Sunday, December 14, 2008

FCC's Kevin J. Martin Might Be Corrupt

A Congressional investigation has been released lambasting the big man at the FCC.

First it was Illinois with corrupt Governors. Ryan got locked up, Rezko, Blago is about to go to trial as soon as all the attorneys get done entertaining the court with piles of motions. Enter FCC boss Kevin J. Martin. A quick glance at this guys' photo tells us he is too young and inexperienced to even be close to having such a responsible position.

Maybe there will be a Congressional investigation into who got him his job (Yeah, right!)

Keep an eye on this one, it's gonna get hot!

Shortpath DX On 80 Meters

Since late last night, Europe has been active on 3.799.00 and 3.799.90 (80 Meter Phone) and everyone here in the states have been piling the call on these guys faster than butter can drip from a hot pan. Go take a listen! This is what good radio is all about!

80 Meters tends to get hot during the winter, and in this time just after the ARRL 10 Meter phone contest, the contesters only wish 10 had been open like 80 is now. Keep in mind that the sunspot activity is still at a low, so nature is being very good to us right now!The bands will definitely get much better when those sunspots become active in higher concentrations.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bad Radio, Good Radio

A friend recently wrote this piece, and it cracked me up so much that it just HAD to get posted...used by permission of course!

Based on many recent and not so recent threads, one can come to some interesting conclusions... to wit:
Contesting is bad. Contesting clogs the bands, causes QRM, is a waste of time and energy, is pointless, is mindless, is repetitive, only the same rich guys win all the time anyway, and is part of the great ARRL plot to take over the world.

Ragchewing is bad. Mindless chatter that could be handled through other modern communication modes, a bunch of old folks talking about the same thing day after day after day, causing interference, annoys everyone, and is part of the great ARRL plot to take over the world.

Nets are bad. Nets think they "own" a frequency, net operators are rude, they insist on being in the same place at the same time regardless of what else is going on, half the time they do what commercial services should be doing anyway, especially the boaters, and is part of the great ARRL plot to take over the world.

Speaking of boaters, WinLink is bad. It's an evil plot to let the vast hordes of rich yachtsmen on the high seas take over the amateur bands when they should be using commercial services, they cause interference, the users are rude and uncarring, and since WinLink is promoted by the ARRL for emergency use, it's part of the great ARRL plot to take over the world.

EmComm is bad. How dare we amateurs think we can do the jobs of the professionals, the EmComm boys (& girls) are just a bunch of cop wannabe "whackers" wasting everybody's time and getting in the way, and sucking up federal dollars to boot, and is part of the great ARRL plot to take over the world.

Repeaters are bad. Repeater owners are hogging frequencies, not letting anyone operate wherever the want, demanding dues money to fix the machines when they actually pocket it, and also feeding at the federal EmComm money trough to enrich themselves, are rude, and are part of the great ARRL plot to take over the world.

DX'ing is bad. Waste of time, all those lids calling "59" or "599" for pointless quick contacts... just like those dang contesters... attracting jammers and frequency police, irritating the bureaucrats of the worlds countries by demanding operating permissions, and all that money that they demand for QSL cards, to say nothing of annoying the post office by demanding that they sell and cash IRC's, and are another part of the great ARRL plot to take over the world.

CW is bad. Outdated mode should be sent to the scrap heap along with Spark, too hard to learn, taking up valuable SSB frequency space, and part of the great ARRL plot to take over the world.

SSB is bad. Frequency hog, CW & digital much more efficient, walking on top of other users, and part of the yada yada yada.

Digital is bad. Stupid computer users, don't they know that computers belong on the Internet, interferring with CW and SSB ops with their many incompatible modes, and part of the yada yada yada.

Special event calls & stations? Bad. Too hard to track. Wasting valuable band space on the weekends. Yada yada yada.

Experimenting? Waste of time.
Repair equipment? Why bother, you can't get the parts.
Vintage equipment? Quit being a cheapskate, buy modern gear.
Antenna regulations? How dare you put up an antenna without kissing the entire neighborhood's collective butt, despoiling the landscape, causing interference, yada yada yada.
I've probably missed a few things, but I think I've made my point:

If all this is bad for Amateur Radio, then what is good for it?

If you think that there's so much wrong with amateur radio, why are YOU still in it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shortwave AM Log (Life Above 1.800.00Khz)

7.332.00: Voice Of Russia / Mode: AM Voice
This program was heard at 0500UTC to 0600UTC with a focus on the Space Program, countries obtaining weapons, and the Moscow Revolution of 1917.

7.730.00: German Language / Mode: AM Voice (0537UTC switching between this freq and 7.332.00) I hate to sit on one freq for too long! Call it itchy VFO finger.

9.482.00: French Language / Mode: AM Voice

5.230.00LSB: Something that sounds like a cartoon ray gun. It comes and goes but always has another signal under it. "Bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep" with that cosmic kind of audio to it.

5.936.00: Pastor Melissa (former porn star turned preacher) Mode: AM Voice

5.985.00: China Radio International, Chinese Language Broadcast in Mandarin. / Mode: AM Voice

Tracking The Cuban Numbers Lady

Long winded with a message to be heard. That's the Cuban numbers lady. Some say the pretty voice is just too much to keep up with while others hang on to hear the finale, and give it their best to crack her mysterious code.

This past Saturday evening into Sunday morning, she was heard as always faithfully making herself known on 5.885.00Khz. She's on other frequencies as well, others have verified it. Now we are asking the question "How many stations are there using her voice?" A better question as of late Saturday evening is why did she use the same numeric pad as some weeks ago on the same frequency? What was the meaning of the cipher this time around?

Assuming that the purpose of the cipher is to hide the meaning of communications, and the function of the station(s) is not anything lawful...did they use the same cipher pad to test the waters and see if it would be noticed? Are they trying to get caught? Was it a distraction game to keep listeners away from the real broadcast taking place on another frequency at the same time? What other frequency was used that night? When was it used? How was it used? What mode and signal strength were used?

Reports state: "
17.515 at 00.00UTC on Saturday", "I've been hearing her for the past few weekends, usually late on Sunday night around the same time", "I've noticed they'll often run a dead carrier for some time just before they actually start."

Ya know what was strange with this broadcast? The dead carrier came at the end of the transmission and her voice faded out more and more as the dead carrier got stronger and stronger. Eventually, after about five or seven more minutes under the carrier..poof! She was gone!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RadioReference Releases Anticipated CD-Rom

After the old "Police Call" scanner directories went away to become collectibles, Lindsay Blanton created Radio Reference in a goal to become the next "Police Call". That dream was realized today with the partnership between Lindsay's company and Scanner Master. Scanner Master is handling the release of the new Radio Reference CD-Rom which is to say that you can buy the CD-Rom here

The much anticipated CD-Rom will be the off-line version of the popular Radio Reference site for radio hobbyists. Now, for the first time, internet access is not a need to have all of the crucial information needed for the enjoyment of the radio listening hobby. Scanner Master already gives a nice discount to RR members or those who mention RR during the purchase of certain limited Scanner Master items such as the PSR 500 scanner by GRE which has NAC Code coverage.

Visit Radio Reference Today!

Tonight's Medium Wave Log

12:00AM: 760 AM - News Radio WJR. Detriot, Michigan
These guys run a great program called the "Midnight Radio Network". They're just across the lake from me, so not a huge deal to get them in at around a solid S9.

12:30AM: 640 AM - Talk station competing for the band with a music station. My bet is that it's out of Boston, Mass.

12:40AM: 620 AM - Savage Nation? Program is competing for the band with a country music station. Hard to make any of them out except for the talk host trashing Chinese restaurants. Song playing at 12:43AM is "Wild Angels" Martina McBride maybe?

12:45AM: 700 AM - WLW in
Cincinnati, OH. "America's Trucking Network" following the lead of every other station on the air with endless discussions about Obama.

1:04AM: 750AM - WSB. Atlanta, Georgia. Neil Boortz show.

That's it for tonight. Check back tomorrow for more loggings.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Low Solar Cycle Doesn't Mean No Propagation

Listening lately to the international broadcast bands & the amateur HF bands has served as a reminder that the bad band conditions resultant from a low solar cycle does not equal zero propagation. As of lately, most of the broadcast stations across the globe on just about any frequency have just been screaming in here at 20 over 9 or better. Just yesterday morning, China Radio International was almost 60 over far as most meters go on modern rigs.

During the JOTA weekend, VY1JA in the Yukon Territory was screaming in just over S9 or better depending on the time of transmission on 20 Meters. WWV has been a 20 or better, and we won't even talk about RHC or the religious stations, or tin hat conspiracy stations. They are always at least a bit over 20 or about 35 over S9. As this article is in production, listening to 5.070.00 with a conspiracy program focused on Obama, they are between 20 over S9 and 35 Over.

Time to spin the dial, see what else is out here. Harvest Radio on 6.916.00 is 40 to 45 over S9 but I assume them to be local. Mind you, the antenna being used is nothing special. Just a G5RV. Here's something interesting! 7.523.00 brings in a Polish station at almost 20 over S9. 15 over is the true reading for this station. 7.730.00 brings in a German Station also at 15 over S9, swinging to 20 over.

This evening, 75/80 meters and 40 meter SSB is very active with mostly the 4 call stations being heard well. Most readings on these operators are 5 by 9 to 20 over. See, bad band conditions aren't stopping anyone due to the low solar cycle!

Amateur Radio Losing It's Family Friendliness

For many, rough humor on the Hf Amateur Bands is nothing new. Adult language during the late night hours is often seen as something safe to do. Those who don't want to hear it usually just spin the dial and ignore it.

Is this really a practice we want to encourage? Does ignoring bad practices, even if they're illegal make them any more innocent or any more legal? Some would venture to say it doesn't matter to them and others would say that part 97 says it is totally illegal, period.

More arguments say that the FCC doesn't care one hoot if no one complains and even if there is a complaint filed, the action is slow and inefficient because those breaking the law are usually just given a slap on the wrist.

Let's step back to examine this from the view of an outsider who just may be considering becoming a licensed radio amateur. Everyone has differing sensibilities, and most who want to get involved want to be with folks who are capable of being professional, friendly, outgoing, etc. Long time tradition on the 75/80 Meter Amateur Band has been to whoop it up as if it were 11 meters.

Don't forget that there are people listening and that while you may get away with it for a period of time, that day may come when your fellow radio amateurs will say enough is enough. Would you want your own kids running into some of the topics being discussed with the vehement language & gross descriptions being used on the air? Would you want your family members to hear your on the air hijinks?

Let's all play by the rules. There's e-mail for the more explicit stuff you may wish to engage in. Take it to a private discussion, take it anywhere else, but keep it off the air. Our image needs to be as polished as it can get if we are to keep being taken as a serious group of technical professionals, much less if we want to be taken seriously at all.

NDB Stations

So, all these years hearing CW or voice stations sending out letters without anyone to ask about how to identify them has yielded results. NDB stations will likely account for some of the stations wrongfully identified as "Numbers/Letters" stations. NDB stations are Aviation beacons used for non-directional purposes as NDB's are non-directionsl beacons, hence the name NDB.

I heard one again last night and was able to identify it as a station in Texas. This station was heard on 207.00Khz in AM mode with CW. The below post regarding 530AM with CW being heard on the LSB will likely be a NDB.

According to sources, NDB's are not being maintained by the FAA and are therefore vanishing. Too bad, it's really nice to have something interesting to hear. Technology moves forward and with it can sometimes come a loss of a distinct signal on the air. Log em' while you can!

530AM - Chicago

Just two mornings ago while monitoring 530AM CW was actually heard just below the traffic advisory coming from the Lower Sideband. Due to difficulty copying, it's hard to say what the message was. If your state has an AM traffic advisory system, have you heard this as well? Were you actually able to confirm what the CW sent was? A beacon? Some other radio service also on the band? Maybe a station that drifted off frequency?

I'd like to hear your stories!


Country music is never better experienced than when listening to WSM 650AM in Nashville, TN. Long ago, I got a confirmation card from these guys. I've been listening since discovering them. Lately, it seems as if their transmitter keeps shutting down.

As we experienced people know, there could be any number of problems. With a station as old as WSM, a good guess would be transmitter overheat. Anyone have any idea what this problem is? for those of us that listen most often, they seemingly just go away early in the morning just as the sun peeks it's rays into our windows.

We all know that the band has been acting funny as it tends to do in the lowest sunspot cycles, so maybe some sort of atmospheric phenomenon?

Unnessacery Use Of Bandwidth

Shortwave monitoring is an absolute privilege. To hear each and every country that gets a good signal on the air; to hear all the pirate broadcasters who are truly the bad boys of radio, has been a past time of millions of people the world around.

We all have our own tastes in radio programming. The entire point put fast and simple is: WHY ARE CERTAIN STATIONS ALLOWED AN UNGODLY AMOUNT OF SPECTRUM? I'm referencing all the religious broadcasters, I'm talking about Radio Habana Cuba, I'm Talking about all of those stations that don't need half of an entire band to operate on! The stations named above are just two examples.

Christian broadcasting absolutely has it's place and I am one person who loves the good quality stuff such as Harvest Radio. One wonders how it is that stations get away with hogging spectrum that could be given to other stations. Is the ITU being manipulated by some stations execs? Have corporate interests been given special action to keep the shortwave bands open? Doom sayers have been spreading fear that radio spectrum will be sold off to the next highest bidder for ages and it has only happened in very small percentages. These small percentage of changes in spectrum to include the allocation of small portions of spectrum to other radio services do not rise in reailty to the level of a huge campaign to hog spectrum to make it all look legit.

Free up the spectrum for other stations that could give the bands some life once again!

Numbers Stations

Research shows that "Numbers Stations" were present as early as WW1. Again, these stations became active during WW2, the cold war, and again in the present day. Among us avid radio listeners, numbers stations have affectionately been given nicknames based on key characteristics of the stations.

Numbers stations have various goals & objectives that include valid military functions, national security intelligence operations, weather, aviation coordinates, radio propagation, etc. Unfortunately, numbers stations aren't always good guys. These stations meant for harm focus on espionage, spy operations, and other bad things. Numbers stations are typically one way transmissions made up of a "one time pad" that is discarded after being used, never to be used again. In the event that the same numbers are used again, they never have the same meaning and are never connected to prior instructions having to do with the current operations at hand.

Only once have these numbers been deciphered by any government. In the recent day in days not so far in the past, the U.S. Government arrested, tried, and convicted individuals known as the Cuban Five. The Cuban Five were convicted on charges ranging from attempted murder to unlawful use of communications to commit espionage, espionage, and a whole laundry list of charges.

The Cuban Government has been using a station known as "Radio Havana Cuba" to issue statements that these five are not guilty and are political prisoners. This whole "release our people" stinks of cronyism through and through. The Cuban Five were tried fairly with the weight of the evidence resting against them. Radio Havana Cuba is and has always been known as an independent voice of the people of Cuba, but this time, it really looks like they are in cahoots with the Cuban Government only in regards to a one time political opinion, the sole effort of which is to smear the American Government.

Let's face it, we haven't always had a friendly past with Cuba. Let's face it, our government has done some really unpopular things that have managed to tick off all of us that are stateside residents. This one was a righteous case in every respect.