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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023
This New Year's LWBC Closure: Radio Luxembourg 234 kHz
The recent New Year "tradition" of shutting down historic LW and/or MW broadcasters continues with a nearly 90 year old veteran of the trans-border broadcast business, RTL 234. As a reminder of what we've previously reported, the station signs off for the final time Sunday night at midnight GMT (0100 CET on January 2).
The reason cited is power consumption, but as we surmised in the latest issue of the club publication, it's not as much a question of cost as it is the power shortages expected in Europe this winter. The LF Notebook column for the recent issue was intending to present a basic historical overview of the station, but barely begins to address what is clearly going to become a multi-part series about a multimedia giant. From the LWBC perspective alone, there is much more yet to cover, such as how the station, though sanctioned by the government of Luxembourg and thus an unlikely-seeming progenitor of the pirate-radio era, was itself technically a pirate untill after WW II because the tiny nation had no ITU allocation for LW broadcasting yet. Watch this space for more details.
The LOWDOWN Latest Issue In the Nov-Dec 2022 edition of the LWCA publication:
"Notes from Headquarters" by Kevin Carey.
"DX Downstairs" Peter Laws presents members' LF and VLF loggings; plus, a diagram from Steve McGreevy of a preamp with an LPF input.
"On The Air" Experimenters operating on 160-190kHz and lower bands... and...
"The Top End" MedFER and HiFER beacon activity, and..
"Operator Contact List" ...and...
"The LF Notebook" Conducted by John Davis. Why financial expense might not be the only cost of power consumption prompting the closure of Radio Luxembourg on longwave.
"News From the Old World" Alan Gale with latest LF news from the "other side of the pond," including announced and anticipated closures of LWBC stations in the new year.
"Natural Radio" by Rick Ferranti. Using flux gate magnetometers to observe geomagnetic fluctuations; also, a report on Rick's October VLF/ELF natural radio expedition.
"Member News Spotlight" Kriss Larson visits an odd bit of North Carolina radio folklore.
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COVID Steals Christmas at SAQ
The traditional Christmas Eve morning greeting to the world from SAQ did not take place on 17.2 kHz in 2022. It was announced on the Thursday afternoon prior that the old Grinch himself, COVID-19, had paid a visit to station staff. Although no one was seriously ill at the time, all public events were cancelled for the weekend.
Obtain additional SAQ information at the Alexander Association pages, and consider joining the Association to help them continue their work at the World Heritage station.
LWCA Calendar Year Membership Followup
Kevin Carey, LWCA Publisher, announced in the Jan-Feb 2022 issue of The LOWDOWN that memberships were being adjusted to run on a calendar year basis. The change was expected to greatly reduce the time required each month to update the member database.
In the 2022 year-end issue, Kevin reports: "We’ve now completed bringing everyone up to date with the new, annual membership term, which runs from January 1 to December 31st each year. Thanks for bearing with us through this transition period, which will greatly simplify things with the limited staff we have at Headquarters (me, and occasional non-radio volunteers). If you received a renewal notice with this (Nov.-Dec.) issue, now is the time to make your membership current for 2023. Many mid-year expiring members chose to renew early for 2023 at a special, one-time rate, and there’s still time to do that, as noted in your renewal notice."
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Canadian Hams Finally Have Real 630 Meter Access
Although it is hard to believe any Western democracy took longer than the United States did to implement WRC-2012, that was evidently the case in Canada. Joe Craig, VO1NA, posted the following announcement on our Message Board in late July: "Ten and a half years after WRC 2012 approved a new 630 m band, Canadians are now permitted to transmit on 472-479 kHz as of 28 July 2022."
The band first became part of the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations in 2014, was used for an historic JT9 contact between VE7SL and VK4YB in 2016, and was again touted on RAC pages as open for amateur activity in 2017, so the significance of this most recent announcement was not immediately clear. Joe later explained that the initial hoopla eight years ago was the result of a misimpression. "In the past, Inustry Canada/ISED had issued temporary authorisations for 504-509 and 472-479 kHz. Until 28 July there was no other official authority for Canadian amateurs to transmit in the band. Some, including yours truly, were advised by ISED officials that with the publication of the table of frequency allocations in 2014 that the band had become available to Canadian amateurs. ISED later clarified that this was not the case until the publication of RBR-4."
Dave Goodwin VE3KG, Regulatory Affairs Officer for RAC (Radio Amateurs of/du Canada, confirmed for LWCA that 472-479 kHz was not an authorized Amateur band in Canada until 28 July 2022 when RBR-4, a key regulatory document, was
updated. He explained that, like the US Table of Allocations from the FCC, "The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations (CTFA) is not regulatory authority. The CTFA is a planning document. It may indicate a regulatory intention, but it is not a regulatory document."
"There were many Canadian Amateurs who mistakenly believed the CTFA gave
them permission to operate on 472-479 kHz. They were wrong. As far as
I know, our regulator never took action against any of them, and I am
aware of no complaints of interference to the primary users."
It was a long time coming, but we look forward to encountering more of our Canadian neighbours on the band this coming DX season.
Related Longwave Sites
William Hepburn's DX Information Centre has probably the best online list of aero and marine beacons based on official license information, plus lists of time signals and numerous resources for other types of DXing as well.
The searchable RNA database* of LF beacons...not compiled from official sources, but a digest of actual signal reports from experienced listeners in North and Central America. It's a great tool for identifying those unknown signals. It won't always be up-to-date regarding decommissioned beacons, of course, but it's still helpful if you pay attention to the most recent reported date for a given beacon.
Gunter Lorenz' VLF/LF Station List. More recently updated than some other VLF military/utility station lists; but as with any amateur band, the listings around 137 kHz are subject to frequent change and should be taken with a grain of salt.
LF/MF Amateur Radio Sites. Now that the 2200 and 630 meter bands are finally available in the US to amateurs, not just Part 5 licensees, there's even more interest in websites about ham operation. We'll be adding more links soon, but for now we'll begin with:
- KA7OEI Blog Clint Turner has discussed many topics over past years of interest to hams and LWLs.
- W1TAG.com John Andrews also has many resources for both hams and LW listeners.
- 472kHz.org A project created by Rik Strobbe with a goal "to provide information about the 472 kHz (or 630 m) ham band, for newcomers as well as for advanced users."
Pages formerly located at John Langridge's NJD Technologies.net site are, unfortunately, no longer available. Thanks to Bob KB7AQD for helping us correct our links section!
If you know of more ham sites that should be included, or find broken links, please advise us at firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP.
Radio Waves Below 22 kHz Renato Romero's eclectic collection of topics pertaining to both manmade and natural radio signals from near DC to the upper end of audibility. Includes the VLF Open Lab, and articles by many contributors...some fairly orthodox, and some not. Visit: www.vlf.it NDB Handbooks Available to order with lots of features beyond plain lists, Michael Oexner's North American, European, and Global NDB Handbooks are updated annually (click this link for 2022 info in PDF form). All editions are available for download or as physical CDs, and the NA and EU versions can also be ordered in printed form.
QRSS and WOLF Software
Rik Strobbe's QRSS software (for transmitting extremely slow CW) and Rik's other useful software at the ON7YD download page.
Continuing Development of Argo. Alberto di Bene posts the latest version of Argo, a receiving tool for displaying slow CW, that performs FFT spectral analysis and displays it in ways optimized for QRSS. Many of the transoceanic LF amateur records were set using Argo at the receiving end. Argo has somewhat similar performance to Spectran, but interacts better with the user's soundcard and is customized for QRSS modes.
WOLF. Stewart Nelson originally devised this unique mode, a variant of BPSK, as an MS-DOS program. Now, a GUI-based version by Wolf Büscher continues to increase the mode's popularity. Find the new software at the DL4YHF WOLF page.
Spectrum Lab, at the DL4YHF site, is another of Wolf's creations. In conjunction with your computer's sound card, not only is it an especially advanced spectrum analyzer, but it's also a filtering and sound processing tool, and can serve as the demodulator part of a software defined receiver.
Slow CW for Linux. Claudio Girardi (IN3OTD) has released Slow CW software for users of the Linux operating system, currently v 0.42. The program (called glfer) contains both transmit and receive capability, the latter including an FFT-based spectrum analyzer somewhat similar to those found in popular Windows Slow CW programs.
As with much open-source software in the X-world, you have to compile the C source code yourself. Users will also need additional code libraries. Links to those, plus downloadable source code, can be found at Claudio's glfer page.
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