Tag Archives: RAC

Radio Waves: DIY Internet Radio With Real Buttons, Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test, Tokyo Rose, Shortwave Collective, and RAC Portable Operations Challenge

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, Dennis Dura, and David Goren for the following tips:


Internet radio with real buttons using Stream Deck (Bjørn Erling Fløtten)

How I used a Stream Deck Mini from Elgato in order to give my mother-in-law a super easy Internet radio experience.

By Bjørn Erling Fløtten, Trondheim, Norway. April 2021.

See also comments on Hacker News

Background

My mother-in-law is from Poland. When she stays in Norway in order to help us with babysitting she misses Polish radio. In principle this is easily accessible through the Internet now from all kind of devices.

BUT, my mother-in-law is not PC-literate, nor does she use a so called ‘smart’-phone. With my long experience in teaching people far younger than her simple mouse and keyboard techniques, I knew that operating Windows and finding Internet radio stations on her own would just be too cumbersome. I therefore had to create a super simple setup for her, and my hacker mind started to think.

(I did of course consider special purpose Internet radios. They should in theory be quite simple to operate, but they all have som kind of quirks that I did not like. And besides, constructing something of your own is of course always more satisfying.)

I want Real Buttons!

What I really wanted was big buttons with tactile feedback. I had earlier experienced with some Behringer products (sound mixing board) in order to demonstrate mathematical functions. The idea then was to use turning knobs and sliders in order to see how changing parameters changed the outcome of the function, especially graphs in 2D and 3D.

I thought this would be useful also for an Internet radio, but then I remembered having read about the Optimus Maximus keyboard (keyboard with programmable led icons on each key), and I thought such a product would be even better. This search led to Elgato and their Stream Deck Mini. This has 6 buttons, just enough for a radio. I might have preferred the bigger version with 15 buttons but their products are ridiculously expensive, so I had to be content with just 6 buttons.

In addition to the Stream Deck Mini my son donated his old school laptop with Windows 10 installed. It was a cheap ThinkPad L-series which, although 3 years old and somewhat battered from daily use to and from school, was quite capable of streaming some audio from the Internet. My son created a guest account in Windows 10 with auto login. He set ‘Fn lock’ as default, meaning that keys F1, F2 and F3 was volume off, down, up without having to press Fn. We also found a pair of speakers lying around in the house.

No programming necessary *

(* But understanding of HTML, URLs and Windows command line arguments is a requisite.)

Initially I thought I would make a Windows application for controlling which radio streams to play. But it turned out that Elgato’s accompanying software was quite capable by itself.

I assigned five of the six available buttons to launch the standard web browser (Google Chrome in this case) with a corresponding streaming URL (radio channel).

Continue reading the full article by clicking here.

Annual Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test set for May 7 – 8 (Southgate ARC)

The US Department of Defense will host this year’s Armed Forces Day (AFD) Cross-Band Test, Friday and Saturday, May 7 – 8, in recognition of Armed Forces Day on May 15. The event is open to all radio amateurs.

For more than 50 years, military and amateur stations have taken part in this exercise, designed to include amateur radio and government radio operators alike.

The AFD Cross-Band Test is a unique opportunity to test two-way communications between military and amateur radio stations, as authorized under FCC Part 97 rules. These tests provide opportunities and challenges for radio operators to demonstrate individual technical skills in a tightly controlled exercise in which military stations will transmit on selected military frequencies and will announce the specific amateur radio frequencies being monitored.

The schedule of military/government stations taking part in the Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test and information on the AFD message is available on the MARS website.

Complete the request form to obtain a QSL card. ARRL

“Tokyo Rose” – WW2 Traitor or Victim? (YouTube)

Shortwave Collective – FENCETENNA (YouTube)

RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award (Southgate ARC)

The RAC Challenge Award: An Overview
Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to present a new Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award for RAC members.

The objective of the new “RAC Challenge Award” is to recognize and encourage portable operations by RAC members from locations throughout Canada.

The new program will begin on Canada Day, July 1, 2021 and we hope it will become an annual event for RAC members.

Note: the following information is tentative as the new Awards program is still being organized so please stay tuned to this webpage for future updates.

Portable Operations
Portable operations are those in which Amateurs take their equipment, antennas and power supply to a location away from their home station to operate. This includes mobile stations, backpackers, DXpeditions and participation in events such as those described below:

Parks On The Air (POTA), a worldwide program of park activations – https://parksontheair.com/
Quebec Parks On The Air (QcPOTA) April 1 to December 31
Field Day: June 26-27
There are several other programs that celebrate portable operations including Summits on the Air (SOTA), Islands on the Air (IOTA) and the International Lighthouses and Lightships Weekend.

Features of the “RAC Challenge”
The new “RAC Challenge” will recognize all portable operations in which RAC members participate and will have similar features as a contest. Amateur Radio contests in VHF, UHF and the Microwave bands all have categories for “Rovers” – who move from grid square to grid square and “Backpackers” – who seek out hilltops from which to operate with highly portable equipment and antennas.

For many satellite operators, making contact with as many grid squares as possible is a mark of success. Some of those operators go on satellite DXpeditions to activate rare grids or operate from the intersections of grids to offer multiple grids with a single contact. In addition to being fun, these activities provide an opportunity for Amateurs to experience what is required to set up and operate under challenging conditions – valuable experience for emergency preparedness.

For more on the RAC Challenge Award, please see:

RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award


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Radio Waves: Josh reviews the Belka-DX, Sinclair Fraunhofer DRM Partnership, Clear Net Frequencies Requested, and

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 TomL, Alan, Bruce Atchison, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Belka DX Shortwave Receiver – Closest Thing To A Spy Radio? (HRCC via YouTube)

Sinclair Launches ATSC 3.0 Test Site; Partners With Fraunhofer On Mondiale Service Integration (ATSC)

HUNT VALLEY, Md.—Mark Aitken, senior vice president of advanced technology at the Sinclair Broadcast Group, flipped the switch on a 100w transmitter to begin broadcasting ATSC 3.0 from atop the station group’s corporate headquarters here with the express purpose of testing reception on small devices like its MarkONE 3.0-enabled smartphone and, in particular, integration of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) in its broadcast app.

The launch comes on the same day Sinclair and German technology research institute Fraunhofer IIS jointly announced they are working together to bring audio services using the DRM standard to ATSC 3.0. (Earlier this year, Sinclair rolled out 3.0 simulcasts of its Seattle radio stations with its DRM-based broadcast app.)

“We are actually building the DRM radio service into the [3.0] broadcast app environment,” says Aitken. “That means those [DRM] services will be carried in band and transported just like HEVC [high efficiency video coding] and [Dolby] AC-4.”[]

Clear Frequencies Requested for Net Providing 24/7 Coverage of St Vincent Volcanic Eruption (RAC Newsletter)

For immediate release:
April 20, 2021 –

The Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN) has been providing round-the-clock coverage during the La Soufriere volcanic eruption on the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Several neighbouring islands are also being affected by the disaster.

When responding to disasters and emergencies such as this, the CEWN utilizes 3.815 MHz LSB and 7.188 MHz LSB. CEWN is requesting that Radio Amateurs not involved in the volcano response to keep these frequencies clear.

Geomagnetic storm warning (Spaceweather.com via Southgate ARC)

A CME is heading for Earth and it could spark a geomagnetic storm when it arrives on April 25th.

NOAA forecasters say moderately strong G2-class storms are possible, which means auroras could dip into northern-tier US states from Maine to Washington.

Full story and updates @ Spaceweather.com.

 


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Listen to a live ARISS contact on Friday, February 2021

The number of ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) has been lower during the Covid-19 pandemic due to so many schools being closed and relying on remote instruction. Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who notes that there will be an ARISS contact tomorrow (February 5, 2021) in Canada.

Listening to an ARISS contact is actually quite easy as long as you’re within the footprint of the ISS during the pass. Almost any radio–a scanner, handheld radio, etc.–that can receive 145.8 MHz can tune in. Click here to read a previous post describing how to listen.

Check out the RAC news item below with full details:

ARISS contact with Ottawa Carleton Virtual Online School: Friday, February 5

Ottawa, Ontario

ARISS Event: February 5, 2021 – As part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins, KF5LJG, will connect with students from the Ottawa Carleton Virtual Online School in Ottawa, Ontario  and answer their questions (see below), live from the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS call sign is scheduled to be NA1SS event and the will take place on Friday, February 5, 2021 at 17:41:04 UTC 40 deg via AB1OC. It is recommended that you start listening approximately 10 minutes before this time.

The duration of the contact is approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds. The contact will be a telebridge between NA1SS and AB10C which is located in New Hampshire:

Ground Station Coordinates:
AB1OC New Hampshire Latitude 42.712N; Longitude 71.590W; Elevation 110m

The contact should be audible over the USA and Canada (Eastern regions) and adjacent areas. Interested parties are invited to listen in on the 145.80 MHz downlink. The contact is expected to be conducted in English.

Steve McFarlane, VE3TBD, ARISS Central and Northern Canada representative, is the Mentor for the event and Brian Jackson, VE6JBJ, ARISS Western Canada Mentor, is the Moderator.

ARISS is an international program aimed at inspiring students worldwide to pursue interests and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through Amateur Radio communications opportunities with the ISS crew.

For more information on ARISS please visit:

RAC ARISS webpage: https://www.rac.ca/ariss/

Main ARISS website: http://www.ariss.org

Multipoint Telebridge Contact via Amateur Radio

As mentioned above, members will ask their questions to Astronaut Mike Hopkins, KF5LJG, via an adapted telebridge link which will use a multi-point system in which they are connected to the conference call centre from their own homes.

The concept requires three things:

  • the ARISS telebridge radio ground station – a satellite Amateur Radio station with special equipment that an ARISS team member uses for teleconferencing
  • the astronaut on the International Space Station using the ARISS Amateur Radio station
  • students at their homes here on Earth

The telebridge radio operator links to the astronaut at the ARISS radio mic, and each youth then connects from home via their telephones. Their families can listen along with school faculty and the public from home.

ARISS invites the public to view the livestream of the upcoming ARISS contact at: https://youtu.be/Ery1JYmk72o

Click here to read the full article at the RAC website.

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RAC Canada Winter Contest 2020 now includes a “Rookie Plaque”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brice Atchison, who shares the following announcement from the RAC:

RAC Canada Winter Contest 2020:
Contest Period: 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC December 19, 2020.
New “Rookie” Subcategory and Sponsors for the RAC Contests
https://www.rac.ca/rac-canada-winter-contest-2020/

For immediate release:

In December each year, Radio Amateurs of Canada sponsors the RAC Canada Winter Contest. Amateurs all over the world are invited to participate.

The global pandemic will most likely still be a fact of life on Saturday, December 19 when the RAC Canada Winter Contest takes place and we want to make sure that everyone participates safely. The RAC Contest Committee is therefore asking all participants to follow the guidelines provided by the government and health officials in your respective area for any of the multi-op categories enabled within the contest. If you do carry out an operation in any of the multi-op categories, please advise as part of your log submission that you have followed your locally applicable guidelines for group sizes and social (physical) distancing.

New “Rookie Plaque”

Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to announce the creation of a new “Rookie” subcategory for both the RAC Canada Day Contest and the RAC Canada Winter Contest.

The new “Rookie Plaque” will be sponsored by RadioSport Manitoba and the Winnipeg Amateur Radio Club and will begin with this year’s RAC Canada Winter Contest which will be held on Saturday, December 19.

“Rookie” is defined as a single operator who was first licensed as a Radio Amateur less than 36 calendar months (three years) before the date of the contest being entered in this subcategory. Any level of Amateur Radio licence available from the licensing jurisdiction qualifies for the subcategory.

The participating licensed Amateur is required to self-declare their eligibility, but the RAC Contest Management Committee reserves the right to request proof of eligibility to assist in resolving any disputes.

Eligible Categories for the Rookie Plaque:

Participants are eligible for the new Rookie Plaque in the following categories. Note: only one plaque is available across the three categories designated below.

Single Operator All Band Low Power (SOABLP)
Single Operator All Band High Power (SOABHP)
Single Operator All Band QRP Power (SOABQRP)

Qualification for the Rookie Overlay Category:

Any Single Operator All Band entrant, in the categories noted above, who meets the Rookie requirements will need to select or enter the Rookie category by adding a new “Category-Overlay: Rookie line” in the Cabrillo log file header. You may need to manually enter this line if the logging software you use does not support this category overlay.

In addition, entrants will need to indicate the date they were first licensed by adding a comment with that information in a “Soapbox:” field in the Cabrillo header. An example would be: “Soapbox: First licensed in January of 2019.”

Rookie participants will still qualify for the plaques in the three eligible categories should they receive the highest score in one of those categories. Previous rookie winners are ineligible for an additional Rookie Plaque in future contests.

RAC Cabrillo Guidelines:

As indicated above, as part of the contest rules update around the new Rookie subcategory we have updated the RAC Contest Cabrillo Guidelines document to reflect these changes. Specifically there is now a Category-Overlay field in the specifications with the expected input to be “Rookie”.

We hope that contest software authors will be able to update their software to include these changes. Until that time, contesters will have to manually enter the following line in their Cabrillo log: “Category-Overlay: Rookie” if they qualify as a rookie and wish to compete for this new plaque.

We have also aligned our Cabrillo document to update to all the current Cabrillo specifications to the published standards that apply to our contests based on the 2020 publication of the V3 standards.

The updated document is available for download at:

RAC Canada Winter Contest Rules 2020

Alan Griffin
RAC MarCom Director
wp.rac.ca
720 Belfast Road, #217
Ottawa, ON K1G 0Z5
613-244-4367, 1- 877-273-8304
raccomms@gmail.com

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Radio Waves: Clandestines, FCC’s New Logo, WNYC Vision, and RAC Membership Renewal Procedures

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, Andrea Borgnino, and Tracy Wood for the following tips:


Clandestine: Under false flags (Nils Schiffhauer – DK8OK)

Non-official radio stations always attracted shortwave listeners who call them “clandestines”, follwing a mixture of mis-understanding and romanticism. The range of this class of stations is remarkably wide. Nowadays, the majority of them is renting time from major transmission centres like Nauen/Germany, Issoudun/France or Toshkent/Uzbekistan.

As all media, they are put into service to influence people and to sell something by propaganda. The difference between an official broadcaster, like Voice of America, and a “clandestine” like North Korea Reform Radio is not palpable – both are financed by the U.S. Congress.

With most broadcasters transmitting on a scale between facts (“white” – nearly only the BBC) and sheer disinformation (“black”), clandestines are placed on the darker third of this range. The separation between “clandestine” and “official” is rather artificial. There simply is no difference between e.g. the official World Harvest Radio and the clandestine Voice of Wilderness, both religious brodcasters, funded by Cornerstone Ministries International/USA – to take just two religious stations.

Today’s activity of clandestines is concentrated on Africa and Asia with especially taking countries like North Korea, China, Eritrea and Sudan into focus.[]

FCC Adopts a New Official Seal in Anticipation of Relocation (ARRL News)

In anticipation of its upcoming move, the FCC has adopted a new FCC seal. The redesigned seal is the product of an agency-wide contest that solicited proposals from employees and contractors. The winning design, submitted by Umasankar Arumugam, was selected by a vote of the agency’s employees and contractors.

The revised design incorporates several elements: communications technologies currently transforming our world; four stars on the outer seal border, drawing from the legacy of the predecessor Federal Radio Commission seal; 18 stars on the shield, recognizing the current number of bureaus and offices; and the eagle and shield, identifying the FCC as a federal government agency.[]

1937 Vision: WNYC, The Flagship Station of a Non-Commercial Cultural Network (WNYC)

The notion of WNYC becoming the flagship station of a non-commercial network of cultural stations was first publicly articulated by Mayor La Guardia at the launching of the station’s new WPA-built transmitter facility in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on October 31, 1937. La Guardia envisioned a non-commercial/educational radio network connected via shortwave rather than expensive landlines leased by AT&T, but the FCC prohibited interstation communication by means other than wire when wire is available. At the ceremony La Guardia sharply criticized the FCC prohibition: “That is just as nonsensical and as unreasonable as to say that one isn’t permitted to fly from here to Chicago because there are railroads going from here to Chicago. Of course, all this is very good for the New York Telephone Company, but it is not so hot for us.”[]

New RAC membership renewal procedures (RAC via Southgate ARC)

On behalf of Radio Amateurs of Canada, I would like to thank you for your continued support of Amateur Radio in Canada and internationally.

Your membership has helped RAC in its two primary objectives: to support and promote Amateur Radio in Canada and internationally; and to provide valuable programs and services to RAC members (see below).

As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the RAC Head Office in Ottawa has been closed temporarily and we are no longer able to send out membership renewal notices by mail and we will be sending out email notices instead.

We would appreciate it if you would please watch for these messages in your inbox and also in your junk folders – this is especially true if you have Outlook or Hotmail email addresses.

In addition, you can assist us by checking to see when your membership will expire by logging on to the RAC website and going to the “My Membership” webpage (https://www.rac.ca/my-membership/). You can also find it on the mailing label of the paper version of The Canadian Amateur magazine or by calling the RAC office as described below.

If you need to renew your membership you can do so by using one of the following options:

  • Online:  by completing the online renewal form (or by clicking on the “Join Radio Amateurs of Canada” logo on the top right of the RAC website). Payments must be made by credit card or by PayPal.
  • By phone:  by calling 877-273-8304 from 10 am to 4 pm EST/EDT, Monday through Friday (except statutory holidays). You may pay by credit card or you may send a cheque for the appropriate amount to the RAC head office.
  • By mail:  if you prefer to have your renewal form processed via standard mail, you can download an application for your region from the Membership Renewals webpage and mail it to the RAC Office.

73, Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA
RAC President


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Canada: Individual causing malicious interference triggers parliament petition

(Source: Radio Amateurs of Canada via Bruce Atchison)

*/For immediate release:/*

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada responds to petition about interference

On June 6, 2018, Martin Bérubé of Louiseville, Quebec initiated a petition involving a radio station that was “generating interference on purpose”. The petition attracted 1,135 signatures and was presented to the House of Commons on January 30, 2019.

The Government of Canada tabled the following response on March 18, 2019.

“Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada <http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/home> (ISED) was informed of the individual’s conduct in December 2015 by a group of Amateur Radio operators from Quebec. The individual was operating an Amateur Radio station without proper authorization and was known to insult, threaten and impersonate other Amateur operators.

As the individual disregarded ISED’s written and verbal warnings, the department took action to enforce the /Act/. Due to repeated offences, ISED carried out three searches of the individual’s residences and issued seven notices of violation totalling $2,500 plus fees.

On October 17, 2018, the individual was found guilty of these seven violations of subsection 4(1) of the /Radiocommunication Act/, pursuant to subsection 10(1) of the /Act/, by Justice of the Peace Annie Vanasse at the Trois-Rivières Courthouse.

ISED also called upon a federal prosecutor to obtain an injunction against the individual. This injunction is currently at the interlocutory stage. ISED understands that the individual has not been heard on Amateur Radio since August 8, 2018. ISED is closely following this case.”

The text of the petition and the Government Response can be found at the following link:

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1631

*Alan Griffin
RAC MarCom Director*

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