Tag Archives: Wired

FCC saga and wireless mic frequencies

Photo by Michael Maasen

(Source: WIRED via Michael Addy)

THE EMAIL BLAST from the head of my son and daughter’s theater group relayed a frantic plea: “We need to raise $16,000 before the upcoming spring performances,” Anya Wallach, the executive director of Random Farms Kids’ Theater, in Westchester, New York, wrote in late May. If the money didn’t materialize in time, she warned, there could be a serious problem with the shows: nobody would hear the actors.

Random Farms, and tens of thousands of other theater companies, schools, churches, broadcasters, and myriad other interests across the country, need to buy new wireless microphones. The majority of professional wireless audio gear in America is about to become obsolete, and illegal to operate. The story of how we got to this strange point involves politics, business, science, and, of course, money.

Four years ago, in an effort to bolster the country’s tech infrastructure, the FCC decreed that the portion of the radio spectrum used by most wireless mics would be better utilized for faster and more robust mobile broadband service. Now, as the telecom companies that won the rights to that spectrum begin to use it, the prior tenants are scrambling for new radio-frequency homes.

[…]Replacing them will not be cheap. Even small community or school theaters can use 30 or more microphones, which, including ancillary gear, can cost $1,000 or more apiece. “I’ll need to replace at least 24 mics, which will cost at least 24 grand,” says Brian Johnson, artistic director of the theater program at La Habra High School, in California. The Shakespeare Theatre Company, in Washington, DC, will spend $50,000 on new mics, says Tom Haygood, their director of production.[…]

Click here to read the full article at WIRED.

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Wired: Hunting Radiosondes

Image source: NOAA

(Source: Wired via David Korchin)

SOME RETIREES TAKE up fly fishing. Others pick up golf. But when Roland—or “F5ZV,” as he’s known on ham radio—left his job in Belfort, France a decade ago, he devoted his newfound leisure to a far more peculiar hobby: hunting radiosondes.

The white plastic boxes contain instruments to measure things like wind, temperature and humidity; meteorologists send them skywards on balloons, and they transmit data back over radio waves. But somewhere around 100,000 feet, the balloons burst, and the radiosondes parachute back to earth.

Roland began using a radio receiver and antenna to track them to the rooftops, parking lots, and random cow pastures where they land. “He was completely obsessed with radiosondes,” says Swiss photographer Vincent Levrat, who documents the chase in his quirky series Catch Me If You Can. “He would wake up at night just to hunt.”

By Roland’s own estimation, there are hundreds of other radiosonde hunters across Europe who monitor launch schedules for weather station balloons. They begin each hunt by using software called Balloon Track to predict the general area where a radiosonde might land; Balloon Track calculates the trajectory based on wind speed and burst altitude.[…]

Click here to read the full article on Wired.

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The 1770 solar storm that turned the skies red for a week

(Source: Wired UK via Mark Hirst)

Records kept by people living in Korea, China and Japan in 1770 have revealed evidence for the longest geomagnetic storm in recorded history

Almost 250 years ago, for over two weeks, the skies above parts of Asia lit up in what looked like a burst of fiery red. Those who saw the strange phenomenon kept notes of the event, and now it has been identified as potentially the longest geomagnetic storm ever recorded.

A dim red sky reported to have been observed between the September 16 to 18, 1770 in East Asia was considered one of history’s greatest geomagnetic storms. But now, new materials have come to light suggesting the storm lasted much longer, for nine nights, and covered an area twice as large as originally thought.

A group of Japanese scientists led by Hisashi Hayakawa from Osaka University studied hundreds of historical records dating between September and October 1770, including government records and people’s personal diaries. Using these records, they were able to piece together what happened during the event, and link this to sunspot drawings from the time.[…]

Continue reading at the Wired UK website.

Thanks for the tip, Mark–fascinating!

Of course, I’ve read in-depth information about the Carrington Event, but was completely unaware of the 1770 event.  I’ve always said the biggest EMP threat will come from our local star. Frankly, it’s just a matter of time.  I hope we’re ready!

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Wired.com reviews the Como Audio Solo

como-audio-solo-tableMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jeff McMahon, who shares this review of the Como Audio Solo:

Here’s a $300 internet radio review from Wired:

https://www.wired.com/2016/12/review-como-audio-solo/

Click here to view on Wired.com.

I was an early backer of the Como Audio Solo and reviewed it in October.

Since then, the Solo has become my WiFi radio of choice. I have it hooked up to an SSTRAN AM transmitter and use it to pipe audio through my whole house via the AM broadcast band. Though this only concerns a tiny fraction of hard-core radio geeks: the Solo has a very quiet power supply and my AM transmitter picks up no hum from the Solo. All of my other WiFi radio induce a hum if connected to mains power. This is what makes the Solo so useful in my household and shack.

Of course, when I have it tuned to a music station, like RFI Musique, its built-in speaker system provides ample fidelity!

As I mention in my review, FM analog reception is mediocre, though I imagine it would improve with an external antenna.  Wired believes the Solo is good, but not great.

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Wired: Listen to a Solar Flare Drown Out Radio Communications on Earth

(Photo: NASA via Wired)

(Photo: NASA via Wired)

(Source: Wired)

Over the weekend, a tiny spot on the sun erupted into a moderately sized solar flare that was particularly loud in radio waves. With the sound of a roaring wave, it completely drowned out radio communication all over the Earth between 28 MHz and 21.1 MHz.

The recording [found on this page] comes from either a short wave radio station or a Ham radio transmission, said amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft, who works with NASA’s Radio JOVE project. It’s interesting to hear the voices get “swallowed up as the solar wave passes through,” he added in an e-mail to Wired.[]

Read the full article on Wired.

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Estonian engineer drags UVB-76 numbers station into the Internet era

It seems there’s no shortage of interest in numbers stations these days. This article, from Wired magazineInside The Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma:

From a lonely rusted tower in a forest north of Moscow, a mysterious shortwave radio station transmitted day and night. For at least the decade leading up to 1992, it broadcast almost nothing but beeps; after that, it switched to buzzes, generally between 21 and 34 per minute, each lasting roughly a second—a nasally foghorn blaring through a crackly ether. The signal was said to emanate from the grounds of a voyenni gorodok (mini military city) near the village of Povarovo, and very rarely, perhaps once every few weeks, the monotony was broken by a male voice reciting brief sequences of numbers and words, often strings of Russian names: “Anna, Nikolai, Ivan, Tatyana, Roman.” But the balance of the airtime was filled by a steady, almost maddening, series of inexplicable tones.

[…][A]feed of UVB-76 had been made available online (http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/09/ff_uvb76/), cobbled together by an Estonian tech entrepreneur named Andrus Aaslaid, who has been enthralled by shortwave radio since the first grade. “Shortwave was an early form of the Internet,” says Aaslaid, who goes by the nickname Laid. “You dial in, and you never know what you’re going to listen to.” During one 24-hour period at the height of the Buzzer’s freak-out in August 2010, more than 41,000 people listened to Aaslaid’s feed; within months, tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, were visiting from the US, Russia, Britain, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Japan, Croatia, and elsewhere. By opening up UVB-76 to an online audience, Aaslaid had managed to take shortwave radio—one of the most niche hobbies imaginable—and rejuvenate it for the 21st century.

Today, the Buzzer’s fan base includes Kremlinologists, anarchists, hackers, installation artists, people who believe in extraterrestrials, a former Lithuanian minister of communications, and someone in Virginia who goes by the moniker Room641A, a reference to the alleged nerve center of a National Security Agency intercept facility at an AT&T office in San Francisco. (“I am interested in ‘listening,’” Room641A tells me by email. “All forms of it.”) All of them are mesmerized by this bewildering signal—now mostly buzzing, once again. They can’t help but ponder the significance of it, wondering about the purpose behind the pattern. No one knows for sure, which is both the worst and the best part of it.

Read the full 3 page article at Wired.com.

New to numbers stations? Check out our previous posts on the subject.

Also, check out UVB-76.net and listen to its live feed.

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