Tag Archives: ARRL News

Radio Waves: Radio Prague Special Broadcast, WNP Marks 100 Years, Ham Interference, and RTE on Longwave

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 David Iurescia, Ronnie Smith, Troy Riedel, Jack Dully, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Radio Prague asks, “Would you like to be featured on our broadcast?” (Radio Prague via Facebook)

Our 85th anniversary is coming up on August 31st! We’re celebrating the occasion with a special broadcast that day and would love to hear from you – our listeners. If you’d like to send us your greetings, please record a message and send an audio file via email (to english@radio.cz) or Facebook. Due to time constraints, your recording should be around 30 seconds long. Please include your first name, where you live, how long you’ve been listening, and what you like most about Radio Prague Int’l.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Sailing Vessel with Ham Radio History Marks 100 Years (ARRL News)

The schooner Bowdoin is a century old this year. Now owned by the Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) as a training vessel, the ham radio history of the 88-foot (LOA) Bowdoin is often neglected. Constructed in Maine specifically for Arctic exploration, the vessel relied on amateur radio for communication during explorer Donald B. MacMillan’s Arctic Expedition of 1923 and on the MacMillan-McDonald-Byrd Expedition of 1925 — thanks in part to ARRL co-founder Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW. The venerable vessel, the official vessel of the State of Maine and the flagship of Maine Maritime Academy’s Vessel Operations and Technology Program, recently underwent a complete hull restoration and refitting and has done a little touring to mark its centenary. Its home port is Castine, Maine.

The longwave transmitters MacMillan used on his earlier missions had proved “unable to penetrate the screen of the aurora borealis,” then-ARRL historian Michael Marinaro, WN1M (SK), explained in his article, “Polar Exploration,” from the June 2014 issue of QST. In 1923, MacMillan turned to ARRL for help in outfitting his next expedition with better wireless gear. Marinaro recounted, “It was enthusiastically provided.” Maxim and the ARRL Board recruited Donald H. Mix, 1TS, of Bristol, Connecticut, to accompany the crew as its radio operator.

M.B. West, an ARRL Board member, designed the gear, which was then built by amateurs at his firm, Zenith Electronics. The transmitter operated on the medium-wave bands of 185, 220, and 300 meters, running 100 W to a pair of Western Electric “G” tubes. Earlier exploratory missions had used gear that operated on longwave frequencies. The shipboard station on board the Bowdoin was given the call sign WNP — Wireless North Pole. [Continue reading…]

The Machines That Built America (History Channel)

In 1893, sending information across America is a time-consuming process. Letters travel slowly by land, and those who can afford it, send telegrams along a limited network of fixed wires. But two rival inventors have the same idea for improving things: wireless communication. Nikola Tesla is one of the most famous and successful thinkers of his day, single-handedly changing the way electricity is supplied and generated. Guglielmo Marconi is a young, uneducated Italian inventor who ignores scientific consensus and goes with his gut. Both want to rid the world of wires and send messages through the air. With millions of dollars on the line, the two men battle to dominate the new market and bring radio to the masses. [Click here to view episode on the History Channel.]

Woman fights to have ham radio operations banned after potential interference with insulin pump (WFTV)

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A Marion County woman is taking on her neighborhood association, in a matter she said puts her health at risk.

Michelle Smith, a Type 1 Diabetic, and a consultant determined that her neighbor’s ham radio hobby might have interfered with the doses of insulin being pushed out from her pump.

The 55+ community where she lives hired that consultant and told the neighbor to shut down his amateur radio station.

But a copy of the community’s rules shows a change was put in place that could pave the way for other similar antennas to be installed.

9 Investigates learned that Smith’s complaint went all the way to the state level.

She wants the Florida Commission on Human Relations to make a determination whether the community’s board and management is doing enough to protect her and others with medical devices.[]

RTE on long wave 252 kHz back on air (Southgate ARC)

RTE carried out essential maintenance of the Long Wave transmitter in Clarkstown, Co. Meath for two months during which period RTE Radio 1 was not available on 252 kHz.

This essential maintenance of the transmitter was due to be carried out in 2020, but was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. For the health and safety of those carrying out the works, the transmitter had to be switched off for the works period. Any overhaul has to be completed during the summer months when there is good light and weather conditions.

Transmissions commenced once again last Monday with an output of 500 kiloWatt during daytime and 100 kiloWatt at nighttime.

During this shutdown, one could receive Radio Algeria transmitting on the same frequency with 1.5 megaWatt during the day and 750 kiloWatt at night, broadcasting a varied program.


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Radio Waves: 8 Meter Experimental Station, Forgotten Music Festival Found, Press Freedom Fear in Poland, and JA1TOKYO

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!


8-Meter Experimental Station on the Air from the US (ARRL News)

WL2XUP is an FCC Part 5 Experimental station operated by Lin Holcomb, NI4Y, in Georgia. It’s licensed to operate with up to 400 W effective radiated power (ERP) between 40.660 MHz to 40.700 MHz.

John Desmond, EI7GL, reports that as of mid-July, WL2XUP was intermittently transmitting on Weak-Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) on 40.662 MHz (1500 Hz) for 2 minutes out of every 10, with an output power of 20 W ERP into an omnidirectional antenna. For FT8 check-ins and tests, an ERP of 100 W may be used. The band is affected by several propagation modes, including tropospheric ducting, sporadic E, transequatorial propagation (TEP), and F2 propagation. As Desmond notes, the 40 MHz band will open a lot earlier than 50 MHz and could be a useful resource for stations monitoring the transatlantic path.

A 2019 Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11843) asked the FCC to create a new 8-meter amateur radio allocation on a secondary basis. The Petition suggests the new band could be centered on an industrial-scientific-medical (ISM) segment somewhere between 40.51 and 40.70 MHz. The spectrum between 40 and 41 MHz is currently allocated to the federal government and, as such, within the purview of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

ARRL member Michelle Bradley, KU3N, of Maryland, filed the petition on behalf of REC Networks, which she founded and described in the Petition as “a leading advocate for a citizen’s access to spectrum,” including amateur radio spectrum.[]

An Indiana radio host found the last recording of a forgotten Evansville music festival (Evansville Courier & Press)

Inside a little shed in southwest Indianapolis, Kyle Long found something almost “too amazing to be true.”

It was some time in the early 2000s. Like he often did during his teenage and 20-something years, Long was trolling a garage sale for old music. He mainly worked as a club DJ back then, and he loved to pepper his sets with songs miles away from the top 40. If they had a connection to Indiana musical history, even better.

What he held his hands that day definitely did. It was a reel-to-reel tape. “61 jazz fest” was scrawled in the cover’s top-left corner, and Long noticed names like “Duke Ellington” written on the packaging.

He kept the tape at home for years before finally getting it digitized. That’s when he discovered he owned what is perhaps the last known recording of a star-studded – and ultimately doomed – Evansville music festival.

Thanks to a brash promoter, unlikely sponsors, and fallout from the actions of drunk teenagers 1,000 miles away, Evansville hosted what became known as the Indiana Jazz Festival in 1960 and ’61. Stars such as Ellington, Benny Goodman, the Staples Singers, Dave Brubeck and the future Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams, whipped Roberts Stadium into a froth on hot summer weekends that attracted local residents and college kids from around the country.

CBS recorded snippets of the 1960 show. And in ’61, promoter Hal Lobree claimed the U.S. State Department planned to film the festival and turn it into a documentary called “Americana Indiana” that would be broadcast on the government-owned Voice of America.

Lobree dreamed it would become our version of the Newport Jazz Festival: the legendary yearly concert that, like its folk-singing cousin, still generates mountains of tourist cash for the small Rhode Island city.

But by 1962, the Indiana Jazz Festival was gone.[Continue reading…]

Poland: Media freedom fears as TVN24’s licence extension is suspended (Euro News)

Poland’s National Broadcasting Council has suspended the extension of the licence of the independent TVN24 television channel, which is owned and financed by an American company.

Negotiations are also underway in parliament on a new bill that would limit the ability of media to operate in Poland if they have large foreign investment.

If the bill goes through, TVN would fall into that bracket since it’s part of the American Discovery franchise.

Press Club Polska, an independent association of journalists, said the decision is an attempt to strangle media.

“In our opinion, the move to not extend TVN’s licence seems to be an attempt to put pressure on independent media,” explained Wojciech Tumidalski. “When it comes to this “lex TVN” bill, as they call it, it is unacceptable to pass a law against a single economic entity that plays an important role in the media market and is simply an independent medium that challenges the government.”[]

Olympic Games – JA1TOKYO is on the air (Southgate ARC)

On July 16 JARL opened the special commemorative station ‘JA1 TOKYO‘ in Nishitokyo City, Tokyo, to commemorate the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games being held from July 23

After the opening ceremony of “JA1TOKYO”, an operator in charge was assigned to each band for active operation.

In the evening, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives Hirohiko Izumida 7K1KJK, who is an amateur radio operator and a member of JARL, attended the venue and operated the station in the 7 MHz band.

The station will be active until September 5.

Source JARL https://tinyurl.com/IARU-Japan


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Radio Waves: Navajo Nation Airwaves, Yamata Transmitting Station at 80, ARRL & Maglite, FCC Proposed Revisions, and Why So Many Plugs?

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 Aaron Kuhn, Ron Chester, Ronnie Smith, Dan Van Hoy, and Dennis Dura for the following tips:


The Airwaves of Navajo Nation (The Verge)

KTNN radio station’s headquarters in St. Michaels, Arizona is less than ten minutes away from the Navajo Nation capital of Window Rock, but its reach encompasses all 27,000 square miles of the Nation across four different states. The station has been broadcasting bilingual content in both the Navajo language, Diné Bizaad, and English for over 35 years. But the station is quiet nowadays — many staff members are working from home if they can. That includes Dee Dixon who, after 15 years at KTNN, had to install internet access to her home an hour and a half away in Dilkon, Arizona so she could broadcast her 6AM show.

Her regular listeners are scattered. During the day, KTNN covers the majority of the Navajo Nation across New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. One can also tune into KTNN’s programming online via livestream from anywhere in the world. It is not the region’s only media. A few regional newspapers cover the reservation extensively, and Navajo Nation is also the only tribe in the country that owns, funds, and operates its own television station. But none of these mediums produce stories primarily in Diné Bizaad: radio is the only way to hear the language in local media.

When the COVID-19 pandemic bore down on Navajo Nation in early 2020, Dixon noticed a distinct divide between her regular listeners at home on the reservation and those outside of it. As Dixon worked on translating public health announcements and taking calls on the air, she noticed an uptick in listeners tuning in from Florida, Maine, Alaska, Louisiana, and Montana. Those callers away from home were hungry for local updates to know what was going on within the Nation — an ambiguous virus that no one understood thoroughly just yet was spreading. People wanted to know if their families were safe and just how transmission was occurring in a place where households are far flung across vast swaths of desert. But Dixon realized as her local listeners, specifically elders, called in that they wanted something different from her: they did not want to hear about the virus whatsoever, no matter how high the rates of infection in Navajo Nation were.

“According to Navajo tradition, you’re not supposed to give a name to anything that is not good for the reservation,” Dixon says. “The virus was like a monster. Traditionally, the more you talk about something like that, the more you’re inviting it into your home.”

Navajo Nation is the second-largest Indigenous tribe in the country with about 300,000 enrolled members, over half of whom live on the reservation. Much of the land is rugged and rural. Of those on the reservation, about 27 percent of households do not have electricity. Cellphone service can be spotty to nonexistent.

But transistor and car radios do not require electricity to function. Radio waves are not dependent on cell towers. In fact, KTNN was the last station in the country licensed for a clear-channel radio signal at 50,000 watts — a strength used in the early 1900s to provide rural America with radio that wouldn’t be vulnerable to interference.[]

Japan’s only shortwave station still in business after 80 years (The Asahi Shimbun)

KOGA, Ibaraki Prefecture–Standing tall and proud over an area of 1 million square meters or so, a forest of steel towers in two-tone red and white is the dominant feature under the blue sky against the backdrop of Mount Tsukubasan.

This is KDDI Corp.’s Yamata Transmitting Station, the nation’s only facility broadcasting shortwave radio programs to overseas listeners.

The station started broadcasts on Jan. 1, 1941. The main building still retains a prewar ambience.

Shortwave radios were the primary means for people across the world to receive audio content from Japan without a large-scale facility before satellites and submarine cables came into existence.

The 1945 announcement of Japan’s surrender by Emperor Hirohito was transmitted from here to military personnel on overseas battlefronts.

When it was completed in 1940, Yamata, now part of Koga, was a typical farming village with a population of 4,536, of whom 90 percent were farmers, according to a 1941 local history pamphlet.

“A large area of flatland was available, and it was less prone to damage from snow and typhoons,” said Kazuhiro Matsui, 50, a senior official in charge of infrastructure, who served as a guide when the station was shown to media representatives in April. “I think it was the only place fit for the station in the country.”

The steel towers are arranged in such a way that 18 transmission antennas cover 360 degrees to send broadcasts as far north as Boston and London and as far west as Seoul and Nairobi.[]

ARRL Announces Partnership with Maglite (ARRL News)

ARRL  The National Association for Amateur Radio® and Mag Instrument, the US manufacturer of the MAGLITE® Flashlight have announced they have formed a partnership based on common interests in equipping people to be prepared for emergencies and to serve their communities in extreme situations such as natural disasters. ARRL members expand the reservoir of trained operators and technicians in radio communications and radio technology, and provide public service through the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®). Maglite is the leading maker of U.S.-manufactured high-quality flashlights that have a deserved reputation for toughness and durability.

“Amateur radio operators, or ‘hams,’ help people in times of difficulty, often by supporting emergency communications when critical infrastructure is damaged, and by aiding first responders’ need to keep connected,” said Anthony Maglica, Founder, Owner and CEO of MAG Instrument Inc. “We manufacture a product that has been used in public safety for over 40 years, and we are very supportive of the incredible dedication of radio amateurs, so culturally this is a great alliance for both brands.”

“ARRL is delighted that Maglite recognizes the service and skill of ARRL members. This partnership will help us introduce amateur radio to more people,” said David Minster, NA2AA, ARRL CEO. Mag Instrument is creating a special laser-engraved Maglite® product collection for ARRL, as well as offering their members special pricing on a select line of Maglite gear. In turn, those purchases raise funds to support ARRL’s mission. Members can find details at www.arrl.org/benefits and by clicking “Member Discounts” in the left-hand navigation on that page.

Maglite is also promoting a special giveaway in recognition of 2021 ARRL Field Day (no purchase is necessary). Visit Maglite on the web for entry details and Terms and Conditions at https://maglite.com/pages/the-maglite-arrl-2021-field-day-giveaway.

ARRL, headquartered in Newington, Connecticut, counts the majority of active radio amateurs in the US among its ranks. Since its founding in 1914, ARRL and its members have advanced the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.

For more information about ARRL visit www.arrl.org.

FCC Report 6/27: FCC Proposes Revisions To Seven Technical Rules (Radio Insight)

At the FCC’s upcoming July Open Meeting scheduled for July 13, Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has proposed voting on seven rule changes to eliminate those that are “redundant, outdated or in conflict” with other rules.

The seven changes are described as:

1. Eliminate the maximum rated transmitter power limit rule for AM stations set out in section 73.1665(b)[…]

2. Update the NCE FM community of license coverage requirement set out in sections73.316(c)(2)(ix)(B) and 73.1690(c)(8)(i) to match that used in section 73.515;

3. Eliminate the requirement that applicants demonstrate the effect of any FM applicant transmitting antenna on nearby FM or TV broadcast antennas set out in section 73.316(d);

4. Update the signal strength contour overlap requirements for NCE FM Class D stations set out in section 73.509(b) to harmonize with the contour overlap requirements for all other NCE FM stations, set out in section 73.509(a);

5. Eliminate the requirement for broadcast services to protect grandfathered common carrier services inAlaska operating in the 76-100 MHz frequency band set out in sections 73.501(b), 74.1202(b)(3), the secondsentence of 74.702(a)(1), and the second sentence of 74.786(b) given that there are no longer such commoncarrier services;

6. Amend the definition of an “AM fill-in area” set out in section 74.1201(j) to conform to section74.1201(g);

7. Amend the allocation and power limitations for broadcast stations within 320 kilometers of the Mexican and Canadian borders, set out in sections 73.207(b) and 74.1235(d), to comply with current treaty provision

[Read the full article with details about each proposed change at Radio Insight.]

Why Does the World Harbor So Many Different Voltages, Plugs, and Sockets? (IEEE Spectrum)

Blame it on the varied evolutionary history of electric power grids and the products that have grown up alongside them

Standardization makes life easier, but it is often impossible to introduce it to systems that have a messy evolutionary history. Electricity supply is a case in point.

Edison’s pioneering 1882 Pearl Street station transmitted direct current at 110 volts, and the same voltage was used when alternating current at 60 hertz took over in American homes. Later the standard was raised a bit to 120 V , and in order to accommodate heavy-duty appliances and electric heating, North American homes can also access 240 V. In contrast, in 1899 Berliner Elektrizitäts-Werke was the first European utility to switch to 220 V and this led eventually to the continent-wide norm of 230 V.

Japan has the lowest voltage (100 V) and the dubious distinction of operating on two frequencies. This, too, is a legacy from the earliest days of electrification, when Tokyo’s utility bought German 50-Hz generators and Osaka, 500 kilometers to the east, imported American 60-Hz machines. Eastern Honshu and Hokkaido island operate at 50 Hz. The rest of the country, to the west, is at 60 Hz, and the capacity of four frequency-converter stations allows only a limited exchange between the two systems.

Elsewhere, the world is divided between the minority of countries with voltages centered on 120 V (110–130 V and 60 Hz) and the majority using 230 V (220–240 V and 50 Hz). North and Central America and most countries of South America combine single voltages between 110 and 130 V and the frequency of 60 Hz; exceptions include Argentina and Chile (220/50), Peru (220/60), and Bolivia (230/50). Africa, Asia (aside from Japan), Australia, and Europe work with the higher voltages: 220 V in Russia and Ethiopia; 230V in South Africa; and 240 V in Brunei, Kenya, and Kuwait.[]


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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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