Tag Archives: Southgate ARC

Radio Waves: Ajit Pai to Resign, Hams Need to Embrace Hacker Community, Coast Guard Might Abandon HF Voice Watchkeeping, and FCC Action Against Unauthorized Transceivers

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!


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave agency on Inauguration Day (PBS News Hour)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, says he is leaving the telecommunications regulator on Inauguration Day.

President-elect Joe Biden will choose a new Democratic head for the agency. A new administration typically picks a new chairman.

Pai has presided over a contentious FCC over the last four years. He undid net neutrality rules that barred internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T from favoring some types of online traffic over others in 2017 and championed other deregulatory efforts. He has also worked to free up spectrum for cellphone companies so they can roll out 5G, the next-generation wireless standard that promises faster speeds, and cracked down on Chinese telecom companies as national security threats.

The incoming FCC is likely to try to reinstate net neutrality rules and focus on closing the “digital divide,” getting internet service to Americans who don’t have it because it’s not available or they can’t afford it.[]

Ham Radio Needs To Embrace The Hacker Community Now More Than Ever (Hackaday)

As many a radio amateur will tell you, ham radio is a hobby with as many facets as there are radio amateurs. It should be an exciting and dynamic place to be, but as those who venture forth into it sometimes sadly find out, it can be anything but. Tightly-knit communities whose interests lie in using $1,000 stations to chase DX (long-distance contacts), an advancing age profile, and a curious fascination of many amateurs with disaster communications. It’s something [Robert V. Bolton, KJ7NZL] has sounded off about in an open letter to the amateur radio community entitled “Ham Radio Needs To Embrace The Hacker Community Now More Than Ever“.

In it he laments that the influx in particular of those for whom disaster preparedness is the reason for getting a licence is to blame for amateur radio losing its spark, and he proposes that the hobby should respond by broadening its appeal in the direction of the hacker community. The emphasis should move from emergency communications, he says, and instead topics such as software defined radio and digital modes should be brought to the fore. Finally he talks about setting up hacker specific amateur radio discussion channels, to provide a space in which the talk is tailored to our community.[]

Coast Guard Proposes to Discontinue HF Voice Watchkeeping (ARRL News)

The US Coast Guard has invited comments by January 21, 2021, on a proposal to discontinue HF voice watchkeeping. The proposal [PDF] appeared on November 20 in the Federal Register. The USCG proposes to cease monitoring 4125, 6215, 8291, and 12,290 kHz, in the contiguous US and Hawaii, due to a lack of activity.

“We believe this change would have a low impact on the maritime public, as commercial satellite radios and Digital Selective Calling (DSC) marine-SSB HF radios have become more prevalent onboard vessels,” the Coast Guard said. “However, we would like your comments on how you would be affected if we terminated monitoring HF voice-only distress frequencies within the contiguous US and Hawaii, particularly if you use HF, but do not currently have a commercial satellite radio or an HF DSC-capable radio aboard your vessel.”[]

FCC takes action against marketing of unauthorized transceivers (Southgate ARC)

On November 24 FCC Enforcement Bureau (EB) issued a citation and order concerning the illegal marketing of unauthorized radio frequency devices

The citation says:

This CITATION AND ORDER (Citation), notifies Rugged Race Products, Inc. d/b/a
Rugged Radios (Rugged Radios or Company) that it unlawfully marketed six models of radio frequency devices that (a) operated outside the scope of their respective equipment authorization, or without any equipment authorization; (b) permitted any operator to program and transmit on new frequencies using the device’s external operation controls; and (c) lacked the appropriate labeling. Specifically, Rugged Radios marketed models RH5R-V2, RM25R, RM25R-WP, RM50R, RM60-V, and RM100 in violation of section 302(b) of the Communications Act, as amended (Act), and sections 2.803(b), 2.925(a)(1), 80.203(a), 90.203(a), 90.203(e), 95.361(a), and 95.391 of the Commission’s rules.

Read the Citation and Order at
https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-1395A1.pdf

Source FCC Enforcement Bureau
https://www.fcc.gov/enforcement


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Radio Waves: Guardians of Early Recordings, VOA Firewall, New DRM-Based HF Station, and Breakfast on BBC Essex Features Amateur 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 Kim Elliott, Benn Kobb, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Meet the guardians of the world’s earliest musical recordings (LA Times)

The voice seeps in as if from another dimension, hissy and distant, like an AM radio broadcaster transmitting through late-night static.

“‘The Ambassador March’ by Brown’s Orche-streee for the Los Angeles Phonograph Company of Los Angeles, California,” a man announces with a gentlemanly accent. After a moment’s scratchy pause, a violinist opens with a melody, and a small orchestra jumps in. Led by a Long Beach-based bandleader named E.R. Brown, the song dances along for two minutes.

The fidelity is primitive by today’s high-definition audio standards, a quaint toss-away. But “The Ambassador March” and the Coke-can-sized wax cylinder upon which it was etched into permanence in the late 1800s open a portal to another era.

That wax cylinder and others like it — rescued from rural estate sales and dusty attics — have survived earthquakes, heat waves, mold and indifference. They feature Mexican folk songs; military band marches; minstrelsy songs of the kind that preceded American blues, folk and country music; and the voices of former Lincoln cabinet members, Southern senators, popes, preachers and comedians. Their survival is emblematic of a revolution that allowed sound to be freed from its origins. Once untethered, the world would be forever changed.[]

US international broadcasting: Rebuilding the firewall in the new administration (The Hill)

by Kim Andrew Elliott

President-elect Joe Biden, who as a senator had a key interest in U.S. international broadcasting, is looking at its future.

He named Richard Stengel, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, to head the transition team for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Under USAGM are the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Inc., Radio Free Asia Inc., Office of Cuba Broadcast (Radio/TV Martí to Cuba) and Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc. (the Arabic-language Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa).

With government officials under President Trump instructed not to cooperate with Biden’s teams, the transition for the time being will have to be done from afar. The Trump-appointed USAGM CEO Michael Pack, whose leadership has fomented several controversies since he was installed in June, might decide to be a benign, if uncooperative, caretaker until the new management comes in. Or he could impose personnel changes and alterations in content that could diminish the credibility of the USAGM entities, a situation that could take years to repair.

During his campaign, Biden promised to fire Pack. Pack might try to serve out the three-year term stipulated in the legislation that replaced the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) with a politically appointed CEO (Pack being the first). If such an attempt ends up in court, a June Supreme Court decision overruling the fixed term of the director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, a victory for the Trump administration, could, ironically, be the undoing of any plans by Pack to stay on at USAGM.

Pack has already left his mark by rescinding the firewall “rule” published in June by the outgoing BBG. The rule, however, was not an act of Congress or a presidential directive. It was simply language placed in the Federal Register “to codify and memorialize definitions and practices associated with the firewall.” On such shallow roots, this tree was easy to fall. In October, Pack issued a repeal, which waved away the firewall rule as readily as it was instituted.[]

A New HF Station that’s Similar, but Different (DRMNA.info)

On October 21, 2020, DPA Mac LLC filed a FCC license application for a new, DRM-based International Broadcast Station to be located in Maple Park, IL. The principal is San Francisco entrepreneur Seth Kenvin and its technical consultant is Tamir Ostfeld of Raft Technologies, an Israeli developer of low-latency HF systems for so-called algorithmic trading.

No station devoted to algorithmic trading has ever been authorized for regular commercial operation in the U.S., as there is no formal radio service or spectrum allocation for that purpose. Several such stations have been licensed in the Experimental Radio Service (ERS), which is ostensibly for scientific studies only.

If the FCC licenses DPA Mac, it will be the first such station to make the transition from the ERS to regular, non-experimental licensing. This station would be the successor to experimental station WI2XXG. Other than the license document, the FCC has withheld most of WI2XXG’s records from public disclosure since it was first licensed in 2017.

DPA Mac is similar to other DRM stations on which we previously reported: WIPE in Alpine, NJ, which is built and is waiting on its FCC license; and WPBC, proposed for Batavia, IL. With regard to their use for non-broadcast, private data transmissions, those stations made general and non-descriptive representations to the FCC. On the other hand, DPA Mac’s license application is fairly transparent. The station aims to transmit “investment data from points within the United States to locations outside the United States carried over a channel immediately adjacent to the HF broadcasts…a low-power, low-latency digital data transmission service provided to private investors, including small- and medium-sized firms.” [Continue reading…]

Amateur radio on BBC Radio Essex

On Tuesday, November 24, CB and amateur radio featured in Sonia Watson’s popular Breakfast show on BBC Radio Essex

Among those interviewed was the Chair of Essex Ham, Pete M0PSX, who talked about the resurgence of interest in amateur radio.

Listen to the interview at 1:38:20 in this recording
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08xv7dv

You can find out more about amateur radio and the free Essex Ham Foundation Online training course at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

You can follow Essex Ham on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/EssexHam

 


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Radio Waves: Potential for Change at USAGM, Judge Rules Pack Unconstitutionally Interfered With VOA, Solar Cycle 25 Could be Strong, and DEF CON Ham Radio Videos

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 Dan Robinson and Eric McFadden for the following tips:


The Biden Choice on USAGM: Business as usual, or major change (USC Center on Public Diplomancy)

Several years ago, I wrote about ongoing problems at Voice of America and its parent agency, which re-branded in 2018 as the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), and how Donald Trump would deal with them.

I suggested that the Voice of America could be shut down with little impact on the global media scene. This sparked outrage in some quarters, especially from those invested in perpetuating the yearly $600 million to $800 million taxpayer-funded media structure aimed at foreign audiences.

Space limitations prohibit a thorough review of events since Donald Trump’s nominee to head USAGM, Michael Pack, finally achieved Senate confirmation and took up his post after being blocked for two years by Democrats and some anti-Trump Republicans.

Pack faced a wave of hit pieces by major anti-Trump media as he moved to gain control of the bloated and entrenched USAGM bureaucracy, confront security issues at USAGM, and tackle political bias at VOA. His removal of key officials in charge of USAGM networks is still being fought out in the courts.[]

Trump Appointee Unconstitutionally Interfered With VOA, Judge Rules (NPR)

The chief executive over the Voice of America and its sister networks has acted unconstitutionally in investigating what he claimed was a deep-seated bias against President Trump by his own journalists, a federal judge has ruled.

Citing the journalists’ First Amendment protections, U.S. Judge Beryl Howell on Friday evening ordered U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack to stop interfering in the news service’s news coverage and editorial personnel matters. She struck a deep blow at Pack’s authority to continue to force the news agency to cover the president more sympathetically.

Actions by Pack and his aides have likely “violated and continue to violate [journalists’] First Amendment rights because, among other unconstitutional effects, they result in self-censorship and the chilling of First Amendment expression,” Howell wrote in her opinion. “These current and unanticipated harms are sufficient to demonstrate irreparable harm.”[]

Sunspot Cycle 25 could be among the strongest ever (Southgate ARC)

The ARRL reports a research paper has concluded that Solar Cycle 25 will stronger than the just-ended Solar Cycle 24 and likely stronger than Solar Cycle 23

The League says:

A research paper, “Overlapping Magnetic Activity Cycles and the Sunspot Number: Forecasting Sunspot Cycle 25 Amplitude,” by Scott W. McIntosh, Deputy Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, et al., has concluded that Solar Cycle 25 could be among the strongest sunspot cycles ever observed, and will almost certainly be stronger than the just-ended Solar Cycle 24 (sunspot number of 116). The scientists say it will also most likely be stronger than Solar Cycle 23 (sunspot number of 180). As the abstract explains:

“The sun exhibits a well-observed modulation in the number of spots on its disk over a period of about 11 years. From the dawn of modern observational astronomy, sunspots have presented a challenge to understanding — their quasi-periodic variation in number, first noted 175 years ago, stimulates community-wide interest to this day. A large number of techniques are able to explain the temporal landmarks, (geometric) shape, and amplitude of sunspot ‘cycles;’ however, forecasting these features accurately in advance remains elusive.

“Recent observationally motivated studies have illustrated a relationship between the sun’s 22-year magnetic cycle and the production of the sunspot cycle landmarks and patterns, but not the amplitude of the sunspot cycle. Using (discrete) Hilbert transforms on more than 270 years of (monthly) sunspot numbers, we robustly identify the so-called ‘termination’ events that mark the end of the previous 11-year sunspot cycle, the enhancement/acceleration of the present cycle, and the end of 22-year magnetic activity cycles. Using these, we extract a relationship between the temporal spacing of terminators and the magnitude of sunspot cycles.

“Given this relationship and our prediction of a terminator event in 2020, we deduce that Sunspot Cycle 25 could have a magnitude that rivals the top few since records began. This outcome would be in stark contrast to the community consensus estimate of Sunspot Cycle 25 magnitude.”

McIntosh’s recorded presentation of the paper is available at this link
Use passcode z7qCn@3G

The research paper is at
https://arxiv.org/pdf/2006.15263.pdf

Source ARRL Letter November 19, 2020
http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter

DEF CON ham radio talks on YouTube (Southgate ARC)

Talks from the DEF CON event are available on YouTube, they include a number of amateur radio talks from the conference’s Ham Radio Village

Among the amateur radio talks are:
• Talking to Satellites by Eric Escobar KJ6OHH
• The K0BAK News Van by Pete Kobak K0BAK
• Single Board Computers (Raspberry Pi) In Amateur Radio by Typer Gardner KI7ODK
• Ham Radio Snail Mail NTS and the Radiogram Format by Aaron Hulett K8AMH
• Hunting tape measure yagis and offset attenuators by Mark Smith KR6ZY
• APRS Demo by Bryan Lamoreaux KG7OOW

Ham Radio Village Playlist
Click here

Other DEF CON videos are at
https://www.youtube.com/user/DEFCONConference/videosoo


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Radio Waves: 100 Years of Radio, Maritime Radio Communications, AU2JCB Special Event Station, and 20th Anniversary of Ham Radio on the ISS

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, Dan Robinson, Datta Deogaonkar, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Commercial Radio Is 100 Years Old. Can It Survive? (Inside Hook)

Four industry veterans weigh in on how they’d “fix” a medium that remains popular but lacks innovation

The first broadcast from a commercial radio station took place on November 2nd, 1920. Here’s how I imagine listeners responded to the debut of KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh:

Nov. 2: This is amazing! I can hear someone from hundreds of miles away talking through this device! The world will never be the same!

Nov. 3: They’re playing “Wang Wang Blues” again already?

The joke here is twofold: First, there’s a popular song called “Wang Wang Blues” from 1920. And second, by day two, KDKA had already developed the repetitive play-the-hits format that would become one of its hallmarks for the following century.

The first commercial broadcast actually related to the election — it was the idea of a radio manufacturer, Westinghouse, to offer up programming to go along with their newfangled tech (a century later, Apple and Sonos thought exactly the same thing). The first commercial broadcast featured updated results of the Harding-Cox presidential race “before [people] read about it in the newspaper,” as this PBS retrospective notes.

One hundred years later, commercial radio still holds a place in American daily life. The average American still listens to about 106 minutes of radio per day (with the coronavirus and its attendant lockdowns projected to increase that number), and there are more than 15,000 stations in this country alone.

We’re certainly listening to radio differently: according to Statista, 57% of Americans do so online, whether by streaming, downloads, satellite or digital radio. If you asked me how I listen to radio, I’d offer up services like Apple Music 1, Sonos Radio and Dash Radio; podcast downloads from ESPN Radio; online streaming of overseas entities like BBC 1 and Triple J or any occasional college station like WSOU; NPR stations for news and commentary (and music if it’s KCRW); and for new music, a DJ-free experience via Spotify’s New Release Radar playlist. In other words, while audio-only, passive-listening medium has survived and thrived for a century, which is astounding and worthy of celebration, the need for traditional, turn-the-dial “commercial” radio is decidedly on the wane.[]

Radio Officers: our past is our future, our way is to be Radiomen

Many thanks to Dan Robinson who shares this excellent site devoted to maritime communication officers: https://trafficlist.altervista.org/

Special event station commemorating Aacharya Jagadish Chandra Bose

Sir, I want to mention with great pride that I am (VU2DSI) celebrating the birthdate 30 November of Aacharya Jagadish Chandra Bose- every year with a special callsign- AU2JCB for the last 15 years. He is well known as the “Father of Wireless Communication” in the world of science.

AU2JCB will operate from 20 Nov 2020 to 15 DEC 2020.

The Details of operation

Period: 20 NOV 2020 to 15 DEC 2020

Frequencies: 10 M– 28545, 28510,28490. 21 M—21235, 21310, 21350. 20M—14210, 14250, 14310. 40 M—7040, 7150. 80 M — 3710. IN FM MODE—– 6M –50800, 51500. 10 M—29700.

QSL— Direct to VU2DSI, “SURABHI” MEHERABAD. AHMEDNAGAR.414006. INDIA.

This year VU2EVU & VU2XPN will operate with AU3JCB & VU5JCB call-signs respectively.

From Kolkatta, VU3ZHA & VU3MZE will operate with AT2JCB & AU8JCB call-signs respectively. Ten more stations will operate from Kolkatta with JCB in the prefix.

Aacharya J.C.BOSE:

https://www.cv.nrao.edu/~demerson/bose/bose.htm

http://www.qsl.net/vu2msy/JCBOSE.htm

http://au9jcb.angelfire.com for info about Aacharya J.C.BOSE & his work.

https://ethw.org/Jagadish_Chandra_Bose

Regards, HAPPY DEEPAWALI to & all.

DATTA

VU2DSI (AU2JCB).

20th anniversary of first ham radio operation from ISS (Southgate ARC)

On November 13, 2000, the ISS Expedition-1 crew turned on the ARISS Ericsson radio for the first time and completed several contacts with ARISS ground stations around the world to validate the radio communications system

These inaugural contacts launched an incredible two-decade operations journey on ISS, enabling ARISS to inspire, engage and educate our next generation of explorers and provide the ham radio community a platform for lifelong learning and experimentation.

In celebration of the ISS 20th anniversary, ARISS was part of an ISS Research and Development Conference Panel session entitled “20 years of STEM Experiments on the ISS.”  The video below, developed for this panel session, describes our program, celebrates our 20th anniversary, conveys some key lessons learned over the past 20 years and describes the ARISS team’s vision for the future.  Enjoy watching!

20 years of continuous operations is a phenomenal accomplishment.  But what makes it even more extraordinary is that ARISS has achieved this through hundreds of volunteers that are passionate in “paying it forward” to our youth and ham radio community.  On behalf of the ARISS International team, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to every volunteer that has made ARISS such an amazing success over the past 20 years. Your passion, drive, creativity and spirit made it happen!!

Congratulations ARISS team!!!

Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO
ARISS International Chair

Watch ARISS 20th Anniversary


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Radio Waves: Sculptor Honors Fern Blodgett Sunde, Pack Removes VOA Editorial Independence, KDKA Centennial, and Tracking Murder Hornets with Wireless Tech

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 Fred Waterer, Phillip Novak, Guy Atkins, Dan Robinson, and Eric McFadden for the following tips:


Sudbury sculptor’s latest work honours Fern Blodgett Sunde (CBC)

‘The wave she touches symbolizes the wave of social change that came for Canadian women in the storm of war’

A sculptor from Sudbury has unveiled his latest life-sized bronze statue in honour of the first woman to work as a wireless radio operator.

Canadian Fern Blodgett Sunde served on a Norwegian merchant ship, during WW II’s Battle of the Atlantic.

Tyler Fauvelle’s statue of Sunde also honours all Canadians who served during that time — and it was unveiled in Cobourg earlier this month, where Sunde grew up. Fauvelle’s work includes more than a dozen public art bronze monuments, four of which are military-themed.

“Fern’s clothing is very typical of what she wore as she carried out her duties as a wireless operator aboard the Mosdale,” Fauvelle said.

“The headphones slung around her neck symbolize her work and her profession. The pin on her lapel commemorate the sisterhood of Sparks who followed her to sea. The wave she touches symbolizes the wave of social change that came for Canadian women in the storm of war.”

In 1943, she was awarded the Norwegian War Medal, the first woman ever to receive the honour.

“It was a privilege to create this lasting tribute to Canadians of a monumental generation, the men and women who fought and supported a necessary war,” Fauvelle said.

“Thousands didn’t live to see the peace that their sacrifice bought, and they were on my mind as I sculpted the clay.”[]

U.S. Agency Targets Its Own Journalists’ Independence (NPR)

A regulatory “firewall” intended to protect Voice of America and its affiliated newsrooms from political interference in their journalism was swept aside late Monday night by the chief executive of the federal agency which oversees the government’s international broadcasters.

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who assumed leadership of the U.S. Agency for Global Media in June, wrote that he acted to eliminate policies that were “harmful to the agency and the U.S. national interest.” And Pack argued they had interfered with his mandate “to support the foreign policy of the United States.”

Pack has already come under fire for revelations that his senior aides investigated the agency’s journalists for bias against President Trump and pushed for their dismissals and reassignments, in seeming violation of the rules he has now rescinded, effective immediately.

“The key to the credibility of any news organization is editorial independence and adherence to the professional standards of journalism,” said David Kligerman, whom Pack suspended as the agency’s general counsel in August.

Kligerman was the chief author of the regulation which Pack just killed. It was supported by the agency’s bipartisan board, which was dissolved upon Pack’s confirmation. Kligerman is also among a group of a half-dozen whistleblowers who have come forward to challenge Pack’s actions since he arrived in June.

“The firewall protects the networks by insulating their editorial decisions from political interference,” Kligerman said. “That is what differentiates the Voice of America and the other USAGM-funded networks from the state-sponsored propaganda of Russia, China, Iran and others.”[]

Also see: VOA Reporter Apologizes for Halloween Tweet That Sparked Wave of Anti-Trump Comments (BBG Watch)

 

KDKA Centennial-The birth of Commercial Radio (Southgate ARC)

November 2, 2020 marks the centennial of radio station KDKA going on the air for the first time. Their first broadcast, considered by many to be the birth of commercial broadcast radio, was to report the election results of the Harding-Cox presidential race. KDKA has been on the air continuously ever since.

To celebrate this historic milestone, Pittsburgh area amateur radio operators, also known as hams, will take to the airwaves with a series of special event stations. Their goal is to contact as many other ham radio operators across the United States and around the world. They will be celebrating the centennial of KDKA for the entire month of November.

KDKA originally began operations in 1916 as an amateur radio station, call sign 8XK, operated by Dr. Frank Conrad, Assistant Chief Engineer of Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. During World War I, amateur radio operations were ordered to be suspended because of national security concerns. After the war, the operators reorganized the station as a commercial AM radio station. The first transmissions of KDKA were from a makeshift studio on a roof of the Westinghouse K Building in East Pittsburgh.

Ham radio clubs participating in the centennial special event include the North Hills Amateur Radio Club in Pittsburgh, which is planning to operate from II-VI Incorporated located in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, the former KDKA transmitter site from 1931 to 1939. One of the original tower piers still stands on the property to this day. Another operating location is being planned at the Westinghouse Lodge in Forest Hills, located about ten miles east in suburban Pittsburgh, which was the former KDKA transmitter site from 1923 to 1930.

Other Pittsburgh area ham radio clubs planning operations include the Panther Amateur Radio Club in addition to a joint operation planned between the Steel City Amateur Radio Club and the Wireless Association of South Hills. Outside of Pittsburgh, other ham radio clubs planning operations are The Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, which will operate from their clubhouse, in addition to the Butler County Amateur Radio Public Servce Group in Butler, Pennsylvania, and the Washington Amateur Communications Radio Club in Washington, Pennsylvania. Individual radio amateurs will also be operating from their home stations. In addition, there is a small group of ham radio operators planning portable field operations from South Park in suburban Pittsburgh.

“More than one hundred years ago, many experimenters started delving into a new technology known as wireless, or radio,” said Bob Bastone, WC3O, Radio Officer for the Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Bastone explained that many of those early pioneers were radio amateurs. “One hundred plus years later, many amateur radio operators are still contributing to wireless technology while also serving their communities and enhancing international goodwill. Congratulations to KDKA Radio, also known in the early years as amateur radio stations 8XK, 8ZZ, and W8XK.”

Bastone said that the special event stations will exchange post cards, called QSL cards, with hams who confirm radio contacts with them.
A commemorative QSL card has been produced with artwork designed by the graphic arts department at KDKA Radio. “We amateur radio operators look forward to contacting thousands of other hams around the world to celebrate this huge milestone in the commercial broadcasting industry,” said Bastone.

The KDKA amateur radio special event stations, operating with call signs K3A, K3D, K3K, and W8XK will be set up at several locations in Pennsylvania during November, inviting the public to come visit while observing the required social distancing protocols. “The special event stations will also help demonstrate ham radio to our communities while our volunteers practice operating skills and station readiness,” said Robert Mente, NU3Q, Emergency Coordinator for the Allegheny County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). He and his fellow volunteers log many hours each year providing public service and practicing their emergency communications capability. The group provides communication services for The Pittsburgh Marathon, Race for the Cure, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, the Great Race, and the American Diabetes Tour de Cure in addition to providing communication support for the American Red Cross and the Pittsburgh National Weather Service office.

For more information about the KDKA centennial and a schedule for the ham radio special event stations including locations, operating frequencies, and how to obtain a commemorative certificate, visit www.kdka100.org and www.qrz.com/db/w8xk. Information is also available in the Special Events Station section both on the ARRL website and in QST Magazine.

We wish to thank II-VI (pronounced two-six) for the use of their corporate facilities in Saxonburg, PA, on the very site where KDKA used to broadcast from for most of the 1930s. II-VI is a global leader in engineered materials and optoelectronic components. For nearly 50 years, they have manufactured innovative products for applications in the industrial, communications, aerospace & defense, life sciences, semiconductor capital equipment, automotive, and consumer markets. Learn more at ii-vi.com.

ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio® in the US, has information on becoming a ham radio operator:
www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio
.

Tracking Murder Hornets with Wireless Tech (Multiple Sources via Guy Atkins)

Here is a story a lot of people in my state have been following for a few weeks. It culminated last Saturday with the identification of a nest of so-called “Murder Hornets”. The big break in finding the nest came recently when a radio-tagged hornet led researchers to the actual hive or nest.

https://www.geekwire.com/2020/uw-researcher-put-tiny-tracking-technology-giant-hornets-help-state-deal-murderous-pest/

This link from our local paper shows the hornet eradication in action. Check out the alien-like protective suits! https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/scientists-remove-98-murder-hornets-in-washington-state/

[Check out] the picture of the hornet next to the ruler, to see the size of these nasties: https://www.geekwire.com/2020/using-radio-trackers-scientists-finally-locate-murder-hornet-nest-washington-state/


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Radio Waves: The “Weird Wide Web” of SW, VOA Whistleblower Complaint, KiwiSDR v RaspberrySDR, and the Portable Operations Challenge this weekend

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 Steve Lord, Michael Guerin, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Propaganda, Pirates and Preachers: The Weird Wide Web Of Shortwave Radio (The Dork Web)

The world of Shortwave is a world of state-backed propaganda, cults, pirates, and spies. You’ll find every form of freakery and geekery on air. Digital, analogue, even stuff where you can’t tell if it’s digital, analogue, bad music or interference.

[…]In a world of constant connections Shortwave radio may seem anachronistic. But there’s something special in Shortwave and I’d like to show it to you. With a tiny bit of effort and at zero cost you can explore this world from the comfort of your own home.

How Shortwave Shaped Lives

Of all the things I expected to get into, Shortwave radio wasn’t one of them. As a kid I’d listen to my dad’s old valve radio. Strange voices from distant lands floated through the air. Shortwave’s audio quality was terrible even by early 80s standards. There was something magical in hearing distant voices from across Europe and beyond.

I got back into Shortwave listening earlier in the UK lockdown period. Over the past few months I’ve heard stations from as far as Florida, Cuba, Botswana, North Korea and China. I’ve heard signals broadcast from Ascension island in the Atlantic to Tinian island in the Pacific.

Some people will tell you that Shortwave is dead. While it’s passed a 20th century peak there’s plenty happening. In 2002 the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters estimated that hundreds of millions of households around the world had Shortwave-capable receivers.[]

Six senior Trump admin officials file whistleblower complaint over Voice of America CEO (The Hill)

Six senior Trump administration officials filed a whistleblower complaint with the State Department’s inspector general over allegations that Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), violated federal law and abused his authority, according to a copy of the complaint reported by Politico on Wednesday.

The 32-page complaint includes allegations from six members of the Senior Executive Services at the USAGM accusing Pack, who was confirmed as head of the agency which oversees the state-run network Voice of America in June, of engaging in conduct that “constitutes an abuse of authority and gross mismanagement.”

The six officials who filed the complaint were all placed on administrative leave Aug. 12.

The complaint alleges Pack, who was appointed by Trump, wanted to force out the complainants because they were part of the “Deep State” and had “played a role in the delay” of Pack’s confirmation to his position at the USAGM.

The complaint alleges Pack ordered a close aide to conduct research on the voting history of agency employees, including one of the complainants, Matthew Walsh, the deputy director for operations who was placed on administrative leave. The research “was to be utilized in evaluation of career civil servants’ abilities to carry out the duties of their positions,” the complaint states.[]

KiwiSDR vs RaspberrySDR— a tale of two SDRs (Hackaday via Southgate ARC)

Once you move away from the usual software defined radio (SDR) dongles, you have only a few choices unless you want to drop some serious cash. One common hobby-grade SDR is the KiwiSDR. This popular unit runs Linux and can receive up to 30 MHz. The platform uses a dedicated A/D converter, an FPGA, and BeagleBone computer. Success of course breeds imitators, and especially when you have an open source design like the Kiwi, you are going to find similar devices with possibly different end goals. That’s how the RaspberrySDR came to be. This is a very similar unit to the KiwiSDR but it uses a Raspberry Pi, along with a handful of other differences. What’s different? [KA7OEI] tells us in a recent blog post.

Other than the obvious difference of the computer and all that it entails, the RaspberrySDR has a higher speed A/D (125 MHz vs 66 MHz) and 16-bits of resolution instead of the Kiwi’s 14 bits. This combines to give the Raspberry a wider receive range (up to 60 MHz) and — in theory — better performance in terms of dynamic range and distortion.

[KA7OEI] measures a few key parameters on both devices and arrived at some surprising conclusions. The Kiwi appears to boost signals near its cutoff frequency to compensate for losses in the system. The Raspberry — using adapted software — looks as though it does the same trick, but does it around the Kiwi’s cutoff frequency, which is lower. Probably a software fix could take care of that, of course.

There are also tests of image rejection and front-end overloading. The tests revealed a few problems with signal strength measurement and some other problems with the RaspberrySDR. The biggest issue, though, was that the 16-bit A/D didn’t seem to have better performance. Without proper design, throwing more bits at a problem isn’t always helpful and this appears to be a good example of that.

In the end, the Raspberry looks like a cheap clone of the Kiwi with some benefits, but also some drawbacks. The blog post also covers some open source issues where Kiwi is now saying some parts of their code will only be binary in the future and there has been some difficulty finding all of the Raspberry’s files. If you are looking to buy one, you might not find the name “raspberrysdr” but [KA7OEI] suggests searching for “New 16bit 62M real-time bandwidth network shared SDR receiver” which does turn up some results.

Of course, you can always use a Pi with a more conventional dongle, and that works well enough. If you want to make a Pi just transmit, you can do that with little more than a wire, although the quality might not be perfect.

https://hackaday.com/2020/09/30/kiwisdr-vs-raspberrysdr-a-tale-of-two-sdrs/

Portable Operations Challenge (Southgate ARC)

The final rules for the FMH Portable Operations Challenge are now posted on the POC webpage at foxmikehotel.com/challenge/. N1MM+ users, need to select FMHPOC as the contest and VKContest Logger users just POC.

The organisers wish all other contests taking place this weekend success and lots of fun – the bands will be busy again and we’re hoping propagation plays along.

We hope many amateurs give this new-style contest a go whether from a home QTH station or out portable.

Ed DD5LP


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Radio Waves: A Cryptologic Mystery, RSGB Opens Doors to Full Online License Exams, Secret War, and September Issue of RadCom Basics Availabe

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, John (K5MO) and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


A Cryptologic Mystery (Matt Blaze)

Did a broken random number generator in Cuba help expose a Russian espionage network?
I picked up the new book Compromised last week and was intrigued to discover that it may have shed some light on a small (and rather esoteric) cryptologic and espionage mystery that I’ve been puzzling over for about 15 years. Compromised is primarily a memoir of former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok’s investigation into Russian operations in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, but this post is not a review of the book or concerned with that aspect of it.

Early in the book, as an almost throwaway bit of background color, Strzok discusses his work in Boston investigating the famous Russian “illegals” espionage network from 2000 until their arrest (and subsequent exchange with Russia) in 2010. “Illegals” are foreign agents operating abroad under false identities and without official or diplomatic cover. In this case, ten Russian illegals were living and working in the US under false Canadian and American identities. (The case inspired the recent TV series The Americans.)

Strzok was the case agent responsible for two of the suspects, Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova (posing as a Canadian couple under the aliases Donald Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley). The author recounts watching from the street on Thursday evenings as Vavilova received encrypted shortwave “numbers” transmissions in their Cambridge, MA apartment.

Given that Bezrukov and Vaviloa were indeed, as the FBI suspected, Russian spies, it’s not surprising that they were sent messages from headquarters using this method; numbers stations are part of time-honored espionage tradecraft for communicating with covert agents. But their capture may have illustrated how subtle errors can cause these systems to fail badly in practice, even when the cryptography itself is sound.[]

Online Full ham radio exams now available (Southgate ARC)

From today, Thursday, Sept 24, the RSGB are allowing Full amateur radio online exams to be booked. All 3 levels of exam required to get a HAREC certificate can now be done completely online

Potentially this could mean amateurs in other countries could take the RSGB online exams, get their HAREC certificate and then apply for an amateur licence in their own country. This would be beneficial in those countries where provision of local exams is virtually non-existent.

Currently there is a 4-5 week backlog for amateur radio exams, the next available exam slots that can be booked are at the end of October.

You can book online UK amateur radio exams at
http://www.rsgb.org/exampay

Details of onlne amateur radio training courses are at
https://rsgb.org/main/clubs-training/for-students/online-training-resources-for-students/

The Secret War (BBC)

The wartime BBC was involved in a range of top secret activities, working closely with the intelligence agencies and military.

by Professor David Hendy

As well as making programmes for the public, the wartime BBC was involved in a range of top secret activity, working with closely with the intelligence agencies and military. Here, newly-released archives lift the veil on the broadcaster’s role in this clandestine world of signals, codes, and special operations.

It’s always been known that just before the war began in September 1939, the BBC’s fledgling television service was unceremoniously shut down for the entire period of the conflict.

What’s less well-known is that, far from being mothballed, the television facilities of Alexandra Palace were carefully kept ticking-over by a small team of engineers – and that the transmitter which had supposedly been silenced for reasons of national security was soon sending out its signals again.

From May 1940, Alexandra Palace’s ‘vision’ transmitter was being tested for its ability to jam any messages passing between tanks in an invading German force. The following year, its sound transmitter was being deployed for something called ‘bending the beam’. One of the BBC’s engineers who remained on site was Tony Bridgewater:[]

September RadCom Basics available (Southgate ARC)

Issue 18 September 2020 of the RSGB newcomers publication RadCom Basics is now available online for members

RadCom Basics is a bi-monthly digital publication for RSGB Members that explores key aspects of amateur radio in a straightforward and accessible way.

In this issue:
• Magnetic loop antennas
• Metal bashing
• Station maintenance

Read the latest issue at
https://rsgb.org/main/publications-archives/radcom-basics/


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