If you’d like to know what it’s been like for a radio listener and ham radio operator living day-to-day in Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, I highly recommend reading War Diaries.
Volodymyr (or Wlod) is a regular here on the SWLing Post and simply amazing fellow. We share a love of playing radio outdoors and were even recently featured on BBC Radio 4. Sadly, due to the nature of living in a war zone, Wlod cannot escape urban RFI/QRM by making journeys into the forest. These days, that would be a very dangerous activity.
Instead, Wlod makes the most out of the blackouts caused by Russian missile attacks: he enjoys the radio quiet conditions to listen to and DX stations across the globe from his small apartment on vintage radios that he’s repaired.
In fact, here’s a most recent longwave scan Wlod shared during a blackout with his vintage Radiotehnika Riga-104:
Since Russia’s invasion began, Wlod’s wife and children have taken refuge in Poland. Radio has been his constant companion and even a source of valuable intel.
In Wlod’s book, you’ll learn what’s it’s been like living in a world with constant air-raid sirens, artillery attacks, and blackouts. You’ll also learn how incredibly resourceful and resilient he and his fellow Ukrainians are in the face of the Putin war machine.
I highly recommend grabbing a copy of War Diaries. It’s available on Amazon.com as an eBook for $5.99 and even as a hard or soft cover print book.
Obviously, any revenue from the sales of this book are supporting Wlod and his family.
Kenyon is a radio archivist at heart. He has carefully preserved QSL cards that he received between 1956 and 1961–a time period many of us consider the zenith of international broadcasting and DXing.
From Ronald W. Kenyon’s collection
Kenyon’s book presents color reproductions of over 100 vintage QSL cards—most displaying both front and back—issued by 89 shortwave stations in 75 countries. For the uninitiated, he includes an introduction that acquaints with shortwave radio listening, submitting listener reports, and obtaining QSL cards. Radio enthusiasts will be familiar with these topics, but this addition is an important one since we often forget that we’ve a niche pursuit and for many of his readers, this will be their first introduction.
From Ronald W. Kenyon’s collection
Kenyon sent me a pre-sales sample of his book. It’s what I’d call a “coffee table” paperback. The format is 8.5 x 8.5 inches which gives each QSL image proper page space to be presented. The color reproduction and print in this publication is excellent.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed taking in Kenyon’s book at a very leisurely pace. It’s divided into three main sections:
Section One of his book is a gallery of 107 vintage QSL cards from radio stations in 78 countries.
Section Two features SWL and ham radio cards.
Section Three features seasonal greeting cards sent to listeners by radio broadcasters from nine countries.
There’s even an appendix featuring, “A Letter from Antarctica,” which recounts how Kenyon was linked to a British meteorologist at a base in Antarctica via a radio station in Montevideo, Uruguay of all places. A fabulous example of how radio–especially in the late 50s and early 60s–was a fabulous medium for connecting listeners across vast distances.
I’m a nostalgic fellow–especially during the Thanksgiving and Holiday season. I’ll admit: this wonderful, simple bit of radio nostalgia is just what the doctor ordered as we celebrate the season. We all can relate to and enjoy Kenyon’s gallery of radio nostalgia and history. Indeed, my hope is that his book will encourage others to document their radio journey as well.
Being a limited print, full-color, 150 page book, the price will be $35 US. However, the author has offered 10% off his book if ordered before December 31, 2020. That will lower the price to $31.50 US via Amazon.com or £23.95 via Amazon.co.uk.
If you enjoy browsing QSL cards like I do, you’ll love QSL: How I Traveled the World and Never Left Home. Certainly, a fabulous gift idea for the radio enthusiast in your world.
Amazon purchase links
(Please note that some of these are affiliate links that also support theSWLing Post)
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 DM Barrett, Tracy Wood, Mike Terry, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:
Tony Pavick combines love for music and radio in weekly show, Pop Shop Radio
While he may not be jumping up and down in a radio booth throwing records on turntables, Tony Pavick is once again pumping out radio in the form of a weekly hour-long show from his home in Hope.
It’s been 20 years since radio was broadcast from Hope – former radio personality and now fire chief Tom DeSorcy confirmed that CKGO, Hope’s AM radio station, closed its doors in 2000. And while Pavick isn’t starting a new radio station, he’s broadcasting for an hour each week from Hope to the world via shortwave radio.
Shortwave, a band in between the AM and FM band, Pavick explained, was utilized right up until the 1990s by countries wanting to spread their news, propaganda and cultural content. Living in the U.S., Pavick got his first taste of Canada while listening to Radio Canada International on a shortwave radio his parents bought him in the late 1960s.
Since the end of the Cold War, Pavick explains, countries have turned their radio equipment over to different groups. One of those is Channel 292 at the University of Twente, where he broadcasts at a rate of 15 Euro for an hour of radio time. Those without the ability to pick up shortwave can listen to Pavick’s show online at websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/?tune=6070am.
The show starts with radio static, followed by the sound of a pop being opened and poured. Then Pavick comes in with “from the town of Hope in super natural British Columbia, in Canada, I’m Tony and this is Pop Shop Radio.”
Pavick plays a wide range of pop music, for example his first show included a Czech language version of Heart of Glass recorded when Czechoslovakia was still a nation, and a 2006 Groovefinder remix of Nina Simone’s Ain’t Got No.
He draws inspiration from a time when you could hear, on a top 40 station, a line-up featuring Jefferson Airplane, followed by Johnny Cash and then the The Beatles. “There was a great variety of music played on the same station,” he said. “Popular music wasn’t just rock n’ roll, it was rock and pop and country and just a whole variety of things. So that’s where the idea for it being called the Pop Shop came about.”
Pavick doesn’t keep it a secret where he finds some of the more obscure plays. He uses music website 45cat.com, an extensive online music archive.[…]
As the world’s second largest hamfest, we pride ourselves on delivering a high-quality event to our attendees and would not want to put on a show that is anything less than what the ham radio community deserves.
After much deliberation, the difficult decision to postpone the 75th Orlando HamCation was made. It is with heavy hearts that we must make this decision. We had wished to see all of you next year in person, but the situation we face globally has made this challenging. Instead, HamCation will be moved to February 11-13th, 2022. We are looking to host some unique Webinars, a QSO Party and possibly Prize Drawings for 2021.
More information to come on our website soon.
For those who have already purchased tickets and spaces, we will be in contact with you shortly and will reach out to you directly. You will have the option to use your ticket for HamCation 2022, receive a refund or donate the funds to the Orlando Amateur Radio Club.
We thank all of you for your patience and understanding during these times and are excited to see you all again in 2022…
73, Michael Cauley, W4MCA
Gordon Bathgate can barely recall a time when he wasn’t in thrall to the radio and marvelling at all the different sounds which came out of a magic box in his living room when he was growing up in the north-east of Scotland.
A lot of snap, crackle and pop music has come and gone since these early days, but he is still Radio Ga Ga about an invention which has shaped all our lives and is celebrating its centenary in 2020.
This follows the innovation and imagination of so many pioneering figures, including his compatriot James Clerk Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz and Guglielmo Marconi, whose name has become inextricably linked with the device.
In so many different ways, Mr Bathgate, who has written a new book, Radio Broadcasting: A History of the Airwaves, has devoted decades to boosting its profile in many guises.
He was a founding member of Grampian Hospital Radio at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary – a service which does invaluable work and particularly in the current Covid-induced social isolation.
He also presented shows for North East Community Radio at Kintore and presents music programmes as far afield as Peterhead, The Netherlands and the fabled Radio Caroline.
He has created a series of witty little films, imparting his love for the Doric language, including pastiches of Star Trek and Dallas.
But it’s his passion for radio which shines through the pages of his new production.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who notes that author Matt Zullo will give a free online presentation about his novel, The US Navy’s On-The-Roof Gang, Volume One tomorrow (Thursday October 8, 2020, at 16:00 UTC).
THE US NAVY’S ON-THE-ROOF GANG: VOLUME I – PRELUDE TO WAR is an historical novel based on the unknown true-life story of the “On-The-Roof Gang,” the U.S. Navy’s fledgling radio intelligence organization in the years leading up to World War II. It is based on the real life of Harry Kidder, a U.S. Navy radioman who first discovered and deciphered Japanese katakana telegraphic code while stationed in the Philippines in the 1920s, discovering that he was listening to Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) radio communications. Kidder strongly believed in the future of radio intelligence and a chance meeting with Lieutenant Laurance Safford led to the birth of the Navy’s Radio Intelligence community. Kidder taught others the nascent art of intercepting IJN communications on the roof of the Main Navy Building in Washington, DC. From 1928 to 1941, 176 Sailors and Marines attended this training and were then stationed as radio intercept operators around the Pacific. These men would become known as the On-The-Roof Gang and were charged with keeping track of the IJN as they prepared for war with the United States. The circumstances of America’s entry into World War II hinged on success or failure of the On-The-Roof Gang, and Harry Kidder knew this. On-the-Roof Gang: Prelude to War concludes with the “date which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941
Matt Zullo is a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer who has more than 35 years’ experience in Radio Intelligence, now more commonly known as Communications Intelligence. He holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University, where he researched and wrote his master’s thesis on the On-the-Roof Gang. He has published numerous articles on the On-the-Roof Gang in the Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association’s Cryptolog magazine and on social media platforms. As one of only a few quantifiable experts on the subject, Matt has spoken at the 2009, 2011, and 2013 Cryptologic History Symposiums, as well as at several Navy events around the world. He recently (Nov 2019) attended the induction of Harry Kidder into NSA’s Cryptologic Hall of Honor and spoke about Harry Kidder at a subsequent event for the sailors of Cryptologic Warfare Group Six. Matt continues his research into the On-the-Roof Gang as he writes and edits his two-volume history about the group.
Have you ever ordered an item knowing you would be facing shipping delays, and when it finally arrives, you forgot you had even ordered it in the first place? Sort of feels like you got a gift from yourself?
Please tell me you do–!
That’s how I felt recently when my copy of Radio War by David Abrutat arrived. I first read about this book in RadCom and then in The Spectrum Monitor. Being a WWII history buff and (obviously) a radio enthusiast, it doesn’t get much better than this.
I’m brewing a cup of coffee right now, and heading to our porch for a little “DEAR” time as my girls like to call it (Drop Everything and Read).
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul, who shares a link to Letters of a Radio-Engineer to his Son by John Mills. The book, originally published in 1922, is in the public domain and shared/hosted on the Project Gutenberg website.
It is a fascinating read. Mills does a rather amazing job explaining complex electronic principles in a simple narrative form.
To give you a taste, check out Letter 3 – How a Battery Works below:
HOW A BATTERY WORKS
(This letter may be omitted on the first reading.)
My Dear Boy:
When I was a boy we used to make our own batteries for our experiments. That was before storage batteries became as widely used as they are to-day when everybody has one in the starting system of his automobile. That was also before the day of the small dry battery such as we use in pocket flash lights. The batteries which we made were like those which they used on telegraph systems, and were sometimes called “gravity” batteries. Of course, we tried several kinds and I believe I got quite a little acid around the house at one time or another. I’ll tell you about only one kind but I shall use the words “electron,” “proton,” “nucleus,” “atom,” and “molecule,” about some of which nothing was known when I was a boy.
We used a straight-sided glass jar which would hold about a gallon. On the bottom we set a star shaped arrangement made of sheets of copper with a long wire soldered to it so as to reach up out of the jar. Then we poured in a solution of copper sulphate until the jar was about half full. This solution was made by dissolving in water crystals of “blue vitriol” which we bought at the drug store.
17Blue vitriol, or copper sulphate as the chemists would call it, is a substance which forms glassy blue crystals. Its molecules are formed of copper atoms, sulphur atoms, and oxygen atoms. In each molecule of it there is one atom of copper, one of sulphur and four of oxygen.
When it dissolves in water the molecules of the blue vitriol go wandering out into the spaces between the water molecules. But that isn’t all that happens or the most important thing for one who is interested in making a battery.
Each molecule is formed by six atoms, that is by six little groups of electrons playing about six little nuclei. About each nucleus there is going on a game but some of the electrons are playing in the game about their own nucleus and at the same time taking some part in the game which is going on around one of the other nuclei. That’s why the groups or atoms stay together as a molecule. When the molecules wander out into the spaces between the water molecules something happens to this complicated game.
It will be easiest to see what sort of thing happens if we talk about a molecule of ordinary table salt, for that has only two atoms in it. One atom is sodium and one is chlorine. The sodium molecule has eleven electrons playing around its nucleus. Fairly close to the nucleus there are two electrons. Then farther away there are eight more and these are having a perfect game. Then still farther away from the nucleus there is a single lonely electron.
The atom of chlorine has seventeen electrons which 18play about its nucleus. Close to the nucleus there are two. A little farther away there are eight just as there are in the sodium atom. Then still farther away there are seven.
I am going to draw a picture (Fig. 1) to show what I mean, but you must remember that these electrons are not all in the same plane as if they lay on a sheet of paper, but are scattered all around just as they would be if they were specks on a ball.
You see that the sodium atom has one lonely electron which hasn’t any play fellows and that the chlorine atom has seven in its outside circle. It appears that eight would make a much better game. Suppose that extra electron in the sodium atom goes over and plays with those in the chlorine atom so as to make eight in the outside group as I have shown Fig. 2. That will be all right as long as it doesn’t get out of sight of its own nucleus because you remember that the sodium nucleus is responsible for eleven electrons. The lonely electron of the sodium atom needn’t be lonely any more if it can persuade its nucleus to stay so close to the chlorine atom that it can play in the outer circle of the chlorine atom.
The outer circle of the chlorine atom will then have a better game, for it will have just the eight that makes a perfect game. This can happen if the chlorine atom will stay close enough to the sodium atom so that the outermost electron of the sodium atom can play in the chlorine circle. You see everything will be satisfactory if an electron can be shared by the two atoms. That can happen only if the two atoms stay together; that is, if they form a molecule. That’s why there are molecules and that’s what I meant when I spoke of the molecule as a big game played by the electrons of two or more atoms.
This molecule which is formed by a sodium atom and a chlorine atom is called a molecule of sodium chloride by chemists and a molecule of salt by most every one who eats it. Something strange happens when it dissolves. It wanders around between the water molecules and for some reason or other–we don’t know exactly why–it decides to split up again into sodium and chlorine but it can’t quite do it. The electron which joined the game about the chlorine nucleus won’t leave it. The result is that the nucleus of the sodium atom gets away but it leaves this one electron behind.
What gets away isn’t a sodium atom for it has one too few electrons; and what remains behind isn’t a chlorine atom for it has one too many electrons. We call these new groups “ions” from a Greek word which means “to go” for they do go, wandering off into the spaces between the water 20molecules. Fig. 3 gives you an idea of what happens.
You remember that in an atom there are always just as many protons as electrons. In this sodium ion which is formed when the nucleus of the sodium atom breaks away but leaves behind one planetary electron, there is then one more proton than there are electrons. Because it has an extra proton, which hasn’t any electron to associate with, we call it a plus ion or a “positive ion.” Similarly we call the chlorine ion, which has one less proton than it has electrons, a minus or “negative ion.”
Now, despite the fact that these ions broke away from each other they aren’t really satisfied. Any time that the sodium ion can find an electron to take the place of the one it lost it will welcome it. That is, the sodium ion will want to go toward places where there are extra electrons. In the same way the chlorine ion will go toward places where electrons are wanted as if it could satisfy its guilty conscience by giving up the electron which it stole from the sodium atom, or at least by giving away some other electron, for they are all alike anyway.
Sometimes a positive sodium ion and a negative chlorine ion meet in their wanderings in the solution and both get satisfied by forming a molecule 21again. Even so they don’t stay together long before they split apart and start wandering again. That’s what goes on over and over again, millions of times, when you dissolve a little salt in a glass of water.
Now we can see what happens when copper sulphate dissolves. The copper atom has twenty-nine electrons about its nucleus and all except two of these are nicely grouped for playing their games about the nucleus. Two of the electrons are rather out of the game, and are unsatisfied. They play with the electrons of the part of the molecule which is called “sulphate,” that is, the part formed by the sulphur atom and the four oxygen atoms. These five atoms of the sulphate part stay together very well and so we treat them as a group.
The sulphate group and the copper atom stay together as long as they are not in solution but when they are, they act very much like the sodium and chlorine which I just described. The molecule splits up into two ions, one positive and one negative. The positive ion is the copper part except that two of the electrons which really belong to a copper atom got left behind because the sulphate part wouldn’t give them up. The rest of the molecule is the negative ion.
The copper ion is a copper atom which has lost two electrons. The sulphate ion is a combination of one sulphur atom, four oxygen atoms and two electrons which it stole from the copper atom. Just as the sodium ion is unsatisfied because in it there is one more proton than there are electrons, so the copper ion is unsatisfied. As a matter of fact it is twice 22as badly unsatisfied. It has two more protons than it has electrons. We say it has twice the “electrical charge” of the sodium ion.
Just like a sodium ion the copper ion will tend to go toward any place where there are extra electrons which it can get to satisfy its own needs. In much the same way the sulphate ion will go toward places where it can give up its two extra electrons. Sometimes, of course, as ions of these two kinds wander about between the water molecules, they meet and satisfy each other by forming a molecule of copper sulphate. But if they do they will split apart later on; that is, they will “dissociate” as we should say.
Now let’s go on with the kind of batteries I used to make as a boy. You can see that in the solution of copper sulphate at the bottom of the jar there was always present a lot of positive copper ions and of negative sulphate ions.
On top of this solution of copper sulphate I poured very carefully a weak solution of sulphuric acid. As I told you, an acid always has hydrogen in its molecules. Sulphuric acid has molecules formed by two hydrogen atoms and one of the groups which we decided to call sulphate. A better name for this acid would be hydrogen sulphate for that would imply that its molecule is the same as one of copper sulphate, except that the place of the copper is taken by two atoms of hydrogen. It takes two atoms of hydrogen because the copper atom has two lonely electrons while a hydrogen atom only has one. It takes two electrons to fill up the game which the 23electrons of the sulphate group are playing. If it can get these from a single atom, all right; but if it has to get one from each of two atoms, it will do it that way.
I remember when I mixed the sulphuric acid with water that I learned to pour the acid into the water and not the other way around. Spatterings of sulphuric acid are not good for hands or clothes. With this solution I filled the jar almost to the top and then hung over the edge a sort of a crow’s foot shape of cast zinc. The zinc reached down into the sulphuric acid solution. There was a binding post on it to which a wire could be connected. This wire and the one which came from the plate of copper at the bottom were the two terminals of the battery. We called the wire from the copper “positive” and the one from the zinc “negative.”
Now we shall see why and how the battery worked. The molecules of sulphuric acid dissociate in solution just as do those of copper sulphate. When sulphuric acid molecules split, the sulphate part goes away with two electrons which don’t belong to it and each of the hydrogen atoms goes away by itself but without its electron. We call each a “hydrogen ion” but you can see that each is a single proton.
In the two solutions are pieces of zinc and copper. Zinc is like all the rest of the metals in one way. Atoms of metals always have lonely electrons for which there doesn’t seem to be room in the game which is going on around their nuclei. Copper as we saw has two lonely electrons in each atom. Zinc 24also has two. Some metals have one and some two and some even more lonely electrons in each atom.
What happens then is this. The sulphate ions wandering around in the weak solution of sulphuric acid come along beside the zinc plate and beckon to its atoms. The sulphate ions had a great deal rather play the game called “zinc sulphate” than the game called “hydrogen sulphate.” So the zinc atoms leave their places to join with the sulphate ions. But wait a minute! The sulphate ions have two extra electrons which they kept from the hydrogen atoms. They don’t need the two lonely electrons which each zinc atom could bring and so the zinc atom leaves behind it these unnecessary electrons.
Every time a zinc atom leaves the plate it fails to take all its electrons with it. What leaves the zinc plate, therefore, to go into solution is really not a zinc atom but is a zinc ion; that is, it is the nucleus of a zinc atom and all except two of the planetary electrons.
Every time a zinc ion leaves the plate there are left behind two electrons. The plate doesn’t want them for all the rest of its atoms have just the same number of protons as of electrons. Where are they to go? We shall see in a minute.
Sometimes the zinc ions which have got into solution meet with sulphate ions and form zinc sulphate molecules. But if they do these molecules split up sooner or later into ions again. In the upper part of the liquid in the jar, therefore, there are sulphate 25ions which are negative and two kinds of positive ions, namely, the hydrogen ions and the zinc ions.
Before the zinc ions began to crowd in there were just enough hydrogen ions to go with the sulphate ions. As it is, the entrance of the zinc ions has increased the number of positive ions and now there are too many. Some of the positive ions, therefore, and particularly the hydrogen ions, because the sulphate prefers to associate with the zinc ions, can’t find enough playfellows and so go down in the jar.
Down in the bottom of the jar the hydrogen ions find more sulphate ions to play with, but that leaves the copper ions which used to play with these sulphate ions without any playmates. So the copper ions go still further down and join with the copper atoms of the copper plate. They haven’t much right to do so, for you remember that they haven’t their proper number of electrons. Each copper ion lacks two electrons of being a copper atom. Nevertheless they join the copper plate. The result is a plate of copper which has too few electrons. It needs two electrons for every copper ion which joins it.
How about the zinc plate? You remember that it has two electrons more than it needs for every zinc ion which has left it. If only the extra electrons on the negative zinc plate could get around to the positive copper plate. They can if we connect a wire from one plate to the other. Then the electrons from the zinc stream into the spaces between the atoms of the wire and push ahead of them the electrons 26which are wandering around in these spaces. At the other end an equal number of electrons leave the wire to satisfy the positive copper plate. So we have a stream of electrons in the wire, that is, a current of electricity and our battery is working.
That’s the sort of a battery I used to play with. If you understand it you can get the general idea of all batteries. Let me express it in general terms.
At the negative plate of a battery ions go into solution and electrons are left behind. At the other end of the battery positive ions are crowded out of solution and join the plate where they cause a scarcity of electrons; that is, make the plate positive. If a wire is connected between the two plates, electrons will stream through it from the negative plate to the positive; and this stream is a current of electricity.
Pl. III.–Dry Battery for Use in Audion Circuits (Courtesy of National Carbon Co., Inc.) Storage Battery (Courtesy of the Electric Storage Battery Co.).