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Congratulations to 10-yr old Nikilesh Kashyap (and proud papa Raajesh!) on passing his Technician’s License at Milford’s testing site. On 1/16/18 Nikilesh was given the call sign KE8IPE and has already made contacts and checked into the Newcomers and Elmers Net this past Sunday night.
We had a busy year. 2017 has marked some unique changes to ham radio.
Last time around I introduced some ideas on working LF and VLF bands, and in this article I discuss some antenna designs which can be effective for making the most of these big signals.
While working from home on Monday, I turned on the 2-meter, and heard a very interesting conversation.
I find myself becoming more and more interested in chasing some of the experimental stations and beacons which reside down in the 200-500kHz portion of the band, as well as signals in the 136kHz band. This might sound odd for someone who has a terribly small lot and has yet to find a way to get a decent signal out on 160m. But, then again, receiving is not transmitting, and there are a number of ways to get big waves to fit on small antennas.
In last month’s episode I explored the genesis of the first song uttered by a computer, Daisy Bell, and how that song ended up in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this last installment on the history of speech synthesis I’ll track the use of the vocoder in popular music on up to its implementation into the DMR radios that are currently a big buzz in the ham community.
As a kid I tried to learn about electronics the old fashioned way – tear something apart and try to put it back together. Unfortunately I did not have someone overseeing myexplorations, and so very little was actually learned! If amateur and shortwave radio itself is an attempt to recapture something I really enjoyed when I was young, tinkering with electronics is even more so a fulfillment of something I sought as a child.
Speech synthesis confers a number of benefits to technology end users. It allows individuals with impaired eyesight to be able to operate radios and computers. For those who cannot speak, and who may also have trouble using sign language, speech units such as the device employed by Stephen Hawking allow a person to communicate in ways unthinkable a century ago.
Six, seven, and eight, three numbers that aptly define the 2017 National ARDF Championships held between July 31st and August 6th in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky areas. To elaborate, there were six parks used for training and competition events, seven days of practice and completion, and eight different events.
One of the things which makes the radio hobby so pleasurable for me is how easy it is to find interesting things to listen to on whatever radio happens to be handy. From the cheapest AM-only radio to the fanciest software defined radio and beyond, every listening opportunity holds the potential for something enjoyable with even the smallest effort.
This installment continues the exploration of the development of speech synthesis.
By now I trust those of you who read last month’s column have gotten a taste for learning about propagation and have put some of this new knowledge to good use! Armed with numbers such as the monthly MUF (maximum usable frequency), the LUF (lowest usable frequency), and information regarding atmospheric layers one may predict with some degree of accuracy just which bands will be open at any given time of day. This is powerful stuff!
Another interesting article sent over by Robert AK3Q, about security and the return to HF radio. Task Force (CTF) 75 successfully completed communications systems tests using HF radio waves to broadcast voice and data 6,050 miles from Naval Base Guam to Port Hueneme, California, July 27, 2017.
Robert AK3Q has shared a very interesting link about the return of ground based radio navigation due to possible cyber attacks. South Korea, the US and others are looking into reinstating the Loran system (now updated to ELoran) as a secondary navigation system.
This edition of the Music of Radio continues to explore developments around electronically generated speech. Homer Dudley, an engineer and acoustics researcher who worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories (BTL), made significant contributions to this field beginning with his invention of the Vocoder and Voder. The development of these two instruments was detailed in last month’s column. Now I will turn my attention to how the Vocoder was employed in encrypting the transmissions of high ranking officials during WWII for the SIGSALY program. SIGSALY, by-the-way, is simply a cover name for the system and is not an acronym.
Last time around we looked at Radio Monitoring during WWII from the British side of things. This time we will look at some of the contributions made by America, which were by no means insignificant!
During the weekend of July 22, 2017, Slow Scan TV images were being transmitted from the International Space Station. This commemorated the 20th Anniversary of ARISS, and images of past and present ARISS activities were transmitted.
Who doesn’t remember changing their voice as a kid by talking into a fan? Or sneaking off with baloons at a party or dance to inhale the helium and try to talk like a character from a cartoon? One year for Halloween I got a cheap voice changer toy that had three settings and I remember playing with it for hours. But voice changers weren’t always so cheap, and the original was room-sized instead of hand held. The initial reason behind its development had nothing to do with keeping kids amused and was not driven by aesthetic concerns.
If one wants to get serious about the radio hobby there comes a time when the study of propagation (or how signals get to where they’re going) is a must. Not only will understanding some basics about propagation make listening opportunities more productive (read “fun”), but it will also allow you to take advantage of special situations where opportunities pop up only for a few minutes or a few hours at best. Catching elusive signals, or even better transmitting under special conditions is a thrill all its own.
Radio counterintelligence during WWII is a topic of great interest to me, not only for the historical relevance, but also for the modern-day relevance. While it might almost seem unbelievable, shortwave (and likely amateur radio) are still being used to pass secret communications, particularly with the proliferation of digital modes available to the average user.
This past weekend, we enjoyed one of the best Oh-Ky-In Field Day events I can remember.