There was a short article in the Make Newsletter yesterday about how to decide if you need Arduino or Raspberry Pi, and I thought it might be interesting to others as well. The basic question is "How much computer processing do I need?" In very simplified terms, an Arduino micro controller is good at running one or two tasks - they use the illustration of monitoring a moisture probe to determine if your plants need watering. The Arduino could be programmed to check moisture content and send a Tweet to let you know it's time to water the plants. The
Some days you just miss the boat, er . . . ship, pirate ship that is! I apparently missed a lot of pirate ships this week according to the email newsletter report I get each week on pirate activity. Who would have thought the Thanksgiving holiday would have brought out so many pirates?! Maybe it was the anticipation of "Black Friday" with all the plundering and pillaging going on, reminiscent of Blackbeard and Black Bart! Whatever the reason, activity was unusually high, and I am sorry to have missed it. Here is a listing as recorded by the Free Radio
Winter always brings thoughts of kit building for me as cold weather, a hot soldering gun, and a bag full of parts make for an enjoyable evening. A friend of mine, Ryan W1RYN, sent me information about a great aircraft monitoring receiver kit which can be built just as a board, or assembled into a metal case. The assembled kit in the case may be found here, but the same company sells the kit in multiple configurations. Here are two images of the completed kit with the case: I have ordered the parts kit and the enclosure, and I
I have been watching some satellite feeds over FTA or Free-to Air satellite networks, and I must say it is very exciting. As readers of this blog know I have a real passion for capturing anything which comes through the air, and satellite TV and satellite radio are really just extensions of shortwave and longwave radio. After all, satellites dishes are antennas too!! I should clarify what FTA services are: they are truly free (and legal) satellite channels broadcasting a range of news, sports, music, culture, and entertainment programming from various international sources. While there are domestic stations which one
Here's a little "ham" humor on the lighter side of life! (Collected from around the web and from old publications) Stealth Mode Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent. Since they were a perfect match, soon they generated harmonics. Wrapped the harmonics in dipoles. But later the harmonics turned out to be parasitic elements.... EINSTEIN ON RADIO "I am often asked how radio works. Well, you see, wire telegraphy
I wonder what our world would look like if we had maintained the mindset of our early forefathers who fought so hard for freedom? Of course I know even then the soon-to-be-formed nation was split almost down the middle over whether to revolt against the King or try to work within the system. I am glad for the choices they made, but feel more than a bit let down by our handling of such a great inheritance. Since this is a radio blog I will not get into politics (or history), except to say our modern culture's willingness to give
Last night was Halloween which means Pirate Radio broadcasters are typically very active on shortwave radio, particularly between 6925 kHz and 6995 kHz. While I did not see a whole lot of activity, what was there was some of the best Pirate broadcasting I have ever heard. X-FM Radio was broadcasting on 6975 from "somewhere under the stars", and their slogan is "Music to the Power of X." They were broadcasting in stereo which gave a fuller sound, but I am sure it would have sounded better if I had AM stereo capability. Here are two snippets of audio recorded
So many things run on batteries these days one could almost set aside a room in the house just for chargers and spare battery packs. I am exaggerating of course--a walk-in closet would do nicely. Most HTs run on Ni-Cad or NiMH batteries, while smaller devices often run on Li-Ion batteries. I hate them all. I hate wall-warts, I hate keeping track of the various chemical compositions of batteries to make sure I do not put them into the wrong charger, and I hate that we have sacrificed power for size. Remember the good old days when a radio could
I was surprised and honored when Kim Andrew Elliot contacted me about mentioning this blog on the weekly Voice of America (VOA) Radiogram with regard to my recent post about Russia's attempt to shut down the Internet. The VOA Radiogram has been an ongoing experiment in sending digital mode text and images using the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina. The idea behind this is to have a backup means of getting emergency communications out around the world to folks who might not be able to receive voice transmissions during difficult propagation times. The digital modes can be
Readers of this blog will know I am keenly interested in promoting shortwave radio as both an important information source and a means of defense against government-controlled media access. A recent report in the British publication The Telegraph revealed there have been several tests run by the Russian government to see if the Internet could be shut down should a political need arise. This should not really come as a surprise since China has done the same thing in the past, but it does point once again to the limits of any system dependent on wires. I realize the majority
The auroral activity and geomagnetic storm activity continues this week as the sun has developed a coronal hole. This giant hole is allowing solar winds to be sent hurtling our way, with a large enough stream scientists are predicting we may be in for a week of heightened geomagnetic activity. An image from our solar observation posts shows the hole, with the superimposed white arrows showing normal solar wind activity and the breaks, or hole, which will allow the winds to come our way. Normally the sun's activities cause the solar winds to bend back down on themselves as the
Thanks to a blog posting over at SWLing.com I just found out Heathkit is back and about to release their first build-it-yourself kit, with the promise of many more to come. Heathkit, for those who may not be familiar with the name, was a legendary producer of kit radios (and TVs, and even computers) long ago. As great as the kits were, the instruction manuals were like an electronics course in themselves. While I missed out on that experience during my misspent youth, I have often thought I might someday buy an assembled radio from that time and pair it
At the risk of sounding redundant, another article about Internet control has motivated me to once again emphasize the importance of shortwave radio. An article at ECN magazine gives an excellent report about Russia's attempts to control the flow of information available to Russian citizens. While I will not reproduce the whole article here, I will highlight a few of the more salient points, and encourage you to read the full article entitled, "Kremlin Sets Out To Extend Control Over The Russian Internet" available here. ------ Galina Timchenko recalls how proud she felt when the Russian news website she edited
Here is a post from the great Spaceweather.com site talking about current aurora activity which might produce unsettled RF conditions. This can also mean some unusual propagation opportunities could exist for extended HF and VHF due to high ionization of the upper atmosphere. While such activity makes most HF listening difficult, sometimes 10 meters and above actually open up, however erratically, and contacts can be made that would not normally be possible. If using some of the digital modes such as weak-signal modes, even more contacts can be logged. Might be worth a try . . . . "URBAN AURORAS"
As I look around my shack I find it interesting the many different radios and facets of the hobby represented here, and I admit I have a rather modest shack. It occurred to me there is a lot of knowledge (and much more to learn) involved in operating these radios and associated equipment. Often modern hams are accused of being mere "appliance" operators because we do not build our radios from scratch. I would love to build a radio from scratch, and if I could afford it, I would find a Heathkit radio still in the box and build it.
I found this interesting post from Scientific American concerning the lack of reliable wireless communication in aircraft in 1915 - just one of those fascinating historical tidbits: Aircraft Communication, 1915 By Dan Schlenoff| September 25, 2015 A French communication system for use by airplane pilots in 1915: black powder could be puffed out into a Morse code message. Image: Scientific American, September 25, 1915 Considering how flying, even in the earliest years of the era of flight, seems high-tech, and despite the fact that the first trans-Atlantic wireless message was sent in 1901, it is curious to see flying
I have been into computers for a long, long time. I will resist the urge to regale you with tales of computer exploits back in "the good old days" of DOS, Amiga, and even earlier days with my TI-99 /4A with cassette deck. Over the years I have used and abused some really excellent software, and there have certainly been programs which stood out from the crowd and made you simply say "Wow!" So with all this experience you can imagine not many programs cause me to turn my head, drop my jaw, or gush over their capabilities. In the
BBC Looking To Increase Russian Presence This is an excellent article posted by Kim Andrew Elliott concerning the BBC's desire to expand its reach into Russia. The full article is available at: USC Center on Public Diplomacy and it discusses in more detail the issues of maintaining an Internet presence and the challenges of Satellite broadcasts. The excerpt posted here is a good discussion on the improved reliability of shortwave radio to provide low-cost and reliable communications for those in Russia, and enhanced opportunities for those with computers able to run one of the many free digital mode programs available.
I just received a beautiful certificate from the ISS Fan Club site (www.issfanclub.com) confirming my reception of SSTV images during the July 2015 celebration of the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. While my images were not as good as I would have hoped (local conditions were a bit iffy), I was thrilled to get them nevertheless. I also received SSTV images back in April celebrating Yuri Gagarin's mission into space, and believe me I could hardly contain myself. I am not sure what that says about me, except perhaps I am still just a kid at heart, but I'll take it!
See, I Told You: Shortwave Radio Matters! Forgive the tongue-in-cheek title, but I just could not resist. There was an excellent article in the DailyNK published online from Seoul, Korea entitled Radio broadcasts an 'eye-opening' experience for N. Koreans. The article discusses the impact radio broadcasts into North Korea have had on some of the people, particularly those who have made their way into South Korea. The article notes: The authorities require all radio sets to be fixed to Pyongyang’s central broadcast frequency -- a clear sign of state efforts made to block all means of communication. State-run media focus
I am fascinated by the history of radio and its significance to events in the world, particularly as it relates to WWII. I confess to being somewhat envious of those teens who were called into active civilian duty as Radio Monitors. Some time back I heard an actual Public Service message as it had been broadcast during the war years recruiting boys 12 years and up for monitoring service. (An excellent Internet streaming broadcast is the UK 1940s Radio Station - they play music and programs of the era, as well as actual speeches and Public Service messages, and even
There is always something on worth listening to, at least in my experience. Looking at my Solar Data widget all the bands are listed in red as being closed or in poor condition right now due to a mild geomagnetic storm. The K Index is 5, and the solar winds are a bit active, coming close to 500. I turned my scanner on (since they are mostly local and higher frequencies are less affected by solar activity), but I got curious about the HF bands. I first tuned in with a small portable, and there wasn't much coming in. Based
Every Radio is an Adventure! Talking with a friend of mine Rod (KJ4IAM) tonight about radios, he made an insightful comment. He said whenever he listens to a new radio, regardless of how simple or complex the radio, it is like hearing the world from a different angle. I was struck by that comment because I believe it may be why those of us enamored by radio seem to always have room for "one more" in the old radio arsenal. I just recently purchased an inexpensive portable by Tecsun mainly because of the price and reputation of the radio. It's
Another "Golden Age" of Radio? I will be the first to say I regret terribly missing out on the 60s and 70s era of radio, not only for the stories I hear told about the propagation conditions, but also on the ability to build kits and work with some of those now-classic radios. Since boat anchors are still plentiful I can recapture a bit of that time, but of course I did not live through it as an amateur radio operator. Perhaps I am the eternal optimist when it comes to radio, but in many ways I feel as though
How Do You Measure Shortwave Radio? I continue to ponder this question as I believe Shortwave Radio is an area which defies traditional measurement. I have included some thoughts I wrote last year for an article published in antenneX magazine: I was very disappointed . . . in the U.S. for cutting back VOA service to a number of countries. Australia is another country who has made drastic cuts to its shortwave schedule, as well as the BBC, much to the consternation of the SWL community. The economic debate surrounding shortwave radio will continue for a long time, and I
There have been several interesting radio articles in the news lately, and I find that heart-warming to say the least! And since a couple of articles dealt with radio in space, I was particularly excited, and a bit jealous! I just saw a post in the British News about a local ham who made contact with the International Space Station for approximately 50 seconds (lucky devil!). The articles can be found here. I appreciate the fact that his station is a typical one, being described as a "garden shed." Like this gentleman I have been trying hard for several weeks
The Radio hobby draws folks from many different backgrounds and interests, but I have found some things I believe most hobbyists hold in common. Foremost is a fascination with radio and the magic it represents. This is what first drew me in as a young boy. Radio seemed like magic because I could turn a dial and suddenly music was playing, or someone was telling a story or I was hearing news from around the world. TV never held such fascination for me, but I cannot explain why. But radio! Wow! The thought that there were signals floating through the
This weekend was a special event for the ISS with transmissions of SSTV images commemorating Apollo and Soyuz missions 40 years ago. Having successfully received images from the Russian celebration of Yuri Gagarin some months back I had great anticipation for this event. As luck would have it, several things went wrong, but several things went right, so it all balanced out. First, what went wrong. The best flyover for me produced no images because there was no audio accompanying the carrier. The carrier was strong, but no SSTV modulation. Bummer! Those would have been some great images! Second thing
Warning: Recurring Theme! Shortwave Radio is a topic about which I am passionate, both as a listener and as an advocate. There are a lot of crazy things going on in the world along with numerous boneheaded decisions made by governments daily, but cutting funding for shortwave radio has to be right near the top. Why do I say this? Because radio has been, is, and likely always will be one of the only sure means of getting out information to the world which cannot be censored easily. Obviously a repressive regime running a national shortwave radio station can control
Welcome to my new blog on All Things Radio. I thought it fitting to write about my recent International Space Station reception and recording as my first entry into the blogosphere. For the last few weeks I have been setting up my dual-band Kenwood radio to send and receive APRS data using the ISS beaconing system. For those who may not be aware, APRS is a digital mode which uses either a computer or a TNC (terminal node controller - a type of modem) to send information between amateur radio operators. It can be used for location services, messaging, information,