Tag Archives: Pete Eaton (WB9FLW)

Radio Waves: Arecibo Failure Caught on Video, Heathkit Employee Reminisces, Radio at 100 Series, and FCC to Require Email on Applications

Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope in November 2020 (Credit: University of Central Florida)

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 Ned Wharton, Pete Eaton, Zack Schindler, and Dave Zantow for the following tips:


NSF releases footage from the moment Arecibo’s cables failed (ARS Technica)

Today, the National Science Foundation released video taken at the moment the Arecibo Radio Observatory’s cables failed, allowing its massive instrument platform to crash into the dish below. In describing the videos, the NSF also talked a bit about the monitoring program that had put the cameras in place, ideas it had been pursuing for stabilizing the structure pre-collapse, and prospects for building something new at the site.

A quick recap of the collapse: the Arecibo dish was designed to reflect incoming radio radiation to collectors that hung from a massive, 900-ton instrument package that was suspended above it. The suspension system was supported by three reinforced concrete towers that held cables that were anchored farther from the dish, looped over the towers, and then continued on to the platform itself. Failure of these cables eventually led to the platform dropping into the dish below it.

[…]The video of that collapse comes from a monitoring system put in place in the wake of the cable failures. Due to the danger of further cable breaks, the NSF had instituted no-go zones around each of the three towers that supported the cables. With no personnel allowed to get close enough to inspect the cables, the staff started monitoring them using daily drone flights, one of which was in progress during the collapse. In addition, a video camera was installed on top of the visitor’s center, which had a clear view of the instrument platform and one of the support towers.

Continue reading full article.

Heathkit: An Employee’s Look Back (Electronic Design)

Lessons of a successful electronic business—an interview with Chas Gilmore, former Heath executive.

For those of you who do not know or remember, Heath Company was the largest kit company in the world. Heath designed and put practically every type of electronic product into kit form. Its products, called Heathkits, were exceptionally popular and many are still in use today.

Over the years, Electronic Design has published many Heathkit-related articles and blogs. Recently, I had a chance to talk with Chas Gilmore, who was a Heath executive. For those of you who fondly remember Heathkit and miss its products, here’s a look back at this amazing company and the lessons it offers.

Chas, what was your affiliation with Heath?

A recent physics graduate, I joined Heath in 1966 as an engineer in the Scientific Instruments department. This was a new group designing laboratory instruments supporting the Malmstadt/Enke, Electronics for Scientists program. The kit business was making great strides.

The audio department was about to introduce the AR-15 FM receiver/amplifier. It had rave reviews, putting Heath in the top tier of the Audio/HiFi market. At the same time, the Ham (amateur radio) department was updating the phenomenally successful SB-line of an HF SSB receiver, transmitter, and transceiver, and modernizing the popular $99 single-band SSB transceiver line[]

Radio at 100 & Roots of Radio Series (Radio World)

Zack writes:

Found this interesting series at Radioworld called “Radio at 100”. It is 29 different articles about the history of broadcasting in the USA. A lot of your readers might enjoy these;
https://www.radioworld.com/tag/radio-at-100

Another great series at Radioworld that your readers might be interested in “Roots of Radio”:

https://www.radioworld.com/columns-and-views/roots-of-radio

ARLB038 FCC to Require Email Addresses on Applications (ARRL Bulletin 38 ARLB038)

Amateur radio licensees and candidates will have to provide the FCC with an email address on applications, effective sometime in mid-2021.

If no email address is included, the FCC may dismiss the application as defective.

The FCC is fully transitioning to electronic correspondence and will no longer print or provide wireless licensees with hard-copy authorizations or registrations by mail.

A Report and Order (R&O) on “Completing the Transition to Electronic Filing, Licenses and Authorizations, and Correspondence in the Wireless Radio Services” in WT Docket 19-212 was adopted on September 16. The new rules will go into effect 6 months after publication in the Federal Register, which hasn’t happened yet, but the FCC is already strongly encouraging applicants to provide an email address.

When an email address is provided, licensees will receive an official electronic copy of their licenses when the application is granted.

The Report and Order can be found in PDF format online at, https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-electronic-licensing-report-and-order

Under Section 97.21 of the new rules, a person holding a valid amateur station license “must apply to the FCC for a modification of the license grant as necessary to show the correct mailing and email address, licensee name, club name, license trustee name, or license
custodian name.” For a club or military recreation station license, the application must be presented in document form to a club station call sign administrator who must submit the information to the FCC in an electronic batch file.

Under new Section 97.23, each license will have to show the grantee’s correct name, mailing address, and email address. “The email address must be an address where the grantee can receive electronic correspondence,” the amended rule will state. “Revocation of the station license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct email address.”
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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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Just ordered the new $149/$199 uBITX v 6.0 QRP transceiver

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pete (WB9FLW), who notes that Ashhar Farhan (VU2ESE) has recently announced the availability of the uBITX v 6.0–as Pete notes, “just in time for the Holidays!

Pete shared the following message from Farhan:

Here is what [the uBITx v 6.0] looks like :

And of course, you can buy it on hfsignals.com. The shipping will happen from Tuesday onwards. We have a limited supply of the first 200 boards. The rest is for after Christmas.

The most important thing about this revision is that the Radio circuitry is almost unchanged. We have incorporated the connectors on the PCBs. So, this kit needs none of the confusing soldering. You snap in the TFT Raduino onto the main board, plug the power and antenna from the back, snap on headphones, plug in the mic (supplied with the kit) and off you go!

It is offered in two kits now : The basic kit (150 USD) is without the box (like old times) but with a microphone and two acrylic templates for the front and back panels.

The Full kit (199 USD) has the box with speaker, mounting hardware etc. Both are described on the website.

Now, about the TFT display:

For those who are using the 16×2 display and you would like to upgrade, you will have to do three things:

Add a heatsink to the 7805 of the raduino

Buy [here] and hook it up as per [this article].

Grab the new Arduino sketch from https://github.com/afarhan/ubitxv6

Background:

I have been hacking away at adding a TFT display for the Arduino for sometime. Finally, I managed to do this with a really inexpensive 2.8 inch TFT display that uses a controller called the ILI9341. The display update is slow but, clever guy that I am, the display very usable. it uses the same pins that earlier connected to the 16×2 LCD display. This display is available everywhere for a few dollars.

Many thanks, Pete, for sharing this announcement. The price was simply too attractive to me, so I just purchased the full kit for $199 US. (Thanks for being the good enabler you are, Pete!)

Update – 30 May 2020: Many thanks to Armin Sander who notes that the uBITX V6 full kit price has increased to $209 US.

I’ll post an update when I receive the transceiver and assemble it. I do hope this is a workable little radio–it would be pretty amazing for newcomers to the hobby to be able to get on the HF bands for a mere $200 US. I also love the fact that this is all based on open-source, hackable technologies.

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The Hermes-Lite SDR: an open source HF transceiver based on a broadband modem chip

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pete Eaton, who writes:

Don’t know if you are familiar with this project, a full blown 5 watt HF SDR Transceiver for less than $300!

No sound cards, DUC/DDC architecture.

Here’s the project description by Steve Haynal via YouTube:

The Hermes-Lite is a low-cost direct down/up conversion software defined amateur radio HF transceiver based on a broadband modem chip and the Hermes SDR project. It is entirely open source and open hardware, including the tools used for design and fabrication files. Over 100 Hermes-Lite 2.0 units have been successfully built.

The FOSSi Foundation is proud to announce Latch-Up, a conference dedicated to free and open source silicon to be held over the weekend of May 4th and 5th in Portland, Oregon, USA. Latch-Up: a weekend of presentations and networking for the open source digital design community, much like its European sister conference ORConf. Produced by NDV.

Click here to view this presentation on YouTube.

Fascinating! Thank you for sharing, Pete!

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1955 Film: Assembling Regency transistor radios in Indiana

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pete Eaton, who shares the following vintage industry short film:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Like Pete, I’m impressed with the size of those soldering irons!


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Ham Radio Digital Modes: Joe Taylor talks FT8 and introduces FT4

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pete Eaton, who shares the following note and video:

Here is a You Tube Video of a presentation given by Joe Taylor last night at the Fair Lawn ARC Club Meeting on FT8 & Beyond an introduction to FT4.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you for the tip, Pete!  FT4 looks like a fascinating iteration of the popular FT8 mode.

Post Readers: Any fans of FT8 out there?

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