Tag Archives: Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF)

Radio Waves: Tallest Structure in Italy, Suggestion to Save AM, Online Radio Exams in Australia, and a Letter From Friends of ABC

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 Paul Evans, Mike Terry, and Michael Bird for the following tips:


The tallest structure in Italy is a remote radio transmitter in Sicily. (Atlas Obscura)

WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE TALLEST structures in the world, one often thinks of skyscrapers above modern cities, but radio transmitters in remote locations also reach dizzying heights.

Italy is famous for its many architectural marvels built over the millennia, but its tallest building (a sleek, modern structure in Milan) is only 758 feet tall. The title of the tallest overall structure goes to a radio transmitter on the Sant’Anna hill near the town of Caltanissetta, in Sicily. (In between the two are a number of transmitters and power plant chimneys.) This antenna has a height of 938 feet, and was built by the national public broadcasting company, RAI, between 1949 and 1951. At the time it was also the tallest structure in all of Europe, until 1965 when a transmitting station in the United Kingdom was inaugurated.[]

Here’s a suggestion for how to save AM radio (Los Angeles Daily News)

Last week, I wrote a little about streaming audio and how, with the use of smart speakers, smartphones, and plain old computer streaming, the possibility of internet radio essentially replacing traditional broadcast radio.

This week I want to travel to both the past and one of broadcast radio’s possible futures, spurred on by the ideas presented last week, my absolutely illogical love of AM radio, and a letter to the editor that I read online at radioworld.com.

AM radio broadcasting is almost a century old in the United States – numerous stations in Los Angeles, including KHJ (930 AM), KFI (640 AM) and KNX (1070 AM) will celebrate 100 years of broadcasting in two years. That’s an impressive feat, especially considering the technology is essentially the same as it was in 1922.

As I mentioned last week, digital HD Radio, considered for a time as the savior of both AM — due to higher fidelity — and FM — due to potential higher fidelity and extra stations — just hasn’t made the impact many had hoped. For various reasons, many AM stations have turned off the HD signal, even while FMs continue to use it, and consumers don’t seem all that interested in either. But as I said last week, with smart speakers, what’s the point? And a related question comes up: is broadcast AM radio just a dead technology?

Christopher Boone thinks he has the answers. No, AM is not dead. But if you really want to improve it, bring back a technology that already “failed” … AM stereo.[]

Online remote exam sessions in Australia (Southgate ARC)

VEA (Volunteer Examiners Australia) is pleased to advise we are currently able to perform online remote exam sessions for both AMC and ARRL VE Examinations.

VEA has AMC Level 3 examiners that can conduct remote online examinations.

Also, the ARRL VEC has entrusted us by extension the FCC, to be examiners for FCC-issued license via remote online examinations, a volunteer examiner, must ensure the exam conducted fairly and that there is the same level of integrity as there would be for an in-person examination.

Candidates need to be aware there are conditions and eligibility in registering to do an ARRL online remote examination, e.g. living in a remote location, or the candidate is physically impaired to attend an exam session.

VEA does run bi-monthly AMC and ARRL VE exam sessions during the year,
so if you are interested, visit our website www.vea.org.au complete the online registration form.

VEA currently have AMC and ARRL VE examiners in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia.

VEA looks forward in supporting the ham radio community in providing this valuable service to both AMC and ARRL VEC.

73 from Peter VK3FN

Wireless Institute of Australia[]

An open letter to the Prime Minister from ABC Friends and supporters (ABC Friends)

Posted in Latest news from ABC Friends on 28 June 2020

ABC Friends have written an open letter to the Prime Minister in the wake of the recent staff and funding cuts.

Dear Mr Morrison,

I write on behalf of many angry Australians who want to know why your government continues to undermine Australian public broadcasting with ongoing funding cutbacks at the same time as the commercial media sector is favoured.

Your recent statement that “there have been no cuts to the ABC” sadly reminds us of Tony Abbott’s similar bold election promise in 2013, yet this was followed by major cutbacks in his first Budget as Prime Minister. Clearly in our current media environment there are facts and ‘alternative’ facts, it all depends on the presenter and the audience.

Many of us are more inclined to rely on information from your ABC Board Chair, Ita Buttrose, who said in her 2019 Forward to the Annual Report – “our task has been made harder by the imposition of the three year indexation freeze which comes on top of a $50 million a year cut now embedded in our base.”

We see the recently announced Five Year Plan as a brave attempt by the Managing Director, David Anderson, to live within your governments funding allocation, but obviously further staff cuts and downgrading of ABC services and programs is an inevitable outcome of reduced funding.

We all appreciate that governments rely on a degree of political spin to make their decisions seem more palatable, but do you seriously expect the community to believe that an ABC Managing Director would deliberately retrench so many staff and downgrade services and programmes if the ABC Budget was adequate?

We expected more of your leadership because you have a responsibility to act on our behalf, as ABC shareholders to enable the ABC to fulfil parliamentary approved obligations under its Charter. The Federal Government acts as caretaker of all our national institutions and in this regard the ABC ranks highly with the Parliament and the High Court in protecting the interests of all Australians.

Chair of the ABC Board, Ita Buttrose has consistently tried to work with you and your Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, to get a realistic re-assessment of the ABC Budget to meet the demands of a changing media environment and national emergencies. Yet these genuine efforts by both Board and Management have been repeatedly ignored. Furthermore, there has been a quite calculated misrepresentation of budgetary analysis since 2014 assuming that official promotion of fake news will provide an effective distraction from the reality of past and current government decision making, which has resulted in an ongoing 10% budget reduction.

Over the past six years the ABC has been the target of funding cuts, various enquiries, political attack and even a police raid. You can not be surprised that Australians are outraged about the latest announcement this week which will culminate in further job losses, valued services and Australian content. You regularly advocate protection of jobs and your COVID-19 employment protection initiatives are admirable. Yet successive Coalition administrations have caused the loss of 1250 ABC professional staff.

Can you explain to us why you are so determined to downgrade the ABC, which is a valued national treasure supported by over 80% of Australians? We understand that you are regularly lobbied by the Murdoch American News Empire and other commercial media interests, which are ideologically opposed to public broadcasting. Furthermore, we know that some members of your cabinet are members of the Institute of Public Affairs, which advocates privatisation of the ABC. However, ABC Friends would respectfully remind you that, as Prime Minister, your first loyalty is to the Australian people and our public institutions.

As a national organisation we have been overwhelmed by expressions of public concern about the way the ABC is being treated. So many comments express ongoing frustration that many of our elected representatives seem incapable of recognising the ABC as an essential public service on which Australians depend. We have received hundreds of letters and comments which we will be collating for public release, but here is just one example to offer you some insight into how Australians feel about the continued assault on the ABC.

“I am shocked, then saddened, then disgusted, then outraged by the governments attack on the ABC. The Federal Government should be creating jobs instead of destroying high quality ‘clever country’ jobs. Prime Minister Morrison led a government that was unique in bringing together differing interests across Australia to benefit the nation and lead us out of disaster. But now? The attack on the ABC is a fundamental attack by the Morrison Government on its claim to govern in the national interest.”

We urge you to reconsider your government’s responsibilities to the ABC by conducting immediate meaningful negotiations with the Ms Buttrose and Mr Anderson to plan a way forward to restore ABC funding. This discussion should include a commitment in the October Budget to recognise ABC staff and services as essential in post COVID-19 planning .

We look forward to a fresh approach to public broadcasting policy and can assure you such commitment will be very much welcomed by the Australian public.

Yours sincerely,

Margaret Reynolds
National President
ABC Friends

P.O.Box 3620
Manuka ACT 2603[]


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Credit Card Crystal Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who shares this article from Hackaday that highlights a crystal radio built completely on a smart chip credit card by Billy Cheung.

Hackaday notes:

This is possible because the smart chip on many credit cards contains a diode. It’s then a simple matter of hooking up the right pads on the credit card to the rest of a crystal radio circuit, and you’re all set. Of course, [Billy] goes the whole hog, building the entire radio on a single credit card. Other cards are cut up to create bobbins for winding coils to form a variable inductor, used to tune the radio. Doing this allows for a much cleaner, thinner design, rather than using a variable capacitor which is comparatively hard to find. Turning the dial allows stations to be tuned in, and with a high impedance earbud hooked up, you’re listening to AM radio. Oh, and don’t forget an antenna!

Cheung documented the whole process and even shares templates via links in the description of his YouTube video.

Many thanks to Paul and Hackaday for sharing this fun project!

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Radio Waves: Free Magazine from URE, C-19 Effect on Listening, Ampegon Focuses on Transmitters, and EU Directive for Car Digital Radio

(Source: Ampegon)

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, Paul Evans,  Josh Shepperd, and Mike Terry for the following tips:


Spain’s URE makes June magazine PDF available (Southgate ARC)

In response to the ongoing Coronvirus situation Spain’s national amateur radio society URE is allowing everyone to download the PDF of the June edition of their magazine Radioaficionados

A translation of the announcement on the URE site says:

One more month, and we have already been three, with the aim of accompanying its readers in the exceptional situation caused by the spread of COVID-19, the URE in its commitment to collaborate and help to cope with the complicated situation we are currently experiencing in our country, has decided to offer free access to the magazine of the month of June and we remind you that magazines prior to December 2019 are also available to you. In this way, citizens who wish to can read these publications for free.

A small gesture so that nobody feels alone at home in the face of this global challenge.

Access is through the website download area, click on “Descargas” under “Junio 2020 – Revista” at:
https://www.ure.es/descargas/

URE in Google English
https://tinyurl.com/SpainURE

Ampegon Puts Focus on Shortwave Transmitters (Radio World)

Ampegon Power Electronics highlights progress on the company’s third-generation solid-state shortwave transmitters, which it says will offer “significant advances in efficiency.”

The company says this work will pave the way toward higher-power broadcast outputs and meet current expectations of a shortwave equivalent to medium-wave and FM transmitters. “Combined, these two developments will bring FM-quality broadcasts with all the benefits of shortwave,” said Simon Keens, Ampegon sales and business development manager.

Ampegon has also developed a retrofit upgrade to current UCS generation control systems for previous generation 100 kW, 250 kW, 300 kW and 500 kW transmitter systems.[]

Listening together, listening alone: A music professor sounds off on his shifting industries (CBC)

Brian Fauteux reflects on the way COVID-19 is affecting his two passions: music and teaching

A lot of great songs effectively reflect the feelings that accompany isolation. The experience of being alone, however, is often constructed in opposition to a longing for togetherness. Heart’s “Alone” (1987) — maybe the greatest power ballad ever recorded — confidently asserts, “‘Til now I always got by on my own.” But this is no longer the case when the song’s protagonist meets and develops undeniable feelings for another: “And now it chills me to the bone.” In another iconic 80s anthem, “Dancing in the Dark,” Springsteen grows tired and bored with himself against the desperate urge to join up with “something happening somewhere.” The act of dancing in the dark can be fun, sure, but it’s much more fun with others. Inspiration in isolation is insubstantial.

I’m an Assistant Professor of Popular Music and Media Studies, and I teach and write about the role of music in society. I’m interested in how our listening practices shape, and are shaped by, issues of sustainability in the music industries — that is, how artists make (or struggle to make) a living in this day and age.[]

EU directive on digital radio in cars (Times of Malta)

Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 11, 2018, establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (‘EECC’) entered into force on December 20, 2018. Member states have two years to incorporate it into national law, except where specifically mentioned.

Radio is an important medium through which citizens access a diverse range of information news and entertainment services. The EECC leverages on the ever-increasing connectivity of new generation cars as well as on the digital platforms of radio broadcasters to guarantee a more robust radio experience to all drivers, ensuring good coverage, a wider choice of radio stations and more effective access to information at all times. The EECC ensures that car drivers have access to the benefits of digital terrestrial radio wherever in the EU they have bought their new car.

On April 21, the minister responsible for communications, in consultation with the Malta Communications Authority, published Legal Notice 151 of 2020 amending the Electronic Communications Network and Services (General) Regulations, implementing the provision of the EECC dealing with the interoperability of car radio devices. In line with the regulation, any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M which is made available on the market for sale or rent in Malta from December 21, 2020, shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided by digital terrestrial radio broadcasting of type DAB+. Radio programmes in Malta are broadcast terrestrially on DAB+.

The car radio requirement only applies to new cars.[]


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ARRL seeks clarification: Amended Amateur Service RF Safety Rules

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), who has been following the progress of new FCC RF exposure rules and writes:

“The ARRL has finally read the new RF Exposure rules and agrees with my thoughts that they are going to make quite a difference in the way the FCC sees amateur radio levels.”

(Source: ARRL News)

ARRL Seeks Clarification of Amended Amateur Service RF Safety Rules

ARRL has filed a Petition for Clarification addressing two issues arising from amended FCC RF safety rules that go into effect on June 1 for the Amateur Service and other FCC-regulated services. Licensees will have 2 years to determine if an RF safety evaluation is now required under the new rules and to perform an evaluation and implement any needed mitigation measures. Current rules already require amateur stations to meet RF exposure limits, but more radio amateurs will have to evaluate their stations under the new rules. The revised final rules, adopted last November, appeared in the April 1 edition of The Federal Register.

“For applicants and licensees in the Amateur Radio Service, we substitute our general exemption criteria for the specific exemption from routine evaluation based on power alone in §97.13(c)(1) and specify the use of occupational/controlled limits for amateurs where appropriate,” the FCC said. While radio amateurs have always had to comply with RF exposure limits, certain stations have been exempted from having to conduct evaluations based upon power and frequency.

On May 8, ARRL asked the FCC to clarify that using maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limits be permitted in the Amateur Service for required RF safety evaluations of 2200-meter operations, just as they are elsewhere in the amateur spectrum. Removal of the exemption for amateurs resulted in a requirement to use specific absorption rate (SAR) limits for amateur frequencies between 100 and 300 kHz.

“SAR evaluations are very complex to directly measure and, we believe, generally exceed the capability of most individual amateur operators,” ARRL argued in its petition, asserting that MPE limits correspond to conservative estimates of SAR.[…]

Continue reading the full article here.

Paul adds:

“You’ll note that they too were clearly caught out by there being no comment period as stated in December 2019, but the FINAL ruling appeared out of the blue in the Federal Register on April 1, 2020, which took me by surprise (having checked every day for over 90 days!).”

Thank you for following and sharing this development, Paul!

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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: 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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FCC comment period on RF exposure limits

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

Readers will recall that the FCC formulated new RF Exposure rules in November 2019. They were released for the Federal Register in early December. There was to be a comment period of 30 days followed by a 30 day reply from the FCC.

Nothing was published until April 1, 2020, when the Federal Register published a FINAL rule on *part* of the original proposals. There was no comment period!

On April 6, 2020 the Federal Register published the rest of the document, but this time with “Comments are due on or before May 6, 2020, and reply comments are due on or before May 21, 2020.”

This too was incorrect and was changed to “Comments are due on or before May 15, 2020, and reply comments are due on or before June 15, 2020.”

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/04/15/2020-07866/human-exposure-to-radiofrequency-electromagnetic-fields-correction

Somebody clearly forgot how to count. Most importantly, these documents should be examined in detail. They should be checked for discrepancies and ‘failures in method’ of their new methods of measurement, testing and realisation. They ignore all the other existing worldwide standards, stating that they need a simpler set of standards in the USA. In the process a clear set of standards (int’l and EU) are muddied and require an entire new suite of tools in order to legally produce RF!

Don’t assume the ARRL will deal with things and that ‘they will be alright’. Time is running out to comment.

Thank you for the heads-up, Paul!

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