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Longtime LWCA Publisher Bill Oliver Dies at 89
It is with great sorrow that we inform you our publisher, William E. Oliver, passed away on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 in Lower Bucks County Hospital, near his home in Levittown, PA. He was 89.
His obituary is available here.
There will be an unavoidable disruption in publication of The LOWDOWN for an unknown interval. The April edition had not yet been assembled for the printing plant at the time of Bill's demise, and will be delayed until further notice because the mailing list and other vital information are currently unavailable to us.
We are in contact with other writers for the publication, and we are consulting with our counterparts in our sister organization, the North American Shortwave Association, who are currently (2 April 2018) attempting to secure both clubs' essential business records so that operations may resume. Please watch our About page for further announcements.
International Marconi Day Saturday, 21 April
IMD is organized by the Cornish Amateur Radio Club each year on the weekend closest to Marconi's birthday of 25 April 1874. This year the event will be held on 21 April UTC (begins 8PM EDT on Friday, North American time).
In the States, heritage coastal station KPH operates from a site Marconi set up in 1914, and thus will be participating. Check the details in an LWCA Message Board post from the MRHS.
A list of official IMD stations, contacts with 15 of which will qualify for the Cornwall club's IMD award, is available here. There are several in the US, Canada, Italy, and elsewhere around the world.
Sub-Radio Amateur Record Set First known East-West transatlantic crossing below 8.3 kHz.
On the night of February 18-19, Jay Rusgrove W1VD in Connecticut copied the 8270.100 Hz signal of Stefan Schaefer DK7FC from Germany, the first known successful E>W Atlantic crossing in what is sometimes called the Dreamers Band. The message consisted of a single character sent in a BPSK-based format known as EbNaut. With a symbol length of 30 seconds, GPS-locked frequency stability and timing is required at both the sending and receiving ends, and the "message" may have to accumulate across many repetitions to start to be decoded. The single character in this message was decoded in a single night; longer messages can require files recorded over multiple nights to be "stacked" (overlaid in processing).
To prove the first copy was not a fluke, Stefan switched to a two-character message which, after several difficulties at both ends of the path, was decoded by Jay on the morning of February 25. This time, it required stacking three nights' reception files to decode both characters.
Previously, EbNaut signals from VO1NA in Newfoundland had been copied in Europe over a somewhat shorter W>E path, and on Dec 26-27, 2017, a three-character message from W4DEX was received in Italy by Renato Romero IK1QFK on 8269.9 Hz, a new record distance for decoding at 4,447 miles (Renato had previously detected an unmodulated singal from Dexter over the same path). More on the mode can be found at www.abelian.org.
LF-MF Ham Rules in Effect Many amateurs have received operating approval.
The Federal Communications Commission rules for the 630 and 2200 meter ham bands, are outlined in the FCC's recent Report & Order, were published in the Federal Register in June, and finally took effect on September 15, 2017, after procedures were worked out for the required PLC frequency coordination with Utilities Telecom Council. Details can be found in this post by W1TAG. Most of the new activity, as expected, has been at 630 meters, but more stations are gradually showing up on 2200 m.
In addition to these two new WRC bands, the Docket 15-99 changes will relieve HiFER hobbyists of CODAR interference in a few years, elevate the status of amateur operation between 1800 and 2000 kHz, and impact experimentation below 9 kHz as well, because radio spectrum is now formally allocated down to 8.3 kHz.
LW Resources & Additional Topics
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 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. This might somewhat limit its usefulness in targeting specific beacons to listen for, 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, take the listings around 137 kHz 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:
- John Langridge's Site including 630 m QSO List - www.500kc.com Ralph M. Hartwell W5JGV documents (mainly the history of) the WD2XSH Part 5 license and its participants.
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 Not viewable online but a resource which can be ordered there...Michael Oexner's North American and European NDB Handbooks, now updated for 2018 (click link for info in PDF form). In addition to the two regional versions, Michael now offers a combined Global edition (CD & download only).
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 devised this unique mode, a variant of BPSK. See his announcement of the MS-DOS version for more details. Now, a GUI-based version by Wolf Büscher continues to increase the mode's popularity. Find the new software at the DL4YHF site.
Spectrum Lab, at that same link, 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.