Tag Archives: Radio Waves

Radio Waves: A Cryptologic Mystery, RSGB Opens Doors to Full Online License Exams, Secret War, and September Issue of RadCom Basics Availabe

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, John (K5MO) and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


A Cryptologic Mystery (Matt Blaze)

Did a broken random number generator in Cuba help expose a Russian espionage network?
I picked up the new book Compromised last week and was intrigued to discover that it may have shed some light on a small (and rather esoteric) cryptologic and espionage mystery that I’ve been puzzling over for about 15 years. Compromised is primarily a memoir of former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok’s investigation into Russian operations in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, but this post is not a review of the book or concerned with that aspect of it.

Early in the book, as an almost throwaway bit of background color, Strzok discusses his work in Boston investigating the famous Russian “illegals” espionage network from 2000 until their arrest (and subsequent exchange with Russia) in 2010. “Illegals” are foreign agents operating abroad under false identities and without official or diplomatic cover. In this case, ten Russian illegals were living and working in the US under false Canadian and American identities. (The case inspired the recent TV series The Americans.)

Strzok was the case agent responsible for two of the suspects, Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova (posing as a Canadian couple under the aliases Donald Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley). The author recounts watching from the street on Thursday evenings as Vavilova received encrypted shortwave “numbers” transmissions in their Cambridge, MA apartment.

Given that Bezrukov and Vaviloa were indeed, as the FBI suspected, Russian spies, it’s not surprising that they were sent messages from headquarters using this method; numbers stations are part of time-honored espionage tradecraft for communicating with covert agents. But their capture may have illustrated how subtle errors can cause these systems to fail badly in practice, even when the cryptography itself is sound.[]

Online Full ham radio exams now available (Southgate ARC)

From today, Thursday, Sept 24, the RSGB are allowing Full amateur radio online exams to be booked. All 3 levels of exam required to get a HAREC certificate can now be done completely online

Potentially this could mean amateurs in other countries could take the RSGB online exams, get their HAREC certificate and then apply for an amateur licence in their own country. This would be beneficial in those countries where provision of local exams is virtually non-existent.

Currently there is a 4-5 week backlog for amateur radio exams, the next available exam slots that can be booked are at the end of October.

You can book online UK amateur radio exams at
http://www.rsgb.org/exampay

Details of onlne amateur radio training courses are at
https://rsgb.org/main/clubs-training/for-students/online-training-resources-for-students/

The Secret War (BBC)

The wartime BBC was involved in a range of top secret activities, working closely with the intelligence agencies and military.

by Professor David Hendy

As well as making programmes for the public, the wartime BBC was involved in a range of top secret activity, working with closely with the intelligence agencies and military. Here, newly-released archives lift the veil on the broadcaster’s role in this clandestine world of signals, codes, and special operations.

It’s always been known that just before the war began in September 1939, the BBC’s fledgling television service was unceremoniously shut down for the entire period of the conflict.

What’s less well-known is that, far from being mothballed, the television facilities of Alexandra Palace were carefully kept ticking-over by a small team of engineers – and that the transmitter which had supposedly been silenced for reasons of national security was soon sending out its signals again.

From May 1940, Alexandra Palace’s ‘vision’ transmitter was being tested for its ability to jam any messages passing between tanks in an invading German force. The following year, its sound transmitter was being deployed for something called ‘bending the beam’. One of the BBC’s engineers who remained on site was Tony Bridgewater:[]

September RadCom Basics available (Southgate ARC)

Issue 18 September 2020 of the RSGB newcomers publication RadCom Basics is now available online for members

RadCom Basics is a bi-monthly digital publication for RSGB Members that explores key aspects of amateur radio in a straightforward and accessible way.

In this issue:
• Magnetic loop antennas
• Metal bashing
• Station maintenance

Read the latest issue at
https://rsgb.org/main/publications-archives/radcom-basics/


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Radio Waves: A “Calm” Solar Cycle 25, WWJ History, Czech Radio’s Digital-Only Future, and UK Ham Radio Exam Stats

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, Mike, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


As Disasters Roil Earth, A New Sun Cycle Promises Calmer Weather — In Space (NPR)

Giant flares and eruptions from the sun can cause space weather, and stormy space weather can interfere with everything from satellites to the electrical grid to airplane communications. Now, though, there’s good news for people who monitor the phenomenon — the sun has passed from one of its 11-year activity cycles into another, and scientists predict that the new cycle should be just about as calm as the last.

That doesn’t mean, however, zero risk of extreme weather events. Even during the last, relatively weak solar cycle, drama on the sun triggered occasional weirdness on Earth like radio blackouts, disruptions in air traffic control, power outages — and even beautiful aurorae seen as far south as Alabama.

Over each solar cycle, the roiling sun moves from a relatively quiet period through a much more active one. Researchers monitor all this activity by keeping an eye on the number of sunspots, temporary dark patches on the sun’s surface. These spots are associated with solar activity like giant explosions that send light, energy, and solar material into space.

Counting of sunspots goes back centuries, and the list of numbered solar cycles tracked by scientists starts with one that began in 1755 and ended in 1766. On average, cycles last about 11 years.

Based on recent sunspot data, researchers can now say that so-called “Solar Cycle 24” came to an end in December of 2019. Solar Cycle 25 has officially begun, with the number of sun spots slowly but steadily increasing.[]

WWJ in Detroit: A 2020 Centennial Station (Radio World)

Iconic AM station just celebrated the 100th anniversary of its first broadcast

It was shortly after World War I that Clarence Thompson, a partner of Lee de Forest, formed a new company Radio News & Music Inc. in New York. His goal was to encourage newspapers to broadcast their news reports by wireless, using de Forest transmitters.

The franchise offer — available to only one newspaper in each city — offered the rental of a de Forest 50-watt transmitter and accessories for $750. Just one newspaper signed up for the deal; it was the Detroit News, led by publisher William E. Scripps.

He had been interested in wireless since investing in Detroit experimenter Thomas E. Clark’s wireless company in 1904. Scripp’s son, William J. “Little Bill,” was an active ham radio operator, operating a station in the Scripps home.

People Might Laugh

Scripp proposed accepting the Radio News & Music offer and building a Detroit News radio station in 1919, but he met resistance from his board of directors. It was not until March of 1920 that he was given the go-ahead to sign a contract.

The de Forest transmitter was shipped to Detroit on May 28, 1920, but was lost in transit; a second transmitter was constructed and sent on July 15. This delayed the installation of the station until August.[]

Czech Radio has expanded DAB + coverage to 95 percent of the population and announced the switch-off of medium waves (Digitalni Radio)

NOTE: This is a machine translation of the original post in Czech.

Czech Radio has entered another, important phase of radio digitization. To date, the ?Ro DAB + multiplex signal has reached 95% population coverage. Ten new transmitters were launched in Bohemia and Moravia. You can find a detailed description of them below.

DAB + technology is becoming a common distribution channel for Czech Radio, which will be placed on the same level as analogue FM / FM broadcasting. All marketing activities will already include the “DAB + More Radio” logo. ?eské Radiokomunikace is planning to start certification of receivers next year in order to protect customers and facilitate orientation in the range for them and retailers.

According to the CEO of Czech Radio, René Zavoral, the public service media is proceeding in accordance with a long-term strategic plan. The head of communication and press spokesman Ji?í Hošna describes the step as a turning point that can affect the direction of the entire radio market.[]

UK amateur radio exam report released (Southgate ARC)

The RSGB Examinations Standards Committee (ESC) report covering 2019 is now available for anyone to download

The report contains statistics for the both the RSGB amateur radio exams and the Air Cadets Organisation (ACO) exam which Ofcom considers to be equivalent to the RSGB Foundation.

Ofcom has been concerned about the participation of women in amateur radio and STEM disciplines. They requested the ESC to publish figures for the number of women taking the exams. Unfortunately the results are disappointing with only 9.9% of all exams being taken by women.

Download the ESC report from
https://rsgb.org/main/blog/examination-standards-committee-reports/2020/09/18/examinations-standards-committee-report-2020-for-activities-during-2019/


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Radio Waves: Digital Broadcasts in South Africa, Cold War Broadcasting in Late Soviet Era, Possible Ban on RFI Producers in Sweden, and Ham Radio on the ISS

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, Michael Bird,  William Lee, Rob PE9PE, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


SABA partners with T&A and Sentech to deliver digital radio in SADC (Advanced Television)

The Southern African community will soon enjoy digital audio broadcasts, thanks to an initiative lead by a South African based entity, Thembeka & Associates that has taken the lead in implementing the much anticipated interactive radio solution.

This was announced by the Secretary-General of the Southern African Broadcasting Association, SABA, Mr Cecil Jarurakouje Nguvauva, following the conclusion of initial agreements between the participating entities. Welcoming the digital radio solution to the SADC region, Nguvauva emphasised the need for rural communities to be engaged fully in the developmental agenda of the respective African governments if the planned development is to add value to the lives of the most disadvantaged members of our society.

Chief Executive Officer of Thembeka & Associates, Madam Thembeka Kaka has hailed this initiative a huge success for the continent and a dream come true for her institution. Madam Kaka added that as a member of the National Committee on ICT Chamber Accessible Broadcasting for People Living with Disabilities, she has passionately driven this project for a long while. Madam Kaka added that “Following the announcement of the Policy Directive that has introduced Digital Sound Broadcasting by the South African Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in July this year. I have since realised that greater opportunities have emerged for the broadcast industry as a whole. And this initialises an evolution of radio broadcasts going forward,” she stated.

Sentech’s Meyerton Radio Shortwave site in South Africa will carry the Digital Sound Broadcasting Shortwave Transmission from the broadcast centre in Southern Africa to the rest of SADC countries.

For the initial stage, only six countries are earmarked for the coverage, before it is rolled out to the rest of the SADC Region. The targeted countries are Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia and South Africa. The rapid deployment is planned to work alongside the existing analogue radio service, which will seamlessly transition to a fully-fledged Digital Radio transmission in SADC. The receivers to be deployed will have the capabilities to receive and transmit both Analogue and Digital radio signal on FM and AM.

The primary purpose of the initiative is for governments and various newsmakers to urgently provide vital information to all citizens, especially the rural, remote and marginalised vulnerable communities. The outbreak of COVID-19 has amplified the need for this undertaking, that has highlighted risk areas in our various communities. Particular emphasis will be given to the following sectors in the respective communities: Education Sector; Health Sector; Socio-Economic factors; Gender issues; Youth & Disability.[]

Listening Out, Listening For, Listening In: Cold War Radio Broadcasting and the Late Soviet Audience (Wiley Online Library)

Abstract

This article interrogates the well?known phenomenon of western broadcasting to the Soviet Union from the little?known vantage point of the audience’s sonic experience and expression. I use the example of the BBC’s main popular music program in the late USSR, Rok posevy, with its remarkable presenter, Seva Novgorodsev, to explore fundamental questions about the who, how, and why of listening to the so?called “enemy voices.” The popularity of Novgorodsev’s show, I argue, is best understood in the context of the Soviet soundscape and, in particular, of longstanding Soviet media practices, including radio jamming and Soviet ideologies of the voice. Novgorodsev’s Rok posevy presented listeners with a powerful alternative sociocultural space, one that promoted models of authority and community very different from Soviet norms and, indeed, antithetical to Soviet norms.[]

Swedish Electrical Safety Agency threatens ban on sale of optimizers (Southgate ARC)

In Sweden the Swedish Electrical Safety Agency may ban the sale of optimizers used in Solar Panel installations due to the high level of RF Pollution they produce

A translation of an SSA post reads:

The Swedish Electrical Safety Agency wants to remove optimizers that spread interference. “It should be easy for the electrician to do the right thing.”

– We want to remove all solar cell products that spread disruption from the market. It should be easy for the electrician to do the right thing, and if you choose CE-marked gadgets and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, the system should be nice, says Martin Gustafsson, who is an inspector in market control at the Swedish Electrical Safety Agency. reports of disturbing solar cells. In addition to radio amateurs such as Anders Ljunggren, the  mobile operator Telia is among those affected . The Swedish Electrical Safety Board has made inspection visits to disturbing facilities, and carried out a market review of optimizers and inverters from eleven different manufacturers.

“They take advantage of a gap in the standard and instead hide behind a general EMC standard.”

The report is not complete yet. However, one of the conclusions is that a number of manufacturers of interfering products have chosen not to use the standard developed for photovoltaic products, but which has not yet been harmonized by the European Commission.

– They use a gap in the standard and instead hide behind a general EMC standard, which does not make any demands on the dc side. This makes our evidentiary situation difficult. But if the disruption problems are not solved, the products can be banned from sale, says Martin Gustafsson.

Text:  Charlotta von Schultz – www.elinstallatoren.se

Thank you SM5TJH / Janne for the information
Source SSA https://tinyurl.com/SwedenSSA

New Ham Radio Onboard The ISS Is On The Air (K0LWC Blog)

Ham Radio operators have enjoyed making contact with the ISS for many years. The holy grail has always been talking to ISS astronauts on FM simplex (145.800) — but those can be rare chance encounters. Ham radio operators have also enjoyed slow-scan television (SSTV) broadcasts and APRS packet radio via the ISS digipeater. Now we get to work the world’s most expensive FM repeater thanks to the new InterOperable Radio System (IORS) installed on the ISS.

The InterOperable Radio System (IORS) replaces an ancient Ericsson radio system and packet module that were certified for spaceflight over two decades ago. The 5 watt HT that was aboard the ISS was getting worn out after many years of use. The Ericsson radio looks like something from a 1990s episode of Cops.

The new IORS was launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 6, 2020 onboard the SpaceX CRS-20 resupply mission. It consists of a custom space-modified Kenwood D710GA transceiver and an ARISS-developed multi-voltage power supply. The equipment was installed by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (KF5KDR).

New Kenwood D710G ‘Space Flight Edition’

The radio now being used is a Kenwood D710G and was engineered specifically for space flight. JVCKENWOOD USA and the ARISS worked closely to modify the D710G. The upgrades were performed by JVCKENWOOD and include:

  • Output power is hardware limited to 25 watts for the safety of the International Space Station
  • Custom firmware and menus tailored for operation onboard the ISS.
  • Higher output/high-reliability fan to allow continuous repeater operation.

Continuous fan operation is an important feature in space for the reliability of the radio. There is no convection in microgravity, so all heat-generating components need to be cooled by moving air or conduction. If the radio burns up, there isn’t a Ham Radio Outlet down the street to grab parts.[Continue reading the the full article at K0LWC’s blog…]


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Radio Waves: BBC radio reporters axed, Ham Radio on BBC Surrey, K6UDA on IC-705 features, and VLF balloon launched with request for detailed reception report

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 Mark Hist, Kris Partridge, John Palmer, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Radio reporters to be axed by BBC and told to reapply for new roles (The Guardian)

Radio reporters to be axed by BBC and told to reapply for new roles
Critics fear end of an era because of plans to make audio journalists work across media platforms

BBC radio voices have described and defined modern British history. Live reports from inside a British bomber over Germany during the second world war, or with the British troops invading Iraq in 2003, or more recently from the frontline of the parent boycott of a Birmingham school over LGBT lessons have also shaped the news agenda.

But now the BBC plans to axe all its national radio reporters and ask them to reapply for a smaller number of jobs as television, radio and digital reporters, rather than as dedicated audio journalists. Many fear it is not just the end of their careers but the premature end of an era for the BBC.

“Radio reporting is a different job. Of course, you can do both, but a report designed for television starts from a completely different place. Radio is also more agile and also a lot less expensive,” said one experienced broadcast journalist. “I am pretty sure most of us will not be given new TV roles. It seems sad to lose all that specific radio expertise.”

Among the well-known voices likely to be affected are Hugh Sykes, Andrew Bomford – who has just completed a long feature on the child protection process for Radio 4’s PM show – and the award-winning and idiosyncratic Becky Milligan, as well as a wider team of expert correspondents.[]

Amateur radio on BBC Radio Surrey (Southgate ARC)

RSGB report Board Director Stewart Bryant G3YSX and SOTA organiser Tim Price G4YBU were interviewed on BBC Radio Surrey on Friday, September 11

The interview starts just before 1:43:00 into the recording at
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08pkykw

RSGB https://twitter.com/theRSGB

What is Amateur Radio?
http://www.essexham.co.uk/what-is-amateur-radio

Free UK amateur radio Online Training course
https://essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

10 Things That Make The Icom IC 705 A Revolution in Ham Radio (K6UDA YouTube)

 

VLF Balloon with 210m long antenna launches Sept 12 (Southgate ARC)

A high-altitude balloon experiment, launched by Warsaw University of Technology, is planned to lift off September 12, carrying a VLF 210-m-long fully-airborne antenna system, transmitting on 14.2 kHz

14.2 kHz is the former frequency of the Babice Radio Station in Poland.

The project is delivering very important data for a doctoral dissertation – any and all feedback on the reception of the signal (reception location, SNR, bandwidth etc.) is extremely important; your help with the listening to the transmission would be invaluable!

The balloon will also be transmitting APRS on 144.800 MHz FM, callsign SP5AXL.

Full details at
https://alexander.n.se/grimetons-sister-station-shall-reappear-in-the-stratosphere/?lang=en


Kris also points out this article which provides more detail about the station and request for reception reports:

Invented for the first time in 2014, in 2020 it will finally be implemented – the idea of „restoring” the TRCN, but in the stratosphere, where there are no mechanical limitations at the height of the antennas, and the achieved range can be gigantic.

The launch of a stratospheric balloon from the Przasnysz-Sierakowo airport of the Warsaw University of Technology is planned for September 12, 2020, in order to perform atmospheric tests – measuring UV radiation, recording the cloudy surroundings with a high-speed camera and conducting an inductive experiment at 14.2 kHz using a special antenna system.

The inductive system uses a modified long-wave transmitter (A1 emission, unkeyed) from the GLACiER project of the Warsaw University of Technology, implemented as part of the IGLUNA – a Habitat in Ice programme (ESA_Lab / Swiss Space Center). The power of the transmitter, due to the emission limits for this type of inductive devices, shall not exceed a few watts. The antenna system is a centrally fed (35: 1) dipole with capacitive (Hertzian) elements and a vertical axial coil. The electrical length is between 400 and 500 m, with a total system length of 210 m. The antenna is equipped with metalized radar reflectors.

The entire balloon mission will use 144.8 MHz (as SP5AXL) and 868 MHz (as part of the LoVo system) for navigation. Flight information will be available in advance in NOTAM (EPWW).
Planned balloon launch (even if the sky is full of ‘lead’ clouds) at 12.00 UTC (14.00 CEST, local time). The 14.2kHz experiment will be switched on on the ground, with the antenna initially folded in harmony. The predicted total flight time is 3 hours – around 13.30-14.00 UTC / 15.30-16.00 CEST it is planned to reach the maximum altitude of 30 km above sea level.

Source: https://trcn.pl/do-stratosfery-to-the-stratosphere/

How can you help with the experiment? By recording as much as possible! Every parameter is valuable – from the spectrum / screenshot with the spectrum, to the EM field strengths, SNR and bandwidth, to the change of the EM field strength over time. The collected data can be sent to our e-mail address: stowarzyszenie@radiostacjababice.org. On the day of launch, we plan to post updates on the launch, flight and the experiment itself via our Facebook page: facebook.com/radiostacjababice.
Stay tuned!


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Radio Waves: Questions About New HF Stations, Towers Damaged after Hurricanes, Evolution of Ham Radio, and The Vintage Radio Repairman

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 Ed, Paul, Bennett Kobb, and Kanwar Sandhu for the following tips:


Questions Remain as New HF Stations Wait for Licenses (DMRNA.info)

Here is the story by Bennett Kobb:
As previously reported here at DRMNA.info, the New York company Turms Tech LLC has applied to the FCC for a license for International Broadcast Station WIPE in New Jersey. The license would cover a station already built under a FCC Construction Permit, and would allow it to begin regular operations.

The FCC announced on August 13, 2020 that this license application was accepted for filing, a routine stage at which the FCC examines the application, and might even visit the station, and if everything is in order it will be licensed.

We’re not sure everything is in order. The application for Construction Permit placed the transmitter site at N 40° 57′ 40.38″, W 73° 55′ 23.97″, the broadcast and communications center surrounding the famous Armstrong Tower at Alpine NJ. Its Application for License, however, specifies N 40° 51′ 40″, W 73° 55′ 23″. (Hat tip to Alex P for noting this discrepancy. More about him below.)

While the substitution of 51 for 57 in the coordinates might seem a simple typo, the FCC typically has no sense of humor about coordinate errors. Commission examiners may wonder why a station intended for a historic radio-TV facility ended up among some Manhattan apartments.

The deeper question with WIPE and another, apparently similar station WPBC, is what these stations are really for and what that means for the FCC Rules. WIPE was extremely vague about its program plans, but told the FCC that it will transmit data obtained from third parties using Digital Radio Mondiale. Putting that tidbit together with exposures in a series of public articles in the media and tech blogs, it would seem that audio programming will not be the central mission of this peculiarly named station, whose principal is a financial executive and forestry entrepreneur without any broadcast experience we could find.

We suspect instead that the WIPE data stream will be used not for broadcasting to the public — the only function permitted to International Broadcast Stations under FCC Rules — but instead will be used for private communication with foreign exchanges for high-speed trading.[]

KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy (Brad Dye)

Images of tower damage in Lake Charles, LA Bottom photo by KATC-TV of KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy

After bombarding coastal areas of southern Louisiana with wind gusts up to 130 mph and a storm surge over nine feet as a hurricane, Laura swept north while also spreading over Arkansas Thursday. Laura weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday afternoon, with winds at 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Laura is predicted to move through the Tennessee Valley and the Mid-Atlantic today into tomorrow.

Power outages from the storms totaled over 900,000 as of Thursday afternoon, according to PowerOutageUS. The site collects data from utilities nationwide. The bulk of the outages were in Louisiana and Texas, according to ABC News. Mississippi reportedly had over 9,400 customers without power as of Thursday morning, reported the Clarion Ledger.

Louisiana and Texas had the most cell site outages as of Thursday mid-day, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System. Of the 4,650 cell sites served in Louisiana, 380 were not working. Over 200 of the site outages were due to a lack of power, 141 had a transport issue and 16 were damaged.

Calcasieu and Cameron counties were hit especially hard. 140 sites (75 percent) were not working in Calcasieu County and 20 (69 percent) were out in Cameron County.

Of the 17,621 cell sites served in Texas, 113 were non-operational.

Jefferson County was the hardest hit, with 39 (15.8 percent) out of 247 sites not working. Just over 45 of the non-working sites were out due to a lack of power, 41 for transport reasons and 20 were damaged, according to DIRS.

Cable and wireline companies reported 192,915 subscribers out of service in the affected areas; this may include the loss of telephone, television, and/or Internet services.

Three television stations, five FMs and one AM reported they were off-air.[]

Ham radio is dying! No it’s not, it’s evolving (K0LWC)

I’ve heard ham radio is dying since as far back as I can remember. It’s one of those common sayings you always hear. Like, “get off my lawn,” and “kids these days.” But is it true? Is there any evidence to support this? Let’s take a closer look.

Data from the ARRL shows that ham radio licensees are increasing. When you look at the chart above, you see two significant markers that are likely driving this growth.

  • The removal of the code requirement by the FCC.
  • The economic collapse of 2008.

The Morse code requirement was always an intimidating part of obtaining your General FCC license. Learning Morse code is like learning a second language. It takes time and effort to learn, and that’s not a bad thing. However, it doesn’t change that it scared many people away from the hobby. When the FCC removed this requirement in 2007, I believe it opened the door for many who spent years on the fence. Then you have the economic downturn of 2008. What does that have to do with ham radio? A lot.

After the economic downturn, the United States watched as survivalism, now commonly calling “prepping,” entered mainstream culture. People were worried as the country was involved in multiple wars and our economy was on the brink of collapse. Citizens stocked up on food storage, water, firearms, and…communications equipment. As our country spiraled into more turmoil ham radio licenses steadily increased to more than 750,000 by the end of 2019.[]

The Vintage Radio Repair Man (Great Big Story–YouTube)

Click here to watch on YouTube.


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Radio Waves: Arecibo Damage, Airchecks, Remote Ham Exams, Kids Learning CW Through LI Club, and West Bengal Ham Confirms LRA36

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, Dave Cripe, and Trevor R for the following tips:


A Broken Cable Has Wrecked One of Earth’s Largest Radio Telescopes (Vice)

The Arecibo Observatory, one of the largest single-aperture radio telescopes in the world, has suffered extensive damage after an auxiliary cable snapped and crashed through the telescope’s reflector dish.

The accident left a 100-foot hole in the observatory, which stretches 1,000 feet over a karst sinkhole in northern Puerto Rico. The cable broke at about 2:45 AM local time on Monday, but the cause of the failure remains unknown, according to the University of Central Florida, one of three institutions that operates Arecibo.

“We have a team of experts assessing the situation,” said Francisco Cordova, Arecibo’s director, in the UCF statement. “Our focus is assuring the safety of our staff, protecting the facilities and equipment, and restoring the facility to full operations as soon as possible, so it can continue to assist scientists around the world.”

Arecibo was the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world for decades, but it was bumped into second place in 2016 by the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China. Some radio observatories, such as the Very Large Array in Chile, consist of vast networks of antennas that take up far more space than Arecibo or FAST, but the latter telescopes are the largest facilities in the world that collect light in a single big dish.

Arecibo also suffered damage during Hurricane Maria in 2017, though it was nowhere near as debilitating as the wreckage caused by the broken cable.[]

The Ever-Evolving Role of Airchecks (Radio World)

Anyone who has deejayed in radio in the past 60 years knows about airchecks. They are as much a part of top 40 radio’s legacy as spinning Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and exploiting its 8:02 running time for a much-needed bathroom break.

In top 40 terms, “an aircheck is an off-air recording usually intended to showcase the talent of an announcer or programmer to a prospective employer,” said Rick Burnett, former radio deejay and owner of TwinCitiesRadioAirchecks.com in St. Paul, Minn. “Additionally, the airchecks were used for self-critique and evaluation by radio management and for legal archiving of content that is broadcast over the air.”[]

Technology and Technique Making Ham Radio Testing Possible During Pandemic (ARRL News)

Amateur radio license testing continues during the pandemic, with a combination of remote Volunteer Examiner (VE) test sessions and careful in-person session planning. In Hawaii, VE Team leader and Section Manager Joe Speroni, AH0A, said he and his team passed the 100-candidate mark on August 10 for video-supervised remote test sessions. Speroni said the most recent session administered exams to 10 candidates simultaneously.

“Candidates from all Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US military bases in Okinawa have had an opportunity to sit for licenses,” he told the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator. “The high pass rate of 95% is most likely due to candidates having had time to prepare for the exam.” Speroni also said his VEs’ willingness to contribute their time has made the program a success and available to a wide geographical range.[]

With kids stuck home, Long Island group teaches a ‘new’ hobby: Morse code (Newsday)

Even though Alana Bernstein of Manhasset is a 17-year-old high school senior, this spring she had to learn the alphabet all over again.

Bernstein signed up for a new, free Zoom course in Morse code created by a Long Island ham radio operators’ club to offer kids a chance to learn a new skill and stay occupied during the pandemic.

“This is a good opportunity for me to connect with people around the world, make some Morse code friends and have some fun,” Bernstein says. She finished the beginner course and is now taking a summer intermediate course that meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The program has reached 125 children in kindergarten through high school since it launched in March, says Alana’s father, Howard Bernstein, 68, of Manhasset. He cofounded the Long Island CW Club — the CW standing for continuous wave — in 2018 with Rich Collins, 57, a UPS driver from Hicksville. The men are known by the call signs WB2UZE and K2UPS respectively when they’re on the air.[]

Radio ham picks up Argentine Antarctic base signal (Southgate ARC)

New Delhi Television (NDTV) reports a radio amateur in West Bengal received a signal from the Argentinian base in Antarctica

They say:

An amateur radio operator from West Bengal, who intercepts radio signals from far away countries as a hobby, received one from Antarctica, the southern tip of the globe, over 11,835 km away.

The feat of 65-year-old Babul Gupta is unique as it is the first successful DXing – receiving and identifying distant radio signals – with Antarctica from the state in recent memory, Secretary of West Bengal Radio Club Ambaresh Nag Biswas VU2JFA told PTI on Thursday.

Babul Gupta, a member of the club, received a radio transmission from a camp set up by an Argentine team of scientists in Antarctica when he was in Bakkhali, a seaside spot in the South 24 Parganas district, on August 8, he said.

“The transmission was made from LRA 36 camp. It was transmitted from the scientists’ camp in South Pole. I sent the recording of the audio to the Argentine team via email,” Mr Gupta said.

The Argentines have sent an acknowledgement citation to Babul Gupta referring to his tracking their radio signal on 15.476 kHz.

Read the full story at
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/amateur-bengal-ham-radio-operator-intercepts-signal-from-antarctica-camp-2282700

A picture of Babul Gupta’s receiving station can be seen at
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/358599189055138206/[]


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Radio Waves: GatesAir Invests in Equatorial Guinea, Community Radio Champion Lorenzo Wilson Milam SK, and GQRP Online Convention

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 Tracy Wood, John Figliozzi, Heath Hall and Gérard Koopal for the following tips:


Investment project by North American company GatesAir in digitalisation of Equatorial Guinea (Equatorial Guinea Press and Information Office)

The company GatesAir could invest in a digitalisation project for audiovisual media in Equatorial Guinea in the near future. The information was revealed at the audience that the Vice-President of the Republic, H. E. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, granted on Friday 7th August, at the People’s palace in Malabo, to the accredited North American Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Susan Stevenson.

The willingness of the United States Government was expressed at a bilateral meeting that the Vice-President held with the Ambassador, Susan Stevenson, who came to report to H. E. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue about the interest of the North American company GatesAir in investing in a digitalisation project in the country.

The initiative was well received by Nguema Obiang Mangue, who declared to his interlocutor that Equatorial Guinea has its doors open to any foreign investment.

The Coronavirus pandemic which is currently affecting the whole world also occupied a page on the menu of discussions between Nguema Obiang Mangue and Susan Stevenson.

In addition to this project, Equatorial Guinea and the United States continue to form closer ties in other sectors such as Defence, Education, the Economy and Culture, among others.[]

Lorenzo Wilson Milam, Guru of Community Radio, Is Dead at 86 (NY times)

He helped start noncommercial stations in the 1960s and ’70s, offering an eclectic mix of music and talk. His goal: to change the world.

Lorenzo Wilson Milam, who devoted much of his life to building noncommercial radio stations with eclectic fusions of music, talk and public affairs, died on July 19 at his home in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. He was 86.

[…]Mr. Milam loathed commercial radio stations, which he saw as purveyors of mindless junk. With KRAB and about a dozen other stations that he helped start in the 1960s and ’70s, he created a freewheeling, esoteric vision of commercial-free community radio as the voice of the people it served.

He wanted his stations to have inexperienced contributors, both on and off the air. He encouraged locals to help him program the stations and contribute a few dollars to keep these shoestring operations open.[]

RAE 100 year anniversary specials (Gérard Koopal)

I heard on RAE German that Argentina celebrates 100 years radio in Argentina on august 27th of this year.

This was announced by Rayén Braun the 4th of august on her broadcast show in German.

German listeners are asked to send in a personal message as video or mp3 to this event which will be incorporated in the special broadcast show on this matter.

She points out that more information will be found on the website of RAE. (www.rae.com.ar)

GQRP Club releases agenda for its Online Convention 2020 (Southgate ARC)

The GQRP Club has released a detailed agenda for its Online Convention 2020, taking place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th September.

The online event, which replaces the club’s annual GQRP convention at Telford due to current Covid-19 restrictions, is open to existing members. There is a special rate for non-members which will include GQRP Club membership until January 2022.

The two-day event comprises a series of online presentations and knowledge-sharing meetings where people can share ideas.

The packed presentation list includes:

• “Building QRP transceivers” with Hans Summers G0UPL, designer and manufacturer of the QCX QRP transceiver.

• “HF propagation and QRP” with Steve Nichols G0KYA, author and chairman of the RSGB’s Propagation Studies Committee

• “Homebrew SSB Transceivers” with Pete Juliano N6QW, co-presenter of the Soldersmoke podcast and a prolific home brewer.

• “Vector Network analysers explained and the NanoVNA” with Alan Wolke W2AEW, a professional electrical engineer who works for Tektronix.

• “Antennas for QRP” with Callum McCormick M0MCX, YouTube star and inventor and manufacturer of the DX Commander vertical antenna.

• “FT8/FT4 for the QRPer” with Anthony Luscre K8ZT, who will take a detailed look at this the fastest-growing mode in amateur radio.

There will also be range of knowledge-sharing sessions, including “Using Antenna analysers” with Heather M0HMO, “Running a QRP DxPedition” with Dom M1KTA, “Battery technology for QRP portable” with Bill G4ERV, “Omni Directional antennas” with John G8SEQ and many more.

The event costs £4 for GQRP club members. Non-members can also sign up for the event and join the GQRP club for just £10 (or £17 for international participants).

To sign up for the event just go to the Eventbrite sign-up page at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gqrp-club-2020-online-convention-tickets-115417887007

For more information and to view the full event schedule see http://www.gqrp.com/convention.htm


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