Tag Archives: WWV

WWV & WWVH to drop NOAA marine storm warning announcements October 31, 2018

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who notes that WWV and WWVH are announcing the end of marine storm warning announcements on October 31, 2018.

This morning, I made the following recording of the announcement via WWV 5 MHz at 4 minutes past the hour:

Last year this time NOAA announced the end of the high seas warnings scheduled for October 31, 2017.

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IEEE Spectrum: “Long-Running U.S. Federal Radio Stations, Beloved by Hams, in Danger of Shutdown”

A WWV Time Code Generator

(Source: IEEE Spectrum Magazine)

Several public radio stations that have broadcast the time of day continuously for nearly 100 years are on the chopping block

By Julianne Pepitone

Starting in May 1920, the U.S. federal WWV radio stations have broadcast the official time without fail. For ham radio fans, hearing the friendly “National Institute of Standards and Technology Time!” announcement is a comforting old refrain. For others, it’s a service they’ve never heard of—yet in the background, it’s what keeps the clocks and appliances in their daily lives automatically ticking along on time.

But after 98 years, this constant companion could soon go off the air. The proposed 2019 U.S. presidential budget calls for a 34 percent cut in NIST funding; in response, the Institute compiled a budget-use plan that would eliminate the WWV stations.

At first blush it might sound like the natural end to a quaint public service from a bygone era. Do we really need radio-broadcast time signals in an era of Internet-connected devices and GPS?

Many would argue: Yes, we really do. More than 50 million devices in the United States—including wall clocks, wristwatches, and industrial appliances—keep time through the signal from NIST’s WWVB station, operating from a site near Fort Collins, Colo., where it reads the time directly from an atomic clock. These radio-equipped clocks are permanently tuned to WWVB’s low-frequency 60 kHz signal.

“WWVB is the pacemaker for the world around us, even if we don’t realize it,” says Thomas Witherspoon, editor of shortwave radio news site The SWLing Post. “It’s why factory workers and schools don’t need to drag out the stepladder every time we switch between Daylight and Standard Time. Without WWVB, these devices won’t magically update themselves.”[…]

Click here to read the full article including comments from WWVB’s Station Manager.

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Marketplace: “Time may be up for timekeeping radio stations”

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

(Source: Marketplace via Richard Cuff)

The Trump administration wants to shut down two shortwave radio stations that broadcast time signals from the nation’s master clock.

The administration’s budget proposal would eliminate nearly $27 million in funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the two stations. WWV, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, has been transmitting one rock-steady pulse per second for more than 80 years. Its sister station, Hawaii’s WWVH, has been extending the time signal across the Pacific for nearly 70 years. WWV is also the world’s longest continuously-broadcasting radio station. (NIST doesn’t stream the stations online because signals are often delayed as they stream over the internet. But you can hear the stations by calling (303) 499-7111 for WWV or (808) 335-4363 for WWVH . There are also online recordings of the stations’ gentle announcements.)[…]

Click here to read the full story and listen to the program audio.

If you feel strongly about keeping the atomic clock signals on the air, I urge you to contact your local representatives,and sign this White House petition.

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Astronomers organizing to save WWV

As an amateur astronomer, I knew it was only a matter of time before the astronomical community became involved to save WWV.  Specifically, it’s a group of mostly amateur astronomers who observe and record occultations.

What’s an occultation?  It’s the term when a solar system object passes in front of, and blocks out a star.  Why is this important to observe?  Lunar occultations are the easiest to observe (if the star is bright enough, one can do a crude observation with binoculars or even the unaided eye).  But there is very valuable science to be had with smaller objects.  When a dwarf planet [like Pluto] or an asteroid – passes in front of, and “blinks” out or blocks the light of a star – measurements can be taken that reveal the dwarf planet or asteroid’s size/diameter.  We can even determine if an object is round/oval – or maybe cigar-shaped when multiple ground observers record and accurately time how long the star “blinks” (or if the star doesn’t get covered by the asteroid in some locations but does in others). Okay, that is Occultations 101 (if you are interested in learning more, see the link).

Credit: Upcoming occultation – showing the path where the occultation is visible – from IOTA: International Occultation Timing Association

Note 1: In 2017, amateur astronomers using a 3” telescope determined that an asteroid had a moon!I had a 3” telescope, back in the 1970s, when I was a kid!

Credit: Sky and Telescope Magazine & IOTA: the International Occultation Timing Association

Note 2: Multiple occultation observations involving the dwarf planet Pluto (and its next target – a “KBO”) are helping scientists navigate the New Horizons space probe (and to identify hazards) as it speeds through space to its next target – nicknamed Ultima Thule – beyond Pluto (on January 1st, 2019).

Equipment used to record and document these fleeting events (some graze occultations only last fractions of a second) requires – you guessed it – time stamped video devices.  Back in the old days before video and other advanced equipment, astronomers would sit a shortwave radio next to the telescope with a tape recorder to audibly capture & record the time signal with the observer noting the start/stop of the event (we’ve come a long way since then – time stamped equipment has advanced this from “approximately” to “exact science”!).

The main point of this blog entry: astronomers have been asked to sign the White House petition to maintain NIST stations funding. Sky & Telescope Magazine, if they haven’t already, will be posting an article with an interview that they conducted with one of the leading occultation observers that includes a link to the petition on their web site.

Let’s hope this momentum continues to build – and that it makes a difference!

Guest Post by Troy Riedel.

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Myke updates “At The Tone” and seeks recordings

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Myke Dodge Weiskopf, who shares the following update and request regarding At The Tone: A Little History of NIST Radio Stations WWV & WWVH (read about it here). Myke writes:

The times have demanded that I kick out a slightly updated version of “At the Tone”, as well as a humble request to your readership. I’ve also shared a long WWVH recording with you for the Archive by special arrangement.

As usual, [At the Tone] is still available in the same old place:

https://shortwavemusic.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-tone-a-little-history-of-nist-radio-stations-wwv-wwvh

The good news is that anyone who purchased it previously can simply re-download the album in their chosen format from their purchase history page on Bandcamp. They will be instantly treated to the new version with all the additional tracks and liner notes.

The changes aren’t major, but rather in the “nice to have” category:

  • There’s a new second recording of the 1972 WWV station ID, postdating the big format change in 1971.
  • I’ve replaced the very short WWVH 1990 broadcast sample with a longer recording which I finally got around to cleaning up from the box of reels and cassettes sent to me by the station in 2015. I don’t know the exact date, because it came on an undated handwritten cassette labeled “JB on Old Audichron TCG”, but the broadcast format and announcement indicate it’s from the 1980s sometime up until the digital voice replacement in 1991. I attach a scan of the cassette itself.
  • I’ve done a better job cleaning up the (also WWVH-sourced) 1992 station ID recording from the original master cassette, so I’ve swapped out that track, although it’s otherwise identical in content.

So, to piggyback on that: my gift to you via Archive.org is the complete unedited 1980s WWVH recording, which runs 23 minutes total. I figured this would be a nice thing to share at this particularly turbulent moment in the station’s history.

The tape was in pretty bad shape when I received it, so while I’ve done the best I can to bring it up to par, there are some audibly wonky things going on from time to time.

Lastly, since WWV and WWVH are so much on people’s minds right now, I’m putting out one more call for recordings.

In particular, I don’t have good quality versions of the terrible 1991-era digital voices — I’d love to have longer or better tapes of those, especially if they include station IDs.

I also lost my recording of the emergency system test announcement in October 2010, not to be confused with the tests conducted in July of that same year!

Beyond those, though, I’d love to hear of any other recordings folks have dug up recently. There’s been some great stuff shared to the Archive already, but I’m always on the hunt for more to add to “At the Tone.” Contributors will be thanked in the liner notes and will be offered unlimited downloads of the set as they see fit to distribute. And if people have really special WWV recordings which they think might be locked away on on an obsolete or unplayable format, they should also get in touch – WWVH themselves entrusted me with transferring their own archival recordings, so I have some good credit in that department.

I can also vouch for Myke as a trusted custodian of any archived NIST time station recordings you may have.

Readers: if you have any WWV or WWVH recordings you’d like to share with Myke, please comment or contact Myke directly via his website.

Myke, I would like to thank you for adding this rare unedited 1980s WWVH recording to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. What a gem–many thanks!

If you would like to purchase and download At the Tone, please click here. As Myke mentioned, if you’ve already purchased At The Tone, simply login and download the updated version for free.

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