Tag Archives: WWV

Radio Waves: Pack Thanks Interim Leaders, KE4ZXW Moves to Virginia Tech, WWV and WWVH Still Matter, and A New WebSDR in Iceland

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 Tony, Dan Robinson, Michael Bird for the following tips:


USAGM CEO Michael Pack thanks interim heads of agency’s five broadcasting networks (USAGM)

Today, U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) Chief Executive Officer Michael Pack thanked officials who will serve in an interim capacity as the heads of the agency’s two federal organizations and its three public service grantee broadcasting networks.

  • Elez Biberaj, who has led Voice of America (VOA)’s Eurasia Division since 2006, will serve as VOA’s Acting Director.
  • Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, previously Senior Advisor at Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), will serve as OCB’s Acting Director and Principal Deputy Director.
  • Parameswaran Ponnudurai, who has been Vice President of Programming at Radio Free Asia (RFA) since 2014, will serve as RFA’s Acting President.
  • Kelley Sullivan, who has been a Vice President at Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) since 2006, will serve as MBN’s Acting President.
  • Daisy Sindelar, who has been with RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty (RFE/RL) for nearly two decades, will serve as RFE/RL’s Acting President.

CEO Pack sent, in part, the following message to staff:

“The experience of these talented men and women, their knowledge of the networks, and their commitment to the standards of journalism will allow us to launch into the next exciting chapter of our agency. Dr. Biberaj, Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Ponnudurai, Ms. Sullivan, and Ms. Sindelar will serve critical roles in allowing our networks to become higher performing and to more effectively serve our audiences. For their willingness to step up and help lead this effort, I am deeply appreciative. I am excited to serve alongside them as well as with all of you.”

Virginia Air & Space Center Ends Relationship with Ham Radio (ARRL News)

Virginia Air & Space Center (VASC) Executive Director and CEO Robert Griesmer has advised that the Center’s amateur radio station exhibit will be discontinued, effective July 1, when the Center, in Hampton, Virginia, reopens. VASC is the official visitor center for NASA’s Langley, Virginia, facility. The KE4ZXW display station was shut down on March 13. It was to be out of the VASC by June 30. A main feature of the exhibit was the ability to communicate with amateur radio satellites and with the International Space Station.

Randy Grigg, WB4KZI, of the VASC Amateur Radio Group said the station’s equipment would be relocated. “Thanks to all who have supported KE4ZXW during the last 25 years, especially the volunteer operators who manned the station during that time,” Grigg said. “To the many visitors we have met and school groups that have stopped by and talked with us about ham radio, communications, satellites, and STEM Program related subjects, thank you!”

On June 30, it was announced that the Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association (K4KDJ) in Blacksburg will be the new host for the KE4ZXW Amateur Radio Demonstration. — Thanks to Randy Grigg, WB4KZI, and Ed Gibbs, KW4GF[]

Why WWV and WWVH Still Matter (Radio World)

Last year was one of both celebration and uncertainty for WWV, the station adjacent to Fort Collins, Colo., that transmits automated time broadcasts on the shortwave bands.

On the plus side, it marked the 100th year of WWV’s call letters, making the site, operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the world’s oldest continually operating radio stations.

On the negative side, WWV and its sister time station WWVH in Hawaii nearly missed this centennial. That’s because NIST’s original 2019 budget called for shutting down the pair, along with WWVB, the longwave code station co-located next to WWV, as a cost-saving move.

Fortunately, these cuts never happened, and WWV, WWVH and WWVB seem likely to keep broadcasting the most accurate time from NIST’s atomic clocks, at least for the immediate future. (No further cuts have been threatened.)[]

Another Shortwave WebSDR operational in Iceland (Southgate ARC)

On June 27, a new KiwiSDR web software defined radio became operational in Iceland

A translation of the IRA post reads:

The new receiver is located in Bláfjöll at an altitude of 690 meters. It has for the first time used, a horizontal dipole for 80 and 40 meters.

The KiwiSDR receiver operates from 10 kHz up to 30 MHz. You can listen to AM, FM, SSB and CW transmissions and select a bandwidth suitable for each formulation. Up to eight users can be logged into the recipient at the same time.

Ari Þórólfur Jóhannesson TF1A was responsible for the installation of the device today, which is owned by Georg Kulp, TF3GZ.
Bláfjöll: http://blafjoll.utvarp.com/

The other two receivers that are active are located at Bjargtångar in Vesturbyggð, Iceland’s westernmost plains and the outermost point of Látrabjarg and at Raufarhöfn. Listen at:
Bjargtångar: http://bjarg.utvarp.com/
Raufarhöfn: http://raufarhofn.utvarp.com/

The IRA Board thanks Ara and Georg for their valuable contributions. This is an important addition for radio amateurs who are experimenting in these frequency bands, as well as listeners and anyone interested in the spread of radio waves.

Source IRA https://tinyurl.com/IcelandIRA

KiwiSDR Network
http://kiwisdr.com/public/


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Washington Post features WWV and WWVB

A WWV Time Code Generator

(Source: Washington Post via Ulis K3LU)

If you tune a shortwave radio to 2.5, 5, 10 or 15 MHz, you can hear a little part of radio history — and the output of some of the most accurate time devices on Earth.

Depending on where you are in the United States, those frequencies will bring you to WWV and WWVH, two extremely accurate time signal stations.

Developed before commercial radio existed, WWV recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. It’s the oldest continually operating radio station in the United States.

Both stations are overseen by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency that governs standards for weights and measures and helps define the world’s official time.

That time can be heard on shortwave radio 24/7.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

If you’d like to hear why I believe WWV/WWVH and WWVB are important services, check out this interview I did with Scott Simon for NPR Weekend Edition.

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KUNC piece features WWV

Chief Engineer Matt Deutch at WWV/WWVB. (Photo: Thomas)

(Source: Southgate ARC via Eric McFadden)

Broadcaster KUNC reports that a little-known radio station in Fort Collins might one day save the world

An array of radio towers sits behind security fences amid farms and pastures north of Fort Collins. This is home to WWV, the country’s oldest radio call letters. The station’s high-frequency broadcasts can be heard around the globe if you have the right kind of radio.

Now playing: pulsing sounds, every second, followed by an announcement of the exact time.

The station is run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, which is home to the atomic clock. WWV is capable of more than telling time. It could, if need be, save the world.

“Could be,” said Elizabeth Donley, chief of NIST’s Time and Frequency Division. “It’s an important part of our work.”

This year the station conducted communications exercises in coordination with the Department of Defense. Thirty-seven states, National Guard units, emergency management agencies and others participated in simple announcements. They were meant to see how many listeners are out there and how far away they can be reached. The answer: there are thousands of listeners as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Mark Jensen, a civilian planner with U.S. Northern Command, the military’s homeland security operation in Colorado Springs, called WWV a “most essential asset to our nation.”

Should an emergency arise, volunteers would jump into action. They’re part of a program the military dubs MARS, which stands for Military Auxiliary Radio System. While jokes abound that the operators should not be confused for Martians, their work is serious. It’s doomsday stuff, like responding to the aftermath of a nuclear attack because the associated electromagnetic pulse could wipe out most communications.

Listen to program and read the full story at
https://www.kunc.org/post/how-little-known-radio-station-fort-collins-might-one-day-save-world

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“NIST Radio Station WWV Celebrates a Century of Service”

NIST radio station WWV from the air. Each of the six frequencies the radio broadcasts in has its own antenna, each one surrounded by a white safety fence. The tall antenna for the lowest frequency has a flashing white strobe on top (in the left foreground) to make it visible to aircraft pilots.
Credit: Glenn Nelson, NIST

(Source: NIST Blog via Eric McFadden)

NIST Radio Station WWV Celebrates a Century of Service

By Laura Ost

What technological application has had musical, timekeeping, navigational, scientific, traffic-control, emergency-response, and telephone applications?

Answer: WWV, one of the world’s oldest continuously operating radio stations.

NIST received the call letters WWV a century ago, in 1919. Since then, it has operated the station from several different locations — originally Washington, D.C., then a succession of locales in Maryland, and now Fort Collins, Colorado.

The programming is rather dry but very, very useful. WWV broadcasts time and frequency information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to millions of listeners worldwide. The station broadcasts standard time (aka Coordinated Universal Time) and standard frequencies (e.g., at 5, 10 and 15 megahertz) for use in calibrating radio receivers, alerts of geophysical activity, and other information.

WWV broadcasts on six different shortwave frequencies because transmission effectiveness and reception clarity vary depending on many factors, including time of year, time of day, receiver location, solar and geomagnetic activity, weather conditions and antenna type and configuration. Broadcasting on different frequencies helps to ensure that the radio transmission can be received on at least one frequency at all times.

Over the years, WWV has had a startling number of applications.

“Historically, WWV will always be interesting because of the huge role it played in the development of radio in the United States by allowing broadcasters and listeners to check and calibrate their transmit and receive frequencies,” says Michael Lombardi, leader of NIST’s Time and Frequency Services Group.

“Today, WWV still serves as an easily accessible frequency and time reference that provides information not available elsewhere,” he says. “For example, along with its sister station, WWVH in Hawaii, WWV provides the only high-accuracy voice announcement of the time available by telephone [by calling 303-499-7111 or — in Hawaii — 808-335-4363]. These phone numbers receive a combined total of more than 1,000 calls per day.  Both the radio and telephone time signals are used by many thousands of citizens to synchronize clocks and watches, and also by numerous industries to calibrate timers and stopwatches. We also know that WWV is highly valued by scientists performing radio propagation studies because it provides them with accurate time markers on six different shortwave frequencies.”

NIST time and frequency broadcasts are also available via the internet, of course, but the internet is not always available. Radio broadcasts can also support celestial navigation (i.e., using the stars to set one’s course) and can provide backup communication of public service announcements during disasters or emergencies.

WWV is also popular with amateur radio (aka ham radio) operators, who use the broadcasts to get geophysical alerts — indicating how far high-frequency radio signals will travel at the current time and receiver location — as well as to tinker with their electronics and teach young people how radio works.

As a ham operator said on NPR, WWV is “the heartbeat of shortwave radio. When something goes wrong, you check WWV to see if you’re picking up their signal. And you know then that everything’s OK. Maritime operators, military operators, amateur radio operators, we all listen to and use WWV regularly.”

Many technical papers and even books have been written about NIST’s radio work. One such book, published by NIST, is Achievement in Radio.

The radio broadcasting craze started after World War I. NIST, then known as the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), got the call letters WWV for its experimental radio transmitter on Oct. 1, 1919.

A 1919 newspaper story recounted that NBS experimented with broadcasting “music through the air,” transmitting tunes played on a Victrola record player several hundred yards to an NBS auditorium. That demonstration might have been sponsored by military laboratories then operating at NBS.

WWV began broadcasting in May 1920 from Washington, D.C., at a frequency of 600 kilohertz. The first broadcasts were Friday evening music concerts that lasted from 8:30 to 11. The 50-watt signal could be heard about 40 kilometers away.

Among many other relevant activities, NBS supported the public’s use of the novel technology by publishing instructions on how to build one’s own radio receiver. The agency’s 1922 how-to publication cost 5 cents.

A legacy of impact

WWV and WWVH had a broad impact on the world in their early years, as the 1958 NBS annual report indicated:

The radio broadcast technical services are widely used by scientific, industrial, and government agencies and laboratories as well as by many airlines, steamship companies, the armed services, missile research laboratories and contractors, IGY [International Geophysical Year (PDF)] personnel, satellite tracking stations, schools and universities, numerous individuals, and many foreign countries. They are of importance to all types of radio broadcasting activities such as communications, television, radar, air and ground navigation systems, guided missiles, anti-missile missiles, and ballistic missiles.

NIST has conducted several surveys of WWV users. Many people rely on WWV to set the clocks and watches in their homes, as indicated by regular increases in calls to the telephone time-of-day service whenever Daylight Saving Time starts or ends.

In one interesting example of the NIST radio station’s impact, WWV time codes were used in a 1988 project by the city of Los Angeles to synchronize traffic lights at more than 1,000 intersections. City officials estimated that this project saved motorists 55,000 hours a day in driving time, conserved 22 million gallons per year in fuel, and prevented 6,000 to 7,000 tons of pollutants per year.

“It’s not easy to think of a lot of technical services offered by the government that have stayed relevant for 100 years, but WWV is about to do just that,” Michael Lombardi says.

WWV history highlights

WWV has been very useful to the general public and to many industries and government agencies over the years, as indicated by the newly published article, “A Century of WWV,” by NIST electronics technician Glenn Nelson. Following are some of the station’s highlights:

1919—First public announcement of call sign WWV being assigned to NBS in Washington, D.C.

1923—First WWV broadcast of standard frequencies to help users calibrate their radios. (In subsequent years, the station began broadcasting at higher frequencies, as well, to get better transmission and reception.)

1931—The WWV broadcasting station moves to College Park, Maryland.

1933—The WWV station moves to Beltsville, Maryland.

1936—The FBI asks NBS to conduct tests using WWV to determine the feasibility of using one transmitter to cover the entire country. (Such a system was eventually ruled out.)

1936—In response to requests, WWV broadcasts its first musical note. Such tones are useful to piano tuners, for example, and in later years to the police for calibrating radar used to check vehicle speeds.

1937—WWV begins broadcasting time interval signals.

1939—Pioneering NBS effort to reflect WWV transmissions off the moon. It didn’t work then but the military later accomplished it. (It turns out that bouncing signals off the moon is easier and scientifically more useful if done with lasers.)

1943—NIST begins using quartz crystal oscillators to provide greater accuracy in setting standard frequencies.

1945—WWV begins broadcasting the time using telegraphic code.

1948—NBS’ second high-frequency radio station, WWVH, begins operating in Maui, Hawaii (later moved to Kauai), in order to broadcast to the West Coast and to ships and countries throughout the Pacific Ocean.

1950—WWV voice announcements of standard time begin.

1954—The NBS Central Radio Propagation Laboratory moves to Boulder, Colorado, and the quartz crystals are flown to Denver and driven to Boulder (although WWV still broadcasted from Maryland).

1957—WWV broadcasts its first solar-storm and geophysical data alerts.

1960—WWV becomes the nation’s first radio station to place a digital time code in its broadcasts.

1961—The WWV station moves to Greenbelt, Maryland

1963—NIST’s low-frequency radio station, WWVB, goes on the air from Colorado, to broadcast accurate standard frequencies needed by satellite and missile programs.

1966—WWV moves to Fort Collins, Colorado, and begins broadcasting from there.

1967—The second is internationally redefined to be based on the vibrations of the cesium atom, and NIST’s radio stations begin broadcasting Greenwich Mean Time rather than the local time at the stations. (Several years later, WWV and the other stations begin broadcasting Coordinated Universal Time, as they do today.)

1971—WWV begins offering the time of day by telephone, gets 1 million calls per year by 1975.

1980s—GPS and the internet are introduced, offering new and more accurate ways to distribute time and to support navigation, and NBS is renamed NIST.

[…]

Click here to read this full post with accompanying photos via the NIST Blog.

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WWV and WWVH special announcement marking centennial

Photo I took in 2014 of the sign above WWV’s primary 10 MHz transmitter.

(Source: ARRL News)

Starting on Monday, September 16, WWV and WWVH will broadcast a US Department of Defense message to mark the centennial of WWV and to announce the WW0WWV special event from September 28 until October 2 at the WWV transmitter site near Fort Collins, Colorado. The DoD message transmissions will air until October 1.

Kevin Utter, N7GES, a member of the WW0WWV Centennial Committee, recorded the audio track for the announcement. Utter has been an integral part of the Committee and is a highly respected member of the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio community. — Thanks to Paul English, WD8DBY

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Please Take Action: DOD Broadcast and Listener Survey on WWV and WWVH

A WWV Time Code Generator

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares the following note from Paul English (WD8DBY), Chief, Army MARS:

DOD Broadcast and Listener Survey on WWV and WWVH

From 14-24 August, WWV and WWVH will be broadcasting a DOD message at 10 mins past the hour on WWV and 50 mins past the hour on WWVH. As part of the message, all listeners are asked to take a listener survey at the URL specified in the message.

www.dodmars.org/home/wwv-survey

The results of this survey are shared with WWV/H personnel to show their NIST chain of command how often their stations are monitored and how the various timing signals and messages are used by the listeners.

Please take a listen to this message and take the survey…as the saying goes, “every vote counts” and your input to this survey is being used to help demonstrate the importance of these stations.

Thanks for your consideration in this effort.

Paul English, WD8DBY
Chief, Army MARS

Many thanks for sharing this, Dennis. Readers have also shared this ARRL News item urging listeners to take the DOD survey.

If you appreciate WWV/WWVH, please take a moment to complete this short survey.

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Trial Run of WWV Special Event Station August 24 & 25

WWV’s transmitter building in Fort Collins, Colorado (2014)

(Source: ARRL via Eric McFadden)

WWV Centennial Committee Prepares for Trial Run of WW0WWV Special Event

The WWV Centennial Committee reports that it will conduct a trial run of special event station WW0WWV over the August 24/25 weekend.

Radios and antennas began arriving last week, and a tower and beam will be erected, along with several vertical antennas. WW0WWV will be set up adjacent to the WWV transmitter site in Fort Collins, Colorado. WWV turns 100 years old on October 1.

“We’ll be testing band and notch filtering, in an attempt to reign in the extreme RF environment created by WWV and WWVB,” said Dave Swartz, W0DAS, of the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club (NCARC).

The club will carry out the special event operation in conjunction with the WWV Amateur Radio Club and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which operates WWV/WWVH/WWVB.

The special event site is within 1/3 of a mile of all six WWV transmitters and the 50 kW WWVB transmitter. “On-air tests will start Saturday afternoon, August 24, and run through Sunday, August 25,” Swartz said, adding that organizers will post specific times and frequencies on the WWV Centennial Committee website.

The WWV Centennial special event is set to run from September 28 through October 2, and round-the-clock operation will take place on CW, SSB, and digital modes. Operations will shift among HF bands following typical propagation and will include 160 meters as well as satellites (SO-50, AO-91, and AO-92) and 6-meter meteor scatter.

Up to four stations will be on the air for routine operations. A fifth station will schedule contacts with schools, universities, and museums, as well as conducting unscheduled contacts. The additional station will periodically broadcast an AM carrier from a radio locked with WWV’s 10 MHz signal.

“At this point we have filled our operator’s slots and met equipment goals, but we need more financial resources to cover basic operating expenses, return shipping, and site logistics,” Swartz said. Members of the Amateur Radio industry have contributed equipment, including radios, amplifiers, and antennas.

NIST has announced that it will not be able to open the doors of WWV to the public for the event. “Due to a number of reasons, the scope of the formal celebration will be limited to only 100 invited participants,” the WWV Centennial Committee announced. “WW0WWV will be the main public event for the centennial celebration.”

Visit the WWV Centennial Committee website at http://wwv100.com/ to see how you can get involved.

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