In the 1980s, Margaret Iaquinto was an amateur ham radio operator who communicated with Russian cosmonauts in space. She talked to them for over a year. Iaquinto died in 2014. But her son Ben Iaquinto remembers the friendships she developed with the cosmonauts. Marco Werman speaks to Ben Iaquinto about his mom’s hobby and the conversations she had with these Russian cosmonauts.
If you’re a radio fan, or have merely been stuck in a car as day transitions into night, you may have noticed that you don’t get quite as clear signal in the hours of darkness.
Before you assume that it’s a plot by reverse vampires (possibly in conjunction with the saucer people) in order to make radio listeners go to bed, you should know that it’s actually the result of a requirement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to power down or turn off at night, and the FCC in turn are required to do this by the laws of physics.
It all has to do with wavelengths and the ionosphere. During the daytime, AM signals primarily propagate close to the ground (known as ground wave propagation) and follow the curves of the Earth. In the daylight hours, AM signals sent by radio stations can cover around 162 kilometers (100 miles) before you will struggle to hear the signal.
As good as this is, at night the ability of long waves to propagate large distances becomes a problem, thanks to the ionosphere. Between 80 and 600 kilometers (50-373 miles) above the Earth, particles in the Earth’s atmosphere are bombarded with Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) and x-ray solar radiation, ionizing them as they do so. The ionosphere grows and shrinks (on your side of the planet) depending on the time of day.
At night, the layer reflects AM radio signals (known as “skywave” propagation) to a much greater degree than during the day, allowing the signal to be carried for hundreds of miles further than during the day. While this may sound like good news, it is what’s known as a “pain in the butt” for any communication regulators out there, or people who want to listen to anything other than an indiscernible mess of static.
“Because of this change in signal propagation from daytime to nighttime, if every AM station kept its daytime operating power at night, massive interference would result,” the FCC explains on their website. [Continue reading…]
‘The sky’s the limit. There’s just so many different things that you can learn’
The amateur radio community on P.E.I. is growing, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and post-tropical storm Fiona.
Stratford resident Brent Taylor has been a ham radio operator for 38 years, in New Brunswick and P.E.I. He goes by the call sign VY2HF.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic. We have been so thrilled with the number of people that have come forward, and now that we’re getting them on the air,” Taylor said.
“Probably because of COVID, and maybe because of Fiona, there’s been a more of an interest, I think, in people wanting to be able to maintain their connections with each other, even from their own homes.”
Taylor said a dozen people started the 12-week training program in the fall, and eight passed their exams and are now licensed operators.
“The most diverse I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been teaching off and on this course for 35-plus years. To see the number of women in the course, for one thing, is just tremendous,” Taylor said.
“Also, cultural diversity and a wide range of ages from as young as 12 years old.” [Continue reading…]
“Please be informed that the production of the FT-818ND and FTM-400XDR will be discontinued. We are forced to make this unfortunate decision due to difficulty we are having with the availability of some components. We appreciate your long-term patronage of the FT-818ND and FTM-400XDR.”
I’m quite a fan of the FT-818 and FT-817 series radios. I purchased the original FT-817 from the very first production run in 2001. At the time, I was living in the UK and traveling extensively throughout Europe. The Yaesu FT-817 was such a capable traveling companion and also well-suited for the shack.
The FT-817 was the first affordable QRP general coverage transceiver from one of the “big three” manufacturers (approx. $670 US from the very beginning) that not only covered all of the HF bands, but even VHF and UHF. It also had a rechargeable battery pack and two separate and selectable antenna inputs (SO-239 and BNC); a unique feature set to this very day!
Yeasu knocked it out of the ballpark so hard that over two decades later, this same radio (slightly upgraded as the FT-818ND) was still being manufactured. It was a QRP-sized cash cow for Yaesu.
As a shortwave radio listener, I’m incredibly pleased with the 817/818’s performance as a broadcast band receiver. When I lived in the UK, especially, it was my only shortwave radio connected to a proper longwire antenna and it served me incredibly well. Its main drawback was the tiny front faceplate and mini encoder, but its other features compensated for its ergonomics.
While the FT-818ND is very much a legacy design and outdated when compared to modern SDR transceivers with built-in sound cards, spectrum displays, SWR analyzers, variable filters, etc. it still very much holds its own.
If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a new FT-818ND, now would be the time to bite the bullet. It’s your last chance to purchase one new from an authorized distributor, carrying a full factory warranty. Most Yaesu distributors still have inventory, but they are being depleted fairly quickly.
Click here to check inventory at the following retailers:
For over a decade I’ve seen rumors floating around about a replacement for the FT-817/818. While I should hope that Yaesu is in the process of designing another QRP radio (especially since QRP and field radios are such a hot segment of the ham radio market at present), they’ve been clear that they’ve no plans to announce a replacement anytime soon.
Carlos’ goal is to vividly illustrate the broadcaster’s message in his own unique artistic style and is not a reflection of his own beliefs or those of the SWLing Post. His objective is for his artwork to add historical context and put a visual with the news, reporting, and broadcast content:
Listening in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, on shortwave frequency of 12095 kHz, US-based Cold War-era evangelical radio station FEBC, broadcasting from The Philippines to Hmong mountain tribes.
If you’ve been looking for a super-basic, AM/FM portable radio, the RF-2400D is worth considering. The RF-2400D reminds me of the Sony ICF-38: slide rule dial, few controls and a power cord that plugs directly into the back (no “wall wart” style power supply needed). Like most modern portables, the 2400D is a DSP receiver, thus subject to “steps” as you band scan across the analog dial. It’s all pretty smooth, though and feels like an analog radio. I have spent a little time with the RF-2400D and thought it to be a pleasant, little simple radio. It’s not a DX machine, but can easily receive all of your local stations and night time flame throwers.
I often receive inquiries from readers who are seeking a simple radio for an elderly friend or relative–one that’s tactile, easy to operate, and affordable. The Panasonic RF-2400D fits the bill!
Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica (Source: British Antarctic Survey)
On Friday, 21 June 2019, the BBC World Service officially transmitted the 2019 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast–an international radio broadcast intended for a small group of scientists, technicians, and support staff who work for the British Antarctic Survey.
This is one of my favorite annual broadcasts, and I endeavor to listen every year. Once again, the SWLing Post called upon readers to make a short recording of the broadcast from their locale.
Below are the entries, roughly organized by continent and country/region. We had a total of twenty seven recordings submitted from all seven continents this year–simply amazing!
Putting this post together takes almost a full dedicated day sorting recordings and formatting them for the Post. If I’ve somehow missed including your entry, please contact me; I’ll amend this post.
So, without further ado we begin with a recording made in Antarctica at Germany’s Neumayer-Station III:
The 2019 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast Recordings
Neumayer Station III, Antarctica
SWL: Andreas Mueller, DL3LRM Location: Neumayer-Station-III, Antarctica Notes:
Cheers from Antarctica, I am the radio operator and electronic
engineer of the 39th overwintering team at Germany’s Neumayer-Station
III. Thanks to your blog and post on Facebook I got aware of the
annual BBC broadcasts to Antarctica, and was able to sneak away from
the festivities to enjoy these 30 minutes. And would like to provide
a recording as requested by you.
SWL report by Andreas Mueller, DL3LRM
Location: 70°40’S, 008° 16’W, Neumayer-Station-III, Antarctica
Equipment: Yaesu-450D, Commercial Broadband Dipole 2x35m
The recording is about two minutes long, first 30 Seconds on 5875kHz,
then I switched to 7360kHz and remained there for the rest of the
show. I also have my little FT-817 running as a backup and control
unit, and it also confirmed that 7360kHz was the best frequency, with
S7 to S8 Signal strength, and some fading now and then. 5875kHz was
about S5, and I cannot remember hearing anything on 9455kHz, but I
have to admit that I checked that frequency only briefly.
Thanks again for bringing that broadcast to my attention, it really
was a special treat for me on that day.
SWL: Vermont M. Coronel Jr. Location: Manila, Philippines Notes:
Recording of the 2019 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast. Signal was, I believe coming in from Ascension Island. Signal was very weak since the Sun was already above the horizon at the time of broadcast. I continued to listen for a few minutes and towards the end of the broadcast. I heard greetings from the relatives of those who are currently stationed in the Antarctic. This is a once a year special program to the scientists and support staff in the British Antarctic Survey Team. Received in Quezon City with a 45 foot antenna. -Vermont
Ciao Thomas, I am Davide Borroni from Italy my city is Saronno . I send you my videos, made with my receivers: R&S EK 56, Siemens E401 and R1251. The signal on all three frequencies was excellent here in Italy. As an antenna I used a magnetic loop of 2 meters in diameter.
I hope you like my videos
Very good signal to all frequency + 20 Db !
Utc Time 21.30-20.00
Setup: Rx jrc nrd 91, jrc nrd 545 dsp, WJ 8718-9, antenna loop Wellbrook ALA 1530.
Rx Marconi Marine Apollo and Zeppelin antenna 16.2 Mt.
[L]istened to the programme bbc antarctica on 5875 khz and 7360 khz sinfo 54554 both using a sangean ats 818 with a 27 metre antenna long wire. good job and wonderful broadcast. Sending mp3 recording.
Greeting from Malta
Adrian swl 9H4001SWL
SWL: Nuno Oliveira Location: Santarem, Portugal Notes:
This is the video from Santarem, Portugal with the 3 frequencies.
The first video is a Tecsun PL-880 with a 1 meter aluminium rod outside and 12 meters of RG58 coax.
Here is a link to my youtube recording of this years BBC Antartic Midwinter broadcast.
All three signals were good readable at my location in Scotland.
The best reception I got was from Ascension Island on 7360 AM, as there was Ute QRM on 5875.
Details of my RX etc are on the youtube video.
Regards and 73,
SWL: Richard Langley Location: Hanwell, New Brunswick Notes:
I obtained a good recording of the BAS broadcast here in New Brunswick, Canada, on 9455 kHz using a Tecsun PL-880 receiver outdoors at my house with a Tecsun AN-03L 7-metre wire antenna strung to a nearby tree. Attached is a two-minute clip from the start of my recording. Also attached is a photo of the “listening post” at the back of my mosquito-infested backyard. Note the mosquito on the protective box housing the receiver and recorder!
https://youtu.be/3rGxxBMWiVw is “49 seconds of the 2019 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast as received at WA1LOU in Wolcott, CT, USA using an ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and Hy-Gain 18 AVT/WB-A vertical antenna. I programmed the four frequencies that were originally announced for the broadcast into the IC-R8600, but learned afterwords that only three were used (5875, 7360, 9455). I had solid copy on 9455 throughout the broadcast. 7360 had a lot of fading, but was still fair copy throughout the broadcast. 5875 was very poor copy during the last 10 minutes; there was no copy for the first 20 minutes.”
SWL: Bob (W2RWM) Location: North Babylon, NY Notes:
Receiving frequency was 7360 kHz. 5875 had a continuous buzz, 9455 was fading in and out too much to understand.
Location is on North Babylon, NY, USA
Equipment is a Yaesu FT-950 and an HyEndFed 80-10 meter antenna oriented North and South.
SWL: Chris Mackerell Location: Marahau, New Zealand Notes:
Here’s the first minute of the 2019 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast as heard here at my home in Marahau, New Zealand.
5875 is in USB to avoid the Stanag signal nearby, the others in Synchronous AM mode.
All three were easily readable here for the entire broadcast.
All received using the same Elad FDM-DUOr receiver & Wellbrook loop antenna.
SWL: Rodrigo de Araujo Location: Belo Horizonte, Brazil Notes:
How are you? I’m PY4004SWL (Southeast Brazil).
For the first time I tried to listen to the BBC Solstice broadcast to Antarctica and it worked. The only problem is that I wrongly noted the 7350 frequency and with that I lost the Ascencion transmission in 7360, certainly the one that was best heard by the SWLs in my region. Still, I got “taped” 5875 and 9455, the latter with better results. I hope my recordings are useful to those who study propagation.
I have used two radios and 2 kinds of antennas that can be seen and a telescopic as well.
It’s been a busy winter season here at SWLing Post HQ. Many of you might have noticed a slow response time if you’ve tried to contact me. I’m in the midst of a rather involved investment property renovation that’s consumed nearly all of my spare time.
Still, I’m keeping up with the Post and even managing a little one-on-one radio time in the early mornings/late evenings. Indeed, I’ve actually tried to turn my renovation project into an opportunity to play a little radio. The property is unoccupied and very rural, so there’s quite literally no RFI there. Woot!
Since I’ve been spending time evaluating the new CCRadio3 (click here to read my preview), I’ve also had the CCRadio EP Pro, Sony ICF-5500W and the legendary Panasonic RF-2200 nearby for comparison purposes.
All of these radios have their strong points, but the Panny RF-2200 is still the rig I reach for the most. That’s why I listed it as one of my daily drivers.
Band-scanning with the RF-2200 is such a tactile experience. The ‘2200 tuning knob is quality and almost feels like a weighted encoder you’d find on a proper tabletop receiver. The RF-2200 even has fast/slow tuning gears and you can calibrate the dial so easily. Though tuning on the shortwaves feels a little vague, I find mediumwave is incredibly accurate.
Speaking of the dial and logging scale, I think it’s one of the most attractive from the 1970s:
Since I’ve been doing most of my listening around sunrise and sunset, it’s been a lot of fun to fit in a little mediumwave DXing as well. I see why the RF-2200 was one of The Professor‘s favorites.
If you ever find a ‘2200 for less that $100-125 that’s in decent cosmetic shape, with the original antenna, clean battery contacts, and is in good mechanical shape (meaning the tuning mechanism and dial work as they should), buy it! If there’s an electrical problem, Vlado can fix that. In fact, if your RF-2200 still has the original capacitors, you’d probably want to re-cap it anyway to keep leaky caps from eventually harming the board or internals. Plus, a properly re-capped ‘2200 will play like a new one!
My takeaway? The RF-2200 is a keeper! I suppose that’s why I even have a spare!
Do you have or would you like an RF-2200? Please comment!
Many thanks to Dennis at Bonito, who notes that he has just tested the SDRplay RSPduo on two of Bonito’s high-performance antennas: the MegaLoop FX and the new MegaDipol MD300DX. Bonito posted a detailed article about this on their website.