Tag Archives: Mark Hirst

Radio Waves: Free Foundation License Course, More Titanic Radio, CQD, and ARRL Field Day Waivers

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 Trevor, Mark Hist and Ulis Fleming for the following tips:


Register now for free Amateur Radio 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 7

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.

These courses have been very popular and early registration is advised. 313 people took the course that started on May 3 and a further 235 are on the course that started on May 17.

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

US court grants permission to recover Marconi telegraph from Titanic wreckage (ARS Technica)

But NOAA is fiercely opposed to the controversial salvage mission.

When RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, crew members sent out numerous distress signals to any other ships in the vicinity using what was then a relatively new technology: a Marconi wireless telegraph system. More than 1,500 passengers and crew perished when the ship sank a few hours later. Now, in what is likely to be a controversial decision, a federal judge has approved a salvage operation to retrieve the telegraph from the deteriorating wreckage, The Boston Globe has reported.

Lawyers for the company RMS Titanic Inc.—which owns more than 5,000 artifacts salvaged from the wreck—filed a request in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, arguing that the wireless telegraph should be salvaged because the ship’s remains are likely to collapse sometime in the next several years, rendering “the world’s most famous radio” inaccessible. US District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith concurred in her ruling, noting that salvaging the telegraph “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.”

However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is fiercely opposed to the salvage mission. The agency argues in court documents that the telegraph should be left undisturbed, since it is likely to be surrounded “by the mortal remains of more than 1500 people.” Judge Smith countered in her decision that the proposed expedition meets international requirements: for instance, it is justified on scientific and cultural grounds and has taken into account any potential damage to the wreck.[]

Why Titanic’s first call for help wasn’t an SOS signal (National Geographic)

When RMS Titanic set sail in 1912, it was blessed and cursed with the latest in communication technology—the wireless telegraph. In the last hours after Titanic hit an iceberg, radio messages sent from the storied sinking ship summoned a rescue vessel that saved hundreds of people, but also sowed confusion with competing distress calls and signal interference. More than 1,500 people died that fateful night.

Now, a recent court ruling may pave the way to the recovery of Titanic’s telegraph, designed by Guglielmo Marconi, a telecommunications pioneer and 1909 Nobel Prize winner in physics who invented the first device to facilitate wireless communications using radio waves.

[…]Despite the limitations of the Marconi telegraph—and the fact that it wasn’t intended to be used as an emergency device—Titanic was outfitted with a radio room and a Marconi-leased telegraph machine. Two young Marconi-employed operators, chief telegraphist Jack Phillips and his assistant Harold Bride, sent Morse code “Marconigrams” on behalf of Titanic’s well-heeled customers 24 hours a day during its maiden voyage in April 1912.

Both Marconi’s technology monopoly and the torrent of personal messages conveyed through Titanic’s telegraph proved fatal on that April night. Phillips was so overwhelmed by a queue of incoming and outgoing guest telegrams —one Titanic passenger wanted to “notify all interested” about an upcoming poker game in Los Angeles—that he didn’t pass on messages about the ice threatening Titanic’s ocean environs. When a nearby vessel, SS Californian, telegraphed that it was already surrounded by ice, Phillips testily responded “Shut up! I am busy.”

Once Titanic hit the iceberg, Phillips tone shifted and he used the Marconi distress signal: “CQD.”[]

Temporary Rule Waivers Announced for 2020 ARRL Field Day (ARRL News)

With one month to go before 2020 ARRL Field Day, June 27 – 28, the ARRL Programs and Services Committee (PSC) has adopted two temporary rule waivers for the event:

1)      For Field Day 2020 only, Class D stations may work all other Field Day stations, including other Class D stations, for points.

Field Day rule 4.6 defines Class D stations as “Home stations,” including stations operating from permanent or licensed station locations using commercial power. Class D stations ordinarily may only count contacts made with Class A, B, C, E, and F Field Day stations, but the temporary rule waiver for 2020 allows Class D stations to count contacts with other Class D stations for QSO credit.

2)      In addition, for 2020 only, an aggregate club score will be published, which will be the sum of all individual entries indicating a specific club (similar to the aggregate score totals used in ARRL affiliated club competitions).

Ordinarily, club names are only published in the results for Class A and Class F entries, but the temporary rule waiver for 2020 allows participants from any Class to optionally include a single club name with their submitted results following Field Day.

For example, if Podunk Hollow Radio Club members Becky, W1BXY, and Hiram, W1AW, both participate in 2020 Field Day — Hiram from his Class D home station, and Becky from her Class C mobile station — both can include the radio club’s name when reporting their individual results. The published results listing will include individual scores for Hiram and Becky, plus a combined score for all entries identified as Podunk Hollow Radio Club.

The temporary rule waivers were adopted by the PSC on May 27, 2020.

ARRL Field Day is one of the biggest events on the amateur radio calendar, with over 36,000 participants in 2019, including entries from 3,113 radio clubs and emergency operations centers. In most years, Field Day is also the largest annual demonstration of ham radio, because many radio clubs organize their participation in public places such as parks and schools.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many radio clubs have made decisions to cancel their group participation in ARRL Field Day this year due to public health recommendations and/or requirements, or to significantly modify their participation for safe social distancing practices. The temporary rule waivers allow greater flexibility in recognizing the value of individual and club participation regardless of entry class.

ARRL is contacting logging program developers about the temporary rule waivers so developers can release updated versions of their software prior to Field Day weekend. Participants are reminded that the preferred method of submitting entries after Field Day is via the web applet. The ARRL Field Day rules include instructions for submitting entries after the event. Entries must be submitted or postmarked by Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

The ARRL Field Day web page includes a series of articles with ideas and advice for adapting participation this year.[]


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BBC: “How amateur radio is connecting people during lockdown”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Kris Partridge and Mark Hirst, who share the following article from the BBC:

Coronavirus: How amateur radio is connecting people during lockdown

By Vanessa Pearce
BBC News

Amateur radio use in the UK has seen a “significant” rise during the coronavirus lockdown as people seek new ways of staying connected. The national body that represents users – the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) – has said many people who formerly enjoyed the hobby are also returning to it.

Mark Rider’s social life before the coronavirus lockdown consisted of the occasional trip to the pub, rehearsing with musician friends and visiting his wife in her care home.

“But when I knew that wasn’t going to happen any time soon I decided to dust off my amateur radio equipment to seek out some other social interaction,” he says.

Mr Rider, a retired engineer from North Warwickshire, said “ragchewing” – or chatting to people on the airwaves – “has become one of the highlights of my day”.

“Because I live on my own, and because of lockdown, I knew I couldn’t do what I used to do, which wasn’t going to be very good for me or my mental health.”

The 67-year-old says keeping in touch with others has been more important since his wife was taken into care after a stroke.

“Just speaking to somebody else in the same situation is very rewarding,” he says.

The RSGB defines amateur radio as a “technical hobby for people who want to learn about, use and experiment with wireless communications”, like Mr Rider, who uses his radio kit to speak to others using designated radio frequencies.

Steve Thomas, RSGB general manager, says the organisation has experienced a threefold increase in the number of people asking to sit licensing exams since social distancing rules came into place. There are currently about 75,000 licensed users in the UK.

“Across the country, clubs and individual radio amateurs are supporting one another by setting up ‘nets’, or online meetings,” Mr Thomas says.[…]

Continue reading the full article at the BBC.

Thank you for sharing this excellent article! A number of readers have been commenting about how much more activity there is on the ham radio bands these days. I concur! With everyone at home, ham radio certainly does provide a way to reach out and be a part of a larger community.

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Panasonic RF-1405: Mark seeks advice cleaning handle on thrift store find

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who writes:

Going to a local UK charity shop will usually turn up a grim selection of romance novels, old DVD box sets and children’s toys. They do a brisk trade in clothing, shoes and bags, but technology often consists of dire examples of cheap DVD players, phone cases, and small TVs.

It’s those very occasional gems that keep me going back.

Last Sunday a Panasonic radio turned up, and being a canny eBay savvy charity, they put a proper price tag on it! Aside from a scratchy volume control which was easily sorted, it seems to work fine. Spanning the whole of shortwave on a single band selection makes for tricky use of the big tuning knob, but back in the eighties I suspect this wasn’t a problem.

Finger marks and general grime have cleaned up fine, but the handle is strangely marked, and after fruitless cleaning with cotton pads and a little water I’m wondering if this is some kind of oxidation below the shiny surface.

I’m wondering if other readers are familiar with this kind of problem?

What a great score at the thrift store, Mark! I have several receivers of the same era that have the same issue on their chrome/metal parts. It’s almost as if the chrome/metallic finish is pitted in some way.

Readers: Do you know how Mark could safely clean the marks off of the chrome finish on the handle of his RF-1405?

FYI, here’s a video of Mark’s RF-1405 tuned to CRI:

Mark, you certainly snagged a great radio at the thrift store!

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Numbers Stations: “Anonymity in the Airwaves”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who writes:

One of my favourite YouTube channels has just published a video talking about number stations.

There’s nothing there that seasoned SWLing.com readers don’t already know of course:

Thanks for sharing this, Mark!  I just subscribed to Curious Droid!

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Trans-Oceanic spotted in Humphrey Bogart movie

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who writes:

I’m something of a Film Noir fan, so I was pleased to have tracked down “Dead Reckoning” on Amazon recently.

Starring Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott, Bogart’s character is seen early on in this 1947 film listening to police chatter on his bed side radio.

The police conversation sounds a bit contrived, serving the purpose of advancing the story of course, though I’m wondering if this type of radio could be used this way – I’m sure there are experts who would know.

Please comment if you can answer Mark’s question!

Thanks for sharing, Mark. Like you, I love Film Noir and pretty much anything starring Bogie (or especially Lauren Bacall)!

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A protective case for the Tecsun PL-680, PL-660, and similar portables

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who writes:

It seems the world is full of containers that are serendipitously sized for radios and other treasured possessions.

Unfortunately, this tip is probably only helpful to UK based readers of the SWLing Post.

WH Smiths, high street stationer and purveyors of newspapers and magazines, infamous for their high prices and poor service, were doing a clearance sale in my neighbourhood.

I spotted a £3 semi-rigid pencil case that looked like it might fit my new PL-680, and when I got it home, found that it was a great fit.

I cut out the internal flap that holds the pens with scissors, and the result speaks for itself.

Wow! That’s a brilliant case for for the PL-680, Mark! That exterior color will also ensure you never lose it in the wild. Thanks for sharing this tip. What a fabulous bargain at £3!  Post readers in the UK, take note!

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Mark spots a self-powered radio in “The Division”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who shares the following:

I’ve recently got back into computer games after a gap of several years, and have recently discovered one called “The Division”.

The level of detail in the game is amazing, and the representation of parts of Manhattan compare very favourably with Google Street View.

Radios popup fairly regularly as props in houses and military bases, including this windup model shown in the image above.

Thanks for sharing, Mark! That’s impressive design detail for a game. Looks like a radio I’d consider purchasing. I’m very curious if it’s based on a real life design–if so, I’ve never seen it. Please comment if you can ID this radio.

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