Tag Archives: Radio History

Smithsonian Open Access: Take a deep radio nostalgia dive!

“Radio owned by Herman and Minnie Roundtree” (Source: Smithsonian Open Access)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Balázs Kovács, who shares the following announcement:

[Check out the] Smithsonian Open Access, where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.

As Balázs points out, there are hundreds of radio photos in the archive.

What a treasure trove! Since many of us are sheltering at home, it’s the perfect time to take a deep dive into the SOA archive!  Thank you for sharing!

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The Birth of Radar Memorial

Photo by Amanda Slater

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

Interesting article on the new monument to radar between Daventry and Towcester in Northamptonshire, UK.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/birth-of-radar-memorial

Legend has it that this was conducted around 25-28 MHz, which was the very top end of higher power RF at the time.

The location sits closer to Towcester, although the event is always quoted as having taken place at Daventry (the source, not the receiver).

It’s fascinating that Plessey Research Caswell was set up almost immediately, not very far away and was heavily involved in radar and other solid-state research through to the 1990s.

[Disclosure: the author (Paul) worked at Plessey Caswell and was Two Terminal device Manager at Plessey Microwave, Towcester in the 1980s]

Many thanks, Paul, for sharing this fascinating bit of history.

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Former KGEI transmitter building sports callsign once more

1941: KGEI’s reinforced concrete transmitter building near Belmont. Built to withstand bomb or earthquake. (Source: TheRadioHistorian.org)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood (K7UO), for sharing the following article from The Daily Journal. Tracy’s notes follow this excerpt:

KGEI, a shortwave radio station in Redwood Shores that was the only voice from home for GIs in the Pacific during World War II, has its call letters back.

The letters on the front of the building located off Radio Road were covered up decades ago by a church that took over the station’s transmitter building, now part of Silicon Valley Clean Water.

“I am happy to report that we have uncovered the letters on the building,” said Teresa Herrera, manager of the wastewater treatment facility. “I think it looks great!”

Herrera said she had no idea of the building’s history until the Rear View Mirror brought it to SVCW’s attention. No extra money was needed for the restoration because the building was due to be painted.

“The letters were just as they were when the concrete forms had been originally removed in the 1930s,” said construction manager William Tanner.

Still, there is no plaque to remind the few visitors to the area that KGEI, the GEI standing for General Electric International, played an important role in World War II. Among other accomplishments, the station broadcast Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s “I have returned” speech that fulfilled his promise to return with victorious American troops to the Philippines, occupied by Japanese forces since 1942.

“The First 24 Hours of War in the Pacific,” a book written by Donald Young, underlines the importance of KGEI. It also reminds readers how successful Japanese forces were during those 24 hours in attacking Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Wake Island and Guam, as well as Hawaii.[…]

Read the full article at The Daily Journal.

Tracy also shared the following notes:

During my youth I often listened to KGEI, both in Oregon and Bolivia. I got to visit the station in the 80s. I remember their teletype spewing paper for the long-form newscasts… The old 50kw GE hummed away.

The parasitic oscillations would actually form audio that you could hear in the studio/transmitter room. The 250 kw unit was tucked away… kind of hard to see.

KGEI was an important part of LATAM radio history.. the Cuban Missile Crisis, earthquake outreach to Nicaragua, etc.

Cheap clock radios could receive KGEI in Oregon when the 250kw unit was blasting to Asia.

“Mission Engineering” 250kw beamed to Asia on 5980 could often be heard with Chinese and Russian slow-dictation programming… trying to overcome the Cold War ban of Bibles in the Communist countries.

If you can find a copy of the book “Sky Waves” that has a complete history of FEBC and some more details about “La Voz de la Amistad,” the Voice of Friendship KGEI.

Thank you so much, Tracy, for your notes and insights!

I just found a copy of the 1963 book Sky Waves by Gleason H. Ledyard as a free download via the American Radio History website. Click here to download the PDF.

I imagine other SWLing Post readers remember KGEI as well. If so, please comment!

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Thirty Years of Radio New Zealand’s International Service

RNZI QSL

Yesterday, Radio New Zealand celebrated 30 years of service to the Pacific. Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Jason Walker and Peter Marks for sharing the following story and audio from Radio New Zealand:

On 24 January 1990, Radio New Zealand International beamed into the Pacific, on a new 100 kilowatt transmitter.

New Zealand has had a short-wave service to the Pacific since 1948. The station broadcast on two 7.5kw transmitters from Titahi Bay, which had been left behind by the US military after the Second World War.

In the late 1980s, following growing political pressure to take a more active role in the Pacific area, the New Zealand government upgraded the service.

A new 100kw transmitter was installed and, on the same day the Commonwealth Games opened in Auckland, the service was re-launched as Radio New Zealand International.

“What we were able to understand was how important radio was and still is in the Pacific, where as here radio had become a second cousin to television… different thing in most of the countries we worked with,” said RNZ International’s first manager was Ian Johnstone, from 1990 to ’93.

Mr Johnstone said news of a dedicated Pacific service into the region was welcomed by Pacific communities.

He also said it was important for New Zealanders to remember that New Zealand is part of the Pacific.[…]

Continue reading the full article and listen to embedded audio at Radio New Zealand.

Audio:

Click here for the audio links.

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Shortwave Radio Audio Archive: A treasure trove of radio history and nostalgia

One of the most amazing things about hosting and curating a massive collection of shortwave radio recordings is listening to each recording as they’re published on the site.

I created the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive (SRAA) in 2012 as a dedicated space to post and share off-air recordings with the world. Listening to SRAA recordings and subscribing to the podcast is 100% free, and entirely void of any advertising. The fact is, I pay for this site out of my own pocket, although some of your generous coffee fund and Patreon gifts are used to reinforce the archive’s longevity and future.

Not only does the SRAA serve as a historical record of radio–and even as audio samples for musicians–it’s also for radio listeners like us to enjoy.  We have over 3000 podcast and RSS subscribers. We invite you to subscribe as well as to contribute content in the form of your own radio recordings!

Great content, great contributors

Speaking of recordings, check out a sampling of our latest offerings from our amazing contributors:

Note that you can subscribe to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive as a podcast via iTunes or by using the following RSS feed: http://shortwavearchive.com/archive?format=rss You can also listen via TuneIn.

Of course, one of the best ways to listen to recordings and read all of the recording notes is by visiting the SRAA website.


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Radio Waves: Kumu Networks, resistors, transistors, and one tower’s vulture problem

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, Marty, David Korchin, and Paul Evans for the following tips:


Kumu Networks Launches an Analog Radio Module That Cancels Its Own Interference (IEEE Spectrum)

It’s a problem as old as radio: Radios cannot send and receive signals at the same time on the same frequency. Or to be more accurate, whenever they do, any signals they receive are drowned out by the strength of their transmissions.

Being able to send and receive signals simultaneously—a technique called full duplex—would make for far more efficient use of our wireless spectrum, and make radio interference less of a headache. As it stands, wireless communications generally rely on frequency- and time-division duplexing techniques, which separate the send and receive signals based on either the frequency used or when they occur, respectively, to avoid interference.

Kumu Networks, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is now selling an analog self-interference canceller that the company says can be easily installed in most any wireless system. The device is a plug-and-play component that cancels out the noise of a transmitter so that a radio can hear much quieter incoming signals. It’s not true full duplex, but it tackles one of radio’s biggest problems: Transmitted signals are much more powerful than received signals.[…]


This 40-Year-Old Transistor Changed the Communications Industry (IEEE Spectrum)

While working as an electronics engineer in 1977 at Fujitsu Laboratories in Atsugi, Japan, IEEE Life Fellow Takashi Mimura began researching how to make the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor quicker. The MOSFET, which had been invented in 1966, was the fastest transistor available at the time, but Mimura and other engineers wanted to make it even quicker by enhancing electron mobility—how speedily electrons could move through semiconducting material.

Mimura began to research an alternative semiconductor to the silicon used in the MOSFET, hoping it would be the solution. He came across an article in the Applied Physics Letters journal on heterojunction superlattices—structures of two or more semiconductors of significantly different bandgaps—developed by Bell Labs in Holmdel, N.J. The superlattices, which used a modulation-doping technique to spatially separate conduction electrons and their parent donor impurity atoms, inspired Mimura to create a new transistor.

In 1979 he invented the high-electron-mobility transistor. His HEMT used a heterojunction superlattice to enhance electron mobility, improving on speed and performance.

The invention now powers cellphones, satellite television receivers, and radar equipment.[…]


Why do resistors have a color code? (Hackaday)

One of the first things you learn in electronics is how to identify a resistor’s value. Through-hole resistors have color codes, and that’s generally where beginners begin. But why are they marked like this? Like red stop signs and yellow lines down the middle of the road, it just seems like it has always been that way when, in fact, it hasn’t.

Before the 1920s, components were marked any old way the manufacturer felt like marking them. Then in 1924, 50 radio manufacturers in Chicago formed a trade group. The idea was to share patents among the members. Almost immediately the name changed from “Associated Radio Manufacturers” to the “Radio Manufacturer’s Association” or RMA. There would be several more name changes over the years until finally, it became the EIA or the Electronic Industries Alliance. The EIA doesn’t actually exist anymore. It exploded into several specific divisions, but that’s another story.

This is the tale of how color bands made their way onto every through-hole resistor from every manufacturer in the world.[…]


Coming Soon to a Processor Near You: Atom-Thick Transistors? (IEEE Spectrum)

If there’s one thing about Moore’s Law that’s obvious to anyone, it’s that transistors have been made smaller and smaller as the years went on. Scientists and engineers have taken that trend to an almost absurd limit during the past decade, creating devices that are made of one-atom-thick layers of material.

The most famous of these materials is, of course, graphene, a hexagonal honeycomb-shaped sheet of carbon with outstanding conductivity for both heat and electricity, odd optical abilities, and incredible mechanical strength. But as a substance with which to make transistors, graphene hasn’t really delivered. With no natural bandgap—the property that makes a semiconductor a semiconductor—it’s just not built for the job.

Instead, scientists and engineers have been exploring the universe of transition metal dichalcogenides, which all have the chemical formula MX2.[…]


Border Officials Seek to Evict Defecating Vultures From Texas Radio Tower (NY Times)

Some 300 vomiting, defecating vultures have made a United States Customs and Border Protection radio tower in South Texas their home, coating the tower and buildings beneath it with potentially hazardous excrement as besieged border officials try to stem the deteriorating situation.

In a notice on Thursday, the agency said it was looking for advice on how to attach some sort of net on the 320-foot tower in Kingsville to keep the vultures from roosting and nesting on its “railings, catwalks, supports, and on rails and conduit throughout.”[…]

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KPH Article on TechCrunch and Bay Area Backroads

Cypress tree avenue towards KPH. Photo by Frank Schulenburg via Wikimedia Commons

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy, who writes:

“The Last Radio Station,” an article about maritime radio station, KPH, is up on TechCrunch ( https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/18/the-last-radio-station/ ).

KPH is silent on maritime frequencies, but through the hard work of volunteers continues operation 24/7 with a 3-30MHz KiwiSDR receiver (http://198.40.45.23:8073/) and various activities throughout the year. Full information on all things KPH can be found the excellent Maritime Radio Historical Society Website (http://www.radiomarine.org/).

Finally an excellent “Bay Area Backroads” episode about KPH is available on Youtube:

Can you copy the CW message at the end of the show?

Please comment if you can copy the CW message!

Thanks to much for sharing this, Dan!

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