Category Archives: Articles

Deke Duncan of Radio 77: Broadcasting to an audience of one

Photo by Ben Koorengevel

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who writes:

I’ve just finished reading “Sealand’s Caretakers”. Very fascinating.

In the article, they give a link to an article “This excerpt describes the fallout that came from a gang of international scam artists bootlegging Sealand passports.”

This article is titled: “The Plot Against the Principality of Sealand” and is hosted on narratively.com.

It’s another fascinating article about Sealand and well worth the read.

Narratively.com is a very interesting site with lots of well written articles. In perusing the site, I came across an article about Deke Duncan who ran Radio 77 from a backyard shed for an audience of one.

At the end of the article, you can listen to the “Radio 77” episode of Snap Judgement by Jeff Maysh.

BBC did a piece on it in 1974:

It’s a great story about someone’s love of radio.

For even more detail about Deke, check out this article.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Bill!

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Radio Waves: Deep ABC Cuts, Ham Radio Saves a Life, SDR Academy Updates, and a new free e-magazine from RASA

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 Michael Bird, Alexander von Obert, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Up to 250 ABC jobs to go, ABC Life brand scrapped, flagship radio news bulletin dumped to tackle $84 million budget cut (ABC News)

The ABC will axe up to 250 jobs and cut programming as it deals with budget cuts of $84 million.

Managing director David Anderson said a flagship radio news bulletin would go, the ABC Life lifestyle portal would be rebranded, and programs would be reviewed as part of a major overhaul of the national broadcaster.

There will also be cuts to travel and to spending on television productions, as the organisation moves to become more relevant to more Australians and better reflect community diversity, he said.

Mr Anderson said the redundancies and savings would affect every division across the ABC.

“We anticipate we may farewell as many as 250 colleagues through this process,” he told staff in a briefing.

The News division is set to lose about 70 staff, the Entertainment and Specialist division 53 staff and the Regional and Local division 19.

Mr Anderson said there would be changes to executive staffing, but did not offer any details.

And he said the organisation would aim to have 75 per cent of its content-makers based outside its Sydney headquarters by 2025.

The ABC had already flagged that it would shed about 250 jobs due to a three-year funding indexation pause announced by the Federal Government in 2018.

Mr Anderson said the flagship 7:45am radio news bulletins would end, and be replaced by a five-minute bulletin at 8:00am. A 10-minute bulletin at 7:00am will remain.

The changes include:

  • ABC Life will become ABC Local and have a “broader editorial direction”
  • The travel budget will be cut by 25 per cent
  • Spending on external and independent television productions will be cut by $5 million a year
  • The ABC Comedy television channel will be rebranded to cater for a broader array of programs and content
  • Leasing of space at the ABC’s Sydney headquarters will be explored
  • TV and radio broadcast channels will remain, but transmission cuts have been flagged for future years[]

Ham Radio Saving A Life Locally! (Western Massachusetts ARRL)

On Tuesday, June 15, Alden Sumner Jones IV, KC1JWR, was hiking on the southern part of the Appalachian trail in Vermont (it’s also been reported as being on the Long Trail) with his cousins at around 12:30 PM. Alden started feeling light headed, his pulse was racing and the next thing he remembers is waking up with an EMT named Dave, from AMR out of Springfield, MA, who was hiking and saw Alden go down. Alden had suffered seizures. It was later determined that this was caused by low blood sugar. Dave attempted to call 911 on his cell phone. He could connect, but the 911 operator couldn’t understand him. At this point, Alden pulled out his HT ham radio, a BaoFeng.

He made contact through the K1FFK repeater. This repeater is located on Mt. Greylock on 146.91. The repeater is owned and maintained by the Northern Berkshire Amateur Radio Club. The initial call went out just before the Cycle 1 of the Western Massachusetts Traffic Net. Ron Wonderlick, AG1W, took the call. Alden initially asked if the 911 call went through. Ron began an eight hour process of acting as a relay between Alden, the emergency crews and various others.

The Traffic Net was truncated and the frequency was cleared by Peter Mattice, KD2JKV, who also stood by as a backup for Ron. KC1JPU, Matthew Sacco, was also monitoring and after a short consultation with Ron & Peter, proceeded to head to the staging area where the Fire and EMS crews were going to come from.[]

Software Defined Radio Academy 2020 Update (Markus Heller)

Dear ARRL recipients,

this year’s Software Defined Radio Academy is going to take place during the next weekend on June 27 / 28. We have now finalized the programme.

Since we decided very early in March that we’d organize an online strategy, we were not grounded by Corona. Using YouTube and our video conferencing system, we were able to organize a rich SDRA conference with speakers from all over the world.

Since this year’s European GNURadio Days conference in Besancon, France, could not take place either, we were asked to give their speakers a stage. This is the reason why we have a specially strong GNURadio focus.

With such a rich programme, we decided to span the talks over two days and start in the European afternoon, so that we could give our overseas audience a chance to participate live.

The mode is this: Even though all the talks are pre-recorded, the speakers will attend in the video conferencing system and respond to questions that come in through the YouTube channel. This way we can maintain a certain degree of interaction, which is important for any kind of scientific conference.

Here is the programme:
https://2020.sdra.io/pages/programme.html
and here is our YouTube stream URL:
https://youtube.sdra.io

We will start on Saturday 27 at 12:30 UTC+2
and on Sunday June 28 at 13:00 UTC+2.

For those of you who understand German, please note that this year’s HAMRADIO conference will also go online. We have worked hard in the past two months to record 65 hours of talks and discussions. Here is the HAMRADIO programme, which the SDRA is part of:

https://www.darc.de/fileadmin/filemounts/gs/oeffentlichskeitsarbeit/Veranstaltungen/HAMRADIOnline/HAMOnline_Sendeplan.pdf

QTC e-magazine (RASA via the Southgate ARC)

RASA is pleased to announce the release of a new E-magazine for Amateur Radio in Australia.  The magazine, QTC, named after the Q-code “I have a message for you” will be published every two months.

We’ll be renaming our regular email bulletins QTC-Lite and they’ll be aligned with the release of our fortnightly Podcast.

In this first issue of QTC, we have news and updates about regulations, and information on our 60m submission in response to the ACMA’s Consultation paper.  There’s a “Getting started” regular column, with this issue covering HF DX-ing.  There’s also a regular column on how you can deal with QRM and RFI in your shack.  This month we have a feature technical article on 3-Phase Power Converters.

Click here to download the first issue of QTC.


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Christoph’s homebrew custom hotkey pad for SDR applications

Last week, I saw a fascinating post by Christoph Jahn on the SDRplay Facebook page.

Christoph created a custom hotkey pad for use with SDRuno.  The project is actually quite simple and his finished product looks amazing:

The steps involve downloading “LuaMacros” a freeware macros utility that allows you to map macros to an external USB device like a cheap numeric keypad. Christoph then designed the key templates and printed them on a strong adhesive vinyl foil.

I asked Christoph if I could post his project on the SWLing Post and he kindly sent me the followed PDF with step-by-step instructions.

Click here to download the instructions as a PDF (6.71MB).

Christoph also shared the macros file he used for his project (download .XML file 8.77 KB).

Thank you so much for sharing this, Christoph!  Your finished product is so professional, I would have thought it was produced by SDRplay!

This could be a useful tool for a radio friend who is visually-impaired and, of course, could be compatible with a wide range of SDR apps and rig control software that allow keyboard shortcuts.

Readers: Have you done a similar project? Please comment with your experience and any details–especially noting applications and programs you find are compatible with keyboard shortcut mapping. This could be very beneficial for radio enthusiasts with disabilities!

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Beating the Quarantine Blues: Readers build homebrew NCPL antennas

My homebrew version of the NCPL antenna.

Recently, I published a step-by-step guide on building a Noise-Cancelling Passive Loop (NCPL) antenna. Evidently, this antenna project really resonated with readers! [See what I did there? If so, my apologies!]

I think this passive loop antenna project has been so appealing because (1.) most of us around the world are sheltering at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic and (2.) this project is simple and you likely have all of the components in your tool shed or junk box at this very moment.

A number you have written to tell me about your antenna builds and some of you have agreed to allow me to share your projects with the SWLing Post community.

Below, you’ll find three fine homebrew examples of the NCPL antenna–all of which were made with what these fine radio enthusiasts had on-hand:

Jerome van der Linden

Jerome’s NCPL antenna

Jerome writes:

Hello Thomas,

Well, I took up the challenge and built a NCPL antenna pretty close to your instructions.

Unfortunately, the coax I had available used (had aluminium shielding, and too late into the project I discovered solder would not take to it. My solution was to cannibalize a coax cable joiner (see photos attached), where – normally – the centre conductors are joined / held by a plastic centre piece and screw fittings.

The braid / shield for the two bits of coax is clamped / squeezed by an outer metal piece. My cannibalising effort involved removing the plastic centre bit which joins the two centre cores, and keeping just the outer metal component which I used (after completely cutting through the coax) to clamp the two metal braid sections, while the two centre copper bits were far enough apart for me to solder the leads for the ferrite balun.

Of course, I could not do the same at the top of the loop where the internal and external conductors need to swap over. I soldered some quite thick copper wire (perhaps 2mm in diameter) to each center core, pushed the center core into the opposing coax and coiled the 2mm thick copper tightly around each end of the coax.

Once it was all taped up it looks no worse than yours, and it does indeed WORK! [see photo above]

Here in Oz, I could not source the identical ferrite, but I think it’s pretty close. Best performance for me is on 11MHz, where the Radio New Zealand signal on 11725 is markedly better using the loop than the internal whip on my Tecsun PL-880. Other bands not quite so significant, but the Noise level is definitely lower.

As you say, Jerome, once all packaged up, it looks great! Sure, the mixture of materials you had on hand wasn’t ideal (aluminium shielding, etc.) but you found a way to make it work from the resources you had in your home. And I love the fact it’s lowed your RFI level!  Thanks for sharing!

Giuseppe Morlè (IZ0GZW)

Dear Thomas,

I’m Giuseppe Morlè (IZ0GZW), from Formia, central Italy, on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

I wanted to build your noise canceling loop seen on SWLing Post …
seems to work well especially from 40 meters. upward…
the diameter is 50 cm.
I will do other tests soon.
You can see the initial test on my YouTube channel via this link:

Thanks for the nice idea and a greetings from Italy.
73. Giuseppe IZ0GZW

Thank you, Giuseppe! What an amazing view you have there from your balcony! I’m quite impressed your PL-660 can take advantage of this design so well. We look forward to your other tests! Grazie mille!

John Mills

Hi Thomas,

My idea was to use a fitness hoop 75cm diameter bought off eBay. I removed the flashy striping to reveal a plastic like hoop that was joined in one spot with a plastic insert.

I have wrapped the whole hoop in tin-clad copper foil tape that has a conductive adhesive backing, but to be sure I have soldered all the overlapping seams. I drilled two holes opposite each other for the upper foil connections and the lower exit to the Balun.

Hopefully the three pictures will be helpful, I did the 4 turn design on Airspys website and it works really well connected to my RSPdx.

73

John

Thank you, John. What a fantastic way to build the NCPL antenna without using a coax for the loop. Indeed, since your plastic hoop has a small insert in the middle, you’ve an ideal spot to make the shield to center conductor cross-over.  Very clever! I also like how you mounted the 1:1 Balun (or Unun) on a small board. Thanks for sharing this.

Got Loops?

Post readers: If you have your own unique NCPL antenna design, please consider sharing it with us! Contact me with details and photos. I’ll plan to publish at least one more post with examples here in the near future.


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Site shares story of the BBC’s wartime reporting

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who shares the following note following our recent series of posts about WWII radio:

The, nearly, full story of the BBC’s wartime reporting can be found here. Yes, I hope another interesting read both for your good self and the readers of The SWLing Post:

http://www.orbem.co.uk/repwar/wr_action.htm

What an excellent read! Thank you for sharing this link, Kris!

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People Are No Longer Dependent On Radio (really?!)

Credit: St. Louis Public Radio via RadioINK.com

As the regular readers know, this site is not purely and entirely shortwave radio-centric … we enjoy all radio.

I don’t think we’ve mentioned this web site before, but I recently ran across this article on RadioINK:

People are no longer dependent on radio.

That’s what St. Louis Public Radio contends with the launch of its new podcast, The Gateway, another short (7-15 minutes), daily news podcast. Here’s what they had to say about the new show

Being a radio buff – or shall I say an ALL radio buff – I cannot fully comprehend that “people are no longer dependent on radio”. But I do acknowledge that technology has allowed us to manage our time better. And having a local podcast of news does appeal to many (yes, I suppose even to me at times).

It’s a very short article – three paragraphs – but I challenge the readers to comment: are you no longer dependent on radio? Okay – that’s a loaded question to this audience – just look at this post within the past 24-hours! But we’d also like to know: is there anything in your area, like this article describes of St. Louis Public Radio, where your local stations are turning to podcasts or other means to reach and/or expand their target audience?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

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An aircraft hijacking story with “a shortwave twist”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who writes:

[A] great aircraft hijacking story with a shortwave twist….

Read the full article from NK News on the link below–the shortwave twists are here in two interesting paragraphs…

“Two fight attendants from the YS-11 eventually emerged as announcers on the “Voice of the National Salvation,” a North Korean propaganda radio station targeting South Korean audiences.”

“The station claimed to be a voice of the alleged South Korean underground Juche resistance, and thus it badly needed broadcasters who were capable of speaking polished, Seoul-style Korean.”

Take to the skies: North Korea’s role in the mysterious hijacking of KAL YS-11 | NK News – North Korea News

https://www.nknews.org/2019/03/take-to-the-skies-north-koreas-role-in-the-mysterious-hijacking-of-kal-ys-11/

Thank you, Mark. I was not aware of this story. It was too bad for those flight attendants that they had a skill the North Korea propaganda machine needed.

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