Tag Archives: Eric McFadden (WD8RIF)

Might be a good idea to protect your gear: Scientists believe the Carrington Event “was not unique”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who shares the following story from Spaceweather.com (my comments follow):

On Sept. 1st, 1859, the most ferocious solar storm in recorded history engulfed our planet. It was “the Carrington Event,” named after British scientist Richard Carrington, who witnessed the flare that started it. The storm rocked Earth’s magnetic field, sparked auroras over Cuba, the Bahamas and Hawaii, set fire to telegraph stations, and wrote itself into history books as the Biggest. Solar. Storm. Ever.

But, sometimes, what you read in history books is wrong.

“The Carrington Event was not unique,” says Hisashi Hayakawa of Japan’s Nagoya University, whose recent study of solar storms has uncovered other events of comparable intensity. “While the Carrington Event has long been considered a once-in-a-century catastrophe, historical observations warn us that this may be something that occurs much more frequently.”

To generations of space weather forecasters who learned in school that the Carrington Event was one of a kind, these are unsettling thoughts. Modern technology is far more vulnerable to solar storms than 19th-century telegraphs. Think about GPS, the internet, and transcontinental power grids that can carry geomagnetic storm surges from coast to coast in a matter of minutes. A modern-day Carrington Event could cause widespread power outages along with disruptions to navigation, air travel, banking, and all forms of digital communication.

Many previous studies of solar superstorms leaned heavily on Western Hemisphere accounts, omitting data from the Eastern Hemisphere. This skewed perceptions of the Carrington Event, highlighting its importance while causing other superstorms to be overlooked.

[…]Hayakawa’s team has delved into the history of other storms as well, examining Japanese diaries, Chinese and Korean government records, archives of the Russian Central Observatory, and log-books from ships at sea–all helping to form a more complete picture of events.

They found that superstorms in February 1872 and May 1921 were also comparable to the Carrington Event, with similar magnetic amplitudes and widespread auroras. Two more storms are nipping at Carrington’s heels: The Quebec Blackout of March 13, 1989, and an unnamed storm on Sept. 25, 1909, were only a factor of ~2 less intense. (Check Table 1 of Hayakawa et al’s 2019 paper for details.)

“This is likely happening much more often than previously thought,” says Hayakawa.

Are we overdue for another Carrington Event? Maybe. In fact, we might have just missed one.

In July 2012, NASA and European spacecraft watched an extreme solar storm erupt from the sun and narrowly miss Earth. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” announced Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado at a NOAA Space Weather Workshop 2 years later. “It might have been stronger than the Carrington Event itself.”

History books, let the re-write begin.

Click here to read at Spaceweather.com.

With the way 2020 has gone so far, it might be wise to take a look at our EMP Primer which goes into detail about how to protect your radio gear from an EMP event like this. It’s not an expensive process, but requires advance preparation.

Click here to check out our EMP primer.

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TX Factor Episode 26

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric (WD8RIF), who notes that the 26th episode of TX Factor was recently released. Here’s the show summary:

A post-lockdown special – well, not really! Just a bumper edition of TX Factor that was planned for March 2020, but due to the Covid-19 restrictions never quite happened! We hope you are all safe and well and enjoying the summer opportunities for amateur radio despite the various restrictions upon us.

Back in February we dropped in for tea and biscuits at the new(ish) QTH of Tim Kirby GW4VXE to learn more about his passion for all things VHF / UHF. Also in February, Bob and Mike fitted a Radio Analog PTRX-7300 RF interface module into Bob’s beloved IC-7300, and, yes, can it be possibly true . . . bang up-to-date, Bob reviews one of the first Icom IC-705 SDR QRP all-mode transceivers in the country. We hope you enjoy the show!

Click here to view on YouTube or on the TX Factor website.

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Radio Waves: FCC Wipes Out Engineering Division, Last Nazi Message Decoded, Remembering Ronan O’Rahilly, and French Radio Society Free Publications

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 Mike, Eric McFadden, and Paul Evans, and for the following tips:


FCC Eliminates Its Own Engineering Division (Radio World)

The Federal Communications Commission has elected to eliminate the Engineering Division at the organization in an effort to, as it says, “streamline the organization of the Media Bureau” as part of the public interest.

The commission plans to fold the work of the Engineering Division into the Media Bureau’s Industry Analysis Division (IAD) due to changes in the duties of the Engineering Division.

“By incorporating the work and staff of the Engineering Division into IAD, we can better ensure that the bureau’s technical expertise is integrated more fully into the bureau’s adjudicatory matters and policy proceedings,” the commission announced on April 29.

Back in 2002, the Engineering Division was established to conduct technical reviews of media-related matters, including overseeing technical compliance of TV and radio broadcast licenses, as well as things like cable regulatory filings and license transfers. But as the industry transitioned from analog to digital and from paper to electronic filing, the Engineering Division’s tasks have diminished.[]

Last Nazi message intercepted by Bletchley Park revealed (BBC News)

The last German military communications decoded at Bletchley Park in World War Two have been revealed to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

They were broadcast on 7 May 1945 by a military radio network making its final stand in Cuxhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast.

The message reports the arrival of British troops and ends: “Closing down for ever – all the best – goodbye.”

After Germany surrendered, VE Day was declared the next day.

In 1944, this German military radio network, codenamed BROWN, had extended across Europe sending reports about the development of experimental weapons.

But a year later, as the Allies entered the town and closed in on his position, a radio operator at his post signed off to any colleagues who might still be listening.[]

Remembering ‘Radio Caroline’ Founder Ronan O’Rahilly, A Pioneer Of Pirate Radio (NPR)

NPR’s Scott Simon talks to U.K. broadcaster Johnnie Walker about Ronan O’Rahilly, the founder of the pirate Radio Caroline, who died on April 20 at the age of 79.[]

French Society makes Radio REF free for April and May

Paul Evans notes that two REF-Radio publications are now free to download via the REF website. If you know French, you’ll enjoy these quality radio publications:

Click here to download REF-Radio (PDFs) for:


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Radio Waves: QSL delays, Radio’s Chance to Matter, Radio Listening Booms, and Experimental Radio News

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 Roseanna, the International Radio Report, Bennett, and Eric McFadden for the following tips:


QSL news for March 2020: Radio Taiwan International and Radio Slovakia International (The Girl with the Radio)

I have some news, first from Radio Taiwan International:
Due to COVID-19, RTI has decided to suspend posting QSL cards to the countries listed in the image [attached].

If you live in any of these countries I would advise you to expect significant delays in receiving a physical QSL card from RTI.

Secondly, Radio Slovakia International have announced on their show that they currently don’t expect to be able to have QSL cards made and/or sent out in a timely manner for quite some time, again due to COVID-19.[]

Radio, Don’t Blow Your Chance to Matter Again (Guest Column — Variety)

Radio, I’ve just about had enough of you and your abandonment of your defining purpose as broadcasters. With the coronavirus pandemic now ravaging everyday life and suspending every reliable comfort from work routines to sports and entertainment or actual human contact, we’re looking for steadiness somewhere — an echo of the familiar, a kindred connection. Anything to tether us to something recognizable. A service the radio dial used to provide — and public radio still does.

Corporate radio is missing its biggest opportunity in a generation right at this moment.

Based on the events of the last few days in Los Angeles, market No. 2 with a 60-plus year history of rich and vibrant local broadcasting excellence, it appears there is little wisdom or vision left. Case in point: the vast audience disconnect in Entercom’s abrupt and confusing decision at KROQ-FM to fire morning show personality Kevin Ryder on Wednesday, someone who is a heritage voice in L.A. with a long local history as half of the “Kevin & Bean Show,” a well-loved talent who had just launched the freshly-formed team “Kevin in the Morning With Allie & Jensen” this past January (in the wake of longtime partner Gene “Bean” Baxter’s retirement last year). But instead of capitalizing on that position of strength, using this particular anchor as a steady ship for the approaching tidal wave of pandemic upheavals, KROQ chooses to obliterate a main source of humor and comfort from its airwaves right at a moment when the attending audience needs stability more than ever.[]

Coronavirus: Radio listening booms while music streaming stalls (Southgate ARC)

BBC News report that people staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic appear to be listening to more radio rather than music apps, figures suggest.

Global, which owns Capital FM and talk station LBC, said online radio listening had risen by 15%.

The BBC said streaming of its radio stations had risen 18% since last week.

Meanwhile, data from two US analytics companies suggested use of music-streaming apps such as Spotify had dipped by about 8%.

“These figures indicate that the public are turning to radio in times of crisis,” a Global spokeswoman said.

BBC Radio and Education director James Purnell said: “People turn to us during significant events for our news and analysis but also for music, entertainment and companionship.

Article continues here:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-52037461

Experimental Radio News 2

Experimental Radio licenses from the files of the Federal Communications Commission

On February 24, 2020, Lynk’s experimental satellite licensed as WQ9XDP was received on an unmodified mobile phone in the Falklands. The test apparently was in “cell broadcast” mode — as in Wireless Emergency Alerts and Amber Alerts — and not an individualized call to a specific handset. (The video below contains an expletive.)

[…]WJ2XUG was issued to PointView Tech, reportedly a unit of Facebook, for the Athena satellite project in the 70 and 80 GHz bands. At this writing, the public record for this experiment was incomplete as the FCC had asked PointView for additional ground station information.

[…]Viziv Technologies, licensee of WJ2XGB, a giant experimental station in Texas, has proposed additional uses for its technology beyond wireless power transmission.

[…]Another wireless power venture is Guru Wireless, which was issued WK2XRN for tests at 10, 24 and 62 GHz. “Radio wave energy is generated in the GU [generating unit], and then it is refracted and channeled into highly focused beams, which reach and power your devices,” according to the Guru website.

[…]Rohde & Schwarz USA was issued WP9XZP for Special Temporary Authority in association with Microsoft, which is evaluating security scanners apparently for its own use. The Rohde & Schwartz product is a “millimeter wave security scanner that automatically detects potentially dangerous items carried on the body or in clothing. It consists of a flat panel with 3,008 transmitter/receiver pairs that emit extremely low-power millimeter waves in very short succession,” the company said.[…]

These are clippings from Experimental Radio News–click here to read the full items.


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TX Factor Episode 25

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric (WD8RIF), who notes that the 25th episode of TX Factor was recently released. Here’s the show summary:

A post-election special – well, not really! Just a look at some more new and innovative AR products from this year’s Hamfest, including a potted history of the ever-popular and much revered range of transceivers and kits from Electraft with co-founder Eric Swartz WA6HHQ. There’s our free-to-enter draw with some excellent prizes from ML&S and RSGB to be won.

In this modern era of connectivity, we take the ever-present Internet for granted; it’s always there and continues to deliver our data from A to B without issue. But what would happen if that vital link failed? We visit Southampton and Portsmouth on the UK’s south coast to see how two city councils, assisted by a group of dedicated amateurs, plan to maintain their communications infrastructure via radio links alone, should the Internet go down.

Click here to view on YouTube or on the TX Factor website.

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VE7SL explores DXing the utilities

Photo: US Coast Guard

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who shares a link to this excellent article by Steve (VE7SL) where he explores his success DXing utility stations on shortwave:

(Source: VE7SL)

DXing The Utilities (Part 1)

After building the house here on Mayne Island, in the early 90’s, it was several years until I was able to set up a dedicated station. In the meantime, I limited my radio activities strictly to listening. I had a nice Icom R-71A set up in a hall closet and spent my radio-time, mostly on weekend evenings, listening to maritime CW, HF aeronautical traffic and, of course, NDBs below the broadcast band.

My HF receiving antenna consisted of three inverted-V’s … one for 160m, the second for 80m and the third for 40m … all fed from the same coaxial line at the top of a 70′ Balsam. It didn’t take long to realize what an exceptional radio location I had, living right at the edge of the ocean, with dozens of miles of saltwater in most directions other than due west.

I really enjoyed following evening airline flights across both the North and South Atlantic, and in the early winter afternoons, following the commercial air-traffic all over Africa. Even though listening on 5 or 6MHz, I was amazed at how strong the signals from airliners over Africa at 30,000 feet or more could become, this far to the west. In the early mornings, directions were reversed and traffic from the far east, right into India, was fairly common. Often, small single-engine planes, usually run by various missionaries, could be heard while on the ground, taxiing at remote field locations and calling in via HF radio to request takeoff and flight-following.

Now QSL’s have always been one of my top radio interests and it wasn’t long before I started sending and collecting verifications for both the aircraft and the ships I was hearing … once I had figured out how to get my reception reports to their proper destinations.[…]

Click here to continue reading Part 1 of “DXing the Utilities.”

Click here to read Part 2.

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KUNC piece features WWV

Chief Engineer Matt Deutch at WWV/WWVB. (Photo: Thomas)

(Source: Southgate ARC via Eric McFadden)

Broadcaster KUNC reports that a little-known radio station in Fort Collins might one day save the world

An array of radio towers sits behind security fences amid farms and pastures north of Fort Collins. This is home to WWV, the country’s oldest radio call letters. The station’s high-frequency broadcasts can be heard around the globe if you have the right kind of radio.

Now playing: pulsing sounds, every second, followed by an announcement of the exact time.

The station is run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, which is home to the atomic clock. WWV is capable of more than telling time. It could, if need be, save the world.

“Could be,” said Elizabeth Donley, chief of NIST’s Time and Frequency Division. “It’s an important part of our work.”

This year the station conducted communications exercises in coordination with the Department of Defense. Thirty-seven states, National Guard units, emergency management agencies and others participated in simple announcements. They were meant to see how many listeners are out there and how far away they can be reached. The answer: there are thousands of listeners as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Mark Jensen, a civilian planner with U.S. Northern Command, the military’s homeland security operation in Colorado Springs, called WWV a “most essential asset to our nation.”

Should an emergency arise, volunteers would jump into action. They’re part of a program the military dubs MARS, which stands for Military Auxiliary Radio System. While jokes abound that the operators should not be confused for Martians, their work is serious. It’s doomsday stuff, like responding to the aftermath of a nuclear attack because the associated electromagnetic pulse could wipe out most communications.

Listen to program and read the full story at
https://www.kunc.org/post/how-little-known-radio-station-fort-collins-might-one-day-save-world

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