The potential sale of one of the country’s only major manufacturers of high-power FM broadcast antennas is causing concern among public radio engineers who have long depended on the company for challenging projects such as directional antennas and multistation combiner systems.
Antennas and combiners made by Shively Labs carry the signals of many major stations, from Boston’s WBUR to Dallas’ KERA/KXT to Seattle’s KUOW. Shively’s headquarters in Maine boasts one of the few test ranges needed to fully prepare complex directional antenna systems for real-world performance.
Founded in 1963 by former RCA engineer Ed Shively, the company has been owned since 1980 by Howell Laboratories, an engineering firm that now has a wide range of product lines. Those include water purification systems, dehydrators and an increasing amount of contract work for the U.S. Navy.
While its military and commercial marine business has grown, broadcast antennas have become a smaller piece of the company’s portfolio, said Shively VP Angela Gillespie. [Continue reading…]
Catching signals from others is how we have started communicating as human beings. It all started, of course, with our vocal cords. Then we moved to smoke signals for long-distance communication. At some point, we discovered radio waves and are still using them for contact. This article will describe how you can tune in using Fedora Linux and an SDR dongle.
I got interested in radio communication as a hobby when I was a kid, while my local club, LZ2KRS, was still a thing. I was so excited to be able to listen and communicate with people worldwide. It opened a whole new world for me. I was living in a communist country back then and this was a way to escape just for a bit. It also taught me about ethics and technology.
Year after year my hobby grew and now, in the Internet era with all the cool devices you can use, it’s getting even more exciting. So I want to show you how to do it with Fedora Linux and a hardware dongle. [Continue reading…]
There’s something missing from the newest F-150 Lightning truck
These days, the auto industry is as disrupted as broadcast radio. Like the radio companies – a group of independent operators, each moving down a different pathway – automakers are highly individual companies. Continue reading →
It was 1913, the year of the Binghamton Clothing Company Fire, and the year after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the sinking of the Titanic.
Several major disasters that had left the region and the nation reeling from the loss of human life amidst a growing industrial base in the country. Thousands of immigrants were arriving to find new lives and work among the huddling masses. Many of those would make their way to the Binghamton area to find employment in the many cigar and shoe factories scattered on the landscape.
It was important to find a feel-good moment in the ever-rapidly increasing technology world that was changing the way we performed our work and lived our lives. Communication growth was one aspect of those changes. The number of newspapers and their influence was important, but so was the development of what we today call radio – originally known as wireless telegraphy, using radio waves to transmit telegraphic signals from point to point.
The first practical incarnation of wireless telegraphy was created by Guglielmo Marconi of Italy. The discovery of those waves had been made only about two decades prior to his use of those to transmit telegraph signals. In 1897, he formed the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in the United Kingdom. The company would later be called the Marconi Wireless Company, and continued to work on the ability to send these wireless signals farther and farther. Eventually, he also worked to see if these signals could be transmitted and received by moving objects, such as ships at sea and railroad trains. [Continue reading…]
Orson Welles’ contrived The War of the Worlds news bulletin “interrupted” a radio broadcast in 1938 to advise terrified listeners that aliens had invaded the Earth. As many as 12 million people were tuned in, according to NPR – and perhaps a million of them apparently worried that it was actually happening.
We’ve gained historical perspective on the stunt, even while the way we consume media has vastly changed over the decades that followed. Critics would later downplay the impact of The War of the Worlds, with some arguing that newspapers purposely over-sensationalized the broadcast to cast doubts on the trustworthiness of then-new technology that was siphoning off ad revenue.
What’s clear is that signal intrusions – including unauthorized hijacking of radio, television or satellite feeds – have continued ever since. They’ve served a variety of purposes, as you’ll see on the following list. Many were a form of political protest, while others were just looking to have a little fun. All of them trace back in some way to Welles’ fateful “interruption.”
Southern Television Broadcast
Nov. 26, 1977, England
Viewers of an early evening Southern Television broadcast in England were alarmed when an electronic voice purported to represent the “Ashtar Galactic Command” overtook the audio of a news segment for a full six minutes. The message, which was accompanied by a pulsating sound and eerie distortions, said: “For many years, you have seen us as lights in the sky. We speak to you now in peace and wisdom as we have done to your brothers and sisters all over this, your planet Earth.” This strange voice went on to advise humanity to “abandon its weapons” in order to participate in a “future awakening” and “achieve a higher state of evolution.” It also warned viewers that government officials weren’t who they claimed to be, and that they were leading the unwitting public into a New World Order. The hack ended with a final message: “Have no fear, seek only to know yourselves, and live in harmony with the ways of your planet Earth. We hear at the Ashtar Galactic Command thank you for your attention. We are now leaving the planes of your existence. May you be blessed by the supreme love and truth of the cosmos.” The interruption prompted a flood of phone calls from an understandably concerned audience then living under the threat of Cold War. A local newspaper said “thousands” of viewers were horrified; one man described the experience as “very eerie indeed” and said it “sounded very authentic.” A woman said she had to call her friends to make sure she wasn’t “hearing things,” adding that “it sounded like a genuine voice from outer space and was quite frightening.” An investigation revealed the Independent Broadcasting Authority’s Hannington transmitter had rebroadcast the signal from a nearby, unauthorized transmitter. The mastermind behind it all was never identified.
Researchers in Drexel University’s College of Engineering have developed a thin film device, fabricated by spray coating, that can block electromagnetic radiation with the flip of a switch. The breakthrough, enabled by versatile two-dimensional materials called MXenes, could adjust the performance of electronic devices, strengthen wireless connections and secure mobile communications against intrusion.
The team, led by Yury Gogotsi, Ph.D., Distinguished University and Bach professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, previously demonstrated that the two-dimensional layered MXene materials, discovered just over a decade ago, when combined with an electrolyte solution, can be turned into a potent active shield against electromagnetic waves.
This latest MXene discovery, reported in Nature Nanotechnology, shows how this shielding can be tuned when a small voltage—less than that produced by an alkaline battery—is applied.
“Dynamic control of electromagnetic wave jamming has been a significant technological challenge for protecting electronic devices working at gigahertz frequencies and a variety of other communications technologies,” Gogotsi said.
“As the number of wireless devices being used in industrial and private sectors has increased by orders of magnitude over the past decade, the urgency of this challenge has grown accordingly. This is why our discovery—which would dynamically mitigate the effect of electromagnetic interference on these devices—could have a broad impact.”
Washington maintains a waterfront radio tower in the Florida Keys to broadcast programming aimed at encouraging democracy and press freedom in Cuba, and on Sunday that area in Marathon was the landing spot for a group of migrants fleeing the island. A boat of 25 migrants arrived on the shores of Sister Creek, home to a Radio Martí transmission station on Sunday morning, said Adam Hoffner, assistant chief patrol agent for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Miami operations. The landing was one of two known migrant arrivals in the Keys on Sunday, with another 28 Cubans arriving on private property in Key Largo. While the government-run broadcasting agency targets Cuban listeners with Spanish programming, Radio Martí reports typically discourage the kind of voyage that reportedly landed some Cubans on or near Martí property, said Tomás Regalado, the former Miami mayor who also recently ran the agency that oversees Radio and TV Martí. “Historically, the migrant situation was something that was treated as news,” Regalado said. “But with the caveat that it’s a very dangerous trip and not recommended.” [Read more here…]
A nonprofit organization based in the U.S. is supplying Ukrainian forces with advanced electronic warfare gear assembled from simple off-the-shelf components. The secret is a new technology known as Software Defined Radio (SDR) which can locate Russian radio emitters, from command centers to drone operators. Previously this sort of capability required expensive, high-grade military equipment.
Serge Sklyarenko says his organization, American Ukrainian Aid Foundation, based in New York, is supplying Ukrainian intelligence with a number of the versatile SDR radio kits.
“The beauty of them is they are software defined, meaning they can be reprogrammed in the field to suit a multitude of use cases,” Sklyarenko told me.
In a traditional radio set, the signal from an antenna is processed by dedicated hardware – amplifiers, filters, modulator/demodulators and other components. This means that each radio set is dedicated to one particular type of radio signal, whether it is a 5G cellphone, AM radio, digital television or WiFi. In Software Defined Radio, the only dedicated hardware is the antenna. All the signal processing is carried out digitally with a computer. Simply by changing the programming, an SDR can extract the signal for cellphone, radio, Bluetooth, or any other defined waveform. One device can do everything. [Continue reading…]
On January 10, 1991, the U.S. Army Intelligence School Devens (USAISD) introduced the Basic Morse Mission Trainer to the 98H Morse intercept operator and 98D emitter identifier/locator advanced individual training courses. This system revolutionized the training of Morse code copying skills for both students and instructors, reducing course attrition, and turning out better trained operators faster. Continue reading →
Gathered at the historic headquarters of Vatican Radio in the Vatican Gardens, representatives of the nine primary western radio broadcasters meet with Monsignor Lucio Ruiz opening the meeting by recalling the importance of short wave in sending messages of hope and mercy all over the world.
By Michele Raviart
The “G9” group of the primary western radio broadcasters met at the Vatican on Tuesday focusing on a number of issues.
These included the use of short-wave radio in order to render the jamming of international broadcasters less effective through common efforts to coordinate how broadcast frequencies are used and technical cooperation between members.
This marked a key item on the agenda of the meeting which brought together the representatives, including Vatican Radio, in the historic building of the Pope’s radio, located in the Vatican Gardens, a place that housed the first radio station built by Guglielmo Marconi.
If you’ve read the SWLing Post for long, you’ll know that the CC Skywave SSB is my choice travel and EDC radio. I prefer it over any other portable I own (and I do have quite a lot) because it’s so insanely useful, efficient, lightweight, compact, and durable.
Me, at Charlotte-Douglas International waiting for a flight to the Winter SWL Fest in 2019.
When I fly, I take only one carry on bag that’s so compact it can fit under the seat in front of me in any type of commercial aircraft.
I firmly believe there is no freedom like one-bag travel. While others are stressing over where to stow luggage, how to carry it all, or why their checked-in luggage didn’t arrive at the destination, I’m cruising through the airport and to my destination unhindered.
The key to successful one-bag travel is only carrying what you need, and focusing on items that are multi-function.
Me? I need a good multi-band radio.
The CC Skywave SSB is the most comprehensive compact portable I own. It’s truly a “Swiss Army Knife” of a receiver. Here are the bands/features I appreciate:
AM/Mediumwave (9/10 kHz steps selectable)
FM broadcast (with expanded FM range when in 9 kHz step mode)
AIR band (to listen to Air Traffic Control and Air comms)
Weather Radio with alert (this functions brilliantly in the US and Canada)
A proper clock and alarm (that can display in 24 hour time!)
It uses two common AA batteries that can even be internally-recharged if NiMH
It even has a squelch feature for scanning, say, the AIR band
Tim Davie outlines vision for a world of ‘infinite choice’ where broadcast TV and radio are being switched off
The BBC is preparing to shut down its traditional television and radio broadcasts as it becomes an online-only service over the next decade, according to the director general, Tim Davie.
“Imagine a world that is internet-only, where broadcast TV and radio are being switched off and choice is infinite,” he said. “A switch-off of broadcast will and should happen over time, and we should be active in planning for it.”
Davie said the BBC was committed to live broadcasting but Britons should prepare for the closure of many standalone channels and radio stations by the 2030s: “Over time this will mean fewer linear broadcast services and a more tailored joined-up online offer.”
The future will involve “bringing the BBC together in a single offer”, possibly in the form of one app combining everything from television programmes to local news coverage and educational material. This could ultimately see the end of distinct brands such as BBC One or BBC Radio 4, although the programmes they currently air could continue online. [Continue reading at The Guardian…]
This is the story of one of the ABC’s best kept secrets.
ABC Radio Australia was never intended to be a great secret. It was just the nature of the service that few Australians knew about it. When I hosted its breakfast program for nine years, I could count on one hand the number of people who knew what I was talking about when I told them I worked for RA.
Most people mistakenly thought it was the same thing as Radio National. I would have to explain, yet again, that this was our version of the BBC World Service, a worldwide broadcaster.
RA was founded at the start of the World War II by prime minister Robert Menzies as an antidote to the disinformation being broadcast by Australia’s new enemies, Germany and Russia. The idea of Australia Calling, as the service was initially named, was to provide an antidote to this propaganda, to counter that aerial bilge with factual, balanced and fair reportage.
So with a small team of English, Spanish, Dutch and French broadcasters, a minuscule budget and some tiny transmitters in antiquated shacks in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia joined the short-wave age in December 1939. [Continue reading…]
Situated on the northwest tip of New Zealand’s north island, and home to the historically significant Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the Northland region is to receive a funding boost to strengthen its AM broadcasting infrastructure.
New Zealand’s Minister of Broadcasting and Media, Willie Jackson, and Minister for Emergency Management, Kieran McAnulty, have announced a NZD$1.48 million package to fund the repair and replacement of three transmission masts in Northland to ensure AM radio can stay on air in the region.
“This funding will secure the reinstatement of the Waipapakauri mast, which services Far North communities, and replace the masts at ?taika and ?haeawai which are on their last legs,” Willie Jackson said. “This will ensure that Northland communities retain their access to AM transmission in areas that are not serviced by FM frequencies.
“RNZ has already completed work to reinstate the Waipapakauri mast, which went back on air today.”
Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty said radio is a critical information channel to help reach New Zealanders in an emergency.
“When emergencies happen, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and local Civil Defence Groups work with the media to issue warnings and other critical information. We rely on radio as our number one emergency info channel as it is the most resilient and widely available form of public communication.
“Northland is especially reliant on AM radio due to its remote and rugged terrain, its exposure to hazards like tsunamis, and limited access to cellular service and other information sources,” Kieran McAnulty said. [Continue reading…]
The TALIBAN has shut down several VOICE OF AMERICA RADIO ASHNA FM repeaters and has blocked RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY’s Afghan service RADIO AZADI, alleging that the U.S.-backed outlets are violating Afghani press laws and journalistic principles.
A statement from the VOA said that the move, which it noted broke a multiyear contract between the stations and the Afghan government, “is a blow to the large audience that turns to RADIO ASHNA for uncensored news and information. VOA broadcasts provided the people of AFGHANISTAN uncensored perspectives and hope. They gave ordinary Afghans a voice through call-in programs and discussion shows about subjects censored by domestic media. On VOA programs, topics ranged from the increasing isolation of AFGHANISTAN’s current government and the second-class status of women and girls as a result of the TALIBAN’s policies to the persistent economic failures that have diminished the quality of life in AFGHANISTAN since the TALIBAN takeover.”
“Many programs were anchored by women,” said Acting VOA Director YOLANDA LÓPEZ. “Removing VOA from the domestic airwaves will not silence us. It will only increase the importance of serving the captive audience inside AFGHANISTAN.”
The statement noted that the VOA reaches 7.3 million adults per week in the country, with almost half of those listening on broadcast radio; the service can also be heard via satellite TV, shortwave, AM, streaming, and social media and is “actively exploring additional ways to provide our content and fulfill our mission of serving our audience in AFGHANISTAN.” [Continue reading…]
US-funded Voice of America said Taliban authorities pointed to “complaints” about their programing. Radio Free Europe was also banned by the Islamist regime.
Voice of America (VOA) and the AP press agency reported that Taliban authorities banned radio broadcasting from VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Afghanistan from Thursday.
According to VOA, the Taliban authorities cited “complaints they have received about programming content” as reason for the ban.
However, there were no further details provided about the alleged complaints, VOA shared in a press statement.
Both VOA and RFE are funded by the US government, but “operate with journalistic independence and aim to provide comprehensive, balanced coverage,” the statement continued.
Whether or not the ban will be extended to other international broadcasters in Afghanistan remains unclear at this point.
In March, some parts of DW’s Afghan programing were stopped from being rebroadcast by Afghan partners, and BBC news bulletins in Pashto, Persian and Uzbek also taken off air.
Taliban say VOA and RFE ‘failed to show professionalism’
Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi told AP his country had laws regulating the media and any network that was “repeatedly contravening” them would be banned.
“VOA and Azadi Radio (Radio Liberty) failed to adhere to these laws, were found as repeat offenders, failed to show professionalism and were therefore shut down,” he said.
The Taliban regime has been cracking down on press freedom in the country by imposing restrictions on media and journalists since seizing power last year. [Continue reading…]