Category Archives: Ham Radio

The Chameleon CHA RXL amplified wideband loop antenna

A few weeks ago, Chameleon Antenna sent me a pre-production model of their new wideband magnetic loop antenna called the Chameleon CHA RXL.

I’ve evaluated and reviewed a number of Chameleon’s ham radio antennas (primarily on QRPer.com). I find that the quality of their products are second to none. Price-wise, they tend to be at the top of the market, but keep in mind they machine and manufacture all of their antennas here in the US and they’re incredibly rugged; indeed, military-grade. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m proud Chameleon has been a sponsor the SWLing Post and QRPer.com since last year. My sponsors are by invite only and focus on companies I trust with our radio community’s business.

When Chameleon shipped the CHA RXL to me, it wasn’t from their factory, it was directly from the field: Fort Irwin, to be exact.

(Source: NTC Operations Group, Ft. Irwin)

This CHA RXL sample had been used by NTC Operations Group Fort Irwin (who, incidentally, won QRPX this year–click here to read the PDF report).

I was told that the condition of the antenna could be very rough after the QRPX because it had essentially been sandblasted in the desert winds. I was also told that someone accidently transmitted 5 watts into it at some point but it didn’t seem to harm it (for the record, like all amplified receive-only loops, it’s not designed to take RF).

Tony (W0NTC), who was one of the Ft. Irwin radio ops, sent me this note as he dropped off the shipment at Fort Irwin’s FedEx:

“Had a blast with [the CHA RXL], and it was absolutely critical while I was operating in the Army HF Low Power Competition (think tons of high powered MARS stations piling up and drowning out the 20W or less competitors). It absolutely crushed some localized RFI from a huge building I operated behind, and the receive on it I can only describe as “layered” in that I could hear stations somewhat clearer than usual if they transmitted simultaneously. Receiver I used was the IC-705 with default Auto Notch and Noise Reduction.”

Tony volunteered all of this info–I never asked him how it performed.

A few days later, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the box although I knew that my operating locations were nowhere near as cool as its position next to a Humvee at Fort Irwin in the photo above!

I pulled the CHA RXL out of the box and it looked cosmetically flawless to me.

Frankly, there’s not a lot to get damaged. The 36 inch diameter loop is made of rigid aluminum and has a Navy gray powder coating.  The preamplifier unit is completely sealed and made of a high-impact plastic/PVC type material. The steel loop is attached to the preamplifier loop flanges with wing nut connectors.

The only potentially vulnerable part of the antenna system is the  Bias-T box which would normally be located in your shack close to your receiver.

If I mounted the CHA RXL permanently outdoors, I would use Coax Seal around the BNC connection point, of course.

Although the CHA RXL has a supplied mounting bracket for permanent installations, I love the fact that the preamp box has a 1/4” x 20 threaded camera socket on the bottom. This makes for a brilliant portable loop because it can so easily be mounted on a standard heavier-weight tripod! All antenna manufacturers should give us tripod mount options when possible.

On the air

One of the reasons amplified receive loop antennas have become so incredibly popular over the past couple of decades is because they do an amazing job mitigating radio frequency interference (RFI) a.k.a. “QRM.” If you live in a neighborhood with significant radio interference, you really should consider some form of loop in your antenna arsenal.

Ironically, at home, I live in pretty much an RFI-free zone. I’m surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of national forest, so I’ve only used amplified loop antennas in the past for mediumwave DXing–mainly, when I wanted to take advantage of their amazing ability to null out unwanted signals.

Many years ago, I purchased a Pixel Loop Pro antenna (now under a different name via DX Engineering), mounted it outside where it lasted almost a year before a bear decided to pull it down and chew through the coaxial feedline. He/she did so with enough energy that it ripped down the loop and damaged the connector end of the Pixel’s pre-amp. This all happened when our family was travelling for two months in Canada. Why bear, why?!? But I digress…

The CHA RXL version I was shipped has one single rigid loop–the “EU” version’s loop comes in two pieces (for easier shipping/transport)–but I had no problem fitting the entire assembled loop in the back seat of my Subaru or my truck (as long as no one was sitting back there at the time). If you plan to travel with your loop a lot, consider the “EU” version!

I’ve taken the CHA RXL to my parent’s home a couple of times and enjoyed doing a little mediumwave and shortwave listening. Inside the house, the loop would attenuate RFI nicely, but when outside it would all but eliminate many sources of RFI.

At their house, I primarily used my Icom IC-705 for cruising the bands (being careful, of course, to disengage the transmit function).

Listening time in my hometown, though, was very limited. Since the CHA RXL is so portable, I decided to set it up at home on our porch for a few days, giving me an opportunity to test both the Sangean ATS-909X2 and Tecsun H-501x with an external antenna.

I’ve especially appreciated using the CHA RXL on mediumwave. Even from our screened-in porch, I can rotate the loop and use its excellent nulling properties to pick out multiple station IDs on crowded frequencies.

I’ve spent time on shortwave, too, and found that it certainly gave these two portables a signal boost.

In fact, it was by using the CHA RXL that I discovered the audio level difference between AM and SSB on my ATS-909X2 is very minimal when an external antenna is connected.

I’m sure you’ll hear the CHA RXL in action when I post audio clips and recordings in upcoming reviews.

Summary

If I owned a CHA RXL loop, one of the first things I’d do is build a power cord for it with an in-line fuse and terminated with an Anderson Powerpole connector. Since the operating voltage of the Bias-T is 12-14 VDC, it would pair perfectly with one of my Bioenno LiFePo4 batteries, offering a power source with longevity in the field–ideal for a group LW/MW/SWL DXpedition.

It’s difficult for me to truly comment on the loop’s performance because I don’t have another loop at present for comparison. I can say that it’s amazing on mediumwave, where I’ve spent much of my listening time this past week. I believe shortwave reception has been at least on par with my former Pixel Loop, if not better. It’s hard to say, in truth, because propagation conditions have been so poor lately. The CHA RXL loop does effectively mitigate noise!

I’m not sure if the CHA RXL is currently on backorder or not, but I would suggest you check out the product page on Chameleon’s website and possibly contact them if you’re interested. They’ve a number of options and accessories to consider.

Click here to check out the CHA RXL at Chameleon Antennas ($490 US).

One thing for sure: this must be one of the most rugged and durable RX loop antennas on the market. In addition, that Navy gray powder coating helps this rigid aluminum loop disappear against the sky. I believe you could strategically mount this loop and the friendly neighborhood association may never notice–it’s pretty stealthy. Speaking of which…

Josh’s CHA RXL install and demo video

Josh over at Ham Radio Crash Course recently installed a CHA RXL on his house and tested it on several bands, comparing it with a number of his external antennas:

Click here to watch on YouTube.

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2021 W9IMS Special Event Station Details!

Now Underway: A More Typical W9IMS Special Event

By Brian D. Smith, W9IND

The fans are returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year, and with them comes a more traditional calendar for special event station W9IMS.

For hams and SWLs alike, that means a renewed opportunity to earn three newly designed QSL cards and the latest edition of the certificate known as the Checkered Flag Award.

The first W9IMS special event of 2021, saluting the upcoming IndyCar Grand Prix, is now underway and will continue through Saturday, May 15 (Race Day), ending at midnight Indianapolis time or 0400 UTC Sunday, May 16.

It’s the first of three W9IMS special events this year – two in May and the third in August – to commemorate the major auto races at the track. (Last year, because of Covid restrictions, two of the three races were held on the same weekend, and W9IMS followed suit by compressing its usual trio of special events into two.)

Here’s the remaining W9IMS slate for 2021:

May 24-30: Indianapolis 500

Aug. 9-15: NASCAR 400 at the Brickyard

Each of the three W9IMS events features its own unique QSL card, with the Checkered Flag certificate available to anyone who completes the clean sweep. However, you can still claim a single-event QSL or two even if you fail to bag the trio.

How to find W9IMS? The station will operate SSB daily on two bands, 20 or 40 meters, generally around 7.245 and 14.245 MHz, and could pop up at any time of day or night until local midnight Sunday. Keep a lookout, too, for digital activity – particularly FT8 and FT4 – on virtually any amateur radio band.

But the surest way to snare the station is this:

  1. Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org) and find the heading, “2021 Operating Schedule.” Beneath it are links to the operator schedules for this year’s three special events; time slots with a name and a callsign offer your best bet for a W9IMS contact.
  2. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots that identify the current frequency or frequencies of W9IMS, if any. By typing “W9IMS” in the search box, you can customize it to show reports for only that station.

Remember, you can’t qualify for the 2021 certificate if you don’t catch the first event! So if you haven’t logged W9IMS by Saturday evening, keep in mind that the station traditionally conducts “happy hour” between 11 p.m. and midnight (0300 to 0400 UTC Sunday), with rapid contacts right up to the end. (But don’t stake your certificate on it: W9IMS special events may end early if the calls stop coming and/or band conditions deteriorate.)

For additional details, including QSL information, consult the W9IMS web page.

And in answer to the most-asked question: W9IMS operators transmit, usually remotely, from home stations in the Indianapolis area, but neither the ops nor the stations are physically located at the track.

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Radio Waves: CC Solar Review, National Amateur Radio Operators Day Proposed, Converting Vintage into WiFi, Bletchley Park Remembers WWII Op, and Turkey Celebrates 94 Years of Radio

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 Paul, Richard Langley, Troy Riedel, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


New Solar Radio Is an Emergency Kit too (Radio World)

Solar-powered portable radios that put audio quality second are nothing new. But a solar-powered portable radio that sounds as good as a non-solar high-fidelity radio: This is worth talking about.

The new CCRadio Solar from C.Crane fits this double-barreled description. With its generous top-mounted solar panel (3.75 by 1.5 inches) plus back-mounted generator crank for recharging its Lithium-Ion battery pack, this is a radio for blackouts and other emergency situations.

After an initial conditioning charge-up of the Lithium-Ion battery from a 5V DC adaptor, just leave it in a sunny window, and the radio is always ready to go.

In non-emergency situations, the CCRadio Solar can be powered with three AA batteries or a 5V DC charger plugged into its micro-USB port.[]

(Also, click here to read our review of the pre-production CC Solar.)

Congress Seeks to Designate National Amateur Radio Operators Day (In Compliance)

The U.S. Congress is reportedly taking steps to officially recognize the important contributions made by amateur radio operators.

According to an article on the website of the ARRL, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (AZ) has introduced a bipartisan resolution to designate April 18, 2022 as National Amateur Radio Operators Day. April 18th is the anniversary of the founding of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) which was established in 1925.[]

An Inside Job (IEEE Spectrum)

YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ ancient transistor radio might still turn on and tune in to stations broadcasting conventional AM or FM signals. But in this Internet age, a blizzard of content is available from sources accessible only via the Web. What’s more, instead of speakers that flood a room with sound, we’ve grown accustomed to personal listening using earbuds and headphones. Now engineers like Guillaume Alday, founder of Les Doyens in Bordeaux, France, have come to the radio’s rescue. Alday keeps old-school radios from slipping into obsolescence by retrofitting their innards with components that transform them into Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth- enabled devices.[…]

Bletchley Park: WW2 secret agent’s messages remembered (Southgate ARC)

The BBC reports the first message sent back to Britain by a ‘trailblazing’ special agent in World War Two has been commemorated, 80 years on, by radio amateurs using GB1SOE

Georges Begue, of the Special Operations Executive, was parachuted into occupied France in 1941 to set up wireless communications with the UK.

Amateur radio enthusiasts have marked his achievement by sending and receiving messages at Bletchley Park.

On Thursday and Friday May 6-7, Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society is using replica equipment to transmit Morse code messages from the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley to fellow radio enthusiasts in central France, stationed less than a mile from where Begue landed.

Read the full BBC story at
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-57008943

Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society GB1SOE
https://www.mkars.org.uk/index.php/2021/05/06/mkars-members-run-gb1soe-6th-and-7th-may-on-7-035mhz/

The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park
https://www.tnmoc.org/events/https/wwweventbritecouk/e/152664127515

Turkey marks 94th anniversary of its first radio broadcasting (Hurriyet Daily News)

Turkey celebrated Radio Day on the 94th anniversary of the start of radio broadcasting in the country.

“Radio broadcasting in Turkey started 94 years ago today with the first announcement,” Turkey’s Presidential Communication Director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter.

“Our radios, which have been working devotedly to bring our beloved nation together with the truth for years, have become one of the most important parts of our lives,” he added.

Altun also congratulated all radio workers on Radio Day too.

Türkiye Radyolar? (Radios of Turkey) has started first radio test broadcasts in 1926, with a studio built in Istanbul. The first radio broadcast in the country, however, began on May 6, 1927.[]


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MTC: Your chance to buy and own a Ham Radio retail store

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan (K2IE), who notes that the owners of MTC (Main Trading Company) in Paris, Texas, are considering the sale of their retail store. Dan shared the following announcement posted in the MTC online store:

Buy a Ham Store!

Hi Friends!  Christine and I have recently spoken to a realtor about our store. She thinks our commercial property along with the other rental property we own around our location is worth selling.  She wants to list it and actually thinks she might have a buyer. We are thinking about it. We could always try and find a building to rent and just keep going. If we do, of course we would be looking for something bigger.

We have also thought of selling our business. We actually have several businesses all rolled into one. Our gross sales have been several million dollars per year even in 2020. Before we go any further with the realtor we thought we would put the business out there and see if there was any interest.

You may be thinking, “Why do we want to sell”?  Well mainly we are just trying to plan for the future.  I have a full time job outside our store.  With this job I have insurance and a little retirement.  I am just taking a look at all of my options.  Selling the store and or the retail spot and letting someone younger come in with fresh ideas might just be what needs to happen for MTC and for my family.

Owning a ham radio store is not for the faint of heart. Money will not just come pouring in. It is hard work. Our twelve year old business has made enough to support our family and take care of multiple employees for twelve years now. We have not gotten rich by any means but we have provided for our family and have been greatly blessed.

It is very hard to put a price on it because certain things could or could not be included. Inventory fluctuates from $300K to $1Mil constantly. This could all be sold down prior to sale or could go with it. Domain names, website, real estate and certain parts of the business could or could not be included. We have a contracted US Post Office in the store that just about covers the payment on the building every month. If the business was sold and moved to another town this would have no value but if it was left here in Paris it would have value.

Vehicles, trailers and hamfest equipment could or could not be included. Right now, hamfests are not necessary and actually are not very profitable anyway but they are fun.

We also have our little Greenwood Louisiana location to consider.

If you are a go-getter, the sales and marketing type, and not afraid of hard work this may be your opportunity. You would have access to all of the lines that we carry if you pass any credit/capital requirements. I would pass along all contacts with all manufacturers and distributors we deal with.

We are Asking $350,000 without inventory, real estate , vehicles or some of the equipment. Of course I would consider trades.We might also be Flexible on Payment Terms

Think about it, Pray about it and we will do the same.-Richard

I love how open and honest he is in his description and announcement. Thank you for the tip, Dan!

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Radio Waves: DIY Internet Radio With Real Buttons, Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test, Tokyo Rose, Shortwave Collective, and RAC Portable Operations Challenge

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 Paul, Dennis Dura, and David Goren for the following tips:


Internet radio with real buttons using Stream Deck (Bjørn Erling Fløtten)

How I used a Stream Deck Mini from Elgato in order to give my mother-in-law a super easy Internet radio experience.

By Bjørn Erling Fløtten, Trondheim, Norway. April 2021.

See also comments on Hacker News

Background

My mother-in-law is from Poland. When she stays in Norway in order to help us with babysitting she misses Polish radio. In principle this is easily accessible through the Internet now from all kind of devices.

BUT, my mother-in-law is not PC-literate, nor does she use a so called ‘smart’-phone. With my long experience in teaching people far younger than her simple mouse and keyboard techniques, I knew that operating Windows and finding Internet radio stations on her own would just be too cumbersome. I therefore had to create a super simple setup for her, and my hacker mind started to think.

(I did of course consider special purpose Internet radios. They should in theory be quite simple to operate, but they all have som kind of quirks that I did not like. And besides, constructing something of your own is of course always more satisfying.)

I want Real Buttons!

What I really wanted was big buttons with tactile feedback. I had earlier experienced with some Behringer products (sound mixing board) in order to demonstrate mathematical functions. The idea then was to use turning knobs and sliders in order to see how changing parameters changed the outcome of the function, especially graphs in 2D and 3D.

I thought this would be useful also for an Internet radio, but then I remembered having read about the Optimus Maximus keyboard (keyboard with programmable led icons on each key), and I thought such a product would be even better. This search led to Elgato and their Stream Deck Mini. This has 6 buttons, just enough for a radio. I might have preferred the bigger version with 15 buttons but their products are ridiculously expensive, so I had to be content with just 6 buttons.

In addition to the Stream Deck Mini my son donated his old school laptop with Windows 10 installed. It was a cheap ThinkPad L-series which, although 3 years old and somewhat battered from daily use to and from school, was quite capable of streaming some audio from the Internet. My son created a guest account in Windows 10 with auto login. He set ‘Fn lock’ as default, meaning that keys F1, F2 and F3 was volume off, down, up without having to press Fn. We also found a pair of speakers lying around in the house.

No programming necessary *

(* But understanding of HTML, URLs and Windows command line arguments is a requisite.)

Initially I thought I would make a Windows application for controlling which radio streams to play. But it turned out that Elgato’s accompanying software was quite capable by itself.

I assigned five of the six available buttons to launch the standard web browser (Google Chrome in this case) with a corresponding streaming URL (radio channel).

Continue reading the full article by clicking here.

Annual Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test set for May 7 – 8 (Southgate ARC)

The US Department of Defense will host this year’s Armed Forces Day (AFD) Cross-Band Test, Friday and Saturday, May 7 – 8, in recognition of Armed Forces Day on May 15. The event is open to all radio amateurs.

For more than 50 years, military and amateur stations have taken part in this exercise, designed to include amateur radio and government radio operators alike.

The AFD Cross-Band Test is a unique opportunity to test two-way communications between military and amateur radio stations, as authorized under FCC Part 97 rules. These tests provide opportunities and challenges for radio operators to demonstrate individual technical skills in a tightly controlled exercise in which military stations will transmit on selected military frequencies and will announce the specific amateur radio frequencies being monitored.

The schedule of military/government stations taking part in the Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test and information on the AFD message is available on the MARS website.

Complete the request form to obtain a QSL card. ARRL

“Tokyo Rose” – WW2 Traitor or Victim? (YouTube)

Shortwave Collective – FENCETENNA (YouTube)

RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award (Southgate ARC)

The RAC Challenge Award: An Overview
Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to present a new Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award for RAC members.

The objective of the new “RAC Challenge Award” is to recognize and encourage portable operations by RAC members from locations throughout Canada.

The new program will begin on Canada Day, July 1, 2021 and we hope it will become an annual event for RAC members.

Note: the following information is tentative as the new Awards program is still being organized so please stay tuned to this webpage for future updates.

Portable Operations
Portable operations are those in which Amateurs take their equipment, antennas and power supply to a location away from their home station to operate. This includes mobile stations, backpackers, DXpeditions and participation in events such as those described below:

Parks On The Air (POTA), a worldwide program of park activations – https://parksontheair.com/
Quebec Parks On The Air (QcPOTA) April 1 to December 31
Field Day: June 26-27
There are several other programs that celebrate portable operations including Summits on the Air (SOTA), Islands on the Air (IOTA) and the International Lighthouses and Lightships Weekend.

Features of the “RAC Challenge”
The new “RAC Challenge” will recognize all portable operations in which RAC members participate and will have similar features as a contest. Amateur Radio contests in VHF, UHF and the Microwave bands all have categories for “Rovers” – who move from grid square to grid square and “Backpackers” – who seek out hilltops from which to operate with highly portable equipment and antennas.

For many satellite operators, making contact with as many grid squares as possible is a mark of success. Some of those operators go on satellite DXpeditions to activate rare grids or operate from the intersections of grids to offer multiple grids with a single contact. In addition to being fun, these activities provide an opportunity for Amateurs to experience what is required to set up and operate under challenging conditions – valuable experience for emergency preparedness.

For more on the RAC Challenge Award, please see:

RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award


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Guest Post: A visit to Museo Marconi in Villa Griffone, Pontecchio, Bologna


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ferruccio Manfieri (IZ1096SWL), who shares this report and excellent photo tour from a visit to the Museo Marconi in Bologna, Italy in 2018.

Today is International Marconi Day, so this is a very welcome, and timely post:


A visit to Museo Marconi in Villa Griffone, Pontecchio, Bologna

by Ferruccio Manfieri (IZ1096SWL)

Bologna, in Northern Italy, is renowned to be the seat of the oldest University in Europe and in the world (the Alma Mater Studiorum) and its historic, artistic and culinary heritage. From a scientific perspective, Bologna is the birthplace of Guglielmo Marconi as well as the place of his first experiments in transmission.

The inventor, born in Bologna on April 25th, 1874, was the son of an Italian father (Giuseppe, a wealthy landowner) and an Irish mother (Annie Jameson, of Jameson’s Whiskey family). At the age of 20, Marconi began to conduct experiments in radio waves, building much of his own equipment in the attic of his home at the Villa Griffone in Pontecchio (in the Bolognese countryside).

Marconi received his final resting place in Villa Griffone Mausoleum, an enterred crypt hosting his porphyr sarcophagus. The building was donated to the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation in 1941 after the  death of the inventor (on the 20th of July 1937).

Sadly, Villa Griffone and the Mausoleum suffered heavy damages from WWII bombings and pillages and were patiently rebuilt in post-war years. Today, Villa Griffone is reborn as a hub of research and divulgation activities, hosting Guglielmo Marconi Foundation, the Marconi Museum, a library and two research groups on communication systems.

On the 26th of april 2019 I visited with my family the Museum hosted in the original building (a short trip from Bologna, 20 minutes by public transport)

Villa Griffone and the Marconi Mausoleum

The visit began with a nice stroll in the Villa gardens, home with the nearby hill of the Celestini of the first long-range and not in line of sight transmission experiment in 1895. Marconi managed to send signals over a distance of 2 km, beyond a hill situated between the transmission equipment (to which he had added a grounded vertical antenna) and the reception apparatus (characterised by an extremely sensitive coherer).

Villa Griffone gardens and “Hill of Celestini”

We were in the very spot Marconi was when he transmitted his three signals to the receiver operated by his brother and the gardener behind the hill. Nearby, the replica of eight meter wooden pole with the attached metal boxes used as antenna.

Marconi’s first “long range” antenna – replica

This experiment in universally aknowledged as the birth of radio transmission (and, by the way, the rifle shot used as a confirmation of the reception was the very first QSL…).

Our valent host and guide to the visit was the Director of the Museum, Barbara Valotti, who thoroughly described us (with knowledge, passion and communication skills) the historical framework of Marconi’s biography and works. A more engineering oriented and hands-on visit to the working replicas laboratory was subsequently hosted with passion and knowledge by Adriano Neri I4YCE.

In the Auditorium Dr. Valotti  showed us two videos on the first transmission experiment and on the Republic incident in 1909, on of the first application of Marconi radiotelegraphy in an incident at sea, whose success (no lives were lost in the aftermath of the collision thanks to the coordination of rescue efforts via radiotelegraphy) gave a boost of popularity to radiotelegraphy and to the engineer, eventually leading to the Nobel prize in physics later that year.

A frame of the “Republic” video

This part of the visit emphasized his interest in real technological applications of his inventions and their commercial potential. Marconi was a “modern” mix of engineer (with an unhortodox, non-academic formation) and entrepreneur, ready to see the new potential applications of technologies in the society.  Interestingly, Dr. Valotti underlined that the main focus of Marconi research was always the point-to-point trasmission and not the broadcast.

Hanging on the ceiling of the auditorium, a replica of the kite used by Marconi to lift an emergency antenna in the first transoceanic transmission from Poldhu to St Johns Newfoundland in 1901.

Yacht “Elettra” – memorabilias

The visit continued to the “silkworm room”, the original room (once used to breed silkworms) where Marconi held his laboratory and performed his experiments. The room was full of instruments replicas to show the laboratory as in the young Marconi years.

“Silkworm room” – Marconi’s first laboratory (original place,  instrument replicas)

“Silkworm room” – Marconi’s desk (replica)

It was also possible to replicate the main experiments with educational working replicas.

Marconi transmitter – educational replica

Headphone and coherer used in the first transoceanic transmission (replicas)

The second phase of the visit was a more engineering-oriented explanation of the principles of radio telegraphy conducted by Adriano Neri I4YCE in a didactic laboratory on working replicas of the main epoch instruments.

Experiment table with working replicas: coherers, a wire decoder, a Marconi receiver

Instruments in the educational laboratory

With passion and competence, Mr. Neri explained us in a simple way (there were some very interested young people in the group) the cable telegraphy principles and the sequence of experiments and discoveries that led Marconi to his inventions.

In a detailed and fascinating exposition we saw applications of a Morse writer, the induction coil, the coherer and the first Marconi spark transmitter, all assembled in the end to transmit in the room some morse signals in the air.

Live demonstration of signal transmission by Adriano Neri . Against the wall a Marconi spark transmitter (note the antenna and ground plates), on the table: a Marconi receiver (with a coherer) connected with a Morse writer.

The laboratory, as the whole museum, hosts a huge number of working replicas (a wonderful collection in itself, handmade by Maurizio Bigazzi with rigorous standards of adherence to the original designs and, if possible, reuse of original parts) and some original equipment.

Ship wireless telegraph room – working replica

A last section of the museum is devoted to radio communication during the war (showing a WWI airplane-ground communication system) and radio broadcasting, with original sets of great interest like a 1923 Marconiphone (still working, we had a live demonstration receiving RAI programs) and a Ducati radio (the same Ducati company of motorbikes, based in Bologna).

WWI plane radio and ground receiver

1923 Marconiphone, working original set

Ducati radio

We spent all the morning in the Museum with great fun and interest from all the family.

I highly recommend a visit to the Museum for the place,  its significance in the history of radio transmission and the competent and passionate exposition of the historical and technical themes related to Guglielmo Marconi.

A wealth of information (also in english) can be found of the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation website (www.fgm.it).

A detailed gallery of the Museum can also be found on the new Museum website (www.museomarconi.it)

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Radio Waves: Dirty Transmitters, World Amateur Radio Day, Electronic Echoes, DRM via Android, and 10 More BBC AM Services Close

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 Grayhat, David Iurescia, Bill Hemphill, Harald Kuhl, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Transmitter Noise / Dirty Transmitters: Receiver Performance has hit a Brick Wall (DJ0IP)

For the past 15 years, Ham Radio’s Mega-Focus on Receiver Dynamic Range (DR3) has resulted in the community ignoring other factors that are just as important to receiver performance.

Even though our receivers have made a quantum leap in performance in important parameters such as DR3, RMDR, etc., On-The-Air Reception has gotten worse.

Unless used at a multi-transmitter site, today’s typical user won’t detect a difference in the receiver performance between a radio with 90 dB DR3 and a radio with 110 dB DR3. That’s because Receiver Performance is not the limiting factor.[]

World Amateur Radio Day 18 April 2021 (IARU REGION 2 Newsletter)

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) is an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of amateur radio to the communications technology revolution which has dramatically impacted the daily life of virtually everyone on the planet. Many of these technologies and techniques started as experiments, not by governments or commercial enterprises, but by radio amateurs.

WARD 2021 commemorates the 96th anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union’s founding in 1925, where amateurs first met in Paris to band together to give voice to these early experimenters to national governments and international bodies representing all radio amateurs.

The almost universal adoption of mobile technology created ever increasing demand on a finite resource, the radio spectrum. Access to useable spectrum is the fundamental base on which amateur radio was built and continues to be developed. As a result, amateur radio is very different than decades ago. Embracing new technologies and techniques has greatly expanded what amateur radio is and opened further possibilities as to what it could be. The proliferation of technology also means that the ongoing experimentation and innovation in electronics, radio frequency technique and radio wave propagation is no longer only the traditional realm of the radio amateur but also includes university research satellites, the “maker” community, and other non-commercial experimenters: citizen scientists.

Looking ahead, this ongoing evolution of the telecommunications ecosystem makes it clear that the national Member Societies of the IARU and IARU itself must also continuously change and adapt. A century later, the future possibilities are as exciting as ever.

Celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. The pandemic and more localized natural disasters continue to demonstrate the value of ordinary citizens as technically skilled contributors to society. The original social network is robust. Expose someone new to amateur radio (properly distanced), get on the air and contact the many special event stations, on HF, VHF, or satellite.

Electronic Echoes (KPC Radio)

From SWLing Post contributor Bill Hemphill:

“I have run across an interesting set of audio interviews that were done by Aaron Castillo of kpcradio.com. This is an internet based radio station of Pierce College in California.

Aaron did a series of audio interviews in the fall of 2020 called Electronic Echoes. See following link:

https://kpcradio.com/author/aaron-castillo/

 

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App upgrades mobile devices to receive undistorted DRM Digital Radio anytime and anywhere (Fraunhofer Press Release)

Horgen/Switzerland, Erlangen/Germany: Starwaves, a developer and distributor of receiver technologies centered around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), joined forces with Fraunhofer IIS, a leading supplier in the field of broadcast encoder and receiver components for DRM, to develop an Android app that allows DRM reception on mobile devices. Starwaves enables Android phones and tablets to receive entertainment, text information, and emergency warnings via DRM Digital Radio – without costly data plans, independent from cell phone network availability, and based on innovative Fraunhofer technology.

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is the digital successor standard to the classic AM and FM radio services. In many parts of the world, terrestrial digital radio broadcasts are already an important and trusted source of entertainment and information. They do not require monthly payments and work reliably even if there are no cell networks available. Radio reception with mobile phones and tablets combines the mobility and flexibility of these devices with the benefits of free-to-air radio services.

Starwaves has been active in the field of DRM radio receivers for many years. The “STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio” app was developed in close cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS. Its goal is to ensure easy access to innovative DRM radio services for everybody. It is available from now in the Google and Amazon Android app stores. The app provides listeners with access to all the essential features of the DRM digital radio standard, across all transmission bands from DRM on long wave to FM band and VHF band-III.

Fraunhofer IIS is a significant co-developer of core digital radio technologies. This includes the innovative xHE-AAC audio codec, which provides high audio quality at lowest data rates, as well as the Journaline application, which gives radio listeners access to news, the latest sports updates, local weather forecasts, travel tips, and even radio schooling services without requiring internet access.

The app also supports many more DRM features such as the Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF), image slideshows, station logos, and service descriptions including Unicode support for worldwide application. To provide all these services, the app only requires a standard off-the-shelf SDR RF dongle that is attached to the device’s USB port.

“We are proud to launch the world’s first low-cost full-featured DRM digital radio reception solution for mobile devices, developed in close partnership with Fraunhofer IIS. Now everybody can easily upgrade their existing mobile phone and tablet to enjoy DRM digital radio with its undistorted audio quality and advanced features including Journaline,” says Johannes von Weyssenhoff, founder of Starwaves.

I order to meet the needs of everyday radio listeners and to clearly separate this app from the engineering-driven approaches of the past, usability was a primary development objective from day one. With only a few clicks on the clutter-free interface, users select their preferred radio service, navigate through the clearly structured menus, and gain instant access to the various advanced information services that DRM provides. By supporting multiple user interface languages, the app ensures optimized usability in many countries around the globe.

About STARWAVES

Found in 2005 in Bad Münder, Lower Saxony/Germany, Starwaves had set its focus on the development and distribution of receiver technologies around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale). As far back as 2003 after both organizations, the DRM Consortium and the WorldDAB Forum, had expressed their appeal to the industry at IFA in Berlin to develop and produce multi-standard receivers compatible with both their systems, Starwaves developed its model ”STARWAVES Prelude”, the world’s first DRM-DAB receiver and presented it at CeBIT 2004 in Hanover. In 2006 Starwaves was again in the headlines with the ”Carbox”: It was the world’s first automotive DRM-DAB receiver which then was produced in volumes and enjoyed by lots of listeners worldwide – including many DXers thanks to its excellent analogue Short-Wave capabilities as well.

Since 2008 Starwaves moved its focus to Africa where it developed and tested an innovative approach of broadcasting community television in the L-Band with DVB-T2 in cooperation with ICASA – another world premiere. After DRM was chosen the national standard in India in 2012 Starwaves relocated its headquarters to Switzerland and started developing a new generation of DRM receivers.

Starwaves also initiated Africa’s first DRM trial in the FM Band in Johannesburg/South Africa and completed it with local and international partners. The trial report contains valuable discoveries regarding the feasibility of DRM for community radio which guided the South African government to adopt DRM in the FM Band for community radio and secured the report becoming an internationally recognized piece of standard literature, recently endorsed by ITU. Today, Starwaves offers various DRM receivers and broadcast solutions for consumers and the professional broadcasting industry.

For more information, contact sales@starwaves.com or visit www.starwaves.com/de/starwaves-drm-softradio

Ten more stations turn off Medium Wave services (Radio Today)

Ten more local BBC radio stations are turning off their Medium Wave transmitters for good this year.

BBC Essex, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle will be FM and digital only in May and June 2021.

In addition, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Gloucestershire will reduce AM coverage.

The BBC’s intention to close MW transmitters was first announced ten years ago in 2011.[]


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