Two YouTube videos just crossed my path which sparked the question.
The brothers allegedly recorded transmissions from failed Russian Manned Space flights before the successful flight of Yuri Gagarin. I remember reading about these when I was growing up. The second video contains a snippet of a voice recording from a supposed female cosmonaut as she reports rising cockpit temperatures before she died.
It’s easy to dismiss radio as little more than background noise while we drive. At worst you might even think it’s just another method for advertisers to peddle their wares. But in reality it’s a snapshot of the culture of a particular time and place; a record of what was in the news, what music was popular, what the weather was like, basically what life was like. If it was important enough to be worth the expense and complexity of broadcasting it on the radio, it’s probably worth keeping for future reference.
But radio is fleeting, a 24/7 stream of content that’s never exactly the same twice. Yet while we obsessively document music and video, nobody’s bothering to record radio. You can easily hop online and watch a TV show that originally aired 50 years ago, but good luck finding a recording of what your local radio station was broadcasting last week. All that information, that rich tapestry of life, is gone and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Or can we? At HOPE XII, Thomas Witherspoon gave a talk called “Creating a Radio Time Machine: Software-Defined Radios and Time-Shifted Recordings”, an overview of the work he’s been doing recording and cataloging the broadcast radio spectrum. He demonstrated how anyone can use low cost SDR hardware to record, and later play back, whole chunks of the AM and shortwave bands. Rather than an audio file containing a single radio station, the method he describes allows you to interactively tune in to different stations and explore the airwaves as if it were live.[…]
Do you miss Ian McFarland on Radio Canada International?
Yeah, me too.
That’s why I’m always pleased to receive off air recordings from Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Tom Laskowski.
I’ve just posted his latest off-air recording on the archive and thought I’d post it here as well. Tom note:
Here is another one of my many recordings of Shortwave Listener’s Digest from Radio Canada International, this time from January 4, 1982. This program highlights are: Glenn Hauser with his Year in Review for the previous year of 1981; part 1. Larry Magne with a test report for the Panasonic RF-9000 which listed at $US 3800!!!. The program ends with Glenn Hauser’s second part of his review of the previous year’s highlights. Unfortunately the broadcast suffers from some adjacent-channel interference.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, TomL, who shares the following guest post as a his Backpack Shack 3 continues to evolve:
Backpack Shack 3.0 – Part 3
I have now gone overboard since I think bigger must be better. The temptation was just too great and now there is an MFJ-1979 17-foot telescoping whip antenna in my car (with consequences).
I have a love/hate relationship with MFJ products because of what I think are useful ideas that are made somewhat poorly. But I went ahead and bought the large whip since I figured they could not possibly screw up something so simple, right?
Wrong. As I excitedly tried to screw the supposed 3/8”-24 threaded end into the nice standard Firestik K-11 magnet mount, I realized I was turning and turning it but it was not going in!!! I even had a small steel sliver of metal sticking into my flesh to prove I was not dreaming. The previous day, it had screwed in very tightly, but it did screw in. So, there I was after a long day of work, ready to listen to some SWL-Nirvana and I could not get the blasted antenna into the mount–? That Firestik mount is a VERY standard 3/8”-24 female thread and the other third-party antenna shafts fit perfectly and easily EVERY time I use them. I hate $60 of poor workmanship and MFJ seems to be the poster child of overpromising and underdelivering.
I was determined to make this work, by force if needed. One of the Trucker antenna shafts by necessity had an extra coupling nut on it to allow the extra 18 inch shaft to connect, so I took it off there and tried to thread it onto the MFJ-1979. It barely moved. Not to be thwarted, I dug out an adjustable wrench and 3/8” socket wrench with ½” socket and grunted and twisted and tightened until the coupling nut was threaded all the way “up its shaft”. That is what I feel like telling MFJ! That coupling nut is never coming off and now that I truly have bought it and cannot return it, I might as well use it.
The stainless steel telescoping rod is extremely thin and feels like it can bend and dent with any kind of mishandling. So it resides collapsed in a 27 inch PVC pipe with plumbing pipe foam inside to baby it when it is not being used. It remains to be seen if I can remember to “Handle With Care” when extending/collapsing it. We’ll see.
OK, so using the 18 inch antenna shaft attached to the magnet mount, then the coupling nut on the MFJ antenna, I extended it to a total of about 13 feet. With the DX Engineering Pre-amp turned on, and using the SDR Play RSP2, I was getting many signals booming in. All the usual names we are familiar with – RMI, CRI, Turkey, Cuba, etc. But also the noise level was very high. I know it is summer but I may have been overloading the Pre-amp a little bit. Here is an example, Radio Progresso from Cuba with some very nice acapella music but also a noisy background (plus, a noisy laptop computer pulse!):
So I decided to come back in the morning before my workday started and see if the static crashes would have died down.
The next morning I had everything hooked up again in the same spot at the Forest Preserve (located in a suburb of Northern Illinois). I moved the Cross Country Preselector to be directly connected from the roof, then to the antenna switch on the “Breadboard” (see part 2) to better prevent overloading. I turned on the Verizon battery pack and nothing. No Pre-amp light. Switched it on, off, on, off – nothing. So, I thought I must have burnt it out the previous session?
Later on, I found it was some sort of short in the switch and I will have to move the D-cell batteries to a backup battery pack. In the meantime, I had to do without the Pre-amp and was forced to extend the MFJ antenna all the way. With the 18 inch extension attached to the magnet mount, that was a total of 18.5 feet from antenna tip to the top of my car roof.
This was actually fortuitous since I was already concerned about overloading the Pre-amp or perhaps amplifying background noise. This forced me to test it in a more “barefoot” manner, hearing what it would natively hear without any Pre-amp. It was also lucky there was no wind to blow it over! It seems that if one is in an RFI-quiet area with decent view of horizons, the 20+dB Pre-amp may not be needed, depending on frequency band involved.
I have read that “Norton” style 10 dB Pre-amps and custom handmade transformer baluns are used by Dr. Dallas Lankford in his Low Noise Vertical antennas. I don’t want to get into winding baluns so I am using one Palomar Longwire Balun to simulate the “magnetic” transfer. His design uses two, one 10:1 at the antenna and a 1:1 balun at the feedline into the house. For more reading on LNV antennas, see these references:
I purposely monitored Voice of Korea for their news statement on the De-Nuke talks on the 25 meter band and found it came in great, just as many others have heard it. This was encouraging. Examining carefully the Data file from the SDR, here is what I pulled from it. I am pleasantly surprised and happy with the results; some stations I had never heard before and the language and music are very exotic. All of it was a little more than one half hour of recording time (14 June 2018, 1300 UTC). You may have to crank up the volume on the weaker recordings to hear those properly.
Taiwan International, 11640 kHz, Chinese, Kouhu Taiwan (blasting in strongly plus strong echo of broadcast at top of the hour – is a second transmitter signal going around the earth the other way and getting to me??)
Eighteen feet of whippy rod can sway in the gentlest breeze (consequences of “bigger must be better”). The described setup has fallen over in as little as a 12 mph sustained wind when fully extended because I had the base in a plastic box. I want plastic under the magnet(s) in order to get it off easily and put away out of sight! Now installed is a larger QUAD magnet mount for better stability:
I am using the flat plastic lid from a 20 gallon tote container under the quad mount and a mover’s tie down strap to the main bar of the quad (I have room for multiple straps if needed). Ten foot fits just fine:
Because the backpack and quad mount can fit inside the 20 gallon tote container, this setup can be attached to a picnic table in a state park or campsite if I choose. The Firestik single magnet mount will be recycled as a VHF antenna mount. I can go virtually anywhere now.
Instead of the 20+dB DX Engineering Pre-amp, perhaps one of those “Norton” 10 dB Pre-amps might be optimal (Kiwaelectronics.com broadband-preamp). And I need to figure out why my Verizon battery pack failed as each Tenergy D cell measured fine. Oh yeah, I have to buy an extra coupling nut, too……
Thanks so much for sharing this latest iteration of the BackPack Shack 3.0, Tom! It seems to me, as you imply, your current setup could be installed pretty much anywhere.
I’m sorry to hear about your troubles with MFJ. I’ve only had good experiences with them in the past, but I suspect the specs on the 3/8”-24 thread were simply incorrect or perhaps metric and mislabeled.
Halley VI: The British Antarctic Survey’s new base (Source: British Antarctic Survey)
On Thursday, 21 June 2018, the BBC World Service officially transmitted the 2018 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast–an international radio broadcast intended for a small group of scientists, technicians, and support staff who work for the British Antarctic Survey.
This is one of my favorite annual broadcasts, and I endeavor to listen every year. Once again, the SWLing Post called upon readers to make a short recording of the broadcast from their locale.
Below are the entries, roughly organized by continent and country/region. We had a total of 28 recordings submitted this year–simply amazing! If I’ve somehow missed including your entry, please contact me; I’ll amend this post.
So, without further ado….
The 2018 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast Recordings
SWL: Gerald LANDL (OE5TET) Location: Eidenberg, Austria Notes:
Preperations with my 6y old son – highly professional with clip board, frequency setting on equipment, adjusting the antenna tuner. setting the alarm clock and preparing cups for warm drinks.
Wonderful broadcast with heaps of feelings and good music – I reckon the crew in Antarctica enjoyed it.
I used to listen with my dad to Norddeich Radio – also broadcast for crews and sailors out on sea.
2018-06-21 2130 UTC antarctic midwinter broadcast 2018 of BBC
Longitude : 14.23225 E (14° 13? 56” E)
Latitude : 48.44367 N (48° 26? 37” N)
QTH locator : JN78CK
5.985 – Woofferton – via FT 991 + HiGain 640 vertical
7.360 – Ascension – via FT 817 + MLA-M magnetic loop
9.890 – Woofferton – via FT 2000 + Diamond W8010 – multi band trap
enjoyed the slight time delay between Woofferton and Ascension – broadcast (echo you hear)
looking forward to record the whole broadcast from Ascension via FT2000
SWL: Gabriele Barbi Location: Ferrara di Monte Baldo Notes: Received in Ferrara of Monte Baldo (Verona) 850 msl, with Sangean 909 receiver and 30 meter row antenna, good signal on all 3 frequencies 5985 7360 9890 hours of reception (Italian) 23.55 today 21062018. Good Radio 🙂
Note that the audio file of the 3 frequencies is divided by the beep signal respectively from the beginning to the end of the file 5985 7360 9890:
SWL: Grabriele Sommas Location: Roccapiemonte, Italy Notes: Hi Thomas, like every year attached I send you the youtube link of the broadcast BBC MIDWINTER 2018 with the hope of seeing it published also this year on swling. Receiver is an SDRplay RSP2 and Antenna a Wellbrook ALA 1530.
I am Davide Borroni from Origgio (VA) Italy. On 21 June 2018 at 2130.-2200 UTC on 5985 kHz AM, i listened BBC Winter Radio with SINPO 54444
I use my Hallicrafters SX 42, Siemens E 401, Collins HF 2050 and Teletron TE 712S receivers with a magnetic loop antenna.
SWL: Giuseppe Morlè (IZ0GZW) Location: Formia, Italy Notes:
I’m Giuseppe Morlè, iz0gzw, from Formia, central Italy, on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
I send you 2 videos about the Antartic Midwinter 2018 to be included on the Swling Post.
You can see how you listened to from my house on my 3 receivers the transmission and as the only Tecsun pl660 with its antenna on my balcony.
Thanks for everything and I always wish you excellent listening.
SWL: Mark Hirst Location: Basingstoke, England Notes:
QRM levels at my QTH were noticeably higher this year than last, continuing a years long trend in my area.
Woofferton is only 100 miles from Basingstoke in Hampshire, and while it doesn’t lie in the direction of the transmission, the signal was strong and steady, overwhelming almost all of the interference.
All three signals were good at my location in Ayrshire, Scotland.
The best of the two Wooferton signals was 5985 AM.
Here is a youtube video of my reception of the signal from Ascension Island on 7360 AM.
Rx = Trio R-1000
Ant = End fed Wire, 20 meters long and ATU.
HAPPY MIDWINTER !
SWL: Rawad Hamwi Location: Turaif – Northern Borders Province – Saudi Arabia Notes:
Date/Time: 21/6/2018 @ 21:30 UTC | 22/6/2018 @ 00:30 Arabian Standard Time (UTC+3)
Frequency: 9890 kHz
Receiver: Sony ICF-SW7600GR / Sony ICF-SW11
Antenna: 30 LM Longwire Antenna
Location: Turaif – Northern Borders Province – Saudi Arabia
SWL: Richard Langley Location: Hanwell, New Brunswick Notes:
I obtained decent recordings of the BAS broadcast both here in NB on 7360 kHz using a Tecsun PL-880 receiver with a Tecsun AN-03L 7-metre wire antenna strung to a nearby tree and using the U. Twente SDR receiver on 5985 kHz. Attached are two two-minute clips, one from the start of each recording. Also attached [above] is a photo of the “listening post” at the back of my yard. Note the mosquito spray!
SWL: Ivan Cholakov Location: New York and Florida Notes:
This year’s Midwinter Antarctic broadcast from the BBC was a special opportunity for me. I thought I would share the story because it has something to say about the state of technology in today’s world of radio. On the day of the broadcast, June 21, 2018 I was on a business trip to New York City. I had brought with me three very useful and very portable items: an SDRPlay receiver, a W6LVP portable amplified loop and an Eton Satellit shortwave radio.
I was able to receive the broadcast in the following order:
By remotely accessing my home station;s kiwiSDR receiver via the internet
By remotely accessing my amateur radio station that I maintain in Michigan using a remotehams.com server
By using the SDRPlay receiver and the amplified loop from the 35th floor hotel room in Manhattan
By using the Eton Satellit pocket sized shortwave radio from the hotel room in Manhattan
I created a youtube video with the four modes of reception above. it is amazing how connected the world has become!
I was able to get 2 different videos of the BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast. One video is of the broadcast coming through an KiwiSDR channel and another is a recording of BBC through my Tecsun PL-380.
SWL: Stan Horzepa (WA1LOU) Location: Wolcott, Connecticut Notes:
Here in Wolcott, Connecticut, USA, I heard the full 30 minute broadcast
on all three channels using my ICOM IC-R8600 and an 80-meter inverted
Vee antenna. 9890 was very good, 7360 was good, while 5985 was poor.
(The broadcast reminded me of The Beatles Fan Club Christmas recordings.)
SWL: Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD) Location: Smithville, NJ Notes:
I got good copy on 9890 here in Smithville, NJ (5 miles north of Atlantic City).
Readable copy on 7360 and almost readable copy on 5850.
Used a combination of Tecsun Radios: PL-310et, PL-880, and S-8800.
Used the telescoping antenna and a long wire antenna strung up in the house.
SWL: Thomas Witherspoon (K4SWL) Location: Huntsville, Alabama Notes:
I managed to listen to a bit of the broadcast myself in the parking lot of the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I only brought my C. Crane CC Skywave SSB along. The signal was quite weak, but I did log the 9,890 kHz broadcast from Woofferton, UK. Pretty impressive considering the modest portable receiver and the fact the broadcast’s target was Antarctica! Pure shortwave magic.
My recording of 9890 kHz in Pennsylvania was much weaker.
SWL: DanH Location: Northern California Notes:
Just awful reception here in Northern California suburbia near three in the afternoon. I can just make out “Jingle Bells.” BBC Woofferton has been coming in well here from 04:00 – 06:00 UTC on 9915 kHz on some nights.
Once again, many thanks to all of you who submitted your recordings of the BBC Midwinter Broadcast!
We’ll be sharing this post with both the British Antarctic Survey and the BBC World Service. And to all of you, from the SWLing Post: Happy (Belated) Midwinter! Happy Summer/Winter Solstice!
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