Tag Archives: Richard Langley

Radio Algérie Internationale now broadcasting one hour via Issoudun transmitter

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:

Just a quick note to let you know that Radio Algérie Internationale is now broadcasting for an hour on SW using an Issoudun transmitter. The multilingual (French, Arabic, English, and Spanish) broadcast is at 18:00 UTC, presumed daily, is on 13820 kHz. I heard it very well yesterday using the U.Twente SDR receiver but it might also be heard well in eastern North America.

Richard did include a small disclaimer that Issoudun seems to be using their faulty transmitter with a “squeaky” sound in the background. I’m sure many of you are familiar with this–fortunately, it’s not too distracting.

Thank you for the tip, Richard!

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Reminder: Help record the 2020 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast today (June 21)

Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica (Source: British Antarctic Survey Team)

Every year, the BBC broadcasts a special program to the scientists and support staff in the British Antarctic Survey Team. The BBC plays music requests and sends special messages to the small team of 40+ located at various Antarctic research stations. Each year, the thirty minute show is guaranteed to be quirky, nostalgic, and certainly a DX-worthy catch!

After successful listener events from years past, I’m once again calling on all SWLing Post readers and shortwave radio listeners to make a short recording (say, 30-60 seconds) of the BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast today and share it here at the Post.

Important: Time and frequencies

There has been some confusion about the broadcast time.

Trusted DXers have reported the time as 21:30 UTC–this is the time when the broadcast has taken place in years past, no doubt coinciding with events at the BAS bases in Antarctica.

The BBC website has reported the broadcast time as 21:30 BST which would equate to 20:30 UTC.

I will listen at both times, but perhaps this is when the BBC are to broadcast the stream online? Likely a mistake on their part.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who confirms the three frequencies the BBC plan to use this year:

  • 5790 kHz from Woofferton UK
  • 7360 kHz from Woofferton UK
  • 9580 kHz from Ascension Island

Recording the Midwinter Broadcast has become an SWLing Post community tradition! Read our previous post for more details. We will also publish a reminder on June 21, prior to the broadcast.

I’m especially fond of this broadcast as it always falls on my birthday and–this year–Father’s day as well!

If you would like to participate in our BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast recording event, please read our original post which includes all relevant details.

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2020 BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica: Time and Frequencies

The BBC Antarctica winter solstice broadcast will take place on June 21, 2020 at 2130-2200 UTC.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who confirms the three frequencies the BBC plan to use this year:

  • 5790 kHz from Woofferton UK
  • 7360 kHz from Woofferton UK
  • 9580 kHz from Ascension Island

Recording the Midwinter Broadcast has become an SWLing Post community tradition! Read our previous post for more details. We will also publish a reminder on June 21, prior to the broadcast.

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Radio Waves: Libre Space Foundation Reviews SDRs, ARRL VEC Statement, Pandemic Pastime, and Former CEO of RadioShack Now C-19 ER doctor

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, Paul, Marco Zennaro, and Richard Langley for the following tips:


The Libre Space Foundation reviews software defined radios (Hackaday)

If you want to go to the next level with software defined radio (SDR), there are a lot of choices. The RTL-SDR dongles are fine, but if you get serious you’ll probably want something else. How do you choose? Well, your friends at the European Space Agency Libre Space Foundation have published a paper comparing many common options. True, they are mostly looking at how the receivers work with CubeSats, but it is still a good comparison.

The devices they examine are:

  • RTS-SDR v3
  • Airspy Mini
  • SDRPlay RSPduo
  • LimeSDR Mini
  • BladeRF 2.0 Micro
  • Ettus USRP B210
  • Pluto SDR

They looked at several bands of interest, but not the HF bands — not surprising considering that some of the devices can’t even operate on HF. They did examine VHF, UHF, L band, S band, and C band performance. Some of the SDRs have transmit capabilities, and for those devices, they tested the transmit function as well as receive.

The review isn’t just subjective. They calculate noise figures and dynamic range, along with other technical parameters. They also include GNURadio flowgraphs for their test setups, which would be a great place to start if you wanted to do these kinds of measurements yourself.[]

ARRL VEC Issues Statement on Video-Supervised Online Exam Sessions (ARRL News)

Very few ARRL Volunteer Examiner teams have successfully conducted in-person exam sessions (following social distancing guidelines) and video-supervised exam sessions using fillable PDF exams and documents. So far, we have found that both types of sessions take volunteer teams two to three times longer to conduct and accommodate fewer candidates than sessions conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, the video sessions have included only one examinee per session.

We ask the community to be patient with our volunteer teams as they navigate uncharted territory. Please remember with the introduction of significant new processes such as these, that there should be proof of concept, establishment of protocols and procedures, and beta testing before expanding to a larger audience. Video-supervised exam sessions require a different skillset than in-person exam administration. Not all teams will be equipped to deliver video exams right away.

The ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) has been investigating options for an online examination system.

Fillable PDFs are cumbersome within a video-supervised exam session process. We recognize that online testing would represent a large-scale solution for our thousands of VEs and would make session procedures easier for our teams, but this will not happen overnight.

The ARRL VEC will continue to adapt and respond to the evolving crisis as we search for viable and easy-to-use online examination system solutions and conduct exam sessions in innovative ways.[]

Pandemic Pastime – Shortwave Radio (KFGO)

Ever since I was a little kid, I was fascinated that at night you could listen to radio stations from all over the country. My little Heathkit radio, which I built myself, could pick up stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Little Rock, Pittsburgh to name a few. West coast stations were rare because it was tough getting a signal over the Rocky Mountains.

Then there was shortwave radio. A buddy of mine had one and he showed me a list of all the countries he was picking up. England, France, Germany, Latin American countries, numerous stations on the shortwave bands in America. Even Radio Havana coming out of Cuba. Anything from religion to hard edge rock and roll. He also noted he picked up Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America.

Well years later I would stop by my local Radio Shack and decided it was my turn to take up this hobby of monitoring shortwave radio. This particular radio also had a built in cassette player so you could record your found stations as well. It was really interesting to hear the news from other countries and get their take on what was happening in America.

One of the first frequencies I tuned in was WWV a shortwave radio station out of Fort Collins Colorado, that broadcasts the time via the atomic clock. The seconds tick off until the top of the hour when you hear a voice announce the time, followed by a tone that hits the top of the minute exactly on the nose. Great way to set the clock.

Now I know you can probably find all these shortwave stations on the internet, but what fun is that right?

With the covid-19 pandemic, this is a little something different than binge watching television, or building that 10th jigsaw puzzle or cleaning out that closet again and again.

Have a chair on the patio, a glass of your favorite beverage, extend the antenna, and start turning up and down the dial and see what you can find. I had a little notebook that I kept track of my searches. Don’t have it now though…lost it.

I’ll start a new one.

Stay safe everyone![]

Former CEO of RadioShack now an ER doctor (National Post)

‘I am just one of those people who was very fortunate, where things worked out, and where I could do not just do one thing I really enjoyed in life, but two’

Brian Levy loved science as a kid. He had a microscope, read up on stuff in the encyclopedia and messed around with home experiment kits. During his high school years, he took every science credit possible. By his own admission, he was a “geek,” one with an equally strong passion, alongside science, for electronics.

Levy knew how to operate a shortwave radio. Weekend teenage heaven, in his mind, was hanging around the local RadioShack store, a warehouse of gizmos where he scored his first part-time job in 1974, earning US$1.40 an hour at a shop in downtown Atlanta. He was 15, which, alas, was too young to be working for the company, according to the folks at corporate headquarters in Texas, who fired him upon receiving his paperwork.

The dismissal didn’t sit well with Levy.

“I actually called the vice president of human resources in Texas,” he says. The executive was impressed by the moxie of the kid. On the day he turned 16, Levy was hired back.

[…]Levy did not foresee the premature end to his business career. When it came, rather than being crestfallen, he felt liberated, and free to pursue an “itch” that he had always felt the need to scratch. So he applied to medical school at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. (Levy came to Canada in the first place after relocating RadioShack HQ north of the border as CEO. He is now a dual citizen, although his soft, buttery accent betrays his roots in the American south.)[]


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The meager “benefits” of Covid-19 from an SWL’s perspective

The Tecsun PL-680

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares the following note:

One of the benefits of the Covid-19 pandemic, as if there are any real benefits of a pandemic, is serendipitous programming on SW. I speak in particular of the ERT Proto Programma now airing on the Voice of Greece. As noted today (14 April), here in NB, on 9420 kHz tuning in around 19:50 UTC or so, there was classical opera being broadcast and after the news at 20:00 UTC, we were treated to “Musical Choices by Elena Maraka,” which is an eclectic music program of jazz and blues (funk, etc.). Nice. By the way, in a couple of hours, Proto Programma joins the Second Program (Deftero Programma).

Thank you, Richard, for sharing this note. Just one more reason 9420 kHz is a preset on all of my digital receivers.

And, you’re right: there are no real benefits of a pandemic. Still, it is fascinating from a listener’s perspective to hear how it changes the content of our shortwave landscape.

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Radio Waves: Plant-powered Satellite Comms, BBC Pips, Filter Basics, and Replacing Shortwave

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, Dennis Howard, Dennis Dura, Kris Partridge and Richard Langley and for the following tips:


Plant-powered sensor sends signal to space (Phys.org)

A device that uses electricity generated by plants as its power source has communicated via satellite—a world first.

[…]The device can inform farmers about the conditions of their crops to help increase yield, and enable retailers to gain detailed information about potential harvests.

It transmits data on air humidity, soil moisture and temperature, enabling field-by-field reporting from agricultural land, rice fields or other aquatic environments.

The extremely low power device sends signals at radio frequencies that are picked up by satellites in low Earth orbit. It was developed by Dutch company Plant-e and Lacuna Space, which is based in the Netherlands and the UK, under ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).[]

The eccentric engineer: a tale of six pips and how the BBC became the national arbiter of time (Engineering and Technology)

This edition of Eccentric Engineer tells the story of the BBC Time Signal and how, over the years, it has just got more complicated.

Every engineer needs to know the time, if only so as to not miss lunch. Since 1924, many Britons have been checking their watches against the BBC time signal, known affectionately as ‘the pips’.

The history of the ‘pips’ is almost as long as the history of the BBC itself. The first transmissions from what was then the British Broadcasting Company began in late 1922 and soon afterwards there were suggestions of broadcasting a time signal under the control of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich – then the arbiter of time in the UK.

No one seems to have seen a need for this degree of precision, but early broadcasts did use their own ad hoc ‘pips’, marking the 8pm and 9pm news programmes with a time signal consisting of the announcer playing the Westminster chimes on a piano and later a set of tubular bells. This proved rather popular with listeners, who could now adjust their clocks and watches daily, so the BBC decided to invest in some more high-tech clocks from the Synchronome Company. These provided audible ‘ticks’, which the announcer then simply counted down.[]

What Is Replacing Shortwave? (Radio World)

A joint effort is necessary to bring the digitization of radio to a successful end

Analog shortwave will celebrate about 100 years of existence in 2028 when many hope 5G will have been properly defined, tested and applied, though broadcasting is low on its long list of perceived advantages.

It’s true that shortwave was typically a medium of the Cold War that peaked in 1989 and that afterward its listenership dwindled. Many international broadcasters gave up on it as the post-war transmitters got rustier and the energy bills kept mounting.

After all, when budget cuts are needed, no transmitter will go on strike or write to the press, as happened when the BBC World Service tried to unsuccessfully close its Hindi shortwave transmissions in 2011. In 2020 these broadcasts stopped, when committed BBC Indian listeners, writers and thinkers who opposed it in 2011 did not protest too much.

The slow death of shortwave has been blamed on the internet and satellite. As technology and content are inextricably linked, shortwave created its type of content that is no longer favored by the savvy FM listener, internet user and cellphone obsessed.[]

Filter Basics: Stop, Block and Roll(off) (Nuts and Volts)

A casual observer might think that wireless systems consist primarily of filters connected by the occasional bit of circuit! Block diagrams of transceivers often include as many filters as any other function. This is true at the system level, just as it is at the circuit level — and many circuits behave in a filter-like way, whether intended to be a filter or not! That makes understanding filter basics important for wireless success.[]


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An app to decode DRM?

DRM broadcast (left) as seen via a KiwiSDR spectrum display.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares this story by Hans Johnson at Radio World:

Can an App Solve the DRM Receiver Problem? (Radio World)

The Digital Radio Mondiale standard for digital broadcasting in long, medium, and shortwave bands offers the possibility to transmit audio, text and pictures.

A few broadcasters use DRM for both domestic and international transmissions. DRM’s largest problem is lack of receivers, especially affordable standalone ones.

Some listeners use an SDR, computer and free Dream software to receive the DRM signals, but this audience doesn’t make up the mass audience that broadcasters are looking for.

[…]AlgorKorea didn’t develop the apps with the intention of solving the DRM receiver issue. They developed them to resolve a problem with FM hearing aids used in classrooms.

So how do they work? The DRM+SDR version couples the popular and inexpensive RTL-SDR to an Android device with a USB OTG adapter.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

 

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