Author Archives: Thomas

Former KGEI transmitter building sports callsign once more

1941: KGEI’s reinforced concrete transmitter building near Belmont. Built to withstand bomb or earthquake. (Source: TheRadioHistorian.org)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood (K7UO), for sharing the following article from The Daily Journal. Tracy’s notes follow this excerpt:

KGEI, a shortwave radio station in Redwood Shores that was the only voice from home for GIs in the Pacific during World War II, has its call letters back.

The letters on the front of the building located off Radio Road were covered up decades ago by a church that took over the station’s transmitter building, now part of Silicon Valley Clean Water.

“I am happy to report that we have uncovered the letters on the building,” said Teresa Herrera, manager of the wastewater treatment facility. “I think it looks great!”

Herrera said she had no idea of the building’s history until the Rear View Mirror brought it to SVCW’s attention. No extra money was needed for the restoration because the building was due to be painted.

“The letters were just as they were when the concrete forms had been originally removed in the 1930s,” said construction manager William Tanner.

Still, there is no plaque to remind the few visitors to the area that KGEI, the GEI standing for General Electric International, played an important role in World War II. Among other accomplishments, the station broadcast Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s “I have returned” speech that fulfilled his promise to return with victorious American troops to the Philippines, occupied by Japanese forces since 1942.

“The First 24 Hours of War in the Pacific,” a book written by Donald Young, underlines the importance of KGEI. It also reminds readers how successful Japanese forces were during those 24 hours in attacking Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Wake Island and Guam, as well as Hawaii.[…]

Read the full article at The Daily Journal.

Tracy also shared the following notes:

During my youth I often listened to KGEI, both in Oregon and Bolivia. I got to visit the station in the 80s. I remember their teletype spewing paper for the long-form newscasts… The old 50kw GE hummed away.

The parasitic oscillations would actually form audio that you could hear in the studio/transmitter room. The 250 kw unit was tucked away… kind of hard to see.

KGEI was an important part of LATAM radio history.. the Cuban Missile Crisis, earthquake outreach to Nicaragua, etc.

Cheap clock radios could receive KGEI in Oregon when the 250kw unit was blasting to Asia.

“Mission Engineering” 250kw beamed to Asia on 5980 could often be heard with Chinese and Russian slow-dictation programming… trying to overcome the Cold War ban of Bibles in the Communist countries.

If you can find a copy of the book “Sky Waves” that has a complete history of FEBC and some more details about “La Voz de la Amistad,” the Voice of Friendship KGEI.

Thank you so much, Tracy, for your notes and insights!

I just found a copy of the 1963 book Sky Waves by Gleason H. Ledyard as a free download via the American Radio History website. Click here to download the PDF.

I imagine other SWLing Post readers remember KGEI as well. If so, please comment!

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Radio stations may miss out on C-Band repack reimbursement

Photo by Joshua Anderson Slate

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who shares his insight regarding the 5G band grab. Paul writes:

The ramifications of the FCC selling big chunks of spectrum with existing users in the name of 5G goes on:

(Source: Radio World)

Radio World has learned it’s possible that thousands of radio stations in the United States failed to register their C-Band earth station terminals with the FCC prior to its 2018 deadline and presumably will be ineligible for reimbursement funds set aside by the FCC to cover the cost of a C-Band repack.

The alarm is being sounded by a person on the infrastructure side of the industry familiar with Chairman Ajit Pai’s draft Report and Order to make the lower 280 megahertz of the C-Band (3.7–3.98 GHz) available for flexible use, including 5G, through a public auction.

Radio and TV broadcasters utilize 3.7 to 4.2 GHz for satellite C-Band downlinks. However, the draft order released last week indicates incumbent satellite services are expected to be repacked from the 500 MHz to the upper 200 megahertz of the band (4.0–4.2 GHz).[]

Thanks for the tip, Paul. It looks like a lot of spectrum shuffling is happening in the name of 5G. It also appears US radio stations who failed to register their earth station terminals could be financing a C-band repack on their own.

Admittedly, early on, I was hoping 5G would be the broadband answer for those of us living in rural/remote areas. At least, this was how the service was touted back then. The more I read and look at the physics behind the technology, I suspect coverage won’t even match that of existing 4G services.

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Radio Waves: BBC lifeline, NZ Concert FM, Band Planning Group, and SETI VLA search

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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Howard, Mark Hirst, Micheal Bird, Pete Eaton, andTroy Riedel for the following tips:


The BBC gave me a lifeline as a child. It must be kept public (The Gaurdian)

Those who lobby against the corporation’s service remit fail to understand its unique relationship with its audience

ou’re mistaken if you think you can hand Margaret Thatcher a pearl-handled revolver and expect her to do the right thing. She’d shoot you with it.” As memory serves me, those were the words of a member of parliament being interviewed on the BBC World Service in November 1990. The programme was Newshour, and the presenter was Owen Bennett-Jones. I recall these details because the ousting of Thatcher was the first political event I tuned into properly as a child with an interest in politics living in a sub-Saharan African country with no access to media that covered current events.

Satellite dishes were prohibitively expensive, and apart from a short news bulletin on state-controlled TV there was no other source of news, let alone analysis – until I found the BBC World Service on shortwave radio. I started to haul the only portable radio in the house, a large battery-powered contraption with a long-bent aerial, everywhere I went, becoming aware of the dead zones in the house where the signal was weak, and making note of the times when the signal was strongest. Night-times were the worst. I would heave the radio into the bed and painstakingly tease the dial to find the crackling transmission from Bush House, able only to fall asleep when I managed to find the faint voices fading in and out of the crackle of white noise.[]

NZ’s Concert FM may be safe (RadioInfo)

The future of New Zealand’s Concert FM seems to have been assured after NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said her Cabinet was looking at an unused FM frequency as a solution to keeping the station on air.

There has been public outcry since the announcement of Concert FM’s proposed closure late last week with ex PM, Helen Clark going public to condemn the move.

RNZ’s breakfast king, Mike Hosking, says that the government is out of touch replacing it with a youth station, “The fact they’re calling it “youth” immediately shows how out of touch they already are, and hopefully they can hire someone who’s pants aren’t pulled up quite as high who can put them straight.”

Under the proposed changes, the classical station would lose its FM frequency, presenters, interviews and live programmes, become fully automated and move to the AM band.[]

New HF Band Planning Discussion Group (Southgate ARC)

The ARRL has created a new HF Band Planning Discussion Group which is open to both members and non-members

The ARRL say:

HF Band Planning Committee Chair Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF, will moderate the group, which will focus on the ARRL HF Band Planning Committee’s recommendations and other band-planning activities.

Earlier this month, the ARRL HF Band Planning Committee invited comments and suggestions from the Amateur Radio community on its report to the ARRL Board. At the Board’s January meeting, the committee presented its specific recommendations in graphical form for each HF band and each US license class, with the goal of increasing harmony on the HF bands, particularly between CW and digital users. Those responding to the initial call for comments and suggestions are encouraged to cross-post their remarks to the new HF Band Planning Discussion Group.

The discussion group is at
https://groups.arrl.org/g/ARRL-HF-Band-Planning/

Other discussion groups are at
https://groups.arrl.org/g/ARRL-Groups/subgroups

Source ARRL
http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-creates-new-hf-band-planning-discussion-group

Astronomers to sweep entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life (The Guardian)

Project is collaboration between privately-funded firm and New Mexico observatory

Astronomers will sweep the entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life for the first time, using 28 giant radio telescopes in an unprecedented hunt for alien civilisations.

The project is a collaboration between the privately-funded Seti Institute and the Very Large Array observatory in New Mexico, one of the world’s most powerful radio observatories. Gaining real-time access to all the data gathered by VLA is considered a major coup for scientists hunting extraterrestrial lifeforms and an indication that the field has “gone mainstream”.

Normal astronomy operations will continue at the VLA, which was featured in the 1997 film Contact, but under the new arrangement all data will be duplicated and fed through a dedicated supercomputer that will search for beeps, squawks or other signatures of distant technology.

“The VLA is being used for an all-sky survey and we kind of go along for the ride,” said Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley Seti centre. “It allows us to in parallel conduct a Seti survey.

“Determining whether we are alone in the universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and [our] telescopes can play a major role in answering it,” said Tony Beasley, director of The National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which runs the VLA.[]


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First logs from November DXcamp on Marajó Island

Martin Butera (left) and Ivan Dias (right) at the Marajó Island DX Camp

Many thanks to Martin Butera and Ivan Dias who inform us that their first logs from the Marajó Island DXpedition have been posted.

They provided a link to both a full story (click here) and a direct link for the logs (click here). They note that the logs will be updated monthly. They expect the process of processing the logs to be complete by August 2020. Click here to view their website.

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KKOH 780 kHz off the air tonight

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who writes:

If you know any DXers out in western US… pass the word:

Saturday night/Sunday Morning, at 12 AM Pacific KKOH 780 will be off the air for about 6 hours to do some maintenance.

Thanks to Chief Engineer Daniel Appellof for letting me know well ahead of time so I can pass the word

[…]Listen after the off air time is done because KKOH will come back on at 50KW non directional and will have 10-30 minutes of dx test material…. sweep tones, morse code, telephone dial tones and telephone off hook noises and such.

[UPDATE] We’re going to get about 15 to 20 minutes of DX Test material at 50kw non-directional tonight at 12 midnight before he shuts it off.

Thanks for the tip, Paul.  I’m sure west coast US DXers will certainly enjoy this opportunity!

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VI3RA: Last RF emanations from RA Shepparton before demolition (March 14-15, 2020)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nigel Holmes, who writes:

Those of you who hold amateur (VK) licenses – form an orderly queue to book a spot.

Those of you who listen – make space on your shack wall for the last QSL card from Shepparton IHFTS.

A special callsign has been issued by ACMA for the event: VI3RA (Victor India…)

Amongst other experimental transmissions, will be an attempt will to reflect radio signals from the Moon using the high gain HF aerials at Shepparton. Frequencies in the 18 & 21 MHz amateur bands would be employed. This would emulate the ground-breaking work done by CSIR Radiophysics Laboratory in the 1940s from the Shepparton station which initiated Australia’s entry into radio astronomy.

Click here for more information about VI3RA at QRZ.com and SADARC.org.

Note that the event with take place March 14-15, 2020 (GMT +11:00).

Thank you for the tip, Nigel!  I’ll certainly attempt to put Shepparton in the logs! If I lived in anywhere near Shepparton, I’d make the pilgrimage to be in that long line of people hoping to light up one of those massive antennas!

I hope if any SWLing Post readers attend the event or operate as VI3RA, they’ll perhaps snap a few photos to share here with the community!

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Coronavirus delaying product development, production, and shipping

Photo by chuttersnap

Earlier this week, I mentioned in a Patreon post that if you’re plotting to buy a radio or other consumer electronics currently in development or production in China, expect delays.

Due to the spread of the Coronavirus, a number of factories have been shut down and production effectively frozen since the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Some companies are attempting to slowly bring operations back to normal levels, but progress is unstable to say the least.

I’ve spoken with a couple of friends who work in the radio and consumer electronics industry in China and both have expressed serious concerns regarding new product timelines this year. Both noted that there’s no need for alarm or panic at this point, but consumer expectations should simply be in-check as the situation unfolds.

In the meantime, expect recently announced products to take longer to hit the market.

The Tecsun PL-990

I would not be surprised, for example, if the Tecsun PL-990, Tecsun H-501, Eton Satellit Elite, and Icom IC-705 are all delayed a few weeks or even months. Much depends on where each product was in the design, development, or production process when factories were closed.

It’s also possible if your regional retailers and distributors run out of product inventory, it could take an an extended time to replenish stock.

Again, there’s no need to panic about product availability at this point, just anticipate delays!

Post readers: Has this situation already had a direct impact on you?  Please comment.


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