Tag Archives: Radio Waves

Radio Waves: Dirty Transmitters, World Amateur Radio Day, Electronic Echoes, DRM via Android, and 10 More BBC AM Services Close

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 Grayhat, David Iurescia, Bill Hemphill, Harald Kuhl, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Transmitter Noise / Dirty Transmitters: Receiver Performance has hit a Brick Wall (DJ0IP)

For the past 15 years, Ham Radio’s Mega-Focus on Receiver Dynamic Range (DR3) has resulted in the community ignoring other factors that are just as important to receiver performance.

Even though our receivers have made a quantum leap in performance in important parameters such as DR3, RMDR, etc., On-The-Air Reception has gotten worse.

Unless used at a multi-transmitter site, today’s typical user won’t detect a difference in the receiver performance between a radio with 90 dB DR3 and a radio with 110 dB DR3. That’s because Receiver Performance is not the limiting factor.[]

World Amateur Radio Day 18 April 2021 (IARU REGION 2 Newsletter)

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) is an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of amateur radio to the communications technology revolution which has dramatically impacted the daily life of virtually everyone on the planet. Many of these technologies and techniques started as experiments, not by governments or commercial enterprises, but by radio amateurs.

WARD 2021 commemorates the 96th anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union’s founding in 1925, where amateurs first met in Paris to band together to give voice to these early experimenters to national governments and international bodies representing all radio amateurs.

The almost universal adoption of mobile technology created ever increasing demand on a finite resource, the radio spectrum. Access to useable spectrum is the fundamental base on which amateur radio was built and continues to be developed. As a result, amateur radio is very different than decades ago. Embracing new technologies and techniques has greatly expanded what amateur radio is and opened further possibilities as to what it could be. The proliferation of technology also means that the ongoing experimentation and innovation in electronics, radio frequency technique and radio wave propagation is no longer only the traditional realm of the radio amateur but also includes university research satellites, the “maker” community, and other non-commercial experimenters: citizen scientists.

Looking ahead, this ongoing evolution of the telecommunications ecosystem makes it clear that the national Member Societies of the IARU and IARU itself must also continuously change and adapt. A century later, the future possibilities are as exciting as ever.

Celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. The pandemic and more localized natural disasters continue to demonstrate the value of ordinary citizens as technically skilled contributors to society. The original social network is robust. Expose someone new to amateur radio (properly distanced), get on the air and contact the many special event stations, on HF, VHF, or satellite.

Electronic Echoes (KPC Radio)

From SWLing Post contributor Bill Hemphill:

“I have run across an interesting set of audio interviews that were done by Aaron Castillo of kpcradio.com. This is an internet based radio station of Pierce College in California.

Aaron did a series of audio interviews in the fall of 2020 called Electronic Echoes. See following link:

https://kpcradio.com/author/aaron-castillo/

 

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App upgrades mobile devices to receive undistorted DRM Digital Radio anytime and anywhere (Fraunhofer Press Release)

Horgen/Switzerland, Erlangen/Germany: Starwaves, a developer and distributor of receiver technologies centered around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), joined forces with Fraunhofer IIS, a leading supplier in the field of broadcast encoder and receiver components for DRM, to develop an Android app that allows DRM reception on mobile devices. Starwaves enables Android phones and tablets to receive entertainment, text information, and emergency warnings via DRM Digital Radio – without costly data plans, independent from cell phone network availability, and based on innovative Fraunhofer technology.

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is the digital successor standard to the classic AM and FM radio services. In many parts of the world, terrestrial digital radio broadcasts are already an important and trusted source of entertainment and information. They do not require monthly payments and work reliably even if there are no cell networks available. Radio reception with mobile phones and tablets combines the mobility and flexibility of these devices with the benefits of free-to-air radio services.

Starwaves has been active in the field of DRM radio receivers for many years. The “STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio” app was developed in close cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS. Its goal is to ensure easy access to innovative DRM radio services for everybody. It is available from now in the Google and Amazon Android app stores. The app provides listeners with access to all the essential features of the DRM digital radio standard, across all transmission bands from DRM on long wave to FM band and VHF band-III.

Fraunhofer IIS is a significant co-developer of core digital radio technologies. This includes the innovative xHE-AAC audio codec, which provides high audio quality at lowest data rates, as well as the Journaline application, which gives radio listeners access to news, the latest sports updates, local weather forecasts, travel tips, and even radio schooling services without requiring internet access.

The app also supports many more DRM features such as the Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF), image slideshows, station logos, and service descriptions including Unicode support for worldwide application. To provide all these services, the app only requires a standard off-the-shelf SDR RF dongle that is attached to the device’s USB port.

“We are proud to launch the world’s first low-cost full-featured DRM digital radio reception solution for mobile devices, developed in close partnership with Fraunhofer IIS. Now everybody can easily upgrade their existing mobile phone and tablet to enjoy DRM digital radio with its undistorted audio quality and advanced features including Journaline,” says Johannes von Weyssenhoff, founder of Starwaves.

I order to meet the needs of everyday radio listeners and to clearly separate this app from the engineering-driven approaches of the past, usability was a primary development objective from day one. With only a few clicks on the clutter-free interface, users select their preferred radio service, navigate through the clearly structured menus, and gain instant access to the various advanced information services that DRM provides. By supporting multiple user interface languages, the app ensures optimized usability in many countries around the globe.

About STARWAVES

Found in 2005 in Bad Münder, Lower Saxony/Germany, Starwaves had set its focus on the development and distribution of receiver technologies around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale). As far back as 2003 after both organizations, the DRM Consortium and the WorldDAB Forum, had expressed their appeal to the industry at IFA in Berlin to develop and produce multi-standard receivers compatible with both their systems, Starwaves developed its model ”STARWAVES Prelude”, the world’s first DRM-DAB receiver and presented it at CeBIT 2004 in Hanover. In 2006 Starwaves was again in the headlines with the ”Carbox”: It was the world’s first automotive DRM-DAB receiver which then was produced in volumes and enjoyed by lots of listeners worldwide – including many DXers thanks to its excellent analogue Short-Wave capabilities as well.

Since 2008 Starwaves moved its focus to Africa where it developed and tested an innovative approach of broadcasting community television in the L-Band with DVB-T2 in cooperation with ICASA – another world premiere. After DRM was chosen the national standard in India in 2012 Starwaves relocated its headquarters to Switzerland and started developing a new generation of DRM receivers.

Starwaves also initiated Africa’s first DRM trial in the FM Band in Johannesburg/South Africa and completed it with local and international partners. The trial report contains valuable discoveries regarding the feasibility of DRM for community radio which guided the South African government to adopt DRM in the FM Band for community radio and secured the report becoming an internationally recognized piece of standard literature, recently endorsed by ITU. Today, Starwaves offers various DRM receivers and broadcast solutions for consumers and the professional broadcasting industry.

For more information, contact sales@starwaves.com or visit www.starwaves.com/de/starwaves-drm-softradio

Ten more stations turn off Medium Wave services (Radio Today)

Ten more local BBC radio stations are turning off their Medium Wave transmitters for good this year.

BBC Essex, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle will be FM and digital only in May and June 2021.

In addition, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Gloucestershire will reduce AM coverage.

The BBC’s intention to close MW transmitters was first announced ten years ago in 2011.[]


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Radio Waves: SpaceX Encrypts Falcon 9 After Ham Downloads Data, Postcard From Titanic Op at Auction, History of Sound Art, and WNYC’s Early Recording

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 Ulis (K3LU), Chris Walter, and Ron James  for the following tips:


SpaceX Encrypts Falcon 9 Telemetry After Amateur Radio Operators Download Data (Extreme Tech)

SpaceX doesn’t operate like a traditional aerospace company. For one, the CEO is usually hamming it up on Twitter during launches and providing details that would usually go in a press release. SpaceX also live streams almost all of its launches, even the prototypes that have an unfortunate tendency to blow up lately. It wasn’t even encrypting the Falcon 9 telemetry feed… until now. Unfortunately, some digging by amateur radio tinkerers seems to have convinced SpaceX to step up its security.

It all started a few weeks ago when several Redditors managed to lock onto the 2232.5 MHz telemetry downlink from a Falcon 9 upper stage. Right away, they were able to pull out a few interesting plaintext snippets from the unencrypted feed. With a little more work, the radio enthusiasts were able to capture some amazing images from the spacecraft’s cameras.

After that discovery was public, other SpaceX fans tried to grab some data from the Starship during its prototype tests. However, SpaceX had chosen to encrypt that data. Even with the right wireless equipment, the decoded signal was just noise. Now, it appears the same thing is happening with the Falcon 9. When attempting to pull data from the most recent Falcon 9 launch, the original signal snoopers discovered it had also been encrypted. A series of tweets from SpaceX engineers suggest the decoding of the telemetry signal was the reason for the change.[]

Postcard from Titanic’s radio operator is being sold at auction (Stars And Stripes)

BOSTON — A postcard written by the Titanic’s senior radio operator just weeks before the ocean liner sank in the North Atlantic in 1912 has been put up for auction.

The card, with a glossy image of the ill-fated ship on the front, was written by Jack Phillips to his sister, Elsie Phillips, in March 1912 while awaiting the ship’s first sea trials, according to RR Auction in Boston.

“Very busy working late. Hope to leave on Monday & arrive Soton Wednesday afternoon. Hope you quite OK. Heard from Ethel yesterday,” he wrote. It’s signed “Love Jack.”

It is postmarked Belfast, where the Titanic was built, and has a canceled halfpenny stamp.

“Soton” is a contraction of Southampton, the English port city from where the Titanic departed on its maiden voyage. It sank in the early morning hours of April 15.

Phillips, who turned 25 on board, stayed at his post after the Titanic struck an iceberg to send calls for assistance to other ships in the area until water was lapping around his feet, according to RR Auction.

He made it off the ship after being told by the captain that he had done his duty, according to his biography in the British National Archives, but died of exposure in the frigid North Atlantic, according to RR Auction.

The postcard is being sold by the estate of Vera and John Gillespie, longtime members of the Massachusetts-based Titanic Historical Society, said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction.[]

Radio Survivor Podcast #292: The History of Sound Art (Radio Survivor)

What is sound art? And what do we know about its origin story? We explore this question and more with our guest this week, artist and educator Judy Dunaway. An adjunct professor in the History of Art Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Dunaway’s recent article, “The Forgotten 1979 MoMA Sound Art Exhibition,” is a fascinating look at the history of sound art and highlights important contributions by female artists. In our wide-ranging discussion, we also hear about Dunaway’s own artistic practice, from her work with latex balloons to transmission art to a “phone improv” show over BlogTalkRadio a decade ago.

Click here to check out this piece at Radio Survivor.

 

Overcoming the Limitations of Time (From the January/February 1940 WNYC Masterwork Bulletin)

A MATTER OF RECORD: Mighty useful gadgets are WNYC’s four new recording machines. They were used in a variety of interesting ways during the past year, so we decided that the how and the why of recording would be an appropriate subject for this, the third of our Behind the Microphone series dealing with the technical side of things at the Municipal Station.

One of the most valuable uses of the recording units is that they have partially enabled us to overcome the limitations of time — have made it possible to make available to our listeners important evening programs which we could not broadcast directly because of our fluctuating time allotment.

For instance, we could not pick up the ASCAP Music Festival Concerts from Carnegie Hall last Fall because WNYC was not on the air after 8:30 P. M.[1] What to do? The recorders to the rescue! The concerts were “broadcast” over our regular Carnegie Hall lines to the Municipal Building where they were transcribed on our two standard studio-type recording machines. Each transcription[2] was put on the air on the afternoon following the original perfor

Similarly, our two mobile recording units made possible an afternoon broadcast of the official opening of La Guardia Field which took place at midnight. Recording equipment is also used frequently to transcribe major programs “off the air” so that they may reach a larger audience through rebroadcast. There was the time, for example, when the Mayor’s office was the scene of a final report on the new Police and Fireman’s pension plan. Official reports on the balloting were recorded and rebroadcast at a time when the majority of the policemen and firemen affected could listen in.

We used to think recording an easy job: Just put the recording needle on the disk, turn a few buttons, and let ‘er go. After watching one of our expert recording engineers at work, we realized that it’s a delicate task, requiring special training and long practice.

Click here to read the full piece at WNYC.

 


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Radio Waves: Mahboob Radio Service, AméricaTeVé owner to buy Radio Caracol, Tele-medicine via HF, and Battleship USS IOWA Radio Tour

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 Kris (G8AUU), Tracy Wood, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


Aging brothers in Hyderabad run last radio repair shop in southern Indian state (Arab News)

NEW DELHI: “Mahboob Radio Service,” reads the faded panel on a small repair shop near the 16th-century Charminar mosque in the heart of the old town of Hyderabad.

The shop, which has been open since 1948, is filled with thousands of radio sets stacked in the small space where two aging brothers have been repairing radios for as long as they can remember.

The brothers, Mohammed Mujeebudin, 82, and Mohammed Moinuddin, 71, learned the craft from their father, who started selling and repairing radios in the 1920s after a trip to Bombay, where he bought his first set.

“My father started Mahboob Radio Service from Dabeerpura in Hyderabad before moving to the present location in Chatta Bazar in 1948,” Moinuddin said.

He remembered his father’s most prominent customers, such as Viceroy Mir Osman Ali Khan, who ruled Hyderabad until the princely state’s merger with India.

“He was our client, and we would repair his radios. Once the work was done, we would deliver the radio to the palace and receive some 20 or 30 rupees,” Moinuddin recalled.[]

TV station owner AméricaTeVé owner exits Chapter 11, to buy radio station (Bizjournals.com)

The companies that own the AméricaTeVé and Teveo television stations have exited U.S. Bankruptcy Court and are preparing to make an acquisition.

America-CV Station Group, Caribevision Holdings, America-CV Network and Caribevision TV Network all filed Chapter 11 reorganization in 2019. The Hialeah-based companies own local stations WJAN (Channel 33 AméricaTeVé) and WFUN (Channel 48 Teveo), along with WJPX (AméricaTeVé Puerto Rico) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and WPXO in New York.

[…]”América Teve has exited its Chapter 11 reorganization ahead of schedule and has paid off all of its debtors,” said attorney Marcell Felipe, who represents the company. “The company was recapitalized with new equity funded by Carlos Vasallo and the refinancing with Abanca of its valuable real estate holdings.”

Felipe confirmed that the company signed an agreement to purchase Radio Caracol 1260 AM in Miami to create a synergy between the radio station and its TV stations. The Spanish news/talk radio station was being sold by Grupo Latino de Radio, a subsidiary of Spanish media conglomerate PRISA.[]

SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood, notes: “An interesting medium wave note for SWLing Post readers. AM 1260 WSUA in Miami (50kw day / 20kw night) has been used in the past to relay Radio Martí for a few hours at night.”

GBT Completed Prototype Design of its Long-Range Radio Mobile System (Intrado GlobeNewswire)

SAN DIEGO, April 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GBT Technologies Inc. ( OTC PINK: GTCH ) (“GBT” or the “Company”), completed its prototype design of its long range radio mobile system. The prototype mobile unit will be a high-performance radio transceiver system that is designed for data and voice applications. It is expected to enable data and voice communication for long range applications targeting telemedicine support for the Company’s qTerm vital device including audio.

The design of the prototype mobile unit includes a transceiver targeted for systems to operate under licensed/unlicensed radio frequency bands, enabling ultra-long-range applications. The unit is designed to communicate in the HF (High Frequencies) frequencies bands to establish connection with a base unit transceiver through repeater unit(s) to reach ultra-long range. High clarity, signal reliability and security is expected to be achieved through the implementation of advanced circuitry within the system’s components. The design includes embedded software to manage the data and audio communication including data transfer to a backend server to process data. The design also provided for the mobile unit’s design, size and interface, taking into consideration performance and mobility. The operation of the mobile unit is expected to be done via an LCD touch screen providing user’s friendly interface and ease of use. Upon getting team’s FCC certification, an extensive mobile unit’s testing will start. GBT plans to test the entire system within a large city limits and national ranges.

“We are glad to announce that we completed the design of our prototype long range radio mobile unit. The prototype mobile unit is a key component since it is targeted to be portable aiming to bring modern life services around the globe. The design contemplates an acceptable physical size to be carried coupled with a high-power energy source and long range capability. As the system is targeted to work with the qTerm vital device, the design contemplates users being able to send vital information to professional health authorities for quick review and recommendations. In addition, the design has incorporated a voice communication will be available to discuss further steps and actions. We believe that in our days and age everyone should have access to modern amenities and the key is global communication. For us, the most important contribution of such system is the capability to save lives by enabling health and emergency services anywhere on earth” stated Danny Rittman, the Company’s CTO.

There is no guarantee that the Company will be successful in researching, developing or implementing this system. In order to successfully implement this concept, the Company will need to raise adequate capital to support its research and, if successfully researched, developed and granted regulatory approval, the Company would need to enter into a strategic relationship with a third party that has experience in manufacturing, selling and distributing this product. There is no guarantee that the Company will be successful in any or all of these critical steps.

Mobile unit prototype: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/36d838e9-eb3a-423e-8b1a-058c420549a8[]

Battleship USS IOWA Museum: IOWA’s Radios – Part 1 (YouTube)

 


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Radio Waves: Extreme 2001 Geo Storm, Media Ownership Rules Loosened, Germany Bans RFI-Spewing Device, Blue Jays Radio, and L-Band Patch Antenna Review

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 Troy Riedel, Dave Zantow, NT, Wilbur Forcier, and Rob for the following tips:


20 Years Ago, An Extreme Geomagnetic Storm (Spaceweather.com)

Unlike today’s blank sun, the solar disk 20 years ago was peppered with sunspots, including a monster named “AR9393.” The biggest sunspot of Solar Cycle 23, AR9393 was a truly impressive sight, visible to the naked eye at sunset and crackling with X-class solar flares.

On March 29, 2001, AR9393 hurled a pair of CMEs directly toward Earth. The first one struck during the early hours of March 31, 2001. The leading edge of the shock front was dense (~150 protons/cc) and strongly magnetized — traits that give rise to powerful geomagnetic disturbances. Within hours, an extreme geomagnetic storm was underway, registering the maximum value of G5 on NOAA storm scales.

“I was fortunate to witness and photograph the event when I was just a teenager,” recalls Lukasz Gornisiewicz, who watched the show from Medicine Hat, Alberta:

In the hours that followed, Northern Lights spread as far south as Mexico. In 20 year old notes, Dr. Tony Phillips of Spaceweather.com describes “red and green auroras dancing for hours” over the Sierra Nevada mountains of California at latitude +37 degrees. Similar displays were seen in Houston, Texas; Denver Colorado; and San Diego, California.

“Here in Payson, Arizona, red curtains and green streamers were pulsating all across the sky,” wrote Dawn Schur when she submitted this picture to Spaceweather.com 20 years ago:

“We have seen some auroras here before, but this display was really special,” she wrote.

A second CME struck at ~2200 UT on March 31th. Instead of firing up the storm, however, the impact quenched it. When the CME passed Earth the interplanetary magnetic field surrounding our planet suddenly turned north — an unfavorable direction for geomagnetic activity.

Indeed, the quenching action of the second CME may have saved power grids and other technological systems from damage. The storm’s intensity (-Dst=367 nT) stopped just short of the famous March 14, 1989, event that caused the Quebec Blackout (-Dst=565 nT) and it was only a fraction of the powerful Carrington Event of 1859 (-Dst=~900 nT).

The whole episode lasted barely 24 hours, brief but intense. Visit Spaceweather.com archives for March 30, 31st and April 1, 2001, to re-live the event. Our photo gallery from 20 years ago is a must-see; almost all the pictures were taken on film! [Read more at Spaceweather.com…]

U.S. Supreme Court permits FCC to loosen media ownership rules (Reuters.com)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the Federal Communication Commission to loosen local media ownership restrictions, handing a victory to broadcasters in a ruling that could facilitate industry consolidation as consumers increasingly move online.

In a 9-0 ruling authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the justices overturned a lower court decision that had blocked the FCC’s repeal of some media ownership regulations in 2017 for failing to consider the effects on ownership by racial minorities and women. Critics of the industry have said further consolidation could limit media choices for consumers.

The justices acted in appeals by the FCC, companies including News Corp, Fox Corp and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc and the National Association of Broadcasters.

The associations for other broadcast networks’ local affiliates, including ABC, NBC and CBS, backed the appeals, arguing that consolidation would help ensure the economic survival of local television amid heavy competition from internet companies that provide video content. Broadcast television stations have said they are increasingly losing advertising dollars to digital platforms.[]

Germany bans ‘water vitalizer’ over radio interference (AP News)

BERLIN (AP) — German authorities on Friday banned the sale and use of a New Age ‘water vitalizer’ device amid concerns that it is interfering with amateur radio signals.

The Federal Network Agency said it had received numerous reports that the device, sold by Swiss company Wassermatrix AG as a way to “activate” the body’s self-healing powers, was transmitting on the frequencies allocated for ham radio users.

The agency said owners of the 8,000-euro ($9,540) device, which has been sold more than 2,400 times in Germany, are allowed to keep but not use it.

Wassermatrix AG didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.[]

Rush’s Geddy Lee is unhappy about lack of Blue Jays radio for 2021 (Yahoo Sports Canada)

Canadian rock star Geddy Lee is less than thrilled with Sportsnet’s decision to cut their dedicated radio broadcast of the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2021 season.

Sportsnet won’t directly broadcast a separate radio feed and will instead simulcast their television broadcast over the airwaves for the 2021 season, becoming the first MLB team to do so. The decision was made to minimize travel and closely adhere to team, league, and government protocols related to the pandemic, Sportsnet said in a press release.

Lee, the lead singer for Rush, spoke about the importance of preserving a radio feed during an interview earlier in March.

Lee has been avid Blue Jays fan for years, throwing out the first pitch during the 2013 Blue Jays opener, and was a regular attendee at home games for decades.

It would be easy enough to spin this into “old man yells at cloud” in defence of a slightly outdated medium, but the sports media business is tough enough as it is, and the radio broadcast does indeed have charms that television simply can’t replicate, which is especially important for the visually impaired.[]

L-Band Patch Antenna review (Frugal Radio via YouTube)


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Radio Waves: WLW at 100, WWVB Upgrades, Ofcom Radio Amateur Data, and Unlocking the Airwaves

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, Dave Zantow, and John Figliozzi  for the following tips:


WLW-AM Begins 100th Year On Air (WVXU)

It wasn’t Cincinnati’s first radio station, but WLW-AM is still the biggest.

Cincinnati industrialist Powel Crosley, Jr. began broadcasting WLW-AM over a 20-watt station from his College Hill home on March 2, 1922 – which means that the station is entering its 100th year today.

WLW-AM wasn’t Cincinnati’s first commercial radio station, but it is the oldest surviving station from the 1920s. WMH was operated by the Precision Instrument Co. from Dec. 30, 1921, to January 1923.  WMH was sold to Crosley and merged into WLW, says Randy Michaels, the former WLW-AM programmer and Jacor/Clear Channel executive who is the best radio historian I know.

In 1934, WLW-AM became “the Nation’s station” when President Franklin D. Roosevelt flipped a switch in the White House to activate the station’s unprecedented 500,000-watt experimental transmitter under its Tylersville Road tower. WLW-AM broadcast at “super power” around the clock for five years, through 1939, and continued the mega-wattage output midnight-2 a.m. until 1943. For years WLW-AM has boasted that the 50,000-watt signal reaches 38 states. (I’ve heard the station in New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Missouri.)

For 99 years, WLW-AM has broadcast some of the most popular personalities in town: Jim Scott, Gary Burbank, Bob Trumpy, Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall, Cris Collinsworth, Jim LaBarbara, Bill Cunningham, Mike McConnell and Dale Sommers. Before them came Ruth Lyons, Bob Braun, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, newsman Peter Grant, sportscaster Red Barber and comedian Red Skelton.

Although WLW-AM likes to promote itself as “news radio,” it’s perhaps best known for carrying Reds and most Bengals games, plus University of Cincinnati football and basketball and Xavier basketball.[]

WWVB broadcast system upgrades may include temporary outages (WWV)

The WWVB broadcast system is being upgraded with new equipment to improve the reliability of the signal. In order to install this equipment, beginning on March 9, 2021 the WWVB signal may be operated on a single antenna at approximately 30 kW radiated power for periods up to several days in duration, and may have occasional outages. Periods of reduced power operation lasting longer than 30 minutes will be logged on the WWVB Antenna Configuration and Power web page, and any outage longer than five minutes’ duration will be recorded on the WWVB Outage web page. Upgrades are expected to be complete by March 31, 2021.

Ofcom released age of radio amateurs data (Southgate ARC)

Following a Freedom of Information request about the age of radio amateurs Ofcom said they do not hold Date-of-Birth information for many radio amateurs but released what information they do have

Ofcom say “We do not hold a full breakdown of the age of issued amateur radio licensees as date of birth is not a mandatory field for licence applications.”

In September 2000 the then communications regulator (RA) abolished the ban on people under 14-years-old holding a Full amateur licence, since that time a person’s date of birth has served little regulatory purpose.

The data Ofcom released showed they only had Date-of-Birth information for:
7,312 out of 28,845 Foundation licences
4,104 out of 12,127 Intermediate licences
44,944 out of 54,072 Full licences

As of March 1, 2021 there was a total of 95,044 valid UK amateur radio licences.

Download the FoI reply and the available age data at
https://ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0022/214915/age-of-amateur-radio-licensees.pdf

You can submit a Freedom of Information request to Ofcom online at
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/new/ofcom

Unlocking the Airwaves (UMD)

Unlocking the Airwaves: Revitalizing an Early Public and Educational Radio Collection is a comprehensive online collection of early educational public radio content from the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB). The forerunner of CPB and its arms, NPR and PBS, the NAEB developed and distributed educational radio programs and accompanying print materials to schools and communities across the United States. What’s more, the NAEB lobbied extensively to unlock the airwaves—to access precious frequency space—in order to bring the voices of poet Robert Frost, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and conservationist “Ranger Mac,” among many other individuals, into American homes and classrooms.

The NAEB’s history is the dramatic story of idealists who believed in the utopian possibilities of technology for education and social uplift and who faced considerable challenges in pursuit of those goals, including economic depression, world war, and the scarcity of the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s a story that has much to tell us about 20th century American culture, as well as the 21st century’s environment of online educational technology and podcasting that we live in today.

Despite its historic importance and contemporary relevance, most of the NAEB members’ programs were never heard again after their initial brief moments on the air. The archives for the radio programs and their related paper documentation have been split for over 25 years between two institutions: the University of Maryland and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Unlocking the Airwaves reunites the split collections, finally realizing the potential of the collections of the NAEB for exploration and and the broader public.

Click here to explore Unlocking the Airwaves.


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Radio Waves: Digital Audio via Vintage Radio, “10-Minute-ish” Transmitter, Why No Channel 37, and Inventor of the Audio Cassette Dies at Age 94

Image by Jon Tyson

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, Valdo Karamitrov, Ronald Kenyon, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


‘I play digital music through my 1949 radio’ (BBC News)

When we think of technology our imagination usually takes us to images of the future. But for some, technology links us to the past – whether for nostalgia or for personal reasons

Following our recent feature on vintage technology, we asked you to share some of your collections with us – and people from around the world responded..

Rob Seaward, North Yorkshire, UK: 1949 Murphy A146 radio

I have a collection of older technology which I have collected throughout my life – including old cameras, calculators, hi-fis and radios. I had been interested in music from an early age, but it was really when my father purchased a Bang and Olufsen music centre that my interest in not only music, but style and function really took off.

To me, a lower middle-class grammar school kid living in Bradford, I suddenly had access to a world of real style and glamour.

My favourite piece must be the Murphy A146 console radio designed by Gordon Russell in 1949.

Its nickname is the “Batwing” because of the shape of the back panel. The sound is rich, slightly warm and typical of valve equipment. In its day, the radio cost the equivalent of an average monthly wage, it was built to last and the original valves are still working today.

However, as it pre-dates FM it is a little limited. I’ve had it restored and as part of the process we had a Bluetooth adapter installed which means I can now play my favourite digital music through this wonder from the 1940s – which really amazes people.[]

Getting on the Air With a 10-minute-ish Ham Transmitter (Hackaday)

Artificially constrained designs can be among the most challenging projects to build, and the most interesting to consider. The amateur radio world is no stranger to this, with homebrew radio designs that set some sort of line in the sand. Such designs usually end up being delightfully minimalist and deeply instructive of first principles, which is one reason we like them so much.

For a perfect example of this design philosophy, take a look at [VK3YE]’s twist on the classic “10-Minute Transmitter”. (Video, embedded below.)

The design dates back to at least the 1980s, when [G4RAW] laid down the challenge to whip up a working transmitter from junk bin parts and make a contact within 15 minutes — ten for the build and five for working the bands. [VK3YE] used the “oner” — one-transistor — design for his 10-minute transmitter, but invested some additional time into adding a low-pass filter to keep his signal clean, and a power amplifier to boost the output a bit.[]

Why Channel 37 Doesn’t Exist (And What It Has to Do With Aliens) (Vice)

Since the advent of analog TVs, channel 37 has always been static. Here’s why.

A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium, a twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.

I’m endlessly fascinated by stories of the quirks that were built into the TV system where the well-laid plans of the system simply fell apart because it was asked to do too many things.

Nearly five years ago, I wrote about one of them, the tale of how radio broadcasters were able to shoehorn an additional FM station into the radio because of the proximity of TV’s channel 6 to the rest of the radio feed.

So when I was informed that there was another oddity kinda like this involving the TV lineups, I decided I had to take a dive in.

It’s a tale that centers around channel 37, which was a giant block of static in most parts of the world during the 20th century.

The reason for that was simple: it couldn’t fend off its scientific competition.

1952

The year that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission opened up the television system to use UHF, or ultra high frequency signals. The practical effect of this addition of bandwidth was that the total number of potential TV stations increased dramatically, from 108 to 2,051, overnight. The first UHF applications were granted on July 11, 1952, according to The History of UHF Television, a site dedicated to the higher-frequency television offerings.

The radio telescope that became a headache for the television industry

Within a 600-mile radius of the city of Danville, Illinois, population 31,246, are numerous major cities—among them Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Toronto, and Washington, DC.

Nearly the entire length of the Mississippi River fits into that radius. If Danville was located just a little farther to the east, the radius would also include Philadelphia and New York City. For all intents and purposes, a 600-mile radius from Eastern Illinois covers basically the entire East Coast except the state of Florida and the Northeast.[]

Dutch inventor of the audio cassette tape dies aged 94 (Southgate ARC)

Lou Ottens, inventor of the cassette tape and a CD pioneer died aged 94 at his home in Duizel in Brabant on Saturday, Dutch media report.

Ottens, who studied to be an engineer, started working for Philips in 1952. Eight years later he became head of the firm’s recently introduced product development department. Within a year he and his team had developed the first portable tape recorder of which over a million were sold. Two years later he revolutionised the old reel-to-reel tape system by inventing the cassette tape.

‘I got annoyed with the clunky, user-unfriendly reel to reel system, it’s that simple’, Ottens said later. The new carrier had to be small enough to fit into his jacket pocket, Ottens decided, and he had a wooden model made to determine the ideal size. In 1963 the first plastic encased cassette tape was presented at an electronics fair carrying the slogan ‘smaller than a pack of cigarettes!’ The tapes were quickly copied by the Japanese but in different formats!

Ottens managed to make a deal with Sony to use the mechanism patented by Philips to introduce a standard cassette which was then rolled out globally. Over 100 billion were sold worldwide. Ottens went on to develop the CD, which again became a Sony-Philips standard and which sold over 200 billion.

In 1986 Ottens retired but he was often asked if he was proud of his inventions, which allowed millions to have access to music. ‘I have no ‘pride dial’’ Ottens said in an interview, stressing that both inventions were team efforts. His biggest regret was that that Sony, not Philips, invented what he considered to be the ideal application for the cassette tape, the Walkman. ‘That still hurts,’ he said. Dubious about the recent revival of the cassette tape Ottens said ‘nothing could beat the sound of a CD.’

Read more at DutchNews.nl
https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2021/03/dutch-inventor-of-the-audio-cassette-tape-dies-aged-94/?


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Radio Waves: Waves of Hope Presentation, More Radio Post-Pandemic, RTÉ to cease radio over DAB network, and Saving VOA Delano Relay DL-8

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 David Iurescia, William Lee, and Radio Ado for the following tips:


Waves of Hope at Nutley Public Library (Tap Into Nutley)

Saturday, March 27 at 2:00 p.m. via Zoom – Learn the true and inspiring story of centenarian Agnes Joan Negra.  During World War II, using her shortwave radio from her home in Nutley, NJ, Agnes listened to Radio Berlin each night and notated the names of U.S. Prisoners of War as they were announced.  Agnes then went on to send personal letters to each family to inform them that their loved ones were still alive.  Author, Nutley native, and Son of Agnes, Ronald along with his wife Valerie, will discuss the creation of this book and this inspiring story of his mother.  You must register in advance at nutleypubliclibrary.org/waves-of-hope to attend.  When registering you will receive a confirmation and one day before the event you will receive an email with log-in instructions through Zoom.[]

People will be listening to more radio when the pandemic is over: Ciaran Davis (RadioInfo)

“People have learnt that they can listen to radio in new ways and they will be listening to more, not less, when the pandemic is over,” according to HT&E chief executive Ciaran Davis.

Speaking to radioinfo this week, Davis explained that the company had “a very tough second quarter” in 2020, but the rest of the year turned out better than expected.

“There was a huge improvement in quarters 3 and 4, compared with that horrible quarter 2 where radio revenue was back 46%,” said Davis.

With about 30 people losing their jobs at the height of the pandemic, “regular communication and honesty was important in getting the staff through the worst of the pandemic.” It was “a very unsettling time” but the company “kept people involved and focused on the positive,” which kept the company performing well despite the tough economic conditions.

After early pay cuts, salaries have now returned to normal. “The revenue book was empty, so we had to take the decision to cut pay, but radio listenership and advertising has come back strongly and more quickly than we thought it would then… we were looking at some troubling numbers if the pandemic had of kept going.”

Luckily, the worst fears were not realised. HT&E revenue was 22% down on the previous year, but could have been a lot worse. The outlook seems positive for 2021.

“I think there was a perception that radio would suffer the same fate as out of home because people were not listening in the car during lockdowns, but it didn’t.

“We in the industry knew that our content is engaging enough, strong enough, local and live enough to be resilient. The emotional bond between listeners and their favourite stations and personalities meant that they easily switched to new platforms when they were at home. It took some convincing for the ad market to understand that this had happened, but they understood in the end.

“This is an exciting time. I think people have learnt that they can listen to radio in new ways and they will be listening to more not less when the pandemic is over.”[…]

Read more at: https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/people-will-be-listening-more-radio-when-pandemic-over-ciaran-davis © Radioinfo.com.au

 

RTÉ to cease radio transmission on DAB network (RTÉ)

RTÉ is to cease transmission of its radio services on the Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) network on 31 March.

However, its digital radio services, RTÉ Gold, RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, RTÉ Pulse, and RTÉjr Radio, will remain available on other platforms.

In a statement, the broadcaster said the move to cease DAB transmission was driven by three main factors – the fact that DAB was the least utilised platform in Ireland; that RTÉ is the only Irish broadcaster on the DAB system, and cost avoidance.

A public information campaign will be held to show customers how they can continue to access the digital stations.

In 2019, RTÉ had announced that its digital radio services would cease transmission as part of cost cutting measures.

However, although the DAB service will stop in March, the stations will now still be available on other platforms.

The broadcaster said this is due to the value audiences still derive from them.

The latest JNLR report, Radio in a Digital World, compiled by Ipsos/ MRBI, found that while 8% of the population in Ireland (330,000 people) are accessing radio stations via digital means, the smallest number in this cohort opt for DAB.

According to the report, just under 5% of adults in Ireland listen to radio via a mobile device, 2% listen on a PC, around 1.5% listen on a smart speaker, 0.6% listen on a TV set and 0.5% DAB. 77% of adults in Ireland listen to radio on FM.

For details on how to continue to listen to RTÉ digital radio services visit www.rte.ie/keeplistening 

One Megawatt of Peak AM Power – Saving the Voice of America Delano Relay DL-8 (YouTube)

In 2007, the Voice of America ceased operations at the Delano Relay site in Central California. The site is destined to be bulldozed along with several relics of Collins Radio Company’s Broadcast Communications Division. The Collins Collectors Association, with assistance from the Antique Wireless Association, hatched a plan to retrieve one of the Collins 821A-1 250 KW Shortwave Transmitters from the site and place it on display for all to see. This presentation gives some history of VoA and the Delano site and follows the disassembly and relocation of Delano Relay DL-8.

Dennis Kidder, W6DQ, is a retired Aerospace Engineer, having spent nearly 45 years in System Engineering. His career spanned many fields – from building and operating large scale sound systems, computer systems used to publish newspapers and control communications satellites, 4 years as the Chief Telecom Engineer during the construction of the New Hong Kong International Airport, and finally, air defense radar systems and networked radio communications systems used by the military. First licensed as WN6NIA then WA6NIA over 50 years ago, Dennis was granted the callsign of one of his High School Elmers, Chek Titcomb (SK), W6DQ. Amateur Radio has been a nearly life-long passion.


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