Tag Archives: Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD)

Video: “Tribute to a Century of Broadcasting”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who writes:

You probably have already seen this, but from The ARRL Letter, November 21, 2019:

Art Donahue, W1AWX, of Franklin, Massachusetts, has posted his “Tribute to a Century of Broadcasting” video in recognition of the centennial of formal radio broadcasts. The video features a complete scan of the AM broadcast band (530 – 1700 kHz), with station IDs for all 118 AM radio channels.

Following is ARRL Link:

Radio Amateur’s “Tribute to a Century of Broadcasting” Video Debuts on YouTube

Following is YouTube link to the video:

It was a lot of fun to watch the video, hear the on-air id checks, and compare what he heard to the list of stations that I have heard.

Thanks for sharing this, Bill–I missed reading about this in the newsletter.  This goes to show you that the AM dial is chock-full of stations here in North America. Those who complain that it’s “dead” simply aren’t listening.

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USB Charging Cubes and Cables: Bill’s tests prove that not all are created equal

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:


Power Cubes and USB Cables Multiply Like Rabbits

by Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD)

If your house is like mine, you have a box or drawer somewhere that has a tangle of 5V power cubes and cables.  This is what one of my drawers looks like:

And yes I do have two full drawers.

Every new toy I receive comes with another cable and a power cube.  With Christmas coming, we can all look forward to even more of them.

But I have learned  that not all power cubes or cables are created equally.  Earlier this year I realized that sometimes my tablets would take forever to charge and other times they seemed to re-charge a lot faster.  That got me wondering what was causing the difference. I found that switching power cubes or switching cables could make a difference.

I decided to try some experiments.  First I acquired a couple of Drok USB testers.  These are small, inline, digital USB voltage and amp testers.  They clearly show the amp draw and the voltage being furnished to the device being charged.

Second step was to gather up my power cubes and test them against a device that would load the cube close to it rated capacity.  I quickly found that ANY power cube I owned that was rated at less than 1 amp at 5 volt was not capable of providing anywhere near their rated capacity.  Some would drop all the way down to 4.11V at 0.47A. So I made the decision to throw away ANY power cube that was rated at less than 1 amp at 5 volts. That trimmed down the total number.

I proceeded to label each of the remaining power cubes from 1 to 10.  Following is list of the cubes with their power rating:

Note:  Power cubes 8, 9 & 10 have two USB ports.  I had purchased these so that I could charge two devices at once.  I had also thought of using them to power two Raspberry PI computers.

The following tablets were discharged down to less than 15% capacity:

  • Amazon Fire 10” HD Android Tablet
  • Amazon Fire 8” HD Android Tablet
  • Winbook 8” Windows 10 Tablet

Typically the Fire 10” and the Winbook will draw about 1.8 amps when charging.  The Fire 8” draws slightly less than one amp. So they would make great test subjects to exercise the capability of the power cubes and cables.

I tested several of my cables with the Winbook to make sure that the cable used for testing would provide the amps and voltage.  I then tested each of the power cubes using that cable with each of the tablets and got the following results:

Notes:

  1. All the cubes performed very well within their rated capacity.
  2. It’s interesting to see how the 1 amp rated cubes did with a higher draw.
  3. It’s clear that the cubes do NOT have limiting to their rated capacity.  I would have thought that the 1 amp cubes would have been limited to providing up to but not over that amount.
  4. Likewise, I would have thought that the tablets would limit amp draw when the voltage drops below 5 volts.

Next test was to see if the selection of cable makes a difference.  I randomly selected some cables and labeled them. I used one of the Anker power cubes since they perform the best.  The results were very interesting:

Notes:

  1. The cables were of various lengths from 12” to 36”.  Some of the short cables performed poorly and some of the long cables performed very well.  So cable length is not necessary an indication of how it will perform. You have to test it.
  2. All the cables performed well at 0.95 amps.  But some of them could not adequately handle higher loads.
  3. I had accidentally left the Winbook charging, so it was not at maximum charge during the cable tests.
  4. The cables in Red have been thrown away.

I have two special cables that I had purchased.  These were power splitter cables, single USB to two mini USB.  I had used these for a while running two Raspberry PI’s off of one power cube.  But they would reset every so often, so I thought that the splitter cable might not be providing power evenly between the two PI’s.  Time to test my theory.

Notes:

  1. The a & b denotes each of the legs of the spitters.
  2. It’s pretty obvious that the two legs do NOT provide the same capacity at the higher loads.
  3. These cables will also be tossed away.

Now for some fun testing.  I thought I would try to load the Anker Dual Port power cubes to see if they will provide their rated power on each port.

Very impressive.

And last, I have two Anker large capacity 5V battery packs:

Battery one – Anker Astro E7, Model A1210.  Capacity: 26800mAh. Rated: 4A@5V – 2A max per port.

Battery two – Anker Powercore Model A1277.  Capacity: 26800 mAh. Rated: 4A@5V – 2A max per port.

Update [18 Dec 2019]:  I had received a comment that I didn’t show the Anker Dual Port with both ports fully loaded.

I did another test – this time adding in my Pixel cell phone which draws about 1 amp when not fast charging.

Attached is photo showing the Anker power supply fully loaded:

(Fire 10 & Pixel on one port & Fire 8 and Winbook on the second port)

Port 1: 2.59A @ 5.03V

Port 2: 2.75A @ 5.01V

Pretty good for a cube only rated at 2.4A per port.

Conclusions:

  1. Don’t just select a random power cube from that drawer.  Be sure to select one that will provide both the required amp draw at a minimum of 5 volts.
  2. Likewise, don’t just select a random usb cable from that drawer.  Make sure the cable will carry the required current and voltage.
  3. The Anker products that I have (power cubes and batteries) produce the rated current and voltage.  I would highly recommend them.
  4. Where before  I had two drawers full of power cubes and cables; after throwing away about half of them, it has been consolidated into a single drawer.
  5. I may buy some more of the Anker power cubes.

Wow…thank you, Bill!

Your timing is impeccable. I’ve also been weeding out a number of USB power cubes from my own “drawer-o-plenty!” I had been simply looking at the rated amount on each cube and deciding which ones to keep–tossing all of the lower amperage ones. I think I may actually save a little time and simply invest in a few Anker Elite Dual-Port chargers (note this Amazon affiliate link supports the SWLing Post). At present, the white ones are $8.99 each. I especially like the fact that the plug folds and that it automatically switches between voltage standards (100-240 VAC) while travelling between countries.

Side note: I have also been very pleased with Anker’s customer support. I purchased some Soundcore Anker bluetooth earbuds in January–by November they started having issues maintaining a Bluetooth connection. I contacted Anker customer service and after a little troubleshooting, they dispatched a new replacement pair.

Although I know well that not all USB cables are created equally, I would have never guessed there would be much difference in terms of charging ability. Your tests certainly prove otherwise. I suppose I should not be surprised because most “free” USB cables that accompany consumer electronics are of the cheapest quality. I imagine many of the conductors/wires inside those cables are as thin as a hair, hence can’t handle the demands of devices like tablets and larger smart phones.

Again, Bill, thanks so much for sharing this excellent guest post!


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Bill’s NJARC swap meet deal and some tailgate photos

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who writes:

This morning (Saturday July 20), I went to the New Jersey Antique Radio Club (NJARC) Summer Swap Meet.

They typically hold three Swap Meets each year at various locations This time it was at the InfoAge Science

History Learning Center in Wall, NJ. The InfoAge Center has many exhibits including:

  • InfoAge Space Exploration Center
  • World War II Radar
  • Marconi Wireless Room
  • Radio and Television Museum
  • Vintage Computers
  • plus much more

Check out this link.

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to it.

The Swap Meet was held outdoors and it was a hot humid morning – 80 degrees at 6 am with 90 percent humidity. By 9 am it was 90 degrees. But it was worth the hour trip.

I acquired one new radio – the Nova-Tech Pilot II Direction Finding 4 Band transistor radio. It’s in great condition and is working. It’s an interesting radio.

The four bands are Beacon (190-400 kHz), Broadcast (550-1600 kHz), Marine (1.6-4.5 MHz) and VHF (108-136 MHz).

There is a rotatable antenna on the top that is used to get your bearing. The top of the radio has the Bearing in degrees. It includes Squelch and DF Level controls; both can be switched off. The DF Level is the RF Gain and I read somewhere that when it is activated the AGC is switched off.

I was very fortunate in that the radio came with the three telescoping antennas – all in perfect condition. It also included the original AC Power Adapter.

All for only $25. A great bargain.

The radio seems very sensitive on the Broadcast Band.

I tuned it to my standard test weak station – WALK, 1370, in Patchogue, NY. This station is a 500 watt repeater station to WHLI, 1100 in Hamstead, NY. With most of my radios, I can barely hear a station in the noise. The exception is the Panasonic RF-2200 which can pick it up the best. The Pilot II could pick up a readable signal of WALK.

Very impressive.

Below are some photos of the radio.

Bill also included the following photos from the New Jersey Antique Radio Club (NJARC) swap meet:

Thanks for sharing this, Bill! No doubt, you snagged a fantastic deal on the Nova Tech Pilot II. My dear friend Michael Pool (who passed away earlier this year) acquired one and loved it. Here’s a link to his guest post about this cool DF receiver.

Thanks for sharing the photos and links to the NJARC swap meet. Looks like an event I’d certainly love to attend!

Post readers: Have you attended any swap meets recently?  Any good finds?  Please comment!


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Bill recommends Slow Scan Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who writes:

I have enjoyed listening to Scow Scan Radio SWL Program.

I used a WebSDR to receive it.

http://www.slowscanradio.com/

But it has been off the air for the past weeks due to some minor health issues. The program was interesting in that besides Slow Scan photos, he also did other digital modes using FLDigi.

Some of the test included multiple digital signals in the same waterfall.

When I went to website today to check to see if there were any updates on when it might return to the air, I discovered that he is doing a podcast: Daily Minutes Podcast. Following is podcast feed:

https://dmpodcast.net/feed/

This podcast is a combination of new items as well as some re-runs of earlier Show Scan Radio programs. They also are a combination of English & Dutch. The June 13 & 14 podcasts are about off-shore radio. Very interesting and enjoyable.

The Jun 12 & 14 podcasts include a re-run of an earlier Slow Scan Radio Show in the last thirty minutes of the podcast.

[The screen shot at the top of the page is a] sample of the start of the digital portion.

Very cool! Thank you for sharing this, Bill!

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“CBC President Catherine Tait on trust, raising money and attracting a younger audience”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who notes:

[Recently] the Radio Canada program Sunday Edition had an interview with CBC President Catherine Tait. Very interesting on the challenges facing CBC and radio/tv in general:

(Source: CBC Radio)

It is the job of the CBC to build social cohesion in Canada, according to CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Catherine Tait, but “we also have an obligation to run a business.”

The longtime Canadian television and film executive told Michael Enright, host of The Sunday Edition, that her experience will help with that goal.

“I don’t think it was a surprise that I was selected as an entrepreneur to run this corporation, to try and find ways to uncover revenue that we might not have considered as possible for the public broadcaster,” she said.

The CBC depends on the government for about 70 per cent of its budget. It has never had stable, long-term funding. Budgets ebb and flow because they’re decided by the government of the day.

When it comes to financial support for public broadcasting, Canada ranks third-lowest among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The average per capita funding is $90 — in Canada, it’s $34.

About a year into her mandate, Tait revealed a new strategic plan to guide the CBC through a period of unparalleled media competition, over the next three years.[…]

Click here to listen to the full interview on Sunday Edition.

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2019 Marks the 100th Anniversary of Radio in the Netherlands

Former RNW headquarters in Hilversum, Netherlands (photo coutesty: RNW)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who shares the following:

Hi Thomas,

You probably already know this, but 2019 is the 100 anniversary of radio in the Netherlands

Jonathan Marks of the Media Networks programs has a nice article about some of the history of radio Netherlands:

View at Medium.com

Click here to view.

There’s also the Media Networks Vault where you can listen to many of the original Media Networks programs:

https://jonathanmarks.libsyn.com/

For real Radio Netherland Fans, from the archives, there is an eight part audio series on the 50th anniversary:

Click here to read.

The Internet Archive is probably an easier place to down load the eight part series [we’ve also embedded each audio file below]:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

Part 7:

Part 8:

Click here to listen via the Internet Archive.

Fascinating Listening.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Bill! Indeed-these are some amazing resources to explore the rich history of radio in the Netherlands!

 

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Bill discovers a number of Tecsun S-8800 Hidden Features

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who writes:

I’ve owned a Tecsun S-8800 for about eight months and have come to enjoy it more all the time. It, along with my PL-880, have become my main work horses for shortwave listening.

The S-8800 is perfect on the desk connected to a wire antenna and the PL-880 is perfect for carrying around.

Since I knew of the hidden features of the PL-880, it got me thinking on whether the S-8800 had any hidden features.

A quick Google search turned up the following Web Page:

http://swli-05940-mi.blogspot.com/2017/03/tecsun-s-8800-hidden-features.html

I used Google Translate to get a rough translation and then spent some time testing the features out and also just pressing and holding buttons to see if anything else showed up.

Following is what I have come up with:

(Note: some of these are in the manual)

With the radio off

Toggle Longwave on/off: With the Radio OFF, Press & Hold 2

Toggle backlight permanently on/off: With the Radio OFF, Press & Hold 3  – Note that this means the light will be on even when radio is off. While the light does go out when radio is turned off, any operation of a control will turn the backlight on and it will then stay on. Too bad they just didn’t install a slide on/off switch. Plus I know of no way to turn the backlight on permanently without the remote.

Toggle Seconds display on/off: With the Radio OFF,  Press & Hold 8

Displays “0888”: Maybe this is version?: With the Radio OFF,  Press & Hold “Back”

Displays all segments of display: With the Radio OFF, Press & Hold “AM NORM” – Displays all segments of display. Press & Hold again to display “H802”

With the radio on in FM mode

Displays “75US”: With the radio ON, Press & Hold 5

Squelch Setting: With the radio ON, Press & Hold 9 – Range 0-5. Use Tuning Knob to set. Press 9 again to set.

With the radio on in SW/AM mode

Toggles Extended functions on/off: With the radio ON, Press & Hold 4

With extended functions on:

Press & Hold 6 – Toggles DNR (Dynamic Noise Reduction) on/off.

Press & Hold 9 – Squelch Setting. Use Tunng Know to Set. Press 9 again to set.

Squelch ranges:

MW: 0-40

MW with USB/LSB: 0-30

SW: 0-25

SW with USB/LSB: 0-30

So far that’s all I’ve been able to find. Has anyone else found any others?

Post readers: please comment if you’ve discovered other hidden features on the Tecsun S-8800! I’ll compile a complete list and post it separately.

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