Tag Archives: Hackaday

Radio Globe: A handy way to explore the world of Internet radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares a link to this fascinating project on the excellent Hackday site:

[…]RadioGlobe lets the user tune in over 2000 stations from around the world by spinning a real globe. It works by using two absolute rotary encoders that each have a whopping 1024 positions available. One encoder is stuck into the South Pole, and it reads the lines of longitude as the user spins the globe.

The other encoder is on the left side of the globe, and reads whatever latitude is focused in the reticle. Both encoder are connected to a Raspberry Pi 4, though if you want to replicate this open-source project using the incredibly detailed instructions, he says a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ will work, too.[…]

Just check out this video of Radio Globe in action!

I love it. It’s like a physical version of the amazing Radio Garden website and app.

Hackaday notes that if you want detailed information about this project, the designer made a series of vlog posts about the build. Click here to check it out on his website. Click here to read through build details on Instructables.

Thank you for the tip, Dennis!

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Radio Waves: FEBC at 75 Years, Radio Drama “With a Twist”, Remembering Rufus Turner, and Free Foundation Online Training 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 Richard, Michael Bird, for the following tips:


Far East Broadcasting Celebrates 75 Years (Missions Box)

LA MIRADA, CA – Two students attending Southern California Bible College were given the vision to establish the Far East Broadcasting Company, which they incorporated in 1945.

Their initial broadcasting location was in Shanghai in the midst of the Chinese people whom the Lord had laid upon their hearts. The effort was short-lived, however, when China closed its doors to all missionary work in 1948.

Some people would have considered that to be the death of the vision. Not Bob Bowman, John Broger, or their supportive pastor, William Roberts. The vision remained the same, FEBC would have to find a different location.

On June 4, 1948, FEBC regenerated from station KZAS in Manila. By 1949, FEBC was equipped to air broadcasts from the Philippines, across the South China Sea, and into parts of China.

Now celebrating its 72nd year of continuous operations, Far East Broadcasting Company has expanded multiplied times and broadened its ministry to include AM, FM, shortwave, satellite, internet, and other digital technologies.[]

Theaters Return To An Old Art Form — The Radio Drama — With A Twist (NPR)

As theaters across the world have closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve scrambled to find ways get work to the public.

Some have made archival video of productions available, some have created Zoom plays and some have returned to an old art form — radio drama — but with a digital twist.

In the 1930s, with many people out of work, families huddled around radio receivers to listen to audio plays, like Orson Welles’ famous broadcast, War of the Worlds.

“Orson Welles began his career as a theater actor and director,” says Adam Greenfield, artistic director for New York’s Playwrights Horizons. “And I think he’s able to really utilize the full potential of what audio can do.”

Taking cues from Welles’ success, Greenfield commissioned a new series of audio plays for podcast called Soundstage. He planned to release them this summer, when the theater was dark, but because of the pandemic he hustled them online.

The first podcast released was Prime: A Practical Breviary by songwriter and performer Heather Christian. It’s based on the 6:00 a.m. rite, or breviary, of solo contemplation for nuns and monks.[]

Do you know Rufus Turner (Hackaday)

It is hard to be remembered in the electronics business. Edison gets a lot of credit, as does Westinghouse and Tesla. In the radio era, many people know Marconi and de Forest (although fewer remember them every year), but less know about Armstrong or Maxwell. In the solid-state age, we tend to remember people like Shockley (even though there were others) and maybe Esaki.

If you knew most or all of those names without looking them up, you are up on your electronics history. But do you know the name Rufus Turner?

W3LF

Turner was born on Christmas Day, 1907 in Houston, Texas. At the age of 15, he became fascinated by crystal diodes and published his first article about radio when he was 17. Rufus Turner was–among other things–the first black licensed radio operator (W3LF). He was building and operating radios in Washington D.C., where he was attending Armstrong Tech.

Turner became a licensed professional engineer in California and Massachusetts. You may have even used something that Turner worked on. In the 1940’s, working with Sylvania, he helped to develop the 1N34A germanium diode (you can still buy these if you look around for them).[]

Register now for Free Foundation Online Training course (Southgate ARC)

The next free amateur radio Foundation Online training course run by volunteers from Essex Ham starts on Sunday, June 21

The Coronavirus outbreak and the RSGB’s introduction of online exams that can be taken at home has led to a surge in demand for free online amateur radio training courses such as that run by Essex Ham.

To cope with the high-demand from people wanting to get their amateur radio licence, the Essex Ham Team have been running an additional online training course each month. The next course starts on June 21.

You can find out more about online training and register to join a course at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

Essex Ham
https://www.essexham.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/EssexHam


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Radio Waves: ABC Wage Freeze, A Titanic Radio, FCC “Tweaks” LPFM Rules, and Digitizing a DX-160 Display

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 Michael Bird, Dave Zantow, David Korchin, and Alokesh Gupta for the following tips:


ABC must freeze wages, government warns (The Guardian)

The Morrison government has put the national broadcaster on notice that it expects the ABC to embark on a six-month wage freeze to bring it in line with other taxpayer-funded agencies during the Covid-19 crisis.

The warning follows the government’s decision in early April to defer general wage increases for commonwealth public servants for six months. The public service commissioner followed up that directive by writing to all non-public service agencies – including the ABC – informing them the government expected them to adopt the same practice.

With no clear response from the ABC to the 9 April missive, Guardian Australia understands the communications minister Paul Fletcher wrote to the national broadcaster this week flagging his expectation that the organisation would defer a 2% increase for all employees scheduled to take effect in October under the ABC’s enterprise agreement.[…]

Radio used by the Titanic to call for help can be salvaged, judge rules (CNN)

A federal judge has ruled that RMS Titanic Inc. can salvage the radio used to call for help by the fated ocean liner after it struck an iceberg in 1912.

To get to the radio, divers would need to remove a part of the ship’s deckhand to reach the room known as the Marconi Suite, which houses the device.

The ruling modified an order issued on July 28, 2000, that said that RMS Titanic Inc. could not cut into the wreckage or detach any part of it.

Virginia’s eastern district court amended that order “for a unique opportunity to recover an artifact that will contribute to the legacy left by the indelible loss of the Titanic, those who survived and those who gave their lives in the sinking,” Judge Rebecca Beach Smith wrote.

Experts in the case testified to the “significant deterioration” in areas above and around the Marconi room, according to the document, and photos showed the “increasing breakdown” in the deck above the suite.

The suite, made of steel, consisted of three areas: sleeping accommodations, an operator’s room and the silent room that housed the radio. Each area was separated by wood walls that officials believe have dissolved, according to court documents.

The Marconi device and the artifacts associated with it face “significant threat of permanent loss,” the judge said in her approval of the expedition.[]

FCC Tweaks LPFM Technical Rules (Radio World)

The FCC in April modified the technical rules covering low-power FM stations. It expanded the permissible use of directional antennas; permitted waivers of protections of television Channel 6 by a specific group of reserved channel stations; expanded the definition of minor change applications for LPFM stations; and allowed LPFM stations to own boosters. Read more about the changes here.

Michelle Bradley, founder of REC Networks, is an engineer and longtime LPFM advocate.

Radio World: What’s your overall assessment of the outcome and the scope of its impact in the LPFM community?

Michelle Bradley: While the FCC did not address three major issues that are impacting LPFM stations right now —the ability to address building penetration issues, the ability to reach “local” listeners in rural areas and the disparity in how LPFM stations protect FM translators vs. how translators protect LPFMs — the changes will benefit current LPFM stations by giving them more flexibility in moving locations, reduce the need for waivers and improve LPFM service in the southern border region. It will also open some additional opportunities for new LPFM stations in the next filing window.[]

RadioShack Shortwave Goes Digital (Hackaday)

If you spent the 1970s obsessively browsing through the Radio Shack catalog, you probably remember the DX-160 shortwave receiver. You might have even had one. The radio looked suspiciously like the less expensive Eico of the same era, but it had that amazing-looking bandspread dial, instead of the Eico’s uncalibrated single turn knob number 1 to 10. Finding an exact frequency was an artful process of using both knobs, but [Frank] decided to refit his with a digital frequency display.

Even if you don’t have a DX-160, the techniques [Frank]  uses are pretty applicable to old receivers like this. In this case, the radio is a single conversion superhet with a variable frequency oscillator (VFO), so you need only read that frequency and then add or subtract the IF before display. If you can find a place to tap the VFO without perturbing it too much, you should be able to pull the same stunt.

In this receiver’s heyday, this would have been a formidable project. Today, a cheap digital display will do fine.[]


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Radio Waves: AM/FM in Teslas, Odd Crosleys, CW Club Membership on the Rise, and 2020 Contest University is Free

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 Kim Elliott, Dave Anderson, and Paul Evans for the following tips:


“Infotainment Systems” In Cars Portend Safety, Privacy, And Competition Issues (Forbes)

Almost all new cars include so-called “infotainment systems,” which provide navigation and various sources for music and news. Most companies have begun to outsource these systems to the Silicon Valley mainstays such as Apple, Amazon, and Google. The electric car manufacturer Tesla, however, has developed its own infotainment system that is far more integrated with the car itself.

Tesla recently announced an “upgrade,” which would allow users to watch Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube (when the car is parked). This innovation has a flip side: it removes AM / FM radio capabilities. Tesla and other electric car manufacturers claim they have removed AM radio in many of their models due to concerns over interference. But Tesla’s announcement is peculiar because electric engines do not interfere with FM radio reception.

Former FEMA director Brock Long worries that Tesla’s decision could prevent the government from transmitting crucial information in emergencies. Long’s concerns are valid, particularly in a crisis like the ongoing pandemic, when broad communication with the public is necessary to protect national security. AM/FM radio reach places that television and broadband do not, and that is why the government has invested tens of millions of dollars to ensure radio stations can remain on the air during periods of widespread threat to the public – including the current one. As the coronavirus reminds us, our nation still has public safety needs that no amount of technical wizardry can obviate.

The public safety concerns are real, but Tesla decision to remove AM/FM radio also raise the perennial tech issues of privacy and competition.

Tesla has contracts with tech companies such as Spotify and Pandora, many of which are pay services. These tech companies are no doubt pleased that Tesla is contemplating taking out AM/FM radio, which is still the most listened to audio platform—and constitutes meaningful competition. However, these conflicting interests creates mismatched incentives for Tesla.

Because Tesla’s market share is small, and the upgrade is optional, this conduct likely does not rise to anything close to an antitrust violation. However, the vertically integrated model which Tesla is following raises the same type of concerns as when Big Tech firms pick and choose what apps and services customers can favor. If Google, Apple, and Amazon, which have their own podcast and streaming audio services, begin to demand that auto manufacturers carry their services exclusively, then more serious competition problems will arise.[]

Odd Crosley Radios from the 1920s (Hackaday)

You may sometimes see the Crosley name today on cheap record players, but from what we can tell that company isn’t connected with the Crosley Radio company that was a powerhouse in the field from 1921 to 1956. [Uniservo] looks at two of the very early entries from Crosley: the model VIII and the XJ. You can see the video of both radios, below.

The company started by making car parts but grew rapidly and entered the radio business very successfully in 1921. We can only imagine what a non-technical person thought of these radios with all the knobs and switches, for some it must have been very intimidating.

The model VIII had two large knobs, three small knobs, and a switch. Oddly enough there were very few markings on the knobs, as you were expected to know how to use a tuned RF radio. The large knobs were for tuning capacitors and the switch was for coil taps, while the three small knobs controlled the tube filament supplies.[]

Increase in CW Club membership (G4BKI.com)

The rate at which amateurs are joining CW clubs has gone through the roof with ‘lockdown’.

The fastest growing club (SKCC) has tripled its daily new members rate and is now increasing by 14-15 per day. Information and files can be found at: http://www.g4bki.com/club_call_history.htm

Contest University 2020 will be held online free via Zoom (Contest University)

Contest University 2020 will be held online free via Zoom (Link will be available on May 7th)

Thursday, May 14th 9:00 am EDT

CTU 2020 outline is available on the 2020 Course Outline Page

Click here to read more information.


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Radio Waves: Tribute to Gene Pell, Dangerous AM Demonstration, White House Criticism of VOA, and Essex Online Classes Break Records

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, Dennis Dura, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


Ernest Eugene “Gene” Pell 1937-2020 (Radio Free Europe)

As noted in this obituary published by his hometown newspaper, The Paducah Sun, Ernest Eugene “Gene” Pell, 83, died quietly on April 7, 2020, at his home near Syria, after a 3-year battle with cancer. Pell served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) from 1985-1993, leading the Radios during the peaceful revolutions that occurred in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from 1989-1992.

In Tribute to Gene Pell

In 1989, we who were privileged to serve in the management of RFE/RL as Gene Pell’s colleagues watched the awesome professionalism of RFE/RL’s broadcasters as peaceful revolution swept from the Baltics to the Balkans, and the Radios helped each country share with others the power – even the slogans – of peaceful protest, and the wisdom of restraint by police and armed forces.

Romania was a tragic exception. Ceaucescu’s regime was doomed by RFE’s broadcast of a recording of the shooting of civilians protesting in Timisoara. As Ceaucescu fled Bucharest, and violence by unknown combatants erupted, Gene ordered a million watts of shortwave power from our transmitter stations across Europe diverted to the Romanian service. Before long, Romanian army commanders seeking to restore calm established phone contact with the service in Munich.

In the immediate aftermath of the liberation of Eastern Europe, and the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Gene saw the need and found the resources to open bureaus across the region and begin on-the-ground reporting by talented local journalists – and local rebroadcasting of RFE/RL programming.

And he persuaded the U.S. government to allow RFE/RL for the first time to broadcast to the former Yugoslavia, during the Bosnian War, with a new, multi-ethnic service led by Nenad Pejic*.

On Gene’s watch, Lennart Meri, Foreign Minister of a newly free Estonia, nominated RFE/RL for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Gene’s leadership was crucial as another struggle soon ensued, this time in Washington, as efforts arose to save the federal government money by shrinking or closing the Radios, on the premise that if Europe was free, why did we need Radio Free Europe (and Liberty)? Support from new democratic leaders across the region, notably from Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, helped convince a Presidential Commission addressing this question that the Radios’ mission should not end but evolve, as it has.

The views of these freedom leaders were decisive in keeping RFE/RL on the air and positioned to win the enormous multi-media audience it enjoys today. Gene Pell’s vision is alive for future generations.

Two of my closest colleagues, Ross Johnson and Kevin Klose, join me, as I am sure many others would, in saluting Gene for his contribution to a freer world.

— Robert Gillette []

A Dangerous Demonstration of the Power of Radio (Hackaday)

Terrestrial radio may be a dying medium, but there are still plenty of listeners out there. What would a commute to or from work be without a check of “Traffic on the Eights” to see if you need to alter your route, or an update of the scores from yesterday’s games? Getting that signal out to as many listeners as possible takes a lot of power, and this dangerous yet fascinating demo shows just how much power there is on some radio towers.[]

White House Criticism of VOA, Unprecedented in its 78 year History (Public Diplomacy Council)

The Voice of America is the nation’s largest publicly-funded international broadcaster, reaching 280,000,000 multimedia users in 47 languages each week, many of whom access it daily for honest, balanced and accurate world news.

To most senior VOA officials, past and present, including this writer, an unsigned White House blog on April 9, 1600 Daily, omitted or misstated vital information about the scale and original date of the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China. That blog asserts in a bold headline: “Voice of America spends your money to speak for authoritarian regimes.”

But that attack was just the beginning.

President Trump went even further at his daily news briefing on April 15, largely devoted to the coronavirus. “If you heard what’s coming out of the Voice of America, it’s disgusting”. The President then assailed Congress for failing to take up his nomination of conservative Michael Pack as chief executive of all five U.S. funded multimedia organizations, the U.S.Agency for Global Media, until recently known as the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors.

The USAGM is the oversight body of five overseas multimedia U.S.-funded networks: VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Network in Arabic, and Radio/TV Marti in Spanish to Cuba. Research in approximately 100 countries indicates that collectively, the five networks reach 350,000,000 people abroad every week.[]

Essex Ham Foundation Online Training breaks all records (Southgate ARC)

The Coronavirus outbreak and the RSGB’s introduction of online exams that can be taken at home have led to a surge in demand for free online amateur radio training courses such as that run by Essex Ham

Volunteers from Essex Ham run a completely free online training course for the UK amateur radio Foundation exam.

A record breaking 260 people enrolled on the course that started April 5 with a further 164 waiting to start the next course.

In response to the demand Essex Ham are running an additional course, open to anyone in the UK, starting on April 19.

You can find out more about online training and register to join a course at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

Essex Ham
https://www.essexham.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/EssexHam


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Radio Waves: Libre Space Foundation Reviews SDRs, ARRL VEC Statement, Pandemic Pastime, and Former CEO of RadioShack Now C-19 ER doctor

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 Ron, Paul, Marco Zennaro, and Richard Langley for the following tips:


The Libre Space Foundation reviews software defined radios (Hackaday)

If you want to go to the next level with software defined radio (SDR), there are a lot of choices. The RTL-SDR dongles are fine, but if you get serious you’ll probably want something else. How do you choose? Well, your friends at the European Space Agency Libre Space Foundation have published a paper comparing many common options. True, they are mostly looking at how the receivers work with CubeSats, but it is still a good comparison.

The devices they examine are:

  • RTS-SDR v3
  • Airspy Mini
  • SDRPlay RSPduo
  • LimeSDR Mini
  • BladeRF 2.0 Micro
  • Ettus USRP B210
  • Pluto SDR

They looked at several bands of interest, but not the HF bands — not surprising considering that some of the devices can’t even operate on HF. They did examine VHF, UHF, L band, S band, and C band performance. Some of the SDRs have transmit capabilities, and for those devices, they tested the transmit function as well as receive.

The review isn’t just subjective. They calculate noise figures and dynamic range, along with other technical parameters. They also include GNURadio flowgraphs for their test setups, which would be a great place to start if you wanted to do these kinds of measurements yourself.[]

ARRL VEC Issues Statement on Video-Supervised Online Exam Sessions (ARRL News)

Very few ARRL Volunteer Examiner teams have successfully conducted in-person exam sessions (following social distancing guidelines) and video-supervised exam sessions using fillable PDF exams and documents. So far, we have found that both types of sessions take volunteer teams two to three times longer to conduct and accommodate fewer candidates than sessions conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, the video sessions have included only one examinee per session.

We ask the community to be patient with our volunteer teams as they navigate uncharted territory. Please remember with the introduction of significant new processes such as these, that there should be proof of concept, establishment of protocols and procedures, and beta testing before expanding to a larger audience. Video-supervised exam sessions require a different skillset than in-person exam administration. Not all teams will be equipped to deliver video exams right away.

The ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) has been investigating options for an online examination system.

Fillable PDFs are cumbersome within a video-supervised exam session process. We recognize that online testing would represent a large-scale solution for our thousands of VEs and would make session procedures easier for our teams, but this will not happen overnight.

The ARRL VEC will continue to adapt and respond to the evolving crisis as we search for viable and easy-to-use online examination system solutions and conduct exam sessions in innovative ways.[]

Pandemic Pastime – Shortwave Radio (KFGO)

Ever since I was a little kid, I was fascinated that at night you could listen to radio stations from all over the country. My little Heathkit radio, which I built myself, could pick up stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Little Rock, Pittsburgh to name a few. West coast stations were rare because it was tough getting a signal over the Rocky Mountains.

Then there was shortwave radio. A buddy of mine had one and he showed me a list of all the countries he was picking up. England, France, Germany, Latin American countries, numerous stations on the shortwave bands in America. Even Radio Havana coming out of Cuba. Anything from religion to hard edge rock and roll. He also noted he picked up Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America.

Well years later I would stop by my local Radio Shack and decided it was my turn to take up this hobby of monitoring shortwave radio. This particular radio also had a built in cassette player so you could record your found stations as well. It was really interesting to hear the news from other countries and get their take on what was happening in America.

One of the first frequencies I tuned in was WWV a shortwave radio station out of Fort Collins Colorado, that broadcasts the time via the atomic clock. The seconds tick off until the top of the hour when you hear a voice announce the time, followed by a tone that hits the top of the minute exactly on the nose. Great way to set the clock.

Now I know you can probably find all these shortwave stations on the internet, but what fun is that right?

With the covid-19 pandemic, this is a little something different than binge watching television, or building that 10th jigsaw puzzle or cleaning out that closet again and again.

Have a chair on the patio, a glass of your favorite beverage, extend the antenna, and start turning up and down the dial and see what you can find. I had a little notebook that I kept track of my searches. Don’t have it now though…lost it.

I’ll start a new one.

Stay safe everyone![]

Former CEO of RadioShack now an ER doctor (National Post)

‘I am just one of those people who was very fortunate, where things worked out, and where I could do not just do one thing I really enjoyed in life, but two’

Brian Levy loved science as a kid. He had a microscope, read up on stuff in the encyclopedia and messed around with home experiment kits. During his high school years, he took every science credit possible. By his own admission, he was a “geek,” one with an equally strong passion, alongside science, for electronics.

Levy knew how to operate a shortwave radio. Weekend teenage heaven, in his mind, was hanging around the local RadioShack store, a warehouse of gizmos where he scored his first part-time job in 1974, earning US$1.40 an hour at a shop in downtown Atlanta. He was 15, which, alas, was too young to be working for the company, according to the folks at corporate headquarters in Texas, who fired him upon receiving his paperwork.

The dismissal didn’t sit well with Levy.

“I actually called the vice president of human resources in Texas,” he says. The executive was impressed by the moxie of the kid. On the day he turned 16, Levy was hired back.

[…]Levy did not foresee the premature end to his business career. When it came, rather than being crestfallen, he felt liberated, and free to pursue an “itch” that he had always felt the need to scratch. So he applied to medical school at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. (Levy came to Canada in the first place after relocating RadioShack HQ north of the border as CEO. He is now a dual citizen, although his soft, buttery accent betrays his roots in the American south.)[]


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Radio Waves: Birmingham Museum (BBRM), Si4730 Radio, Ham Radio at Camp Lejeune, and the Oakland A’s Leave Radio

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 Pete Eaton and Bill Patalon for the following tips:


The Rich History of Birmingham’s Black Radio Museum (Birmingham Times)

The Birmingham Black Radio Museum (BBRM) began as a project for Bob Friedman in 1992 to commemorate the first 50 years of a single radio station, 1400 WJLD-AM, and it grew to chronicle black radio in the Magic City.

After moving to Birmingham from his native New York City, N.Y., in 1987, Friedman worked at WJLD, where he started a 1950s vocal-group harmony show in April 1989 and later began a Saturday morning talk show, “Sound Off.” About two and a half years into his 22-year tenure at WJLD, he asked to produce a retrospective about the station’s first half century.

“I put together a pamphlet [about the station] and got people to buy ad space in it,” he recalled. “I also had a Saturday morning show, so I could promote it.”

Friedman, BBRM Founder and Director, recorded interviews with on-air personalities, including Ed “Johnny Jive” McClure, Jesse Champion Sr., and Lewis White.

“I started learning about this unbelievable history of black radio in Birmingham,” Friedman said. “And that sent me on a track, so that even though I left WJLD in 2011, I had already incorporated the BBRM.”

The museum, largely based online at www.bbrm.org, tells of stations that include WJLD, WENN, WAGG, WSGN, and Bessemer’s WBCO. Personalities include but are not limited to legends Dr. Shelley Stewart, Paul “Tall Paul” White, Willie McKinstry, the Rev. Dr. Erskine Faush, and Roy Wood Sr. The physical home is inside the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in the Carver Theater, which is currently closed for repairs.[]

All Band Radio Uses Arduino and SI4730 (Hackaday)

It is getting harder and harder to tell homemade projects from commercial ones. A good case in point is [Mirko’s] all band radio which you can see in the video below the break. On the outside, it has a good looking case. On the inside, it uses a Si4730 radio which has excellent performance that would be hard to get with discrete components.

The chip contains two RF strips with AGC, built-in converters to go from analog to digital and back and also has a DSP onboard. The chip will do FM 64 to 108 MHz and can demodulate AM signals ranging from 153 kHz to 279 kHz, 520 kHz to 1.71 MHz, and 2.3 MHz to 26.1 MHz. It can even read RDS and RBDS for station information. The output can be digital (in several formats) or analog.

The radio takes serial (I2C) commands, and the Arduino converts the user interface so that you can control it. The chip comes in several flavors, each with slightly different features. For example, the Si4731 and Si4735 have the RDS/RBDS decoder, and the shortwave mode is available on Si4734 and Si4735.[]

Fitting 19th Century technology into 21st Century warfighting (DVIDS)

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Feb. 7, 2020)— U.S. Marines with Information Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MIG) participated in a HAM Amateur Radio General Licensing Course as part of the group’s High Frequency Auxiliary Initiative on base, Jan. 27-31, 2020.

The course, taught by members of the Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club, out of Greenville, N.C., helps Marines learn the principles of high frequency radio operations as a contingency against a peer-to-peer adversary in real-world operations.

Throughout the duration of the course, Marines learned HAM radio frequency and propagation theory, frequency band allocation, conventional and field-expedient antenna theory in addition to HAM radio operations and control.

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Jordan Walzer, commanding officer of II MIG, created the High Frequency Auxiliary Initiative after recognizing the need for utilizing more options in a combat environment. He wanted the Marines to familiarize themselves with older technology to ensure their lethality in any situation.

“Embracing technology is great but overreliance leaves us vulnerable,” Walzer said. “In a peer-to-peer conflict, our space-based capabilities will be attacked. The next war will look less like ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and a lot more like ‘Ghost Fleet’.”

Contrary to Saving Private Ryan, which was fought utilizing traditional land-based maneuver warfare, Ghost Fleet is a book set in the near future and includes the addition of space and cyber warfare.

So wars of the past were fought in the air, on land and at sea, whereas future wars will likely include the addition of space warfare, explained Walzer. U.S. forces need to create a cohesion of modern technology and analog throwbacks to mitigate hackers and drones.

HAM radios make effective alternate communication because they do not rely on satellites or internet, but instead, radio waves. They can travel directly or indirectly, along the ground or by bouncing the radio waves off of the ionosphere or troposphere layers of the atmosphere to communicate.

“Right now, our adversaries are aggressively pursuing counter-space weapons to target our satellites and ground stations,” Walzer said. “If our satellites get knocked out, what do we do then? [High Frequency] radio has been around for well over a century and is still used today. Why? Because it’s a reliable, low-cost alternative to satellite communications. With the right training and education, a Marine with a radio and some slash wire can communicate over-the-horizon for long distances, even between continents.”

HAM radios, also known as amateur radios, are communication devices created in the late 1800s. Depending how much an individual is willing to spend on equipment, someone can talk to others across town or across the world, all without the need for an internet connection. Although most people use HAM radios as a hobby, II MIG views them as potential lifelines in a highly contested environment.

There are three courses taught on HAM radios by the Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club. The entry level class is called the technicians course, which gives people frequency privileges in very high frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) bands and some privileges in the high frequency range. A frequency privilege is just another meaning for permission to use a specific frequency. The HAM Amateur Radio General Licensing Course is the intermediate level course, which allows spectrum privileges on almost all spectrums that the government gives amateur radio operators. The expert class license, also called Extra Class, gives users full privilege on any frequencies allocated to HAM radios.

“I think the course was very informative,” said Sgt. Matthew Griffith, an intelligence surveillance reconnaissance systems engineer with 2nd Radio Battalion, II MIG. “It’s good to learn the things that make our equipment work. In my area of this field we use the equipment but don’t [always] know how the equipment works on the inside, which sometimes makes it harder to troubleshoot if a problem arises. Leaving the course with this knowledge will be invaluable for my Marines and me in the future.”

Dave Wood, the president of the Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club and instructor of the course, plans to conduct the first expert level course in the future after enough Marines have graduated from the intermediate course. The club plans to host the next entry level course during the summer of 2020 and train more Marines.

“The volunteers who make up our High Frequency Auxiliary are absolutely vital to us building a world-class capability,” Walzer said. “We’re drastically improving our skill by pairing experts with Marines who have a passion for HAM radio. They may not wear the uniform, but they’re American patriots serving our country in a different way.”

Whether the next conflict is fought in air, on land, at sea, or in space, one thing is clear; Marines will adapt to face those threats whether it is with the technology of today or equipment of the past.[]

Oakland Athletics off the radio waves in the Bay Area, commit to A’s Cast stream (The Mercury News)

The Oakland Athletics will not broadcast games over radio

The Oakland Athletics, who have led a nomadic existence on the Bay Area airwaves, pulled the plug on radio Tuesday, announcing that games will be available only online.

The A’s could have returned to KTRB, the station they teamed with just before the start of last season after an ugly split with 95.7 The Game, but instead chose to expand their use of a streaming service called TuneIn. The team launched A’s Cast on the service last season

Though the method of delivery is different, the voices are not. Ken Korach will return for his 25th season in the broadcast booth alongside Vince Cotroneo. (The team will continue to carry Spanish-language broadcasts on KIQI AND KATD.)

“There’s going to be some frustration because it’s something new,” said Cotroneo, who will mark his 15th season with the A’s. “It involves an education, downloading, and an additional step in what they are accustomed to basically their entire lives. Hopefully, it’s not difficult to get the product.”

The A’s say they are betting on a more tech-savvy generation. They planned to pursue an all-digital approach last season before the KTRB deal emerged . KTRB was the team’s 12th radio home since its arrival in 1968, and the fifth since 2000.[]


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