Category Archives: TV

Radio Waves: Keeping CA Wildfires at Bay, 50 Years of KNOM, 24-Hour Saudi Radio Urdu Service, New Comms for Navy Subs, and North Korea Cracks Down on TV

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 Peter Abzug, David Iurescia, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


How A Group Of Dedicated Volunteers Are Keeping California’s Wildfires At Bay (NPR)

The Los Angeles Fire Department depends on help from amateur radio volunteers when fire threatens communications infrastructure. NPR looks at how ham radio operators are keeping residents safe.

50 years of KNOM Radio Mission (KNOM)

Whether you’ve been with us since the beginning, or you’re just getting to know us: it’s you, and your faithful support, that has made KNOM America’s oldest Catholic radio station. Thank you!

KNOM has been broadcasting in Western Alaska since July 14th, 1971, when the station could first be heard in Western Alaska.

The continuing mission has been possible only by the hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and love of thousands of people: our staff and volunteers, listeners and community members, and thousands of loyal benefactors across the nation who keep the lights on and the transmitters running. KNOM stands on their shoulders.

[…]Fifty years into KNOM’s history, the radio station is deeply embedded in Western Alaska. As we look to the future, KNOM’s vision is to one day be ‘taken over’ by the region – existing entirely for, and by, Western Alaskans. As the very first song ever played on KNOM – “We’ve Only Just Begun”, by The Carpenters – proclaims, the mission is just getting started.

KNOM continues to live out its values each day – as it has for five decades – as a friend and companion offering respectful service based on Catholic ideals. It is centered on the four cornerstones of the mission: Encountering Christ, Embracing Culture, Empowering Growth, and Engaging the Listener.

KNOM continues in sharing God’s love for Western Alaska through embracing its strength and beauty and being invested, long-term, in the growth of the region.

By engaging each listener with respect and companionship, KNOM hopes to amplify stories of hope, courage, and resiliency in Western Alaska.

Click here for stories and features on the KNOM 50th Anniversary Page. 

Saudi Radio To Launch 24-Hour Urdu Transmission (Bol News)

JEDDAH: The Saudi Radio plans to launch test transmission of a 24-hour Urdu service from the middle of September 2021, while the services will be formally launched on September 23, a Saudi official said.

The transmission will include programmes on Islam, the holy Quran, Ahadis and historical and world affairs.

Saudi Broadcasting Authority deputy chairman Faisal Ilyafi said this, while talking to a delegation of the Pakistan Journalists Forum (PJF).

The world transmission was started from the holy city of Makkah in September 1950 with a 15-minute slot for the Urdu programme, he said, and stressed that it is the need of the hour to face challenges and keep ourselves abreast of the changes in media.

The Saudi Urdu transmission has decided to continue its transmission on social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, FM, Shortwave, Satellite, and Twitter, he added.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has given approval to the project under the supervision of Media Minister Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, he said, adding that the Saudi Information Ministry has also made several other languages part of the project.

The deputy chairman said any language has a supreme significance to disseminate news-cum-events, that’s why many foreign languages such as Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew and Chinese would be part of the transmission.[]

Communication Breakdown: Navy Submarines Need a New Way to Talk to Each Other (The National Interest)

Sea water diminishes the power of electrical transmission, challenges identified many years ago by the Navy and some of its partners who have been working on under communication for decades such as Northrop Grumman.

As Navy innovators work intensely to pioneer new methods of undersea communication, many might wish to reflect upon the decades of technical challenges associated with bringing any kind of undersea real-time connectivity to submarine operations. Historically, certain kinds of low-frequency radio have enabled limited degrees of slow, more general kinds of communication, yet by and large submarines have had to surface to at least periscope depth to achieve any kind of substantial connectivity.

The advent of new kinds of transport layer communications, coupled with emerging technologies woven into unmanned systems, are beginning to introduce potential new avenues of data processing and transmission intended to bring greater degrees of real-time undersea data transmission to fruition.

Sea water diminishes the power of electrical transmission, challenges identified many years ago by the Navy and some of its partners who have been working on under communication for decades such as Northrop Grumman. Northrop’s efforts date back to the World War II era and, along with the Navy and other industry contributors, helped pioneer the innovations that helped adapt RF communications architecture to sonar today. Considering this history, there are some interesting synergies woven through various elements of undersea warfare radio communications.

A 2014 essay by Carlos Altgelt, titled “The World’s Largest “Radio” Station,” details some of the historic elements of how the U.S. Navy pursued Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) undersea connectivity. Through its discussion of low-frequency ELF connectivity, the essay explains the technical challenges associated with undersea communication, which seem to align with how Northrop Grumman innovators describe how undersea communications will need to largely evolve in the areas of acoustics and optics.

As Altgelt notes: “As a result of the high electrical conductivity of sea water, signals are attenuated rapidly as they propagate downward through it. In effect, sea water ‘hides’ the submarine from detection while simultaneously preventing it from communicating with the outside world through conventional high-frequency radio transmissions. In order to receive these, a submarine must travel at slow speed and be near the surface, unfortunately, both of these situations make a submarine more susceptible to enemy detection.”[]

North Korean capital cracks down on illegal TVs to prevent access to South Korean broadcasts (RFA via the Southgate ARC)

Each Pyongyang household must report the number of TVs they own, and they face stiff punishments for hiding them

North Korea has ordered residents of the capital Pyongang to report the number of televisions in each household to stop them from watching banned shows from prosperous, democratic South Korea, sources in the country told RFA.

In North Korea, access to media from the outside world is strictly controlled, and TVs and radios are manufactured to only pick up domestic channels and must be registered with the authorities. But residents do find ways to access South Korean signals, either by using foreign televisions or modifying domestic ones.

Getting caught during routine inspections with a TV that can pick up illegal signals is a punishable offense. Residents with more than one television hide their illegal TVs during inspections, only to bring them out again to watch Seoul’s latest hot drama or variety show, former residents told RFA.

Authorities are aware of the deception and have issued a directive that every household in the city declare to their local neighborhood watch unit how many televisions they have.

“Residents are trying to hide them, but the judicial authorities are trying to find them. They are looking for TVs that can get South Korean TV channels in addition to the ‘official’ channels,” said a resident of Pyongyang, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“Everyone knows that in Pyongyang, South Korean TV signals can be picked up in various areas,” the source said. He mentioned the Mangyongdae and Rangrang districts in the center of the city of 2.8 million.

In these areas the residents have been known to have two or three televisions in their homes, so they can watch the legal channels during inspections and watch South Korean broadcasts in secret,” the source said.

The source said that residents have developed clever ways to hide their illegal TVs.

Read more from this very interesting Radio Free Asia article:
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/tv-05252021155129.html


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Radio Waves: New Ham Radio Store, SDR Market worth $14.5 billion by 2025, Retaining 87.7 FM, and Hard-Core-DX now on Slack

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 Tracy Wood, Bill Patalon, Dennis Dura, and Mike Agner for the following tips:


Amateur Radio Field Day synchronized with radio store’s Grand Opening (Ramona Sentinel)

Ham radio hobbyists will test their emergency preparedness skills alongside All Day Radios’ Grand Opening celebration in Ramona next weekend.

The Amateur Radio Field Day, a national emergency preparedness activity sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), will be held in Ramona from 11 a.m. Saturday, June 26 and continues for 24 hours until 11 a.m. Sunday, June 27.

All Day Radios co-owner Peter Von Hagen will coordinate his Grand Opening in sync with Field Day from Friday through Sunday. The store is at 2855 state Route 67 between Dye Road and Hope Street, and Field Day will be held next door.

Von Hagen said the object of Field Day, held annually the fourth weekend in June, is to communicate on as many stations on amateur bands as possible to test the capabilities of communications equipment. Operators will be using backup sources of power such as solar power and batteries, he said.[]

Software Defined Radio Market worth $14.5 billion by 2025 (Markets and Markets Newsletter)

The demand for software defined radios, especially in the commercial applications, such as telecommunication, transportation, and commercial aviation, has been affected to a great extent. Due to precautionary measures undertaken by many countries to stop the spread of COVID-19, several public/private development activities have been stopped, resulting in a drop in demand for software defined radios. However, this trend seems to vary from country to country. For instance, the demand for software defined radios in Europe and the Asia Pacific has been affected by the pandemic owing to the stoppage of development activities.

Based on application, the commercial segment of the software defined radio market is projected to witness the substantial growth during the forecast period

In terms of application, the market is segregated into commercial and defense. The rising usage of SDRs in commercial applications including aviation communication, marine communication, transportation, telecommunication is supporting the segment growth. Software defined radios are predominantly used in Air Traffic Control (ATC), transportation, and telecommunication applications. They are easily upgradable and provide high data transmission rate that further enhances its usage for commercial segment.

Cognitive/ Intelligent radio sub segment of the software defined radio market by type is projected to witness the highest CAGR owing to increasing improvements in cognitive radio products.[…]

FCC Report 6/13: Has A STA Based Doorway Been Cracked Open To Retain 87.7 FM Operations? (Radio Insight)

The FCC has sent another reminder to licensees of analog low power television stations regarding the July 13 drop-dead date. If an analog LPTV has not applied for a digital CP by that date its license will be cancelled and those that have Construction Permit’s but will not be ready to broadcast digitally will need to file a waiver request but still will be required to turn off their analog signal on the 13th and cease operation until ready to begin operating with their digital facilities.

This will of course affect the thirty something LPTV’s on analog channel 6 operating as radio stations on 87.75 MHz. While some of these signals will be moving to other channels, many will be remaining on channel 6 and have spent the past few years seeking loopholes to continue to broadcast an analog audio signal past the digital conversion deadline. Venture Technologies Group, which owns five affected stations, threw the door wide open this week with the grant of a six month STA for its KBKF-LD San Jose CA. KBKF-LD, which is leased to Educational Media Foundation to air its “Air 1” network, will be permitted to continue to offer an analog audio signal on 87.75 FM in its ATSC 3.0 digital video signal.[]

Introducing: Hard-Core-DX Slack Chat (Hard-Core-DX)

From: Risto Kotalampi

Hi all,

Hard-Core-DX has been a pioneer in connecting shortwave listeners for nearly 30 years now. In its core it has been emailing lists and web sites and some other experiments which have either spun to become popular on their own (e.g. various ham related spotting sites or Online Log which is very popular in Finland) or not. Today we wanted to try to branch out into chat using Slack.

This is not the only chat there is… IRC, Facebook, Whatsapp etc have small circles for shortwave listeners but they have all been closed systems and not enabling an environment that can be used across devices and have conversations about any topics we choose. In the corporate world Slack has revolutionized communications amongst colleagues and partners in different companies. Much of work in U.S.A. small companies happens nowadays in Slack and not so much in emails.

Hard-Core-DX has signed up and created it’s very own Slack service.
If you want to join the HCDX Slack, please click this link and create your own HCDX Slack account:

https://join.slack.com/t/hard-core-dx/shared_invite/zt-rn83gamf-_UCfo9LYUVmoIBhb0~3cSg

Some basic rules of the Slack service:

  1. When you join it, you will see some channels that have been created already. You can join them or if you can’t find the topic you’d like to chat about, please create your own.
  2. HCDX will not be in the business of moderating what people are creating or discussing. If you create a channel, you will choose the policies of the discussion.
  3. This can naturally invite some abuse. We will deal with it with Slack’s policies as time comes.
  4. You are welcome to invite your DX friends to the HCDX Slack and grow the community. Invite happens from menu in upper left corner and link “Invite people to Hard-Core-DX”
  5. Let’s keep subjects within shortwave radio, broadcast, utility, pirate DXing & ham radio if possible to keep the service relevant to us
  6. This is an experiment… if it doesn’t gain popularity or becomes a burden, we will shut it down. But for now, if you want to experiment and see if this is where you want to chat with your DX friends, join the fun.

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The Sony FX-300 Jackal: A Holy Grail technological marvel of the late 70s

I’m a child of the 1970s and I’m glad I never knew about the Sony FX-300 “Jackal 300.” It would have been the ultimate unobtainable machine of my dreams…this, even despite the lack of shortwave.

I was browsing eBay yesterday when I saw one of these pop up in the search results.

Somehow, this radio made it past my RADAR. How? I’m guessing it’s because this model was primarily sold in Japan–?

The FX-300 sports:

  • A mini CRT television screen (to watch Voyagers!, Space 1999, G-Force, and Ultraman)
  • Precision analog tuning
  • Top-Mounted cassette player/recorder
  • AM/FM reception
  • Built-in speaker
  • Earphone/Mic external ports
  • And let’s face it: a killer design that smacks of the Apollo era 

Other than the Panny RF-2200, I’m not sure if a radio could possibly satisfy more of my design cravings.  Here are a few images I’ve unashamedly swiped from eBay:

What a Holy Grail machine, indeed! I love the tactile mechanical switches, analog dials, speaker grills, selection switches, and even (especially) the metal stand off bar at the top to protect those brilliant cassette controls.

I’m very curious if any SWLing Post readers have ever owned (or still own) a Sony FX-300. (Kei Niigata, I’ll be terribly disappointed if I learn you’ve never owned one!)

Please comment!

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Radio Waves: Digital Audio via Vintage Radio, “10-Minute-ish” Transmitter, Why No Channel 37, and Inventor of the Audio Cassette Dies at Age 94

Image by Jon Tyson

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 Ron, Valdo Karamitrov, Ronald Kenyon, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


‘I play digital music through my 1949 radio’ (BBC News)

When we think of technology our imagination usually takes us to images of the future. But for some, technology links us to the past – whether for nostalgia or for personal reasons

Following our recent feature on vintage technology, we asked you to share some of your collections with us – and people from around the world responded..

Rob Seaward, North Yorkshire, UK: 1949 Murphy A146 radio

I have a collection of older technology which I have collected throughout my life – including old cameras, calculators, hi-fis and radios. I had been interested in music from an early age, but it was really when my father purchased a Bang and Olufsen music centre that my interest in not only music, but style and function really took off.

To me, a lower middle-class grammar school kid living in Bradford, I suddenly had access to a world of real style and glamour.

My favourite piece must be the Murphy A146 console radio designed by Gordon Russell in 1949.

Its nickname is the “Batwing” because of the shape of the back panel. The sound is rich, slightly warm and typical of valve equipment. In its day, the radio cost the equivalent of an average monthly wage, it was built to last and the original valves are still working today.

However, as it pre-dates FM it is a little limited. I’ve had it restored and as part of the process we had a Bluetooth adapter installed which means I can now play my favourite digital music through this wonder from the 1940s – which really amazes people.[]

Getting on the Air With a 10-minute-ish Ham Transmitter (Hackaday)

Artificially constrained designs can be among the most challenging projects to build, and the most interesting to consider. The amateur radio world is no stranger to this, with homebrew radio designs that set some sort of line in the sand. Such designs usually end up being delightfully minimalist and deeply instructive of first principles, which is one reason we like them so much.

For a perfect example of this design philosophy, take a look at [VK3YE]’s twist on the classic “10-Minute Transmitter”. (Video, embedded below.)

The design dates back to at least the 1980s, when [G4RAW] laid down the challenge to whip up a working transmitter from junk bin parts and make a contact within 15 minutes — ten for the build and five for working the bands. [VK3YE] used the “oner” — one-transistor — design for his 10-minute transmitter, but invested some additional time into adding a low-pass filter to keep his signal clean, and a power amplifier to boost the output a bit.[]

Why Channel 37 Doesn’t Exist (And What It Has to Do With Aliens) (Vice)

Since the advent of analog TVs, channel 37 has always been static. Here’s why.

A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium, a twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.

I’m endlessly fascinated by stories of the quirks that were built into the TV system where the well-laid plans of the system simply fell apart because it was asked to do too many things.

Nearly five years ago, I wrote about one of them, the tale of how radio broadcasters were able to shoehorn an additional FM station into the radio because of the proximity of TV’s channel 6 to the rest of the radio feed.

So when I was informed that there was another oddity kinda like this involving the TV lineups, I decided I had to take a dive in.

It’s a tale that centers around channel 37, which was a giant block of static in most parts of the world during the 20th century.

The reason for that was simple: it couldn’t fend off its scientific competition.

1952

The year that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission opened up the television system to use UHF, or ultra high frequency signals. The practical effect of this addition of bandwidth was that the total number of potential TV stations increased dramatically, from 108 to 2,051, overnight. The first UHF applications were granted on July 11, 1952, according to The History of UHF Television, a site dedicated to the higher-frequency television offerings.

The radio telescope that became a headache for the television industry

Within a 600-mile radius of the city of Danville, Illinois, population 31,246, are numerous major cities—among them Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Toronto, and Washington, DC.

Nearly the entire length of the Mississippi River fits into that radius. If Danville was located just a little farther to the east, the radius would also include Philadelphia and New York City. For all intents and purposes, a 600-mile radius from Eastern Illinois covers basically the entire East Coast except the state of Florida and the Northeast.[]

Dutch inventor of the audio cassette tape dies aged 94 (Southgate ARC)

Lou Ottens, inventor of the cassette tape and a CD pioneer died aged 94 at his home in Duizel in Brabant on Saturday, Dutch media report.

Ottens, who studied to be an engineer, started working for Philips in 1952. Eight years later he became head of the firm’s recently introduced product development department. Within a year he and his team had developed the first portable tape recorder of which over a million were sold. Two years later he revolutionised the old reel-to-reel tape system by inventing the cassette tape.

‘I got annoyed with the clunky, user-unfriendly reel to reel system, it’s that simple’, Ottens said later. The new carrier had to be small enough to fit into his jacket pocket, Ottens decided, and he had a wooden model made to determine the ideal size. In 1963 the first plastic encased cassette tape was presented at an electronics fair carrying the slogan ‘smaller than a pack of cigarettes!’ The tapes were quickly copied by the Japanese but in different formats!

Ottens managed to make a deal with Sony to use the mechanism patented by Philips to introduce a standard cassette which was then rolled out globally. Over 100 billion were sold worldwide. Ottens went on to develop the CD, which again became a Sony-Philips standard and which sold over 200 billion.

In 1986 Ottens retired but he was often asked if he was proud of his inventions, which allowed millions to have access to music. ‘I have no ‘pride dial’’ Ottens said in an interview, stressing that both inventions were team efforts. His biggest regret was that that Sony, not Philips, invented what he considered to be the ideal application for the cassette tape, the Walkman. ‘That still hurts,’ he said. Dubious about the recent revival of the cassette tape Ottens said ‘nothing could beat the sound of a CD.’

Read more at DutchNews.nl
https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2021/03/dutch-inventor-of-the-audio-cassette-tape-dies-aged-94/?


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A great resource for finding over-the-air stations in the US

Yesterday, a friend asked about tips for finding local radio stations throughout the US. His goal was to identify stations that he could then load into his WiFi radio and stream from abroad.

Of course there are always online radio station aggregators like TuneIn, but often you either need to know the station ID or name in advance to perform a search. Not all stations can be recalled with a geographic search either–especially if it’s a small local station that doesn’t market their online stream.

SWLing Post contributor, Gary Donnelly, recently shared the following searchable FCC database that lists all licensed stations on the air.

Search for:

Gary found this comprehensive database a great way to sniff out smaller LPFM and community stations to DX on FM and AM.

Post readers: Are there other resources you use to find over-the-air stations throughout the world?  Please comment to share your links and tips.

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Switzerland ending RF terrestrial broadcasting of television

Television TV

Photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

(Source: Fortune via Mark Fahey)

Switzerland Is Doing Away With Over-the-Air TV. Could the U.S. Do the Same?

Rabbit ears and other TV antennas could be useless in Switzerland before too long.

The Swiss government has given the country’s public broadcaster approval to turn off its digital terrestrial TV (known as over-the-air to most people) by the end of 2019. It will be the first nation in Europe to do so.

Most Swiss have high speed broadband internet connections and cable networks in their homes, so the move is unlikely to affect many citizens. Only 1.9% of the population, about 64,000 people, reportedly take advantage of the service that’s being discontinued.

Other European nations are expected to follow Switzerland’s lead in the next 10 to 15 years. And while many Americans believe the right to free, over-the-air broadcasts are protected, that’s not quite as cut and dry as it might seem.

Yes, the federal government licenses the airwaves to television stations (among other entities). […]But the government doesn’t license networks, only individual stations, as outlined by the FCC.

“We license only individual broadcast stations,”: the agency says in a 2008 report explaining its authority.

[…]Put another way: Networks are not required to broadcast their shows over the air.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Fortune.

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