Tag Archives: ARRL News

Radio Waves: Shedding Light on the Hindenburg, Chip Shortages, NPR at 50, and July 4th SAQ Grimeton Transmission

Icom IC-756 Pro Transceiver Dial

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, Rich Cuff, and the Southgate ARC  for the following tips:


Radio Amateur’s Vintage Home Movie Film Sheds Light on Hindenburg Disaster (ARRL News)

Vintage home movie film provided by New Jersey radio amateur Bob Schenck, N2OO, was the highlight of a PBS documentary about the Hindenburg disaster. The film, shot by his uncle Harold Schenck, may provide clues as to what initiated the disastrous 1937 fire that destroyed the airship Hindenburg and claimed 35 lives as the German zeppelin was landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Harold Schenck tried to interest government investigators in his film, shot from a different angle than newsreel footage that begins only after the fire was well under way, but it was largely overlooked. “Nobody ever asked for it,” Bob Schenck explains in the documentary.

The Schenck film is the highlight of a PBS “NOVA” documentary, Hindenburg: The New Evidence, that investigates the issue in considerable depth in an effort to unlock the secrets of the cold case. The program aired on May 19 and remains available for streaming.

“My dad had bought this nifty Kodak camera — a wind-up movie camera, 8 millimeters — and he couldn’t come [to the Hindenburg landing] because he worked,” Bob Schenck recounted during the documentary. “So, he asked my uncle and my mom if they would take some shots and see the Hindenburg land.”

Bob Schenck approached Dan Grossman, an expert on airships, including Hindenburg, in 2012 during a commemoration of the disaster that forever memorialized radio reporter Herbert Morrison’s plaintive on-air reaction, “Oh, the humanity!” The NOVA documentary not only shares Schenck’s footage, which provided new clues to re-examine the cause of the explosion. The documentary also reviews scientific experiments that helped investigators come to a fresh understanding of what set off the fire. [Continue reading…]

Will chip shortage hit ham radios ? (Southgate ARC)

Glenn O’Donnell K3PP of Forrester Research notes the chip shortage may have a more serious impact than first thought and gives Amateur Radio rigs as an example of what might be affected

Self-described as a “ham radio nut,” O’Donnell discussed one of his hobbies to explain how the sway of tech titans could impact smaller companies as industries compete for limited resources.

“In this hobby, the newer radio “toys” are advanced technology, but the hottest radio might sell 5,000 units per year. If Apple wants 100 million chips, but the little ham radio company wants 5,000, Apple wins!” O’Donnell said.

Read the article at
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/global-chip-shortage-the-logjam-is-holding-up-more-than-laptops-and-cars-and-could-spoil-the-holidays/

NPR at 50: A Highly Selective History (Washington Post)

The network’s half-century evolution from an audio experiment to a media powerhouse

Today NPR is one of Washington’s most familiar and influential media companies, operating out of a gleaming, ultramodern broadcast facility on North Capitol Street. Its radio programs, online content, and podcasts reach millions of people around the world. But when it launched 50 years ago, in April 1971, National Public Radio was a decidedly scrappy enterprise.

How did a modest radio project from a bunch of audio idealists evolve into the multimedia behemoth that we now spend countless hours listening to? To celebrate NPR’s anniversary, we’ve put together a look at its history and transformation. Please note: If you would like to imagine the whole thing being read to you in the voices of Nina Totenberg and Robert Siegel, we won’t object. Click here to read the full article…

SAQ Grimeton Transmission on July 4th (Southgate ARC)

The annual transmission event on the Alexanderson Day with the Alexanderson Alternator from 1924, on VLF 17.2 kHz CW with the call sign SAQ, is scheduled for Sunday, July 4th, 2021.

The Alexander Grimeton Association are planning to carry out two broadcasts to the world from the old Alexanderson alternator SAQ. Only required staff will be in place, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Transmission schedule:

  • Startup and tuning at 10:30 CET (08:30 UTC) with a transmission of a message at 11:00 CET (09:00 UTC)
  • Startup and tuning at 13:30 CET (11:30 UTC) with a transmission of a message at 14:00 CET (12:00 UTC)

Live Video from World Heritage Grimeton Radio Station
Both transmission events can be seen live on our YouTube Channel.
The live video starts 5 minutes before the startup and tuning.
https://mailchi.mp/aff85163e64f/alexanderson-day-2021?e=2c0cbe870f

 


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Radio Waves: A Perfect CME, FCC Construction Permit Auction, More Music On AM, and Virtual SWL Fest Reminder

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 Eric McFadden, Mike Terry, for the following tips:


A “Perfect Coronal Mass Ejection” Could Be a Nightmare (ARRL News)

A new study in the research journal Space Weather considers what might happen if a worst-case coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth — a “perfect solar storm,” if you will.

In 2014, Bruce Tsurutani of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Gurbax Lakhina of the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism introduced the “perfect CME.” It could create a magnetic storm with intensity up to the saturation limit, a value greater than the Carrington Event of 1859, the researchers said. Many other spaceweather effects would not be limited by saturation effects, however. The interplanetary shock would arrive at Earth within about 12 hours, the shock impingement onto the magnetosphere would create a sudden impulse of around 234 nanoteslas (nT), and the magnetic pulse duration in the magnetosphere would be about 22 seconds. Orbiting satellites would be exposed to “extreme levels of flare and interplanetary CME (ICME) shock-accelerated particle radiation,” they said. The event would follow an initial CME that would “clear the path in front of it, allowing the storm cloud to hit Earth with maximum force.”

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has observed CMEs leaving the sun at speeds of up to 3,000 kilometers per second, and many instances of one CME clearing the way for another have been recorded.

The CME’s 12-hour travel time would allow little margin for preparation. The CME would hit Earth’s magnetosphere at 45 times the local speed of sound, and the resulting geomagnetic storm could be as much as twice as strong as the Carrington Event. Power grids, GPS, and other services could experience significant outages.

More recent research led by physicist Dan Welling of the University of Texas at Arlington took a fresh look at Tsurutani and Lakhina’s “perfect CME,” and given improvements in spaceweather modeling, he was able to reach new conclusions.

Welling’s team found that geomagnetic disturbances in response to a perfect CME could be 10 times stronger than Tsurutani and Lakhina had calculated, especially at latitudes above 45 to 50 °. “[Our results] exceed values observed during many past extreme events, including the March 1989 storm that brought down the Hydro-Québec power grid in eastern Canada, the May 1921 railroad storm, and the Carrington Event itself,” Welling summarized.

A key result of the new study is how the CME would distort and compress Earth’s magnetosphere. The strike would push the magnetopause down until it’s only 2 Earth-radii above Earth’s surface. Satellites in Earth orbit would suddenly find themselves exposed to a hail of energetic, and potentially damaging, charged particles.

Other research has indicated that phenomena such as the Carrington Event may not be as rare as once thought. A much weaker magnetic storm brought down the Canadian Hydro?Québec system in 1989.

Scientists believe a perfect CME will happen someday. As Welling et al conclude, “Further exploring and preparing for such extreme activity is important to mitigate spaceweather-related catastrophes.”

In July 2012, NASA and European spacecraft watched an extreme solar storm erupt from the sun and narrowly miss Earth. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” said Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado at a NOAA Space Weather Workshop 2 years later. “It might have been stronger than the Carrington Event itself.”

Click here to read at the ARRL News.

FCC To Auction Off 140 Radio Stations (Radio Ink)

The FCC has announced that on July 27th an auction will be held for 136 FM construction permits and 4 AM’s. In this auction, the 130 FM permits that were previously included in the March 2020 auction, that had to be canceled due to COVID, will be included plus an additional 6 permits. Anyone who applied for stations in the planned 2020 auction must reapply. All applications for the previous auction have been dismissed.

[…]You can see the FM stations to be auctioned off HERE.

The Commission is proposing a simultaneous multiple-round auction format. This type of auction offers every construction permit for bid at the same time and consists of successive bidding rounds in which qualified bidders may place bids on individual construction permits. Typically, bidding remains open on all construction permits until bidding stops on every construction permit.

Get more details from the FCC website HERE.[]

Why There’s More Music on AM Now (Radio Survivor)

by Paul Riismandel

A number of months ago I was scanning around the AM dial late in the evening from my Portland, Oregon abode. I stumbled upon a station playing hard rock, which I thought to be an unusual find. As the AM dial has become mostly the domain of conservative and sports talk, I rarely encounter music that isn’t a bumper or part of some leased-time foreign-language programming.

In fact, at first I thought perhaps the music was a lead-in to just another talk show, but eventually I heard a full set of three songs. The station identified itself as “The Bear,” but curiously gave an FM frequency, not one on the AM dial.

An internet search the next day confirmed that “the Bear” is indeed an active rock formatted station located in Merced, California. Its logo features 105.7 FM prominently, with the 1660 AM frequency tucked in the corner. Yet, the AM signal is actually the primary one – the FM is a 250 watt repeater (translator) station.

Here’s a quick aircheck of the Bear’s station ID, during a break in the syndicated hard rock “Loudwire” program.

Now, AM stations have been permitted to get FM translators for a few years now as part of the FCC’s so-called “AM revitalization” initiative. But mostly I’ve heard sports and news/talk stations get repeated on FM.

I filed away this experience in memory, but kind of considered it a one-off. That was until my recent vacation in the Wallowa Mountains of Northeastern Oregon. Stowed away and social distancing in a mountainside cabin with limited internet and no cable, I spent quite a bit of time scanning the AM and shortwave bands in search of interesting sounds. Continue reading at Radio Survivor…

Register for the 2021 34th “Virtual” Winter SWL Fest!

If you’ve thought about attending the annual Winter SWL Fest, but found it difficult to make the travel arrangements, this year you can get a taste of the Fest by attending virtually.

You’ll find the program below, but click here to view it at the Winter SWL Fest site, and click here to register (only $5 for both days including all presentations and the hospitality room).

The event takes place February 27-28, 2021.


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Radio Waves: NRAO Turns Scope System Into Planetary Radar, WBCQ Seeks Engineers, Deep Space Network Upgrades, and 2021 Propagation Summit

GBT-VLBA radar image of the region where Apollo 15 landed in 1971. The snake-like feature is Hadley Rille, a remnant of ancient volcanic activity, probably a collapsed lava tube. The crater at top, alongside the rille, is called Hadley C and is about 6 kilometers in diameter. This image shows objects as small as 5 meters across.
(Credit: NRAO/GBO/Raytheon/NSF/AUI)

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!


Successful Test Paves Way for New Planetary Radar (NRAO)

The National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Observatory (GBO) and National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and Raytheon Intelligence & Space conducted a test in November to prove that a new radio telescope system can capture high-resolution images in near-Earth space.

GBO’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia — the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope — was outfitted with a new transmitter developed by Raytheon Intelligence & Space, allowing it to transmit a radar signal into space. The NRAO’s continent-wide Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) received the reflected signal and produced images of the Apollo 15 moon landing site.

The proof-of-concept test, culminating a two-year effort, paves the way for designing a more powerful transmitter for the telescope. More power will allow enhanced detection and imaging of small objects passing by the Earth, moons orbiting around other planets and other debris in the Solar System.

The technology was developed as part of a cooperative research and development agreement between NRAO, GBO, and Raytheon.

“This project opens a whole new range of capabilities for both NRAO and GBO,” said Tony Beasley, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and vice president for Radio Astronomy at Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI). “We’ve participated before in important radar studies of the Solar System, but turning the GBT into a steerable planetary radar transmitter will greatly expand our ability to pursue intriguing new lines of research.”

Using the information collected with this latest test, the participants will finalize a plan to develop a 500-kilowatt, high-power radar system that can image objects in the Solar System with unprecedented detail and sensitivity. The increased performance also will allow astronomers to use radar signals as far away as the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, increasing our understanding of the Solar System.

“The planned system will be a leap forward in radar science, allowing access to never before seen features of the Solar System from right here on Earth,” said Karen O’Neil, the Green Bank Observatory site director.

“Raytheon’s radar techniques could ultimately improve our ability to explore the Solar System,” said Steven Wilkinson, Principal Engineering Fellow at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “Working with the astronomy community allows us to apply decades of radar know-how to a project that provides high-resolution images of near-Earth objects.”

“We are excited to be partnering with Raytheon and applying their radar expertise to transform our observatories’ telescopes in new science areas,” said AUI President Adam Cohen.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Green Bank Observatory are facilities of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.[]

WBCQ: Radio transmitter engineers wanted

WBCQ Radio is seeking radio transmitter engineers to work at our 500KW shortwave station. Come to northern Maine and get away from it all. Nice working environment, good pay, great people, fun work with BIG transmitting and antenna equipment. Contact Allan and Angela Weiner at 207-538-9180. Please send resumes to wbcq@wbcq.com.

Deep Space Network upgrades and new antennas increase vital communication capabilities (NASA)

NASA’s Deep Space Network, commonly referred to as the DSN, has welcomed a new dish, Deep Space Station 56, to its family of powerful ground listening stations around the world.

The now-operational 34-meter antenna joins the network’s Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex located 60 kilometers west of Madrid, Spain while other dishes within the network undergo critical upgrades.

The new dish is part of an ongoing series of enhancements to the DSN, which traces its roots back to January 1958 when the U.S. Army’s Jet Propulsion Lab was tasked with standing up a series of communications stations in Nigeria, Singapore, and the U.S. state of California to support orbital telemetry operations for the Explorer 1 mission.

This precursor to the Deep Space Network was transferred to NASA along with the Jet Propulsion Lab on 3 December 1958. The DSN was then formally commissioned by the U.S. space agency as a way to consolidate the pending deep space communication needs through centralized locations to avoid each mission having to create its own ground listening station(s).

The three Deep Space Network ground locations are spaced roughly 120 degrees from each other in Canberra, Australia; Goldstone, California; and Madrid, Spain. The location of the three facilities ensures deep space missions with a line of sight to Earth can communicate with at least one of the locations at any time.

Updates throughout the decades have increased the network’s capabilities, most notably for the two Voyager probes that continue to operate and send back science data having both long-passed out of the heliosphere and into the interstellar medium.

The network, nonetheless, is showing its age, with upgrades and refurbishments needed to ensure continuous operations. Part of this initiative is the recent addition of the new dish, Deep Space Station 56 (DSS-56), at the Madrid complex.

“After the lengthy process of commissioning, the DSN’s most-capable 34-meter antenna is now talking with our spacecraft,” said Bradford Arnold, DSN project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.[]

2021 Propagation Summit Session Recordings Available (ARRL News)

YouTube recordings and PDF files from the 2021 Propagation Summit hosted on January 23 by Contest University are available. More than 1,000 logged in for the sessions. Each presentation begins approximately on the hour. You can advance the video to the presentation you wish to view.

  • 11 AM – “Update on the Personal Space Weather Station Project and HamSCI Activities for 2021” by Dr. Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF
  • 12 Noon – “Solar Cycle 25 Predictions and Progress” by Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA
  • 1 PM – “Maximizing Performance of HF Antennas with Irregular Terrain” by Jim Breakall, WA3FET
  • 2 PM – “HF Propagation: What to Expect During the Rising Years of Solar Cycle 25,” by Frank Donovan, W3LPL.

Slides decks are available for each presentation in PDF format: FrissellLuetzelschwabBreakall, and Donovan. []


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Radio Waves: Jessica Rosenworcel Acting FCC Chair, Nature Broadcaster Ludwig Koch, India DRM Update, and the QSO Today Ham Expo

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 Trevor S, Ron, Phillip Smith,  for the following tips:


President Biden Taps Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting FCC Chair (ARRL News)

President Joseph Biden this week designated FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as acting chair of the FCC. She succeeds, at least temporarily, former FCC chair Ajit Pai, who resigned effective on January 20.

“I am honored to be designated as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “I thank the President for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff. It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age.”

Prior to joining the FCC, she served as Senior Communications Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Before entering public service, she practiced communications law in Washington, DC.

The newest FCC commissioner, Nathan Simington, a Republican appointee, said Rosenworcel “brings deep knowledge and experience and highly informed judgment to her new position,” and he expressed appreciation that the Biden Administration acted promptly to establish FCC leadership by “selecting such a distinguished public servant for this vital role.

Fellow Democrat Geoffrey Starks said Rosenworcel “has been a passionate advocate for bringing the benefits of broadband to all Americans — particularly our children.” He said her designation as acting chair “comes at a critical juncture for the Commission, as COVID-19 has made bold action to end internet inequality more vital than ever.”

The Commission’s other Democratic appointee, Brendan Carr, called Rosenworcel “a talented and dedicated public servant, as evidenced by her 8 years of distinguished service on the FCC.”

On Twitter, Rosenworcel said, “The future belongs to the connected,” and she described herself as an “impatient optimist, mom, wife, [and] inveterate coffee drinker.”[]

Ludwig Koch and the Music of Nature (BBC Radio 4)

Ludwig Koch was once as famous as David Attenborough, as pioneering as ‘Blue Planet’ and as important as the BBC Natural History Unit. They all owe their existence to this German refugee who first recorded the music of nature. Through his archive and new field recordings the poet Sean Street tells the story of Ludwig Koch.

When Sean Street was recording in a store-room at the Science Museum for a Radio 4 archive programme he came across a grey crate, stencilled, as if it belonged to a band on tour, with KOCH on it. This was the disc-cutting machine which Ludwig Koch used for a decade to make the recordings of birds, mammals and insects that led to a new field of study, of broadcasting and the creation of the BBC’s Natural History Unit.

Sean and his producer then began investigating and discovered that Koch made the first ever wildlife recording, of a bird, when he was eight, in 1889 – and that it still exists in the BBC’s archives.

Koch was an effusive man and this led to several confrontations with Nazi officials, whom he despised. There is an extraordinary recording of him telling the story of a Berliner whose bullfinch sang ‘The Internationale’. He was carted off to prison and the bird ‘executed’. “Under dictatorship,” Koch observed, “even songbirds suffer”. He came to England, worked with Julian Huxley on theories of animal language, and recorded birds from the Scillies to Shetland.

In 1940 he joined the BBC and soon became a household name, beloved of comedians (there’s a great sketch by Peter Sellers parodying him at work) because of his resolute pronunciation of English as if it were German.

As well as being wonderful radio in itself his work was of great significance. It inspired producer Desmond Hawkins to start ‘The Naturalist’, (using Koch’s enchanting recording of a curlew as its signature tune). Sean Street uses his recordings and contributions of those who worked with him in what becomes a natural history programme in itself, with Koch the subject and Sean exploring his habits and habitat.

There is also an attempt to record curlews as he did so successfully, to shed light on the achievements of this courageous, influential and loveable genius. Today sound-recordists use tiny digital machines and sophisticated microphones. But there are other problems – traffic, planes, people – and fewer, shyer curlews.

Producer: Julian May

Click here to listen to this radio documentary on BBC Radio 4.

Digital Radio Mondiale in Focus in India (Radio World)

The author of this commentary is chair of the Digital Radio Mondiale consortium.

Right from the beginning of 2021, Prasar Bharati, the public radio and TV broadcaster of India, has put its cards on the table. First it clarified that no AIR station was being closed anywhere in any state, a rumor that had made the media rounds in India.

Prasar Bharati has further announced that it is moving ahead with its plans to strengthen All India Radio, expanding its network with more than 100 new FM radio transmitters across India.

The AIR Network already comprises a few hundred stations and several hundred radio transmitters in one of the world’s largest public service broadcasting networks that operates on multiple terrestrial, satellite and internet platforms.

Prasar Bharati is also moving ahead with its plans to introduce digital terrestrial radio in India. According to the Indian broadcaster, select AIR channels are already available through digital DRM technology to listeners in many cities/regions. They can experience the power of DRM through a choice of multiple radio channels available on a single radio frequency in digital mode. These include AIR News 24×7 dedicated to news and current affairs, AIR Raagam 24×7 dedicated to classical music, apart from local/regional radio services and Live Sports.

According to Prasar Bharati AIR is in an advanced stage of testing digital technology options for FM radio, and a standard will be announced soon to herald the rollout of digital FM radio in India.

Already in 2020 AIR had introduced nonstop pure DRM transmissions with three services or programs on one frequency in four key metros: Mumbai 100 kW (1044 kHz), Kolkata 100 kW (1008 kHz), Chennai 20 kW (783 kHz) and New Delhi 20 kW (1368 kHz).[]

QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo (QSO Today Expo)

Coming to your desktop, laptop, and tablet: March 13 and 14, 2021 and “on-demand” until April 12, 2021

?Early Bird Ticket Sales begin January 4, 2021

?Our first QSO Today Expo was a great success with over 16,000 attendees! We’re working hard to make our upcoming Expo even better with new speakers, panel discussions, kit building workshops, easy-to-use video technology to meet with exhibitors, and much more. There’s no need to travel – anybody can participate in this groundbreaking, amateur radio Expo built on a virtual reality platform.

After our last Expo, we asked for feedback from the amateur radio community on how we could make our next Expo even better. We received great suggestions, many of which we’ve incorporated into our upcoming event. Whether you’re a ham that doesn’t want to travel because of Covid or just live too far from a hamvention, the QSO Today Expo offers the opportunity to learn from many great speakers, meet with exhibitors to see the latest technology, and engage with fellow hams without leaving your home ham shack. And save thousands of dollars since you don’t have to worry about travel, food, and lodging! Early Bird Tickets are just $10 (to help cover the cost of this event, $12.50 at the “door”) and include entry for the Live 2 day period as well as the 30 day on-demand period).

Attendees have the opportunity to:

  • ?Listen to and engage with 60+ internationally recognized ham radio luminaries that have committed to lead Expo sessions.   For the list of speakers and speaker topic, click here
  • Take part in Live virtual kit building workshops.  Kits will be available for purchase and delivered to you in time for the Expo so you can participate and build from the convenience of your home.
  • Walk through our virtual exhibit hall filled with popular amateur radio suppliers. Watch new product demos and interact directly with booth staff.  At this Expo we’ll introduce new video technology to enable a better experience when engaging with exhibitors.
  • Prior to the Expo, take advantage of our new speaker calendar technology to download speaker times in your local time zones to Google and Outlook calendars.  This way you’ll have a complete schedule of what sessions you want to participate in.
  • Return over the next 30 days to listen to speakers you missed during the Live period, explore, and re-engage exhibitor offerings.

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Radio Waves: Ted Lipien Named Head of RFE/RL, The American Radio Archives, Drive-Thru Ham Tests, and VOA Broadcasts to Displaced Communities in Africa

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 Ted Lipien, Josh Shepperd, Ronnie Smith, and Gary Butterworth,  for the following tips:


Ted Lipien returns to U.S. international broadcasting as head of RFE/RL December 18, 2020 (USAGM)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), announced today that veteran civil servant Ted Lipien is returning to U.S. international broadcasting as CEO and President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

“Few people have a greater understanding than Ted of the multifaceted operation and mission of U.S. international broadcasting,” said CEO Pack. “Ted is an ardent and captivating advocate of democracy who will excel at sharing America’s founding principles and ideals with the world.”

“When I was a teenager in Communist Poland, I would listen to Radio Free Europe to find out what the government was not telling me,” said Mr. Lipien. “It had an enormous impact on my life, and on the lives of millions of others. I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced.”

Mr. Lipien has dedicated virtually his entire career to U.S. international broadcasting. He joined Voice of America (VOA) in 1973 and served as the network’s Polish Service Chief for 12 years, from 1981 to 1993, including the Solidarity labor union’s struggle for human rights and democracy in Soviet-communist-ruled Poland. From 1993 to 2003, he served as the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ Eurasia Marketing Specialist and Director, first in Munich and, later, in Prague. Mr. Lipien then rejoined VOA, serving as Eurasia Division Director from 2003 to 2005 and Acting Associate Director from 2005 to 2006. He has interviewed a number of eminent public figures, including Cardinal Karol Wojty?a (Pope John Paul II), Lech Wa??sa, George H.W. Bush, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Czes?aw Mi?osz.

In 2008, after leaving the federal service, Mr. Lipien founded Free Media Online, a non-governmental organization committed to supporting free media worldwide. His pro-media freedom work has been noted in a variety of national publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. His articles have appeared in National Review, Washington Times, and Washington Examiner. Mr. Lipien earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations with distinction from George Washington University.

RFE/RL, headquartered in Prague, is a non-federal network funded by the United States Congress through USAGM. Daisy Sindelar, who had been serving as Acting President of RFE/RL since June 2020, is returning to her former role as the network’s Vice President and Editor-in-Chief.[]

On the Radio: The Library’s Special Research Collections to become home to the American Radio Archives (UC Santa Barbara)

The American Radio Archives, one of the world’s largest and most valuable collections of radio broadcasting will soon become part of the UC Santa Barbara Library’s Department of Special Collections.

Established by the Thousand Oaks Library Foundation (TOLF) in 1984, the archive is one of the first in the state and includes original recordings of Winston Churchill, as well as broadcast photographs, radio and television scripts, books and film dated as early as 1922.

“It is critical that such a wonderfully curated collection documenting the golden age of radio is preserved and accessible, said Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña. “UCSB has one of the largest collections of performing arts records, sound recordings and broadcast recordings on the West Coast as well as a state-of-the-art audio laboratory, making it our first choice and a natural fit for the American Radio Archives.”

The collection was established in 1984 and grew significantly with the purchase in 1987 of radio memorabilia from the estate of Rudy Valleé, one of the nation’s most popular singing bandleaders and personalities. Valleé documented his career, which took off in the1920s, through an extensive array of journals, photographs and original pieces of advertising.

The prominence of the Valleé collection attracted numerous celebrities and radio historians from around the world who gravitated toward the American Radio Archives. Among them were such luminaries as Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Ron Howard, Ray Bradbury, Norman Corwin, Edward Asner, Walter Cronkite, Janet Waldo, Candice Bergen and William Shatner.

When Norman Corwin — dubbed America’s poet laureate of radio — donated his career files in 1990, it further increased esteem for the archives and generated significant interest among radio aficionados. As a result, many noteworthy collections were donated to TOLF, including, among others, those of radio station KNX-CBS; radio actor and radio historian Frank Bresee, who hosted “The Golden Days of Radio”; comedian Red Skelton; Carlton Morse, the creator of the long-running radio soap opera “One Man’s Family”; radio and television writers Milton and Barbara Merlin; and Allin Slate, a pioneer of the sports talk show format on KABC radio in Los Angeles.[]

Oregon ARRL VEC Testing Group Offers Testing from the Comfort of Your Car (ARRL News)

The coronavirus pandemic has made life difficult for everyone. On the plus side, however, it’s prompted creative solutions to work around the various roadblocks the pandemic has imposed. Volunteer Examiners in Grant County, Oregon, affiliated with the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) put their heads together to overcome the adversity and hold a safe and secure exam session. Current health regulations in Oregon precluded both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Nonetheless, the Grant County Amateur Radio Club, the local ARES Group, and the Grant County Emergency Radio Infrastructure Coalition (ERIC) combined forces to offer five candidates the chance to obtain their first license or to upgrade their existing license, all from the comfort of their vehicles.

“Many amateur radio clubs have experimented with exams via the internet,” said Steve Fletcher, K7AA, who is the ARES Emergency Coordinator for Grant County. “In eastern Oregon, with the cooperation of the County Roads Department, we chose to hold a ‘drive-up’ exam session on Saturday, December 12. Under the circumstances, we used four ARRL VEs for the exam instead of the required three.” Wheeler County ARES loaned Stuart Bottom, K7FG, to help as the third required Amateur Extra-class Volunteer Examiner.

Fletcher reports three new Technician licensees and two new General-class radio amateurs resulted from the session.

Required ARRL VEC forms contained pre-printed data — including the FCC Registration Number (FRN) — were given to the candidates on a clipboard. Each candidate took the exam in the front seat of their own vehicle. Cell phones, papers, and anything not required for the exam were removed.

“Everyone dressed warmly, and most candidates had their heaters running,” Fletcher reported. A camper owned by Ronda Metler, KB5LAX, and a communications van owned by Fletcher served as sites to check results and sign forms.

The Grant County Roads Department loaned its parking area for the exam session.[]

On International Migrants Day, VOA Expands Broadcasts to Displaced Communities in Africa (VOA Press Release)

As the world observes International Migrants Day on December 18, Voice of America continues to enhance its operations to serve the growing refugee populations in Africa. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reports that, in just the past few weeks, 50,000 Ethiopian refugees have joined the world’s 80 million forcibly displaced people, including more than 18 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Recognizing the deteriorating conditions in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region in recent weeks, VOA rapidly added existing Tigrigna-language radio broadcasts to existing VOA FM radio stations in the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Misrata. These newscasts reach not only the newly displaced civilians, but also Eritreans in both cities who arrived prior to the current exodus and still have ties to the crisis-affected area. Newly created “micro sites” deliver digital content in TigrignaAmharic, Afan Oromo and English from VOA regional reporting teams.

In Kakuma, Kenya, site of one of the world’s oldest refugee camps, VOA launched a new FM station to provide both refugees and the local community with news, music, and educational content in English, Swahili, and Somali. For the Dadaab refugee complex near Kenya’s border with Somalia, a new VOA station offers local residents and refugees a mix of VOA English and Somali language content that airs in Somalia and Djibouti.

“VOA is committed to providing vital news and information to underserved populations worldwide, including refugees and other forcibly displaced persons,” said VOA Director Robert Reilly. “In particular, as the only international broadcaster with a presence in Kakuma, VOA serves as a critical lifeline for individuals in this region with access to few other reliable media resources.”

VOA’s efforts to reach at-risk refugee populations expanded exponentially in 2017 in south Asia and Latin America. VOA’s Bangla language service began broadcasting in Rohingya to reach refugees in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp. Nearly one million ethnic Rohingya, who fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar, inhabit the site. When Venezuelans began to flee President Nicolás Maduro’s regime, the VOA Spanish language service significantly increased its coverage of this unfolding crisis for audiences all across the region.

VOA FM Frequencies

Existing in Libya: Tripoli (106.6 MHz); Misrata (99.1 MHz)

New in Kenya: Kakuma (99.9 MHz); Dadaab (106.7 MHz)


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Radio Waves: Ajit Pai to Resign, Hams Need to Embrace Hacker Community, Coast Guard Might Abandon HF Voice Watchkeeping, and FCC Action Against Unauthorized Transceivers

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!


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave agency on Inauguration Day (PBS News Hour)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, says he is leaving the telecommunications regulator on Inauguration Day.

President-elect Joe Biden will choose a new Democratic head for the agency. A new administration typically picks a new chairman.

Pai has presided over a contentious FCC over the last four years. He undid net neutrality rules that barred internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T from favoring some types of online traffic over others in 2017 and championed other deregulatory efforts. He has also worked to free up spectrum for cellphone companies so they can roll out 5G, the next-generation wireless standard that promises faster speeds, and cracked down on Chinese telecom companies as national security threats.

The incoming FCC is likely to try to reinstate net neutrality rules and focus on closing the “digital divide,” getting internet service to Americans who don’t have it because it’s not available or they can’t afford it.[]

Ham Radio Needs To Embrace The Hacker Community Now More Than Ever (Hackaday)

As many a radio amateur will tell you, ham radio is a hobby with as many facets as there are radio amateurs. It should be an exciting and dynamic place to be, but as those who venture forth into it sometimes sadly find out, it can be anything but. Tightly-knit communities whose interests lie in using $1,000 stations to chase DX (long-distance contacts), an advancing age profile, and a curious fascination of many amateurs with disaster communications. It’s something [Robert V. Bolton, KJ7NZL] has sounded off about in an open letter to the amateur radio community entitled “Ham Radio Needs To Embrace The Hacker Community Now More Than Ever“.

In it he laments that the influx in particular of those for whom disaster preparedness is the reason for getting a licence is to blame for amateur radio losing its spark, and he proposes that the hobby should respond by broadening its appeal in the direction of the hacker community. The emphasis should move from emergency communications, he says, and instead topics such as software defined radio and digital modes should be brought to the fore. Finally he talks about setting up hacker specific amateur radio discussion channels, to provide a space in which the talk is tailored to our community.[]

Coast Guard Proposes to Discontinue HF Voice Watchkeeping (ARRL News)

The US Coast Guard has invited comments by January 21, 2021, on a proposal to discontinue HF voice watchkeeping. The proposal [PDF] appeared on November 20 in the Federal Register. The USCG proposes to cease monitoring 4125, 6215, 8291, and 12,290 kHz, in the contiguous US and Hawaii, due to a lack of activity.

“We believe this change would have a low impact on the maritime public, as commercial satellite radios and Digital Selective Calling (DSC) marine-SSB HF radios have become more prevalent onboard vessels,” the Coast Guard said. “However, we would like your comments on how you would be affected if we terminated monitoring HF voice-only distress frequencies within the contiguous US and Hawaii, particularly if you use HF, but do not currently have a commercial satellite radio or an HF DSC-capable radio aboard your vessel.”[]

FCC takes action against marketing of unauthorized transceivers (Southgate ARC)

On November 24 FCC Enforcement Bureau (EB) issued a citation and order concerning the illegal marketing of unauthorized radio frequency devices

The citation says:

This CITATION AND ORDER (Citation), notifies Rugged Race Products, Inc. d/b/a
Rugged Radios (Rugged Radios or Company) that it unlawfully marketed six models of radio frequency devices that (a) operated outside the scope of their respective equipment authorization, or without any equipment authorization; (b) permitted any operator to program and transmit on new frequencies using the device’s external operation controls; and (c) lacked the appropriate labeling. Specifically, Rugged Radios marketed models RH5R-V2, RM25R, RM25R-WP, RM50R, RM60-V, and RM100 in violation of section 302(b) of the Communications Act, as amended (Act), and sections 2.803(b), 2.925(a)(1), 80.203(a), 90.203(a), 90.203(e), 95.361(a), and 95.391 of the Commission’s rules.

Read the Citation and Order at
https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-1395A1.pdf

Source FCC Enforcement Bureau
https://www.fcc.gov/enforcement


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Radio Waves: Solar-Powered Broadcast Transmitters, Decommissioning Arecibo, and HWN in the path of an International Broadcaster

Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope in November of 2020 (Credit: University of Central Florida)

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 Jerome van der Linden, Zack Schindler, and Wilbur Forcier and  for the following tips:


Powering communication networks using solar power (BAI Communications)

BAI Communications (BAI) is committed to reducing emissions and contributing to a more sustainable future.

Over the past four years, BAI has invested in a number of initiatives that reduce power consumption as well as the carbon released into the atmosphere.

This year, four solar-powered sites were introduced in BAI’s broadcast transmission network; Yatpool, Victoria; Mawson, Western Australia; Minding, Western Australia; and Brandon, Queensland.

The annual reduction in CO2 emissions from our recent solar investment is 698 tonnes, equivalent to reducing:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from 2.7km driven by an average passenger vehicle
  • CO2 emissions from charging 89 million smartphones
  • Greenhouse emissions from 237 tonnes of waste sent to landfill

Find out how BAI implemented this solar power initiative as part of our commitment to managing our energy use and reducing consumption.

Click here to download case study (PDF).

The complexity of sending sounds to (and from) space (Mashable)

Communication with astronauts in space is vital, whether it’s during travel, when they’re doing experiments on the International Space Station, or just want to chat. It’s also pretty tricky.

That’s the topic of the latest episode of Twenty Thousand Hertz, where host Dallas Taylor speaks with International Space Station commander Peggy Whitson, NASA audio engineer Alexandria Perryman, and astrophysicist Paul Sutter to get an idea of how communication between astronauts and Earth works across the vacuum of space.[]

NSF to decommission Arecibo radio telescope (Space News)

WASHINGTON — The National Science Foundation announced Nov. 19 it will perform a “controlled decommissioning” of the giant radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, citing recent damage that made it unsafe to operate or even repair.

In a call with reporters, NSF officials said two broken cables used to support a 900-ton platform suspended over the telescope’s 305-meter main dish put the entire structure at risk of collapse. One cable slipped out of its socket in August, falling to the dish below and damaging it, while the second broke Nov. 6

Both cables are attached to the same tower, one of three surrounding the main dish. “The engineers have advised us that the break of one more cable will result in an uncontrolled collapse of the structure,” said Ralph Gaume, director of the NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences, referring to cables attached to that same tower. That would result in the platform crashing down to the main dish and potentially toppling one or more of the towers.

Engineers advising the NSF and the University of Central Florida (UCF), which operates Arecibo for the NSF, concluded that it was not possible to safely repair the structure because of the collapse risk. “After the recent failure, WSP does not recommend allowing personnel on the platform or the towers, or anywhere in their immediate physical vicinity in case of potential sudden structural failure,” stated WSP, one engineering firm involved in that analysis, in a Nov. 11 letter to UCF.

“NSF has concluded that this recent damage to the 305-meter telescope cannot be addressed without risking the lives and safety of work crews and staff, and NSF has decided to begin the process of planning for a controlled decommissioning of the 305-meter telescope,” said Sean Jones, assistant director of the NSF’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate.

Engineers are working on a plan to carry out that controlled decommissioning, which will take several weeks to complete.[]

International Broadcast Station Interference Overwhelms Hurricane Watch Net (ARRL News)

As Category 4 Hurricane Iota neared landfall in Central America on November 16, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) was forced to suspend operations at 0300 UTC because of what HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, described as “deafening interference from a foreign AM broadcast station that came out of nowhere at 0200 UTC.” At the time, the net had shifted to its 40-meter frequency of 7.268 kHz, collecting real-time weather and damage reports via amateur radio.

“This was heartbreaking for our team, as the eyewall of Iota was just barely offshore,” Graves said. “The storm had weakened slightly to a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 MPH.” After activating at 1300 UTC, the net was able to collect and forward reports from various parts of Nicaragua and Honduras via WX4NHC throughout the day for relay to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Iota was the most powerful storm on record to make landfall this late in the hurricane season.

Graves said the very strong AM signal was on 7.265 MHz. “From my location, it was S-9,” he told ARRL. “You could not hear anything but the BC station.” The source of the signal was not clear, but as he noted, other foreign broadcast stations are to be heard from 7.265 to 7.300 MHz and splattering close by.

Stations handling emergency traffic during the response to Category 5 Hurricane Iota had requested clear frequencies on November 16 to avoid interfering with the HWN and with WX4NHC, as well as with a Honduran emergency net operation on 7.180 MHz and a Nicaraguan emergency net operating on 7.098 MHz. It’s not known if those nets were also affected by interference from the numerous broadcasters on 40 meters. “Thank you to all who allowed us a clear frequency,” Graves said on behalf of the HWN.[]

[Personal note: I understand that this is very late in the season for the Hurricane Watch Net to activate. Normally, they operate on 20 meters, but moved to 40 meters for the evening. I don’t believe net control was aware that this portion of the 40 meter band is shared with international broadcasters. I don’t believe the international broadcaster could be called “interference”–they operate on a publicly available schedule–ham radio nets are actually the ones who are frequency agile. This seems to have just caught them off guard. I believe the HWN will be using frequencies below 7.2 MHz moving forward.]


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