Tag Archives: Bill Patalon

Radio Waves: More Solar Minimum, Cold War Moscow, C-19 Ham Radio Event, and a WWII Code-Breaker is SK

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 Bill Patalon, Dirk Rijmenants, Rodrigo Tarikian, and David (G4EDR) for the following tips:


Deep ‘Solar Minimum’ is feared (Southgate ARC via Forbes)

Forbes magazine reports a deep ‘Solar Minimum’ is feared as 2020 sees record-setting 100-day slump

Jamie Carter writes:

While we on Earth suffer from coronavirus, our star—the Sun—is having a lockdown all of its own. Spaceweather.com reports that already there have been 100 days in 2020 when our Sun has displayed zero sunspots.

That makes 2020 the second consecutive year of a record-setting low number of sunspots

So are we in an eternal sunshine of the spotless kind?

Read the full article at
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2020/05/12/the-sun-is-asleep-deep-solar-minimum-feared-as-2020-sees-record-setting-100-day-slump/

Radio Moscow and the Cold War (SIGINT CHATTER)

Geopolitics and international conflicts during the Cold War made it important for the United states and the Soviet Union to inform people or influence their political views, and this in many countries around the world. But how did they reach their audience?

Today, we can hardly imagine a world without Internet, cable and satellites that brings all the news and information from across the globe in your lap. Yet, during most of the Cold War, people only had newspapers, local TV, FM and AM radio. The only solution to spread ideas was shortwave radio, as these waves travel around the globe and can listened to by everyone with a shortwave radio.

Both East and West had, and still have, shortwave radio stations with a world service. The best known were Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty on one side, and Radio Moscow, Radio Beijing and Radio Havana Cuba on the other side. Everyone had their own truth and accused the other side of expansion drift, disinformation and inciting across the world.

One truly iconic station was Radio Moscow World Service. Their foreign service broadcasting started in 1929 with transmitters in Moscow and Leningrad, and later also relay stations in Vladivostok and Magadan. Radio Moscow reached whole Eurasia, Africa and North and South America. During the Cold War, their broadcasts reached across the world with transmitters in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Cuba, and they broadcast in more than 70 languages.[]

COVID-19 Radio Communication Event (SRAL)

COVID-19 RADIO COMMUNICATION EVENT
DATE: June 06-07, 2020.
STARTS 10.00 UTC SATURDAY – ENDS 09.59 UTC SUNDAY

For amateur radio operators worldwide, social distancing is not an issue. Our ham radio network of radio-wave signals flies high and wide, across all borders near and far. Amateur radio operators are well-known for their communication on skills during the happy days, but also during times of crisis.Even if ham radio operators are now confined to their homes, they are encouraged to communicate, to enhance their friendships, and to keep their minds and skills sharp for global messaging whenever needed.

Click here to download the full announcement with event details (PDF).

Tributes as World War Two code breaker Ann Mitchell dies aged 97 (BBC News)

Tributes have been paid to Ann Mitchell – one of the last of a World War Two code-breaking team at Bletchley Park – who has died aged 97.

Mrs Mitchell, who deciphered German codes at the British code-breaking centre from 1943, died at an Edinburgh care home on Monday.

Her family and friends said she had been declining in health for some years and had “a life well lived”.

The Scotsman reported she had tested positive for Covid-19 recently.

Her son Andy Mitchell, 61, told BBC Scotland: “She was a loving mother and it’s very sad but she was declining in old age with memory loss and physical frailties.

“I’m pleased she has been given the recognition for a life well lived.”[]


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

Radio Waves: Birmingham Museum (BBRM), Si4730 Radio, Ham Radio at Camp Lejeune, and the Oakland A’s Leave Radio

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 Pete Eaton and Bill Patalon for the following tips:


The Rich History of Birmingham’s Black Radio Museum (Birmingham Times)

The Birmingham Black Radio Museum (BBRM) began as a project for Bob Friedman in 1992 to commemorate the first 50 years of a single radio station, 1400 WJLD-AM, and it grew to chronicle black radio in the Magic City.

After moving to Birmingham from his native New York City, N.Y., in 1987, Friedman worked at WJLD, where he started a 1950s vocal-group harmony show in April 1989 and later began a Saturday morning talk show, “Sound Off.” About two and a half years into his 22-year tenure at WJLD, he asked to produce a retrospective about the station’s first half century.

“I put together a pamphlet [about the station] and got people to buy ad space in it,” he recalled. “I also had a Saturday morning show, so I could promote it.”

Friedman, BBRM Founder and Director, recorded interviews with on-air personalities, including Ed “Johnny Jive” McClure, Jesse Champion Sr., and Lewis White.

“I started learning about this unbelievable history of black radio in Birmingham,” Friedman said. “And that sent me on a track, so that even though I left WJLD in 2011, I had already incorporated the BBRM.”

The museum, largely based online at www.bbrm.org, tells of stations that include WJLD, WENN, WAGG, WSGN, and Bessemer’s WBCO. Personalities include but are not limited to legends Dr. Shelley Stewart, Paul “Tall Paul” White, Willie McKinstry, the Rev. Dr. Erskine Faush, and Roy Wood Sr. The physical home is inside the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in the Carver Theater, which is currently closed for repairs.[]

All Band Radio Uses Arduino and SI4730 (Hackaday)

It is getting harder and harder to tell homemade projects from commercial ones. A good case in point is [Mirko’s] all band radio which you can see in the video below the break. On the outside, it has a good looking case. On the inside, it uses a Si4730 radio which has excellent performance that would be hard to get with discrete components.

The chip contains two RF strips with AGC, built-in converters to go from analog to digital and back and also has a DSP onboard. The chip will do FM 64 to 108 MHz and can demodulate AM signals ranging from 153 kHz to 279 kHz, 520 kHz to 1.71 MHz, and 2.3 MHz to 26.1 MHz. It can even read RDS and RBDS for station information. The output can be digital (in several formats) or analog.

The radio takes serial (I2C) commands, and the Arduino converts the user interface so that you can control it. The chip comes in several flavors, each with slightly different features. For example, the Si4731 and Si4735 have the RDS/RBDS decoder, and the shortwave mode is available on Si4734 and Si4735.[]

Fitting 19th Century technology into 21st Century warfighting (DVIDS)

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Feb. 7, 2020)— U.S. Marines with Information Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MIG) participated in a HAM Amateur Radio General Licensing Course as part of the group’s High Frequency Auxiliary Initiative on base, Jan. 27-31, 2020.

The course, taught by members of the Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club, out of Greenville, N.C., helps Marines learn the principles of high frequency radio operations as a contingency against a peer-to-peer adversary in real-world operations.

Throughout the duration of the course, Marines learned HAM radio frequency and propagation theory, frequency band allocation, conventional and field-expedient antenna theory in addition to HAM radio operations and control.

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Jordan Walzer, commanding officer of II MIG, created the High Frequency Auxiliary Initiative after recognizing the need for utilizing more options in a combat environment. He wanted the Marines to familiarize themselves with older technology to ensure their lethality in any situation.

“Embracing technology is great but overreliance leaves us vulnerable,” Walzer said. “In a peer-to-peer conflict, our space-based capabilities will be attacked. The next war will look less like ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and a lot more like ‘Ghost Fleet’.”

Contrary to Saving Private Ryan, which was fought utilizing traditional land-based maneuver warfare, Ghost Fleet is a book set in the near future and includes the addition of space and cyber warfare.

So wars of the past were fought in the air, on land and at sea, whereas future wars will likely include the addition of space warfare, explained Walzer. U.S. forces need to create a cohesion of modern technology and analog throwbacks to mitigate hackers and drones.

HAM radios make effective alternate communication because they do not rely on satellites or internet, but instead, radio waves. They can travel directly or indirectly, along the ground or by bouncing the radio waves off of the ionosphere or troposphere layers of the atmosphere to communicate.

“Right now, our adversaries are aggressively pursuing counter-space weapons to target our satellites and ground stations,” Walzer said. “If our satellites get knocked out, what do we do then? [High Frequency] radio has been around for well over a century and is still used today. Why? Because it’s a reliable, low-cost alternative to satellite communications. With the right training and education, a Marine with a radio and some slash wire can communicate over-the-horizon for long distances, even between continents.”

HAM radios, also known as amateur radios, are communication devices created in the late 1800s. Depending how much an individual is willing to spend on equipment, someone can talk to others across town or across the world, all without the need for an internet connection. Although most people use HAM radios as a hobby, II MIG views them as potential lifelines in a highly contested environment.

There are three courses taught on HAM radios by the Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club. The entry level class is called the technicians course, which gives people frequency privileges in very high frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) bands and some privileges in the high frequency range. A frequency privilege is just another meaning for permission to use a specific frequency. The HAM Amateur Radio General Licensing Course is the intermediate level course, which allows spectrum privileges on almost all spectrums that the government gives amateur radio operators. The expert class license, also called Extra Class, gives users full privilege on any frequencies allocated to HAM radios.

“I think the course was very informative,” said Sgt. Matthew Griffith, an intelligence surveillance reconnaissance systems engineer with 2nd Radio Battalion, II MIG. “It’s good to learn the things that make our equipment work. In my area of this field we use the equipment but don’t [always] know how the equipment works on the inside, which sometimes makes it harder to troubleshoot if a problem arises. Leaving the course with this knowledge will be invaluable for my Marines and me in the future.”

Dave Wood, the president of the Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club and instructor of the course, plans to conduct the first expert level course in the future after enough Marines have graduated from the intermediate course. The club plans to host the next entry level course during the summer of 2020 and train more Marines.

“The volunteers who make up our High Frequency Auxiliary are absolutely vital to us building a world-class capability,” Walzer said. “We’re drastically improving our skill by pairing experts with Marines who have a passion for HAM radio. They may not wear the uniform, but they’re American patriots serving our country in a different way.”

Whether the next conflict is fought in air, on land, at sea, or in space, one thing is clear; Marines will adapt to face those threats whether it is with the technology of today or equipment of the past.[]

Oakland Athletics off the radio waves in the Bay Area, commit to A’s Cast stream (The Mercury News)

The Oakland Athletics will not broadcast games over radio

The Oakland Athletics, who have led a nomadic existence on the Bay Area airwaves, pulled the plug on radio Tuesday, announcing that games will be available only online.

The A’s could have returned to KTRB, the station they teamed with just before the start of last season after an ugly split with 95.7 The Game, but instead chose to expand their use of a streaming service called TuneIn. The team launched A’s Cast on the service last season

Though the method of delivery is different, the voices are not. Ken Korach will return for his 25th season in the broadcast booth alongside Vince Cotroneo. (The team will continue to carry Spanish-language broadcasts on KIQI AND KATD.)

“There’s going to be some frustration because it’s something new,” said Cotroneo, who will mark his 15th season with the A’s. “It involves an education, downloading, and an additional step in what they are accustomed to basically their entire lives. Hopefully, it’s not difficult to get the product.”

The A’s say they are betting on a more tech-savvy generation. They planned to pursue an all-digital approach last season before the KTRB deal emerged . KTRB was the team’s 12th radio home since its arrival in 1968, and the fifth since 2000.[]


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

WSPR explained

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Patalon, who shares a link to the following article on Extreme Tech:

Last Tuesday at 1744 UTC (1:44 PM EDT) UR3RM, a ham radio station in Ukraine blindly sent out a message on 7040.138 kHz.  It was automated. It was text. Maybe someone would hear it. Maybe not.

The “maybe not” part is easy to understand because UR3RM’s transmitter was putting out one milliwatt, .01 watts. To put that in perspective, a Class 2 Bluetooth transmitter, the ones good for around 30 feet, run 2.5 milliwatts.

UR3RM was using a mode called WSPR for Weak Signal Propagation Reporting. Unlike most of ham radio, this is a one-way mode. Not only is there little expectation anyone will be listening, but there’s even less that the signal would make it back. Radio propagation isn’t always a two-way path.

WSPR’s biggest selling point is you can do it on the cheap. It’s easy to set yourself up for not much more than $100 and often a whole lot less. And, though a ham radio license is needed to transmit, anyone can put up a receiver. And the US ham license test is multiple-choice, all published and online.[…]

Click here to continue reading at Extreme Tech.

Post Readers: How many here have received and/or transmitted using WSPR?  Please comment!

Spread the radio love

Peter Tannenwald asks, “Are we really ‘revitalizing’ AM?”

(Source: RadioWorld via Bill Patalon)

On AM revitalization, Peter Tannenwald asks, Are we really “revitalizing” AM, or are we walking around in circles?

Late on Friday, October 5, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in a five-year ongoing effort to “revitalize” the AM radio broadcast service. The new proposals continue a trend toward allowing higher power operation by smaller stations, by reducing nighttime signal protection for some 60 Class A AM stations located in the continental United States and 16 stations in Alaska. The end result would be less wide area coverage and more local radio service to the public.

To understand why the FCC is considering this action, it helps to understand a bit of the science behind AM signal propagation. AM radio signals travel through both the ground and through the air. At night, the airborne signal component (“skywave”) is reflected back to the earth from the ionosphere — a layer of the atmosphere extending from about 50 to 600 miles above the earth’s surface. The reflected signals may come back down to earth hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from a station’s transmitter. Class A AM stations — formerly known as “clear channel” stations (no relation to Clear Channel/now iHeartMedia) — are powerhouses, transmitting with 50 kilowatts of power 24 hours a day – 200 or more times the power of the smallest AM stations.

[…]Signal reflection doesn’t work so well during the day, so the FCC has allowed other stations to occupy the Class A frequencies in other markets. But those stations have to curtail power during “critical hours” (two hours before sunrise and after sunset) and often have to reduce power to nearly nothing or shut down altogether at night. In today’s 24-hour-a-day, nonstop world, not being able to reach an audience at night is a losing proposition; so the FCC has yielded to constant pressure over the years to allow more power and longer hours of operation by those “other” stations, at the expense of long distance reception of Class A signals.

Now the FCC is proposing to go further, rolling back some previous restrictions on non-Class A AM stations and perhaps eliminating whatever remains (and it’s not much) of the protection of far-away reception. Under the proposals, which are sufficiently complicated that you should talk to your engineer if you really want to understand the details, Class A AM stations would be protected only within a higher strength signal contour (and so within a smaller area) than they are now; at least some, if not all, skywave protection would be eliminated.[…]

Click here to read the full article at RadioWorld.

Spread the radio love

RIP Dr. Byron St. Clair: Father of low-power FM

(Source: TV Technology via Bill Patalon)

Dr. Byron St. Clair, president emeritus of the National Translator Association, died May 20 in Denver of brain cancer. He was 93.

St. Clair, who served as president of the National Translator Association for 19 years, is known as the “father of translators, LPTV and low-power FM,” the association said.

He worked to serve those living in the mountainous rural western United States with broadcast service and in so doing created a new class of over-the-air broadcasting, which has grown to more than 4,000 stations that serve millions of people.

“Byron was a friend and mentor to all, a man of immense intellect, wisdom, ethics, kindness and vision,” said NTA President John Terrill.[…]

Continue reading at TV Technology online.

Spread the radio love

GatesAir halts production of AM transmitters

GatesAir FLEXIVA 3DX AM transmitter (Source: GatesAir)

(Source: Radio World via Bill Patalon)

GatesAir is suspending the sale of new AM transmitters.

When a prominent radio engineer passed along word to Radio World that he’d sought a quote from the manufacturer on a new transmitter but was told the company had discontinued the model and was assessing its AM line, we sought to learn more.

Chief Product Officer Rich Redmond replied: “Recent changes in the long-term availability of critical components from our suppliers, including several last-time buy notices, have caused us to take proactive steps to ensure we can meet our continued support obligation of our AM products,” he said.

“To safeguard our ability to offer an ample supply of spare components — and to secure the ongoing field support of our AM transmitters — GatesAir has taken the responsible step of suspending new AM transmitter sales, and will instead focus on supporting existing customers’ transmitters with our available components.”[…]

Click here to read the full story at Radio World.

Spread the radio love

Relive This Day In Radio History: When WJSV recorded an entire broadcast day

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Patalon, who reminds us that 78 years ago today (September 21, 1939) radio station WSJV made an audio recording of its entire 19 hour broadcast day. Bill points to these details from Wikipedia:

This undertaking was a collaboration between the station and the National Archives, and it was the first time that such a comprehensive recording of a radio broadcast had been made. The station then donated its original set of recording discs to the National Archives, giving it a rare and complete artifact from an era frequently called the Golden Age of Radio. Due to their historical significance, the United States Library of Congress has since added these sound recordings to its National Recording Registry.

https://www.radioarchives.com/WJSV_A_Day_in_Radio_History_p/ra140.htm

Let’s travel back in time…

If you would like to relive September 21, 1939, you can listen to all of the WSJV recording segments courtesy of Archive.org. I’ve embedded the full playlist below–simply press play at the top of the player and each segment will load automatically as long as this page is open. Note that in the very first segment, due to a WSJV equipment glitch, there is a period of silence. Enjoy:

Click here to view or download the full set of recordings on Archive.org.

Many thanks for sharing this bit of radio history, Bill! As a radio archivist, this sort of thing makes my day.

Spread the radio love