Category Archives: AM

New DRM portables announced at IBC 2020

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

SWLing Post readers might be interested in reading the Digital Radio Mondiale Newsletter of September 2020, which covers DRM developments announced at IBC 2020.

These include DRM transmitter developments and deployments, and lots of new DRM receivers–such as eight (8) AM/FM/DRM portables, (1) AM/FM/SW/DRM portable, an automotive AM/FM/DRM model, a low-cost automotive AM/FM/SW/DRM model, and an AM/FM/SW/DRM development module with “High quality Tuner Frontend and Audio DAC” from Starwaves in Germany.

URL for newsletter: https://us10.admin.mailchimp.com/campaigns/show?id=5196729

URL for PDF describing new DRM receivers: https://www.drm.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DRM-Receivers-@-Virtual-IBC-9-Sept-2020.pdf

Thank you for the tip, Ed!

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QTC Article: Clear Channel MW Broadcast Stations in Australia

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who notes that the July/August 2020 issue of the Australian amateur radio magazine QTC (an issue we noted in a previous post is free) actually has an article about the mediumwave scene in Australia.

Click here to download a PDF of those pages only from the magazine, or better yet, grab the full issue from our previous post.

Thanks for pointing out this article, Kris. I really enjoyed reading this issue of QTC. Great to see a ham radio publication that covers more than *just* ham radio!

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Radio Waves: BBC radio reporters axed, Ham Radio on BBC Surrey, K6UDA on IC-705 features, and VLF balloon launched with request for detailed reception report

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 Mark Hist, Kris Partridge, John Palmer, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Radio reporters to be axed by BBC and told to reapply for new roles (The Guardian)

Radio reporters to be axed by BBC and told to reapply for new roles
Critics fear end of an era because of plans to make audio journalists work across media platforms

BBC radio voices have described and defined modern British history. Live reports from inside a British bomber over Germany during the second world war, or with the British troops invading Iraq in 2003, or more recently from the frontline of the parent boycott of a Birmingham school over LGBT lessons have also shaped the news agenda.

But now the BBC plans to axe all its national radio reporters and ask them to reapply for a smaller number of jobs as television, radio and digital reporters, rather than as dedicated audio journalists. Many fear it is not just the end of their careers but the premature end of an era for the BBC.

“Radio reporting is a different job. Of course, you can do both, but a report designed for television starts from a completely different place. Radio is also more agile and also a lot less expensive,” said one experienced broadcast journalist. “I am pretty sure most of us will not be given new TV roles. It seems sad to lose all that specific radio expertise.”

Among the well-known voices likely to be affected are Hugh Sykes, Andrew Bomford – who has just completed a long feature on the child protection process for Radio 4’s PM show – and the award-winning and idiosyncratic Becky Milligan, as well as a wider team of expert correspondents.[]

Amateur radio on BBC Radio Surrey (Southgate ARC)

RSGB report Board Director Stewart Bryant G3YSX and SOTA organiser Tim Price G4YBU were interviewed on BBC Radio Surrey on Friday, September 11

The interview starts just before 1:43:00 into the recording at
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08pkykw

RSGB https://twitter.com/theRSGB

What is Amateur Radio?
http://www.essexham.co.uk/what-is-amateur-radio

Free UK amateur radio Online Training course
https://essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

10 Things That Make The Icom IC 705 A Revolution in Ham Radio (K6UDA YouTube)

 

VLF Balloon with 210m long antenna launches Sept 12 (Southgate ARC)

A high-altitude balloon experiment, launched by Warsaw University of Technology, is planned to lift off September 12, carrying a VLF 210-m-long fully-airborne antenna system, transmitting on 14.2 kHz

14.2 kHz is the former frequency of the Babice Radio Station in Poland.

The project is delivering very important data for a doctoral dissertation – any and all feedback on the reception of the signal (reception location, SNR, bandwidth etc.) is extremely important; your help with the listening to the transmission would be invaluable!

The balloon will also be transmitting APRS on 144.800 MHz FM, callsign SP5AXL.

Full details at
https://alexander.n.se/grimetons-sister-station-shall-reappear-in-the-stratosphere/?lang=en


Kris also points out this article which provides more detail about the station and request for reception reports:

Invented for the first time in 2014, in 2020 it will finally be implemented – the idea of „restoring” the TRCN, but in the stratosphere, where there are no mechanical limitations at the height of the antennas, and the achieved range can be gigantic.

The launch of a stratospheric balloon from the Przasnysz-Sierakowo airport of the Warsaw University of Technology is planned for September 12, 2020, in order to perform atmospheric tests – measuring UV radiation, recording the cloudy surroundings with a high-speed camera and conducting an inductive experiment at 14.2 kHz using a special antenna system.

The inductive system uses a modified long-wave transmitter (A1 emission, unkeyed) from the GLACiER project of the Warsaw University of Technology, implemented as part of the IGLUNA – a Habitat in Ice programme (ESA_Lab / Swiss Space Center). The power of the transmitter, due to the emission limits for this type of inductive devices, shall not exceed a few watts. The antenna system is a centrally fed (35: 1) dipole with capacitive (Hertzian) elements and a vertical axial coil. The electrical length is between 400 and 500 m, with a total system length of 210 m. The antenna is equipped with metalized radar reflectors.

The entire balloon mission will use 144.8 MHz (as SP5AXL) and 868 MHz (as part of the LoVo system) for navigation. Flight information will be available in advance in NOTAM (EPWW).
Planned balloon launch (even if the sky is full of ‘lead’ clouds) at 12.00 UTC (14.00 CEST, local time). The 14.2kHz experiment will be switched on on the ground, with the antenna initially folded in harmony. The predicted total flight time is 3 hours – around 13.30-14.00 UTC / 15.30-16.00 CEST it is planned to reach the maximum altitude of 30 km above sea level.

Source: https://trcn.pl/do-stratosfery-to-the-stratosphere/

How can you help with the experiment? By recording as much as possible! Every parameter is valuable – from the spectrum / screenshot with the spectrum, to the EM field strengths, SNR and bandwidth, to the change of the EM field strength over time. The collected data can be sent to our e-mail address: stowarzyszenie@radiostacjababice.org. On the day of launch, we plan to post updates on the launch, flight and the experiment itself via our Facebook page: facebook.com/radiostacjababice.
Stay tuned!


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Can’t receive anything on your new shortwave radio–? Read this.

This morning, I received a question from Andrew, an SWLing Post reader in the UK.  Andrew writes:

May I ask a question please? I am very much a newbie to this. I am not really interested in FM, but I would like to listen to international stations on SW, utilities stations, amateur broadcasts and if possible, local airports, aircraft on air band.

I have just purchased a Tecsun PL-680 and have tried it inside my home with the telescopic and wire aerial that came with it, plugged into the antenna port and clipped to a point near the ceiling. All inside the house and the wire aerial did improve the reception, but I get hardly and channels either during the day or night.

Grateful for your detailed advice on what I need to do exactly to improve the number of stations I can receive.

Kind regards
Andrew

Thank you for your question, Andrew, and I hope you don’t mind that I share it here on the SWLing Post as I receive this question so frequently from new shortwave radio enthusiasts.

Of course, a number of things could be affecting your shortwave radio reception and there is, of course, the possibility the receiver is faulty–however, this is very unlikely. Let’s talk about what is most likely the culprit:

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI)

RFI is quite often the elephant in the listening room. It’s not always immediately obvious–especially if you’re new to shortwave listening.

RFI (also known as QRM) is radio noise that is created locally and often concentrated in our homes and neighborhoods. RFI deafens our shortwave radios by overwhelming the receiver with strong spurious signals. Even if you can’t hear the noise, it could still be overwhelming your receiver from a different portion of the band.

RFI can emanate from most any modern electronic or digital device in your home: televisions, power supplies, dimmer switches, smart appliances, and even computer hard drives. Honestly, most any device could be the culprit.

These “Wall Wart” type adapters can create a lot of RFI

RFI can also be caused by power line noises outdoors which have a much larger noise footprint and typically require intervention from your local utilities company/municipality.

In all likelihood, though, it’s a noise inside your home.

There’s a quick way to determine if RFI is the culprit:

Take your radio outdoors, away from the noise

Depending on where you live, this might only require walking with your radio to the far end of your garden/yard, or it might require hopping in your car and visiting a local park. The idea is to find a spot far removed from houses and buildings, outdoor lighting, and even power lines if possible.

Once you find a listening spot, turn on your portable and tune through some of the popular shortwave radio bands.

If in the late afternoon or evening, I like tuning through either the 31 meter band (9,400–9,900 kHz), 41 meter band (7,200–7,450 kHz) and, if late evening, the 49 meter band (5,900–6,200 kHz). Jot down the frequencies where you hear stations and perhaps even make notes about the signal strength. Then go back home and see if you can receive as many stations. Shortwave stations change frequencies often, but if you listen from home at the same time the following evening, the radio landscape should be similar.

My guess is that you’ll hear many more stations in the field than you can from within your home.

Living with RFI

Sadly, RFI is just a fact of life in this century. It’s very hard to escape, especially for those of us living in dense urban areas. This is one of the reasons I’m such a big fan of taking radios to the field.

There are things you can do to improve reception and I would encourage you to read through this post from our archives (the first two points in the article directly address RFI). Do your best to track down sources of noise and eliminate them.

If you find that, even in the field, your shortwave receiver can’t receive stations with the antenna fully extended, then it may indeed be an issue with the radio itself and you might need to send it back to the manufacturer or retailer if it’s within the return window.

Post readers: If you have other suggestions, feel free to comment!


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Radio Waves: Possible Radio & TV Closures in Canada, Bauer closes stations in England and Wales, WWJ at 100 years, VOA staff fear political agenda by Pack, and latest issue of The Communicator

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 Adid, Joel, Michael Bird, and Mike Terry, for the following tips:


Canadian radio stations and TV outlets risk closure (Southgate ARC)

As many as 40 local television outlets and 200 Canadian radio stations could be forced to close in the next three years as the financial pressures faced by media companies intensify under the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests a new study from an industry advocacy group.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters issued a report on Wednesday warning of potential closures and widespread job cuts as private TV and radio broadcasters face a cumulative projected revenue shortfall of up to $1.06 billion by the end of 2022.

Most vulnerable are the country’s AM radio stations, the report said, as well as other independent private radio and TV operations in smaller markets across the country.

The study, titled “The Crisis in Canadian Media and the Future of Local Broadcasting,” was commissioned by the CAB, which represents the majority of private broadcasters in Canada, and conducted through Winnipeg-based independent media economics consultancy Communications Management Inc.

More here:
https://www.boundary
creektimes.com/business/media-study-says-hundreds-of-canadian-radio-stations-tv-outlets-risk-closure/

Bauer closes dozens of regional radio stations in England and Wales (The Guardian)

Replacement of stations with single national outlet described as act of ‘breathtaking cultural vandalism’

Dozens of regional radio stations have been replaced by a single national outlet, in the latest blow to an industry that has seen deep cuts in recent decades.

Outlets across England and Wales owned by Bauer Media – ranging from Wolverhampton’s Signal 107 to York’s Minster FM and Salisbury’s Spire FM – will now broadcast under the single brand Greatest Hits Radio.

Critics said the move was the death knell for traditional mid-sized commercial radio stations, with only a handful of truly independent local radio outlets remaining.

Most of the outlets affected had their own locally employed presenters and management and their own studios in the towns and cities they served. Now, most of the stations on the new network will carry national programming for 20 hours a day.[]

Born at The News: WWJ radio celebrates 100 years since launch as nation’s first commercial broadcaster (Detroit News)

For a behemoth that now dominates the local AM radio dial, its beginnings were surprisingly humble.

One hundred years ago Thursday, WWJ radio — Detroit’s very first station — was born when Detroit News publisher and radio enthusiast William E. Scripps had a 200-watt transmitter set up in a corner of the sports department. (Today? It’s 50,000 watts.) WWJ will air a special show, “WWJ at 100, a Century of News,” at 7 p.m. Thursday to celebrate.

WWJ wasn’t just first in Detroit. Depending on how you slice things, it was the first commercial broadcaster in the U.S., though when it went on the air that Aug. 20 a century back, it was probably picked up by only a few dozen households in possession of what was, at the time, shockingly high-tech radio equipment.

Asked where he’d locate WWJ in American broadcasting history, Specs Howard, founder of the School of Media Arts in Southfield that bears his name, said without hesitation, “Oh, right near the top.”

One-time WRIF program director Fred Jacobs, now head of Jacobs Media Strategies in Bingham Farms, agreed, saying, “It’s really been a remarkable run, especially in a world where brands come and go.”[]

At Voice of America, Trump Appointee Sought Political Influence Over Coverage (KPCW)

At the Voice of America, staffers say the Trump appointee leading their parent agency is threatening to wash away legal protections intended to insulate their news reports from political meddling.

“What we’re seeing now is the step-by-step and wholescale dismantling of the institutions that protect the independence and the integrity of our journalism,” says Shawn Powers, until recently the chief strategy officer for the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA.

Voice of America’s mission is a form of soft diplomacy: to embody democratic principles through fair reporting and to replace a free press in countries where there is none. VOA and its four sister networks together reach more than 350 million people abroad each week.

Since taking office in June, Pack has upended the agency. In a podcast interview last week with the pro-Trump website The Federalist, Pack said he had to take action because many executives and journalists were disregarding the agency’s ethical standards.

“My job really is to drain the swamp, to root out corruption and to deal with these issues of bias, not to tell journalists what to report,” Pack told host Chris Bedford. Pack has declined NPR’s repeated and detailed requests for comment.

But it appears that Pack is, in fact, interested in influencing which stories get told, and how. The senior news editor who oversaw VOA’s standards and practices was reassigned to a corporate position earlier this summer and has since played no role in guiding coverage or scrutinizing stories flagged as problematic.[]

The Communicator – September-October 2020 now on-line (Southgate ARC)

This issue over 100 Pages Of Projects, News, Views and Reviews…

Amateur Radio News from the SW corner of Canada and elsewhere.
You will find articles, profiles, news, tips and how-to’s.

https://ve7sar.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-communicator-magazine-september.html

Clicl here to download the issue (PDF).


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NPR listeners shift from over-the-air radio, to streaming content (in a very big way)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William Lee who shares the following story via Nieman Labs. Note that this is an excerpt from the story and that my comments follow:

Radio listening has plummeted. NPR is reaching a bigger audience than ever. What gives?

This year, for the first time, NPR will make more money from underwriting on podcasts than on its radio shows.

Since the pandemic took hold in the United States, NPR’s radio ratings have taken a nosedive. Half of AM/FM listening in the United States takes place in a car, but between reduced (or eliminated) commutes and social distancing, there’s been a steep decline in the drivers that make up public radio’s traditional broadcast audience.

“People who listened to NPR shows on the radio at home before the pandemic by and large still do,” NPR’s own media correspondent, David Folkenflikreported on July 15. “But many of those who listened on their commute have not rejoined from home. And that threatens to alter the terrain for NPR for years to come.”

Even as its legacy platform’s audience has declined, though, NPR says it is reaching more people than ever. The dip in radio listenership — 22 percent — has coincided with a record number of people turning to NPR on virtually every other platform. More people than ever are reaching NPR through the website, apps, livestreams, and smart speakers (“Alexa, I want to listen to NPR”).

[…]Some of the changes in NPR’s audience mirror what we’ve seen elsewhere in the news industry — traffic to news sites spiked in the early months of the pandemic — but the pandemic’s long-term effects seem poised to have a unique impact on radio listenership.

NPR’s senior director of audience insights, Lori Kaplan, has said public radio’s audience includes a disproportionate percentage of workers who are able to do their jobs remotely during coronavirus shutdowns — and that these professionals are interested in continuing to work from home even after we’ve left coronavirus in the rearview mirror.

“We’re experiencing a sea change,” Kaplan told Folkenflik. “We’re not going back to the same levels of listening that we’ve experienced in the past on broadcast.”

[…]NPR’s leaders have been reading the tea leaves. They’ve seen the studies showing younger generations overwhelmingly use the internet and their phones (not radios) for audio. In other words, they knew this shift was coming. They just didn’t know it would happen all at once.

“It was so clear people’s behaviors were changing,” said Tamar Charney, who leads NPR’s digital strategy. “You’d look at the demographic trends and young people were not listening to radio like older people.”[…]

Continue reading the full story at Nieman Labs.

This is a fascinating report and I’m willing to bet NPR has nothing to lose by being open about listening numbers and platforms compared to some commercial networks.

I’ve spoken with a number of friends in the commercial radio industry and the story is very familiar: since the pandemic especially, less people use over-the-air radio to listen to programming. The majority of over-the-air radio listening is done in the car and with the C-19 pandemic, there’s simply been less driving and commuting.

We radio enthusiasts are unique compared with our neighbors in that we actually have radios in our homes.

There is a trend, though, above and beyond anything pandemic related and it’s hard to ignore: with the proliferation of mobile Internet devices that anyone and everyone carries on their person, consumers prefer and expect on-demand content.  If you have a radio show on an FM station and it’s not offered as a podcast or via one of the streaming networks, you could be missing out on the bulk of your potential audience.

Even though I’m a hard-core radio enthusiast (by pretty much any measure), I appreciate on-demand content. For example, my staple evening news show these days is Marketplace. I prefer listening to the show live at 18:00 local on WCQS (88.1 FM) even though the signal isn’t super strong at my home (fortunately, I’ve got some brilliant radios to pull it in!). At least half of the time, however, family plans intrude on that 18:00-18:30 time slot, so I rely on the Marketplace podcast version of the show which is typically posted thirty minute after the end of their live show. So even though I’m a radio enthusiast, I still rely on streaming content for my favorite news show.

As technology and listener habits shift, I do wonder how local radio stations will adapt.

We’ve a number of SWLing Post community members who work in the radio industry around the world. Feel free to chime in and comment with your thoughts and experience.

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Radio Waves: Arecibo Damage, Airchecks, Remote Ham Exams, Kids Learning CW Through LI Club, and West Bengal Ham Confirms LRA36

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 Ron, Dave Cripe, and Trevor R for the following tips:


A Broken Cable Has Wrecked One of Earth’s Largest Radio Telescopes (Vice)

The Arecibo Observatory, one of the largest single-aperture radio telescopes in the world, has suffered extensive damage after an auxiliary cable snapped and crashed through the telescope’s reflector dish.

The accident left a 100-foot hole in the observatory, which stretches 1,000 feet over a karst sinkhole in northern Puerto Rico. The cable broke at about 2:45 AM local time on Monday, but the cause of the failure remains unknown, according to the University of Central Florida, one of three institutions that operates Arecibo.

“We have a team of experts assessing the situation,” said Francisco Cordova, Arecibo’s director, in the UCF statement. “Our focus is assuring the safety of our staff, protecting the facilities and equipment, and restoring the facility to full operations as soon as possible, so it can continue to assist scientists around the world.”

Arecibo was the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world for decades, but it was bumped into second place in 2016 by the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China. Some radio observatories, such as the Very Large Array in Chile, consist of vast networks of antennas that take up far more space than Arecibo or FAST, but the latter telescopes are the largest facilities in the world that collect light in a single big dish.

Arecibo also suffered damage during Hurricane Maria in 2017, though it was nowhere near as debilitating as the wreckage caused by the broken cable.[]

The Ever-Evolving Role of Airchecks (Radio World)

Anyone who has deejayed in radio in the past 60 years knows about airchecks. They are as much a part of top 40 radio’s legacy as spinning Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and exploiting its 8:02 running time for a much-needed bathroom break.

In top 40 terms, “an aircheck is an off-air recording usually intended to showcase the talent of an announcer or programmer to a prospective employer,” said Rick Burnett, former radio deejay and owner of TwinCitiesRadioAirchecks.com in St. Paul, Minn. “Additionally, the airchecks were used for self-critique and evaluation by radio management and for legal archiving of content that is broadcast over the air.”[]

Technology and Technique Making Ham Radio Testing Possible During Pandemic (ARRL News)

Amateur radio license testing continues during the pandemic, with a combination of remote Volunteer Examiner (VE) test sessions and careful in-person session planning. In Hawaii, VE Team leader and Section Manager Joe Speroni, AH0A, said he and his team passed the 100-candidate mark on August 10 for video-supervised remote test sessions. Speroni said the most recent session administered exams to 10 candidates simultaneously.

“Candidates from all Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US military bases in Okinawa have had an opportunity to sit for licenses,” he told the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator. “The high pass rate of 95% is most likely due to candidates having had time to prepare for the exam.” Speroni also said his VEs’ willingness to contribute their time has made the program a success and available to a wide geographical range.[]

With kids stuck home, Long Island group teaches a ‘new’ hobby: Morse code (Newsday)

Even though Alana Bernstein of Manhasset is a 17-year-old high school senior, this spring she had to learn the alphabet all over again.

Bernstein signed up for a new, free Zoom course in Morse code created by a Long Island ham radio operators’ club to offer kids a chance to learn a new skill and stay occupied during the pandemic.

“This is a good opportunity for me to connect with people around the world, make some Morse code friends and have some fun,” Bernstein says. She finished the beginner course and is now taking a summer intermediate course that meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The program has reached 125 children in kindergarten through high school since it launched in March, says Alana’s father, Howard Bernstein, 68, of Manhasset. He cofounded the Long Island CW Club — the CW standing for continuous wave — in 2018 with Rich Collins, 57, a UPS driver from Hicksville. The men are known by the call signs WB2UZE and K2UPS respectively when they’re on the air.[]

Radio ham picks up Argentine Antarctic base signal (Southgate ARC)

New Delhi Television (NDTV) reports a radio amateur in West Bengal received a signal from the Argentinian base in Antarctica

They say:

An amateur radio operator from West Bengal, who intercepts radio signals from far away countries as a hobby, received one from Antarctica, the southern tip of the globe, over 11,835 km away.

The feat of 65-year-old Babul Gupta is unique as it is the first successful DXing – receiving and identifying distant radio signals – with Antarctica from the state in recent memory, Secretary of West Bengal Radio Club Ambaresh Nag Biswas VU2JFA told PTI on Thursday.

Babul Gupta, a member of the club, received a radio transmission from a camp set up by an Argentine team of scientists in Antarctica when he was in Bakkhali, a seaside spot in the South 24 Parganas district, on August 8, he said.

“The transmission was made from LRA 36 camp. It was transmitted from the scientists’ camp in South Pole. I sent the recording of the audio to the Argentine team via email,” Mr Gupta said.

The Argentines have sent an acknowledgement citation to Babul Gupta referring to his tracking their radio signal on 15.476 kHz.

Read the full story at
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/amateur-bengal-ham-radio-operator-intercepts-signal-from-antarctica-camp-2282700

A picture of Babul Gupta’s receiving station can be seen at
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/358599189055138206/[]


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