Radio Waves: Pack Thanks Interim Leaders, KE4ZXW Moves to Virginia Tech, WWV and WWVH Still Matter, and A New WebSDR in Iceland

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 Tony, Dan Robinson, Michael Bird for the following tips:


USAGM CEO Michael Pack thanks interim heads of agency’s five broadcasting networks (USAGM)

Today, U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) Chief Executive Officer Michael Pack thanked officials who will serve in an interim capacity as the heads of the agency’s two federal organizations and its three public service grantee broadcasting networks.

  • Elez Biberaj, who has led Voice of America (VOA)’s Eurasia Division since 2006, will serve as VOA’s Acting Director.
  • Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, previously Senior Advisor at Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), will serve as OCB’s Acting Director and Principal Deputy Director.
  • Parameswaran Ponnudurai, who has been Vice President of Programming at Radio Free Asia (RFA) since 2014, will serve as RFA’s Acting President.
  • Kelley Sullivan, who has been a Vice President at Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) since 2006, will serve as MBN’s Acting President.
  • Daisy Sindelar, who has been with RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty (RFE/RL) for nearly two decades, will serve as RFE/RL’s Acting President.

CEO Pack sent, in part, the following message to staff:

“The experience of these talented men and women, their knowledge of the networks, and their commitment to the standards of journalism will allow us to launch into the next exciting chapter of our agency. Dr. Biberaj, Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Ponnudurai, Ms. Sullivan, and Ms. Sindelar will serve critical roles in allowing our networks to become higher performing and to more effectively serve our audiences. For their willingness to step up and help lead this effort, I am deeply appreciative. I am excited to serve alongside them as well as with all of you.”

Virginia Air & Space Center Ends Relationship with Ham Radio (ARRL News)

Virginia Air & Space Center (VASC) Executive Director and CEO Robert Griesmer has advised that the Center’s amateur radio station exhibit will be discontinued, effective July 1, when the Center, in Hampton, Virginia, reopens. VASC is the official visitor center for NASA’s Langley, Virginia, facility. The KE4ZXW display station was shut down on March 13. It was to be out of the VASC by June 30. A main feature of the exhibit was the ability to communicate with amateur radio satellites and with the International Space Station.

Randy Grigg, WB4KZI, of the VASC Amateur Radio Group said the station’s equipment would be relocated. “Thanks to all who have supported KE4ZXW during the last 25 years, especially the volunteer operators who manned the station during that time,” Grigg said. “To the many visitors we have met and school groups that have stopped by and talked with us about ham radio, communications, satellites, and STEM Program related subjects, thank you!”

On June 30, it was announced that the Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association (K4KDJ) in Blacksburg will be the new host for the KE4ZXW Amateur Radio Demonstration. — Thanks to Randy Grigg, WB4KZI, and Ed Gibbs, KW4GF[]

Why WWV and WWVH Still Matter (Radio World)

Last year was one of both celebration and uncertainty for WWV, the station adjacent to Fort Collins, Colo., that transmits automated time broadcasts on the shortwave bands.

On the plus side, it marked the 100th year of WWV’s call letters, making the site, operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the world’s oldest continually operating radio stations.

On the negative side, WWV and its sister time station WWVH in Hawaii nearly missed this centennial. That’s because NIST’s original 2019 budget called for shutting down the pair, along with WWVB, the longwave code station co-located next to WWV, as a cost-saving move.

Fortunately, these cuts never happened, and WWV, WWVH and WWVB seem likely to keep broadcasting the most accurate time from NIST’s atomic clocks, at least for the immediate future. (No further cuts have been threatened.)[]

Another Shortwave WebSDR operational in Iceland (Southgate ARC)

On June 27, a new KiwiSDR web software defined radio became operational in Iceland

A translation of the IRA post reads:

The new receiver is located in Bláfjöll at an altitude of 690 meters. It has for the first time used, a horizontal dipole for 80 and 40 meters.

The KiwiSDR receiver operates from 10 kHz up to 30 MHz. You can listen to AM, FM, SSB and CW transmissions and select a bandwidth suitable for each formulation. Up to eight users can be logged into the recipient at the same time.

Ari Þórólfur Jóhannesson TF1A was responsible for the installation of the device today, which is owned by Georg Kulp, TF3GZ.
Bláfjöll: http://blafjoll.utvarp.com/

The other two receivers that are active are located at Bjargtångar in Vesturbyggð, Iceland’s westernmost plains and the outermost point of Látrabjarg and at Raufarhöfn. Listen at:
Bjargtångar: http://bjarg.utvarp.com/
Raufarhöfn: http://raufarhofn.utvarp.com/

The IRA Board thanks Ara and Georg for their valuable contributions. This is an important addition for radio amateurs who are experimenting in these frequency bands, as well as listeners and anyone interested in the spread of radio waves.

Source IRA https://tinyurl.com/IcelandIRA

KiwiSDR Network
http://kiwisdr.com/public/


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NASA’s SDO produces a 10 year time-lapse video of the sun

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ahmet (KD2AQU), who shares the following item from NASA:

As of June 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – SDO – has now been watching the Sun non-stop for over a full decade. From its orbit in space around Earth, SDO has gathered 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun, amassing 20 million gigabytes of data over the past 10 years. This information has enabled countless new discoveries about the workings of our closest star and how it influences the solar system.

With a triad of instruments, SDO captures an image of the Sun every 0.75 seconds. The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument alone captures images every 12 seconds at 10 different wavelengths of light. This 10-year time lapse showcases photos taken at a wavelength of 17.1 nanometers, which is an extreme ultraviolet wavelength that shows the Sun’s outermost atmospheric layer – the corona. Compiling one photo every hour, the movie condenses a decade of the Sun into 61 minutes. The video shows the rise and fall in activity that occurs as part of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle and notable events, like transiting planets and eruptions. The custom music, titled “Solar Observer,” was composed by musician Lars Leonhard.

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W9IMS: A delayed start for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway special event station 

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian D. Smith (W9IND), who shares the following announcement:


W9IMS: A delayed start for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway special event station

by Brian D. Smith, W9IND

It’s a late start for auto racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as the amateur radio station that honors this century-old tradition … but the show must go on!

And this week it will, as special event station W9IMS returns to the airwaves from now through Sunday to offer radio hobbyists a fresh opportunity to collect more “wallpaper”: Two vivid racing-themed QSL cards and the popular certificate known as the Checkered Flag Award.

The 2020 certificate will be easier than ever to earn. Normally the Speedway’s three major races take place on three different weekends, but this year, because of Covid-19 concerns, they’ll be consolidated into two. Accordingly, hams and SWLs will be required to contact or tune in W9IMS during only two race weeks – the current one, which continues through Sunday, July 5; and Aug. 17-23, which ends on the day of the venerable Indianapolis 500.

Even if you succeed in snaring W9IMS only once, you can still send off for the corresponding QSL card. All certificate and QSL designs are new each year.

The coming Independence Day weekend will feature an unprecedented racing doubleheader, with the IndyCar Grand Prix and the NASCAR Brickyard 400 slated for Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Consequently, the first W9IMS QSL of 2020 will be a full-color, four-sided card portraying images from both races.

So where do you find W9IMS? The station will stick to three bands, 20, 40 and 80 meters, and may appear at any time of day or night from now through Sunday.

However, the best bet is to catch the station during prime time – 2200 through 0200 UTC on weeknights (6 to 10 p.m. Indy time). W9IMS operators also plan to activate 20 meters during daytime hours, often between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. (1200-1800 UTC); and will cover the various bands all weekend starting at 10 a.m. (1400 UTC) daily.

If you still haven’t caught W9IMS by the time Sunday evening arrives in Indianapolis, operators commonly conduct their own happy hour – working stations in rapid contesting style – right up to midnight (0400 UTC Monday).

Here are a couple of hints for tracking down the station during special event weeks:

  1. Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org), find the “2020 Operating Schedule” heading, and click on the link to “Grand Prix & Brickyard” or “Indianapolis 500.” Although some W9IMS operators get on the air at unscheduled times, you’ll have your best luck looking for the station during the hours and bands reserved with a name and a callsign.
  2. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots that identify the current frequency (or frequencies) of W9IMS, if any. And if you type “W9IMS” in the search box, you can customize it to show reports for only that station.

For additional details, consult the W9IMS web page. Feel free to submit both of your 2020 QSL card and certificate requests in the same envelope, and if you don’t have your own QSL card, a printout of your W9IMS contacts or reception reports will suffice.

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EladUSA now selling the Perseus with factory support from Microtelecom

Many thanks to Paul Jones with EladUSA who notes that they now sell the venerable Microtelecom Perseus via their online store. Paul also notes that each purchase comes with full factory support from Microtelecom. Price is $760 US.

Click here to view at EladUSA.

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FTIOM & UBMP, July 5-11

From the Isle of Music, July 5-11:
This week, guitarist and bandleader Héctor Quintana discusses his new album Benny Moré – un siglo después with us as we listen to some beautiful tracks from this live recording.
The broadcasts take place:
1. For Eastern Europe but audible well beyond the target area in most of the Eastern Hemisphere (including parts of East Asia and Oceania) with 100Kw, Sunday 1500-1600 UTC on SpaceLine, 9400 KHz, from Sofia, Bulgaria (1800-1900 MSK)
If you don’t have a shortwave radio or are out of range, you can listen live to an uplink from a listening radio in the Netherlands during the broadcast at
http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/?tune=9400am
2. For the Americas and parts of Europe, Tuesday 0000-0100 on WBCQ, 7490 KHz from Monticello, ME, USA (Monday 8-9PM EDT in the US).
If you don’t have a shortwave or are out of range, you can listen to a live stream from the WBCQ website here (choose 7490): http://www.wbcq.com/?page_id=7
3 & 4. For Europe and sometimes beyond, Tuesday 1900-2000 UTC and Saturday 1200-1300 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 KHz from Rohrbach, Germany.
If you don’t have a shortwave radio or are out of range, you can listen live to uplinks from various websdrs in Europe.
Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/fromtheisleofmusic/
Our V-Kontakte page is https://vk.com/fromtheisleofmusic
Our Patreon page is https://www.patreon.com/tilford

Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, July 5 and 7:
Since we participated in a rousing patriotic radio special program on July 4, for July 5,
Episode 172 will be dedicated to weird concert music.
The transmissions take place:
1.Sundays 2200-2300 (6:00PM -7:00PM EDT) on WBCQ The Planet 7490 KHz from the US to the Americas and parts of Europe
If you don’t have a shortwave or are out of range, you can listen to a live stream from the WBCQ website here (choose 7490): http://www.wbcq.com/?page_id=7
2. Tuesdays 2000-2100 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 KHz from Rohrbach, Germany for Europe.
If you don’t have a shortwave radio or are out of range, you can listen live to an uplink from different web SDRs in Europe
including a live uplink from a listening radio in the Netherlands at http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/?tune=6070am
Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/UncleBillsMeltingPot/
Our V-Kontakte page is https://vk.com/fromtheisleofmusic
Our Patreon page is https://www.patreon.com/tilford

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A Field Day weekend of rain, shine, battery power, pile-ups, and radio improvisation

If you’ve been reading the SWLing Post for long, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of portable radio gear. Whether it’s a portable receiver, an SDR, or a ham radio, I believe radios are made to be taken outside––rain or shine; hence I love programs like Parks On The Air (POTA ) and Summits On The Air (SOTA), and I’ve always loved ARRL Field Day.

Of course, this ARRL Field Day was a bit different than years past due to Covid-19––there were more individuals on the air with their own Field Day stations, while there were relatively few clubs on the air. Typically, the opposite is true.

This year I’d planned to operate from the field at various POTA locations in western NC; some contenders were the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, and Mount Mitchell State Park. In the past few years, my buddy Vlado (N3CZ) and I––with spouses in tow––hit the field together, but this year he was out of town, and I planned to go solo.

I plotted a few hours of Field Day time at Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The night before, I had my antennas and the Elecraft KX2, KXPA100, Heil Pro Headset, and 15 aH LiFePo battery (all packed in my go-packs, of course), in the car and ready to go.

Saturday morning.  I woke expecting fairly nice weather: partly cloudy with a chance of showers. Turned out, it was chilly, gusty, with total cloud cover and fairly constant rain. I’ll admit, it dampened my enthusiasm for Craggy, because while it’s a gorgeous site, it’s well above 5000′ ASL, thus the winds up there can be seriously gusty and the weather can turn on a dime.

So, I decided to put up my feet in the shack  and operate class 1E, meaning on emergency/battery power.

I started calling CQ at the start of Field Day and, to my surprise, worked a constant pile-up for nearly an hour. Within that fairly short space of time I found I’d already collected about 90 or more stations on 40 meters.

After that, I hunted and pounced for maybe an hour, then took a break; later that night, I operated intensively again for 30 minutes or so.  Had I been at a Field Day site, I would have been a much more dedicated operator, but frankly, I’m not even sure I plan to send in my logs. Still, it was fun.

My set up on a damp picnic table at the Craggy Gardens Picnic area.

Sunday morning.  The weather was much more pleasant from the get-go, with sun and wind, though thunder showers were in the forecast. Around 11:00 or so, my wife suggested we pack up and head to Craggy Gardens for a little radio fun followed by some lunch and hiking.

We reached the site–it was beautiful, but ominous. Thick fog and Saharan dust (no kidding) covered the site and surrounding mountains.  Still, I set up the station and my new Wolf River Coils TIA portable vertical.

My daughter and I deployed the TIA vertical in a matter of 5 minutes.

I think I logged two stations before the misty clouds rolled up all around me; then (remember that change-on-a-dime weather?) a sudden––and torrential––downpour came from nowhere. My wife snagged all she could carry and ran for the car, and I quickly covered my gear with my raincoat and packed everything in my packs as soon as possible. I had to make two trips to the car to pack everything, and needless to say, with my raincoat in the service of my equipment, I was drenched to the skin. I literally looked like I had jumped into a lake with my clothes on.  Fortunately my gear––at least, the important gear––was only a bit damp, but internally fine. Herein lies one of the great things about being a pack geek: quality packs tend to be water-resistant, if not fully waterproof.

But. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll admit I was a bit miffed that I got so little radio time before the heavens opened. We knew there would be a risk of bad weather and, frankly, other than the hassle of packing and unpacking, we actually acknowledge the entertainment value of a little WX from time to time. After all, this is the hazard of operating under a wide open sky.

My wife, sensing my disappointment, suggested we go to another site to play a little radio, but at that point I just wasn’t feeling it. What I felt instead was the damp…wringing wet-level damp…and my spirits were dampened. too. I suggested we make our way back.

En route, I saw a sign for the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace––a historic site that I knew was a POTA entity. I’d completely forgotten about this site, and decided to make a detour so I could scope out the site for a future activation. By now I’d warmed up a bit, and a bit of lunch helped revive my flagging spirits.

Turns out the site’s visitor’s center is closed on Sunday, but the gates are open so the public can enjoy the grounds. We drove up to their covered picnic area, although the cover was now peace of mind only, as the sun was again making an appearance. The setting was…well, ideal. And here I was. How could I not go ahead and activate this POTA site?

Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace (K-6856)

It was windy but warm, and while my wife spread out the packs, lunch cooler, and jackets to dry, I, too, found I was no longer dripping. By the time I set up the Wolf River Coils TIA vertical and my KX2/KXPA100, the togs were fairly dry, and indeed I was quite comfortable again. I hopped back on the air and worked a number of stations in short order, easily logging the ten needed to confirm the park activation.

The Wolf River TIA is outstanding in its field (sorry!)

Later, I discovered that the site was an “All-Time New One” (ATNO) in the POTA system. A bittersweet discovery, in a way, because Field Day is not the best time for POTA hunters to log a new site. Still, I wasn’t even calling CQ with POTA in mind; I just worked Field Day stations and had a great time.

Just as I finished, there was yet another downpour, but as the picnic area where I’d set up was covered, I no longer feared my gear getting soaked. This time, it was a sudden loud clap of thunder that gave me my cue to pack up quickly!

Still, all in all, I was very pleased with my weekend Field Day chase, and it was worth dodging rain storms for it. Sure, I would have loved to play radio at Craggy Gardens for a couple hours, but it was a pleasant surprise to fit in an ATNO activation before the end of the day. I’d have never guessed the Vance site was an ATNO, since it’s so accommodating and accessible. Indeed, I’ve discovered that, at this stage in POTA, most of the sites that haven’t been activated are either newly-incorporated into POTA or are very inaccessible. If you missed me there on Field Day, no worries: I plan to head out there again in the very near future.

Oh, and I did learn one more thing over the weekend: the Wolf River Coils TIA vertical antenna is incredibly easy and speedy to deploy. I’m very pleased with this recent acquisition!

Parkway and parks? I’ll be back soon. My radio’s already packed.

Did you participate in Field Day or put your receivers to the test by trying to log exchanges between stations?  Please comment!


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Rob reviews the AirSpy YouLoop antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob, who writes:

Thank you for your informative blog. As a longtime SWLer I enjoy reading up on your posts.

A few months ago I was considering the purchase of a magnetic loop antenna. Based on your “YouLoop is a freaking brilliant passive loop antenna” article, and the fact that I live in a fairly noisy RF environment, I made the purchase.

Since doing so I’ve been having plenty of fun with the YouLoop hanging in my loft. I have it connected to an Airspy HF+ Discovery.

I’ve made a couple of videos which I popped up on YouTube which show the YouLoop in action.

The first video shows a mix of utility and broadcast reception on HF.

The most recent explores LF & VLF.

Perhaps these would be of interest to readers, like me, who had seen your initial reviews and had been considering purchasing.

Thank you for turning me onto this little antenna, and keep up the great work in your blog!

Kind regards,
Rob (Frugal Radio)

Excellent videos, Rob, thank you for sharing! The YouLoop is an incredibly effective antenna when combined with a receiver that has a high dynamic range.

Readers, if you’d like to check out more of Rob’s videos and and subscribe to his YouTube channel, click here!

If you’d like to purchase an AirSpy YouLoop for a whopping $35, click here to view a list of distributors.

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