Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Radio Amateurs all over the U.S. will be with their families for the holiday, likely getting stuffed. Some others will be at home or at community celebrations. Where ever you are, celebrate knowing that we all have something to be thankful for, even if it's not some dramatically inspiring event or circumstance.

Use this as an open post in the meantime. Shortwave America will be back on Monday with new material.

Drive safely, and if you drink at all...don't get behind the wheel! Let someone drive you back home if you can. Give a close friend or family member your car keys to keep temptation away, and make sure that person is someone who will not or cannot touch alcohol! Stay the night and get some rest at that celebration for safety sake if you know you shouldn't drive and it's a situation where others have been drinking and they can't be expected to drive! Your life matters and so do the lives of others on the road!

Shortwave Radio Africa - Bringing Hope To Zimbabwe

Africa, whose people have long been screaming for Freedom, a nation that has survived apartheid and endless other travesties now has to face a Government who has promised them freedom but has given little more than actions that are contradictory to their promises. This is a story about jamming, censorship, and the people's absolute right to have communication beneficial to their existence.

An excerpt from THIS SOURCE:

"Repeated attempts by the Zimbabwean government to jam the station's signal have recently stopped, she tells, which is just as well as the station doesn't have the funding available to get around it."

"We're still being heard. We're clearly getting up their noses quite a lot at the moment. Even they realise that it would look really bad in terms of the unity government, but there is still a simplistic view that the opposition can shut us down," says Jackson."

Jackson has not asked to take over the government, she is asking for a conduit of communication that will benefit the people of Zimbabwe by providing programming that is informative and has a journalistic value. There is a web presence for this movement, as text and radio are said to be the only way into Zimbabwe in terms of communication per Jackson. Shortwave America will bring you links to the SWRA web presence and will follow this story with updates to this post.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thank You To The New Few

This web publication has been alive since October 22nd 2008, and it laid dormant for many reasons. One of the bigger reasons has to do with finding the creative groove for this effort. Something that both promotes and advances the world of both Commercial Shortwave Radio, AM Medium Wave, and Amateur Radio altogether since our worlds intersect in certain ways.

I have found that there are those of you who have provided a link to this site on your own blog, or your radio related web presence, or you forwarded it on to your mail list in case anyone had any interest. It seems that the creative groove that was given mention, has indeed come about. The effort to find new material to publish here isn't always easy and other days, it's easier than the day before.

Thank you for coming here to see what the news is, to view station loggings, to read whatever it is that interests you! As you can see, the effort is not to be like most other big sites whom have all the same material as the next site. The purpose of having a mixed bag of radio activity published here is to have well rounded coverage of what interests everyone instead of staying limited to just one specialty.

Some of the bigger, more well known sites have more than one area of coverage for sure. The idea being worked with here is to bring all of the information sources together and that is what creates a well rounded publication no matter what media is used to present it.

Thanks for being here! You can look forward to something new here whenever you visit. Updates are planned for every 24 hours or every 48 hours, whichever gives the most opportunity for good material for your reading pleasure. The comments section is here to be used if you feel the need to add to a topic, to sound off your point of view on something, to say whatever it is you want to say on any topic. Use these comment sections as you would any of the other radio forums out here, but please keep it as close to appropriate as you can. Some topics could potentially stir emotion in certain radio circles and it can be hard to comment objectively.

This is easily understandable. Shortwave America wants you here and welcomes all from every radio related profession and social circle that exists. Thank you to the few new people who we know are reading, and to those who have linked here. The new work week starts tomorrow (like anyone needs to be reminded?) Enjoy your new week and Shortwave America will enjoy bringing you something you can relax to on your break time or your other free time. 73 From Shortwave America! 

Terrestrial Broadcast Radio Losing It's Relevance?

The newest threat to radio broadcasting, whether it be local FM, Medium Wave AM,  or Shortwave RF technology has been on the list of threatened communications for a long time now. It seems that Reciva has developed something they are calling "Internet Radio". Streaming audio has been on the rise everyday since the technology was invented. Radio stations have had to change with the times. Listeners have changing tastes, wavering attitudes that change with the popular trends in society. 

Articles at FRRL Wordpress go into great detail about the changing radio marketplace. Whoever wrote these pieces over there is truly someone who is in touch with everything that is happening, and one smart individual! From the business perspective, the author makes some really substantial points to the ends of being quite compelling. One of the best points made is that the author went to a location that should have had at least reasonable reception of a 50,000 watt local station, but that "blowtorch" couldn't make it outside of the metropolitan area of Chicago.

Another argument made by the FRRL wordpress author was: Who would want to deal with RF challenges when they can use an "Internet Radio" to tune in thousands of stations from across the world on one of these internet radios? 

I want to talk about why internet cannot be relied upon and why internet radio isn't radio at all! This change in the listener market has deceived many because they make this box cleverly designed to look like a radio, giving the perception to the public that this is really a radio. This "radio" look - alike depends on a stream of audio from an I.P. Address. The I.P. Address is assigned electronically to a computer server somewhere, and the computer feeding into the server may or may not be feeding live "broadcast" programming. 

No one is broadcasting at all with this internet radio. Internet depends upon a heavy infrastructure that has all sorts of holes in it, making it unreliable. The biggest flaw is that the internet can be taken down easily by anything or anyone or any circumstance powerful enough to be reckoned with. What happens when the internet is gone? Your signal to your "internet radio" stops! The term "signal" in this case is a misnomer. Satellite Radio at least depends on a real Satellite using RF to deliver a real signal. 

It's like a radio amateur who doesn't have a radio, or can't hook their radio up because of restrictions. This goof gets on Echolink and thinks he's somehow participating in radio. This can be equated to internet radio. We hams call it Hinternet. 

Any computer tech can more substantially make the argument about the internet being unstable and unreliable in the context this is being presented in. In any sense, even though it makes no logical sense, REAL RF Radio is being put into a corner by these developments. Forget about the old resistance to change that alot of people will make. Conspiracy theorists have united in the radio circles to call this a method of controlling the media, the flow of information, etc. They could be right however, it would be more likely to be true by accidental result of what the new technology is. 

This whole mess should concern the radio broadcasting industry, radio hobbyists, and our respective listeners enough that a stand should be taken. I mean a noticeable stand that shows concern in the scientific and business contexts. If a stand is to be taken, it needs to make a provable case for itself. Preserving radio ought to be a top priority for every reason there is. Every reason you can think of is a good reason to preserve RF communications! Add it all up everyone! It will be enough evidence to make even those promoting internet radio think twice if they know their profits could simply dissapear with any major event powerful enough to cause major disruption for more than a reasonable time. 

REAL RF Radio will still be there to inform the masses if anything described above should ever happen. Radio Communications is a proven science that cannot be overlooked nor forgotten about. The world is in major conflict constantly, and radio gets the news to everyone. Let's take a stand for REAL RF! Find a way to stand behind your local and shortwave broadcast stations, keep them on the air!

In the FRRL Wordpress artcle, it is mentioned that radio hobbyists aren't the focus of broadcasters. The article mentions that a station - radio hobbyist relationship is undesired, and that stations are more focused on those loyal listeners who believe in the station's content. This is as it should be to a certain extent. Who do these stations think a large portion of their daily, loyal, believers are? I think they would be stunned to fnd that these same people are educated people who come from a history of listening to their radios, and they have learned how radio works. In essence, they are all radio hobbyists!

The articles are here. Read them and follow the links. There will also be a link to an old Pop Comm article about radio facing a threat due to the changing demands of listeners


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Handy HF Band Chart

How often have you wished you could recall a frequency for simple listening or even amateur operation? You might go to Shortwave Central or the ARRL site and pull your information from there, maybe even NASWA (North American Shortwave Association). These groups are all great organizations, but why should you have to surf all over the web for your information? 

Shortwave America decided it was a good thing to post a comprehensive listing of what the bands are, their corresponding frequencies, and UTC Time Conversion. Listings for specific stations will still have to be searched for until Shortwave America can incorporate specific station listings, which is a really ambitious project.

More complete HF Band Information can be found here

Shortwave America will be working on obtaining permission to copy the information from the above link into this post. Stay tuned for more updates!

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Radio Piracy From The High Seas!

The American Radio Relay League has donned a rather recent article in their "Surfin'" series about high seas radio piracy. The topic is Radio Caroline, a station that was known for playing a famous Neil Diamond song as their signature theme. See it here!

Shortwave Central - Bermuda Story, Ship Broadcasting

Here is an excerpt:
"The Empress of Britain was described in the 1930s as the most active ship broadcaster during that era. It was on the air with music programs mainly, under the British callsign GMBJ. Program broadcasts from the Empress of Britain GMBJ were relayed off air by NBC in the United States, as well as by national networks in Canada, England, and Australia. This ship was often heard in radio contact with the marine radio station in Bermuda, and some times with spontaneous radio broadcasts for whoever might be listening."

This article brings back memories of watching a friend work a U.S. Navy Ship. This author is a fan of all things from way back in history, and that includes those times when old family photos get brought out, and boks that talk about the 1800's through the mid 1900's.

If one is lucky, you knew someone who lived in the early 1900's and you have heard the first hand stories of what life was like back then. Does anyone remember the scene from a movie called "A Christmas Story"? The kid sat by his trusty radio listening for Little Orphan Annie's Secret Code after he got his secret decoder ring. "Remember To Drink Your Ovaltine" the message said. How about when Orson Welles scared the American public halfway out of their wits with his show one day?

This author got to listen to the original 8 - track recording of that famous "War Of The Worlds" show! What a treat! Imagine the treat of being on land and hearing any of these ships way out there in the middle of the ocean!    


From several sources citing this article, and assuming fair use. 

Operating a two-way radio mobile in Philadelphia may cost you $75 a pop beginning December 1st. This, thanks to a new cell phone law about to fully take effect in that city.

While the purpose of the law is to discourage the use of cell phones while driving there is a clause which prohibits the use of a wireless communication device for voice communication while operating a motor vehicle on any Philadelphia street. Hands free operation is permitted. 

An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer quotes a 9th District Police Officer saying there are some exceptions to the new law. These are to call the 911 emergency line or while using a two-way radio to conduct official business for the city, state, or federal government. Otherwise the law says to pull over and put the car in park or neutral before making a call.

Local hams have been in touch with ARRL Volunteer Counsel to get their opinion of the bill. More information can be found in the Holmesburg Amateur Radio Club November newsletter at www dot harcnet dot org. Updates on the how this new law will affect on ham radio will be posted there as well.

ARLX012 NCVEC to Release New Technician Question Pool to Public in January 2010

Special Bulletin 12 ARLX012
From: ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT November 19, 2009
To: All Radio Amateurs

ARLX012 NCVEC to Release New Technician Question Pool to Public in January 2010

The Question Pool Committee (QPC) of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) is due to release the new Technician class (Element 2) question pool to the 14 VECs on December 1, 2009; it will be released to the public in January 2010. Each question pool for the three Amateur Radio license classes – Technician, General and Amateur Extra — is reviewed on a four-year rotation. This new Technician class pool will become effective on July 1, 2010.

According to ARRL Assistant VEC Manager Perry Green, WY1O, the QPC reviews the three question pools every four years to ensure that the questions are kept current with the latest amateur practice and technology, as well as addresses information relevant to that particular license class. “In the case of the Technician pool, the question set should provide for the new Technician licensee to be able to establish his station and operate it legally, courteously and safely. The Technician question pool and exam are intended to be the beginning of the journey into the Amateur Radio Service. It prepares the person for the enjoyment of operating, and that of preparing to learn electronics, the cornerstone of the education needed to obtain the further enjoyment that can come with the higher license classes.”

Green is a member of the NCVEC’s Question Pool Committee. Other members of the QPC include Chairman Roland Anders, K3RA (Laurel VEC), Larry Pollock, NB5X (W5YI VEC), Jim Wiley, KL7CC (Anchorage VEC) and Tom Fuszard, KF9PU (Milwaukee VEC).

Green said that earlier this year, the QPC solicited input from Amateur Radio operators concerning the new question pool, accepting input for new question topics and new questions, as well as suggestions for changes or deletions: “The QPC must rely on members of the Amateur Radio community to suggest questions and answers in a responsible manner to preserve a high level of legitimacy for our radio service, so the NCVEC QPC seeks input from the amateur community concerning a revision.”

The new question pool will become effective for all examinations administered on or after July 1, 2010, and it will remain valid until June 30, 2014. The current Technician question pool that became effective July 1, 2006 will expire June 30, 2010. 

The new Technician pool contains approximately 400 questions, from which 35 are selected for an Element 2 examination. This question pool will contain graphics and diagrams, something new for this element.
The current General class question pool was effective July 1, 2007 and is valid through June 30, 2011. 

The current Amateur Extra class pool was effective July 1, 2008 and is valid until June 30, 2012.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Radio St. Helena Day 2009

Radio St. Helena Day 2009 has come and gone yet again. This author was unavailable to make any attempt at copy, but some reception reports can be found here. Take these with a grain of salt, as radio monitors outside of the U.S. may have had better copy.

If you lost your QSL information and need it again, here it is.

Here's to next year's broadcast!