Tag Archives: Southgate ARC

Radio Waves: DIY Internet Radio With Real Buttons, Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test, Tokyo Rose, Shortwave Collective, and RAC Portable Operations Challenge

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, Dennis Dura, and David Goren for the following tips:


Internet radio with real buttons using Stream Deck (Bjørn Erling Fløtten)

How I used a Stream Deck Mini from Elgato in order to give my mother-in-law a super easy Internet radio experience.

By Bjørn Erling Fløtten, Trondheim, Norway. April 2021.

See also comments on Hacker News

Background

My mother-in-law is from Poland. When she stays in Norway in order to help us with babysitting she misses Polish radio. In principle this is easily accessible through the Internet now from all kind of devices.

BUT, my mother-in-law is not PC-literate, nor does she use a so called ‘smart’-phone. With my long experience in teaching people far younger than her simple mouse and keyboard techniques, I knew that operating Windows and finding Internet radio stations on her own would just be too cumbersome. I therefore had to create a super simple setup for her, and my hacker mind started to think.

(I did of course consider special purpose Internet radios. They should in theory be quite simple to operate, but they all have som kind of quirks that I did not like. And besides, constructing something of your own is of course always more satisfying.)

I want Real Buttons!

What I really wanted was big buttons with tactile feedback. I had earlier experienced with some Behringer products (sound mixing board) in order to demonstrate mathematical functions. The idea then was to use turning knobs and sliders in order to see how changing parameters changed the outcome of the function, especially graphs in 2D and 3D.

I thought this would be useful also for an Internet radio, but then I remembered having read about the Optimus Maximus keyboard (keyboard with programmable led icons on each key), and I thought such a product would be even better. This search led to Elgato and their Stream Deck Mini. This has 6 buttons, just enough for a radio. I might have preferred the bigger version with 15 buttons but their products are ridiculously expensive, so I had to be content with just 6 buttons.

In addition to the Stream Deck Mini my son donated his old school laptop with Windows 10 installed. It was a cheap ThinkPad L-series which, although 3 years old and somewhat battered from daily use to and from school, was quite capable of streaming some audio from the Internet. My son created a guest account in Windows 10 with auto login. He set ‘Fn lock’ as default, meaning that keys F1, F2 and F3 was volume off, down, up without having to press Fn. We also found a pair of speakers lying around in the house.

No programming necessary *

(* But understanding of HTML, URLs and Windows command line arguments is a requisite.)

Initially I thought I would make a Windows application for controlling which radio streams to play. But it turned out that Elgato’s accompanying software was quite capable by itself.

I assigned five of the six available buttons to launch the standard web browser (Google Chrome in this case) with a corresponding streaming URL (radio channel).

Continue reading the full article by clicking here.

Annual Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test set for May 7 – 8 (Southgate ARC)

The US Department of Defense will host this year’s Armed Forces Day (AFD) Cross-Band Test, Friday and Saturday, May 7 – 8, in recognition of Armed Forces Day on May 15. The event is open to all radio amateurs.

For more than 50 years, military and amateur stations have taken part in this exercise, designed to include amateur radio and government radio operators alike.

The AFD Cross-Band Test is a unique opportunity to test two-way communications between military and amateur radio stations, as authorized under FCC Part 97 rules. These tests provide opportunities and challenges for radio operators to demonstrate individual technical skills in a tightly controlled exercise in which military stations will transmit on selected military frequencies and will announce the specific amateur radio frequencies being monitored.

The schedule of military/government stations taking part in the Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test and information on the AFD message is available on the MARS website.

Complete the request form to obtain a QSL card. ARRL

“Tokyo Rose” – WW2 Traitor or Victim? (YouTube)

Shortwave Collective – FENCETENNA (YouTube)

RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award (Southgate ARC)

The RAC Challenge Award: An Overview
Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to present a new Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award for RAC members.

The objective of the new “RAC Challenge Award” is to recognize and encourage portable operations by RAC members from locations throughout Canada.

The new program will begin on Canada Day, July 1, 2021 and we hope it will become an annual event for RAC members.

Note: the following information is tentative as the new Awards program is still being organized so please stay tuned to this webpage for future updates.

Portable Operations
Portable operations are those in which Amateurs take their equipment, antennas and power supply to a location away from their home station to operate. This includes mobile stations, backpackers, DXpeditions and participation in events such as those described below:

Parks On The Air (POTA), a worldwide program of park activations – https://parksontheair.com/
Quebec Parks On The Air (QcPOTA) April 1 to December 31
Field Day: June 26-27
There are several other programs that celebrate portable operations including Summits on the Air (SOTA), Islands on the Air (IOTA) and the International Lighthouses and Lightships Weekend.

Features of the “RAC Challenge”
The new “RAC Challenge” will recognize all portable operations in which RAC members participate and will have similar features as a contest. Amateur Radio contests in VHF, UHF and the Microwave bands all have categories for “Rovers” – who move from grid square to grid square and “Backpackers” – who seek out hilltops from which to operate with highly portable equipment and antennas.

For many satellite operators, making contact with as many grid squares as possible is a mark of success. Some of those operators go on satellite DXpeditions to activate rare grids or operate from the intersections of grids to offer multiple grids with a single contact. In addition to being fun, these activities provide an opportunity for Amateurs to experience what is required to set up and operate under challenging conditions – valuable experience for emergency preparedness.

For more on the RAC Challenge Award, please see:

RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award


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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: Michael Pack Resigns, FCC Enforcement Advisory, Upcoming ISS SSTV, and Prowling TV Detector Vans

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 Eric McFadden, Ronald Kenyon,  for the following tips:


Defined By Scandal At Voice of America, CEO Resigns At Biden’s Request (NPR)

Michael Pack resigned Wednesday as the CEO of the federal agency over the Voice of America and other federally funded international broadcasters after a turbulent seven-month tenure. He leaves the U.S. Agency for Global Media with a Trumpian legacy of ideological strife, lawsuits and scandal, his departure effective just two hours after the swearing-in of President Biden, who requested him to leave.

Biden has named senior VOA news executive Kelu Chao as acting CEO.

Pack came to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media with the support of former President Donald Trump; his appointment was delayed more than two years in the U.S. Senate by lawmakers who feared he was too ideological and also who questioned his finances. The soft-spoken conservative documentary maker proved to be an ideological warrior in the mold of his patron, taking to one conservative news outlet after another to denounce his own staff, all in the name of fairness.

In his resignation letter, Pack said he was “solely focused upon reorienting the agency toward its missions.” And he attacked the request for his resignation as “a partisan act,” saying the leadership of the agency and its networks “is meant to be non-partisan, untethered to alternations in the political regime.”

He added, “I had no political agenda coming into USAGM, and I still do not have one.”

NPR conducted scores of interviews over the controversies Pack’s actions engendered. And few at the agency or its broadcasters agreed with Pack’s characterization of his mission or performance, instead characterizing him as seeking political control over their coverage. Just last week, a VOA reporter’s insistent questions to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and VOA Director Robert R. Reilly over the siege on Congress after a public event led to her demotion and an investigation.

Pack routinely accused journalists of anti-Trump bias, sought to fire top executives as part of a “deep state,” ominously accused the networks of being receptive to foreign spies and denied requests for visa extensions from his own staffers who are foreign nationals.[]

FCC Issues Enforcement Advisory: Radio Users Reminded Not to Use Radios in Crimes (ARRL News)

The FCC has released an Enforcement Advisory for licensees and operators across radio services.

[Complete text of FCC Enforcement Advisory follows.]

FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY

DA 21-73

Released: January 17, 2021

WARNING: AMATEUR AND PERSONAL RADIO SERVICES LICENSEES AND OPERATORS MAY NOT USE RADIO EQUIPMENT TO COMMIT OR FACILITATE CRIMINAL ACTS

The Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission issues this Enforcement Advisory to remind licensees in the Amateur Radio Service, as well as licensees and operators in the Personal Radio Services, that the Commission prohibits the use of radios in those services to commit or facilitate criminal acts.

The Bureau has become aware of discussions on social media platforms suggesting that certain radio services regulated by the Commission may be an alternative to social media platforms for groups to communicate and coordinate future activities. The Bureau recognizes that these services can be used for a wide range of permitted purposes, including speech that is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Amateur and Personal Radio Services, however, may not be used to commit or facilitate crimes.

Specifically, the Bureau reminds amateur licensees that they are prohibited from transmitting “communications intended to facilitate a criminal act” or “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning.” 47 CFR § 97.113(a)(4).

Likewise, individuals operating radios in the Personal Radio Services, a category that includes Citizens Band radios, Family Radio Service walkie-talkies, and General Mobile Radio Service, are prohibited from using those radios “in connection with any activity which is against Federal, State or local law.” 47 CFR § 95.333(a).

Individuals using radios in the Amateur or Personal Radio Services in this manner may be subject to severe penalties, including significant fines, seizure of the offending equipment, and, in some cases, criminal prosecution. 47 U.S.C. §§ 401, 501, 503, 510.

Media inquiries should be directed to 202-418-0500 or MediaRelations@fcc.gov.

To file a complaint with the FCC, visit https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or call 1-888-CALL-FCC. To report a crime, contact your local law enforcement office or the FBI.

To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

Issued by: Chief, Enforcement Bureau[]

ISS SSTV 145.800 FM Jan 28-29 (Southgate ARC)

Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are planning to transmit Slow Scan TV images on 145.800 MHz FM using the SSTV mode PD-120

The transmissions are part of the Moscow Aviation Institute SSTV experiment (MAI-75).

Jan 28 – Starts after 12:10 GMT and ends at 17:15 GMT*

Jan 29 – Start about 13:10 GMT and ends at 18:05 GMT*

*Dates and times subject to change.

ARISS SSTV Blog
https://ariss-sstv.blogspot.com/

Useful SSTV info and links
https://amsat-uk.org/beginners/iss-sstv/

TV Detector Vans Once Prowled The Streets Of England (Hackaday)

The United Kingdom is somewhat unique in the world for requiring those households which view broadcast television to purchase a licence for the privilege.

Initially coming into being with the Wireless Telegraphy Act in 1923, the licence was required for anyone receiving broadcast radio, before being expanded to cover television in 1946. The funds generated from this endeavour are used as the primary funding for the British Broadcasting Corporation.

A typical TV licence invoice. Separate licences for black and white and color sets still exist, with 6000 B&W licences issued in 2019.

Of course, it’s all well and good to require a licence, but without some manner of enforcement, the measure doesn’t have any teeth. Among other measures, the BBC have gone as far as employing special vans to hunt down illegally operating televisions and protect its precious income.

THE VAN IS COMING FOR YOU

To ensure a regular income, the BBC runs enforcement operations under the TV Licencing trade name, the entity which is responsible for administering the system. Records are kept of licences and their expiry dates, and investigations are made into households suspected of owning a television who have not paid the requisite fees. To encourage compliance, TV Licencing regularly sends sternly worded letters to those who have let their licence lapse or have not purchased one. In the event this fails, they may arrange a visit from enforcement officers. These officers aren’t empowered to forcibly enter homes, so in the event a homeowner declines to cooperate with an investigation, TV Licencing will apply for a search warrant. This may be on the basis of evidence such as a satellite dish or antenna spotted on the roof of a dwelling, or a remote spied on a couch cushion through a window.[]


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Radio Waves: Old Goats Are Going Away, Pack Accused of Fraud, Post-Brexit Radio Imports, and a TV Drama About Murder of G0HFQ

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 Dennis Dura, Ronald Kenyon, Michael Guerin, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Commentary: “The Old Goats Are Going Away” (Radio World)

Broadcasters need to act to refill our ranks before the dial goes quiet

I see trouble ahead in our business in the shortage of qualified broadcast engineers.

I am not speaking of IT people. I am speaking of the guy in a T-shirt and jeans who gets to the transmitter, looks for the problem, reads the schematic, crawls inside the box and replaces R-16, R-17, C-232 and Q-4, and the music again blares forth.

We are losing those guys every day, and they are being replaced by the guy who walks into the site, looks at the box, grabs his cell phone, calls BE or Nautel to find which board to pull, and ships it back while waiting for a loaner to get the rig going.

I never thought of myself as an old-timer. Starting in the business in 1963, old-timers were the guys I learned from, mostly World War II graduates. They knew everything about audio and RF. I wished I knew a tenth as much as they did.

My first real bit of engineering was converting a 50 kW FM station to stereo in 1963. No one listened to FM then, I think there were 10 FM radios in the city and five were in Cadillacs owned by mob hit men.

I remember putting the stereo generator in an eight-foot rack. It took up four feet of the rack and had enough 12AU7s in it to heat the building. It had two outputs, one L+R that went into the phase modulator of the serrasoid exciter and the L–R output that went into the exciter about 200 multipliers later (the crystal frequency was multiplied 864 times).

It was a technical nightmare compared to mono FM. Getting two matched phased phone lines from the studio to the transmitter over three exchanges was another task. But we were stereo most of the time.

The FCC had a rule that if you weren’t transmitting stereophonic program material for more than a certain length of time, you had to shut the stereo pilot off so as not to mislead the 10 listeners by illuminating their stereo beacon. So the pilot on/off was wired into the old Rust remote control so the studio could turn it off when a monophonic recording of a symphony played.

Times changed; we wound up with RF STLs, stereo generators on a single chip, CD players, computers and lots of stuff made in foreign countries that wasn’t worth fixing or whose parts were not available, so when they broke they wound up on a shelf at the transmitter site.[]

Voice of America CEO Accused Of Fraud, Misuse Of Office All In One Week (NPR)

Fresh crises and fresh challenges confront the Trump-appointed CEO of the parent of Voice of America, even with less than two weeks left of the Trump presidency.

To start, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia this week accused U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack of illegally funneling more than $4 million to his private documentary company through a not-for-profit that he also controls.

Then, five recent chiefs of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – appointed under Democratic and Republican administrations – jointly warned President-elect Joe Biden that Pack poses “a long-term threat to the credibility and professionalism of the five networks” he oversees.

And now Pack is now being accused of trying to propagandize the Voice of America by a group of whistleblowers. They take exception to a planned appearance by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at VOA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, just nine days before the Biden administration begins.

Pompeo will soon be out of his job. And it’s expected Pack will be replaced promptly as well. But he has sought to outlast his time in office by burrowing himself and conservative allies into boards that will steer Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. The not-for-profit broadcasters are all funded by the federal government through USAGM.

Those networks, along with VOA and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, collectively reach more than 350 million people across the world each week. They historically have demonstrated American pluralism by providing balanced coverage of news events and robust political debate, regardless of how it reflects on current government officials. The broadcasters are also intended to serve the citizens of nations which do not allow journalists to operate freely.[]

Radio imports (Southgate ARC)

Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, we will see major changes in importing radio equipment.

Definitive information is scarce but imports from the UK can have VAT paid on purchase or depending on the retailer, VAT may have to be paid before delivery. If it comes via An Post, any charges will have to paid before the item is sent out for delivery.

The Post Office employees will not be collecting money at the door. Whether duty is also collected is not very clear, but some sources say that anything originating outside the European Union will attract duty as well as VAT. There may also be a handling charge.

John EI7GL has compiled a list of radio and electronic dealers based in the European Union on his blog page and would welcome any updates you can supply.[]

TV drama about murder of radio ham G0HFQ (Southgate ARC)

On Monday, January 11, ITV will be broadcasting the first of a three part TV drama about the murder in June 1989 of Oxfordshire radio amateur Peter Dixon G0HFQ and Gwenda Dixon who were on holiday in Pembrokeshire

In the November 1989 Radio Communication magazine the RSGB asked:

Did you work GW0HFQ/M ?

As we’ve reported in previous editions of RadCom, Peter Dixon, G0HFQ. and his wife Gwenda were brutally murdered whilst on holiday in South Wales last June. Dyfed-Powys Police have asked us to say that they are still anxious to talk to anyone who had a contact with Peter whilst he was operating in Pembrokeshire as GW0HFO/M on 7 or 14MHz SSB. 28MHz FM/SSB or 144MHz FM. The dates between which they’d like you to check your logbooks are 19-29 June 1989.

Dyfed-Powys Police believe that Peter Dixon had a contact with another mobile station in the area on 28MHz FM on the morning of Wednesday 28 June.

The drama will be shown on ITV at 9pm on Monday, January 11, details at
https://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week2/
pembrokeshire-murders

A description of the murder is at
https://www.nickdavies.net/1992/06/27/the-tantalising-mystery-of-a-murder-in-pembrokeshire/

The October 1989 issue of 73 magazine carried a report, see page 13
https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-DX/73-magazine/73-magazine-1989/73-magazine-10-october-1989.pdf


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Radio Waves: Solar Radios Help Kenyan Children, Synchronous AM’s History, FM Radio on Jupiter, and New WSJT mode Q65

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Tracy Wood, Richard Langley, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


With schools shut by pandemic, solar radios keep Kenyan children learning (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Solar-powered radios have been distributed to the poorest homes that lack electricity access, with lessons broadcast daily during the COVID-19 crisis – and perhaps beyond

TANA RIVER, Kenya, Dec 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Deep in Tana River County, in southeastern Kenya, a group of pupils formed a circle around their teacher, jotting down notes as they listened to a Swahili diction lesson coming from the solar-powered radio sitting in their teacher’s lap.

The radio the children from Dida Ade primary school gathered around was one of hundreds distributed for free to the most vulnerable households in the semi-arid region east of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

The radios allow children without internet access or electricity at home to continue studying while schools are closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, in a project that could also help children stay in education after the pandemic.

Funded by the Zizi Afrique Foundation, a Kenyan non-governmental organisation that produces research to drive education policy, the solar-powered radios also come with bulbs for household lighting and slots for phone-charging.

When schools across Kenya shut in March to slow the spread of COVID-19, Zizi Afrique did a survey in Tana Delta sub-county and found that just over one-fifth of households owned a radio and only 18% had access to electricity.[]

Synchronous AM’s Long and Tortuous History (Radio World)

AM boosters repeatedly have been proven effective, but the FCC consistently has declined to allow their wide use

With AM improvement on the radars of broadcasters and the FCC, there has been renewed talk in recent years about the subject of AM “boosters,” the carrier frequency synchronization of multiple transmitters. The commission opened a comment period on AM boosters in 2017.

It wasn’t the first time the FCC has explored this topic and failed to act on it. In fact, AM boosters have been proposed and tested dozens of times since the early days of radio. But even though the technology has repeatedly been proven effective, the commission consistently has declined to allow the operation of AM boosters on anything more than an experimental basis, for a variety of reasons.

Let’s take a moment to look back at the history of this beleaguered technology.

BOSTON REPEATER
In 1930, crystal control of transmitter frequencies was still an emerging technology, and the allowable frequency tolerance of a broadcast transmitter was +/- 500 Hz. Two stations operating on the same channel, even if widely geographically separated, could generate a heterodyne beat note of up to 1 kHz, a disconcerting annoyance to listeners.

Consequently, only a few stations were allowed to operate nationwide evenings on any one channel at the same time. Further, there were 40 clear-channel stations, each one having exclusive nationwide use of its frequency. As most of these clear-channel stations were network affiliates, many channels were wastefully duplicating the same programs.

In 1929, the respected radio engineer Frederick Terman proposed that, if all stations of the two networks (NBC and CBS) could synchronize their carrier frequencies within +/- 0.1 Hz to eliminate the heterodyne beat notes, they could all coexist on a single channel per network, freeing up dozens of channels for new stations.

Synchronization was first proved successful by the Westinghouse station WBZ in Springfield, Mass. Broadcasting from the roof of the Westinghouse factory, WBZ failed to cover Boston, so WBZA was opened as a Boston repeater. The two stations were synchronized on the same frequency beginning in 1926, using a tuning fork as a frequency reference.[]

FM Radio on Jupiter, Brought to You by Ganymede (EOS)

Another first from NASA’s Juno spacecraft: the detection of radio emissions from the Moon Ganymede, over a range of about 250 kilometers in the polar region of Jupiter.

Louis et al. [2020] present exciting new observations of radio emissions on Jupiter from the NASA Juno spacecraft – the first direct detection of decametric radio emissions originating from its Moon Ganymede. These observations were made as Juno crossed a polar region of the Giant Planet where the magnetic field lines are connected to Ganymede.

The radio emissions were produced by electrons at relativistic energy (a few thousand electron volts) in a region where the electron’s oscillation frequency (“plasma frequency”) is much lower than its gyration frequency (“cyclotron frequency”). Such electrons can amplify radio waves very close to the electron cyclotron frequency very rapidly, via a physical process called electron cyclotron maser instability (CMI). They can as well produce aurora in the far-ultraviolet – which was also observed by the camera on Juno.

Juno was traveling at a speed of approximately 50 kilometers per second, and it spent at least about 5 seconds crossing the source region of the emission, which was therefore at least about 250 kilometers in size.

The observed decametric radiation on Jupiter is clearly the “shorter cousin” (in wavelength) of the auroral kilometric radiation on both Earth and Saturn: the CMI being responsible for their production on the three planets.

Citation: Louis, C. K., Louarn, P., Allegrini, F., Kurth, W. S., & Szalay, J. R. [2020]. Ganymede?induced decametric radio emission: In situ observations and measurements by Juno. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL090021. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL090021

Andrew Yau, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters[]

New WSJT mode Q65 (Southgate ARC)

WSJT-X 2.4.0 will introduce Q65, a digital protocol designed for minimal two-way QSOs over especially difficult propagation paths

On paths with Doppler spread more than a few Hz, the weak-signal performance of Q65 is the best among all WSJT-X modes.  Q65 is particularly effective for tropospheric scatter, ionospheric scatter, and EME on VHF and higher bands, as well as other types of fast-fading signals.

Q65 uses 65-tone frequency-shift keying and builds on the demonstrated weak-signal strengths of QRA64, a mode introduced to WSJT-X in 2016.  Q65 differs from QRA64 in the following important ways:
•A new low-rate Q-ary Repeat Accumulate code for forward error correction
•User messages and sequencing identical to those in FT4, FT8, FST4, and MSK144
•A unique tone for time and frequency synchronization.  As with JT65, this “sync tone” is readilyvisible on the waterfall spectral display.  Unlike JT65, synchronization and decoding are effective even when meteor pings or other short signal enhancements are present.
•Optional submodes with T/R sequence lengths 15, 30, 60, 120, and 300 s.
•A new, highly reliable list-decoding technique for messages that contain previously copied message fragments.

Read the new Q65 Quick Start Guide at
https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/Q65_Quick_Start.pdf


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Radio Waves: AM TX Sites Now Prized Real Estate, New Leaders for RFE/RL, New EU Cars Will Have DAB, and North Korean Fisherman Pays Ultimate Price for Listening to Radio

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Tracy Wood, Michael Bird, Michael Guerin, Mike Terry and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


AM Radio Transmitter Sites Now Valuable Real Estate for Logistics Industry (Transport Topics)

The familiar real estate adage “location, location, location” rings true these days for huge tracts on the outskirts of major cities — sites that for decades housed AM radio towers but that today command top dollar as e-commerce fuels rising demand for new warehouses and logistics centers.

Look no further than the $51 million sale of a five-acre parcel in Queens, N.Y., where an AM radio station will eventually abandon its existing tower and transmitter site, and move it.

New York radio station WFME’s owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based Family Radio, sold its AM transmitter site to Prologis, a San Francisco developer that specializes in building warehouses for companies looking to expand final-mile capability.

This property is situated near the Long Island Expressway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and La Guardia and JFK airports. The spot’s current value as a logistics hub far outstrips its importance to a broadcast outlet that didn’t register in New York’s most recent radio ratings book.

“Long term, we see this as a strategic move that adds to our growing footprint of high-quality logistics space that offers quick and easy access to consumers.” said Jeremiah Kent, Prologis senior vice president of value added investments. “In one of the most densely populated markets in the world where demand for logistics real estate is high and land is scarce, Prologis is well-positioned to respond to the acceleration of e-commerce and consumers’ expectation for same- and next-day delivery services.”

The rising value of these locations is being driven by changing consumer habits and rapid technological evolution. Sites on the edge of town that in radio’s heyday were cheap and plentiful can now house vital links in a supply chain propelled by technology that was hard to imagine back in AM’s early days.[]

USAGM CEO Names New Leaders for RFE/RL, OCB (VOA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Agency for Global Media announced that former VOA journalist Ted Lipien will return to run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, the current acting director at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, will become director.

The appointments follow USAGM CEO Michael Pack’s December 9 announcement that former Voice of America director Robert Reilly would return to lead that network.

Lipien joined VOA in 1973 and worked as the chief of the Polish language service and later as a senior news and marketing executive until 2006. For 10 years, Lipien worked in Munich and Prague as the Eurasia regional marketing director, helping VOA and RFE/RL place programs on stations across the region. In an announcement sent to staff, he recalled listening to Radio Free Europe while growing up in communist Poland.

“I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced,” he wrote.

Since leaving U.S. broadcasting, Lipien has been a vocal critic of VOA’s and USAGM’s previous leaders. He has also defended Pack’s tenure as CEO, saying Pack has focused on correcting long-running issues of bias and mismanagement at the networks.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a nonprofit multimedia broadcasting organization funded by U.S. Congress grants. Based in Prague, it serves as a surrogate media source in 27 languages, mostly in places where a free press remains either banned or not fully established.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro has been with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting since July 2017. In announcing Shapiro’s new position, Pack cited his deep connections to local communities in South Florida and his track record in producing objective news.

“Transmitting objective news and information to the island plays a critical role in moving toward a free Cuba, and it is a privilege to be a part of such an important mission,” Shapiro wrote in a published statement.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting oversees Radio and Television Marti, based in Miami, Florida. The network provides news, information and analysis to the people of Cuba via satellite television and shortwave radio, as well as flash drives, DVDs and text messages.

Pack was confirmed by the Senate as CEO in June with a three-year term and fired several news executives upon his arrival. He later declined to testify before a House of Representatives panel examining his decisions at the agency, including his decision to fire the heads of RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia and OCB, and replace their boards. The then-director of VOA, Amanda Bennett, resigned two days before Pack joined the agency.

Last month a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Pack and other USAGM officials from interfering with the editorial independence and First Amendment rights of journalists at VOA and other networks they oversee. The ruling still allows Pack to appoint leaders of those news networks to oversee them.

The November 20 court order prohibits the CEO and other defendants from communicating directly with journalists at the networks without the consent of their directors. The order is part of a lawsuit filed by five USAGM officials whom Pack placed on administrative leave in August. The suit accuses Pack and his political appointees of unlawful actions and of violating the First Amendment and a statutory firewall set up to ensure editorial independence. Pack has said the lawsuit is “without merit” and that all of his and his team’s decisions and actions are “correct and lawful.”

Earlier this month, a federal office set up to protect whistleblowers ordered USAGM to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by its own top officials.[]

All new car radios to have digital terrestrial radio (Southgate ARC)

From today, people purchasing new passenger vehicles across Europe will be able to benefit from the advantages of digital radio – greater choice, clearer audio and enhanced data services.

Article 113, Annex XI in the EECC states that “Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M* which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from 21 December 2020 shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting”.

The regulation applies to all EU member states – regardless of the status of DAB in each country.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Denmark have already introduced laws mandating digital terrestrial radio in cars and other countries are expected to follow shortly.

In the first half of 2020, over 50% of new cars sold in Europe included DAB+ as standard – a number that is expected to reach 100% by the end of 2021 as DAB+ adoption continues to grow across Europe.

More information and regular updates on the EECC directive and its implementation across Europe is available on the WorldDAB EECC factsheet.

*Motor vehicles with at least four wheels designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers

https://www.worlddab.org/news

North Korean fisherman publicly executed for listening to foreign radio (The New Daily)

A North Korean fishing boat captain has been publicly executed for listening to banned foreign radio stations while at sea.

The man, only known by his surname Choi and said to have been in his 40s, was killed by firing squad in front of 100 boat captains and fisheries executives, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

Choi, who owned a fleet of more than 50 ships, is thought to have been turned in by a crew member after they turned against him.

According to the RFA report, Choi ultimately confessed to authorities and was charged with “subversion against the party”.

“In mid-October, a captain of a fishing boat from Chongjin was executed by firing squad, on charges of listening to Radio Free Asia regularly over a long period of time,” a North Korean law enforcement official told RFA.

“They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility’s fish processing plants. They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base’s administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea.”

The network said the fishing boat captain began his habit of tuning into foreign radio stations, including RFA, while serving as a radio operator in the military. He had listened to RFA – a US-government funded network that broadcasts in Korean – for 15 years.

“The security authorities decided then that the time to re-educate him had long past, so they executed him by firing squad,” the source said.

“It seems that the authorities made an example out of Choi to imprint on the residents that listening to outside radio stations means death.”[]


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Radio Waves: Ted Lipien Named Head of RFE/RL, The American Radio Archives, Drive-Thru Ham Tests, and VOA Broadcasts to Displaced Communities in Africa

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 Ted Lipien, Josh Shepperd, Ronnie Smith, and Gary Butterworth,  for the following tips:


Ted Lipien returns to U.S. international broadcasting as head of RFE/RL December 18, 2020 (USAGM)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), announced today that veteran civil servant Ted Lipien is returning to U.S. international broadcasting as CEO and President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

“Few people have a greater understanding than Ted of the multifaceted operation and mission of U.S. international broadcasting,” said CEO Pack. “Ted is an ardent and captivating advocate of democracy who will excel at sharing America’s founding principles and ideals with the world.”

“When I was a teenager in Communist Poland, I would listen to Radio Free Europe to find out what the government was not telling me,” said Mr. Lipien. “It had an enormous impact on my life, and on the lives of millions of others. I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced.”

Mr. Lipien has dedicated virtually his entire career to U.S. international broadcasting. He joined Voice of America (VOA) in 1973 and served as the network’s Polish Service Chief for 12 years, from 1981 to 1993, including the Solidarity labor union’s struggle for human rights and democracy in Soviet-communist-ruled Poland. From 1993 to 2003, he served as the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ Eurasia Marketing Specialist and Director, first in Munich and, later, in Prague. Mr. Lipien then rejoined VOA, serving as Eurasia Division Director from 2003 to 2005 and Acting Associate Director from 2005 to 2006. He has interviewed a number of eminent public figures, including Cardinal Karol Wojty?a (Pope John Paul II), Lech Wa??sa, George H.W. Bush, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Czes?aw Mi?osz.

In 2008, after leaving the federal service, Mr. Lipien founded Free Media Online, a non-governmental organization committed to supporting free media worldwide. His pro-media freedom work has been noted in a variety of national publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. His articles have appeared in National Review, Washington Times, and Washington Examiner. Mr. Lipien earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations with distinction from George Washington University.

RFE/RL, headquartered in Prague, is a non-federal network funded by the United States Congress through USAGM. Daisy Sindelar, who had been serving as Acting President of RFE/RL since June 2020, is returning to her former role as the network’s Vice President and Editor-in-Chief.[]

On the Radio: The Library’s Special Research Collections to become home to the American Radio Archives (UC Santa Barbara)

The American Radio Archives, one of the world’s largest and most valuable collections of radio broadcasting will soon become part of the UC Santa Barbara Library’s Department of Special Collections.

Established by the Thousand Oaks Library Foundation (TOLF) in 1984, the archive is one of the first in the state and includes original recordings of Winston Churchill, as well as broadcast photographs, radio and television scripts, books and film dated as early as 1922.

“It is critical that such a wonderfully curated collection documenting the golden age of radio is preserved and accessible, said Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña. “UCSB has one of the largest collections of performing arts records, sound recordings and broadcast recordings on the West Coast as well as a state-of-the-art audio laboratory, making it our first choice and a natural fit for the American Radio Archives.”

The collection was established in 1984 and grew significantly with the purchase in 1987 of radio memorabilia from the estate of Rudy Valleé, one of the nation’s most popular singing bandleaders and personalities. Valleé documented his career, which took off in the1920s, through an extensive array of journals, photographs and original pieces of advertising.

The prominence of the Valleé collection attracted numerous celebrities and radio historians from around the world who gravitated toward the American Radio Archives. Among them were such luminaries as Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Ron Howard, Ray Bradbury, Norman Corwin, Edward Asner, Walter Cronkite, Janet Waldo, Candice Bergen and William Shatner.

When Norman Corwin — dubbed America’s poet laureate of radio — donated his career files in 1990, it further increased esteem for the archives and generated significant interest among radio aficionados. As a result, many noteworthy collections were donated to TOLF, including, among others, those of radio station KNX-CBS; radio actor and radio historian Frank Bresee, who hosted “The Golden Days of Radio”; comedian Red Skelton; Carlton Morse, the creator of the long-running radio soap opera “One Man’s Family”; radio and television writers Milton and Barbara Merlin; and Allin Slate, a pioneer of the sports talk show format on KABC radio in Los Angeles.[]

Oregon ARRL VEC Testing Group Offers Testing from the Comfort of Your Car (ARRL News)

The coronavirus pandemic has made life difficult for everyone. On the plus side, however, it’s prompted creative solutions to work around the various roadblocks the pandemic has imposed. Volunteer Examiners in Grant County, Oregon, affiliated with the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) put their heads together to overcome the adversity and hold a safe and secure exam session. Current health regulations in Oregon precluded both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Nonetheless, the Grant County Amateur Radio Club, the local ARES Group, and the Grant County Emergency Radio Infrastructure Coalition (ERIC) combined forces to offer five candidates the chance to obtain their first license or to upgrade their existing license, all from the comfort of their vehicles.

“Many amateur radio clubs have experimented with exams via the internet,” said Steve Fletcher, K7AA, who is the ARES Emergency Coordinator for Grant County. “In eastern Oregon, with the cooperation of the County Roads Department, we chose to hold a ‘drive-up’ exam session on Saturday, December 12. Under the circumstances, we used four ARRL VEs for the exam instead of the required three.” Wheeler County ARES loaned Stuart Bottom, K7FG, to help as the third required Amateur Extra-class Volunteer Examiner.

Fletcher reports three new Technician licensees and two new General-class radio amateurs resulted from the session.

Required ARRL VEC forms contained pre-printed data — including the FCC Registration Number (FRN) — were given to the candidates on a clipboard. Each candidate took the exam in the front seat of their own vehicle. Cell phones, papers, and anything not required for the exam were removed.

“Everyone dressed warmly, and most candidates had their heaters running,” Fletcher reported. A camper owned by Ronda Metler, KB5LAX, and a communications van owned by Fletcher served as sites to check results and sign forms.

The Grant County Roads Department loaned its parking area for the exam session.[]

On International Migrants Day, VOA Expands Broadcasts to Displaced Communities in Africa (VOA Press Release)

As the world observes International Migrants Day on December 18, Voice of America continues to enhance its operations to serve the growing refugee populations in Africa. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reports that, in just the past few weeks, 50,000 Ethiopian refugees have joined the world’s 80 million forcibly displaced people, including more than 18 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Recognizing the deteriorating conditions in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region in recent weeks, VOA rapidly added existing Tigrigna-language radio broadcasts to existing VOA FM radio stations in the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Misrata. These newscasts reach not only the newly displaced civilians, but also Eritreans in both cities who arrived prior to the current exodus and still have ties to the crisis-affected area. Newly created “micro sites” deliver digital content in TigrignaAmharic, Afan Oromo and English from VOA regional reporting teams.

In Kakuma, Kenya, site of one of the world’s oldest refugee camps, VOA launched a new FM station to provide both refugees and the local community with news, music, and educational content in English, Swahili, and Somali. For the Dadaab refugee complex near Kenya’s border with Somalia, a new VOA station offers local residents and refugees a mix of VOA English and Somali language content that airs in Somalia and Djibouti.

“VOA is committed to providing vital news and information to underserved populations worldwide, including refugees and other forcibly displaced persons,” said VOA Director Robert Reilly. “In particular, as the only international broadcaster with a presence in Kakuma, VOA serves as a critical lifeline for individuals in this region with access to few other reliable media resources.”

VOA’s efforts to reach at-risk refugee populations expanded exponentially in 2017 in south Asia and Latin America. VOA’s Bangla language service began broadcasting in Rohingya to reach refugees in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp. Nearly one million ethnic Rohingya, who fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar, inhabit the site. When Venezuelans began to flee President Nicolás Maduro’s regime, the VOA Spanish language service significantly increased its coverage of this unfolding crisis for audiences all across the region.

VOA FM Frequencies

Existing in Libya: Tripoli (106.6 MHz); Misrata (99.1 MHz)

New in Kenya: Kakuma (99.9 MHz); Dadaab (106.7 MHz)


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