Category Archives: AM

A True Treasure Trove: International Radio Club of America Free Reprints

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nick Hall-Patch, who writes:

Since 1964, the International Radio Club of America has been documenting medium wave DXing and DXers’ efforts to improve their understanding of radio reception and to develop better listening techniques.  During that time, over 900 articles have been written, that have furthered the art of DXing.  Many of these continue to be relevant to the more general radio hobbyist, including articles about antennas, radio propagation, receivers and accessories, plus general technical information.

Previously, those articles were available only to club members, but they are now available to all.  Go to www.ircaonline.org, and click on the “Free IRCA Reprints” button to download your own copies.

Oh wow! What an amazing and deep treasure trove of articles! Thank you so much for the tip, Nick!

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Radio Deals: C.Crane CCRadio 2E $20 off today only

I just received a message from C.Crane noting that they’re discounting the excellent C.Crane CCRadio 2E $20 today (25 Nov 2020) until 11:59PM PT.

Simply add the radio to our shopping cart and the price will be adjusted automatically.

The CCRadio 2E, along with the CCRadio 3, is considered one of the best mediumwave portable radios currently in production. If you’ve been considering purchasing one, this is a good time.

Click here to check out the CCRadio 2E at C.Crane.

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Radio Waves: Solar-Powered Broadcast Transmitters, Decommissioning Arecibo, and HWN in the path of an International Broadcaster

Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope in November of 2020 (Credit: University of Central Florida)

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 Jerome van der Linden, Zack Schindler, and Wilbur Forcier and  for the following tips:


Powering communication networks using solar power (BAI Communications)

BAI Communications (BAI) is committed to reducing emissions and contributing to a more sustainable future.

Over the past four years, BAI has invested in a number of initiatives that reduce power consumption as well as the carbon released into the atmosphere.

This year, four solar-powered sites were introduced in BAI’s broadcast transmission network; Yatpool, Victoria; Mawson, Western Australia; Minding, Western Australia; and Brandon, Queensland.

The annual reduction in CO2 emissions from our recent solar investment is 698 tonnes, equivalent to reducing:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from 2.7km driven by an average passenger vehicle
  • CO2 emissions from charging 89 million smartphones
  • Greenhouse emissions from 237 tonnes of waste sent to landfill

Find out how BAI implemented this solar power initiative as part of our commitment to managing our energy use and reducing consumption.

Click here to download case study (PDF).

The complexity of sending sounds to (and from) space (Mashable)

Communication with astronauts in space is vital, whether it’s during travel, when they’re doing experiments on the International Space Station, or just want to chat. It’s also pretty tricky.

That’s the topic of the latest episode of Twenty Thousand Hertz, where host Dallas Taylor speaks with International Space Station commander Peggy Whitson, NASA audio engineer Alexandria Perryman, and astrophysicist Paul Sutter to get an idea of how communication between astronauts and Earth works across the vacuum of space.[]

NSF to decommission Arecibo radio telescope (Space News)

WASHINGTON — The National Science Foundation announced Nov. 19 it will perform a “controlled decommissioning” of the giant radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, citing recent damage that made it unsafe to operate or even repair.

In a call with reporters, NSF officials said two broken cables used to support a 900-ton platform suspended over the telescope’s 305-meter main dish put the entire structure at risk of collapse. One cable slipped out of its socket in August, falling to the dish below and damaging it, while the second broke Nov. 6

Both cables are attached to the same tower, one of three surrounding the main dish. “The engineers have advised us that the break of one more cable will result in an uncontrolled collapse of the structure,” said Ralph Gaume, director of the NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences, referring to cables attached to that same tower. That would result in the platform crashing down to the main dish and potentially toppling one or more of the towers.

Engineers advising the NSF and the University of Central Florida (UCF), which operates Arecibo for the NSF, concluded that it was not possible to safely repair the structure because of the collapse risk. “After the recent failure, WSP does not recommend allowing personnel on the platform or the towers, or anywhere in their immediate physical vicinity in case of potential sudden structural failure,” stated WSP, one engineering firm involved in that analysis, in a Nov. 11 letter to UCF.

“NSF has concluded that this recent damage to the 305-meter telescope cannot be addressed without risking the lives and safety of work crews and staff, and NSF has decided to begin the process of planning for a controlled decommissioning of the 305-meter telescope,” said Sean Jones, assistant director of the NSF’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate.

Engineers are working on a plan to carry out that controlled decommissioning, which will take several weeks to complete.[]

International Broadcast Station Interference Overwhelms Hurricane Watch Net (ARRL News)

As Category 4 Hurricane Iota neared landfall in Central America on November 16, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) was forced to suspend operations at 0300 UTC because of what HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, described as “deafening interference from a foreign AM broadcast station that came out of nowhere at 0200 UTC.” At the time, the net had shifted to its 40-meter frequency of 7.268 kHz, collecting real-time weather and damage reports via amateur radio.

“This was heartbreaking for our team, as the eyewall of Iota was just barely offshore,” Graves said. “The storm had weakened slightly to a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 MPH.” After activating at 1300 UTC, the net was able to collect and forward reports from various parts of Nicaragua and Honduras via WX4NHC throughout the day for relay to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Iota was the most powerful storm on record to make landfall this late in the hurricane season.

Graves said the very strong AM signal was on 7.265 MHz. “From my location, it was S-9,” he told ARRL. “You could not hear anything but the BC station.” The source of the signal was not clear, but as he noted, other foreign broadcast stations are to be heard from 7.265 to 7.300 MHz and splattering close by.

Stations handling emergency traffic during the response to Category 5 Hurricane Iota had requested clear frequencies on November 16 to avoid interfering with the HWN and with WX4NHC, as well as with a Honduran emergency net operation on 7.180 MHz and a Nicaraguan emergency net operating on 7.098 MHz. It’s not known if those nets were also affected by interference from the numerous broadcasters on 40 meters. “Thank you to all who allowed us a clear frequency,” Graves said on behalf of the HWN.[]

[Personal note: I understand that this is very late in the season for the Hurricane Watch Net to activate. Normally, they operate on 20 meters, but moved to 40 meters for the evening. I don’t believe net control was aware that this portion of the 40 meter band is shared with international broadcasters. I don’t believe the international broadcaster could be called “interference”–they operate on a publicly available schedule–ham radio nets are actually the ones who are frequency agile. This seems to have just caught them off guard. I believe the HWN will be using frequencies below 7.2 MHz moving forward.]


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Radio Waves: 100 Years of Radio, Maritime Radio Communications, AU2JCB Special Event Station, and 20th Anniversary of Ham Radio on the ISS

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 Dennis Dura, Dan Robinson, Datta Deogaonkar, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Commercial Radio Is 100 Years Old. Can It Survive? (Inside Hook)

Four industry veterans weigh in on how they’d “fix” a medium that remains popular but lacks innovation

The first broadcast from a commercial radio station took place on November 2nd, 1920. Here’s how I imagine listeners responded to the debut of KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh:

Nov. 2: This is amazing! I can hear someone from hundreds of miles away talking through this device! The world will never be the same!

Nov. 3: They’re playing “Wang Wang Blues” again already?

The joke here is twofold: First, there’s a popular song called “Wang Wang Blues” from 1920. And second, by day two, KDKA had already developed the repetitive play-the-hits format that would become one of its hallmarks for the following century.

The first commercial broadcast actually related to the election — it was the idea of a radio manufacturer, Westinghouse, to offer up programming to go along with their newfangled tech (a century later, Apple and Sonos thought exactly the same thing). The first commercial broadcast featured updated results of the Harding-Cox presidential race “before [people] read about it in the newspaper,” as this PBS retrospective notes.

One hundred years later, commercial radio still holds a place in American daily life. The average American still listens to about 106 minutes of radio per day (with the coronavirus and its attendant lockdowns projected to increase that number), and there are more than 15,000 stations in this country alone.

We’re certainly listening to radio differently: according to Statista, 57% of Americans do so online, whether by streaming, downloads, satellite or digital radio. If you asked me how I listen to radio, I’d offer up services like Apple Music 1, Sonos Radio and Dash Radio; podcast downloads from ESPN Radio; online streaming of overseas entities like BBC 1 and Triple J or any occasional college station like WSOU; NPR stations for news and commentary (and music if it’s KCRW); and for new music, a DJ-free experience via Spotify’s New Release Radar playlist. In other words, while audio-only, passive-listening medium has survived and thrived for a century, which is astounding and worthy of celebration, the need for traditional, turn-the-dial “commercial” radio is decidedly on the wane.[]

Radio Officers: our past is our future, our way is to be Radiomen

Many thanks to Dan Robinson who shares this excellent site devoted to maritime communication officers: https://trafficlist.altervista.org/

Special event station commemorating Aacharya Jagadish Chandra Bose

Sir, I want to mention with great pride that I am (VU2DSI) celebrating the birthdate 30 November of Aacharya Jagadish Chandra Bose- every year with a special callsign- AU2JCB for the last 15 years. He is well known as the “Father of Wireless Communication” in the world of science.

AU2JCB will operate from 20 Nov 2020 to 15 DEC 2020.

The Details of operation

Period: 20 NOV 2020 to 15 DEC 2020

Frequencies: 10 M– 28545, 28510,28490. 21 M—21235, 21310, 21350. 20M—14210, 14250, 14310. 40 M—7040, 7150. 80 M — 3710. IN FM MODE—– 6M –50800, 51500. 10 M—29700.

QSL— Direct to VU2DSI, “SURABHI” MEHERABAD. AHMEDNAGAR.414006. INDIA.

This year VU2EVU & VU2XPN will operate with AU3JCB & VU5JCB call-signs respectively.

From Kolkatta, VU3ZHA & VU3MZE will operate with AT2JCB & AU8JCB call-signs respectively. Ten more stations will operate from Kolkatta with JCB in the prefix.

Aacharya J.C.BOSE:

https://www.cv.nrao.edu/~demerson/bose/bose.htm

http://www.qsl.net/vu2msy/JCBOSE.htm

http://au9jcb.angelfire.com for info about Aacharya J.C.BOSE & his work.

https://ethw.org/Jagadish_Chandra_Bose

Regards, HAPPY DEEPAWALI to & all.

DATTA

VU2DSI (AU2JCB).

20th anniversary of first ham radio operation from ISS (Southgate ARC)

On November 13, 2000, the ISS Expedition-1 crew turned on the ARISS Ericsson radio for the first time and completed several contacts with ARISS ground stations around the world to validate the radio communications system

These inaugural contacts launched an incredible two-decade operations journey on ISS, enabling ARISS to inspire, engage and educate our next generation of explorers and provide the ham radio community a platform for lifelong learning and experimentation.

In celebration of the ISS 20th anniversary, ARISS was part of an ISS Research and Development Conference Panel session entitled “20 years of STEM Experiments on the ISS.”  The video below, developed for this panel session, describes our program, celebrates our 20th anniversary, conveys some key lessons learned over the past 20 years and describes the ARISS team’s vision for the future.  Enjoy watching!

20 years of continuous operations is a phenomenal accomplishment.  But what makes it even more extraordinary is that ARISS has achieved this through hundreds of volunteers that are passionate in “paying it forward” to our youth and ham radio community.  On behalf of the ARISS International team, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to every volunteer that has made ARISS such an amazing success over the past 20 years. Your passion, drive, creativity and spirit made it happen!!

Congratulations ARISS team!!!

Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO
ARISS International Chair

Watch ARISS 20th Anniversary


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Radio Waves: United Biscuit’s Radio Station, WMAL Towers Demolished, Canada’s First Off-Grid Station, and St. Helena Gets Fiber

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 Todd R, Skip Arey and Tracy Wood  for the following tips:


Cracker factory records: the surprising story of United Biscuits’ radio station (The Guardian)

Playing Bollywood soundtracks and songs about safety shoes, this shopfloor station made stars out of Dale Winton and Nicky Horne, and paved the way for UK commercial radio

nless you spent your summers packing Jaffa Cakes into boxes in the 70s, you are unlikely to have heard of the United Biscuits Network (UBN). It was a radio station for biscuit-makers, broadcasting around the clock to factories in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. One part industrial psychology, another part community radio, UBN was intended to make factory life more bearable, but over its nine-year lifespan, it emerged as one of the most daring, anarchic and pioneering stations to hit the UK airwaves.

Music has long been a point of contention in the workplace. Prof Marek Korczynski, who co-authored Rhythms of Labour (2013), describes the history of British working life as “a battle over soundscapes”. Bosses first wanted silent factories, but during the second world war, Korczynski says, “industrial psychologists – the forerunners to HR departments – started looking at playing cheerful music in factories, at the times of day when productivity would dip”. After the war, as Britain rebuilt itself, this strategy was maintained with muzak: inoffensive background tunes, played to lighten the monotony of factory work.

There was one issue, according to Korczynski: “Workers grew to hate muzak.” As jobs on the production line were deskilled and made ever more monotonous, muzak’s effectiveness weakened and staff turnover soared. For Sir Hector Laing, the chairman of United Biscuits in the 1960s, stemming the flow – and its cost – was desperately necessary. Drawing on the success of commercial pirate stations such as Radio Caroline, Laing put adverts in Melody Maker, bought state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment and set up his very own station from UB’s headquarters in Osterley, west London (where Sky’s HQ sits today).[]

Demolition of Bethesda radio towers takes a piece of history, rare open space (Washington Post)

When the four orange and white steel towers first soared over Bethesda in 1941, they stood in a field surrounded by sparse suburbs emerging just north of where the Capital Beltway didn’t yet exist. Reaching 400 feet, they beamed the voices of WMAL 630 AM talk radio across the nation’s capital for 77 years.[]

Manitoulin boasts Canada’s first off-grid radio stations (Manitoulin Expositor)

LITTLE CURRENT – Great Lakes Country 103 FM and Hits100 FM have opened a new broadcasting studio and office space at the Flat Rock Entertainment Centre, home of Manitoulin Countryfest and Rockin’ the Rock, becoming the first off-grid commercial radio stations in Canada, according to CEO Craig Timmermans.

“It’s super nice to not have an electricity bill anymore,” says Mr. Timmermans as he leads The Expositor on a tour through his company’s new headquarters at 1 Radio Road on the southeastern edge of Little Current.

Through the front doors of the building lies a reception area floating in the centre of a large, open rectangular space. All of the central furniture is moveable so the team can empty the space for special events and small live concerts.

To the right is a small seating area featuring a wood and epoxy tabletop made by Kelly ‘KT’ Timmermans, president of the company. She has also built the live-edge wooden shelving and a table inside the adjacent boardroom.

“This is what I did with my quarantine,” she says with a laugh. “It’s nice to have our own space and to be in charge of our own destiny. We loved being downtown but it didn’t help our business like we had hoped.”[]

Telecom Egypt signs agreement with St Helena Government to provide it with its first subsea solution (Capacity)

02 November 2020: Telecom Egypt and St Helena Government (SHG) have signed an agreement to connect the Island to Telecom Egypt’s subsea system over the Equiano submarine cable system.

Telecom Egypt will be the first to provide St Helena with a fibre optic connection to the rest of the world, which is a crucial step towards the Island’s economic growth. The cable, along with the associated high-speed internet, is planned to be delivered to the Island by early 2022.

The branch that connects Telecom Egypt’s system to St Helena will be 1,140km long. The cable itself will run from the West Coast of Africa and provide St Helena with access to both Lisbon, Portugal and Melkbosstrand, South Africa with scalable connectivity ranging from a few hundred gigabits up to multiple terabits, as demand varies. It, therefore, provides the most cost effective solution to the growth in the Island’s bandwidth needs.

In light of its vast experience in the subsea connectivity business, Telecom Egypt, in conjunction with SHG, will provide a Dynamic Circuit Network functionality, which will ensure that SHG’s communication partners have access to fixed bandwidth.?Telecom Egypt will also support SHG in the design, installation, and configuration of the submarine and network equipment.[]


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Matt’s Marathon MediumWave Matchup

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matt Blaze (WB2SRI), who shares the following guest post:


Matt’s Marathon MediumWave Matchup

by Matt Blaze

Here’s another simultaneous receiver comparison, this time of ten portable medium wave receivers plus the Icom IC-R9500 (as a “reference receiver”). Previously, I used the same antenna for all the comparisons, but since these are portable receivers, I wanted to compare their performance using their built-in antennas. I did two comparisons, both of moderate to weak signals, one in the evening of a DX signal and the other in the daytime of a regional station.

The receivers were the Potomac Instruments FIM-41 (a “field intensity meter”), the Panasonic RF-2200, the Nordmende GlobeTraveler Exec (a beautiful German SW portable from 1968), the Sony ICF-EX5MK2, the CCrane Radio 2E, the Sangean ATS-909X, the Sangean D4W, the new Tecsun PL-990X, the XHDATA D-808, and finally the CountyComm GP5-SSB, plus the Icom IC-R9500.

All the receivers were recorded simultaneously. The radios (except the Icom R9500) were on the roof of my building and oriented for best reception (signal/noise) and kept sufficiently away from each other and other metal objects to avoid interference, The R9500 was in the shack and used a Wellbrook loop on the roof, also oriented for best signal/noise. I took the audio from the Line Out if one was available and from the headphone jack (via a “direct box” level converter) if not. I tried to match the audio levels reasonably closely, but different ACG characteristics made it difficult to be completely consistent across all the receivers throughout the sessions.

As in previous comparisons, for each session I’ve got a narrated stereo mix with the R9500 on the left channel and each receiver, for a minute or so one after the other on the right channel. You definitely want to use headphones to listen to these so you easily tell the left from the right radio. I’ve also provided mono “solo” recordings of each receiver for the full 15 minute-ish sessions so you can hear a receiver you’re interested in in detail.

Sound Devices 688 Multitrack Recorder

The recordings were made with a Sound Devices 688 recorder/mixer (which can record 12 simultaneous channels of audio). The portable radios were hardwired to the recorder, and the 9500 (which was downstairs) was connected via a Lectrosonics digital radio link. (Everything except the R9500 was on battery power to avoid mutual interference and ground loops, etc). The narration used a Coles noise canceling ribbon mic. Everything was done in a single take per session – there was NO postproduction editing – so I apologize for a few glitches and awkward moments.

You can see a “class photo” of the setup below, although the position and orientation of the radios was different during the actual recordings.

KCJJ

The first recording was at night, where we tuned to 1630 KCJJ in Iowa City, IA. This is effectively a 1KW clear channel; other than a few TIS stations, there’s not much else there on the east coast, and the signal is reliably weak to moderate but readable here on the east coast.

Narrated L/R stereo comparison:

Individual solo tracks:

CCrane Radio 2E

Sangean D4W

XHDATA D-808

Sony ICF-EX5MK2

Potomac Instruments FIM-41

CountyComm GP5-SSB

Nordmende GlobeTraveler Exec

Tecsun PL-990X

Icom IC-R9500

Panasonic RF-2200

Sangean ATS-909X


WSVA

The next recording was made during the day, of WSVA, a regional station in Harrisonburg, VA running 5KW in the daytime. Their signal is also reliably weak-moderate but readable here.

Narrated L/R stereo comparison:

Individual solo tracks (receiver should be obvious from the file name):

CCrane Radio 2E

Sangean D4W

XHDATA D-808

Sony ICF-EX5MK2

Potomac Instruments FIM-41

CountyComm GP5-SSB

Nordmende GlobeTraveler Exec

Tecsun PL-990X

Icom IC-R9500

Panasonic RF-2200

Sangean ATS-909X

Hope your readers find it useful!

-matt


An absolutely amazing job again, Matt! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this comparison together and sharing it here on the SWLing Post.  

Click here to check out all of Matt’s receiver audio comparisons.

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KSEN DX test November 7 & 8, 2020

(Source: KSEN via Facebook)

LAST MINUTE UPDATE: DX TEST – KSEN-1150 Shelby, Montana will test BOTH Saturday Morning Nov 7 AND Sunday Morning Nov 8 12:01 AM – 1:00 AM MST (0701-0800 UTC) with 10,000 watts on daytime pattern. Test will consist of voice announcements, Morse Code ID’s, sweep tones, off-hook telephone sounders, etc. The station has a small staff, so they have asked the CPC Committee to handle reception reports and verifications. Verifications will be by e-mail only. The CPC prefers audio recordings in .MP3 or .WAV format. These should be e-mailed to: les@highnoonfilm.com

Put this on your calendar, and don’t miss the chance to log a great station in Northern Montana. Thanks again to CE Todd Clark and Paul Walker for this great DX Test.

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