countries, wider Europe, and other countries, including a daily news program covering the Baltic region aimed at countering Russian disinformation about the three European Union and NATO members that were once part of the Soviet Union.

RFE/RL closed its offices in Russia in March 2022 in the wake of the Kremlin’s decades-long assault on independent media. Since Moscow launched its massive unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, most independent national media outlets have either closed down or left the country under government pressure.

At the same time, traffic to RFE/RL websites from within Russia has increased to record numbers despite significant Kremlin censorship.

Both at the war’s start and at key moments, video views from within Russia have surged, “demonstrating the immense appetite of Russian-language audiences to know the truth,” RFE/RL said in a statement.

“RFE/RL’s award-winning coverage is meeting this demand with extensive reporting on Russian atrocities, conscription, and more,” it added.

Earlier this week, RFE/RL opened a new office in Vilnius, Lithuania, to target audiences in Belarus with content in both Belarusian and Russian in a bid to counter state propaganda and censorship by the government of authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media. It distributes information in 27 languages to 23 countries where media freedom is restricted or professional journalism is underdeveloped. [Read at RFE/RL.]

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2 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Radio Martí, SDRs for Ukraine, Military Morse Code Innovation, and RFE/RL Opens Riga Bureau

  1. mangosman

    Software defined radio
    In 1982, while working under a US Department of Defense contract at RCA, Ulrich L. Rohde’s department developed the first SDR.
    It uses the The homodyne was developed in 1932 by a team of British scientists searching for a design to surpass the superheterodyne (two stage conversion model). The design was later renamed the “synchrodyne”. Now it is also called the Direct Conversion receiver. The idea is to shift the incoming signal frequency down to near zero, typically 12 kHz by mixing the amplified incoming signal with an oscillator signal which is 12 kHz above the incoming signal frequency. The resulting frequency is then fed into an analog to digital converter and to software filtering and demodulation. If it is a digital signal it is then error corrected and de-multiplexed into sound data and control data. The sound data is digital to analog converted and sent to a speaker.
    SDRs are used in phones because it will tune a huge range of frequencies and a typical receiver has a tuner chip and a specialised microprocessor to do the rest. They are also used in MF, HF, VHF receivers, and TV receivers, along with WiFi.
    The same process in reverse can be used in transmitters.


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