Tag Archives: Emergency Communications

Radio Waves: Keeping CA Wildfires at Bay, 50 Years of KNOM, 24-Hour Saudi Radio Urdu Service, New Comms for Navy Subs, and North Korea Cracks Down on TV

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 Peter Abzug, David Iurescia, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


How A Group Of Dedicated Volunteers Are Keeping California’s Wildfires At Bay (NPR)

The Los Angeles Fire Department depends on help from amateur radio volunteers when fire threatens communications infrastructure. NPR looks at how ham radio operators are keeping residents safe.

50 years of KNOM Radio Mission (KNOM)

Whether you’ve been with us since the beginning, or you’re just getting to know us: it’s you, and your faithful support, that has made KNOM America’s oldest Catholic radio station. Thank you!

KNOM has been broadcasting in Western Alaska since July 14th, 1971, when the station could first be heard in Western Alaska.

The continuing mission has been possible only by the hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and love of thousands of people: our staff and volunteers, listeners and community members, and thousands of loyal benefactors across the nation who keep the lights on and the transmitters running. KNOM stands on their shoulders.

[…]Fifty years into KNOM’s history, the radio station is deeply embedded in Western Alaska. As we look to the future, KNOM’s vision is to one day be ‘taken over’ by the region – existing entirely for, and by, Western Alaskans. As the very first song ever played on KNOM – “We’ve Only Just Begun”, by The Carpenters – proclaims, the mission is just getting started.

KNOM continues to live out its values each day – as it has for five decades – as a friend and companion offering respectful service based on Catholic ideals. It is centered on the four cornerstones of the mission: Encountering Christ, Embracing Culture, Empowering Growth, and Engaging the Listener.

KNOM continues in sharing God’s love for Western Alaska through embracing its strength and beauty and being invested, long-term, in the growth of the region.

By engaging each listener with respect and companionship, KNOM hopes to amplify stories of hope, courage, and resiliency in Western Alaska.

Click here for stories and features on the KNOM 50th Anniversary Page. 

Saudi Radio To Launch 24-Hour Urdu Transmission (Bol News)

JEDDAH: The Saudi Radio plans to launch test transmission of a 24-hour Urdu service from the middle of September 2021, while the services will be formally launched on September 23, a Saudi official said.

The transmission will include programmes on Islam, the holy Quran, Ahadis and historical and world affairs.

Saudi Broadcasting Authority deputy chairman Faisal Ilyafi said this, while talking to a delegation of the Pakistan Journalists Forum (PJF).

The world transmission was started from the holy city of Makkah in September 1950 with a 15-minute slot for the Urdu programme, he said, and stressed that it is the need of the hour to face challenges and keep ourselves abreast of the changes in media.

The Saudi Urdu transmission has decided to continue its transmission on social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, FM, Shortwave, Satellite, and Twitter, he added.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has given approval to the project under the supervision of Media Minister Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, he said, adding that the Saudi Information Ministry has also made several other languages part of the project.

The deputy chairman said any language has a supreme significance to disseminate news-cum-events, that’s why many foreign languages such as Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew and Chinese would be part of the transmission.[]

Communication Breakdown: Navy Submarines Need a New Way to Talk to Each Other (The National Interest)

Sea water diminishes the power of electrical transmission, challenges identified many years ago by the Navy and some of its partners who have been working on under communication for decades such as Northrop Grumman.

As Navy innovators work intensely to pioneer new methods of undersea communication, many might wish to reflect upon the decades of technical challenges associated with bringing any kind of undersea real-time connectivity to submarine operations. Historically, certain kinds of low-frequency radio have enabled limited degrees of slow, more general kinds of communication, yet by and large submarines have had to surface to at least periscope depth to achieve any kind of substantial connectivity.

The advent of new kinds of transport layer communications, coupled with emerging technologies woven into unmanned systems, are beginning to introduce potential new avenues of data processing and transmission intended to bring greater degrees of real-time undersea data transmission to fruition.

Sea water diminishes the power of electrical transmission, challenges identified many years ago by the Navy and some of its partners who have been working on under communication for decades such as Northrop Grumman. Northrop’s efforts date back to the World War II era and, along with the Navy and other industry contributors, helped pioneer the innovations that helped adapt RF communications architecture to sonar today. Considering this history, there are some interesting synergies woven through various elements of undersea warfare radio communications.

A 2014 essay by Carlos Altgelt, titled “The World’s Largest “Radio” Station,” details some of the historic elements of how the U.S. Navy pursued Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) undersea connectivity. Through its discussion of low-frequency ELF connectivity, the essay explains the technical challenges associated with undersea communication, which seem to align with how Northrop Grumman innovators describe how undersea communications will need to largely evolve in the areas of acoustics and optics.

As Altgelt notes: “As a result of the high electrical conductivity of sea water, signals are attenuated rapidly as they propagate downward through it. In effect, sea water ‘hides’ the submarine from detection while simultaneously preventing it from communicating with the outside world through conventional high-frequency radio transmissions. In order to receive these, a submarine must travel at slow speed and be near the surface, unfortunately, both of these situations make a submarine more susceptible to enemy detection.”[]

North Korean capital cracks down on illegal TVs to prevent access to South Korean broadcasts (RFA via the Southgate ARC)

Each Pyongyang household must report the number of TVs they own, and they face stiff punishments for hiding them

North Korea has ordered residents of the capital Pyongang to report the number of televisions in each household to stop them from watching banned shows from prosperous, democratic South Korea, sources in the country told RFA.

In North Korea, access to media from the outside world is strictly controlled, and TVs and radios are manufactured to only pick up domestic channels and must be registered with the authorities. But residents do find ways to access South Korean signals, either by using foreign televisions or modifying domestic ones.

Getting caught during routine inspections with a TV that can pick up illegal signals is a punishable offense. Residents with more than one television hide their illegal TVs during inspections, only to bring them out again to watch Seoul’s latest hot drama or variety show, former residents told RFA.

Authorities are aware of the deception and have issued a directive that every household in the city declare to their local neighborhood watch unit how many televisions they have.

“Residents are trying to hide them, but the judicial authorities are trying to find them. They are looking for TVs that can get South Korean TV channels in addition to the ‘official’ channels,” said a resident of Pyongyang, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“Everyone knows that in Pyongyang, South Korean TV signals can be picked up in various areas,” the source said. He mentioned the Mangyongdae and Rangrang districts in the center of the city of 2.8 million.

In these areas the residents have been known to have two or three televisions in their homes, so they can watch the legal channels during inspections and watch South Korean broadcasts in secret,” the source said.

The source said that residents have developed clever ways to hide their illegal TVs.

Read more from this very interesting Radio Free Asia article:
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/tv-05252021155129.html


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20 Years Ago: The 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race disaster – recording of the race controller frequency

In response to our recent items about monitoring the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, SWLing Post contributor, Neil Howard, shares the following:

In 1998 this race was decimated by massive seas and storms, which sunk 5 boats and tragically lives were lost.

I happened to be recording frequency of the Race controller.

After almost losing the recording , I posted it to YouTube back in 2011:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Description of recording:

HOW this was obtained

This recording of the HF transmissions from 1998 was recorded by me from Queensland, using a newfangled unattended recoding program on the PC and a very ordinary Sangean ATS-803a receiver using a random long wire Antenna – from memory this was on the 8 Mhz Marine band, and is the co-ordination of the search and rescue from the 28th Dec 1998 and covers from around 8:30PM till 10PM – The automated recorded stopped recording when the signal noise dropped below a certain level and thus some was lost.

The recording goes for 30 mins, as that was the limit that was set to save disk space, but there is a lot of empty noise.

I have had this on a disk for 13 years now ( WOW!) and I had a serious disk crash, recently and almost lost everything….. I place this here on youtube so it is not lost to prosperity – The race is on again right now, so This was good timing! I present this recording as it was recorded, warts and all for your education *** I dedicate this to those lost at sea

Highlights — (Times are approximate)

  • 4:11 “Rescue 253” 9A helicopter) locates a life-raft
  • 6:00 “Air force Sydney” is looking for a position of a yacht ” Solo Global Challenge”
  • 6:50 “RTC Canberra” (Who is co-ordinating) has a “hot mic” and is explaining the situation to someone locally
  • 8:35 “Rescue 253” has sighted 2 POB on the life-raft – RTC wants to know if they are from “Winston Churchill”
  • 9:39 Another “hot mic” in Canberra
  • 11:56 “Tiger75” (A Navy Helicopter, I think) has the survivors on board, but still awaiting info on who they are
  • 13:0413:44 confirmation that there are 2 survivors of the “Winston Churchill” from the life raft, but the tragic news that 3 others had “rolled out” of the raft and are lost (Historical note- these three were listed as drowned)
  • 14:46 Discussion about where the survivors are to be taken by Tiger 75
  • 15:20 Info of the survivors is passed though, along with the news that the life raft they were “in” had no bottom.
  • 16:33 Rescue 253 Says it has heard a beacon & is proceeding to the location
  • 20:00 Another aircraft has gone to the search site from Merimbula (A town in New South Wales)
  • 25:38 Rescue 253 updates beacon location
  • 26:30 Rescue 253 Locates a boat at the beacon site that has been dis-masted & is in serious trouble.

It is interesting (and harrowing) listening.

They still use HF , but after the 1998 debacle, when they found they had little idea of actual positions for S&R, they introduced regular scheds.

Wow–what an amazing and sobering recording, Neil.  Thank you for sharing and giving us an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives.

Note that there’s a documentary about the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race on YouTube. Click here to watch Part 1 and here to watch Part 2.

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Terry remembers monitoring an eventful Sydney to Hobart yacht race

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Terry Cominos, who shred the following story following our recent post about the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Terry writes:

Here is my story…

It must have been 20 plus years ago whilst monitoring the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on my AOR AR3000.

Around midnight the yacht “Mem” announced a man was lost overboard. They were turning back to find him. The Captain of the oil tanker “Ampol Serel” on his way to Sydney declared he was turning back to assist in the search.

It was a long night with several yachts searching and the “Young Endeavour” providing radio relay support.

More than an hour passed before the “Ampol Serel” arrived on the scene with its powerful search light.

The search was hampered by a swell yet before first light “Ampol Serel” picked up a reflected flash off a life vest.

The sailor was eventually found by a competing yacht and taken on board where he was examined and treated for hypothermia by a doctor onboard.

Several years later I visited the Australian Maritime Museum where the life vest is on display.

That morning I learned a lot about the sea, radio and human nature…

Thank you for sharing this, Terry, and reminding us  that those of us who monitor radio sometimes have a front row seat to events as they unfold.

Source: OneTubeRadio.com

I recall this 1957 Hallicrafter ad from Boy’s Life magazine which of course implies that we may even be in a position to help.

The thought of hearing or assisting–remote as it may have been–certainly had an influence on me when I first started exploring the shortwave bands from my bedroom with a Zenith Transoceanic some forty years ago.

Thanks again for sharing, Terry.

Post readers: Have you ever been witness to events as they unfolded on the air?  Please share your story!


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NBC: “Hawaii’s communication breakdown and how going ham could save us”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Curtis, who shares the following video from NBC Left Field:

Hawaii’s recent false nuclear missile alert showed us how reliant we are on cell phones and modern technology—and how unprepared we are if they become inaccessible. But in case the unexpected happens, an unlikely group of hobbyists—ham radio operators—are standing at the ready and may save us all.

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Salvation Army requesting hams to help in Caribbean post hurricane

(Source: Salvation Army Team Radio Network via Eric WD8RIF and ARRL)

Greetings:

The Salvation Army’s Eastern Territory has asked SATERN to begin recruiting amateur radio operators from our Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) for potential deployments to the Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands Division.

THIS IS A RECRUITMENT REQUEST TO BE ON STANDBY ONLY!

This will not be an easy deployment so operators interested in deploying on behalf of The Salvation Army should carefully read and ensure that they can meet the conditions and requirements in the attached document(s):

Qualifications:

  1. Candidates must be capable of doing the work and meeting the qualifications contained in the attached Position Description for a Communications Specialist. The only exception to this is the requirement for Medic First Aid Training. That or similar training is a plus but not mandatory.(See attached file: SATERN-Communications_Specialist-Official.pdf)
  2. Additionally, candidates must be capable of meeting the qualifications and experience and equipment requirements contained in the attached document below.(See attached file: HurricaneMaria-SATERN_Deployment_Requirements.pdf )
  3. Candidates should pay close attention to the information in both documents. This will be an especially challenging deployment physically, emotionally, spiritually and technically. Do NOT sign up if you are not prepared for this.
  4. Candidates MUST fully complete a volunteer profile in the National Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) Volunteer Database. Instructions for creating a profile in the database are contained below my signature block.

Logistical Issues:

  1. DEPLOYMENT LOCATION: Puerto Rico or one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  2. DEPLOYMENT DATE(S): Not known at this time but could be as early as next week.
  3. DEPLOYMENT LENGTH: Operators should plan on a minimum two week (14 day) deployment. Be aware that travel to and from these areas is difficult and there are no guarantees of it being exactly two weeks.
  4. LODGING: Lodging will very likely be basic shelter style lodging in a church, gym, warehouse or similar rough arrangement. Be well prepared for hardship conditions. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, cot (if you have one), etc. However, there is a possibility that there will be availability on the USS Kennedy, USS Wright or other ships.
  5. MEALS: Meals will likely be provided by The Salvation Army at whatever Incident Command Post (ICP) you are assigned to. It will likely be very basic meals served from one of our canteens (mobile kitchens).
  6. EXPENSE: The following essential expenses will be reimbursed:
    1. Travel expenses.
    2. Other expenses pre-authorized by officials of the Incident Management Team (IMT) at the site you are deployed to.
    3. Bring CASH – about $500 is recommended. Remember that all power, phone and internet are disrupted so it is highly unlikely you will be able use a credit card. Cash is KING on a deployment.
    4. EQUIPMENT:
      1. You will need to bring your own radio equipment as outlined in the attached document(s) above. It needs to be in good condition and capable of operating under conditions similar to, or more strenuous than, the worst Field Day imaginable.
      2. The Salvation Army will not reimburse repairs or replacement for your equipment. That responsibility belongs to the deployed operator and it is highly recommended that you make sure that your equipment is fully insured.

    Becoming A Candidate:

    Anyone who meets the above qualifications and desires to be deployed should do the following:

    1. Complete the volunteer registration. This includes completing the online course, Introduction to Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services.
    2. Complete the form shown here.(See attached file: HurricaneMaria-SATERN_Deployment_Survey.pdf PDF Kb )
    3. Inform the following people by email of your interest in being on standby for a possible deployment AFTER completing number 1 and number 2 above.
      1. You must email your notification along with the COMPLETED form in number 2 above to the National SATERN Liaison (see (i) below and to your Territorial SATERN Coordinator who is one of the four people listed in (ii) below:
        1. The National SATERN Liaison: Bill(dot)Feist(at)USS(dot)SalvationArmy(dot)org
        2. The Territorial SATERN Coordinator for the state you live in (see below):Central Territory (IA, IN, IL, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, SD, NE, WI):
          Bill Shillington (W9ZCL): SAOpsChief(at)aol(dot)com 

          Eastern Territory (CT, DE, MA, ME. NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, PR, RI, USVI, VT)
          Maj. Tom Dingman (K2QMU): Tom(at)K2QMU(dot)net 

          Southern Territory (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK. SC, TN, TX, VA, WV)
          Bill Feist (WB8BZH): Bill(dot)Feist(at)USS(dot)SalvationArmy(dot)org 

          Western Territory (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY)
          Bill Feist (WB8BZH): Bill(dot)Feist(at)USS(dot)SalvationArmy(dot)org 

Please do not call the National SATERN Liaison on his cell phone. Send any questions you have by email.

Deadline: I need to know as soon as possible but certainly no later than the end of Sunday, 01 October 2017.

Thank you for giving this serious consideration. I look forward to hearing from you by no later than Sunday, 01 October 2017.

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NPR: Amateur Radio Operators Stepped In To Help Communications With Puerto Rico

(Source: NPR via Eric, WD8RIF)

Volunteer HAM operators have set up informal radio networks to connect family and friends with their loved ones in Puerto Rico. NPR’s Kelly McEvers talks to one of those volunteers, Greg Dober.

Click here to listen via NPR.

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CNN: “Ham radio operators are saving Puerto Rico”

NASA/NOAA Satellite imagery showing the impact on Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure

(Source: CNN)

(CNN)The phone call from the Red Cross came in late Friday night, just as the full scale of Hurricane Maria’s calamity began taking shape.

“We need 50 of your best radio operators to go down to Puerto Rico.”
In the days after the worst storm in three generations hit the American island — and for many more to come — public electrical, land-line and cellular communication systems showed few signs of life. And radio networks used routinely by police officers, power company workers and other first responder still were down.

Yet, a key mode of communication — one not reliant on infrastructure vulnerable to strong winds and flooding — still crackled: the “ham” radio.

Answering the phone that night in Connecticut was the emergency manager for the American Radio Relay League, the group’s CEO said. For more than a century, this group has served as a hub for amateurs licensed to operate the dependable, if archaic, medium known as ham radio and eager to pitch in when disaster strikes.

When the Red Cross made its latest appeal for heroes, these were the people it had in mind.

Continue reading the full article at CNN online…

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