Tag Archives: Radio Waves

Radio Waves: Russian State Radio in KC, FRBs, New-Cycle Sunspot, and ABC Friends Bushfire Update

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 Michael Bird and Ted Miller for the following tips:


Meet The Man Who Brought Russian State Radio To Kansas City (KCUR)

The man responsible for broadcasting Russian state programming in the Kansas City area says he always dreamed of owning a radio station.

Today he owns two, plus a small fleet of radio transmitters across the Kansas City metro.

But money remains tight, he laid off his staff years ago and the stations sell airtime to local residents and religious organizations at cut-rate prices. He hasn’t given himself a paycheck in months.

So Pete Schartel’s ears perked up a while back when he heard that Radio Sputnik pays $30,000 a month to broadcast its programming in Washington, D.C.

“I’m going, ‘Oh my Lord, that’s twice what my whole budget is,’” he told KCUR in a two-hour interview at his flagship station, KCXL, last week. “They must have some money. Let’s investigate this.”

Schartel found Arnold Ferolito, the broker who negotiated the 2017 deal to broadcast Russian programming 24 hours a day in Washington, and made his pitch: “We’re right in the middle of the country. This would be a good test market.”[]

Something in Deep Space Is Sending Signals to Earth in Steady 16-Day Cycles (Vice)

Scientists have discovered the first fast radio burst that beats at a steady rhythm, and the mysterious repeating signal is coming from the outskirts of another galaxy.

A mysterious radio source located in a galaxy 500 million light years from Earth is pulsing on a 16-day cycle, like clockwork, according to a new study. This marks the first time that scientists have ever detected periodicity in these signals, which are known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), and is a major step toward unmasking their sources.

FRBs are one of the most tantalizing puzzles that the universe has thrown at scientists in recent years. First spotted in 2007, these powerful radio bursts are produced by energetic sources, though nobody is sure what those might be. FRBs are also mystifying because they can be either one-offs or “repeaters,” meaning some bursts appear only once in a certain part of the sky, while others emit multiple flashes to Earth.

Pulses from these repeat bursts have, so far, seemed somewhat random and discordant in their timing. But that changed last year, when the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project (CHIME/FRB), a group dedicated to observing and studying FRBs, discovered that a repeater called FRB 180916.J0158+65 had a regular cadence.[]

A New-Cycle Sunspot is Forming (SpaceWeather.com)

Today, [February 7, 2020] a new sunspot is emerging in the sun’s southern hemisphere, right here. Its magnetic polarity identifies it as a member of Solar Cycle 25, the long-awaited next solar cycle. Although solar activity remains low, this new-cycle spot continues the recent trend of intensifying Solar Cycle 25 sunspot formation. Apparently, Solar Minimum won’t last forever….www.spaceweather.com

ABC Friends’ Special Bushfire Edition of Update (ABC Friends)

British natural historian David Attenborough has described this summer’s fires as ‘a major international catastrophe.’ Read gripping personal accounts of bushfire experiences, analysis from our National President Margaret Reynolds and Vice-President Professor Ed Davis, selected articles from journalists, reports from the ABC, and the observations of many ordinary Australians on the role of the ABC as our Emergency Broadcaster.

The ABC’s Emergency Broadcasts saved lives and kept families safe. Hundreds of ABC staff, many returning early from leave and working in extreme conditions, brought stories, pictures, sound and  essential emergency information to every corner of Australia.  It is appalling that many ABC staff are facing redundancy as a result of the recent $83.7 million budget cuts inflicted on the ABC by the Morrison government, on top of the $250m in cuts since 2014.

ABC Friends will be in Canberra when parliament resumes to demand the restoration of funds so that our ABC remains strong and independent.

Read Update here

Update is the national membership magazine of ABC Friends. Not a member? Sign up here.

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Radio Waves: RNZ Cuts Classical, Australian EmComm Plan, BBC Funding, and NHK Viewing Fees

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Broadcasting 

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 Troy Riedel and Michael Bird for the following tips:

RNZ set to cut back Concert and launch new youth service (Radio New Zealand)

In the biggest overhaul of its music services in years, RNZ is planning to cut back its classical music station RNZ Concert and replace it on FM radio with music for a younger audience as part of a new multimedia music brand. Mediawatch asks RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson and music content director Willy Macalister to explain the move.

The broadcaster is proposing to remove RNZ Concert from its FM frequencies and transform it into an automated non-stop music station which will stream online and play on AM radio.

It would be replaced on FM by a service aimed at a younger, more diverse audience as part of a new multimedia “music brand”.

RNZ Concert would be taken off FM radio on May 29 and the youth platform would be phased in ahead of its full launch on August 28.

RNZ’s music staff were informed about the proposed changes this morning in an emotional, occasionally heated meeting with the RNZ music content director Willy Macalister, head of radio and music David Allan, and chief executive Paul Thompson.[]

[Australian] Senate to vote on National Emergency Communications Plan (ABC Friends)

Today Senators can vote to recognise and support ABC Emergency Broadcasting Services and start to plan for a National Emergency Communications Plan.

[…]The motion comes after ABC Friends surveyed bushfire affected communities, with 95% of the 750 respondents indicating that they wanted to see a national plan of additional essential communications infrastructure.

More information to come once the motion has been moved.[]

UK government, at odds with media, eyes BBC funding change (AP)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s government announced Wednesday it is considering a change in the way the BBC is funded that would severely dent the coffers of the nation’s public broadcaster.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government — which is increasingly at odds with the country’s news media — said it would hold a “public consultation” on whether to stop charging people with a criminal offense if they don’t pay the annual levy that funds the BBC.

The broadcaster gets most of its money from a license fee paid by every television-owning household in the country, which currently stands at 154.50 pounds ($201) a year. Failing to pay can result in a fine or, in rare cases, a prison sentence.

In 2018, more than 121,000 people were convicted and fined for license fee evasion. Five people were imprisoned for not paying their fines.

The BBC is Britain’s largest media organization, producing news, sports and entertainment across multiple TV, radio and digital outlets. The BBC’s size and public funding annoy private-sector rivals, who argue the broadcaster has an unfair advantage.[]

NHK Asked to Cut Viewing Fees Further (Jiji Press)

Tokyo, Feb. 5 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi asked Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) on Wednesday to cut television-viewing fees further.
The request was included in a set of proposals compiled by Takaichi. The proposals were approved the same day at a meeting of the Radio Regulatory Council, which advises the minister.

After expected cabinet approval, the proposals will be submitted to the ongoing session of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, together with NHK’s fiscal 2020 draft budget.

The public broadcaster has already decided to cut viewing fees and expand the scope of fee exemptions by the end of fiscal 2020, in order to reduce viewers’ burdens by the equivalent of 6 pct of its fiscal 2018 fee revenue.[]

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Radio Waves: Sun Up-Close, Super NZ Public Broadcaster, One SDR, and ABC Emergency Broadcasting

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio 

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Paul Evans, Troy Riedel, Michael Bird, and Marty for the following tips:

Sun’s surface seen in remarkable new detail (BBC News)

Source: Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope

Behold the Sun’s convulsing surface at a level of detail never seen before.

The Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope on Hawaii has released pictures that show features as small as 30km across.

This is remarkable when set against the scale of our star, which has a diameter of about 1.4 million km (870,000 miles) and is 149 million km from Earth.

The cell-like structures are roughly the size of the US state of Texas. They are convecting masses of hot, excited gas, or plasma.

The bright centres are where this solar material is rising; the surrounding dark lanes are where plasma is cooling and sinking.[]

The New Zealand Cabinet plans to create a new, super-sized public broadcaster (Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union)

It is understood the NZ cabinet has signed off on a high-level decision to proceed and to commission a business case, after the Minister for Broadcasting, Kris Faafoi, presented a revised paper on Monday.

There was pushback from some senior Labour and New Zealand First ministers about the way the preferred option was landed on, the implications for public broadcasting if RNZ ceased to be a standalone company, and the speed at which it had been progressing.

The plan was to work towards having the new media company in place by about 2023 and that appears to still be the goal.

RNZ was told the amended proposal puts a specific emphasis on the fact the new company will be primarily a public service media outlet, and to ensure that is made crystal clear in any legislation, and through a charter.[]

One SDR: A new website focusing on the basics of software defined radio

Good morning. I have been following SWLing over the years and it’s an amazing resource.

I’m writing from https://onesdr.com which is an Education website with articles that simplify Software-defined Radio. I write about practical aspects of SDR including associated components such as Low Noise Amplifiers, Filters, Bias Tees, etc. My goal is to demystify RF technology and make it more accessible to the growing community of SDR enthusiasts.

As well I have been contributing to several RF-related Wikipedia pages* to popularize RF and Wireless in general.

Interim Report of Survey of ABC Emergency Broadcasting in Bushfire Affected Communities (ABC Friends)

95% of respondents to ABC Friends’ Survey of ABC emergency broadcasting in bushfire affected communities believe there is a need for a national plan of additional essential communications infrastructure.

This devastating bushfire season attests to the ABC’s position as Australia’s pre-eminent emergency broadcaster. The number of ABC emergency broadcasts has risen from 256 in 2017-2018 to 371 in 2018-2019 to 673 to date this year (4 Jan). The ABC’s emergency broadcasts continue in the face of ongoing funding cuts and with no additional funding to cover the resources which have been poured into the effort.

On 3 January, via Facebook, ABC Friends National asked for feedback about the ABC’s emergency broadcasts from those affected by the bushfires. Whilst highly praised, there were reports that access to ABC broadcasts was sometimes a problem.

ABC Friends subsequent media release made an urgent call for the Federal Government to restore funding that guarantees infrastructure and transmission that is vital for emergency services broadcasting. It also advised of the launch of a survey (see appendix 1) to obtain more formal feedback about access to emergency broadcasts. This survey was delivered on 13 January via Facebook and via email through our membership and supporter base.

750 people responded to the survey.

91.1% of those surveyed said that the ABC local emergency broadcasts were important to them during the crisis.

96.1% of those surveyed said that ABC staff with local knowledge was important to them.

98.5% of those surveyed said that it was important to them that their local ABC outlet remain open and well-staffed.[]


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Radio Waves: Capitol Code, Clay’s Corner, The Buzzer, iHeart Layoffs, and Australian Hams

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, William Lee, Stana Horzepa, Rich Cuff, and Marty for the following tips:


Capitol Records Building Morse Code (WA1LOU)

This iconic Los Angeles landmark has been emitting secret messages since it opened. However, only those with a keen eye for Morse code can decipher what they say.

It was the former president of Capitol Records, Alan Livingston, who got the idea to have the light on top of the building send out a signal in Morse code. The word chosen for this secret message was “Hollywood.” When the building opened in 1956, Samuel Morse’s granddaughter Leila Morse had the honor of turning the light on.

Read the rest of the story at Atlas Obscura.


Clay’s Corner February 2020 Edition (Northwest Broadcasters)

Some are interpreting this as meaning that – every – AM will be switching to digital leaving a Jillion AM only receivers with nothing to listen to (except for electrical gizmo noise). I give more credit than that to the owners of AM Radio Stations. I would highly doubt if any market would see all of their AM’s go digital. Perhaps in an ownership that had two AM’s it might make sense to have one of each.

[…]Other question is, what will the company that owns HD Radio (EXPERI) want to extract from the owner of an AM station that’s willing to put everything on the line and go all digital?
The bottom line is there appears to be a lot of interest in this proposal. The FCC’s process will likely draw a number of comments, pro and con. This will be an interesting process to watch. I can say one thing, never did I ever dream that we would be debating this issue![]


Seven mysterious sounds science has yet to solve (Popular Science)

The Buzzer

Numbers stations—shortwave radio transmissions of monotone coded messages—are inherently creepy. But call sign UVB-76 has outcreeped them all by playing the same jolting tone from Russia since 1982. Similar broadcasts are useful for sending messages where snoops might intercept digital comms, so “the Buzzer” could simply assist spies. But it plays far fewer words and digits than confirmed espionage outlets, so some suspect it’s a science project that bounces radio waves off the ionosphere to detect solar flares. The most intriguing theory posits that it’s a doomsday device that will go silent should Russia suffer a nuclear attack, thus triggering retaliation.

My theory is that these mysterious sounds are actually the intro to a Pink Floyd song, possibly from their 1969 album Ummagumma. Because the early Floyd albums, before Dark Side of the Moon, are no longer heard on-air, the Russians stole this music knowing we’d never notice. Ooh, gotta go… I hear the black helicopters coming…[]


iHeartMedia laid off hundreds of radio DJs. Executives blame AI. DJs blame the executives. (Washington Post)

When iHeartMedia announced this month it would fire hundreds of workers across the country, the radio conglomerate said the restructuring was critical to take advantage of its “significant investments … in technology and artificial intelligence.” In a companywide email, chief executive Bob Pittman said the “employee dislocation” was “the unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company.”

But laid-off employees like D’Edwin “Big Kosh” Walton, who made $12 an hour as an on-air personality for the Columbus, Ohio, hip-hop station 106.7 the Beat, don’t buy it. Walton doesn’t blame the cuts on a computer; he blames them on the company’s top executives, whose “coldblooded, calculated move” cost people their jobs.[]


Amateur radio skills prove useful during bushfire emergencies (ABC News)

Amateur radio enthusiasts have proved themselves useful during the recent bushfires after traditional telecommunication channels broke down.

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a skill and international hobby whereby enthusiasts use specific radio frequencies to communicate with each other.

In Australia, users must complete an exam to obtain a license through the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

It was volunteers with these skills who were called in to assist during the recent New South Wales bushfires.

Neil Fallshaw is vice-president of WICEN NSW Communications, a group of volunteers with amateur radio licenses who can help in emergency situations.

He said about 30 members provided a temporary radio system in the Bega, Cobargo, Narooma, and Bermagui areas after some of the local radio infrastructure was damaged or had lost power.

“We deployed one of our radio repeaters on the mountains. We put a radio repeater system on that mountain to cover a portion of the south coast,” Mr Fallshaw said.

He said that radio system assisted the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association and Bega Valley Shire Council staff to communicate from bushfire-affected towns like Bermagui and Cobargo.

“They normally use just mobile phones, but the mobile phones in the area were down because of fire damage,” Mr Fallshaw said.[]

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Radio Waves: Podcast Preservation, Art Bell Plaque, BBC News Cuts, Space Storms, and DK7IH’s Homebrew Transceiver

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio 

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Mike Terry, Troy Riedel, and Jeff Murray for the following tips:


Radio Survivor Podcast #230 – The Library of Congress Launches Podcast Preservation Project (Radio Survivor)

On this week’s episode we learn about a brand new project at the Library of Congress that is focused entirely on archiving podcasts. Ted Westervelt, Manager of the Podcast Preservation Project at Library of Congress, joins us to share early details from this new initiative. He explains that the hope is that a wide variety of all types of podcasts will be part of the collection, including the Radio Survivor Podcast.[]


Memorial Plaque Honoring Art Bell Unveiled at Park in Pahrump, Nevada (Coast to Coast)

Coast to Coast AM founder Art Bell has been honored with a memorial plaque at a park in the Nevada city of Pahrump. The beloved radio personality, who passed away in April of 2018, was a longtime resident of the community and famously broadcast from his home there. The marker, which was unveiled by Nye County on their Facebook page this past Friday and is located at Calvada Eye park, was funded by a group known as the ‘Friends and Fans of Art Bell’ with additional financial support and installation provided by the county.[]


BBC News to close 450 posts as part of £80m savings drive (BBC News)

Around 450 jobs will be cut from BBC News under plans to complete its £80m savings target by 2022.

Outlets to be hit by job closures include BBC Two’s Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live and the World Update programme on the World Service.

BBC News boss Fran Unsworth said there had to be a move away from traditional broadcasting and towards digital.

But broadcasting union Bectu said the changes mean staff will be “under even more pressure to deliver”.


How likely are space super-storms? (EarthSky)

A new analysis shows that “severe” space super-storms happened 42 years out of the last 150, and “great” super-storms happened 6 years out of 150. These storms can disrupt modern electronics, aviation and satellite systems and communications.

A new joint study by the University of Warwick and the British Antarctic Survey used historical data to extend scientists’ previous estimates of the likelihood of space super-storms. These storms may originate with solar flares, seen to erupt explosively on the sun during years of high solar activity. Space super-storms aren’t harmful to humans, because our atmosphere protects us, but they can be hugely disruptive to our modern technologies. They can cause power blackouts, take out satellites, disrupt aviation and cause temporary loss of GPS signals and radio communications, scientists say. The new work shows that what the scientists called “severe” space super-storms occurred 42 years out of the last 150 years. What they called “great” super-storms occurred in 6 years out of 150. The new work also sheds light on what’s called the Carrington event of 1859, the largest super-storm in recorded history.[]

Also check out: Are Solar Storms Dangerous To Us?


DK7IH’s New HOMEBREW Transceiver Raises the Bar for All of Us (Soldersmoke Podcast)

And that, my friends, is a HOMEBREW transceiver. Wow, amazingly well done. After I showed this to Pete N6QW (no slouch in the homebrew packaging department), in frustration with his self-perceived shortcomings he threatened to give up on homebrewing and to throw away all his rigs. Don’t do it Pete!

Peter Rachow, DK7IH has carefully documented his project through as series of blog posts:
Here is Part 1. Part 9 deals with mechanical construction, packaging and what George Dobbs used to call “socketry.”[]


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Radio Waves: WBCN, Reactions to AM Digital, More KPH, and Cereal Box Telescopes

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio 

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Mike Terry, Troy Riedel, andGrant Porter for the following tips:


WBCN history reveals revolutionary power in local radio (Boston University News Service)

SOMERVILLE – What started as a midnight to 6 a.m. slot on a failing classical music station, became the voice of a generation in 1970s Boston. Now, more than 50 years after WBCN sparked a “revolutionary new experiment in radio,” the bygone rock station is still making waves.

The 2018 documentary, “WBCN and The American Revolution,” tells the origin story of Boston’s first rock and roll station through a combination of rock hits. Never-before-seen photos, videos and interviews with some of Boston’s most beloved radio hosts, were greeted with cheers at the Somerville Theatre screening Thursday night.

Bill Lichtenstein, who began volunteering with WBCN at 14, directed and produced the film. After crowdfunding and a decade in the making, it has been touring independent theaters and festivals across the U.S. for the last year and a half.

WBCN was grounded in good music. Founded by Ray Riepen, owner of South End music venue The Boston Tea Party, WBCN introduced voices like The Velvet Underground, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin to the city, and quickly found a home in Boston’s huge student population. Within three months, the station, run by amateur hosts and young volunteers during classroom breaks, was playing 24 hours per day.[…]


“It Will Make Millions of Receivers Obsolete … This Is Needless” (Radio World)

What people are saying to the FCC about all-digital on the AM band

Radio World is providing an ongoing sampler of comments of what people are telling the FCC about its proposal to allow U.S. stations on the AM band to switch voluntarily to all-digital transmission. Here are more in the series:

Kirk Mazurek told the FCC that he is an avid AM listener who has “invested time and money in equipment towards my hobby as many others have. If this proposal goes through it will make the millions of receivers obsolete requiring the purchase of new equipment. This is needless, there are a lot of people who have vintage radios and a lot of them have been restored. This proposal would make them useless. I urge you not to ratify this proposal.”

Mark Wells raised concern about interference from digital to analog signals on the same channel. “This is especially applicable at night when one is listening to distant stations in out-of-state markets, he wrote. “For example, clear channel stations WBT in Charlotte and KFAB in Omaha are both on both on 1110 kHz. Let’s say one switches to digital, and one does not. As it is they both may fade in and out as the atmosphere does its nightly tricks, but the signals remain mostly useable. But, if one is digital and the other analog would it not ‘blank out’ the analog station?”[…]


Podcast features Coastal Radio Station KPH (DitDit.fm)

There was a time when the airways bristled with Morse Code. There were commercial radio stations all around the world whose business was sending and receiving Morse Code messages to ships at sea. Coast station KPH, located at Point Reyes National Seashore near San Francisco, is one of those stations. Richard Dillman was there in 1997 when KPH sent it’s last message and closed it’s doors. It was the end of the line for the men and women who had spent their careers sending Morse Code to ships at sea. There was nowhere else for them to go…

Two years later, Richard Dillman with a group of volunteers returned to KPH and put it back on the air. Listen as Richard tells us about the future of Maritime Morse Code Coastal Station KPH!


A hydrogen line telescope made from cereal boxes and an RTL-SDR (RTL-SDR.com)

SpaceAustralia.com have recently been hosting a community science project that involves encouraging teams to build backyard radio telescopes that can detect the arms of our Milky Way Galaxy by receiving the Hydrogen line frequency of 1420 MHz.

This can be achieved at home by building a horn antenna out of cardboard and aluminum foil, and a feed from a tin can. Then the Hydrogen line and galactic plane can be detected by using an RTL-SDR, LNA, and software capable of averaging an FFT spectrum over a long period of time.

While most horn antennas are typically made from four walls, one participant, Vanessa Chapman, has shown that even trash can be used to observe the galaxy. Vanessa’s horn antenna is made from multiple cereal boxes lined with aluminum foil and an old tin fuel can. The boxes are held together by some string and propped up by some sticks.

With her cereal box horn antenna combined with an RTL-SDR Blog V3, and an RTL-SDR Blog Wideband LNA, Vanessa was able to use software to average the spectrum over time as the galactic plane passed overhead, revealing the Hydrogen line peak and corresponding doppler shift from the galactic plane.[…]


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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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