Category Archives: News

New Raspberry Pi 4: Faster CPU, Dual Monitors, Gigabit Ethernet and up to 4 GB of RAM

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Srebnick, who notes that the Raspberry Pi 4 mini computer was unveiled this morning by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

This model has a number of upgrades we’ve all been waiting for:

I love the Raspberry Pi and own a number of models that I’ve employed in various projects. For example:

What excites me most about the Raspberry Pi 4 is the improved processor speed and larger allotment of RAM (up to 4 GB). This could make the Pi a more effective stand-alone or portable SDR station. The dual monitor capability could also be a big bonus. And, of course, GigaBit ethernet speeds will help make the Pi a better/faster connected device.

When the Raspberry Pi 3B+ was introduced last year, I hesitated one day and had to wait weeks for the second shipment. Not this time! I purchased two 4GB units (in two different shipments as most suppliers have a maximum of one per customer) and hope to receive them by mid-July.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering the Raspberry Pi 4, check out the Raspberry Pi Foundation website for recommended resellers.

Do you plan to grab a Pi 4? Would you like to share a recent project with us? Please comment!

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BBC: “Finnish radio drops Latin news after 30 years”

(Source: BBC News via Kris Partridge)

The Yle public broadcaster has told its ‘carissimi auditores’ (dear listeners) that “everything passes, and even the best programmes reach the end of the road. This is now the case with our world-famous bulletin, which has broadcast the news in Latin on Friday for the past 30 years”.

The core members of the ‘Nuntii Latini’ (News in Latin) team – Professor Tuomo Pekkanen and lecturer Virpi Seppala-Pekkanen – have been with the five-minute bulletin since it was first broadcast on 1 September 1989, although other newsreaders and writers have joined since.

Professor Pekkanen took gracious leave of Yle, saying that, “judging by the feedback, Nuntii Latini will be missed around the world – and we send our warm thanks to you all for these past years!”

[…]Latin news addicts won’t have to suffer withdrawal symptoms for long, as the language’s greatest remaining bastion, the Catholic Church, launched its own weekly news bulletin in Latin the same week as Yle’s programme went off air. [read more here]

The key difference is that Yle offered a broad world news agenda, rather than Vatican Radio’s more focused ‘Hebdomada Papae’ (The Pope’s Week) – not to mention the fact that the Catholic Church uses its own, Italian-influenced pronunciation, rather than the Classical version preferred by scholars.[…]

Read this full news item at BBC News.

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2019 BBC Midwinter Broadcast: Comparing the Panasonic RF-B65 and GE 7-2990A

The GE 7-2990A (left) and Panasonic RF-B65 (right)

This has been a very crazy and radio-active weekend!

It started with a busy Friday that was capped off with the BBC Midwinter Broadcast and then continued into Saturday with a Parks On The Air activation and  Field Day at Mount Mitchell State Park.

In short: it’s been a lot of fun!

I’ll plan to give a short report of Field Day later–it was one to remember–but first let’s talk about the 2019 BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica

To the field!

The Midwinter Broadcast has never been an easy catch here in North America–after all, the BBC aim their signals to Antarctica–but I always manage to receive the program with only a portable and I’m almost always travelling on the day of the broadcast.

This year, I was actually at home and could have used one of my SDRs at home to snag the broadcast, but it’s become a bit of a tradition to listen in the field, so that’s what I did.

Knowing how difficult it would be to receive the broadcast–especially given the poor propagation–I reached for one of my “Holy Grail” portables: the Panasonic RF-B65.

The Panny RF-B65 is a portable DX hound!

I never take only one radio to the field, though, so I decided it was time to give the hefty GE 7-2990A a little outdoor time on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The GE 7-2990A

I’ve only had the GE 7-2990A for a few months. It came from the estate of my dear friend Michael Pool (The Professor) who passed away earlier this year.

This particular radio has quite an amazing history–remind me to share the story someday–but I’ll always cherish the 7-2990A because it was one of Michael’s favorites.

I knew the GE was one of Michael’s favorite mediumwave receivers, but I wasn’t sure how well it would perform on the shortwaves. Turns out, it’s quite an amazing HF receiver!

Out of the the three Midwinter Broadcast frequencies (5875, 7360, and 9455 kHz), I could receive the 7,360 kHz signal from Ascension Island best.

Here’s a short (informal) comparison video:

Click here to view on YouTube.

I was quite surprised with the 7-2990A’s ability to pluck this weak signal from the ether. Although the video doesn’t do it justice, the GE’s excellent audio fidelity made listening more enjoyable compared with the much smaller RF-B65.

Click here to view on YouTube.

And, yes, that’s my faithful brown and white listening companion, Hazel, in the background. In truth, she was less interested in the broadcast and more interested in finding squirrels!

Your Midwinter recordings–stay tuned!

Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica (Source: British Antarctic Survey)

I’ve already received about twenty emails from SWLing Post readers with audio and video recordings of the Midwinter Broadcast. Thank you!

If you would like to submit your recording, and you haven’t yet, please do so by email (thomas *at* swling.com) so I don’t overlook it. Remember to link to your video so that I can easily embed it on the upcoming post. Please don’t send me duplicate emails as it makes the sorting process more difficult.

I’ll try to find recordings linked via Twitter and Facebook, but it’s much more difficult to sort those in comments and know for sure that I’ve discovered them all.

Please note that, due to my schedule, it will likely be two weeks before the final post is published. I appreciate your patience and understanding!


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A protective case for the Tecsun PL-680, PL-660, and similar portables

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who writes:

It seems the world is full of containers that are serendipitously sized for radios and other treasured possessions.

Unfortunately, this tip is probably only helpful to UK based readers of the SWLing Post.

WH Smiths, high street stationer and purveyors of newspapers and magazines, infamous for their high prices and poor service, were doing a clearance sale in my neighbourhood.

I spotted a £3 semi-rigid pencil case that looked like it might fit my new PL-680, and when I got it home, found that it was a great fit.

I cut out the internal flap that holds the pens with scissors, and the result speaks for itself.

Wow! That’s a brilliant case for for the PL-680, Mark! That exterior color will also ensure you never lose it in the wild. Thanks for sharing this tip. What a fabulous bargain at £3!  Post readers in the UK, take note!

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Classical Music on Sunday on Radio Tumbril

Encore – Classical Music on Shortwave – Broadcast on Sunday afternoon in Europe and USA

Encore – Classical Music this weekend is being broadcast as usual by Channel 292 (Europe) on 6070 kHz at 15:00 UTC Sunday 23rd June.
And by WBCQ on 7490 kHz at 00:00 – 01:00 UTC Monday 24th June.
There is a repeat on 6070 kHz on Friday 28th June at 19:00 UTC.
This week’s show has two songs from Rachmaninov’s Vespers, a string quartet by Janacek, some Borodin, Rimsky Korsakov, Merikanto, and a little film music from Prokofiev. A mostly Russian set of pieces – and none the worse for that – but there will be a gem from Scandinavia as well.
Thank you for spreading the word about Encore – Classical Music on Shortwave. And thank you to everyone for letting us know how well the signal is received where you live.
Brice Avery – Encore – Radio Tumbril.
Regular Broadcast times are:
15:00 – 16:00 UTC Sunday, and repeated 19:00 – 20:00 UTC Friday on 6070 kHz (Channel 292 Germany).
00:00 – 01:00 UTC Monday on 7490 kHz 9WBCQ – Maine).
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