Category Archives: Broadcasters

The Giant Antennas of Shanghai Coast Radio Station (XSG)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael (BD4AAQ) who shares the following guest post:


Shanghai Coast Radio Station (XSG):

Those Giant Antennas!

The 17th of May is the World Telecommunication Day. It is also the open day of Shanghai Coast Radio Station. On this day, a group of amateur radio operators were invited to visit the transmission facility, a huge antenna farm, of the radio station, located on Chongming Island of Shanghai, the third largest island in China.

Google Satellite Photo

The transmission site of Shanghai Coast Radio Station is as shown below in the map of Chongming Island. Other sites of the station include a central control/receive station in Zhangjiang, a receive station on Hengsha Island and some VHF base stations in a number of other locations. All these locations in Shanghai, linked via cable and microwave connection, form Shanghai Coast Radio Station, also known by its callsign as XSG.

(Google map of transmitter location for Shanghai Coast Radio Station. Note the antenna farm on the left.)

Presentation by Station Officials

Fifteen or so local hams were cordially invited to have a tour of the station. The radio enthusiasts were greeted by station representatives, including Mr Wan, Mr Wang, Mr Zhou and Mr Niu (BH4BFS), who also gave them an overview of the coast radio station’s history and development. 

Antenna Farm

Mr Wang then showed the visitors around the antenna farm. Many of us, myself included, saw and were deeply impressed with these huge antennas for the first time! Indeed, many professional radio facilities and operators of similar coast radio stations work quietly around the globe and around the clock to provide for distress, navigational, business and personal communications needs of ships!

[Click on images to enlarge.]

The antennas cover a wide range of frequencies, from MF, HF, to VHF and UHF. Many of them are, however, shortwave (HF) antennas.

Transmitter Room

(I placed a Tecsun PL-330 radio near the transmitter at 12380.1 kHz (weather fax). The signal strength, in dbu, is 96. Given the margin of error of the receiver’s display, that’s probably as high as it could go.)

Shanghai Coast Radio Station (XSG) operates on a wide range of frequencies. Its HF frequencies include 4207.5, 4209.5, 4215.5, 4369, 6312, 6326, 6501, 8414.5, 8425.5, 8770, 8806, 12577, 12637.5, 13176, 13188, 16804.5, 16898.5 and 17407 kHz. Of particular note is that they have kept a CW frequency of 8665 kHz for general broadcast of information on a 24 hour basis.

The station’s VHF phone service covers 25 nautical miles of the coast. Its MF NAVTEX covers 250 nautical miles of the coast. And its HF phone and weather fax and HF NAVTEX extend to 1,000 nautical miles.

History and Current Status

Founded in 1905, Shanghai Coast Radio Station has been around 119 years. The XSG callsign has since remained in use.

China has in place DSC watch and NAVTEX broadcast in coast stations (including XSG) in accordance with GMDSS requirements. Among services provided by XSG are Radio Telephony (RT), Narrow Band Direct Printing (NBDP), “Voice of the East China Sea Coast” (voice broadcast on 161.600 MHz and 8806 kHz) and marine radio weather fax. The station is without a doubt one of the largest coast radio stations in the Asia Pacific region and plays an essential role in the region’s marine safety and communications.

QSL Cards

Shanghai Coast Radio Station issues QSL cards in Chinese and English, traditionally in paper form and nowadays electronically.

(This is an electronic QSL card issued to a Shanghai listener, who received their signal over the radio. Examples of QSL cards in English can be found online.)

Show Room

[Click on images to enlarge.]

Ham Station

Mr Niu of Shanghai Coast Radio Station, one of the tour’s organisers, is a ham himself with callsign BH4BFS. According to him, there are intentions to start a ham radio station within the establishment, possibly incorporating the letters XSG. However, there is much work to be done to make it happen. An amateur radio station with overlapping callsigns with a professional one would be really charming.

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Radio Waves: HEBA Antenna Approval, Eclipse Time Signal Shift, A Novice’s Guide to Amateur Radio Astronomy, and Voyager 1 Sending Data Again!

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 Alan, Dan, and Rich Cuff for the following tips:


WQVR(AM) Is Granted CP to Use HEBA Antenna at Night (Radio World)

Developer believes antenna’s smaller footprint can help reduce property needed for AM operators

The FCC in March granted an application for a construction permit filed by WQVR(AM) 940 in Webster, Mass., requesting licensed nighttime operation.

This is noteworthy because WQVR has been licensed to operate during daytime hours with a High-Efficiency Broadband Antenna or HEBA, developed by Worldwide Antenna Systems. [Continue reading…]

Global ‘time signals’ subtly shifted as the total solar eclipse reshaped Earth’s upper atmosphere, new data shows (Live Science)

During the historic April 8 total solar eclipse, a government radio station in Colorado started sending out slightly shifted “time signals” to millions of people across the globe as the moon’s shadow altered the upper layers of our atmosphere. However, these altered signals did not actually change the time. [Continue reading…]

Nathan Butts: A Novice’s Guide to Radio Astronomy (YouTube)

NASA’s Voyager 1 Resumes Sending Engineering Updates to Earth (NASA JPL)

An artist’s concept of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. Credit: NASA

After some inventive sleuthing, the mission team can — for the first time in five months — check the health and status of the most distant human-made object in existence.

For the first time since November, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems. The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again. The probe and its twin, Voyager 2, are the only spacecraft to ever fly in interstellar space (the space between stars).

Voyager 1 stopped sending readable science and engineering data back to Earth on Nov. 14, 2023, even though mission controllers could tell the spacecraft was still receiving their commands and otherwise operating normally. In March, the Voyager engineering team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed that the issue was tied to one of the spacecraft’s three onboard computers, called the flight data subsystem (FDS). The FDS is responsible for packaging the science and engineering data before it’s sent to Earth.

The team discovered that a single chip responsible for storing a portion of the FDS memory — including some of the FDS computer’s software code — isn’t working. The loss of that code rendered the science and engineering data unusable. Unable to repair the chip, the team decided to place the affected code elsewhere in the FDS memory. But no single location is large enough to hold the section of code in its entirety.

So they devised a plan to divide the affected code into sections and store those sections in different places in the FDS. To make this plan work, they also needed to adjust those code sections to ensure, for example, that they all still function as a whole. Any references to the location of that code in other parts of the FDS memory needed to be updated as well.

The team started by singling out the code responsible for packaging the spacecraft’s engineering data. They sent it to its new location in the FDS memory on April 18. A radio signal takes about 22 ½ hours to reach Voyager 1, which is over 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth, and another 22 ½ hours for a signal to come back to Earth. When the mission flight team heard back from the spacecraft on April 20, they saw that the modification worked: For the first time in five months, they have been able to check the health and status of the spacecraft.

During the coming weeks, the team will relocate and adjust the other affected portions of the FDS software. These include the portions that will start returning science data.

Voyager 2 continues to operate normally. Launched over 46 years ago, the twin Voyager spacecraft are the longest-running and most distant spacecraft in history. Before the start of their interstellar exploration, both probes flew by Saturn and Jupiter, and Voyager 2 flew by Uranus and Neptune.

Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.


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RNZ changes its pips!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia, who shares the following news from Radio New Zealand:

RNZ’s pips are changing – Can you hear the difference? (RNZ)

RNZ National is changing the pips – the beeps that mark the start of each hour which play immediately before the news bulletin broadcast.

The pips were last changed in 2013 when a lightning strike damaged the clock which sent signals from the Measurement Standards Laboratory’s atomic clock.

The replacement sound was a little higher. (Continue reading…)

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Tuning In: An Artistic and Auditory Exploration of Korean Radio by Carlos Latuff

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and noted political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares this special dive into the world of radio both in and targeting the Korean peninsula. His report includes off-air recordings along with his own original artwork.


Koreas’ Radio War

by Carlos Latuff, a special for the SWLing Post

The war that divided Korea in two began in 1950. A truce was signed by both sides in 1953, but a peace agreement never came to fruition. Therefore, North Korea and South Korea remain at war. And this war is not just happening on the ground, but also over the airwaves.

Every day, a battle for hearts and minds takes place on AM, FM and shortwave. Whether the DPRK broadcasts are directed to South Korea, or South Korean broadcasters (including clandestine ones) broadcast to the DPRK.

I bring here a small collection of radio listenings made between February 29th and March 17th, all of them happened in Porto Alegre, Brazil, using a XHDATA D-808 receiver, with long wire antenna (outdoor), except for Radio Free Asia, listened with a Toshiba TR 486 receiver, using a telescopic antenna (indoor). Translations from Korean to English were made using transcription and translation apps.

KBS World

KBS World Radio was created in 1953, the year the truce was signed between the two warring Koreas, under the name “The Voice of Free Korea”, and today, as a public radio station, it broadcasts to several countries in different languages. Its programming includes news, music, variety, and of course, opposition to the DPRK government.

 

As part of the effort to promote “regime change” in the DPRK, the Seoul government, through its intelligence service, maintains clandestine radio stations (“Echo of Hope” and “Voice of the People”) whose role is basically broadcast 24 hours a day anti-Communist propaganda to North Korea, along South Korean and American pop music.

Echo of Hope

Voice of the People

Radio Free Asia

Created by the CIA in 1951, at the height of the Cold War and the conflict in Korea, Radio Free Asia has undergone changes throughout its history, but continues to be operated by the United States government and aims, in its own words, to “provide independent, uncensored and accurate local news” for countries like China, Vietnam and, of course, North Korea. Content directed at the DPRK follows the same principle as South Korean clandestine broadcasters: basically anti-Communist orientation, in order to achieve a “regime change”. The articles broadcasted on the radio are the same as those published on the Radio Free Asia’s website.

KCBS Pyongyang

Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) Pyongyang is the DPRK’s domestic radio station, whose programming reaches North and South Korea, even being heard in Japan. News about the achievements of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, music and attacks on Seoul government, seen by Pyongyang as a puppet regime.

Voice of Korea

On October 14, 1945, the year Japan was defeated in World War II, KCBS Pyongyang and Voice of Korea were founded (domestic and international radio stations respectively). Voice of Korea broadcasts programming in several languages ??to the world via shortwave. The content is not much different from KCBS Pyongyang: achievements of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, attacks on Seoul government and the United States, and traditional/patriotic music.

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Radio Waves: International Symposium Focuses on Broadcasting, Last Morse Station, Yaesu FRG-7 Digital Frequency Kit, and Remembering Bob Heil,

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 Paul Jamet, Bob Butterfield, and NT for the following tips:


International symposium: Université Toulouse Capitole, 14 and 15 November 2024

From COVID-19 to armed conflicts: radio faced with a multiplicity of crises

https://radiography.hypotheses.org/files/2023/12/Appel-a-communication-Colloque-international-Radio-et-crises-Toulouse-2024-version-anglaise.pdf

Deadline: April 25th, 2024

America’s Last Morse Code Station (The Atlantic)

Maritime Morse code was formally phased out in 1999, but in California, a group of enthusiasts who call themselves the “radio squirrels” keeps the tradition alive.

Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence.” With that, in January 1997, the French coast guard transmitted its final message in Morse code. Ships in distress had radioed out dits and dahs from the era of the Titanic to the era of Titanic. In near-instant time, the beeps could be deciphered by Morse-code stations thousands of miles away. First used to send messages over land in 1844, Morse code outlived the telegraph age by becoming the lingua franca of the sea. But by the late 20th century, satellite radio was turning it into a dying language. In February 1999, it officially ceased being the standard for maritime communication.

Nestled within the Point Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, KPH Maritime Radio is the last operational Morse-code radio station in North America. The station—which consists of two buildings some 25 miles apart—once watched over the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Both KPH sites shut down in 1997, but a few years later, a couple of radio enthusiasts brought them back to life. The crew has gotten slightly larger over the years. Its members call themselves the “radio squirrels.” Every Saturday, they beep out maritime news and weather reports, and receive any stray messages. Much of their communication is with the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a World War II–era ship permanently parked at a San Francisco pier. [Continue reading, noting that much of The Atlantic’s content is behind a paywall…]

Yaesu FRG-7 Digital Frequency and S-meter Readout Kit

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Butterfield, who writes:

Readers who own a Yaesu FRG-7 and are interested in a digital frequency readout/S-meter kit that replaces the original analog S-meter may be interested in this item from Marcel Jacobs, PA8MA, Netherlands. It is available on eBay:

https://ebay.us/ji2zp7 [Note: this eBay partnership link supports the SWLing Post.]

I have not personally tried out this unit, however, it does look pretty slick. Further information can be found in the FRG-7 groups.io user group.

A video is also available on YouTube:

Audio Innovator Bob Heil Dies (Radio World)

Gave a unique sound to Frampton and was known in radio, audio and ham radio

Bob Heil has died, according to the company he founded. He was 83.

“Bob fought a valiant, year-long battle with cancer, and passed peacefully surrounded by his family,” Heil Sound posted on Facebook.

“Driven by a lifelong passion for sound, Bob’s pioneering work revolutionized how concertgoers experienced live sound.” [Here’ his official obituary.]

Heil was the inventor of the famous Heil Talk Box used memorably by musicians like Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton, Slash, Richie Sambora and others. He was invited to exhibit his innovations at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also was an active member of the amateur radio community.

In 2022 Bob and Sarah Heil transferred ownership of their company to President/CEO Ash Levitt and Director of Operations Steve Warford, Radio World reported at the time. “Sarah Heil has retired, but Bob will continue to do outreach work and product design within the amateur radio space under the title Founder and CEO Emeritus,” it stated then. [Continue reading…]


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The Conversation: “100 Years of Radio in Africa: from propaganda to people’s power”

Radio Taboo in Cameroon

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Marty, who shares the following article from The Conversation:

100 years of radio in Africa: from propaganda to people’s power (The Conversation)

Radio is thriving across Africa. Exact figures are difficult to come by because audience research differs across countries. But studies estimate radio listenership to be between 60% and 80% of the continent’s 1.4 billion population.

In contrast to many western countries, where there has been a shift towards streaming and podcasts, traditional radio continues to be widely embraced in Africa. Because of poor literacy levels and uneven access to the internet and technological infrastructure, old-fashioned radio remains a reliable and inclusive medium.

This year’s celebration of the 100-plus years of radio offers us an opportunity, as African media scholars, to reflect on the historical significance, cultural relevance, political power and social impact of the medium on the continent. We home in on examples from the regions we’ve studied to demonstrate this rich history.

Early years

The story of radio in Africa starts with its introduction to serve colonial interests. Cameroonian scholar Francis Nyamnjoh argues that as soon as it had established itself as a mass medium in the 1920s,

European states were quick to realise the part radio could play in realising their desire to swallow up weaker cultures around the globe.

Historians note that it also allowed Europeans in the colonies to connect to home, their culture and their languages.

In the early 1920s amateur radio enthusiasts had already begun tinkering with the technology. The first official broadcast seems to have been on 18 December 1923 in Johannesburg, South Africa. [Continue reading at The Conversation…]

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