Author Archives: Thomas

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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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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LRA 36 Test Transmission: Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Photo of portion of the Argentine Antarctic Base (LRA36)

[UPDATE: We’ve corrected the time of the test broadcast to Wednesday February 21, 2024.]

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

LRA36 Test Transmission

LRA 36 RADIO NACIONAL ARCÁNGEL SAN GABRIEL will carry out a test transmission on Wednesday, February 21 between 21:00 and 22:00 UTC on its 15476 kHz (USB) frequency.
The new output stage that was installed in the Collins HF80 transmitter will be adjusted.

We welcome your reception reports, as well as audio records and listening videos on the social networks of LRA 36 RADIO NACIONAL ARCÁNGEL SAN GABRIEL and by email to: [email protected]

The dissemination of this information among your fellow radio listeners, die-hards and radio amateurs is appreciated.

Thank you so much

73

Adrian Korol

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VIS: The End of an Era

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Dan Greenall, who shares the following guest post:


The End of an Era

by Dan Greenall

Many of us can remember the many radio telephone stations that could be found outside the regular SWBC bands during the 1970’s and 80’s and even into the 1990’s. They often ran repeating “voice mirrors” to help the receiving station tune them in prior to handling actual traffic. Some of these also operated within the designated maritime (ship to shore) frequencies.

One such station was coastal radio VIS from Sydney, Australia and they could frequently be heard here in southern Ontario, Canada on both SSB or CW modes. I received their attractive QSL card for reception in 1972.

However, with the advent of satellite and internet communications, these type of stations began to disappear from the HF shortwave bands.

On Christmas day in 1998, I happened to tune into the attached repeating transmission. This station is presumed to be maritime radio VIS in Sydney, Australia on 13083 kHz. The recording was made at Thamesford, Ontario, Canada on December 25, 1998. The repeating message was “The number you have called is not in service. Please check the number you have dialed. If you require further assistance, please call 1225.” 1225 was the number for International Directory Assistance in Australia.

Audio:

Internet research indicates that VIS discontinued its CW service in 1999. I believe the station completely closed down in 2002.

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Amanda Dawn Christie’s Book on the Radio Canada International Antennas

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:


Amanda Dawn Christie’s Book on the Radio Canada International Antennas

Amanda Dawn Christie together with Thaddeus Holownia and Radio Canada International has authored a 96-page bilingual book titled “Ghost Stations = Stations Fantômes” a catalogue of an exhibition in the Upper Gallery at 50 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, home of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, in March and April 2022. Amanda’s film and a shortwave radio simulcast were featured during the exhibition. From the preface of the book:

“Ghost Stations was an exhibition about the remarkable — and now-demolished — shortwave antenna array on the Tantramar Marshes in Sackville, New Brunswick that Radio Canada International (RCI) used to transmit programming internationally from 1945 until 2012.”

This is a true hard-cover art book with exquisite page display, typography, and binding and comes with a slip cover. Lots of great photographs and two extended essays: “Photography, Film, and Electricity” and “Radio Canada International’s Modern Spirit.” The end-pieces of the book feature images of a CBC Radio-Canada International Service QSL card.

A limited number of copies of the book are available from the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts:

Price List

Pick-up in Ottawa (no shipping)
CAD $50.85

Shipping anywhere in Canada
CAD $70.85

Shipping anywhere in US
$70.00 (U.S. Dollars)

Shipping Outside of USA/CANADA
CAD $85.00

How to Pay:

Through cheque
Send a cheque through the post:
Payable to the RCA
50 Sussex Dr
Ottawa, ON
Canada
K1M 2C9

Online
Pay through paypal link:
Follow the link paypal.me/RCAARC

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