A man, a Mouse and a morse key: the story of a radio amateur in Kyiv as the Russian invasion unfolds.
When his wife and two children flee Kyiv to escape the war, Volodymyr Gurtovy (call sign US7IGN) stays behind in their apartment with only his radios and the family hamster, Mouse, for company.
Before the war, he used to go deep into the pine forests, spinning intricate webs of treetop antennas using a fishing rod, catching signals from radio amateurs in distant countries.
Prohibited by martial law from sending messages, he becomes a listener, intercepting conversations of Russian pilots and warning his neighbours to hide in shelters well before the sirens sound. After three months of silence, he begins transmitting again. Switching his lawyer’s suit for a soldering iron, he runs a radio surgery for his friends and neighbours, dusting off old shortwave receivers and bringing them back to life.
During air raids, he hides behind the thickest wall in his apartment, close to his radios, their flickering amber lights opening a window to another world. A story of sending and receiving signals from within the darkness of the Kyiv blackout.
Music: Ollie Chubb (8ctavius)
Producer: Cicely Fell
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
Whether it’s World of Warcraft, Uncharted or the upcoming Super Mario movie – games characters have been all over our cinemas in recent years.
The Last of Us is coming to television screens, where shows based on Resident Evil and Halo have found audiences.
Now, BBC Radio 4 is getting in on the act.
Sam Fisher, leading man from the Splinter Cell game series, can call the radio station home, thanks to a first-of-its-kind adaptation that producers say no-one had thought possible.
Radio 1 film critic Ali Plumb says that with so much competition for audiences these days it’s no surprise that commissioners are giving the green-light to projects with a “built-in audience”.
He argues that we live in a world that is dominated by content: “From podcasts to music, TV, movies, games and audiobooks – frankly its tricky for anyone to cut through the noise.
“The art of finding intellectual property, using the built-in fan base of that property and engaging with them in something you want to say about the world is the trick that many creative people are trying to do.”
Splinter Cell: Firewall is an eight part dramatisation of a novel based on the famous video game franchise. Sam Fisher, the series’ main protagonist, is a covert special agent who excels at sneaking around military bases at night, silently killing terrorist guards and generally saving the world.
Bringing the gaming revolution to audio drama makes perfect sense to actor Andonis Anthony, who plays Sam in the Radio 4 drama, which is also available on BBC Sounds. He argues that with more people turning to “non-music audio”, it’s a good time for BBC radio to tell stories that offer a “cinematic experience”.
“Given the rise in podcasts, and audiobooks being so popular – more and more people are getting used to listening to audio as a story experience. Everyone’s going out and about with their air pods on these days and listening in a different way to before.” [Continue reading…]
Software-defined radio is all the rage these days, and for good reason. It eliminates or drastically reduces the amount of otherwise pricey equipment needed to transmit or even just receive, and can pack many more features than most affordable radio setups otherwise would have. It also makes it possible to go mobile much more easily. [Rostislav Persion] uses a laptop for on-the-go SDR activities, and designed this 3D printed antenna mount to make his radio adventures much easier.
The antenna mount is a small 3D printed enclosure for his NESDR Smart Dongle with a wide base to attach to the back of his laptop lid with Velcro so it can easily be removed or attached. This allows him to run a single USB cable to the dongle and have it oriented properly for maximum antenna effectiveness without something cumbersome like a dedicated antenna stand. [Rostislav] even modeled the entire assembly so that he could run a stress analysis on it, and from that data ended up filling it with epoxy to ensure maximum lifespan with minimal wear on the components. [Continue reading…]
An experiment to bounce a radio signal off an asteroid on Dec. 27 will serve as a test for probing a larger asteroid that in 2029 will pass closer to Earth than the many geostationary satellites that orbit our planet.
The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program research site in Gakona will transmit radio signals to asteroid 2010 XC15, which could be about 500 feet across. The University of New Mexico Long Wavelength Array near Socorro, New Mexico, and the Owens Valley Radio Observatory Long Wavelength Array near Bishop, California, will receive the signal.
This will be the first use of HAARP to probe an asteroid.
“What’s new and what we are trying to do is probe asteroid interiors with long wavelength radars and radio telescopes from the ground,” said Mark Haynes, lead investigator on the project and a radar systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Longer wavelengths can penetrate the interior of an object much better than the radio wavelengths used for communication.”
Knowing more about an asteroid’s interior, especially of an asteroid large enough to cause major damage on Earth, is important for determining how to defend against it.
“If you know the distribution of mass, you can make an impactor more effective, because you’ll know where to hit the asteroid a little better,” Haynes said.
Many programs exist to quickly detect asteroids, determine their orbit and shape and image their surface, either with optical telescopes or the planetary radar of the Deep Space Network, NASA’s network of large and highly senstive radio antennas in California, Spain and Australia.
Those radar-imaging programs use signals of short wavelengths, which bounce off the surface and provide high-quality external images but don’t penetrate an object.
HAARP will transmit a continually chirping signal to asteroid 2010 XC15 at slightly above and below 9.6 megahertz (9.6 million times per second). The chirp will repeat at two-second intervals. Distance will be a challenge, Haynes said, because the asteroid will be twice as far from Earth as the moon is.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks operates HAARP under an agreement with the Air Force, which developed and owned HAARP but transferred the research instruments to UAF in August 2015.
The test on 2010 XC15 is yet another step toward the globally anticipated 2029 encounter with asteroid Apophis. It follows tests in January and October in which the moon was the target of a HAARP signal bounce.
Apophis was discovered in 2004 and will make its closest approach to Earth on April 13, 2029, when it comes within 20,000 miles. Geostationary satellites orbit Earth at about 23,000 miles. The asteroid, which NASA estimated to be about 1,100 feet across, was initially thought to pose a risk to Earth in 2068, but its orbit has since been better projected by researchers.
The test on 2010 XC15 and the 2029 Apophis encounter are of general interest to scientists who study near-Earth objects. But planetary defense is also a key research driver.
“The more time there is before a potential impact, the more options there are to try to deflect it,” Haynes said.
NASA says an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth’s atmosphere about once a year, creating a fireball and burning up before reaching the surface.
About every 2,000 years a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth. Those can cause a lot of damage. And as for wiping out civilization, NASA says an object large enough to do that strikes the planet once every few million years.
NASA first successfully redirected an asteroid on Sept. 26, when its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, or DART, collided with Dimorphos. That asteroid is an orbiting moonlet of the larger Didymos asteroid.
The DART collision altered the moonlet’s orbit time by 32 minutes.
The Dec. 27 test could reveal great potential for the use of asteroid sensing by long wavelength radio signals. Approximately 80 known near-Earth asteroids passed between the moon and Earth in 2019, most of them small and discovered near closest approach.
“If we can get the ground-based systems up and running, then that will give us a lot of chances to try to do interior sensing of these objects,” Haynes said.
The National Science Foundation is funding the work through its award to the Geophysical Institute for establishing the Subauroral Geophysical Observatory for Space Physics and Radio Science in Gakona
“HAARP is excited to partner with NASA and JPL to advance our knowledge of near-Earth objects,” said Jessica Matthews, HAARP’s program manager.
SWLing Post friend and contributor, David Goren, notes that a piece he’s produced and Maria Margaronis has presented is now available to listen to online via BBC Radio 4:
(Source: BBC Radio 4 with Photo credit from Michael Starghill))
The Allan B. Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas, used to be known as the Terror Dome for its high rates of inmate violence, murder and suicide. Polunsky houses all the men condemned to death in Texas (currently 185) and nearly 3,000 maximum security prisoners. But since the pandemic, a prison radio station almost entirely run by the men themselves has helped to create community–even for those on death row, who spend 23 hours a day locked alone in their cells.
The Tank beams all kinds of programmes across the prison complex: conversations both gruff and tender; music from R&B to metal; the soundtracks of old movies; inspirational messages from all faiths and none. The station’s steady signal has saved some men from suicide and many from loneliness; it lets family members and inmates dedicate songs to each other and make special shows for those on their way to execution. Maria Margaronis tunes in to The Tank and meets some of the men who say it’s changed their lives—even when those lives have just weeks left to run.
I’m very honored to be featured with my good friend Wlodek (US7IGN) in a short radio documentary on BBC Radio 4 today.
Wlodek is long-time reader and subscriber here on the SWLing Post and QRPer.com. Wlodek lives in Kiev, Ukraine and we keep in touch these days over email. Like me, he is passionate about field radio work and before the Russian invasion, you’d often find him in nearby forests experimenting with some pretty impressive field antennas.
Sadly, when Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, it very quickly brought an end to all of that for Wlod. Not only were amateur radio operators not allowed to transmit under the state of emergency, but it’s no longer safe to venture into nearby forests.
Radio producer, Cicely Fell, learned about our love of all things field radio and put together an audio piece that airs today on BBC Radio 4:
From the forests of North Carolina, USA to the city of Kyiv, Ukraine – two ham radio enthusiasts seek each other out and a voice from the past prompts a dialogue on listening between a rabbi and a radio producer.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jonathan Marks, who notes that BBC Director General Tim Davie announced a digital strategy along with a number cuts following the BBC licence fee settlement. This was all outlined in his “A digital-first BBC“ speech to staff this afternoon.
I’ve pasted the full copy of his speech below, but regarding the BBC World Service, here is an excerpt:
“The Government’s commitment to extend its £94m annual funding for the World Service for a further three years is very welcome. But UK licence fee funding for the World Service, which has been around £254m in recent years, is now running at over £290m including World News – a level that is unsustainable following the licence fee settlement.
We will set out plans in the coming weeks for how we will initially reduce licence fee spending on the World Service by around £30m by the start of 2023/24, while protecting the full breadth of languages.
At the same time, our strategic review will identify the right longer-term model for a digital-first World Service and lay out a strong case for more investment from government over the coming years. This case for a strengthened World Service is compelling but we can only expect UK licence fee payers to fund so much.”
In addition, they hope to save £500m annually by cutting services such as Radio 4 Extra, Radio 4’s Long Wave service, and Radio 5 Live’s mediumwave transmitter network.
The Director General’s speech to staff, of course, primarily focused on being a world-class digital and on-demand provider.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie’s speech to staff on 26 May 2022
Published: 26 May 2022
Good afternoon everybody.
Today, in our centenary year, I want to set out a vision of how we keep the BBC relevant and offer value to all audiences in an on-demand age.
I will cover three things: the pressing need to build a digital-first BBC; how we spend our money now that we have the certainty of public funding for six years; and how we keep reforming the way we work. Continue reading →
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’sRadio 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 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 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.
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).[…]
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).
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.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who notes that the excellent website, Atlas Obscura, recently featured The Shipping Forecast:
Why a Maritime Forecast Is So Beloved in the United Kingdom
For the penultimate song on their 1994 album Parklife, Blur chose the swirling, meditative epic, “This Is a Low.” The song envisions a five-minute trip around the British Isles as an area of low pressure hits.
“Up the Tyne, Forth, and Cromarty,” sings the lead singer Damon Albarn, “there’s a low in the high Forties.” The song’s litany of playful-sounding place names, including the improbable “Biscay” and “Dogger,” may seem obscure to listeners abroad, but to a British audience, they resonate.
The song’s lyrics were inspired by the Shipping Forecast, a weather report that is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Sailors working around the coasts of Britain and Ireland, recipients of the wrath of the North Atlantic and North Sea, are the ostensible beneficiaries of the forecast.
But, for listeners who tune in while tucked in bed rather than sailing the high seas, the reassuring sound—a simple, steady listing of conditions in the seas around the British Isles, broken down into 31 “sea areas,” most of which are named after nearby geographical features—is something more akin to the beating pulse of the United Kingdom, as familiar as the national anthem or the solemn chimes of Big Ben.[…]
When I lived in the UK, I would often fall asleep and/or wake up to the Shipping Forecast. Here in the States, I can listen to the forecast live via the U Twente WebSDR, but I rarely remember to do so.
And, of course, I can navigate to the Radio 4 website and stream current and past forecasts on demand, but I find the audio a little too clean and full fidelity. I prefer listening to my maritime poetry via Amplitude Modulation (AM)!