Author Archives: Thomas

Bob Colegrove on “The Joys and Challenges of Tuning Analog Radios”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, who recently shared this excellent article and has kindly allowed me to share it here in the the Post. Bob prefaced it by saying, “Being a retired technical writer, I started the attached article some time ago for my own amusement, but it quickly got out of hand.

“Got out of hand” in a very good way, Bob!

An excerpt from Bob’s article.

I love how this piece takes us through receiver history and explains, in detail, the mechanics and innovations. It’s also a very accessible piece that both the beginner and seasoned radio enthusiast can appreciate.

But don’t take my word for it, download it and enjoy!

Click here to download The Joys and Challenges of Tuning Analog Radios as a PDF.

Thank you again, Bob. This is a most enjoyable and informative read! This was obviously a labor of love. Thanks for sharing it with our radio community!

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KMTS Summer Test Transmission August 1, 2021

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Fastburstradio23, who shares the following announcement:

Beaming to you from the transmitter’s location, forget summer vacation, it’s time for summer school. Get your pencils sharpened and thinking caps on for the KMTS Summer Test (transmission)! Numbers, poetry, the science of strange tones, music and mountaineering are all part of the curriculum.

And if you are one of those cats who was too hip for school the first time around, we understand. We’ve been there! When you use one of our proprietary quantum radios passing is as easy and pleasant as a breeze blown in from a deserted tropical island. All the answers tp all the questions are right in some reality or timeline!

And after you’ve peaked out with us at the crown of KMTS, you can join us for a Mai Tai at the Tiki bar on top of the mountain as we go over the summer test results.

Thanks for the tip, Fastburstradio23!

As a bonus, I was also sent this video of KMRT’s broadcast from February 2021:

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Relighting an authentic Apollo DSKY screen

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave (N9EWO), who writes:

A current YouTube Video I accidentally came across. Ever wonder about those digital displays used in the Apollo space missions ? What were they ? Actually it’s quite a story how these Raytheon displays were developed. One has to remember we are talking about the mid 1960’s here and before the days of LED’s. Reminds me of the electro luminance nightlights still sold today.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Many thanks for sharing this, Dave. Being a massive fan of all things Apollo era, I love the deep dive into this crucial, yet very basic computer. The screen looks (and sounds!) amazing.

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Recommendations for an HF/VHF/UHF station in an apartment or flat

Photo by jay blacks on UnsplashMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jamie, who writes:

Hi,

I would like to ask a few questions about what would be a good set up for my situation.

I am in a 2 storey property, which is not owned by me (renting via community/public housing), located in a large city in Australia. I currently have an SDRPlay RSP2, along with standalone AM/FM tuners – Sony XDR-F1HD and Onkyo T4970. The computer and all radios are upstairs at the back in a room that is not attached.

Given renting would limit what I can do, what would be best for me to get. For MW and SW frequencies, I am trying to decide between the MLA30+ or the AOR LA400. For above 30MHz (6m, 2m, broadcast FM etc) I am deciding between the AOR SA7000 or a Discone.

I have been told that putting antennas in the roof space is not recommended. Would they work fine in the room near a window? I should mention, I do have a 50ft end fed longwire with 9:1 balun, that has been in storage and never used.

I am also looking at upgrading my receiver. Trying to choose between the WinRadio WR-G305e or the Icom IC-R8600 (would also get the RS-R8600 CD software for computer controlling the receiver). How do the specs compare between these two?

Thanks for your time, and hope that wasn’t too many questions.

Regards,

Jamie

Thank you for your inquiry, Jamie, and I hope you don’t mind, but I’m sharing this message as a post as we have readers who are in the same type of living situation and listening environment. In addition, I believe owners of the gear you’ve mentioned might be able to offer some helpful advice!

I can tell you that you’re correct: in general, antennas want to be near windows or, better yet, outdoors. Even placing an antenna on a balcony can make a big difference in terms of lowering the noise floor. This is less an issue with VHF/UHF, but those antennas also benefit from being outside since there’ll be less attenuation from obstructions.

For HF, I would personally suggest you check out the MLA-30 loop first since it’s such a modest investment and is fairly flexible in terms of how you can configure it. I’m sure our regular contributor, Grayhat, will have some helpful advice as he’s a bit of an expert with urban HF antennas.

Also, the IC-R8600 is a brilliant wideband receiver. Depending on what you wish to have for frequency coverage, I would also suggest you check out the Icom IC-705 transceiver (noting that its RX coverage is not as comprehensive as that of the IC-R-8600).

Post readers: Please feel free to comment with some suggestions for Jamie, especially if you have experience with urban radio listening.

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Photos from the 2021 WCARS Hamfest

This past weekend (July 24, 2021), my buddy Vlado (N3CZ) and I attended the 2021 Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society (WCARS) hamfest in Waynesville, North Carolina.

Due to Covid-19 lock-downs and social distancing, this was the first hamfest we’d attended in 18 months. I think all of us were having serious hamfest withdrawal, so this regional hamfest was very well-attended. Who knows what will happen in the future with regards to Covid–numbers are climbing sharply again here in NC–so I think many of us were there enjoying everything “while the gettin’ was good.” It helped that even the indoor area is incredibly spacious and had a constant airflow.

It was so great seeing so many friends, readers, and subscribers. Thank you for stopping by our tables.

Photo Gallery

This gallery has about 117 photos. So that the images don’t all load from the SWLing Post homepage, you may need to click on the “Continue reading…” link below to expand the post and view the photo gallery.

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This Noyce Joyce radio kit features IN-17 Nixie Tubes

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jeff McMahon, who shares a link to a Nixie Tube radio kit via the retailer Shop Simo. We’ve no clue how well the radio might perform, but it covers AM/FM, can play from an SD card and is, of course, Bluetooth as well. The radio requires no soldering–instead, it appears to be a modular snap-together kit. Here’s the manufacturer’s description:

Noyce Joyce introduces a new generation of electronic kits.
The whole kit is made of printed circuit boards (PCBs).
With a simple snap-fit connection, you get a fully functional product. In this case a battery-powered radio/Bluetooth speaker.
Our radio is [truly] unique thanks to the used miniature IN-17 nixie tubes.
These nixies stopped production 50 years ago.
For this reason, this product will be available only be in limited quantities of maximum few hundred pieces.
Right now you can buy the first 100 pieces in advance for half price.
These pieces will be delivered at the end of July.

Of course, you wouldn’t buy this radio for the performance–you’d but it for the Nixie tubes!

Thanks for the tip, Jeff!

Post readers: Please let me know if you purchase one of these! I’d love a guest post about the built and your thoughts about its functionality.

Click here to check out the Nixie Radio via Shop Simo.

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Radio Waves: 20K Hz & The Buzzer, Cuba Jamming, Rugby Radio Station soon a school, HRO Opens a store in FL, Police Use Morse, Tool Box Spy Radio, and “Einstein Listened”

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 Paul, David Goren, Pete Polanyk, Ulis Fleming, Troy Riedel, Tracy Wood, Dan Robinson, and Kris Partridge for the following tips:


The Buzzer (Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast)

This episode was written and produced by Olivia Rosenman.

Since World War I, countries around the world have been broadcasting mysterious numerical messages via shortwave radio. Though concrete evidence is hard to come by, the general consensus is that these coded messages are meant for undercover agents operating abroad. And one particular Russian station may have an even more sinister purpose. Featuring computer engineer Andrus Aaslaid, historian Maris Goldmanis, and documentary photographer Lewis Bush.

Cuba Jamming Ham Radio? Listen For Yourself (IEEE Spectrum)

A public SDR network triangulates the island as the source of mystery signals

By Stephen Cass

As anti-government protests spilled onto the streets in Cuba on July 11, something strange was happening on the airwaves. Amateur radio operators in the United States found that suddenly parts of the popular 40-meter band were being swamped with grating signals. Florida operators reported the signals were loudest there, enough to make communication with hams in Cuba impossible. Other operators in South America, Africa, and Europe also reported hearing the signal, and triangulation software that anyone with a web browser can try placed the source of the signals as emanating from Cuba.

Cuba has a long history of interfering with broadcast signals, with several commercial radio stations in Florida allowed to operate at higher than normal power levels to combat jamming. But these new mystery signals appeared to be intentionally targeting amateur radio transmissions. A few hours after the protest broke out on the 11th, ham Alex Valladares (W7HU) says he was speaking with a Cuban operator on 7.130 megahertz in the 40-meter band, when their conversation was suddenly overwhelmed with interference. “We moved to 7170, and they jam the frequency there,” he says. Valladares gave up for the night, but the following morning, he says, “I realize that they didn’t turn off those jammers. [Then] we went to [7]140 the next day and they put jamming in there.”[]

New school at home of former radio station on track for autumn launch (Coventry Telegraph)

Houlton School, where Rugby Radio Station once stood, is set take its first influx of pupils in September

Plans for a new school at the historic former home of Rugby Radio Station are being fine-tuned and remain on track for a September start.

Houlton School, which will be named after the town in America that received the first transatlantic voice broadcast from Rugby Radio Station in 1927, will take its first influx of 180 Year 7 pupils this autumn.

The school, which forms part of the 6,200-home urban extension in Houlton, east of Rugby town centre, will take a new year group of 180 pupils every 12 months.

Michael McCulley, the school’s Principal Designate, said: “Whilst building a fantastic £39m new school during three lockdowns has had its challenges, we are also acutely aware that we have had a completely blank page from which to develop our exciting curriculum and pastoral programme.

“This freedom has been important as we have needed to evolve to the changing needs of our first group of students.[]

Ham Radio Outlet to open store in Florida (Amateur Radio Newsline)

Ham Radio Outlet, the nationwide amateur radio retailer in the US, has announced that its ongoing expansion plans will include a store in the state of Florida. The new store will join 12 already open in such states as California in the West, where the company is based, to Delaware in the East, Arizona and Texas in the South, New Hampshire in the North. The company’s announcement on social media set off a wave of speculation about the new location, especially on Instagram where the company wrote, “We’re not telling yet! We’re open to suggestions.” The closest Ham Radio Outlet to Florida is in Atlanta, Georgia. The company, which calls itself the world’s largest supplier of amateur radio equipment, is also known for shipping internationally.

Old is gold: In times of satellite & internet, Pune cops keep Morse Code in use as a robust stand-by communication mode (The Indian Express)

Every Sunday, an operator with Pune Police’s wireless wing sends a Morse Code message to the office of the Director General of Police, Maharashtra.

IN THE era of satellite communication, which involves transmitting signals into space and back, and internet based systems transferring gigabytes of data in a flash, police have kept alive the age-old system of Morse Code – a primitive method of sending messages in the form of dots and dashes.

Every Sunday, an operator with Pune Police’s wireless wing sends a Morse Code message to the office of the Director General of Police, Maharashtra. While this is their way of paying tributes to one of the earliest modes of telecommunication, it is primarily a way of maintaining a robust stand-by mode of message delivery in case all other means of communication fail.

Pune City police have recently started a series of tweets featuring the communication systems used by the police and their evolution till date. On Sunday, Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta tweeted, “As an ode to the beginning of wireless communications, the Commissioner’s Office still uses Morse Code to transmit Messages every Sunday.”[]

Antiques Roadshow: Spy radio disguised as toolbox found in garden shed worth huge sum (The Express)

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW saw a World War II spy radio which was disguised as a toolbox fetch a huge valuation when it travelled to Kenilworth Castle.

Antiques Roadshow’s expert Mark Smith marvelled at the ingenuity of a spy radio which was used in World War Two in a recent episode. The item, from the outside, was made to look like a toolbox but when opened, displayed a detailed radio which could be “powered by any source”. So how much was it worth? Mark put a £10,000 to £15,000 price tag on it.[]

Einstein Listened (WNYC)

Former WNYC director Seymour N. Siegel suggested that WNYC once received fan mail from Einstein. As I continue to look far and wide for evidence of this alleged bit of praise, I can’t help but wonder, what broadcast prompted the great man to write? Alas, so far, the document has eluded me. But, we do know that the father of the theory of relativity was a subscriber to both the WNYC and WQXR program guides. And we have no less than Erwin Panofsky, the noted German-American art historian and friend of Einstein’s, to thank for that.

It all began when the distinguished gang at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey decided to chip in and build the Nobel laureate a “high-fidelity” radio for his 70th birthday. The 1949 gift included subscriptions to the WNYC, WQXR, and WABF program guides.[]


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