Author Archives: Thomas

2022-23 Season of the MW Frequency Challenge is underway with Week 1: 1160-1224 kHz

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Loyd Van Horn at DX Central who shares the following announcement:

We are kicking off the 2022-23 DX season with the return of the MW Frequency Challenge! The MW Frequency Challenge officially started during the season premiere of our DX Central Live! livestream on YouTube on Friday, September 2022.

Our frequency range for this week’s challenge is 1160-1224 kHz!

A reminder of the rules for this season:

    • Submitted loggings must be for receptions made between 0000 UTC Saturday, September 24, 2022 and 0200 UTC Saturday, October 1, 2022. Any station that transmits between 1160-1224 kHz will be accepted for the challenge.
    • Submissions/loggings must be made with your own equipment, NO ONLINE SDRs (unless you own the online SDR). If you are logging receptions away from your home location, be sure to note that location on the submision form.
    • Submissions must be entered on the Google Form using the link below. Logs posted through social media, DX club log submissions, email, etc. will not be accepted.
    • Receptions can be for any station received within the frequency range. It does not need to be “new to you”, relogs are welcome as long as it occurred during the challenge period.

This week’s Google Form link is: https://forms.gle/EtKhNYc1qZhVmexh8

Good luck and best of DX!

73,

Loyd

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Solid copy: Tom receives JG2XA in the Netherlands on his PL-365

CountyComm GP5/SSB, aka Tecsun PL-to 365

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tom Kamp (PA/DF5JL), who shares the following brief report and video:

Today (September 21, 2022) around 2015 UT strong signal on 5006 kHz (CF) from JG2XA beacon from Japan (0.2 kW) near Den Helder, in North-Holland, The Netherlands.

JG2XA transmits continuously at 200 W on 5006 kHz and 8006 kHz. The type of radio signal is H2A (amplitude modulation with coded tones in the single sideband).

Received with the Tecsun PL-368 and the built-in telescopic antenna! The dBm display of the unit is very inaccurate (in USB), yet S5-S7 should be rated appropriately. Top signal, top RX ?

73 Tom Kamp PA/DF5JL

That’s quite a catch for the PL-365. Thanks for sharing this, Tom!

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Radio Waves: Maverick-603 SDR for FT8, EC-130J Commando Solo Final Broadcast, WRTH Survey, and Railways On The Air

EC-130J Photo By Staff Sgt. Tony Harp | An EC-130J Commando Solo aircraft from the 193rd Special Operations Wing performs a flyover during Community Days at the Lancaster Airport in Lititz, Pennsylvania, Sept.17, 2022. (Source: DVIDS)

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!


RadioStack’s Maverick-603 Is a Fully-Functional Open-Silicon Software-Defined Radio for FT8 (Hackster.io)

Built using open tools and readied for manufacturing at SkyWater using the Efabless platform, the chip on this SDR is something special.

New Hampshire-based RadioStack is looking to launch a piece of amateur radio equipment with a difference: the Maverick-603 is powered by free and open source silicon, built using the Efabless platform at a SkyWater fab.

“Maverick-603 is the first affordable FT8 receiver board built around an RF receiver chip that was designed using fully open source tools and fabrication,” its creators explain. “It is capable of acquiring FT8 signals between 7MHz and 70MHz. With this frequency range, you will be able to receive signals from around the world with high accuracy. The use of our Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) will also give the chip the ability to amplify very low-strength signals, which is necessary for an effective FT8 receiver.” [Continue reading…]

EC-130J Commando Solo performs final broadcast (DVIDS)

MIDDLETOWN, PA, UNITED STATES
09.17.2022
Story by Master Sgt. Alexander Farver
193rd Special Operations Wing

Airmen from the 193rd Special Operations Wing here, who operate the only flying military radio and TV broadcast platform in the U.S. military, transmitted their final broadcast today to spectators at the Community Days Air Show at Lancaster Airport, Lititz, Pa., bringing to close a 54-year chapter in unit history.

The EC-130J Commando Solo mission has helped keep this Air National Guard unit’s aircraft and its Airmen at the tip of spear for nearly every major U.S. military operation since the Vietnam War. Before bombs dropped or troops deployed in the Global War on Terror following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, this specially modified aircraft was already over the skies of Afghanistan broadcasting to America’s enemies that the U.S. military was bringing the fight to them.

“Any world event or crisis that our military has responded to in recent history, our 193rd Airmen – and Commando Solo – were likely key components in that response,” said Col. Eric McKissick, 193rd SOW vice commander. “As we prepare to open a new chapter in our history, we thank those who have enabled us to be among the very best wings in the Air National Guard.”
The genesis for this airborne information operations platform can be traced back to 1968 when the 193rd Tactical Electronics Warfare Group received its first aircraft, called the EC-121 Coronet Solo. In the late 1970s, the aircraft were replaced by the EC-130E before finally being replaced by the current aircraft in 2003. Throughout its history, it was instrumental in the success of coordinated military information support operations, earning the wing the moniker of “the most deployed unit in the Air National Guard.”

These deployments included: Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operations Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector in Libya, Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Resolute Support/Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Secure Tomorrow and Operation Unified Response in Haiti.

Although this unique mission has earned the wing many prestigious accolades, Lt. Col. Michael Hackman, 193rd Special Operations Squadron commander, believes the mission’s success and legacy lies in winning the hearts and minds of adversaries and providing vital information to allies, refugees and victims in times of crisis.

“This capability has been an essential tool in our nation’s inventory, from the battlefields to assisting hurricane and earthquake-ravaged nations,” Hackman said. “During this time, thousands of Pennsylvania Air National Guard volunteers fulfilled their call to duty in this unique capacity, leveraging this capability against U.S. adversaries and supporting allies while always fulfilling the unit tenet of ‘Never Seen, Always Heard.’”

Aside from sporting an impressive operational record, the aircraft holds another distinction with having completed over 226,000 hours of accident-free flying.

“Having that many thousands of hours of accident-free flying is a testament to the excellence of our maintainers, to the operators and anybody who has touched that aircraft. Thank you for leaving that foundation and setting that example that we’re building from,” said Col. Jaime Ramirez, 193rd Special Operations Maintenance Group commander.

McKissick believes the success of the 193rd in operating the Commando Solo mission over the past few decades has led to Air Force Special Operations Command selecting the wing to be the first and only ANG unit to operate the MC-130J Commando II. The Commando II flies clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces, by airdrop or airland and air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories.
“Today we honor the men and women, past and present, who have served this unit and mission with unparalleled distinction,” said McKissick. “The Airmen who came before us created an enduring culture and spirit of hard work, innovation and grit. We thank them for that, and we will do our best to carry this forward.”

The final broadcast of the EC-130J was transmitted to the ground and played at the Community Days Air Show at Lancaster Airport. In the transmission, the wing thanked the local community for their support over the past 54 years before broadcasting the Santo and Johnny song, “Sleepwalk.” The transmission ended with the phrase, “Commando Solo, music off.” [Read the full article here…]

WRTH Reader Survey

The new owners of the World Radio TV Handbook who like your input as readers. Please click on this link and share your opinions with them!

Railways On The Air (Southgate ARC)

The South Eastern Amateur Radio Group (EI2WRC) will be active from The Waterford and Suir Valley Railway station Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford for the ‘Railways On The Air‘ event on Sunday, the 25th of September.

WSVR is a community heritage project. The project has enabled the magic of rails golden age to be brought to life in Kilmeaden. A heritage narrow gauge railway runs along 17 kilometres of the abandoned Waterford to Dungarvan line.

The South Eastern Amateur Radio Group would like to thank the manager Maria Kyte and all the staff of The Waterford and Suir Valley Railway for all their help and allowing us access to the station to do this event again this year. For more information about the WSVR please see www.wsvrailway.ie .

The September meeting of the South Eastern Amateur Radio Group EI2WRC will take place on Monday, the 26th of September 2022 at 8.00 p.m. sharp at The Sweep Bar, Adamstown, Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford, Eircode X91 H588. New members or anyone interested in learning more about amateur radio or the group are as always very welcome to attend.

For anyone that wishes to find out more about the South Eastern Amateur Radio Group and their activities you can drop them an email to southeasternarg /at/ gmail.com or please feel free to go along to any of their meetings. You can check their website www.searg.ie and you can also join them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.


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Chameleon RXL-Pro code for the SWLing Post

I just received a message from Chameleon Antenna who is a proud sponsor of the SWLing Post.

They’ve added an SWLing Post affiliate code to all of their CHA-RXL Pro orders. If you’ve decided to purchase a CHA-RXL Pro, by adding the code QRP5 at the checkout page, Chameleon will give the SWLing Post a 5% commission at no extra cost to you.

Of course, this isn’t required–I mention this only for those who are planning to purchase the loop. If you’re not familiar with the CHA-RXL, check out Dan Robinson’s recent review and Dave Casler’s video.

Thank you!

Click here to check out the CHA-RXL Pro at Chameleon Antennas. 

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How Jake configures SDR# to listen to Encore classical music

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jake Brodsky (AB3A), who shares the following guest post:


How I Listen to Encore on Radio Tumbril

Listening to Classical music on shortwave is a challenge. It has loud and soft parts to the music. There may be selective fading. It isn’t a simple thing.

Also, configuring a software defined radio such as the highly configurable SDR# is not trivial. Note to readers: SDR# has been updated a lot recently and the noise reduction features are vastly improved. Kudos to Youssef Touil for all the hard work on this software. He continues to impress me with every update.

So I have some suggestions for those who are interested in listening:

First, get a decent set of over-the-ear headphones. Don’t rely on laptop speakers. They’re usually not designed for audio fidelity.

Set the radio for DSB reception with Lock Carrier and Anti-Fading checked. I also set the bandwidth to cover about 11 kHz or thereabouts.

On the Audio tab I uncheck the Filter Audio option. I’m going to rely on IF filtering to do my work for me.

Next, find an empty channel on the band where you will be listening to the program. Enable the IF Noise Reduction feature, set it to HiFi, and then set the threshold so that the noise floor is reasonably low. If you set the threshold too high, you’ll lose the higher frequency audio and there will be artifacts from the noise floor that I find unpleasant. A little bit of noise reduction is good, but more is not better.

I also enable the IF Filter/notch processing window to handle any stray birdies from switching mode power supplies. However, if not needed, I turn that feature off.

I turn off the AGC. And then I set the volume level to something reasonable, not too loud, not too soft, but just barely able to hear the noise floor.

Then I tune in the program. I was listening to the Sunday Evening (Monday 0200 UTC) broadcast from WRMI on 5950 kHz. There was some fading going back and forth. However, I took the atmospherics in stride, as if it were part of the experience. The broadcast from this evening
ended with the Pastoral Symphony from Beethoven. There were a few fades and there were a few swells, all due to atmospherics as the signal faded to the noise floor and emerged from it. But there was very little distortion. (thanks to the excellent engineers at WRMI).

The experience was actually sublime.

This is why I listen to shortwave broadcasts.

73,

Jake Brodsky, Amateur Radio Station AB3A

Click here for Radio Tumbril schedule and updates.

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Radio Waves: BBC Transmitter Audio Feed, New DRM Receivers Showcased, QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo, and New German Class “N” Ham License

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!


How the BBC (still) sends audio to transmitter sites (Hackaday)

Running a radio station is, on the face of it, a straightforward technical challenge. Build a studio, hook it up to a transmitter, and you’re good to go. But what happens when your station is not a single Rebel Radio-style hilltop installation, but a national chain of transmitter sites fed from a variety of city-based studios? This is the problem facing the BBC with their national UK FM transmitter chain, and since the 1980s it has been fed by a series of NICAM digital data streams. We mentioned back in 2016 how the ageing equipment had been replaced with a modern FPGA-based implementation without any listeners noticing, and now thanks to [Matt Millman], we have a chance to see a teardown of the original 1980s units. The tech is relatively easy to understand from a 2020s perspective, but it still contains a few surprises. [Continue reading at Hackaday…]

Receivers Introduced At Pre-IBC Event To Be Seen At RAI On Sep 10th (DRM Consortium)

This year’s IBC DRM virtual event, held on 6th September, was very well received by many participants world-wide. The much-awaited session on DRM receivers gave the listeners and viewers the opportunity to learn about new, hot off the press, receiver products and solutions in this sector.

A new cost-effective DRM solution developed by CML Microsystems in conjunction with Cambridge Consultants in the UK, is just one example. Their product is a multi-band broadcast DRM receiver module that makes it quick and easy for manufacturers to build DRM radio sets. The module supports DRM and analogue reception in the AM and VHF bands. Applicable IP royalties are included in the module price. The module also supports a remote controlled mode and thus can serve as the basis for full-featured DRM radio sets. The module is scheduled to be available to industry partners from Q1 2023.

Gospell from China presented their entire range of well-established and full-featured DRM receivers consisting of desktop and pocket radios, with support for EWF Emergency Warning Functionality and Journaline text service. In addition, Gospell unveiled their new car radio for easy integration, the Stereo Digital Radio Receiver GR-520. All models provide DRM reception across all DRM broadcast bands.

The Swiss company Starwaves announced three upcoming DRM receiver solutions: A complete and full-featured DRM and analogue AM/FM receiver module available to receiver manufacturers, with automotive-grade tuning and fast scanning across all DRM frequency bands and support for EWF Emergency Warning Functionality and Journaline text service. A first consumer receiver model built on this DRM module will be the W2401 desktop radio priced at €79. An even more advanced receiver at 99€ will in addition feature a built-in WiFi hotspot for web browser access to the DRM content. All Starwaves receivers can be enhanced with DAB+ functionality if required by a local market.

Starwaves also offers the DRM SoftRadio App for Android phones and tablets, which upgrades any device by connecting an analogue RF SDR dongle to a full-featured DRM receiver. The app is available in major app stores including Google, Huawei and Amazon.

Exciting DRM receiver solutions for professional applications and device manufacturers were presented by Fraunhofer IIS (Germany), such as the automotive receiver kit software SDR, and the DRM MultimediaPlayer Radio App as the basis of professional and consumer-grade radio implementations.

NXP, the leading, global semiconductor manufacturer, showcased their complete portfolio of automotive qualified suite of DRM chipsets for car receivers for all DRM broadcast bands.

Other companies from India, such as OptM and Inntot, as well as the South Korean manufacturer RF2Digital contributed to the pre-IBC DRM virtual event with videos presenting their solutions for DRM use in desktop radios, mobile phones and in cars.

CML Microsystems/Cambridge Consultants, Gospell, Starwaves and Fraunhofer IIS will also be present in Amsterdam during the IBC expo on the 10th September together with other key DRM members, such as BBC, Encompass, Nautel and RFmondial. IBC visitors participating in the two DRM sessions at the Fraunhofer IIS booth and at the Nautel booth will experience live demonstrations of the new DRM receivers and modules.

Selected news from the presentation on September 6th including from the DRM receiver section are available as a free download: https://s.drm.org/KJr9.

[Click here to read the full article.]

QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo is this weekend!

[The] QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo kicks off this Friday evening, September 16th at 1800 Pacific.

The Expo officially opens on September 17 2022 at, 01:00 UTC or September 16th at 6:00 PM Pacific.

To attend, all you need to do is go to the following website: https://qsotoday.vfairs.com. Simply login using the same email address that you used to purchase your ticket. No password is needed. You can test in advance to see that it works.

Click here to purchase your ticket and attend!

Germany: New Entry-Level license class ‘N’ on its way (DARC via Southgate ARC)

DARC reports on the planned introduction of an entry-level amateur radio license, it will be limited to just 10w EIRP in the 144 and 430 MHz bands but they can build their own equipment

A translation of the DARC post reads:

Today [June 7], the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport presented the draft of a new amateur radio regulation that will bring some innovations for all radio amateurs.

The chairman of the DARC e. V. and the Round Table Amateur Radio (RTA), Christian Entsfellner, DL3MBG was pleased: “The new regulation implements long-standing requirements of the DARC and the Round Table Amateur Radio. Remote operation will finally be allowed in the future. The Ministry has also implemented our demand for a beginner class, which has existed since 2008.

This makes it much easier to get started with amateur radio.” While the existing classes E and A are raised in level due to the introduction of new topics from digital technology, class N focuses on operational knowledge, regulations and basic knowledge of the technology.

Holders of the new Class N will be allowed to transmit on 2m and 70cm with a maximum power of 10W EIRP. “The new entry-level class should offer access to amateur radio in particular to young people and older people in accordance with international requirements,” explains board member Ronny Jerke, DG2RON. The legally stipulated self-build right is not restricted, so even beginners can develop, set up and put into operation radio devices or hotspots themselves.

The exam will follow a cumulative system, e.g. B. is known from the US amateur radio test. First of all, the exam for class N is taken, which already contains all questions from the areas of operational knowledge and regulations. The technical test for class E and then for class A can then be taken.

“The examination catalogs developed by the DARC for the three classes are structured in such a way that the content and questions are not repeated, i. H. Content that has already been examined in a lower class no longer plays a role in the examination for a higher class. So all future radio amateurs go through the exams of class N, through E to class A. It should be possible to take all the exams in one day.

The previously unregulated remote operation has been included in the new amateur radio regulation. Holders of license class A may in future operate amateur radio stations remotely and also allow other radio amateurs to use class A. Another important innovation concerns the training radio operation, which will be possible in the future without a separate training call sign. Instead, adding the prefix “DN/” makes any Class E or Class A callsign a training callsign.

The RTA now has 4 weeks to comment on the draft regulation. The board and the departments of the DARC have already started to examine the text of the ordinance in detail and will report promptly.

The press release from the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport can be found at
https://bmdv.bund.de/SharedDocs/DE/Pressemitteilungen/2022/065-kluckert-amateurfunkverordnung.html

Attached to the press release is a draft of the second ordinance amending the amateur radio ordinance. This can be found as a PDF file at

https://bmdv.bund.de/SharedDocs/DE/Gesetze-20/zzwei-verordnung-aenderung-amateurfunkverordnung.html

Source DARC https://darc.de/

 


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IARPA challenged to give small antennas higher gain

(Source: IEEE Spectrum via Dennis Dura)

A Four-Year Program to Tackle a Fundamental Antenna Challenge — IARPA hopes to break past an 80-year-old limit on making small radio antennas more effective

For 80 years, a class of antenna called electrically small antennas has been stymied by a seemingly insurmountable barrier. These antennas, which can receive signals with wavelengths that are much longer than the antennas themselves, are seemingly stuck with designs in which there is a trade-off between high bandwidth and efficiency.

Now, a new program by the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) agency seeks ways to finally circumvent or overcome these historical limitations for electrically small antennas. Over the next four years, the research teams participating in the Effective Quantitative Antenna Limits for Performance (EQuAL-P) program will work through three phases of progressively more ambitious benchmarks in order to prove their ideas can work.

The simplest form of antenna is a dipole antenna, which is essentially just two pieces of wire placed end to end with a feed point in the middle. The length of this antenna is typically half the wavelength of the signal that is being received or transmitted, so a shortwave radio dipole working in the 20-meter band would be 10 meters long. An “electrically small” antenna is one that is significantly shorter than the wavelength of the signals it is designed for. These antennas typically take the form of small loops or patches.

The benefit of electrically small antennas is clear—as the name implies, they confer an advantage when space is at a premium. Satellites, for example, can use them to reduce mass and free up more space for other components.

But the trade-off with electrically small antennas is that as they get shorter, their bandwidth and radiation efficiency also shrink, eventually hitting something named the Chu-Harrington limit. This has meant that although such antennas have been in use for decades, they remain difficult to design and limited in their applicability. Historically, any attempts to widen the usable bandwidth have decreased these antennas’ radiation efficiency even more, and vice versa. This is the problem the EQuAL-P program is aimed at.

“Because it’s an 80-year problem, we want to give them a little more time to come up with solutions,” says Paul Kolb, the program manager for EQuAL-P. The eight teams participating will work through three increasingly ambitious phases during the next four years to prove their ideas can pass muster.

At the end of 18 months, Kolb says, he hopes to see that the teams have made meaningful progress toward the ultimate goal of a 10-decibel gain in antenna performance in the HF and ultrahigh frequency (UHF) bands. But because of the difficulty of the challenge, teams won’t be required to produce a working demonstration of their technology at that point. [Continue reading full article at the IEEE spectrum…]

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