Tag Archives: Dave Porter

Woofferton Control Desk circa 1965

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter (G4OYX), who writes:

Thought you might like to post this pic (above) just in from Phil Brooks who used to be an engineer at Woofferton.

In front of the operator on the desk is what was described as “The External Services Operational Schedule”.

The WOF version was chopped into three eight hour periods. Where there is print the senders are ON. There are eight vertical columns and they correspond to Sender 91 to Sender 96. There are two blank columns on the RHS corresponding to Sender 85 and Sender 86 that were available but not scheduled.

Assuming that they chopped the schedule from midnight to 0800, 0800 to 1600 and 1600 to midnight then it appears that VoA services start up at 0100 and run through to 0630.

Similarly for end of night shift there is BBC starting at 0730 to cover for the maintenance break at Daventry and off at 0900. VoA resumes at 1300 and carries on until 2330 throughout day and evening shift.

WOF has a maintenance break 0900 to 1300.

The six “white flags”are the “Crater keys” and are an interlock device such that if the key is removed then the sender associated with it can’t be powered so that antenna switching can take place.

The view from the window shows part of Sender 92 in the actual sender hall.

The six Peak Programme Meters PPM (UK version of VU – but much better) show the audio on the sender output or input if selected.

This desk ran from 1963 to 1981. It was replaced when automation with a Control System (the WATCH) was installed. That ran from 1981 to 2008.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Dave. We always appreciate the context you add with a career in transmitting informing you!

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Photo gallery of the Rampisham Down transmitting site in 2003

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter, who shares a link to the following site which contains an extensive galley of photos taken at the Rampisham HF transmitting site on October 11, 2003.

Click here to view the gallery.

Thank you for the tip, Dave!

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Radio Waves: New Quantum Receiver, Virus and Distance Learning by Radio, BBC Woofferton Early Days, and Hello Morse

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 Andrea, Kim Andrew Elliott, Dave Porter, and Phillip Novak for the following tips:


New quantum receiver the first to detect entire radio frequency spectrum (Phys.org)

A new quantum sensor can analyze the full spectrum of radio frequency and real-world signals, unleashing new potentials for soldier communications, spectrum awareness and electronic warfare.

Army researchers built the quantum sensor, which can sample the radio-frequency spectrum—from zero frequency up to 20 GHz—and detect AM and FM radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other communication signals.

The Rydberg sensor uses laser beams to create highly-excited Rydberg atoms directly above a microwave circuit, to boost and hone in on the portion of the spectrum being measured. The Rydberg atoms are sensitive to the circuit’s voltage, enabling the device to be used as a sensitive probe for the wide range of signals in the RF spectrum.

“All previous demonstrations of Rydberg atomic sensors have only been able to sense small and specific regions of the RF spectrum, but our sensor now operates continuously over a wide frequency range for the first time,” said Dr. Kevin Cox, a researcher at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, now known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “This is a really important step toward proving that quantum sensors can provide a new, and dominant, set of capabilities for our Soldiers, who are operating in an increasingly complex electro-magnetic battlespace.”

The Rydberg spectrum analyzer has the potential to surpass fundamental limitations of traditional electronics in sensitivity, bandwidth and frequency range. Because of this, the lab’s Rydberg spectrum analyzer and other quantum sensors have the potential to unlock a new frontier of Army sensors for spectrum awareness, electronic warfare, sensing and communications—part of the Army’s modernization strategy.

“Devices that are based on quantum constituents are one of the Army’s top priorities to enable technical surprise in the competitive future battlespace,” said Army researcher Dr. David Meyer. “Quantum sensors in general, including the one demonstrated here, offer unparalleled sensitivity and accuracy to detect a wide range of mission-critical signals.”

The peer-reviewed journal Physical Review Applied published the researchers’ findings, Waveguide-coupled Rydberg spectrum analyzer from 0 to 20 GigaHerz, co-authored by Army researchers Drs. David Meyer, Paul Kunz, and Kevin Cox[]

Virus and distance learning by radio (1937, 1946) (AE5X Blog)

Six to eight decades ago polio was one of the most feared diseases in the US. In 1952 alone, 60,000 children were infected, 3000 died and many more were paralyzed.
The most severe outbreaks were in 1937 and 1946. My father was a victim of the 1946 epidemic, suffering minor paralysis in one leg as a child.

In 1937, many schools around the country closed, as did public pools, movie theaters and parks. But the Chicago public school system took an innovative approach.

During that period, 80% of US households contained a radio. This allowed 325,000 children in grades 3-8 to continue their education at home via radio lessons aired by six Chicago radio stations (WENR, WLS, WIND, WJJD, WCFL, WGN) that donated time for the purpose.

Program schedules for each day were printed in the morning paper. Home with more than one radio & more than one child often set up radios in different rooms so that each child could hear the appropriate grade’s lesson.

This continued for one month…until schools reopened in late September of that year.

Curriculum was developed by teachers and monitored over the air by school officials. After each episode, a limited number of teachers were available for phone calls. A large number of the calls were from parents distressed that they could not clearly receive the broadcasts.[Continue reading…]

BBC Woofferton Early Days (Ludlow Heritage News) [PDF]

Very few structures are left in the Ludlow area which can be traced back to the Second World War. However, look five miles south of the town towards the rise of the hills and a tracery of masts can be seen. Go closer, and a large building can be found by the road to Orleton, surrounded now by a flock of satellite dishes, pointing upwards. The dishes are a sign of the recent past, but the large low building was made for the war-time radio station aimed at Germany.

This little history attempts to tell the story of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s transmitting station at Woofferton near Ludlow in Shropshire during the first years of its existence. When and why did the BBC appear in the Welsh border landscape with a vast array of masts and wires strung up in the air? The story begins in 1932, when the BBC Empire Service opened from the first station at Daventry in Northamptonshire. Originally, the service, to link the Empire by wireless, was intended to be transmitted on long-wave or low frequency. But, following the discovery by radio amateurs that long distance communication was possible by using high frequency or short waves, the plan was changed. Later in the decade, the BBC expanded the service by also broadcasting in foreign languages. Although Daventry had a distinguished name in the broadcasting world, it was never technically the best place for a short-wave site, being on a hill and close to a growing town.

This article can be found in the Ludlow Heritage News: click here to download the full PDF.

 

Hello Morse: A collection of AI and Chrome experiments inspired by Morse code on Android Gboard (Google)

Developer Tania Finlayson found her voice through Morse code. Now she’s partnering with Google to bring Morse code to Gboard, so others can try it for accessible communication.

Morse code for Gboard includes settings that allow users to customize the keyboard to their unique usage needs. It works in tandem with Android Accessibility features like Switch Access and Point Scan.

This provides access to Gboard’s AI driven predictions and suggestions, as well as an entry point to AI-powered products, like the Google Assistant.[]

 


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M0WOF: Woofferton Transmitting Site’s New Amateur Radio Callsign

Photo by Flickt user Shirokazan via Wikimedia Commons.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter (G4OYX), who shares the following news:

Hi All,

I am pleased to report that following the efforts of two Communication Engineers at the former BBC/VoA Transmitter site at Woofferton, Shropshire there is again an amateur radio club callsign allocated there.

Jon Norton G1JOD and Matt Porter G8XYJ have applied for M0WOF and the license came through on 16th December.

This new call replaces the former call of G3WOF originally granted in 1967 and then re-activated in 1989 which subsequently again lapsed.

The 2m repeater GB3VM, RV49 is located at the site since 2004 but regrettably at present, coverage is severely restricted to the north by a recently on-air co-channel unit GB3SV south of Stafford.

There are plans to set up a APRS node on 144.800 MHz.

The site is now managed by Encompass Digital Media and carries on HF programme for BBC WS, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Korean Broadcasting as well as religious/faith broadcasters. BBC Hereford and Worcester MF local radio is also transmitted in addition to Sunshine Radio 105.9, a commercial VHF/FM station. Downlinking on satellite has been running for many years and just recently up-linking has started for EDM.

73

Dave Porter G4OYX

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Links for a deep dive into BBC radio history

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who writes:

Last night I sent the link to the SWLing Droitwch item to a former colleague. He replied this morning, reply below, and includes a couple of useful links. I’m very sure the SWLing Post knows about MB21.

Thinking that maybe the item on Crowbourgh will be of interest to SWLing readers. It contains the ‘magic’ word “Aspidistra” ! Lot of SW history there.

[From my former colleague:]

You’re probably aware of the “Tricks of the Trade” articles that Dave Porter has also published. http://bbceng.info/Technical%20Reviews/tott/tott.htm

Dave was also able to provide some useful contacts for my mb21 colleague Martin Watkins who was compiling a page about the history of Crowborough. http://tx.mb21.co.uk/gallery/gallerypage.php?txid=2495

Thank you so much for the link to Dave Porter’s “Tricks of the Trade” and MB21! What a wonderful deep dive into radio history!

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Photo emerges of Droitwich mast and LF antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter, who writes:

This picture [above] has just emerged, photographer unknown but most likely a rigger from the top of one of the 700′ masts there!

This was taken at Droitwich sometime after colour photography came in (late 1960’s) and before 1986 when the four wire Tee was replaced by a new design developed by BBC Antenna Engineer Tony Preedy, G3LNP that improved upon the 11-j85 Ohms driving point impedance giving a few more ohms and less capacitive reactance for the 2 x 250kW B6042 transmitters and a greater radiation efficiency.

Tony’s present LF array does not look so symmetrical as it comprises four separate Tee wires with the drops as a square box rather than the centre-joined drops of this one.

Tony also developed a low profile Tee antenna over 3 x 17m wooden telegraph poles for MF at up to 1 kW that was used when planning restrictions were enforced. Efficiencies were up to 40% at the 1500 kHz end of the band. However, if used by birds as an overnight roost it could provoke VSWR trips on solid state transmitters, the fix was to use a sliding reduced power detector that wound down the power to a level that did not trip the VSWR monitoring. Old tube transmitters were not affected!

The operating frequency for this LF Tee was 200 kHz at that time, now the antenna is on 198 kHz

Wow–thank you, Dave, for sharing this photo. We truly appreciate your impressive knowledge of UK broadcasting and history! And, wow! The views those riggers took in!

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Radio Waves: Narco-Antennas, Pirate Radio Beginnings, Arqiva Restructure and Redundancies, and the Ghostly Buzzer

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 Skip Arey,  David Goren, Paul Evans, Kanwar Sandhu and Dave Porter for the following tips:


Special Report: Drug cartel ‘narco-antennas’ make life dangerous for Mexico’s cell tower repairmen (Reuters)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The young technician shut off the electricity at a cellular tower in rural Mexico to begin some routine maintenance.

Within 10 minutes, he had company: three armed men dressed in fatigues emblazoned with the logo of a major drug cartel.

The traffickers had a particular interest in that tower, owned by Boston-based American Tower Corp (AMT.N), which rents space to carriers on its thousands of cellular sites in Mexico. The cartel had installed its own antennas on the structure to support their two-way radios, but the contractor had unwittingly blacked out the shadowy network.

The visitors let him off with a warning.

“I was so nervous… Seeing them armed in front of you, you don’t know how to react,” the worker told Reuters, recalling the 2018 encounter. “Little by little, you learn how to coexist with them, how to address them, how to make them see that you don’t represent a threat.”

The contractor had disrupted a small link in a vast criminal network that spans much of Mexico. In addition to high-end encrypted cell phones and popular messaging apps, traffickers still rely heavily on two-way radios like the ones police and firefighters use to coordinate their teams on the ground, six law enforcement experts on both sides of the border told Reuters.[]

How Pirate Radio Rocked the 1960s Airwaves and Still Exists Today (HowStuffWorks)

If you’ve been binge-watching movies lately, you may have come across “Pirate Radio.” Director Richard Curtis’ 2009 comedy-drama stars the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Count, a disc jockey for an unlicensed rock radio station that broadcast from a rusty, decrepit ship off the British coast in the mid-1960s, defying government authorities to spin the rock records that weren’t allowed on the BBC at the time. The plot is based loosely on the saga of an actual former pirate station, Radio Caroline, that was founded by an offbeat Irish entrepreneur named Ronan O’Rahilly, the inspiration for the character portrayed by Bill Nighy.

“Pirate Radio” is a period piece, set in a time when the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and the Who’s “My Generation” were still scandalous and controversial rather than nostalgic anthems for today’s aging baby boomers. So you couldn’t be blamed for assuming that it depicts a long-vanished phenomenon, like Nehru jackets with iridescent scarves and psychedelic-patterned paper mini dresses.

To the contrary, though, more than a half-century later, pirate radio is still a thing. In fact, it’s possibly more widespread than it was in the 1960s, even in an age when streaming internet services such as Spotify and Pandora put the equivalent of a jukebox in the pocket of everyone with a smartphone. And as a bonus, Radio Caroline still exists — though, ironically, it’s gone legal.[]

Arqiva confirms restructure and redundancies (IBC.org)

[Note: Arqiva is the UK domestic broadcast transmission provider.]

Arqiva is working on a restructure of its business that could result in a third of its staff being made redundant.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the media infrastructure business is preparing to cut around 500 staff, which is approximately a third of its workforce.

An Arqiva spokesperson confirmed to IBC365 that some job losses will occur.

They said: “The sale of our telecoms business makes Arqiva a smaller organisation, changes our revenue profile and reduces our available profit pool.

”We are therefore conducting a review of the costs and systems we need to run our business over the next three years.

”Regrettably, we will need to reduce the size of our workforce, but it’s much too early to speculate about numbers.”

The Telegraph report cites the shift to streaming and a drop in income for broadcasters as reasons for the potential cuts.[]

The ghostly radio station that no one claims to run (BBC Future)

In the middle of a Russian swampland, not far from the city of St Petersburg, is a rectangular iron gate. Beyond its rusted bars is a collection of radio towers, abandoned buildings and power lines bordered by a dry-stone wall. This sinister location is the focus of a mystery which stretches back to the height of the Cold War.

It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.

Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.

It’s so enigmatic, it’s as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as “the Buzzer”. It joins two similar mystery stations, “the Pip” and the “Squeaky Wheel”. As their fans readily admit themselves, they have absolutely no idea what they are listening to.[…]


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