Category Archives: Ham Radio

Jock’s radio-related book recommendations

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


Some radio-related books you might want to read

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

Radio-related books – books in which radio is not the main subject but plays a significant role in the storyline or plot (whether it is fiction or non-fiction) – can inspire us. Whether we are shortwave listeners, HF utilities monitors, or VHF/UHF scanner fans, radio-related books can heighten our appreciation of what we do, I think.

With that in mind, below are some radio-related books that I have read and can heartily recommend.

This Is Chance!: The Shaking of an All-American City, A Voice That Held It Together

In 1964, a 9.2 earthquake shook Anchorage, Alaska, with a ferocity not seen in North America before.

When the shaking stopped, night fell; the city went dark, and people began tuning their transistor radios to hear a familiar voice.

Genie Chance, a part-time reporter and working mother, would stay on the air almost continuously for the next three days as an eclectic group of officials and volunteers worked to begin picking up the pieces. This is a moving story about radio, ham radio (a bit), and people rallying together.

Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do

In 1978, in the midst of a blizzard, the tanker Global Hope floundered on the shoals in Salem Sound off the Massachusetts coast.

In response to Mayday calls, the Coast Guard dispatched a patrol boat. Within an hour, the Coast Guard boat lost its radar, depth finder, and engine power in horrendous seas.

Pilot boat Captain Frank Quirk was monitoring Coast Guard VHF radio and decided to act.

Read this book sitting by the fire, far from the sea. A chilling account.

The US Navy’s On-the-Roof Gang: Volume I – Prelude to War

Between WWI and WWII, the US Navy realized the need to intercept and decode Japanese military and diplomatic radio traffic.

Matt Zullo calls this book a novel because he had to fill in the blanks in some areas, but most of the book is based on official documentation and personal recollections.

It is a ripping good yarn, written in an engaging style, that spans the globe from Samoa to Greenland, and I found it fascinating and will soon be reading the second volume.

The Road Home

After an earthquake rips Seattle, Robbie and his father have to rely on their wits and some new-found skills to get home safely.

This fictional story includes many emergency preparedness and ham radio tips. Some are a bit dated, but many are still applicable today.

Well worth the reading.

The Day After

The sequel to The Road Home.

After learning that his neighbor Katy is injured, alone, and needs help, Robbie ventures out, and a short trip across the city will turn into a race for survival that cleverly illustrates useful emergency preparedness while emphasizing the importance of communication and thinking ahead.

Again, in my humble opinion well worth the time.

And now . . . it’s your turn!

What radio-related books – fiction or non-fiction — would you recommend? As a dyed-in-the-wool, unrepentant, not-on-the-12-step-program bookaholic, I’m always looking for a good read!

Please note that all SWLing Post Amazon links are auto-converted to affiliate links which support the site at no cost to you. Your purchase helps support the SWLing Post.

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Ham Radio Workbench episode explores Diversity Reception

The SDRplay RSPduo

I just finished listening to the most recent episode of the Ham Radio Workbench with John Fallows (VE6EY) as a guest.

John is an SWL and Ham Radio operator and speaks at length about how he uses diversity reception to mitigate persistent local RFI (radio frequency interference).

If you have persistent issues with radio interference or if you’ve been curious about using diversity reception for mediumwave and shortwave DXing, I highly recommend listening to this episode. John has been known to frequent the SWLing Post and actually comes into the discussion primarily from an SWL’s perspective.

If you’ve tried diversity reception or a noise-cancelling system like the Timewave ANC-4+ in the past with mixed results, you’ll definitely benefit from listening to John’s best practices.

In addition, John points out that the excellent SDRplay RSPduo is a very affordable way to explore proper diversity reception.

How effectively can you mitigate RFI with diversity reception? Check out this video on YouTube queued up to the point where John does a live demo with his Anan SDR and loop antennas: https://youtu.be/vu8D87aVUTQ?t=2011 (I also recommend watching to full video presentation for even more detail.)

I’ve embedded the audio for the Ham Radio Workbench podcast below, but you can also find it along with show notes on the Ham Radio Workbench website.

Ham Radio Workbench is one of my favorite podcasts; if you like exploring a wide variety of technical topics, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s available on all podcasting platforms.

Also, check out John VE6EY’s YouTube channel and web site/blog.

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Guest Post: 13dka Explores the International Beacon Project

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, 13dka, who shares the following guest post:


In search of benchmark signals: The International Beacon Project

by 13dka

If you – like yours truly – like to tinker with antennas and radios to get the most out of them, you likely have your own set of reference stations. If this is a new concept for you – reference stations are whatever stations you deem apt to check propagation, the general function of your radio, when trying to improve reception or comparing radios… They are ideally always on when you need them and come in various strengths and distances on several bands from all over the world. Traditional sources for that are of course time signals and VOLMET stations on HF, even though the latter are giving you only two 5-minute slots per hour for testing reception from a specific region and the former have their own specialities here in Europe:

A typical scene on 10 MHz, captured at home 30 minutes after the full hour: BPM voice ID from China mixed with something else, then Italcable Italy kicks in on top of some faint murmur possibly from Ft. Collins, in winter some South American time stations may stack up on that together with splatter from RWM 4 kHz lower…

A reliable source of grassroots weak signals is particularly desirable for me because I enjoy proving and comparing the practical performance of radios at “the dike”, a QRM-free place on the German North Sea coast. In the absence of manmade noise and the presence of an ocean adding 10dB of antenna gain, finding benchmark stations with “grassroots” signal levels turned out to be a different challenge than it used to be: With somewhat sizeable antennas the stations tend to be (too) loud there, even with the baseline ionospheric conditions under a spotless sun in its activity minimum. In short, my old benchmark stations didn’t work so well anymore and I had to find something new. Continue reading

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Jeremy’s Hammarlund HQ-100AC: 57 years and going strong!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jeremy Clark (VE3PKC), who writes:

Thomas:

Got kind of nostalgic [last week] as it was Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I did a video about my Hammarlund HQ100AC which I got for a Christmas present in 1964, 57 years ago. It still works!

Best Regards

Jeremy Clark VE3PKC

Click here to view on YouTube.

This is wonderful, Jeremy. There’s simply nothing like our boat anchors and vintage radios that continue to work perfectly and pump out amazing, warm audio. There was no such thing as “planned obsolescence” back then! Our radios like the HQ100AC will long outlast us!

Thanks again, Jeremy! I hope your HQ100AC enjoys a even more time on the air and keeps you warm this winter.

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Radio Waves: Radio Bulgaria Online, Small Town Station is Backbone of Community, 1949 Radio Contact, and BBC World Service Performance Review

Photo by Flickt user Shirokazan via Wikimedia Commons.

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!


Hear the voice of Bulgaria – in 9 languages from Radio Bulgaria (Radio Bulgaria)

On the website of the Bulgarian National Radio – www.bnr.bg you can now listen to the new podcast of Radio Bulgaria, “Bulgaria Today” in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Albanian and Turkish.

BNR has resumed its programmes in foreign languages after a 5-year pause. The change coincides with the 85th anniversary of the first foreign-language broadcasts for foreign audiences celebrated by Radio Bulgaria in 2021. Continue reading

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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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Looking for firmware files? Don’t download unless you know the source!

A quick PSA from SWLing Post HQ…

Many of our modern receivers, transceivers, and SDRs allow us to perform firmware updates in order to upgrade product functionality and even fix known bugs. I try to keep the latest firmware on all of my radios.

With that said, always go to the original manufacturer or authorized retailer’s website to download firmware files, drivers, and firmware installation tools.

The internet is chock-full of deceptive sites offering “firmware files” for a wide variety of products that are nothing more than viruses and malware.

Never follow a firmware file link from a radio discussion forum, for example, unless that link can be verified as authentic and supported by the manufacturer or product designer/developer. It’s too easy for someone to pose as a discussion member and drop a link to a malicious bit of code!

I was contacted by two different SWLing Post readers recently who found links to malware posing as firmware files for radios in discussion groups. Obviously, I’m not going to share those links, so I simply ask that you double check the authenticity of the site before downloading.

That is all! Have a wonderful weekend and good DX!

-Thomas

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