Category Archives: Ham Radio

Radio Waves: Eclipses and Radio Waves, Radio World’s Letters, Eifel Radio Days Special, and AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Andrea Borgnino, Dennis Dura, ______ for the following tips:


Eclipses do odd things to radio waves. An army of amateur broadcasters wants to find out why (BBC Future)

It’s the huge tower in his back yard that gives Todd Baker’s hobby away. Bristling with antennae, the 30m (100ft) structure is taller than many of the mature trees nearby. Baker, an industrial conveyor belt salesman from Indiana, goes not just by his name, but also his call-sign, the short sequence of letters and numbers that he uses to identify himself over the air: W1TOD. He is a member of the amateur radio, or ham radio, community.

“You name it, I’ve been in it,” he says, referring to different radio systems, including citizens band, or CB radio, that he has dabbled with over the years. “Communications were just plain-o cool to me.”

Now, he dabbles in celestial citizen science, too. On 14 October, he and hundreds of other amateur radio enthusiasts will deliberately fill the airwaves during an annular solar eclipse, as it crosses the Americas. They’ll do it again next April, when a full solar eclipse becomes visible from Newfoundland to Mexico.

Why? Solar eclipses are known to affect radio transmissions, and Baker is planning to take part in a giant experiment designed to monitor how cosmic events affect radio broadcasts. [Continue reading…]

Letters: AM’s Future, Shortwave’s Past and More (Radio World)

[…]Shortwave radios don’t tell tales
Several points of interest regarding shortwave broadcasting. Although I have been retired from Voice of America as a Foreign Service Officer and field engineer for over a decade, several points are still worth noting.

In my experience of living and working around the world for 20 years, most radios sold overseas are a combination AM/FM and shortwave. So there are radios available to the general public.

Second is the beauty of shortwave. Broadcast can be sent over large distances and be highly effective at reaching the desired audience. AM broadcasting can only reach a smaller listener area and without extremely high power must be in rather close proximity to the intended audience. FM broadcasting has even greater limitations in respect to closeness to the intended listener.

As we have adopted new technology such as the global internet, we don’t seem to have a grasp of its inherent limitations. I witnessed this firsthand in the Middle East where websites or information deemed inappropriate are easily blocked or deleted from a country’s internet stream. Proxy servers and other VPN methods do little for the individuals striving for freedom of information. Information regarding using and searching for these services is easily gathered by internet service providers and can be used to intimidate or prosecute.

Shortwave radios don’t tell tales. Frequency memories can be deleted easily, and there is no way to tell what broadcast were being listened to, especially on analog scale radios.

We need to reevaluate our strategic thinking and remember that shortwave works effectively and has for many years. People around the world have relied on SW broadcast for years as a source of reliable news and information that their host countries did not want them to hear.

— Walter Konetsco

[Click here to read the entire article with other reader letters to the editor…]

Eifel Radio Days Anniversary Broadcast

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gérard Koopal, who shares the following announcement: 

On October 29, 1923, the first “entertainment broadcast” broadcast went on air in the Vox House in Berlin. The first regular radio broadcasts began.

The Eifel Radio Days will celebrate this unique anniversary from October 27th to 30th, 2023.
Of course again live and in mono from the studio in the former alternative headquarters of the NRW state government.

facebook.com/EifelerRadiotage
twitter.com/EifelerRadioTag

https://www.eifeler-radiotage.de/[email protected]

Gérard Koopal

S. 1669, AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act of 2023 (Congressional Budget Office)

S. 1669 would direct the Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a rule requiring that AM broadcast stations be accessible in all passenger motor vehicles manufactured in, imported into, or shipped within the United States. (Passenger motor vehicles are those designed to primarily carry their operator and up to 12 passengers; the definition does not include motorcycles.) The bill would require DOT to issue the rule within one year of enactment and to report to the Congress at least every five years on the rule’s effects.

Additionally, S. 1669 would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the role AM broadcasts in passenger vehicles play in disseminating emergency alerts through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. That study would need to be completed within 18 months of enactment.

Using information on the cost of issuing similar rules and studies, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost DOT and GAO a total of $1 million over the 2024-2028 period. Any spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

Additionally, S. 1669 would authorize DOT to assess civil penalties on manufacturers that fail to comply with the new rule; such penalties are recorded as revenues. CBO estimates that any additional revenues collected would total less than $500,000 over the 2024-2033 period because the number of violations would probably be small.

Click here to download the full report.


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Radio Waves: Battle for the Airwaves, Insane FM DX to Voyager 2, 100 Years of Australian Radio, and Ham Practice

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

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Paul, John Drake, William Lee, and Dennis Dura for the following tips:


Ham Radio Enthusiasts vs. High-Frequency Traders: A Battle for the Airwaves (Wall Street Journal)

Ham radio operators are sounding the alarm over the latest threat to their beloved hobby—and this time, it is coming from Wall Street.

A group of high-frequency trading firms are asking the Federal Communications Commission to open shortwave frequencies to greater commercial use, so they can use radio to zip financial data around the world in milliseconds.

Prominent members of the amateur-radio community say interference from traders’ broadcasts could ruin their hobby, which often involves tuning in to weak radio signals so they can chat with fellow hams in faraway places. Hundreds of hams have filed letters with the FCC opposing the traders’ proposal, and some have railed against the plan in YouTube videos.
Brock Fansler is among those speaking out. A 40-year-old Los Angeles resident with shoulder-length hair, he likes using his radio to send digital data about weather conditions to other hams.

He complains that the traders are looking to transmit with up to 20,000 watts of power, whereas amateurs are capped at 1,500 watts, and many use off-the-shelf radios with 100 watts.
“They’re asking for an insane amount of power,” Fansler said. “It’s like having neighbors move in with a drum set and guitar. This is going to be blasted all over the planet, with how much wattage they’re going to put behind it.”

The group behind the proposal, called the Shortwave Modernization Coalition, says such fears are overblown. The coalition—whose members include such trading giants as Jump Trading Group, DRW Holdings and Virtu Financial —says it has already been using shortwave for several years and there haven’t been any verified complaints of interference. [Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal, or via this article archive…]

“Interstellar shout” reestablishes contact with Voyager 2 (New Atlas)

In a dramatic bit of improvisation, NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, has managed to reestablish communications with the Voyager 2 spacecraft 12.3 billion miles (19.9 billion km) from Earth after losing contact on July 21.

On August 4, 2023, NASA engineers managed to make contact with the Voyager 2 robotic probe even though previous estimates were that this would not be possible until October 15. Contact was lost on July 21 after a series of commands sent included an error that caused the spacecraft’s antenna to point about two degrees away from Earth – a small shift that still managed to prevent the craft from maintaining radio contact.

[…]Since Voyager 2’s 20-W radio signal from the edge of the solar system is 1,000 times weaker than that of a conventional FM transmitter and can still be picked up by the DSN while off beam, the engineers reasoned that it might be possible to send a much more powerful signal from the DSN that Voyager could not ignore.

This “interstellar shout” was easy enough to set up, but putting it into practice took some patience because a one-way radio signal to Voyager 2 takes 18.5 hours to reach its destination and another 18.5 hours for a reply. That is a very nerve-wracking 37 hours.

Fortunately, on August 2, 2023 at 12:29 am EDT, Voyager 2 began returning science and telemetry data. [Continue reading…]

In addition, click here to read NASA’s updates directly.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland celebrates 100 years of Australian radio (RadioInfo)

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland acknowledged the commercial radio industry’s upcoming 100th birthday with a speech at Parliament House recalling the launch of 2WS in Seven Hills and the continued advocacy and up to date information that radio provides its communities.

Rowland spoke of her childhood growing up in Western Sydney saying:

“I’ll never forget the day that 2WS officially launched in Leabons Lane in Seven Hills. It was the first time that we felt recognised as a community by the media. Here were local voices telling the stories that mattered to us. We were being given at a platform at a time when Western Sydney stories weren’t always reflected in the news of the day coming from the CBD.

And now look how far our humble 2WS has come!”

Read more at: https://radioinfo.com.au/news/communications-minister-michelle-rowland-celebrates-100-years-of-commercial-radio/ © RadioInfo Australia

Ham radio operators practise for the next emergency (Mountain View Today)

RED DEER COUNTY — The world became a little smaller late last month as the Central Alberta Amateur Radio Club (CAARC) held its annual Field Day at the Hillcrest Community Hall, at the corner of Township Road 342 and Range Road 22.

From June 24 at noon to June 25 at noon, members of the club competed to make as many contacts as they could on a wide variety of radio frequencies.

The goal was to do so without using regular power – utilizing portable generators or solar power instead.

When the Albertan was there, contacts had been made as far east as Finland and as far south as Arizona.

A forest of antennas of differing sizes and heights was set up and club members did their communicating in a nearby shelter.

The idea of the challenge, held worldwide, was to prove the operators’ ability to communicate to others without relying on traditional power in case of an emergency. [Continue reading…]


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How to Earn the W9IMS 2023 Checkered Flag Award

Once, Twice, Three Times a QSO: How to Earn the W9IMS 2023 Checkered Flag Award

By Brian D. Smith

Two out of three ain’t bad, proclaims the late ’70s classic rock song. But three out of three gets you the Checkered Flag Award from W9IMS.

That’s another way of reminding you that the third Indianapolis Motor Speedway special event of 2023, honoring NASCAR’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, will take to the amateur radio airwaves starting at midnight Indy time (0400 UTC) on Monday, August 7, and ending at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13 (0359 Monday, August 14 UTC).

Those who chalked up contacts or receptions during both of the first two special events in May – commemorating the IndyCar Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 – now have the opportunity to complete the clean sweep and qualify for the colorful Checkered Flag certificate.

But even if you’re just getting up to speed on the Speedway special event, or have caught only one of the two special events so far, you’re still in the running – not for a Checkered Flag Award (that’ll have to wait till 2024), but for one or more of the three collectible QSL cards that commemorate the individual races.

How to find W9IMS? The station operates primarily on 20 and 40 meters, but sometimes adds 80 meters later in the week (and occasionally 2 meters on Race Day for locals and fans in the stands at the Speedway). Preferred frequencies are 14.245 and 7.245 SSB, plus or minus QRM.

And the following suggestion will enhance your chances of putting W9IMS in your log:

  1. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots listing the current frequency or frequencies of W9IMS, if any. By typing “W9IMS” in the search box at upper right, you can customize it to show reports for only Indianapolis Motor Speedway special events. Naturally, you’ll be interested in only the ones from August 2023.
  1. Follow this link to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org) and look for the heading, “2023 Operating Schedule.” Click on the NASCAR 200 link, which opens into a weeklong schedule listing individual operators and their reserved timeslots. Your odds of catching W9IMS on the air improve significantly during these hours.
  1. Prime operating time on weeknights is 6 to 10 p.m. Indy time (2200-0200 UTC). However, W9IMS can appear anytime, even on two bands at once, between 0400 Monday, August 7, and 0359 Sunday, August 13.
  1. Operators often get on the air at unscheduled times. That’s why DX Summit is your best bet for locating W9IMS’s current frequency (or frequencies).
  1. If you plan on applying for the 2023 Checkered Flag Award, remember that the three required W9IMS special event QSOs (or reception reports) must come from all of the year’s three races – the Grand Prix, the 500 and the Brickyard. Making three contacts during the coming week still earns you the colorful Brickyard QSL card, but no extra credits toward the certificate.
  1. Remember that the published schedule can be shortened by adverse circumstances, such as noisy band conditions, local thunderstorms or a lack of calling stations. Don’t wait till the final day and hour to chase W9IMS!
  1. If you want to get off to the earliest possible start, keep an ear on 20 meters at midnight Monday (Indy time) and listen for a YL operator. Cathy Harris, W9QKR, is slated to kick off the festivities from 12-2 a.m. (0400-0600 UTC).
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Bill identifies a “credit card” HT in the movie “Hollow Man”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD) who writes:

Hi Thomas,

Last night, I was watching the movie “Hollow Man.” Being a ham, I’m always watching for ham gear being used in movies. Quite often they use various Kenwood or Icom handheld radios.

At about 1 and half hours in the movie, I caught a glimpse of what I thought was one
of the more usual (and unlikely) ham heldhelds:

Just from this screen clip, I was pretty sure that I was looking at the Alinco DJ-C5 credit card HT.

I was able to capture another clip that confirmed it:

In the late 90’s, Alinco made three credit card radios; DJ-C1 for two meters, DJ-C4 for 440 and finally the DJ-C5 dual band that could also receive the aircraft band.

The C1 and C4 were earpiece only radios while the C5 had a small speaker added which made it a lot more usable.

They are quite amazing little radios. It was great fun seeing them appear in a movie.

Here’s one of mine with a ink pen next to it to show size:

Thank you for sharing this, Bill! I remember when these credit card-sized HTs were on the market and I wanted one if for no other reason than to feel like a spy! Great catch, OM!

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Radio Waves: What Listeners Like, Renaissance of Radio, WOR in Photographs, DIY Faraday Cage

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Dennis Dura, Mark Erdle, and Jock Elliott for the following tips:


‘It’s what listeners like’: AM radio purveyors on the Palouse hope automakers heed call to keep their medium alive (The Spokesman-Review)

The rolling, green-turning-golden hills just outside Steve Shannon’s studio window at the offices of Inland Northwest Broadcasting north of downtown Moscow aren’t just pretty to look at.

They’re also the reason the AM radio dial remains important in this expansive, rural stretch of the country.

FM broadcasting is based on line-of-sight, but the pesky thing about AM waves is that they pass through anything, Shannon explained. And they reach a monthly audience that’s still more than 82 million strong across the country, most of them in areas just like the Palouse, according to a fall 2022 survey by broadcast tracking company Nielsen.

“People are tuning in to AM because they are listening to content they can’t get anywhere else,” said Shannon, operations manager for the group that is behind six stations on both the AM and FM dial broadcasting in Moscow and Colfax.

The future of the format seemed in jeopardy just a few short weeks ago, when broadcasters convened in Washington D.C. and pushed federal lawmakers to pressure carmakers who were pondering an end to AM receivers in new cars. Electric vehicles, growing in popularity and headed for a likely continued boom, especially with Washington outlawing the sale of new gas-powered cars beginning in 2035, create interference with a signal that can make AM transmissions difficult to hear, according to automakers.

That pressure, which included the introduction of legislation that would have required manufacturers to install AM receivers in new cars, appears to have made the point. In late May, Ford’s chief executive officer announced on social media it had reversed course and would provide the service in all 2024 Ford and Lincoln models after planning to remove it from some models because of higher costs and lack of listeners. [Continue reading…]

The renaissance of AM radio: a confluence of social, regulatory and technical revitalization (Cardinal News)

AM radio, a pioneering force in the world of broadcast communications, has for several decades been an essential medium for disseminating information and entertainment. However, its appeal has been progressively diminishing due to social, regulatory and technical challenges. Nevertheless, this scenario presents an opportunity for a significant revival.

The decline of AM radio can be traced back to significant changes in content, notably the reduction in locally focused programming. Many AM station owners made strategic decisions to move away from content that directly catered to local communities, often replacing local news, events and issue discussions with syndicated programming. These changes left a void of locally relevant content, reducing listeners’ connection with stations.

The Federal Communications Commission’s abolition of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 exacerbated the situation. This doctrine, which required broadcasters to present contrasting views on controversial issues of public importance, ensured a balanced discourse on the airwaves. Its repeal led to increased broadcasts favoring extreme political views, either heavily liberal or conservative. While this trend may have appealed to specific audience segments, it risked alienating listeners seeking balanced discourse.

Compounding these programming shifts, religious content on the AM band has considerably increased. While serving an essential audience, the sheer volume of these broadcasts reduced the variety and balance of programming, possibly leading potential listeners to turn away. [Continue reading…]

Radio Station WOR in Photographs – 1939 (AWM on YouTube)

In 1939 photographer Ralston B. Collins made a photo album of metro New York radio station WOR. This album is from the J. R. Poppele Collection at the Antique Wireless Museum.

Building a Simple Faraday Cage, by OhioGalt (SurvivalBlog.com)

This article describes the effects of EMP and CME and how to build a simple inexpensive Faraday cage.

Most readers of the SurvivalBlog are aware of the potential damage from either a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) or an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and the impact on everyday electronics. With an EMP, an electromagnetic pulse is generated at high altitudes from a nuclear explosion damaging sensitive electronics. A CME damages electronics in a similar way with the release of a large solar flare from the sun reaches carrying magnetic fluxes and plasma toward earth. These magnetic fluxes interfere with Earth’s magnetic fields and create current surges in power systems and electronics. As of this writing, there is several C and M class flare activity causing some Amateur Radio blackouts on the lower bands. To follow active solar weather visit Spaceweather.com. [Continue reading…]


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TomL’s Guide to Using Computer Audio PlugIns with Older Radios

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


Using Computer Audio PlugIns with Older Radios

by TomL

Older radios have a way to get audio out to speakers or another audio input device, usually just a headphone jack.  Software for processing audio are plentiful and very useful tools, called VST’s.  Furthermore, most Plugins were made for Musicians needing full frequency spectrum capability.  I will use my Kenwood TS-590S amateur radio as a test case.  I have used its speaker output to a cheap Behringer UCA-202 RCA to USB converter (it has its own volume control to keep it from overloading).

Amazon Link: Behringer UCA202

My Windows 10 Sounds Properties sees this audio as “3-USB Audio CODEC” which I have enabled on a physical USB hub with individual power switches for each port.  Thanks to Steve (K1GMM) and his YouTube channel (K1GMM Green Mountain Maniac) for describing how to use Windows plugins for processing either Receive or Transmit audio.  This article only focuses on Receive audio.

For my simpler needs, I have chosen to use VST Host.  It will run the small “apps” that usually have a file extension of .VST or .DLL.  I downloaded it right from Steve’s website:

https://kc1egu.wixsite.com/essb-ham-radio/copy-of-icom-ic7300-others

I then downloaded a number of plugins suggested by Steve on his web site (“More” Menu pulldown, DAW’s/VST DOWNLOADS).  Each VST file can be copied to a central directory/folder on your computer and all read from the same place inside the VST Host.  Most of these are Windows types but there are some for Linux if that is something you use.  I found that VST Host does NOT like a write- protected directory, so it and the VST’s reside in my top-level Documents directory.

My resulting “chain” of VST’s process the audio from my 3-USB Audio CODEC in a sequential manner, which are:

  • ModernAmplifier (a Limiter to keep strong signals from overloading the processing)
  • ReaFir (an interesting “Subtract” feature where I cut down on the “roar” around 800-1200 Hz)
  • Bertom Denoiser Pro (EXCELLENT static & background noise reducer)
  • TDR Nova (a powerful, well-made Compessor & DynamicEQ combo)
  • Sennheiser-AMBEO-Orbit (a Binaural soundscape).

Once VST Host is installed, create a separate folder for the VST files.  Now just copy the VST3 or DLL file for each of the apps downloaded like the ones I list above.  If you have a 32-bit version of Windows, you will have to use the VST’s that are 32-bit, not 64-bit.

In VST Host, set the Wave Input and Output and sampling rate (Menu: Devices—Wave).  In my case it is the aforementioned 3-USB Audio CODEC for (Microphone) Input Port and VoiceMeeter Aux-Input for the Output Port.  The sampling rate is set to 48000  (You can choose Output to your “Default Speakers” which should be in the list if you do not use an extra mixer software like I do).

Now, go to Menu: File, Plugins and load each plugin that you want to use.  The VST3 or DLL files should all be in the same directory that you made earlier.  You may have to tell VST Host where to find them by setting the Plugin Path (Menu: File, Set Plugin Path…).

Now, once you have all the VST apps opened, you will notice that all of their individual outputs go directly to the VST Host Output.  Not good, since your computer will not have enough cores to parallel-process all of these apps at the same time.  So, Unchain them all by right-clicking on each app and choosing “Unchain”.

Now you will see all of the yellow connecting lines gone.  Arrange (click/drag) each app in sequential order on the screen.  Starting from the bottom up, right click on the app just above VST Output and choose Chain After…

Repeat up the chain, choosing the one above it to Chain After until you are left with a Daisy-Chain of apps, each output going to the Input of the next app in your desired order of processing:

Now turn on the radio to get audio going through the chain of apps.  Tweaking each app is part of the tedious process of learning if an app will help or not.  Just replace and Chain After in the order you want with other VST apps that you find more helpful.  Tinkering with this should yield some satisfactory results if you do not overdo applying features in each app.  To save the layout and VST settings, go to Menu: Performance, Save As and give it a name to store in the data file shown (just a name since it will put it into the default line 000 for you).  You can choose this in future sessions from the main pulldown Menu below File. (Note: It is called “Performance” because this stuff was written for Musicians to save their home studio music along with the settings for shaping the music tracks; 99% of planet earth calls this a “Layout”, a la, Microsoft Office)

Here are two examples of sound from the radio without processing and then adding in each app over a few seconds.

LZ1AA from Bulgaria. Processing 10 secs., off 15 secs., on again 8 secs.

 

CHU Canada. Processing on, space, processing off. Notice a little “water” effect since AM Broadcast needs quite different settings compared to SSB Ham Radio.

You can check out Steve’s “Green Mountain Maniac” YouTube channel and see for yourself what can be done with sound processing for Radio.  Some of his techniques can be used with old shortwave radio receivers as long as it has a working headphone jack or AUX Out jack:

K1GMM-RXDAP VST HOST YouTube video

Cheers and Happy Listening,

TomL

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