Category Archives: FM

Radio Waves: FM CB, Radio Listeners in Zimbabwe, Tom Clark SK, and SAQ Grimeton UN-Day Transmission

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!


Biggest change for CBs in four decades as FM mode gets approved by FCC (CCJ Digital)

The biggest change for CB radios in the U.S. since the late 1970s is coming and it looks to be a good thing for improved voice quality and cutting through frustrating background noise common at the peak of day.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved FM to join alongside AM and single-sideband (SSB) modes on CBs. It’s a big change to old technology that offers some clear advantages.

On the plus side, FM will provide users with improved audio quality and greater ability to circumvent background signal noise typical on CB’s long-standing AM side. The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at U.C. Berkeley reports that FM will provide an “improved signal to noise ratio (about 25dB) with regards to man-made interference” over AM. That kind of reduction in background noise could prove popular with truckers who remain among the top users of CBs in the U.S.

Continue reading

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CBQM Fort McPherson documentary

CBQMMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ted Ostrowski, who writes:

Hey Thomas

Thought your SWListeners might enjoy this bit of Canadiana. It’s a bit dated and cheesy, but radio buffs may enjoy it. I did.

Ted

CBQM

This feature-length documentary pays tribute to CBQM, the radio station that operates out of Fort McPherson, a small town about 150 km north of the Arctic Circle in the Canadian Northwest Territories. Through storytelling and old-time country music, filmmaker and long-time listener Dennis Allen crafts a nuanced portrait of the “Moccasin Telegraph,” the radio station that is a pillar of local identity and pride in this lively northern Teetl’it Gwich’in community of 800 souls.

CBQM, Dennis Allen, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

This is wonderful, Ted, thank you for sharing!

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Radio Waves: Old Gen FM Radio, Radio Burst Model Challenged, Iceland WebSDR, and Ida Destroys WZRH/KVDU Tower

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, Troy Riedel, Dan Van Hoy, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


FM Radio, the choice of an old generation (Hackaday)

Had the pandemic not upended many of this summer’s fun and games, many of my friends would have made a trip to the MCH hacker camp in the Netherlands earlier this month. I had an idea for a game for the event, a friend and I were going to secrete a set of those low-power FM transmitters as numbers stations around the camp for players to find and solve the numerical puzzles they would transmit. I even bought a few cheap FM transmitter modules from China for evaluation, and had some fun sending a chiptune Rick Astley across a housing estate in Northamptonshire.

To me as someone who grew up with FM radio and whose teen years played out to the sounds of BBC Radio 1 FM it made absolute sense to do a puzzle in this way, but it was my personal reminder of advancing years to find that some of my friends differed on the matter. Sure, they thought it was a great idea, but they gently reminded me that the kids don’t listen to any sort of conventional broadcast radio these days, instead they stream their music, so very few of them would have the means for listening to my numbers stations. Even for me it’s something I only use for BBC Radio 4 in the car, and to traverse the remainder of the FM dial is to hear a selection of easy listening, oldies, and classical music. It’s becoming an older person’s medium, and it’s inevitable that like AM before it, it will eventually wane.

There are two angles to this that might detain the casual hacker; first what it will mean from a broadcasting and radio spectrum perspective, and then how it is already influencing some of our projects. [Continue reading…]

New observations challenge popular radio burst model (Sky and Telescope)

Strange behavior caught by two radio observatories may send theorists back to the drawing board.

Fourteen years ago, the first fast radio burst (FRB) was discovered. By now, many hundreds of these energetic, millisecond-duration bursts from deep space have been detected (most of them by the CHIME radio observatory in British Columbia, Canada), but astronomers still struggle to explain their enigmatic properties. A new publication in this week’s Nature “adds a new piece to the puzzle,” says Victoria Kaspi (McGill University, Canada). “In this field of research, surprising twists are almost as common as new results.”

Most astronomers agree that FRBs are probably explosions on the surfaces of highly magnetized neutron stars (so-called magnetars). But it’s unclear why most FRBs appear to be one-off events, while others flare repeatedly. In some cases, these repeating bursts show signs of periodicity, and scientists had come up with an attractive model to explain this behavior, involving stellar winds in binary systems.

However, new observations by European radio telescopes may rule out this model.

Astronomers knew that FRB 20180916B, located in a galaxy some 475 million light-years away, produces multiple bursts about every 16 days, during a ‘window’ that lasts for a few days. “The idea was that the magnetar is part of a binary system with a 16.29-day period,” says Inés Pastor-Marazuela (University of Amsterdam), the first author of the new paper. If the companion star had a thick stellar wind that absorbs radio waves, the bursts would only be visible when the magnetar was on ‘our’ side of the orbit, she explains. [Continue reading…]

New WebSDR in Iceland (Southgate ARC)

Iceland’s IRA reports on August 24 Karl Georg Karlsson TF3CZ connected a new receiver over the internet covering 24-1800 MHz

A translation of the IRA post reads:

QTH is Perlan in Öskjuhlíð in Reykjavík. These are Airspy R2 SDR receivers for 24-1800 MHz (on VHF and UHF). The antenna is a Diamond D-190.

Karl Georg stated the following on FB:
The extension is not just for 2m, it can only be on one band at a time. So if one user switches, others who are connected also move between bands. (However, you can listen to each frequency within the same band). The receiver automatically tunes to APRS QRG 144.800 MHz, see the APRS website: http://SDR.ekkert.org/map

URL of the receiver
http://perlan.utvarp.com/#freq=24890000,mod=usb,sql=-150

Thanks to Karl Georg for his valuable contribution. This is an important addition for radio amateurs who experiment in these frequency ranges, as well as listeners and anyone interested in the spread of radio waves.

IRA Board

Source Iceland’s national amateur radio society, the IRA
https://tinyurl.com/IcelandIRA

WZRH/KVDU Tower Destroyed By Hurricane Ida (Radio Insight)

The nearly 2000 foot tower utilized by Cumulus Media Alternative “Alt 92.3” WZRH LaPlace and iHeartMedia Variety Hits “104.1 The Spot” KVDU Houma LA was toppled by the winds of Hurricane Ida.

The 1999 foot structure was constructed in 1988 to host both signals. Only the bottom 150 to 200 feet remain standing. Both stations are licensed to operate with 100kW/591m, but have low powered auxiliary sites in downtown New Orleans. WZRH is located on the roof of Place St. Charles with 630w/200m. KVDU is on the Hancock Whitney Center with 1.2kW/220m.

In addition to KVDU, iHeartMedia Gospel 940 WYLD is silent at its cluster. The company reports that the remainder of its signals are now operational after all but 93.3 KQUE and 98.5 WYLD-FM were off the air on Monday.

Cumulus Media states that its entire cluster of WZRH, Adult R&B 102.9 KMEZ Belle Chasse, Country “106.1 Nash-FM” WRKN Picayune MS, and Hot AC “106.7 The Krewe” KKND Port Sulphur LA are off the air. [Continue reading…]

 


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Radio Waves: Solar Cycle 25 Looking Up, Vintage Radio Flea Market Finds, the SBITX SDR, and More Power to Radio Caroline

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 Eric McFadden, Ken Carr, Mike Terry, Pete Eaton, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Revised prediction for Solarcycle 25 (Southgate ARC)

A revised prediction from the NASA High Altitude Observatory based at the University Of Colorado.

NASA Heliophysicists have released a revised prediction for Solar Cycle 25.
The report generated by Ricky Egeland a Solar Physicist working in the NASA Space Radiation Analysis Group now calls for the peak of Solar Cycle 25 to top out at a value of 195 ± 17 based upon the new scale for calculating Smoothed Sun Spot Number. For reference Solar Cycle 21 peaked at an SSN 233 (new scale) while Solarcycle 23 peaked at an SSN of 180 (new scale). If this predictions holds up Ham Radio will see Excellent Worldwide F Layer Conditions on 10 Meters for several years around Solar Max. 6 Meters conditions should be good in the Equinox Periods before and after Solar Max with consistent openings on Medium Haul Polar Routes. 6 Meter routes traversing the equator should experience consistent openings ± 9 months from Solar Max.

Ricky Egeland is a particpating member in the group headed up by Scott McIntosh and Bob Leamon that published a paper 9 months ago outlining the existance magnetic bands within the Sun that govern the Sunspot and Hale Cycles. At the time of its publishing the paper went on to predict the peak of Solar Cycle 25 could be as high Solarcycle 21. Today’s released is a revised prediction based upon data observed since the original paper was published. To be sure we are still in early days.

The Solar Rotation Cycle as marked by Sunspot Activity was established on April 19, 2021 so we are only 90 Days into actually observing Cycle 25 Activity. It is now agreed the dramactic run-up in Sunspot Activity we experienced late Last Fall while tied to Cycle 25 was an outlier. When asked directly about whether they can declare if the Terminator Event they wrote about in the Fall 2020 Paper has occurred Scott McIntosh stated “We can’t be sure just yet but we are very very close”. It also should be noted that while it has been over a year since the sun produced a Cycle 24 Region with a Sunspot worthy of a NASA Classification the Sun has been steadily producing Spotless SC 24 Active Regions the last of which formed right on the Solar Equator at N00-W54 on July 24,2021 as recorded by Jan Alvestad’s Solar Terrestial Activity Report Website. These Active Regions being part of a Solarcycle in its final stages of existence produce no spots and only last for a few hours before they dissipate away. The previous SC24 Active Region formed on June 28, 2021. Once the SC24 active regions cease forming Solar Cycle 25 will take off in earnest.

Bob Marston AA6XE

Bob Marston AA6XE email – aa6xe@arrl.net
Ricky Egeland email – egeland@ucar.edu
Scott McIntosh email – mscott@ucar.edu
Bob Leamon via Twitter – https://twitter.com/leamonrj

Flea Market Finds at the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum of Connecticut (KE1RI)

I have an addiction to old radios, especially anything that was manufactured in the 1923-1950 period. That may seem like a long time to some folks but when you gain senior citizen status 25 years is a blink of the eye. This love of old radios is tempered by the limited display space that I have in my home. I am at the point where I am very selective when it comes to buying a new radio. Although there is always room for another ‘small’ radio I am somehow attracted to the larger models. A rough count of the full-size consoles in this house (and garage and shed) comes to about 11. Just in this room (second floor radio shack) there are 5 console radios, two of which reside in the closet. The only surprise is that my wife has not tossed the radios and me out by now.

So, it is no surprise that I enjoy attending radio flea markets. Most of the events I frequent are either in Connecticut or Massachusetts. Rhode Island has very little in the way of antique radio flea markets (although we do have a great wireless and steam museum). And you can forget about eBay. Radios on eBay usually have inflated prices and descriptions. Even if you do find something reasonable the shipping for anything bigger than an All American Five table model is very costly and hazardous (many are damaged during shipping).

This is where the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum of Connecticut (VRCMC) comes in. This is a wonderful museum that has an enormous collection of radios and other communication-related technological wonders. They also hold regular flea markets to help raise funds needed to run the museum. During the cold months the events are inside (limited space) and during warm seasons (April, June, September) they are outside (plenty of space). This year I attended the first Spring event that was held on April 13, 2021. It was a great success! [Click here to continue reading…]

SBITX: Hackable HF SDR for the Raspberry Pi (Hackaday)

Cheap, easy to use SDR dongles are an immensely powerful tool for learning about radio technology. However, building your own SDR is not something too many hackers are confident to tackle. [Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE] hopes to change this with the sBITX, a hackable HF SDR transceiver designed around the Raspberry Pi.

[Ashhar] introduced the project in talk at the virtual “Four Days In May” annual conference of the QRP Amateur Radio Club International. Watch the full talk in the video after the break. He first goes over the available open source SDR radios, and then delves into his design decisions for the sBITX. One of the primary goals of the project was to lower the barrier of entry. To do this, he chose the Raspberry Pi as base, and wrote C code that that anyone who has done a bit of Arduino programming should be able to understand and modify. The hardware is designed to be as simple as possible. On the receive side, a simple superheterodyne architecture is used to feed a 25 kHz wide slice of RF spectrum to an audio codec, which send the digitized audio to the Raspberry Pi. The signal is then demodulated in software using FFT. For transmit, the signal is generated in software, and then upconverted to the desired RF frequency. [Ashhar] also created a GUI for the 7? Raspberry Pi screen.[]

Ofcom agrees for Radio Caroline to turn up the power (Community Radio Today)

A power increase has been agreed for Radio Caroline to extend its coverage area from Suffolk and Essex to include Kent as East Sussex.

The station is broadcasting under a community radio licence and was originally granted 1kW of power on 648 AM in 2018. The actual power increase amount has not been announced.

Ofcom says a power increase was agreed to combat man made noise and interference in the existing coverage area, and to extend coverage to adjoining areas.

While the subsequent increase in the licensed area was considered to be significant, the decision-maker deemed there to be exceptional circumstances in order to approve this request, saying the service has experienced high levels of background noise and interference, particularly in urban areas.

The licensee also serves a ‘community of interest’ as opposed to a defined geographic community meaning the service is positioned to be accessible to the community of interest in the proposed extended areas.[]

 


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Summer FM DX: Drive-by Sporadic E

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, TomL, who shares the following guest post:


Summer DX – Sporadic E, FM band

“Sporadic E” DXing is a specialty of some DXers.  I have never dabbled in it being content with mediumwave or shortwave listening.  However, it was truly fun to spontaneously hear this happen while driving on the Interstate highway, Wednesday August 4 around 6pm Central Time.

To quote from an ARRL propagation article:

“As frequency increases still further, signals will eventually pass through the F1 layer to the F2 layer. Because this is the highest reflecting layer, the distance spanned by signals reflecting from it is the greatest. The maximum skip distance for the E layer is about 2000 km. For the F2 layer that increases to about 4000 km—a significant gain.”

I was listening to the local classical music station WNIU in DeKalb, IL which is a good 50 kW transmitter about 10 miles behind me near the Interstate highway.  A different station was breaking through. Eventually, I heard a familiar Christian song “You Make Me Brave” swamp the classical music. I noticed it was a remake of a song made about 10+ years earlier. The two signals fought it out and then I heard the station ID “Spirit FM” and a short humorous segment called “Attitude Adjustment”, then more music.  Finally the local classical music station won out and I thought I would look up the station ID of that contentious station later.

When I googled “90.5 Spirit FM”, it came up with a station in Tampa Bay, FL called WBVM. Cool!  Just to be sure, I went to the station web site and looked up their playlist and this confirms what I heard:

Curious about the transmitter, Radio Locator said it was a 100kW station and gave the Long/Lat coordinates.  I then went to Google Earth and mapped an approximate distance of 977 miles (1572km), give or take 10 miles:

I did not have time to get on the shortwave radio to see if the 10 meter band was busy since I had things to do.  But it is a very nice surprise to hear in my old car radio an FM station almost 1000 miles away. For one thing, Analog radio is still fun.  Secondly, things are busy this summer if you are at the right frequency and time!

Happy Listening,

TomL

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Jock discovers the joys of ATS tuning with the C.Crane CC Skywave SSB

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jock Elliott (KB2GOM), who shares the following guest post:


Really cool trick the CCrane Skywave SSB will do — the “radio butler”?

To paraphrase Ratty from Wind in the Willows: ” “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about with radios.”

That is precisely what I was doing . . . messing, simply messing about with the CCrane Skywave SSB.

Then I observed something. Just above the LIGHT button is some lettering: “ATS.” Not having taken notice of it before, I looked it up in the manual. It stands of Automatic Tuning System, and the manual says this about it:

“This feature programs all receivable stations in the AM, FM, Air and Shortwave bands to memory buttons. To use ATS, select your desired band: AM, FM, Air or Shortwave, and press and hold the ATS button for two seconds. The CCrane Skywave SSB will scan the entire band and automatically set all available stations in sequence 1-20. If more than stations are available, then the remaining stations will be preset to the next memory page, and so on.”

So I tried it; I punched in a shortwave frequency — 9250 — and pressed and held the ATS button for two seconds. The Skywave then muted itself and went to the bottom of the shortwave bands — 2300 — and started silently scanning through all of the international shortwave bands, hopping from one shortwave band to the next. Occasionally it would stop and silently store a frequency. After a while it stopped, unmuted, and began playing the very first memory that it stored. I checked the other memories that were stored and — sonofagun! — there were stations stored in each memory. Some of them were really faint, and I had to mess with single sideband and bandwidths to make them fully copyable, but they were there, automatically scanned and stored by the CCrane Skywave SSB. Obviously, you might want to repeat the ATS scan as shortwave propagation changes, say, from day to night.

Well, I thought, would it do it also for Air frequencies? Short answer: it certainly will. And it will do the same for AM, FM, and — get this — if you put the Skywave SSB in single sideband mode, it will scan the ham bands, automatically changing sidebands appropriately as it hops from ham band to ham band. Note: when you check the memories stored during an ATS ham band search, you may not find anything there, simply because ham transmissions come and go much more often than international broadcasters.

There is one downside to the ATS function. When the Skywave scans and stores stations, it does so starting at Page 1, Memory 1 of the memory system . . . always. So, if you scan the Shortwave frequencies and store frequencies they will be stored starting at Page 1, Memory 1, wiping out anything that you have already stored there. If you then use ATS on the Air band, it will then write over whatever you stored from the Shortwave frequencies. I wish there were a way for the user to designate at which page in the memory system ATS will begin storing frequencies so that the information stored starting at Page 1, Memory 1 is not constantly overwritten.

However, there is another trick the Skywave will do: if you have used ATS to scan and store Air frequencies in Page 1 of the memory system (which it does automatically), you can then press and hold the UP and DOWN buttons at the same time, the Skywave will then scan through the Air frequencies that are stored there. Further, there is a squelch function on the Skywave that works only on the Air frequencies. So, with a little persuasion (very little), the CCrane Skywave turns itself into a civilian air scanner.

The ATS function on the CCrane Skywave SSB is a bit like having a radio butler: “I say, Jeeves, find me what’s on the air this evening.” A short while later, Jeeves reports back: “Here you are, sir, I found 10 shortwave stations you might like to listen to.”

Frankly, I don’t know if other modern shortwave portable radios offer a similar function, but if you have a CCrane Skywave SSB, give the ATS function a try; it’s pretty slick.

— Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

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Radio Waves: 8 Meter Experimental Station, Forgotten Music Festival Found, Press Freedom Fear in Poland, and JA1TOKYO

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!


8-Meter Experimental Station on the Air from the US (ARRL News)

WL2XUP is an FCC Part 5 Experimental station operated by Lin Holcomb, NI4Y, in Georgia. It’s licensed to operate with up to 400 W effective radiated power (ERP) between 40.660 MHz to 40.700 MHz.

John Desmond, EI7GL, reports that as of mid-July, WL2XUP was intermittently transmitting on Weak-Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) on 40.662 MHz (1500 Hz) for 2 minutes out of every 10, with an output power of 20 W ERP into an omnidirectional antenna. For FT8 check-ins and tests, an ERP of 100 W may be used. The band is affected by several propagation modes, including tropospheric ducting, sporadic E, transequatorial propagation (TEP), and F2 propagation. As Desmond notes, the 40 MHz band will open a lot earlier than 50 MHz and could be a useful resource for stations monitoring the transatlantic path.

A 2019 Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11843) asked the FCC to create a new 8-meter amateur radio allocation on a secondary basis. The Petition suggests the new band could be centered on an industrial-scientific-medical (ISM) segment somewhere between 40.51 and 40.70 MHz. The spectrum between 40 and 41 MHz is currently allocated to the federal government and, as such, within the purview of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

ARRL member Michelle Bradley, KU3N, of Maryland, filed the petition on behalf of REC Networks, which she founded and described in the Petition as “a leading advocate for a citizen’s access to spectrum,” including amateur radio spectrum.[]

An Indiana radio host found the last recording of a forgotten Evansville music festival (Evansville Courier & Press)

Inside a little shed in southwest Indianapolis, Kyle Long found something almost “too amazing to be true.”

It was some time in the early 2000s. Like he often did during his teenage and 20-something years, Long was trolling a garage sale for old music. He mainly worked as a club DJ back then, and he loved to pepper his sets with songs miles away from the top 40. If they had a connection to Indiana musical history, even better.

What he held his hands that day definitely did. It was a reel-to-reel tape. “61 jazz fest” was scrawled in the cover’s top-left corner, and Long noticed names like “Duke Ellington” written on the packaging.

He kept the tape at home for years before finally getting it digitized. That’s when he discovered he owned what is perhaps the last known recording of a star-studded – and ultimately doomed – Evansville music festival.

Thanks to a brash promoter, unlikely sponsors, and fallout from the actions of drunk teenagers 1,000 miles away, Evansville hosted what became known as the Indiana Jazz Festival in 1960 and ’61. Stars such as Ellington, Benny Goodman, the Staples Singers, Dave Brubeck and the future Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams, whipped Roberts Stadium into a froth on hot summer weekends that attracted local residents and college kids from around the country.

CBS recorded snippets of the 1960 show. And in ’61, promoter Hal Lobree claimed the U.S. State Department planned to film the festival and turn it into a documentary called “Americana Indiana” that would be broadcast on the government-owned Voice of America.

Lobree dreamed it would become our version of the Newport Jazz Festival: the legendary yearly concert that, like its folk-singing cousin, still generates mountains of tourist cash for the small Rhode Island city.

But by 1962, the Indiana Jazz Festival was gone.[Continue reading…]

Poland: Media freedom fears as TVN24’s licence extension is suspended (Euro News)

Poland’s National Broadcasting Council has suspended the extension of the licence of the independent TVN24 television channel, which is owned and financed by an American company.

Negotiations are also underway in parliament on a new bill that would limit the ability of media to operate in Poland if they have large foreign investment.

If the bill goes through, TVN would fall into that bracket since it’s part of the American Discovery franchise.

Press Club Polska, an independent association of journalists, said the decision is an attempt to strangle media.

“In our opinion, the move to not extend TVN’s licence seems to be an attempt to put pressure on independent media,” explained Wojciech Tumidalski. “When it comes to this “lex TVN” bill, as they call it, it is unacceptable to pass a law against a single economic entity that plays an important role in the media market and is simply an independent medium that challenges the government.”[]

Olympic Games – JA1TOKYO is on the air (Southgate ARC)

On July 16 JARL opened the special commemorative station ‘JA1 TOKYO‘ in Nishitokyo City, Tokyo, to commemorate the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games being held from July 23

After the opening ceremony of “JA1TOKYO”, an operator in charge was assigned to each band for active operation.

In the evening, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives Hirohiko Izumida 7K1KJK, who is an amateur radio operator and a member of JARL, attended the venue and operated the station in the 7 MHz band.

The station will be active until September 5.

Source JARL https://tinyurl.com/IARU-Japan


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