Category Archives: News

EclipseMob’s August 21 experiment

(Image: EclipseMob)

(Source: The Washington Post)

On Aug. 21, as the moon passes in front of the sun and casts a shadow across the United States, millions are expected to gaze at the totality. Meanwhile, a smaller crowd will be glued to 150 custom-made radio receivers set up across the country.

The project, called EclipseMob, is the largest experiment of its kind in history. By recording changes in the radio signal, these citizen scientists will collect data on the ionosphere — the region of the atmosphere where, miles above Earth’s surface, cosmic and solar radiation bumps electrons free from atoms and molecules. It plays a crucial role in some forms of long-distance communication: Like rocks skipped across a pond, radio waves can bounce along the top of the ionosphere to travel farther around the globe. But signals passing through the ionosphere sometimes behave in unpredictable ways, and scientists still have a lot of questions about its properties and behavior.

“Any solar eclipse is a good opportunity to study the ionosphere,” said Jill K. Nelson, an expert in signal processing at George Mason University in Virginia. The level of ions in the ionosphere fluctuates from day to night, decreasing in the absence of sunlight. But this change happens gradually during normal sunrises and sunsets. The sudden light-to-dark switch as it occurs during the eclipse, then, is an opportune moment to observe this layer of the atmosphere.

Continue reading at The Washington Post…

Many thanks for the tip, Ed!

Prague Spring: Radio Prague seeks listener memories

During the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovaks carry their national flag past a burning tank in Prague. (Photo source: CIA via Wikimedia)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), who notes that Radio Prague is asking listeners to share memories of the 1968 Soviet invasion:

(Source: Radio Prague)

August 1968 – share your memories

August 21, 1968 – a turning point in this country’s history. The invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact soldiers crushed hopes of life in a freer society.

Please share your memories of that time with us. When and how did you first learn about the invasion? How did the media in your country report on it? Did you by any chance directly experience those events in Czechoslovakia or by the country’s borders?

Send us your recollections, photographs and other materials. Next year Radio Prague will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the events of August 1968 with a special project. Become part of it.

Czech Radio 7 – Radio Prague
Vinohradská 12
120 99 Prague 2
Czech Republic
english@radio.cz

Click here to read on Radio Prague’s website.

BBC World Service launches first of 12 new language services

(Source: BBC Media Centre)

The BBC World Service today launched the first new language service in its biggest expansion since the 1940s.

A digital Pidgin service for West Africa is being launched today. It will shortly be followed by new online services in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya, aimed at Ethiopia, Eritrea and diaspora audiences around the world. Further services, including Korean, are set to launch from this autumn. This expansion means BBC News will operate in more than 40 languages.

The BBC World Service expansion comes thanks to a funding boost of £289m from the UK Government.

Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall says: “Today marks the start of a new chapter for the BBC.

“The BBC World Service is one of the UK’s most important cultural exports. In a world of anxieties about ‘fake news’, where media freedom is being curtailed rather than expanded, the role of an independent, impartial news provider is more important than ever. The new services we’re launching will reach some of the most under-served audiences in the world.”

World Service Director Francesca Unsworth says: “For more than 80 years the BBC World Service has brought trusted news to people across the globe. I’m delighted that millions in West and then East Africa will be able to access the BBC in the languages they speak.

“The BBC World Service expansion will also bring benefits to audiences in the UK. Having more journalists on the ground will enrich our international reporting, bringing news from areas which are often under-reported.”

Pidgin is spoken by an estimated 75m people in Nigeria alone, with additional speakers in Cameroon, Ghana, and Equatorial Guinea.

The Pidgin service is fully digital featuring six daily editions of BBC Minute – a 60-second audio news update – followed by two daily news video bulletins in November. Two further services for West Africa – Yoruba and Igbo – will launch at the beginning of next year.

The Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya services will launch online and on dedicated Facebook pages next month. This will be followed later in the year with shortwave radio services in each language, consisting of a 15-minute news and current affairs programme, followed by a 5-minute Learning English programme, from Monday-Friday.

Notes to Editors
The BBC World Service is launching in 12 new languages – Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Gujarati, Igbo, Korean, Marathi, Pidgin, Punjabi, Serbian, Telugu, Tigrinya, and Yoruba.

See: https://www.bbc.com/pidgin

Read this article at the BBC Media Centre website.

Today: National Radio Day

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tom Ally, who notes that today is National Radio Day:

(Source: National Radio Day)

About

National Radio Day is a time to honor one of the most longstanding electronic media and its role in our everyday lives. Radio delivers information, news, entertainment and company to millions of Americans every hour of every day. We invite listeners, broadcasters, producers and stations to celebrate on August 20.

History

Although there is not one authoritative source on the history of National Radio Day, it has been celebrated since the early 1990s on August 20. Perhaps it was decided that August 20 would be an appropriate day because 8MK (now WWJ) in Detroit, first broadcast on August 20, 1920.

According to Wikipedia, WWJ debuted as the “Detroit News Radiophone” and was “the outgrowth of interest in radio technology by the publishers of The Detroit News, combined with inventor Lee de Forest’s longtime promotion of radio broadcasting.”

Regular annual recognition didn’t quite take off until 2011 when NPR brought renewed attention to the day.

Now

National Radio Day is organized by Sabrina Roach, a Doer at Brown Paper Tickets, in partnership with non-commercial radio stations across the United States.

In July 2015, Roach called a meeting of radio broadcasters, producers and enthusiasts to discuss initiating a project to raise the visibility of non-commercial radio across the country. That effort put fresh energy behind the celebration of National Radio Day.

It’s also an ideal time to initiate a common project for full-power and low-power FM (LPFM) stations as hundreds of new LPFMs are getting on the air made possible by the Local Community Radio Act.

Click here to visit the National Radio Day website.

Solar Eclipse 2017: In the path of totality

A portion of the PARI campus

Tomorrow, we will be experiencing a total solar eclipse here in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Instead of enjoying the eclipse at home, I will be volunteering as a docent at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute in Rosman, North Carolina. Post readers might recall PARI as it was the location of our 2015 PARI DXpedition.

One of PARI’s 26 meter radio telescopes.

PARI is expecting at least 1,000 visitors tomorrow, from a number of countries. Many are scientists, astronomers, and guests who want to be in the path of totality.

On the PARI campus, we will be in totality for about 1 minutes, 47 seconds.

What makes the event truly special for PARI is that this is the first time in history a world-class radio astronomy observatory has been in the path of totality. To say the PARI astronomers are excited is simply an understatement. All four of PARI’s telescopes will be trained on our local star and gathering copious amounts of data.

If you don’t live in the path of the Eclipse, I invite you to check out PARI’s YouTube channel where they will host a live stream:

Click here to watch on YouTube.

Gathering spectrum

I will also be gathering data of my own during the event.

I will remotely record the entire mediumwave (AM broadcast) band several hours before, during and after the eclipse. I will also set up a separate SDR to record either the 31/30 meter bands and my buddy, Vlado (N3CZ) is kindly using his SDRplay RSP1 to record from 6 MHz – 8 MHz.

What do I expect to see/hear in the spectrum recordings? Certainly a drop in noise. If I’m lucky, I also hope to hear some DX anomalies–hopefully a signal or two that I wouldn’t normally here in the middle of a summer day.

I don’t expect any dramatic results (though I would love to be proven otherwise!) since the ionosphere takes time to change states. My buddy Mike (K8RAT) likens it to an oven: it takes time for it to heat up to the desired temperature, and it takes time for it to cool down as well. I’m not so sure the shadow of the moon, which moves at a good clip, will be persistent enough to change the state of the ionosphere in any meaningful way.

If it does, I’ll be there to record it!

There are many other radio related experiments happening during the solar eclipse. A notable one that you can even help with is the 2017 Ham Radio Eclipse Experiment.

SWLing Post contributor, Dan Srebnick also suggests a few stations you might try catching on the AM broadcast band. Dan notes:

Something to do during the solar eclipse on Monday. There are 13 clear channel AM stations along the path of totality. Give a listen for them:
[LIST OF AM CLEAR CHANNEL STATIONS]
kHz CALL Location Eclipse UTC
—— ——- —————- ————–
650 WSM Nashville, TN 18:28
670 KBOI Boise, ID 17:27
750 WSB Atlanta, GA 18:36
840 WHAS Louisville, KY 18:27
880 KRVN Lexington, NE 17:57
1030 KTWO Casper, WY 17:43
1040 WHO DesMoines, IA 18:08
1110 KFAB Omaha, NE 18:04
1110 WBT Charlotte, NC 18:41
1120 KPNW Eugene, OR 17:17
1120 KMOX St. Louis, MO 18:18
1190 KEX Portland, OR 17:19
1510 WLAC Nashville, TN 18:28

Kudos to Bob WB4APR (of APRS fame) for producing this list.

Post readers: Will you be in the path of totality or do you plan to enjoy a partial eclipse? Have you ever experienced a total solar eclipse?  What are your plans if any? Please comment!