Monthly Archives: September 2015

Still addicted to Radio

Interesting piece in the Telegraph yesterday:

How did you wake up this morning? To the inquisitorial tones of John Humphrys on Today? Or the rather more jocular Chris Evans? Chances are it was listening to the radio in some form. About 48 million of us listen every week.

Radio is part of the fabric of British life. It is the backdrop to our domestic meanderings, an accompaniment to everything from chopping vegetables to pottering in the garden. It keeps us informed, provides a soundtrack to our lives and is a reliable and trustworthy companion. There is a reassurance to it, a sense that all is well with the world.

Nevertheless, in the more than 90 years since Marconi’s first, tentative broadcasts, the challenges radio faces are more acute than ever.

Consumer habits are changing beyond recognition. We have grown used to expecting content on our own terms – whenever and wherever we want it. In Britain today there are more mobile phone contracts than people. All those smartphone screens present obvious challenges to a medium designed with listening, not looking, in mind.

Meanwhile, competition has spiralled. We have more choice than ever before, thanks to the internet. Music streaming services are growing in popularity and tech giants like Apple and Amazon have woken up to the potential of radio. In June, Apple launched Beats, an international radio station – recruiting the Radio 1 presenter Zane Lowe to present the first show.

Read the full story at: Daily Telegraph

National RF 75-NS-3 receiver kit

From the SWLing Post blog comes news of this receiver kit from National RF. While I think the pricing is a bit on the high side, it is good to see companies offering this sort of thing. Costs could probably be reduced by not offering it with the board pre-stuffed which would also make it a much more interesting build. And it would have the teaching element in it too.

National RF, of California, has introduced a new “semi-kit” receiver: the RF 75-NS-3. Here’s an excerpt from the product description page of the National RF website:

National RF’s 75-NS-3 receiver is a complete super-hetrodyne mini high frequency receiver, designed specifically for the short-wave listener, electronics enthusiast or radio amateur, who wants to use their hands and build a radio. The receiver is offered as a semi-kit in which the electronic assembly is loaded and functionally tested at the National RF facility. The customer must then go to the grocery store (yes…the grocery store!), procure a can of [Spam] lunch meat, eat it or give it to the dog, and then proceed to drill and paint the can, in order for it to become the receiver’s enclosure! […] Detailed drilling instructions and final assembly instructions are provided as part of the kit. All other parts required for completion of the receiver are provided as well. Recognizing that the finished assembly looked somewhat like the fabled Collins receiver of the ‘60s, the 75S-3, (particularly when the can is painted a light gray) National RF engineers dubbed it (with tongue firmly planted in cheek, of course) the 75-NS-3! Although we have had fun packaging this receiver in a lunch meat can, it is nothing to turn your nose at! Its performance and portability will surprise you, and it is an ideal radio to bring with you on any trip!

The receiver architecture is that of a single conversion super-hetrodyne receiver, that is capable of receiving AM, SSB, or CW. The receiver incorporates a dual gate FET as an RF amplifier with manual peaking and gain controls. A ceramic filter is used in the IF section with a front panel switch that controls a broad or narrow IF response. Other front panel controls include audio drive, BFO setting, and a band switch for the HF bands. The 75-NS-3 has internal receive frequency coils that are switched at the front and rear panels. The frequency range of the receiver, over three band set positions, is 3.5 through 12 MHz. This allows reception of several international short-wave bands, the 80, 60, 40, and 30 meter amateur radio bands, and of course, WWV time and frequency standard stations at 5 and 10 MHz.

For those who simply want a lower cost receiver to monitor the shortwave frequencies, National RF offers two variants of the original receiver: the 75-NS-1 and the 75-NS-2. Both are based on the design and circuit of the 75-NS-3, but do not have the band switching and frequency range of the 75-NS-3 receiver. The 75-NS-1 covers between 3 and 6 MHz, including the 80 and 60 meter amateur band. The 75-NS-2 covers between 6 and 12 MHz, including the 40 and 30 meter amateur bands. Both units have the fixed ceramic resonator band width set for about 6 KHz. And, of course, they are both designed to fit in the tasty potted meat can!! All other specifications presented apply to both of these models as well.

Pricing of the 75-NS-x versions:

  • Type 75-NS-1Mini HF Receiver Semi-kit (covers 3 to 6 MHz) $189.95
  • Type 75-NS-2Mini HF Receiver Semi-kit (6 to 12 MHz) $189.95
  • Type 75-NS-3Mini HF Receiver Semi-kit (band switched from 3.5 through 12 MHz in three switched positions) $269.95
  • Shipping and Handling to within the US $10.00 each

Click here to view on the National RF website.

 

FT4XU Kerguelen Islands AF-048

From the DXCoffee site:

Nicolas, F4EGX will be active from Kerguelen Islands, IOTA AF-048, end of 2015 early 2016 as FT4XU.
He will operate on HF Bands.

QSL only direct via F1ULQ address: Jean-Luc (John) Missler, F1ULQ, 7 Rue de la liberté, Obergailbach 57720, France.

Nicolas F4EGX Announcement:

“My work will bring me to south hemisphere for a scientific mission at Ratmanoff, 30km northeast of Port-aux-Français, Kerguelen archipelago .
My scientist job is to maintain measuring instruments whose electronics works in very rough conditions and to prepare equiment requirement for future missions.
In the same time, I will also studies king penguins with colleagues and help them in their work.

I will leave France at mid-November to Réunion Island, and there get on board of “Marion Dufresne”, the supply ship of the french austral territories. It will take approximately 10-15 day to reach the Kerguelen archipelago with a stopover at Crozet archipelago. After few days at Port-Aux-Français station, I’ll have to probably walk 30km to the shelter at Cap Ratmanoff, carrying my stuff on the back with heavy rain and strong wind. That is why I will try to travel as light as possible.

FT1WM-CrosetAbout my hamradio activities: They will be secondary to scientific work.
To give a little idea of this activity, I will be isolated for weeks with only daily local marine-VHF non-ham radio-communications with the Port-Aux-Français base.
FT4XU is primary to give somes news to hamradio friends around the world, like ham-spirit. :) It’s not intended for contest-QSO style.
At the shelter, I will live with other persons in a confined space and my colleagues will have probably no knowledge about this hobby. They will maybe have to endure the traffic audio noise and this noise will be a potentially  disturbance for them after a long and harsh working day.
I hope to have the opportunity to present to my colleagues the best of hamradio as a pleasant communication, with friendly but disciplined OM.
Although my English is not particularly good, but I had nice memories of some great long QSO with Australia, New zealand and Crozet Island when I was in Antarctica as FT5YI in 2008. I want to replicate this scheme, but my working conditions will be even more difficult.

My working conditions will be : FT857, 50W and a dipole antenna which can only be installed at human height, battery powered. There will be no PC for logging, only paper log. Logs won’t be sent while activity because of no internet connection.Our camp will have no electricity, so i will have to work with batteries. They will be charged with solar energy when not needed by the scientific work.

QSLing: I will give my log to Jean-Luc / F1ULQ who will handle cards AFTER I come back, don’t ask for correction before. QSL card will be designed with travel photos and printed AFTER also. As I’m not member of national bureau, only direct exchange will be possible.
Sked: It will not be possible to organize skeds: My only way to contact the world is my hamradio equipment. No internet or no phone connection.
Band operations: don’t ask for specific bands, there will be no low bands or magic band activity. I can not carry a lot of material. For weight and volume reasons, I have to take only the minimum and necessary equipment.

Thank you for your understanding

Activities will end, maybe, middle of  january 2016.

Hope that chance will allow us to cross our antennas in good conditions.
73 F4EGX Nicolas”

Map: https://www.openstreetmap.org/directions?engine=mapquest_foot&route=-49.2386%2C70.5543%3B-49.3501%2C70.2190#map=12/-49.3330/70.4709&layers=C

SolderSmoke ebook free on Amazon

This is slightly old news but just noticed this on SARC news:

The SolderSmoke ebook by radio amateur Bill Meara N2CQR/M0HBR is available for free download on Amazon

The book is in Kindle format and requires the Kindle Reading App to be installed on your mobile device or PC.

SolderSmoke is the story of a secret, after-hours life in electronics.
Bill Meara started out as a normal kid, from a normal American town.
But around the age of 12 he got interested in electronics, and he has never been the same.

To make matters worse, when he got older he became a diplomat.
His work has taken him to Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, the Spanish Basque Country, the Dominican Republic, the Azores islands of Portugal, London, and, most recently, Rome. In almost all of these places his addiction to electronics caused him to seek out like-minded radio fiends, to stay up late into the night working on strange projects, and to build embarrassingly large antennas above innocent foreign neighborhoods.

SolderSmoke takes you into the basement workshops and electronics parts stores of these exotic foreign places, and lets you experience the life of an expatriate geek. If you are looking for restaurant or hotel recommendations, look elsewhere. But if you need to know where to get an RF choke re-wound in Santo Domingo, SolderSmoke is the book for you.

SolderSmoke is no ordinary memoir. It is a technical memoir. Each chapter contains descriptions of Bill’s struggles to understand (really understand) radio-electronic theory. Why does P=IE? Do holes really flow through transistors? What is a radio wave? How does a frequency mixer produce sum and difference frequencies? If these are the kinds of questions that keep you up at night, this book is for you.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/SolderSmoke-Global-Adventures-Wireless-Electronics-ebook/dp/B004V9FIVW/

 

Logs from 15/09/2015 – 20/09/15

An interesting week on the bands. Propagation returned to near normal, with the K-index coming back to around the 3 level. Let’s hope it stays that way for a while.

South America was coming in better this week, with even some of the lower power stations making it through, such as Super Radio Deus e Amor from Brazil. Although the guy on this station is a bit like Brother Stair on speed! A new one for me was being able to log RFA from Mongolia (just). I am assuming that the signal was beamed to North Korea, hence the low signal level here in the UK.

60m on the other hand has been terrible, with Alice Springs on 4835 being unreadable most nights. I thought Alice would be received better with the new antenna, but that has not been the case. I will be interested to see if things improve on the lower bands as winter progresses.

One change I made to the antenna system this week was to add a switch at the 9:1 unun. This enables me to switch between balanced feed from the OCFD, or configure the antenna as a Marconi-T, with the switch shorting the 2 ends of the open wire feeder and selecting the earth connection. Sometimes the OCFD receives better, sometimes the M-T configuration. I do need to improve the earthing arrangements as at the moment it is just a single counterpoise.

Logs

15105 Khz Ascension Island BBCWS 18:10 UTC French. Discussion program. SINPO: 53444 2015-09-15

15275 Khz Madagascar DW 18:15 UTC Hausa. Male announcer. SINPO: 33333 2015-09-15

15400 Khz Ascension Island BBCWS 18:18 UTC English. News about Turkey, followed by coverage of a speech by Robert Mugabe. Very noisy compared with the French service on 15105 SINPO: 33333 2015-09-15

15580 Khz Botswana VOA 18:25 UTC English. World News with female announcer. SINPO: 43333 2015-09-15

13740 Khz Cuba R. Habana 21:09 UTC Spanish. Discussion program with male and female announcers. SINPO: 32233 2015-09-17

13845 Khz USA WWCR 21:13 UTC English. Live religious broadcast SINPO: 43333 2015-09-17

11760 Khz Cuba R. Habana 21:18 UTC Spanish. Female announcer. SINPO: 43333 2015-09-17

11765 Khz Brazil Super Radio Deus e Amor 21:24 UTC Portugese. Sounds like a Portugese version of Brother Stair set to music. Some ACI from Habana on 11760 SINPO: 32222 2015-09-17

11775 Khz Anguila Caribbean Beacon 21:35 UTC English. Male announcer with religious broadcast SINPO: 32233 2015-09-17

11780 Khz Brazil R.Nacional Amazonia 21:39 UTC Portugese.Male and female announcers. Very heavy noise. SINPO: 32222 2015-09-17

11985 Khz Ascension Island HCJB 21:47 UTC Fulani. Music and chat with male announcer. Ascension Island relay SINPO: 32233 2015-09-17

9520 Khz China PBS Nei Menggu 22:02 UTC Chinese. Male and female announcers SINPO: 32222 2015-09-17

9565 Khz USA R. Marti 22:06 UTC Spanish. Discussion program SINPO: 32233 2015-09-17

9600 Khz Phillipines Vatican Radio 22:09 UTC Chinese. Male announcer SINPO: 43333 2015-09-17

7460 Khz Mongolia RFA 21:54 UTC Korean. Male and female announcers. Sounds like schedules and contact details then close-out music at 21:57 SINPO: 22222 2015-09-18

7375 Khz Australia Reach Beyond Australia 22:05 UTC Malay. Music followed by chat from female and male announcers SINPO: 32233 2015-09-18

7465 Khz Albania R. Tirana 21:00 UTC English. Times and frequencies for transmissions. Female announcer. Followed by business news. SINPO: 43333 2015-09-19

7485 Khz Phillipines VOA 21:06 UTC Korean. Male announcer. SINPO: 32233 2015-09-19

11750 Khz Sri Lanka SLBC 18:15 UTC Sinhalese. Music. Followed by adverts. Then male announcer with what sounds like phone-in program SINPO: 43344 2015-09-20

BBC Russian Wants to Expand, But It’s Not So Easy

The BBC, as part of its 2015 Charter Review document, announced proposals to “invest” in BBC World Service. This includes a desire for a “bigger digital presence in Russian through a new digital service on platforms such as YouTube and the Russian equivalent Rutube, together with TV bulletins for neighbouring states. We would also start a feasibility study for a satellite TV channel for Russia.”

These international initiatives, involving target countries of particular current interest to British international relations, may be a maneuver to restore government funding of World Service. In 2014, its income was transferred from a Foreign Office grant to the BBC annual license fee of television sets, which provides most of the money for BBC’s domestic services. BBC faces a likely budget cut, especially with discussion of replacing the license fee with another mechanism. Restored government funding of World Service would relieve the domestic BBC of that burden, and it would pay for much of the international current affairs coverage that BBC can use domestically.

The feasibility of BBC satellite TV for Russia is problematic. Very few Russians have rotatable satellite dishes, surfing the Clarke Belt in search of outside news. About 25% of Russian homeshave fixed Ku-band satellite dishes to receive proprietary domestic direct-to-home services such as TricolorTV and NTV+. Western Russian-language news channels are not included in these channel packages and are unlikely to be invited aboard. Content from Western Russian-language broadcasters, including Voice of America and Radio Liberty, is also legally not welcome on Russian domestic terrestrial television and radio stations.

With satellite and terrestrial television not presently an option, the BBC must maintain its dependence on the Internet to reach Russian audiences. This includes the Internet in all its forms: websites, social media, desktop, and mobile. And, in fact, the Internet is now the only conduit through which the BBC Russian content reaches Russia. BBC could expand and improve the online Russian news coverage it already provides, in text and video formats. And, through research and metrics, it must decide to what extent video, possibly even a 24-hour video stream, is worth the expense. It may be that Russians with Internet access prefer to read their news as text than watch it as video.

So far, Russia has not blocked the Internet content of Western international broadcasters, at least not on a continuous basis. The Kremlin’s repeated denials of any intent to block Internet content suggest that it has at least been thinking about it. And recent press accounts indicate that Russian authorities may even try to ban anonymizers and other methods used to work around online censorship. Circumvention tools would have to become even cleverer, and Russian users would have to be willing and able to use them. In an extreme scenario, Russia could physically cut off the landlines of Internet traffic into the country. Then no circumvention tool within the Internet Protocol would work.

Read the full article at CPD Blog

 

Solar storms and this weeks logs

Well, that was a poor week for reception. With the K-index hitting 7 at times, and a large solar storm battering earth with 600 km/s winds, reception conditions could be described as less than ideal. Even the strong stations such as R. Thailand and V.O. Vietnam were down on their usual signal strengths. Both these stations can usually be received very well here in Lincoln during the early evening, but not this last week. The ‘difficult’ ones such as ABC from Alice Springs on 4835 Khz were just impossible at this QTH. I keep a close eye on Solarham, which gives regular K-index updates and details of which bands have the favourable propagation. I find it a very useful resource.

As of today, conditions have improved immensely, with a K-index of around 4. I noticed some noise still on 25 and 19 metres, but by this afternoon, that had died away. So lets hope it stays that way for a while longer!

Here are my logs for this week.

5025 Khz Cuba R. Rebelde 07:20 UTC Gospel music. Followed by female announcer. Spanish SINPO: 32233 2015-09-06

15140 Khz Oman R. Sultante Of Oman 16:32 UTC Arabic. Male announcer. Mention of Shakespeare and Hamlet. Sudden breakthrough from AIR at 16:34 SINPO: 33333 2015-09-06

15205 Khz Saudi Arabia BKSA 16:35 UTC Quran chant. Followed by words from male announcer. SINPO: 43334 2015-09-06

15275 Khz Sri Lanka Deutsche Welle 16:47 UTC Amharic. Female announcer with discussion program. SINPO: 43333 2015-09-06

15420 Khz South Africa BBC 16:52 UTC English. Discussion about the various teams in the upcoming six nations rugby. Female anchor. Meyerton relay SINPO: 33333 2015-09-06

15580 Khz Botswana VOA 17:05 UTC English. Discussion about the Iran deal in the US. SINPO: 43344 2015-09-06

15580 Khz Botswana VOA 18:20 UTC English. Program about the attempts to restrict the ivory trade in Africa. Followed by a sectoin about the problems of tackling Ebola. A section on the court hearing about the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia in the 1970’s. ID 18:30 SINPO: 43344 2015-09-06

9540 Khz Thailand RFE 20:20 UTC Russian. Discussion program SINPO: 44444 2015-09-08

9730 Khz Vietnam V.O. Vietnam 20:49 UTC English. Information about development of Vietnamese industry. Many Vietnames businesses just act as an outsource for other companies. Followed by music. Program close at 20:58 SINPO: 43444 2015-09-08

13630 Khz Botswana VOA 17:50 UTC Portugese. News. ID at 17:54 followed by Sports news. Further ID and schedule info. at 17:57 SINPO: 44444 2015-09-09

9525 Khz Indonesia R.Republik Indonesia 18:08 UTC English. Male announcer with news of Indonesia. Difficult to follow as modulation is low. SINPO: 33333 2015-09-09

9755 Khz UNID UNID 20:15 UTC Greek-style music. Until 20:20 then suddenly off. Nothing listed SINPO: 54444 2015-09-09

9815 Khz Sri Lanka R. Farda 20:25 UTC Farsi. Music. ID and contact info at 20:26. Followed by ‘Hey Joe’. Pips at 20:30 followed by news. SINPO: 43344 2015-09-09

7425 Khz Thailand BBC 18:33 UTC Dari. News. Male announcer. Nakhon Sawan relay SINPO: 43333 2015-09-10

7480 Khz Pridnestrovie R.Payam e-Doost 18:38 UTC Farsi. Male announcer. SINPO: 43333 2015-09-10

5865 Khz Kuwait R. Farda 21:47 UTC Farsi. Local music. SINPO: 32233 2015-09-10

15120 Khz USA VOA 21:52 UTC Bambara. Discussion program SINPO: 33333 2015-09-10

15770 Khz USA WRMI 21:58 UTC English. ID at 21:59 then off SINPO: 43333 2015-09-10

13580 Khz Bangladesh Bangladesh Batar 18:10 UTC English. Local music followed by a discussion about Islamic art. Burst of noise at a high level probably due to the tail-end of the GM storm. SINPO: 43244 2015-09-11

13360 Khz Botswana VOA 18:15 UTC Portugese. Interview with a singer, with music in between. SINPO: 43244 2015-09-11

11735 Khz Zanzibar ZBC 18:23 UTC Swahili. Music and chat. Very noisy this evening SINPO: 32222 2015-09-11

17850 Khz Thailand R. Thailand 10:20 UTC Non-stop music. SINPO: 43233 2015-09-13

11600 Khz Bulgaria Denge Kurdistan 16:20 UTC Kurdish. Male announcer. SINPO: 42333 2015-09-13

11890 Khz Singapore BBC 16:38 UTC English. Leicester v Aston Villa SINPO: 43333 2015-09-13

11910 Khz Phillipines VOA 16:41 UTC Tibetan. Discussion program. Some QSB SINPO: 43333 2015-09-13

12075 Khz Bulgaria Bible Voice 16:46 UTC farsi. Music and chat with female announcer SINPO: 43333 2015-09-13

12125 Khz Armenia IBRA Radio 16:49 UTC Amharic. Male and female announcers SINPO: 32233 2015-09-13

9526 Khz Indonesia R. Indonesia 17:30 UTC Spanish. ID at 17:33 followed by discussion from male announcer SINPO: 43333 2015-09-13

9540 Khz Romania RRI 18:35 UTC English. Male and female announcers. “Listeners Letterbox”. Followed by music and then a feature about a Romanian jazz legend (missed the name). Close down musci and schedule and contact details at 17:55 SINPO: 54455 2015-09-13