SDR Console Version 3: A Holy Grail SDR application for the radio archivist

Encouraged by SWLing Post contributors Guy Atkins and Ivan Cholakov, I recently installed the latest version of SDR Console on my PC.

I had not tried SDR Console in many, many years, but after Guy announced that SDR Console had moved from preview to Beta, I decided it was time to try it once again.

All I can say is: WOW!

As someone who evaluates a number of software defined receivers and who regularly makes off-air audio and spectrum recordings, I’m simply amazed by SDR Console’s versatility.

The recording functionality, as Guy previously stated, is phenomenal–perhaps the best of any SDR application I’ve used to date save, perhaps, that of the Titan SDR Pro (which is proprietary).

Though I still haven’t logged a lot of hours on SDR Console, I can already mention several powerful features that I love:

Virtual receivers

So few SDR applications allow you to run multiple virtual receivers and–especially–make independent recordings from them simultaneously.

When I started writing this post last night, I was listening to and recording the Voice of Greece on virtual receiver #1,  Radio Guinea on #2, and WRMI on #3 using the brilliant little AirSpy HF+.

Audio recording options

When you start a recording of an active virtual receiver, a dialog box pops up allowing you to make a custom file title–it pre-populates the date, start time, frequency and mode. This is a simple but time-saving feature as most SDR applications save files according to global application settings–not for each individual recording. With the SDR Console dialog box, I can insert the name of the broadcaster in the file title which makes organizing recordings later a breeze.

Additionally, you can choose between MP3, WAV or WMA file types for each recording. I know of no other SDR app that gives you this flexibility.

Scheduled recordings

I’ve yet to use the scheduler feature, but based on Guy Atkins’ feedback, I know this will be an invaluable resource for collecting off-air recordings while I’m away from home.

So many features to discover…

As both Guy and Ivan have shown us in past posts, SDR Console allows for multiple application “instances”–meaning, you can run two independent SDRs simultaneously. This is a fantastic feature for those of us who make multiple spectrum recordings. Of course, it’s an ideal platform to compare SDR hardware as settings can be easily matched between both units (something very difficult to do when using different SDR applications).

I’ve so much to learn about SDR Console, but I can tell I’ll be spending a great deal of time with the application this year, attempting to learn every nuance.

I took Guy Atkins’ suggestion for new users of SDR Console and downloaded Paul Jones’ (NN4F) PDF manual.

I sent a donation to Simon (G4ELI) last night after having only used SDR Console for a few minutes. SDR Console is totally free, but I’m a firm believer in supporting creators who are doing amazing things! If you use SDR Console, consider sending Simon a donation as well.

I’ve a little free time this morning and plan to set up SDR Console to run my Elad FDM-S2, RTL-SDR dongle, SDR Play RSP1A and RSP2. It’ll be a bit revolutionary to have one SDR application to unite them all!

Post readers: Any other SDR Console fans out there?  What are your favorite features?

Guest Post: “Why are Kolkata DXers upbeat on World Radio Day 2018?”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Sandipan Basu Mallick (VU3JXD), who shares the following guest post:

Dear Thomas,

On the even of World radio Day, 10 DXers of Kolkata, India gathered while the radio enthusiast around the world are coping with bad news for the hobby.

In this regard, please find a guest post written by fellow DXer and Amateur Radio Operator Dr Supratik Sanatani (VU2IFB):


Why are Kolkata DXers upbeat on World Radio Day 2018?

DXers gathers to celebrate World Radio Day 2018 at Kolkata Maidan

A small group of ten DXers gathered in a Kolkata Maidan tent on the eve of World Radio Day 2018. They were very upbeat while worldwide radio enthusiasts have to cope up with bad news for the hobby. In the last few years stations after stations had closed down and so had iconic radio clubs like Danish Short Wave Club and periodicals like Monitoring Times. Broadcasting mega corporations like VOA and DW have reduced their presence in the airwaves to a faint whisper compared to their former roar.

Why are the Kolkata DXers upbeat in 2018? AIR Kolkata which was the first transmitter of the AIR network beginning from 1926 as erstwhile Indian Broadcasting Corporation had gone nearly silent few years ago with woes from aging valve tube transmitters. Then there was the assault of the tropical storm Aila which had brought down one of its mw antenna towers. The situation is entirely different today.

There are brand new solid state DRM capable mw transmitters in place which are blaring out Kolkata A 657 kHz and Kolkata B 1008 kHz signals at signal levels which dare to compete with the FM stations. Rightfully the two iconic stations have been rechristened “Gitanjali” for Kolkata A and “Sanchaita” for Kolkata B both named after famous works of the noble prize winning prolific author poet composer and painter Rabindra Nath Tagore. In the outskirts of the city AIR Maitri 594 kHz 1000kw which is a external service Bengali broadcast to neighbouring Bangladesh proudly blares its signals across the wave. AIR Maitri was made possible by the personal enthusiasm of the former Chairman of Prasar Bharati, the holding corporation of All India Radio and Doordarshan TV, Mr Jwahar Sircar who hails from the city.

In this meeting there were veteran DXers such as Babul Gupta and Sudipto Ghosh who have had their first QSL in the late 60s to the early 70s, sitting side by side with Abhijit Dutta who started MW listening in Siliguri. When he moved to Kolkata Abhijit came across Kallol Nath who started DXing only a couple of years ago. Kallol introduced Abhijit to the joy of shortwave listening and that is why he was there at the meet. Kallol in this meet narrated how his Tecsun PL660 was bugged by technical glitches and had to be serviced twice in the warranty period by shipping it all the way to the vendor at Singapore. With his receiver Kallol, from his high rise apartment in the heart of Kolkata has to still climb to its roof for better reception. That is when the veterans lamented the rise of manmade radio frequency interference (RFI) from the array of household and community sources which bug the Short Wave DXers today. The present sunspot low is also a big obstacle before the new entrants to the hobby.

While the conventional radio stations are dwindling, the profile of SW and MW DXer is also changing. Debanjan Chakrabarti is a case in point. Starting from a conventional DXer he is now an avid radio collector. He is also a licenced radio amateur (VU3DCH) .His collection sports the iconic radio sets such as the Yaseu FRG 7 which was the apple of the DXers eye in the early eighties. A visit to Debanjans shack is like a trip to the museum of DXing from early 80s. Now a licenced radio amateur Debanjan is presently toying with the idea of adding a hybrid transeceiver to his collection. This would be a radio set sporting both tubes and transistors,

A distinct shift in profile of the Kolkata DXer is that many of them have either acquired or are in the process of getting their radio amateurs licence. Sandipan Basu Mallick (VU3JXD) is one such who was one of the organisers of this small gathering. The meet was graciously hosted by the veteran technical DXer Sudipto Ghosh (VU2UT). Sandipan is active in Short Wave DXing over 2 decades and recently local VHF bands and Hamsphere as well.

Babul Gupta after his years of Short Wave DXing is active in Hamsphere. I owe Babul Gupta (VU3ZBG) a QSL because he received my only transmission from my BITX made from my (VU2IFB) location at South of Kolkata to his place some 30 km away at North 24 Parganas. Most of the former SWL only Dxers have their call signs even though the activity level is abysmally low ranging from a a couple of contacts to no
contact.

The icing in the cake of this meet was the presence of the veteran homebrew radio amateur Atanu Dasgupta (VU2ATN). His conversation with the group was indeed a technical orientation programme for the semi advanced to the advanced DXer. His emphasis was focussing on basics and keeping the target small – “start with a small project like power supply or a grid dip meter” was his advice to the group. His brief presentation on the powerful history of innovative home brewing in amateur radio in this city from Anadi Ganguly (VU2GE) to Ganesh Banerjee (VU2LL) to Amal Piplai (VU2AT) was an eye-opener for most in this group. Atanau Dasguptas suggestion to those planning for the amateur licence was to aim for the general category because the restrictive category is too restrictive and does not permit Morse. His suggestions and narrative were so useful that that they have been documented in a separate blog page.

An invitee, though not a DXer himself, who could not make to the meet due to previous commitment was Bamaprasad Mukherjee. Mr Mukherjee is a writer for children’s magazines in Bengali. One of his articles which in the late nineties appeared in Bengali children’s monthly “Anandamela” was extremely popular and introduced many a DXers from the city who are very active today. Mr Mukherjee is planning to write another feature on the hobby of DXing, which surely will bring in more enthusiasts to this hobby.

The Kolkata DXers have much to cheer on World Radio Day 2018

Compiled by Dr Supratik Sanatani (VU2IFB) on World Radio Day, February 13, 2018

Video of World Radio Day 2018, Kolkata DXers Meet:


Thank you, Sandipan, for sharing your World Radio Day meet with the SWLing Post community!

CBC: “1940s transmitter finds new home in old jail”

Some of you might recall our story about this 1940s RCA transmitter–here’s is the follow-up:

(Source: CBC via Mike Hansgen)

The massive transmitter is being moved from the former RCI site to the former Dorchester jail

Bill Steele is a collector of odd things. A year ago, for example, he bought the site of the last double hanging in New Brunswick.

His latest purchase is less morbid but also a rare find: a massive 1940 shortwave transmitter that once broadcast Canada’s stories around the world.

The transmitter was installed around the end of the Second World War and used until the 1970s. The Radio Canada International site outside Sackville continued to broadcast, but the 50 kW transmitter, five metres long and 2½ metres wide, was decommissioned and used as a showpiece.

The RCI property was bought in February 2017 by Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., which had no use for the non-functioning equipment and put it up for sale.

Steele couldn’t help himself.

“I like weird and unusual stuff,” he said. “That’s why I’m putting it in my jail.”

He bought his jail — now a gym and bed and breakfast — last year as a retirement project. Guests bunk in a decommissioned jail cell.

The jail built in the 19th century was where the Bannister brothers of Berry Mills were hanged for murder in 1936, the last double hanging in the province.

Steele’s enthusiasm for historical objects is infectious even when he talks about the paperwork that comes with his latest purchase.

[…]Steele is hoping anyone with stories about the transmitter will share them with him on his Dorchester jail Facebook page, because, as Steele is the first to admit, this isn’t his area of expertise.

“I’ve never touched a shortwave radio, but look it, I’m going to have the biggest one in Canada.”

Click here to view at the CBC website.

Budget proposes drastic cuts to Radio Martí

Note that the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station–the last VOA/BBG transmitting site in the US–is the main provider of Radio Marti over shortwave. No doubt, this proposed cut could close the site permanently. The end of an era.

(Source: Miami Herald via Mike Hansgen)

Trump’s budget includes drastic cuts to Radio and TV Martí

President Donald Trump’s recently released budget would drastically cut funds and staffing at the Miami-based Radio and TV Martí, while restoring funds to support other democracy projects in Cuba and new ones in Venezuela.

The restoration of funds comes amid large cuts to the Department of State and the United States Agency for Development (USAID). The proposal would allocate $10 million for programs related to Cuba and another $9 million for similar initiatives in Venezuela.

Click here to read the full article at The Miami Herald.

PNG extends public radio network, restores shortwave

(Source: Radio New Zealand via Mike Hansgen)

Papua New Guinea’s communications minister, Sam Basil, says he plans to grow radio services in PNG.

He marked this week’s World Radio Day by saying radio is a medium that reaches the widest audience, including vulnerable communities in remote parts of the country.

Mr Basil has announced the medium and shortwave services of the state broadcaster, NBC, will be restored, and that the corporation will migrate from analog to digital technology.

He said new stations will be opened in Jiwaka and Hela and that a new NBC headquarters will be built.

Click here to read this article at Radio New Zealand.