Tag Archives: Dan Robinson

Radio Waves: Radio Facsimile from the 1930s, Public Radio Saving Print, Unlicensed Experimental LW Radio, and RIP Tony Middleton & Milburn Butler

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!


A Look Back at the Radio Newspaper of the Air (Radio World)

Radio facsimile technology never fully caught on, but what if it had?

In the beginning, there were newspapers.

And then radio arrived, challenging the newspapers’ journalistic monopoly.

At first, many newspapers fought the new competitor, refusing to print radio news or program schedules. But some went in the opposite direction, deciding to operate their own radio stations to augment their businesses. And finally, a few brave pioneering publications went even farther: They tried to deliver their newspapers via radio facsimile.

In the early 1930s, radio facsimile looked like the dream application for newspapers. They could use their own local radio stations to deliver newspapers directly to consumers during overnight hours. It would eliminate the cost of printing and distribution and shift those costs onto consumers, who would provide their own printers and paper.

This led several radio stations and newspapers to experiment with facsimile transmission during the late 1930s.

THE FINCH SYSTEM

The person most responsible for this technology was William G. H. Finch. He worked for the International News Service and set up their first teletype circuits between New York, Chicago and Havana. He became interested in facsimile machines and eventually amassed hundreds of patents. [Continue reading the full article…]

How public radio is trying to save print (The Verge)

Why Chicago Public Media and the Chicago Sun-Times are exploring a merger

The Chicago Sun-Times needs help. After being bought and sold several times over the last decade, the 73-year-old paper is looking for a more stable home to continue its award-winning reporting — and it may have finally found it in an unexpected place: a radio station.

Chicago Public Media, which owns the radio station WBEZ, is currently in talks with the Sun-Times to merge. A final deal would combine their newsrooms and audiences in hopes of creating a financially stable enterprise for both teams. Similar mergers and acquisitions have become a common way to bolster the struggling print industry, but if radio were to take on a major newspaper, that would be a first.

“Audio is a growth business,” says Jim Friedlich, chief executive of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, who advised CPM on the potential merger. “Now Chicago Public Media and other media with audio roots have both the wherewithal and the self-confidence to take a bold step like this.”

Since 2004, US newspapers have shut down at a rate of 100 per year, a pace that’s only accelerated since the start of the pandemic. To stay afloat, some smaller newsrooms have given up independence, being bought by news conglomerates or becoming joint entities with other local outlets — and public radio and TV stations have increasingly offered themselves up as partners. New York Public Radio acquiring the website Gothamist was one of nine similar deals in recent years, triggering researchers to document the trend by creating the Public Media Mergers Project. Public radio has been a particularly strong force, holding its ground amid digitization and the podcasting craze (partially because it’s participated in it), and it might be strong enough to help print do the same thing. [Continue reading…]

The low-down on long-wave: Unlicensed experimental radio (Hackaday via the Southgate ARC)

In the 125 years since Marconi made his first radio transmissions, the spectrum has been divvied up into ranges and bands, most of which are reserved for governments and large telecom companies. Amidst all of the corporate greed, the ‘little guys managed to carve out their own small corner of the spectrum, with the help of organizations like the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

Since 1914, the ARRL has represented the interests of us amateur radio enthusiasts and helped to protect the bands set aside for amateur use. To actually take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to transmit on these bands, you need a license, issued by the FCC. The licenses really aren’t hard to get, and you should get one, but what if you don’t feel like taking a test? Or if you’re just too impatient?

Well, fear not because there’s some space on the radio spectrum for you, too.

Welcome to the wonderful world of (legal!) unlicensed radio experimentation, where anything goes. Okay, not anything but the possibilities are wide open. There are a few experimental radio bands, known as LowFER, MedFER, and HiFER where anyone is welcome to play around. And of the three, LowFER seems the most promising.

LowFER, as the name would suggest, contains the lowest frequency range of the three, falling between 160 kHz and 190 kHz, with a whopping wavelength of around one mile. Also known as the 1750-meter band, this frequency range is well-suited for long transmission paths through ground wave propagation, a mode in which the radio signals move across the surface of the earth. This can easily carry even low-power signals hundreds of miles, and occasionally through some atmospheric black magic, signals have been known to travel thousands of miles. These ground wave signals also travel well across bodies of water, especially salt water.

Read the full Hackaday item at:
https://hackaday.com/2021/10/19/the-low-down-on-long-wave-unlicensed-experimental-radio/

RAE bids farewell to its historic English voice, Tony Middleton (RAE)

We regret to inform our listeners that our colleague Juan Antonio “Tony” Middleton passed away in Buenos Aires due to health complications, at the age of 82. His distinctive British accent is part of the history of RAE, where he hosted the English-language program for almost three decades. English-speaking listeners around the world remember his warmth and clarity on the air, not to mention his classic opening line: “This is the international service of the Argentine Radio”.

Born in Argentina and son of British immigrants, he ventured into acting in the English language with the group “Suburban Players”, while he was engaged in various commercial activities with his family. In 1981 he had the opportunity to join RAE as a substitute, thanks to his impeccable English and his pleasant voice. In 1983 he joined as a regular and went on to become head of the English-language department at the station, until his retirement in 2008. [Continue reading…]

Milburn Garland Butler Dec 1, 1935 – Oct 10, 2021 (Dignity Memorial)

Mlburn Garland “Gil” Butler was born December 1, 1935 in Bradenton, Florida. He attended local schools, where his mother was a teacher. He grew up in a community where electrification was still being developed, where the Saturday morning movies were an all-day entertainment for kids, and where families would gather in the town square on Sundays for band music and ice cream. After a brief stint in the Army (serving as a quartermaster at a base near Washington, D.C.), Gil Butler went to college in Colorado, returning to Florida where he graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in radio engineering. Along the way, he met and after a whirlwind courtship married Judith Bunten, who would become his lifelong companion. Gil Butler began working as a DJ at a small radio station in Bradenton, Florida in the early 1950s, spinning disks from the very beginning of Rock and Roll. His love of music of all sorts, from Jazz to Rock to Classical, his collection evolved through several formats (LP, cassette, CD, and MPs), and his special chair was always surrounded by the music he would enjoy while reading in the evening. Professionally, Gil moved up to larger stations and more challenging positions in radio and television; working for radio stations around the Tampa Bay area. His first TV gig was as a general reporter for WTVT in Tampa. From there, he moved to WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan, before moving to Silver Spring in the Washington D.C. where he worked as a White House Correspondent for local CBS affiliate, WTOP, covering Washington politics under presidents Nixon and Ford. During this period, Gil appears briefly in Timothy Crouse’s The Boys on the Bus (a recounting of the White House Press Corps during the Nixon Era). He was one of the six “Knights of the Green Ottoman,” named for an item of furniture in the 1972 White House press complex, where the newsmen would gather and share notes. In one passage, he is described: “Gil Butler… the reporter for TV station WTOP, who was chuckling over a volume of Mencken…” This description will surprise no one who knew him, as Gil was a voracious reader. He was always in the middle of a massive nonfiction volume about politics, military history or the Space Race. After WTOP, in 1978, Gil began his ultimate career at the Voice of America, the United States Information Agency’s international radio network. Over a nearly three decade career with Voice of America, he covered 68 countries, working abroad in Cairo, Egypt, Beiruit Lebanon, Beijing, China, London, England, as well as covering the State Department and Pentagon during his time at home between foreign assignments. At the Voice of America’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, Gil received the Meritorious Honor Award for his work in Cairo covering the assassination and funeral of Egyptian President Sadat and its aftermath. Twenty-seven years later, Voice of America News ran a story looking back at that work and the restraint and integrity he exercised in waiting for confirmation before reporting that Sadat had been killed. [Continue reading…]


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GRAHN Spezialantennen currently closed

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who notes that Grahn Spezialantennen is currently closed due to the fact that Mr. Grahn is undergoing extended medical treatment.

Dan received this message from Christine Grahn who did not indicate if/when the business might re-open. We certainly wish him all of the best in recovery.

Click here to view the Grahn Spezialantennen website.

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Rare 1968 Radio Dzaoudzi QSL card fetches $158 at auction

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who writes:

In recent years, a number of records have been set for QSL cards from former shortwave stations around the world. The latest example shows that there is still strong collector demand for one of the rarest stations on the air from Africa, Comoros Islands.

In this eBay auction, a classic photo QSL from the station at Moroni went for $158. That’s in the high end for QSL auctions — there have been higher, for example for QSLs from the former AFAN station at McMurdo, Antarctica, and for some other African and Asian cards.

This card shows the 90 meter band shortwave frequency for the station, 3,331 kHz which as veteran DX’ers who are still around recall could be heard with great difficulty from 0300 UTC when the station signed on for morning programming. The other frequency of 7,260 kHz was also heard, though the 90 meter frequency was the easiest for U.S. DX’ers.

– Dan Robinson

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your insight, Dan. What a fascinating find!

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Radio Waves: Skyworks Acquires Silicon Labs, DRM Response to RW Article, CNN finds Radio Biafra, and Free Online Foundation Course

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 Troy Riedel, Dan Robinson, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Skyworks completes acquisition of the infrastructure & automotive business of Silicon Labs (Skyworks)

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul. 26, 2021– Skyworks Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: SWKS), an innovator of high-performance analog semiconductors connecting people, places and things, today announced that it has completed its acquisition of the Infrastructure & Automotive business of Silicon Laboratories Inc. (Nasdaq: SLAB) in an all-cash asset transaction valued at $2.75 billion.

“On behalf of the entire Skyworks organization, I want to welcome the Infrastructure & Automotive team,” said Liam K. Griffin, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Skyworks. “In addition to a strong legacy of innovation and execution, the I&A business brings a highly diversified customer base that will enable our continued expansion into strategic end markets. Together, we will accelerate profitable growth in key industry segments, including electric and hybrid vehicles, industrial and motor control, power supply, 5G wireless infrastructure, optical data communications and data center.” Continue reading

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HFDY vs. Fire Brothers: Dan compares two Chinese Malahit SDR clones

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post and review:


Two Chinese Clones:   A Look at Noise Levels

Arriving recently here in the radio shack, were a Chinese clone under the name of “Fire Brothers” and another under the name HFDY.  I thought it would be constructive to note the key differences between these two clones, both of which are running Malahit 1.10c firmware, and post some video of a brief comparison.

A note in advance of any comments – I am primarily a HF listener so these comparisons do not cover frequencies above 30 MHz.  For those whose focus is on higher frequencies I recommend looking through the many comments on the Malahit Facebook group and Telegram by those who use these receivers in those ranges.

HFDY

  • Constructed of metal-like material (a correction from my previous articles that this is fiberglass of the kind used in printed circuit boards – thanks to Georgiy of Malahiteam for pointing this out)
  • Front speaker grille is gold color and appears to be metal but may be fiberglass as well – audio is quite good
  • Two top-mounted antenna jacks, one 50 ohm, the other Hi-Z (makes switching between HF and FM/VHF reception easier) with in-use LED indicators
  • Two high quality right side mounted black metal encoder knobs with large power button (clear printed Frequency/STDBY/Volume printed on panel)
  • Cabinet held together with TORX screws
  • 1.10c firmware
  • Receiver is elongated left to right to accommodate left side front-firing speaker, but is thinner overall and could be easily placed in a pocket though not recommended to prevent damage
  • Like every one of these SDRs, suffers from body sensitivity to touch which reduces signal levels unless some sort of additional ground is attached to cabinet
  • Internal flat-type Lithium battery of 3300 mAh though apparently capable of fitting up to 8000 mAh

Continue reading

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Dan adds updates to his Malahit SDR and variant reviews

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following update to his previous post regard the DSP-2 and HFDY Malahit SDRs:


HFDY clone of the Russian-made Malahit SDR

Malahit and HFDY Updates

by Dan Robinson

HFDY CLONE:  As noted by a reader in comments, the Chinese-made HFDY leaves out a large portion of the military AIR band, with no coverage from 250MHz to 400MHz, or about 150MHz, whereas the Russian-made DSP2 only loses 20MHz from 380MHz to 400MHz.  This may be of concern for some readers, others not.

RUSSIAN DSP-2:  As users of the Russia-made DSP-2 may or may not have noticed, the current firmware shows SIX memory bank pages when there are only 5.  This appears not to have been discussed much on the Malahiteam Telegram group or elsewhere.  In response on this, Georgiy of Malahiteam says this “is normal and for our future features” so clearly there are future plans that we are not aware of.

CHINESE-MADE FIRE BROTHERS CLONE:  On September 21st, I took delivery of another China-manufactured clone, with a heavy metal cabinet, a vertical format with controls on top, and twin front-firing speakers.  Obtained via Alibaba, and branded as “Fire Brothers” this has a thick built-in telescopic antenna and a separate SMA jack which the maker describes as “[supporting] a better external shortwave antenna”

On Alibaba, prospective buyers of this receiver are given two options:  Type 1: 50KHz-2GHz without firmware updates supported, and Type 2 with support for updates.   The unit did arrive with 1.10c Malahit firmware with a 160 kHz bandscope width.

As noted above, this China-manufactured clone also blocks 200 mHz – 400 mHz and shows the Msi001 chip and STM32h743 and a claimed blocking figure of 85dB and  sensitivity up to 250MHz of 0.3?V = 10dB.  The battery is described as 5000 mAh and presumed to be flat type Lithium Ion.

The only thing included with this clone, which arrives in a plain black box marked “Fire Bros.Radio” is a USB-C cable.  That’s in stark contrast with the HFDY clone which comes in a high quality fabric zipper case, flexible whip antenna, USB-C cable, and a small metal stand.

The Fire Brothers manufacturer highlights the “high quality speakers” which not only fire out the front of the receiver, but also wrap around with openings on left and right sides of the radio.  My first tests show that audio is indeed quite nice, certainly equal to the Russia-made DSP-2, possibly an improvement on the HFDY clone which has a single front-firing speaker.

I’ll have more on this Chinese clone and some comparisons with the DSP-2, HFDY, and Afedri SDRs, in future articles here on SWLing Post.

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Malahit DSP-2 versus Chinese Clone: Taking the Gloves Off

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


Malahit 2 versus Chinese Clone: Taking the Gloves Off

New DDC (Direct Digital Conversion) Version in Development

by Dan Robinson

It’s been a few weeks since my last commentary on the Malahit/Malachite, which as of this writing remains at the DSP-2 level, though there are continuing hints from the Malahiteam in Russia about future changes, including a DDC version.

All of the observations I made in previous articles are unchanged.  As of today in mid-September, the latest test firmware version posted by the Malahiteam remains M2_FW2_10D.  This includes a widening of the waterfall bandwidth from 160 kHz to 192 kHz.  See my previous articles for more information.

Recently, I obtained a Chinese clone, one which will be familiar to anyone who has taken a dive into the clone market.  This one is by HFDY and is immediately recognizable for its front speaker and longer slim rectangular form factor.

The HFDY (Malahit SDR V 3) has two high quality black metal encoder knobs on the right, with a large power button between, and USB-C and a headphone jack on the left side.  On the bottom are two OFF/ON slide switches, one marked for 3.3 volts and the other BOOT(O).

Continue reading

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