Tag Archives: BBC Woofferton

Radio Waves: New Quantum Receiver, Virus and Distance Learning by Radio, BBC Woofferton Early Days, and Hello Morse

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 Andrea, Kim Andrew Elliott, Dave Porter, and Phillip Novak for the following tips:


New quantum receiver the first to detect entire radio frequency spectrum (Phys.org)

A new quantum sensor can analyze the full spectrum of radio frequency and real-world signals, unleashing new potentials for soldier communications, spectrum awareness and electronic warfare.

Army researchers built the quantum sensor, which can sample the radio-frequency spectrum—from zero frequency up to 20 GHz—and detect AM and FM radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other communication signals.

The Rydberg sensor uses laser beams to create highly-excited Rydberg atoms directly above a microwave circuit, to boost and hone in on the portion of the spectrum being measured. The Rydberg atoms are sensitive to the circuit’s voltage, enabling the device to be used as a sensitive probe for the wide range of signals in the RF spectrum.

“All previous demonstrations of Rydberg atomic sensors have only been able to sense small and specific regions of the RF spectrum, but our sensor now operates continuously over a wide frequency range for the first time,” said Dr. Kevin Cox, a researcher at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, now known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “This is a really important step toward proving that quantum sensors can provide a new, and dominant, set of capabilities for our Soldiers, who are operating in an increasingly complex electro-magnetic battlespace.”

The Rydberg spectrum analyzer has the potential to surpass fundamental limitations of traditional electronics in sensitivity, bandwidth and frequency range. Because of this, the lab’s Rydberg spectrum analyzer and other quantum sensors have the potential to unlock a new frontier of Army sensors for spectrum awareness, electronic warfare, sensing and communications—part of the Army’s modernization strategy.

“Devices that are based on quantum constituents are one of the Army’s top priorities to enable technical surprise in the competitive future battlespace,” said Army researcher Dr. David Meyer. “Quantum sensors in general, including the one demonstrated here, offer unparalleled sensitivity and accuracy to detect a wide range of mission-critical signals.”

The peer-reviewed journal Physical Review Applied published the researchers’ findings, Waveguide-coupled Rydberg spectrum analyzer from 0 to 20 GigaHerz, co-authored by Army researchers Drs. David Meyer, Paul Kunz, and Kevin Cox[]

Virus and distance learning by radio (1937, 1946) (AE5X Blog)

Six to eight decades ago polio was one of the most feared diseases in the US. In 1952 alone, 60,000 children were infected, 3000 died and many more were paralyzed.
The most severe outbreaks were in 1937 and 1946. My father was a victim of the 1946 epidemic, suffering minor paralysis in one leg as a child.

In 1937, many schools around the country closed, as did public pools, movie theaters and parks. But the Chicago public school system took an innovative approach.

During that period, 80% of US households contained a radio. This allowed 325,000 children in grades 3-8 to continue their education at home via radio lessons aired by six Chicago radio stations (WENR, WLS, WIND, WJJD, WCFL, WGN) that donated time for the purpose.

Program schedules for each day were printed in the morning paper. Home with more than one radio & more than one child often set up radios in different rooms so that each child could hear the appropriate grade’s lesson.

This continued for one month…until schools reopened in late September of that year.

Curriculum was developed by teachers and monitored over the air by school officials. After each episode, a limited number of teachers were available for phone calls. A large number of the calls were from parents distressed that they could not clearly receive the broadcasts.[Continue reading…]

BBC Woofferton Early Days (Ludlow Heritage News) [PDF]

Very few structures are left in the Ludlow area which can be traced back to the Second World War. However, look five miles south of the town towards the rise of the hills and a tracery of masts can be seen. Go closer, and a large building can be found by the road to Orleton, surrounded now by a flock of satellite dishes, pointing upwards. The dishes are a sign of the recent past, but the large low building was made for the war-time radio station aimed at Germany.

This little history attempts to tell the story of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s transmitting station at Woofferton near Ludlow in Shropshire during the first years of its existence. When and why did the BBC appear in the Welsh border landscape with a vast array of masts and wires strung up in the air? The story begins in 1932, when the BBC Empire Service opened from the first station at Daventry in Northamptonshire. Originally, the service, to link the Empire by wireless, was intended to be transmitted on long-wave or low frequency. But, following the discovery by radio amateurs that long distance communication was possible by using high frequency or short waves, the plan was changed. Later in the decade, the BBC expanded the service by also broadcasting in foreign languages. Although Daventry had a distinguished name in the broadcasting world, it was never technically the best place for a short-wave site, being on a hill and close to a growing town.

This article can be found in the Ludlow Heritage News: click here to download the full PDF.

 

Hello Morse: A collection of AI and Chrome experiments inspired by Morse code on Android Gboard (Google)

Developer Tania Finlayson found her voice through Morse code. Now she’s partnering with Google to bring Morse code to Gboard, so others can try it for accessible communication.

Morse code for Gboard includes settings that allow users to customize the keyboard to their unique usage needs. It works in tandem with Android Accessibility features like Switch Access and Point Scan.

This provides access to Gboard’s AI driven predictions and suggestions, as well as an entry point to AI-powered products, like the Google Assistant.[]

 


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M0WOF: Woofferton Transmitting Site’s New Amateur Radio Callsign

Photo by Flickt user Shirokazan via Wikimedia Commons.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter (G4OYX), who shares the following news:

Hi All,

I am pleased to report that following the efforts of two Communication Engineers at the former BBC/VoA Transmitter site at Woofferton, Shropshire there is again an amateur radio club callsign allocated there.

Jon Norton G1JOD and Matt Porter G8XYJ have applied for M0WOF and the license came through on 16th December.

This new call replaces the former call of G3WOF originally granted in 1967 and then re-activated in 1989 which subsequently again lapsed.

The 2m repeater GB3VM, RV49 is located at the site since 2004 but regrettably at present, coverage is severely restricted to the north by a recently on-air co-channel unit GB3SV south of Stafford.

There are plans to set up a APRS node on 144.800 MHz.

The site is now managed by Encompass Digital Media and carries on HF programme for BBC WS, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Korean Broadcasting as well as religious/faith broadcasters. BBC Hereford and Worcester MF local radio is also transmitted in addition to Sunshine Radio 105.9, a commercial VHF/FM station. Downlinking on satellite has been running for many years and just recently up-linking has started for EDM.

73

Dave Porter G4OYX

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Radio World: “Historic Woofferton Boasts a Modern Twist”

Photo by Flickt user Shirokazan via Wikimedia Commons.

(Source: Radio World via David Iurescia and Michael Bird)

WOOFFERTON, England — Nestled in the beautiful Shropshire countryside, just a few miles from England’s border with Wales, is the tiny village of Woofferton. That name is synonymous with shortwave radio for millions of listeners around the world as just a short distance from the village itself, lays the United Kingdom’s last remaining public service shortwave transmitting station.

Now owned and operated by Encompass Digital Media, Woofferton recently celebrated its 75th birthday. Built in 1943, the station has a fascinating history; originally designed to bolster the BBC’s General Overseas Service (now the World Service) during the latter years of World War II, it was later partly funded by the United States and was used extensively by the Voice of America to broadcast into Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union during the cold war years. Today, Woofferton transmits programs for the BBC and a number of other international broadcasters, reaching audiences across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

[…]There are 10 high-power HF transmitters at Woofferton. They range from Marconi senders of various vintages, including two BD272 250 kW units that date back to the 1960s, to the more recent 300 kW B6124 solid-state transmitters, and four of the most modern RIZ 250K01 wideband systems, which are also capable of operating in Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) mode. In fact, the BBC’s daily DRM transmission for Europe is broadcast from here.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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Encompass DRM tests from Woofferton March 26 and 27

Photo by Flickt user Shirokazan via Wikimedia Commons.

(Source: Mauno Ritola via WRTH Facebook page)

Encompass (BBC content) Encompass DRM tests from Woofferton are planned for March 26th and 27th:

  • 1200-1300 UTC 11780 kHz
  • 1500-1600 UTC 11790 kHz”

Very strong signal on 11780 kHz now.

Thanks for the tip, Mauno!

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Woofferton Transmitting Station: 75 years of continuous operation

Photo by Flickt user Shirokazan via Wikimedia Commons.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter, who notes:

Pleased to let you know that Woofferton Transmitting Station celebrated 75 years of continuous operation yesterday 17th October 2018.

It is now run by Encompass Digital Media to give it its full name!

Woofferton has certainly experienced and propagated a lot of world history!  Thank you for sharing Dave!

If you’d like to dive deeper into the station’s history, check out this book published around the time of Woofferton’s 50th Anniversary. Also, click here to check out Dave’s video tour of the Woofferton Transmitting Station.

Spoiler Alert: As we approach the SWLing Post’s 10th Anniversary next month, Dave is generously donating a little piece of Wooferton’s history that one lucky reader will win! Interested?  Stay tuned!

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Paul receives report confirmation from BBC test transmission

SX-99-Dial-Nar

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Paul Walker, who writes:

Remember the “transmission tests” from Babcock and Wooferton last summer? I finally got an email QSL…

My original email is first along with an audio sample of what I heard….

Original message sent on Tuesday, August 11, 2015:

I wanted to send you a reception report after hearing your broadcast.

“This Is A Test Transmission” on 15745khz heard at 1655UTC/11:55am Central today (08/10/2015) in Beaumont, Texas (far southeast corner of the state). This is 4 1/2 minutes, recorded until abrupt sign off in mid song.

I used a Sangean ATS909X with a PK’s Loop 6-18mhz tuneable Shortwave loop. The loop can be tuned to a certain frequency with a dial and can be rotated.

Tuning the loop to your exact frequency and orienting it in your general direction resulted in a pretty decent signal with good audio. The signal was about a 5 out of 10 with some fading, but generally pretty steady.

A link to the 4 1/2 minute audio clip is here:

Do you offer QSL’s? I would very much appreciate a QSL card or letter via regular mail if that is possible.

Warmest Regards,
Paul Walker

Fast forward to yesterday (Wednesday, January 27, 2016):

Thank you for your report and I confirm the details are correct. These transmissions were to fault-find on a 300 kW sender at the UK HF transmitter station at Woofferton.

The engineers needed a long test time as the fault was of an intermittent nature.

Babcock, Woofferton is the only remaining UK HF sender broadcast station and also is the only one with this transmission test audio and email address.

The audio is contained in a file playout system and incorporates non-copyright music and voice announcements from one of the employees at the transmitter site.

Thanks for your interest.

73

Dave G4OYX,

(Retired) Senior Transmitter Engineer Woofferton 1982-2012.

Very cool, Paul! And many thanks to Dave Porter for supplying Paul’s confirmation!

If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend Dave Porter’s video presentation of Woofferton on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/wooffertonuk) and this history of WOF (http://www.bbceng.info/Technical%20Reviews/technical_reviews.htm).

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Dave Porter’s video tour of the BBC Woofferton transmitting site

Check out this brilliant video tour of the BBC Woofferton Transmitting Station, presented by Senior Transmitter Engineer Dave Porter (G40YX). The video is divided in seven parts, thus I’ve created a playlist that will automatically load each video in order.

Click here to start the playlist on YouTube, or simply watch the tour through the embedded video player below. Enjoy:

Many thanks to Dave Porter for hosting this video tour and to Mike Barraclough for the tip!

If you would like to read a detailed history of Woofferton, be sure to check out our post:
Shortwave Radio History: 50 years of transmitting at BBC Woofferton

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