Monthly Archives: February 2024

Dan’s Overview of the Stampfl Stressless Receiver Kit

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares this review of the new Stampfl Stressless receiver:


The Stampfl “Stressless”

by Dan Robinson

Stampfl based in Switzerland is well known as a manufacturer of excellent antennas, morse keys, and other equipment for amateur radio operators and SWLs. Now, Stampfl is offering what it calls the “Stressless” HF receiver. Housed in a beautiful heavy metal cabinet, one would think that there would be more to this than there is actually is — it’s a very basic receiver made, as the name implies, for those who want a minimum of stress in their HF listening.

Note: All photos have been sourced from Stampfl.

It is intended as an assembly kit, with some minimal soldering required. Heinz Stampfl notes that the VFO and RX board are fully assembled and tested. Total construction time is estimated a 1-2 hours. Star of the show on the Stressless is the large color display which enables changing of colors, tuning step, VFO A/B, attenuation, and memories. The single bandwidth has been well chosen — I had no problems listening to Voz Missionaria in Brazil on 9,665 khz though any stations requiring separation will be a challenge for this receiver since there is no SSB and that one bandwidth. The receiver tunes from 100 kHz to 30 MHz.

One would hope that firmware might be upgradeable, but Stampfl states that this is not possible, which is a bit of a puzzle. The receiver runs on 11-15V DC — the only other thing on the back of the cabinet is the BNC antenna input.

I’ll have more thoughts on the “Stressless” after I complete additional testing. So far, it has appeal as a very simple receiver with high sensitivity and a beautiful front interface. It might be a good choice for beginning SWLs, as many of them as there are out there, but the price/feature ratio is a bit of steep climb against the background of Tecsun portables with multi-bandwidth and SSB capabilities, not to mention the recently released Choyong LC90 which combines good SW, AM, and FM with Internet radio.

The “Stressless” — for those who can afford the price — would be good as an easy-to-use main listening receiver for stations not requiring much DXing skill or tools to separate. These days with the SW bands populated by fewer stations, this receiver might be fun to have around and it is certainly a good way to teach the radio hobby to newcomers.

The “Stressless” I am testing arrived well-packed in a clam-shell style inner box — it was already assembled by Stampfl for which I am grateful. The company also makes the X One Active Dipole antenna, which I am also testing at the moment and will have more on at a later date.

Click here to check out and order the Stampfl Stressless.

Video:

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RadioSide: A cool, web-based, portable internet radio interface

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alex, who writes:

Thomas,

I am Alex and a reader of SWLing for quite a while, particularly in
terms of reviews and tests, very helpful and I appreciate your work.

As a listener myself enjoying my Tecsun PL-680 among others, I have
also created a website that looks like a radio, turning your spare
device into a radio, giving one similar experience to shortwave
radios, particularly in the aspect of operation and in the serendipity
of discovery new stations.

I figured I’d share it with you an would love to hear your thoughts.

This is something I enjoy using, not making any money from it and the
main purpose is the enjoyment I get, hoping others feel the same.

You can check it out at radioside.com

Sincerely,
Alex Dragusin

I think this is brilliant! Thank you for sharing–I love the auto-resizing SW portable interface! Very nice I’m bookmarking this right now. Thanks again, Alex.

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Eclipse Radio: Several NASA-Funded Science Projects

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia, who shares the following article via NASA:


The Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse douses Umatilla National Forest in shadow, darkening the sky and rimming the horizon with a 360 degree sunset. Credit: NASA/Mara Johnson-Groh

NASA-Funded Science Projects Tuning In to ‘Eclipse Radio’ (NASA)

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross parts of the United States. For millions of people along the path of totality, where the Moon will completely cover the Sun, it may feel like an eerie daytime darkness has descended as temperatures drop and wind patterns change. But these changes are mild compared to what happens some 100 to 400 miles above our heads in an electrically conductive layer of our atmosphere known as the ionosphere, where the “false night” of an eclipse is amplified a hundredfold. Three NASA-funded experiments will investigate the eclipse’s effects on the ionosphere through the power of radio, a technology well suited to studying this enigmatic layer of our atmosphere.

Whether you’ve heard of the ionosphere or not, you’ve likely taken advantage of its existence. This electric blanket of particles is critical for long-distance AM and shortwave radio. Radio operators aim their transmitters into the sky, “bouncing” signals off this layer and around the curvature of Earth to extend their broadcast by hundreds or even thousands of miles.

The ionosphere is sustained by our Sun. The Sun’s rays separate negatively charged electrons from atoms, creating the positively charged ions that the ionosphere is named for. When night falls, over 60 miles of the ionosphere disappears as ions and electrons recombine into neutral atoms. Come dawn, the electrons are freed again and the ionosphere swells in the Sun’s illumination – a daily cycle of “breathing” in and out at a global scale.

A total solar eclipse is a scientific goldmine – a rare chance to observe a natural experiment in action. On April 8 the three NASA-funded projects listed below are among those “tuning in” to the changes wrought by a blotted-out Sun.

SuperDARN

The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, or SuperDARN, is a collection of radars located at sites around the world. They bounce radio waves off of the ionosphere and analyze the returning signal. Their data reveals changes in the ionosphere’s density, temperature, and location (i.e. movement).

The 2024 eclipse will pass over three U.S.-based SuperDARN radars. A team of scientists led by Bharat Kunduri, a professor at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, have been busy preparing for it.

“The changes in solar radiation that occur during a total solar eclipse can result in a ’thinning’ of the ionosphere,” Kunduri said. “During the eclipse, SuperDARN will operate in special modes designed to monitor the changes in the ionosphere at finer spatiotemporal scales.”

Kunduri’s team will compare SuperDARN’s measurements to predictions from computer models to answer questions about how the ionosphere responds to a solar eclipse.

HamSCI

While some experiments rely on massive radio telescopes, others depend more on people power. The Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation, or HamSCI, is a NASA citizen science project that involves amateur or “ham” radio operators. On April 8, ham radio operators across the country will attempt to send and receive signals to one another before, during, and after the eclipse. Led by Nathaniel Frissell, a professor of Physics and Engineering at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, HamSCI participants will share their radio data to catalog how the sudden loss of sunlight during totality affects their radio signals.

This experiment follows similar efforts completed during the 2017 total solar eclipse and the 2023 annular eclipse.

“During the 2017 eclipse, we found that the ionosphere behaved very similar to nighttime,” Frissell said. Radio signals traveled farther, and frequencies that typically work best at night became usable. Frissell hopes to continue the comparison between eclipses and the day/night cycle, assessing how widespread the changes in the ionosphere are and comparing the results to computer models.

RadioJOVE

Some radio signals don’t bounce off of the ionosphere – instead, they pass right through it. Our Sun is constantly roiling with magnetic eruptions, some of which create radio bursts. These long-wavelength bursts of energy can be detected by radio receivers on Earth. But first they must pass through the ionosphere, whose ever-changing characteristics affect whether and how these signals make it to the receiver.

The RadioJOVE project is a team of citizen scientists dedicated to documenting radio signals from space, especially Jupiter. During the total solar eclipse, RadioJOVE participants will focus on the Sun. Using radio antenna kits they set up themselves, they’ll record solar radio bursts before, during, and after the eclipse.

During the 2017 eclipse, some participants recorded a reduced intensity of solar radio bursts. But more observations are needed to draw firm conclusions. “With better training and more observers, we’ll get better coverage to further study radio propagation through the ionosphere,” said Chuck Higgins, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University and founding member of RadioJOVE. “We hope to continue longer-term observations, through the Heliophysics Big Year and beyond.”

Find out more about the April 8, 2024, solar eclipse on NASA’s eclipse page.

By Miles Hatfield
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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Chasing rainbows and PDQ Bach

Hi all SWLing Post Community, FastRadioBurst 23 from Imaginary Stations crew letting you know about our shows this week. Via the services of Shortwave Gold on Sunday 25th February 2024 at 1000/1400 hrs UTC on 6160 kHz and then at 2100 UTC on 3975 kHz we have the many colours of WRBW “Where rainbows connect us all”. Expect all the colours of the rainbow and a pantone swatch book of hits.

Then via WRMI on Thursday 29th February 2024 at 0300 UTC on 9395 kHz we have a musical tribute to Peter Schickele, Composer, Satirist, Radio DJ and bon vivant. Our tribute is an hour of music from PDQ Bach, the “youngest and the oddest of the twenty-odd children of Johann Sebastian Bach”. The show is certainly one interesting listen and something different for your airwaves. Tune in next Thursday and enjoy some classical madness.

We are still looking for some financial help to cover our production and transmission costs for our shows on shortwave so here’s our fundraising video below. We’d love to keep our show on the air for the rest of 2024 and looking for donations (no matter how small as everything helps) to keep our shows bouncing off that ionosphere. Remember radio connects us all!

For more information on the shows please email [email protected] and check out our old shows here.

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Radio Waves: Radio Bulgaria’s Polish Service, AM Support, HBCU Radio Preservation Project, Golden Age of Radio Exhibition, and EAS Alert Language

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!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors David Iurescia and NT for the following tips:


When the BNR “spoke” Polish (BNR)

Radio Bulgaria is trying to track down old recordings of its radio programmes

Today, the Bulgarian National Radio’s foreign language service Radio Bulgaria “speaks” 11 languages. Through the years, languages have been added, others have been dropped – something that happened to the Polish-language programmes. They were aired by Radio Sofia, as the Bulgarian National Radio was called then, and by Radio Varna channel in the seaside city of the same name, but today they are rarely made mention of in the history of the BNR.

We were contacted by ham operator Jaros?aw Jedrzejczak from Poland who helped us pick up the missing information, putting an enormous amount of effort into tracing the history of the undeservedly forgotten programmes in Polish.

“Radio is a hobby of mine. When shortwave radio stations started closing down their Polish-language services, I took an interest in their history,” Mr. Jedrzejczak says. “In the Polish weekly “World of radio” I came across an advert for Radio Sofia from 1946, from which I found out it had aired 10-minute broadcasts in Polish from Bulgaria. That was when I started looking for information about Radio Sofia and to listen to these broadcasts. That was 30 years ago.”

Jaros?aw set about tracking down the Polish broadcasts. He got in touch with the first anchors and translators of Radio Sofia and Radio Varna’s Polish-language programmes, their heirs, collected the memories of the first people working at the foreign-language programmes, kept up a correspondence with the BNR. Who were they, who were the people speaking their own language from faraway Bulgaria? [Continue reading…]

Your Phone Has Nothing on AM Radio (The Atlantic) 

Why Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are teaming up to save the century-old technology

By Jacob Stern

There is little love lost between Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Rashida Tlaib. She has called him a “dumbass” for his opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement; he has called her and her allies “shills for terrorists” on account of their support for Palestine. Lately, though, the right-wing Cruz and the left-wing Tlaib have found a cause they can both get behind: saving AM radio.

In recent years, a number of carmakers—BMW, Volvo, Tesla—have stopped offering AM radio in at least some models, especially electric cars. The problem is that their motors cause electromagnetic interference on the same frequency bands in which AM radio operates, in some cases making the already fuzzy medium inaudible. Carmakers do have ways to filter out the interference, but they are costly and imperfect—all to maintain a format that is in decline anyway. AM radio was eclipsed by the superior-sounding FM in the late ’70s, and the century-old technology can seem akin to floppy disks in the age of Spotify and podcasts. According to Ford’s internal data gathered from some of its newer vehicles, less than 5 percent of all in-car listening is to AM radio. Which is perhaps why Ford decided last year to drop AM from all of its vehicles, not just EVs.

Because so much listening happens in the car, the Ford news seemed like the beginning of the end for the whole medium. But just a few weeks after announcing that decision, the company reneged in response to political pressure. Before Ford’s reversal, Cruz and Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, had introduced the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, which would require exactly what its title suggests. [Continue reading…note: paywall]

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project (WYSO)

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project is dedicated to honoring and preserving the vibrant history and cultural resource that is HBCU radio.

Nearly a third of the 104 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have radio stations, and many have been on the air for more than fifty years. Much of the material created at these stations is at risk of being lost. Magnetic tape and other obsolete formats are deteriorating, and with them the primary source material that documents the rich history and diversity of the Black experience through the Civil Rights era and beyond. Present day digital material is also at risk.

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project grew out of a 2019 survey of HBCU radio stations to assess their preservation practices and needs. We collaborated with the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) on a follow up pilot project. With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, we are now in the implementation phase of the project, partnering over the next four years with WYSO, NEDCC, the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The goals of the project are to foster an ethos of preservation at HBCU radio stations, to preserve the stations’ audio collections, and to facilitate capacity-building and sustainability through connecting and supporting the stations and the institutional archives on campus.

We will be able to serve all 29 HBCU radio stations through the project. Our replicable model will serve not only HBCUs, but ultimately any college radio station—and tribal stations, rural stations, and other public and community stations. [Continue reading…]

Golden Age of Radio in US (DPLA)

Tuning into the radio is now an integrated part of our everyday lives. We tune in while we drive, while we work, while we cook in our kitchens. Just 100 years ago, it was a novelty to turn on a radio. The radio emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, the result of decades of scientific experimentation with the theory that information could be transmitted over long distances. Radio as a medium reached its peak—the so-called Radio Golden Age—during the Great Depression and World War II. This was a time when the world was rapidly changing, and for the first time Americans experienced those history-making events as they happened. The emergence and popularity of radio shifted not just the way Americans across the country experienced news and entertainment, but also the way they communicated. This exhibition explores the development, rise, and adaptation of the radio, and its impact on American culture.

Explore Exhibition here

FCC Report 2/18: Should Stations Be Required To Offer EAS Alerts In The Language Of Its Programming? (Radio Insight)

The commission is opening a comment period for a proposed rulemaking for a “simplified multilingual alert processing approach for EAS alerts through which pre-scripted alerts that have been pre-translated into non-English languages can be initiated by alert originators for distribution to the public by the TV and radio broadcasters, cable service providers, and other services that make up the EAS public alert distribution system.” Among the topics the proposal seeks comments are whether stations should be required to transmit alerts in the language of the program content it carries, whether stations should also be allowed to transmit templated alerts in languages that do not correspond to the content offered on the station or whether to limit it to the language that corresponds to the station’s programming.

The proposal would see alerts offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese along with English and ASL. The FCC noted that the preliminary 2023 national EAS test revealed that already 2% of EAS participants transmitted alerts in Spanish, while 0.1% did so in other non-English languages. [Continue reading…]


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Is Someone Refurbing Shortwave Transmitters In Ethiopia?

I think the answer to this is.. YES! I say that based upon my monitoring from here in McGrath, Alaska.

I’ve never ever ever heard Amhara State Radio on 6090khz from my QTH. Now, that doesn’t mean they’ve never been on, but I’ve never even heard a carrier from them and I can’t recall anyone logging them.

Well, Saturday night February 17th (AK time) I detected an initially unknown signal on 6090khz. I noticed it just after 0300 Sun Feb. 18, I heard what was very decidedly African continent sounding music. It appeared to be one long track on a loop, because 2 days later, I had the same melody going for over 15 minutes… so I kept listening on that 3rd day and heard it fade down as it ended and started again.

There was no modulation that 2nd day. But as we look at the 3rd day again, I heard a different track start about 0345UTC or so. About,0352 I heard a guy speak (!!) but the signal started to lose steam quickly. About 0356 which is the listed sign on for Amhara on 6090khz, I heard an actual song start and about 0401 I heard a lady speak with what sounded like music.

Amharic is used on Shortwave by the BBC, Deutsche Welle and the VOA. While I don’t claim to be a language expert at all, what I heard on 6090 did sound similar to what I’ve heard from other broadcasters.

Fast forward to Wednesday night February 21st (AK Time), I detected a signal on 6110khz. To be fair, I’ve had something an “ok-ish”  a few times from my Alaska QTH but with less modulation than Cuba or Iran.  On Feb. 22nd (UTC) on the 0300 hour, I had a GOOD signal with modulation (!!) on 6110khz.

6110’s audio had, again like 6090khz, decidedly African continent  sounding music and lots of speech that sounded like Amharic to me.

6090khz and 6110khz either share a site or are close by. Is someone refurbing their transmitters…. China?  I sent a message to the Amhara State Media Facebook page but haven’t gotten an answer back.

I wonder what’s going on here? Your thoughts and comments are welcome

Paul Walker

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