Tag Archives: Bruce Atchison

Can you help Bruce identify this shortwave noise?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce (VE6XTC), who is trying to identify noises he’s hearing on the HF bands. Perhaps readers can help.

By request, Bruce has provided me with two recordings via his Kenwood TS-440S:

Recording 1: 7,335 kHz at 0500 UTC on September 13, 2020

Recording 2: 7,405 at 0500 UT on September 13, 2020

Post readers: If you can help Bruce by identifying these HF noises, please comment!

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Guest Post: What is FM Lightning Scatter DX?

Photo by Olivier Lance on Unsplash

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who shares the following guest post:


What is Lightning Scatter DX?

by Bruce Atchison (VE6XTC)

Believe it or not, it’s possible to receive distant FM stations during a thunder storm. While lightning makes it difficult to hear AM and shortwave broadcasts, its crackles aren’t as evident on the 88 MHz to 108 MHz band.

When lightning strikes, it temporarily ionizes the air around it. Radio signals are reflected by the charged gasses and come back down to earth.

From my experience with this kind of DX, the signal became noticeably stronger during lightning strikes. This effect lasted for a second, then the signal level dropped to its former strength.

While a thunder storm raged overhead on July 7th, I used my CC Skywave SSB radio to check out the FM band. Instead of hearing E-skip as I had hoped, I found that tropo-like conditions reflected stations down to my home. I heard signals from a hundred miles away or further.

As just one example, I found a low-power station with the call letters CKSS on 88.1MHZ. They call themselves 88.1 The One. Find out more about this station at the http://www.881theone.ca/ link. It’s located in the town of Stony Plain, Alberta. This station plays country music and airs local news events.

At a guess, I’d say the transmitter is about 120 miles from my QTH in Radway. It normally doesn’t come in at all. The signal strength varied too, showing that it wasn’t a local.

In my instance of catching CKSS’s signal, a form of tropo ducting was also present. Rain can produce reflections of signals but it’s much more pronounced in the UHF and microwave bands.

When a thunder storm is ruining AM and shortwave reception, try DXing the FM band. You’ll be surprised at what occasionally comes in.

For further information on weather-related DX, check William R. Hepburn’s article.

To see a demonstration of lightning scatter on amateur TV, watch the
following video:

To hear what FM lightning scatter sounds like, watch this video:


Thank you for sharing this guest post Bruce. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never tried to hear lightening scatter DX, but I will certainly give it a go.  This time of year, we’ve numerous thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening, so I’ll certainly have the opportunity!

Post readers: Have you ever caught FM DX off of Lightening Scatter? Please comment!

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Can you help Bruce identify this buzzing noise from the 31 meter band?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who writes:

I’m hearing an intermittent buzzing noise on 9820kHz each evening at around 4:00 UTC. What could it be?

Sorry the quality isn’t as good as I’d like, but here’s a recording:

Thank you for sharing this recording, Bruce.  My hope is an SWLing Post reader will be able to correctly ID the source. Please comment!

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Radio Waves: Chelmsford Radio at 100 Years, First Broadcast Station Site, Alfred Vail, and News Executives Purged from VOA

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 John Hoad, Bruce Atchison, and David Korchin for the following tips:


Chelmsford celebrates 100 years of radio with a play (Radio Today)

The city of Chelmsford is celebrating its status as ‘the birthplace of radio’ 100 years ago today with a special live stream of a new play about the Marconi Company tests of 1920.

Britain’s first ever radio entertainment broadcast took place on 15 June 1920, and featured two arias by Australian operatic tenor Dame Nellie Melba, one of most famous singers of the late Victoria era. The broadcast from the Marconi Factory was heard all over Europe and picked up as far away as Canada.

To mark the milestone, Chelmsford City Theatre is streaming a radio play The Power Behind the Microphone: The First Live Radio Entertainment Broadcast about the original broadcast, 100 years to the minute at 7.10pm this evening. International opera star Anna Steiger will recreate the concert given by Madame Melba as part of a radio play based on the story of that fateful night and the breakthroughs that made it possible.[]

Site of the World’s First Radio Broadcasting Station (Atlas Obscura)

Three plaques mark the spot where the “forgotten father of broadcasting” worked.

CHARLES “DOC” HERROLD WAS A pioneer. After founding his College of Engineering and Wireless in 1909 inside the Garden City Bank building at 50 West San Fernando Street in San Jose, California, he launched the world’s first radio broadcasting station, which beamed music, news, and notably, advertising to listeners on a regular basis.

Herrold and his team at Station FN, which included his own wife, the world’s first female disc jockey, epitomized the mantra of many a Silicon Valley startup today: “move fast and break things.” His early transmitting devices burned out one after the other, and Herrold had to use a water-cooled microphone. He stole wattage from San Jose’s street car line to power his innovative “Arc Fone” transmitter, and cut a deal with a local store to play records on a Victrola that he would point at the microphone.[]

Morse’s Partner Argued He Invented Famous Code—to No A-Vail (HistoryNet.com)

Alfred Vail came up with dots and dashes, but Patent Office gave credit to Samuel Morse, the better known inventor

In 1887, 18 years after his father’s death, Stephen Vail took up metaphorical arms to claim Alfred Vail’s place as a key figure in communications history. Starting a war of words that would last decades and end with a declaration carved into stone, the younger Vail bombarded newspaper editors with letters. Alfred Vail’s son insisted that his dad had invented the dot-and-dash system used in telegraphy and known to all, and most gallingly to the younger man, as “Morse” code.

Before telegraphy, the United States had been more a collection of outposts than a nation—when a treaty ended the War of 1812, word from peace talks in Europe between Britain and the United States took so long to creep across the Atlantic that two weeks after the signatures on the peace treaty had dried British and American troops were fighting the Battle of New Orleans. Until telegraphy arrived for good in 1844, information traveled no faster than horses could gallop, trains could roll, or ships could sail. News from Boston reached San Francisco and vice versa by traveling aboard vessels that had to round South America’s southern tip. Only dreamers spoke of rails crossing North America or a canal traversing the Isthmus of Panama. []

Trump administration purges news execs from U.S. agency meant to counter disinformation, leaving staff fearing more to come (CBS News)

The overnight purge of top news organization officials at the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) has raised concern among its federal government employees and reporters that their jobs, immigration status, and editorial independence may soon be at risk following the arrival of new CEO Michael Pack.

Pack, who is a conservative filmmaker and close ally of one-time Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and had just stepped into the job after being confirmed by the Republican-led Senate earlier this month, did not respond to a request by CBS News for comment or explanation.

“Pack uses deep state language. Is Bannon calling the shots?”

A USAGM source said this is the question being pondered by executives and journalists inside the organization now.

Four news division heads were removed from their positions, including Middle East Broadcasting Network chief Alberto Fernandez, who is a former US Ambassador, Radio Free Asia’s Bay Fang, Emilio Vazquez of the office of Cuba Broadcasting, and Radio Liberty’s Jamie Fly. Replacements have yet to be named.

Steve Capus, the former CBS and NBC News executive who had been serving as a senior advisor, was also dismissed. Earlier this week, the top director and deputy director at Voice of America resigned as did the head of the Open Technology Fund Libby Liu, which promotes global internet freedoms.[]


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Jupiter’s radio noise

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who writes:

I came across this video last year and I thought you’d be interested in it. I also picked up Jupiter on my CB radio one morning. We all wondered what was generating those sounds of waves crashing on the beach. Later on, I learned about Jupiter’s powerful radio bursts.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thanks for sharing this, Bruce!

I got a kick out of the narration–especially the subjective comment regarding the sound of Jupiter heard on radio: “The noise is disturbing…”

The narrator is obviously not a radio listener or astronomer! Ha ha!

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Radio Venceremos: A Salvadoran Civil War underground station

Radio Venceremos (Image source: Biblioteca UTEC)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who who shares this short video from the early 1980s showing a glimpse inside Radio Venceremos:

Click here to view on YouTube.

From Wikipedia:

Radio Venceremos (Spanish; in English, “‘We Shall Overcome’ Radio”) was an ‘underground’ radio network of the anti-government Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) during the Salvadoran Civil War. The station “specialized in ideological propaganda, acerbic commentary, and pointed ridicule of the government”. The radio station was founded by Carlos Henríquez Consalvi (Santiago).

Despite the end of the war in 1992, the network continues to broadcast. The war years of the station and its national and international influence were documented in the Spanish-language book Las mil y una historias de radio Venceremos and its English translation, Rebel radio: the story of El Salvador’s Radio Venceremos, by the author José Ignacio López Vigil (translator: Mark Fried), a book recorded by the American Library of Congress. An exhibit honoring Radio Venceremos, including a studio room with original equipment, forms a prominent part of the Museum of the Revolution in Perquín, Morazán, El Salvador.

I also found this film on YouTube (The Radio Venceremos Story) which sheds a little more light on the station. The recording is low-resolution, but the subtitles are legible:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Have any DXers logged and confirmed Radio Venceremos? Please comment!

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Canada: Individual causing malicious interference triggers parliament petition

(Source: Radio Amateurs of Canada via Bruce Atchison)

*/For immediate release:/*

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada responds to petition about interference

On June 6, 2018, Martin Bérubé of Louiseville, Quebec initiated a petition involving a radio station that was “generating interference on purpose”. The petition attracted 1,135 signatures and was presented to the House of Commons on January 30, 2019.

The Government of Canada tabled the following response on March 18, 2019.

“Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada <http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/home> (ISED) was informed of the individual’s conduct in December 2015 by a group of Amateur Radio operators from Quebec. The individual was operating an Amateur Radio station without proper authorization and was known to insult, threaten and impersonate other Amateur operators.

As the individual disregarded ISED’s written and verbal warnings, the department took action to enforce the /Act/. Due to repeated offences, ISED carried out three searches of the individual’s residences and issued seven notices of violation totalling $2,500 plus fees.

On October 17, 2018, the individual was found guilty of these seven violations of subsection 4(1) of the /Radiocommunication Act/, pursuant to subsection 10(1) of the /Act/, by Justice of the Peace Annie Vanasse at the Trois-Rivières Courthouse.

ISED also called upon a federal prosecutor to obtain an injunction against the individual. This injunction is currently at the interlocutory stage. ISED understands that the individual has not been heard on Amateur Radio since August 8, 2018. ISED is closely following this case.”

The text of the petition and the Government Response can be found at the following link:

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1631

*Alan Griffin
RAC MarCom Director*

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