Tag Archives: Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF)

Ham CAP and VOA Prop: Fixing SSN look-up files

VOA Prop

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who notes:

Users of these two propagation prediction programs will find that they don’t work beyond Dec 2019 because the SSN look-up files didn’t go any further.

I noticed this 2-3 years ago and added to the end of the files required. I entered guesses for solar activity values, but with auto mode turned on they will fetch current values. At least this will get you started again. Or my guesses might be right!! 🙂

For Ham CAP use: http://w4.vp9kf.com/SSN.dat

For VOAProp use: http://w4.vp9kf.com/ssndata.txt

Download them and swap them into the directory where the application is located.

Thanks or the help, Paul!

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VOA Museum featured in Atlas Obscura

VOA Bethany

(Source Atlas Obscura via Paul Evans W4/VP9KF)

The former Voice of America broadcast site at Bethany Station is now a museum. It covers the history and role of Voice of America, as well as the history of broadcast and radio itself.

Tucked into the former equipment bays are row upon row of early radio examples. You’ll spot everything from early broadcast equipment to novelty radios from the ’70s.

From 1944 to 1994, the site was used to broadcast news and information to Europe and North Africa. It was originally run by the Office of War Information. Adolf Hitler complained after a Cincinnati broadcaster impersonated him.

In 1963, the Voice of America took direct control of the broadcast facility. Using the expertise of the local Crosley Broadcasting Corporation’s engineers, enormous 250-kilowatt transmitters were built.

Although the towers were torn down in 1998, the Art Deco broadcast building remains, and houses the Amateur Radio Association, Media Heritage, and the Gray History of Wireless collections call the facility home.[…]

Click here to read the full article in Atlas Obscura.

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Final step for proposed rule to allow AM broadcasters to use all-digital transmissions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who notes:

The Federal Register has today published the proposed rule for AM stations to go digital. This is close to the final step.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/01/07/2019-27609/all-digital-am-broadcasting-revitalization-of-the-am-radio-service

Comments before 2020-03-09, replies by 2020-04-06.

Thanks for the tip, Paul!

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Reginald Fessenden’s connection to Bermuda

Reginald Fessenden: “The Father of Radio Broadcasting” (Source: Wikipedia)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), who writes:

The story of Reginald Fessenden has a background in Bermuda.

Before he finished his college education in Canada, he spotted an advert for Headmaster at a school in Bermuda. He applied for it and got the job. At the right age of 18 he became headmaster of Whitney Institute, a school near the top of the hill in Flatts and where your scribe went to school starting in 1968! He met Helen Trott of Flatts and they were married and he moved on to his radio and scientific fascination. The main school building that I attended is exactly as it was in Fessenden’s time (and is to this day).

Later, they moved back to Bermuda and bought Wistowe a house on North Shore Road in Flatts (on the east side of the inlet), which was no more than a stiff 10 minutes walk to Whitney). The school and house still stand although the roads are now so very busy (and the house literally within an inch of passing buses) it’s hard to see them (I do have pictures!). Wistowe is just yards from the Bermuda Aquarium across the road.

In October 2007 the amateur radio special callsign VP9F was used to celebrate his life (indeed he held the callsign himself in 1929).

A fuller article is at http://vp9ge.com/vp9f.htm as written by myself and Ed, VP9GE.

The celebrations also included Ken Hubbard who demonstrated radio to students from Whitney and other Bermuda schools (Ken was my Physics instructor at Bermuda College, although not a radio ham). In 1976 Ken and I did a public demo of radio while I manned the world’s first all solid state transceiver, the Atlas 210X at a similar open day at Bermuda College (ironically the student [me] taking the lead and having to supervise the instructor!).

Once again, a small world!

Thanks for sharing this interesting bit of Fessenden history, Paul!

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George Laurer, amateur radio operator and inventor of the Bar Code, dies at 94

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who writes:

George Laurer (K4HZE), the inventor of the Bar Code (that’s on everything you buy) died recently: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50726950

I happened to meet him and fellow IBM ‘pusher’ of the idea (Norman Woodland) when they were visiting Bermuda. Ed Kelly (VP9GE) invited them to give a presentation to the RSB (Radio Society of Bermuda) meeting at the Elbow Beach resort in November 1975.

It turns out they were promoting the idea to local supermarkets because Bermuda was an isolated test subject that would be ideal for a limited roll-out. We couldn’t understand why they would stick a label with bars on it onto every thing and then scan it! It just wasn’t going to take off…. or so we thought!

Well, it never took off in Bermuda. Today ‘Marketplace’ (formerly Piggly Wiggly) still sticks price labels on every item and there is no bar code scanning. It must be one of the last places to do so in the First World!

It’s interesting how they were both hams and that the idea was based on Morse code. It’s a small world.

I had no idea…his legacy will certainly live on. There’s hardly an item on the planet that doesn’t have a barcode these days. Many thanks for sharing this memory with us, Paul.

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Cold War Sports: High-Speed Telegraphy

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who shares the following short radio documentary from the BBC World Service:

The end of the Cold War in 1989 spelt the demise of a little-known, but surprisingly popular sport behind the Iron Curtain – high-speed telegraphy competitions. With the help of two of Czechoslovakia’s best former Morse-coders, we revisit the inaugural World Championship in Moscow in 1983 when the Soviet Union rolled out the red carpet for teams from across the Communist bloc. Ashley Byrne reports. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production.

Click here to listen to this program via the BBC.

As Paul points out, “HST is still going strong as a sport!” Indeed it is because CW is simply timeless! Thanks for the tip, Paul!

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Video: Tube radio transmitter designs from the 1920s

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), who shares the following article from Hackaday:

The origin of the term “breadboard” comes from an amusing past when wooden bread boards were swiped from kitchens and used as a canvas for radio hobbyists to roll homemade capacitors, inductors, and switches. At a period when commercial electronic components were limited, anything within reach was fair game.

[Andy Flowers], call sign K0SM, recently recreated some early transmitters using the same resources and techniques from the 1920s for the Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party. The style of the transmitters are based on [Ralph Hartley]’s oscillator circuit built for Bell Telephone in 1915. Most of the components he uses are from the time period, and one of the tubes he uses is even one of four tubes from the first Transatlantic contact in 1923.[…]

Click here to continue reading at Hackaday.

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