Tag Archives: Satellites

Radio Waves: Canada Radio Stamps, Across the Pacific, Satellite Talk Presentation, and BBC Radio 6 Breaks Records

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 Richard Langley, Charlie Liberto, and Mike Terry for the following tips:


History of Radio in Canada stamps available May 20 (Linn’s Stamp News)

On May 20, Canada Post is issuing a se-tenant (side-by-side) pair of nondenominated permanent-rate (currently 92¢) History of Radio in Canada stamps. The new issue comes in a self-adhesive booklet of 10.

The stamps commemorate Canada’s inaugural radio broadcast, which hit the airwaves a century ago on the evening of May 20, 1920. According to Canada Post’s Details magazine for collectors, the radio program came from Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company’s studios in Montreal, Quebec, and was a closed broadcast for a Royal Society of Canada gathering at the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa, Ontario.

The show featured a live performance by soprano Dorothy Lutton.

“As reported in the Ottawa Journal by one of the journalists invited to listen in, when ‘the latest one-step’ was played, the clarity was so impressive that several of the newspaper writers began to dance,” the May Details magazine said.

The stamp designs list the 10 decades of radio from 1920 to 2020 on the outside edges.[]

A New PBS Documentary Series about Pan American Airways  (Pan Am Historical Foundation)

When the China Clipper took off for the first scheduled flight to Manila on November 22, 1935, it riveted the attention of people around the world. At that moment Pan Am vaulted to a commanding position and the world changed forever as a result. That’s the story brought to life in “Across the Pacific.” Newly unearthed archival motion pictures, photographs, and original sound recordings as well as stunning graphics, help bring this history back to life. The film by Moreno/Lyons Productions tells the epic story of how Pan American Airways became the first to bridge the mighty Pacific – the first airline to cross any ocean. Focusing in particular on the contributions of Pan Am’s visionary leader Juan Trippe, aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky, and radio engineer Hugo Leuteritz, the three-part program will be broadcast on public television, beginning May 18th, 2020.[…]

Charlie notes that this documentary series will feature radio as seen in the following trailer:

Zoom satellite talk now on YouTube (Southgate ARC)

A video of the talk on amateur radio satellites, EME, Meteor scatter and the International Space Station by Robin Moseley G1MHU given via Zoom on Wednesday, May 13 is now available on YouTube

Watch G1MHU talk on satellites
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKjCXepCK_s

The talk was organised by the Denby Dale Amateur Radio Society, their next talk on Zoom will be by the Editor of Practical Wireless, Don Field G3XTT, at 7:30pm BST on Wednesday, May 20, Zoom meeting ID 278 609 9353

http://www.ddars.net/

AMSAT-UK https://amsat-uk.org/

BBC Radio 6 Music breaks its audience record as UK’s biggest digital-only station (BBC Media Centre)

BBC Radio 6 Music reached a record 2.56 million listeners (from 2.49m last quarter and 2.52m last year), with the station’s weekday breakfast show with Lauren Laverne also seeing its biggest audience ever with 1.3 million listeners, according to the latest Rajars.
The figures released today covering the first quarter of 2020 also reveal that BBC Radio 1’s Breakfast show with Greg James gained 343,000 young 10+ listeners on previous quarter, and BBC Asian Network saw a boost in its audiences.

Figures released earlier this week for the same three months show the audience on BBC Sounds is growing, with a record 3.5 million weekly users in March. The total number of plays of live and on-demand content on BBC Sounds between January and March was 275 million, up 25 million on the previous quarter, and there was a record 123 million plays of on-demand radio programmes and podcasts.

James Purnell, Director of BBC Radio and Education, says: “It’s wonderful that listeners have granted BBC Radio 6 Music the top spot as the UK’s biggest digital only station by tuning in in record numbers. It’s no surprise that the station’s brilliant presenters and talented teams are proving a winning formula with their love and passion for music.

“We’ve been holding on to our younger audiences with more than 13 million 15-44 year olds listening to our stations every week whilst competition for their time has continued to intensify. And with more than a quarter of the population now listening to live radio online every week, it shows what an important role BBC Sounds plays for our stations and for our audiences, with record numbers of both live and on-demand plays in the first three months of the year.”

Overall, BBC Radio had 33.54 million listeners and a share of 49.7% (from 33.58m/51% in last quarter and 34.44/51.4% last year).

BBC Radio 1 posted a reach of 9.81 million listeners aged 10+ (from 9.72m last quarter and 10.18m last year). There were 8.92 million 15+ listeners (from 8.79m last quarter and 9.30m last year). The Radio 1 Breakfast Show now attracts 5.47 million listeners 10+ (Mon-Thu), from 5.13m last quarter and 5.44m last year. This quarter saw 4.87 million 15+ listeners (Mon-Thu), compared to 4.81m last quarter and 5.04m last year.

BBC Radio 2’s weekly audience was 14.36 million (from 14.44m last quarter and 15.36m last year). The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show attracted 8.11 million listeners per week, compared to 8.24m last quarter and 9.05m last year.

BBC Radio 3’s audience was 1.98 million (compared with 2.13m last quarter and 2.04m last year).

BBC Radio 4 posted a weekly reach of 10.76 million during the quarter (10.98m last quarter and 11.01m last year). The Today programme (Mon-Sat) has 7.12 million listeners each week, from 7.37m last quarter and 7.32m last year.

BBC Radio 5 Live posted a reach of 5.22 million listeners (5.41m last quarter and 5.40m last year).

Amongst digital-only stations, BBC Radio 1Xtra had a reach of 1.05m weekly listeners 10+ from 1.06m last quarter and 1.13m last year (986,000 weekly listeners 15+ from 987,000 last quarter and 1.05m last year). BBC Radio 4 Extra attracted 1.98 million listeners per week (from 2.27m last quarter and 2.24m last year). BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra attracted 601,000 listeners per week (from 914,000m last quarter and 708,000 last year).

BBC Asian Network drew 543,000 listeners, compared to 519,000 listeners last quarter and 536,000 last year.

The BBC World Service posted a weekly UK audience of 1.35 million (from 1.38m last quarter and 1.48m last year). BBC local radio reached 7.8 million listeners per week, from 7.5m last quarter and 7.86m last year.[]


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Radio Waves: Zombie Sats, Radio Provides Undemanding Friendship, Boom in New Stations, and One Retailer’s Ham Radio Connection

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 BJ Leiderman and Richard Black  for the following tips:


Long-Lost U.S. Military Satellite Found By Amateur Radio Operator (NPR)

There are more than 2,000 active satellites orbiting Earth. At the end of their useful lives, many will simply burn up as they reenter the atmosphere. But some will continue circling as “zombie” satellites — neither alive nor quite dead.

“Most zombie satellites are satellites that are no longer under human control, or have failed to some degree,” says Scott Tilley.

Tilley, an amateur radio operator living in Canada, has a passion for hunting them down.

In 2018, he found a signal from a NASA probe called IMAGE that the space agency had lost track of in 2005. With Tilley’s help, NASA was able to reestablish contact.

But he has tracked down zombies even older than IMAGE.

“The oldest one I’ve seen is Transit 5B-5. And it launched in 1965,” he says, referring to a nuclear-powered U.S. Navy navigation satellite that still circles the Earth in a polar orbit, long forgotten by all but a few amateurs interested in hearing it “sing” as it passes overhead.[]

Ken Bruce: ‘Radio provides friendship in an undemanding way’ (BBC News)

You wouldn’t normally hear a tractor driving past or birds tweeting in the background of Ken Bruce’s BBC Radio 2 show.

But, if you listen closely, those are just a few sounds you might be able to pick up on now the presenter is broadcasting from his Oxfordshire home.

“I do live in dread of the binmen arriving or the Royal Air Force flying over in extremely noisy Chinooks as they do sometimes,” Bruce laughs. “But so far it’s been fine.”

Bruce’s mid-morning show on Radio 2 – which he has hosted continuously since 1992, following an earlier stint in the 1980s – is particularly popular at the moment as more listeners turn to the radio while confined to their homes.

“At a time like this, people want to hear the news, but they don’t want it all day,” Bruce says. “From my point of view, I’ll pay attention to one news broadcast a day, and after that I don’t really want to know too much unless it’s a major development.

“So escapism is a big part of keeping people feeling right during this and I think we provide a certain amount of that, a chance to put the worries of the world to one side.”[]

The coronavirus is bringing about a boom in new radio stations (The Economist)

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE in lockdown are finding diversion at the flick of a dial. According to Radiocentre, the industry body for commercial radio in Britain, local and national stations reported increases in daily listeners of between 15% and 75% in the second half of March. They’ve got competition. Radio stations offering information, entertainment and reassurance to listeners isolated at home have sprung up from Ireland to Syria, Italy to India. Informal and interactive, many are run by amateurs from their homes, with producers learning the ropes as they go.

In Italy Radio Zona Rossa (Radio Red Zone) began broadcasting from the town of Codogno, the site of the country’s first locally transmitted coronavirus infection, just days after Lombardy went into lockdown on February 21st. Hosted by Pino Pagani, an octogenarian whose co-presenter and friend was killed by the virus in March, the twice-daily programme uses the registered FM frequencies of a local station, Radio Codogno, to provide updates on the spread of the virus and the opening hours of local essential services. Mr Pagani also interviews experts and invites residents to call in for a chat. [Note that the full article is behind a paywall …]

Unclaimed Baggage began from a social distance connection, 1970’s style (Unclaimed Baggage)

Doyle Owens loved radios––specifically ham radios. We don’t use them much these days; most of us don’t even know what they are (for the uninitiated: “ham” is slang for “amateur” radio, and its enthusiasts make a hobby of connecting with each other over radio frequencies). In the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was the equivalent of a group FaceTime call, sans face.

Doyle, call sign K4MUR, went to bed early so he could be on the radio by 4:30am to talk to friends in different time zones all around the world. Some were friends from childhood, friends from his days of service in the Korean War. Most of his friends, however, were friends he’d never met in person, who he knew only from the airwaves. Many of them knew him more intimately than the friends and neighbors he saw every day.

Those mornings were his window into the world outside Scottsboro, Alabama, population 9,324 (in 1970), where he’d been working in insurance since shortly after the Korean War. The insurance business paid, but it bored him to tears. Creative energy ran in his blood: during the Great Depression, his father ran a general store on wheels in rural Alabama, which he used to barter for much needed goods. Doyle knew he was destined for more, but he didn’t know what.

One day, a ham radio friend who worked for Trailways Bus Company in Washington, D.C. let Doyle and his friends in on an unusual problem: the bus line had an accumulating pile of unclaimed bags that they didn’t know what to do with. Doyle’s ears perked up. “How much would you sell it for?” he asked his friend. “Well, I’m not sure,” his friend said. They settled on three hundred dollars.

That afternoon, Doyle borrowed his father’s ’65 Chevy pickup truck and stopped at his father-in-law’s house on the way out of town to borrow three hundred dollars. When he returned, he and his wife Mollie Sue set to unpacking the massive load of luggage. They rented a house on the outskirts of town and set up card tables inside to display the contents of the luggage. Outside, a homemade storefront sign read “Unclaimed Baggage”. That Saturday the doors opened for business, and by the end of the day the tables were empty.

The rest isn’t exactly history. It took many more loads of luggage, many more loans, many more long days and short nights before Doyle’s business grew into the worldwide, fifty-year-old retail phenomenon it is today. But it all started with an idea.

No one knows where they come from, ideas. What we do know is that the right environment––the kind populated by dear friends, clear air, long drives down country roads and the like––clears space for them to land.

The current moment, plagued by uncertainty, financial distress and, well, actual plague, could be seen as less conducive than ever to creativity. Ernest Hemingway once wrote that worry destroys the ability to create, and ill health, which produces worry, attacks your subconscious and destroys your reserves. If we all, like Hemingway, had the ability to combat the malaise with all the fishing, sailing and boxing our hearts desire, we might not be in such a tough spot.[]


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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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Scott Tilley (VE7TIL): The Amateur Astronomer Who Found a Lost NASA Satellite

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Cap Tux, who shared a link to the following video on YouTube. This short video is brilliant and will be the reference I use when people ask about the intersection of radio and amateur astronomy:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Amateur astronomer Scott Tilley made international headlines when he rediscovered NASA’s IMAGE satellite 13 years after it mysteriously disappeared. In this interview with Freethink, Scott discusses his role in the satellite’s recovery, why he enjoys amateur astronomy, and how citizen scientists like him have contributed to our knowledge of space from the space race to the present day.

And I personally think our Post friend, Troy Riedel–who is an avid amateur astronomer–should start tracking satellites! (We’ll see if he’s reading this post!)

I’m curious: are there any Post readers who are into the satellite tracking side of amateur astronomy?

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First Amateur Radio in Geosynchronous Orbit Will Aid Disaster Communications

GreenBankTelescopeCould it be we will have a true geosynchronous satellite for Amateurs in 2017?! I hope so, and we will not need an antenna this big to use it!

This was first reported in Wireless Design Magazine

Researchers at the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology are preparing to send an amateur radio transponder into a geosynchronous orbit in 2017.

“Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a new ham band will be available for the Americas,” said Robert McGwier, a research professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Hume Center’s director of research. “It will allow rapid deployment to disaster areas and support long-haul communications for first responders.”

This would be the first amateur or “ham” radio payload in a geosynchronous orbit, and would significantly enhance communications capabilities for amateur radio operators, in particular following natural disasters or other emergency situations. The Hume Center team met with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate in September to discuss the project.

The full article may be found following this link.

I have really been enjoying trying to catch the satellites and the International Space Station as I am able, but it really is catch as catch can due to orbiting times and changing horizon points. A geosynchronous orbit satellite means we could plant an antenna pointed directly at the satellite and find it there day or night. I for one am ready!! I might even dedicate an inexpensive dual-band radio to it assuming typical satellite repeater protocol is used.

I will post more details as I find out additional information.  Cheers! Robert

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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