Category Archives: News

AM Radio History: 80th Anniversary of the “Havana Treaty,”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

I came across this article on Wikipedia. It is a few days late, but thought it might be of interest to others. The link is

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Regional_Broadcasting_Agreement.

Briefly, this past Monday, was the 80th anniversary of the implementation of the “Havana Treaty,” which was actually signed on December 13, 1937, and finally implemented 80 years ago on March 29, 1941. It provided for reorganization of the “AM” medium wave band into frequency allocations for clear channel, regional and local stations.

AM radio was the Internet of its day. The invention of the telegraph notwithstanding, radio provided widespread, instant communication, albeit one way, to a vast population reaching hundreds of miles from the transmission source. It extended to the most rural parts of the country adding “A battery” and “B battery” to the lexicon.

The initial licensing process had been done with very little planning and forethought using 96 channels between 550 and 1500 kHz. The reorganization was the culmination of the need for some order to reduce mutual station interference and provide more reliable service to listeners. It involved frequency changes for about 1000 stations in several countries. March 29, 1941 was informally known as “moving day.”

The Wikipedia article details the changes made at that time and goes on to describe subsequent expansions of the AM broadcast band.

Fascinating! Thank you for sharing this bit of radio history with us, Bob!

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Radio Northern Europe International Show #16

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Roseanna, with Radio Northern Europe International who shares the following announcement:


Hei alle,

While the Norwegians are getting into Påskekrim (Easter Crime), the Swedish and Finnish kids are dressing up as Easter Witches and the Danes are making their Gækkebreve (Teaser Letters), we’ve created a jam-packed show for you this month with more guest spots, lots of great music and we have worked with Karl from scandipop.co.uk to bring you a song of the month!

For ease we’ve split the broadcasts into 3 versions;
• WRMI & On-Demand Version: RNEI 16 + RNEIxtra Mammas Mest Metal + Stephen’s feature + HamDRM.
• Channel 292 & Radio Onda version: RNEI 16 + HamDRM + This is an Express Music Show.
• World FM & Unique Radio version: RNEI 16 only.

RNEI #16 includes great music including:
• A new duo from Iceland who don’t want to be forgotten.
• Ku?ka’s & Four Night’s Latest.
• A great Danish song from Nana Jacobi.
• UNDER’s gorgeous chill-house remix of a famous Swedish song.
• A joik from Sweden’s Got Tallent’s winner Jon Henrik Fjällgren.
• Finland’s Heroines will be singing about their Rules.
• Scandipop.co.uk will be picking their song of the month for us to feature.
• The opening song to Mammas Mest Metal with the playlist encoded in MFSK 64 during.

A new RNEIxtra segment called Mammas Mest Metal is going to air for the first time this month on WRMI featuring a selection of Metal, Post Metal, Viking and Post-Prog Metal songs!

Afterward we’ll head over to Stephen to hear music from some sisters who sing in Welsh and Cornish, their music is beautiful!

Lastly We have a HamDRM data segment coded by Daz featuring a self rendering animation and our playlist. You can download an early alpha copy of Daz’s decoder, EasyDRF, here. Other options for HamDRM are: EasyPal & WinDRM on Windows and QSSTV &TRXAMADRM on Linux.

We are trialling some new beams this month to Asia and Africa!

Keep an eye on our announcements for extra broadcasts!

If you miss the show you can always catch up on demand and, if you prefer to only hear our music, we have Spotify Playlists of each show usually published after the first broadcast!

Happy Easter / God påske,
Roseanna

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Radio Waves: Extreme 2001 Geo Storm, Media Ownership Rules Loosened, Germany Bans RFI-Spewing Device, Blue Jays Radio, and L-Band Patch Antenna Review

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 Troy Riedel, Dave Zantow, NT, Wilbur Forcier, and Rob for the following tips:


20 Years Ago, An Extreme Geomagnetic Storm (Spaceweather.com)

Unlike today’s blank sun, the solar disk 20 years ago was peppered with sunspots, including a monster named “AR9393.” The biggest sunspot of Solar Cycle 23, AR9393 was a truly impressive sight, visible to the naked eye at sunset and crackling with X-class solar flares.

On March 29, 2001, AR9393 hurled a pair of CMEs directly toward Earth. The first one struck during the early hours of March 31, 2001. The leading edge of the shock front was dense (~150 protons/cc) and strongly magnetized — traits that give rise to powerful geomagnetic disturbances. Within hours, an extreme geomagnetic storm was underway, registering the maximum value of G5 on NOAA storm scales.

“I was fortunate to witness and photograph the event when I was just a teenager,” recalls Lukasz Gornisiewicz, who watched the show from Medicine Hat, Alberta:

In the hours that followed, Northern Lights spread as far south as Mexico. In 20 year old notes, Dr. Tony Phillips of Spaceweather.com describes “red and green auroras dancing for hours” over the Sierra Nevada mountains of California at latitude +37 degrees. Similar displays were seen in Houston, Texas; Denver Colorado; and San Diego, California.

“Here in Payson, Arizona, red curtains and green streamers were pulsating all across the sky,” wrote Dawn Schur when she submitted this picture to Spaceweather.com 20 years ago:

“We have seen some auroras here before, but this display was really special,” she wrote.

A second CME struck at ~2200 UT on March 31th. Instead of firing up the storm, however, the impact quenched it. When the CME passed Earth the interplanetary magnetic field surrounding our planet suddenly turned north — an unfavorable direction for geomagnetic activity.

Indeed, the quenching action of the second CME may have saved power grids and other technological systems from damage. The storm’s intensity (-Dst=367 nT) stopped just short of the famous March 14, 1989, event that caused the Quebec Blackout (-Dst=565 nT) and it was only a fraction of the powerful Carrington Event of 1859 (-Dst=~900 nT).

The whole episode lasted barely 24 hours, brief but intense. Visit Spaceweather.com archives for March 30, 31st and April 1, 2001, to re-live the event. Our photo gallery from 20 years ago is a must-see; almost all the pictures were taken on film! [Read more at Spaceweather.com…]

U.S. Supreme Court permits FCC to loosen media ownership rules (Reuters.com)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the Federal Communication Commission to loosen local media ownership restrictions, handing a victory to broadcasters in a ruling that could facilitate industry consolidation as consumers increasingly move online.

In a 9-0 ruling authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the justices overturned a lower court decision that had blocked the FCC’s repeal of some media ownership regulations in 2017 for failing to consider the effects on ownership by racial minorities and women. Critics of the industry have said further consolidation could limit media choices for consumers.

The justices acted in appeals by the FCC, companies including News Corp, Fox Corp and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc and the National Association of Broadcasters.

The associations for other broadcast networks’ local affiliates, including ABC, NBC and CBS, backed the appeals, arguing that consolidation would help ensure the economic survival of local television amid heavy competition from internet companies that provide video content. Broadcast television stations have said they are increasingly losing advertising dollars to digital platforms.[]

Germany bans ‘water vitalizer’ over radio interference (AP News)

BERLIN (AP) — German authorities on Friday banned the sale and use of a New Age ‘water vitalizer’ device amid concerns that it is interfering with amateur radio signals.

The Federal Network Agency said it had received numerous reports that the device, sold by Swiss company Wassermatrix AG as a way to “activate” the body’s self-healing powers, was transmitting on the frequencies allocated for ham radio users.

The agency said owners of the 8,000-euro ($9,540) device, which has been sold more than 2,400 times in Germany, are allowed to keep but not use it.

Wassermatrix AG didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.[]

Rush’s Geddy Lee is unhappy about lack of Blue Jays radio for 2021 (Yahoo Sports Canada)

Canadian rock star Geddy Lee is less than thrilled with Sportsnet’s decision to cut their dedicated radio broadcast of the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2021 season.

Sportsnet won’t directly broadcast a separate radio feed and will instead simulcast their television broadcast over the airwaves for the 2021 season, becoming the first MLB team to do so. The decision was made to minimize travel and closely adhere to team, league, and government protocols related to the pandemic, Sportsnet said in a press release.

Lee, the lead singer for Rush, spoke about the importance of preserving a radio feed during an interview earlier in March.

Lee has been avid Blue Jays fan for years, throwing out the first pitch during the 2013 Blue Jays opener, and was a regular attendee at home games for decades.

It would be easy enough to spin this into “old man yells at cloud” in defence of a slightly outdated medium, but the sports media business is tough enough as it is, and the radio broadcast does indeed have charms that television simply can’t replicate, which is especially important for the visually impaired.[]

L-Band Patch Antenna review (Frugal Radio via YouTube)


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Printed circuit board information for Sony CRF-320 panel light mod?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian, who writes with the following inquiry:

I found a pic of a printed circuit board, based on Mr. Carlson’s Sony CRF-320 panel light mod, on the Yahoo 320/330 fan page but no board dimensions or component values.

I plan to order a bunch of these so if anyone can sort out some measurements on this board or are interested in obtaining a board, please comment. I am a novice in this and am unsure of the component values. I have wired up an electric guitar, so this I anticipate will be less complicated.

Post readers: If you can help Brian with this info, please feel free to comment!

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Sangean ATS-909X2: Dan’s quick update with notes about firmware updates

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who provides the following update and news as he evaluates the new Sangean ATS-909X2:

I have a few items to report after hitting the six weeks mark with the new Sangean ATS-909X2.

My radio was equipped with firmware VER 070. I have been on the lookout for gremlins that could be attributed to this firmware version. I found only one. There are delta symbols on the display that indicate whether FAST or SLOW tuning speeds have been selected. These symbols disappeared after I switched shortwave bands by using the SW button + SW meter band button command. The symbols returned if the STEP button was used.

The Sangean auto bandwidth feature seems to be a first in multiband portable radios. This feature is very promising. It is most effective for shortwave and MW reception when listening to spoken word programming and when an optimal tone control setting has been chosen. The audio filter for NEWS highlights the conversational voice range. If you are having difficulty copying words from a demanding signal the auto bandwidth and audio filter combination may provide just the extra punch that you are looking for.

I am currently without a 909X2 and have gone back to using my 909Xs. I returned the 909X2 to Sangean America at Santa Fe Springs in California this week for an upgrade to firmware VER 073. I received an email from Sangean’s service technician this afternoon saying that my 909X2 accepted the firmware update! He included a photo of my radio on the bench next to the purpose-built jig provided for this upgrade by Sangean headquarters in Taiwan.

Owners of a Sangean ATS-909X2 that was distributed by Sangean America may contact them regrading an update to firmware VER 073.

This offer applies only to the 909X2 model that has software VER 070 installed (not VER 073). Sangean America will provide you with a product recall form including return instructions and a prepaid mailing label.

https://www.sangean.com/company/contact_info.asp

I’m looking forward to the return of my 909X2. I held off from making station memory entries so I’ll be manually entering them from my 909Xs soon. The new A21 frequencies are here!

Thank you so much for the update and tips regarding VER 073 firmware updates, Dan!

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Any thoughts on this inexpensive Si4732-based receiver?

I’ve received a number of inquiries from SWLing Post readers lately regarding an inexpensive Si4732-based mini stand-alone receiver being sold on Amazon and eBay for around $56-66 US shipped.

The radio is based on the Silicon Labs Si4732 DSP chip which provides the following frequency coverage:

  • FM (64–108 MHz) with RDS
  • AM/Mediumwave (520–1710 kHz)
  • Shortwave (2.3–26.1 MHz)
  • Longwave (153–279 kHz)

It appears the bandwidth selections are 0.5, 1.0, 1.2, 2.2, 3, and 4 kHz.

If 4 kHz is the widest AM bandwidth, that is a bit unfortunate. The radio does have a BFO for tuning SSB and CW signals.

If I’m being honest, even though the price is a no-brainer, I’ve been hesitant to buy it simply because, due to my limited free time, I really do seek enthusiast-grade receivers for review these days. I’m less interested in radios that are cheaply made and lack the sensitivity, selectivity, noise floor, and features an SWL would desire. In other words, I’m a bit skeptical this receiver will be a proper performer.

The frequency range is certainly adequate and Silicon Labs chips are a quality product, but as we know the Si4732 is only as good as its implementation (click here to read the PDF data sheet).

I’m curious if any SWLing Post readers can comment with their experience using one of these Si4732-based receivers. Did it live up to your expectations? How does it compare with, say, an XHDATA D-808 or Tecsun PL-330? Is it sensitive with the supplied whip antenna? Does it have many birdies or other internally-generated noises? Please comment and let me know if this radio is worth checking out!

Click here to search eBay for this radio.

Click here to check it out on Amazon.com. (SWLing Post affiliate link)

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